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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.

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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.

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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: , , , ,  · 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.

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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.

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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.

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

Creating A Sensory Garden

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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.

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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: , , ,  · 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.

Vonne_s_Garden_-_Florence_720x409_72_RGBSmell of success

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: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

How to Keep Fresh Cut Flowers Longer

John Andersen Photography

John R. Andersen Photography

Long Lasting Blooms

There is nothing better than cutting flowers from your own garden. Bringing your garden blooms inside, arranged in your favorite vase as a lovely centerpiece on your dining room table is delightful. But have you ever noticed by day three the flowers aren’t looking their best? Here are some tips on how to keep your fresh cut flowers longer.

Cutting Time

The best time to cut flowers from your garden is early in the morning or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler. Flowers cut during mid-day, tend to experience more shock and have a harder time recuperating and wilt within a day of being cut. Choose flowers that are not blown open. Since flowers will naturally open in vases on their own, it’s ok to cut premature flowers (nearly-open buds); they will last longer in a vase. Make sure to cut an inch off the bottoms of the flower’s stems right before designing with them. Flowers always need a fresh cut before placing in a vase. The best tool to use for cutting flowers, are floral snips or scissors that are sharp and clean. Using dirty scissors introduces bacteria into the flower stem and kills a flower faster.

Water Quality Peony_Cotton_Candy_Mix__2__480x720_72_RGB

Water quality is very important for long lasting cut flowers. By changing  the water every day, it minimizes bacteria. Bacteria are the number one reason flowers die early. In order for flowers to stay hydrated and fed, you can give them a boost by adding ingredients like sugar, into the water. Some examples of flower food are below.
1. Put flower preservative “flower food” into the water. You can buy small packets from a local florist. Make sure to not use the whole packet; if it’s a small vase, just add a sprinkle. If you use too much flower food, it will cause the flower to die early. Read directions on back of packet to give proper measurements.
2. Make your own preservative. Use 2 tablespoons vinegar with 3 tablespoons of sugar per liter of warm water. The vinegar kills bacteria and the sugar feeds the flowers.
3. Use clear soda, such as Sprite. The sugars in the soda will act similar to flower food. Make sure to just add 3 tablespoons of soda to a liter of water. Again, too much sugar can hurt a flower.

Eliminate Hazards

Cut flowers can be sensitive to their environment. Placing flowers near fruit is risky because fruit produces ethylene gas, which causes flowers to wilt. Flowers last longer at cooler temperatures, however if flowers get too cold they will freeze. Keep flowers away from drafty doors, or windows. If flowers are placed near a heat source they will die faster, so keep flowers away from wood stoves, heat vents and hot windows.

Flowers with Longer Bloom Times

Some flowers have a longer vase life than others.  Hydrangeas, Hostas, Coral Bells, Calla Lilies, Oriental Lilies, Freesia and Ranunculus have a vase life up to 2 weeks, if properly taken care of. Flowers that aren’t worth cutting are Day Lilies, Bearded Iris, Lupine and Bleeding Hearts. These flowers tend to drop petals fast, or just fail to provide long lasting blooms.

Do you have any tips on keeping cut flowers long lasting? If so, please share with us on Facebook. Enjoy designing with flowers, send us your bouquets! We would love to see your photos!

May 13, 2015 · Heather Viani · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

We’re Suckers For Succulents

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Whether you are growing in a water restrictive area, or are just looking for an easy-care, drought tolerant option, succulents are the perfect choice! These perennials have a variety of different uses, including erosion control, rock gardens, wall hangings and more. We can’t get enough of these wonderfully weird and unique perennials and wanted to share a few of our favorite varieties with you.

Hens and Chicks

Been on Pinterest lately? Hens and Chicks are dominating the space with their perfect little rosettes of colorful leaves, being planted in mason jars, rock gardens and everywhere in between. These perennials are adaptable anywhere with full sun and well-draining soil. We recommend planting them in any container (get creative!) to be able to enjoy their stunning beauty up close.

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Sedum

Also known as Stonecrop, this amazing, easy-to-grow perennial is known for being drought tolerant and unstoppable in almost any sunny garden. Unique, textured foliage gives way to spectacular color in the fall months, making them a season-long staple in gardens from Maine to California.

Delosperma | Ice Plant

ice-plantWell known on the West Coast, Ice Plant is a fabulous succulent that boasts bold, colorful blooms in the late spring. An evergreen in warmer areas, this perennial can be planted anywhere (even in the North!), as long as it has full sun and well draining soil. Ice Plant attracts pollinators and spreads rapidly, making it a low care, habitat friendly choice.

If you don’t already, follow our Rock Garden board on Pinterest for all the latest tips and tricks!

May 11, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials

Get This Look: Summer Burst Of Blooms

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Beth R. submitted this gorgeous photo of her summer garden in bloom. You can easily get this look with the right varieties and a little bit of time!

