(Don’t) Blame It On the Rain

wp-1494543434376.jpgRain, rain, and more rain! My part of the world has seen its share of water lately! As we know, rain can  be damaging, destructive, and downright deadly. Despite all of this, there is an upside to rain and your garden, particularly in the spring time, right before the growing season ramps up!

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This spring deluge of water can be helpful to you in garden prep!

Now, it’s obvious the main reason why rain is crucial–it aids in growth. But there are a few other reasons that you want to LOVE gardening right after a good bout of rain:

  • It’s a GREAT time to pull weeds and/or invasive plants. You can successfully pull the whole weed/plant, root and all, right after a good gully washer.

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  • Making new garden beds. Digging into the earth trying to make new garden beds is hard enough —  do yourself a favor and dig into the ground after some serious precipitation, and that will make a hard job less hard.
  • Sinking your hands in the earth. Is there anything you can do to get closer to nature than getting dirt under your nails when it’s at its most workable and pliable? I think not.

So, even though the rain drives us crazy as gardeners, because we are stuck inside, just remember how much nicer it will be to go outside and work the soil with little effort and less headaches!

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?

 

Seeds n’ Things

Happy fall! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer– which honestly, it still feels like here in Western New York. The weather has been beautiful– however, maybe too much. It has been so warm here that my spring bulbs are starting to sprout again! I fear that we won’t have such a colorful fall like last year because it has been so dry and warm this past summer.

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Never the less, I am not wasting another minute inside, it’s time to get along with my fall garden preparation tasks. A couple of years ago, I wrote a step by step on how to plant bulbs in the fall. I know a lot of people really don’t know how to (I know I sure didn’t at one time), so I wanted to give a little tutorial on how to plant them.

Well, now I am learning how to preserve seeds more. I have done this a little bit in the past, but this year, I have found great joy in harvesting seeds. Every plant has its own unique seed pod.

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The seeds of the hollyhock are slim, wafer-like discs.

Here are a few tips when collecting seeds:

  • Make sure the seeds pods are completely dry when you harvest them.
  • When storing seeds, never place them in plastic bags. Use paper seed packets or bags to allow the seeds to breathe.
  • Remember to share them– think of them as holiday gifts!

Harvesting seeds is a good thing. It is a natural way of controlling individual plant species from taking over your garden.

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The seed pod of a Giant Hibiscus is, well, giant!

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Hollyhocks, Cosmos (Upper Right), White Globe Thistle (Lower Center) will make any gardener happy!

I spent a good portion of last weekend re-organizing and making a place in the unfinished side of my basement to become my little gardening area, which means, saving seeds and storing bulbs that cannot stay outside for the winter. I plan on scouring  Etsy in search for the perfect antique printer tray to hold all my seeds until spring!

I also have purchased 3 more varieties of Allium bulbs that need to be planted, but until it cools down a little more, I think I will wait it out a little longer.

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What are your plans for fall planting? I would to hear what everyone is planting. Trust me, I am not done purchasing bulbs, yet…

 

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.

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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:

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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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

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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!

Thinking Outside of the Window Box

Good Morning!

It will be a short and sweet post today, as I will be heading out of town for the weekend. It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny weekend for us, though I wish we would get some more rain. Western New York is “abnormally dry”. Our lawn is brown!

And because we have had so little rain, we need to water everything– most importantly, container plants– window boxes. ( That was a pretty good segue, I think!)

Of course, this leads me into the subject of the post– window boxes. For the first time, I received Proven Winners gardeners idea book for some ideas on how to change things up in my window boxes.

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I was not let down– I pretty much wanted to copy two different window box ideas in the book, but couldn’t find some of the flowers– they were sold out!

So, I improvised. And it was great anyway!

*Do not be afraid to try different combinations of plants for your window boxes.*

We are so used to going to our local nursery and getting the same things — geraniums, marigolds, creeping jenny, spikes (don’t worry, I purchased the last two anyway because I love them). And if you like those plants, there is no need to change them! We as gardeners tend not to look beyond the same, familiar flowers just by habit. We don’t look past the “norm” and see all the great, different plants you can put in your window boxes!

That’s why I love this idea book from Proven Winners. It gave me insight on plants I would never think of putting in a window box.

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My window boxes for the front of my house contain:

L to R: Coleus (Alligator Tears), Chenile (the red fuzzy plant), Sweet potato vine (yellow leaves) and capped off with another Coleus.

The red fuzzy plant called Chenile I actually saw at the Farmer’s Market in a basket. I was browsing the nursery a month later and found them in packs. I just HAD to add that. So different!

I have discovered the great shade/part sun annual Coleus this year. There are so many varieties at your local nursery. I recommend them to anyone with lots of shady spots in your landscape!

The window box I have on my daughter’s swing set contains:

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Bottom to Top: Coleus (Kong Red); Sweet Alyssum ( tiny purple flowers); Black Sweet Potato Vine. I have each of these plants in this particular box as every other. 

So please, take a look at some different flowers for your window boxes if you haven’t already done so. It’s amazing the beautiful combinations you can make it look beyond your typical flowers!

 

 

 

The Great Vase Brigade

Good Morning, everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend. I know I did. It was good to relax and get away for a couple of days. We have been doing so much work on our house, along with just being busy in general! It’s hard to relax when you know something has to be done. Even getting away to a hotel or somewhere for one night forces you to relax.

Now that the holiday is behind us, it’s time to get back to work!

When you think about putting flowers in a vase, what are some of the first flowers that come in to mind for you? Roses? Carnations? Daffodils? Yes! And they are all great flowers! I personally love fresh cut flowers around the house in the dead of winter. It makes things so cheery and bright!

Well, how about thinking outside of the box when it comes to flowers in your vase?

Rule #1Carry a pair of small clippers with you at all times. You never know when you will find the most perfect branch of blossoms, or grass! I have a pair of Fiskars I bought especially to keep in my car so when I am driving by a wooded area of road, (that is NOT anybody’s property), I can pull over quick and snip a few.

Rule #2Always have at least two vases full of your finds around your house. The more, the merrier! Don’t be afraid to be creative!

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We have a good mix here. L to R: Hydrangeas, Grass, Iris’

Above are three vases full of things that really caught my eye.

Vase #1– Hydrangeas — I bought these at the supermarket. I like cutting seasonal flowers, but unfortunately we don’t have these in bloom yet, so I just purchased them!

Vase #2 — Grass — I saw this grass on the side of the canal bike path. It looks a lot like wheat to me! I was so intriguing, I just had to cut a few stems. So simple and beautiful.

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Vase #3 – Iris

The yellow iris’ are literally right from the canal, next to the fuzzy cattails. I couldn’t help myself and cut a few stems. I liked that they were something you couldn’t find in a flower shop.

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Another great option for a vase are Bachelor’s Buttons. These babies grow like crazy! I cut some for a couple of vases. They last forever!

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Vase #4 – Lilacs. I just love them, so they have to make a cameo.

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So, I hope this post gives you some ideas on being creative when it comes to the vase. Anything can go if you like it!

One more pic, totally unrelated to vases, only because it’s my favorite landscape to photograph:

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Have a great rest of the weekend!