Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RIP Morning Glories (and Patrick Swayze)

So that little storm we had over the weekend which was "uncategorized" according to my weatherman, but sure as hell felt like a hurricane or a tornado (in my world: wind + rain= hurricane/tornado) knocked over my trellis and completely uprooted the morning glories.

Note: I don't think actually WERE morning glories--I think the whole vine may have been moonflower. My super detective skills observed white flowers instead of blue....case solved.

So anyway! No more vine....

I tore the whole thing off the trellis and I have to be honest I kind of like it better....it was getting a little too cluttered for my taste. Now the big question is how to keep the trellis from falling over without cementing it in the ground since the vine failed in it's quest to stabilize it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What's the Story, Morning Glory?


The vines are everywhere!

When are you going to bloom?


Here's the information for you while I wait, somewhat patiently.....

Morning Glory

Light Exposure: Full Sun
Type: Annual but will reseed
Height: 10 feet or more
Zones: 3 to 10
Flower color: White, purple, blue, red, yellow
Bloom time: Late summer, early fall
Best uses: Climbing vine

Special Notes: When planting make sure to soak the seeds over night to soften them up. Seeds are also poisonous so watch out for kids and dumb, but precious, four-legged friends. Also, to try to minimize volunteer seedlings (next years growth) remove all the dead vines after they are killed in the fall by frost.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You just got Mooned!

I love the structure of the bud! Very architecturally interesting.

Starting to open

This reminds me of layers of a beautiful wedding dress.

Almost there!


I planted moonflower vine seeds earlier in the summer not expecting any of them to grow, because, well, that's been my luck with seeds. However this year Nature bestowed upon me great and mighty powers and I was able to grow not one but THREE different types of plants from seed...BOO-YAH!!

You saw the nasturtium in an earlier post (I think....if not...Coming soon: Nasturtium!) and the morning glories have grown but not yet flowered. But the moonflower vine....oh, the moonflower vine...beeeeyooouuuutiful!!!

I am assuming it's called moonflower because it's large, white and the flowers open at dusk....you may all now revel in my super gardening intelligence....I am so smart! I didn't even have to Google that!

The vine has essentially taken over the large planter box and the old iron gate I have on my patio and is now making a slow creep toward the bushes in front of it, which is exactly what I wanted.

One thing I didn't realize is that these vines are self seeding and can be invasive. If you don't want moonflower vine taking over your yard ( I don't!!) you need to deadhead them immediately after the flowers die or pick up the flower heads that have fallen off. Excuse me while I panic and run out to the yard to pick all the old flowers up!!

Here's the info before I go!

Moonflower Vine
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Type: Annual
Height: 8 to 10 feet
Zones: 8-11 (although I live in Zone 5 and it grew!)
Flower color: white
Bloom time: Late summer, early fall
Best uses: Climbing vine

Special Notes: Moonflower vine is considered a tropical perennial and invasive in certain zones so you should be aware that it will take over and spread if you don't collect the flower heads!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crab Grass BE GONE!

Image courtesy of goodbadandugly2.wordpress.com

Late August to mid-September is the perfect time of year to seed and feed your lawn for the winter and hopefully eradicate that horrid crab grass for good.

I usually seed in the early spring (early April) but have never really seeded in the fall. This could possibly explain why crab grass continues to blight my little lawn.

Look at your supplies and stock up on your grass seed...cause next week we are spreading some seed!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

There's a Fungus Among Us!

I just noticed yesterday while I was out doing some weeding that my peony foliage has become infected with some nasty white stuff.

Remember when it looked like this?

Innocent and pure

It now looks like this.



So before I accused it of being the Paris Hilton of peonies I decided to do some research. I found out that my peony is infected with......


I have several choices:

1. Shun it for being a promiscuous, dirty, little flower.

2. Chemically treat it into oblivion therefore tainting my ground, my water source and possibly killing the entire city. (I just can't have that on my conscience right now.)

3. Look to see if there are any organic treatments which will bring harmony to Nature and peace to the Middle East. **Cue singing birds and rainbows**.

You're right! I chose #2!

I mean I chose #3!

There is a great organic gardening forum at gardenweb.com and there were several suggestions which are as follows:

1. Spray with a 50/50 solution of non-fat milk and water
2. Spray with a solution of chamomile tea (mmmm...chamomile)
3. Spray plant with a solution of 1 tsp baking soda and 1 quart of water (every 5 days)
4. Removal and disposal of any affected leaves (the plant will grow back in the spring and most likely not be affected by the mildew but leaving it on can lead to plant disfigurement...whatever that means..."I am not a monstah!").

