Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The First of My Seed Catalogues Have Arrived

We left on December 4 for our winter vacation, spending a couple of days in chilly Wisconsin before heading to our vacation home in the warm and sunny south.  We returned home in the late evening hours on December 22.  It was a wonderful break and while we could have stayed longer I wanted to be home to spend Christmas with the kids and grandkids.

There wasn't a lot to do in the garden at the vacation home.  We hired a gardener to look after them when we aren't there as weeds can quickly get out of hand in Florida.  We have rented the vacation home out for January through April but can't expect our tenants to do any gardening.  We dealt with fire ants for the first time and let me tell you that wasn't pleasant!  Our pest control service came out to take care of that problem.  We spread more red cedar mulch on the gardens as well.  I can't believe the difference in price.  Here (southwestern Ontario) a bag of red cedar mulch costs $8 but there (Florida) it only costs $3.  The red cedar mulch gives a nice splash of colour while conserving water in the soil and it has natural pest deterrent oils that help control centipedes, millipedes, spiders, pill bugs and ants.

On the homeside, I lost a few of my indoor herbs while away.  They were fairly new, still suffering a bit from the transit and although they were being cared for a couple dried out.  The geraniums are looking good but need a bit of cleaning up.  The first of the seed catalogues arrived while we were away so I'm already excited at the prospect of starting my new gardens.  I will be placing my first order for seeds shortly.  We have just enough ice and snow on the ground to not quite cover the grass but the never ending grey days of November are long gone.  We are seeing more bright, sunny days which makes the anticipation for being out in the garden a bit stronger.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, November 18, 2011

Ordering Seed Catalogues

It's that time of year!  I have a lot of plans for my new gardens in the spring so I spent a bit of time ordering seed catalogues today.  This was triggered by receiving my shipment of potted herbs from Richters (Goodwood, ON) and the first snow flurry of the season.  I focused on those seed companies located in Ontario, Canada offering seeds and/or plants.  It is very important for me that any edible plants were grown organically, free of synthetic chemicals and pesticides.  We live in beautiful Ontario so when I order from an Ontario based seed company or grower, I am supporting our local economy.  The nice thing is when I order live plants they arrive within a day or two resulting in a lot less stress for them.  Here's a few seed companies and growers I recommend:

  • Ritchters (Goodwood, ON) - superb quality and pesticide free medicinal, culinary and aromatic herbs
  • OSC Seeds (Waterloo, ON) - high quality herb, vegetable, flower and tree seeds
  • Stokes (Thorold, ON) - high quality seed and plants for all gardening needs including heirloom varieties
  • Dominion Seed House (Georgetown, ON) - high quality seeds, plants and bulbs by mail order
  • AgroHaiti (Lynden, ON) - specializing in Oriental vegetable seeds [online catalogue only]
  • Florabunda Seeds (Indian River, ON) - specializing in heirloom varieties for cottage gardens
  • Terra Edibles (Foxboro, ON) - organically grown heirloom seeds

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, October 24, 2011

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')

Boston fern
Boston Fern
(Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')

I have had a Boston fern in every home we have had.  My oldest Boston fern was acquired during our early newlywed days, moved with us from Ontario to Alberta and back, then graced our first four owned homes.  It had a long, long history and really was more like a family member.  I was devastated when it failed to thrive at our last house.  As mentioned earlier, that house had serious bad karma with respect to houseplants! 

I bought a new Boston fern for my office at our new house.  It sits in the corner where I can enjoy it while on the computer.  Boston ferns are an age old low maintenance plant that graced the parlors of many a home.  This is a medium light plant that does well in filtered to partial sunlight.  A trick I learned eons ago was to water my Boston fern wih a little milk.  By little I mean putting a bit of water into an empty milk bag then water the fern.  Done once a month and this little tip will keep your Boston fern happy and healthy.  The second trick with Boston ferns is humidity so mist the foliage  couple of times a week.  The foliage will fade if the plant is not getting enough water.  Keep the soil most.  I'm using a watering globe to make sure the fern gets the right amount of water that it needs.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Houseplants and Watering Globes

Dollarama is likely quite happy with me!  I discovered their watering globes back in May of 2010 and have been experimenting with them ever since.  We spend upwards of five weeks at a time away from our permanent residence to enjoy our vacation home.  That leaves the dilemna of houseplant watering.  In our case, this is not a huge issue as our kids look after the house while we are away but I'm working on re-establishing my extensive houseplant collection in our new home.  Watering globes make perfect sense!

The watering globes I'm buying come in two sizes with the large one costing $2 and two of the smaller ones costing the same price.  The watering bulbs will keep each plant watered up to two weeks.  That means instead of the kids having to water my houseplants weekly they will only need to refill the watering bulb once during a four week period.  This is a lot less work for them!  There will still be a few trays of houseplants that will need to be watered individually but for the most part the watering the kids will need to do will be minimum.  Next I will be working on a self watering DIY system for my houseplants.  That way they will be rather self sufficient when we are away!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mother-in-Law's Tongue (Sansevieria)

Sansevieria


Sansevieria


Sansevieria is commonly called Mother-in-Law's Tongue.  It is a good air purifier that removes toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene and toulene all of which can occur in homes with laminate flooring, panelling, other manmade wood composite building materials, carpeting and upholsteried furniture.  The release of these chemicals is known as off-gassing, something quite common in newer homes. 

We have a lot of laminate flooring in our new home so I am being careful to include plants that act as air purifiers.  I bought a Sansevieria for our bedroom.  This plant, despite the benefits to indoor air quality, lives on neglect.  It prefers low light conditions, temperatures about 50ºF and moist soil.  Sansevieria is recommended for offices, bathrooms and other low light living areas.  Our bedroom has a northwest facing window so there is light but it is not a bright light.  I'm using a watering globe to ensure the plant doesn't dry out.  Other than that it is a very tolerant, low maintenance houseplant.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, October 21, 2011

Epic Cordless, Electric Self-Propelled Mower

our new Epic cordless, electric self-propelled mower
Our New Mower

My husband has been looking for a mower solution for quite sometime.  An electric mower was not a practical option for our last two rural properties.  Gasoline fumes triggered respiratory problems so for a couple of years we hired a lawn cutting service.  That had a lot of benefits especially when we were away.  Two years ago we bought a very nice gas powered mower and while it did save us money it was not a good solution for reducing our carbon footprint or reducing respiratory problems.  The reality is using a gas lawnmowers for one hour puts out the same amount of smog-forming emissions as 40 new automible do in an hour!  My husband finally found the ideal solution - a cordless, electric self-propelled mower for the new house.

He bought the Epic cordless electric self-propelled mower on sale a few days after we accepted the offer for the sale of our home.  This is a 19" full sized steel deck mower that uses the 24V Terra Phase Power System.  There is no gas, no oil, and no emissions.  According to the label we will save as much as $327 over the next 6 years in fuel and maintenance costs compared to a regular gas mower.  The mower has a push button start and rear wheel drive.  It mulches and there is a bagger (not pictured).  I've used it twice now and the most impressive feature is the noise level.  This is a very quiet mower!  You can barely tell the mower is going so we have greatly reduced the noise pollution we create through lawn maintenance.  The two batteries stay in the actual charger when the mower is not in use.  They only go into the mower compartment during use.  While we are currently charging the batteries using hydro, they can be charges via a solar panel and inverter.  One charge is enought to cut 7,000 to 10,000 square feet.  Our last property was 17,500 square feet so it would have taken two charges to cut the lawn but this lot is 11,500 square feet but buildings, gardens and pool reduce the square footage to under 10,000 square feet so we can cut the full lawn on one charge.  We will store the batteries indoors for the winter. 

