async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js" My Enchanting Cottage Garden: June 2013

About Me

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Gardening is my middle name. I have been an avid gardener for 50 years.  My goal is to help anyone who wants to start a Cottage Garden, be able to do so without the expense and frustration of beginning gardeners. I hope to encourage readers to share their thoughts and experience and help make this blog a knowledgeable and fun read.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Top 10 Best Heat Tolerant Roses to Grow

There may be no more beloved and widely grown flower than the rose. In cultivation around the world and over many centuries, its popularity endures. Today's gardeners can enjoy some magnificent selections-roses of great beauty and haunting fragrance, borne on handsome, disease-resistant plants. Here are some of the best of the best. Enjoy!


Double Delight
Though this award-winning multicolored rose has been around for decades, its popularity shows no signs of waning. Everyone adores its distinctive-looking flowers-ruby-red buds unfurl to creamy pink; fully open ones are strawberry red and buttery yellow. The rich, spicy fragrance is a fair match. One bloom per a long, strong stem makes 'Double Delight' an irresistible choice for homegrown bouquets.
  • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
  • Type: Hybrid Tea.
  • Hardiness: Zones 6-9.
  • Bloom Time: All summer.
  • Size: 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide.
  • Flowers: Unique blend of red, pink and cream.
  • Flower Size: 5 1/2 inches.
  • Light Needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: This spectacular bush, with its magnificent flowers and fragrance, deserves a spot where it can be savored-beside a patio or desk, next to a porch, in front of the house. Note that it is vulnerable to mildew in cool, damp climates, but terrific elsewhere.

Ballerina
 
Despite their small size, the five-petal flowers of this long-time favorite make a big impression. They're carried in profuse clusters along gracefully arching, virtually thorn-free stems. The color is memorable, too-dark pink on the petal edges, shading to lighter pink and then to white toward the centers. The blooms radiate a soft, musky fragrance. The handsome plant grows densely and doesn't get large or unwieldy.
  • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
  • Type: Shrub, Hybrid Musk.
  • Hardiness: Zones 6 to 9.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer (repeats).
  • Size: 3 to 5 feet high and wide.
  • Flowers: Pink with white centers.
  • Flower Size: 2 inches.
  • Light Needs: Full sun to light shade.
  • Growing Advice: Use as a focal point and grow out in the open. Looks nice draped over a low fence, or plant a row for an informal, pretty hedge.


 
Carefree Wonder

This cold-hardy beauty won top honors back in 1990 and continues to dazzle novice gardeners and rose aficionados alike. It has excellent disease resistance, is cloaked in bright green foliage, and abounds with wonderful blossoms all season. The petals are hot pink etched or "hand-painted" in darker pink, creamy on the undersides, and white in the very centers. The scent is soft and fruity.

  • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
  • Type: Shrub, Griffith Buck Shrub.
  • Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer (repeats).
  • Size: 4 to 5 or 6 feet high and wide.
  • Flowers: Pink.
  • Flower Size: 4 to 5 inches.
  • Light Needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Carefree Wonder is easy to grow in any sunny spot and requires little maintenance. So it's ideal for informal shrub borders or for tucking into an informal, cottage-garden scheme where you need reliable color and a tough plant.


Golden Celebration
 
This rose is considered by many to be the finest yellow-flowered Austin rose. Like all Austins, the blossoms are dense with ruffled petals like an old-fashioned rose, and it wafts a seductive, honey-sweet scent. But it also exhibits the best qualities of modern roses, namely repeat-blooming and a sturdy constitution.

  • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
  • Type: David Austin, English Shrub.
  • Hardiness: Zones 6 to 9.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer, repeats.
  • Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.
  • Flowers: Golden yellow.
  • Flower Size: 5 inches.
  • Light Needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: A rose this attractive deserves a prominent spot in any sunny garden. It is equally at home in an informal flowerbed or in a more elegant, manicured garden setting. Grow it in the company of purple-hued flowers for elegant contrast.


Iceberg

Introduced back in 1958, this superb, easy-going rose remains widely grown and much loved. It's easily managed and always generous with its blooms. And they are indeed sensational-big, pure white, and sweetly scented. Individual sprays can have up to 12 flowers, which makes for a dramatic show in the garden or a vase.


  • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid
  • Type: Floribunda.
  • Hardiness: Zones 6 to 8.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer, repeats.
  • Size: 3 to 4 feet high and wide.
  • Flowers: White.
  • Flower Size: 3 inches.
  • Light Needs: Full sun, but protection from blazing mid-day heat is appreciated.
  • Growing Advice: Ideal for mass plantings and hedges, or draping over low fences and rock walls. If you prune it low, the plant will remain in bounds and produce lots of flowers on long cutting stems. If you let it ramble, you'll still get a great show but on shorter stems.

    Knock Out
     
    An outstanding shrub rose, aptly named Knock Out has been a great success story from the moment it appeared. It has it all-great flowers, wonderful vigor, remarkable disease-resistance, and valuable cold-hardiness. The All-America Rose Selections honored it upon its debut in 2000 and it has won awards in Europe as well. Especially notable is the robust, glossy foliage, seemingly impervious to blackspot.
     
    • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
    • Type: Shrub.
    • Hardiness: Zones 4 and 5 to 8.
    • Bloom Time: All summer.
    • Size: 3 feet high and wide.
    • Flowers: Ruby red.
    • Flower Size: 3 to 3 1/2 inches.
    • Light Needs: Full sun.
    • Growing Advice: A bright and vivacious plant, it deserves a spot of honor in a bright and sunny location. The bold color is a scene-stealer and not easy to match, so pick companion plants that flatter it, such as white or yellow roses or perennials.


    New Dawn

    This might be one of the prettiest climbers of all time! Its abundant, fluffy pink flowers gradually age to cream without losing their silky texture. And the sweet scent is reminiscent of ripe peaches. Unlike the flowers of some climbers, these beauties appear along the length of the long, pliable stems. It is easy to train, but look out for its big, sharp thorns.

    • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
    • Type: Climber.
    • Hardiness: Zones 6 to 8.
    • Bloom Time: All summer.
    • Size: 12 to 20 feet high.
    • Flowers: Pink.
    • Flower Size: 3 to 31/2 inches.
    • Light Needs: Full sun, tolerates some light shade.
    • Growing Advice: A beautiful choice for a substantial arch or pergola, a tall wooden fence, a sturdy trellis, or draping over a front porch.

    • Rugosa Rose

      Rugosa roses are durable, rather coarse-looking bushes, prized for their cold-hardiness and resilience, and a sentimental favorite for their pretty, spicily fragrant single-form blossoms. These appear in midsummer and continue well into fall. The colorful hips that follow prolong the season of interest, unless hungry birds eat them all.
      • Botanical Name: Rosa rugosa.
      • Type: Rugosa, Shrub.
      • Hardiness: Zones 4 or 5 to 8.
      • Bloom Time: Midsummer, repeats.
      • Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.
      • Flowers: White, pink, red, and red-purple.
      • Flower Size: 3 to 4 inches.
      • Light Needs: Full sun.
      • Growing Advice: Grow rugosas as a "living fence" or boundary plant, or in poor or sandy soil where other rose bushes would struggle.
      • Prize Picks: Blanc Double de Coubert is a beautiful, ruffly "double" white. Red Linda Campbell is valued for its heat tolerance. Hansa is a gorgeous maroon variety.


      Sun Sprinkles

      A good yellow rose is always welcome, and this excellent miniature is a top-quality choice anywhere you want its bright and jaunty presence. It is prolific, disease-resistant, and of manageable size, plus the little blooms waft a sweet and spicy aroma. No wonder the All-America Rose Selections accorded its top award to Sun Sprinkles in 2000. Grow this one in complete confidence!

      • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
      • Type: Miniature.
      • Hardiness: Zones 5 or 6 to 8.
      • Bloom Time: All summer.
      • Size: 18 to 24 inches.
      • Flowers: Yellow.
      • Flower Size: 2 inches.
      • Light Needs: Full sun.
      • Growing Advice: A great candidate for a container, on its own or joined by other brightly colored flowers such as blue or purple annuals. Its smaller stature and rounded growth habit also allow it to fit into a mixed flower border, where it will provide cheery, reliable color throughout the summer months.


      The Fairy

      Unique among shrub roses, The Fairy is a shorter plant with a sprawling habit. All summer long, it billows with little blossoms. Though small, these are plush with petals and very pretty, but unscented. It starts blooming a little later than other roses, but makes up lost time with its incredible output.