Varieties, From Left: 

April 29, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Customer Stories, Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

Big Blooms, Big Statement

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The sheer delight of a huge, colorful flower opening up in the garden is one of the most joyous moments of the season. Huge blooms not only steal the spotlight outdoors, but also make for fabulous bouquets.  This season, we’re excited to plant some of our favorite easy-to-grow bulbs, perennials and wildflowers that create a huge statement with big blooms.

dahliasLilies not only provide big color with huge blooms, but also fill the garden with amazing fragrance. Hibiscus blooms can grow to be bigger than your head and add bold, vibrant color to almost any sunny spot. Daylilies come in a wonderful variety of colors and are extremely simple to grow, delighting with huge blooms in the summer garden. Peonies pop through the soil in the early spring and are arguably the most anticipated blooms of the year; huge, highly fragrant flowers add elegance, charm and wonder both in the garden and cut. Hydrangeas are another elegant addition to the garden and their huge, iconic blooms are amazing for cutting and drying to enjoy all year long.

Many summer-blooming bulbs offer huge flowers to the garden and often thrive in containers. Dahlias, especially the dinnerplate varieties, are the epitome of big blooms, coming in a rainbow of colors and shapes. A summer garden really isn’t complete without at least one variety of these beauties. Although Elephant Ears don’t bloom, their foliage is gigantic and creates just as dramatic a statement in the sunny garden.

When thinking about big-blooming Wildflowers, Sunflowers are the first to pop in mind. Tall stocks give way to classic, cheerful blooms in the summer garden. Zinnias, especially the Dahlia Flowered variety, create a big statement with large, colorful blooms that are a snap to grow.

When planning your garden this season, leave room for at least one of the varieties on our list. These easy-to-grow perennials, bulbs and wildflowers will steal the show in your garden with their huge, colorful blooms.

Happy Gardening!

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April 23, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

Looking Back: How Pinterest Helped Me Get Through Winter

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Like many gardeners, I tend to get a little, well, depressed in the winter months. There is something therapeutic, soul enhancing and fun about planning, planting, weeding and generally being outside in the warmer months. Unfortunately, I live somewhere with a very long, cold winter, and can’t garden for at least 6 months out of the year.

This year, I got through it by maintaining an indoor herb garden, growing a variety of Amaryllis Bulbs, and plotting and scheming my spring garden on Pinterest.

That’s right – Pinterest. Now, it may seem like just another social media platform, but it really is a useful tool to help organize not only your immediate garden plans, but also that dream garden that you may not be able to plant this season (or next).

Credit: ultraBobban/Flickr

Credit: ultraBobban/Flickr

This year, at least for me, it’s all about container gardening. My garden beds are bursting with Roses, Peonies, Hostas, Ornamental Grasses, Daylilies, Hydrangea and much, much more – They really can’t take any more plants (although I will, probably, tuck a few Gladiolus bulbs here and there). And, as an obsessive gardener, I can’t just not garden, so that means I have to get creative!

That’s where Pinterest comes in. I am looking for new and creative ways to add color, fragrance, and edible plants to my tiny, city garden without stuffing the garden beds any more.

Scouring through hundreds of thousands of other gardeners’ ideas on Pinterest was one of the most fun activities in the winter months. After doing this many days a week, I found a DIY project that I’ll create this spring – A tall, raised bed about 3′ off the ground that will be about 8’ long by 3’ wide and 2.5’ deep. It will have a trellis attached to the back where I will plant my tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers and squash. It will also serve another purpose – To provide privacy and act as a separator between my yard and my neighbors’. On each side, I am going to put standing trellises that almost look like Japanese privacy screens, but are foldable and movable for easy storage. In front of these I will plant easy-to-grow Morning Glory seeds for more privacy.

Grape hyacinths in tin containersI’m also a sucker for annuals. Even though perennials are the lifeblood of my garden, annuals add that extra ‘wow’ factor. This year, I’ll plant a mixture of bulbs (Gladiolus, Dahlias, Caladium) with annuals I’ll get at the garden center. For extra room, I am going to make my own rope hangers and hang a variety of the containers from my 6’ picket fence. I’ll probably add herbs in there too – whatever won’t fit in the big raised vegetable bed.

This year, I also had the great idea (from Pinterest) to create tiered containers that will house succulents and flowering plants for a unique, textured look. I’ve also purchased solar-powered string lights, because who wouldn’t want to look at their hard work in the night, too?

Now that the ground has (sort of) thawed and I’ve stubbornly planted Pansies, I’ll still be browsing Pinterest for fun, interesting ways to arrange my cut flowers and add more vertical space to my tiny garden.

I find it helpful to create different boards, like ‘For the Shade,’ ‘Container Gardening,’ or ‘Big Ideas’ to help categorize the pins you save on your Pinterest Board. How do you use Pinterest for your garden?

FOLLOW AMERICAN MEADOWS ON PINTEREST

April 14, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials