A Natural Pause

This summer has been filled with lots of activity and gardening. Stay tuned for an update on what I have been up to this growing season. Until then, please take a look at these beautiful water lilies we came across on a recent hike. Enjoy!

Falling for Dried Flowers

Good evening, everyone! It seems as though these blog posts get further apart, but I am trying my hardest to get them closer together. It’s been a activity packed summer, and my daughter started Kindergarten this week, so it’s been more emotional than usual around here.

First and foremost, yesterday was my 2nd Anniversary blogging! I can’t believe it’s been two years already– time does certainly fly! Born out of professional frustration, my dream is to one day blog full time, but until that day comes, I will keep doing what I am doing and improving and learning as much as I can to attain that goal. I want to thank you for reading my blog and letting me know what you think and for giving me suggestions that will help my blog in the long run! I am always trying to mix things up, but I want the intent of the blog to stay the same– to help new gardeners start their own gardening adventures by giving advice and ideas as simply and honestly as possible. I want my blog to be the “seed” that starts some great gardens out there! I am still learning a ton about gardening. I am no expert — I just pass along what I have been taught, told, shown, etc. It’s really fun, and I enjoy this immensely. So, let’s get back to business, shall we?

Now, I have to say that I actually have 3 blog posts that I could be posting tonight. I have a couple of “Field Trip” posts that I think you will really like, and hopefully will give you some inspiration in your gardens! But, my intuition was telling it’s time I do an informative piece, because it’s been a little while since I have. And I got the idea of this post from an article in a magazine, along with my blog post I did last year, The Beauty of a Fading Fall garden.

*Remember– your garden doesn’t end when the growing season ends– it keeps giving year round.

I have blogged about the garden and how it gives back to you year round, including the fading fall garden. Planting for Winter Interest also allows your landscape to work for you. Now, I know a lot of my fellow bloggers live in places that don’t have snow (and boy, do I sometimes envy you), but you still have to deal with a Winter garden as well, so please use my post as a springboard of ideas that could work for your nice, warm, green winters.

So, after some researching and getting a lightbulb to go off on my own, I was inspired to take the plants I usually keep to collect seeds, and use them in dried flower arrangements for fall. I even tried to “forage” on trails in the Niagara Gorge this past weekend, but, let’s be honest, it’s a little too early for that. LOL.

My garden grows every year. I mean, I plant more things every year. And I have had some unique things come up in my gardens that I can’t help BUT use dried.

My number one plant? Alliums. At the beginning of the summer, when my Alliums were done, I noticed how beautiful they were dried, and I snipped them off and brought them inside to use as a decoration. I have been using them all summer, and they look great with my fall decor. Yes, my house throws up with Fall decor this time of year:

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And then this happened today:

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My sunflowers came crashing down– no worries, they will be part of some dried flower arrangements to come this season.

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Soon, I will be embarking on my usual pilgrimage to the Erie Canal to get some cattails, but these fake ones I found in the store last year will do for now.

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Here are my white globe thistles in a vase. This plant has been the biggest surprise for me this year, and I am so glad I purchased these last year!

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Here are some other things that would be great to use in any fall arrangement:

  • Seedpods— Chinese lanterns, etc. The more unique looking, the better!
  • Acorns, nuts, etc.–This is what I was looking for, unfortunately, I think it’s too early. Any kind nuts or berries will do!
  • Pinecones— this one needs no explaining. You could call this a default fall/winter decoration.
  • Any flower that dries beautiful in your eyes. It’s limitless. Use what you love and make the most of it!
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This is just the beginning of a beautiful arrangement!

 

 

 

 

A Spring Showcase

Warm weather, bring it on! We are finally getting nice, mild temperatures in Western New York! I am happy to report that a good portion of my bulbs I planted last year are coming up very well! It’s been really great to see everything in bloom. For a long time, I didn’t have anything come up for me in the Spring, only because nothing was planted! I took a lot of time in the fall to plant over 200 bulbs, which included everything from daffodils to alliums — one of my favorite spring flowers. I have a post in the works for why you should plant them. I have planted many different varieties that will be coming up at different times of the growing season. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of planting different types of plants, shrubs, trees, etc. that come up at different times of the year. Making a show for your landscape last year round is a long and slow process. Enjoy the process and remember that your hard work will not go unnoticed.

I have a few pictures of my spring show that’s going on right now. Please hop on over to my instagram feed to see more of my spring flower photos.Instagram is one of the easiest ways for me to post all of my pictures on my many outdoor excursions.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. In between all the BBQs and fun, make sure to take a moment to remember and appreciate those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom every day.

Enjoy.

 

That’s a Wrap — A Growing Season “Summer”y

We got our first snowflakes today! Overall, this weekend has been very cold, but after snowflakes flew this morning, it ended up being nice and sunny, so I went out and took a hike in an area park to get some nice autumn pictures.

Ellicott Creek in the fall.

Ellicott Creek in the fall.

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Because it was so cold, I am thankful I got most of my yard work done when I did, even though now I am questioning myself as to whether or not I planted my spring bulbs too early this year. My parents came up to visit us (the first time since my daughter’s birthday in April– their social calendar is busier than mine), and I wanted to show my mom all my work that I had done in my back yard, and I came across this:

My bulbs are confused by the warm fall weather we are having!

My bulbs are confused by the warm fall weather we are having.

I noticed that in the new extended spring bulb bed that I made, that some of them are popping up. I hope this doesn’t mean that I have lost them until the following spring. Western New York has had an unseasonably warm October, with temps in the 60s and 70s, I have even notice that my clematis and a few of my coneflower varieties have new blooms!

I just hope they still manage to come up in the spring. Good thing it was only a few bulbs and not a lot. After seeing this yesterday, I went out this morning with my daughter and noticed that the deer ate a good part of my ryusen weeping japanese maple. That depressed me a little, but I know it’s too early to start wrapping things up, so I will do the “wait and see” for the next couple of days. If it becomes more frequent, I will have to start covering things earlier than I would like.

The deer are now taking a liking to my little Japanese Maple.

The deer are now taking a liking to my little Japanese Maple.

Looking at this carnage somehow got me thinking about the past growing season– what I did right, what I did wrong, and I what I would do better next year.

Most Improved Duty: Watering 

Yes, I must say, I worked really hard this year, especially after purchasing three trees, to make sure everything was watered. I learned my lesson last year when I didn’t water my arborvitae enough and they died over the winter because they lost more water than they had. I want to make sure everything has an adequate water supply as we go into the winter. I am even watering in the fall here, when we go without rain for extended periods of time.

What I Need to Work On: Plant Placement

Ok, so this one is kind of a misleading title. I mean, gardening itself is a process where you are constantly moving things to another place to see if does better, or transplanting because they are outgrowing their place, etc., etc. I think sometimes I get so plant crazy that I end up planting things too close together and then there isn’t any room for them to grow when they actually mature. Maybe I am just worrying too much, but I just want everything, and with such little space to plant things, I wonder if I am crowding some out!

What I Need Work On: Taking Better Care of my Containers

I will tell you I need to water these better than I do. Containers always dry out faster, and I somehow seem to neglect them. I must be better with this next year!

What I Did Well On: Creating Balance

I can honestly say that I feel I have finally created zen with everything that I have planted. It feels good, nothing is lopsided like it used to be, and it genuinely makes me happy. Even after tearing out everything behind my garage for a third time in two years, I can now say I am satisfied. I actually feel like I know what I am doing.

So, how did your garden do this past growing season? What would you like to do differently next time?

Field Trip — Garden Walk Buffalo

Summer, please slow down! When it’s Garden Walk time, you know that summer is almost over! Well, at least we get to enjoy some beautiful gardens and get inspiration for our own.

This past weekend, I got a chance to take part in the Garden Walk Buffalo. It is the largest garden walk in the nation — with over 400 gardens that take part. It’s really nice because you not only get to see great gardens, but you also get to take a walking tour of our beautiful and historic city.

