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Our Customers Say it Best: Spark Day

Carol's Sparky's October

To the plant experts at American Meadows:

Spark Day 2015 posterI thought you might enjoy knowing how far and wide your “Sparky Marigold” seeds have spread. Six years ago I started a holiday called “Spark Day” that was inspired by a little dog named Sparky who had come from a shelter in West Virginia and who had lived a rotten life of disregard. When he came home to me, he had the good life: A home, warm bed, friends, food, comfort, vet care.  He was happy.  But he never made it to his one year anniversary in a home, something I had been hoping for him to have.  He was a very old dog and had lived a very hard life.  But he was also very appreciative.

Honoring that, I decided the anniversary of his adoption should be something we celebrated rather than mourned so I decided, along with his many fans — he had come to me with a following — that we should celebrate “Spark Day” a day to celebrate “The Spark of Life” that abounds all around us.  After all, that’s how Sparky got his name: he had collapsed and the shelter director didn’t think he would survive, but when he perked up the next day at the shelter, she decided to call him Sparky.  We celebrate this day by doing life-affirming things.  It is not a day ABOUT Sparky, but INSPIRED by him.  It is not about dogs or animal rescue per se, though those pursuits are life-affirming.  There are many life-affirming things that people do and so people mark it their own ways.  Then at a pre-arranged time in the evening, everyone pauses and raises a glass in a toast and we metaphorically “clink” over the distance at the “Spark Moment”.  We have been doing this six years now. Spark Day is May 16th.

As the founder of Spark Day, I searched for something special to help unify all of us in this holiday and mark the occasion with beauty in some life-affirming way.  As I was shopping for spring plants that first year at your site, I came upon “Sparky Marigold” seeds.  I could not believe it!  I bought a bunch and then bought little envelopes and made them up with special labels for Spark Day and sent them out to the people celebrating.  Everyone enjoyed them and month’s later people would send me the pictures of their Sparky Flowers!  I mixed Sparky Marigolds with some wildflower blends you had that included perennials as well as annuals, thus the mix included seeds that burned brightly but briefly like Sparky and some that would return, like Sparky’s message of behaving in a life-affirming way.

Carol's Sparkies...in honor of Barney

Spark Day has grown over these years and this year people in 17 states celebrated on May 16th, each person receiving a seed packet of Sparky Marigolds mixed with a variety of seeds from your different pollinator blends to support those creatures who help support the life that’s out there. Each year I made up a Spark Day card and send it out to those on my list, but more people receive Sparky Seeds than just those to whom I send them, as the shelter, Wetzel County Animal Shelter in New Martinsville, WV , also sends them out as thank you gifts to those who participate in their annual Spark Day Fundraiser to help old dogs like Sparky.

Susan Fair's SparkiesI make out a supply of packets for them to use and they share them.  I also have sent a supply of seeds to a pre-kindergarten teacher I know who did a whole Spark Day unit with the four year olds in her class.  Those little kids took great care to grow personal Sparky Pots for their mothers to receive on Mother’s Day as well as tending to a Sparky Garden they planted at their school and they took extra seeds home to plant, some families deciding to plant them in community gardens to share with still more people.  This year I made up 573 Sparky Seed packets.  I mailed out 243 packets to all those different states and then took 330 into work with me on Spark Day Eve.

I am a high school teacher and over the years have used this holiday to teach beyond the standard literary curriculum to encourage community involvement and to help them see avenues to apply the lessons literature teaches.  Over these past six years, both students and staff have come to anticipate Spark Day, sometimes asking me well in advance for the seeds.  They have brought comfort to many going through tough times (e.g. cancer, loss of a loved one, personal stress, etc.) and have brightened the days of so many for months to come.  People I do not even know by name stop me in the halls to show me pictures of their Sparky Flowers on their cell phones.  It’s wonderful!  I went into work on Spark Day Eve with 330 seed packets; before the next week was over, I had no more left.  I gave them to people at work, at the pet stores where I shop, at the banks I use, at the restaurant where I celebrated Spark Day with many friends.  All of these people are planting these seeds and in the coming months I’ll put a call out for them to send in pictures to post on the shelter’s Facebook page for all to see.