So how did this happen? Essentially it looks like the humidity of the summer may have been the main culprit as well as the way in which I watered it. Some more advanced gardeners say that watering the peony at the root is best instead of over the plant...did I say that in my previous peony post and not follow my own advice? (*looking back to May 16th). No! I didn't...ahh well...gardening is always a learning process!

I think I might try the baking soda and water mixture just because I have those things in the house. If all else fails I will cut the sucker down. I will keep you posted!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hot for Hostas!

My container hostas in the sun (Oh no! Don't worry, it was 9 in the morning, they are in the shade by 10am). I planted several more at my mother-in-law's house under her pine tree. *Note to self: take pictures of MIL's hostas.

These are hosta seed pods which developed after the very light lilac flowers died. I was actually going to save these and see if I could replant them to get more hostas but then I started reading this and decided....ummmm...NO!

What? Glass block background isn't "arty" enough for you? Boo.

Brown spots= bad. Time to move those bad boys into the shade!

I LOVES me some hostas and all you beginning gardeners out there should take a serious look at them too because you get beautiful plants with little effort.

Hostas are a great plant to grow in the shade. They always seem to thrive under big shady trees that take over a yard...kind of like ferns. However after reading up a little bit apparently there are hostas that do really well with some sun exposure.

Most major home stores carry hostas in their gardening department usually in the spring early summer, which is the best time to plant them. They are relatively cheap ($3-$5 bucks) and come in such a variety of foliage colors (greens, yellow, creams, blues) and textures it will make you head spin . Hostas grow larger with each passing year so make sure that if you put them into a container, it is large enough the following growing season. The good news is that hostas can be easily divided and planted elsewhere or given to fellow gardeners. Next spring I will have a hosta (I'm looking at you Big Daddy in the blue pot) that needs to be divided so look forward to that post!

Now hostas do get kind of yucky looking in the fall winter when they are dying back so be warned. I usually leave the foliage there for the winter even though the neat freak in me wants to cut them back because of how ghastly they look. However in the spring you will see little shoots coming up and THEN you can cut back those dead leaves til your heart's content!

I keep mine in my containers/flowerpots on the patio because that is where I get the most shade. I actually had them planted in the ground for awhile but they started to look a little sickly from too much sun and I took them out. You can see on the one picture the brown and yellow spots on the leaves....that indicated to me that it was time for Mr. Hosta to move to some darker territory.

Here is a great picture from the American Hosta Society where you can see how grouping these plants together makes an interesting garden without flowers, but with great visual impact!
There are so many different types of hostas out there and each one varies in their sun needs, although most prefer part shade. Don't know which type of hosta you have brought home? Here is another link I have provided that has pictures of hostas and their names for your identifying pleasure!

Houpt Hosta Habit

Hosta Basic Information

Light Exposure: Varies depending on the type but typically Partial/Full Shade
Type: Perennial
Zones: 3-9
Colors: Green, blue-green, cream, yellow, variegated leaves
Flowers: white or purple
Bloom time: Spring to fall
Best uses: Under shady spots, interesting foliage, cut flower arrangements
Special Notes: Hostas are a favorite deer food! I don't have many critter problems in the city aside from the occasional dreadful pigeon but we may need to discuss deer repellent methods for our country dwelling friends.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mad Musings of an Urban Gardener

I would love to have a greenhouse one day.

Hell, I would love to own enough property to actually house a greenhouse one day....

I want one like Annabella Sciorra's in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle". Minus the gyno molestation, psycho killer nanny and asthma, of course.

For those of you with the coin and space....

Image is of the Kew Garden in London, England by John Lamb/Stone/Getty Images

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Something to Inspire

Image courtesy of rhs.org.uk

Here's a great picture of the wonderful things you can do with a small yard or garden. Gotta love the Brits...they are the masters of the universe when it comes to small gardens. It's a perfect outdoor living area! I love how the irises planted in the background are duplicated on the pillows as well as the overall balance of the design.

Plus it appears to be a relatively low maintenence garden with the evergreens, the bamboo and what appear to be rounded boxwoods. Irises are also perennials, so not much to do there! However, when they die the garden would be lacking some color.

The large ice sculpture-y thing in the center? Discuss......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Coneflowers...damn!...now I want ice cream....

More gorgeous gifts from Aunt Todd's Virginia garden....I am so jealous of her acres of land and tons of flower beds!