      • Botanical Name: Rosa hybrid.
      • Type: Shrub, Polyantha.
      • Hardiness: Zones 4 to 9.
      • Bloom Time: Midsummer, repeats.
      • Size: 2 to 3 feet high, 3 to 4 feet wide.
      • Flowers: Pink.
      • Flower Size: 11/2 to 2 inches.
      • Light Needs: Full sun to light shade.
      • Growing Advice: Its casual habit and heavy flowering habit make it a great candidate for informal, cottage-garden settings and perennial borders. Massed in a sunny area or embankment, it makes a nice groundcover. It can also be displayed in a large pot or tub. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to make compost


Making and using compost is the cornerstone of organic gardening - if you want to 'Grow Your Own', there's no better place to start.

The finished product is rich, dark, crumbly and sweet-smelling. It is made of recycled garden and kitchen waste, and can also include paper products. It is used to feed and condition the soil and in making potting mixes. Around 40 per cent of the average dustbin contents are suitable for home-composting so it helps cut down on landfill too.
Making compost is often considered to be complex but all you need to do is provide the right ingredients and let nature do the rest  however, a little know-how will help you make better compost, more efficiently.
Where do I make my compost?
There are a variety of bins on the market but they are all just a container for the composting process. A bin is not strictly necessary you can just build a heap and cover it over with some polythene or cardboard. However, bins do look neater and are easier to manage. You can build your own, buy one from any number of suppliers, including The Organic Gardening Catalogue, or get one cheaply from your local council contact the Waste and Recycling Department at your local council for more information or visit the recycle now website: www.recyclenow.com
The ideal compost bin is:
  • easily accessible
  • has no gaps in the sides and may be insulated with cardboard or straw
  • has a lid or cover
And is located:
  • in a sunny or semi-shaded position
  • directly on the soil or turf
  • away from water-courses
What can I compost?
  • Anything that was once living will compost, but some items are best avoided. Meat, dairy and cooked food can attract vermin and should not be home-composted.
  • For best results, use a mixture of types of ingredient. The right balance is something learnt by experience, but a rough guide is to use equal amounts by volume of greens and browns (see below).
  • Some things, like grass mowings and soft young weeds, rot quickly. They work as 'activators', getting the composting started, but on their own will decay to a smelly mess.
  • Older and tougher plant material is slower to rot but gives body to the finished compost - and usually makes up the bulk of a compost heap. Woody items decay very slowly; they are best chopped or shredded first, where appropriate.
Compost ingredients
'Greens' or nitrogen rich ingredients

  • Grass Cuttittings
  • Raw vegetable peelings from your kitchen
  • Tea bags and leaves, coffee grounds
  • Young green weed growth  avoid weeds with seeds
  • Soft green prunings
  • Animal manure from herbivores eg cows and horses
  • Poultry manure and bedding

'Browns' or carbon rich ingredients - slow to rot
  • Cardboard eg. cereal packets and egg boxes
  • Waste paper and junk mail, including shredded confidential waste
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Glossy magazines although it is better for the environment to pass them on to your local doctors or dentists' surgery or send them for recycling
  • Newspaper, although it is better for the environment to send your newspapers for recycling
  • Bedding from vegetarian pets eg rabbits, guinea pigs, hay, straw, shredded paper, wood shavings
  • Tough hedge clippings
  • Woody prunings
  • Old bedding plants
  • Bracken
  • Sawdust
  • Wood shavings
  • Fallen leaves can be composted but the best use of them is to make leafmould
Other compostable items
  • Wood ash, in moderation
  • Hair, nail clippings
  • Egg shells (crushed)
  • Natural fibres eg. 100% wool or cotton
Do NOT compost
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cooked food
  • Coal & coke ash
  • Cat litter
  • Dog faeces
  • Disposable diapers
When is it ready?

Compost can be made in as little as six to eight weeks, or, more usually, it can take a year or more. In general, the more effort you put in, the quicker you will get compost.

When the ingredients you have put in your container have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material, the composting process is complete. It is then best left for a month or two to 'mature' before it is used. Don't worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is quite usable. It can be sieved before using if you prefer. Any large bits can be added back into your new compost heap.



