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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 canât 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.
Thatâs right â 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).
This year, at least for me, itâs all about container gardening. My garden beds are bursting with Roses, Peonies, Hostas, Ornamental Grasses, Daylilies, Hydrangea and much, much more â They really canât take any more plants (although I will, probably, tuck a few Gladiolus bulbs here and there). And, as an obsessive gardener, I canât just not garden, so that means I have to get creative!
Thatâs 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 gardenersâ 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 Iâll create this spring â A tall, raised bed about 3′ off the ground that will be about 8â long by 3â wide and 2.5â 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 â To provide privacy and act as a separator between my yard and my neighborsâ. 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.
Iâm also a sucker for annuals. Even though perennials are the lifeblood of my garden, annuals add that extra âwowâ factor. This year, Iâll plant a mixture of bulbs (Gladiolus, Dahlias, Caladium) with annuals Iâll 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 6â picket fence. Iâll probably add herbs in there too â whatever wonât 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. Iâve also purchased solar-powered string lights, because who wouldnât 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, Iâll 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?
April 14, 2015
Âˇ Amanda Shepard Âˇ 3 Comments
Tags: bulbs, city gardening, Container Garden, garden planning, Perennials, Urban Gardening, vegetables Âˇ Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials
As I look at my Tulips peeking up through the snow âÂ yes snow âÂ I have visions of beautiful burst of color soon to follow!
While I wait for Mother Nature to bring us warmer days, I canât help but wonder how all our customers in the drought stricken areas of the country are going to tackle their gardens this season.
Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and California are just a few states that are dealing with severe drought conditions with no end in sight. Mandatory cutbacks on water usage, by up to 25%, are being enforced inÂ entire states.
A big part of my job is helping provide solutions to people’s gardening problems. From brightening up a shaded area, to establishing Wildflowers on that hard to maintain slope, the satisfaction of not only providing a solution, but also having a success story from them a few months down the road is very rewarding!
This drought is serious business. Here at American Meadows, Iâm always researching and working with growers from around the country trying to find the most drought resistant wildflower species in hopes of providing a solution for all our customers being impacting by these serious conditions.
Our Xeriscape Mixes and our Drought Tolerate Mix contain some of the hardiest species designed to withstand long periods of time without water. They also make great alternatives to your water-hog lawn.
We have over 100 individual wildflower species as well that would tolerate these less than ideal growing conditions. Wildflowers are some of the most resilient species found in the plant kingdom which makes them a great option. Donât give up âÂ You can enjoy amazing color this season and weâre here to help!
So Iâd like to leave you with a recent success story from Corey W. in Los Angeles, CA that is sure to inspire anyone dealing with these drought conditions!
“I planted southwest wildflower mix in my front yard in Los Angeles in November. It is now March and I’m thrilled at the beauty ease of care! And with our drought conditions, this is the perfect option for lawn replacement. LA DWP provides rebates of almost $4 per square foot to replace lawns with water wise landscaping.”
April 12, 2015
Âˇ Mike Lizotte Âˇ One Comment
Tags: Customer Stories, Drought Resistant Wildflowers, Drought Tolerant Plants, Drought Tolerant Wildflowers, Lawn Alternative Mixtures, wildflower seeds Âˇ Posted in: Customer Stories, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers
Fall bulbs include flowers such asÂ daffodils,Â tulipsÂ andÂ grape hyacinth.Â The best time to prune is after they bloom in the spring. Let the flower completely fall and the seed pod go brown. Â If the green leaves have started to die back and have turned brown then it’s okay to prune. To prune, cut the died daffodil leaves as close to the surface of the ground as possible. Â If you cut the stems too early, it will not feed the bulb the nutrients it needs to store for the following season.
If the leaves are still green, then the bulb isn’t ready to be pruned. Some people braid the leaves of daffodils.(See picture to the right). The Daffodil Society suggest that daffodil leaves should not be braided because they need sunshine to fully restore the bulb below. Â If the bulb doesn’t fully restore, it can affect blossoms for the following year.
For all other bulbs its best to wait until the leaves are brown and ready to cut. To test to see if the bulb is ready to be cut, gently pull any dead leaves. Â If the leaves pull off without any resistance then the bulb has taken all the nutrients it needs for the next season and its ready to cut back. Â This technique is used for all bulbs.
Do you have any techniques you use? Â If so, share with us on facebookÂ we would love to know!
April 10, 2015
Âˇ Heather Viani Âˇ One Comment
Tags: allium, crocus, daffodils, fall bulbs, fall planted bulbs, how-to, Pruning Âˇ Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos
Anemones are some of the most colorful, elegant blooms in the garden.Â Their common name, windflower, says it all. The full, bright blooms sway slightly on top of delicate stems on windy days.
These easy-to-grow plants thrive in partial shade, but can tolerate full sun in colder areas. The vigorous growers may need to be dug up and divided every few seasons to ensure they wonât take over. Anemones are short, meaning their root systems are smaller, so they are an ideal choice for small space or container gardens â containers are especially good if youâre worried about the plants spreading too much in the garden.
These versatile perennials are slightly fragrant, making them unappealing to most deer and rabbits. Anemones are low maintenance growers and donât require much care once established. The groundcover plant blooms in the late season when much of the garden has finished for the year, making a big, colorful splash just when the garden needs it most.
Anemones also make for spectacular cut flowers in the late summer months. For longer-lasting blooms in arrangements, we recommend cutting Anemone stems at an angle, removing 1-2 inches with a sharp knife. This allows for better water intake and will extend their life. Once your arrangement is placed in a container with clean water, we recommend showcasing it in an area that doesnât receive full sunlight, and someplace cooler if possible. For best results, replace the water in your vase on a daily basis â Anemones are big drinkers! If possible, place the bouquet in the refrigerator at night for even longer blooms.
Anemones come in all shapes and colors, ranging from single blooms to double, full blooms. They can be planted in both the spring and the fall and thrive in areas with good drainage and some shade.
April 5, 2015
Âˇ Amanda Shepard Âˇ Comments Closed
Tags: Anemones, container gardening, Shade Plants, Windflower Âˇ Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials
Agapanthus is an ancient plant, originating on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt, but in recent years has become a staple in a variety of modern gardens from the northeast to California. Also known as Lily-of-the-Nile or Blue African Lily, the botanical name comes from the Greek word meaning love, so this blue beauty is sometimes known as The Flower of Love.
Despite its pervasiveness throughout the US,Â AgapanthusÂ takes its place as a compelling addition to any landscape, set against the backdrop of an overgrown garden or a manicured lawn. The unique, globe-shaped blooms add a sense of whimsy to the garden or containers.
Prolific and charming, this tropical plant is hardy in zones 7-11, where it blooms from late spring into early fall. In colder areas, Agapanthus is grown as an annual and should be to be dug up and stored each winter.
Try planting Lily-of-the-Nile close together for colorful clumps of blooms, in tailored, formal rows, or even in containers â the vibrant blooms are sure to create a colorful show in any outdoor space.
The blooms last long as cut flowers and give a unique, geometric accent to compact bouquets as well as enhance tall, architectural arrangements.
March 28, 2015
Âˇ Amanda Shepard Âˇ Comments Closed
Tags: Agapanthus, container gardening, Flower of Love, Lily of the Nile, Perennials, spring bulbs Âˇ Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials
Taking action in spring will give your garden the early boost it needs to look amazing throughout the seasons. Below are some steps to ensure a thriving, blooming garden from spring through fall. Tip: before digging into your garden, make sure the soil isn’t soggy or still frozen to limit any plant damage.
The first task is to cut back dead stems. Spring is a great time to cut back any dead materials that you didn’t have a chance to in the fall. If no new growth is coming up through the ground, then cut the dead stems as low as you can go to make it easier for the new growth to come to the surface.
If new growth is appearing through the soil, be gentle and cut as close to the new growth as you can, without damaging it. Â If the dead stems or old growth has flopped over, gently give the material a tug.Â If the material comes out easily, pull as much away from the new growth as possible, allowing the plant to be exposed, this is recommended for lilies,Â Â hostas, andÂ grasses and is easier than cutting.
Wooden perennials such asÂ lavender,Â artemisa, andÂ russian sageÂ should be pruned in the spring to maximize growth, since they bloom from existing branches. Prune just above the new growth. Other evergreen perennials, such asÂ coral bells,Â keep their foliage though winter, so just cut the damaged leaves and the plant will start to produce new foliage shortly.
After cutting and pruning, itâs time to gently rake your garden. As long as the ground isn’t frozen and or too wet, rake off any leaves, branches and anything that may have settled on to the garden during winter. If you notice weeds, this is a great time to weed your garden before applying compost, fertilizer and mulch.
