Yep, one day after the Winter Solstice and we are down to three days before Christmas. Of course I would post about last minute gifts, right? Basically, I could give you a list of all the cool things you could get, and yes, I have done that before. But when it comes right down to it, all gardeners want are the basics to get the job done, am I right?!

Here are a few things that I believe are essential and practical for your gardening adventures year round.

  1. Gloves – if there is one thing I am learning, a good pair of gloves is absolute gold. I have gone through several pairs, including a small pair that cost a dollar “just to get by” during the summer months. Though they were pretty, they did not do the job. A couple of good brands to consider are womenswork and bionic gloves.
  2. Boots – I love a good boot for the garden, and pretty much I love rain/wellie boots for all of my gardening/outdoor adventures. The one I have been impressed with and believe they are worth every penny, are these Xtratuf® boots I purchased last year.  I have done everything from clearing brush to slogging through mud and slush and they are extremely warm, comfortable and all boot.
  3. Shovel – I don’t know about you, but the main tool I take with me every time I have yard work to do is my shovel. It helps me from bending over too much with little things like moving rocks, digging a trench, etc. I really don’t have a shovel in particular, only because people all have different preferences, and though this might seem like an odd gift, it’s a gift that only a gardener would appreciate.

 

Again, there are many things you can get, but these come to the top when it comes to gifts you can get last minute at a brick and mortar store and won’t disappoint. What are your number one gardening gifts?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Last Minute Gifts for Gardeners

Goodness, I went through two seasons without posting one thing! Don’t for a minute think that I haven’t been in the garden– we just had a few other things going on this year that kept me from normal blog writing.

In April, my family purchased some land with a small cabin on it– that was one of scariest things, honestly, I have could ever think of doing. The thought of all the work that had to be done was daunting, and downright terrifying. But, it ended up being one of the best things we could have invested in, and we spent those two seasons learning the land and led me to learning about the different specimens of trees that call our little plot of the world “home”.

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Early morning picture in August. We have accomplished a lot, but have much more to do!

It’s been really interesting to learn the different types of trees we have, including Larch, which, I always admired from other places, because of the way it’s needles change color in the fall. Here was a little baby tree that was right next to our driveway.

 

The Larch tree can be seen in both summer and late fall.

Now, my big project is to figure out what trees are good for windbreak, but not big enough to block our sunlight, as we are powered by solar energy. So much to learn– getting there little by little! Stay tuned for some more adventures in the woods!

Now, back to regular gardening– yes, I did a lot of moving around in the garden again this year, to enhance growing performance for some plants–and it worked!

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I am trying to work towards a “cottage” feel in the ‘burbs. I created rock borders for my garage and front yard.

 Garden Takeway:

  • Just because something in your garden doesn’t seem to be doing well, doesn’t mean it’s dying. Try moving it to a sunnier, shadier location–depending on the plant, of course.

My dahlia haul was fruitful this year. I tried a variety pack on a whim, and they turned out better than I expected! I highly recommend to everyone who doesn’t grow dahlias to try– having beautiful blooms all the way into October really makes the growing season feel longer–and how sweet it is to have fresh blooms to cut in the fall!

 

 

Well, I hope this sums up two seasons good enough. I am putting together a holiday gift list that will include items every gardener/outdoors enthusiast will need!

Long Overdue “Hello”

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and stopped for a little bit to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much for our country. Weather-wise, it was beautiful–perfect gardening weather. Today, not so much. I am typing this post on my patio, it’s 52 degrees and I am wearing a puffer vest with a merino wool baselayer– #springinbuffalo.

No matter, we deal and get through. I was lucky to get my gardening done, for the most part, last weekend, as I knew we would be camping for the holiday. I like to “experiment” in the garden, without it looking too tacky. I had a solar bird bath that I recently got rid of because it was falling apart. I had put these nice white rocks around it, to add a different look or texture to this particular area of the flower bed.

Now that the bird bath is gone, I decided I wanted to keep the rocks, but maybe add some plants that are for a rock garden. I purchased two, and my daughter surprised me with a couple more that she bought with her grandmother.

I have to admit I was not sure exactly of what I wanted, so I did some research and bought these different, yet interesting specimens:

The first and second pictures are different varieties of sedum, a type of succulent, which quite honestly I love. They are so hardy, unique and come back every year.

Picture #1 – Tricolor Sedum

Picture #2 – Aeonium

Succulents:

  • Have fleshy, thick stems that retain water. These plants are made for dry, arid climates,
  • Which means they are very good for rock gardens.

Picture #3 is a blue fescue. I tried to start these by seed a few years ago, but unfortunately they did not take. This is a visually stunning specimen and recommended for rock garden/ rocky areas. I am hoping this does well in this particular spot, because they need part sun, and this happens to be the best place in my garden for these types of plants.

You do not need a lot to start a rock garden, but if you would like to REALLY get serious about it, you can research some unique garden plans.