Another more common name for coneflowers is Echinacea. You hear about it all the time during cold and flu season because it commonly used to decrease the symptoms and duration of the cold or flu. This bit of information sharing does not give you license to go around the neighborhood and eat their flowers to prevent illness...so back off, petal chomper!

The particular yellow variety shown above is called "Harvest Moon". I have seen coneflowers more commonly in purple varieties with orange centers like these:

photo courtesy of BlueRidgeSeeds.com

You can save the seeds from the coneflower to plant for next year. Here is a link with actual pictures of the seeds and corresponding discussion. Make sure you scroll all the way over to the right to get all 4 pictures!
Coneflower Seeds

I might attempt to save the seeds and plant them next year (I can HEAR you laughing! Just because I have minimal luck with seeds....bite me...). I'm sure Aunt Todd has tons of coneflower seeds laying around but if not the neighbors down the street have them in abundance...time for a little midnight dead-heading, flower-napping. (Disclaimer: Nature is My Bitch does in no way endorse the kidnapping or eating of flowers. Savages!)

**Note: Actually after reading a little more I found out you don't have to do this at all. You can just let the flowers die back naturally and they will bloom again next year! Apparently it's called "volunteer seeding"...I personally don't give a toss what it's called...I call it "a couple more free hours on Facebook". Lazy gardening at it's best! Thanks Nature! You're a pal...sometimes.....

Coneflower/Echinacea 411

Light Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Type: Perennial
Zones 4-9
Bloom Color: Golden Orange, purple, range of pinks, violet, white or cream
Bloom Time: July-August
Best Uses: Attracting birds, bees and butterflies
Special Notes: Deer resistent, drought tolerant

Sunday, August 2, 2009

VN Day (Victory over Nature Day)

Here's the tally so far...

Nature: 25*
Me: 30**

Well add ONE more to mine...making it a big, old, whopping 31!!!!!


Remember that blank patch of dirt I had in the early summer where I planted seeds (Morning glory, nasturtium and spanish flag). You don't?? Let me give you a visual.

Well look at it NOW!

Morning Glory

Alright, so I will give it to Nature that she appears to have absorbed the Spanish flag seeds. However I consider it a worthy sacrifice to her for allowing the other plants to grow. Plus I would like to thank her for all the rain we've been having which saves me time and gives me ample opportunity to watch Real Housewives Marathons on Bravo (Oh, you know you watch it too.) Now if we could talk about the weeds.....

*Estimated but probably a lot higher
** Again estimated, probably a lot lower but let Nature get her own blog and keep track. Bleh! *sticks tongue out*

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Like, OMG, Lamb's Ear is like, sooooo cute!

Sorry. My inner teenager popped out there for a minute. Go back to watching MTV Cribs or texting or to the mall!


Say the words "Lamb's Ear" and what immediately comes to mind?

Furry, perfectly white little baby lamb's frolicking in a daisy filled meadow?


Lamb's Ear in the plant world are not as cute but I still love them. They have interesting foliage, are perennial and are easy to grow. An almost perfect plant. Unfortunately, they don't flower, but I guess you can't have it all. (Correction: They DO flower...although mine never have...effing nature...stupid plant..)

Believe it or not Lamb's Ear are actually considered a weed and are extremely invasive in warmer climates. And usually anything considered a weed, well, grows like a weed.

They are called Lamb's Ear because they are extremely soft plants and the leaves look a little like sweet lambie ears. In fact, if you ever catch yourself in the woods these are the leaves you would love to have on hand. They are the Cottonelle of leaves. They are also a beautiful silver color which look great in any type of landscape.

Of course there is a downside to these cuties...

1. They can be invasive. When they do flower (which again, mine never have or I have been too lazy to notice) cut the flowers off to prevent seeding OR dig the suckers up and share them with neighbors and friends!

2. When they start to die back in the fall and winter they are the ugliest and scraggliest looking sad things. They get brown and yellow and flat. I would include a picture of what they look like but it might make you cry.

Here's the info!!

Lamb's Ear Basic Info
Zone: 4-10
Light Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Type: Perennial,
Bloom Time: Spring to Early Fall
Colors: Silver Green

Best Uses : Interesting foliage, Low maintenance, container gardens, ground cover or edging plant
Water and care notes: Frequently however make sure soil is well drained and plants aren't sitting in puddles of water. Put some mulch under them to keep the leaves off the ground and sitting in water.If you start to notice brown or yellow leaves at the bottom, cut them off or remove them.
At the end of the growing season, I usually leave the dead leaves be figuring that it protects the new growth and cover the whole plant in mulch for the winter. You will see new leaves start to pop up in the spring.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flowers to make you smile

How gorgeous are these flowers? They are gladiolus from Aunt Todd's garden! She lives in Virginia and hers always bloom early.

