August 20, 2010

I bet your window doesn't look better

Windows function is to let the light inside, but look what happens when it's turned to garden...  

August 18, 2010

How to garden even if you're afraid of bees

At over 20,000 species worldwide, bees are the world's most effective pollinators. Without them, we would no longer be able to enjoy many of the foods we do today such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, chocolate and squash. Since 2006, researchers have been investigating the sharp decline in European honey bees, the main hive bee used to pollinate commercial crops. Abandoned, queenless hives are being discovered in areas of ample food supplies. Growers have begun turning to the remaining bee species for help. Non hiving native bees have actually been shown to be better pollinators than European honey bees, and there are things that we can do to attract them in our home gardens. Planting a broad variety of nectar rich flowers and leaving some areas of our gardens mulch free can give our ground dwelling native bees a place to reproduce.

Irish tradition tells that bees come from heaven and bring secret wisdom with them. The Irish in me (my dad's family was from Cork County Ireland) thinks that's nice, but pictured is what you get when a bee lands on me while snapping pictures. It’s the sad truth; buzzing things freak me out a bit.

I’ve grown to enjoy watching bees gather nectar in my garden, and purposefully have added plants to attract them, but I still flinch when they get close. We won't talk about the time I put my car into park without slowing down when I found a bee in my car.

This is a shot of my favorite spring bed with the dark purple bearded irises, Chartreuse foliage of the gooseneck loosestrife, and the sparkling flowers of the spiderwort. By mid August, it all looks very ratty, and my out of control invasive gooseneck loosestrife is growing under the stone edge and choking out everything. Time to say goodbye to it, this is too much maintenance in an area I don’t want to dig up every year.

I recently read an article describing how pollution interferes with a bee's ability to find food by reducing how far scent is carried. If I see myself not just a gardener, but also a caretaker of the land I'm on, then my needs should come second; the bees can have their nectar. I'll focus on fragrant plants to attract more bees, and will replace this single invasive loosestrife with a variety of flowers known to attract bees. Still needing to do back to school shopping for the kids, I'll keep what I can and plan to do this complete full sun redo for less than $5.

My after is now destined to plant its feet this year, and look more amazing next year and the following year.
  • I've moved the cardinal flowers growing in a nursery bed to the back corner. Though they bloom the second year, they're getting flower stalks on them this year, so I'm very hopeful.
  • I've repositioned the dark purple bearded iris, which gave me a great chance to get rid of some unhealthy rhizomes and fix a cutworm problem. So gross!!
  • I've kept the spiderwort. With a good shearing it blooms a second time during the summer, and the flowers absolutely glisten.
  • Dwarf Joe pye weed with it's mauve flowers is something I've always wanted, and my big purchase.
  • I've salvaged the pale yellow columbines I grew from seed a few years ago, and planted them in some open spots. With the loosened, improved soil, they’ll thrive.
  • I’ve added a gaillardia given by a friend who responded to my request to gather seed by digging up a spare plant instead
  • Reseeds from penstemon red rocks in the front (though relatively hidden in this shot) are loved by bees and will provide a good jolt of hot pink color.
  • A trio of sedum grown from seed last winter have been repositioned in the front
  • A loose scattering of mulch decorates but will still allow the ground dwelling bees I see a place to lay their eggs in the spring
I'll continue to water well to help these plants get established, but now that it's getting closer to fall, they'll have plenty of time to set down roots in the cool fall weather before the first winter freeze. I know I may have a few stray gooseneck loosestrifes popping up. I'll pluck what I can, and everything planted can take some handling, so iveif I need to root around, I should be okay.

I'm proud to say I was able to complete this bed redo for a whopping $4.21.

This is a guest post by Lisa Ueda, offering home gardening tips at thefrugalgarden. Her aim is to inspire, awaken and motivate new gardeners into discovering their inner green thumbs.

August 14, 2010

Flowers in season - GBBD August 2010

 It's really hot here again, and while some of us are just resting, others seem to be very busy... 

I was very happy to see this tiny arugula flowers - this means seeds are coming!

