Monthly Archives: June 2016

Evergreen Plants Make The Best Foundation PlantingFoundation plantings make for the basis of landscape design, not only in looks but also in purpose. Good planning results in foundation plantings that compliment, balance, take up excess water keeping it off of the foundation, screen, and block the home from sun and wind. The curb appeal that good foundation planting provides increases the home's value and desirability when selling. In some neighborhoods, they are required by covenant bylaws to not only exist around the home, but to look kept and beautiful. If you're installing, adding to, or completely redoing your foundation and are looking for plant choices that are going to be absolutely low maintenance, look no further.

Here are some suggestions for you that will require little work and provide beauty, all while adding function and purpose.

Evergreen plants are absolutely vital in a beautiful foundation design. They are functional and are beautiful year round. They also offer native songbirds and other animals respite, all while they do what foundation plantings should be doing and being absolutely simple to maintain. Not all evergreens are suitable. Here are some of our favorite low maintenance evergreens for foundation plantings:

    • Junipers come in many sizes and shapes and textures. Many cultivars have been specifically developed to be well suited to foundation plantings. For example, Irish Juniper is a medium sized juniper at maturity, but its slender profile makes it a great anchor planting, or a plant used to balance the shape of the home and the landscape. It would also make a good screen, and in the fall when Junipers develop their blue waxy berries, they become cover and forage for many types of bird species. Once established, Irish Juniper needs no extra watering and minimal yearly pruning.
    • Arborvitae are bred and crafted in the same numbers (if not more) by nursery breeders to suit landscapes and foundation plantings as Junipers. There's literally an arborvitae cultivar for every nook and cranny in the garden! They come in fantastic colors too - from bluish grey to bright yellow chartreuse, and textures from appearing coarse to soft. They are all hardy, virtually work-free once established, and essential in the garden and foundation plantings. One of our favorite is Anna's Magic Ball. Not growing more than 2 feet in height and spread, this tiny little cutie is green with bright yellow tips. It really stands out! Planted below a blue-cast spruce, or among grey and blue broad leaved hosta, Anna's Magic Ball brightens up the foundation beautifully. Techny Gold is an older cultivar that grows up to 15 feet in height and has similar chartreuse foliage as Anna's Magic Ball. All Techny arborvitae have a naturally growing pleasant triangle or pyramid shape and make excellent screens and anchors in the foundation design.
    • Boxwood is a broad leaved evergreen shrub that has been used for hundreds of years (especially in Europe) as a formal hedge. It takes shearing nicely and forms a very dense shape based on how it's sheared. Sprinter Is a tested performer that is healthy and beautiful as well as easy to care for. It's pleasant emerald green color and forgiving nature makes it a staple in the landscape. Once established, it's also carefree. Yearly shearing encourages it to keep shape.

These are all wonderful, easy to care for evergreen shrubs well suited to foundation plantings. There are plenty of choices and mixed with deciduous selections and perennials, they will make the foundation of your low maintenance foundation planting plan that's as beautiful as it is functional.

 

Perennial PlantsGardening for some, no matter the amount of work goes into it, is a very enjoyable task - from hauling the dirt, to cutting the brambles, to pulling the weeds - it's all good stuff. But for many of us, we love our gardens and don't mind a little weekend upkeep, but we certainly don't find the idea of making it a full time job enjoyable. Thankfully, there are some pretty awesome gardening hacks that make gardening a whole lot easier. Great tools and time saving materials and habits like putting down a good mulch regularly are a couple of hacks that help, but one is so simply obvious yet dismissed that it might boggle the mind. Simply put, if you plant the right perennials in your garden, your life will be a lot easier. It's true - many perennial plants make gardening easy.

Here are some of our favorite perennials that make gardening easier with the biggest amount of "WOW" factor to boot!

Perennials in their own right save you a lot of time and headache. Once established, they come back year after year without a lot of help from you. They tend to be healthy plants that resist disease. They sometimes naturally fill in spaces beautifully, or remain in neat and tidy clumps all their lives. But with some careful picking and choosing, you can even make your perennials pull double, or triple duty. They can serve purposes in terms of water saving, producing edibles for the table, offer shade and respite, and even protect your home and property.

Succulent plants such as ice plant, sedums, and hens and chicks are all drought tolerant and conserve water. There are many forms of succulents, from the tall background stately plants like yucca plant, to the mid-ground succulents like upright sedums, to lovely ground covers such as hens and chicks, there's a succulent perennial for every need in the hot garden that doesn't receive a lot of water. You won't have to water these once they're established and will save you money and time.

Perennial edibles are also wonderful multi-purpose plants that save you energy in the garden. Many herbs are wonderful perennials, such as rosemary plant, sage plant, and mint plant. Catnip plant is perfect for kitty of course, but catnip can also be grown in the garden as a beneficial insect attractor. Yarrow plant is another perennial that has herbal qualities, and is also a good wildlife attractor. Some of these perennial herbs can be spreading and somewhat invasive, so employing raised bed gardening when growing these (especially the mints) will help you keep these wonderful garden perennials under control.

And finally, adding one or two very interesting and unusual "Wow!" perennials will make your garden stand apart from the crowd. Ornamental banana plants are beautiful and have high-impact in the garden for example. In many areas, hardy ornamental bananas can be grown year round right in the ground. Dwarf varieties can be grown in large pots and brought inside when cold weather hits if you live in a colder climate. A few ornamental bananas in the garden gives a tropical feel that suits the hot summer garden wonderfully.

 

Attract Hummingbirds to Your GardenA lot of people think that hanging out a quick hummingbird feeder is enough to encourage hummers into their gardens. While hummingbirds will stop by and eat from these feeders, they tend to quickly move on to more welcoming gardens. Creating an ideal garden for hummingbirds offers more than just food. They offer all of the basic essentials for bird life. Hummingbirds come and stay in gardens that are perfectly suited for them. Here's what you need to create an ideal garden for hummingbirds.

Many hummingbirds are a migratory species of bird that spend the winters in South and Central America, and in the spring travel all the way up to North America and even into parts of Canada where they spend the warm season breeding, raising young, and preparing to fly south again. Hummingbirds rely on the nectar found in flowers, which they get plenty of in South America. But, they need the abundant insects found in the spring and summer in the lands of North America and Canada to successfully raise healthy babies. They also spend a lot of time resting- usually about 80% of their lives is spent sitting and resting their tiny bodies. Providing a garden that's full of healthy insect activity with lots of nectar sources and plenty of thin twigs, branches, and other similar places to rest are all going to entice a hummer to stick around. Even more important, providing a safe place to nest will help the hummingbirds stay through the season, and return yearly.

Rely on plants that hummingbirds enjoy to eat from. Tubular red, blue, and purple perennial flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds. The wild versions of plants usually create the most nectar which will encourage hummingbirds to come back again and again, but this isn't a hard-set rule. Many cultivars provide plenty of nectar for hummingbirds.

Hummingbird plants include:

  • Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
  • Azalea
  • Honeysuckles
  • Weigela
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Agastache
  • Hosta
  • Foxglove
  • Yucca
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Viburnum
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Summersweet (Clethra)
  • Hydrangea
  • Mockorange
  • Potentilla
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Salvia
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera)
  • Mints

Consider tying up a thin line if you don't have a clothesline already. Hummingbirds of North America are well adapted to life with people and their homes and are quite fond of perching and resting on clotheslines, wires, extension cords, chicken wire fences, or any thin and stable cables. Trees and shrubs are also very welcome resting spots too.

Offer a moving source of water for hummers to bathe in and drink from. Despite assuming that these small birds get all of the water they need from nectar, they are still observed using birdbaths consistently.

In the garden, try to refrain from using chemical commercial pesticides. They are long acting, so even if you use them in a specific area they often stick around and continue to kill for weeks after the application. Instead, encourage a healthy bug population. If you're over-run by grasshoppers or Japanese beetles for example, there are plenty of specific traps that work to capture these pets and bring their numbers down to a less destructive number. One option is to use a natural organic insecticidal soap for aphid infestations that won't harm hummingbirds if it's ingested in small amounts.

So... go beyond the hummingbird feeder for attracting and keeping those gorgeous winged jewels in your garden.

Making Room for Something New in the GardenI am making progress and room in my garden for new things with the guidance from Jack Canfield's book - The Principles of Success: Principle #28 Clean Up Your Messes and Your Incompletes.

There will always be new tasks/projects/missions that need completing and in competing stages - so this is an ongoing mission of mine.

I often walk around my garden and take notes of what tasks I must complete, transplant, and coordinate the placement of new plants. I decide which textures, colors, or sizes of plants I need and where I want them included. This is my primary garden task - the overall planning while viewing the garden in smaller sections within the entire garden design.

Jack Canfield stated, "Get into the completion consciousness. Continually ask yourself, What does it take to actually get this task completed? Then you can begin to consciously take that next step... Rather than start fifteen projects that end up incomplete and take up space, you'd be better off if you had started just three and completed them."

I discovered some of those incompletes or projects in my garden survey and I have a scroll of things that could be, should be and want to be concluded, which can appear overwhelming.

Jack Canfield and Mark Twain and many others endorse this management technique: chunking it down into smaller more manageable tasks and maintain focus.

Recently in my garden, I added larger containers to transplant older plants that were root bound and needed space to grow and bloom. I found azure blue, root beer brown and asparagus green containers on sale at different places and I am trading the smaller containers with a more uniform garden design.

To add flair, I planted fresh yellow and pink primroses, and pink, purple and red cyclamen around the border of the hydrangea, pink rose transplants and others. In the some of the new containers, I added two delicate Pink Breath of Heaven, a pink geranium and a lavender osteospernum (daisy) and I am pleased with the final results.

Within a week, the blooms will spring forth and sing! Ahh... progress.

I always photograph my garden so I can review what worked successfully or not. Sometimes, I repeat a garden design that I especially liked in a similar or different location. I am celebrating these completions and successes and remembering them with my photos.

Now, I have room for new things in my garden and to complete new tasks. Happy gardening!