Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 All-America Selections Award Winners

If you have been waiting to hear what plants are the winners for the All-America Selections, here they are. For the Best Bedding Plants, Snapdragon F1 'Twinny Peach' and Zinna 'Zahara Starlight Rose' won the awards. Gaillardia F1 'Mesa Yellow' won as the best Flower Award. Viola F1 'Endurio Sky Blue Martien' was the winner for the 2010 Cool Season Award.

If you would like to read more on each of these award winners, check out the links section of my blog for the All-America Selections or www.all-americaselections.org/winners.asp. Complete growing information, store locations and flower pictures are all available.



Happy Gardening and have a wonderful New Year!



The Creative Gardener



Don't forget to pick!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Hostas for Your Garden

I love hostas for the garden! They add color in their leaves, flowers and some have fragrance that many perennial plants just can't offer. How many perennial plants do you know that can take sun and shade? If you have been thinking about adding hostas to your garden for next year, try these top hostas.

These are miniature and small hostas. The hostas in this container are full size. They are H. 'Stiletto', H. 'Blue Mouse Ears' and H. 'Lemon Lime'.


H. 'Gold Standard'


H. 'Praying Hands'




H. 'Gold Standard'



Here are some of the top small hostas on the market. They are H. 'Pandora's Box', H. 'Baby Bunting', H. 'Tiny Tears', H. 'Cookie Crumbs', H. 'Twist of Lime', H. 'Cracker Crumbs', H. 'Popo' and H. venusta.
Some of top selling hostas are H. 'June', H. 'Sagae', H. 'Liberty', H. 'Striptease', H. 'Halcyon', H. 'Patriot', H. 'Niagara Falls', H. 'Stained Glass', H. 'Paul's Glory' and H. 'Whirlwind'. Additional top selling hostas are H. 'Sum and Substance', H. 'Spilt Milk', H. 'Great Expectations', H. 'Orange Marmalade' and H. montana 'Aureomarginata'. Most of these are easy to find in local nurseries and most have found their way into my garden already.
The hosta for 2010 is H. 'First Frost'. This one is very attractive and can be found at several nurseries online for sale.
Happy gardening and have a wonderful holiday!
The Creative Gardener
Don't forget to "pick"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recycled Garden Art Projects

It's always fun to take something that is no longer needed and give it new life as garden art.
The garden door (picture above) was recycled from cedar wood from a house remodel. The wood was cut into planks and with the addition of hinges and a old garden trowel for a door handle, you have a door for that secret garden entrance.
I just purchased a gazebo at the end of the season. The gazebo came in two cardboard boxes that were lined with these steel forms to protect the gazebo parts in shipment. These forms were already painted brown and were to large to set out for trash pick up. They are now contemporary garden art. I positioned them in my garden with butterfly bushes and assorted large grasses behind them. This spring I will plant flowers around the bases of the frames. I plan to add slate tile squares hung from chains inside some of the squares in the spring (yes, the tile squares and chain are being recycled from a home remodel). Watch for future updates on this garden project in the spring.
Every wonder what to do with these wire deer frames used for Christmas decorations when they are broken. Remove all the wires and lights and spray paint the deer frame dark green or black. Cover the frame with chicken wire and create a topiary form for the garden. Fill the inside with moss and soil and add your favorite ivy to grow over the form. If it is small deer and on a post (like the one in the above picture) sink the post into a large pot and add some rock to hold the post upright. Then fill the pot with soil. Plant ivy in the pot and train the ivy over the deer frame.
Take a look around your house, basement or garage for that special winter garden art project.
Happy Gardening!
The Creative Gardener
Please share some of your ideas for recycling materials into garden art! Leave a comment and don't forget to "pick".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

50 Gift Ideas for the Gardener



Still trying to figure out what to buy for that special gardening friend for Christmas? Family members asking you what you would like for Christmas? Well, here are 50 gardening gift ideas that might help you out this season.


  1. Hand pruners
  2. Gardening gloves
  3. Bird feeder with seed
  4. Bird house
  5. Digital camera
  6. Bird bath
  7. Heated bird bath
  8. Gift card to a favorite nursery
  9. Soil test kit
  10. Plant Cam
  11. Gardening magazine subscription
  12. Gardening books
  13. Gardening journal
  14. Heat mat for starting those seedlings
  15. Gardening knife
  16. Plant grow light system
  17. Seed starting kit
  18. Amaryllis bulb
  19. Garden bench
  20. Garden kneeler
  21. Pond making kit
  22. Garden spinner
  23. Garden chimes
  24. Arbor
  25. Gardening note cards
  26. Gardening 2010 calendar
  27. Composter for the garden or just the kitchen
  28. Watering can
  29. Stepping stone kit
  30. Gardening coffee cup
  31. Squirrel feeder
  32. Garden art
  33. Table top fountain or a large garden fountain
  34. Hand lotion
  35. Plant markers
  36. Herb garden for the kitchen
  37. Solar lights or 12 volt lights for the garden
  38. Garden muck shoes
  39. Garden related T-shirt
  40. Garden related Christmas ornament for the tree
  41. Spring flowering bulbs to grow inside
  42. Garden tools
  43. Garden design computer program
  44. Gardening hat
  45. Water bottle
  46. A live historical tree seedling for the garden (see links)
  47. Collapsible trash container
  48. Fresh floral arrangement
  49. Assorted garden seeds
  50. Trugs, baskets or buckets to use in the garden

Suggestion: Purchase an assortment of garden items and put them into a basket, trug or flower pot for that special gardening friend. Add some fresh pine greenery, holly and a ribbon to make your gift festive.

Happy Holidays to all!

The Creative Gardener


Friday, December 11, 2009

Fungus Gnats in Your House Plants?

It is winter and cold outside and those pesky little bugs that you thought would be dead by now are now enjoying the warmth inside your home. What appears to be small Gnats are Fungus Gnats. Fungus Gnats are found in the soil of the house plants that you moved back inside your home for the winter or the soil that you purchased to repot plants. Fungus Gnats are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. They have light gray to clear wings and are poor fliers. They have slender legs and resemble small mosquitoes. Their antennae are longer than their head. They have a four part life cycle of egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult is fairly easy to kill but the egg, larva and pupa stage are harder to control since they are hidden in the soil that your plant is growing in. Fungus Gnats can produce many generations in one year. The adult lives for 7 days and the eggs hatch in 4 days. Fungus Gnats feed on roots and organic matter in your house plant containers and you will always find them sitting in the soil, on the containers, foliage or flying around your house plant containers.
Fungus Gnats caught on a sticky trap
One of the biggest problems with Fungus Gnats is that they can feed on the tender roots of young seedlings. I am currently growing hostas from seed and have just discovered Fungus Gnats. The Gnats can feed on the roots, stunt the growth of the seedlings or kill the seedlings. The Fungus Gnats (not adult) were in the potting soil the I recently purchased.

There are several way to control Fungus Gnats in the home. Always allow good drainage and don't over water plants in your house for winter. There are several sprays on the market to control the adults. Make sure you read the warning labels of all insect sprays before using and make sure that Fungus Gnats is listed on the container. I have installed several sticky traps around my hosta seedlings and have caught many of the adult Fungus Gnats in flight (and have caught myself in the traps several times - they are sticky!) I am now using Bacillus thuringiensis (var. Israelensis) or "Bti " to kill the larva in the soil. Bti is a biological pesticide that contains naturally occurring bacteria that target and kill specific insects - in this case Fungus Gnats. The Bti is eaten by the larva and then they die. Bti does not harm animals, fish, birds, beneficial insects or humans. It does not contaminate the environment. Bti is hard to find in stores and nurseries. You may want to seek it out on the internet and have it shipped to you. Several application of Bti in the soil should rid you and your home of Fungus Gnats.



Happy Gardening!


The Creative Gardener

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Designing the Garden


It's that time of year when the garden is at rest for awhile. The days of weeding, grass cutting, clean up and pruning have now ended for the year. You are glad the growing season is over with, but you still wish you could be working in the garden. This is a great time to do a different sort of gardening. With all the leaves off your trees and shrubs and the perennials and annuals cut back, you can see the "bare bones" of your garden. Now is the perfect time to start planning for next year's garden.
If you are planning a large garden or just redesigning a garden, here are ten suggestions for making the task easier.
  1. Purchase a digital camera to take pictures of your garden. The photos remind you where plants are located, plant colors and how your garden has changed from year to year. Use these photos in laying out your garden design.
  2. Collect pictures from magazines and books on garden ideas, garden plans, interesting plants and other items that you might want in your garden. Order gardening catalogs off the Internet. Set a budget for your garden design.
  3. Decide how you are going to use the garden area that you are designing. Are you planning an area for entertaining, recreation, hobbies or play? Ask other family members how they will use the garden space.
  4. Are you are adding shrubs, trees, annuals or perennials? Check out how big your plant selections will grow including their light requirements, your lighting conditions, their water needs, plant height and width sizes (at full growth) before purchasing. Always do your homework!
  5. Do a soil test. You can amend the soil when the weather improves.
  6. Measure your area and spend time drawing the garden. Include existing plants, structures and utilities in your garden drawings. Drawing with pencil allows you to change things as you go. Draw your design to scale. Make your garden the size that you can maintain or are willing to hire someone else to maintain.
  7. Plan a color scheme and use a color wheel to help pick the garden colors. Consider seasonal color changes in your design.
  8. Add some nice garden structures like arbors and gazebos. Don't forget to add statuary, seating, bird house, bird baths, walkways, etc. Don't over do it and always add a little whimsy!
  9. Consider adding a water feature, whether it is a pond or a bird bath. A garden always needs some wildlife to enjoy. Make your garden "pet friendly".
  10. Be patient as your garden grows. Depending on the age of the plants that you purchase, it could take years before your garden is full grown. Be prepared that you may have to make a few changes along the way.

Now that you are missing all those garden chores due to the cold weather, here is a way to keep on working with your garden. Start drawing, designing and planning that garden on paper for next year!

Happy Gardening!

The Creative Gardener

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Comes to the Garden

Welcome to "Sycamore Gardens"

This morning we awoke to our first snow fall for the season. Nothing like a brisk walk in the garden in winter to enjoy mother nature and all her beauty.




The Japanese Garden




Spruce









Blue Atlas Cedar





The Woodland and Hydrangea Garden


Happy Gardening!
The Creative Gardener




'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood

Years ago, I purchased a very small tree that was only 6 to 8 inches tall. It was a 'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood. It had beau...