Rosy's Sparkies 2103....3

So I hope you will never stop selling your Sparky Marigold blend and I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures from many people who have sent them to me in celebration of the Spark of Life and Spark Day.

Enjoy — and thank you!

Sincerely,

Michele K.

 

June 28, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , ,  Â· Posted in: Customer Stories, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Wildflowers

Urban Gardening: Getting Creative With What You Have

roses-garden

When I moved into my house, there were already two rose bushes. This white one is about six feet tall and blooms over my fence, giving people walking by a show and plenty of blooms to pick!

As a garden lover and someone who works for a gardening company, each year I really strive to get the most out of my outdoor space and give myself plenty of projects to do in my gardens – which altogether are about 150 square feet. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of creativity, patience and A LOT of containers.

Veggie Garden

This is the year I finally did it – I built a raised garden bed in my tiny yard. I had to build a raised bed to plant veggies because my house was built in the 1800s and most likely has lead in the soil.

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I got my veggie starts from a local farm for only $25 total — A great deal.

This garden serves several purposes:

  • – It helps create a barrier between my yard and my neighbor’s yard
  • – It gives me about 25 sq. feet more garden space
  • – It gives me delicious veggies!
The garden also serves as a barrier between my yard and my neighbors'.

The garden also serves as a barrier between my yard and my neighbors’.

Now, I looked online and on Pinterest at what a raised garden bed would cost to purchase, and decided that me (and my handy boyfriend) could just build one ourselves with lumber from the local hardware store.

So, we did! The lumber cost about $80 and the dirt came to about $120. So altogether, around $200 and about 2 hours of work., which is much better than the prices in the store ($300-$400 for just the structure).

Planting was easy and my plants are doing great, despite the somewhat spotty sunlight between the two houses.

Planting was easy and my plants are doing great, despite the somewhat spotty sunlight between the two houses.

Because I wasn’t sure whether or not we were going to build the raised bed, I didn’t get a chance to start my veggie seeds indoors. Instead, I purchased organic starter plants from my local Farmer’s Market. They came from a farm just a few miles from my house and for about 20 or so plants, I only spent $25. I also added Morning Glories and a small trellis to the garden to give it a little summer color and also provide some privacy from the porch next door.

Morning Glories are coming up! These will add some color to my veggie garden and also some privacy from the porch next door.

Morning Glories are coming up! These will add some color to my veggie garden and also some privacy from the porch next door.

The plants are doing AMAZING despite my worry that there might not be enough sun. The squirrels don’t seem too interested in it yet, so that’s a good start (knock on wood).

Baby eggplants in the garden!

Baby eggplants in the garden!

Wildflowers In The Median

If you run out of space in your own garden, think outside the box – literally! Each year, we try to plant Wildflowers in the medians in front of our house. Unfortunately, due to our harsh winters and the amount of salt that gets pushed onto these spaces by plow trucks, they never last more than one year. So we plant annuals each year.

After only a few weeks, our Wildflower planting in the median is coming up strong. The rain sure helped!

After only a few weeks, our Wildflower planting in the median is coming up strong. The rain sure helped!

This year we built a little stone reinforcement around our planting to help keep the seed from washing away. We planted the Summer Splash Mix and it has grown so much in just a few weeks after planting.

Containers

Containers are a city gardener’s best friend, and this year I took my plantings one step further with sap buckets from a friend. They changed the regulations on the metal that can be used, so he had a lot of extra buckets leftover. I drilled holes in the bottoms and planted Dahlias, Caladium and Gladiolus in them.

Containers are a city gardener's best friend.

Containers are a city gardener’s best friend.

These are perfect containers because they are tall, giving the plants’ roots plenty of room to grow. I also get annuals from my local garden center to spruce things up before my garden goes gangbusters in the summer.

Plenty of Gladiolus fit in this container! They take up almost no horizontal space and are great for deep containers.

Plenty of Gladiolus fit in this container! They take up almost no horizontal space and are great for deep containers.

