Monday, October 13, 2014

Closing the Garden Down for Winter

It has been some time since I last wrote on my blog. It has been a busy spring, summer and now fall.  I went on a couple of week long vacations and attended a Garden Writers Association Symposium. I have been working on a home remodel and garden renovation that I am getting close to finishing. I have been trying to get as much done as possible for the arrival of our first grandchild that should happen in the next few days. Busy and exciting year and still lots to do before the first snow flies.

I have been starting to cut back the garden for the year. Due to lots of rain, the garden is out of control and overgrown. Last winter, I did not have the opportunity to work in the garden because of snow and cold weather. This year, I plan to remove some plants, cut plants back, prune larger plants and decide which plants need to be removed and relocated to new homes in the spring.

If your garden is starting to sound like mine, here are some ideas of what to do with those surplus plants and to prepare your garden for winter.

  • Take cutting of those plants that you wish to keep for next year. Give up the idea of trying to keep every annual or plant for next year.
  • Walk your garden and decide which shrubs and trees need to be pruned back in the garden.
  • If you have lots of volunteer plants or extra plants that you do not want, don't just throw them away. Ask friends or family members if they would like to have them for their gardens. I have already moved some plants and found new homes for others. I plan to tag the remaining plants in the garden that need to be removed, leave them in place till spring and then donate the plants to Master Gardener groups that may need plants for garden projects that they are working on.
  • If you are looking for homes for plants, check with local garden clubs, parks, or other organizations that can put your plant surplus to good use. Many organizations do not have money in their budgets for plants and will appreciate the donation.
Start cleaning up that garden for winter and I hope everyone has a great year!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Japanese Garden Design Ideas

A Japanese garden with a lake or pond is very inviting. If you can, build a water feature for your garden and include Koi or Goldfish.
I enjoy different types of garden design and I find something tranquil about Japanese garden design. The mix of water, rock and mostly green plantings seems very relaxing and quiet. When I have the opportunity to visit a Japanese garden, I always go, take pictures and just enjoy the garden and it's design. I have been collecting photos of the many different features found in Japanese garden design for the purpose of developing a small Japanese garden at home. If you have thought about designing a Japanese garden, here are a few of the many design ideas for that type of garden. Remember that Japanese gardens can be small or large depending on the space that you have.

Bamboo can be grown as a plant or used as fencing.

If you can't include a water feature you can create a raked gravel feature that represents water. The green area in the gravel would represent an island.

Many Japanese gardens have an entry.

Always add Japanese maples to your design.

A bridge with tree cutouts and a decorative red roof is beautiful in this garden.

The window of a teahouse has a tree and lantern as part of it's design.

Water features can be small like this pondless waterfall.

A very large ornate entry gate to a Japanese garden.

If you can, add a bridge to your design. It does not have to be large like the one in the picture. Use the red color for decorating.

This beautiful garden with a reflection of the bridge in the water gives the appearance of a complete circle.

Japanese lanterns can be made from stone or cement. This lantern is sitting in the pond water.

A simple bridge design was used in this garden.

A few bonsai trees can be added to your garden design.

Lanterns made of stone give an aged look to the garden.
I hope these pictures gave you some ideas about designing a Japanese garden. There are some very good books on the market on Japanese garden design and plenty of good ideas on the Internet.

I hope everyone has been having a great year in the garden and as always "Happy Gardening"!


Friday, August 15, 2014

A Visit to Phipps Conservatory

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If you are ever in Pittsburgh, stop in and spend a few hours in the conservatory and gardens. It will be worth the trip to see the beautiful gardens inside this very old conservatory. Phipps Conservatory was founded in 1893 by industrialist Henry Phipps. Mr. Phipps gave the conservatory to the city of Pittsburgh as a gift.

When you visit the conservatory and gardens you will learn how they have created a Center for Sustainable Landscapes which is one of the greenest buildings in the world. It is net-zero energy and net-zero water. Here are some photos of some of the many things you can see at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

The conservatory has over 30 pieces of Chihuly glass on exhibit in the gardens. The pieces are spectacular!

Have you ever visited a roof top garden. This garden is beautiful and has a wonderful view of the city.

 One of the many water features found on the property.

This is a miniature garden with dinosaurs and a volcano that smokes and erupts. What a fun place for children to visit.

Many of the garden rooms have miniature trains and water features.

This was my favorite room! I really like the design and the colors that were used.  I could have spent the day sitting and enjoying it.

This room has fountains and a train that runs around the garden.

The Desert  Room was filled with a collection of desert plants. Do you see the Chihuly glass hanging from the roof?

 The Japanese Garden with rocks, ponds, bonsai trees and lanterns was beautiful and relaxing to walk in.

The entrance inside the conservatory was very lush and exotic.

I enjoyed visiting the Orchid Room filled with spectacular orchids and the Butterfly Room with butterflies flying around  the plants. 
If you ever visit Pittsburgh, stop by the conservatory and plan to visit for at least 3 to 4 hours to see everything that they have to offer. It will be worth the trip!

Happy Gardening!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Hardy Hibiscus

Hibiscus 'Summer Storm'
This time of the summer is when the hardy hibiscus begins to bloom in many gardens. When I am in the car driving around town, you can see them in full bloom in many landscapes that I pass. Their flowers are as big as a saucer and they look very much like those beautiful tropical hibiscus that cannot survive the winters in Indiana.

Hibiscus are now available in colors of white, pink, red, mauve and some with a mix of colors in their petals. Each flower blooms for one day, but that flower will be a show stopper for that day in the garden. Hibiscus grow in zones 4-9 and prefer full sun. They bloom in the summer and can reach a height of 3 to 8 feet in the garden. Their flowers can range in size from 4 to 12 inches in diameter. They are happy with moist, well drained soil to grow in. This year we have had regular good rains and my hibiscus couldn't be happier!

Hardy hibiscus are easy to grow. They die to the ground in the winter and in my area they are one of the last plants to start to grow in the garden in the spring. If you think it has died, just be patient and you will be rewarded with lots of flowers.
There has been lots of breeding done with this plant and the results have produced some very beautiful new plants. Some have unusual shaped leaves and others with beautiful dark purple leaves. The dark leaves and beautiful flowers make them look spectacular in the garden. Just take a look at some of the following photos of hardy hibiscus in bloom.

Look at the wonderful dark colored leaves on this plant.

If you like the photos of these hibiscus, then check out your local nursery to see what they have available. This is the ideal time to see those fantastic flowers blooming at your local nursery center and to select that perfect one for your garden.
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Flocks of Phlox

It is that time of year when the phlox start to bloom in the garden. This year, they are putting on a really good show of color. Phlox or Phlox paniculata are easy to grow and they are a favorite with butterflies and bees. They come in a wide assortment of colors like white, pink, orange, blue, red, purple and mauve. Some phlox will have a contrasting eye color and variegated blooms. Phlox are easy to grow and will provide blooms in the garden from summer to fall. To keep your phlox blooming, remove spent flowers as they start to fade.

Phlox is a perennial plant that grows from 16 to 36 inches tall, spread rapidly and look great in a mass planting. Always keep taller varieties to the back of the bed and shorter varieties to the front. Phlox prefer full sunlight with some protection from winds. They prefer well-drained soil. Add plant food in the spring and some mulch made from compost or aged manure to keep your plants happy.

One problem with phlox is that they can get powdery mildew. If you have this problem, spray with a fungicide.

Propagation of phlox is by division and best done in the fall. After your phlox have completed blooming in the fall, clean them up for winter by cutting them back.

This white phlox has a contrasting eye color of pink.

If you do not have phlox in your garden, give them a try. They add lots of color to the garden and they will attract bees and butterflies to your garden. If I didn't mention, phlox can make a good cut flower to enjoy in a bouquet inside your home. They have a wonderful fragrance.

Happy Gardening!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Echinacea for the Garden

It has been a very busy year! Between a bathroom remodel, garden redesign and endless weeding of the gardens (due to lots of rain), I have been working on lots of projects. Time flies when you are having fun! I just went outside and started weeding a garden when it started to rain. Rain was not in the forecast for today. Since everything is wet, I decided to write a blog post and allow the garden to dry before starting to weed again. My post for today is on Echinacea or coneflowers, which is an old garden favorite for many of us and a plant that is looking great in my garden this year.

Coneflowers produce very pretty flowers that bloom for a long period of time in the garden. It is a plant that is hardy, drought resistant and now comes in many different colors like pink, yellow, peach, and white to name a few. Coneflowers grow to about 39 inches tall and look wonderful when planted in a mass planting. Blooming is from mid-summer into fall.

Coneflowers prefer full sun and should be sheltered from strong winds to protect their flowers. They prefer well-drained, rich soil to grow in. Propagation is by division of the plant or from seed. These plants are great for borders, cut flowers and the birds love the seed heads in the fall.

Small birds enjoy feeding on the seed heads of Echinacea.

One of the many new colors of Echinacea.

A new variety of Echinacea
If you do not have coneflowers in your garden, you may want to grow a few. I hope everyone is having a great year in the garden and ........ Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creative Fairy Garden Ideas

If you like Fairy Gardens, here are some very creative gardens for you to see. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed all these cute little Fairy Gardens and don't forget to "Like" Garden Thyme with the Creative Gardener.

Happy Gardening!