So, here are my quick tips for a rock garden:

  • Rocks
  • Plants of your choice
  • Gardening tools (trowel, shovel, wheelbarrow)
  • Enjoy!

I literally poured a bag of rocks out and went from there. Maybe some day when I get more rocks to enclose my beds, I will be able to get a little more fancy, but until then, have fun, experiment, and rock out your garden!

What’s “Rock”ing in my Garden

Lots of gardening around here–the weather in Western New York is finally breaking. Some of my favorite spring time flowers are finally blooming. The narcissus are a late spring favorite, and a great cut flower. They last a long time in the vase! As we start this wonderful holiday weekend, here is a reminder of why we gardeners do what we do. Enjoy.

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A Natural Pause

Forward to Spring — The Winter Clean-Up

Happy Spring, Everyone!

What a wild and crazy winter we had here in the Northeast! As someone who lives in between two great lakes and is used to some challenging weather, I can’t remember a more windy, bizarre winter. With winds up to 75 mph, it definitely was a “hunker down and stay warm” kind of winter. This left me longing for spring faster than usual. Fortunately, my daughter kept me busy, and we have some other exciting things in the mix this year, which will allow me to flex my gardening muscle and challenge me in a different way. Stay tuned for more information!

The Doldrums of Winter

While winter kind of let me down this year, (January was OK, but February and after was blizzard central), I got to do something I haven’t really done since my daughter was born– read!

Amazon prime kept me busy– I pretty much bought books all season long!

They were all great reads, and I think I will be posting my other favorite reads in a future post. However, I am recommending this one first, because, it was the first one I purchased and the first one I loved!

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The Atlas of Poetic Botany by Francis Halle is a WONDERFUL read. Honestly, this book was an Instagram Ad on my feed, and I was intrigued. It tells of the unique plants the botanist has encountered in his many years studying the rainforest. The illustrations are delightful. The words flow, making it an engaging and interesting read. It does not get boring and dry like some other informational/reference books on plants can sometimes get, hence the “Poetic” in the name. If you want to learn about the interesting plants of the tropics, including a “walking tree”, I encourage you to read this. There is another book in this series coming out in May called, “The Atlas of Poetic Zoology”, and I can’t wait to get that one!

Spring Things

This morning, I was finally able to survey the perimeter of my yard, to see signs of spring that I have been anxiously awaiting. Just the other day, we had snow burying all the little treasures just waiting to pop out and bloom.

 

From left to right, my alliums, hellebores and tulips are looking good! I guess my leaf mulch helped them get through the sub-zero wind and weather this year! (At least, I’d like to think it did). I am really anxious to get outside and clean up the twigs and other crazy things that blew in and claimed residence to my landscape.

Garden Plans

Yes, it has happened– I have officially become that person who wants to try to grow many varieties of dahlias. I like them because they are just so darn pretty, and they make people happy.  You can take them into work and give them to co-workers who are having a bad day, and they immediately perk up. They bloom well into fall and you can have fresh blooms all the time. I guess that’s why I like them so much. So, I saw one of my fellow gardeners on Instagram have a catalog for Swan Island Dahlias. I quickly requested one myself.

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So, cut flower gardeners, if you are looking for a good selection of dahlias, this one is for you! Or, if you know of another great collection, please feel free to share! I have purchased a few dahlia bulbs from my local store, so it will be nice to try them from the different places.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to enjoy spring and get my hands dirty!

 

It’s “snow” joke, we need winter for spring blooms!

As most of us are sitting inside because the wind chill is sub zero, and the snow keeps coming. We gardeners are daydreaming of spring. I mean, I just received my David Austin® rose catalog, and the 8 degrees that my phone keeps telling me is not making things any better. We are nearing mid-winter, and that means we are ready for it to end!

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One day soon the garden will be green and lush again! 

 

We must keep in mind that cold and snow is an important part of the gardening process. I am not going to ignore the fact that winter can kill a lot of stuff in the garden, and can cause a lot of damage, but when you get right down to it, gardens need winter to get through the growing season.

Here are some quick thoughts to think about on this winter day!

Snow:

  • Gives the necessary moisture to plants, bulbs and a variety of critters that are tucked away for their winter slumber.
  • Helps big organisms (frogs, earthworms, turtles) in their hibernation/life cycle, and small organisms (bacteria, amoeba, fungi) that are working overtime to make your soil rich and nutritional for your plants and trees.
  • Is a great insulator for all of plants and organisms.

Before you know it, the snowdrops and hellebores will be pointing their little heads to the sky, reminding us all why spring is sweeter because of winter!

 

 

Dahlias, Roses and Silently “Growing”- The 2018 Wrap Up

I am not even going to talk about how this year has flown by, or how it has been since May since I have last blogged. Life has been full and good, and trust me, I have not stepped away from the garden– I have been still digging, growing and learning new things.