So, I am going to quit writing and let you enjoy some pictures of the past weekend’s garden walk!

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Bidwell Parkway, one of three headquarters for Garden Walk Buffalo.

Bidwell Parkway, one of three headquarters for Garden Walk Buffalo.

In the city, most front yards are just flower gardens.

In the city, most front yards are just flower gardens.

Koi Pond -- one koi is over 25 years old!

Koi Pond — one koi is over 25 years old!

Love the water feature!

Love the water feature!

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Flamingos!

Flamingos!

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Lazy, Hazy Garden Days– Mid-Summer Thoughts

Baby, it’s hot outside! It’s hard to believe it’s the end of July! The summer is flying by as usual. It’s been a busy few weeks, as we are prepping our house to get some major renovations this week! New siding, new windows and a new front porch!

Hot and humid days mean one thing -- canal cruising!

Hot and humid days mean one thing — canal cruising! 

Now that summer is at its peak, I thought I would take some time to note some observations.

But first, a few thoughts to note:

*First off– NOW is the time to get out to your local nurseries— it’s that time of year again– 50% off all spring nursery stock!!! I went a little crazy and got a few new things, which I will post as soon as I get some pictures.

*The deer are finally making their rounds in my neighborhood. My lily is proof of this. Deer LOVE lilies. Time to start spraying my egg concoction. I do believe that all the rain we have received this year is the reason why they have just started stalking gardens.

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We went to the Farmers’ Market this past weekend, and my husband purchased a perennial hibiscus for our back yard. And, of course, it was on sale! Yes, my gardens are expanding yet again.

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Here are some things to think about in the garden for the rest of the growing season:

It’s time to think about Fall Blooming plants! Yes, designing a four-season garden takes a lot of thought and patience. I am still trying to figure out how to do this. There are a lot of great plants that bloom during the fall, including the orchid-like Toad Lily and the beautiful Monkshood.

It’s time to think about next year. I hate to say this, but now is the time to start planning for the spring. Take a look at catalogs, online, etc. for bulbs that you would like for the spring. I know I have some pretty good ideas for what I want for next year, so I will be ordering soon to make sure I get the bulbs that I want.

Keep watering! While many regions are getting lots of rain this year, including mine, there are a lot of places that aren’t getting anything. If you don’t live in a drought-stricken area, stick to a regular watering routine. It’s the peak of the growing season, and there are many things that don’t start blooming until the end of the summer. Make sure they are hydrated enough!

If you are going to plant now, make sure to do it in the coolest parts of the day– in the early morning, and after the sun goes down. Planting during the hottest parts of the day puts stress on the plants– it’s best to do it when the temps are a little cooler.

Last but not least, enjoy a garden walk. The Buffalo Garden Walk is next weekend, and I can’t wait to go and get inspiration! The dog days of summer allow you to not only enjoy your own gardens, but enjoy others! Take a look at the garden walks going on in your neck of the woods!

Summer is speeding by, but there is still plenty of time to play in the garden! Sit back and enjoy what the rest of the season holds for you!

DIY: HIGH-PER-TOO-FA

Welcome, Summer! The weather in Buffalo has been absolutely beautiful! Everybody, including myself, is soaking up the sun as much as possible! I am getting a little behind on blog posts because now that summer is in full swing, our calendars are absolutely packed. That’s what happens in Western New York when summer comes– you use up every single minute of it!

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Meanwhile, I have added a couple of new plants to my garden, but next week I plan on doing a little update on new plants I have purchased, and also the other stuff that’s been growing in my gardens. I have also learned a few things.

Speaking of learning a few things– after going to my parents house a few weeks ago, I saw this really neat bowl that my mother had made. I asked what it was and she said, “Hypertufa”. I said, “What?!”

