Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's Been a While

I know, long time no posting. It’s been a busy few weeks with work, getting my house decked out for the holidays and taping some holiday decorating segments. Here are a few overdue pictures of my own house. The mantel is decked out with garlands done in copper colored blown glass ornaments. It is accented with silver mercury glass trees and silver votives.

In the living room, I have done two slim trees that are side by side almost touching. The trees are decked out with ribbon, glass berry garlands and a combination of vintage and new blown glass ornaments and glass garlands. The glass garlands cross from one tree to the other. The two trees are an unexpected look and usually causes a “wow” when people see them for the first time.
That’s all for today.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Decorating With Larry

Now that Thanksgiving is over, my attention turns to Holiday decorating. As has been the tradition for several years, I head to southern Minnesota to set-up my niece Kelsey’s Dept. 56 North Pole Villages on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year we both came back up to Minneapolis on Friday night and she and I did a wreath decorating segment during Saturday Morning 5 Eyewitness News. After that it was two days of decorating my house inside and out – something we both love doing. I’ll show you some of what we did during the week ahead.

Here is an easy project that Kelsey did on Sunday afternoon and took home with her when she was done. She started with a whole bunch of left over ribbon that I had in a box. She cut 12” lengths and made simple loops that were tied off with floral wire. Those loops were wired into the wreath with the round part of the loop facing towards the center and the tails facing out.

She mixed about 8 different kinds of ribbon together until she had the wreath completed.It was easy to do and can be completed in about an hour. Now she just has to figure out where it is going to get hung.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Winterizing Your Outdoor Pots

The mild weather has made it perfect for getting my outdoor pots and containers ready for winter. It’s time to spruce up the planters with spruce tops.
For those of you not familiar with what these are, spruce tops are swamp spruce. They are cut in northern Minnesota and Canada. These spruce don’t grow very tall and once cut; grow back allowing them to be cut again in the future. They’re a great renewable resource. They are sold in bundles.

I like to take the bundle, cut an inch or so off the bottom of each one and put them in a bucket of water overnight to hydrate before I push them in the soil of my pots and containers. Once you have your container “planted” with the spruce tops, there are any number of things you can to do give them unique finishing touches. You can add other evergreens such as cedar to soften the look, branches of red twig dogwood, curly willow, dried hydrangea stems, bright red permanent berry stems or even branches of magnolia.

You can mix and match any of these for an endless list of combinations. Here are a couple of pictures of some fun and different planters – these are not at my house. The one is loaded with hydrangea, pomegranates and magnolia – some of the items were sprayed with just a hint of gold floral spray paint to give it a different look. The other planter has bright weatherproof balls in with jewel tone accents.

For my window boxes, I used a few jumbo spruce tops (jumbo means taller) and some standard spruce tops. I left these plain since I will add lights later on. By my side door, I added some magnolia, and on the patio some clumps of red twig dogwood and cedar branches were added.

It is my front door that I “funked” out this year. I wanted something totally different and new there - something that I had never seen done before. I started with 3 rolls of copper tubing. One was 1/4” and two were 3/8” inch. I pushed one end into the soil in the pot and then bent and twisted it into a unique shape – it bends really easy. I pushed the second piece in the soil and sculpted it around the first. That step was repeated with the third piece. I then took the standard spruce tops, cut each one in half and filled the pot. I wanted the spruce tops low so they didn’t block the tubing. I will add some lights to the pot later on.

This was quick and easy – it really does look like more work then it was. Now that should give my neighbors something to talk about.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Turn the Water Back On

The last two days have felt nothing like November – driving around with the windows down…nice!

I chatted with 5 Eyewitness News Meteorologist Dave Dahl about the warm weather and the fact that October was the driest in 30 years. So far this year we are 2.5” of rain below average.

If you planted trees, shrubs or evergreens this year or last year, I would highly recommend that you get out the hose and give them a good watering on Thursday before we see some snow fall.

It’s very important that plants – especially those recently planted go into the winter hydrated and that the soil is moist. Don’t think for a moment that whatever snowfall we get that melts will do the trick. These plants need a good watering.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that may mean dragging the hose out again and turning the water on to the faucets. All that effort will be worth it.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Dinner Party

It’s been a while since I posted here. Now that it’s November and the yard and garden has been officially put to bed for the winter, my postings will not be as frequent. In the weeks ahead, I plan on posting tips on outdoor decorating for the winter, holiday decorating tips and even some tips on throwing a party or two.

Speaking of which, I had a dinner party for eight friends last Saturday. I’m always looking for something unique to make the table stand out. Good food becomes great food with the right presentation and nothing sets the mood like a creatively set table. I like mixing old and new or traditional and contemporary to create a table setting with unpredictable interest. My inspiration often comes from nature.

In the setting shown here, which is the one I used last Saturday, I took large landscape paver slabs, put little felt protectors on the bottom to keep them from scratching the table and put one at each place setting like a place mat. The center of the table was filled with an assortment of pumpkins, squash, gourds and bittersweet. The simple white dinnerware, flatware and such were all placed on the landscape slab. It was not much work, but created a big “wow”.

If you want more great decorating tips, this Saturday from 10:00-4, I’ll be making a rare public appearance at Bachman’s on Lyndale during their Project Holiday Event. I’ll be showing some more great ideas for table settings, tips on decorating a mantle, Christmas tree decorating tips, plus a number of other ideas. So grab a girlfriend or two and stop by, it should be great fun.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bulb Planting in Small Spaces

The weekend is here and I need to finish planting the rest of my spring blooming bulbs that I didn’t get to last weekend. If your space is limited, here is an easy way to get more blooms in less space – it’s called layering. Since various bulbs are planted at different depths, this is how it works.