I am at the point where I have pretty much quit adding to my garden (there are just a couple things I want to add this year), but maintaining and working with what I have. As I mentioned in my wrap-up post from last year, I went plant crazy in the beginning, and I paid for it. A lot of them did not come back after one season, so instead I am moving the plants I have to either 1. Give them more space, or 2. Make my garden beds look a little more put together.

In October, I worked on this bed. I extended it so I could bring more full sun-loving plants over here.

As I mentioned in my only couple of posts earlier this year, I had Dahlia tubers from last year that I planted, along with some new varieties. Here were my results:

  • My dahlia tubers I had from last year did not make it. I put them in the ground at the same time as my new dahlia varieties, and when they weren’t coming up, and the others were, I dug them up to find mold on them. I was disappointed because I overwintered as I was advised to, but it just didn’t happen. I have also read where some people just treat dahlia tubers as annuals. I thought I would try again this year, and if they didn’t come up again, I too, will be just buying new tubers every year to give me one less headache!
  • My new dahlia varieties this year were beautiful. I have caught the dahlia bug! I am now wanting to try many different new varieties. I am going to make more room for dahlias this year. I love how many blooms I get, and I love cutting them every morning before work to have fresh blooms in the house and to give them away to neighbors and co-workers.

I loved all the varieties I planted, but of course the “Cafe Au Lait” did not disappoint, which is why I plan on buying more for my little cutting garden this year. What was the biggest surprise was the “Nadia Ruth” variety, it blew me away and I got the most blooms from that. One variety did not come up for me at all, and that was the “Creme de Cassis”.

The “Burlesca” variety was marketed as a honeycomb shaped flower, but that was not the case at all. Still beautiful, but not what it was supposed to be.

My rose:

It did not bloom this year. I planted the David Austin Rose “The Pilgrim”, and it grew on my trellis, just never flowered. I am hoping this year it will, as with our 6-month winter last year might have had something to do with it. Fingers crossed!

So, looking ahead– I am going to concentrate on mulching all of my beds this year, and adding more dahlias. I also would like to purchase one more David Austin rose, and then really start “landscaping” my yard. Now that I have a bulk of the planting done, it’s time to give these beds some shape and definition!

I hope you all have a nice New Year, I look forward to getting back to business with blogging all of my outdoor and gardening adventures. I post on Instagram most often, so, feel free to take a look when you get a chance!

Everything is Coming Up Roses — Back in the Garden!

It has been wayyyy to long since I have last blogged! We have had a lot going on in our home– since March, we have been laying down new flooring in phases– which, we finally finished this past weekend! That, and winter being sooo longggg here, it’s been a tough few months, but I got back in the garden this past week, and I have learned quite a bit!

I bought my first Davin Austin® Rose this year! My plans were a little loose as far as the garden was concerned, but one of my major plans was to plant a rose. I splurged and purchased my new “The Pilgrim” rose in February, and they mailed it to me two weeks ago!

Photo source: David Austin Roses

Here’s a little bit of information about The Pilgrim:

  • As you can see above, it is a beautiful yellow climbing rose. Climbing roses to have bigger flowers and don’t grow as fast or vigorously as rambler roses.
  • It does very well in shady areas— particularly North facing areas, which, I was thrilled about, because I planted the rose on the front of my house, which happens to be North facing.

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I got the rose on the Thursday before we went camping, and, by the way, it was SNOWING and 30 degrees that weekend. I left the bare root in the box. I called David Austin® Roses USA based out of Texas, the Monday after we got back, and wanted to get some info about my rose, and when I should plant it, considering it was snowing the past weekend–why would I bother until it got a little warmer? The customer service representative was a little snarky with me, saying I needed to get the bare root in the ground immediately, but first, I needed to soak it in water for several hours before I planted it. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my desperate call for help when it came to soaking the bare root– several hours, or several days, or just a couple hours? I soaked mine for seven hours and then planted it.

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My first experience with a bare root anything!! 

Thanks in large part to the David Austin® Roses website, which, I highly recommend visiting, because it is an extremely easy and informative website to understand when it comes to everything roses.

So, what has this rose-growing novice learned so far?

  • Bare root roses need to be soaked for hours (that could be anything from 2 hours to 2 days, everybody has a different preference), so it can be re-hydrated before it is planted in the ground.
  • Make a hole large enough to fit the large root system of the stem. (You could go with the usual rule for any plant, make a hole twice as large as the plant).
  • Give your rose some room to grow– make sure it is not competing too much with other plants. Hmmm…I think my plants might be a little closer than they should be, but hopefully it won’t be a huge issue.

I am happy to report that so far, so good. My bare root has buds on it, and they are growing. I will be giving a full report and time goes on and as I learn more about roses, and what I need to do to keep them alive! I honestly never thought I would ever grow a rose, so the fact I am actually doing it now is very exciting to me.

Stay tuned for more info. I hope you all weathered the long winter well!