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:

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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.
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"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."
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-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."
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-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."
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-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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Pictured in this post from top to bottom are: Apothecary, Celsiana and Noisette.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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Related posts:

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