First, dig a hole about 11” deep. Place tulips in the hole, cover with some dirt. On top of the dirt, place some daffodils which are about planted about 9” deep. Fill with more dirt and put crocus at about 4” deep.
Come spring, you will have lots of blooms in not much space – so think spring now! You have several more weeks to get those spring blooming bulbs planted, but don’t wait – who knows what the weather will bring.

Tomorrow (Saturday) I will be on during 5 Eyewitness News Weekend Morning between 8 and 9 a.m. showing some techniques and ideas for pumpkin carving.

Make your weekend a good one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bringing the Fall Indoors

Last night I got around to bringing a little fall indoors. Usually I have this done earlier in the month….so I guess I’m just a bit behind this year. I strongly feel that the key to bringing the outdoors in and creating great looking indoor displays is keeping it simple and using just a few items to create impact. This is true not just during the fall, but any time of year.

Here are four examples of what I did. All of these combined took about 15 minutes to complete.

In my dining room, I took a large white platter with some grapes on it – any oversized platter will do and anchored it with one large decorative squash. A pile of small gourds were placed on the platter and two of two different small squash. Some bittersweet was tucked in to finish the look. Note how the gourds and each squash are grouped together – this is what creates the impact - far more then just placing everything randomly.

On the buffet in the dining room is an amber compote filled with mini pumpkins.
A small squash anchors the display at the foot of the compote. Most people think of putting fall items only in wicker. They look great in glass or ceramics too.
On the kitchen table, I grabbed a handful of oak and linden leaves from my yard and sprinkled a few down the middle of the table. Three brown bowls were placed on top of the leaves with three identically sized pumpkins – one in each bowl. All the stems of the pumpkins face the same direction. Very simple and the repetition creates the impact.

On my kitchen counter I took a tall vase, dropped in a couple of the mini pumpkins and then some larger stems of bittersweet were added. The bittersweet starts inside the vase and extends out. The vase was then filled with mini pumpkins all the way to the top. You could do this in any size vase or large glass bowl.

Wow….it took me longer to type this then it did to actually do the projects.

Enjoy your day and bring a little fall indoors - it’s a great way to forget about the snow that’s in the forecast.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Clean Up Time

…and all good things must come to an end. That’s what you can say about this gardening season after two nights of very cold weather.

This weekend it is time to clean up – removing the now dead annuals and getting the leaves raked up and into the compost.

I like to think of this time of year as not just the end of the 2006 garden season but the beginning of the 2007 gardening season. Nothing kicks off spring like beautiful tulips, daffodils and crocus. Now is the time to get those planted. The most important thing to keep in mind and most often done wrong is not planting the bulbs deep enough.

Review these caresheets for planning your spring bulbs:
Success with Tulips
Success with Daffodils
Spring Bulbs Spacing and Depth

Also, create clusters of one color of bulb for impact when they bloom in the spring.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

Make your weekend a good one – warmer weather is on its way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Frost in the Forecast?

Just a few days ago I said there was not a killing frost in the forecast… oops.

If you have not brought in any plants that you want to keep indoors over the winter, it is time. The extended cold period in the forecast will damage or kill those plants.

Also, any tomatoes in your garden that may be turning orange should be brought indoors and put somewhere warm to ripen – don’t refrigerate. Even larger green tomatoes can ripen indoors - pick the tomatoes, wrap in newspaper or put in a paper bag. The ethylene that the tomatoes naturally produce will help them ripen. Again, don’t refrigerate them. They can be kept in a cooler location, but not in the refrigerator.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Another Perfect Day...

Another perfect day and once again, it barely feels like fall.

I finally found some time to do some quick fall decorating last night in my front yard. Usually I do the planters near the front door, but they look just too good to pull out and since a killing frost is not in the forecast, I just nestled some pumpkins in amongst the green and white foliages.

Further down the sidewalk and closer to the street I took two planters-one is sitting on the steps; the other is just to the side of the steps on the ground.

I drove a 4 foot stake through the hole in the pot that is sitting on the ground and then packed the pot full of leaves. Once that was done, I slide three pumpkins down on the stake – this part was very easy to do.

The pot that is sitting on the sidewalk was also filled with leaves –a large pumpkin was placed on the leaves as if it were growing in the pot.

Two garden mums in wicker baskets complete my quick and easy fall look. In fifteen minutes I had this all done and it gave my neighbors something new to look at in my front yard. Enjoy what looks to be a beautiful weekend.

Monday, October 2, 2006

In the Weeks Ahead...

It looks like October out there with the leaves turning yellow, orange and red but the temperatures have been anything but fall like. Don’t take me wrong, I love it – it’s just a little confusing.

Here is a rundown of what I will be doing in my yard in the weeks ahead and a few gentle reminders of some things that should be done.

Plant spring blooming bulbs – this includes tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths - just to name a few. A little effort now yields big rewards when these bulbs are blooming. Nothing says “Welcome Spring" like a bed of tulips.

Fertilize the lawn. This is probably the most important fertilization of the year. If you were only going to fertilize once a year, this is the one that you would want to do. Fertilizing now will send your lawn into the winter with a healthy strong root system and the energy reserves so it takes off in the spring.

Rake the leaves off the lawn. I get asked all the time if it is important to get the leaves off the lawn. The short answer is yes, it is. Leaves mat down on the lawn which can lead to fungus problems come spring. So get out there and rake them up

Watering trees, shrubs and evergreens. It is very important that all plants go into the winter months hydrated. The heat and dry spell of this summer could take its toll on plants if they don’t get enough water. I watered again this weekend and will continue to do so as needed until the ground freezes.

Grass seeding – we are now past the latest time of the year to put down grass seed. If you are still thinking about doing it this year, you have run out of time and excuses. Get out now and get it done – there is still a chance that it will germinate and grow, especially if warmer temperatures stick around.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Farmer's Market

Each and every morning I wake up to Ian and Margery on FM107 where I hear Margery talk about the St. Paul Farmer’s Market and how much she loves shopping there. Ian occasionally chimes in with his ten cents worth about what he likes about the Farmer’s Market. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had not made it to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market yet this year. So, bright and early for the last two Sunday’s off I go. I have been to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market many times this summer and I stopped at the roadside stand located between my house and work at least three times a week this summer.

If you have not made it to a Farmer’s Market this year, I encourage you to do so. There is so much great produce there, but the clock is ticking and it will soon be too late.

This past Sunday, I picked up some of the last sweet corn, red beets, pears, apples and a big bushel basket of Roma tomatoes. I spread the tomatoes on my kitchen table to let them ripen a bit more. Last night and tonight I made slow roasted tomatoes in garlic herbed oil. I got this recipe a few years ago and have made several batches every summer since. OK, it’s not technically summer any more but better late then never. I'll be enjoying these all winter long.

Here is the recipe. If you are not going to make these this year, print it and save for next summer.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Karl Forester

This morning as I looked out of my kitchen window, I noticed as I do almost every morning the graceful Karl Forester grass planted in front of the white picket fence on the hill adjoining my neighbors property. Karl Forester is one of my personal favorites, but there are any number of ornamental grasses that perform well here in zone 4.

Most people only think of ornamental grasses in the fall. This plant looks great all summer, during the fall and I really like how it looks during the winter. The tufts of grass buried in the snow adds lots of interest to the landscape during those long winter months.

The grasses are one of the few perennials that in my opinion look equally good in a perennial garden as well as used in a landscape mixed with shrubs and evergreens.

It’s not too late to add some ornamental grasses to your yard, garden or landscape. Just make sure you keep them well watered until the ground freezes.

Make it a great day!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Protect Your Plants

Wow - I thought this seemed early and after doing a little research, I found the median dates of low temperature chart from the University of Minnesota. I was right, this is a bit early, the average frost in Minneapolis is October 7.

If you are going to protect your plants keep these tips in mind.
-Use a fabric such as a bed sheet - it breaths letting moisture out.

-Don’t use plastic - it does not give much protection and does not breathe.
-Use stakes to make a tent - it's best not to have the fabric right on the plants.
-Use rocks or weights to hold the fabric down so it does not blow away.
-Keep the fabric over the plants in the morning until the temps are at least in the mid 30’s.

Also, tropical plants such as hibiscus should be brought indoors. It does not have to get in the low 30s to cause damage on these warm weather loving plants. Even temps as low at 40 degrees can cause them to look pretty rough.

Make your day a good one - I’ll be covering plants tonight.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


There are lots of great reasons to garden - being outdoors, the exercise or maybe the beauty of watching something bloom and grow.

Tonight there was only one reason for me and that was my quest for the bacon, lettuce and fresh from the garden tomato sandwich. For those of you that have been reading this since spring, you know this is why I grow tomatoes. During tomato season, I could eat this every night. But don’t worry, I don’t. I have to admit, I cheated a bit on this one. I threw in some avocado and cilantro too - it was darn good!

This Sunday night, make yourself one of these for a late night snack and tune in to On the Road with Jason Davis at 10:35 p.m. This week it should be called In the Garden with Jason Davis. It’s a half-hour of fun and interesting gardening stories with the best storyteller in town.

Jason will be visiting an award winning rain garden, following some blue ribbon vegetable growers from early summer all the way to the State Fair. (I wonder if they grow tomatoes.) He then heads north to the Duluth Rose Garden and the Brainerd Arboretum.

With Jason’s excellent story telling and all the great photography that goes with it, this should be a treat to watch.

Make your day a good one and don’t forget the mayo on that BLT.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fall is for Planting

Fall is for planting – this saying has been around for years and yes, it’s true!

There is still ample time to plant trees, shrubs and evergreens. Why is fall so good? One reason being is that the soil temperatures are warm. In the spring, we have warm air temps, but cool soil. At this time of year, the air and soil are warm so the plants are able to establish themselves faster. The most important thing to keep in mind when planting in the fall is to make sure that the plants are kept well watered until the ground freezes. This is true for any plants. Well watered plants will not dehydrate as easily during the long winter months.

Another good reason to plant now – you can find lots of plants on sale.

I have a couple of boxwood I want to plant yet this year and tonight will be perfect to get it done.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where Did Summer Go?

Where did the warm weather go?
Just a week ago it was shorts and short sleeves….today I grabbed a sweater.

Speaking of cooler weather, if your tomatoes are not ripening or you want them to ripen faster before the cold weather sets in, you can use a technique that “shocks” them into ripening faster.

Take a garden fork and push in the soil about 18-24” from the stem. Give the fork a wiggle back and forth, pull the shovel out and repeat a couple more times around the plant. The plant will react to this by ripening the fruit faster. A little effort gives big results and I’ll do almost anything at this time of year for a few more garden fresh bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.

Have a great day

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Back to Reality

…..and that’s a wrap. Wow! The twelve days of the Fair are over. Thanks to everyone who came out and said hello. It was great meeting all of you during the run of the Fair.

Now, it’s back to reality. Tonight it is mowing the lawn. It was (and I hate to say this) almost two weeks since it got mowed last. Yikes, it’s long.

Speaking of lawns, if yours needs re seeding, you better get at it now. Ideally grass seed should be put down by mid September to get it growing and to give the root system time to establish before the ground freezes. If you need to get some seed down, get that project on your weekend to do list.