The kicker with these is that she got the bulb's (for gladiolus they are called corms) from a dollar store! I never thought to look for bulbs there. Talk about a bargain!

We will review and discuss more about gladiolus when MINE bloom. *Pout*

Thursday, July 9, 2009


That's what chickens sound like right? Yeah, I have no idea...I'm a city girl, remember?
Anyway, Hens and Chicks may be the EASIEST plant I have ever taken care of. I don't know why I don't just do an entire blog devoted to them.

Reasons why I love Hens and Chicks
1. They grow just about anywhere, even if there is a little bit of soil.
2. They are drought resistant.
3. They are evergreen in the winter and maintain their visual interest.
4. They look cool.

Reasons why I don't love Hens and Chicks
1. They make other plants look bad and very prissy because of how easy they are!

Hens and chicks are easy to divide and grow in other areas. All you do is take the little chicks or slightly larger ones growing off the big hens by grabbing them gently and pulling. Then plant the little root in the dirt. It's literally that easy that other plants should be embarrassed!

Step One: Grasp.

Step Two: Pull gently.

Step Three: Find dirt and cover root.

Hens and Chicks Basic Info
Zone: 3-11
Light Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Type: Evergreen, Perennial, Succulents
Bloom Time: Pretty much all the time! Little chicks usually grow during spring/summer/fall and go dormant in winter.
Colors: Green with tinges of red/burgandy

Best Uses : Interesting foliage, Low maintenance, container gardens, rock gardens
Water: drought tolerant, make sure soil is well drained and plants aren't sitting in puddles of water.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Geraniums are not just for old people!

For some odd reason I have had a dim view of geraniums ever since...well forever.

I hear "geraniums" and I think "old people garden". Why? I really don't know. I know older people and none of them grow geraniums.

I never considered them at all till this year for my containers but boy, am I glad I did.

Even though I typically only plant perennials in the ground, I am a big fan of putting annuals in pots on my steps and patio. It's nice because I can change my color schemes year after year if the mood strikes me. So this year, for some reason I picked up a pink geranium plant.

The best thing about geraniums is that they are an almost maintenance free flower with pretty foliage and summer long blooms. They can do with a little dryness every once in awhile which is great because sometimes I don't get around to watering every day. You should water them regularly but they should not be waterlogged and constantly wet. To get the flowers to continue blooming throughout the summer make sure you deadhead the fading blooms. Deadhead does not mean take them to see Jerry Garcia...it means to either snap or cut off the wilted flowers so new ones can bloom.

Here's the basics info on geraniums:
Basic Info
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Type: Annual, although you can "overwinter" them and plant again...I smell a project!
Bloom Time: Summer
Colors: White, Pink, Orange, Red, Purple
Best Uses : Cutting flowers, Interesting foliage, Low maintenence, container gardens
When to plant: Fall
Water: Minimal, soil should not be constantly wet

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Here are some pictures of plants that I will be discussing in the near future!

Hens and Chicks
I actually forget what these are called! Time to break out the information cards!


Lamb's Ear

Asiatic Lily

Hope you have a happy and safe holiday! Try not to eat too many hot dogs!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy First Birthday!

My baby monkey is one today and looking so cute next to Mommy's hydrangeas!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lacecap Hydrangeas

As I mentioned previously I have two types of hydrangeas growing in my yard. I already talked about the Mophead Hydrangea so now it's time to focus on the Lacecap. Don't tell Mophead but Lacecap is my favorite! It's even got a prettier name! I mean seriously, let's play word association--Mophead=Dirty Water, Lacecap=Cute Babies. SEE!

Anyway, Lacecaps are in the same family as Mopheads so they require essentially the same growing habitat and care. My Lacecap is actually a transplant from the Hubs parent's shore house. Uncle Richie (have I mentioned him before? Son of Granny G of the Green Thumb, which he apparently inherited) tore it out and was going to throw it away! Sacrilege!! So I took it home and transplanted it into our yard. My husband was SOOOO HAPPY we had to drive home with a dirty, uproooted plant in the car.

What makes it even more special is that the leaves are variegated. I've been able to identify it as a 'Mariesii Variegata' (oooohhh, fancy Latin!!). Variegated Leaves means that in addition to the green that is on the leaves there is also a pattern or spots of white on them.

