Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Easy Tip to Help Keep the Trees on Your Property Healthy - A Personal Review

Our Backyard Trees - Kept Healthy with this Easy Tip
About ten years ago, while visiting a client, I had to know how in the world they were able to get the massive trees on their property to stay so healthy and look so beautiful.

He pointed to the neighbors trees across the street and said, 'when we first purchased this house, these trees looked just like those'. And 'Those' weren't very nice at all. 

I asked him, 'what did you do?'

Here's the tip he passed along to me, and we've been using it ever since for the trees in our yard.

He said, every spring and fall, we put Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes around all of our trees.

'That's it?' I asked.

He was adamant, 'yep, just put them in and forget it'.

'How long before you saw results?' 

He said it was by next year that the trees had a new life.

Our Home Has so Many Trees, I Had to Try This Product

When we purchased our home over 20 years ago we hand planted over 50 Cedar Trees in our
A Closer Look at the Health of Our Trees
from Implementing this One Tip
backyard, and in the front yard put a Blue Spruce, a Birch Tree and an English Oak Tree, along with shrubs.

As the years went on I noticed that the cedar trees in the backyard were looking a little rough, and knowing that sparse Cedar Trees aren't attractive, an immediate solution was in order.

For some reason my mind believed that caring for trees would be complicated. Wow, was I wrong!

I highly recommend using Fertilizer Spikes to care for your trees. Our experience has been fantastic.

Not being a tree expert in any way shape or form, I simply had to trust that this product would do the job.

You can find Fertilizer Spikes at just about any hardware store or The Home Depot or of course, online. 

I'm not fussy on any particular brand. The only thing I look for, for our trees, are spikes that say 'Evergreen'. There are various fertilizer spikes for different types of trees and shrubs. Just pick the ones you need based on your trees/shrubs.

This year I added another fertilizer spike to the mix, one that was for both Evergreens and Flowering Shrubs.

How Do You Put Fertilizer Spikes in the Ground?

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. That's how :)

The ones I buy come twelve in a pack, with two plastic tops to use to hammer them in the ground.

It's like making Elephant Pudding (tee hee, an old elephant joke) - simply follow the directions on the package.

I use three boxes, that's 36 spikes for the backyard, and this year I used 30 spikes for the front yard. Some of the front yard spikes were for flowering shrubs.

Also, they say to use the spikes for spring and fall and I've only ever put them in the ground in the spring. However, I think this year I'll put them in the ground again in the fall.

I've put some of the product choices below, but as mentioned above, I'm not dedicated to a particular brand. Each year I just grab whatever is on the shelf at the local hardware store. I have used both brands featured below, and both were fine. I don't have a preference.




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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Unique and Beautiful Watering Options for your Gardens

There are two reasons for this REVIEW TODAY! 

1. According to the Calendar of Days,  it is "Water a Plant Day" 

2.  Summer seems to be off to a fine start and I know my garden is in need of a daily drink!

Gardens are a place to rest and relax, to get your hands just a little dirty and to find something beautiful to enjoy!  Some of us have large gardens and others may have a small garden, but one thing is certain, everybody enjoys to see flowers blooming!  The garden doesn't have to do too much to make a weary soul smile. The hardiest of flowers can be enjoyed by everyone.  There is no need to be intimidated by thoughts of exotic plants (unless you want to be).  A pot full of marigolds is a beautiful sight.

Since the time of Adam and Eve, we have nurtured gardens and tried to bring some of them under our control.  With trying to control their growth, we also need to control their watering and feeding.  You can't have one without the other.


water a plant day, watering cans, garden Review

Water a plant day brings up some interesting points about watering options for our gardens.  Let's for right now focus on watering cans and manual ways to keep our plants from dying of thirst!  I will leave drip irrigation methods to gardeners who really need that kind of extended watering options.  (Leave me a comment and I'll gladly discuss this with you!)

Water can be heavy, so when you are deciding on a watering can for your needs remember that you will need to carry it!  To that end, I will suggest that a watering can should hold around 2 gallons of water.  Any more than this and the weight becomes difficult to handle.  With my arthritis, I would not want to carry more than this personally.  It's also a good size when it comes to adding fertilizers to enhance the blooming of your flowers.

Now I'm going to show you one that gets a 5 Star rating and tell you why it's a good choice.

This watering can holds 2 Gallons so it's the perfect size. It has a fairly large opening to fill it and also to add any fertilizers. It is made of a light weight resin material that can be left out in the great outdoors without any problems.  It has a nozzle that makes the water fall like a shower on your plants.  The only down side to this watering can is that the nozzle is NOT removable.  This watering can is practical, but not very pretty.  If you are looking for function, this watering can will do the trick quite nicely and it's very affordable.



Now if you are looking for a watering can that does the job, but looks pretty too, there are many more options.  You can find watering cans that your children or grandchildren would love to use.  Any gardener that loves their hobby, loves to share that hobby with their loved ones too!  These watering cans would make playing and working in the garden a really fun time! Check out these lovely options in watering cans and see if one doesn't make you smile too! Little hands would enjoy the animals that could help them, help you! This is just a little sample of the many watering cans that you can get. I just happen to love the colors and the shapes of these ones. The child in me has never really grown up!