This is also a perfect time of year to start peas, lettuce and radish. Just like during the spring, these plants thrive on cooler temperatures. They grow even faster at this time of year because they are being seeded in warm soil versus the cold spring soil. It’s one last chance to grow some garden fresh vegetables.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

At the Fair with Phil Brecount

It was another perfect night at the Fair yesterday. I was there for EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4. This time I was interviewing Phil Brecount from Creative Carving, Etc. Phil can be found at Andreas Watermelon on the corner of Underwood and Carnes creating flower arrangements out vegetables, carving watermelons as well as other fruits and vegetables. His work was nothing short of amazing.

If you are out at the Fair on Monday, stop by FM107 from 3-4 p.m. I’ll be there, with those crazy and fun ladies - Lori and Julia. It is always a good time with the two of them. I never know where the conversation will go.

Enjoy your day.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fall Container Gardening

It was another beautiful day at the Fair. I was out there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 - today I was talking about fall container gardening. I was joined by Sophie from Minneapolis who helped me put together a beautiful container garden.

She filled the pot with decorative ornamental peppers (not edible) garden asters, purple flowering kale and a rust colored garden mum - perfect for fall. I know, I know - you don’t want to think about fall, but it is coming and I’m going to make the most of my favorite season of the year.

While she was working on planting the container I talked about some of the other plants that work great in containers during the fall. I’ll get that list put together next week and have it for you here.

If you are at the Fair on Friday stop by the KSTP building and say hello. I will be there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

At the Fair with Brad Sattin

It was a beautiful day at the Fair today. I was out there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. - talking about plants that are perfect for rain gardens. Here is a photo of myself with anchor Brad Sattin just seconds before going on the air. I’m not sure what was so funny.

Before the segment I spent some time walking around the fair checking out the Adopt-A-Garden program. This year there are 28 gardens around the Fair, mostly around the Agriculture/Horticulture Building. The Fair has had this program for a few years and I was amazed at how quickly these gardens have grown. When you are there, check them out.

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 a.m. there will be a special ceremony dedicating the Korean War Veteran’s Garden.

That’s it for today - if you are at the Fair tomorrow or Friday stop by the KSTP building and say hello. I will be there for EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. each day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rain Gardens

I mentioned that I was at the Echo Experience at the State Fair on Saturday, which is just down the street from the 4-H Building - which is another building I like to check out.

In addition to the rain garden that I have already talked about, you can see porous concrete and asphalt which allows water to soak through and then down into the ground instead of washing down into streets which ultimately ends up in our rivers and lakes.

Something else that I saw near the rain garden display is an underground chamber system that runoff water from solid surfaces (roofs, driveways, etc.) can run into. The water can then be used later to say water lawns, flowerbeds, etc. This is a great way to reuse water and keep it from polluting the lakes. These chambers can be connected to form any size - they could be say the size of a football field with grass growing on top it.

I’m getting a day off from the Fair, but will be back out Wednesday - Friday during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. Stop by and say hello.

Enjoy the sunny day!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blue Ribbon

Yesterday I was out at the Fair to watch my niece, Kelsey show her sheep. My scheduled segments were dropped on Friday due to the coverage of the tornadoes in Southern Minnesota. It was great fun to see her in the ring with her sheep, even when the sheep was being stubborn and didn’t want to move. A little push and it eventually started moving again. She got a blue ribbon which was great.

Today I was back at the Fair bright and early with meteorologist Rob Koch for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend Morning - 8:00 hour. We both were in the Echo Experience Building which is just north of the 4-H Building.

There is a lot to see in this building and it makes you look at and think about how we can do things that are better for the environment which in turn are ultimately better for all of us.

If you are there, check out the display on rain gardens it is a great way to filter out pollutants from the water before it gets to the streets which will help keep our rivers and lakes clean. For about a year, I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate one of these into my own yard

Make your day a good one - see you at the Fair.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Grand Opening

Yesterday I was on hand for the Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting of the new Miracle of Birth Center at the State Fair. Until a few years ago, this was known as the FFA Children’s Barnyard. I belonged to the FFA and spent a couple of State Fairs doing work at the Barnyard. It has always been one of if not the most popular destination at the Fair. For those of you that have been in the old barnyard you know that it was crowded, cramped and just darn hard to move around in.

The new home is large and spacious with plenty of room for all the State Fair visitors. It also has a state of the art ventilation system, cameras that allow more people to see the animals, etc. Check it out while at the Fair. I know firsthand that hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer hours went into making this new building a reality.

My appearance for today at the fair was canceled due to the need to cover yesterday’s storm damage in Southern Minnesota. I’ll be back out there Saturday morning bright and early for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 8 a.m.

Make your weekend a good one.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Winning Pumpkin

The State Fair was humming like a hive of bees yesterday with folks setting up displays, finishing booths and entering various projects.

A photojournalist and I were on hand for the weigh in for the largest pumpkin contest. This was NO small task. First the entries came to the Agriculture/Horticulture Building. They were then transported to one of the animal barns where the large scales are located. This involved finding a scale that was not being used then waiting for semi trucks of animals to be unloaded so we could actually get to the scale, then waiting for a forklift to move the oversized pumpkins and finally transporting it back to the Ag/Hort Building where they will be put on display.

There were two entries that appeared to be the winners based on how big they looked and surprisingly, they both weighed EXACTLY the same once they were loaded on the heavy duty scale. Since both were sitting on large wood pallets with foam protecting them, they had to be unloaded and then the pallets they were sitting on were weighed. They weight of the pallet was subtracted and we finally had the actual weight of the pumpkin.

About two and half hours after starting, we had a winner. For the third year in a row, Bill Foss won this contest with a pumpkin that weighed 813.5 pounds - now how many pies could that pumpkin make? I’ll try to figure that out another day.

Make the most of your day!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flash! Bang! Rumble!

Flash! Bang! Rumble!

