Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Late Fall Gardening in Missouri

Here in Missouri, the weather is 20 degrees above normal which means the days are in the mid 70’s and the nights are in the low 50’s. The weather now compares to the spring season and I find that I am spending time working in the garden.

This week my husband and I are working on removing the leaves by hand that is embedded in the flowering shrubs and evergreens. The oak leaves are notorious for carrying mites which are harmful to plants. I have also noted that leaves that are left on gardens over the winter do damage the gardens especially irises because the leaves attract insects that eat the rhizome.

Another garden project that must be done in the late fall would be cutting back any remaining annual or perennial plant. Then remove any weeds, grasses from the bed before applying mulch. The vegetable and tomato gardens are nearly spent but there are still crops that I will harvest for the composter

When the leaf removal, cutting back of perennials and harvesting is completed
I will cover all garden beds with two to three inches of cedar bark mulch. In addition, I will also encircle the flowering shrubs and add a layer of mulch under the evergreens. If there is a hard winter then the mulch will protect the plants with roots close to the soil surface from shifting or becoming damaged. Mulch also makes your cold season gardens look more eye appealing and deters weed growth in the early spring.

Note: irises will get a thin layer of mulch, but that mulch will be removed in early spring.

The weather has been warmer than normal during the fall season and gardening in late fall has been enjoyable. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall Flowers Add Color to Landscape

Many people will put away their gardening tools mid-September because the growing season has come to an end. But if you love flowers then you can extend your gardening season by growing plants that bloom through the fall season. This year I have added color to my landscape by growing annuals with my Chrysanthemums.

My neighbors, have asked me if chrysanthemums will come back the following spring and should they plant them in the ground. The answer is yes. Last fall my neighbor was throwing out her chrysanthemums in nursery grown pot after blooms were spent. I took them and planted in a container. After a hard frost, I did cut the mum stems back and topped the container with 3-inches of mulch. The following year the chrysanthemum grew in and this fall we have enjoyed the flowers as they have added fabulous color to our landscape.

Know that you can grow Chrysanthemums in the ground or in containers and they will return the following year as long as you plant in well-drained soil, full sun and leave 6 to 12 inches in-between the plants. Water your chrysanthemums well when you first plant them, then water daily in the morning especially if grown in containers because they do dry out faster than planted in the ground. Plant mums in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. You can also plant mums in the fall 6 weeks before a hard frost is best. Add 2-3 inches of mulch to containers or garden bed. Fertilize in the spring to encourage new growth and flower blooms. I recommend that you remove the mulch from the containers and garden bed in the spring, fertilize and replace the mulch around the mum stems in the early summer.

Growing tips:

Create eye appealing chrysanthemum container gardens by growing ivy close to the rim of the plant, If you decide that you like the ivy cascading down the sides then plant only 1-2 ivy plants like winter hardy Baltic. *Watch the runners so they do not take over the container.

Learn more and view photographs of Baltic Ivy here

Here is a list of fall season companion plants to grow with chrysanthemums pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage, kale are a few of my favorites.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pruning Wild Climbing Roses

Normally I will walk past the wild climbing roses that grow in the woods by my home and I am careful where I step, but this summer I found that there are many canes that have blocked the nature trail, so I intend on pruning the rose canes before they get out of control. 

It is uncommon for wild climbing roses to bloom in the woods because they do not get enough sunlight but the ones by my home are covered with pink blooms.  The roses that grow wild have taken over an acre of land.  It is a big job to prune the entire area so I am concentrating on the roses close to my home.  

Before pruning the climbing roses you will need to buy special gloves that were made for taking care of roses. They are protective cowhide gloves that protect your hands and arms from the thorns.  I also recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants, and rubber garden boots.
The climbing roses will be pruned to remove the dead branches. Then I will cut the remaining canes two-thirds, and the ones growing close to the garden path I will prune at the soil surface. This pruning should provide us with a more uniform climbing rosebush. 

My husband said he would put up a trellis to train roses how to climb.  Next growing season we hope to have manicured climbing roses that cover the trellis.
Learn more about climbing roses by viewing this video.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Stella de Oro Daylilies Add Beauty to Garden

A few years ago my neighbor had put two containers of Stella de Oro daylilies at the curb, they were near death and I did not think they would survive but took them anyway. I submerged the container of extremely dry dirt in tepid sink water. This allowed the container to take in the water and the soil became evenly moist. I removed the container plant, drained the sink before setting the container in the sink to drain.

