Monday, February 27, 2012

Design a Garden for Your Senses

Set the mood of your yard by designing a section that stimulates your senses and achieve   inner peace from your sensory garden.  

Stimulate your sense of touch, sight, scent, hearing and taste by designing a sensory garden that features flowers, ornamental grasses, bamboo and tasteful as well as aromatic herbs.  

Add a soothing water feature and a cozy outdoor living space where you can sit and relax.  When you design a garden that stimulates your senses you will find harmony.  

Water feature garden

Before you begin your garden you will need to decide on the type of plants that you would like to grow.  You will want to choose a color scheme that is compatible and soothing, as well as flowers, shrubs and herbs that are fragrant and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds

Choose ornamental grasses; fountain, reed or zebra grasses will give the garden movement as well as lovely plumes and winter interest.  Fragrant flowering shrubs and vines:  ruby spice summersweet, sweet autumn clematis and Four O’clocks will perfume the air in late summer and early fall.
Add a water feature to your sensory garden. The water feature need not be large however one that has water cascading down rocks into a shallow pool will provide you with the sense of sight and hearing.  The trickling water is a natural way to relax your mind and body.  

Designing Garden for Senses

Decide on the location of your sensory garden.  Allot space for flower, herb and grass gardens, as well as feature water garden, and sitting area.  Your garden should appeal to the eye by inviting you to different focal areas.  

A focal area could be your water feature, a pergola over a comfortable seating area, a colorful coneflower garden or butterfly garden.  When you have decided upon the location of your garden you would then measure it.  

Measure the space of your garden and then draw out the locations of each garden.  Use color pencils to indicate the color scheme of the plants.  Section off your sensory gardens; assign specific areas for plants.  You may want to plant bamboo or grasses with height in the back section of your garden as these plants will provide you with a living privacy hedge.  You may want to have a section for wildflowers, water garden, herbs, or a butterfly garden.  
Garden Path
Pave stone path to herb garden

Decide if you would want a natural stone garden path to connect all of the gardens to the outdoor living space.  Do a rough drawing to give you an idea of how you want your garden to look.

Excavate the garden area by clearing the area.  The best way to achieve this task is with a tiller, and a wheelbarrow to remove the sod.  Loosen the earth to the depth needed to install the pond and your container plants, shrubs or trees.  For planting amend the soil with compost or manure, the plants that you grow will stimulate your sense of sight taste and smell.

Install a water feature.  Set the fountain or pond close to the area where you will put your patio furniture. Add your seating or resting area to your garden.  Set outdoor furniture in the center of the garden also add a bench close to the garden path.  This resting areas will allow you to stimulate all of your senses.  Lie in a lounger or sit on the bench and read a book. Take a moment to close your eyes, listen to the sounds of the garden, breath in the aroma from the herbs and fragrant flowers.  Your daily stress will melt away and your body will be at peace.

Gardening Tips:
Accessorize your garden with wind chimes.  Hang the chimes in various locations in your garden.  When the wind blows the chimes will produce music. The wind music will stimulate your sense of hearing.

Add light to your garden by outlining the path with solar lights or accent feature areas with hanging solar lights.  The lights generate power from the sun and all soft lighting to your garden at night.

Here is a video that will give you an idea as to how to design a garden for your senses.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grow Mint for Home Garden-Information

Peppermint flower

Growing a garden of mint will benefit you in many ways as the herbs have many uses; culinary, medicinal, aromatherapy and a repellent for mosquitoes and other flying insects.   

Mint can be grown in containers, in the ground or in various sections of your yard.  

I have a dog kennel and find that when I planted the garden mint on the exterior of the kennels that the mint controlled the dog odors and also repelled fleas and ticks.  If you have a large yard I would recommend growing the mint in the ground, however if you have a small yard or live in an apartment then grow mint in a container and set it in a sunny location or grow under a light.

Benefits of Garden Mint

  1. Peppermint is a natural remedy for indigestion, heartburn, headache, and will help to reduce inflammation causes by acne.  If you plant a mixture of peppermint, spearmint and apple mint in sections in your yard these fragrant herbs will repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. 
  2. Other uses for mint would be to add it ice tea, brew medicinal herbal tea, garnish foods with mint, make mint jelly, or antibacterial soap. Growing garden mint is easy and it will provide you with years of fragrant flowers and leaves.
  3. Garden mints  have a delicious scent and flavor.   When planning your mint garden choose mint that appeals to your senses.

Here are a few of my favorite garden mints.  Buy seed packets of mint at or for garden seeds.  Start seeds indoors and then transplant after danger of frost has past.  

Corn mint
Apple mint
Pineapple mint
Orange Mint
Berries and Cream Mint
Lemon Mint
Chocolate Mint    
Candy Mint

When to Grow Mint

Seeds may be started indoors 7 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost or you could sow the seeds directly into the garden bed when the spring temperatures warm and the threat of frost has past.

Where to Grow

Grow indoors by planting seeds in soil that is mixed with compost or manure.  Set the seeds on top of the soil and then press the seeds into the soil with the eraser end of a pencil.  Plant the seed one inch below the soil line.  Water so that the soil is evenly moist but not wet.  Set the mint containers next to a sunny window or under a grow light.  For outdoor cultivation choose a garden site that receives full sun and has well drained soil. 
I grow spearmint and peppermint on the side of my house. These plants need room to grow as they have a spreading nature.  I spaced my plant two feet apart. The mint grows down a slope and I found that the spreading nature of the mint is a good way to control erosion.