Wax begonia.

 Cucumber (cucumis sativus) flowers.

 Hydrangea paniculata Limelight. Not impressed with flowers this year. Why?

Lavandula - some are still in bloom, while others are neatly pruned for more flowers (on the right).

Moss rose (portulaca).

Self-seeded nasturtium. Why those I have sown this year are doing much worse? Do nasturtium seeds like winter frost?

Purple flowers of purple of purple beans 'Neckarkoningin'.

Rose Mary Rose.

Rose New dawn resurrected! Hit severly by frost last winter - seems to feel better.

Rose of sharon in bloom - and look who is sitting on the leaf below? Can you see the dragonfly?

Rudbeckia slightly consumed by garden creatures, but I don't mind :)

Hydrangea macrophylla.

If you would like to know what flowers were blooming in my garden two years ago in August 2009 - have a look here or August 2008 here.
This post contributes to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day kindly hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden

August 12, 2010

Organic Gardening | A Guide to the Basics

It is now becoming more apparent that food grown organically is better for you. Organic gardening is becoming more than just a fad and is developing into something that could change how we do our gardening forever. Until that time, there is much work to be done in order to spread the movement. This work includes encouraging organic gardening at the grassroots level, and that starts with education. In this article we are going to focus on some of the main aspects of organic gardening: organic fertilizer, organic vegetables and organic pest control. Before we get too deep into the article, let’s make sure we are on the same page with regards to what organic gardening is. Organic gardening generally refers to gardening that does not involve chemical based pesticides or fertilizers.

Whether you are growing marigolds, or you are growing pumpkins, you want to have great soil and excellent fertilizer. One of the most important aspects of natural soil management is fertilization. Proper management of your soil will lead to healthier plants that live longer and can survive more adversity. Organic fertilizers should be applied throughout the spring, summer and fall at regular intervals to ensure the soil has all the nutrients it needs on a regular basis. It is also important that your soil has an optimized pH level in order to maximize the effects of organic fertilizer. The main advantages of using organic fertilizers are that they release nutrients at a slower rate which optimizes absorption, and they are also safer for both the environment and people.

Organically grown vegetables have been said to contain higher amounts of nutrients and have also been said to taste better than their chemically grown cousins. One of the most effective strategies used in growing organic vegetables is to group the vegetables by type. When your veggies are grouped by types, you can quickly isolate problems should they arise. This also leads to more effective planting next year, when you rotate your crops (this leaves a better balance of nutrients in the soil). When it comes to developing your garden plans, the growth of your organic vegetables will be heightened by effective and frequent weeding. Weeds can sometimes stifle the vegetables as they try to grow, therefore you should always be vigilant of these earthly predators.

Lastly, when it comes to organic pest control, you can take advantage of natural alternatives to chemical pesticides regardless of what you are growing in your garden. Organic pest control exploits natural substances and ingredients to take care of common pest control problems, and this varies from nontoxic pest control practices (which still use chemicals). The method of organic pest control you use will largely depend on the type of landscaping plants you are trying protect, as well as which pests you are trying to avoid. For example, aphids are best fought with ladybugs; slugs best captured by a half-buried beer container and fruit flies avoided with basil essential oil.

You can see that when it comes to organic gardening, there are many layers to this fast growing technique. This article will serve as an excellent beginners guide, however there is much more to be taught and learned.

This is a guest post written by Dontel Montelbaun, a lead writer for

August 11, 2010

This is the most important work of art I own - says Judith Pillsbury...

.... the art dealer that owns living tapestry garden La Louve designed by Nicole de Vésian, the retired fashion stylist at House of Hermes.
Don't miss this wonderful post published today by Gerard Pampalone @ Your Garden Matters with amazing photographs by Clive Nichols

August 2, 2010

Most modern Chopin ever

Isn't it great way to bring the old Chopin closer to new generation? Or is it the way to show love? You decide. I was surprised, but adore the poster...

All over Cracow's streets there are 1:1 replicas of Chopin's piano - it can't get closer to the people...