When all the water had drained I set two lilies close to a plant grow light, since they had been in a dark garage for several days. I knew that they needed light.  Well, I rescued the Stella de Oro's in time because both survived.  They were transplanted to my garden and today they bloomed. The repeat large gold star flower blooms are beautiful.

Here is a canvas print that I created from one of my photographs of Stella de Oro in full bloom.

Stella d'oro Yellow Lilly Flower Wrapped Canvas

Plant taxonomy classifies Stella de Oro daylilies under the daylily genus, Hemerocallis, which derives from the Greek, hemera, "day," plus kallos, "beauty”

Grow Catnip and Felines will Come

Growing catnip in your yard is not difficult but finding the required growing location is a must. You do not want to grow catnip close to your outdoor space because neighborhood felines will come to your yard and you would want them in the back section away from human traffic, especially if they are stray or feral cats.

I have 10 catnip plants growing in my back wildflower garden. I grew these plants from seeds that I planted in ¼ inch soil then covered with a light layer of mulch so the rain would not wash them away. The seeds grew into seedlings then plants and as soon as the stem was 4 inches in height the cats started to arrive.

I did have to protect the young plants so I covered them with a metal hanging basket.  The basket came with a coconut fiber liner that I removed. What was left was a metal dome with open work. I set the dome-shaped metal container over my catnip plants to protect them from the cats.
The metal dome protects the catnip roots, leaves grown through the openwork.

The metal dome (bottom part of the hanging basket) is a great way to protect seedlings from foot traffic because the roots are protected.

So if you love cats, enjoy watching them then grow catnip in your garden and felines will come.

The photographs that you view on this blog post are my original photographs of neighborhood cats visiting my catnip garden.

Learn more about gardening here

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Olivos Olive Oil and Lavender Soap Review

When your lavender harvest is not great and you cannot make your own then I would recommend that you buy Olivos natural lavender and olive oil soap because it will leave your skin feeling like silk.

When it comes to bath and body bar soap I choose to make my own, When my lavender herb plants did not provide me with an ample harvest of flowers my friend recommended that I buy Olivos olive oil and lavender herbal soap from Walmart.com

At first, I did not think that Walmart.com carried essential oil soaps that were of high quality but did not realize that online offered more than the stores. My friend told me that this lavender bath soap left their skin feeling silky soft and they recommended that I try it. She said that the soap is made from 100% extra virgin olive oil and lavender minerals This is a smooth soap that feels very moisturizing. But unlike my homemade soap, this soap does not have visible flower buds.

Normally lavender soap is aromatic, this soap has a light scent and I would prefer a more fragrant soap.  Know that the soap does produce a nice lather and it is very moisturizing, in fact, I did not need to add a body cream after my bath. I really like the way this olive oil and lavender soap makes my skin feel. Even the rough spot on my feet was soft to the touch.

I will definitely buy this soap again and as for the lavender fragrance that I love, I will remedy that by adding two drops of essential oil to my bath water. For those of you who like a moisturizing soap that leaves your skin feeling like silk then you may want to shop at Walmart.com and buy Olivos Olive Oil Lavender bath soap.

Learn how to make lavender herbal soap here  

Friday, May 19, 2017

When to Water Seedlings or Transplants

Whenever you transplant seedlings or sow seeds to your garden the care directions are to water well and to not let the soil dry out. Today I was talking to a fellow gardener and she told me that she followed the directions for sowing seeds to an outdoor garden but the seedlings died quickly. She thought perhaps it was poor quality seeds. Know that her seedlings dying had nothing to do with the soil, the seeds but instead it had to do with the watering of the plants. My friend did not water the seedlings and the soil dried out.

Last week I planted 500 bee and butterfly flowers. I sowed the seeds into a bed of moisture control potting soil, then covered this flower garden with a light layer of mulch. I watered well after I planted them then continued to water the seedlings throughout the day. I watered the newly planted seeds four times daily. The soil never dried out and withing 3 days the seedlings appeared with healthy leaves.
Beebalm seedlings with a light layer of mulch around the plant but not next to the stem. 

How much water is too much? Know that when you sow your seeds that these seeds are covered with one-fourth of an inch of soil. That soil can dry out quickly and dry soil will cause seedling stress. The light layer of mulch does help, but you must put it on thinly so not to hinder the seedling from growing. But you must water your seedlings and water them often.
My friend watered her seedlings in the morning. The soil had dried out in a few hours, then when the sun came out and the day was hot the seedlings dried out and the plants died.
If you cannot water your seedlings four times a day then I would recommend that you set up a soaking hose and turn it on for a slow drip. Set the timer to turn the hose on and off in the heat of the day. You will need to water your seedlings or transplants in the morning before work or other activities. Then check the soil for dryness when you get home from work and water if needed. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler Product Review

Keeping garden pests; wildlife, stray dogs, and cats can be difficult especially if you do not have a fenced yard. Every year I plant a vegetable garden and find that the deer and raccoon walk on the plants or eat the young vegetation. In the past, I tried protecting the vegetables with chicken wire fence but the raccoon climbed the fence and uprooted the plants. The only product that kept the pests away was a Scarecrow motion activated sprinkler.

I decided to install the scarecrow motion activated sprinkler because animals are fearful of water. The high-pressure water comes out of this sprinkler and animal is in the line of fire will get stung.  I have watched the pesky raccoon run from my yard. But that is not to say the animals will not continue to try to get the vegetables in the garden. The animals will keep trying and they will keep getting stung by the water. They never reach the garden. The scarecrow will also keep deer, skunk, squirrels, and other animals away from your garden.

This sprinkler works well. I will probably keep it activated throughout the summer. If you have a problem with garden pests or stray cats or dogs then I recommend that you buy a scarecrow. I bought mine at Walmart or you can shop for this pest repellent at Amazon

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Royal Blue Batik Irises

Many people are collectors of irises. They buy unique flowers yearly and are delighted when they get a unique color. If you have not added the royal blue batik iris to your collection then you are missing out because this flower is like no other Iris that you have seen before.

The only words that come to mind are exotic and beautiful. Each flower has multiple blooms that will not disappoint you. Several years ago I bought the batik iris collection online. The flowers came from Breck’s online Nursery and I have no idea if they still carry this unique iris, but it is well worth your effort to search for these irises at their online store.  As I recall I bought the collection in the fall for spring shipping.  Maybe they still carry the batik irises, I do not know.

In my collection I have two purple irises; Gnu Flash and Royal Blue Batik, then Tiger Honey (gold color with white) and a pink and white one called Baboon Bottom.
Here is a photo of my Baboon Bottom iris

The batik irises look fantastic when grown in masses. If you start with 5 flowers then know that this iris does multiple annually so plant them where they have room to grow otherwise you will be dividing them every few years.

Note unlike other irises this flower thrives in full sun to part shade and they choke out weeds. A very hardy iris that is not fussy about soil and is pest, disease and deer resistant.

Here is a photo sticker of my royal blue batik Iris. You can see from this close up that it is a stunning flower.

Purple Batik Iris Sticker

Purple Batik Iris Sticker

Batik irises...they are my favorite flower in my garden.   I just love them.  Do you grow batik irises?  Here is a video that will show you how to grow irises.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Benefits From Growing Catnip Herb

Many people have grown catnip in their outdoor gardens for their cat's enjoyment but this herb plant has appealing human benefits also. Catnip is known as Nepeta Cataria, a herb that reassembles the mint plant with the whole plant including flowers minty fragrance.

You can grow catnip in the ground or in containers. I recommend that you grow catnip close to your outdoor seating area because when the flowers bloom they are very fragrant. Plus if there are mosquitoes you can break a stem to get at the catnip oil. Spread this oil onto your exposed skin and repel mosquitoes.

Catnip herb can also be used for the treatment of human colds, fevers, and migraine headaches. Harvest the leaves of the catnip for herbal tea. Catnip tea is good when you want to relax. You can also smoke catnip, some say the herbal cigarette has wonderful relaxation properties.

Grow catnip from seed or buy a nursery grown plant at a local garden center. Transplant catnip after the threat of frost has passed to a garden area that has full sun and well-drained soil.

Catnip is not fussy about the soil and will tolerate most soils. Plant the seeds in rows. Space the seed 12 inches apart. Cover the seed with 1/8 inch of soil and water well. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet throughout seed germination. You can grow from seed indoors or outdoors. I have had good results from sowing seeds outdoors.

***If there are cats in your yard then you must take precaution to keep your catnip plants safe as cats will eat the seedlings.***

Caring for Newly Transplanted Flower – Garden Tips

Many people shop for flowers at the garden center.  They will buy nursery-grown plants for their gardens.  The flowers will be planted in an area that agrees with their requirements.  Then the gardener will care for the flower, making sure it grows to be a healthy plant.  

Yesterday my neighbor spent a lot of money on a variety of flowers, I told her how to plant them and when she finished she said, does nature take its course?  She did not realize that she had to take care of her transplanted flower.

For the next 28 days, the newly transplanted flower will need to be watched, all new plants need care.  Here are a few garden tips that I recommend for all transplanted flower. 

Encircle the plant with mulch. Do not add mulch all the way to the plant stem as this will prevent the plant from getting water and other nutrients. Mulch is a good way to control weed grown and also keep the roots cool in summer. The mulch will also help to retain moisture and protect the new garden flower from suffering from dry soil.
Feed your newly planted flowers with water-based fertilizer like Miracle-Gro liquafeed bloom booster flower food once every 10 days throughout the blooming season.

Water your newly planted flower daily with a soaker hose in the morning or before the heat of the day. This hose will wet the soil and not the plant leaves. It is best to keep the soil evenly moist but not wet. Do not let the soil dry out.
Spot check the flowerbed for weeds and remove them when you see them.  Watch the flower garden for pests

***Do not let the flower garden dry out throughout the growing season. Set the soaker hose on a timer and water in the morning.***

Transplanting Nursery Grown Plant - How To

Take care of your nursery grown plant, by providing it with its growing requirements and planting it as soon as you can. The best time to plant flowers outdoors in the ground or in a container is in spring after the threat of frost has passed. As a rule, I like to plant on a cloudy day before the rain. New flowers are less stressed when the sun is not beating down on them and the rain will nourish them.

Before you plant the flower read the label on the container or ask the garden center staff the growing requirements, know if your yard has what the plant needs. If your yard is primarily shaded then a plant that needs full sun will not be healthy, for shade yards shop for plants like Hosta. For sunny area plant coneflowers. There are many flowers and plants but they all have different growing requirements.
Find out what type of soil is needed for your nursery grown plant. Most plants need well-drained soil. If your yard is rocky or soil is sandy then grow your plants in raised gardens or containers with potting soil amended with compost or manure.

Planting Tips

The best way to determine how deep of a hole to dig is to look at the size of the container. You should plant your flower in a hole that is as deep and wide as the nursery container.
Remove the plant from the container. The best way to do this is to put the container on its side and roll it back and forth, tap on the sides lightly as this will loosen the soil and make it easy to remove the plant. If you find that the plant does not come out easily then use garden scissors to cut the side of the plastic container and this should allow you to remove the plant easily.

Now that the plant has been removed from the nursery plastic container you should shake the soil lightly from the roots Then set the flower in the center of the hole before backfilling the soil. Water the transplant well.

Monday, April 24, 2017

About Lilacs the Flowering Shrubs

If you like showy flowers that are fragrant then you should grow lilac shrubs in your yard. Lilacs are a fragrant flowering shrub that blooms in mid to late spring. This showy flower can be grown as a hedge, free-standing accent plant or a foundation plant. Lilacs are a long-lived plant that produces lovely flower clusters that are fragrant and can be cut for bouquets or as a centerpiece for the dining table.

When I was a child my neighbor had lilac shrubs growing along her driveway. Every spring when the flowers would bloom my mother would open the windows and the lovely floral fragrance would be enjoyed in our living room. So it is safe to say, that at a young age I loved lilacs.

Lilac seeds appear late summer

When I got married and we bought a home I joined an organization and received two small Old Fashioned lilacs. They were bare roots and did not bloom for five years. Of course, that was 18 years ago and now my lilacs are mature and have multiplied. 

My shrub is 6 feet in height with a similar spread.  I do prune my lilacs every other year.  Know that lilacs like water, so during the summer months I water them daily in the morning with a soaking hose.  Along with keeping the soil from drying out I also keep the area around my lilacs free of weeds and grass.  

Your lilac shrub will benefit from spring fertilizing and a layer of mulch.

Here are some tips on pruning your lilac shrubs.  Pruning will keep your lilacs healthy.

