Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm Melting....melting..... aka "Tulip Bondage"

Ok, not really melting but DYING a slow and horribly ugly death.

Of course I am talking about all the foliage from your spring bulbs...tulips, daffodils, you name it! Your neighbors are pointing and laughing at your pathetic little brown patch of flowers when 3-4 weeks ago they were swooning over the color and beauty. I say "screw them" regardless for letting their little darlings tromp all over your newly planted grass but I digress....

Yank them out of the ground? No.
Cut them down to the ground? Not yet!
Plant other stuff around them so they will eventually be covered? Yes, but that comes with time!

Don't worry my nature challenged kiddos, this post is all about WHAT to do when faced with this dilemma!

There are actual reasons why you don't want to yank or cut the foliage down just yet. It's all scientific and crap so here is the short story: The withering foliage produces food for the bulb which helps produce more flowers next year. (Side Note: Tulips sometimes are a pain and don't necessarily appear after several years of blooming beautifully. Why? No idea. I haven't had this problem so I haven't looked it up yet. Will I? Don't hold your breath.)

Now if you have a huge yard you can probably disregard this advice because you can't see your flowerbeds beyond the moat, carriage house and orchards so who cares? But in my little yard several brown dying things stand out and that will not be tolerated. Bow to my will, Nature!

Alright enough work!

Tools you will need:
Gardening gloves
Rubber bands or string

Step One

Identify browned foliage. Duh.

Step Two

Approach said foliage is very sensitive about how it looks. Laugh at how ridiculous you look tiptoeing over to the tulips--HA! (Insert groan here.)

Step Three

Starting at the top fold the flower stem down a little at a time until you have a nice little bundle. They should be pretty pliable but if you encounter any that start to break you may want to stop bending at that point and just bundle it there. Incorporate any leaves into the bundle as well.

Step Four

Using either rubber bands or string, loosely tie them around bundle.

Step Five

Leave it alone. In a couple of weeks you will notice that the foliage (stem and leaves) will lose all of it's green/pink color and become even more brown and withered. At this point you can actually pull the foliage out of the ground without ANY resistence (if you get resistence--stop pulling!) or you can cut it to the ground and throw it away. Your bulbs should be ready for next spring!

Wicked Witch image courtesy of

We have Seedlings!! (and lots of bird poo)

Some of the seeds I planted are starting to emerge! How do I know they aren't weeds? I don't, but I can dream--so BACK OFF! Whew! Too much caffeine this morning.

I am assuming that is what they are because they don't look like the normal weeds I am used to cursing at and removing with vigor and vengence.

I must say I have not had to put that much work into them and they are growing (my kind of plant(s)!) It also helps that we have been having regular rain and I have not had to water as much, which I love because sometimes (read: most of the time) I like to be lazy.

Here are some pics of the progress. I'd like to thank the birds for taking a big fat crap all over them and ruining the picture. Could I have taken the time to wash them off prior to shooting them? Yes. Did I? No. Why? Lazy. Plus it's going to rain later. Trying to be green, people. Al Gore would be proud.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I love peonies!

I know I'm probably going to start a lot of posts that same way!

"I love (insert flower/plant here)!"

I bought a pink peony last year in honor of my husband's grandmother, Granny G. She loved roses and I can deal with, roses not so much.

I thought I had killed it last year because I didn't pay as much attention to it after I planted it. That's not even true, I paid NO ATTENTION to it AT ALL! In my defense, I was in the last trimester of my pregnancy and was more content to sit on my couch in the air conditioning with my swollen feet up. So when it browned and shriveled, I was upset about it but I just figured I would buy a new one! However I didn't dig it up just because I hadn't decided if I wanted to plant a new one or plant something else. Imagine my surprise when I started seeing little green shoots popping up in the spring! So the lesson is...don't pull it up until you are absolutely sure it's dead!!!

Basic Info
Light Exposure: Full Sun
(zones 8 and 9 would benefit from partial shade)
Type: Perennial
Bloom Time: Spring/early summer (Typically May 1 to May 30th)
Colors: White, Range of Pink, red, lilac,
Best Uses : Cutting flowers, Interesting foliage
When to plant: Fall

Peonies should be fed a half a cup of low nitrogen fertilizer in early spring and again halfway through the growing season.

Make sure you regularly water your Peony during the dry summer months.

Peonies are VERY top heavy. They need to be staked. You can find peony rings at most garden centers designed specifically for this and they are typically less than $5.00.

Remove the flowers as soon as they fade to prevent seed development, which will use up needed food reserves, and effect next years bloom.

In the fall, after the foliage browns and dies, cut the stems back to three inches. Trimming and disposing of the cuttings helps to prevent disease in peonies. You should also place mulch around the plant to help protect it during the winter.

During the early spring you will start to see green shoots coming from the base of the plant.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flowers for an Arbor or Fence

I just planted a bunch of annual seeds to trail over my arbor(Morning Glory, Moonflower, Mini Lobata and Nasturtium). I planted them mainly to act as an anchor because it falls over all the time in a strong wind and the hubs won't let me cement it into the ground (something about it being permanent and me changing my mind all the time...whatever).

I have never had much luck with seeds. I planted poppy seeds last year thinking I was going to have a bumper crop of poppies this year...I didn't and finally wound up pulling up the weeds I thought were my poppies when they didn't flower. I tried planting herbs from seed the year before and they never materialized. So we will see how this works out...I will probably have a patch of dirt for the summer that I will have to then find a new plant for. Oh, poor me!

If I get any results I will publish a basic "How To" for planting seeds and of course pictures....if I don't get anything, I have some planting seed homework to do myself!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Plant a Bare Root Rosebush (Part 2)

Ok, so today is the day and I must admit I am a little nervous to see how this is going to go. I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible and with as many pictures to illustrate what I am doing!

Step Four
Choose a spot that gets the required amount of sunlight for your plant to thrive. In this case, "Strike it Rich" roses need 8 hours of sun.

Step Five

Dig a hole 15-18 inches wide and 15-18 inches deep.

Step Six

Mix together peat moss (or compost) and dirt in the hole and then create an upside-down "cone" of dirt for the roots to rest on. This seems easier than it sounds. I essentially built a dirt pyramid and kept patting the dirt into place loosely because all my dirt kept just filling in the hole!

Step Seven

Prior to putting your rose bush in the hole trim the canes(the branches)about 6 to 8inches from the main junction of the rose (where all the branches are sprouting from). You want to try and cut it close to a newly sprouting branch (as seen in the picture as the light green/yellow offshoot) using your shears. I used a ruler to get an estimation of the length and then looked at the branch itself. If there was a new little branch somewhere near that length I cut it at that point. Try and make these cuts right above an outward facing bud - that is, a bud that's on the outside of the rose bush. This directs the bud to grow up and out, leaving the center of the rose bush open for a prettier shape and better air circulation.

At this point you also want to trim the roots very slightly if there are any broken ones or if one is freakishly longer than the others (conformity only, dammit!). All in all you should NOT be giving the roots a military cut.

Step Eight

Place the roots of your newly trimmed rose bush on top of the cone. Arrange roots to rest around the cone. This is also a good time to notice where your branches are growing or eventually going to grow into (a walking path, the central air unit, the kid's swingset). Granted they can always be trimmed later but now is your chance to prevent some future labor so move your rose bush around, slacker!

Step Nine

If you live where it gets below 20 degrees outside (I do!) you want to make sure that the main junction (where all the branches are sprouting from) of the rose is at least 3 inches below the ground level to ensure it's survival, so you may need to take some of the top off your cone. An easy way to eyeball this is lay your shovel handle across the top of the hole and adjust the rose until the root junction is about 3 inches below the bottom part of the handle. Start to fill in your hole with mixture of dirt and peat moss. While filling it gently tamp the dirt down around the rose on all sides. Now when I say "tamp" I mean push it "gently"...don't pretend like you are trying to push the rose underwater to drown it even if you want to to kill the finicky thing at this point! Stop when you get to about 2 inches before ground level.

Step Ten

Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain down. This eliminates any air pockets and helps the dirt to settle. Once the water has drained down, finish filling the hole.

Step Eleven

Mound peat moss or compost around the entire rose bush (basically cover the WHOLE plant. Now this may sound weird but it helps the canes of the bush retain moisture and establish itself. After about 2-3 weeks of regular watering you should start to see new canes shooting up from the peat moss. When this happens you can slowly start to remove the mound of stuff from around the bush allowing time for it to acclimate to the weather (very important, especially in the heat of summer)!

Step Twelve
Water! Water! Water! Roses need about an inch of water per week. The best time to water is either in the early morning or the late afternoon. Keep an eye out for any signs of disease or bugs on your plant! If you are unsure of what it is clip a bit of it off and take it to the nearest gardening center for help or advice.

I will update later with pictures as to whether or not the rose grew!

Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Plant a Bare Root Rose Bush (Part 1)

My mother-in-law asked for a "Strike It Rich" rosebush for her birthday and we, being the fabulous children we are, complied and got her one.

Now I have never really been a rose person. I think they are pretty and smell nice however they have always seemed a little daunting and I have heard they are tempermental. I like a plant that I can slap around and dig up in a day...can't do that with roses. They are like dainty little girls who don't like tackle football...not my kind of plant. My husband's grandmother, Granny G., was able to grow roses out of anything and would even get cut branches from other rose bushes to root and grow(now THAT'S a green thumb). I fear I lack that talent but I will attempt not to annihiliate this bush in Granny G's honor.

I had the rose shipped from Edmunds Roses. They have an excellent selection, were very quick, and their customer service was very helpful. They also sent along a pamphlet on how to plant your bare root rose bush.

So here goes:

Step One:

Allow roots of rose bush to soak for 12-24 hours prior to planting in a bucket.
I can do that! Thank God I read the directions or else I would have been pretty pissed about digging a huge hole and then having to wait 12-24 hours for the roots to soak! At that point I probably would have just thrown the stupid plant in the hole, soaking be damned, and killed it on the first step! I'm ALREADY stressed about this rose!

Here's a tip: Not everyone has a spare bucket laying around the house and the one that you typically use is probably gross and toxic to delicate rose bushes being filled with bleach or ammonia on a regular basis. I used 2 garbage bags to line the inside of the bucket and then filled it, plopped the rose in and let it soak away!

Step Two

Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day. The more sun your rose gets the more flowers you will see.
Done! My father-in-law had to chainsaw away several large branches of a huge evergreen they have in their yard to allow more sun onto the spot she wants...he was thrilled (read: sarcasm). I have to be honest, I don't know if this is going to be a good spot for this rose...I have a feeling I'm going to be hitting tree roots while digging...time will tell.

Step Three

Since you have 24 hours check your supplies and tools.

For Part Two you will need ;
1. a shovel or a hole digger
2. Compost or Peat moss--if your soil is very dense or heavy you will need to mix something with the ground dirt to allow the roots to breathe and grow easier.
3. Sharp pruning shears
4. Gardening gloves

If you don't have these...get thee to a garden center!!

Strike It Rich Rose image courtesy of!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes I Hate Rain.



It's literally been raining for 2 weeks straight but it stopped long enough for me to mow my lawn which was a jungle!! (Note: The images above do some justice to the wreck that was and subsequent tailoring of my yard however are not equal in ANYWAY to the scale of my little patch of dirt.) I had to stop and unclog the blades on my little electric mower 2 times during the course of mowing, that's how bad (and tall) it was.

Here's a sneak peek of projects I will be reporting on soon!

1. Planting seeds and the results (hopefully **crosses fingers**)
2. Preparing the ground for and planting a new rose bush! (This should be fun--I have never done this before!)
3. Moving established plants and bulbs to new locations!
4. Planting new bulbs from potted spring plants!