Variegated Leaves
Also very cool about this particular plant is the fact that I am getting 2 different flower colors this year--blue and a pinkish-purple, seen below. This has never happened before and I found out, when I was educating myself about hydrangeas over the past couple of days, that the pink-purple color may be the result of lime seeping into the ground near the plant from my concrete sidewalk and patio. This seems to be a good working theory as the pink-purple flowers are only really showing up in areas bordering concrete!


Here is the standard info on the 'Mariesii Variegata'
Zone: 5-9
Light Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Type: Perennial
Height/Spread: spreads to 4 feet by 4 feet over time
Bloom time: Different types bloom May to October
Colors: blue, pinks, white or off white
Best Uses: attracts bees (see previous posts about Xerces Foundation!)and butterflies, interesting foliage after flowers die, very unique flower, best suited for seashore locations (this would explain why it was planted originally at the shore house!)
When to plant: Spring or Fall
Water: Daily, ground should be moist

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mophead Hydrangeas

I have two different types of hydrangeas (Mopheads and Lacecaps) currently growing in my yard. They are both in bloom and the color is gorgeous!

The first ones to flower and bloom were the two I have in the front of my yard flanking the sidewalk. I never really care about what I am planting as long as it catches my eye. Here is a dramatic rendering of me at Home Depot/Lowes/Garden Center choosing plants:

Enter stage left, me, slackjawed and overwhelmed my Nature's bounty before me, wandering aimlessly.

ME: "Thems is purty!", impulsively picks up flowers and runs to cash register.

ME: Honey, I'm home! Look what I buyed at the flower store! Ain't they purty?
HUBBY: *SIGH* Where are we planting that?
ME: *sticks tongue out at him* Party pooper!


So I did a little research on the net via a couple of sites specifically hydrangeashydrangeas.com which has pictures (ALWAYS a plus in my book!) and I think I identified them as Mophead Nikko Blue Hydrangeas.

The great thing about hydrangeas is that you can typically change the color of them by messing with the pH levels of the soil around them. How do you do this? I have no idea, so let's find out. Hydrangeashydrangeas.com has such a concise explanation on how to change the colors that you would be best off going right to the source! Here is the link:

(Note: You can purchase both dolomitic lime and Aluminum sulfate at your local garden store!)
Interesting facts I learned from hydrangeashydrangeas.com:
1.It is easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than it is from blue to pink.
2.It's also easier to change the colors of a hydrangea that is in a container as opposed to in the ground.
3. Planting hydrangeas near a concrete foundation or sidewalk will often affect the color since the pH of the soil can be changed by the lime coming out of them, making it difficult to obtain blue. This completely explains why some of the flowers on my Lacecap Hydrangea are turning a purply pink near the sidewalk and the patio! I just thought I was a magical gardener!

Here is some basic information on the Nikko Blue hydrangeas:

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas
Zone: 6 to 9 (although I am in Zone 5 and I have never had a problem!)
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Bloom Time: July - August (mine started in early June)
Bloom Color: Blue in acid soil; Pink in alkaline soil.
Sun: Sun to Part shade
Water: Daily, very thirsty suckers!
Prune: July, after blooms have faded

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am so BUZZED

Make honey
Like flowers
Stingy litte suckers
Loud and buzzy
Make some us (me) scream and run in fear for our lives like little girls despite enormous size difference.

Whatever your feelings about bees there has been a noticable decline in bee populations in North America and other parts of the world due mainly to something called Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD has been blamed for bees disappearing in huge numbers for unknown reasons. Numerous studies have been done researching pesticides, viruses and bacteria, electromagnetics and starvation but have not been conclusive as to the causes of CCD. While those of us who are afraid of them welcome this because we are no longer frequently seen running and screaming around our yard like a crazy person, this is a serious issue.

What do bees do besides make one of my favorite food of all time, honey? The pollinate flowers and crops.

What happens if they don't pollinate? Major agricultural issues will arise such as food shortages.

So what can we do as gardeners? There is a foundation called The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation that is working on research and suggesting ways to help. Here is the link for their main website:

Plants for Native Bees in North America
If you are from California from the main site go under "Publications" then "Plant Lists" to see more specific plants from your region.

Some of the plants included in the list are commonly found ones from either Home Depot or Lowes such as: Asters, Black Eyed Susan, Lupine, Rhododendron, Sage and Sunflowers. Basil, Rosemary, English Lavendar, Hyssop and Marjoram are also considered to be bee friendly.

Get planting to save our little black and yellow, buzzy frenemies!

Photo courtesy of Leif Richardson of The Xerces Society.