Garden Beds

 

I try to keep my small garden beds blooming all season long. I am fortunate enough to have moved into a space that has rose bushes original to the house – needless to say, they are gorgeous and provide a sweet fragrance both on my side of the fence and on the street for walkers-by. Throughout the years, I’ve added Daylilies, Hostas, Bleeding Heart, Peonies and Salvia to the gardens.

Roses

Roses

Daylilies

Daylilies

Salvia

Salvia

Poppies

Poppies

I’ll post again in a few weeks when my Wildflowers and Bulbs are blooming. It’s so much fun to watch people walk by and pick a bloom or two. Happy first day of summer, all!

June 21, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , , , , ,  Â· Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials, Vegetable Seeds, Wildflowers

Patience In The Garden

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” – Gertude Jeckyll

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Wildflower seedlings

As summer approaches, our gardens have been planted, or are soon to be, and we watch and wait patiently … or in some cases not so patiently.

It’s not unusual to get multiple calls from customers this time of year concerned that their wildflowers seem slow to progress or they’re having a hard time identifying what’s a wildflower from the grasses and weeds.

“May all your weeds be Wildflowers!”

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Wildflower seedlings

This was a photo from a customer in Tennessee that planted in late March/early April and was concerned that they weren’t seeing much. They were also worried that what they were seeing was unidentifiable. So they sent along a few photos for me to look at. What do you see? Hint: Lots of wildflowers!

We’re here to help – Seeds, Seedlings, Videos and more!

We’ve added more product images and videos that include pictures of the seed, seedlings and of course lots of customer photos of species and mixtures in full bloom. We will be adding more throughout the summer to help you better identify your wildflowers once they’ve germinated and as they progress. Not sure what you’re looking at? Send us a photo and we’d be more than happy to identify your flowers.

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Check out our new seedling photos to identify your Wildflowers as they grow!

There are many factors that can play a role in how quickly your seed germinates and your plants grow; sun, water and soil conditions are just a few. But in many cases it’s just being a little more patience with nature, don’t get discouraged and your flowers will be bursting with blooms in no time.

Keep Calm and Garden On!

June 15, 2015 · Mike Lizotte · Comments Closed
Tags: ,  Â· Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

How to Germinate and Grow Milkweed Seed

Instructions for preparing and planting Common Milkweed Seed (Asclepias Syriaca) and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata). We found these techniques best for growing results.Asclepias_syriaca_Common_Milkweed__4_

Let’s Get Started: Understanding Milkweed Seed & Germinating

Step 1: To start Milkweed seed we recommend starting inside, but before this happens Milkweed seeds need to go through a cold stratification period.  Cold stratification is very important for the germination and growth of Milkweed.  It helps break the seeds natural dormancy cycle.  To do this, we recommend placing Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or damp sand in a zip lock bag and place in your fridge for 3 – 6 weeks (30 days). Place in an area of the fridge, where it won’t get damaged. We taped ours to the bottom of a refrigerator shelf.

Common Milkweed

Growing Indoors

Step 2: Planting – Once the 30 days are complete, it’s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4” peat pots. Fill peat pots Âľ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water.  Water should be able to drain through the peat pots.  Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot.  To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.

Watering – Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up.  Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Don’t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.

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Light Requirements – For the next few weeks, make sure the Milkweed is either in a sunny window, in a green house or under a grow light. Milkweed needs lots of sun and warmth to grow.  If you’re using a grow light, make sure to lower the bulb closer to the pots or your seedlings may become leggy, as they stretch to the light. In our experiment, this happened to us. Ideally a sturdier stem is better. Cold stratified seeds should germinate and sprout within 10-15 days once planted.  In total Milkweed from the day they are cold stratified to growth can take 40 plus days, so be patient!

Tray of Seedlings

Other planting options: Place dry seed (not stratified) in seed starting soil and plant in peat pots under a grow light or in a greenhouse to germinate seeds.  The success rate for this is low and more difficult to accomplish.  If you choose to use this option it can take months for the seeds to germinate.

If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.

 

Transplanting Milkweed Seedling Outdoors

Step 3: Milkweed does well in open areas with full sunlight exposure areas like fields, parks, cultivated gardens, roadsides, highway medians, and road sides.  We suggest transplanting Milkweed when the plant is no larger than 3 inches tall. In most cases in transplanting, the Milkweed plant will go though some shock and could lose all its leaves. This happens, don’t panic. The plant is trying to establish its roots and will eventually grow leaves again.  This is the main reason we suggest planting seeds in peat pots, because Milkweed roots are very sensitive.  Peat Pots breakdown over time in the ground, which allows the milkweed roots to grows without being disrupted.  We found this to be the best way to transplant. If you decide to plant in plastic containers, but make sure it’s deep enough for roots to grow. If you receive a plant already grown in plastic, be careful to take out the plant and not disturb the roots.IMG_5744

When to Plant Milkweed

Soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing Milkweed. The best time to plant Milkweed is in early spring after the danger of frost has passed.  If you plant seeds late in the spring, the seeds may not grow due toCommon Milkweed Field Grown germination time and temperature. Common Milkweed seed doesn’t germinate over 85 degrees.

Caring for Milkweed Plants

Once your seedling is planted, water it for a few days to get it established, but after that, the plant doesn’t need a lot of supplemental water. Only water if you have an unusual dry spell.  Peat pots are nice to use, but you need to be sure there is no top edge above the soil line after transplanting. In dry climates, this will wick away valuable soil moisture. A small 2 1/2″ diameter x 3 in. deep pot is ideal. Asclepias are somewhat finicky native plants. So minimizing the time growing in a pot and transplanting them as young plants is the best approach.

Are you excited about saving the monarchs? Have any tips for growing milkweed seed? Share with us on facebook or instagram, we would love to see. Happy Growing!

June 11, 2015 · Heather Viani · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  Â· Posted in: How-Tos, Wildflowers

Spring 2015 Photo Contest Winners

Our Spring Photo contest was so hard to judge this year and we truly enjoyed looking at hundreds of your amazing photos! We love becoming spectators in each of your gardens and appreciate you taking the time to submit your photos. Below you’ll find our winning photos and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Don’t worry, Our Summer Photo Contest has already started — Enter Now!

Grand Prize Winner – Dahlias, Submitted by Karrie L.

Dahlia - KARRIE LACOCK

Winner – Tulips, Submitted by Christine M.

Winner – Southwest Wildflower Mix, Submitted by Corey W.

Southwest Wildflower Seed Mix - Corey Whelpley (3)

Winner – Lilies, Submitted by Shirley A.

Lily Lilium - Shirley Audetat

June 6, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  Â· Posted in: Contests, Customer Stories, Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials, Wildflowers

There’s Still Time to Plant Wildflowers!

sunflower-summer-blooms

It’s June and summer is right around the corner. You’ve got all your gardens planted and you’re patiently watching the progress … Or maybe not?!

We certainly get our fair share of calls for customers this time of year in a panic because they feel like they’ve waited until the last minute to plant. Hey, life can get busy and we all lose track of time, and that includes our aspirations of how we wanted to change or improve our gardens the following season.

If you’re living in an area where your temperatures are still in the low 80’s and you’re getting some rainfall, or are planning on watering, you still have plenty of time to plant and get nice color this season.

Last Friday, May 29, I spent the day installing a meadow and creating some new wildflower planting videos (stay tuned as we’ll be releasing them this summer)!

It was about 4,000 square feet that we tilled and planted.

It was about 4,000 square feet that we tilled and planted.

seed-man-planting-3

Typical New England Spring!

Here in the Northeast we had a very cold winter with lots of snow. This spring we’ve have some very warm temperatures, already reaching mid to upper 80’s/low 90’s and very cold temperatures down in the 30’s. Some might consider this a typical New England spring, very unpredictable! But overall it’s been pretty good for planting.

Seed Man slingin' seed!

Seed Man slingin’ seed!

Although we didn’t seed until the end of May and even considering this area will only get water from Mother Nature, there’s still plenty of time to get a beautiful wildflower meadow this season.

We planted our Northeast Mix, which contains 26 different annual and perennial varieties, and we added some extra Zinnia for an even bigger splash of color this year.

With our wildflower seeds you can expect seed to germinate in 7-14 days and the first annuals flowers to begin blooming in about 5-7 weeks.

Quick Color = Annuals!

If you want quick color in the first season you need to make sure you’re planting annuals. These include customer favorites like Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias and Poppies, just to name a few.

annuals-summer-planting

Annuals bloom and complete their life cycle in the first growing season giving you that nice first year color. If you want color in the second and successive seasons you might think about incorporating some perennials into your planting as well (that’s why our regional mixtures are so popular).

Good seed-to-soil contact will help speed up germination!

Good seed-to-soil contact will help speed up germination!

So although it’s June, if the weather isn’t too warm and you’re getting rain, or you are able to water, you still have time to plant and get beautiful color this season. If you live where you’re already in the mid 80’s or warmer and there’s no rain in sight, don’t get discouraged. Fall will be here before you know it and that’s a great time to get gardening as well!

June 3, 2015 · Mike Lizotte · One Comment
Tags: , , , ,  Â· Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

Caring for your Summer Blooming Bulbs

Picking out the types and colors of summer blooming bulbs is the fun part! Keeping them happy and thriving is the hard part but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a few easy tips, you can have beautiful summer blooming bulbs that last for an entire season. Canna_Black_Night_-_Robert_G._Bowers_-_Williamsport_PA

Fertilize

When growing summer blooming bulbs it’s important to give them the specific nutrients they need. Since they all require different fertilizing needs as an overview its best to fertilize in late spring. Be careful not to over fertilize, as you will get beautiful green foliage plants but no blossoms. We recommend an organic fertilizer that is slow releasing.  Apply fertilizer to the soil when planting and re- apply around the plant to prevent burning. We went into specifics below on how to encourage growth and blossoms for the most common summer blooming bulbs.

Zantedeschia Anneke

Calla Lilies –  Before planting calla lily bulbs mix a 20-20-20 fertilizer (or as similar as possible) in the soil.  Once planted, fertilize as the plant breaks the ground, and re-apply every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Once it starts blooming stop fertilizing. If the leaves on the plant have very dark tips, cut back on the fertilizer. Add coffee grounds between fertilizing rounds around the base of the plants to encourage growth. Calla lilies like acidic soil and coffee grounds add acidity.

Canna_Orange_Magic_383x480_72_RGB

Canna Lilies – When planting Canna lily rhizomes into a garden or container add 12-4-8 fertilizer to the soil. (Check fertilizer for instructions on amounts). Make sure to mix fertilizer into the soil and then add plants. Fertilize once a month beginning one month after planting. Once Canna Lilies are established add 5-10-5 fertilizer to the soil until late summer.  Fertilizing to late in the summer encourages tender new growth that is more susceptible to cold damage.

Dahlia_Fire_Pot__2__576x720_72_RGB

Dahlias – Dahlias tubers are easy to grow and to take care of.  Plant dahlia tubers with bone meal. Make sure to mix the bone meal into the soil before planting the tuber.  Once dahlias are planted, and the first flower bud appears on the plant, apply a low nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) to soil.  Usually within 30 days of being planted.  One application of fertilizer is usually adequate if the plants are in rich, fast draining soil.

caladium-tapestry

Caladiums – Caladiums don’t require any special growing fertilizer when they are first planted.  Once they are established and growing, fertilize every four to six weeks throughout the growing season with 5-10-10 fertilizer. To prevent burning try not to place fertilizer on the leaves of the caladiums.

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Lily Bulbs – Plant Lily bulbs in the garden or in containers.  Plant bulbs with a top dressing of slow release fertilizer like fish emulsion, worm castings and  or compost tea to promote growth. Once growing and buds appear on the lily, feed with high phosphorus food, or bone meal to encourage long lasting and larger blooms. Fertilize in limited amounts, as to much fertilize will have the opposite effect and cause less blooms and green foliage.

Gladiolus – When planting gladiolus bulbs mix a 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer to the soil. Before planting the corms, put a layer of non fertilizer soil with the bulb.  Once the gladiolus start to grow, apply granular fertilizer to the base of the plants.  Once they start to bloom, there is no need to fertilize anymore.  Its important to read how much fertilizer to apply and how frequently.

