Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vintage Gardens of 1928 Home

spring rock garden
The gardens that are located on my property date back to 1928, they were designed by a professional gardener who built the home.  

The original garden designer landscaped the entire yard by planting flowers in several different level gardens.  

She moved the earth by hand and installed cement blocks for the steps and  red brick walkways. These steps go to the upper gardens and to the lower gardens.  

Wrapped around the gardens is a privacy river rock wall with stately columns at the garden entrance. 

It took the original owner of the home many years to complete the gardens and the rock wall as all of the rocks needed to come from the creek bed.  

My elderly neighbors tell me how she brought the rocks up a steep hill from the creek by wagon and worked on the wall by hand.

Since 1928 there have been four property owners and each of the homeowners have enjoyed gardening.  All have contributed in one way or another to enhance the beauty of the landscape.  

I moved into the home in 2004 and my contribution was designing and installing a flagstone patio and walkway, a red brick patio, a stone garden path, and capstone paths.  

New gardens; garden mint, daylily, ornamental grasses, hosta, irises, herb, vegetable, wildlife and a rose garden.  I planted a wildlife habitat in the side yard and there I grow wildlife forage, wildflowers and switchgrass .   

Along with the wildlife gardens my husband and I installed three small ponds.

I love residing in a home that has history especially when it has a lovely garden.  ere are photographs of the gardens.

Spring Flower Gardens:

Summer Flower and Herb Gardens


The Wildlife Habitat

Monday, August 13, 2012

Controlling Grasshoppers in the Garden

The central great plains have had extreme heat and drought this summer.  As a result, many gardens have noted that the plants, trees and ornamental shrubs are suffering.  While the lack of water has been departmental to our vegetation we also have had to deal with a large number of brown grasshoppers.  
Grass garden with assorted wildflowers

My home resides directly next to a large wildflower meadow, vast pastures and woods.   This is a natural habitat for young nymph grasshoppers.  
Wildflowers blooming in the meadow
In late spring-early summer these grasshoppers quickly devastated the meadow and the pasture before they moved into my yard.  At present we cannot walk across our yard without grasshopper jumping past us or onto us.   If you open a car door, grasshoppers will hop inside.  

What attracts the grasshopper?
Warm and dry conditions are an ideal habitat for the grasshopper.  In my area, we had a mild winter and a warm early spring followed by extreme heat and drought. Had we had a cold winter and a cool spring much of the grasshopper population would have not survived.  

What type of Damage is caused from Grasshopper Infestation
Grasshoppers are herbivores and will feed off of many garden plants.  Some grasshoppers will devour pastures and grasses including ornamental grass. Thirty pounds of grasshoppers can consume your lawn and garden within a day.  That is 10 grasshoppers per square yard.

Pest Control Tips

  1. The best method for getting rid of grasshoppers is to work your garden soil with a tiller in early spring.  Tilling will disturb the nymph eggs.  This method will cut down on grasshopper populations.
  2. Another way to get rid of the grasshopper is to clean up the vegetation in late winter. For the lawn use a thatching rake to remove all dead grass, for garden remove weeds, leaves, and debris. 
  3. Treat with insecticide in the late winter or very early spring.  I recommend spraying with pyrethrins which are formulated with Chrysanthemums or dusting with Diatomaceous Earth food grade a natural insecticide.  Either of these insecticides will get rid of aphids, beetles, webworms, grasshoppers, fleas, ticks, spiders and many other pests.
  4. Get rid of grasshoppers by attracting wildlife to your yard; birds, cats, lizards, groundhogs, and other rodents eat grasshoppers.   Release your cats into your garden and they will hunt grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are high in protein and both cats and dogs eat them.
Learn more about Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade by viewing this video:

Community Grasshopper Pest Control
Communicate with your neighbors in treatment options and make sure everyone treats their yard and pastures with insecticide this will prevent a repeat infestation of grasshoppers.  One treatment of insecticide may not be enough to get rid of grasshoppers.  Take note of the activity in your yard and garden and address the grasshopper infestation if need be by reapplying insecticide.

Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects
Attract insects that feed off the grasshoppers.  Grow marigolds, sunflower, daisy and dill herb in areas throughout your yard.   These plants will attract robber flies.  The flies are a natural way to get rid of grasshoppers.

  • Grasshoppers are a common insect throughout the United States. This insect is renowned for its large appetite.
  • Pray for a cool and wet spring.  This is a natural way to starve the young nymph grasshoppers.  
  • Brown grasshoppers make good bait for fishing.
  • Limited quantities of grasshoppers are good for the ecosystem; infestation of hundreds of grasshoppers will cause serious damage.  If you have a few grasshoppers and want to get rid of them repel them from your yard with plants.
  • If you do not act fast to control the grasshopper infestation then your yard, the garden will be damaged from this foraging insect.
  • Use food grade Diatomaceous Earth only, if the product is safe for pets then it is okay to use on your lawn or garden, as it will kill the grasshopper but will not harm your pets, children or other wildlife.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Growing Tips for Rosemary

Rosemary is a fast growing evergreen herb that is eye appealing and very fragrant.  The entire plant; leaves, stems and blooms are very fragrant which is why I love this herb.   This herb has deep grayish green foliage and will cascade in a container or over a low rock wall.

Rosemary has many uses; you can cook with the leaves, or make potpourri. I like to cut springs of rosemary for my garden wreaths, herb and flower arrangements and for my natural rosemary soap.  The aromatic rosemary has an invigorating fragrance that appeals to my senses. 

I first learned about this herb a few years back at greenwood nursery and liked what I read about the herb.  I ordered 4 creeping rosemary plants and grew them in an over sized urn on our flagstone patio. 

If we were having friends over to relax on the patio the fragrant rosemary would perfume the air.  All of my guests love the scent of the rosemary and many would heighten the flavor of their meat or vegetables by adding rosemary leaves.  You should grow rosemary especially if you enjoy cooking but also if you enjoy decorating your home with herbs.  there are also health benefits for growing rosemary, here are a few;

Now you have learned a little about the herb called rosemary.  If you would like to grow it then follow these tips.

Planting Requirements
Growing rosemary is easy as long as you provide the plant with its requirements. Rosemary likes it hot so choose a garden site where the soil well drained, moist in the morning, dry in the afternoon. There should be a minimum of six hours of full sun. The creeping rosemary tolerated the partial sun growing conditions.  

For small yards grow creeping rosemary in containers gardens.  As long as you provide the herb with ample sunlight and medium soil as well as hydration when needed you will be able to successfully grow creeping rosemary.  You will need to plant in a container that allows the rosemary to creep; consider a hanging container or large pot or an urn.

Grow in containers that have drainage holes. If there are none you can create them by drilling holes into the bottom of the container.  Improve the water drainage by adding inches of gravel; this gravel will prevent the roots from being wet.  On top of the gravel I will mix compost with soil and fill the container.

How to Grow Rosemary
Plant the rosemary by digging a hole in the soil that is the same depth as the nursery container.  Set the rosemary herb in the hole and back fill the soil. Firm the soil around the stem and water well.  

If planting in a container, fill the soil up to one inch below the top.  By allowing this inch you will aid in hydrating the plant. The water will not spill over the rim but instead will seep into the soil.
Maintain your rosemary by applying organic mulch around the plant and watering it one inch per week. 

 Rosemary is hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bring rosemary indoors if your weather is extremely cold.  In early spring fertilize rosemary with compost, but a hefty handful around the plants stem.  The nutrients from the compost will keep your rosemary healthy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Maple Tree Planting Guide

Plant a maple and this spectacular tree will enhance your landscape with their bright golden, orange or red autumn leaves.   When mature the maple tree is 25 to 35 feet tall.  This full and rounded tree has a straight trunk and large leaves with five points.  In early spring, the maple tree will produce flowers that are in a cluster of 5 to 10.  

The flowers will fall from the tree and the winged seeds will fall shortly after.  The leaves will grow in and cover all of the branches providing dense shade for your outdoor living space.  If you desire a beautiful shade tree then plant a sugar maple tree in late winter, early spring or fall but do not plant in the summer. 

