- Author: Mike Gunther
- Author: Jenni Dodini
I was recently donating a good portion of my paycheck at the local box store's nursery, with my 5 year old grandson in tow. I was looking for a particular plant when I hear, "Gramma, I just CAN live without this plant!" Trying very hard not to laugh (as were several other adults in the vicinity) I corrected him that the phrase is "I just CAN'T live..." Since he said it with all the seriousness of a 12 year old girl, I assured him that if we did not buy it, he would indeed live, but we would not have to test it that day, and I put the pot into the cart. After a bit, he asked what the flower is called, so we looked at the tag and saw "Balloon flower."
Once we got home, I jumped on the teachable moment and had him get a spot picked out and choose a pot for it. We talked about how it likes a lot of sun, but not the really hot sun in the afternoons. So, he looked around, and I encouraged him to pick the spot on the bottom step going up to the house. He was fine with that, and into the pot it went. The next day, the stamen had opened into another little white flower and the bud had turned from a light brownish color to the balloon looking bud pictured below. The flowers that had been there were shriveled up. After doing my research, I found that balloon flowers are of the most kid-friendly plants that one can put into the garden. I think they are great because of the color, and they can also be found in white and pink, and because they are SUPER easy to grow and maintain. Their only pest enemy are snails and slugs. They only need sustained release fertilizer once a year, in the spring, and they produce lots of seeds which are in the dried up flower. The gardenknowhow.com site said to pluck off the dried up bud and put it/them into a paper bag and store in a cool dry place until spring, then break it open and sprinkle the brown, rice-like seeds onto a layer of compost and water. The sprouts should come up in about 2 weeks. (This will be the next teachable moment.) The site also said that if one would want to cut the flowers for an arrangement, to singe the ends to make them last longer. They may also need to be staked up, as they can get fairly tall.
Overall, I'm glad that I did not make the boy try to live without the plant as it has been blooming right along since we brought it home. Now I'm keeping an eye out for a pink one to add to the pot, and white while I'm at it.
- Author: Martha White
My Garden's Soul
A garden is such a personal creation
For some, it is faith
For others, it is promise
For many, it is memories-
A volunteer cedar tree, given by a friend who lives in the foothills
The handprint stepping stone, crafted by young grandsons, years ago
A birdbath Christmas gift, not so cleverly wrapped
The boy statue and the girl statue, reminding me of the blessing of my children and grandchildren
A pot of double begonias, part of a partner purchase on a happy garden outing
The hanging plant on clearance at the grocery store, now thriving
Succulents and geraniums, flourishing from cuttings, gathered from friends
Birthdays, Mother's Day, Easter, love
Every glance, every turn of my head, reminds me of the story. The story of how all these beautiful parts of my garden have come to be
And, continue to be…
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Yesterday, the sun came out with a vengeance just when I wanted to pot up my fuchsias and the last of the 4” ferns that came in the mail. Now the heat never bothered me before, but standing on the hot concrete patio in the full sun was just not for me! I have been working everyday out in the “back forty” in the sun and I've had enough!
Getting ready to have the fence replaced has meant lot of pruning: privets, photinias, bottlebrush bushes, pomegranates: all have either had their canopies raised above the fence edge OR had a few multi-trunks removed. Not only can the existing fence be seen – easily – through the bushes, but the surrounding houses as well. I didn't know that the one house had removed their rather sickly tree! Wow, I wonder what else has changed around here? The shrubs had all been chosen for their hardiness and their ability to grow more than 15 feet tall. When one has a neighbor who can easily look for a 6-feet fence when standing on an elevated deck, one tends to plant tall shrubs (and when the houses around one on 6 sides are 2-story) for privacy.
Unfortunately, privacy is one of those things that skunks, possums, raccoons, and rats like as well, so cutting thing back, “raising skirts”, etc. can work against a gardener. I have found spare animal “bedrooms”, snack sites and poop sites; so it's time to reclaim MY space. No one except the jays complained, so ok so far! I've also found and removed 40 young palm trees, 25 privets of a variety that I have never planted, 3 live oak trees – saved one 12-footer, and numerous pecan trees; yes, pecan trees that have been plants by whichever bird will bury food. I don't know who is feeding the birds pecans, but I'm constantly finding the trees and spare pecan shells on the ground. There's a ‘heavenly bamboo' blooming under the oleanders which also got thinned out and their “skirts raised”; my beloved “Christmas” holly with its prickly leaves, and a rose I thought had died long ago. Amazing what I am finding after 25 years out there!
I had planned on totally finishing my pruning chores with the removal of a large (6-inch diameter) branch on the mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), but discovered that the branch was the one thing holding up that fence section! The same thing has happened with a lemon bottlebrush tree – the “nub that I was going to remove is holding up THAT section of fence! I can only wait until the back fence is removed and rush in to cut those parts as the fence contractor “does not do landscaping” or cutting plants down. He and I have already had a major discussion about my purple smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple'). The gist of the conversation was basically, I'm not cutting it back; it's taken 15 years to get that big; destroy it and you buy me a new one THAT size. We truly understood each other after that!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hot weather basics: lightweight, light colored clothes; plenty of fluids; take shade breaks frequently; use that sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat; and if you are feeling too warm, are dizzy, or not sweating GO INTO THE COOL HOUSE! There is nothing to do outside that's worth your health!
Also, in temperatures over 80 degrees please no power tools. The humidity is low and all it takes is a spark from hitting a rock or other hard surface to start a grass or weed fire! Work hard out there BUT work safe!
- Author: Betty Homer
Through a round-about way, I happened to stumble across information that the following book is set to be released either this month or next month: