Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Spring Into the Garden, Give Nature a Helping Hand! A Garden Review

 

Spring has sprung!  Gardeners and Conservationists are all jumping for joy! A Garden Review.

But wait a minute, before you get all excited about getting your hands dirty and your gardens in shape, let's take a few minutes to think and see what Mother Nature would have us do instead!

Many gardeners are just itching to get their gardens cleaned up and looking tidy and I can't say that I blame them.  After a long cold winter, making things (garden beds) look nice is a job that many gardeners love to do.  Why wait?  Well, would it help for you to know that many bees are still hibernating within the leaves and debris that is in your garden?  We have a serious problem with declining bee populations, so anything you can do to help them would be a welcome thing to do.

I'm not advocating that you leave your gardens in a messy state, but rather wait just a few weeks before getting to the "mess".  That will be time enough for the bees to wake up from their winter slumbers and start looking for those first dandelions for food.

That brings up to the second thing that gardeners should really stop doing in the springtime.  Did you know that dandelions are one of the first spring flowers to come up in your gardens?  Well they are and they are full of good nutrition for the bees who wake up hungry.  Leave those flowers alone, let them bloom and welcome the sight of those bees that are doing the hard work!  If you don't want a proliferation of dandelions in your lawn, just watch the flowers and when they have all been pollinated, and start to produce their seeds heads, go out then and cut them off and dispose of them so no seeds are flying around the garden!  The parent plant will produce another flower for the bees and then you can do the same thing again.  Pluck the spent flower head before it sends it's seeds everywhere.  This way you will be providing food for the bees without dandelions taking over your gardens.  Easy peasy!

Spring comes on quickly, so you need to be ready for all kinds of wonderful things that will happen during this time.  Number three on my list of things to do (or not do) is check for migrating birds in your area.  Hummingbirds are the Number One bird everyone is looking forward to seeing.  They too will come to your gardens hungry from their travels north!  You can check out this Hummingbird Migration Map to see when they will arrive in your area!  

So what can you do to help those Hungry Hummers?


Have your hummingbird feeders out a week or so before they are due in your area.  Keep them clean and available with fresh nectar that is changed weekly!  Why do you need to change the nectar?  Well as with anything left out to the elements, nectars can go "bad".  That means they will get moldy and rancid.  The idea is to feed those hungry hummers, not to harm them!  So clean fresh nectar is a MUST!  (p.s. nectar is simply four parts water to one part sugar, NO DYES)  In the early days of their migration you can make up nectar and keep it in the fridge.  Just put a small amount in the feeders until you know they have found you!  Once you know they are around, then you can fill up those feeders to a cup of nectar and again keep the nectar fresh!
                                                                                  Ruby Throated Hummingbird

           
Migrating Birds, what you need to know!

 Along with the bees, migrating birds are also having "human" problems!  What are those, you might ask?  Well in large urban areas where skyscrapers and really large windows are the norm, many migrating birds fly into those windows and drop like stones onto the pavement below! They suffer broken necks, wings and sometimes are just so stunned that they don't recover.  This is truly a sad situation for birds that fly so far to get to their northern nesting areas.  Large windows are almost invisible to the birds, so their tracking is off!  How can we help them?  It's easy, first is awareness and then there is something as easy as placing "cling decals" on the windows so that they will see them and avoid crashing into them.  You can easily purchase these decals in many styles, some are transparent to the human eyes or others are decorative and produce an ambience in your homes as you look out those windows.  It's a small price to pay for the benefit of the birds and possibly for you to enjoy them as they make their homes in your yards. 

Did you know that there are several species of migratory birds in North American?  Taken from All About Birds.org:
  • Magnolia Warbler by Gerrit VynLong-distance migrants typically move from breeding ranges in the United States and Canada to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Despite the arduous journeys involved, long-distance migration is a feature of some 350 species of North American birds.

  • Learn More About Bird Migration

  • If you want to know more about Bird Migration, there is a wonderful website by Cornell University that follows and updates information on all kinds of migratory birds!  You can find it RIGHT HERE!  This is excellent reading material for any bird enthusiast!  Don't stop with dedicated Birders, get your young ones involved in becoming Bird Ambassadors, they will learn and do so many things in a fun and really rewarding way.
  • There are great books available for children and adults too!  Easy to read and understand, they will teach you everything you need to know and look for when searching the skies and yards for those feathered friends.


Yellow Rumped Warbler

This Easter, instead of just filling our children with chocolate and candy, let's feed their minds with some easy and interesting ways to keep their future in balance. Add some of those window decals or a bird feeder to their Easter basket for an Eco-Friendly alternative to chocolate or candy! 

Happy Easter to Everyone!
 



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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

 

Butterfly On Wild Flowers By Raintree Annie

If one of the things you would like to do in the New Year is to do more to help our precious and often at-risk wildlife here are six easy ideas reviewed.

Even if we do just one of these we will be helping wildlife and nature. Do all six and your garden could be transformed into a wildlife haven in less than a year! 

In our gardens, balconies and patios we can all do one thing for wildlife and make such a huge difference. Some of these ideas are very easy indeed while others require a little more thought and time but all are fun and not difficult for most people to achieve. You may well find children enjoy being involved in many of these activities as well.

 

1. What To Do With The Old Christmas Tree 

I hope you had a lovely time at Christmas and an attractive, decorated Christmas tree.

We will keep ours up in the house for a little while longer but now is the time to think about what to do with it once the time comes to take it down.

I find it quite depressing to see all the Christmas trees outside people's houses ready to be taken away by the refuse collectors, of no more use to the neighbourhood. 

I do not like waste and feel there is a better way to recycle our old Christmas trees long after they have given us so much happiness. 

Making a woodpile with the chopped branches, creating a stumpery, shredding it and using the shreddings for mulch or even just laying it down in an undisturbed area of the garden for habitat and shelter all help our gardens and our wildlife.

What Do You Do With The Old Christmas Tree discusses more uses for our old Christmas trees.  

 

2. Don't Be So Tidy in The Garden! 

This may be an easy one to follow! However, I understand many of us like to have a neat and tidy garden, all edges carefully trimmed, leaves gathered up and all weeds eradicated. There is something very pleasing about a neat and tidy garden. However for nature, for wildlife they need us to be a little messier in our gardens.

Wildlife view our gardens as s source of food, warmth, shelter and breeding sites so they look for leaves, woodpiles, shrubs, water and long grass to name a few. 

There is a way to have a mainly neat and tidy garden and to help wildlife though. Messy does not have to mean ugly.

A small log pile can be made attractive to us and useful for wildlife, leaves left in borders or in a small pile out of the way are an invaluable source of shelter and food and just leaving things a little less manicured can be a boon to nature generally. 

We can easily designate a small area of the garden where we allow it to be a little wilder. In fact, I think a garden that aims to attract wildlife is especially beautiful and full of sound and sights and life. 


Diary Of a Wild Country Garden. Are we Too Tidy In Our Gardens? Raiintree Annie 


If you decide to do this you will reap the benefits in terms of seeing more birds, butterflies and bugs and attracting more insect and bird predators to your garden to help you with the pests and diseases all gardens have to deal with. For more ideas please see Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens? 


3. Provide Water For The Birds 

Perhaps the most important thing we can do for birds is to provide water. Birds need water to drink and clean their feathers. This is vital for their health and wellbeing.

It is also something that fewer homes provide. Many people think about feeding the birds but less think about the need for water and bathing. Do You Have A Bird Bath In Your Garden? discusses this further with tips to help our beautiful birds. 

As long as the water is clean and fresh and ideally we need to change it every day or every few days, it does not matter too much what the container is. 

However, many of us choose to have a lovely looking birdbath or a cute novelty birdbath to make our gardens look gorgeous while assisting the birds. You can find beautiful examples here Reviewing Basalt Birdbaths 

In addition to beautiful birdbaths, I  also use plastic saucers on the ground on our patio to help the smaller birds like these gorgeous sparrows in my garden. I know other wildlife like hedgehogs and squirrels visit the water as well. 

 

Sparrows Bathing by Raintree Annie

One of the main pleasures to us of having a birdbath is to watch and photograph the gorgeous, beautiful, fascinating birds every day from the comfort of our own home.

I like a variety of birdbaths around the garden and so we have several beautiful birdbaths and these ordinary saucers placed around the garden so that the birds do not have to compete for water and bathing rights! 



4.Leave An Area Of Long Grass 

This is an easy one to fulfill if you have a garden with a lawn. Simply designate one area of the lawn and do not mow it all. 