I CANNOT WAIT....but it's supposed to start raining again tonight! Boo.

(Image courtesy of South Carolina Golf Course and )

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Basics, Bitch

When it comes to gardening there are some real basic rules and terms you may want to familiarize yourself with.

Annual: Plants that typically are only around for one year or one growing season.
Perennial: Plant that will grow year after year (unless you suck at gardening)

1. Try and observe your garden during the day to see what areas get sun and which areas are shaded. This way you can choose the appropriate plants for the appropriate areas. No need to set up a video camera to tape the yard (unless you want to of course...freak...)just take a look at it on the weekends especially around noon to 3 when the sun is at it's highest (and hottest) point during the day.

2. If you are planting anything like a tree you may want to see if you can find out where the major pipes are located in the yard. Because there is nothing like digging a hole to plant a tree, hitting a water line, and watching a geyser erupt from said hole....not that I know anyone who that happened to.

3. Read the information cards when buying the plant of your dreams. It will tell you everything you need know. I get the majority of my plants from either Home Depot or Lowes and they do have some gardening specialists on staff that you can ask. However they are not always there and are not necessarily the most helpful. If you really are stuck for information go to a local nursery and find their specialists...they are a wealth of information and love to talk plants and tips!

4. Find out what hardiness zone you live in to make sure what you have bought/planted will live. I have attached a handy little link in the upper right corner where you can type in your zip code and it will tell you your zone. However most of the local garden centers/home stores will typically only supply plants that can live in your zone.

5. Get some basic tools. I started out with a large spade (pointed end), garden rake, hand spade, pruning shears and a bulb digger. I later added a forked weeding tool which is awesome for getting to the roots of weeds and tearing those little suckers out and gardening gloves so I wouldn't ruin my manicure!

6. Water! The best times to water is either in the early morning or late afternoon.

7. If at first you don't succeed....there are always more plants out there!

Image courtesy of

Monday, May 4, 2009

Put it in the ground and see if it grows!

When my husband and I bought our house our little lawn was a blank slate. All the neighbors told me that the previous owners had tried to grow things but they never seemed to live, failing to mention that they had a dog who they let pee all over the lawn. For some reason I don't think dog pee is good for plants but what do I know?

Undettered, I started planting pretty much right away. The first thing I put in was a lilac bush. For those that care, (I don't.) it is a Firmament lilac, I just liked it cause it smelled pretty. I bought at either Lowes or Home Depot and needless to say it is still growing like crazy!

After that I decided I wanted some spring flowers because I freaking love tulips! I actually ordered a mixed bag of tulips and grape hyacinths from one of those mail order bulb catalogs (Spring Hill or Brecks)because they offered a free $25 dollars worth of merchandise. It's a great offer for when you are first starting out because essentially your aren't losing anything but a few bucks...oh and the time you took putting all the suckers in....oh well! This was spring's crop of tulips and you can see they are gorgeous! The little purple/blue flowers are the hyacinths.

I will do a whole thing on planting bulbs in a future post!

Here are the links to Brecks and Spring Hill Nurseries!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nature is My Bitch!

You know what really grinds my gears (random Family Guy reference--get used to it!)? Magazines that say "Great Ideas for Small Gardens" and then these so-called small gardens are freaking huge!! I don't consider anything that has room for a water feature, a rock maze and 15 flower cutting gardens, small.

I live in the city where gardens are more postage stamp size with a couple of potted plants thrown on the steps for good measure. I can walk from the front of my garden to the back in about 5 seconds. Now THAT is small! And there are even smaller ones that I have seen in this lovely historic city o' mine.

When I first started gardening I really knew nothing about it and I still don't know a lot. I started out just wanting to increase the curb appeal of my house and it has blossomed (hehe!) into a true interest.

I am a learn-as-you-go type of gal and subscribe to the "easy is better" newsletter regarding gardening! I am hoping to share some pictures of creative small gardens, some not so creative small gardens, gardening tips and projects that I am currently working on!