Ready the Garden
Use your tiller or spade to ready the soil for planting.  Remove all of the grass, rocks and weeds from the planting area.  Work the soil until it is fine texture.  Amend the soil with compost or manure.  Set the seeds onto of the soil. Space the seeds 18 to 24 inches apart and then press the seeds into the soil with the eraser of a pencil.  Plant the seed one inch below the soil line.  Water so that the soil is evenly moist but not wet.

Care for Mint
  • Watch the soil so that it does not dry out.  Garden mint prefers evenly moist soil that is well drained.  It will die if the soil is overly wet.
  • Keep roots cool by adding a pine bark mulch or leaf mulch around the garden mint.
  • Mint will bloom in mid to late summer
  • Divide and transplant in the spring to prevent overcrowding.
  • Watch for rust; patches of orange red on the back of the leaves.  Remove all rust infected plants and get rid of them.  Watering mint in evening will cause rust so don’t do it.
Peppermint is a natural way to repel stray cats from your yard.  The scent of the peppermint is repulsive to a cat.

Here is a you tube video that will show you how to plant mint.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Drought Tolerant Verbena Growing Tips

Verbena is a great plant that features long-lived vibrant flowers that are drought tolerant. Grow verbena on a sunny slope, in a rock garden, and  in hanging containers; the verbena spills down the sides of the container and it looks very eye appealing.

Verbena is easy to grow provided you give it what it wants; full sun and rich soil that is well drained. 

The first time that I planted verbena was in 2007.  I took a chance at planting seeds.  At the time I did not know about the cold storage so my seedlings grew but they were not healthy.  I transplanted the seedlings to my side slope garden. 

The sun was full on the slope for about 6 hours and then there is partial sun. The first year I thought I had killed the verbena as the flowers were small and did not repeat.  My grown from seeds verbena died back in late summer. I added a layer of compost to the garden on the slope in the fall and then a layer of mulch.

The following spring I readied the side slope with compost and  I was delighted when the verbena returned in early summer. 

The lacy greenish-gray foliage of the verbena looks nice spilling down along the rocks and the colorful purple blooms are so vibrant that the side slope garden is a feature in my yard.  Verbena reseeds itself and every year after that my slope garden grew fuller.  Verbena is a lovely flower to grow in your garden as it blooms from spring to frost.  Here are some questions and answers that will help you with growing verbena in your home garden.

 Questions and Answers for Growing Verbena

When should I plant verbena seeds?

Plant verbena seeds indoors eight weeks before the last spring frost.  Unlike other flower seeds verbena seeds cold storage to grow.  Plant verbena seeds in seed starter kit then set the seeds in a cool and dark area; your basement, or the lower rack of your refrigerator. Leave the verbena seed kit in your refrigerator for 10 days.  

Check the seed daily to make sure the soil is evenly moist.  During seed germination, the soil must not dry out.  Remove the verbena from your refrigerator and set the seedlings next to a southern exposure window or under a grow light.  Germination takes 2 to 4 weeks.  Transplant the verbena seedlings outdoors when they are 6 to 8 inches high.  
Outsidepride Verbena Mix flowers

Where should I grow verbena?

Verbena grows best in full sun with well drained soil and is hardy in growing zone 6 to 9.  Verbena looks good growing on a slope, a window box or hanging container.  The natural spreading of 12 to 18 inches is eye appealing with the long blooming flowers.

What flowers look good grown with verbena?

I grow verbena flowers in masses and find that lady’s mantle, zinnias, black-eyed Susan, blazing star liatris, echinacea, red bee balm, coreopsis, cosmos and salvia are flowers that add colorful blooms to the garden from spring to frost. 

How do I get the ready for planting verbena outdoors?

Clear your garden site of grass and debris.  Loosen the soil to the depths of ten inches.  Add four inches of compost or manure to the soil and mix thoroughly.  Next add a time released fertilizer to the soil, mix the appropriate amount of fertilizer according to the directions on the package.  Plant the verbena flowers ten inches apart.  Water plants well after planting.

 How do I care for verbena?

Care for your verbena seedlings by watering the plants in the morning with a drip hose.  Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet until the verbena plants grow into busy plants. These plants are what you would call established and will be able to tolerate dryer soil conditions however, they prefer regular watering.   I provide my verbena plants with deep watering every 2-3 days with a soaker hose and the plants grow very well.  Verbena will die if you water the plant too much, or if the roots are in standing water.

Prior to the peak summer heat, apply four inches of fine mulch such as grass clippings, mulched leaves or organic wood chips.  If the verbena is growing in a flowerbed, cover the entire bed with the mulch.   The mulch will help the young plants to retain moisture and it will aid in preventing weeds. 


  1. Encourage repeat flowers by removing the spent blooms.   
  2. Verbena will self-sow; be careful when weeding as you do not want to pull out a new verbena seedling.
  3. Choose from a variety of verbena colors: purple, white, red and pink flowers for your yard and garden.
  4. Grow close to walkway or patio so you can watch the butterflies. Butterflies love the nectar rich verbena that blooms repetitively from spring to frost.