Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spring Bulbs – Still time to Plant

When I was working at local garden centers in the early spring, I had so many folks come in and want the tulips, or daffodils that were putting on their seasonal show.  The best I could do was show them the few we had potted up in containers.  So I want to remind you that this is the time to plant spring bulbs.  The few hours of planting now in the chill of fall will pay off big time in March and April.
The basics of planting spring bulbs are  1) Pick firm bulbs.  These are available are garden centers and on line from growers.
2) Plant after the ground is cool, after frost, but before ground freezes.  Getting bulbs in the ground 6 weeks before ground freezes enables the roots to develop.  In areas where you do not have freezing winter soils, you can get the bulbs ready to plant by chilling them 6 – 8 weeks in the refrigerator; then plant.
  3)  Depth of planting depends on the bulb size.  A general rule is to plant to a depth of 3x the diameter of the bulb.  Tulips and Daffs – 7-8” deep; crocus, 4-5” deep.
P3250073 Soil in the planting area needs to drain well.  Adding compost or peat moss will aid in this.  Any bulb needs a sunny area but as the deciduous trees are leafless in the early spring, sun is usually not an issue.
4) Plant pointed end up.  Roots will extend from the flat end but if you, by chance get this part wrong, these determined guys will not disappoint us and will find ‘up’.  I usually add bone meal to the planting hole. The phosphorous this adds will grow stronger roots for many years of blooms. 
5)  Plant bulbs in groups.  A recurring theme in landscape to to plant in odd numbers – 3-5-7 – This seems to be most pleasing to the eye.
6) Consider bloom times of the bulbs you pick.  Some will bloom early, some mid-season, and others will bloom late season.  The bulb descriptions will tell you the approximate bloom time.  By planting in sequence, you can extend the spring color for a couple of months, not just a few weeks. 
P3170065    This is my grandson, Luke. His garden pick many years ago was crocus and we still look forward to seeing them each spring.

Tulips have a tradition over 400 years of being ‘Spring’.  Originating in the Netherland, tulips have dozens of colors, and varieties from ‘Parrots’ which are fringed, to simple cups.  Squirrels  will dig up these bulbs and deer find tulips tasty. 
208015_a_p thumbnailCAQAFPS1 Daffodils, are Jonquils, are Narcissus.  From yellows, to pinks, these bulbs will naturalize and give you more and more blooms each year.  Deer and rodent resistant, Daffodils are quite reliable and showy.  Some are ‘double’ petals, some are dual colors.  I know you will have a hard time deciding which to include in your garden.
thumbnailCAZ943FZ These Hyacinth are the most fragrant of the spring bulbs  The blooms last a couple of weeks and are high on 6-12” spikes.  Water in the fall if rain is scarce.  The show appears in March and April.
glory in the sno chionodoxa muscari  mt hood Scilla siberica  These bulbs will usher in the spring with all of the promises of hope and growth we look forward to all winter.
Top right picture is ‘Glory in the Snow’, or Chionodoxa. The Miscari – or Grape Hyacinth is a favorite of mine.  Small, 6-7”  high and come in cobalt blue, ice blue, and white. The small photo on the left is Scilla.  Don’t overlook these minor bulbs.
The planting time for spring bulbs is running short.  In my Zone 5B garden, we can plant until the ground freezes, usually in December.  So count back your 6 – 8 weeks, and mid-November is about the latest we can plant.  So head out to the garden center and ‘think spring’. 
What is your favorite spring bulb?  Thanks for stopping by today. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Make Lasagna Garden with Fall Cleanup

Lasagna Gardens--Layers of Goodness - 

The leaves are really falling at my home here in SW Ohio.  And with this great source of organic material, I set out to put it to use in a lasagna garden
So I've put on my thinking cap, and decided to ease my chores which are seemingly endless.

Usually, I mulch the leaves back into the yard, adding much needed organic nutrients.  I've also bagged a few loads of grass and leaves to add to the compost pile.  Over winter this will turn into black gold for my spring garden. 

                                 Another option for an organic gardener is to make a lasagna garden.

Planning ahead for your spring garden is sooo easy.  Find a spot along a fence, or an area out in the sunshine for a vegetable or cutting garden. Raid a local dumpster for cardboard, or gather old newspapers at least 7 - 10 sheets thick and lay out your garden.

Here is where the 'lasagna' comes into play.  Layers, and layers.  Add the leaves, and grass clippings on top of watered down cardboard.  Overlap the paper layer to block out any weeds. That's right!  No removal of sod, weeds or even rocks is necessary.  Add peat moss several inches deep, and add layers of compost  too.

