Container Gardening? Ask Questions!

Container Gardening can be so much more than just putting pretty flowers in a container.

Using the same design aspect that you would use with in-ground landscaping, you can create vistas for your enjoyment while you are outside. With the placement of pots in the right place you can create framing for visual blockage of unwanted views, traffic pattern and flow, accent existing landscaping, and add interest to patio furniture arrangements.

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Be sure to take into consideration the style of the area that you’re going to be placing these pots in. Is the color of the container going to be crucial? Will it be something to give it a little extra punch to the design area? You need to determine if you looking for containers that are highly decorative or more standard such as Clay.

Container gardening doesn’t stop with just placing your pots in the right location. Once you place the container it’s crucial that you pick the correct plants to go in them. The most important factor to take into consideration when choosing your plants is the environment they are going to be planted in. Is it windy location? Does it receive full sun or partial sun? Are the plans going to be planted in an area that will be hard to maintain? If so you might want to use more durable plants.

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Another thing to consider the fact that you might have animals or children. This would mean you would want to watch for poisonous plants or thorny plants. .

The plant materials that you use will play the biggest part of your container design. Add in the use of herbs and flowers for a please accent or even to repel unwanted past such as mosquitoes The third thing that you would want to take into consideration is your decorating style. Are you a traditional stylist or a little bit more bohemian? What is the overall effect that you’re going for? Are you trying to be conservative and a little bit old-fashioned, or are you trying for tropical effect with palms and exotic flowers?

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It is important that you should have a good understanding to the answers of all these questions before you even set foot into the nursery looking for plants. If you’re lost asked for help and if you don’t feel you’re getting the right help from the people in the store that you’re at, ask for professional to come out to your site and work up a plan that will best meet your needs. You have to live with the results of what you plant and you want to be happy. So be sure to ask lots of questions and be willing to make changes if your ideas and plans don’t mix together.

But regardless if you are designing your own container gardens, or getting the help from a professional gardener, the most important thing to remember is…

Enjoy your planting experience!

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A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring

I was listening to the news last night and I came to the realization that spring in the south is quite different from spring in the north. Up north early spring can be anything from flooding in early and late snowfalls to crocuses peaking through. When I lived in upstate New York, spring was always my favorite season. Spring seemed to start with the celebration of Easter, with the daffodils blooming, the hyacinths scenting the air. New live is everywhere, from the robins in their nest, to the bunnies coming out of their lairs.

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But last night on the news I heard signs of spring in a different manner, the signs of spring in the Deep South. The first thing that we had heard was at the riptides were extremely bad because of the changing directions of the winds changing from winter to spring. This might be bad for the swimmers, but the surfers sure love it.

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The next thing we found out about was the man-of-war are all on the beach and their purple-blue but bodies can sting and so do those long tendrils. With care, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, but plan on staying out of the ocean.

Next, we are reminded about that the sharks are migrating; this is definitely a spring time item. Huge shivers (groups) of them can be found offshore. All within swimming and snorkeling distance of the fun loving tourist down for spring break.

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And finally we heard news that with the weather starting to warm up that the alligators are getting frisky. This means the alligators are getting warmed up starting to move around and getting rid ready for meeting season. Kayaks and fisherman need to take care on our river-ways.

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Yes, spring in the south sounds a bit more dangerous than spring in the North! Daffodils and tulips up north verses down here we’re talking sharks and alligators.
I guess I’m a southern girl at heart and I’ll take my sharks and alligators and man-of-war over cold flooding waters and the possibility of a late snowfall. But I will admit I miss the glorious color and scents of the spring.

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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!

The Sound of the Garden

  The Sounds of Your Garden

There are those who will tell you the garden is the quietest spot to spend an afternoon, but I beg to differ. The garden is full of all kinds of sounds; you just have to take a moment and truly listen.

Sure, there are all the everyday sounds we hear all the time outside; children playing hard, doors slamming, the sound of music coming out of the window, conversations between neighbors…the list goes on. But those are all man-made sounds and we want to talk about the sounds of Nature’s Garden

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When you listen to your garden there are many things will stand out right away for you. Do you hear the bull frog croaking loudly, the cackle of a crow as he steals his food from another bird, the chattering of the Blue jay as she chases the intruder from her nest? Is there a dog barking or a lawn mower manicuring the lawn?

Then there are the second level sounds; a bit more quiet. Sounds that you hear, that you really have to listen for. Like the sounds of the Katydid Beetle in the heat of the summer beating its wings to make its distinctive sound, the sound of a Ground Dove cooing as it makes its way around the ground to get to her nest, the sound of a Mockingbird speaking to other birds using the five or six different tones it has in its repertoire – almost as if he’s having a conversation with each type of bird. You may hear a tapping from the Woodpecker’s beak as he searches for food in the bark of the shade tree you so enjoy. From this to the chattering of the Squirrels as they run across the yard playing tag with playing tag each other. No, wait a minute… listen a little closer and you will hear it. There’s a buzzing of a Bee as it goes from flower to flower gathering nectar and there is the beating of a Dragonflies wings as it settles itself on top of a pond of water looking for a drink.

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Yes if you listen closely you can hear all kinds of adventures going on in your garden. So I have a challenge for you: take your lawn chair out and settle yourself in the center of your garden. Close your eyes, and really listen. What are the sound you hear?

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Just what does your garden trying to tell you?

Think Outside the Pot!

Wait! Don’t throw that out, it just might be the perfect container for that Fairy Garden that you’re making or to be used as a unusual container for garden.

It’s time we start thinking outside the pot. Look for different sources for containers and don’t always take the easy route. Just going and pulling a pot off the shelf can lead to ho-hum gardens when there are many other objects out there that could work really well as containers.

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I can remember as a child, my grandfather taking an old tire, painting in the bright color and cutting the top part open so it looks like a flower. Ta-da, my grandmother had a new planter that she planted full of pansies.

Maybe to the generations before us, it wasn’t so much looking for unusual containers as it was being responsible and recycling old items into new purposes. Maybe it’s time that we are all started being responsible as well, there’s some beautiful items out there, that if you just use your imagination you can turn into a great planter.

Have you ever bought something you really liked, used it to serve its purpose for short time and then you got tired of? A perfect example is an old metal fire pit was purchased before the stone became so popular. Our customer use that for year and then didn’t like it anymore; so we cleaned it out and made it into a huge planter that sits on a wrought iron stand.

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And just because a pot is broken doesn’t mean that needs to be thrown out either. Surely, you’ve seen the pictures of a play pot laying on it’s side in a landscape bed with annuals just filling out across the ground it makes for a beautiful site.

If you’re using a different container in your interiors, a simple way to avoid leakage is to line the bottom with heavy florist foil that will hold water and soil in. Don’t be afraid to try something completely different: a wood box, an old water bucket, an unused fountain or bird bath.

So it’s time to start looking at the items around you in a different light; trying figure out a new use for something before you throw it away. That beautiful broken cracked pot that used to belong to your grandmother can be perfect for miniature garden, or to hold an African Violet.

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Those are just a few tips & I hope they work for you… remember think outside the pot!

Lost in Gardening Heaven.

smallweb2014 covThe calendar says that it’s spring.  The weather is trying to act like spring.  And the ads from the big box stores are telling us that spring is here!  If you watch these ads, then you know that we are being told that we must spend our weekends getting our gardens ready to enjoy, and we need to rush right out to their stores before we lose the opportunity to have the best garden possible.

That’s all well and fine.  But have you ever gone to a Garden  Center to explore and not gotten lost for hours?

There are so many exciting new products that need to be thoroughly checked out.  And then there are our old favorites that we routinely use every year.  I think that the garden center is the one spot that can offer something to everyone.  For the more hands on type of person, there are all kinds of power tools.  From the simple weed eater to the newest riding lawnmower, they can be lost to their partner for hours.

For the more detailed, creative person there are more flowers and bushes than you can possible plant in one weekend.  And the Gardening accents are vast and varied;  whimsical statues, containers of all shapes and sizes ornate fountains, lights, flags, wind chimes…the list goes on.

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And now there is even a section full of kid’s gardening tools.  Personally, I think this is great.  Train that next generation to love plants and respect the earth!  Can you think of a more wholesome family activity than gardening.  Cultivate a child’s imagination and let them have their own garden spot where they can do what they want.  The results may just surprise you.

The Garden Center can even help you plan your entertainment activities.  The proper grill, comfortable lawn furniture, lighting, maybe even a fire pit.  To me that just screams for the planning of a weekend barbeque with friends.

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The Garden Center can even be a spot for a couple to spend time together.  There is something that pulls a couple in love together when they are planning for their future.  Picking out the right colors, deciding where the newest pot of flowers is going to be set, envisioning how everything will grow shows a commitment to the future. 

Isn’t that what gardening is… planning and planting for the future? 

Spring Break

Spring Break…those two words put together can have different meanings to different groups of people. To the young families struggling through a long winter stuck indoors, it can mean a week’s vacation to a warmer, family friendly destination. To young adults is often brings to mind endless beach parties and fun, fun times. To the many Grandparents out there it could mean the visit from returning college students. To those living in these destination spots it could mean all the woes and traffic headaches that the tourist can bring.
 bowl at frontBut to the Southern Gardener, well Spring Break means it’s time to show off! Winter annuals are at their peak about now, the days are warm, the nights a little cooler, winds have calmed down from those strong North-easterners and the rain has yet to become the summer’s downpours. And this means the flowers and gardens are looking their best.
There is a certain point when flowers are full and glorious, just before they become overgrown and weary. It can last for a week or several weeks. The experienced Gardner knows the best timing and methods of pruning and fertilizing to prolong this period and bask in the glow of all those complements from the novice standing in awe over your skills.

It doesn’t matter if you want to brag about your skills, or just stand back and let others enjoy the results of your hard work, this is the time when it all comes to celebrate the garden.  If your containers are at your front entry or in a public area,  expect your visitors to exclaim how beautiful your flowers are.  Share your tips for a successful show, for they will be sure to ask not only how you did that, but what you used.

IMG_0545(If you have a gardener, be sure that they have provided you with a list of the plants in your gardens!)

On the other hand if you would prefer to keep your garden a secret all to yourself, then by all means, do so.  Be sure that you have created a garden that you can spend hours in, escaping the struggles (and tourist) of the day, and relax.  I love to not only have color in this type of garden, but also plants that are going to please my sense of smell as well.  A few well placed herbs such as Rosemary or Lavender can do the job.

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And remember, it’s Spring Break.  So pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea (or mimosa) and get out in your garden to enjoy it, not work it!