Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Butterflies in the Garden

There is nothing as enchanting as butterflies fluttering about in the garden, dancing from plant to plant. The beautiful orange monarchs and other butterflies are always a sight to see.

Butterflies are attracted to plants that are rich in nectar. They also need to stay in the sun for warmth - that is why they avoid cool shady locations. A water source such as a birdbath or bowl with water will also attract butterflies.

For more information on butterflies in the garden and a list of plants they are attracted to, click here.

Now through September 7, you can also see some butterflies at the Blooming Butterflies exhibit at Como Park.

Pink flowering spirea in my front yard that always attract butterflies.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

When are you going to mow your lawn?

On Saturday, my neighbor walked by my house and asked when I was going to mow my lawn. He knew that I had just finished mowing it. Yes, my lawn is long by most people's standards even after mowing. After mowing, it's about three inches long. Before mowing about it's about four to four and half inches long.

Why so long? There are a few reasons. First the long blades of the grass shade the ground, keeping it cooler which means it needs less water. A cool, shaded ground prevents weeds from growing.

So, my lawn might be long, but it's lush, green and not needing a lot of maintenance. So, raise that blade and let it grow.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Growing in the Shade

I often want what I can't have. In this case, it's full sun in my backyard. Instead, I have considerable amounts of shade and growing sun loving perennials is out of the question. Trust me, I tried for the first three years. Once I accepted the fact that I had mostly shade, my backyard started looking a whole lot better.

Deciding that you have full sun is pretty darn easy - the area just needs six or more hours of sun. For shade, it's a little trickier. If you have six or less hours of sun then you have shady conditions - a good example would be on the north side of a house - that's an easy one to figure out. It's shade in the yard that can be harder to figure out. Some areas may have dappled shade part of the day and full sun the rest, say under or near a tree. Sometimes in these areas, sun loving perennials may thrive - often, it's just trial and error.

One thing to remember is that the shade garden will not have the flowers that a sun garden will have. So, instead you should look for plants that have lots of textures, unique foliages and lots of colors in the leaves. Plant these plants and for that matter all perennials in groups of at least three or more. This will give you far more visual impact. When you see a beautiful garden in a magazine, look at how many of one type of plant are in one grouping. By mixing textures and leaf shapes in the perennial garden you can create a wow that will be as memorable as any sun loving garden.

Here are a few perennials that love the shade:
Hostas - countless varieties are out there.
Coral Bells
One of my favorite plants.
I love the red leaves against green and yellow leaved hosta.
Another great textured plant to mix in the shade garden.
Foam Flowers
One of the best blooming shade loving plants.
Look for varieties that have some hints of red in the foliage.

For more information on plants for the shade, click here.

Here are a couple pictures of the shady areas of my yard.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deer, Deer, Deer

We all like to look at them in the backyard, but we hate what they can do to our yards and gardens. What to do about deer in the yard is probably in the top ten list of emails I get.
Short of putting in an extremely large gated fence around your property it can be difficult to control them. There are products that can help prevent them from eating plants in the yard. Each product is applied slightly differently and at different times based on rain, etc. Be sure to always read and follow label directions. There are also plants that are less desirable to the appetite of a hungry deer.

For more information on specific products that help repel deer and plants that deer are less likely to eat, click here:

Make your day a good one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Multi Million Dollar Rain

Yesterdays rain was much needed and very overdue. Almost instantly everything looked fresher. As a reminder, lawns and most gardens need about one inch of moisture per week and it’s best delivered all at one time and not randomly during the course of a week.

I know in the next few days, I will receive emails from folks who want to know why their brown lawn did not green up after the rain. A lawn that was allowed to go dormant because of a lack of water during our dry weather will not necessarily green up until possibly late August. Even if your lawn is brown, watering it will help the root system stay healthy so it can green up again in late summer.

Make your day a good one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Deadheading Tulips and Daffodils

Now that the tulips and daffodils are well past their bloom, it is a good time to remind everyone that you should cut the flower stem off. Just cut it off near the base and throw in the compost pile. DO NOT cut back the foliage on any of your spring blooming bulbs until it is completely dried up. The leaves of these plants are making food that is stored in the bulb so that it has the energy to produce a flower next year. So, just cut back the dead stem. It is also a good time to fertilize your bulbs with an all-purpose plant food. This too will help give them a boost of energy.

Make your day a good one.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tomato Staking

Before your tomatoes become too large, it’s important to provide some support to keep the large stems from lying on the ground. Keeping the stems and most importantly the fruit above the ground will help prevent fungal and bacterial problems. I put tomato cages around my plants and also some bamboo stakes to help the support the large plants. In the past when I have used just the tomato cages, they have had a tendency to tip over.

Here is a photo of what mine look like after staking.

A few other tomato tips include:
Keep tomatoes evenly watered. They don’t like extremes in going from dry to wet.

Make sure you keep them well fertilized – tomatoes plants are heavy feeders.
Any well-balanced fertilizer will work.

For more tips on growing tomatoes, click here:

Make your day a good one.