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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Garden Design Ideas for Irises

After my irises bloomed I realized that they needed to be thinned out and since the weather was cool I thought I would start this garden project rather than in July when the weather is extremely hot. Normally I transplant into a garden bed; along the southern side of the house, I will also add irises by the driveway and many are planted on the southern slope.   I decided to create an eye appealing iris flower garden in my backyard.  

Sun is a factor when growing irises and the only area that appealed to these flowers needs was in the middle of my yard.  So I decided to design a garden that was an eye appealing feature for my backyard.

The area for flower garden was 9 x 10 and I  needed to transplant 46 irises into the new garden.  I decided to turn this area into a garden for the birds and the butterflies.

I would need the following; bird bath, stepping stones, 4 bags of potting soil.  I shopped the sales at the garden center at I bought Miracle-Gro 4 cubic feet potting soil, landscapers fabric. and stepping stones. Then I shopped for a bird bath. I liked the solar fountain because they offer water circulation which will provide fresher water for the birds to drink.

Here are a few bird baths that I like at  

2 Tier Solar Garden Water fountain / Bird hydration 
Glazed Cobalt Blue ceramic bird bath

This easy eye appealing iris garden would appeal to the senses.  Here is my garden design idea for my divided and transplanted irises.  

Favorite Flowering Shrub - Quince

When it comes to choosing shrubs for my yard, I will shop for flowing or fruit bearing. One of my favorite flowering shrubs is the Chaenomeles japonica, Quince. This early spring bloomer has such a pretty fragrant flowers, thorny stems and small edible fruits in the fall My neighbor makes jam from the fruit from the Quince but I leave the fruit on the shrub for the wildlife.
Pretty Pink Quince

I grow this shrub on the south side of my yard where there is full sun. The soil is well-drained and the combination of sun and soil agrees with the quince.
Small yellow apple shaped fruit appears in fall

If you are in need of some privacy then grow this shrub in masses and it will provide you with a beautiful living fence that is four feet in height and four feet wide when fully grown. Plus the thorns on the branches are an affective way to keep intruders out.  Know that not all Quinces have thorns. There are some that are thornless and do not bear fruit.
Stunning red Quince

Care for the shrub by pruning the quince after it blooms to keep it looking manicured. It is a fabulous shrub because once it is established it does not need to be watered daily. However I do water it once a week when weather is extremely hot.

Other information

This flowering shrub comes in a variety of flower colors; red, pink, orange and white. I grow pink and my neighbor has red. Whatever the color this shrub is is a must have for growing zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Landscape Project for Colonial House

This week I have accepted a landscape cleanup project for a Colonial house. The client sent me photographs and asked me to put together some ideas that would improve their current landscape.  It is a basic landscape project that will allow them to enjoy their front of the house garden and landscape all year round.

Here is a photo of the area that needs landscaping.

I have been looking at the photographs for this project for  last couple days and  my mind is brainstorming.  So many ideas but thought it was best to find out what the client likes / dislikes. 

The client loves flowers but also wants an evergreen landscape so that the front of the house will be appealing; spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Based on the notes that I took when chatting with my client I decided to create a garden in the front of the house, with a cozy seating area on the porch where the family can sit and watch the sunset or enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. 

Here is the landscape set that I designed for my client.

Front of the House Garden/Landscape

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Growing Tips for Amaryllis Belladonna Lily

When I moved to the Midwest region of the United States, there was a beautiful pink lily that bloomed the end of summer. My neighbors told me that the flower was commonly called “naked ladies”. The common name seemed odd because this pink flower was glorious. I searched for it online and learned that the flower growing wild in my yard was the Amaryllis Belladonna lily.
Here is a postcard that I made from a photograph I took of Belladonna lily in bloom. You can see that this is a beautiful flower that will brighten your garden.

Pink Belladonna Lily Bloom Postcard
Pink Belladonna Lily Bloom Postcard by Sgolis  
(click photo to view at my gallery)
I have transplanted this lily and found that it is easy to grow outdoors and indoors during the winter months.
There are several ways to grow the Amaryllis; in the winter as a houseplant and then transplant to your outdoor garden in the spring after the threat of spring frost has past. Or you can buy the bulbs and plant in outdoor containers or in your gardens.

Growing Tips
  1. Select an area in your garden that full sun to shade in the heat of the day.
  2. Plant naked ladies in soil that has been amended with compost.
  3. The garden site needs to be well-drained
  4. When fully grown the naked ladies flowers are 24 to 36 in heights, it is best to plant in an area where they will not be over crowded. Space the lily bulbs one foot apart.
  5. Plant the bulb so the top is even with the soil surface.
  6. Water well when planting is completed
Here is a photograph of Belladonna lilies growing in my side yard.

The fragrant pink rose flowers will bloom from tall naked stems (no leaves) in late summer to early autumn. The lilies are hardy to 28F.  Note I have grown these flowers for many years.  Where I reside it is not uncommon for the temperatures to dip bellow zero in the winter months.  This is why  I protect my lilies with 3 to 4 inches of mulch in late fall.
In my experience, the lilies that are planted with a wind block, in an area that has morning sun/ afternoon part shade in the peak heat of the day and are not watered daily seem to have vibrant blooms and long-lived flowers.

Other Growing Tips

Choose your planting site well and then do not disturb the naked ladies. If you transplant them it will take a few years for the plant to produce blooms.
Grow in full sun, for zone 7 to 11 and height is 28-35 inches / Common name is Belladonna lily, Cape belladonna, Naked ladies

Buy Belladonna lily bulbs at

Planting Tips for NON-GMO Milkweed Seeds/ Butterfly weed

If you love watching monarch butterflies and other butterfly species then plan to grow non-GMO milkweed seeds in your garden, field or other open space. Milkweed plants (Asclepias) are the plants attract Monarch butterflies, other butterflies, and hummingbirds because of the nectar source. This plant is also attractive to Monarch butterflies for egg-laying. 

Butterfly white tree nymph and milkweed plant

If you plan on growing milkweed this season then I would recommend that you start your seeds indoors. Milkweed needs a (cold season) This is an important step as the cold temperature is needed for seeds to germinate. 

So before you plant your seeds you would dampen a paper towel, set the seeds on the towel and put the towel in ziplock plastic bag. Set the bag with seeds onto a baking sheet or other flat surface and put in your refrigerator for 30 days. 

Remove the milkweed seeds after 30 days and plant your seeds in starter kits or in the ground. If the weather is not hot, then plant outdoors, but if your temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit then milkweed will not germinate outdoors I would recommend growing them indoors in a container, then transplant outdoors.

Know that it is recommended to plant milkweed seeds in the fall for following spring season. 

I found organic / non-GMO seeds at and the cost was reasonable plus low shipping fee.  If you love butterflies then buy non-GMO seeds at and grow milkweed plants.

Here are some seeds that I recommend and other organic gardening supplies.  Click the link to view at the online shop.

Milkweed Non-GMO seed assortment 
100 Non-GMO swamp Milkweed (pink) 

Miracle-Gro organic potting soil
Organic seed starter (use if going to grow in starter kits) 

Buy milkweed plant at greenwoodnursery,com 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Utility Workers Spray Herbicides in Yard and Gardens

Our home is located directly next to a wooded area. But that does not mean that our yard is overgrown.  We keep our yard maintained so that it does not attract unwanted wildlife. In the back section of my yard. I grow three serviceberry Amelanchier shrubs. The area is 7 feet from utility pole but since the shrubs are within the guidelines;  less than 20 feet in height when fully grown I was confident that this sunny area was a good area to grow the shrubs. I was wrong because the vegetation  workers at Empire Electric came out and killed my fruit bearing shrubs with herbicide.

Also in the line of herbicide was my 3-foot Nanking cherry bush and 8-foot elderberry bush.
Add caption

Know that I planted the serviceberry shrubs in May of 2005 and they never grew to the full 12 feet in height with similar spread because I pruned them yearly. They were not interfering with the utility lines and since they shrubs were growing in my yard, my property they were not in the way of utility workers.

 When I spoke to the arborist he told me that they sprayed all vegetation in the common area behind my garage and any plant tree or shrub less than 10 feet away from the utility poles was treated with herbicide injected into to the soil at the base of three or shrub.  That it was common for any plants in the general area to be affected by the herbacide which explains why my lilies died.

For some reason. the arborist and utility workers  thought these plants would interfere with the electrical lines that were 40 feet above. The electrical poles are located in a grass common area that is mowed. There was grass before the utility workers now there is dead brown grass or dirt.

The arborist at Empire Electric calls this vegetation management. The problem that I have is that there was no vegetation to manage, my yard is not unmaintained. Even in the woods my husband kept the trees trimmed and the vegetation cut back because we did not want to attract snakes or other wildlife.

Here is a guideline that shows the homeowner where to plant trees and shrubs.

The general tree and shrub planting rule is that small trees and shrubs with a mature height of 20 feet are less can grow closer to a utility pole, trees with a mature height of 40 feet or less must be planted further away.  My shrubs should never have been sprayed with herbicide and killed, nor should the soil been poisoned with toxins, killing the earthworms and other plants in the surrounding area.

 Know that I did get a postcard from the utility company saying that they would be clearing brush in my area. I assumed in the woods, and not in my yard.  There was no mention of using toxins as I would have refused and done the clearing myself.

Be Aware of Herbicides that Utility Companies Use

If you receive notification from the utility company saying that they are gong to clear brush then find out if they intend to use herbicide to kill the brush. I would recommend that you refuse the toxic chemicals that kill everything and insist that trim the trees instead of killing them. It would be better to have the tree cut down than poison injected into your soil.

Also do not fall for the herbicide treatment to stunt the growth of your trees. The arborist at my utility company says that my fall color on my maple will be much better if I allow him to inject my trees roots with herbicide.,  With a smile on his face he told me that come spring that there will be no new growth and in four years my tree will have to be cut down. 

Do the math, no new growth, cutting down your tree in 4 years. The herbicide is killing your trees slowly.  You will think your tree died and have to pay the expense to have it cut down, you will not realize that the herbicied killed your treel slowly.

Herbicides are poisonous chemicals that are used to kill vegetation and to slowly kill mature trees. They are frequently used by utility workers and can cause health hazards to adults, but they are especially hazardous to children, pets, and wildlife.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Herbaria Lavender Face Serum Product Review

Herbaria makes a face serum that is made from lavender and bergamot essential oils. This biotherapy treatment for your face makes your skin feel soft, smooth and ageless. Know that I grow herbs that could be used for essential oils but prefer to buy this organic herbal face treatment at 

The products that herbaria uses are pure, natural and highest quality.  Know that I have been a long time customer, since 2006. I was one of the customers that bought a variety of herbal soaps and DEET free citronella mist for insect repellent when they were making the products in their homes basement. Love all their products but was happy that they came out with an anti-aging herbal face serum.

 I bought the face herbal serum and within a month of using the treatment twice a day,  I can see and feel the difference in my skin.
This serum works so well that I stopped wearing makeup. This herbal blended serum has restored elasticity and rejuvenate my complexion. I love the skin the that I am in because my face has a youthful glow.  

Since using this face serum my friends and family ask me “what are you using on your face” or they say “your skin looks great, care to share your secret?”

My secret is simple; 8 hours of sleep, 8 glasses of purified water, and herbaria herbal face serum.

How to apply herbal serum:

In order to get firmer, smoother and younger looking skin. you need to apply only a few drops daily. What I do is wet my face with tepid water. Then I add 2 to 3 drops of the essential herbal oils to the palm of my hand. Rub my hands together before adding to my face. Then wait a few minutes for the oils to absorb into your skin before applying makeup. I treat my face in the morning and at night.

More Information

All products used in this serum are organic, which is very appealing. Ingredients are as follows; essential oil of lavender, essential oil of bergamot, organic rosehip oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, Vitamin E, organic sunflower seed oil.

The fragrance of this oil is delightful, and the results of one-month treatment are fantastic. Know that I recommend this herbal face treatment to anyone who desires natural moisturizer and youthful looking skin.

Learn how to make essential oils from cuttings from your flower and herb garden by viewing this video.  You can make them in your kitchen, easy to do. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

What to Do if Coyotes are in Your Yard

Our home is located directly next to 29 acres of woods, with a creek in the valley.  This land connects to a state park and it is an ideal habitat for a variety of animals. We enjoy watching the wildlife but when the coyote came into our yard it was too close for comfort. This article will tell you what we did to stop the coyote from coming into our yard.

When coyotes come into your yard it is best to scare them off. In general, coyotes are fearful of humans. Normally if you wave your arms in the air, scream at them they will run away.

We have lived in this house for 15 years and this is the first time coyote came into our yard so we needed to determine the attraction.

Coyotes diet consists of small animals, insects, berries, and vegetables. I grow blueberries, Nanking cherries, and vegetables. Since these plants are grown in outdoor gardens husband decided that we needed to install a repellent to keep the coyotes out of our yard.

We bought  a motion activated water repellent; the Scarecrow animal repellent by Contech at  Installation was easy; insert into the ground and attach to your garden hose. This motion activated animal repellent protects up to 1200 square feet and is effective at repelling not only coyote but also stray dogs, deer, cats, raccoon, squirrel, and rabbits.

If the coyote comes into our yard and crosses the motion sensor then the scarecrows noise will startle the animal and the water burst will come in contact with the coyote, and the animal will feel a sting. The noise and sting of the water will scare the coyote. They will exit the yard because they will be caught off guard. The animal will try a few times to get past the scarecrow, but eventually learns that they are not welcome.

Making yard unattractive to wildlife

The following day husband and I decided to clean up our yard. The dogs food had spilled out his bowl and was lying on the ground. To remedy this food source, we decided to feed the dog in the garage. Husband bought trash cans with locking lids at to prevent coyotes from getting into the trash.

We also cleared away many of the plants that were growing in thickly, this created an area that provided no hiding spots. A manicured yard is not a comfortable yard for wildlife.

*** If you reside in a city I would recommend contacting animal control, ask them to set up a live animal trap in your yard to remove the coyote and relocate it outside of the city. Trapping in my situation is not the answer since there are many coyotes in the woods. Repellents and deterrents are best in my circumstance. Learn more about urban coyotes here