If you are interested in growing a lilac flowing shrub in your yard and garden then choose a planting area that has well-drained soil. I recommend growing this flowering hedge where you can enjoy seeing the showy flowers. 
The best time to plant lilacs is in the spring after the danger of late season frost has passed. Planting on a cloudy day before spring rain is also helpful.
Learn more about growing and maintaining lilacs here 

Hanging Bird Feeders – Location Matters

 When the squirrel hangs off the side of the feeder or the raccoon knock the feeder to the ground, then you learn quickly that hanging the bird feeder in the right location matters.

My bird feeder hangs from an S-hook from a metal pole that my husband installed in the middle of our yard. It is out in the open with no tree branches around it. This is a good location because animals other than birds cannot get to it.

My neighbor has his bird feeder under the overhang on his garage, the seed never gets wet but every now and then a bird will fly into the garage wall and the squirrel get onto the roof of the garage and work their way down to the bird feeder. The seed falls to the ground and makes an awful mess. Hanging your bird feeder anywhere where the squirrels or raccoon can get to it is not a good location.

Other Tips
Never hang your bird feeder in a location that is close to a window as birds may fly into the window. Best to have the feeder in a location away from your home or garage. Your pole bird feeder should be 8 feet away from buildings, windows, privacy fences, tree branches, and walls.
Prevent squirrels from climbing the feeder pole with a baffle, it is a plastic dome that looks like an umbrella. Wrap it around the pole just below your feeder and this will put a stop to the squirrels from getting to your bird's food. There is also a product called Twirl a Squirrel, it runs on batteries and is a deterrent.
This video will show you how the Audobon baffle works.

Helpful to buy feeders that are made to prevent squirrels from getting the seed. Know that if squirrels are at your feeders then the birds will leave your yard.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Perky-Pet Bird Feeder Product Review

Wildlife and songbird plants grow in my yard and garden and I also hang bird feeders for millet and sunflower seeds. In the past, I did buy the inexpensive plastic feeders but found that they were not quality made and they did not last. Instead of throwing away my money on inexpensive bird-feeders I prefer to invest in copper bird feeders.
Original photograph of my perky-pet copper bird feeder with seed.

While shopping online at Amazon.com I found a copper feeder that worked with my budget. My husband suggested that I use his prime account to buy the feeder since the members do get benefits; sale prices and free shipping. The prime afforded me to buy the perky pet panorama bird feeder at a reduced price plus I did not have to pay for shipping.
Shipping was quick and I received less than ten days. Filling the feeder was easy and the seed was held in the chamber and only dispensed when needed which ensured that the birds were fed fresh seeds.
Other Copper Bird Feeder Benefits
The perch on the side of the feeder allows for more than one bird to visit the same time. The feeder holds two pounds of food which mean I need to fill in the morning only. The copper does not rust and has been outdoors for over a year, looks new. Cleaning this feeder is easy, the remaining seeds fall off when shaken then I rinse it with dawn antibacterial dish soap and let it dry thoroughly before filling with seeds. The copper lid locks securely which keeps the seed inside the chamber. So far the bird feeder seems to be safe from the squirrels and has had no raccoon trying to forage the seed.
You may also like copper bird feeders at Walmart.com There is a nice selection and you may be able to pick up at the store.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring Gardening - Hosta Plants

After the spring rain and a few warm days, I noticed that my hosta plants were coming up. There are quite a few plants that have green leaves and seem to be growing fast. Since the plants have new growth I knew it was time to work in the garden.

Here is a photograph of my spring Hosta Garden.  It was taken after I completed my garden maintenance.
Spring Hosta Garden, with daffodils leaves and mulch

Today I did a hand pulling of the weeds and grasses that were growing in the hosta garden. There was also lilies that had spread into this garden. I dug them up and transplanted to another garden.  Since it is early spring the daffodils plants have green leaves.  I did not cut them back, they will die back naturally.

When the garden maintenance was completed I added some compost that was amended with topsoil and mixed well before adding to the hosta garden. This compost and soil mixture is a good way to feed the plants naturally.

Where I reside we do get a lot of rain in the spring and this rain can cause soil erosion. I decided to add a two-inch layer of cypress mulch around the plants to prevent the compost from washing away. Garden plants do benefit from a mulch application because it helps to deter the growth of weeds, keeps the plant roots cooler in summer and aids in retaining moisture.

Here is a Zazzle.com photo card that I created from a photograph of my summer Hosta garden.

Hosta Garden Card