That’s what it was like here in South Minneapolis last night. I don’t remember when I last jumped out of bed so fast to close windows. I’m not sure how much rain we got, since I forgot to put the rain gauge back out in the lawn after mowing a couple nights ago. We needed the rain and anything we get will help.

It’s Wednesday and off to the Fair I go. I know it doesn’t start until tomorrow. Today we will be putting together a few stories that will be airing during the run of the Fair.

So far I know that I will be out there this Friday for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend this Saturday. I should find out the rest of the schedule today.

My yard and garden fun (it’s not work) will have to wait until after Labor Day when the Fair is over. In the meantime, our cooler nights and moderate temperatures during the day make it perfect for planting. If you are looking to add a few perennials, plant trees or shrubs or get some grass seed down – now is an excellent time to get it done.

I’ll have more here tomorrow and nearly every day during the fair. Until then, have a good one.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ready for the Weekend

It’s Friday already - where did the week go?

A few miscellaneous things for the weekend.

This Sunday from 3-9 p.m. is the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at Como Park.

I’ve done a couple segments on this event over the years, plus I’ve attended it a few times and it is very cool. My 15 year old niece tells me that it is not cool to use the word "cool". The word "sweet" is what I should be using. So, this is one sweet event and worth checking out. Wow, I feel younger already.

This Saturday watch the new 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS WEEKEND from 8-9 a.m., I’ll be doing a few live segments from my yard during the hour. It’s been a few months since I was live - it will be good practice for the upcoming weeks.

Oh yeah - less then a week, it is State Fair time. I’ll admit it, I’m a State Fairaholic. (OK I know that is not a word - but play along anyway.) I love the Fair and have not missed it in at least 25 plus years. (I started going when I was really young) Later today I’ll find out when I will be out there doing segments for various 5 EYEWITNES NEWS shows. I’ll let you know when and where you might see me early next week. Make sure you say hello if and when you see me at the Fair - it is always fun to meet viewers.

During the course of the Fair, I will post things here more often, so check back frequently.

Until then, make your weekend a good one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Revive Your Lawn

If your lawn didn’t fare so well during our long hot days now is the best time of year to put down grass seed. YES, now. This time of year is even better then spring. Why? The soil is warmer, the day and night temperatures are warmer and we tend not to have the huge temperature fluctuations. All of this combined helps the seed germinate and grow. Seeding now ensures that you will have a better looking lawn come spring.

Remember to buy the right type of grass seed for your conditions - sun or shade and put down a seed starting fertilizer at the same time that you seed. Keep the seeds/soil moist and you should see the grass germinating in 7-10 days.
I’ll be out tonight, putting down some grass seed on the slope in front of my house. I have to keep the lawn looking good for the neighbors across the street.

Have a good day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Iris & Daylilies

Most perennials prefer to be transplanted, divided or dug and moved in the early spring. There are a couple of exceptions.

Iris and daylilies both can be divided and transplanted now. This is a great way to add more plants to your own yard or share some of your plants with others. Both daylilies and iris should be divided every 3-5 years. This helps increase the number of blooms that the plants will have.

Tonight, I will be out with Harley (the dog) digging up a few daylilies from the garden on the south side of the house and moving them to the back.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Containers and Planters

This past spring, when it was time to plant the pots and containers around my yard - some 40 plus, I mentioned that I was doing all of them in a white theme with lots of foliages mixed in.

As you can tell from the photos, the containers and planters have thrived. Even those plants that have no flowers, but unique textures and shapes in their foliages look great. You don’t have to use flowers to create a great look.

Most of these planters have some type of herb mixed in such as thyme, rosemary or oregano. Not only do those plants add the texture that I’m looking for, but with a few snips with a scissors, I have some great herbs to use in my cooking and grilling.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Topsy Turvey

Last spring I mentioned the 'Topsy Turvey' technique as a way to grow tomatoes and that I was going to give this technique a try.

This system involves growing the tomatoes upside down. I planted three of these, hung them from large shepherd hooks pushed into the ground on the south side of my house in the full hot south sun. I can report that I would give this method two thumbs up.

I planted three types of tomatoes using this system - a cherry type, roma and a steak type. The cherry tomatoes are already ripening. The other two have large tomatoes on them that should be ripening soon. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with fresh from the garden tomatoes are not to far off.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

On Tuesday night the 70+ foot Linden tree that stood in my backyard fell to the ground. My best guess is that a combination of age, some decay, the dry conditions that weakened the roots and then the heavy rains caused it to fall.

Here are a couple of pictures taken 24 hours apart - one with the tree down and the other with it gone. In just one hour, four men hauled away what had taken 50 plus years to grow. It is amazing how it can be here one day and gone the next.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

It’s hard to believe that I escaped the heat of Minnesota and went to California where in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe it was cooler then here. I have two very good friends who live in Sacramento and have a cabin on Lake Tahoe. The record-breaking heat that we have been hearing about in California had lifted when I arrived last Thursday for my annual summertime visit. The temperatures (day and night) were cooler the entire time there then it was here.

Here is a picture of one of my favorite places to visit while in Lake Tahoe. It was taken from a narrow hiking path in the mountains overlooking Lake Tahoe I make the trek up the mountain and along this path every summer while there. It was in this very spot a few years ago that at 7:30 a.m. I came across a black bear and her two small cubs. Luckily black bears don’t attack humans and this mother and cubs wasted no time climbing the nearest trees.

As fast as they climbed the trees, I wasted no time going back down the mountain to the cabin, never reaching the small water reservoir at the end of the path that year.

While out there, I had a discussion with my former college roommate Mike about using native or lower maintenance plants that can survive the extremes of heat and cold. With the hot weather we have been experiencing, it may be a good time to look at some of those lower maintenance plants.

We also talked about the importance of mulching - wood chips and other mulches all help keep moisture in the soil resulting in the need for less watering. All of my perennials, trees and shrubs have a thick layer (4 plus inches) of cypress mulch around them. I like cypress mulch because it stays in place, breaks down slowly and does not attract insects. I add a bit to the top of each area every few years. It makes a big difference, resulting in less watering.

Make your day a good one and cross your fingers for some more rain during the next few days.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Como Park

The last weekend of July is here and our forecast is in one word "blazing." There is not much to do in the yard right now other then water and I have more then covered that topic during the last month.

On Wednesday the last of our month long series on great local gardens you can visit aired with the visit to Como Park.

The various gardens that I mentioned in the segment are just outside the Conservatory in Como Park.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grilling Corn

Finally some much needed rain for many areas. Don’t wait for the rain if your yard and garden needs it. If your yard looks like it needs water and you didn’t get an inch or more these past few days, turn that sprinkler on and let it run until your yard has at least an inch of water on it.

Here is an item I ran across - which is fun. A chance to win $5,000 in the Best Homegrown Tomato Challenge.

Now, just throw in some bacon, lettuce, mayo and a couple of slices of wheat bread with those tomatoes and I would be set.

Speaking of tomatoes, the first of the ones that I planted using the topsy turvey are getting ripe. I’ll have more on that next week. Check out the posting from May 24 if you want to know more about the topsy turvey.

As long as we are talking produce, last week I had a segment on 5 Eyewitness News at 4:00 on grilling sweet corn. In response to the inquiry I got - yes you can grill the corn on a charcoal grill.
Just make sure the coals are very hot. The technique I show works every time.

Soak the corn - husks, silks and all in water for at least at hour.
Heat the grill up as hot as it can get.
Throw the corn - husks and all on the grill. Close the grill.
Wait 5 minutes - flip the corn over and close the grill.
After 5 more minutes - the corn has now been on the grill for a total of 10 minutes - take the corn out and put it in an insulated cooler (the kind you use on picnics to keep food and beverages cold) for 5 minutes. Putting the corn in the cooler for 5 minutes steams it all the way through.

You can keep the corn in the cooler longer to help keep it warm. In 15 minutes you have perfectly done corn.

Tonight I have to get out and do some more deadheading of annuals and perennials. If you are unsure as to what that means, check out the posting from June 30.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

At the Cabin

Another weekend is here and the pilgrimage of cars going north to the cabin is underway. A couple of weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Hayward, Wisconsin, staying at an incredible renovated Bed and Breakfast called McCormick House. The serene formal English garden with reflecting pool and fountain is worth the visit alone. Both the house and gardens have been totally renovated top to bottom during the past year. If you are ever in that area, this place is worth checking out.

I often get questions about what to plant up north at the cabin. Here in Minneapolis, we live in plant hardiness zone 4. The USDA plant hardiness zone map shows where zone 3 starts. For those of you that don’t want to look at the map, it is north of Minneapolis approximately in a line from McGregor to Cross Lake. So, as you look for plants to plant around your northern cabin or house, make sure that they are labeled for zone 3. Those zone 4 plants are not hardy enough to survive the northern winters.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some is Better Than None

Finally some much needed rain. Unfortunately it came down to fast and we didn’t get enough, but some is better then none. I have been keeping everything watered in my yard during the dry spell, but there is nothing like a rain to really freshen everything up. It looks as though the forecast still has a chance of rain during the next couple of days. Anything we can get will help.

I spent some time at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market this past weekend. I had not been there for a couple weeks and there was just an amazing amount of locally grown produce - including the first sweet corn, which was nothing short of delicious. I tend to alternate visits to both the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

Minneapolis is far more convenient for me, but I like the St. Paul Farmer’s Market because everything is locally grown - you won’t find oranges, artichokes and other produce that just doesn’t grow here.

I’m also lucky that between my office and my house, is a neighborhood stand that just went up, so I can stop any day of the week and pick up some fresh summer produce.

You can visit the MN Grown web site and find a grower in your area. Having been raised on a farm near Le Sueur, MN and a gardener my entire life, I know how much work it is to grow and sell vegetables. So, visit a roadside stand or a farmer’s market. Not only will you get some great produce, you will be supporting a local grower and businessperson who are working in one very hard business.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Parade of Ponds is Near

I should have mentioned this back in June, but if you are watering your lawn and it is green and growing, raise your lawn mower up so the grass stays longer even after a cutting.

In the spring my lawn is about two inches long right after mowing; now it is at least three inches long after mowing. The biggest advantage in doing this is that the longer grass creates more of a shadow, which in turn keeps the soil cooler and that means I have to water less. My lawn is still perfectly green -(except for a few dogs spots in the back - thanks Harley) it only gets the one inch of water per week that I have talked about before.

Look closely at those lawns that are completely brown and one thing you will notice is how short the grass is. I’m 100 percent convinced the longer grass is what is making the difference in my yard.

This weekend and next is the Parade of Ponds. I have gone on this tour of water gardens the past few years and have seen some very unique and exciting gardens. Tickets can also be ordered by calling 763-392-5937.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Avoid the Heat

Our hot dry weather continues and I have heard the word "drought" mentioned recently. Make sure you make the most of your watering… early morning and early evening is best. Avoid the heat of the day especially when it comes to your lawns. If you water your lawn during the heat of the day especially during these very hot days, much of the water will evaporate before ever making it to the roots of your lawn.

On Monday, we taped this week’s segment on the University of Minnesota - St. Paul Campus as part of my month long visit of great gardens that you can visit. Located on the north side of the campus (on the corner of Gortner and Folwell) is a great educational/training garden. It was great to go back to a garden that I spent many hours working in as a Horticulture student some 20 years ago. The garden is totally different now - bigger with more structures and some paved walkways.

