Sunday, December 28, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop on Kids in the Garden: What the Kids Say

This month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild is on Kids in the Garden. As a gardener with five young children, my whole blog is in part about gardening with children. Some of the most popular posts on my blog have been the most explicit about the topic, including:

~
~
In addition to these posts, my post for last month's Design Workshop was Five Tips for Growing Edibles with Children. For this specific Design Workshop, I asked my three oldest children to write down their favorite things about gardening.
~
"My favorite thing in the garden is making flower arrangements. I like putting different flowers together. My favorite color is pink, so a lot of my vases have pink in them. One of my favorite plants is the hibiscus, but the flowers only stay good in a vase for one day. Phlox are good too."
~
-My older daughter, age 10
"My favorite thing in the garden is harvesting vegetables. There are so many different ones to find in the vegetable garden. My favorites to harvest are the tomatoes."
~
-My oldest son, age 9
"My favorite thing about gardening is looking at the flowers. Some of my favorite flowers are daffodils, tulips, and muscari. Muscari is my favorite because it looks like it has bells."
~
-My younger daughter, age 7

The Winter Garden: the Egg Garden Under the First Snow















Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

Picture: Ballerina Rose Hips

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I support local farms and food."

Local Food and Local Farms

Sadly, today was the last day of my local farmers' market in Summit, New Jersey. It was half-raining, half-sleeting and about 32 degrees, but my boys (ages 8 and 5) and I would not have missed it for anything. Tony and his faithful family from Vacchiano Farms with their fresh meat and produce were there. Brad and his faithful crew from Hoboken Farms with their specialty foods were there too. We will miss all of you until next June.

Chatham Farmers' Market (Chatham)
Summit Farmers' Market (Summit)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: December 2008

What a difference a month makes. A warm November and a later-than-expected frost (for zone 6b) combined for some fabulous blooms. But now, the cold December weather has set in and almost all the blooms are gone. Alas, I was able to find at least a few to share with all of you.
~
A snowdrop in the Front Border
A final rosebud on Goldberry Hill
Autumn cherry in the Walled Garden
Forsythia in the Walled Garden

Container Gardening: More of This Year's Containers

As a follow-up to last Wednesday's post, here are the rest of this year's winter containers.













Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Container Gardening: Some of This Year's Winter Containers

As per my recent posts on spray-painted alliums and wreath-making, I am trying do most of my indoor and outdoor Christmas decorating with cuttings from my garden. As a part of this effort, here are some of the winter containers that I have put together this past week. I'm about half-way done and will post pictures of the others after I finish them. If you want to see how they differ from last year's winter containers, click here.
~
Winterberry and Leyland Cypress

Carex, blue spruce, variegated holly, Ballerina rose hips, and spray-painted allium

Spray-painted alliums, Southern Magnolia leaves, blue spruce and Ballerina rose hips


Ilex, Dortmund rose hips and blue spruce

Monday, December 08, 2008

How to Make a Wreath with Materials from Your Garden

This Christmas season, I'm trying to decorate the house with as many things from the garden as possible. When you make your own decorations, you benefit from (i) fresher materials than what you can buy, (ii) the joy of bringing your garden indoors, and (iii) saving a lot of money.
~
Today, I worked on the wreath for the front door. It was an easy project that took a few hours. It is extremely fulfilling to see the wreath form before your eyes.
~
1. Gather together your supplies. You will need: (a) a wire base--I used a wire frame I purchased from Michael's, but you can also purchase them online at the Maine Wreath Co.; (b) floral wire; (c) pruners; and (d) wire cutters.
~
2. Cut a variety of evergreen materials from your garden. You can cut branches or just tips. Ultimately, you will use pieces that are six to eight inches long, so keep this in mind when cutting. I think of this as doing my spring pruning a few months early. After several years of doing so I see no adverse effects on the plants. If anything, they grow more robustly the following season.
~
This year, I used white pine, leyland cypress, ilex and rose hips from my garden and incense cedar, which I purchased. You could also use boxwood, southern magnolia, fir, juniper, holly, spruce, yew, arborvitea, winterberry, nandina, euonyonomous, and many others--the possibilities are only limited by availability.
~
3. Make your posies. Once you have gathered your supplies and have chosen which greens look good together, use them to make posies. In your hand, gather together a small arrangement of greens and berries. Wire the greens together by wrapping the floral wire around them, fanning out the arrangement as you wrap. Continue making the posies and positioning them around the wreath base. When all the posies cover your base, proceed to the next step.
~
4. Attach your posies to the wire base. Attach the first posy by wrapping the floral wire around both it and the wreath frame several times. Once the first posy is in place, continue to add in the others each time making sure each additional one covers up the base of the last one.
~
5. Add the finishing touches. After the wreath base is covered you can add additional embellishments of pine cones or dried flowers with hot glue. Using the floral wire, make a hanging loop and attach this to the wreath base. You are now ready to hang your wreath.
~
6. Extend the life of your wreath (optional). If you would like to extend the life of your wreath, you can spray it with an antidessicant or mist it with water once a day.
~
Related posts:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

How to Care for Heirloom (a.k.a. Low Maintenance) Roses -- No Chemicals, No Sprays and No Special Treatment Required

Heirloom roses are wonderful because they grow with very little care. In response to a recent question, you do not need to use chemicals to grow these roses. If you are into organic gardening or low maintenance gardening, then old garden roses are the plants for you. Look for the following classes of roses: alba, moss, damask, portland, centifolia, and gallicas. Also, include in your selection species and rugosa roses.
~

Most likely, the only one of these to be found in the average garden center is the so called beach rose: either rugosa alba or the pink single rugosa. Fortunately, they are easily available from specialty nurseries, such as: Antique Rose Emporium, Ashdown Roses, and Rogue Valley Roses. All three offer wonderful containerized own root roses. Rogue Valley Roses also has larger than normal roses for shipment.
~

Once you have the rose, planting is very simple. First, dig a hole a bit larger than the container. Mix as much organic matter into the soil which you removed as you wish. This could be compost, leaf mold, composted manure, Bumper Crop, or whatever else you desire. Plant the rose, tamp it down firmly, water, and mulch with more organic material.
~

After planting, old garden roses can fend for themselves. The reason we still have these roses in our gardens today is because they are able to thrive even with neglect. People did not continue to cultivate them because they were unhealthy and hard to grow, but because they are easy to grow and full of beauty. Many of the old roses available are found roses that survived without any help until someone 'discovered' them.
~
If you want to give them extra care, top dress them with compost once or twice a year. For more suggestions, and for those of us who can't sit back and do nothing, there is a wonderful book on growing roses organically called Growing Roses Organically by Barbara Wilde.
~
Pictured in this post from top to bottom are: Apothecary, Celsiana and Noisette.
~

Related posts:
Six Trouble-Free Roses for the Home Gardener
Creating the Rose Garden with a Central Brick Path
The Rose Garden in Spring and Summer: Daffodils replace the Lavender Border
How to Prune Roses, Part I: An Introduction
How to Prune Roses, Part II: Old Rose Pruning Secrets
How to Prune Roses, Part III: Why Prune?
Index of Rose Photos

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Multi-Purpose Southern Magnolias: Summer Blossoms and Evergreen Leaves

After the deciduous trees drop their leaves, I become all the more appreciative of the evergreens in my garden. One of my favorite additions to the garden this year is the Southern Magnolia.
~
This summer, I planted a row of Southern Magnolias along my property line to provide some year-round privacy from my neighbor and beauty to my garden. In addition to their large and fragrant summer blooms, their leathery, bi-color leaves--dark green on top and rich brown on the bottom--provide year-round beauty and can also be used in Christmas decorations.
~
This picture was taken early on Saturday morning when heavy, wet snow was falling. The temperature quickly rose above freezing and the snow turned into a cold rain.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Decorations from the Garden: Spray-Painted Alliums


Inspired by The Garden in Winter by Suzy Bales, I am making more of my Christmas decorations with materials from the garden.

~
Earlier this year, I saved and dried my alliums for this project. This weekend, I sent my husband to the hardware store for some red and silver spray paint and then had some fun in the backyard. I haven't gotten around to using them in any arrangements or containers yet, but I think they look pretty neat already. I tried some other seedheads too, but the alliums were my favorite.
~
Related posts:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Six Trouble-Free Heirloom Roses: Rose de Rescht, Paul Neyron, Madame Plantier, Variegata di Bolgona, Henry Martin, and Tuscany Superb

Gardening Gone Wild has started a Plant Pick of the Month where they invite garden bloggers to write about a specific plant. This month's pick is roses. I love roses. The comment I so frequently get is "It's so hard to grow roses." In my neighborhood, due to the misconception that the only roses which are easy to grow are carpet roses, that's all you see. In the garden centers, there too you see mostly carpet roses and the Knock Out roses. These are great roses, but what about the heirloom roses?

