Friday, December 30, 2016

Garden Accessories that Hide Your Spare Key

Garden accessories may add interest to your garden, however, some accessories have another benefit because they conceal your house key. These useful accessories are eye appealing and will save you money because if you become locked out of your house you will not have to call a locksmith.
Hide key here, learn how to bellow

Many people have gone outdoors to get the newspaper in their robe and slippers then find that the door closed behind them and they are locked out. If somebody is home then there is no problem but what if you are home alone?

This morning when I went out to walk the dog I purposely left the side door open because I had no intention of leaving the yard. Yet when I returned I found the door locked. While I was on the other side of the house my husband locked the door and went to work. I was locked out without my phone or a spare key. What a situation I was in, my phone inside, my neighbor with the spare key out of town. I had two choices; break into the house or walk a mile in my pajamas to the next neighbor's house.

Had I bought the discrete garden accessories that had a secret compartment
for my house key, I would be able to get back inside easily.

I shopped online at and found just what I needed. I like the synthetic rocks and other garden accessories for concealing your spare key. But think if I had a waterproof key-box that I could hide it anywhere outdoors.

How to Hide your Outdoor Spare Key
Conceal key in a sprinkler head.  Learn more at step 5 bellow

  1. Shop for an outdoor box for your key.  Insert the key in the box.  Make sure it is sealed before hiding the key box in the garden.  Choose a planter then dig a shallow hole, set the key-box flush with the soil and cover with mulch.
  2. Hide the key-box in patio furniture. Unzip a seat cushion or pillow and put the key-box inside.
  3. Buy landscape rocks that are made to conceal keys. Hide the key underneath the rock in the special compartment. Then set rock around flower or other plant containers. Create a rock display on your porch, patio or garden.
  4. Use gorilla brand tape to adhere the key-box to the backside or bottom of patio furniture. Make sure this furniture is flush with the wall.
  5. Hide your key in a sprinkler head, Trademark Global makes this discrete product for you spare key and you can shop for it at
Hide spare key in planters

Hope these ideas are helpful to you. My husband says the best way to not get locked out is to check the door before going outdoors. But you know as well as I do accidents do happen.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas Gift Ideas for Gardeners

When it comes to Christmas gift ideas for someone who likes to work in the yard or garden, then I think that buying for them is easy.  You need to think outside the garden shed and not worry about garden tools, instead, buy them gifts that they will appreciate such as a garden pattern apron, canvas tote bag, work gloves, plant stakes, yard or garden print T-shirt and more.

My garden friends are not the type that garden on the weekend or garden when the flowers are blooming. There is the type of gardeners that visit and work in their garden 7 days a week. Yes, they love to garden and when they are not able to garden in the winter season they are planning their warm season gardens. So when Christmas comes around I will buy them gifts that pertain to gardening because I know they will love the thoughtful gift.

If a gardener is on your Christmas list then finding the perfect gift is easy. You can buy them a gift certificate at or other garden center or you can shop for garden gifts that will be used during the next growing season.

Know that you cannot go wrong with a garden apron. A style with a pocket that is large enough for seed packages, garden gloves or business cards. A cotton apron is a great Christmas gift for a gardener. Even if the gardener has an apron they will appreciate another one.

Know that on a typical day in the garden I will start off with a clean apron but after pulling weeds or planting it will be soiled and I will need to put on a fresh one to meet with clients or neighbors coming to visit me. So you bet a garden apron is on my Christmas wish list.  

My lily garden
I like knowing that I have five gardening aprons because if I get dirty I can always change into a clean one.  Here are a few of my gardener apron designs. Click the link below the image if you would like to buy or learn more.

Real Men Yard Work Apron

Master Gardener Apron

Garden Girl Flower Collage Standard Apron

Another gift idea for gardener would be custom made canvas tote-bag, for stashing garden stuff or taking to the garden center to shop.

