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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

The Buzz About Backyard Bees

Bees are fascinating. You may remember learning about the waggle dance they do to communicate the direction and distance to great flowers, but did you know that the hive entrance guards sometimes accept bribes? That’s right — a bee from another hive will slip one of the guards a little nectar, and then that guard will tell the other guards, “Hey, this is my nephew Joey. He’s okay.” Joey will slip in, steal a little honey and make a quick getaway. And I bet you thought only humans were corruptible.

The only problem with this story is that most of the bees in the hive are women, so Joey is most likely a Josephine. In a hive of 50,000 bees, only a few hundred are males. The bees have complete control over whether the eggs will hatch into males, females or a queen. They usually choose females, because females do all the work. The males just sit around, eating and drinking more than their share. Sound familiar, ladies? In fact, one indication that bee season is over is when the females decide they don’t need the lazy males anymore. They’re tired of taking care of them, so they kick them out of the hive and leave them to die on the ground. Take note, gentlemen, you have been warned…

>> read “The Buzz About Backyard Bees”    
Welcoming Butterflies

Whatever the size of your garden, you can add excitement and wonder by welcoming beautiful, delicate members of the Lepidoptera family to share your little plot of heaven on earth.

Despite their freewheeling, frivolous demeanor, butterflies follow a deliberate and complex regimen in their day-to-day doings. Their life-cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly), each stage requiring specific food and environments ...

>> read “Welcoming Butterflies”       #Beneficials   #Insects
Surprising Pollinators

Helping pollinators is a hot gardening trend right now (dare we say there’s a “lot of buzz”?). Initiatives such as the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge are bringing attention to the need to create habitats for at-risk pollinators such as monarch butterflies and honeybees. But many other species – including some surprising ones like flies, moths, and hummingbirds – also act as pollinators, and also need our help.

>> read “Surprising Pollinators”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Unusual
The Trouble With Honey Bees

If you have paid attention to the news media over the past few years, you probably know honey bees are having problems. One of the most widely publicized is a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, or CCD. This problem, which causes entire colonies of bees to die suddenly and mysteriously, was first recognized in the U.S. in 2006. But CCD is just one of a series of new problems to affect U.S. honey bees over the last 30 years.

>> read “The Trouble With Honey Bees”       #Beneficials   #Disease   #Insects
Super Size It!

I love big plants! Whether I’m designing a large estate garden or a small courtyard, big plants with large, architectural leaves and sometimes stunning flowers always play a role. A very wide-growing plant may be difficult to accommodate in a small space, but tall plants can be used almost anywhere, so don’t let the height of a plant scare you away! In fact, you’ll find that tall plants, even in small spaces, add a dramatic sense of layering and help to create that lush garden effect that we’re all after.

So what are my favorite super-sized plants? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few large-growing favorites that have graced my garden and the gardens of my clients for many years.

>> read “Super Size It!”       #Design   #Ornamentals   #Unusual
Plants to Market
The Art and Science of Creating Plants for Gardeners

As you walk through your local garden center, have you ever wondered where the plants come from? Why are there so many of one plant and only a few of another? The process of creating enough plants for us to purchase takes a scientific approach, technical skill, and a lot of artistry.

>> read “Plants to Market”       #Propagation
Squish the Squash Bug

The squash bug is common throughout the United States, and it is one of those creatures that truly has a logical name. The Anasa tristis is a true bug, and you surely want to “squash” it when seen.

>> read “Squish the Squash Bug”       #Insects   #Pests   #Vegetables
In Defense of Spiders

Spiders are perhaps some of the most feared and misunderstood inhabitants of any garden. Quickly squashed into “bug juice” without a moment’s hesitation, these beneficials rarely find safe refuge in their garden homes. Yet, despite their fearsome reputations, wise gardeners learn to appreciate these hungry monsters as they go about their daily business patrolling for pests such as mosquitos, flies, aphids, and leafhoppers. Knowing how to live side by side in harmony is a simple matter of understanding what makes them tick – or twitch.

>> read “In Defense of Spiders”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Wildlife
Harvesting Happiness

Placing seeds in sweet soil, backyard homesteaders grow food to grow a better life. Within the trend of increased interest in vegetable gardening, there are families who intensively garden, not as a hobby, but as a way of life. In a sense, they create mini-farms.

>> read “Harvesting Happiness”       #Homesteading   #New Trends   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
There’s an App for That!
You can gain a lot of gardening tips on your smartphone

Gardening is a hands-on activity. We need to (and like to) get down and dirty while practicing our craft, but after we’ve come back inside and cleaned the dirt from underneath our fingernails (toenails too, sometimes), we can continue from our chair where we left off in the garden.

>> read “There’s an App for That!”       #New Trends   #Tech & Gadgets   #Tools
Minding Your Peas

What’s not to like about peas? The fresh green pods are the epitome of spring. That sweet burst of flavor that explodes in your mouth gives the nod to enjoy the cool spring days, which precede the warm days ahead. Peas are the perfect accompaniment to the sparkling greens of spring, and a quick stop at early farmers markets should give you all you need for delicious spring dining.

>> read “Minding Your Peas”       #Recipes   #Vegetables   #Vines
Cactus Care
Secrets to having perennial cacti in the Southeastern US

Succulents take many forms and come in many shapes and sizes. They are also widely known for their ability to survive in less-than-ideal conditions. Cacti are a type of succulent that is distinguished from other succulents by having areoles. It may seem a little unusual to think of cacti outside of the western United States, however, there are many excellent reasons to grow perennial cacti in the Southeast.

>> read “Cactus Care”       #Succulents   #Xeriscaping
 
 
 

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