Beginners Guide to the Cutting Garden

How interesting it is that my first blog post since July would be on my 3 year blogging anniversary!! So, thank you to all of my followers and fellow bloggers who take time out read my blog posts– I really appreciate it!

This summer was wonderful for me and my family. August was filled to the brim with activity, which led to the void of blog writing for the month. I feel bad that I let it go like I did, because I have made it a habit to post at least once a month.

None the less, I am back, and now that fall is nearing, and school is back in session, it’s time to get back to routine. So, blogging, here I come!

I have mentioned in previous posts my desire to start a cutting garden. I purchased several different seeds and hoped for the best. I think this was a great start to a beginning cutting garden, and I would like to pass this along to anyone else who is thinking of doing the same some time.

A couple of things to remember:

-It’s all trial and error. That’s gardening in a nutshell. Experiment with different seeds and bulbs. See what does well and what doesn’t. It takes a while some times.

-There are some really easy seeds to start with. As I detail below, some seeds you should just buy and plant. It’s that easy.

I planted:

1. Bunny Tails. This is the second year trying these, and no dice. I will try one more time and see what happens. Degree of planting difficulty: MODERATE- they tend to be picky about where they are planted.

2. Zinnias. O.M.G. These were so easy! And beautiful– pinks, oranges and some peach colored ones to boot! I hear they also self-seed, and keep coming back every year. I recommend getting a packet of zinnia seeds should you ever want to start a cutting garden! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY


My peachy-keen zinnia!

What came back for me from last year:

3. Cosmos. I think this was in part because last year was so warm for us– we were having 70 degree temps in November– and my cosmos kept going. I didn’t cut them down until this spring. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY


4. Morning Glories. These actually surprised me. But, they too, were like the cosmos, and I left the brown stems up until this past spring. Even though they aren’t your typical cutting flower, they were wrapped around my cosmos, so I just lumped them in with them. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY

The bulbs I planted:

5. Dahlia. I was nervous, I have to admit. I planted dahlias a lifetime ago, it seems like, and they did nothing for me. This year, I have had great success, and am reaping the benefits. Dahlias are all over my house. Degree of planting difficulty: EASY


*Beginner’s Tip– You will have to stake your dahlias. They are very top-heavy, and they fall over easy. 

*Dahlias are hardy in zones 8-10. If you live outside those zones, you will have to take the bulbs out and store them in a dark, dry place for the winter.

6. Gladiolus. I got these bulbs as a birthday gift from a co-worker, and they did not disappoint. I got beautiful pink and purple stalks that I have been enjoying all summer. I cut a few stems and I was very surprised at how long they lasted! Degree of planting difficulty: EASY


*Gladiolus (“Glads”, as they are commonly referred to), are hardy in zones 8-11. Bulbs, too will have to come out if you are outside those zones. However, I have heard from some fellow gardeners that if you mulch heavily and live in zones 6-7, you can actually keep them in the ground and they will come up again the next year.  

So, I hope this helps you. There are SO many more cutting flowers out there. If anybody has one they recommend, please tell me. I will be expanding next year for sure!


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.


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.


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!

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!

Quick and Easy Spring Gardening Preparation Tips

It was a beautiful sight today– the sidewalks are melting and turning into puddles! I managed to take a small walk on lunch today just to get outside for the first time in almost two months! Before we know it, the blossoms of spring will be in full bloom!


With spring a little under two weeks away, the time is NOW to get ready for the new season!

Are you ready? Here are the things you need to do now to get ahead of the game:

  • Seeds are purchased or have been started. One of the cheapest ways to garden is buying seeds! Or, if you have collected seeds from last fall, you are ready to roll! If you purchased them last month to force growth, this is the time so they are ready to head outdoors.                                                                                                  20150125_155437
  • Get the tools you need. In one of my first posts, I outlined the basic tools you need to get growing. A trowel, spade, shovel, cultivator and rake are the most common and readily available for you. Simple and basic. And practical!

wendy gardengarden 320141004_103339

  • Get a wide-brimmed hat. Even the sun in spring can burn you just as bad as in the middle of summer! Protect yourself and get a good hat and some sunscreen.
  • Purchase a pair of garden gloves. As I have said in the past, when doing any garden work, I recommend purchasing a good pair of garden gloves. You can pull weeds MUCH easier than with your bare hands.
  • Knee pad, baby! Knee pads are a savior and rock my world! I even use them when I have to clean the cats’ litter box!
  • A good bucket. A good bucket is worth its weight in gold when it comes to carrying your tools and other yard rubbish around!

A bigger investment, but no less important — a wheelbarrow. This was the first thing my husband and I purchased after we got married! They are not too expensive–but again, worth its weight in gold if you want something a little bigger than a bucket.

If you follow these tips than you will be sure to kick off the coming growing season in the right direction.

Please feel free to share any other tips you have that will be handy this spring!

En”Deer”ing Friends and Your Garden – Winter Version

Another cold, winter week goes by, and I have noticed that hats, gloves, coats, mittens and boots wet with puddles dominate the landscape of my whole house. Scarves in the bedroom and living room, coats hung on the dining room chairs — you get the idea. I love winter, I love the change of scenery, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. My daughter loves it too, and plays in it with style:

She couldn't help herself when we got back from the doctor's the other day. Had to play on a snowy swingset!

She couldn’t help herself when we got back from the doctor’s the other day. Had to play on a snowy swing set!

The two aspects I don’t like about winter? Driving in it and deer.

How so you say?

Well, in my neighborhood, we have a severe deer problem. Overpopulation at its finest. They are a year round nuisance, (spring/summer versions will be coming), but they have been proving to be the most destructive in winter for my garden.

Every hunter's dream -- to have this big guy in your back yard!

Every hunter’s dream — to have this big guy in your back yard!

Here’s why:

It’s winter, and food sources are scarce. If it’s a particularly cold winter, they will pretty much eat ANYTHING. Even the “deer resistant” plants that you purchase. They are so hungry, they will eat anything, including thorn bushes at times. They have massacred my holly bush, and that is supposed to be “deer resistant”. I even have chicken wire around it!

You have a bird feeder around. Yes, I have a bird feeder, and this is where I found this “deer” friend 5 o’clock at night on Thanksgiving:

This grainy photo is evidence that my "deer" friends eating out of my bird feeder.

This grainy photo is evidence that my “deer” friends like eating out of my bird feeder.

They will eat your bird seed and then start scoping out the rest of your yard.

What I have learned about bird seed and deer. They tend to like the super cheap stuff you can get in the 20lb. bag for $6 bucks at any store. I have the pricier sunflower seed in my feeders now, and they don’t like that as much. They also do not like thistle seed either. I put some in last year to attract more finches.

So, how do you protect your plants against deer in the winter?

Cover up. Burlap or any other full covering is the best protection in my opinion. I have fenced some other plants, including my holly bush, and they will avoid it as long as they can find other food. Once they can’t find anymore food, they will become aggressive and make their way into the wire. Now, fencing works for bigger things such as trees. Lesson Learned for me: burlap all of the smaller plants and bushes!

If all else fails, just deal with it. If you have done everything on your part to keep the deer away, and they still are making problems for you, just worry about it in the spring when you can actually do something about it. The damage will be minimal if you have covered it up for the most part. Winter itself can do serious damage to your plants, so it’s a trade-off at one point or another. It will grow back, and if it doesn’t, you can always get a new one!

Disclaimer: Deer are really wonderful animals, but they are also very destructive when it comes to your landscape. As a gardener, you spend a lot of time and money trying to make your home and yard look beautiful. The intention of this post is to give you tips on how to deal and live with the deer you have in your neighborhood, without harming them.