With the purchase of this battery powered mower along with our battery powered trimmer/edger we have effectively eliminated the use of gasoline for any gardening equipment.  We have greatly reduced our carbon footprint as well as lessened noise pollution we produce.  I am rather pleased with this reduction!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yardworks Cordless Grass Trimmer/Edger

Yardworks cordless grass trimmer and edger
Yardworks Cordless Grass Trimmer/Edger

Yards need weeding, trimming and edging even if you replace the grass with another ground cover.  My husband bought a Yardworks cordless grass trimmer/edger just before we sold our previous house so I had the opportunity to test it on a larger rural lot.  The beauty of this edger is it is battery powered.  Using battery powered yard maintenance equipment makes a lot of sense when moving towards living off the grid.  These devices can be charged using solar power and and inverter.  Even if we never get entirely off the grid which is less of a possibility now that we are living in town, we can still set up solar panels to recharge our lawn maintenance equipment as well as my husband's battery powered tools.  The removable battery sits just below the handle for easy removal to the charger. 

This trimmer can easily be turned into an edger by adjusting the handle knob.  I have to say that I am quite impressed with the performance!  There are no extension cords to worry about damaging and no gasoline fumes to have to deal with.  Unlike the gas powered trimmer, the battery powered one starts up with only a press of the button.  There is no fussing with the spool of cutter line either as all you do is pop it into place then it is automatic from there.   The battery lasts about 20 minutes which was more than sufficient to trim our larger rural property. 

I've used it twice in our new urban location without a problem.  As you can see we have a bricked drive so I even used it on edging mode to rid the cracks of weeds.  The first time, the trimmer was used here it lasted over the twenty minutes and that's with a bit more trimming than normal given I was cleaning up the driveway.  The nice thing about this battery powered trimmer/edger is I know it reduces our carbon footprint.  It is an environmentally conscious product that doesn't contribute to air pollution and it is quieter than electric and gas powered trimmers so reduces noise pollution.  That's always a good thing!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First New Houseplant at Our New Home

palm houseplant
First New Houseplant at Our New Home
October 12, 2011


The beauty of houseplants is aside of adding life and vitality to a room while softening the hard edges of the room is they can be used to camouflage those little room idiosyncrasies that can be a bit annoying.  When the Bell satellite television installer ran our lines he made the assumption we would place the television in the corner thus hiding the large switch box.  The problem was there was no furniture in the room.  We want the television on the end wall, not in the corner so my husband straightened the wires then we did a bit of camouflaging with an endtable and larger plant.

The main television room is open to the dining room so it can carry a larger plant nicely.  A couple of the local stores have houseplants on sale so I've been taking advantage of the sales buying houseplants as I find a spot for them.  The first houseplant I bought was this beautiful tropical.  It is in the palm family but did not have a tag for positive identification.  The palm is about three and a half feet tall.  It  does just what it was intended to do, looking quite happy in it's new home.  Now I need to find a nice decorative pot for the palm to sit in.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Houseplant Problem at Our Last House

I have always had an abundance of houseplants in every home we've lived in.  I do mean an abundance too, with houseplants in pretty much every room.  Houseplants are a wonderful natural way to soften a room, bring interest and life into a room and improve air quality.  Our last hose was horrid for houseplants and yet I never did figure out what the problem was.  I honestly believe the house was veiled in bad karma!

We moved into that house in June of 2007.  Every houseplant I brought with us and there were a lot, was dead within three weeks with the exception of my variegated pothos.  Even the poor pothos looked like it was struggling though.  I lost my beautiful Boston fern, asparagus fern, several African violets, all of my indoor herbs and even the potted English ivy.  I spent close to $100 replenishing my houseplants figuring there was something with the move that affected the houseplants.  Within the following three weeks most of the new plants were dead.  Over the next four years, every single houseplant I brought into the house died while the poor pothos continued to struggle.  I brought in tomato plant clippings and herbs from the garden.  It was a struggle to keep them going throughout the winter at that house and yet I had been doing that successfully for years in our other houses.  I started cacti seeds from Nevada brought back from our spring vacation in 2008.  They germinated and survived but were struggling as well.  Of the four springs that I started seed trays, the majority failed.

It was not for lack of effort.  I tried to troubleshoot.  There were no signs of insect infestation or fungal problems in the house.  I used chamomile tea to ward off any dampening off for seedlings, fertilized houseplants, moved them into the sunporch during the nicer weather, nippped and tucked them, supplemented with plant lighting and still the houseplants failed to thrive.

We started moving in here September 1 of this year.  I brought the struggling potos and cacti, a sad statement of how bad that house was for growing houseplants.  Within a week both were looking quite healthy!  I went houseplant shopping, picking up a few here and there whenever I had to go shopping for something else.  It has been a little over six weeks now since we started moving in and the houseplants are looking marvelous.  I can't wait to share what I bought with you, the reader!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Huge Weed at Our Vacation Home

We have lived in I  beautiful Ontario, Canada most of our lives so we are used to gardening in Zone 6A.  We know what is considered weeds and what isn't.  Our vacation home is in US Hardiness Zone 9B.  We bought it in March of 2010 but did not see it until May of 2010.  The house had been empty for over a year so there was a bit of overgrowth.  While we have become accustomed to some of the plants at our vacation home, we are still very much newbies to gardeing in this zone.

the huge weed
We spent a couple of weeks in May at our vacation home.  A neighbour behind us mentioned we had a weed at the back of the house.  I looked at the 'weed' but it looked like a small tree to me so we left it.  When we arrived at our vacation home in September, the small tree was huge!  I honestly could not believe that a 'tree' that was about two feet tall when we left in May was well over ten feet tall .  To make matters worse there were a couple more of the free trees in our garden.  Apparently the rainy season was very generous to us!

Now, I still would have left this woody weed.  To me it looked like a tree.  We hired another resident in our resort community to clean-up our gardens.  He never told us what the plant was but he did confirm that it was indeed considered a weed.  We gave him full reign to remove any plant in the gardens that wasn't considered ornamental.  I picked his brains about the care and maintenance of the existing plants.

the back of the house cleaned up
Pictured is the back of the house with the huge weed removed and bushes shaped.  He removed the stump the following day.  Now all of the bushes have been shaped we will be able to maintain the gardens easier.  The gentleman we hired was originally going to maintain the gardens each month but before we left he said he would not be able to due to increased reactions to fire ant bites.  We have not noticed any fire ants around our house.  At any rate we are now in the position of looking for another gardener to care for out property when we aren't there.