 Buy a healthy tree that is 2 to 5 foot.  Maple trees grow fast.  I planted a tree from a seed and the tree was four feet tall within two growing season.   

If you buy a tree from a nursery check all trees that have wax-coated burlap covering, as these trees usually have entwined roots. If you buy burlap covered root ball make sure there is no wax coating.  The wax coating will inhibit the roots from growing through the natural burlap.   

You can also buy a tree grown in a container or ask a friend who has maple trees if they have any seedlings growing in their yard. 
Plant a maple tree in spring as soon as the ground warms or in late summer 6 weeks before the end of season frost. Select a growing site that has full sun with well-drained slightly acidic soil.

Remove the tree from the container.  Set the tree on its side and gently roll the container.  Tap on the container to loosen the soil.   Carefully pull out the root-ball from the nursery container.  Use your hands to loosen the soil around the roots.

Transplant the tree from the container into the ground by digging a hole that is as deep and wide as the container plus 12 inches in depth and width.  The extra inches will accommodate the roots and prevent overcrowding.  Set the tree in the center of the hole.  

Gently pull the roots so they face outward, do this without causing injury to the roots.  Fill the hole with the soil and firm the soil around the trunk of the tree.  Water the tree well to remove all air pockets.  Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season, or until the fist hard frost.  The best way to achieve deep watering to roots is to set up a soaking hose on a timer and water daily in the morning.

Keep the roots of the maple tree moist by applying a two foot ring of three inches of  Scotts mulch around the base of the tree.  


Consider protecting young trees maple trees with plastic protection guards.  These guards will prevent pest and animal damage as well as prevent the string from weed whackers and mowers from damaging the tree.

Buy a tree stake at to help your tree to grow straight.  

Grow maple trees in areas where there are cold winters.  

View this video for autumn maple trees in full color:  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Why You Should Recycle Leaves

Recycle the leaves by using them as natural mulch for yard, garden or add them to your compost bin. The nutrients found in leaves will help to nourish your plant, shrubs and trees and will protect your gardens during the winter season. 

If your yard is overloaded with leaves then nominate recruits to help your rake the leaves into a large pile.  Section your yard off and complete one section at a time.  

The leaf pile should be in the center of your yard. Lift the leaves with your rake and put them into your leaf shredder.  The leaf shredder will produce fine leaf mulch.  

If you do not have a lot of leaves in your yard then use a mulching mower to grind the leaves into fine mulch. You may have to run the mower you’re your yard a few times to grind all of the leaves.  The leaf matter will nourish your lawn. 

After a hard frost, cut back your perennial plants. Then apply three to four inches of leaf mulch to your yard and gardens. Surround your plants, trees and shrubs with a thick layer of leaf mulch. The nutrients from the leaves will enrich the soil and will protect the plants from the snow and ice.

For container gardens, add 2 to 3 inches of dried leaf mulch to your container. Next, add the compost and then plant your flower. The plants roots will feed off the leaves nutrients for up to two years.

More reasons why you should recycle leaves:

Benefit from dried  autumn leaves by using them to  light your fire pit or campfire. The dried leaves are natural tinder. 

For a medium size, fire pit add two handfuls of leaves to the center of your fire pit, top the leaves with dried sticks. Next, set your firewood up like a tee-pee with leaves and sticks in the center. This setup will allow the air to circulate and your fire will start quickly.

Here is a You Tube video that will show you how to make natural leaf mulch:

  • Store the leaf mulch in an airtight container and keep in a cool dry area.  Add the leaves to your compost bin as needed.
  • Many recycling centers offer complimentary leaf mulch for homeowners to use in their yards and gardens. Call your recycling center for more information.
  • If you are bagging your leaves, then mulch the leaves first.  Leaf mulch takes up less room in yard bag or container than whole leaves.

  • Remove the leaf mulch from irises and garden beds in early spring.  By removing the leaves you will prevent borers and snakes.
  • Refrain from vacuuming wet leaves.