Now here are a few practical things to remember when using a watering can to give your plants a drink.  Plants don't like to be watered with ice cold water, especially on really hot days.  It is a shock to their tender roots.  Fill your watering can and let it stand outdoors for an hour or so before subjecting your plants/planters to their daily drink.  Water your plants early in the morning rather than at high noon.  The plants will be able to drink more and be able to cope with the midday sun easier when they are well hydrated.  If you are using the watering cans to water your planters, you might also look at a schedule for fertilizing these planters.  Check out the labels and directions for your favorite types of fertilizers and use them accordingly.

water a plant day, Review This, Gardening help

A closing bit of advice, when you are watering your plants, talk to them too!  Plants do respond by growing much better when they are coddled!  Ask any gardener and they will agree that Watering, Talking, Primping and Pruning will do wonders for anything you are trying to grow!





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Monday, February 12, 2018

Reviewing the Antique Rose Emporium

The Antique Rose Emporium 2018 catalog.
Do you love Roses? Would you like to grow roses in your garden but believe they are too delicate and difficult to grow? Are you looking for a special, hardy, old-fashioned rose and can't find quite what you want at the local nurseries? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes" I recommend that you shop at the Antique Rose Emporium.

What better recommendation is there than word-of-mouth?  A few years ago, when I was searching for a very specific rose but had no idea it's name, Renaissance Woman pointed me in the direction of The Antique Rose Emporium.  I'm glad she did. Receiving my 2018 catalog in the mail recently reminded me that I wanted to continue to spread the word about the wonderful roses offered at the Antique Rose Emporium (ARE).


The Antique Rose Emporium


The Antique Rose Emporium (ARE) is located in Independence, Texas. There you will find their display garden and retail center.  If, like me, you are not able to visit them in Texas, you can order from them online and request their catalog. The ship orders within the continental US. It is their philosophy (and in my limited experience with roses, I agree) that old garden roses are hardy and easy-to-grow.

An excerpt from their "our story" page:


"Until the discovery of old garden roses, I shared the prevailing bias that roses were hard to grow, were fussy, needed to be sprayed, needed to be pruned in a certain way, and were short-lived. Roses we have since discovered have changed my bias and have made me an advocate of these easy care roses and I truly believe they are the ultimate garden plant"  -- Mike Shoup at Antique Rose Emporium

If you'd like to read more of what Mike Shoup has to say about roses, take a peek at his book:

Empress of the Garden available on Amazon

My Quest for a Specific Rose


Many years ago, I lived in a home that had been the home of a family who had lived there for 60+ years. In that yard was a rose bush that was both adored and hated. It was the most thorny thing and was a chore to mow around.  Yet, despite not being pruned or fertilized, or cared for in any other way it provided constant and a profuse amount of little maroon blossoms from the heat of the summer through late autumn. Those small roses had a strong fragrance that floated through the yard and into the house. On days off, I spread a blanket in the yard near that bush and relaxed with a book.

I had no idea how much I'd miss that rose bush and how often I would think about it after I moved away.  So the search began for a similar rose bush.

The problem is, I know next-to-nothing about roses. Didn't know what "hips" were. Double-bloom? Rambler? Remontant? WHAT?! 

Despite my complete lack of familiarity with describing roses, and trying to recall details about a rose from a decade ago, I emailed ARE to ask if they could help me identify that elusive rose.


Great Customer Service at the Antique Rose Emporium


I expected no response from my strange email request to help find that rose bush. Imagine my surprise when I received a personal response within that same day! Mr. Shoup described two roses with similar characteristics. And closed with the comment "This is the closest I can get. I think you are describing an old Hybrid Tea that we don't carry". 

I was astounded that anyone would take the time to respond to my inept description of an old rose bush. In my excitement about the roses they had to offer, I had already ordered a Granny Grimmetts for my yard at The Shack.

I received my Granny Grimmetts via the mail; shipped safely in a box and packaging that held it securely. I planted it in my yard at The Shack and the deer immediately stripped it. I now know that roses are a delicacy to deer and planting a rose on a ridge in West Virginia was like ringing a deer dinner bell. I placed a protective cage around the bush, and something else feasted on that poor plant.  I was sure that I had failed and killed that little rose bush but I allowed the cage to remain. And I was thrilled that the following year, that poor victimized rose had grown, put on a few buds, and was doing well! 


Granny Grimmetts in her new home
I have since returned to the area where that original rose bush was. I drove past the home and had plans of knocking on the door to ask if I could get some cuts from the plant. Alas, that unruly and thorny rosebush was long gone. But I have my Granny Grimmetts and plan to add the recommended Dame de Coeur.


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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hobby Time from the Review This! Contributors




hob·by - an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure. 

January is known as National Hobby Month.   The contributing writers here on Review This! each have their favorite ways to enjoy a relaxing pursuit and have written many reviews of various how-to books, crafting supplies and DIY tutorials, gardening tips, recipes & kitchen aids for the cook, photography lessons, reading or listening to music, sports, and a host of other hobbies. 

These are but a few of the hobbies enjoyed by the Review This crew. The list of hobbies is almost endless.  If you are interested in looking for what we writers here have reviewed, type in the name of your 'hobby' either in the box in the top left-hand corner of any Review This page, or in the search box down the right-hand side. By looking at the author's name, you won't have any problem figuring out which HOBBY is each writers' favorite! For instance, mine  (Wednesday Elf) is crochet and my hobby is shared by several other contributors here, so we learn and share with each other. A more comprehensive list is shown below.


National Hobby Month




Begun by the Hobby Guild of America in 1955,  National Hobby Month was celebrated in April until 1976, then in October until 1986.  Since then, it has been celebrated during the month of January. 

January was most likely chosen for National Hobby Month as it is the beginning of a new year and a good time to start a new hobby.  Many people have never had hobbies during their working years or while raising a family and begin one in their retirement or after the children are grown.  Others try many hobbies throughout their life before finding one or two that gives them the most enjoyment. 


Hobby Examples on Review This!



Hobbies can be passive (such as crafting, reading, writing, listening to music or watching a movie) or an activity such as gardening, cooking or participating in sports. Many people have more than one hobby and often combine them, such as listening to music while crafting. 

In addition to writing reviews here on Review This!, most of the contributing writers here write for their own blogs and websites.  Writers consider writing to be more work than hobby, so time away from writing is important. That's where the activities done in our leisure time become such a pleasure. It is also interesting to note that the passion we feel for our hobbies is shown in many of the subjects we write about.


  • Barbara Tremblay Cipak (Brite-Ideas) is crazy about country music and frequently writes about the artists and their music she is so passionate about.  She is also loves to experiment with color in home décor. 
  • Dawn Rae does crochet and participates in a group of fellow jeep owners.  She also enjoys gardening and lately 'learning about homesteading'.
  • Cynthia Sylvestermouse is a freelance writer and photographer who loves all different kinds of crafts, including crafting in the kitchen, creating fancy cakes and cupcakes. 
  • Barbara (BarbRad) is an expert on books and loves to read.  She is also a nature photographer who most enjoys photographing her central California area. 
  • Mary Beth Granger (MBGphoto) is a fabulous photographer who continually takes photography classes to learn more.  Photography has become her passion in her retirement, along with traveling.  Lighthouses and beaches are her favorite subjects. 
  • Wednesday Elf loves crochet and needlework, watching baseball and reading. 
  • Beverly Owens is busy researching her Native American Indian heritage and loves to write about spirit animals and the wisdom of her ancestors. She also enjoys crocheting. 
  • Olivia Morris loves gardening and following the fashion world.
  • Brenda Little (Treasures By Brenda) collects coffee mugs and researches the history of vintage cups and other vintage items which she shares in her eBay store.  She also loves reading, great movies, cooking, and pop culture. 
  • Diana Wenzel (Renaissance Woman2010) enjoys an off-the-grid lifestyle where she pursues her interests in animal rescue, wonderful nature photography, and DIY projects. She also loves to read. 
  • Louanne Cox (Lou16) loves reading, 80s music, zombies and dolls, among a host of other interests. 
  • Heather Burns (Heather426) is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Her hobby is her artistic accomplishments, including the colored pencils she has created for coloring pages and coloring books. 
  • Coletta Teske is a published book author and loves to sew. 

These are just the highlights of hobbies and interests I have observed from the articles they publish and the interaction we have as a team here on the staff of Review This!.  I am sure there are other interests each of them have.  


Quick View Home Page



By clicking on the Quick View Home Page button at the top of any Review This! page, you will have weekly examples of many of the articles your hobbyists here enjoy (plus many non-hobby reviews).  

Stop by the comments section and tell us your favorite hobby or activity. The Review This! staff would love to hear about what gives you pleasure in your leisure time.

(c) Written by Wednesday Elf on 1/20/2018







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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Halloween Garden Cleanup and Planting Time Too! Let's Review How to Get This Done

Summer's Heat has given way to Autumn cooler temperatures, let's review ways to get your garden ready for the oncoming cold that is sure to happen.


Autumn is that wonderful time of year when the weather gets a little cooler and the days start to have a little bite in them.  Leaves are turning those beautiful shades of yellow, gold, orange, and red. Everywhere the eye goes, it's a myriad of beautiful colors to keep us all in Awe!  What a wonderful mystical, beautiful time of year.  The Maker's  paintbrush is never still and our picture changes daily.
Everyday,  I look out over my balcony and the trees are changing colors from one day to the next.  Yesterday the leaves were all green and today it seems that they are turning shades of gold, red, browns and oranges.  One day makes such a difference.


It's also time to get cracking on the Autumn garden chores! 


If you are not sure what to do with all those leaves,  give that link(Autumn garden chores) a quick review, your garden will love you for it.  It doesn't hurt to organize our chores for the best outcomes in our gardens. 


Cooler Days and changing colors are a shock to the system after all of summer's warm days.  Time moves on and these changes are a gardener's Alarm Clock, because the next thing is garden cleanup before the winds of winter come.


Don't fret!  Garden cleanup is easier than you think.  You just need the right tools and the right attitude and your job will be done lickety split!


Because Autumn is also the time for Halloween, we can do two things at once!  By using our leaves in funky Halloween decorator bags, we now have our glorious pumpkin display all done.  Or if you prefer you can also make crazy spiders and pumpkins to give all the kids a good chuckle.   Packing those bags will be child's play after raking them all together and then using our monster hands to stuff the bags. Now after all the festivities are over, don't throw all those beautiful leaves away. Use a chipper/grinder to make the world's easiest and best mulch for your garden beds. The extras can go into the composter along with the worms and everyone will be happy! You won't believe the work that those worms will do in the composter.  Even in the winter months, those worms are working away.  The beauty of a compost heap is that it will remain warm all winter long.  The worms will be happy and so will you when you see what they accomplish while you are inside staying toasty warm.

Autumn is also a great time to buy yourself a new pair of gloves, because I'm sure the ones you started out with in the spring have seen better days, and they just might be on sale at this time of year. You know you will always use them.



Once the gardens are all cleaned-up, it will be easy to see where to plant all the tulips and daffodils, crocus and snowbells, grape hyacinths and some irises too!  The time to do that is now!   Fall Bulbs are available in just about every garden store around.  If you want that gorgeous Spring Garden you do have to plant those bulbs in the fall.  Spring will be just bursting forth sooner than you think and those bulbs will be so happy to grow in your well mulched beds. It's a little bit of heaven in just a few short months and something to pin your hopes on while the cold winds blow. The Leaves you have mulched added under the bulbs will give those bulbs an extra boost of good compost right under their roots, so they will grow big and strong! You won't be disappointed. Good gardeners and great gardens all give so much credit to the mulch that is brought right down into the soil. Best of all, it's free fertilizer and no chemicals! All natural, Mother Nature will thank you and so will all your family when they are enjoying the fruits of your labor. Such a pretty sight, a well tended garden can bring a smile to you and everyone else too!

I hope you take the time to enjoy the changing of the seasons and preparing your gardens for the Spring of 2018!  In planting for the spring, you give everyone a reason to hope for the future and the brightness of your fabulous garden to come.
reviewthisreviews.png

All pictures are courtesy of Pixabay.  




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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

5 Important Tips to Keep Orchids Happy All Year-A Review

Orchids have become one of the most popular gifts for many occasions!  Let's Review how to keep  these orchids happy and growing.

 

Introduction

Orchids at one time were very expensive plants to buy.  Mainly it was because they did not multiply easily.  Science has made great inroads into cloning plants especially the Phalaenopsis Orchids or Butterfly Orchids.

These once elusive plants are now available to the everyday gardener and home garden.  Orchids that used to carry price tags of thousands of dollars are now within everyone's reach.
review this orchid care and tips

As you can see from these examples of Phalaenopsis orchids, they vary in color and some have stripes or dots of colors.  Some are plain solid colors while others are variegated.  There are endless varieties of this type of orchid available and at reasonable prices too.  Orchids are no longer a plant for only the rich, they are the plant for everyone!

Care of your Orchids

There are 5 really important tips to keep your orchids happy and growing.  They are not rocket science, rather, they are the conditions that will make them prosper and thrive.

1.  Indirect Bright Light
This is possibly the most important aspect of caring for orchids.  They don't want to be in direct sun.  They don't grow that way in their native settings and they don't like it when you bring them to your home.  If you have a nice sunny south facing window, your orchids will love it there, but only if there is a light curtain or shade between them and the window.

2. Watering
Most people love to go around watering their plants and maybe even letting them sit in a small saucer of water.  For orchids this is a death sentence.  Orchids are symbiotic in nature, they cling to areas in other trees where branches "v" out.  Their roots hang down from the branches and are watered during the rains.  When the rains stop, the roots are no longer wet, but dry out rather quickly.  At home they are looking for the same treatment.  Water them only when they are dried out.  Every 7 to 10 days and then do not let them sit in a pool of water.  If water seeps out after they have been watered, remove all the water in the saucer.

3. Fertilizing Orchids
Use only fertilizers made for orchids.  There is a saying in the orchid community, when you feed your orchids, feed them weekly, weakly.  Orchids also do well with a marked change in temperatures during their growing season.  If you have nice hot summers, you can find a nice shady spot for your orchid and then leave it outdoors until the temperatures start to drop.  10 to 15 degrees in temperature drops helps orchids to push their new stems and blooms.

4.  Repotting
Most home gardeners don't like the look of the arial roots on orchids.  They just seem to want to stay out of the pot instead of in it.  Most of the time orchids look like they are trying to crawl out of their pots.  But and this is a big but, you should not repot them until you see a marked decline in the orchid bark and in between the plant flowering.  Never ever repot during a blooming period!

5.  Check your Orchids often
As part of growing orchids at home, you should check your orchids often.  They do happen to come down with some bugs that will impair their looks and could end up killing them.  The worst of these pests is scale.  Again it is easy to take care of if you are aware there is a problem.  A "Q-tip" dipped in rubbing alcohol will dislodge and kill scale insects.  You can watch this You Tube video to see how to do this!

If there was just one more tip that I could add in here, it would be to make sure your orchid is in a pot that has drainage.  There are specialty orchid pots available.  Some of these pots are very beautiful and have designs that make them a really nice focal point.  How the pot looks though, is not as important as the fact that it drains water away.

So there you have it!  5 Very Important Tips to keep your orchids happy and blooming for many years to come.



If you have never grown an orchid before, now is a great time to try it. The flowers are incredible and last for months. There is no other houseplant that will do that for you! Drop me a line if you'd like to know more.

*orchid pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com



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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Let's Review The Best Proven Seed Saving Practices

Summer is coming to an end and already we (gardeners) are looking forward to next year's gardens. Let's Review what happened in the garden this year and the best way to keep seeds for next years masterpiece.   Looking at what we have  growing now , gives us the opportunity to analyse what worked in the garden and what didn't.



Every gardener I know has some complaints about the plants or vegetables that have made their garden home for the last few months.  We are never completely satisfied with our results!  I think the gardener's motto must be something like:  Next Year The Garden will be Perfect!

Alas, that year has never happened for me and if I know most (humble) gardeners would say the same thing. Even the most perfect garden seems to fall short, somewhere.  Let's not dwell on that, let's look for ways that we can improve what we have.

Garden Journal

Hopefully you have been keeping a "Garden Journal".   What's a Gardening Journal?   Simply put, this is a book of your choice, where you note how your plants are growing, flowering, and going to seed.  You can also add information like what kind of pest problems they have encountered or how much watering they require.  Where they were planted, ie:  Full Sun, Partial Sun, Afternoon sun etc.  If you want to be really technical, you can also take note of other garden issues.  What plants go well together and which combinations were not as effective as you would have liked.  How well they flowered and so on.  The details of each plant and how it fared in your garden, are completely up to you. The garden journal I have shown you in the Amazon listing is great for filling in all kinds of details.  But, you can also do this with a simple plain lined notebook.

Finding the Seeds

If you go out in your garden you have to find the seeds.  If you are saving flower seeds, you will have to look where the flowers are and look at the base.  It helps if you have a little knowledge of plant biology.  You don't have to be a scientist, but it will make finding the seeds easier if you know where to look.


A Beginner's Guide to Flower Structure  


Every flower has the same "basic" structure in that there is the flower, inside is the pistil and stamens (these are the important parts when it comes to seed production) and underneath there is the sepals/calyx to hold the flower all together.  Let's see if a picture can make it easier to understand. The first picture is a jasmine blossom.  The petals of the flower are white.  Internally you can see the stamens and pistil.  If you look at the flower facing away from the camera, you will see the sepals/calyx.  Bees or other insects come and rub against the stamens to collect the pollen that they produce.  When the insect is leaving the flower, it may rub against the pistil and that will trigger seed production.  This is the basic way seeds are produced and if you'd like a little more in depth breakdown of the Parts of a Flower you can watch this short but precise You Tube Video: Parts of a Flower
Jasmine Flowers showing Basic Flower Parts


Poppy Flower Pods Center one is ripe and the two on either side are not quite ready yet.
In this picture you see the seed pods of a poppy flower.  The tallest one is ripe, you can see that there are little holes under the "cap". Tilting this stem will make the poppy seeds pour out.  The other two pods in this picture still need to mature a little longer.  Once they show signs of the little holes, they too will pour out their seeds easily. Poppy seeds are small round and black or dark brown.  Each seed pod has thousands of poppy seeds within.  It is one of the most prolific seed producers.


Storing the Seeds

So now that you know where to look for your seeds, we need to store them until spring.  This is an important part of the whole exercise.  If you don't store the seeds properly, they may turn moldy and rot.  Then when spring comes you will be left with buying seeds again.  So let's not do that.  Let's store our seeds so that when spring arrives, we will have plenty of seeds for our wonderful garden of 2018.

Seeds can be stored in a variety of ways.  I personally like envelopes that are opaque.  They let you see the seeds within the packets so that you know right away that they are not rotting.  If you place your seeds in plastic bags, any moisture will remain contained and could adversely affect the seeds within.  Some of my gardening friends keep their seeds in old pill bottles.  That works too, so long as the seeds are really dry when they are placed inside.  Always use clean containers that will be labelled with the name of the plant on the outside.  Again I like to use envelopes because I place them into my Garden Journal along with the notes about that particular plant. Make sure you label your envelopes with the flower's name, color, and any other information you might want to keep.

If you are using a different method of storage, whether old pill containers or small jars, again, make sure you label them.  Keep all your seed filled containers in a nice box for easy storage.   You think you will remember what seeds  you put into each jar or pill bottle, trust me, you will not remember. It's much easier to do it NOW! 


Cool and Dark and Dry

Now that you have all your seeds nicely categorized and labelled clear out a nice dark and cool space to keep your journal or container of seeds.  Make sure it's a nice dry spot too.  We don't want to disturb our seeds during the months that they will be sleeping.  We just want to ensure that when the right time comes (spring of 2018) they will be more than ready to do their magic.  


Seed Collecting is Fun

Seed collection is fun, but it is also a great way to educate your children and grandchildren.  With all the talk about Genetically modified seeds and plants, you know that you can have your own supply of seed that is not modified and will grow.  Heirloom seeds are making the news all the time.  You can start your own heirloom seeds if you follow the instructions you find here.  This Review is about flower seeds mostly, but the same principles can apply to vegetables too.  That is why I included some books for your reading pleasure. Vegetable seeds need a little more attention when it comes to collecting, preparing and storing them.  Please do yourself a favor and do some reading, I don't want you to be disappointed with your results.  

Beginners will want to start with seeds that are easy to find.  Here's a whole bunch that will start you off on the right foot!

  • poppies
  • Four O'Clocks
  • snapdragons
  • moss roses or portulaca
  • marigolds
  • cosmos
  • morning glories
  • bleeding hearts

Please let me know in your comments if you are planning to do some seed collecting and what types of seeds you will be adding to your "stash".  I'm always interested in knowing more about other people's gardens.  




**all pictures are from Pixabay.com 










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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sensational Colors in the Garden 10 Must Have Annuals

Summertime is a great time to enjoy the great outdoors.  Let's Review how to make that great outdoors colorful and attractive. 

Everyone loves the warmth of the summer season and I'm no exception to that rule.  What I enjoy even more is the colorfulness of the season.  Everywhere you look there are yellows and reds, greens and oranges. Reds and purples falling together into a riot of color.  

Pictures from Pixabay clockwise starting top left:

https://pixabay.com/get/e830b70f20f0013ed1534705fb094093ea71e6dd04b015489df
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Whether you are gardening in your yard or on your balcony, annuals that add color are readily available to brighten up all of your spaces where ever they may be.


What is an Annual Flower?


Let's get our definitions right!  Annual flowers are different than Perennials.  The definition of an annual is:
"An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seed, within one year, and then dies. Summer annuals germinate during spring or early summer and mature by autumn of the same year." *from Wikipedia.


10 of the Most Prolific Annual  Bloomers 


Now that we have the definition straight, we can look at those plants that give you the biggest return on color and length of bloom.  

1.  Geraniums
2.  Snapdragons
3.  Marigolds
4.  Petunias
5.  Lobelia
6.  California Poppies
7.  Cosmos
8.  Four O'Clocks
9.  Impatiens *
10. Begonias *

These are my top ten favorites but there are many more that I am very fond of as well.  If I had to add another it would be Sweet Peas.


Let's learn some more about these choices!


Just For Your Information (FYI)

Geraniums come in a variety of colors from white, red, pink, coral and many shades in between, they are a bushy annual that you will find in almost every mixed planter.  Why? Because they stand out with their flowers that are actually many small flowers on a single flower head. Cutting off the spent flowers will encourage the geranium to set more flowers all the time. It is a non-stop flowering annual.


Pictures from Pixabay:
https://pixabay.com/get/e832b1082afd013ed1534705fb094093ea71e6dd04b015489df
https://pixabay.com/get/ef33b0082cf31c22d9584518a34a439fe573eac818b5184990f

Snapdragons  like geraniums come in many colors and bi-colors too.  Yellows, whites, pinks, oranges, reds, all of these colors are born on a stalk with many flowers on each stalk.  Again if you cut them back they will re-bloom on new stalks.

Marigolds are a must have in the garden.  They will do double duty flowering freely and at the same time encouraging the bees to pollinate your other plants.  Marigolds are even planted close to patios and outdoor areas as the scent is supposed to keep mosquitos at bay.  Marigolds come in light yellows, oranges, rusts, and can be short or tall depending on the variety that you plant.  One thing is certain, once they start to bloom they will not stop.  Dead-heading them is always a good idea.  You can also save seeds from the spent flowers for next years plants.

Petunias are a favorite of many gardeners.  They are not fussy plants and bloom non-stop. There are varieties of Petunias that you don't even have to do anything like dead-heading they are self-cleaning.  Once they start to bloom you cannot stop them.  Petunias come in a variety of colors from the deepest purples that look almost like black velvet, to the brightest whites in the garden.  They also come in bi-colors which are really quite impressive.  Red with white, Purple and white, Yellow and white are all combinations that are stunning.  These are trailing plants that love to hang over the edge of a container or pot and will flourish with little more than watering when it's dry.  By the time August rolls around, they sometimes get leggy looking, so give them a really good cutting back and a little fertilizer and they will start growing again like they were just planted.  

Lobelia is another must have annual plant!  These are small plants growing to a height of about 6 to 8 inches.   They have little purple, dark blue or white flowers and are like a cloud of color just bursting out of a pot.  Used mostly at the outer edges because it is rather shorter than most annuals, it will have a tendency to hang down over the pot edge giving your container a soft appearance.  

California Poppies are just as pretty as little ballerinas in the garden.  Perfect for fairy gardens their flowers look like Tutus.  Again this plant comes in a variety of colors from white to yellow, pink and salmon, orange and red.  Truly a pretty little annual that will bring you pleasure at all times.  One flower fades and the next two are ready to burst forth.  These are also easy to keep for their seed heads.  Once they mature you can save those seeds to sow for 2018!  

Cosmos Birds and butterflies just love this flower.  Born high on stalks that can be up to 18 inches high, the sight of these pretty pink, white or puplish flowers are a sight for sore eyes. Bees, butterflies and lovely little finches will be visiting your garden on a regular basis.  In the fall I would leave my Cosmos plants because the seeds are a natural attraction for the lovely little gold finches.  In my zone 6 garden, I would not even have to plant these, the birds did it for me.  They come out of the ground when it warms up, ready to bloom non-stop.  I don't dead head these at all because all through the summer the birds are feasting on the seeds. 


Four O'Clocks as their name implies start blooming later in the day.  Early morning all the buds on your plants will be tightly closed, but as noon and beyond comes closer, the buds start to open.  By mid afternoon there is a riot of color happening in your garden.  These annuals come in a variety of colors as well.  White, yellow, pinks, reds and more variations are abundant.  I have some Four O'Clocks that are bicolored, hot pink with a red cross and they are almost Neon bright.  There is no way to make these plants look less than fabulous.

Impatiens or Busy Lizzie as they are called colloquially, are great plants for shady spots in your garden.  Sometimes it's hard to find an annual that will bloom in the shade.  If your garden is shady, then Impatiens are the best shady flowering annual ever.  They also come in a variety of colors and color combinations.  Red, white, pink, purple, white with red stripes or red with white stripes, purple and white combinations and a whole host of others as well.  If you are looking for a multicolored garden or you have a preference for a certain color, Busy Lizzies or impatiens are a great choice for you.  They flower non-stop and are really easy to care for.  

Begonias  are another shady plant that will flower for you in the darkest corners of your garden.  They are easy to care for and will flower from morning to night without too much coaxing.  They come in shades of white, pinks and reds.  Depending on the type of Begonia you buy they may be short or taller but never more than 12 inches in height.  Used in hanging baskets as well they really are a pretty little flower that will keep you smiling all through the growing season.

Now I mentioned Sweet Peas only because I really love them.  They are an annual but they are a climbing plant.  So if you don't  have space for a trellis on your balcony, I would not recommend these.  If they do not climb, they are not nearly as pretty as when they are allowed to grow vertically.  If you do have the space and the height, don't miss out on these very pretty and nicely scented flowers.  

If you want to learn more about annual plants and their growing needs you can arm yourself with at least one of these books :



Not only will they help you with taking care of your annuals, but they may also spur you on to try something new and different for your garden this year or maybe for next year. A gardener always needs some good reference books and these are really good choices.

I hope that this lesson in non-stop flowering annuals has encouraged you to try your hand at growing some of them.  Don't fret either because even though it is the end of June, you can still plant these flowers and they will give you a burst of color for the remainder of the growing season.  








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Monday, June 26, 2017

Reviewing Garden Tags by SimplyYoursByDesign

I just received my custom garden tags by SimplyYoursByDesign and I have to write a review immediately. Whether you are an organized and skilled gardener or a hopeful and forgetful gardener like myself, you may be as excited about these garden tags as I am. I am thrilled about these customized, metal, durable, and beautiful garden tags.


Why are Garden Tags Important?



Perhaps you have a really good memory and can recall exactly what you planted where. Or perhaps, someone purchases land with existing plants and can identify every tree, bush, flower, and shrub. That's not me. No matter how hard I practice, I'm not very good at plant identification. And my memory is horrible.

I realized the importance of plant identification when I was looking for a certain type of rose bush that I had in a yard many years ago. That search has proved impossible without having more information than I have about that particular plant. As a result, I am determined to try to keep track of the plants I plant on my land.

I especially want to keep track of my PawPaw trees.

I have recently fallen in love with PawPaws. PawPaw is a tree that produces wonderful "tropical" fruit. I am planting PawPaw trees on my land at The Shack. Like apples (Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, etc) there are different types of PawPaws. Some I like better than others. If I am successful at growing PawPaws, I want to be able to keep track - with certainty - which tree is bearing which fruit.

These wonderful tags by SimplyYoursByDesign will help me do that.


Recommended Custom Garden Tags by SimplyYoursByDesign



I need long-lasting tags to identify my PawPaw trees. Also, I need customized tags - after all, who mass produces tags for PawPaw (Sunflower) versus PawPaw (Mango) trees? No one. 

Luckily I found this shop on Etsy that makes customized tags.

With low expectations, I ordered two tags for the two PawPaw trees I just planted.  I expected poor quality. Or paper-thin "metal". Happily, these tags have far exceeded my expectations. They are perfect!


Why I recommend these garden tags


  • customized - I was able to request (and received) both the tree name (PawPaw) and type (Sunflower)
  • communication and customer service - the shop owners messaged me to confirm what I was requesting - avoiding possible confusion (i.e did I want one PawPaw tag and one Sunflower tag, or two tags with PawPaw Sunflower)
  • I requested that they not send the included plant stakes - as I would be hanging these on the trees - and that request was honored
  • several choices in metal types/colors 
  • good thickness - the tag is as thick as a dime 
  • the words are permanently stamped into the metal
  • packaged in a simple but attractive manner
  • a mother/daughter/grand-daughter family owned business (how cool is that?!)
  • located in the US
shipped in a simple but attractive manner

There are only two very minor things about these tags/this shop that might cause someone concern. Neither of these things concerned me, but I feel that they should be mentioned.
  • the corner designs on the tags are random (for example: the bee & tree and the frog & sun on my tags)
  • a bit of time passed before I received my order
Because the items are customized, I did not receive my items immediately. It looks like I ordered on June 4th and the postmark on the envelope was June 19th. In my opinion, that was an expected amount of time for a custom order. Unfortunately, in such an instant gratification culture, some folks may not want to wait. The good news is that the shop owners clearly list their current production time on their policies page so you can decide if you can stand the wait. 


my two customized PawPaw tags


Personally, I found it to be well worth the wait. It is refreshing to get exactly what you ask for. In fact, to get better than you asked for. Thank you, women at SimplyYoursByDesign, for these beautiful, durable, and custom PawPaw tree tags. 

Related reviews:

The Review This! contributors enjoy their gardens and reviewing items and gifts related to gardening. To see more of our gardening recommendations, check out the articles under the gardening tab.





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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best Shrubs for Springtime in the Garden

Every Garden should contain at least one or two of these beautiful Shrubs.  Let's Review some of the most fragrant and lovely shrubs that you should find blooming in your neighborhood!

Springtime just wouldn't be springtime if you didn't see the fragrant flowers of the Forsythia bush somewhere in your neighborhood.  The bright yellow flowers that are borne on the branches of this shrub just scream Spring Is Here!  After some of the winters we've had in the past, this kind of screaming is what everyone is just looking for.

Flowering shrubs give a colorful respite to the gardeners who have looked longingly for something fresh and fragrant after months of enduring cold and bleakness.  It's a balm for the soul and a sight for sore eyes.
These beauties in the picture will just make you wish you had smell-a-vision.  Unfortunately, that doesn't yet exist, but who know what the future holds.  

Spring Flowering Bushes

1.  The first spring bush to actually bloom does so when temperatures are still pretty cold.  Pussy willows are fantastic bushes in February and early March.  The little fuzzy catkins are just so pretty on the bare branches and the real beauty is that you can and should cut these shrubs back really hard in the spring.  If you don't you will miss out on a beautiful spring arrangement that everyone just loves.  Once the catkins flower, they become elongated and fall to the ground, leaving behind a bush that is a lush green.  Many people who haven't grown pussy-willows will not recognize them once the flowering is complete. They are a beautiful bush but just very plain once the little catkins are finished.  

2.  Forsythia is probably the next bush you will see in full bloom in April or early May, depending on how warm it gets.  These bushes are also full of yellow flowers that are arranged all along the stems of the bush.  One branch could have hundreds of flowers all screaming "Spring is Here!"  In more northern areas, you can sometimes see forsythia blooming while there is a light blanket of snow still on the ground.

3.  Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the next family of shrubs to come into bloom.   These are beautiful and delicate.  They come in a variety of colors and every garden enthusiast that I know has tried to grow one or more of these beauties.  "Rhodies" as their gardener parents will call them, need some special care.  They love acidic soils and do their best when their needs are met.  If you don't want to "baby" your shrubs, you might just want to pass up on growing these.  Even though I love to baby my plants, I have not had any luck at all with these most delicate flowering shrubs.  Gardeners can be a stubborn lot, though so I won't say that I won't try again.

4.  Lilacs have got to make this list of Spring Flowering Bushes.  Masses of purple florets are borne on stems that hang from their weight.  The most common ones are purple in color, hence the color Lilac.  What many people don't know is that Lilacs can also be white and some are such a light purple that people often think they are pinkish.  These shrubs can be single flowered or double flowered and the smell is unbelievably wonderful.  If you have this bush in your garden make sure that you bring some of the branches indoors, it will scent the whole room.  

5.  Magnolias are another wonderfully early shrub.  The bush can be left to grow into a tree or it can be pruned to keep its form as a shrub. Flowers appear in Late March or Early May.  There are several different varieties of Magnolias some light pink, yellow and creamy white.  While the fragrance of the Magnolia is not as strong as Lilacs, it still has a lovely scent.  If you trim the bush, the wood gives off a most wonderful fragrance.  

Beautiful Shrubs not only smell and look nice, they will attract bees, butterflies and if the flowers become berries, you will also have birds in your yard.


A great list of flowering shrubs to look for in your growing area are:
  • Viburnum which grows from zones 2 to 9 depending on the type.  
  • Mock Orange with it's white deeply scented flowers grows from zone 3 to 9 again depending on the type.
  • Mountain Laurel is another beauty, related to Rhododendrons, they will grow in zone 5 to 9.  Do not grow this bush if you have young inquisitive children as it is poisonous.  
  • Deutzia is another beautiful shrub that will grow in zones 5 to 8.  It can be pink or white and smells beautiful. Not as well known as the Lilac, but just as beautiful and fragrant.
  • Bridalwreath Spirea, as its name implies is a beautiful white flowered bush.  Hardy in zones 5 to 8 it will grow large if you let it, but is beautiful when trimmed up too.
  • Heath or Heathers are low growing shrubs that are really pretty in white, pink and red.  Hardy in zones 5 to 7 it will not get taller than 10-12 inches. It is a low growing ground cover that loves the sun and a well-drained soil.
  • Camellias are a lovely shrub as well and will do well in anything above zone 6 and under zone 9.  Any colder or warmer and they are not at their best.  These flowering beauties are a sore sport for more northern gardeners.  They just don't do well in anything less than zone 6.
  • Fothergilla will grow in shady areas.  Beautiful white flowers are fragrant and plentiful on this bush.  Great in zones 5 to 9 it will not only look and smell nice in springtime but in the autumn it will give you another whole flush of color as the leaves change to reds, oranges, and golds.
  • Loropetalum is another beauty.  What Lilacs are to northern gardeners, Loropetalum makes northern gardeners green with envy.  Grown in zone 7 to 9 it loves full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Ninebark is an all around winner.  It will grow in zones 3 to 7 and will take drought and summers heat without giving up.  Beautiful foliage is an added bonus.
  • Beautybush is an old favorite that is making a comeback in many gardener's homes.  Pretty pink florets and the ease of growth make this a winner for everyone.  Hardy in zones 5 to 9 it holds up will in drought conditions and is deer resistant too.  
  • Weigela is the last but not the least on this list.  In my books, it would be one of the top bushes/shrubs because not only is it really pretty with its red or pink flowers, but it also encourages Hummingbirds to the garden.  Hardy in zones 4 to 9 this is a shrub that should be considered for your gardening pleasure.

Check here if you are not sure about what zones you are doing most of your gardening in.  

You will save yourself a lot of heartache and money if you purchase plants that will grow in your area.  If you are not sure, then follow the links below for gardening zone maps and find out what your garden zone is.  Once you know that it won't change unless you move, and it will help you make better choices for your garden needs.

Not sure what your gardening zone is?  Click here to see what zone you are gardening in if you are in the United States, or click here if you garden in Canada so that you can make the most of the bushes and shrubs that are featured here.






If you want to learn more or just enjoy looking at pictures of beautiful plants and gardens then you can always check out some of my favorite books and magazines.




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