How Thirsty Are Your Plants?
Author and gardener Pamela Crawford is profiled by Steve Bender in the April 2010 issue of Southern Living. Pamela is an expert on growing beautiful flowers while saving water, money and time. In the profile, Pamela provides Southern Living readers with a ranking of nine popular plants according to their water needs , Teetotalers (“these stalwarts never take a drink”), Moderate Drinkers (water 3x a week), and Problem Drinkers (water 6x a week).
Click below to enlarge the picture.
One of my all time favorites, and a recent top choice by GardenWise as a ”must-have” Fall 2010 garden favorite, is Toad Lily (Tricyrtis.) As I earlier wrote, Toad Lily, with its beautiful orchid-like white flowers, purple flecks and graceful arching growth habit, compels anyone who gazes upon it to stop and take a closer look.
Better Homes & Gardens lists Toad Lily as one of their best perennials for shade, and I’m thrilled that more attention is pointed in this fantastic perennial’s directon. Make your shade explode with interest and color by adding the unforgetable beauty of Toad Lily.
Outside Living Rooms
Ease of movement and flow are essential when connecting indoor and outdoor spaces. Outside rooms designed for relaxation and recreation will add new living areas to your property whiole increasing your home’s value by as much as 15%. Not a bad return on a project meant to help you make the most of your property — which you already own! Designing and installing fresh, exciting and timeless landscape architectural designs that remain functional are key to the spaces I create for clients.
This week we’re going to explore outside living possibilities. First up? Outdoor ”living rooms,” which became popular after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. These spaces gained even more popularity in 2007 as an uncertain economy became a regular presence in our lives. I design a smaller version of these spaces that I call ”cocoon” spaces which comfort and inspire.
Outdoor living rooms are the second most popular home remodeling project after remodeling of a kitchen. These spaces can include fireplaces or firepits, a cooking station and comfortable seating. They can also reflect your own distinct personality while providing a welcome getaway for family and friends. Kitchens add value to any home, and an outside kitchen will most definitely increase your home’s value.
It’s important to work with a professional on this type of living space. Landscape architects are educated in how to design these types of outdoor living areas, properly locate and install them, and take all of the architectural elements into considerations (grading, etc.) so there will be no problems down the road.
Don’t Be Intimidated By “Organic”
It’s time to demystify the word ”organic” because it’s 2013, and growing organic produce and transforming a garden space into an “organic” garden is easily achieved. When gardeners and other folks refer to organic produce or organically grown veggies and fruit, they’re describing items grown in a garden space that has replaced pesticides with natural substitutes, and building soil life so plants are healthier. Anyone can grow their own organic veggies and fruit in any sized space, and best of all, this is a simple DIY transformation that doesn’t take much effort and yields healthier and delicious results!
For those who desire a more green and healthy approach to your gardening adventure, check out Doug Hall’s blog over at Organic Gardening, ORGANIC GARDENING SOLUTIONS . Doug has great tips and ideas for those seeking a more organic approach, and he covers so many timely topics. It’s always a great read.
New Entries Create Outdoor Living
Ease of movement and flow are essential when connecting your indoor and outdoor spaces. Think of your outside space as a room, and what’s the first question that comes to mind? “How will I get there?” This can easily be achieved, especially in an older home, with a few additions. Replace a solid door with a door with glass, add some wooden stairs, and your journey begins. Create functional areas for entertaining, focal points with water, and smaller areas for intimate conversation.
And be sure to make it personal! This is one of those times where it is all about you. Add meaningful touches to your space. What were your favorite flowers growing up? Which trees do you remember at your grandparent’s home? Which flowers were used on your wedding day?
Personal touches with visual touchstones to memories and past experiences will create a thoughtful and intimate space for you to enjoy for many years.
Green Living in 2012
A thoughtful way to live a greener life in the new year is to make your landscape eco-friendly and plant trees. Planting a tree is one of the most immediate green steps you can take as trees absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.
Canopy trees, and Deciduous trees that grow tall and full in the summer, will add shade to your home and help it stay cool in the summer months. They will also allow your home to absorb warm sun light in winter. In addition to being good for the environment, adding these trees to your landscape is an energy saving step that will lower the cost of cooling and heating your home.
Fruit bearing trees will also absorb dangerous gasses while replenishing oxygen, and a plus is your garden becomes more productive. While enjoying your favorite fruits and saving a little money at the grocery store, you can also donate any extra fruit to those in need. Not only will you help others in your immediate community, but you’ll show by example how Green Living can give back, both locally and globally.
Floral Spring Fragrance…Yes Please!
There’s nothing better than the approach of spring when things start to come alive… except maybe one. The idea that soon you’ll walk out into your yard, take a deep breath, and realize all your hard work on your landscape has paid off. It looks and smells wonderful! When this happens there’s nothing better and I will have a hard time leaving my yard on a sunny spring afternoon. For those who crave spring, and haven’t thought about their landscape just yet, here are some plants that you can easily plant to make sure you’re rid of the winter blues:
Bearded Iris- Colors: Pink, white, purple or yellow and will bloom mid-to late spring. Needs full sun, and will be 12 to 36 in. tall.
Common lilac- Colors: Pink, purple or white and will bloom in midspring. They need full sun, and will be 8 to 15ft. tall, 6 to 10ft. wide.
Hyacinth- Colors: Blue, white, pink, peach or purple and will bloom in early spring. They need full sun and will grow to be 6 to 12 in. tall, 3 to 5in. wide.
Silky wisteria- A vine, 4 to 6 in. long, will produce pink or white midspring flowers. They need full sun, and will grow to be 10 to 25 ft. tall
Sustainable Residential Landscape Architecture
Plants play a very important role in a healthy ecosystem. They reduce pollutants, oxygenate the atmosphere, and are important to overall human health. By using a comprehensive approach to sustainable landscape design, Sustainable Residential Landscape Architecture (SRLA) practices can improve water and energy efficiency while using plants to eliminate chemical fertilizers, produce food, and clean the air.
Homeowners can use plants to recreate healthy ecosystems and reduce some of the negative effects of residential buildings. There are many simple ways to experience the benefits of plants – restoring native plants to residential landscapes, using plants as food sources, creating wildlife habitats through the strategic use of plantings, and adding indoor plants to improve air quality inside your home.
If included as part of your master landscape design plan, SRLA can help you use plants to cut down on the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. And as we all know, cutting outr chemicals in our residential gardens will make for a healthier home, and life.
GardenWise on New Hybrids of Lilacs
With the snowing falling once again… my thoughts turn to spring and one of my favorite plants I distinctly remember from my childhood; Lilacs And for many of us, nothing says “Spring” quite like the scent of lilacs. There are new hybrids and species of Lilacs that make me want to write this blog post because these aren’t your Grandparent’s Lilacs! There are new hybrids that offer not only the trademark sweet smelling blooms, but leaves that stay healthy and mildew free all summer.
This article from Horticulture magazine describes some of the best species and cultivars of Lilacs for use in the garden, including compact selections and lilacs that resist mildew. Two of my favorites, ‘Madame Limione’ and ‘Miss Kim” are featured. Keep in mind these aren’t common lilacs (Syringa Vulgaris,) and they all have different looks, so keep that in mind when planning your Spring garden. However, that strong Lilac scent is unmistakeable, and ‘Miss Kim’ delivers a powerful scent that will make you swoon!
In the article there’s also a box on pruning lilacs, which should be done in late winter. The link to the article below speaks of the many new varieties that are mildew resistant and discusses proper pruning techniques. Lovely photographs of lilacs in full bloom are a bonus.
And don’t forget, Lilacs aren’t shade loving shrubs — they always bloom better with full or partial sun.
GardenWise on “Green” Garden Projects
When a gardener asks, “How can I make my garden ‘green’?” The journey has begun. A thoughtful understanding that an outside space can have a positive impact on the environment is the first step to a green garden makeover. An exciting weekend project that will bring immediate and amazing results is to reduce your lawn area by at least half.
Substituting lawn areas with ground covers will provide beautiful colors and textures to your garden spaces. Ground covers retain moisture in the soil, help prevent erosion, and require significantly less water than grass, which will make your garden space eco-friendly. Creeping thymes and Creeping Jenny are good choices for sunny spots, and for shadier areas, tiny creeping mints such as Mentha requienii will work well. Some nice low-water choices include Trailing Yellow Dalea and Trailing lantana.
By adding some stone elements and pourous pavers into your plan, your garden space will come alive with wonderful garden paths that will add new dimensions to your garden spaces.
March Gardening Tips
As the warmer weather approaches and we find outselves leaving the house without a wool cap and gloves, here are some March gardening tips for Mid-Atlantic gardeners. Even on this rainy day you can start making plans for your March garden work, incuding bulb planting. Pictured are Narcissus bulbs I’m preparing to plant.
* Once the soil warms and dries plant summer bulbs
* Hardy annuals can go out even if we’re expect another frost
* Plant shrubs when the ground warms — it’s a good time to transplant trees and shrubs that are currently in your landscape
* Apply fertilizer to woody plants even though they are still dormant
* Prune roses before the buds break
* Prune broken branches from trees and shrubs
This February is much different than past Februarys. It’s not as cold, and it’s not as snowy, icy, or rainy. However, we still have winter garden chores!
Start by checking your perennial plants. You can protect your strawberries and many perennial flowers as well as garlic, over-wintered spinach, and other crops that can easily be damaged by alternate warming and freezing of the soil with mulch. Although it is too late to undo any damage that’s done, mulching now can prevent additional damage caused by spring fluctuations in soil temperatures.
You can also take a walk around the garden to check for winter damage to shrubs, evergreens, and trees. Look for damage by rabbits and rodents, too. We have a lot of rabbits in our area this year, so be sure to understand who is causing garden damage before coming up with a solution.
February is also a great time to think about the birds. In addition to keeping the feeders full, you can attract them to your yard and garden next spring by adding a birdhouse now.
Can-Can Orange Calibrachoa
Looking to add some fantastic color to your garden spaces, but also want something new? Add an eye-catching splash of orange to your beds, borders, and containers with Can-Can Orange calibrachoa. Offering lots of bold tangerine flowers marked with dark red-orange veins, this flower can take full sun, but the trade is it requires moist, well-drained soil. Contrast the rich orange color of this variety with a lavender-purple ivy geranium and you’ll have a burst of delicious color that will inspire you all summer long!