It’s Not All Black & White!

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Color!

It’s all around you, everywhere you look you see a different shade, a different color, or different brightness.

Some animals can’t see color and some humans are colorblind. This means they only see certain colors, or their colors get mixed-up. My husband happens to be one of those people and that can be quite interesting. Sometimes he’s telling me that the color he sees is one thing, when in reality is not. But for those of us that can see color in all its glory, it is a wonderful thing.

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Color in the landscaping is as natural as it can be. Nature provides different shades of the same color and does it quite well. We humans try to imitate nature, plus add our own personality into the mix. Color added to the landscape can be from the addition of plants that have colorful leaves, or flowers that will bloom and give you bright spots of vibrant contrast to the greenery around it. You can plant one solid color and just get different shades or mix many colors to get a unique planting that will give you hours of enjoyment.

The use of color in a landscape is as personal as your choice of color on your house. Where you use it and how you use it reflects a lot about you as a homeowner. If you look at the color wheel that any decorator or painter uses, you can see exactly where colors blend together naturally. But there’s nothing wrong with using contrasting colors. Mixing primary colors together to give you a breath-taking look.

Something that I’ve learned through my years of landscaping and container gardening, is that certain areas that have light issues need different types of color. Or rather different colors look best in in different lighting. For example in a really bright sunny spot, that is almost glaringly bright, I tend to use equally bright colors so they stand out and catch your eye. The same colors in a shady place will blend into the darkness of the shade. That’s why in a very shady place, I tend to use light or pale colors. Soft pinks, whites, light blues; those are the colors that really show up. They can also help to give you a feeling of peacefulness.

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But your color is it not limited to just flowers and leave textures. Color comes from your containers, from the groundcover that you use; the mulch or gravel. The accessories that you add to your landscape such as a concrete bench, a statue or a bronze fountain; all of these items add color as well as texture to the garden. Their placement is important to get the best visual benefit as well as a “play” with the colors around them.

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Try to experiment with your design. What works one year, may not work the next year. Remember, the growers are constantly coming up with new shades of plants- don’t be afraid to try something new this year.

So my personal opinion is: don’t be afraid to use color!

Little Samples, Big Convience

Samples are a great thing.

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You can get samples for food, to see if you like it, samples of new book, samples of beer to see which type of homemade brew you might like. There are samples of paper to see what is going to look best with your letterhead on it. And, of course, you can get paint samples to pick the right color for your rooms. These are just a few of the many types of samples that are available for consumers to make their life a little bit easier. But have you ever thought of using samples for the garden center? When you’re trying to match colors of plants there’s no reason why you can’t take a cutting of the leaves to make sure the flowers are going to blend together. Or, take a flower sample in with you to try and coordinate a grouping of colors and make sure that they all blend easily.

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Then there’s hard-scapes; what about the rocks you’re going to use in that edging? Is it the right color to blend in with your pots? Is the mulch the exact same kind that you use last year? If you’re just trying to freshen up the beds, you may not want to completely redo your mulch; so it’s important to get the right kind. It doesn’t hurt to take a sample of soils either. Some plants like a nice loose soil, while others would prefer to have a soil mix that is a little bit sandy for a quick drainage. Taking a sample of the soil that you’re going to plant in can sometimes help the grower help you pick the best mixture to go with your selection of. plant materials.

Even something as simple as taking in a sample of the cushions that you have on your lawn furniture can help you with your decisions on plant colors and plant shapes. If your cushion has a lot of reds and yellows into it you may want to use something like a Croton which also has a lot of reds and yellows. You might want to try to mirror the shape of the leaf in the pillowcase with real plants, for instance a bird of paradise leaf.

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Samples can also be done with the camera. You may have a large pot that you’re trying to match but caring a 32 inch pot into the garden center just isn’t going to do it, so take a picture. Cameras have come so far in the past years that the picture on your phone will be a pretty close example of what you’re using. You can then take that picture of your pot and hold it right up next to the item you’re thinking of purchasing. If the colors match, that’s great! If they don’t, you can easily move onto the next selection.

And one final sample that you may not even think about because it’s not something you can physically holding your hand death of the sample of what your lifestyle is like. Are you somebody that wants to just relax around the yard? Then you’re going to be looking for more shade producing plants and comfy lounge chair. However if you’re an active person your lifestyle might demand a more open area where you can have a volleyball net put up or a big garden area to work in.

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So, keep the mental samples in mind, as well as the physical samples when you’re choosing the accents for your gardening life.

Remember, let those small samples help you get a large amount of enjoyment out of your garden!

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The Garden View from Your Cat

The view from a different perspective.

You’re able to sit at your desk or your living room, looking out your windows and you enjoy the beautiful garden you’ve created. The flowers are in bloom and everything is looking tiptop. But if you ever stop to consider what the view would look like from another perspective?

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Let’s take a look at it from the cat’s perspective. I sit and I watch my cat and I noticed that she sees things that I would never even notice. First of all she’s a little bit lower to the ground than I am, so she sees the things that are crawling and creeping along the ground.  Her ears pick up at the sounds of the lizard rushing across the mulch beds, her tail flicks and she waits. Then something else catches her eye; it is a bee buzzing in and out of the seedpods of the palm tree. I think she heard it before she saw it, but she hones right in on what is there. The squirrel jumping to the bird feeder catches her eye next as he chatters at her, warning her to stay away from his food.Grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis 5200

She watches and she crutches a little lower, waiting, and then a bird comes. She watches as the bird stretches its wings out and the cat must decide if she should wait & watch or pounce. Before she can make that decision, a brightly colored butterfly flutters in front of her face she jumped back a tiny bit and then reaches a paw out to try and grab it. But the butterfly just calmly moves out of her reach and goes to the next flower.

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Suddenly the wind picks up and the leaves rustle above her head. She looks up, trying to figure out where the sound came from and catches the scent of jasmine blooming in the air. She twitches her nose, trying to figure out if it’s something edible or just something pleasant. As she tries to figure it out, the warm rays of the sun hit her for her.  The sunlight is warm on her fur and she stretches and crawls up in the patch of sun, ready for her afternoon nap.

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Yes, it’s all a matter of perspective what your seeing your garden!

The Southern Fall!

Just because we live in the south doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate fall too.

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The thermometer may be saying 85° but in our hearts it says Fall! October is almost on the calendar and that means autumn and whether we admit it or not we really could use some of that cooler weather.

So maybe we can’t snuggle up in nice warm sweaters or put on some nice boots. A fire in the fireplace might be a bit over the top right now, but we can create little oasis of fall with some simple decorations using natural materials. Even though in my last blog I complained about the use of Mums, they do have a purpose for short-term usage especially for creating fall arrangements and vistas. Other Seasonal Plants are often brought into the garden centers at this time, such as Ornamental Kale, too. Adding in a few pumpkins & gourds, some corn stocks maybe even a discreet scarecrow or two and you’re on your way. A local feed store will be able to provide you with bales of hay and adding a few for broom sticks of cinnamon to your front entry; and you got a fall welcoming.

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You can easily add in some creepy Crawley type of decorations to give it a Halloween feel or just keep it simple and fall-ish. Even if you don’t go with Mums, using summer annuals in that shades of fall colors will give you the same feeling. If you use a few ornamental grasses, they can give you the feeling of a field of wheat. Add in some preserve fall leaves around your display, and don’t for get to add some lighting to finish it off. Lanterns, strings of yellow or orange lights and of course the traditional Jack-o-Lanterns would be perfect to light up the front gardens and paths.

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Even if you can’t physically lower the temperature, by putting together this little fall display, you’ve created a feeling of coolness. You have created an ambience that says “fall is here and I want to celebrate.” So get creative, bringing together your flowering colors of oranges, reds, and yellows.

Have some fun with fall with your fall decorating, it doesn’t matter if you’re from the north or the south!

Sleep? Not Me!

Originally posted on Pen In Hand:

It’s happened again!

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I’ve  caught myself staring off into space, not really paying attention to what’s going on around me as I formed the thoughts of the next scene of my book. I’m oblivious to what people are saying and doing. I’m sure every author has gone through this: that constant state of thinking ahead of what you want to write. Sometimes the make-believe world gets in the way the real world.

Have your ever had one of those nights where you just keep thinking of something over and over and over until finally nothing is going to solve the sleeplessness but to get out of bed, sit in front of the computer and write down what’s going on in your mind? And isn’t it amazing how once you’ve written that last word and click enter, you’re ready to go back to sleep with no problems? Your mind has released…

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Don’t Add to the Crime Wave!

THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW!

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If not a law, than at least a warning in big bold red letters for everyone to see. There’s nothing more irritating than going to garden center and seeing novelist who loves gardening, but may not have the experience to pick the right plants, searching the benches looking and choosing a plant that is wrong for them. As a professional in the landscape business, it infuriates me to see garden centers selling plants that are really not meant for the climate you live in or are being sold out of season.

Everyone likes try new plants and colorful plants just called you to try. But it does the gardener an injustice when you try to sell them plants that are out of season or out of the climate zone that they should thrive in, without explaining to them what they’re getting into.

Seasonal plants should be displayed as seasonal plants! With the explanation to the consumer that they are not hardy plants and might need some extra care. Down here in the South a perfect example are potted Chrysanthemums.

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Oh, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve bought a Mum or two out of season, and who can blame me? Their bright colors just screams fall is on its way. If you happen to live in the north you know that this is perennial fall plant. But, I know what I’m doing and I realize these plants are not able thrive in heat of South Florida for long without blooming out. One of the biggest complaints I hear from customers is that they bought a Mum and it only lasted a few weeks, at the most. I honestly think if people knew ahead of time that these flowering plants had a short term flowering cycle in a hot climate, they wouldn’t be so upset. They would still buy them because they are beautiful and enjoyable, but their expectations would be lower and they would be treated more as a florist type of plants, then a gardening plant.

So, you’ve heard my personal rant and I hope that somebody out there will take note and at least put up a sign in front of those benches of Chrysanthemums, warning the poor southern consumer that they are short-term plant and enjoy them while you can.

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Gardening should be an enjoyable experience. Whether you’re in the South or the north and part of that experience is picking out the right plants for your garden. As a consumer, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know the type of plant that you are interested in. Most employees working in a garden center love to talk gardening and would be happy to answer your questions.

So, the calendar says that fall is here, even if the weather hasn’t cooled down. Go ahead and grab a big pot of Mums and put by your front door. Here are couple of hints for its care: try and keep it out of the hot afternoon sun, keep it well watered and be prepared to replace it a few times over the fall season.

Enjoy that Mum, and know that the cooler weather is just around the corner!