Let’s Cut to the Chase –Spring has Sprung!

Good morning, and happy spring! I say that because our two feet of snow finally melted, and as I walk around my yard, I can see signs of life, everywhere–including my first hellebore I planted last November– in the dark!!

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I have to admit that this year has been a little more difficult to focus on gardening stuff, as I had the ambitious idea to start seeds way back in January/February, and that fell through– my work load has been extremely demanding since the beginning of the year, and any free time I had left me wiped out, and I would rather spend my free time roller skating with my daughter!

However, I did get some time to pick out some more seeds and even get a few bulbs to put in the ground as soon as the threat of frost is no more! After getting much inspiration from my Instagram friends and fellow bloggers, like Kate at Grey Tabby Gardens,(Please check her blog out when you get a chance, beautiful photography and a wonderful tour through her Central Florida garden) I wanted to start seeds for a cutting garden. I love having flowers in vases all summer long, so I figured I should get some seeds and bulbs that would allow for that.

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The Easter Bunny brought me my basket a little early!

So, most of the seeds and bulbs I have so far are for a cutting garden, but the other ones, I just added to the mix! I still have my eye on some other great seeds, and I am going to get up the nerve to do a little more container gardening this year!

What’s in my basket?

  • Dinner Plate Dahlias— I figured I would start with these two varieties, and see how successful I was with them this year. NOTE: Dahlias are hardy for zones 8-10, which means the rest of us who do not live in these zones need to take these bulbs out of the ground at the end of the growing season. I learned this lesson the hard way my first year living in my house!
  • Sunflowers— Of course, I can’t not get these seeds. Sunflowers are so hardy and so darn pretty– I actually have my eye on another variety as well! I have a great idea for these– so, stay tuned!
  • Bunny Tails– A great cutting garden addition– so unique, I couldn’t help myself. I bought these seeds last year, and never planted them, because I thought I lost them. Turns out, my daughter was playing with these seed packs and put it in one of her little purses– I didn’t find them until August!
  • Zinnias— I was inspired by Instagram friends and their pretty zinnias– now, that’s one plant I had never had! So, now I can only hope the seeds come up!
  • Amaranth— Not really for cutting, but read a really great article on these last year, and thought I would give it a try.
  • Flowering Kale— I really love this, and think it will be great fall/winter interest! Sometimes adding a few new things for the late seasons can make all the difference!

So, happy spring, everyone! I hope your gardening plans are in full swing– what do you plan to plant this year?

 

Don’t “Weight” to Get in Shape for Gardening

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We are getting back to fundamentals. Keep yourself in shape to avoid hurting yourself in the garden.

As I write this, it is snowing outside. We have measurable snow on the ground. The first time since December. Talk about a big let down– it has been a rainy, windy, warm winter for the most part, with a Lake Effect snow blast once in a while. My daffodils are coming up, and now they are covered in snow. My snowdrops were up, and now completely buried. Just as I was getting ready to start tinkering in my yard, the snow starts again! Welcome to almost-spring, I suppose!

Well, despite the weather, I am sure everyone has been preparing for the upcoming growing season in the usual manner– garden planning, design, seed buying, etc. But there is one thing that most people forget about during the long winter season that is the most important to all of your gardening endeavors– Exercise.

Now, I have already wrote an article on the importance of exercise for gardeners. I also believe it’s worth a second look. Exercise is so important– especially strength– when it comes gardening. You do a lot bending, pulling, lifting, dragging– all using an enormous amount of strength to do the job. Exercising lowers your risk of injury in the garden. It makes doing all the “dirty” work in the garden MUCH easier.

Since I have gotten older (In fact, I just passed another birthday), I have really dialed into strength conditioning. I am a huge fan of kettlebells, but I also incorporate dumbells into my routine.

Lifting light weights two-three times a week will help you immensely when it comes to spring time garden prep. And, it doesn’t have to be heavy– 2-5 pound weights starting out, and then working your way up to your desired weight.

I don’t want to rewrite what I have already blogged about, but here are a few bullets that are worth mentioning again:

  • Bend with your knees, not at your waist. Your back has “your back” when it comes to gardening.
  • Work your CORE— sit ups, push ups, crunches– it’s your powerhouse, and it keeps your back in good shape.
  • Don’t forget– Walk. Walk far. Walk everywhere. Make sure to get some cardio of sorts into the plan as well.

