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:


And then this happened today:


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


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.


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!


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!

This is just the beginning of a beautiful arrangement!





The No-Kinks Sprinkler Guide

Disclaimer: I am just passing on knowledge in regards to shopping for a sprinkler. If you are in a drought stricken area, where watering is NOT an option, then I am by no means advocating watering. If you are fortunate enough to use a sprinkler regularly or on occasion, then I hope you find my sprinkler-shopping guide helpful. I also just thought it would be fun to blog about sprinklers.

Hot. Dry. Crusty. Brown. All great words to describe the summer so far in Western New York. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong. We get some rain here and there on occasion, but nothing adding up to much. I have been diligent when it comes to watering, though I have slowed down some, as it is August, and unfortunately most of my plants have faded out fast. There are a few plants that really like hot, dry weather, so I am focusing on them.

In order for me to keep watering my flowers, and I have been advised to really douse them periodically, I use a sprinkler to get them. Because, let’s face it, standing there with a hose in your hand only wets the very top of the soil, and doesn’t do much. So, I went sprinkler shopping to get the one that would fit my needs perfectly.


This sprinkler is for small yards and waters my plants perfectly!

Who knew there were so many different types of sprinklers? There was one long cavernous aisle devoted to them.  I currently own three, and they are the right ones for my needs.

Things to consider when purchasing a sprinkler:

The size of your yard. Big, small, they have a sprinkler for all!

What you are going to use it for. Watering your lawn, or watering your flowers, there  is literally a sprinkler for every watering purpose.

How much water you want to use. Want a soaker? You got it! Or, just a little mister to keep your plants looking shiny and nice? They have that too!

Currently, this is my sprinkler rotation:


The old fashioned sprinkler at the bottom of the picture should be a default for everyone. It is good to cover bigger areas of your yard, and because it can be great fun running in it when the thermometer reads 91 degrees!

So, if you think that there is just one sprinkler to use, and it doesn’t suit you well, always remember– this is modern-day America, where the choices are there for you, and they are abundant!




What’s Growing On in My Garden — The Summer Update

As usual, the summer is just flying by! It’s been super hot and humid in Western New York this summer. We are in a severe drought. The grass is brown and brittle. I have had to water my flowers to keep them alive, and I am afraid that doesn’t help the cause. We need a few days of nothing but good ole’ rain.

This year, I have observed some things that I unfortunately don’t have much control over:

  • The deer. No matter how much I try, they are desperate for food. They have eaten all of my hostas, even with my egg mixture on them. It is simply too dry and food is scarce. I am not really too worried about this. I am just going with the flow this year.


  • I am covering up my tomatoes and and daylilies at night just to deter the deer from devastating my tomato crop, and my lilies. This is the first year I have actually had a great bunch of lilies! They usually eat them before they even bloom!


  • The garden is lacking a bit of luster because of the drought, but also, I have worked harder than any other year to keep up on watering. I have to remember that it’s still just the first quarter of summer and things will eventually start blooming more.
  • I am also realizing how important the morning dew is for your plants, especially during a drought. What little moisture it brings makes a big difference!


I have added the following to my garden:

  • Foxglove — Light orange and different!
  • Delphinium — Love the look of these, and got two at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Hydrangeas –I purchased four of these, and I plan on buying more. These are perfect for most parts of my partially shaded yard.
  • Balloon Flower– I dug up the one I bought last year accidentally!
  • White Globe Thistle — My most surprising, unique addition. It grows like crazy and has done well in the drought!

So here are a few things that are blooming in my garden, some new, some old. All make me happy to see them in the morning!

Fall for Some Autumn-Blooming Plants!

I can’t believe this is the last weekend in August! Actually, I can, because fall is in the air. The past week or so, the mornings and nights have been much cooler. We are now in Indian Summer, and everybody’s gardens are winding down– veggies are being harvested, flowers are exhausting themselves. I look at pictures of my gardens in the early half of summer, and I’m sad to think it’s almost over. I can’t be too sad though– I do have to remember that I have a few fall-blooming plants that will keep that waning summer spark alive for just a little longer. I am constantly striving for a four season garden!

Move over, mums and asters, there are a bunch of great plants for fall interest!!!

So, what are some fall blooming plants and flowers you should consider for your landscape?


Toad Lily (above) – this is a beautiful orchid-like flower that blooms in later summer to early fall. I had been on the hunt for these and was lucky enough to find two different types. This will definitely give me something to swoon over for the fall season!

Beautyberry — I LOVE this plant. I was so happy when I found it. This plant has these beautiful purple berries that develop during the fall. The berries on my plant have already started to turn purple! This is a great accent plant for any landscape!

If there is one plant you should have for fall color, the beautyberry is it!

If there is one plant you should have for fall color, the beautyberry is it!

Morning Glory- this beautiful annual vine is just about ready to bloom for me. They tend to bloom in late summer to early fall. I can’t wait to see this beauty.

**Something to consider when it comes to a four season garden is using then same “venue” for climbing plants such as the Morning Glory. Now that my Clematis has exhausted itself, I planted Morning Glory seeds behind the trellis I had for it. I now have a Clematis for the summer and a Morning Glory for the fall– I will always have a visual interest in that spot.

As one vine dies away for the season, another one is ready to bloom!

As one vine dies away for the season, another one is ready to bloom!

Japanese Maple – I own two different types of these trees, and the one thing you can count on for this tree is great fall foliage. If you have a small yard like me, These trees are the way to go! I am so happy my little Crimson Queen Japanese Maple has leaves again! It was fried in the sun when construction started on my house.

My little fried Japanese Maple came back to life with beautiful red leaves!

My little fried Japanese Maple came back to life with beautiful red leaves!

Other trees and plants to consider for a great fall show:

  • Monkshood — beautiful, showy blooms, but a very poisonous plant. I am looking into purchasing one of these if I can find it!
  • Oak-leafed Hydrangea — the hydrangea is a beautiful plant to begin with, but add some beautiful leaves that turn a bright orange during the fall, and you have showstopper as part of your “yard-scape”.
  • Japanese Anemone/Fall-Blooming Anemones — it may take a year or two for these plants to get established, but when they do, it will be worth it! They love part sun and will become a 12-inch ground cover.
  • Sugar Maple — These big shade trees have the most beautiful colors.

Don’t Forget:

  • Goldenrod– you aren’t allergic to this. You are allergic to the ragweed that happens to come out at this time, but does not flower.
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Sneezeweed
  • Sedum— I have the Autumn Joy Sedum and the unique texture of this adds a different element to your garden.

There are many more fall blooming plants out there that I have listed, or don’t even know exist, but what every single one of them will do for you is bring you great joy right up to winter!

A Natural Pause

It’s been quite a while since I last posted. I was out-of-town last week— my little brother got married, so that was our “vacation” for the year. So, while I will post about the wedding venue in a later post, I thought I would share some great pictures of my garden nearing the end of summer. Enjoy.

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Quick Tips and Advice for Full-On Summer Gardening

Wild daisies are a sure sign of summer!

Wild daisies are a sure sign of summer!

With summer just over a week away, everybody is a busy body, scampering to greenhouses and home stores trying to get what they need done. So this post is going to be just as swift as you! Here are a few tips for the full-fledged gardening season that you need to keep in mind for the rest of the summer:

Good things come to those who wait: By the end of July/ early August, spring nursery stock gets slashed to 50% off. Pick up some things there to add to your landscape. It may seem like forever, but it’s not.

Mulch: Mulch fascinates me, actually. I don’t know why, but it does. I actually have a blog post in the works that is totally devoted to it. It’s both a time and money saver on your part. It retains water to keep your plants hydrated. And it really doesn’t cost that much for a bag. You can get it for $3. And it makes your flower beds look so darn neat and nice!

Keep the weeds out: I always have weeds. It really doesn’t matter what I do. But when I am preparing my beds in early spring, I used to lay down landscaping paper to keep the weeds out. But then I was given even better advice from my mother: lay down newspapers instead! So, to keep the weeds at bay, I lay down newspapers and then put the mulch on top. That saves you money from buying the sometimes costly landscaping paper– just use your Sunday paper! It’s better for the environment because it slowly decomposes over the growing season.

Don’t forget to enjoy it. We get so wrapped up in the work we put into our landscape that we have a hard time enjoying it. I’ve talked to some people who feel that gardening and landscaping is something they have to do, and absolutely hate it. My advice? Don’t do it! Just do what you have to do– mow your lawn and maintain what you need to. Nobody needs to do any of it, but for those of us who do the grunt work every year because we love it, stop and enjoy it. Get a nice patio umbrella and lounger and plant it right out in your yard. Sit down and relax and take in all the work you have been doing. Because, truth be told, we all get far more accomplished in the garden than we do anywhere else. Trust me on this.

Clematis beauty!

Clematis beauty!

For me, I am satisfied with the results of my gardening thus far. I feel that I have finally found the “zen”, or balance that I have been striving for over several years now. Just another example of how gardening is a process, and it takes years to perfect!

Do It Yourself — Swing Set Flower Beds

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Not only to get an extra day off from work, but to observe the meaning of the day– to honor those who have served or are serving to protect our freedom.


It was a very busy weekend for my family, as I made sure my daughter got her nature fill! Going on nature walks, a trip to the aquarium and the beach, she couldn’t get enough!

I promised myself since I had been working so hard in the garden the last two weekends, I was going to have fun. But then, my husband came up with a great idea for a little part of my yard that I was NOT happy with.

The swingset last summer, right after we purchased it.

The swing set last summer, right after we purchased it.

My daughter’s swing set. There was this little square right underneath her slide that you can’t mow or really do anything with. My husband is terrified of our string trimmer, so that option is out. He suggested we actually make that little space into a flower bed! My twitter followers have already heard about my swing set flower bed, because I tweeted a picture immediately after I had finishing planting!

What a brilliant idea! So, he worked up the soil for me and I purchased a flat of marigolds to put in there. I actually bought some red petunias too, but I kind of liked the idea of just having full-on marigolds.

Presto! No more unsightly grass!

Presto! No more unsightly grass!


So, why did I choose marigolds — why not something else?

Well, I chose annuals because I know that someday this swing set will not longer be here (and I will cry), so when the day comes for it to be removed, we can easily just throw some grass seed over it and call it a day! For me, planting a perennial would not make much sense. However, everybody is different, and may have a different way of looking at it. That’s what makes gardening so fun!

*This brings up a great point– make any swing set/play set part of your garden plan.*

-I want to also include a flower box on the side just to make it blend in with the rest of my landscaping.

So don’t think of your swing sets as eye sores for your yard– think of them as just another creative touch to your landscape!

Winter Whaaaat??

So, as many of you know, the Buffalo area, particularly the south of the city and its surrounding communities, are digging out from 7 feet of snow and now dealing with possible flooding that comes with temperatures rising to 65 degrees like they did today. This week has been a roller coaster ride, all starting with this incredible lake effect front that left an indelible impression on us all:


So, even though Winter is still just under a month away, the subject at hand is SNOW. I figured this would be a perfect time to discuss a little garden concept called Winter Interest. 

I know, you are saying, “Winter What?!” When I said this in front of my friends, the puzzled, contorted look on their faces pretty much summed it up.

So, what the heck is Winter Interest?!

Winter Interest is another way you can keep some sort of aesthetics in your garden, even though the growing season is long over. It gives “interest” to empty snow-covered flower beds.

So, how do you “do” this Winter Interest?

Simple. It can be anything. Whether it’s a bird house in your garden, or some exotic grasses that have passed their prime, anything can create an amazing silhouette under a blanket of snow.

Examples of Winter Interest:

  • Trees- any, but the best are any kind of spruce for winter
  • Garden decorations– bird houses, bottle trees, bowling balls, wheelbarrows, ANYTHING
  • Grasses–reed grasses, zebra grasses, etc. Don’t trim these down– they look spectacular in the snow!
  • Evergreen and woody shrubs-mountain laurel, holly bushes, rhododendrons, arborvitae, boxwood–just to name a few.

Basically, anything that has some sort of character in the off-season that will pique the interest of passersby can be Winter Interest!

Here are a few pictures from my back yard last November 2013. The few inches I did get this year did not stay on the ground long enough to allow for any photo documentation.

My bluebird house that does not get any bluebirds, but it's from my childhood home and I love it.

My bluebird house that does not get any bluebirds, but it’s from my childhood home and I love it.


My old childhood tricycle that has seen better days is now a planter and part of the Winter Interest around my house.

My old childhood tricycle that has seen better days is now a planter and part of the Winter Interest around my house.


Snowmen are the best example of Winter Interest yet!

Snowmen are the best example of Winter Interest yet!

When Winter finally arrives, I will be doing some “Winter Interest” features from time to time when I venture out on my snowshoes or cross-country skis.

Think about what you would like to use as Winter Interest in your gardens. Giving a quiet garden a little attention is sometimes the thing you need to keep in the gardening spirit all year round!

Fall Preparation Part 2 – I’ve Got You Covered.

As the weather turns even more unfavorable as the weeks progress, I am reminded I still have stuff that needs to be done in the yard before the ground freezes and the snow starts sticking to the ground. It’s really hard to do so when it starts getting dark at 5:00 at night. I used to be able to get quite a few things accomplished after work, but it just doesn’t happen anymore! I did, however, manage to help some of my plants take cover yesterday, and also started cutting some of my hostas down.

  • One thing I have not done yet is rake the yard. I have A LOT of trees in my neighborhood, and I would like to wait another week before I get the leaf blower out. The trees still have a lot of leaves on them, and I don’t want to have to keep going out and raking when I could just wait when most of the leaves are off the trees instead of another futile attempt. Haha!

Well, this is finally the second phase of my Fall preparation in the garden. It took a little longer to do it than I would have liked, but I finally got it done. Covering and cutting– it’s that simple. And I used only a couple of things:

For this garden session, I used some burlap and large garden shears.

For this garden session, I used some burlap and large garden shears.

Burlap is a nice, heavy-duty covering for any shrubs, trees or plants that you would like to protect from the weather or animals. It’s fairly inexpensive, and you can get it at hardware and home improvement stores. You can also purchase covers that go right over shrubs and trees to make things easier. I just happen to have burlap leftover and figure I will use this up before I buy anything more.

Large gardening shears or clippers, happened to be my favorite gardening tool. They are so versatile, and can be used for most of your landscaping needs. They pulled double duty for me when it came to cutting my burlap and cutting down my plants.

I have a couple of small emerald-green arborvitae out in front of my house. I started wrapping them first with burlap.


I wrapped the burlap around the arborvitae until it was completely covered. You can use anything to tie or clip the burlap on. There are ties that you can use, and I have known people to staple it and I myself have used metal ornament hooks to keep the burlap closed!


The next item on my “To-do” list for cleaning up was cutting down my hostas. I cut the old stuff down so the new can grow up next season.

For anyone who doesn’t know, hostas are a gardener’s dream plant. They are a hardy, shade loving perennial that will pretty much grow anywhere you put them. So, if you have a spot in your yard that you can’t seem to grow anything, chances are a hosta will do the job for you! And because they are so prolific and they grow so big, they can be separated, and people will give them to you just because they have so many.

There are several types of hostas, and I have quite a few. They grow HUGE and can be separated.

There are several types of hostas, and I have quite a few. They grow HUGE and can be separated.

Now my hostas have turned a beautiful yellow, and I need to shear them.


I really want to thank the Deer, for they have helped me out tremendously with my fall cleanup. (Future post will be coming!)

Deer LOVE hostas.

Deer LOVE hostas.

I just cut them as close to the ground as possible.


Voila! All done.


And I take the “garden rubbish” and dispose of it properly.


There you have it! Fall cleanup is a cinch! Lots of work no doubt, but very important if you want to start your next growing season out the right way!

One to Grow On: Lessons Learned in the Garden this Year

Oh boy, it’s been a busy week! With Halloween and my parents coming to visit, and some Christmas shopping accomplished, I had a full weekend!  The weather was less than desirable, we ended up getting some snow on Saturday! Last weekend was absolutely beautiful, and I was ready to accomplish the second phase of my fall preparation for my garden, but I guess that was not meant to be. I pulled muscles in my lower back yet again, and I was sidelined for the whole weekend. So, in between snowflakes that are forecasted for next weekend, I need to start cleaning up the gardens! I figured while I have some down time allowing my back to rest and heal, I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on this past growing season and evaluate what I did well with what I did not do so well.


This was actually a very hard growing season for Western New York. We came off an unusually cold Winter that included two blizzards that shut down the city of Buffalo. We were in the single digits for most of the Winter; no thaw came at all! And because of this brutal cold, the ground stayed cold right into June. Unfortunately, I lost a few plants due to the Winter, and I had a really hard time growing anything I had planted. In fact, most of my plants didn’t really start “growing” until August and bloomed right into September!


– The new bed I had my husband roto-till in early spring was just the right size for my yard and my lifestyle. As the old saying goes, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”. I was a little nervous that I might have gone in over my head,that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. It actually turned out to be just right.

My brand new flower bed--it has changed so much since this picture!

My brand new flower bed–it has changed so much since this picture!

– I added MANY new plants this year. It was pretty much an addiction. I kept buying plants right up until August when all the spring nursery stock was marked down 50%! Spring nursery stock is just a term used to describe plants, shrubs, trees and flowers available for the new growing season.

– This was the first year I was able to enjoy my garden. After six years of planting, transplanting and expanding, my back yard is finally looking like the beautiful, lush, oasis I wanted it to. I bought a few Adirondack chairs and would sit out in the backyard early in the morning listening to the birds and drinking a cup of coffee, all before my daughter woke up. It was the best feeling in the world.



– I did not water enough. Water, Water, WATER. Even though, I must say that I was a lot better this year with watering all of my new plants, I could have done better. Plants you purchase and put into the ground need a ton of water to establish, or as I like to say, “make themselves at home”. Then, once they are established, you don’t have to water as much.

– I need to mulch a little more than I did. This would have helped out with my water situation! It’s amazing how much of a difference mulch does make for beds, such as the ones I have in the far back of my yard, when you can’t get the hose to reach out that far! I have also been interested in making a compost pile.

– I didn’t fertilize as much as I should. I usually fertilize with the Miracle-Gro liquifeed for maybe the first 4-6 weeks of the season. I probably only did it two times this year. I think this would have aided in earlier blooms in my garden.

All in all, progress was made this year, I am happy with that. I have big plans for next year, so that makes me all the more anxious to get out there and get “growing”!