Posts Tagged ‘yankee garden’

Top Ten Gifts Your Garden Gives You

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Iron BirdbathMay is Gifts From the Garden Month. After April’s spring gardening – April is National Gardening Month – it’s time to sit back and enjoy some of the benefits. Here are the top ten things your garden, large or small, can do for you.

  1. Physical Fitness – This isn’t something you usually think of when gardening, but even keeping up with those weeds provides a gym-quality workout.
  2. A Wildlife Refuge – Your garden plantings provide food and shelter for a whole host of creatures. Add a birdbath or fountain and you’ve provided everything an animal needs. Then you can sit back and enjoy their antics.
  3. Child-Friendly Creative Play – Whether you’re a parent or grandparent, involving children in the gardening process is a great way to teach them Earth science as well as build valuable shared memories. Plus, it’s fun!
  4. Increased Property Value – We all know about curb appeal. Gardens not only enrich our tenure living in a home, they inspire prospective buyers.
  5. Flowers to Bring Inside – By planting a few varieties that produce cut flowers, you can bring the beauty and fragrance of your garden inside. You can even bundle some up to take to a friend.
  6. A Beautiful View – No matter where you are—outside or in—garden views augment your decor.
  7. Aromatherapy – Fragrant plants stimulate the senses and can improve your mood or reduce stress.
  8. A Perfect Location for Parties – Who doesn’t enjoy a garden party? Places of natural beauty invite conversation and relaxation. Share your work with your friends. With a garden as the venue, all you need for a successful party are refreshments.
  9. The Best Produce Available – Garden-fresh vegetables and fruits are the most flavorful and healthy you can eat. In your garden, you control the chemicals applied and can select which types of each plant you grow. Fresh herbs from your garden provide more flavor than their store-bought companions.

And the number one gift your garden gives you?

  1. A Time and a Place to Relax – Whether you find your zen in working with the plants, or in just sitting quietly and enjoying the views, your garden provides you with a huge variety of stress-reduction opportunities.

So get out there and putter around, then take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your garden is a gift to yourself and to the world around you.

English Garden TableCrackle Glass Bird Feeder

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to MySpace Post to StumbleUpon

May Planting for New England Gardens

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Roundabout Bird FeederThe traditional New England garden is filled with a diversity of plants, shrubs and trees that make a regal and colorful display. The choices for plants in this part of the country are crucial, as the New England winter extends well into March, and requires an early-blooming plant if the garden is to turn out by early May or late April. What’s more, the topography of New England means that some areas will have poor-draining wet soil, others will have well-draining dry soil, and still others will contain soil that’s prone to drought. Here are some ideas if you’re looking to get your hands dirty next month!

Drought-Condition Plants
Bearberry is a high-sunlight shrub that acts as a good ground cover. It has bell-shaped white flowers, tiny red berries, red bark, and thick foliage that rarely grows over 1 foot high. The plant attracts hummingbirds. Sweet fern is a tall fern that does well in the shade of New England Jack pine. The leaves are elongated, with soft serrations that grow around a central head, not unlike oregano in appearance. Its spores produce a sweet scent that has been known to attract butterflies and was, in the past, used to treat poison ivy rashes. Pasture juniper is an evergreen shrub with leaves similar to pine needles arrayed low across the ground, often with branches at sharp angles from one another. It can withstand near-arctic temperatures and full sunlight.

Moist-Soil Plants
Woodpecker Door KnockerChokeberry is a genus of shrubs native to the eastern coastline with extremely dark pigmentation that are cultivated ornamentally. They produce clusters of tiny white flowers amongst their yellowish leaves. The edible berries are used in jams and wines, and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants ever discovered. The black chokeberry is a hardy small shrub that can withstand extreme weather, wet soil, and late freezes. The plant will grow from 3 to 6 feet in height. This plant can withstand a wide variety of light situations, but prefers partial shade. In April the bright green foliage will emerge, and in May the plant sports pinkish white flowers that are grown in large clusters. During the heat of summer, the foliage remains a brilliant green. The foliage fall color becomes an eye-catching crimson.

Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) is an evergreen normally found in the Appalachian mountain range. It produces an open-trussed, trumpet-like flower roughly the size of a fist in orange, yellow or red in late April and early May. The plants can grow over 6 feet in height, and provide an attractive addition to a New England garden. Blooms persist into June. The flowers appear before the leaves or at the same time the foliage emerges. The plant prefers acidic soil and can withstand moist springtime soil. It prefers to be in partial shade, but can withstand full shade or full sun. Be aware, however, that the plant is toxic to humans and animals.

Well-Draining Soil Plants
New Jersey tea is a fast-maturing perennial that splits on the ground and comes up as a series of fleshy stalks as high as 3 feet. It has pale, palm-like leaves. The upper leaves produce series of mushroom-like white flowers in clusters at the end of long stalks. Fragrant sumac is an upward-turning shrub that can grow in a cluster up to 9 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. It has a tri-lead pattern similar to clover with blood-red flowers that cover the entire plant from end to end in late spring. The berries it produces in hanging clusters draw birds.

New England spring weather often proves itself notoriously fickle. Weather changes can prove dramatic with a warm spring day and a freezing dip the next. Plants that will successfully flourish in May can often prove a challenge to gardeners in the region. In many parts of New England, the soil offers poor drainage and standing water accumulates as snow thaws – so successful May plants should be capable of withstanding wet roots and saturated soil for an extended time period.

Country Pottery BirdhouseCottage Porch Swing

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to MySpace Post to StumbleUpon

Not too late for spring bulbs!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Slate Garden StakesSo perhaps by now your daffodils or hyacinths have sprouted, announcing the advent of Spring. Then you chastise yourself for not planting spring bulbs in the fall like a contentious gardener. Don’t worry – you can still enhance your Spring display and then have those bulbs for the next year.

Foil-wrapped potted hyacinths sold at your local nursery or supermarket can be used for outdoor planting, just like bedding plants. Just slip them out of their plastic pots and plant them. They are a great way to dress up your deck, patio or porch in planters that say Spring is near, if not here.

What about sudden cold snaps? Briefly acclimate the bulbs to colder temperatures by placing them in a cold but protected porch, garage, or other cold area for one night. This will help toughen them up. Once settled outside in garden beds or containers, young bulb plants and buds can ride out light frosts, though fully open flowers and leaf tips may get the equivalent of freezer burn.

When planted outdoors, potted bulbs can last for weeks, even a month, when spring weather is still quite cool overall. Don’t buy fully-blooming plants; instead buy green and watch them grow. Any of the potted hardy spring bulbs are candidates for outdoor planting in spring, including tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and more. All are widely available from floral retailers this time of year.

Slip off the plastic pot and plant the whole works into the garden or in large containers, just as you would flats of petunias or impatiens in early summer. If planting in outdoor containers, the larger containers better to insulate the bulbs from any late winter freezes.

Mixed Flower WreathRemember that color is only part of the story; many spring bloomers are fragrant, as well. Hyacinths are especially welcome near doorways, placed there to delight those coming or going.
The best method of planting is to dig and loosen the entire bed to the proper depth. Because the soil in a spaded bed is better drained and prepared, the planting will last longer.

Water the bulbs following planting. This will help settle the soil in the planting bed plus provide needed moisture for the bulbs to start rooting. Remember that the bulbs may have been planted 6 to 8 inches deep and the water needs to soak to that depth. Through the bud, bloom and early foliage stage, add about one inch of water per week if this amount has not been supplied from rainfall. Water with a soaker hose to keep water off the bloom.
One of the visual problems with spring bulbs is the foliage that remains after bloom. The foliage can become unsightly if the bulbs are planted in a public area of the landscape. Foliage should not be mowed off until it turns yellow and dies back naturally.

The foliage on the smaller bulbs such as snowdrops and squill will die back rapidly and cause little problem. The foliage on the larger bulbs like tulips and daffodils will take several weeks to die back. Keep in mind that after flowering, the plant needs the green leaves to manufacture food (photosynthesis) that is stored in the bulb for next year’s growth. If you mow off the foliage early, the plant can no longer manufacture nutrient reserves for next year. This results in a small, weak bulb which will gradually decline and die out.

When visiting friends or family, bring along a gift pot of daffodils or hyacinths plus a trowel. They are even great gifts and take-home treats for kids’ birthday parties.

Sunflowers Mailbox CoverChickadee Hose Holder

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to MySpace Post to StumbleUpon