Composting questions answered
Is garden compost the same as bagged 'multipurpose' compost?
No. Sowing, potting and multipurpose composts that you buy in garden centres are mixtures of various materials such as shredded bark, sand, coir and fertilisers. These are used for raising seedlings and growing plants in pots.
Will a compost heap breed pests?
Compost is made by a host of small and microscopic creatures. These are not pests and will not overrun your garden. Slugs are often found in compost heaps, some species feed on decaying organic matter and are a valuable part of the composting process.
Do I need any special equipment?
A garden fork is the only essential item for turning and spreading compost. A compost bin keeps everything neater but it is not essential.
Will a compost heap attract rats?
Rats may visit a compost heap if they are already present in the area but composting does not generally attract the rats in the first place. If rats or mice are nesting in your compost heap, this is a sign that the heap is too dry. Add water until it has the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. For more information, see our factsheet GG1 Rats and the gardener.
Is compost safe to handle?
Yes, if the usual garden hygiene rules are followed. Keep cuts covered, wash hands before eating and keep your anti-tetanus protection up to date.
Does a compost heap have to get hot?
No. A medium-sized compost heap can heat up to 60C in a few days. The heat helps to make quicker compost, and to kill weeds and diseases. But your compost may never heat up, especially if it is made over a long period. The compost can be just as good, but it will take longer to be ready for use.
Does compost spread weeds and diseases?
Some weed seeds and plant diseases will survive in a slow, cool compost heap - if you add them in the first place.
Do I need a shredder to make compost?
No. A shredder can be very useful where there is a lot of woody material to be composted, but it is not essential.
Can I compost poisonous plants?
Yes. The toxins from rhubarb, yew, laurel and other poisonous plants are all broken down during the composting process and will not cause any damage to you or your garden.
Ants are nesting in my compost heap. Help!
Ants do have some small part to play in the composting process but the presence of nests in the heap is a sign that it is too dry. Water it thoroughly, or, if some parts are wetter than others, give it a good mix or turn.
Every time I open my bin I am assailed by masses of tiny 'fruit flies'  why is this?
These are part of the decomposition process but their numbers can be reduced by burying any fruit waste among other ingredients. Flies are also a sign that the compost is a little too wet or has too many 'green' ingredients. Make sure that the bin has a lid and add 'brown' ingredients such as straw, cardboard or paper to re-balance the heap. Mix it in well.
There's a wasps nest in my bin  what shall I do?
There is no 'organic' way to get rid of wasps. However, they do not return to the same nest every year so the problem will be over when autumn comes. If you can, leave the wasps alone as they are useful predators for garden pests. If they cannot be left (in a school garden, for example) then call your local council's Environmental Health Department for advice. To avoid the problem in future, make sure that your heap does not get too dry, make sure it has a lid and that the sides are solid, with no air gaps.







Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Time to Grow Thyme

 Guide to growing and cooking withThyme




 Some say that thyme is the spice of life. Actually, it’s more of an herb. What makes this seemingly insignificant plant so important to people? It isn’t expensive or hard to grow, and neither is it hard to find. Yet, for a variety of reasons, many prize this common, basic herb. Nature lovers are stirred by the aromatic scent that floats upward when the plant is touched or stirred. Chefs value its flavor in special recipes. There is nothing quite like a thyme-touched soup or stew on a cold winter day. The legend and lore of this miniscule plant reflects courage in the human spirit and delight to the palate. Thyme is tasty and easy to grow, and it enjoys an exciting history of useful and magical properties.

The Plant History
A perennial, thyme has tiny foliage on a many-branched shrub that grows low to the ground. When the blossoms burst out along their stems, a lilac to pink blanket of thyme trails over the nearby landscape. Bright sun warms the plant, and oils erupt in a sensation of delicious aromas. Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, the legend and lore of magical thyme pulls us deeper into the mysteries of the plant and its many practical uses throughout history.