The reality is we spend about three months of the year at our vacation home but it is spread out two to five weeks at a time May, September and December.  We rent the property out January through April but the tenants do not do any yard work.  The resort does the yard mowing and trimming so at least we don't have to worry about that.   The rainy season is June through August precisely when we aren't there to catch any problems as they happen before they become big problems.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Turning Cold

It's turned rather cold here meaning that we aren't getting a lot done in the way of gardening at home or at the vacation home.  We left home in beautiful Ontario, Canada just before we had to turn on the furnace.  According to our kids who are housesitting and doing a bit of garden work there has been few days since we left that they could get anything done.  It was a balmy 90°F plus at our vacation home, so still using AC and staying out of the direct sun.   Despite the high temperatures we managed to get a lot of landscaping done, some of it hired out.  Then last Sunday it turned rather cold in the sunny south just in time for us to be heading back to Ontario yesterday.  With any luck we will have a nice Indian summer so I can get my crocuses planted.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, October 07, 2011

Old Garden Gnome Taking a Rest

old garden gnome


Old Garden Gnome Taking a Rest
September 19, 2011

I love taking walks around our vacation home resort to enjoy not only the scenery and wild life but to get a bit of daily exercise.  Being a garden gnome lover, I'm always on the look-out to greet other gnomes.  I spotted this tire, old gnome taking a break from his gardening duties under the shade of a toad stool.  He must have been working quite hard throughout the night to be this tired!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Unidentified Frog

frog in driveway


Unidentified Frog
September 23, 2011

For the most part I love garden visitors.  Ok, I'm not overly happy about having some pests visit but you have to take the bad with the good.  Frogs are always a welcomed visitor in my gardens both at our permanent home and vacation home.  I'm getting to know some of the garden visitors at our vacation home.  This cute little guy was enjoying our carport.  I'm not sure what he is but I think he may be a Greenhouse Frog.  

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, September 30, 2011

Dealing With Mature Landscaping

Our recent move has resulted in dealing with somewhat mature landscaping as far as the ornamental garden beds.  This presents a few problems.  First, we have no idea of knowing what spring or fall plants may be there so it is hard to consider those when it comes to replanting.  Second, any mature landscaping locks the gardens and even tree placement into the vision of the previous own, not you the new owner.

Sometimes in this situation it is better to go with a good clean-out first, removing everything from the garden beds you don't want or that needs to be transplanted to a more suitable location.  At this stage it does pay to be somewhat brutal providing you have identified the plant to ensure it is one that you definitely do not want.  If you need help identifying a plant, take a picture to show your local nursery or contact your local gardening club or even a neighbour.  A good picture can even help you identify a plant or tree online via a Google image search.  Once the plant has been identified, decide whether you want it or not based on it's attributes and growth pattern.  A plant or tree that is too large for one location may be a gorgeous asset in another.

Systematically go through the beds removing weed and unwanted or problematic plants.  Mark any plants that need to be transplanted at a later date as some transplant better in one season verses another.  Weeds that have not gone to seed can be put into the compost.  In our area it is best not to put weeds like bindweed into the compost where they can easily root and spread.  Do not put weeds like poison ivy, poison oak, or Giant Hogweed in the compost or burn pile.  Avoid any contact with the skin that can cause severe allergic reactions.

Next remove any existing mulch if necessary or redistribute if it is in fairly good condition.  While doing this check for any signs of insect infestation (eg. carpenter ants, pill bugs, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, earwigs and etc.).   Caulk any cracks around windows or doors at or near ground level.  Treat with diatomaceous earth to prevent infestations from snails, earwigs and those types of insects.  Depending on your location and preference replace your mulch.  I have had excellent results with cedar wood chips that have natural insect repellent properties.  The beds are now ready for replanting if desired.

An option to planting in the ground it to use a combination of planting in stylish containers to accent the existing plants in the garden that you choose to keep.  I have seen some gorgeous combinations!  You can even add a small water feature to greet visitors to your home.  This is a good time to add in a few solar powered accent lights as well.  Don't forget a gnome or two for good gardening luck!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Planning Our New Garden Beds

When we moved into our then new house a little over four years ago it was apparent that the was a lot of major work to do.  Unfortunately we spent much of those years ripping out garden mistakes as well as vegetation overgrowth.  We put that house on the market eighteen months ago so while we did garden maintenance, added mulch and a couple of raised beds we really did not get to reap the benefits of our labour.  Our new house will take considerably less time to get the front and side gardens the way we want them.  We want these beds low maintenance so there is a bit of ripping out to do but quite easily achieved within a weekend.  There is a fair amount of pruning basically to reshape a couple of the ornamental trees and cut back two areas with over grown flowering vines.  One of the vines is a beautiful deep orange trumpet vine forming a gorgeous arch but it does need trimming back.  The other is climbing up the pool deck surround forming an effective but over grown natural privacy.  I'm not sure what it is but my main concern is that it doesn't attract mosquitoes.

The side gardens in the backyard need a good cleaning out mainly of weeds and then just a bit of trimming back.  The nice thing is the side yards are not huge, running between about two feet deep.  I'm aiming for lush, three season colour that should be possible to achieve with appropriate plantings our first spring there.  I want to do a crocus naturalization in the front lawn this fall and will plant garlic as well.

A crocus naturalization is started by scattering crocus bulbs about the yard.  Now, there cannot be any pattern to this so the best way to achieve the effect is to take a handful of crocus bulbs then toss them into the lawn.  Where the land is where they are planted.  The bulb will naturalize, multiplying each year.  The effect can be quite stunning in the early spring and the crocus foliage dies back before the first grass cutting.  I plan on starting with 50 mixed crocus bulbs.  

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our Pear Tree

pear tree

I was also thrilled to discover a pear tree on our new property.  It is a good sized tree, about ten feet high that was laden with large pears.  I think it is a Bartlett pear tree but will get a positive identification from the nursery.  Like the peach trees, the pear tree likely needs a bit of pruning.  I will be following the pruning guidelines for fruit trees by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  Before I start pruning though, I think it would be a good idea to have someone from the nursery walk me through the process.

While I will be working with some of the existing front and side beds, I've been accumulating ideas to try in our new gardens.  I'll be doing a lot of garden planning over the winter as well.  Next spring should be a very interesting and exciting time in the gardens.


Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Peach Trees

We were extremely pleased to discover fruit trees on our newly acquired property.  The property itself is a smaller, subdivision sized with a good sized house and above ground pool.  This will place restrictions on how we can set up our gardens.  There are some established ornamental front and side garden beds and a good size (about 10' x 20') traditional bed for vegetables.  I will be turning that area into raised garden beds using small space gardening methods.  I have a few new ideas I want to try but they will have to wait until spring.

peach tree
There are three peach trees on the property.  I suspect they are Red Haven and know they are cling-free so will have our local nursery help identify them.  Two are nice sized but the third is small enough that we are considering moving it.  I think two peach trees will be sufficient.  The peaches were ripe to over ripe when we started moving in.  They were small but plentiful with a lovely flavour.  The biggest problem was the yellow jackets helping themselves to the over ripe peaches.  Within a couple of days both of us had been stung so I knocked the remaining partially eaten over ripe fruit from the tree to get rid of the yellow jackets.  It was a good decision as the fruit was not salvageable.

