Quick Easy-Up Getaway
As the cool days of Spring turn into the warmer nights of Summer our thoughts turn to an enjoyable evening outside listening to the night sounds, drinking lemonade, and enjoying the calming effects of the dark. For some Summer is the harbinger of the firefly, for others all they can see and hear are the sounds of mosquitoes.
If you feel trapped in your home by summer pests, erecting a simple screened gazebo could be a quick and fairly inexpensive fix. Gazebos range in size from around 10’ square to 15’ or sometimes even larger. Pricing begins around $200 and goes up into the thousands. Deciding if you’re looking for a short term fix or a long term permanent structure is important. If immediate relief from summer bites is in order, look at one of the lower price items.
They’re usually made of metal that is painted with a rust resistant coating. Nowdays they just click together, and screw or bolt major structure intersections. Most can easily be erected in just a couple hours and you’re up and enjoying lots of outdoor time free from direct sun and bug bites. You can still enjoy the fairy lights of the fireflies, hear the night sounds, and feel the cool evening breeze without having to slather yourself with smelly bug repellents.
It is important to remember to either bolt the gazebo down or use guy wires to ensure your hideaway doesn’t blow away in the first big storm as they are amazingly lightweight. This makes them easy to put up and move around, but also prone to tipping with a good stiff wind.
Roses have been grown for their beauty and fragrance for centuries. They’re used to mark almost every important occasion in our lives. They’re held in such high esteem that many people grow them in their own special gardens, showcasing them.
However, growing these beauties is not as easy as it looks. Depending on your climate they can be under almost constant siege by pests or diseases. Hot or cool humid climates spell disaster, unless you keep up a regular preventative regimen. Black spot and powdery mildew can reduce your plant to just a few twigs in the middle of the hottest part of the summer, leaving them anything but romantic looking. Japanese beetles can reduce the flowers to just the center in a matter of a few minutes. Knowing when and what to use at the right time is important, especially for the organic grower, as prevention is easier the curing.
There are varieties that take adverse conditions better. Shrub roses and floribundas, don’t seem to be as disease prone. Also, the hearty rosa rugosa and the old English David Austin roses do better. Newer introductions are more disease resistant as well, as they have been bred for stronger “constitutions.”
Before you plant an entire hedge of roses, make sure you find out which varieties do well in your climate and limit your selection to those varieties, or you may have a lot of work ahead of you, unless you like thorny twigs in your garden!
Well, actually not total darkness, but as far as many plants are concerned shade is almost as bad. How can you have an attractive yard with colorful flowers if your yard is mostly shade?
It’s easy. There are dozens of shade plants to choose from and some of the spring blooming perennials can be grown in most shade during the summer months and do just fine. Also, many shade plants have beautiful, colorful foliage, as well.
From trees and shrubs, to perennials and annuals there are plants that actually need and thrive in part to full shade. I once had a staff member at a nursery tell me he calls coral bells (heucheras) his closet plants, because he once stuck one in a closet to see how it would do. When he opened the door later it was blooming!
A few ideas for trees are dogwoods (cornus …) and witchhazel (hamamelis …). For shrubs you can start with azalea (rhododendron …), rhododendrons (rhododendron…) and hydrangea (hydrangea…).
When you get to perennials there are quite a large number of them, so make sure you look at bloom time, as many are spring bloomers. Here are a few ideas for each season. Spring: bleeding heart (Dicentra spectablilis), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), and Lady’s Mantle (Alhemilla mollis). Summer: Astilbe (astilbe), Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Hostas (hosta…). Late summer and fall: Hardy Ageratum (Eipatorium coelestinum), Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis), Anemone (anemone x hybrida). Annuals include the well-known impatiens and begonias, but also wishbone or clown flower (Torenia fournieri) and coleus (coleus x hybridus).
Most people have heard of Spring-cleaning for your house, but now is the time to spruce up your yard, as well. Getting the yard under control early in the season makes it easier to keep up throughout the summer.
The first thing everyone notices in a yard is whether the lawn is mowed or not. The level of manicure in your yard is often seen as a direct measure of the rest of your life. An unkempt yard is seen as a messy, out-of-control life. If a survey of your yard shows that your old mower is no longer doing the job you may want to replace it with an Ariens lawn mower.
Then they notice if your trees or shrubs look like they are running amok. So, give them a good trimming. Get rid of any dead wood and shape shrubs so they don’t block windows, doors, or walkways.
A good weeding is always in order. Getting them while they are young and before they set seed is ideal. It means that many less weeds you’ll deal with later in the season.
Now add some color. Freshen the gardens with some annuals and perennials that will add splashes of color to draw people’s attention. Make sure you check the bloom time on perennials, as they usually only bloom for several weeks to a month. There are a few that will bloom on and off throughout the season, so try to include a few of them also. Annuals will keep color in your garden all season long.
Then you need to look at sprucing up any outbuildings, seasonal furniture, or hardscaping that may need replacement or repair. While you’re at it why not surprise you child with a hello kitty car accessories license plate for their bike or electric car.
Once you’ve completed all the work, stand back and admire. Then take a few photos of your handiwork to share with your friends and family with your Nikon 300S.
There’s nothing like the first real dish that comes from a spring garden. This week we had our first garden salad. It was loaded with all kinds of greens, not just lettuce. We enjoy a lot of the oriental greens, so we had tatsoi, mizuna, and hot spicy mesclun mix. We also included spinach and chard. You can grow your own greens, or pick up interesting greens from your local oriental or international market.
The “piece de resistance” though were the first fresh herbs from the garden: Greek and golden oregano, thyme and lemon thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and bronze fennel added a unique blend of flavors to every bite.
We topped it off with a homemade salad dressing. It was a dish fit for a king, or maybe even a god! Homemade salad dressings are so easy to make and much tastier than store bought. I’ll try and measure everything the next time I make one, so that I can include a recipe. I usually cook “by feel,” so I don’t measure anything, I just eyeball it.
One morning I heard a lot of noise in my backyard, dogs barking like crazy. We don’t own any dogs. I looked out the window to see what is going on. To my amazement there were two hunters on my property, with guns slung over their shoulders and their dogs bounding all over my yard. Now I live on one acre in a small subdivision on the edge of rural country. Never in my life did I expect to see hunters on my property.
I flung open the door and yelled at them to get off my property. They said they were hunting something and I told them not on my property and to get off. They slowly sauntered off, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get any law enforcement to my property before they were long gone.
This is not a made up story. It really did happen to me. Our neighborhood is filled with small children and lots of dogs that aren’t on leashes. All it would have taken was for them to mistake a child or pet as the animal they were after, and disaster would have been the outcome. Not only that, I see my property as a nature haven and would have been heartbroken if they had actually killed something, anything, on my property.
I immediately, and I mean immediately went out and bought some No Trespassing signs and some surveyor’s tape to mark off our property. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
So, before you run into any problems on your property you should consider posting safety signs to alert people to potential hazards or restrictions. If tragedy had hit that day it would have been too late for me to say I had planned to put up signs.
If you have a large piece of land or live in a rural area you should post No Trespassing signs to alert people to the fact that they are straying onto your land. If you have a pool or other hazard you might want to post safety signs around them. You can even have signs to direct people where to park, let people know you have a camera or other alarm system, or come up with your own unique signage.
You can see a large array of signs for all purposes, as well as create your own at http://www.safetysign.com.
OK, so you’ve got a great batch of seedlings and you’re anxious to get them out in the ground, now that the last frost date has past. Hold your horses! Do things right and you’ll be rewarded with happier healthier plants.
First, just because the last frost date has passed doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more frosts. You need to look at how your Spring is going. Is it warmer than normal, colder, lots of rain, dry, etc. Putting your plants in the ground at the right time is very important. Put them in too soon and a frost could kill them. Plant them when the soil is too wet and they can literally drown, or damp off. Timing is a little tricky, but once you’ve gardened in your area for awhile you’ll get the hang of it.
Next, and probably more important is, plants that have been in a controlled environment don’t do too well if suddenly thrown out into nature. They’ve been coddled along, so continue to coddle. You need to harden them off. This means moving them outside for a few hours then back inside. Do this for a couple days and then increase the time an hour or two. Once you’ve got them up to about six hours of exposure you can move them out to a shady area of the yard and let them get used to being outside 24 hours continuously. Last move them out into more and more sun gradually over a few days and then plant them. How to plant them will be in the next segment.
Tiny, yet fierce, hummingbirds often bring visions of fairies, elves, and other magical creatures. They are so tiny that it seems impossible for them to survive in the harsh outdoors.
Their delightful antics and scolding chirps can be a regular part of your landscape. All you have to do is plant flowers that attract them. Almost any tubular flower will bring them buzzing. Hostas are a huge draw for hummers. I have some planted outside my in-home office window and early on summer mornings I can hear the rhythmic hum of their wings and can peek out and see them feeding hungrily. Other perennials include foxgloves, and coralbells. Annuals include fuchsias, lantana, geraniums, and petunias.
There are plants that do double duty attracting both hummers and butterflies: hollyhocks, butterfly weed, dianthus, bee balm, snapdragons, morning glory, and annual phlox are some of them.
Enjoy planting a mixed garden to draw both hummers and flutterbys.
Guest post written by Betsey Hillbright
A lot of the time I’ll fix frozen sides or stuff like that that is already prepared when I fix meals. But I mean I just cook for one most of the time, except for the few times that I fix dinner for my boyfriend too. But the last time I went to the grocery store I bought some frozen sweet potato fries that just weren’t that good. I decided that instead, next time I would just buy the stuff to make sweet potato fries and fix some myself.
I’ve never made any before, so I went online to try and find a good recipe that wouldn’t be too hard for me to follow. When I was online looking for that, I came across the website SatelliteStarInternet.com and after I read through it a little bit, I decided to sign up for one of the internet packages that I found on there.
I cut up several sweet potatoes and did all the work for the homemade sweet potato fries. They turned out really well, actually and my boyfriend told me I should cook them often.
Butterflies are colorful, beautiful, and fascinating. Walking into a field of wildflowers and the butterflies will swarm around you creating the effect of the flowers taking flight.
There are many ways to attract butterflies to your yard. It is important to provide not only nectar plants for the butterflies, but also food plants for the caterpillars that will grow to be a butterfly.
Locate your butterfly garden somewhere you frequent, maybe next to a patio, or near your front or back door. That way you’ll get to enjoy them constantly. Placed too far from the house and you won’t get to enjoy their beauty. Butterflies can be scared when you first come around them, but when you settle down, they’ll continue feeding while you watch.
To draw butterflies, first draw the caterpillar. There are a number of plants that host different species: hollyhock, snapdragons, dill, fennel, borage and parsley are some of the plants that feed caterpillars.
Once they’ve hatched there are dozens of flowers to choose from. Each season has many choices: Spring: candytuft, primroses and basket-of-gold; Summer: hollyhock, butterfly weed, bee-balm, and pincushion flower; Fall: Japanese anemone, purple coneflower, and black-eyed Susan; Annuals: cleome, tithonia, and zinnia. This is just a small sampling. So, pick up some host plants and feeder plants and enjoy your flying garden.