Here we go. Hypertufa is a sandy/concrete like-mixture that you make with Portland cement*. It is much lighter and porous than your typical terracotta pot or just plain old concrete, so that’s what makes it so good for growing plants in. This history behind it is really interesting. Hypertufa was invented for use in alpine gardens. It can withstand temperatures that dip to -22 degrees farenheit (-30 degrees celsius).

*This is very important. This is what makes Hypertufa different from regular garden ornaments you make out of just a mixture of sand, cement mix and water. Yes, it really is confusing.

How to make Hypertufa

If you go online you will find many different recipes, but this seems to be the most used amounts that I found:

-Three parts Portland Cement                                                                                                 -Four parts Sphagnum moss                                                                                                   -Five parts Perlite                                                                                                                     -Water

You can add sand, pebbles, or other anything you think might give your hypertufa more structural integrity, or strength.

**Make sure to use gloves and mask when using the above ingredients. The cement dust can be dangerous if inhaled in large amounts. The mixture should have a cottage cheese consistency before you put it in the mold.

  • Get two plastic bowls/molds- one big and one small so that it fits in the bigger bowl.
  • Spray the big bowl with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Once you have created the mixture, place it in the bigger bowl and mold.
  • Place the smaller bowl inside the bigger bowl. Spray nonstick cooking spray on the outside of the smaller bowl before you do so. Fill in the molds appropriately, and use a mallet to try to remove any air bubbles.
  • Put your hypertufa in a plastic bag for 24-36 hours to cure.
  • Remove the plastic molds and set your hypertufa in a dry place to finish completely drying out for 2-3 weeks.

Once you get more experience with creating hypertufa, get creative. Start thinking outside the box with it.

This will be what your finished project will look like:

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Photo: Colleen Dietrich

Hypertufa has endless possibilities. This is also a great Christmas gift idea. I plan on making a few of these! You can use anything! And your garden will thank you!

How I Keep My Stinking, “Deer” Friends Away for the Summer

My first flower from the bulbs I planted a couple years ago!

My first flower from the bulbs I planted a couple years ago!

Spring has officially sprung! What a great weekend this has been! The sun is shining, its warm, and the Adirondack chairs have made their place out in my back yard! It’s been so great to get the raking done in the yard. I have been a “weekend warrior” of sorts, and now I am ready to crash! But before I do, I wanted to follow-up with where I left off when the snow really started to fly. Yes, our friends, the deer. In January, I explained how you keep them at bay during the winter, by covering up everything that means a lot to you in your garden.

Now the spring/summer season is a little different. You don’t cover stuff in the warm months, so here is how you can keep your gardens looking super lush and beautiful, while your neighbors get all chewed up (true story hehe)….

When I first started noticing that more and more deer were making their home in our neighborhood, particularly my yard, I needed to find out what I could do, without harming them, that would be a deterrent. So, I went to my neighborhood farm store and picked up a couple of different formulas: “Deer B Gone”, and “Liquid Fence”. Both were two different formulas that worked great. Deer B Gone is a formula of eggs and cinnamon and a couple of other spices, Liquid Fence contains eggs and smells awful at application, but once it dries, it does not stink. There is also blood meal, but that smells atrocious, and your neighbors don’t appreciate you much after applying that. No matter, these products work, and you should consider them as part of your “deer be gone” routine.

However, when it’s the peak of the growing season, and you have lots of plants like I do, deer repellents such as these can end up costing you a fortune. One bottle of each of these formulas cost at least $15, and to make sure I covered everything I needed to, I could go through one bottle in just one evening! If you have a small garden, then buying natural solutions are the way to go for you.

So, I was now on the hunt for a homemade deer repellent that was all natural and would save me lots of money. I just happened to be reading one of my gardening magazines that said eggs and water were all you needed. With a few other tips, you will have your neighbors jealous that your Hostas look great and theirs have been eaten down to the stem.

