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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Gardening for the Birds

Spring is my favorite time of year, full of new beginnings and teaming with possibilities. I love strolling the aisles of local nurseries and garden centers to see what’s new and what’s different. Although the temptation is great to purchase one of each, I try to limit my purchases to plants that attract birds and butterflies. There are many options to choose from, no matter the size or scope of your garden. Here are a few favorites to include in the yard each year, and some tips for planting and placement.

>> read “Gardening for the Birds”       #Birds
Short, Tall and In Between
Design tips for a beautiful garden at all levels

Each gardener, whether novice or experienced, begins a new garden full of fresh hopes and desires. Desires vary – one gardener may wish to grow fanciful flowers in a cutting garden; others may want a wildlife habitat with diverse plantings to feed birds, bees and butterflies. Another may want to grow a vegetable garden, with an added desire to make it as beautiful as it is functional.

>> read “Short, Tall and In Between”       #Advice   #Design
Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?

When most people think of wasps, they think of paper wasps, and they probably think of them only as pests because of unpleasant past encounters with these stinging insects. However, the world of wasps is much larger and more complex than this! Our gardens abound with hundreds of species of wasps that vary greatly in size and life habits. Most of the wasps in our gardens are tiny, parasitic species that do not sting people and go largely unnoticed. These are definitely friends because they help control pest insects. There is also a group of wasps known as sawflies whose larvae look like caterpillars and feed on plants. These are usually foes because they damage landscape plants. Two other groups of wasps are the social wasps, such as paper wasps, and the solitary wasps, such as mud daubers and cicada killers. Wasps in both these groups are capable of stinging, and they definitely qualify as foes when they do so, but paper wasps also have a beneficial side.

>> read “Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
Floriferous Floribunda Roses

Floribunda roses are the result of crossing hybrid tea and polyantha roses. Some believe that nurseryman Peter Lambert, from Trier, Germany, first experimented with crossing hybrid tea roses with polyantha roses as early as 1903. But the first successful cross of this combination that was marketed to the public was made by Dines Poulsen, a Danish hybridizer, who studied and worked several years with Lambert. Poulsen dubbed this new variety of rose a “hybrid polyantha” or “Poulsen roses.” Poulsen’s goals were to create roses that would survive harsh winters, have good disease resistance, and would display the form, beauty and color range of the hybrid tea class along with the repeat bloom profusion of the polyantha roses.

>> read “Floriferous Floribunda Roses”       #Colorful   #Flowers   #Roses
The Best Defense
Managing weeds in flowerbeds

Gardeners take pride in the appearance of their landscapes. However, nothing detracts from the beauty of flowerbeds like weeds. Along with being aesthetically displeasing, weeds in flowerbeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients and light. If weeds are out of control, expect fewer flowers and more headaches. For most people, backbreaking hand removal is relied upon exclusively to remove weed problems. Hand pulling may be successful for a few weeds, but for most weed problems it is only partially effective.

>> read “The Best Defense”       #Pests   #Turf Grass   #Vines
Bad Homemade Remedies
Do NOT try these at home! Here's why.

As gardeners we care for our plants as best we can. We are also sensitive to environmental concerns when using fertilizers and pesticides (and many times we seek the cheapest way to do all this). It has happened to all of us: We buy a product that is “almost as good” as the original product only to discover that it “almost worked.” There are many “cheap and almost as good as” homemade garden remedies, many of them found on the Internet; I am going to explain why you should never try any of them.

>> read “Bad Homemade Remedies”       #Advice   #Health and Safety   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis

An herb garden is an oasis of scents, textures, and flavors that add just the right zing to summer meals. But we aren’t the only ones who enjoy a burst of flavor on a hot summer day. Honeybees and other pollinators are drawn to the delicious nectar found in flowering herbs.

>> read “Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis”       #Beneficials   #Herbs   #Insects
How Much Should I Plant?

Picture this: You are sitting by the fireplace in January and the stack of seed catalogs is next to you. You have a hot cup of cocoa and you are looking forward to digging into the catalogs. You have your Post-It Notes right there, too, because you are going to mark everything that you want to order and plant for the vegetable garden. You place all of your orders, and then all of sudden it's planting time and you can't quite figure out how you are going to fit all of those seeds (let alone the plants that you just picked up at the garden center) in your garden. Expanding the garden is not an option (at least that's what my husband keeps telling me every year but somehow it just gets bigger and bigger!).

Does this sound familiar? I used to be really bad at over purchasing seeds and plants. I figured that since I have room, it would be OK to just let the garden size creep another foot or two. Until this got out of control and I had an epiphany one summer a few years ago: A lot of the produce that I was planting was just going to waste. So I started planning my vegetable garden according to what we would consume ...

>> read “How Much Should I Plant?”       #Design   #Seeds   #Vegetables
Tough Beauty
These plants won't swoon easily

Tough plants. My first thought was tough plants are great for beginning gardeners. I think of tough plants as easy plants and a beginner needs some easy plants. It gives them that much-needed success allowing them to grow confident in their gardening skills. Then I thought, “Tough plants are great for all gardeners!” I’ve been in the garden for a lot of years and a lot of hours. I love a tough plant I can sort of just throw in the ground and walk away. It looks good without fuss, so I have time to spend fretting over my delicate plants and playing with my chickens.

>> read “Tough Beauty”       #Ornamentals   #Shrubs
Sculpture in the Garden

On a spring morning while visiting Magnolia Plantation and Gardens near Charleston, SC, I left the main pathways and walked onto a narrow trail that led among Spanish-moss draped magnolias and bald cypresses. The trail went past an open glade, wild in its tangle of wisteria vines and solitary azalea and camellia blossoms. It had an eerie and deserted look about it, and I was startled by a white figure standing in the far distance like a mirage. When I looked closer, I realized that it was a white marble statue of a woman. Suddenly this abandoned space came alive. It was inhabited by this lovely sculpture, and my eyes focused on the glistening figure standing evocatively among the tangled vegetation.

>> read “Sculpture in the Garden”       #Decorating   #Design   #Misc
Begin an Organic Lawn This Spring

Although lawns have taken it on the chin from environmentalists the past few years, the good news is you can have nice green grass that is chemical free and safe for your kids, cats and dogs to play on. Here are the steps to begin growing an Earth-friendly, sustainable lawn.

>> read “Begin an Organic Lawn This Spring”       #Environment   #Landscaping   #Turf Grass
Build A Raised Bed – Fast!

Now that is it time to plant tomatoes, peppers, squash and other warm-season vegetables, you should think about adding a new raised bed. Start a new bed now and have all season to create healthy garden soil at little or no cost.

>> read “Build A Raised Bed – Fast!”    
 
 
 

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