A Season for Everything
One of my neighbors stopped by a few weeks ago to comment on our yard. “Seeing all the flowers in bloom,” she said, “made her feel like spring was right around the corner.” I have to admit that as much as I appreciated and understood her intent, her compliment made me cringe inside. You see, she was seeing my snowdrops, daffodils and crocus all in bloom at the same time. Yes, it made for a color-filled late February bed, but they should have been blooming in succession; that’s what Mother Nature intended.
Take A Break -- You Deserve It
This roller coaster of a winter has been a nightmare for gardeners here in mid-Missouri. One day, the thermometer reads 16 below zero and you are spreading ice melt so that the mail carrier can make it up the driveway to the mail slot. Then, a mere four days later, it is a balmy 58 degrees and you’re in the yard seriously thinking about getting a jump on your spring gardening chores. Before you begin pulling weeds, spading the garden, doing some trimming or raking up those piles of dead leaves, I have a piece of advice for you. DON’T. Just don’t. The urge to get in some early gardening chores can backfire on you. At its worst, jumping the landscaping gun can cause real harm to your landscape, or at the very least, you could wind up having to repeat what you’ve already done. Neither is a particularly pleasant outcome.
Eight Ways To Love Fall Leaves
When we left ten days ago, our lawn looked like this:
When we came back, this was what our lawn looked like:
and this was the neighbor’s:
After six years I still can’t convince him that there are much better ways to get rid of fall leaves than sending them to the dump in black plastic bags.
If Not Mums, Then What?
After last week's blog, a very good question came up. A client asked, "If I decide to become a native plant purist and avoid mums, then what should I plant instead?
Do Mums Belong in a Pollinator Garden?
I popped into our local big box store yesterday to pick up a few bags of rock I needed to finish one of my backyard pathways. As I pulled into the parking lot, a huge sign greeted me, reminding me that planting fall blooming flowers helps keep our native pollinators fed. Since my garden is severely lacking in masses of blooms to feed my winged visitors right now, I decided to see what they had to offer.
At first glance, I was thrilled; the garden center was absolutely bursting with blooms — dozens of colors and shapes and varieties —of chrysanthemums. Benches and benches full of them – and very few other nectar rich choices for the mum-reluctant gardener.
What Are Those Bugs on the Milkweed?
Yesterday morning my three-year-old companion came running into the kitchen. Grabbing me by the arm, she pulled me towards the garden, yelling at the top of her lungs, “Gramma, you’ve got bugs…too many bugs.” I could tell from her expression that this was serious business and I would be expected to take care of all the bugs instantly. Not quite sure what to expect, I grabbed a trowel in one hand and a broom in the other and followed her lead – which brought us to a beautiful patch of milkweed pods ready to burst open and spread their seed.
Creating A Real Pollinator Garden
I came home from the Perennial Plant Association’s National Symposium determined to tear out every single one of my garden beds and start completely over. In my mind, as I judged them against the images and designs I had seen, there was no question – mine were shameful and had to go! Thankfully, my husband pulled the shovel out of my hands and talked me down from the cliff. My reaction to an educational seminar may seem just a bit extreme, but if you ever have the opportunity to hear Claudia West, landscape architect and co-author of one of my favorite books Planting In A Post-Wild World speak, I guarantee you will understand.
Patience is the Key to a Successful Butterfly Garden
One of my favorite things to do this summer is to quietly sit on my deck, watching dozens of butterflies floating through the yard enjoying the nectar buffet I’ve planted. This is the first year that I’ve had a steady stream of visitors and it feels like the time, effort and money I’ve put into the pollinator garden the last few years are finally paying off.