Over the winter months I will be researching how to care for peach trees.  With proper pruning we should get fewer but larger peaches.  I will also be researching on how to discourage the large number of yellow jackets that are not welcomed with a pool and outdoor entertaining.   I suspect on of the easiest ways is to do a clean pick each day as the fruit ripens as well as remove any over ripe fruit.  I can't tell you how excited I am to begin another new gardening adventure!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, September 26, 2011

Coleus

Eons ago I first became interested in gardening as a child but a few years later my environmental science teacher hired another student and myself through the school.  Our job on the surface was easy, to help out with the greenhouse.  The real purpose of the job was to teach us how the greenhouse was maintained including all the operational functions.  I absolutely loved it!  I would spend every single minute I could outside of class time in the greenhouse.  Years later through during my academic career as an adult I spent many hours of free time equipped with my lunch and camera then later with laptop enjoying one of our universities small greenhouses.  I still enjoy greenhouses especially during the winter months in beautiful Ontario, Canada.

coleus
One of the very first plants I learned to propagate was coleus.  Coleus is a beautiful, lower growing ground cover outdoors or an lovely potted houseplant although it is more difficult to get it to bloom indoors.  It will thrive in lower light conditions while adding a splash of colour to garden beds.  I particularly like using coleus in pots outdoors as accent plantings that can be brought indoors for the winter.

Coleus benefits from pinching that results in thicker, bushier plants.  It can be propagated by dipping a cut stem in rooting hormone then putting the prepared stem in moistened vermiculite or the stems will root simply by placing them in water.  If using the water method, fill a glass jar with water to about a half-inch from the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and secure.  Poke two or three holes in the plastic wrap.  Let the prepared jar sit until the water is at room temperature.  Cut the same number of stems as holes from a healthy coleus plant.  For best results the stems should be about 4 to 5 - inches long.  Remove any bottom leave.  Poke each stem down into the holes until they are below the water level by about an inch.  Set in a location out of direct sun.  It will take a few days for roots to appear.  When the root ball is sufficient, pot each rooted stem in individually prepared pots.   If planting outdoors allow the new coleus plant to become established in the potting soil first then remove from the pot and plant in prepared outdoor locations (ground or containers).

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our New Moving Date

The buyer of our house requested that the closing date be changed from November 1 to September 15.  Trust me I am rolling my eyes on this one because we wanted a shorter closing date from the start but  she would not budge.  Then everything is signed, sealed and ready to go and two weeks later she decides she would like to move in earlier.  We aren't obligated to change to the new closing date but the house we bought is 95% empty so the sellers agreed to the new closing date as well but we are starting to move in on September 1.  That means I will get a chance to harvest pears and whatever the other fruit trees are!  I will also get a chance to discover what it planted there then start my own garden plans for the following spring.  We are really excited to be able to get into the house well before the threat of snow flying!

I am hoping to be able to harvest the volunteer tomato plants here.  I will be taking any container plants but that's it.  I've decided it best to see what is planted there then start over.  I will be putting in new raised beds.  I am very excited with this turn of events!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Major Gardening Changes Ahead

The past two gardening seasons have been rather bittersweet with our house on the market.  It's been sixteen months now, difficult to stay motivated for vegetable gardening knowing there was a good chance of not being abler to reap the rewards.  It was even more difficult at the start of this gardening season as my husband was quite sick so my attention was on him not gardening.  I pared down much of the planting this year focusing more on containers.

This past Wednesday, our house was officially SOLD!  The following day we signed the final papers for the purchase of our new house.  We also did another walk-through of the property.  There property is nicely landscaped with a swimming pool.  There are three peach (? apricot) trees, one small enough to move.  We'll likely move that to one of our kids' house.  There is one pear tree as well.  I'm quite excited to have fruit trees for the first time since our third house!  There is a good sized area that was used for traditional in-the-ground garden beds that I will change to raised beds.  I spotted a few herbs amongst various flowers growing in perimeter beds.  There are grape vines as well.  I did not see any rhubarb, strawberries or asparagus so those will be the first of the perennials to be planted.  There is a main deck and a pool deck.  The pool deck is backed by a gorgeous flowering vine that needs trimming back.  The main deck will be a great summer spot for houseplants and container gardening.  I definitely want to add window boxes on the main deck railing.   The interior of the house has a great natural light and we have plans to add one or more solar tubes.  It will lend itself quite nicely to add to my houseplant collection as well as the herbs and vegetables I want to grow indoors.


Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thoughts On My Gardens Here

We moved here in late June of 2007 coming from a beautiful, formal garden with a greenhouse.  I had built that garden from nothing so it was a real accomplishment.  This house from the start was a huge challenge to say the least.  We spent the first summer hauling out over six truck loads of overgrown brush.  We raised the canopies on the maples so we could actually see the beautiful view of the water we were paying for.  It was rip out, after rip out, after rip out.  After awhile it became so depressing.  As we started to rebuild there was a bit of hope but we haven't been here long enough get the garden beds re-established as we wanted.  And now we wait, anxious to move on but still we wait as the house sits on the market.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hibiscus

hibiscus
Hibiscus
July 25, 2011

I really have a rubber arm when it comes to plants.  I was in WalMart (Canada) a couple of days ago when a plant sale caught my eye.  Three foot tall hibiscus were on sale for $5.  Now that is a wonderful price so I bought two.  I wanted them as container plants on each side of our front door.  Since our house is on the market I have been focusing on container gardening this year as all the containers will move with us.  We do have an active offer so if it goes the way we want it too we could be moving on August 25.  Anyway, back to the hibiscus.

I popped the plants into larger display pots, cut a tag off, watered them then came in.  Hibiscus prefers a bright location but according to the tag it says to never allow them to get below 50ºF.  So obviously I am not going to be able to plant these trees in the ground even at our new house.  One of the hibiscus is slated to go to my husband's office.  It is a wonderfully bright area with excellent morning sun exposure so I'm sure the hibiscus will thrive there nicely.  The other one will be outside on our deck at the new house but brought inside when temperatures drop below 50ºF.  The new house is so bright, light and airy so I am looking forward to re-establishing my indoor gardens as well. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, July 11, 2011

My gosh, time has flown since I last posted.  There has been a lot going on so I do apologize.  My husband had health problems after our spring vacation but we did do a bit of gardening down at our vacation home.  So I will share that with you.  We have also been doing some gardening here although it is somewhat lower keyed as we are still trying to sell our house here.  At any rate I will share what we have done here as well.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, June 10, 2011

Outdoor Garden at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada

outdoor garden at Golden Nugget
Outdoor Garden at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada
May 10, 2011

We recently returned from our spring vacation that was spent from May 8 to 14 in Las Vegas and May 15 to 25 in Florida with a brief stop over between at home.  We have been going to Las Vegas since the 1990's, usually once a year.  During our first visit there and subsequently since it has always stuck me as what an ecological disaster Las Vegas really is.  When we first visited, lush green, water guzzling lawns for the casinos were the norm.  One casino even had an outdoor skating rink!  About five years ago we started to notice a trend towards a more eco-friendly Las Vegas.  The canopy spanning Fremont Street that lights up the night skies provides much needed shade in a dessert environment and the lights are now LED saving electricity.  I've noticed that many of the casinos have gone to using CFL throughout including the rooms.  There are signs in the room for water conservation so if towels are on the rack it means you will reuse them and unless specifically asked for bedding is reused as well.  This past trip I noticed more artificial turf giving the look of grass without the upkeep.  The sprinklers were on less and plantings were geared more towards a dessert environment.    Water is recycled as much as possible from outdoor fountains and water features. 

