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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

Do It Yourself Cold Frames

Winter gardening is the busy gardener’s dream come true – bountiful harvests with little to no weeding, watering, or other tiresome work. However, you do need to provide a bit of protection for winter veggies. DIY cold frames can be both inexpensive and highly functional, and constructed using materials you may already have on hand.

>> read “Do It Yourself Cold Frames”       #How to   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency   #Winter
Holiday Decorating from the Garden

If you’re looking for some great new traditions to start with your family and want to get away from all the excess of the holidays, why not adorn your home with the beauty from your garden? Look for organic touches like pine cones, fresh greenery and berries, and make use of simple items that create ambiance. Try not to go overboard, remember, the idea is to simply make your home more festive.

>> read “Holiday Decorating from the Garden”       #Holiday: Christmas   #Decorating   #Winter
Monstera

Today, many once-popular horticultural trends are just as passé as swim-tops for men and iceberg lettuce in a salad. Remember when everybody had an air plant pinned to the curtains in most rooms of the house and gardeners were happy to have plain white petunias? If you don’t recall those days of yore, you certainly will not remember the popularity once surrounding the Monstera deliciosa, or Swiss-cheese plant.

The botanical name, Monstera, is Latin for strange or monstrous, and points to some of the oddities associated with this rambling vine. These include aerial roots and large, glossy leaves full of deeply lobed cutouts and neatly cut round or oval holes, hence the common name Swiss-cheese plant.

>> read “Monstera”       #Plant Profile   #Unusual   #Vines
Resolutions for a Better Harvest

I don't wait for January to make resolutions for the New Year. While the memory of the successes and failures of the recent season is still fresh in my mind, I like to make a list of resolutions as soon as I’ve put my garden to bed for the winter.

Here are just a few of those resolutions I’ve made over the years that have resulted in more fun, less work and a better harvest.

>> read “Resolutions for a Better Harvest”       #Misc   #Seeds   #Winter
Perennial Planning 101

Creating a 100 percent pure perennial bed can be quite a daunting task. The thought of planning a flowerbed that provides interest from spring until fall is enough to have the most seasoned landscape designers running for the hills. With this simple plan, you can dip your toes into the wonderful world of perennials without creating a panic.

>> read “Perennial Planning 101”       #Colorful   #Flowers   #Perennials
Between a Rock and a Hardscape

A few years ago, a friend was installing night lighting in a garden for his client who wanted stone features as accents among the plants and around a backyard patio where he entertained family and friends. My friend invited me to accompany him to a garden center specializing in stone products. I was amazed at the choices of stone available – from small natural stone, to flat cut stone, to relatively large boulders. Displays showed examples of stone for terraces, walls, benches, paths and water features.

The possibilities seemed endless, and I began to see stone and rocks in an entirely different way. I began to notice them in fields and woods, along roadsides and in other natural settings. I began to realize that no garden could be complete without stone.

>> read “Between a Rock and a Hardscape”       #Design   #Hardscaping   #Misc
Wet Feet

Too much water is a fairly common problem in many flowerbeds in this region, where we may get about 4 inches of rain every month between late fall and early spring. Four inches of rain wouldn’t be considered “too much” water during the summer, when plants are actively growing and transpiring. During the cool season, temperatures are low so water loss through evaporation is limited, and plants are not actively growing, which does not take up a lot of water. Without good drainage, you may have a problem with too much water.

>> read “Wet Feet”       #Hardscaping   #Irrigation   #Raised Beds
Alchemy In the Aromatic Jar

Pickling is an ancient art, practiced around the globe for thousands of years to keep surplus harvests from spoilage, but flourishes now because of sheer adoration of pickles’ zip and zing. We Southerners slip into poetry over our mouthwatering pickles, as Thomas Jefferson did more than 200 years ago: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar.”

>> read “Alchemy In the Aromatic Jar”       #Edibles   #Recipes   #Vegetables
Plants Need Their Rest Too

This is about the time of year I start getting inquiries from local media about why leaves turn colors in the fall. What they really want to know is the exact week of peak color to inform the leaf-peepers. I usually respond that the plants are preparing to enter dormancy and peak color depends on prevailing weather conditions and is often unpredictable.

But what exactly is dormancy and why is it crucial to plants? Like explaining why leaves change color, the answer is not straightforward and “depends,” which is not the answer most people want to hear. I’ll attempt to explain in layman’s terms an interesting facet of a plant’s life.

>> read “Plants Need Their Rest Too”       #Colorful   #Fall   #Orange   #Trees
Hold On to Summer

Hate saying goodbye every year to your beautiful flowers? Dry those blossoms and you can keep them for years to come. I’ve always been intrigued with flower drying; in fact I used strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum), statice (Limonium spp.) and baby’s breath (Gypsophila spp.) in my bridal bouquet so I could keep them along with my memories of that eventful day. I even had strawflowers placed on the wedding cake instead of flowers made of icing. I still have those flowers, though they are fading a bit. And they still make me chuckle when I think how my mom bartered manure for them from a neighbor.

>> read “Hold On to Summer”       #Crafts   #Flowers   #How to
Building a Scarier Scarecrow

If you have a garden, it’s more than likely that you also have a pest or three. It should be no surprise that pests and critters like our yards and gardens as much, or more, than we do. We are encouraged to invite wildlife into our yards and gardens because we love seeing them, and, in theory, they help balance our desire for our garden and nature to coexist. But what happens when they go rogue and start eating, digging and destroying all of our hard work?

Scaring them away, or we could say gently discouraging, wild and sometimes not-so-wild critters to “Step away from the garden,” is always a first and sometimes successful option.

>> read “Building a Scarier Scarecrow”       #Decorating   #Fall   #Pests
The Lowdown on Mulch

You may be wondering, why write an article about mulching? Everyone knows how to mulch, right? You buy mulch and place it around your plants. True, it’s not rocket science, but I have seen enough bad mulching jobs that it does merit more attention.

>> read “The Lowdown on Mulch”       #Landscaping   #Misc   #Soil