Rather than taking action to help wildlife, this one is all about inaction! Do nothing and wait and see what happens to that small patch of long grass.

It will be interesting to see if you grow any wildflowers or clover. See how liberating it can be to grow daisies and dandelions and how insects love them! Watch out to see if your long grass attracts bees, butterflies or hoverflies. 

It's easy, free and a very simple way to help wildlife especially insects. It does not need to be a big area, just what you feel you can allow to grow a little wild.  

If you do want to take it a step further and grow some wildflower seeds, you will need to take up some of your grass as grass will generally out-compete the wildflower seeds. 

Simply strip the grass away, rake the soil into fine tilth, sow the seeds according to the seed packet and wait for them to grow. The only work you will need to do then is to cut back the wildflowers in autumn.


5. Grow A Window Box For Wildlife

We do not all have big gardens and lawns and may wonder what can we do to help wildlife when we live in a flat or apartment or a house with a hard landscaped yard.

However, if we have a balcony, room for a hanging basket, a window box or a small patio area for pots we can undoubtedly attract and help wildlife. For more ideas on how to attract wildlife in a smaller space, please see Can You Attract Wildlife If You Only Have A Patio Garden Or Window Box

It is amazing how butterflies, bees, lacewings, hoverflies and ladybugs will find their way to your window box given the right flowers and conditions. 

 Depending on where you live you may need to protect the container in winter. If you are gardening on a balcony, always bear in mind the weight of any containers when filled with soil and plants does not exceed what the structure can take. 

A simple container is all we need. You can fill your window box with flowers both perennial and annual or decide to grow vegetables, it is up to you. 

Some flowers are better for wildlife than others, but really as long as the plants have some flowers the insects and bees will find them. 

Flowers I have found successful in window boxes and hanging baskets and troughs include bright cheerful Marigolds along with Nasturtiums and evergreen Ivy for trailing. Verbena, Fuchsia in a bigger pot and Heather are lovely. 

You do need to give Heather acid or ericaceous soil so it will need to be mixed with other acid-tolerant flowers. I also like to put in a few dwarf yellow daffodil bulbs to cheer up the containers.

If you like you can grow wildflowers in a pot and I have done this for several years. You do just need to make sure that the soil is very poor as wildflowers, in general, need poor soil. I use old compost and lots of grit in my wildflower containers. Bees and all manner of insects adore these wildflower pots! 

I love to grow herbs such as Rosemary and Lavender and Chives do well also in containers. I would give most herbs a try in pots. Good for us to eat and great for wildlife. Bees seem to always love my Chives!



Your container can easily look good for you and be good for wildlife. You will want some evergreens like Rosemary or Heather there and other summer flowering perennial and annual flowers for interest and nectar for as long as possible.

For ideas on making a healthy balcony garden please see Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


 


6.Give Nature A Home 

One lovely way to attract and help wildlife is to give them a home to live in and raise young. Whether it is a Bird Box, a Bee House, Insect House or a home for hedgehogs it is possible for everyone with any outdoor space, however small to contribute. Here is an idea for a lovely Birdhouse For Eastern Bluebirds 

Over the years many habitats that our birds and insects require to live and breed have been lost. Houses are built without space for birds to nest, grass that is artificial is useless for wildlife and there are fewer places left for bees and bugs to live, hibernate and breed. 

However, if we all do a little we can help to reverse this and give our valuable wildlife a home. 


 


If you love nature and know adults and children who would like to do more for wildlife you may wish to buy nature-related gifts for Birthdays, housewarmings and special events this coming year. For ideas please see Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed






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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reviewing The Tall Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris Bloom In Late Spring

The tall bearded Iris is blooming in my backyard right now. Do you have one of the many varieties in your garden? They are one of my all time favorites in the springtime.

bearded iris
Tall Bearded Iris in my own garden
I don't know about you but my favorite time of the year is Spring. I love when the buds begin to pop out and the flowers begin to dot the landscape with color. One flower I look forward to in May is my Tall Bearded Iris. It just brings me so much joy when they bloom.


The Iris Has A Long History

The iris has been around for a very long time. I'm not sure why it was decided to name this particular plant after the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow but it appears that it was. It is a flower that has been a symbol of royalty and monarchs throughout history. It is a long history, too. The palace of King Minos on the Greek Island of Crete has a fresco showing the iris. That fresco dates back to somewhere around 2100 B.C. 