The garden is about three acres in size. It hosts a wide variety of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Nearly all the plants are labeled - so they can be easily identified and most are available on the market. One of the many things I like about this garden in addition to the fact that it’s free is that it’s really a test garden. Once the plants - especially the annuals are planted, they are left alone, besides normal care. If they get a disease or have an insect problem, they are not pulled out and replaced. You are able to see how these plants perform under normal conditions and even vote for your favorites. Previous years favorites are listed on If you are near the St. Paul Campus of the U of M, bring your note pad and check this garden out.

Try to stay cool - I’ll have more for you later this week.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

The Weekend is Here

The weekend is here - you have to love short work weeks during the summer months. As of now, it looks like the weather has just a chance of scattered rain. Maybe that will change - since we could sure use it.

I was asked the other day about lawn watering. The person had not watered his lawn at all this summer and it was now brown. He wanted to know how quickly it would green up if he started watering. Once a lawn has gone dormant from lack of water, there is no guarantee that it will green up once watering has started during the heat of summer. Once temperatures cool down a bit and the lawn gets water then it surely will green up. All that being said, it does help to give your lawn a deep watering even if it is brown. Even a dormant (brown) lawn is still living. Getting some water down by the roots will ensure that it comes out of dormancy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Revive Your Flowers

Four great days in a row! I hope your July 4 Holiday was a good one.

I got to all the things that I mentioned last Friday and more. This is the time of year when some of the hanging baskets, pots and containers can start looking a little tired. If yours are not looking good, a few things may be wrong.

First is watering - things dry out fast at this time of year, so make sure that containers and baskets are being kept evenly moist and not allowed to totally dry out.

Secondly is the often overlooked fertilizing. Those pots and containers only have a limited amount of soil in them, which only hold so many nutrients. Now is the time that I give those plants a little boost to keep them going. I’ve mentioned the osmocote fertilizer before. You can add some of this to the top of the soil and this will provide a continuous feed of fertilizer. Another option is water-soluble fertilizer such as the very popular Miracle Grow. Any fertilizer mixed with water has to be used more often, since it already is in liquid form and may run out of the bottom of the container.

So - give those plants a little pick-me-up with some fertilizer.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Clean Up Your Flowers

The last day of June - already - where did the month go?

My weekend will be filled with BBQ's and getting a few things done in the yard.

When I moved into this house seven years ago, I had a sun filled back yard and put in those perennials that loved sun. Last year at about this time, all of those plants were moved out, since the very back of my yard was now shady since the rose covered gazebo and a couple of trees were now casting shadows. I replaced those plants with shade loving perennials (See the list from a couple days ago if you want to know exactly what those plants are).

It’s been a year and everything looks great, but it is time to fill in with a few more. So, this weekend, I will be planting a few more hosta, some astilbe and a few other yet to be determined shade loving plants. Now that I have Harley (my bulldog) around, planting takes much longer as he has to help.

I will also spend some time deadheading--my ramblin' red climbing roses and any other annuals that may need this done.

It is important to keep cutting the dead flowers of your plants so they don’t spend their energy trying to produce seeds. You want all the energy going back into the plant. So there are my plans for this long weekend - eating, planting and deadheading. Oh yea, throw in some dog walks and rollerblading too.

Enjoy the weekend and have a great July 4 Holiday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sun Loving Perennials

Yesterday I gave you my list of 5 shade loving perennials. I believe in equal time for all sides, so here is a list of 5 sun loving perennials. This is from the segment that aired last night.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when planting perennials.

-Plant in groups of 3-5 or more. Groups of identical plants planted together create impact and add interest.

-Don’t forget plants that create winter interest such as the various ornamental grasses.

-Even with the sun loving perennials look for plants with interesting and unique foliages.

Echinacea (Coneflower)
Perennial Geraniums
-Johnson’s Blue
-Karl Forester Grass
-Limerock Ruby
-Vintage Wine

-Royal Candles
-Red Fox
-Crater Lake Blue

I’ll be back again tomorrow with my weekend list of things that I’ll be doing in my yard and garden.

Make your day a good one!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Shade Loving Plants

What a string of nothing but incredible days - perfect for any outdoor activity. It’s been awhile since I have thanked Dave Dahl and everyone else in the weather center. Like I said once before, they get blamed for the bad weather, so why not give them a kudos for the good weather.

In last week’s segment, I talked about 5 perfect plants for shade - but since time didn’t allow getting into the details here is the list of the 5 with some specific varieties. There are countless more varieties that could fall into each category. These are just a few that I like since the all have great foliage. Since most of the shade loving plants don’t have the impressive flowers that sun loving perennials do, I look for shade loving plants that have unique colors, shapes and textures in their foliages to create more interest.

-Color Flash
-Visions in Red

Coral Bells
-Crimson Curls
-Plum Pudding
-Swirling Fantasy

-Winter Glow

-Berries and Cream
-Cotton Cool
-Raspberry Splash

-Paul’s Glory
-Regal Splendor
-Robert Frost
-Wide Brim

That’s all for today - I’ll be back with some more tomorrow.

Make it a great day.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Belated First Day of Summer!

As we head into these first days of summer, my endless summer hydrangeas have burst into bloom. This plant came onto the market with much fanfare and hoopla a few years ago. I planted several back then, a few did not survive the first winter, but the remaining ones all came back this year and are doing exceptionally well.

There are a number of other hydrangeas that I have in my garden that due extremely well such as the compact peegee, annabelle, and Kyushu.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you are growing any hydrangea is that the plants name starts with "hydra" meaning water. To flourish and look good they need lots of water. I have nicknamed my endless summer hydrangeas - endless watering hydrangeas - but all the watering is worth it when I look out and see all the blue clumps of flowers.