Cute Custom Gardener Print all over Black Tote Bag

Monogram Green Garden Wreath Print All Over Bag

Other gift ideas; garden books, gloves, sunhat, and flower markers are also appreciated.  Here is a collection that I designed at Click here to view a variety of garden gifts for him and for her.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Gardening in November

The fall season has been unseasonably warm and many of my flowers, zinnias, chrysanthemums and black-eyed Susan’s are still blooming. I am thankful that the weather is mild as I enjoy gardening in November.

Here are photographs of late blooming flowers in autumn gardens.

My neighbor today visited me in the gardens and could not believe that my flowers had many blooms and buds. He told me that he cut back all of his flowers the first week of September because he thought it would be a cold season.

Know that most people do stop tending to their gardens in September but I am not one of those people. If the weather is warm then I continue to tend to my flower and tomato gardens. This year I planted tomatoes in self-watering containers and thought instead of cutting them back I would move them to the mini walk-in greenhouse. If the weather should turn cold the greenhouse will protect the plants from frost and I may be able to harvest cherry tomatoes in January.

When I looked at the weather for my area I saw that it is not supposed to get cold until January so I will continue to tend to my flowers that are blooming in the garden. After a hard frost, I will gather seeds for next year and cut the flowers back to the soil then cover with a layer of mulch.

By extending my growing season into November I was able to make fresh herb wreath with cut zinnia and mum flowers for my homes d├ęcor. On Thanksgiving, I will cut flowers for bouquets for my elderly neighbors.

Know that I reseeded my zinnia gardens in August for late summer blooms and also deadheaded the chrysanthemums and fertilized them with bloom booster by miracle-gro. This is why I have so many flowers blooming in November.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Keep Watering Gardens in Fall

Many people ask me if they should keep watering their garden during the fall season and I reply yes especially if you season is dry with no rain in the forecast. Several flowering plants will continue to flourish in the garden until there is a hard frost.

Know that I do not water daily but I do not let my gardens and spring blooming shrubs dry out. I generally stop watering when there is a hard frost and plants go into a dormant state.

Fall is the season when the weather can be hot, cool and cold all on the same day. This fluctuation of temperature is hard on plants and generally, they will start to die back. When a plant begins to die back I will clean up the flower bed by cutting the perennial down to the soil or remove the annual. Then add a layer of much to the garden bed.

it is okay to cut back flowers that have spent. I cut back my Shasta daisies and my Asiatic lilies as soon as the weather changed and nights got cool, the mid-40’s.=[ However the days are warm and some days are hot which means my zinnias, at 4 o’clock, black-eyed Susan’s and Sunflowers still have blooms.

I water my garden plants, container gardens and also water the spring bulb beds until there is a hard frost. Here are some photographs of late summer early fall blooming flowers
Zinnia Flowers will bloom until weather changes; cold/ frost.

Chrysanthemums will continue to bloom until hard  frost 

Black-eyed Susan's keep feeding and watering and they will bloom until fall frost.

Sunflower is hardy, water with bloom booster and they will put out flower buds.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Plant Food Plot Seeds and Deer Will Come

This morning a doe deer brought her fawn to my yard. I could view them from my picture window and noted that their winter coat had grown in. There were three deer in my yard when I went to get my camera when I returned to the window I found more deer grazing at the food plot that I grew from seed.

There was movement from behind the oak trees and I assumed it was another doe, but to my surprise, it was a young buck with antlers. I was so excited to see the buck in my yard and was certain that this was his herd. 
The young buck was six feet from my window and was aware of my presence because he snorted and stomped his hooves. My husband told me to step away from the window slowly because a territorial buck could come through the window. Granted I was too close for comfort and did step back. I took some photographs from the window.  
View this video to learn more about deer food plots

The deer food plot seeds that I planted was easy to do I bought a product at that required little work, it was throw and grow. (see photo above) You plant in the spring and in the fall and this will enable you to view deer in your yard all year. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

When to Plant Chrysanthemum

Summer is almost over and I find that I am thinking about the fall season. Fall is my favorite time of the year because of the garden activities. When it comes to working in the yard and garden there are many things to do, planting chrysanthemum is one of my favorite activities in fall.  

Do you plant mums in fall? 

In late August to the first week of September, I will plant Chrysanthemums in containers and in feature gardens. Now I live in growing zone 6 and we have a long autumn season. For other growing zones in the USA, I would say plant mums at least six weeks before a hard frost.

Chrysanthemums come in a variety of colors; white, yellow, lilac, purple bronze, cream, orange, pink, green burgundy-red, and bi-colors. There is a color flower for everyone and these long-lived flowers really brighten up the garden.

The mum is a beautiful flower so show it off by planting in your feature garden, or outline your front walkway. You can also add to wheelbarrow gardens or plant container gardens for your front porch. 

I have planted mums in containers and in the ground. Then after a hard frost, I will cut the plant back to the soil and add a layer of mulch. The mum then returns the following year.

Here are a few photographs of chrysanthemums I hope they will inspire to plant this lovely flower in your fall garden.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rustic Trunk Planter Ideas

Instead of shopping for new clay or plastic planters for your flowers or greenery, go to yard sales and buy rustic wood trunks for your garden. These rustic trunks will add interest to your garden. A container that is different from the norm will not only enable your plants to grow but will also be a focal area in your yard and garden.

Grow petunia is rustic trunk planter

Here is a digital design that I created to show one of the clients how she could utilize one of her vintage trunks. In her case, the trunk would be set up on a sunny porch that had rain protection. 

Before planting in a wooden trunk I would recommend that you apply
a water seal to protect the wood. Also, you would not fill the trunk with soil but you would drop in plastic shelf about 10 inches into the trunk. Then on top, you would add your self-watering planters for your flowers, herbs or sweet potato vines.

This open trunk planter is unique and adds tremendous interest to your garden.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Combination Container Gardens – Spring Bulbs

Extend your container garden bloom season by planting a variety of plants and bulbs that bloom at different times. When it comes time to put together a container garden I prefer to plant once, then enjoy early, mid and late spring season flowers. This type of container garden is good for someone who is busy and has no time to garden or someone who has a small yard, terrace or balcony.

Flower Container Garden by sgolis

Grow a variety of spring bulbs but before you buy you will need to check the bloom time. If you shop online at you will read that some bulbs have bloom times in early spring, mid-spring, and late spring.

Here are a few spring bulbs that I like to plant in a combination container.  For early spring plant; Narcissus Jet Fire, Tulip Red Emperor, Crocus Large Flowering Mixture, Galanthus snowdrops.  Mid Spring; Narcissus butterfly mixture, Tulip Red Riding Hood, Muscari Delft Blue Mixture  Late Spring Narcissus Pheasant’s Eye, Tulip Foxtrot, Giant Grape Hyacinth

Put your combination container garden together in the fall because the bulbs do need to have a winter season in order to bloom in the spring.

For abundant blooms and colorful flower container gardens, I plant 15 spring bulbs per square foot. The bulbs are planted flat side down, pointed side up and are 3 inches apart. Yes, the bulbs are close together but come spring when they bloom the container gardens look fabulous.

Planting Tips:

  1. Plant spring bulbs in the fall, six weeks prior to a hard frost.
  2. I recommend mixing bone meal with the potting soil. The bone meal will provide the bulbs with phosphorous and calcium. It is great for strong roots. Plus squirrels do not like the smell of bonemeal and will stay out of your spring bulb containers.

Here are some garden containers that I found at They would look nice in front or backyard. Both containers are lightweight but resistant to weather.
 Better Homes and Garden Decorative Resin Bronze Urn

Better Homes and Gardens Westminster 20" Decorative Resin Urn, Bronze

 Better Homes and Garden Decorative Planter Light Bronze

Better Homes and Gardens Richmond 22.5" Decorative Planter, Light Bronze

Friday, June 24, 2016

Natural Summer Allergy/Sinusitis Treatment

Summer pollen-related allergies are the worst especially if you love gardening. If you suffer from seasonal allergies you can get relief by taking medication like Claritin for indoor and outdoor allergies or you can choose a natural treatment.
Now that summer is here I have been working in the garden every day. I love spending time in my garden but since I am allergic to grasses, trees, and some flowers I am getting allergy symptoms; sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and cough.  
If you suffer from summer allergies then you can get natural relief with a saline nasal rinse that will balance your pH. The nasal irrigation is a good way to remove indoor and outdoor allergens including dust, animal dander, grass or flower pollen, and household dust.  I irrigate my nose twice a day with this saline and breath easier.
Along with the nasal rinse,  I will mix a teaspoon of diatomaceous earth food grade, a natural silica supplement with 8-ounces of water or juice and drink in the morning. The DE is a great way to do whole-body detoxification and will clear out the excess mucus.
Boost your immunes system with honey lemon ginseng green tea with white tea.  Brew several cups throughout the day and sip it slowly.   The antioxidants found in this tea will help you to feel better. 

Here are a few flowers and trees that will cause you to have seasonal allergies; goldenrod, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, daisies, and chamomile. Trees; walnut, pine, elm, cedar, birch. beech, hickory. silver maple and oak.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Garden Path Ideas

When I was a kid, my parents had a garden  path along the side of the house, this path took us to the rose garden and to the patio. I liked the path because I did not have to walk on the grass and after a rain I did not have to worry about getting muddy shoes.

Our garden paths enabled me to pick roses without stepping on the ground, in addition, my parents could weed the gardens without getting grass stains on their clothes.

Growing up with garden paths meant that I would have them in my yard. Know that my garden paths have come a long way since I was a kid. My present home has many paths. Some are stone, others are pavers and we also have a pea gravel and a path that is made from mulch.

Here is a photograph of my upper garden path that is in-between the hosta garden and the irises. Then there is a cement block path that came with the house. Husband and I installed another path / patio out of flagstone. This path leads to the mid-level cement patio.
photo by Sgolis

In the lower level of my yard, there is a stepping stone with pea gravel path that takes you to the dog pen. The other path will take you to the back wildflower garden. This path is cement capstone surrounded by mulch.
a photo by Sgolis

All of the paths in the yard are interesting, they define the garden and are also a benefit.

Learn more about garden paths by reading my how to articles.

Small Yard Garden Ideas - Grow Mini Roses

My friend recently moved to a townhouse and she has a small yard with a patio that gets sun and part shade. She has a patio table and a hanging petunia planter but she really misses her rose garden. I suggested that she grow miniature roses in containers because they would look nice and are the perfect size for her small yard.

Having a small yard is no excuse for not growing roses. You can brighten your patio, terrace or deck with a variety of mini roses grown in large or medium containers. These roses start to bloom in early summer and will provide you with multiple blooms until there is a hard frost.

Miniature pink roses are grown in a clay pot

I recommend that you plant roses in part shade to full sun. Then shop for containers that will provide ample space for your roses. Miniature roses when fully grown are 18 inches in height with a spread of 24 inches. Make sure your containers provide drainage. Turn the pot over to check for water drainage.

Shopping Tips

There are two ways to buy miniature roses. You can shop online in late winter / early spring and buy a bare root rose bush. Or you can find roses at your local garden center or online nursery and buy miniature roses that are grown in a pot. Follow the planting recommendations for your growing zones.

Know that growing a few roses in a container will look eye appealing, but does not benefit the roses if they are grown too close. This plant needs good air circulation. Healthy roses do better when they are not competing with other plants for water or nutrients. So buy a container that will allow you to space the roses so they are not cramped.

Planting and Maintaining Roses

  1. Add two inches of pea gravel to your container to help with water drainage
  2. Amend garden soil with compost. The best way to do this is to mix in a wheelbarrow before you add soil to the container.
  3. Dig a hole that is 18 to 24 inches deep and space roses 18 inches apart.
  4. Backfill the container with soil. Then water the roses. Let the water drain before adding more soil. Fill the container with the remaining soil.  Firm the soil around the stem leaving the bud union level with the soil.
  5. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet as it is important to not let the roots dry out.
  6. Add mulch around the sugar plum rose bush to aid in moisture control and to prevent weed growth.
  7. Feed miniature roses bushes with fertilizer granules formulated for their specific needs. I like Bayer systemic rose and flower care because it protects the roses from harmful insects. You can buy this product at 
  8. Transplant roses every 2 to 3 years to prevent roses from becoming root bound.
Learn more about roses by reading my other garden secrets post; Climbing Roses How to Grow

Monday, May 23, 2016

Keep Squirrels out of Bird Feeders (How To)

If you are birder then you know that a squirrel at the feeder is not a good thing. They take over the feeder, spilling seed to the ground and do not allow the songbirds access. Even when you buy the feeders with the screen to prevent the squirrel access to the seed, this nuisance rodent will take over the feeder by hanging off the side trying to access the seed.

A photo by Sgolis
I bought Backyard Boys woodwork feeder (shown in this photo) at

My brother has a problem with the squirrels taking over his bird feeders and he traps them and releases them across town where there is a wooded area. Know that this does not solve the problem even thought trappings are done several times a day there are always squirrels at the feeders causing havoc.

Now I am no squirrel expert but knew that we would always have this pesky animal in our yard because we live in a woods with many nut trees which is an attraction for the squirrels. So instead trapping the squirrels my husband and I decided to get the squirrel their own feeder.

We set up a ground feeder with food that is appealing to the squirrel; sunflower seeds, corn, and shelled peanuts. The feeder was set on the ground and 15 feet away from the bird feeders. Know that as long as this feeder is filled with the delicious peanuts, cracked corn and sunflower seeds then the squirrels could care less about the songbird seed in the feeders.

A photo by Sgolis

If you have not tried this wildlife food setup in your yard then know that I do recommend it. We noticed immediately that the squirrels are no longer territorial and chasing off the birds. There is less stress in our yard because we  have happy squirrels that are taking turns at their feeder. Note the blue jays tend to hang out at the squirrel feeder, but there has been no wildlife drama.

In addition to the ground feeders, we have also set up a water source for the squirrels that is separate from the birds. This set up works well because if the squirrel had to use the birds water fountain then they may get distracted and try to get access to the birds food. So separate water fountains for squirrels is a must.
A photo by Sgolis
We bought a small tabletop fountain and set it up in for the squirrels. had some nice fountains for wildlife.

It takes a few days for the wildlife to learn the routine.  But eventually, the squirrels will go to their feeder to eat the succulent peanuts and corn.  Watching the wildlife in your yard is a fun family activity, even your cats will watch from the window and find the animals entertaining.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Colonial Home Front Yard Landscape Project

A friend of mine asked me to help her with the curb appeal of her home. She had just bought a Colonial style home that desperately needed landscaping. I love this type of work so I asked her to take some photographs of the front of her home and to send to me.

Once I saw the home I knew immediately what would improve the appearance and what would make it warm and welcoming, But before I got to work I asked her what her vision was. I noted her requests then got to work on creating a digital landscape rendering,

Here is a photograph of the colonial split level house. It desperately needs to be re-landscaped with perennial flowers, evergreen shrubs, and rock with stepping stone walkway that has a bend.

It took me seven hours to create a landscape rendering for this home.  I raised both sides of the lawn area in the front to create feature gardens. In the garden by the porch 9 x 10 garden was added that featured evergreen shrubs, lilyturf, ornamental grass, and perennial flowers. The garden plants were spaced according to allow for growth. Then mulch was used and a few rocks for interest.
A rock border was used to create a stone walkway to the driveway, This walkway was outlined with perennial lilyturf.
To create a welcoming entrance an urn planter was added by the door and a 3-piece bistro-style outdoor table along with hanging flower and fern planters.
The gardens used in this landscape set features 4- seasons of plants, for every season the garden would be interesting and a focal point of beauty, 

Here are the two landscape designs that I created.  In comparison to the first photo, the updates really make this home look appealing.  It now has tremendous curb appeal. 

You can add curb appeal by updating the entrance of your home.  Here is a video that will show you how to