Pictured is a beautiful garden spanning the space between the entrance and exit of the valet parking at the Golden Nugget where we stayed.  Notice the palm trees?  These are becoming increasingly more common in Las Vegas.  The famous strip is gorgeous now that the palm trees are maturing combined with low maintenance undergrowth.  Taking the eco-friendly approach to beautifying Las Vegas is the right approach.  It is now at the point that Las Vegas no longer has the choice to not be eco-friendly because if they don't the city will cease to exist.  Water is at a premium there so water conservation is a must!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, June 03, 2011

Indoor Garden at Crystals in City Center, Las Vegas

indoor garden at Crystals in City Center, Las Vegas
Indoor Graden at Crystals in City Center, Las Vegas
May 9, 2011

One lovely benefit of vacationing is checking out gardens in other regions.  We recently spent our spring vacation split between Las Vegas and Florida so I will be sharring some of the gardening pictures with you.  Pictured is one of the cute indoor gardens at Crystals in City Center in Las Vegas.
  The ginormous bunnies were quite cute.  Now the designer for this garden likely has never dealt with bunnies in their garden.  If they had they would not have made these bunnies so cute.  Having had a lot of dealings with wild rabbits, trust me they are not cute!  Still this was a lovely little indoor garden, full of whimsy.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unidentified Flower in Las Vegas

unidentified flower in Las Vegas
Unidentified Flower in Las Vegas
May 9, 2011

One thing we have not done in Las Vegas is wander through a nursery.  This beautiful flower that I think is a member of the orchid family was a common planting at several Las Vegas casinos.  It was quite pretty so next time we visit Las Vegas I am going to make a point to go through a couple of plant nurseries.  Surprisingly when trying to identify plants many overlook visiting plant nurseries and yet these are one of the most valuable resources there are.  I visit plant nurseries at home and in central Florida where our vacation home is quite often.  I just didn't think about it in Las Vegas because there was a lot of other attractions and activities.  If you know the name of this flower could you please leave a comment.  I'd like to find out what it is to see if I could plant them at our vacation home.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, May 27, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Weather

We left for our spring vacation on May 8 returning home late May 25.  Actually we made a pit stop at home for about 18 hours between flights.  I have pictures to share and got a lot of novel growing ideas during the trips so will share those as well but to start off I have a few thoughts on the weather.  It was a long, drawn-out winter with ample snow fall.  There wasn't a spell of bitter cold that we usually get, the kind that makes the snow crunch under foot.  Winter continued to drag on with snow in April as well.  The boats in the marina where our boat is were scheduled to be put in the water in mid-April but they had to postpone that because the water was still iced over.  By the time we were ready to leave on our vacation, the local farmers were about two weeks behind schedule for planting.  Now two weeks doesn't sound like a lot but it is when dealing with an already short growing season! 

The first leg of our vacation was spent in Las Vegas.  We arrived to cooler temperatures than expected.  The first afternoon it was chilly and raining but as we waited for the valet it started hailing!  We have visited Las Vegas many times and this is only the second time we have seen rain there.  A couple of days into the trip saw the temperature warm up closer to normal although the skies still looked ominous.  We saw sun the last couple of days of the trip.  We arrived home late Saturday (May 14) to obviously soggy conditions.  While we were away it rained quite a bit so there was standing water in the fields and rising water levels in ditches.  It was too wet to cut the grass.  We left the following morning for our vacation home in central Florida where we were met with warmer temperatures.  There had been a fair amount of rain there as well but it had warmed up earlier so we missed the love bugs.  It was hot, humid with popup thunderstorms.  We managed to do a bit of gardening in the front but it really was too hot to do much.  While we were in Florida we followed the tornado devastation in Joplin, Missouri. We left Florida on the 25th knowing our flight was making a brief stop in Atlantic City as we couldn't get a direct return flight.  That day severe storms made their way across the mid-west up through Canada.  When we arrived in Atlantic City we ended up deplaning then delayed for three and a half hours due to the weather.  It was 93ºF when we left Tampa and 57ºF when we landed in Detroit.  Even though it was dark driving home the flooded fields were apparent.  We had to put the heat on in the house to take the chill off.

The combination of cooler temperatures and excessive rain has already affected local farmers.  The fields are too wet to plant.  It is so wet that the local golf courses have had to cancel regular golfing as well as a couple of tournaments.  Home gardeners are feeling the effects of the weather here as well.  On a global scale though, it is hard to fathom how vicious the weather has been.  Whether this is due to global warming or part of a cyclic weather pattern remains to be determined.  It is apparent that the global weather is negatively affecting our food supply. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vacation Observations

While many in our area are seeing visions of their gardens dance in the seed magazines we spent a good portion of May in Las Vegas for the first leg of our spring vacation.  Our house is still for sale so I really don't want to get too attached to starting up the garden beds although I will be focusing on movable containers this year.  At any rate May for us is always spring vacation month that sets my garden beds back a bit but not so much so that I can't have a very successful gardening season.  When we first started going to Las Vegas I noticed two startling contrasts.

There were the xeroscaping landscapes that while taking advantage of rock and low maintenance plants looked rather barren.  Then there were the lush, green landscapes certainly not adaptable to desert conditions.  This year I noticed a change especially with the new, high end casinos.  In place of the xeroscaping was astroturf giving the appearance of the expected green carpet of grass without the environmental impact.  In fact from what I read the astroturf is made from recycled plastic making it an environmentally friendly choice.  It is pleasing to the eye, has a much lower carbon footprint over its lifespan and eliminates a lot of maintenance.

I'm still not 100% sold on astroturf although I do know it has been used successfully for years in sports stadiums and recently for the purpose I described.  I won't cut any corners in saying I really don't like grass as in the pristine green natural carpets.  Lawns are high maintenance and in most cases chemically addicted.  However, I can see where astroturf would be a solution to smaller areas where you want the appearance of grass without the upkeep.  It could be one gardening solution for those types of areas.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day so I decided to get a bit of work done outdoors.  It took several attempts to start the lawn mower after its winter hiatus but finally it started.  After cutting the lawns I hauled out the pressure washer to clean some of the winter grim from the windows and doors.  The maple trees are dropping seeds so I pulled a few of the tiny maple seedlings from a couple of the garden beds.  As I worked my mind wandered thinking how I will miss this place a lot if or when we move. 

It has been a very wet spring to the point local farmers have had to delay planting.  I noticed how wet the ground was as I was mowing.  A few times the mower left ruts as I was turning it!  In fact the spring has been so wet only the ducks are happy.  Speaking of ducks, the mallards are back with a nest under our bushes.  I'm not sure how many eggs are in the nest as I try not to disturb them.  As a sign of appreciation the parents always bring the little ones back to visit us. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swallows

We have had the wonderful pleasure of dealing with and observing an abundance of wildlife over the last almost eight years.  Our last house was sandwiched between farmland to the back and natural water to the front as is this house.  However, this house is a bit more rural so we get even more wildlife visits.  When we moved to our last house we noticed swallows building nests under our dock.  According to our neighbour at the time, legend has it that a swallow's nest should never be removed as swallows bring good luck.

As it happens, unless  nest is causing a structural or safety issue we would not remove it.  The only time the swallows were a problem was when they were nesting.  Swallows are very, very territorial and surprisingly testy for such small birds.  They dive for the head when threatened.  They are a bit of a pain at the marina as well, perching over boats leaving their calling cards.  We have a couple of plastic owls that help the problem somewhat but they still manage to mess up our boat cover.