I will tell you from experience that doing this stuff will make a huge difference. It may seem like it won’t do much, but the gains are amazing. Do the little stuff now to make for a great, enjoyable gardening season later!

Disclaimer: This blog post is extremely general advice when it comes to exercising. I am not a doctor or fitness expert, but these are the exercises I have been advised to do over the years and think they are universal enough for everyone to try them. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Hygge and Gardeners

In a way, I feel I have missed the boat on writing this post tonight. It’s more of a winter post of sorts, and since it certainly does not feel like winter in my part of the world, I feel like the timeliness of this blog post could be questioned. Haha!

However, it still is, technically, winter, so I am going say that I got it in just in time! And it’s really interesting to me that there is an actual word for something that seems to be not a “thing”, but a regular way of life. Boy, was I wrong!

Hygge, (pronounced hue-gah), is the Scandinavian concept of coziness, and taking pleasure in the ordinary, day to day things in life, including:

  • Warm blankets, socks
  • Hot cup of liquid– tea, coffee, hot chocolate
  • Candles burning
  • Enjoying good people around you
  • Bringing the Outdoors In

Hygge originated with the Danish, and it was their way of coping with long, dark winters. Now, I don’t know about you– but I think I have been living the Hygge way all along! Western New York winters can be brutal, and I love my big, warm socks and blankets for sure! And most winter nights, you will find us playing board games, or going bowling with friends or family. When it’s REALLY cold, I am drinking tea like there is no tomorrow!

So, that’s nice, but how does this pertain to gardening? Well, that’s where the “Bringing Outdoors In” comes in to play. Buy some houseplants, try indoor gardening, make a terrarium, you get the point. We as gardeners are constantly thinking about spring and the start of the new growing season. Winter tends to stymie the average gardener, but as I blogged about almost 3 years ago, houseplants can fill that void nicely!

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Here are some houseplants that I am “wintering” — some belong on my patio. A fake reindeer pelt makes everything nice and cozy. It almost makes a great cat bed!

So, how do you “hygge”? What little things make you happy?

The Hedgerow: The Benefits are the Birds.

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of January already!! While at my house, we have not had any snow for the whole month, but a lot of rain, freezing and mild! The weather has not allowed me to go out and do any skiing or snowshoeing, so I have been inside making plans to give some rooms in my house a new coat of paint. It’s funny, when I moved in nine years ago, I was young and had no clue how to decorate and put things together in a home, and now I am finally getting an idea of what I like and want!!

Well, the same goes for your landscape as well! And one of the things you should consider for your landscape,  if you can, is a hedgerow.

What is a hedgerow? 

  • A hedgerow are bushes/trees grown closely together to make a wall or border of sorts.I love the idea of having a natural fence, rather than the chain link fence I have in the back yard now. I have seen hedegrows from everything including forsythia to traditional boxwood.

My hedgerow in the front yard, to be honest, has been a source of contention between my husband and I since we moved in! He wants to rip it out, but I like that we have the hedgerow in the front because of the security it gives. The sidewalk is right on the other side of this hedgerow. I like my privacy!

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This is a picture I posted over the fall that showed I am planting tulips in front of my hedgerow.

Hedgerows are very elegant, but they are also very important for animal life. Especially in the winter. They protect the birds, who like to seek cover from predators and perch there during the coldest months of the year. And if you are like me, and have a bird feeder on your front porch, they especially like to sit in there and wait to get their food!

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My hedgerow looking bare from my front porch.

So, as your home landscape evolves, and you are looking to put up a fence but would like something more natural, please consider a hedgerow. My best advice to you when considering making one, if you are on a budget, is to wait until late summer/early fall, because that’s when all the spring nursery stock in on sale and you can save a bundle.

Do you have a hedgerow? Tell me about it!

 

2016: A Look Back in the Garden

It’s hard to believe this is the last day of 2016. What a year! Here’s hoping we have a more peaceful, content 2017.

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My bayberry candles are lit and I’m ready for a happy 2017!

I want to thank all of my readers for sticking with me through this year. I have been trying to change things up, but at the same time, I didn’t post as much as years before. This is something I am going to actively improve in the new year. Posting more, even if it’s something small, and it doesn’t have to be as uniform as I have been trying to make them in the past.

Now, back to the garden…

This was the first year my husband and I experimented with tomatoes! We had a great crop! We also had a few small pumpkins and gourds from the seeds of our Halloween pumpkins the year before! We have since expanded this bed and I plan to start shopping for more veggies to plant this year!

