async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js" My Enchanting Cottage Garden: March 2014

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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 5 Best Flowering Ground Covers

 groundcover flower carpet  The term “ground cover” often conjures up      visions of boring patches of plain green foliage—adequate for simply filling space but hardly satisfying for the color-craving gardener. Fortunately, numerous spreading perennials do an equally good job protecting the soil and crowding out weeds while producing a bounty of beautiful blooms. Mass plantings of these easy-care perennials are great for new gardens because just a few can fill plenty of space, easing the strain on your budget. In established landscapes, linking individual shrubs into larger beds with flowering ground covers dramatically cuts down on tedious mowing and trimming chores.

The best ground covers for smaller spaces are those that have a long season of bloom but typically need light trimming or deadheading after the first flush to keep the flowers coming. Keeping these plants in manageable patches simplifies this modicum of maintenance because you can reach all of the plants from outside the bed. To fill a large space, you need a ground cover that will do much of the work for you. Fortunately, you have several good options: substantial clumpers that stretch widely in all directions, ground-hugging creepers with stems that readily take root where they rest on the soil, or spreaders that produce new plants from wide-ranging roots. All 5 flowering ground covers that I recommend earn top marks for their long bloom season, resistance to pests and diseases, and ability to fill quickly an area of any size.

catmint

I can’t resist the soft blues and grays of catmint (Nepeta spp.). My favorite is ‘Walker’s Low’ Its compact habit makes it a particularly pleasing ground cover around hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs. The 15- to 20-inch-tall mounds of gray-green foliage are attractive all through the growing season and emit a minty aroma when you brush against them. From late spring to midsummer, they’re topped with 6- to 8-inch-long spikes of purple-blue flowers; a light midsummer shearing encourages rebloom in late summer and fall. Once established, ‘Walker’s Low’ is extremely drought tolerant.
flower carpet scarlet

Red Cascade Rose. When in full bloom this trailing plant covers itself with small deep red, fully double flowers. It will make a very nice ground-cover rose, which works great in containers and hanging baskets, as the long canes trail over the sides for a beautiful show. Red Cascade has both R. wichurana and R. roxburghii in its ancestry. Petal 20, Bloom 1.5" 
 
rosemary

Creeping rosemary is a hardy, fast-growing evergreen shrub, creeping rosemary has a prostrate habit and attractive flowers and fragrance. Dark green leaves, to 2 inches long, are rich in aromatic oils and commonly used as a culinary herb. This plant is loved for its strong pinelike flavor and fragrance.
Noteworthy characteristics: Ideal for a rock garden or the top of a dry wall. Makes an excellent groundcover. Care: Should be kept moist in well-drained soil and full sun.

 
Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’

Oreganos are another excellent ground cover for those who enjoy fragrance and flowers. While the spicy-scented leaves of ‘Herrenhausen’ oregano (O. laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’) lack the rich flavor of culinary selections, their showy clusters of purplish pink flowers and deep purple bracts add flavor to the landscape. The plants grow in somewhat sprawling, 1- to 2-foot-tall mounds, with small leaves that emerge purplish in spring, turn rich green in summer, and age to deep reddish purple in autumn. The 1- to 2-inch-wide bloom clusters appear in midsummer and keep coming into fall (especially with deadheading); they are favorites with butterflies and make terrific cut flowers, too. An extremely low-maintenance plant, ‘Herrenhausen’ tolerates heat and drought once established.

geranium groundcover

As with oreganos, a great number of geraniums make superb ground covers. Among these excellent options, ‘Rozanne’ (Geranium ‘Rozanne’ ) stands out for its abundance of blooms over an amazingly long season. Starting in early summer, the spreading mounds of deeply cut, lightly mottled green leaves are covered with 212-inch-wide, saucer-shaped blooms. In cool conditions or some shade, the flowers tend to be clear blue with a prominent white center; in hot weather or strong sun, they often appear more lavender blue with a tiny white eye. Shearing lightly in midsummer helps to tidy the plants and can promote rebloom well into autumn. This selection can be a little slower to sprout in spring than other geraniums, so interplant ‘Rozanne’ with spring crocus, species tulips, and other small bulbs if you want earlier color.











Sunday, March 23, 2014

Garden Benefits Using Eco Friendly Greywater

fall gardenDid you know you can grow a beautiful garden even living in a desert like Las Vegas. Some households can cut their water bills almost in half by irrigating with greywater. That is a huge benefit.  Now that large sections of the country are facing historic drought conditions — and the possibility that these droughts are the new normal — it especially doesn’t make sense to send usable water down the drain. You are probably irrigating your yard with drinking water, but do your plants need drinking water? It turns out that most plants are perfectly happy with gently used water from showers, bathtubs, laundry and sinks — or greywater.  Most households use about half its water indoors and the other half outside for irrigation.  You can recapture that water and use it again. There are other benefits to greywater, too. It reduces a home’s carbon footprint, since moving and treating water consumes a tremendous amount of power. It protects the aquatic ecosystems from whence your water comes. It reduces loads on sewage systems (which lowers the carbon footprint) and puts water back into the local aquifer, which is better than dumping it into rivers, lakes and oceans. If you’re on a septic tank, it reduces loads on the system, prolonging your service intervals. And it helps grow a beautiful and bountiful garden.

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Greywater systems don’t look like normal irrigation. For one thing, there’s stuff in it — small amounts of soap, hair, laundry lint etc. You can either process the water and try to filter everything out, or you can use larger pipes and emitters and send the water to your garden as is. The latter is the better option — ideally, a greywater system should be low tech and dependable, with a minimum of parts to break and filters to maintain.

Setting up a greywater system involves:

1. Replumbing greywater fixtures away from the sewer.

2. Installing the greywater system itself and

3. Installing irrigation in the yard.

Basic Greywater Systems
Laundry-to-landscape system. The easiest place to start with greywater is the washing machine. Since the
water comes out of a hose on the back of the machine, there is no need to alter the plumbing under the house. The most common washing machine system is called a laundry-to-landscape system, which uses the washer’s internal discharge pump to help move water out into the yard, where it is distributed into mulch basins through a network of ½-inch ball valves.

greywater

Branched drain system. A common greywater system for bathtubs, showers and sinks is a branched drain system. It’s a gravity-flow system with no storage tanks, pumps or filters; it relies on gravity and mulch to distribute water in the landscape. Drains from greywater fixtures are combined into a single pipe, which is diverted away from the sewer and outside the house.

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Once outside, the flow is divided and subdivided into multiple branches to be spread to various outlets in the yard. Since the pipes need to flow slightly downhill, this system may not work on flat lots or if the area to be irrigated is above the house.

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Here a worker levels the flow splitter of a branched drain system.

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Sump-pump systems. If the areas to be irrigated are far from your house or uphill, you’ll probably need a pump. The best way to do this is with a sump-pump system: Greywater fixtures (bathtubs, sinks, showers and laundry) are rerouted to drain to a basin containing a submersible pump activated by a float switch that shoots the
water out as soon as it gets deep enough. Remember that no freshwater irrigation system will work with greywater — it would rapidly clog — so distribution in the landscape should be similar to that of the laundry-to-landscape system: a network of tubing no smaller than ½ inch to allow the passage of suspended solids, distributing water into mulch basins.

greywater 5


Common Greywater Mistakes
Thinking you can water a lawn with it. Greywater is not potable and cannot be used in sprinkler systems. This makes almost all greywater systems incompatible with grass. Lawns in general use a tremendous amount of
water; for folks considering greywater, we recommend tearing up the lawn and replacing it with native plants that don’t need external irrigation — then use greywater for fruit trees, shade trees, ornamentals and perennial vegetables.
Storing it. Greywater should not be stored in a tank. Trace amounts of organic matter will cause anaerobic bacteria growth and funky odors. It’s better to just put it in your soil immediately and thus eliminate any problems.
Overcomplicating things. Pumps and filters generally just mean more things that can break and that need maintenance. Don’t pump greywater if you can do the same job using gravity. Don’t install a filter system that involves routine cleaning unless you are willing to clean or replace it for the next 10 years. Consider the carbon footprint of the system: In cases with elaborate piping and pumps, the carbon footprint will never be offset by the
water savings.

Partial Reprint from Houzz…..thanks

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Build Your Own Birdhouse

Spring is definitely here and the birds have arrived.  Spring gives me the impetus to create new things and the first  item on my list was a new birdhouse  for my feathered friends.  Now mind you I am not a wood craftsman, but I saw some birdhouses online that I liked and so I thought I could copy them.  Let’s just say, there are so many mistakes in this birdhouse, it might be condemned by the Board of Birdhouse Housing Authority.  The finished product though looked good enough that my husband conceded to hang it on the post for me.  I have posted pictures of the steps I took (of course leaving out the mistakes) and maybe this will inspire you to build your own birdhouse this spring.



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I had all the scrap particle board and plywood, so all I had to do is come up with a plan to build.



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My husband just could not resist taking a picture of me endeavoring to start my new Birdhouse.



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I went BIG, so now it is a Bird Condo.


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Three house and three colors


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Finished product now hanging on my post.


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Can Birds read?




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Side view and as you can see the first order of business was the birds pooped on their new house.  What did I expect??

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Must Have Easy Seeds to Start

Echinacea Cone-fections™ Hot PapayaThis is the year to finally break out of your rut and quit buying ho-hum plants at the nursery and start your own simple and easy seeds or rare and exotic seeds.  Online seed outlets are plentifull and abound with a plethora of seed choices.  I am listening my plants I have in my garden started from seeds.  If I can do it in Hot dry Las Vegas I am positive you can do it too. If you have a windowsill you can start seeds.
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Hollyhock.  From double to single flowering plants, hollyhock is back in fashion.  It is easy to start from seed and, once established, will self sow for years. I grow double hollyhocks just for the sheer pleasure of watching it unfurl into a beautiful rose-like blossom.  The single blooms are better pollinators for bees. Sow seed indoors or outdoors in a hotbed or greenhouse, start in small pots, press into soil and lightly cover. Hollyhocks can also be sown directly into your garden although it will take longer for it to bloom.
blanket Flower Burgandy
Burgundy blanket flower loves full sun and sandy dry soil.. When I moved to my new house in Las Vegas 2 years ago I started with a blank back yard and needed blooms fast, so I sowed blanket flower directly into the ground and the plant popped out almost over night and this is the third growing season and they are still going strong. Butterflies love this plant.
daylily ruffled
Daylily is not the usual plant you think of when you start to buy seeds, but it is among the easiest to propagate.  Buy seeds online and either direct sow outdoors or start indoors in sterile potting solid, seeds germinate in about two weeks, but it takes about 2 seasons for a daylily to bloom.
mullein
Mullein.  Mulleins are either annual,m, biennial or perennial.  You can choose,  propagation is as easy as scattering the seeds outdoors across a prepared bed.. There are new varieties every year, I love the peachy rust tones, but you can also buy violet, yellow and white.  These seeds can be bought online.
pincushion flower
Pincushion.  This is an easy no fuss plant that blooms all summer long. Butterflies love this plant. It is a proven garden performer, Seeds are easy to germinate and can be sown in the fall. The plant grows to 18 inches and is a good border plant.
foxglove
Foxglove is a gorgeous shade loving evergreen perennial with fat, soft green leaves with sturdy 3 ft. tall summer spikes of pastel blooms.The seeds are easy to start and is a self seeder. The seeds need light to germinate so don’t cover them when sowing.
poppy
Poppies. Oriental poppies are so easy to sow all you have to do is throw them in the garden in the fall for a multitude of blooms in the spring.  My favorites are the Opium poppy which blooms on double florets about 2-3 ft. tall.  These poppies come in pastel colors whereas the California poppies are in warmer shades of yellow and orange.

Wayside Gardens

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Perfect Birdhouse What Will You Choose?

March is here, the birds are coming home and it’s time to spring for a new birdhouse to welcome them back home. Birds enhance your garden immeasurably, just sitting outside and listening to them sing will lift your spirits and drag you out of the long winter doldrums. Buy a birdhouse and put it out where birds can use it for nesting or for winter shelter and spring mating. Once you have a successful birdhouse, you can do some science yourself by observing the birds that use it. You can see what kinds of things they use to make the nest, how many eggs they lay and how long it takes them to hatch, what they feed their young, all kinds of things. Of course you have to be careful not to disturb the birds too much or they will leave the nest.






Vintage Bluebird Bird House   Sturdy, quality wood construction that creates a weathered, whimsical look. Accessories $199.95 













Our fully functional all-wood Birdhouse with Bunting features durable exterior paint, removable back wall, drainage, ventilation and an unpainted interior. 1-1/4" hole invites nesting birds and keeps larger birds out. $39.95 Size 8-1/2"L x 10-1/2"W x 10"H Pole 16" dia. x 43"H This birdhouse takes its design from the classic homes found in neighborhoods all across America. Two distinct roof lines, porch railings and shuttered window are just a few of the details that give our Kingsgate Cottage Birdhouse all-American appeal. Features a 1-1/4" opening to attract wrens, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and other little songbirds; a removable back for easy cleaning; drainage holes and ventilation for a healthy environment. Size11-1/2"W x 7-1/2"D x 10-1/2"H


Plow & HearthGood Fortune Birdhouse (718323521484) Based upon ancient Chinese architecture, our Good Fortune Birdhouse offers a peaceful retreat for your favorite songbirds. The graceful lines and perfect proportions are highlighted with Chinese characters wishing good fortune and the house number 888, which signifies good luck. Chickadees, finches, wrens, nuthatches and titmice will be lucky indeed to dwell in this high quality, historically inspired birdhouse! -1/2"W x 10"D x 11-1/2"H



Plow & Hearth Exclusive Perfect for attracting songbirds to your garden. This classically styled Cape Cod Birdhouse is constructed of exterior-grade ply board and kiln-dried hardwood, then painted with an outdoor paint. Shingles are real pine shake; intricate details are resin. Two-story house has all the details to attract wrens, finches, chickadees and more to nest: ventilation, drainage, an unpainted interior and a 1-1/4" opening. Back wall removes for easy cleaning. Hang with the attached mounting bracket or pole mount on the optional Turned Wood Pole, sold below. Pole with pedestal base is kiln-dried hardwood finished with outdoor paint. $34.95 •