Anything you would put into your compost pile is fair game.  Pruned branches, kitchen scraps, (no bones or meat), aged manures, coffee grounds, shredded junk mail, wood chips, or bonfire ash. 
 The bedding material from the kids rabbits is also great. Add bone meal and wood ash for a good source of Phosphorous and Potassium - the P-K, of the N-P-K needed by your plants.

Just think how nature gardens - the forest floor is a layer upon layer, season after season of debris which turns into the dark, rich loam we covet in our own gardens.   

This lasagna bed has a border of straw bales so this gardening is approximately 14" deep.  As the organic material degrades, the microorganisms get to work to provide nutrient rich planting material.  This also makes the need for fertilizers less next season.  Avoid using treated lumber as a border.  The chemicals can affect your food crops.

The no-till garden bed that is loose, crumbly, and fluffy is a great advantage.  Over wintering your lasagna garden is an ideal way to plan for spring.  We have all the ingredient for a very productive crop next year. 
The moisture of the fall rains, and the freezing and thawing of the winter weather aid in the breakdown of the organic materials. 

The lasagna garden has many advantages.  The no-digging, fewer weeds, holds water well, and drains well.  Using less fertilizer lowers you costs and the organic material is free for the taking. 


Envision your space. Enrich your space.  Enjoy your space. 

Thanks for visiting today. What will you do with your spare time?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Patios Garden - Small Space Gardening

How to Make Your Patio a Garden

No matter what size your space is, you can have an interesting, colorful, and productive garden.  My friend, Luanne has created this whimsical garden on her second floor apartment patio deck.  The space is approximately 5' x 8' and is a lovely array of plant material.

Houseplants that require low light are ideal for this small space. And a woodland setting is achieved by adding hills and dales to the landscape. 

To keep the neighbors below from having soil rain down on them, Luanne placed a waterproof sheet down.  On this, a couple of bags of potting soil were spread out. 

Several Hosta are quite happy in this patio garden.  Low light and 6"-8" of soil keep these guys showy.  This Hosta is not a dwarf or miniature, either.  I believe this is H. Guacamole paired with H. Holy Mole.  The potting soil has been dressed up with a layer of decorative moss, adding to the charm of the space.

Containers are used in this project.  The watering needs of the variety of plants is easier to control and the containers add their own color and texture. 

This lovely patio garden is more than a stage for the plants.  The limited space and proximity to the soil have not caused Luanne to forfeit her need to garden.  With the garden bench in place, Luanne and her guests can sit and enjoy the garden two stories up. 

Thanks for visiting today.  What small space have you created into a garden? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Adam and April’s Landscape Project

New Homeowners Start Landscape


Adam and April have a lovely home.  But the overgrown shrubs and low limbs of large trees in the front yard made it difficult to see.  Soon after they moved in, Adam set out to limb up the pine trees in front, and remove several other trees that were damaged.

P8210070  Adam and April asked for my help in getting a ‘plan’ together.  The design process was on hold until we determined what they wanted their yard to reflect.  Did they want a formal garden, an English garden, a high maintenance garden, or something in between.  We also talked about the time frame in which they expected to have this project finished. 
This timing issue also is important because a budget needs to be set up.  Lets face it, if you want a lot done next month, you may have to hire some help.  If this plan stretches over 3 – 5 years, then you may be able to do most of the work yourself. 
So Adam and April decided they wanted a casual, colorful garden that was low maintenance.  No maintenance gardens for the homeowner usually requires a gardener, since there is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance garden’. 

P9280107  P9280102
Adam and April removed the taxis from the front corner and added a compost soil mix to the planting bed.  April also set out to remove some of the border stones that were three high, and spread the extra soil around the roots of the tree.
P8310070 During the deconstruction process, I had April and Adam over to see some plant material that they might want.  They chose some hostas, and other shade plants that we could divide when they were ready to plant. 
Extra watering was needed before we divided some of the plants, as we have had no measureable rain here for months.  Finally, April and I set out to dig!
An ornamental Zebra Grass is taking center stage in the front corner.  Surrounding the grass, we put a variegated liriope.  The green and yellow of both the grass and the liriope really played off of each other in the sun.  The bright purple bloom of the liriope accented the planting nicely. PA070103
Next we tackled the base of the pine tree.  Here we planted five green and cream hosta, H. Abba-Dabba-Doo. PA070105
We took divisions of  6 – 8 daylilies.  Unfortunately, I could not recall the colors, or the names.  We will try to name them in the spring.  Consequently, we divided out about 40 or so fans, and randomly placed them under the tree.


I plan to follow Adam and April’s project over the next season or two.  Can’t wait for spring when the new beds will come to life. Follow the basic steps to plan your project and thanks for visiting today.