Promote Endless Blooms

The picture below, you will see beautiful pink dahlias, but there are some brown passed blossoms. To promote the dahlia to bloom more, it require some trimming. This technique is called “dead heading.” This simple pinching technique is used to discard older blooms that have passed. You can use your fingers to gently pinch off older blooms, or if you prefer to cut the dead materials you can use floral snips. The best way to dead head summer blooming bulbs is to cut the old blossoms close to the newest growth of the plant. By trimming out the old blossoms, it tells the plant to stop sending energy to the dead blossom and it will promote new buds to appear. Therefore creating the allusion that you have endless blooms! Dahlias, begonias, cannas and callas are examples of summer blooming bulbs that require dead heading.Dahlia_Bed_-_Erin_Morrissette_-_October_1__7_

Water as Needed

Summer blooming bulbs require all different levels of watering needs.  Some plants will give warning signs if they need more or less water.  Planting_DahliaTuber__3_Some of the sign are: If a summer blooming plant is lacking water, the ends of its leaves will start to show a brown crispy edge and may turn yellow. To little water for plants means its not getting the nutrients it needs from the water or soil. Some plants won’t flower as vibrant or as long if under watered. If a plant goes limp and some of the foliage is slimy, it is a sign its being over watered.  Some summer blooming plants examples of water needs are: Begonias and Caladiums need the perfect mix, not flooded or bone dry. Canna Lilies grow the best with a good supply of water.

Give Support

After all this hard work, the last thing you want to have happen, is to loose all the beautiful blooms you have worked so hard for! Some summer blooming bulbs like dinner plate dahlias and gladiolus could use some support. Place a stake or a type of support trellis near the plant and tie up with non abrasive twine to prop weaker stems. This allows plants to keep blooming and to grow strength to support themselves.

With all these tips and guidance, we hope to see you out in the garden or relaxing enjoying your blooms! Share with us on facebook we would love to see all your hard work.

June 1, 2015 · Heather Viani · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , , ,  Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos

Dig In: An Employee’s Spring-Blooming Garden Success

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Erin, one of our certified Master Gardeners, purchased a house several years ago and has been wowing us with her plantings since.

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After a summer full of beautiful Dahlias, they decided to dig them up to save the tubers for the next year. They then had an empty garden bed, so they decided to plant the Darwin Tulip Mix and the Large Cupped Daffodil Mix. They were trying to  create the same dramatic, colorful look they had experienced with their summer Dahlia planting. 

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They removed the top few inches of soil and laid out the Tulips and Daffodils. They planted nine tulips per sq foot and six daffodils per sq foot, alternating them so they’d all be mixed together. After all was said and done, they planted over 350 bulbs. Once the weather started to warm up, the Tulips and Daffodils started popping up. The entire family was impressed by the display they created.

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Daffodils_Tulips_-_May_2015_-_Erin_Morrissette__11_ copy

May 25, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, How-Tos

Creating A Sensory Garden

sensory-garden-viani

Sensory Gardens are created to help relax, stimulate, and teach. They are planted for all populations – those with disabilities, children, patients in a hospital, and the general public. The idea behind the Sensory Garden is to combine elements that will stimulate all of the senses – fragrant plants, textured plants, vivid colors, and the element of sound. Combined, when one walks through the garden, they can experience the joy and relaxation from the plants with every aspect of the brain.

Although Sensory Gardens are often planted for public enjoyment, try planting one this spring in your own garden for your loved ones, friends, and yourself to enjoy.

The Element of Fragrance

Fragrant plants are essential to the Sensory Garden; their sweet-smelling blooms bring the initial rush of sensation to the experience. Try planting Peonies, Lavender, Butterfly Weed, Yarrow, Butterfly Bushes, Bee Balm, Phlox, or Lilies in your Sensory Garden to enliven the sense of smell.

peonies-sensory-garden

Plants to Touch

A Sensory Garden needs textured, interesting plants that will give the hands something to feel and examine. Make sure to use durable plants that can withstand curious hands! Try planting flowers with soft petals or leaves, spiky greenery, or feathery flowers – with no thorns! A few examples of plants that will fascinate the fingers are Astilbe, Bleeding Hearts, Foxgloves, Ornamental Grasses, Salvia, Caladium, and Canna Lilies.