Once you have cleaned all the debris and your garden is ready, add a layer of compost. Compost is a great way to feed your plants as they grow throughout the season. After laying compost, apply a granular fertilizer, preferably on a day before a gentle rain. Rain helps break down the fertilizer as it is slowly releasing. Use a fertilizer that is either 10-10-10 or 10-15-10. The first number is nitrogen, the second number is phosphorus (phosphate) and the last number is potassium (potash). All three ingredients are essential to the happiness of your plants. To spread fertilizer, use a conventional spreader or make your own, (an old Parmesan cheese container is an excellent spreader or use a milk container with holes in the bottom of the container). To prevent burning, spread the fertilizer around the base of the plants that are appearing, but make sure it doesn’t make direct contact with the leaves.
One of the final steps in prepping your perennial gardens is to add a layer of mulch. If you are planning on adding or dividing plants, omit this last step until you are ready. If your garden is ready to go, apply 2-3 inches of mulch, such as shredded bark or pine needles. Mulch helps retain water when needed and keep weeds at a minimum. If you use cedar mulch it is a natural mosquito repellent, something to consider if you live in a woodland or wetland area.
The very last step is, enjoy your garden!Â Proud of your garden? Share with us on Facebook! Happy Gardening.
Our Winter Photo contest was so hard to judge this year and kept us going through the cold months with all of your amazing photos! We truly enjoyed 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 Spring Photo Contest has already started — Enter Now!
Again, a big thank you to all who entered photos of their gardens in bloom. Happy Gardening!
Peony blooms are some of the most rewarding, fragrant treats of the spring garden and make for amazing cut bouquets. Wish your cut Peony blooms would last longer? Try our simple growing tip for longer-lasting cut flowers!
To enjoy gorgeous, fragrant Peony blooms after they’ve finished in the garden, cut several stems with large buds before they have opened up. Place them in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. They will keep this way for several weeks and when you’re ready, bring them out and place in a vase. Shortly after, the blooms will open up and you can enjoy the show once again! This method is also bug-free.
Do you have any tips on how to prolong cut flowers, Peonies or other varieties? Please share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!
A new study by horticulturist Eric Brennan, from the Agricultural Research Service, shows that organic lettuce growers in California are using AlyssumÂ (Lobularia maritime) as a companion plant, to help naturally protect their crops from destructive aphids.
Alyssum, an easy-to-grow annual, produces small, elegant flowers that attract hoverflies. The hoverflies feed on Alyssumâs nectar and eventually lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on aphids common to lettuce crops. Aphids can be particularly difficult to control on lettuce crops because they tend to live in the inner leaves of the plant.
The study shows that Alyssum is so effective in protecting lettuce crops from aphids, that California farmers are using the wildflower on as much as 10 percent of their land.
Brennan shows that best practice for the companion planting is to randomly intersperse Alyssum throughout the rows of lettuce, which helps to encourage hoverflies to feed and lay eggs more evenly throughout the crop.
March 1, 2015
Âˇ Amanda Shepard Âˇ One Comment
Tags: Allysum, growing vegetables, Lettuce, Pest Control, wildflowers Âˇ Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials, Vegetable Seeds
Begonias are the stars of the shade garden, with colorful, dazzling blooms that open up in the late summer. Begonias love rich, moist soil and are perfect for containers, window boxes and small space gardens. We love planting Begonias in containers all throughout the garden, then bringing them inside in the winter to liven up our indoor spaces.
When to Plant
Begonias are not quick-blooming plants. We recommend starting the tubers indoors in the late winter, around February or March (we begin shipping in early February). Give them plenty of water and regular feeding with an organic fertilizer. Come spring, once the ground warms and the chance of frost is over, bring your Begonia tubers outdoors and either keep them in containers or transplant into the garden.
Begonias love shade, rich soil and plenty of water. We recommend giving them a regular watering every few days and organic fertilizer every other week. With the proper care, Begonia blooms can reach 5 to 6â across, creating a spectacular show in the summer garden. Once temperatures drop in the fall and frost threatens, bring your Begonias indoors in containers for the winter. Continue to feed and water them regularly, then bring them back outdoors the next spring.
Tuberous Begonias have rose-like blooms and come in a variety of colors, including pink, scarlet, yellow, white and more. Hanging Basket Begonias arenât as upright growing and look amazing planting in containers, cascading down the sides. View our entire selection of Begonias here.
What experiences have you had growing Begonias? Please share on our Facebook Page or in the comments below. Happy Gardening!
One gardener was so impressed with our Begonia tubers, she wrote us a letter and sent photos!
February 21, 2015
Âˇ Amanda Shepard Âˇ One Comment
Tags: Begonia Tubers, begonias, container gardening, Shade Gardening Âˇ Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials