tag: gladening

Succulent Love

September 9, 2010

I was looking through the GHTR flicker stream a few days ago and was stopped in my tracks by airdrome’s gorgeous backyard.

I love her use of succulents and am so covetous of the Angel Trumpet (Brugmasia)!  I have long desired a succulent garden – not only are they wonderfully low maintenance, they are wonderful for the environment as well.  Succulents need very little human input to thrive – just the right sun and soil conditions. Usually those tough, sandy soiled and sunny areas of a garden are perfect for a succulent garden.

They also work wonderfully well in containers.

Blue Succulent from Moosey’s Country Garden

Wild Ginger Farm in Oregon has some lovely examples and instructions for creating different succulent/rock gardens – including a lovely parking strip garden they planted using a pocket planting method.  From their site:

Pocket planting is used when you are unable to rework the soil in an entire area.  Instead, a hole is dug and additional soil is worked in along with the plant.

Different gardening zones require different plants, but I know there are a great number of beautiful sedum and succulents that will thrive in your garden.

photo by davitydave

Succulent Resources:

http://www.succulent-plant.com/

Cactus and Succulent Society of America

Cacti.com

And of course – Flora Grubb who created iconic succulent based vertical gardens.

I adore the vertical gardens, but am absolutely smitten with Susie Nadler’s work for The Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb. Love. Love. Love. Her combination of texture and color is superb. I look at her bouquets and see the garden the flowers came from.  What a fun design project that would be – to create a garden design based on one of these bouquets…which one would you pick??!!

You can see more of Susie’s work on her Flicker page…it is a lovely source of inspiration!

Much love to you all – next week the list of Fall garden chores is coming your way.  Let me know if you have any specific plant questions and I’ll be sure to address them!

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good morning monday!  how was your weekend?  mine was a great one full of sunshine and house cleaning (how fun!).  today is the mister’s birthday, so i’ve got a bit of planning and wrapping presents to do today- he’s turning 25!

do you remember the baby robin’s eggs i had in my garden?  well, they hatched and i’ve been able to take pictures of them as they’ve grown and i’m a little sad to say that they’ve flown the coop!  i guess i should have known that was coming.  i couldn’t believe my eyes of how much they had grown every day! here’s a summary of their progression:

robin's eggs to birds

aren’t they darling? all four hatched and survived, due to the mother’s highly protective care (and i mean highly!).

bird nest

these little birdies (not sure what kind?) were in a bird house i have, and i love this ‘surprised’ pic i got of them!  i peeked in on them one day when they were little and found a nest of fire ants all over them , so with a little diatomaceous earth (food grade, very safe) i dusted around the nest and like to think that i saved their little lives!  they’ve flown the coop as well, so it’s all empty nest syndrome here!

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so, in my new yard where i’m having unknown this and that’s pop up all over the place, i discovered that i pretty much have mint and lemon balm running out my ears.  i was chatting with caroline the other day about garden do’s and don’ts and happen to mention just how much mint i had, and just how much i didn’t know what to do with it!  per her advice, i’ve discovered my new favorite drink: a garden mint and lemon balm refresher.

garden mint and lemon balm refrehser

it’s delicious, it’s easy and it’s straight from the garden.  ingredients:

a squeeze of one lemon

1 tbls of honey

3-4 mint and/or lemon balm leaves

crush the leaves in the bottom of your glass with the ice to help release their yummy flavors, then add the lemon juice, honey and water (add a little sugar if you prefer sweeter).  stir until the honey dissolves and enjoy!

seriously y’all, this is one delectable drink.

to top things off, i walked up to our old house the other day (my sis still lives there) and visited my long forgotten (and long not-watered) square foot garden from last year. to my glorious surprise, my strawberry plant from last year not only was producing, but it had multiplied.  big time.

i’m pretty sure nothing could have made me any happier!  seeing (and devouring) these most beautiful sweet and perfect strawberries, made my day- maybe even my summer.  needless to say, my sister’s going to be seeing a lot more of me.

{photos: bonnie forkner}

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Hello!  How are you all this week?  Did you know that Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest gardening weekends of the year?  Garden centers are going to be stocked with the freshest and biggest selection of plants in preparation for the gardening madness that they are expecting.  So here is a little tip – if you plan on buying plants for this weekend, visit your local independent garden center on Thursday or Friday morning to get the best selection.  I’ve been haunting my local garden center all week – this year we are inundated with last minute requests for potted containers to decorate homes for Memorial Day.  So I’ve been spending lots of time playing with different color and plant combinations and making some fun containers.

Last week I was asked how I grow such abundant herb containers and I wanted to share one of the Ladybug secrets – we make our own potting soil.   We are not fans of peat moss as a gardening agent, and almost all commercial potting soils  use it as a primary ingredient.  Peat moss is troublesome for several reasons – it is a rapidly depleting natural resource that is slow to renew and we are not fans of this environmental cost.  It is also very finicky and once it dries out it is very difficult to re-wet.  If you have ever added lots of peat moss to your soil and then felt like you could never water your plants enough then chances are the peat dried out in the soil and created an impenetrable barrier to moisture.  In our experience with clients, peat moss based potting soils are one of the leading causes of container plants failing.  With any type of gardening, always pay attention to the soil you are inviting your plants to live in.

Here is our recipe for potting soil for container annuals and herbs.

We use our homemade compost and buy the rest of the ingredients.  Perlite and vermiculite are added to improve drainage and coconut coir is an excellent substitute for peat.  You can find the bricks of coconut coir in many garden centers, or check your local hydroponic shop – they will most certainly have it.  The most time consuming part of this is waiting for the coconut coir brick to reconstitute.  If I know I am making a bunch of potting soil I’ll start soaking the coconut coir the night before to be ready to go in the morning.  Each brick reconstitutes to about 2 gallons of dry material.

Then you simply add the rest of the ingredients. The ratio depends on what you are planting in the soil.  I tend to use equal parts coconut coir and compost mixed with a third of the amount of vermiculite, perlite and worm castings.   If I am potting succulents I use very little compost.  Otherwise this is a good starting point.  The point is to just try it out and see how your plants respond.  This was a messy process…so I could not take photos of the mixing.  Just get in there and get your hands dirty and mix all the ingredients together!  Make sure to crumble up any bits of coconut coir and you are good to go!

I planted  up my Thai basil with the potting soil I made today.  I have to take full blame for the spindly little seedlings in the photos.  I know they will fill up and create huge basil plants, but don’t they look so gawky!

I also potted up some more salad greens around my dill…as the season heats up and the lettuces bolt, the dill will fill the entire container.  I’ll then remove the lettuce and enjoy the dill!

I wanted to end this week’s post with a quick camera phone shot of a bouquet I created from my flower garden. As I was heading over to give this to a dear friend who is not feeling well I was struck with gratitude for the bounty of life and garden.  I remembered planting the peony bulbs years ago and being so excited to one day be able to harvest armfuls of peonies to give away and enjoy.  That day has finally arrived and it reminded me, again, why I love to garden.

Gardening is hope and looking to the future while tending to the present. It is care taking and nurturing and knowing that what you put in comes back.  It is also fleeting and cyclical and filled with the knowledge that as you enjoy this moment, it is coming to an end.  But it is also knowing that after the peonies come the hydrangeas.  Happy gardening dear ones…may your blooms be bountiful and your bounty be nourishing!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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would you like to take a walk in the yard with me?  i was out with my camera yesterday, and found lots of goodies to share with you!  i don’t even know what some of the blooms are (like these first ones) but they make me exited none the less. there are splashes of pink, purple and orange all around the yard!

i saved my favorites for last. :)  the first one is of some baby birds we have residing in our birdhouse, they are so big!  and this bottom one is from our resident robin.  she’s laid the prettiest blue eggs i’ve ever seen!  they are in the perfect place for me to take pictures of (without disturbing her or the nest) so hopefully, i’ll be able to track their progress with you!

you can see the full set of garden pics in my beautiful blooms album on flickr!

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Didn’t Caroline’s post just make you itch to get out in the garden or onto your balcony and plant something?  We put in our veg patch last week and every day (ok, about 5 times a day) I’m out there staring at the soil waiting for things to sprout!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t always use up all the seeds that come in a packet.  After all, who needs 200 heads of lettuce?  Some I’ll be keeping to sow later in the season, some I’d like to pass along to gardening friends.  Since I have a project up my sleeve that will use the seed packets to document the garden season I needed a way to save the extra seeds and it needed to be pretty!  So I came up with some seed envelopes.  Hope you like them!  Click here to download the pdf.

chelsea's

banner-for-roost

footer for roost Chelsea Rogers has been cooking and crafting… and not cleaning up for as long as she can remember.  When she’s not making a mess, you can find her on Pretty Lulu and An Abundance of Apricots.

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we got a new chicken coop!  believe it or not, even though we moved almost 6 months ago, my girls just made the big move yesterday!  i had been going back and forth from our last place to take care of them (just up the hill).  it wasn’t without resistance, (ever tried to catch a chicken?), but i assured them the move was for their own good.  now, look how happy they are!

coop

coop

coop

coop

coop

coop

coop

coop

squawk!

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Hello!  I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your time outdoors.  This week has been incredibly busy and I’m finding myself slightly overwhelmed with the May gardening chores!  The last frost date in CT is in about 3 weeks, and that is when I’ll be putting out my veggie seedlings.  I’m supposed to wait until then to plant up my annual containers as well, but I was seduced by pink flowers at the garden center today and I indulged.  Oh garden centers are my weakness and now I have another “chore” for my list this weekend!

organic  gardening

(Images: Garden Organic)

I’ve been rushing about to prepare my own garden beds. I’m usually out there really early in the morning or really late at night and sometimes I feel a bit nutty about the whole thing.  But then I think about how much the local chipmunks enjoy eating my tomatoes and my motivation just blossoms….

il_430xN.104319044

(Image: Ryan Berkley Illustration)

As a result of my very busy week I’m feeling the urge to sit back and relax with a glass of wine and some youtube videos….yes, the roomba cat will be on repeat, but I will also be visiting some of my favorite organic gardening channels.  I love to see what others are doing in their gardens, and pick up new ideas.

As I mentioned last week, I have an inner English lady.  So naturally, I gravitate to British gardening shows!

One of my favorite youtube channels is GardenOrganic’s channel.

caroline's weekend

(Images: Caroline Finnegan)

The Produce Garden

The Thrifty Gardener

Treehuggertv

Organic Texas

eOrganic

I search youtube for organic gardening, permaculture, landscape design and anything else my mind may come up with….after a couple of glasses of wine, it will be back to roomba cat, I cannot lie…but until then I will be enjoying some great gardening!

Do you have any favorite youtube sites?

Next week I have a fun project to share with you all!  Until then, happy gardening!!!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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