Vivid Colors

Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum

Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum

Stimulation to the eyes is a key aspect to a Sensory Garden. Try choosing plants with bright, interesting colors. Try a color combination that you wouldn’t normally plant in your garden! Here are some suggestions for bright blooms for your Sensory Garden: Tahiti Sunrise Dahlia, Jamaica Dahlia, Scarlet Tuberous Begonia, Purple Rain Gladiolus Mix, Cappuccino Tango Lilies, Anemone Mix, White Queen Caladium, Columbine McKana Giants Mix, Coral Flame Phlox, Pure as Gold Bearded Iris, or Queeny Purple Hollyhock. This part of your Sensory Garden is completely up to you – choose your
favorite, vivid colors to highlight.

Adding Sound

Adding the element of sound to your Sensory Garden is not as tricky as you would think! If your time and budget allow, try adding a water feature to help bring this element of relaxing sound to the garden. Another option is to add plants that will attract beautiful and wonderfully-noisy wildlife to the garden. What’s better than the buzzing sound of a hummingbird’s wings or the delightful chirp of a beautiful bird feeding on your flowers? Try these plants that will attract these winged friends to your garden: African Lily, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bushes, Yarrow, Spiderwort, Lavender, Shasta Daisies,Echinacea, or Black-Eyed Susans.

Creating a Sensory Garden is not something that will happen overnight. It can be a wonderful addition to your outdoor space and an extremely fun project for the avid gardener. Try starting with a small corner of your garden, encompassing a few of each type of plant. As they grow, gradually add more to the lovely space. As space permits, try placing a bench or swing in the Sensory Garden so you and your lucky visitors can experience the treat for your senses in the utmost relaxation and peace.

May 25, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

It’s a Zoo out There!!

How to Deter Animals from your Garden

Do you have pesky visitors in your garden? Relax. Human and beast can coexist peacefully, even if you have a delicious beautiful garden. We promise! These helpful tips can help you keep damage down to a minimum.

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Get in the garden before the critters do. Placing animal deterrents early in the season helps keep them out before they make your garden a home. Once they move in, it’s a lot harder to get them out.

Scare them off 

Make noise makers, like disposable pie plates and whirligigs, to scare off unwanted visitors. Motion detectors that set alarms or lights work well with night foragers. Motion activated sprinklers give intruders a cold, unwanted shower, which will change their behavioral pattern if they have become a habitual visitor. Fool birds and rodents with rubber snakes, plastic owls and other faux predators.

Fence it in

To keep out animals, consider fencing in your gardens. Short fences keep out gophers and most rodents. Burrowing critters like voles and woodchucks are tougher to keep out, so dig a trench to extend fencing underground. Tall fencing (at least 5 feet) is the most effective deer proofing deterrent, but it can be pricey and unattractive. If cost or appeal is a concern,try fencing a smaller area, as deer don’t like tight spaces and will move to other feeding areas.

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A lot of critters are turned off by strong scented materials. Cayenne pepper and blood meal keep out rabbits, gophers, chipmunks and woodchucks. The best way to apply scents is to soak pieces of cloth and place on the edge of your garden. It’s best to apply before a rainstorm and re-apply after wet weather.

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Have a Heart

When nothing works to deter rabbits, gophers and woodchucks use a trap to capture, it’s a great way to remove an animal without hurting them. The tricky part is if you’ve captured something less than friendly and where to release it!  We suggest checking with your local town game warden on protocol.

Deer Resistant Plants 

Plant deer resistant plants. Plants like echinacea, lavender and ferns are great examples of plants that don’t attract deer.  Keeping a food supply low that an animal may not like, will help keep out unwanted visitors.

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Experiment 

The tricky part about animals is that there is no perfect fix. Everything will vary depending on where you live, seasonal conditions and the food supply. Be willing to experiment and try new techniques when others don’t work. Make sure to frequently alternate techniques, so animals don’t get use to the scenery and become accustom to everything.

Do you have any tips or tricks to deter animals in your garden? If so, please share with us on Facebook or leave a comment below.
Happy Spring! Enjoy Gardening!

May 21, 2015 · Heather Viani · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  Â· Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials