Sunday, November 30, 2014

Updating Outdoor Planters to Winter Arrangements

Now that winter is here and I can no longer look out at my lovely gardens so I decided I would update my plastic planters by turning them into winter arrangement.

Before beginning the transformation of my window boxes and garden planters I will need to cut some branches from the evergreen trees growing in my yard and then I will cut some lower branches from our Frazier fur Christmas tree. I may have to buy some branches from the Christmas tree outlets and if so I will get some spruce and pine branches.

Whenever I put together an outdoor arrangement I always start with a resin container then fill it up with regular potting soil, then water the soil until it drains from the bottom of the planter. The first time I created a winter arrangement I used a clay pot and come January it cracked.

Putting together a winter arrangement is fun. I start with tall cut branches in the center and then add shorter branches. I like to mix up the colors of the evergreen branches because it makes the planter interesting. When the planter is filled with the evergreen branches I will then spray the greens with wilt proof.

Now I can decorate with weatherproof red bows, pine cones, honeycombs, ornaments or festive holiday bows that are hot glued to a pick. I also like to add natural holly branches with the red berries to give the arrangement some natural beauty.

Do make winter arrangements out of evergreen branches?

Save money and have fun by making outdoor winter arrangements for your plastic planters.  Here is a video that will inspire you: 

Poly Rake Product Review

This year we bought one of those large poly lawn rakes from garden center. This rake has no metal on it and is lighter in weight so if you have a large yard or a lot of leaves this rake sure does make removing the leaves easier.

The rake has a 46 inch handle, 30 inch head with 30 tines and the total weight is two pounds. I used this rake today and found that I did not have to bend over as much and that I could move a whole lot of leaves from under the shrubs and in the gardens with little effort.

My husband swears by a metal rake but when he picked up my rake with the cushioned handle and the next to nothing weight, well it was hard to get my poly rake back.

If you are looking for a new rake to remove the leaves from your yard then I would recommend a poly lawn rake because it gets the job down quickly and efficiently and you are not as sore as you are when you use a traditional metal rake.

Note: I would recommend that you pick up one for your husband too, because even though he may be a die hard metal tines rake fan, if he gets his hands on your rake you may not get it back. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Care for Ajuga Reptans/Creeping Bugleweed

Now that the warm days of autumn are coming to an end I thought it would best to take care of my ajuga creeping bugleweed for winter. Normally I do not do much with this hardy evergreen groundcover but last year our winter was brutal and I lost many plants and vegetation due to extreme cold weather and ice.

This year I attended to my ajuga plants by removing all of the weeds and wild grasses that were growing too close and then I applied Scotts Organics NatureScapes red mulch around the creeping bugleweed.

Ajuga puts out runners and you do want to cover up the runners. It is best to allow space in between the plants leaves and stems. This mulch will protect the roots that grow close to the soil surface. It will also protect the plants from becoming uprooted when snow or ice starts to melt.

Here are some photographs of my ajuga gardens:

Did you know that ajuga is one of the top 10 hardy groundcovers?  Learn more about ajuga by viewing this YouTube video

Scotts Organics NaturesScapes Mulch Review

Today I went to Lowe's garden center to buy Scotts Organics NatureScapes Advanced Sierra Red Mulch. I used this mulch in the spring this year and really liked it and is my new favorite garden mulch.

What I like about the Scotts Organics mulch is that it does not fade under the hot sun. 

Yard and Garden Secrets
Here is a photo of my summer black-eyed Susan garden. I applied three layers of mulch and it naturally preventing weed growth. Which saved me time and effort, because I did not have to go out weekly to spot check the gardens for weeds or annoying crabgrass.

Another benefit is that this mulch holds the water and released it into the soil when needed. I did not have to water my gardens daily throughout the hot summer months and the container garden plants did not wilt in the afternoon.

So today I mulched my flower gardens with 3 layers of the Scotts organics Sierra red mulch and this extra layer of mulch will protect my flower gardens from ice and snow this winter.

View this tutorial video on applying mulch to enhance the beauty of your garden.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trash to Treasured Patio Light

The trash to treasure trellis was recycled into accent lighting for my patio and considering the total cost for this light was $0.00 I feel good about recycling the trellis that I found buried under a heap of leaves and dirt in the woods.
They always say that one mans trash is another mans treasure and while I’ve never been able to say that I recycled a great find until now. I found while clearing the land next to my yard a metal trellis that had been buried under a layer of dirt. The trellis appeared to be decades old, it was rusted and bent but had pretty scroll work and I pulled it out, wiped It off and thought I can recycle this.
When I got back to the house I gave the trellis a good cleaning with a wire brush to remove the dirt and the rust. Then I washed it off with hot water and dawn dish soap before letting it dry in the sun. Once dry I spray painted with black rustoleum, both sides. When paint was dried I checked to see if additional paint was needed and to be on the safe side I gave the trellis two coats.
The trellis dried quickly, then it was time to decorated it with a strand of led white Christmas lights. I secured the strand of lights onto the trellis with plastic zip ties. When attaching lights to the trellis was completed I propped it up in the corner of my patio, ran an outdoor extension cord to the outlet and set it on a timer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Decorating Ideas for Outdoor Living Space

I have taken on a DIY project to remodel my outdoor living space which is my sun porch that is protected from the weather.  Basically I have painted the exterior walls a warm beige and accented the trim with a creamy vanilla paint color.  My outdoor furniture is all-weather white wicker with a hunter green seat cushions.  I choose these colors because they are complimentary to a garden setting.

So I have set the stage for my sun porch and going forward I will know what colors will compliment the room.