As we head into the weekend, grab the garden hose; give those planters, shrubs and lawns a big drink of water to keep them going.

Make this first weekend of summer a good one - I’ll have more for you next week If you have full sun in your garden and are looking for some perennials that perform well and can tolerate those conditions watch EYEWITNESS NEWS at 6:30 on Wednesday for my list of 5 great perennials for full sun.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Grow Great Crematis

Back on June 1, I mentioned that my Ramblin Red Climbing Roses were starting to bloom. I can now say they are at their peak and are nothing short of absolutely spectacular this year. Like I mentioned before, the metal gazebo has been completely covered with these beauties.

Next to my house, I have some of the same type of roses planted with purple clematis mixed in.

The contrast of the rich red of the roses and the deep purple of the clematis make a rather regal combination. The key to growing great clematis is slightly alkaline soil that is rich in organic matter with good drainage, full sun to just a little shade and good mulch such as wood chips to keep the roots cool. With minimal care they will give you years of color.

Enjoy the day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dealing With the Storm

I hope your weekend was a good one. Friday and Saturday brought some much-needed rain, but in many areas it brought some hail and storm damage. Friday night I left my home in south Minneapolis where it was just raining to meet some friends in downtown Minneapolis for dinner. I was surprised to see all the leaves from trees in the streets of downtown due to hail damage.

If you experienced hail damage, there are a few things that can be done with your plants.

Perennials (those plants that come back year after year) should be cleaned up and fertilized with a granular fertilizer to ensure that they continue to grow and recover. Don’t cut all the leaves back since even damaged leaves will still produce energy for the plants. They will just look a bit unsightly for the rest of this year. Large leaved perennials such as hosta take the most beating during a hailstorm.

Annuals should be cleaned up and again fertilized only use a water-soluble fertilizer on those since the plant will take it up a water-soluble fertilizer faster. If your annual plants look really bad (no leaves at all left) or you need them looking good right away, you may want to consider replanting. Annuals can still be planted and in fact will perform very well during the warm weather - just keep them watered until they are well established.

Trees and shrubs should recover from hail damage - they will just look a little naked from the leaf loss for the rest of this year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Harley the Bulldog

Some time ago I mentioned a distraction or maybe it was something that was keeping me from getting my yard projects done. In the world of TV, that is called a "tease." So, that being said - here is the latest addition to my yard and garden. His name is Harley. I’ve had him for one month and he is now six months old.

Don’t let the picture fool you - he is not that tough. He is all bulldog and with that comes stubbornness and lots of attitude. I can report that after one month, we are having a good time and all is going well - he is just a 32 pound sweetheart who loves everybody and every other dog that he has met.

I knew that a few plants would be lost along the way now that he has the run of the backyard and I was right - a few hostas along the fence between my neighbor’s yard and my yard are gone. Other then that, everything else looks fine.

Almost every dog owner with a yard has problems with lawn spotting caused by dog urine. Luckily, I have been able to train Harley to take care of business in one area of the yard that is covered with wood chips. I put the soaker hose in that area a couple times a week to wash everything down. There are countless things that I know people do to help with the lawn spotting problems from feeding the dog a special diet, pills for the dog, using lime or gypsum on the lawn, etc.

Shortly after Harley arrived I found out about a new product called Guard Dog - Lawn Protectant.

I have used this for the last month for those times when Harley decides to take his break in the lawn rather then in the wood chipped area and so far it seems to be working very well. I have a few spots in the lawn in those areas that I missed, so I can tell that it is working in the areas that I spray it on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ugh! Slugs!

Last night I noticed the first small holes in my hosta leaves. These irregular shaped holes are caused by slugs.

Slugs feed at night and can rarely be found during the day. They need cool, damp and shady locations to live and that’s what makes the shade loving hosta a perfect place for them to hang out. They generally will not kill the plant, but leave them unsightly by making holes in the leaves.

There are a number of commercial products available such as Sluggo which works very well. A natural way to control slugs and trust me - this one works is to take a small plastic saucer or container and bury it in the ground so the rim is level with the soil. Open a can of beer.

Any type of beer will do since the slugs are not fussy and I have tried them all (on the slugs that is). Pour the beer in the container. The slugs will be attracted to the smell of the beer and crawl during the night to the container, fall in and die a happy death. In a few days dump out the contents and start over.

I’ll have some more posted here tomorrow including the latest addition to my home (and garden).

Friday, June 9, 2006

Attention Getters

As we head into the weekend, I plan on taking it easy, with no plans to do much in the yard other then some watering as needed.

Back on May 18, I talked about the fact that I really don’t have a "favorite" plant. Like I said before, there are lots of plants I really don’t like for one reason or another, but I don’t have a tried and true favorite. Here are a couple more that have caught my attention right now.

My Japanese Tree Lilac is blooming right now in my yard. You can find this tree in a clump form similar to a birch clump or as a single trunk tree. I have the single trunk version. It generally blooms during the first couple of weeks of June. The large creamy cloud like blooms are very fragrant.

Perennial geraniums are in my opinion an under utilized plant in the perennial garden. They bloom in the spring - look good all summer and can tolerate partial shade to full sun. There are countless different varieties. Like all perennials, they look best when planted in a grouping of three or more.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Pruning Evergreens

Last night I pruned the arborvitae hedge that runs between my house and my neighbors house.

Now is the time to prune most evergreens. I planted this hedge 6 years ago and it is now about the height that I want to maintain it at. I never got around to giving it a light pruning last year, so it had gotten some what out of hand. As you can tell from these before and after it got a major haircut (pruning) this year. I will probably go back out tonight and do some touch up work on it.

Speaking of pruning, you still have time to get those spring blooming shrubs (lilacs, rhododendrons and azaleas) pruned, but you need to do it soon.