~
The old garden roses are so easy to grow. In most cases, you can dig a hole, add in some compost, plant the rose, water it well for the first year, and from there its requirements are the same as other shrubs in your garden. What they lack in remontancy is made up with fragrance and profusion of bloom. Also, if you grow the Portlands and Bourbons, you can have repeat blooming shrubs as well.
~
I cannot image my garden without the beauty, fragrance, reliability, and link to the past that old garden roses provide. I love them all, but here are six heirloom roses that are particularly wonderful.
~
1. Rose de Rescht. Rose de Rescht (pictured) is a Portland rediscovered in the 1940s. It's small stature of three to four feet tall and wide makes de Rescht easy to mix into shrub or mixed borders. This rose is a deep pink with many petals and an amazing fragrance. Rose de Rescht, like others in the Portland class, blooms remontantly throughout the summer and fall. The foliage is plentiful and not prone to disease.
~
2. Paul Neyron. Paul Neyron is a Hybrid Perpetual rose from the mid-1800s. As a class, the Hybrid Perpetuals are not as easy to care for as the other classes of old roses. By the end of the summer, most to the shrub has been defoliated and affected by fungal disease, but I grow it anyway for the flowers. The flowers are quintessentially what you think of when you picture an old rose: fully double, extremely fragrant, a strong pink color with huge flowers six to seven inches across. Although the foliage leaves more be be desired, Paul Neyron's saving grace is also that unlike many Hybrid Perpetuals it is a reliable re-bloomer. I wouldn't be without it.
~
3. Madame Plantier. Madame Plantier is the most forgiving and trouble free rose in my garden. My first Madame Plantier was planted in a shade garden seeing that it is a reliable bloomer even in shade. Unfortunately, the tree creating the shade fell down in a storm one late June morning. In preparation for the tree removal, I dug Madame up and unceremoniously plopped her in a black nursery pot. There she sat with no water, no fertilizing, no attention for two months on the kids' playground. Toward the end of August, seeing that Madame was still alive, I hastily dug a hole and planted her without amendments or special care. The rose survived and every June Madame Plantier graces the garden with a covering of fragrant, very double, white roses. I have three Madama Plantiers, one in the Rose Garden with full sun (pictured) and two others in a shady corner. All the plants grow equally well.
~
4. Variegata di Bolgona. Variegata di Bolgona is a striped, once blooming Bourbon. This rose is beautiful. The striped old roses such as Rose Mundi, Leda, Camaieux, and Honorine de Brabant are incomparable to the modern stripes. I have also grown Fourth of July, a modern striped rose. Although Fourth of July is very healthy and a good bloomer, it's going to be removed in the spring because the garishness of the stripes are out of step with the restrained and classic beauty of the old roses which surround it. However, with the striped old roses, this is never an issue. They all blend beautifully with the other roses and plants growing around them. Variegata grows in the Long Border surrounded by sambucus, Japanese iris, veronicastrum, and false sunflower. Her flowers are lovely and the shrub is very healthy without any special treatment.
~
5. Henry Martin. I love Henry Martin (pictured) because of his amazing color. It is one of the most richly colored Moss roses with petals that look like red velvet and the color and fragrance are rich and powerful.
~
6. Tuscany Superb. Every year I look forward to Tuscany Superb for the depth of color of its petals. This rose and many other Gallicas in my garden such as Charles de Mill, Complicata, the Apothocary Rose, Rose Mundi, Belle de Crecy, Camaieux, and Cardinal de Richelieu provide amazing color and fragrance to the rose season. Although they bloom only once, they bloom over three to four weeks and the bloom is so profuse that all the shrubs are covered with blossoms. What's more is the Gallicas, like most old roses, do not require elaborate fertilizing regiments or spraying. My rose garden currently has no irrigation and the Gallicas perform superbly and continue to look good throughout the summer.
~

Related Posts:
~

Creating the Rose Garden with a Central Brick Path
The Rose Garden in Spring and Summer: Daffodils replace the Lavender Border
How to Prune Roses, Part I: An Introduction
How to Prune Roses, Part II: Old Rose Pruning Secrets
How to Prune Roses, Part III: Why Prune?
Index of Rose Photos