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This past year was the first time I really enjoyed Spring. I loved all the cherry and apple blossoms on the trees, and I planted more unique bulbs that truly made me happy.

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This hair allium was the showstopper of my back of the garage flower bed. I was so happy they came up!

I also took a big interest in window boxes. For those of you who can actually have window boxes, please try having one. I love how they make your house look so homey and quaint!

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Another highlight– seed collecting. I had never taken the time to do this before. It was actually very enjoyable, and I found a new appreciation for the beauty and uniqueness of seed pods. They are all different– some you wouldn’t even think were seeds!

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This is a Giant Hibiscus seed pod. I think it’s beautiful, and gave these away as Christmas presents!

So? What on the schedule for 2017? I am tackling projects I have wanted to get started on for the past few years, but something else always took priority.

Here’s what’s on my list for 2017, and you can hold me to it! 

  • Pergola project –I am going to make sure my pergola project gets under way. I have been dreaming of one of these for about 3 years now, but we have always had to set it aside for something else. Sometimes you just have to make it happen!
  • Window boxes— I am going to add a few more window boxes to my little house. I really LOVE how they add so much character. My dream would be to have one at every window, but I have to get approval from the hubs, first!
  • The Veggie Garden— we are expanding! If you follow my instagram account, I posted a picture of how I extended the bed on the side of the garage to accommodate more veggies– my hubby wants it bigger, so we will be expanding the bed even more, which means more veggies in the garden!!
  • Garden Appreciation — I am going to start touring more and spotlighting more great gardens this year. So many people have so many great gardens, I think their designs should be shared!

I want to wish everyone a great 2017– enjoy every moment and be happy with everything you have. You wouldn’t believe how much more beautiful life will be!

 

 

 

 

Gifts for Gardeners – 2016 Edition

It’s hard to believe that Christmas will be here in less than 2 weeks! December always ends up being a stressful month for me, no matter how I try to make it OK. One year ago today, it was 70 degrees out– there were dandelions on the ground!!

Fast forward to today– it’s 33 degrees, and at my house, we are getting our first real blast of Lake Effect snow. What a difference a year makes!

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All perfect timing to do my annual Gifts for Gardeners list! And the funny thing? I never get any of them!!! LOL

Here are some things that I am going to make an effort to acquire– because they are both practical and nice to have!

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Photo Source: muckboots.com.eu

Muck Boots— I LOVE that they are now making a wellie-like winter boot! I love the Royal Horticulture Society version, but unfortunately, you can’t get it in the US. I am sure I could probably order it online straight from Europe.

Photo source: amazon.com

Plant:Exploring the Botanical World –I have heard nothing but good things about this book, and after taking a peek at the preview on Amazon, I can see why. The illustrations are stunning, and the book itself looks in depth and informative. I need to get my hands on this!

 Women's UA StudioLux® Beanie LIMITED TIME: FREE U.S. SHIPPING 2 Colors $34.99

Photo source: underarmour.com

Under Armour Studio Lux Beanie — I LOVE this hat! I own two and want every color! They are comfy and cover up my ears just right! So, when I am out filling up bird feeders or taking pictures of Winter Interest in my garden, this will be the first one I pick up!

 

Photo Source: target.com

Smith and Hawken Terracotta Pots — My garden plan next year includes using more terracotta planters in my garden. I have to start thinking about stocking up!

Joseph Bentley 21 in. Wooden Garden Trug

Photo Source: homedepot.com

Garden Trug — This is the one thing I have wanted to get for some time, but keep pushing it off for something else! This is so simple, practical and beautiful. If we are expanding our veggie garden, I want to be prepared! I might actually buy this for myself and put it under the tree– then I will finally have something under the tree for me LOL!

 

Photo Source: terrain.com

Garden Trowel and Fork Set— Playing off my namesake blog– you NEED a good set of tools to do work in your garden. This is the perfect, quality set! Besides, what would be a Gift for Gardeners list without the necessities!
The 2017 Whole Seed Catalog

Photo Source: rareseeds.com

The Whole Seed Catalog — I just saw this at Barnes and Noble the other day, and got excited, because now that we are expanding our vegetable garden, this will be the perfect periodical to pick out some great new seeds to grow!
I hope this list is helpful– I can guarantee any gardener in your life will be thrilled to get any of these!
Happy holiday shopping!