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Showing posts with label garden bloggers design workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden bloggers design workshop. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Whimsy in the Garden

If you go out very early in the morning, before the dew has dried on the grass, you might find a bit of fairy lace, left behind by a garden fairy hurrying off at the first light of dawn to hide beneath the shrubs or in the shade under the leaves of cucumber vines in the vegetable garden.

Later in the morning, the lace disappears. Who knows who or what comes and takes it away, it just disappears as the sun dries the dew on the grass.

Across the way, the foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) blooms. A favorite plant of the fairies, they often leave their footprints inside each flower
I've never seen a foxglove without the spots, so I'd recommend planting foxglove in your garden if you want to make sure to attract garden fairies.

How does a coreopsis bloom (Coreopsis lanceolata) end up in the middle of a drift of coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)? There can be only one answer.

The garden fairies put it there, to play a trick on the gardener. Then they hide and watch and laugh when the gardener comes out, and upon seeing the flower, scratches her head and says out loud to no one in particular, but loud enough for the fairies to hear, "Now, how did that flower get in there?"

If the gardener is really quiet, she might even her the slight tinkle of a fairy's laugh.

Whimsy in the garden is really in the mind of the gardener.

Or it may be in a fairy garden, filled with miniature plants, a few small garden ornaments, and a door for the garden fairies to come in out of the rain and cold.With all of this evidence, how can one dispute the notion that garden fairies are here in the garden, bringing their own brand of mischief and making sure the gardener doesn't get too serious about it all?

And if you listen to the garden fairies, they'll give you some good advice about how to make the garden a place that both you, and they, will love.

With their permission, since it was their guest post, I'll repeat some of their advice here.

From the Garden Fairies...

1. Don’t keep the garden too neat and tidy. If you try to keep things too tidy in the garden, you’ll drive yourself nuts with all the weeding and deadheading and you won’t enjoy the garden as much as you should. And you’ll remove a lot of good plant debris that we garden fairies use to make our houses and clothes, that birds use for their nests, and that microorganisms break down to enrich the soil. When you do clean up the garden a little bit, put the plant debris in a compost bin, please, and we’ll make sure you get good compost from it.

2. Get out and observe your garden year around and around the clock. The more time you spend in your garden, the more you learn about it. We think the more you learn about your own garden, the better you make it for us garden fairies. You observe where the sun shines at different times, what areas are wetter than others, where you need more plants and more. We promise to leave you alone, most of the time, as you wander about in your pj’s in the early morning. That is, we promise to leave you alone as long as you give us some space, too. As we make our way home after a night of partying about in your garden, we aren’t always as sharp and on the look out as we should be. And perhaps we might have a tiny bit of a hangover, too, if you know what I mean, so we can be grouchy in the morning. So just leave us alone if you see one of us.

3. Try to have flowers blooming as much as you can throughout the year. We garden fairies love flowers and generally settle in gardens where we know they’ll be a good, steady parade of blooms through spring, summer, and fall. Then in the winter, if we happen to live in a midwestern garden like Carol’s, we’ll sneak inside and play amongst the blooming houseplants or write an occasional guest post. Yes, we do sometimes envy our southern cousins who get to play in gardens outside all year long but it does get quite hot for them in the summer. Anyway, try to grow as many flowers as you can.

4. Lay off the pesticides. Those chemicals don’t just kill off the pests, they can take out the bees and garden fairies, too. Have you ever seen a garden fairy who didn’t run away fast enough when someone started spraying that stuff and got soaked with it? It’s just an awful sight! If you saw it once, you’d figure out other ways to get rid of those pests in your garden.

5. Mix it up in the garden with lots of variety. We like trees and shrubs for shade, along with flowers and foliage plants, maybe even some tall grasses and a bit of lawn. Oh, and we like lots of ground cover to nap under in the afternoon. And don’t forget to find a spot for a vegetable garden. We garden fairies don’t just sip flower nectar all night long, you know, we get hungry for real food, too. And we promise we’ll only eat a tiny bit, never as much as the rabbits eat. Aren't those rabbits just like pigs in the garden? And it is so funny to watch Carol try to chase them out of the garden!

*****

Thank you to Gardening Gone Wild for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop each month and for choosing Whimsy in the Garden as the July topic!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Container Planting at May Dreams Gardens

The “container season” starts early in my garden with violas and pansies. As soon as I can find some for sale anywhere in the spring, I buy a flat or two or three and plant them in some low containers to put on my front porch and in a front window box.

This year I planted the violas and pansies on March 21st.

The container season continues in the late spring when I plant containers of summer annuals to put on my front porch, back patio, and on my sister’s patio.

Then in the fall, I add some mums and gradually clear out the containers that have plantings that look tired and worn out from the summer, until I end up with all the containers stowed away for the winter, waiting until spring arrives again.

I generally plant the same plants each year, very predictably.

Boring!! Stop me!!! I need help!

That’s why I am looking forward to reading all the posts for this month’s topic for the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop, container plantings, sponsored by Gardening Gone Wild. My containers could use a little (a big) “punch up” this year and so could my sister’s, which I am also responsible for planting.

I have a good handle on the “how to” of containers…

Good drainage. It is difficult if not impossible for plants thrive in containers without good drainage, unless, of course, it is a containerized water garden. I won't buy a container that doesn't have holes for drainage or isn't made of a material that I can punch holes in myself.

Good soil. I mix my own potting soil for containers because I use a lot of dirt and it saves money. However, I am now looking for a good substitute for peat moss and will be experimenting with "the recipe" this year.

Good watering. I water my containers at least once a day in the summer-time. The soil can dry out quickly!

Good containers. Like Pam/digging wrote, “go big”. Larger containers make a greater impact and actually can go more than a day at times without extra water. Like many gardeners, when I have large containers, I put some old plastic pots or other loose filler in the bottom so I can use less soil. I also like the light weight “faux” stone pots.

Good plants. To maximize the impact of containers, just like elsewhere in the garden, use good, healthy plants. And remember to use plants that have the same light and water requirements when you plant them together in containers.

Good food. You should provide some light fertilizer for your container plants to get better results. I generally use a liquid fertilizer every few weeks or when I remember. This doesn’t have to be a synthetic fertilizer that comes as a powder that turns the water blue. There are organic liquid fertilizers readily available.

Good combinations. This is where I could use some help. I have a few tried and true combinations that I over-use. I’m tired of them and ready for something new.

The nice thing about container plantings is if you see one you like, it is pretty easy to duplicate it in your own garden. So I’ll be reading all the posts for this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop looking for new ideas for plant combinations in containers.

Or, if you want to directly help me out, just let me know about your favorite container plant combination and if I use it, I'll dedicate one of my containers to you in a future post!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop: Fences and Walls

Gardening Gone Wild’s December Garden Blogger’s Design Workshop is all about Fences and Walls.

Here’s a garden wall that I admired recently.

These homeowners have added a 'wall' just two stones high to differentiate between a lawn area and a wooded area in their front yard.

I think it is a good solution to the problem of having to maintain a tame area around the sidewalk while keeping the woods ‘as is’. Without it, this might look like a vacant lot, tempting neighbors to sneak over at night to dump their branches, leaves, and other debris that they are too lazy to deal with properly. Yes, that happens in neighborhoods.

But with this subtle wall, you can definitely tell this is part of someone’s landscape. And, it allows the woods to be seen in its entirety without a wall or fence blocking part of it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop - Paths and Walkways

Look!

From the space station, or the moon or somewhere up there, you can see my raised bed vegetable garden with its paths (compliments of Google Earth).

When I take pictures of the garden from ground level, it doesn’t really show how the beds are laid out and you can’t see all the paths.

Good paths are key to a raised bed garden like this.

The paths should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow and allow you to walk all the way around each raised bed. And they should be covered with mulch or stone or some material that is easy to walk on and keeps the path from getting muddy after it rains. These are clearly utilitarian paths designed to fill the space between the raised beds.

The second kind of path in my garden are shortcuts.
I just added some of these last summer in a few places where I was regularly cutting across a flower bed, rather than walking all the way around it. I want these paths to blend in a bit and not be obvious to others. I think once the plants grow up around them, they will be more hidden. These are my secret shortcuts.

The third kind of path in my garden is the kind of path that should gently guide the visitor to one section or another of the garden. I really only one have of these. As you enter from one side gate, it is pretty clear that you should follow the path and turn to the right, which should take you to the patio area.

But once you get to the patio, my entire yard is exposed in one view. There isn’t much to invite you to go in one direction or another to see what else is there. It’s all there, right before your very eyes.

I think this “all the garden in one big view” is a problem prevalent in a lot of suburban lots which start out as flat expanses of lawn. It might seem like a dream to have such a blank canvas, but it takes a good design, and a pile of money, to turn such a lot into a garden, the kind of garden with paths and views and surprises around the corner. There are no corners! There are no paths! There are no surprises! It is truly a blank slate.

So how would you approach this blank canvas? Would you start with the paths first and then build the beds around those, or would you add various garden beds and let the paths form between them?

Perhaps others who’ve been thinking about paths and walkways as part of the November Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop hosted by Gardening Gone Wild have some advice to offer?