I heard quite the racket outside.  Upon investigation I saw a large number of swallows swarming and they obviously were not happy.  Back in February when the ice gave way there was a fair amount of dock damage.  It took out four of our neighbour's spiles, three of which had been jointed teepee style in the water, and more than likely one of the swallows' nesting sites along with their missing dock spile.  The next doct over didn't lose spiles but is badly twisted and I would hazzard a guess any nests that were there are long gone.  The poor swallows were looking for their nests!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Bulb Naturalization

Years ago we had the wonderful opportunity to visit Parliament Hill during the spring when the crocuses were in bloom.  There were masses of them.  I immediately fell in love with the look vowing at some point to duplicate it at our home.  That was five houses ago and I still have not done this so it will be priority this fall at our new house.  Essentially what you do is grab a handful of crocus bulbs then toss with an upward motion over your lawn.  Wherever the bulb falls is where it is planted.  You can add as many bulbs as you wish knowing the bulbs will naturalize over time resulting in a thicker carpet of crocuses.

Any spring bulb can be used in this fashion but crocuses in particular lend themselves nicely to this application.  The blooms are spent but the foliage is able to get the necessary nutrients before the lawn needs trimming.  The foliage is shorter as well so as to not make the lawn look too untidy before the first trimming and it simply dies back without yellowing.  I can hardly wait to see what my new carpet of crocuses will look like!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, April 25, 2011

First Daffodil of 2011

first daffodile of 2011
First Daffodil of 2011
April 24, 2011

Look what blessed us with a cheery nod Easter Sunday!  The beautiful bright yellow was a much welcomed sight.  The weather was mild as well just perfect for sitting on the dock enjoying the sights and sounds of the water.  I spent a little time puttering amongst the raised beds as well, prepping one for planting and cleaning debris from the herb bed.  As I puttered I pondered how this garden will never reach the vision I had for it.  I'm saddened to think the beds will likely not be planted as the certainty of us moving becomes more of a reality.  I am elated at the prospect of moving, don't get me wrong.  There are even established grape vines at our 'prospective' new house and the yard is perfect for a few raised beds.  Instead of enjoying sitting on the dock we will be enjoying sitting poolside and we should still be able to enjoy raccoons and rabbits with perhaps the occasional 'possum and skunk.  Seriously the new house is about as rural as you can get but technically urban.  More on that later but for now, I hope you enjoy this sunny bloom!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Quite Spring Weather

snow in April
This Morning's Snowfall
April 18, 2011

We woke to about two inches of snow this morning.  I'm sure the daffodiles and tulips are not appreciating their wintery blanket.  The calendar says it's spring.  By this time last year the weather had been on the warm side enough to be in summer clothes to celebrate a couple of our grandkid's birthdays.  The sun was even warm enough to give that first glow of a sunburn across the nose!  What a difference it is this year.  We have had snow on and off since early last November.  Being of sound mind we spent a month of that time at our vacation home in the sunny south but had to drive through snow going down and coming back.  Many are getting rather tired of the snow as it has been hanging on longer than usual.  The good thing is the above average snowfall is a good thing for local farmers until now when some of them are getting ready to plow fields.  The ground is a bit too wet to be working up right now. Here's hoping the weather turns quickly to get things in gear for the summer months.  I fear though it is going to be a cold, wet spring followed by a cooler summer.  Time will tell...

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, April 03, 2011

The First Crocuses of 2011

first crocuses
First Crocuses
March 31, 2011

The first crocuses are making their cheery appearance in the nook outside the kitchen window.  I've left these to naturalize so the are rewarding me with spreading.  The kitchen is below grade with the window about four inches from the ground so the crocuses can be enjoyed right from the kitchen.  We lost a lot of the crocuses from the front of house ripout we did last year in the middle yard.  There's a couple lone crocuses popping up there.  If we don't sell then I will be planting more bulbs in the fall in that area.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Daffodils Breaking Ground

daffodils breaking ground
Daffodils Breaking Ground
March 31, 2011

A few days ago I noticed the daffodils breaking ground.  They were up about an inch when Mother Nature graciously covered them up with a blanket of snow.  The temperatures have been unseasonably cold with more snow predicted.  Still the daffodil shoots hold the promise of their sunny blooms soon to be bringing cheer to spring.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finally the First Photogenic Robin of 2011

robin in maple tree

Robin in Maple Tree
March 23, 2011


I posted earlier about spotting the first robin of the season.  For those who don't know, here in beautiful Ontario, Canada where we experience winter complete with cold temperatures, ice and snow the robins migrate to warmer locations for the winter.  I can't say as I blame them which is one reason we have joined the snowbird crowd with our vacation home in the sunny south.  Unlike the robins who are gone for about 5 months, we only go for a month at longest but still it is a break from the cold.  The return of the robins signifies the onset of spring.  Unfortunately, no one has informed Mother Nature of that yet so the poor robins are still dealing with unseasonably cold weather conditions. 

The robins are not being as co-operative for their photoshoots likely due to the cold.  I hear their cheery chips in the bushes but they are staying tucked in out of the weather.  This little guy braved the cold just long enough for me to get a couple of pictures.  His red chest is just a cheery sign of spring to come!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, March 28, 2011

Winter is Hanging On

It is officially spring here but no one told Mother Nature.  We still have snow on the ground, icicles hanging from the eves and despite the beautiful sunshine the temperatures remain quite cold.  Winter is refusing to release it's chilly grip in our little corner of the world.  I'm sitting here sipping a lovely cup of hot tea pondering whether to start a couple of trays of seeds today.  My husband already booked our spring vacation so that is weighing heavily on my decision to start seeds.  Last year I lost some of my seedlings during our vacation because they accidently dried out when the kids were housesitting.  During the spring vacation our house only needs checking on a couple of times a week but seedlings need watering daily.  What I may do is start the seeds then take the trays into the kids to look after at their house.  Since they will be home daily there is less chance of the seedlings drying out than if I leave them here.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, March 18, 2011

First Robin of 2011

Yesterday afternoon I spotted the first robin of the season!  I quickly grabbed the camera just in time to see him take flight so didn't get a picture.  This is a good sign that spring is almost here!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Minor Glitch in My Spring Garden Plans

I started using the square foot gardening method two houses ago when we lived in an urban setting.  Out last house was on the edge of a small village where I had the largest square foot garden complete with greenhouse.  This house is technically rural but the street is more like semi-rural.  Since the house has not sold yet, I'm moving ahead with my plans to add at least one more large raised bed (4' x 8') and do a bit of landscaping at the front of the house.  Yesterday it dawned on me that my plans would be a little more challenging this year.

Up to this point and for my previous two large square foot gardens, I had a pick-up truck at my disposable.  The truck had a colourful history as well.  We used to have a gorgeous conversion van perfect for family outings.  All of our kids learned to drive  with that van.  When the motor went we popped a new motor in it.  About 2 months after we had just had the van repainted our youngest totaled it.  We stripped what we could including the motor that went into a truck my husband found that had no motor.  We got the truck dirt cheap!  It was nothing to look at, the radio didn't work and was a hog on gas but it was dependable.  Well it was dependable until one of our kids, the same one who totaled the van was taking a load of brush from our house to the burn pile on the farm.  The truck quit on the side of the road and refused to start.  We had it towed, got it fixed and a couple of weeks later it did the same thing.  We had it limped back to our buddy's garage where the poor sat looking rather rejected half of the winter until my husband put it out of it's misery.  Anything savagable was stripped which wasn't much then the remainder sold for scrap metal.  In the meantime another of our kids was selling their second vehicle so we bought it.  It's a nice, fuel efficient, manual transmission hatchback. 

Without the truck I have no convenient way to get lumber, soil, mulch, compost and other gardening necessities home.  The seats fold down in the hatchback so I might be able to get lumber home but not soil bought by the yard or compost from the municipal yard.  It looks like I am going to have to find a truck to borrow or pay delivery charges.  Ah well, it won't be as convenient but the garden is slated for expansion this spring if we don't move.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bald Headed Eagle Visit

bald headed eagle on ice
Bald Headed Eagle Visit
February 9, 2011

There is a family of Bald Headed Eagles nesting not too far from us.  They have been taking advantage of the ice floats but it is only by luck to get a picture as they don't stay long.  I took this picture from the kitchen patio doors.  Looking closer the eagle was interested in the carrion on the ice but within seconds of the second photo the eagle took flight.  They certainly are impressive birds!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Horror Frost

heavy frost
Horror Frost
February 23, 2011

Last we had a very heavy frost, termed horror frost.  This happens during the winter when the temperature suddenly rises causing heavy fog then the temperature drops causing the fog to form heavy ice crystals over everything.  It usually only happens a couple of times during the winter.  It really is quite pretty to wake to.  The gardens were a mystical delight!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

March Came in Like a Lamb

The first two days of March have been rather pleasant, bright and sunny but a little colder.  We have experienced a good amount of snow accumulation this year.  Overall the temperatures haven't been too cold.  I don't think we have even had a bitterly cold spell this year which is nice given the rising home heating costs.  It will soon be time to turn my attention to this year's gardens,

Our house is still on the market but if we sell shortly with a closing date anytime before the end of May there will still be plenty of time to get a garden in where ever we move to.  That is one of the nice things about using raised beds.  They can be constructed, filled, grid laid out and planted all in the same day.  With a little help it is quite easy to get five or six beds ready for planting in a morning.  So I'm not concerned about the potential move.  Goodness, looking back on things it has been almost a year since we listed out house so this will be the second season of gardening uncertainty.  I'm sure things will work out fine though.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plant Cage

The last couple of days have been on the mild side very much welcomed from the previous week of cold temperatures and blizzard conditions.  My husband was at Home Hardware to pick up more salt for the driveway.  He brought home the spring edition of Home at Home, an idea magazine put out by Home Hardware.  There's always great ideas in the magazine as well as instructions on how to complete the projects. 

One of the projects is a plant cage meant to keep rabbits, groundhogs, deer and cats out of the garden or at least away from susceptible plants.  The box is constructed like my square foot beds but has supports and a top rail that rises about a foot making the overall height about 18 - inches tall.  Carpenter's cloth is stapled securely around the base, supports and rails.  Then a hinged top is added that consists of 2 x 2 with carpenter's cloth fastened underneath.  The end result when closed the plants are well protected from common garden pests. 

This is an excellent way to turn a raised bed into a protected bed.  As they did it a 4' x 4' bed could easily be protected from rabbits, squirrels and sometimes the nuisance birds.  I'm thinking a refined version would help prevent squash borer in my zucchini plants as well.  There are so many ways this design could be customized to deal with a few common garden pests.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Snow and More Snow

Here I was concerned over the lack of snowfall but earlier this week we ended up with about 35 cm of fresh snow total over two days.  They were calling for 10 cm on the second day but we only got about 5 cm.  A couple of hours ago it started snowing again.  I haven't heard how much we are supposed to get.  The cell isn't very big so should be finished here in an hour or so.  We've had about 3 cm of fresh snowfall so far.  If it keeps up this way we will likely have another 5 cm total.  Gotta love winter!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Crows Visit

crow
The Crow
January 31, 2011

Crows are large nuisance birds that cost local farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.  In urban settings they are such a nuisance that some folks have taken to shooting them with pellet guns.  Home gardeners can also have problems with crows.  Regardless where you live, crows can be a huge problem with getting into garbage bags set out for collection.  They can make quite the mess!

We are rural on waterfront property so luckily the crows tend to be more of a nuisance for the farmland across from rather than bother us much.  Recently a flock of crows have been visiting our large maple trees where they forage around the base of the trees.  The snow isn't quite as deep there.  They fly between the open water back to the trees, down to forage then repeat.  While crows don't land on the water they can get water by standing on the ice.  The crows are rather aggressive towards the smaller waterfowl but tend to behave themselves when the swans are around.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow and More Snow

the great snowstorm of 2011
Snow and More Snow
February 2, 2011

We heard warnings of an impending snowstorm to hit our area almost a week before it hit.  Monday evening the local cancellations started being announced with more Tuesday morning since the storm was to hit Tuesday evening.  Grocery stores were a bit busier than usual but that's the norm anytime a snowstorm is announced.  The snow started about dinner time Tuesday night.  My husband had put a sign that the office would be closed on Wednesday due to the weather so this morning was a little disappointed to see asphalt in the driveway.  Then he realized our driveway had been plowed out.  Throughout the night we had about 30 cm of fresh snow accumulation with another 10 cm predicted during the day.  Once the winds died down visibility improved and drifting lessened so he headed into the office for half the day.  It continued to snow thoughout the day by evening it was clear.  And here I was worried about what the lack of snowfall would mean for the upcoming growing season.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter on the Homefront

winter on the homefront
Winter on the Homefront
January 29, 2011

This is a brief break in our vacation gardening photos just to let you know that life continues in the garden even during the winter.  Last year we did not get the snowfall we needed during the winter and as expected the growing season was not as good as it could have been.  This year has been a bit different.  While we were away during most of the month of December we had a couple of snowstorms with good accumulation.  We arrived home the end of the first week in January.  Since then we have had a few more snowstorms with good accumulation.  This is very promising as to a good growing season to come!

My gosh, we woke to the most beautiful winter wonderland this morning!  We received about 11 cm over night coating the grounds in sparkling white and glistening diamonds.  It continued with a fine, misty snow most of the day.  It looks like it will be a very good growing season if this keeps up!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Waterfall at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida



Waterfall at Busch Gardens
Tampa, Florida
December 22, 2010

Theme parks are full of ideas that can be scaled down for use in the home garden.  A waterfall is always a welcomed addition to any home garden water feature.  Pictured is a larger waterfall at Busch Gardens that could easily be scaled down for the home garden.  It's it lovely?

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gator Pond at Busch Gardens

gator pond
Gator Pond at Busch Gardens
December 16, 2010

When we first visited the resort where we ended up buying a vacation home I thought the cutesy warning signs about not feeding or antagonizing the alligators were meant to add a bit of humour.  By the end of that first trip in 2009 I realized the alligators were very much real.  We bought in March of 2010 but didn't see our new vacation home until May that year.  During that time period we had a lot of opportunities to see alligators in and around our resort.  Gators for the most part will ignore humans providing they haven't been feed and aren't provoked.  My husband has been rather close to a few gators on the golf course and since our resort is filled with numerous good sized ponds, gators are a very common sight.  I've  managed to get a lot of great photos and videos of gators from the safety of the golf cart and car.  Those in our community with houses backing onto these ponds have been told they should not feed the gators.  This of course brings in a whole new element to gardening especially for those homes on the ponds.  As you can see from this photo taken at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida alligators are rather large beasts.  The largest in our resort is about 8 feet long so that's a good sized gator.  They can out run a human running a straight line but I'm not about to test that theory out. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Powder Puff Plant (Calliandra haematocephala)

Powder Puff Plant 
(Calliandra haematocephala)
December 16, 2010


As we were wandering through Busch Gardens I couldn't help but notice the Powder Puff Plant (Calliandra haematocephala).  The leaves reminded me of Mimosa (sensitive fern) so I just had to touch them.  They don't fold up like Mimosa does but they were still quite pretty.  The Powder Puff Plant was planted to form a barrier between the walking paths and inner workings of the park so used as camouflage or privacy screening.  The plant is grown for its flower heads that are long red stamens blooming in winter.  The plant is drought and somewhat cold tolerant making it another plant to consider for our new gardens if we move.
Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, January 24, 2011

Bamboo Fence

bamboo fence
Bamboo Fence at Busch Gardens
December 16, 2010

During our visit to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida I noticed the effective use of bamboo as a living screen and bamboo sticks as camouflage screening.  Bamboo grows quickly and rather tall making it ideal for use as a living privacy screening not only from side views but also views from taller adjacent buildings.   It can help as a sound barrier as well.  There are even cold hardy bamboo varieties that will withstand harsher winter conditions.  Bamboo grows from rhizomes so has a spreading tendency that can become invasive so it is best to use some type of containment to keep the plant from spreading too much. 

Bamboo sticks can be used to camouflage an ugly chain-link fence or even the side of a building to give a more natural look in the garden.  Pictured is a camouflaged tall chain-link fence surrounding a construction site at Busch Gardens.  I thought it was a nice solution that gave a nice feel while hiding the mess of the construction from visitors.  If you look closely between the bamboo sticks and the chain-link fence you can see a thin mesh material that was used to reduce visibility through any gaps left by the bamboo sticks.  I really liked the overall effect!  In the home garden this type of screening would be easy to duplicate.  It could be softened further by using the screen to support flowering vines. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Giraffe Topiary at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida

giraffe topiary at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Giraffe Topiary at Busch Gardens
December 16, 2010

I was totally amazed at the intricate topiaries at Busch Gardens.  They were massive!  This giraffe topiary was true to life size.  It must take a lot of work to keep these topiaries looking as nice as they do.  Aren't they impressive?

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cactus at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida

cactus at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Cactus at Busch Gardens
December 16, 2010

The one thing I've noticed is cacti seem to be a plant of choice in home gardens where our vacation home is located.  We have an agave catus with several babies in our front garden there.  I've been looking for other cacti that will do well there.  This impressive cactus caught my attention at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.  I will have to find out the name of it.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Friday, January 21, 2011

Tiger Topiary at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida

tiger topiary at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Tiger Topiary at Busch Gardens
December 16, 2010


I was amazed at the details that the arborists were able to create on the many large topiaries at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.  All of the detail comes from the effective use of the placement of the plants used followed by the meticulous maintenance to keep the topiaries at their prime.  The topiaries are just so impressive, don't your think?

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Walkway Arbor

walkway arbor at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
Walkway Arbor at Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
December 16, 2010

Arbors are a traditional way of providing support for climbing plants while providing a shady spot to sit or walk.  In urban settings they are often used as part of the entrance to the garden complete with a small gate.  Home gardeners use them grow grapes or other vining plants while landscapers and homeowners often use arbors to create natural shading on patios and decks. 

We walked under an impressive arbor covering a good stretch of pathway at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.  The arbor was a simple series of arched supports with wood slats attached.  Unfortunately it was not as shady as it would be during the summer months as it was winter when we visited.  This arbor would be extremely easy to duplicate on a smaller scale in the home garden using a series of pvc supports similar to building a garden hoop house. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
Bird of Paradise 
(Strelitzia reginae)
December 16, 2010

During the first trip we made to Busch Gardens in December, I took a picture of this gorgeous yellow flower.  Hurrying to catch up to the others I neglected to take a picture of the tag but I was sure I knew what the flower was so wasn't too worried.  Going through the pictures to edit some of them for my blogs I was sure I knew the flower but the name continued to be tucked safely in the recesses of my mind.  Thanks to the the Florida Botanical Gardens website I was able to identify the flower as Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae).  The funny thing is I knew it was something to do with birds and all that kept popping into my mind was 'parrot'.  The boat shaped bracts hold orange or white sepals and a blue tongue resembling birds.  Isn't it unique?
Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Butterfly Topiary (Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida)

Butterfly Topiary
December 16, 2010


Bush Gardens has many fine examples of large topiaries.  All of them are quite impressive to say the least.  It is amazing how the arborist uses a combination of various plants to create the desired effect in the finished topiary.  This huge butterfly topiary was near the pond with all of the California flamingoes and tucked back far enough to prevent getting closer to.  Isn't is simply gorgeous?

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Monday, January 17, 2011

Gardenia (Gardenia augusta)

Gardenia (Gardenia august)
Gardenia
(Gardenia augusta)
December 16, 2010


Continuing on with sharing a few pictures of our visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida here is a picture of a gorgeous Gardenia with the information tag.  I mentioned that many of the plant species within the park had information tags.  Each tag gives the common and scientific name as well as a few details about the plant.    The Gardenia (Gardenia augusta) is an evergreen shrub that presents masses of fragrant white flowers in April and May.  It is a member of the coffee family.  Gardenia is somewhat drought and cold trolerant.  It prefers full sun to part shade.  This shrub would be an ideal addition to our vacation home garden!  Hiding behind the trunk of the Gardenia is one of the many birds that frequent the gardens hoping to be fed by visitors.

Visiting these types of parks can be very informative for the home gardener.  It is difficult to picture what a mature plant, shrub or tree will look like from a picture in a book or online.  More importantly is is difficult to gauge the mature size.  Quite often a home gardener will plant a tree or shrub only to find out it is too big for the intended location when it reaches maturity. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Naturalized Stream in Kangaroo Exhibit (Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida)

stream in kangaroo exhibit at Busch Gardens, Florida
Naturalized Stream in Kangaroo Exhibit
December 16, 2010

It is rather slow on the garden front here in the blistery north so I thought I would share a few gardening related pictures with you from our recent vacation in the sunny south.  As mentioned yesterday we enjoyed visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida twice.  The grounds in this amusement part are amazing!  While there are rides there are also various exhibits where you can interact with or get closer to the large variety of animals.  In addition to the exhibits you can take a free train ride around the park or you can get up close and personal to the wild game via a safari tour.

The kangaroo and wallaby exhibit has several of each on one side with a wooden fence set up so visitors can feed them.  Meadering through the exhibit is this gorgeous little naturalized stream conplete with waterfalls, home to waterfowl, fish and several species of plants.   This type of stream but on a smaller scale is something home gardeners to easily add as a water feature in their gardens.  Isn't it pretty?

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©2006-2011