Finding reasons behind the names of ancient plants often leads us in various directions. Such is the case with this interesting herb. Thymus means both “courage” and “to fumigate” in the Greek language, which belongs to the families deriving from the parent tongue of Indo-European that spawned today’s European languages.
Our ancestors burned thyme to keep bugs at bay in their homes, which would certainly suggest a good reason for the plant’s name. The website MoonMuses.com suggests that the smoke of thyme treated victims of poisonous bites, while the herb eased symptoms of women’s problems, sprains, and stomach disorders. A more elegant line of thought prefers the courage route. Sauce Magazine reports longstanding use of this herb that was recorded over many centuries. For example, during the time of chivalry and knights, the invigorating scent of thyme was offered to knights from maidens and wives. Throughout the ages, thyme played a role in culture as a symbol of style and elegance to the Greeks, and represented the republican spirit in France. Historical lore includes tales of fairies who made their homes among fragrant beds of thyme, and in fact, many people planted a bed of thyme for just the purpose of attracting the wee folk. Some went as far as to claim that eating thyme might help you actually see the fairies!

Practical Uses
Beyond the symbolism and historical significance of thyme lies its usefulness. Well-known to the culinary world, sprigs of thyme added to soup, stews, lamb, poultry, beef, breads, butters, vinegars, and just about anything a chef can concoct imbues a delicious depth to dishes. Fresh thyme is preferable to dried, but in a pinch, any thyme is better than none at all. It is easy to store when dried, and lasts indefinitely in a covered container on the shelf.
Medicinally, the herb was fashioned into “simples” by housewives who wanted to help a family member with stomach troubles. Apothecaries made a tea of thyme to overcome shortness of breath and congested lungs. Infected sores were soothed with a pasty poultice made from thyme. Today, we know that thyme contains the essential oil thymol, which can be hazardous to health if not used in appropriate amounts. It’s always wise to consult a homeopathic doctor or personal physician before using thymol for health purposes.

A bed of thyme gives a plush look to a garden. Rather than growing it from seed, it may be easier to purchase healthy plants from reputable garden centers or greenhouses. If this is your first foray into the world of thyme, begin with common thyme. Plant the seedlings directly in the garden where they will receive full sun to partial shade. Make sure the area is well drained; nothing kills thyme faster than standing in water. When planting your infant herbs, keep in mind that odd numbers yield thick, lush growth. Purchase and grow thyme plants in threes or fives. If you’re going to use them among stepping-stones in your lawn or patio, depending on the size of the plant, you can carefully break the seedling into several pieces. Creeping thyme growing over pavers lends an aged appearance to the walkway.
After several years of growth, it is a good idea to divide plants or take cuttings to expand the presence of thyme in your garden and yard. Snip off three-inch sprigs of new growth. Carefully tuck the piece into moist sand and water for two weeks. Tiny roots should make an appearance eventually. Once the thyme has rooted, you can transplant the small plants into containers that hold them comfortably but are neither too large nor too small. Or you can plant them directly into the garden soil. Just be watchful of the fledgling plant. Thyme, like crusty bread, is hearty and seldom needs much attention. The very sturdiness of so small a plant is part of its allure for the seasoned gardener or herbalist.

Types of Thyme
Due to its garden-variety popularity and simplicity in cultivation, the species and varieties of thyme now number into the thousands. The selection is so vast that it’s hard to resist going overboard in buying and raising new varieties. Once you begin growing these simple little sprigs, there’s a good chance you will want to increase the varieties used for planting. Following is a list of thymes that every garden should have for multiple everyday household uses: common thyme, lemon thyme, caraway thyme, creeping thyme, nutmeg thyme, mother of thyme, wooly thyme, English thyme, French thyme, fairy thyme, elfin thyme, and the list could go on and on, but the idea is that there are many types to choose from. 
There is no substitute for thyme in the garden or in the kitchen. A cup of tea infused with thyme brings back the memory of scented thymes in a lovely summer garden. The connoisseur’s mouth waters with anticipation of that first taste of a soup laced with the flavor of fresh or dried thyme. At the end of the day, a bath bag filled with dried thyme soothes the soul and sets the mind to daydreaming of medieval knights and fair maids gathering courage for the coming day. Simply put…grow thyme for the love of the plant and its lore.

You can choose from a plethora of gardening guides to help you choose the best variety of thyme for your soil and garden space. For example, a window box garden for an apartment dweller might provide better growing conditions for a certain type of thyme, while a sprawling herb garden on a farm could be the perfect site for another type, or several. Check soil conditions and growing needs for the thyme that you choose to grow. If you haven’t had much luck growing roses or ferns, try easy-going thyme for a better shot at gardening success.



(Thymus vulgaris)

Heavily scented leaves are used to season fish, shellfish, poultry stuffing, soups, or vegetables. Perennial; to 1 foot tall. Zones 1–24.Thyme is a highly aromatic herb which grows especially well in somewhat dry, sunny conditions. A Mediterranean herb, thyme holds its flavor in cooking and blends well with other flavors of the region, like garlic, olive oil and tomatoes. Thyme is also considered to have antiseptic and preservative properties and has long been used medicinally as well as when preserving meats. You’ll even find thyme in perfume.

Exposure:

Full Sun

Mature Size:

Varies with variety. Thyme is generally low growing, spreading, 6 - 10" in height. Some varieties form an almost flat carpet.

Days to Harvest:

Established thyme plants can be harvested at any time. Simply snip a few stems. The blossoms are also edible and are at their best when first opening. Thyme grows slowly from seed and should be allowed a few months of growth, before cutting.

Description:

Thyme is a low growing, woody perennial. It is extremely fragrant and flavorful and grows well in tough, dry conditions. The pink, lavender or white tubular flowers are very popular with bees. Tiny gray-green leaves remain evergreen. There are about 350 different species.

Design Tips:

Thyme is often used as a ground cover and is happy to grow in the cracks between pavers and rocks. You can also buy seed in bulk to create a thyme lawn.
Trailing varieties look well in pots, especially the golden and variegated varieties.
Thyme can be used as an edger, but it has a tendency to die out in spots, so be prepared to fill in with new plants.

Suggested Varieties:

  • Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus’ - Lemon-scented thyme with a true lemon scent, the minty quality of thyme and golden variegated leaves.
  • T. pseudolanuginosus ‘Woolly Thyme’ - Very soft, flat spreading carpet. No scent. (Zones 6 - 5)
  • T. herba-barona ‘Caraway Thyme’ - Low growing, with pale pink flowers and the scent of caraway. Also look for thymes with the scents of orange, rose and lavender and check out other suggestions in Creeping Thyme Plants.

Growing Requirements & Maintenance:

Thyme pretty much grows itself. In fact, the more you fuss with it, the less hardy it will be. Thyme is most fragrant and flavorful when grown in dry, lean soil. Too much moisture will rot the plants.
Thyme plants are usually propagated by division or cuttings. Thyme may be grown by seed, but the different varieties will cross pollinate and hybridize, so it may not grow true from seed.
If trying to cover a large areas, space new plants about 6" apart, to form a cover.
Thyme will grow well indoors, if given a bright, sunny window. However, since it survives quite well outdoors all winter, you might want to consider giving it a sheltered location outside, where you can continue to harvest.
Maintenance: When grown in warmer climates where it can get shrubby, prune hard, in early spring, to prevent the plant from getting too woody. Additional shaping can be done after flowering. Otherwise all that is needed is to prune by harvesting and to remove and replace any areas that die out.
Pests & Problems: Ants like to build their nests in thyme beds and can disrupt the roots. If grown in damp or humid conditions, molds and rots can become a problem. Care should be taken that thyme plants are not sitting in wet areas throughout the winter months.
Uses: Thyme is flavorful fresh and dried. It makes a nice complement to tomato sauces, cheeses, eggs and vegetables. It can also be used to flavor jellies, breads, vinegars, marinades, sauces and in bouquet garni.
Preserving: Thyme can be frozen, but it dries and keeps easily. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Attract hummingbirds to your flower garden


One of the most exciting visitors that you can spot in your flower garden can oftentimes be the most elusive. Hummingbirds are busy little creatures that are always flitting around in a hurry. These delicate birds are desired by many people in their flower gardens, and with a little planning you can attract hummingbirds with great success.



Hang a hummingbird feeder (20% Off All Hummingbird Feeders! Shop Now with Code WBHB3!)
The simplest thing you can do to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to hang a hummingbird feeder. The feeder will provide a constant source of nectar for them to feed on, which is important for keeping them in your yard. The hummingbird feeder should have bright red parts on it because the birds are most attracted to that color. To start encouraging hummingbirds to use the feeders, try hanging them in an area near flowers that attract hummingbirds.



Plant plenty of nectar-producing flowers  (FREE SEEDS)

Planting a flower garden with hummingbirds in mind is the best way to attract them to your yard. Hummingbirds are attracted to colorful trumpet-shaped flowers, especially red ones. They do not have a strong sense of smell like bees do, but they have incredible eyesight, making the color and shape of the flowers very important. To start out, try planting some flowers that have proven success with attracting hummingbirds, such as bee balm, columbine, cardinal flower, phlox, hollyhock, lupine or salvia. Hybrid blooms tend to produce less than their natural counterparts, so keep that in mind while planning your flower garden.



Create the right environment

In addition to providing hummingbirds with the appropriate sources of food, check your yard to make sure it is a place that hummingbirds would want to live. Female hummingbirds will be more likely to frequent your yard if they have plenty of nectar and somewhere suitable to build a nest and raise their babies. Trees with soft foliage such as bottlebrush, eucalyptus or willow are great additions to a hummingbird garden because the mother hummer will use them for nest-building materials. Even if you don't have these trees, though, you can still possibly get hummingbird nests in your yard. Make sure there are plenty of spots that are safe from the wind for them to choose from, or buy hummingbird houses to create safe environments for them.



There should also be plenty of sun and shade in the yard. While they love to zip around in the sun, they need shady areas to cool down and build nests. Adding a birdbath in a shaded flower garden is also a good idea because it will give them a steady source of water.


Monday, June 24, 2013

10 Easy, Beautiful Window Boxes for Sun



Create window boxes that add beauty to your home, garage, or shed with these easy plant-by-number ideas. 

Dress Up a Dormer


Window boxes are the perfect way to make dormers look extra special. Create lots of season-long interest with a mix of profuse bloomers, such as this verbena, and unusual foliage, such as flowering kale and sedge. That way you can enjoy the beautiful leaves and their distinct textures if the flowers take a break.
A. Sedge  'Variegata') -- 2
B. Kale  'Osaka') -- 2
C. Verbena 'Tuscany Violet with Eye' -- 2
D. Coral bells 'Pewter Moon') -- 2


Go Bold with Foliage

You can't beat coleus for gorgeously colored foliage. This mix of super-saturated leaf colors will give you a great view out -- and give your home wonderful curb appeal -- all summer long. Tip: Coleus also grows well indoors; take cuttings of your favorite varieties before the end of the season and treat them like houseplants so you can enjoy them all year long.

A. Coleus 'Stained Glassworks Copper') -- 1
B. Lantana 'Dallas Red' -- 1
C. Bear grass -- 2
D. Coleus  'True Red') -- 1
E. Coleus 'Stained Glassworks Big Blond') -- 1
F. Licorice vine  -- 1


Pick Easy-Growing Plants


Create a "wow" look in your window boxes with double petunias. Their ruffled flowers create a lot more interest than their more traditional cousins. Enjoy their elegant blooms on the plant or snip a couple and float them in a glass of water for a wonderful little accent or summer centerpiece.
A. Petunia 'Ruffle Pink' -- 2
B. Verbena 'Aztec Raspberry' -- 3
C. Coleus ('Frilly Milly') -- 1
D. Sweet potato vine ('Marguerite') -- 2
E. Angelonia 'Angelface White' -- 1


Add Drama to a Big Window


A big window needs a bold window box -- and here's a great example. This container has it all: tons of texture, depth, and dimension. It's a riot of color that'll help your home feel like it's worth a million bucks. And it's bold enough that it doesn't get overshadowed by the size of the window.
A. Bacopa ('Bridal Bouquet') -- 4
B. Torenia 'Catalina Blue' -- 1
C. Calibrachoa 'Cabaret Purple' -- 2
D. Shrimp plant -- 1
E. Heliotrope ('Marine') -- 2
F. Daisy ('Read's White') -- 2
G. Licorice vine -- 1


Keep It Full


Sweet potato vine is a no-fail trailer that's perfect for sun or shade. It's a quick grower that adds a lush, cascading look and softens the window box it grows from. There are a number of varieties, but the standout is this golden selection that looks great combined with practically everything.
A. Sweet potato vine ('Margarita') -- 2
B. Snapdragon ('Floral Showers Rose Pink') -- 2
C. Browallia 'Blue Bell' -- 1
D. Pentas 'Graffiti Pink' -- 1
E. Snapdragon ('Floral Showers Apricot') -- 1



Enjoy a Pastel Color Theme


Like a soft rain, delicate blue lobelia flows over the side of this window box. Many types of lobelia have a tendency to fade out during the hottest summer days, so pair them with another heat-loving blooming trailer such as cascading petunia or million bells (also called calibrachoa) to keep your display looking good all season long.
A. Geranium ('Bullseye Light Pink') -- 2
B. Petunia 'Supertunia Bermuda Beach' -- 1
C. Lobelia 'Riviera Blue Eyes' -- 2


Select Fun Foliage


We've always thought grasses have a fun, festive look -- and love to use them to create extra-special plantings. Here, grassy-looking flax lily's shape and zinnia's starry white flowers create the look of fireworks to give you a top-of-the-class container combo.
A. Sweet potato vine ('Margarita') -- 2
B. Flax lily ('Variegata') -- 3
C. Zinnia  'Star White' -- 3
D. Salvia 'Black and Blue' -- 2
E. New Guinea impatiens ('Sonic Sweet Purple') -- 3



Look to Your Home for Inspiration


Set your window boxes apart by tying in elements of your home's architectural details. Here, for example, the window box blends seamlessly with shutters, while the salmon-shaded geranium blooms play in with the buff colors of the flagstone wall.
A. Asparagus fern  -- 2
B. Geranium ('Fantasia Pink Shell') -- 3
C. Fuchsia 'Angel Earrings Cascading' -- 3
D. Torenia 'Catalina Blue' -- 2
E. Salvia 'Salsa Burgundy' -- 1


Try It on a Trellis

Trellises are a great way to give your deck, patio, or yard a little privacy. If you're not able to grow vines on your trellising, try creating a colorful display with a light window box. This moss-lined basket is filled with colorful plants that, when placed strategically, give you a double dose of screening.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

10 Spectacular Container Gardening Ideas

 


There is no better way to extend your garden and gardening season than with containers. This is where your imagination can go wild. You can use virtually any pot or container and add a plethora of plants to your hearts desire. This is certainly where a gardeners creativity can soar.  I went online to see what outstanding arrangements I could find and share with my friends, below you will see what I found, I love the fact you have a list of what plants to add to your container so it will make it super easy for you in creating your container garden.  Thank you BHG for sharing.
 
 
 
 

 

Tulips, Pansies Foxgloves, & Grasses

When planning your flowerbeds, buy extra plants for accents. These containers were planted with flowers left over from the borders. Not only do the containers look great, but also they tie back into the colors of the adjacent walk.




 





Bring on Spring!

Combine daffodils with citrus hues and fragrant seasonal blooms for colorful containers that keep on giving. This trio combines floriferous 'Superbells Dreamsicle' calibrachoa, fragrant 'Snow Princess' sweet alyssum, and cool-weather 'Sunsatia Lemon' nemesia.




Pansies, Violas, Panolas, Grass & Ivy

  Orange pansies, violas, and Panolas provide a warm autumnal welcome in this grouping. Try pairing colorful and distinctive flowers like these with a textural plant, like a grass.











Coleus Container

Unlike cut blooms, a living flower arrangement planted in a container gives you color and beauty for months. Combine plants that thrive in the same growing conditions and offer colors and textures that complement each other.
















Hostas, Violas & Blue Phlox

Consider using a cast-concrete pool for a miniature garden. Because these pools are made to accommodate plumbing, there are already holes in the bottom that allow for drainage.








Trailing Petunias

Add color to your outdoor party with potted plants. There’s no need for a patterned tablecloth here. Potted petunias add all the color you need under the glass-top dining table.








Lettuce & Ornamentals

Use unique containers like vintage wooden boxes and buckets as container gardens. Be sure to drill drainage holes before planting. This variety of planters is filled with a mix of edibles, like lettuce, and decoratives, like marigolds and geraniums.







Cascading Geraniums

Mini Cascade ivy geraniums take the South’s summer heat and keep on blooming.










Bargain Blooms

Take advantage of seasonal sales at your local nursery, and stock up on popular plants. Keep them in their nursery pots, and display them in galvanized buckets on the porch until you are ready to plant them in your garden. Recreate this look with gerbera daisies, salvias, shasta daisies, daylilies, and sweet potato vines.