After the Frost: the Birch Tree


Friday, November 28, 2008

Courtnay Daniels's 15 acres of gardens in Virginia

Sara Lin, in today's Wall Street Journal, writes: "Courtnay Daniels's backyard is testament to what a very avid gardener with considerable resources can create...In this bucolic area 20 miles west of Jefferson's Monticello, Ms. Daniels has devoted much of the last decade to 15 acres of gardens filled with rare and unusual trees, flowers, grasses and shrubs. There's a rose garden, a vegetable garden, a blue garden and an apricot garden. The orange garden is adjacent to the grass garden, and the yellow garden leads to the canal garden with its two reflecting pools. A five-acre arboretum boasts vast views of the surrounding hills." For the full article that also includes a slideshow, click here. The end of the slideshow includes a note that Ms. Daniels "gives tours of the gardens to about six groups a year."

Amaryllis, Winter Containers and Christmas Decorations

Over the past two weeks, traffic on my blog has turned to winter containers and Christmas decorations. The only thing that I have done thus far is plant my amaryllis (for a prior post on growing them, click here). This picture is from a couple of days ago and the bulbs should be blooming around Christmas.

I haven't gotten around to the winter containers or Christmas decorations yet, but will be sure to post about them in the coming weeks. For those of you who have already moved on to those activities, here are two posts from last year that you may find helpful:

1. Container Gardening: Winter Containers

2. Christmas Decorations from the Garden

After the Frost: Thai Basil


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving: A Gardener's Thanksgiving Day Centerpiece

Today's centerpiece was harvested from my garden: broom corn; hickory and clethra leaves, previously soaked in glycerin and water; and Molina grass, for the binding.
~

~
I give thee thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing thy praise; I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness; for thou hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word. On the day I called, thou didst answer me, my strength of soul thou didst increase. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, for they have heard the words of thy mouth; and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. -Psalm 138:1-5

Shrub Hibiscus Seed Heads in the Walled Garden

My shrub shrub hibiscus self-seeds with abandon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Five Tips for Growing Edibles with Children


This month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild is on Edibles in the Garden. While I am primarily a flower gardener, I do grow edibles in a dedicated vegetable plot, as well as in my mixed borders and containers. Given the size of my suburban lot, I cannot expect to grow enough to feed my family, but what I do grow is a lot of fun. Here are five tips for gardeners who want to attract those beneficials otherwise known as children.
~
1. Grow fruits and vegetables that you can pick and eat directly from the plant. What child can resist the instant gratification of eating sweet sugar snap peas straight from the vine? The children always eat the ripe cherry tomatoes off the vine before I can ever get to them. They also love the fresh figs off the tree that I grow in a container on my deck. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and the wild wineberries are other favorites.
~

2. Grow vegetables that your children can plant, tend and/or harvest. This takes a little more effort on the part of mom than the former suggestion, but children can learn a lot from planting, tending and harvesting vegetables too. It's really amazing for a child to plant a seed or seedling, water it, watch it grow, tend it, and harvest it. This year, my children helped plant almost all of the vegetables and took particular pleasure in harvesting the asparagus, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and potatoes.
~
3. Grow heirloom varieties that you can't buy in the grocery store. As you can tell by the name of my blog, Heirloom Gardener, I am particularly interested in plants that our grandparents and prior generations grew. While these varieties aren't typically available as seedlings at your local nursery, you can buy an almost infinite variety through online and offline catalogs and seed exchanges. The children find the variety and novelty of them quite interesting. Some of my children's favorites this season were the lemon cucumbers (they are about the size and color of a prickly lemon) and the German stripe tomatoes (mostly yellow with a spot of orange on one end).
~
4. Grow edibles with which they can play. In addition to using some of the above vegetables for playing store, the children have also found other ways to play with the edibles. For example, they love using the hollow stems of chives and lovage as drinking straws. Also, they have made up a drink with the fresh mint, which is made of crushed mint leaves, sugar, and sparkling water.
~
5. Grow flowers that are also edible. The children find it quite amusing that some flowers are edible. They particularly like including pansies, marigolds, calendula, and nasturtium flowers and leaves in our salads with mixed greens or as garnish.
~
Related posts:

Search Heirloom Gardener

Google
 

Blog Archive

Blogflux

Blog Flux Pinger - reliable ping service. Blog Directory Alltop, all the top stories