Here is a patio set that I created at Polyvore that will show you how festive Christmas country theme pillows look on a patio sofa.  I also added a variety of accessories and potted and decorated Christmas tree.

 My accessory ideas consist of green Christmas tree throw pillows, sofa throw blanket, serving tray for beverages or to hold a variety of tumbler size balsam Yankee candles, coordinating beverage coaster, soft lighting for the corner table, and an outdoor area rug would be perfect.

Here are some country style throw pillows and fleece blankets that I found that I think will compliment my outdoor seating area. As long as I apply a scotchgaurd they will be fine as my sum porch is covered.

In addition to these home decorating accessories I thought I would accent the sun porch with  live Christmas trees that are planted in containers.  Then I could decorating these trees with lights and non breakable ornaments and these trees would look so pretty especially during the Christmas holidays when guest gather for conversation at our outdoor living space.

I have many decorating ideas for my outdoor living space and think when the accessories are added to the sun porch and the colors are balanced that this area  will be a cozy winter holiday retreat.

Stocked up on End of Season Spring Bulbs at Lowe's

The other day I was quite pleased with my spring bulb purchase that I had gotten at Lowe's nursery center. I thought the 40 medium sized dutch master daffodils were a great buy consider I paid under $10. for them. Then this morning I went to Lowe's to shop for some pet safe ice melt and a new snow shovel and saw while I was there that the spring bulbs were all on sale for 25 % off.

Needless to say I felt like I was in chocolate candy store and did not waste any time in selecting bags of spring bulbs; daffodils, crocus, paper whites, tulips and hyacinths to name a few.

While some people may think it is too late to plant since much of the US is presently bitter cold with snow in the forecast.  Thus weather will prevent many gardens from planting bulbs in the ground.  

I will store these spring bulbs in a wood box in my root cellar that is covered with dry peat moss until early spring and then plant in container gardens for clients or my personal garden.

Today was a great day for shopping at Lowe's home improvement store and I am so glad that I checked out the spring bulb section in the garden center.

Here is a YouTube video that will show you how to store daffodils.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Plants That add Interest to Winter Gardens

Normally after a hard frost I will go out and cut back my plants in my garden however some plants I leave because they will provide interest through out the winter months.
Fountain grass in winter

The dried ornamental grass plumes as they add not only interest but also movement in the garden. I also find that the seed heads from the autumn joy sedum. Black-eyed Susan’s and the dried hydrangea flowers look eye appealing during the winter season.
Dried Hydrangea Flowers in in late fall

What I usually do is leave these garden plants alone throughout the winter months and then cut them back in early spring.

After a hard frost after I clean up the garden (cut back all other plants)  I will apply a layer of cypress mulch around the stems of the plants that I am leaving for winter interest.  This year I am using  Scotts nature scapes mulch in the color of red for winter because it is a nice contrast.

Here is a YouTube video that will show you how beautiful grasses look in winter.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Admiring my November Garden

Looking out my picture window I can see hardy copper, red and purple coleus, white inpatients and purple wandering jew plants that are full, healthy and covered with new leaves and blooms. These annual flowers when grown with perennial ornamental grasses and other plants really make my November garden look nice and all of my neighbors when they walk past my house compliment me on my late in season flower gardens.
red coleus garden:

Know that my plants usually are not this healthy, in fact if the summer heat did not kill them then the first cold night in fall would. I am really thankful that I took a chance with spray n grow because this product feeds my garden plants and flowers with micronutrients which are vitamins for your plants.

Here is a photograph postcard that I created from one of my fall garden photographs.  I think you will agree that the November garden plants look amazing.  I know it is not due to my green thumb.  I am certain it is due to the spray-n-grow garden product that I used to feed my plants.

Getting Ready to Plant Daffodils

Today while shopping at Loews garden center I picked up 40 daffodils Dutch master bulbs for $9.99 and I intend on planting them in my garden this afternoon.  

My husband was surprised that I bought the bulbs because I usually only buy from the nursery where I can pick the bulbs up, feel them for soft spots, inspect for mold, or shop online at respectable landscape nurseries.  But today I took a chance at buying prepackaged daffodils.

Granted it took some time for me to find a package of bulbs that I liked.But after I checked several packages I did find a package of 40 daffodils bulbs.  

So after this post I will be heading outdoors to plant daffodils today in the back garden the is located next to the garden path.  This garden is viewed from my picture window; a perfect location for the mid spring blooms. 

I will also be adding a few mid spring blooming daffodils bulbs to my kitchen window-box.  The flowers will look so pretty when they bloom and I can gaze out at them while doing the dishes. 

Transplant Sweet Autumn Clematis

I transplanted some sweet autumn clematis vines so they would grow my privacy fence the runs down my driveway. I thought the vines would look pretty in the fall when the white flowers bloomed. I also liked the idea of looking out the kitchen window at the pretty star shaped white flowers and thought it would be fun to watch the hummingbirds, honey bees and butterflies that enjoy sipping nectar from this flower.

The green leafy vine grew up the wood privacy fence quickly and this week the flowers bloomed. Now this part of the yard smells sweet like vanilla and when I open the kitchen the scent fills the room.

If your fall is mild the clematis will continue to bloom until a frost.  Today is November 8th and my clematis still has pretty white blooms.  

In the late fall the seed heads will appear. That is when I remove the seeds and put them in a trash bag to throw out. This particular clematis can become invasive if you do not remove the seeds and prune after the flowers bloom. 

Tips for growing: Clematis is drought tolerant and grows well in full sun to part shade. I add a layer of mulch around the stems and feed with miracle grow bloom booster in mid August and always get prolific blooms throughout the fall season.