Here you go, tips to a beautiful garden all summer long:

  • Make sure your concoction STINKS — No, really, deer HATE stinky things. Eggs give off a scent that the deer absolutely hate.
    • Other things to consider for your egg and water solution or to use alone include:
      • Cinnamon
      • Cloves
      • Essential Oils
      • Pepper Spray (THANK YOU to one of my readers who told me about this)

There are several different recipes that include different amounts of eggs and water, but this is the one I have been using, and I really don’t have an exact amount. I just make sure I have more water than egg in the solution so it goes on easy and doesn’t end up making a sticky, staining mess. And, it also doesn’t stink with it more parts water than egg.

1. Purchase an empty utility spray bottle from the hardware store.

My cat, again, always has to know what it going on.

My cat, again, always has to know what it going on.

2. Get four eggs and a quart of water.

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3. Mix them together with a blender. This is the best way to get a smooth mixture. 

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* You don’t need to use this exact amount. There are several different recipes on the internet. Whatever works for you is best. Some VERY IMPORTANT TIPS you must take into consideration:

-Deer get used to your routine. Try to change up your solution after a month or so. For example: I will go with just eggs and water for the first few weeks, and then I will put cloves in for the next month, and the cinnamon the next.

-The peak of summer means you will be spraying your stuff A LOT. The faster the stuff grows, the more you must apply your solution. Again, this all varies, depending on how bad you have deer in your neighborhood. You may be just fine with a once a month application, whereas, for my neighborhood, I was doing it once a week for a little while. They usually stay away for a month or so after you spray.

Other deterrents not in liquid form that work include:

-human hair- pieces of human hair = predators                                                                       -your dog- they scare away predators                                                                                     -hanging bars of soap                                                                                                             –motion lights, or sounds of animals

It’s a lot of work, but worth it to keep the garden you have invested so much time and money into looking wonderful for the whole growing season!

It’s Finally Spring — Now to Survey and Assess…

What a wonderful Sunday it was! And today is even better! Western New York has been waiting a long time for this weather, and we aren’t wasting any time getting outside! I took my daughter on her inaugural trip to the playground yesterday, and ice cream after made it the perfect Sunday afternoon.

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I have heard everybody say that now that the weather is finally nice, they can actually take down their outdoor Christmas decorations! So sad, but true. The winter really kicked our butts!

Now that winter is in the rear view mirror, we can look ahead to the warm weather and the great things that come with it. However, one thing that I don’t look forward to during the spring is taking a look at my flower beds and seeing the damage that winter and animals have done with it once the snow melts.

So, I sucked it up yesterday and went out in my back yard, as well as the front yard. Overall, I am happy with the results. Some things I lost,which I had predicted and others have pleasantly surprised me.

As I had mentioned last month, I knew my arborvitae had bitten the dust. Well, they did, fabulously.

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But despite this, there are signs of life everywhere, my tulips are coming up, and the Alliums I planted last fall.

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So, what am I going to do with the damage I found?

  • I am going to ditch the arborvitae. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best location for those shrubs. I think I am going to get two more boxwood bushes that I already have next to the arborvitae now. Boxwood are a very common shrub used for edges, borders, etc. You can trim and shape them to your liking. They have worked well for me, and continue to grow. So, boxwood it will be!
Boxwood are commonly used for borders. Deer do not seem to bother these, which makes them even more ideal for your landscaping!

Boxwood are commonly used for borders. The deer do not seem to bother these, which makes them even more ideal for your landscaping!

  • A lot of my damage has also come from the deer that have parked themselves out in my backyard. I am putting new chicken wire around my raspberry bush, and I need to protect my dwarf burning bush that I planted last year as well. I also have an egg and water concoction that I am using for the spring/summer. More info to come on that subject…
Chicken wire is a savior for plants when it comes to animals, in particular, deer.

Chicken wire is a savior for plants when it comes to animals.  In particular, deer.

So, overall everything is coming along just fine. I planted a lot of new stuff last year, and it looks as though I will be seeing them again this year. I found some new bulbs and seeds that I am going to try this year as well, so I am crossing my fingers I will get something this year!

How did your garden fair this winter season, even if you didn’t get any snow? What do you need to do in order to get your garden the way you want it? Time to assess your gardens before the growing season is in full swing!