The Bourbon Kings of France used a symbol of an iris to show power and position. We all know that symbol as the "Fleur de Lys". Great Britain adopted the iris as a symbol of the monarchy when Edward III added it to his coat of arms in the 1300's. Queen Elizabeth I had her portrait made in a gown covered with irises.  

Whether it has anything to do with royalty or not, the beautiful iris has been around for people to admire for a very long time. There are non-bearded irises but that isn't what most people think of when they think of this lovely flower in their gardens. 

tall iris
Clump of bearded iris in my yard.

Planting Bearded Iris

You want to plant the rhizomes of the bearded iris in the summer. The reason for this is that they need time to grow and establish in the ground before winter takes hold. If you don't already have them in your garden you can buy the rhizomes from a local nursery or you can find them online.

Every few years you should divide your current colonies of iris. If the plants become to crowded they don't bloom as well. It is really easy to divide them. After they have bloomed for the season, dig around the green stems of the plants. Cut out some of the fleshy brown root looking rhizomes and take to a new area where you want to see irises bloom next year. I like to take a large cutting and then divide it in two or three pieces. It is that easy. Just make sure you water the new area to help the new cuttings take hold and that is it. Next year, you will have more of the tall bearded iris to enjoy.

I'm thinking of adding a different color this year, I particularly liked this color. I think it will blend nicely with the ones that currently grow in my yard.





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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review of Spring Photography

Lilacs in the Springtime

Spring is such a wonderful time for photography.  Flowers are blooming everywhere including my own backyard.  I love to go for walks in the neighborhood each day and see what new flowers and flowering trees and bushes are blooming on that day.  In the area of the country I live ,  midwest USA, the beauty begins to unfold in mid March.  From that time and for the next 2-3 months there are new delights to find each day!  On this page I will share with you, through my photography,  some of my favorite springtime flowers.


Early Bloomers

Tulips are one of my favorite early spring flowers.  There are different types of tulips that will start blooming in our area throughout April and May.  The photographs taken below were captured during the first week of April.

This next photo was taken in late April.  This tulip is fully opened and still beautiful.

Zazzle Cards from my Tulip Photos

I love creating cards to send to friends and family from my photographs.  Here are a couple I made on Zazzle.

Yellow Tulip
Yellow Tulip
by mbgphoto

Flowering Trees and Bushes

In the springtime flowering bushes and trees are a wonderful sight to behold.  I particularly like the Lilac bush as seen in the photo at the beginning of this article.  In addition to being beautiful they have a very fragrant smell and I love cutting some off my lilac bush and bringing them in to my house. They make the whole house smell good.

The red bud tree is another beauty of springtime.  In the spring you can see them all over the hillsides in our part of the country.  Here is a photo of one that I took at a park near our home.

One of my favorite trees is the dogwood tree.  They can be found in both pink and white flowers.  Here is a photo of each.

Later Spring Flowers

Once spring is well under way, in late April or May, the Iris's start to bloom.  They are such beautiful and stately flowers.  I love to photograph them.  This first  photo is an Iris from my friend's garden.
I really like the two toned colors.  Here is another two toned Iris, this one was taken on a walk I took at the Missouri Extension garden.
A solid white Iris can be quite striking.  Here is one taken at Missouri Extension garden.

Wildflowers in the Spring

Spring is a wonderful time for wild flowers.  You can see many of these native plants along the sides of roads, in parks and in some peoples gardens.  Here are a few that I found beautiful.






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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spring Forward, Renewal, Rebirth, Revival and Joy!

March 8th is Spring Forward Time! A Garden Review!

 

spring, bird feeding, bees
Image from Pixabay

Yeah, for all our Naturalists/Gardeners/Backyard Enthusiasts and those who are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Spring's arrival.  From my own personal experience I know how most of us are feeling right about now.  We can't wait for longer days and warmer temperatures and getting our hands back into the soil.  We want to poke around to see what's about to spring up out of the ground.  We also look up to see where the birds are too.  That first robin or yellow finches just make us so happy.  Our time is coming quickly!


Things Outside are Changing Quickly!

 
Now that it's March, we can look forward to longer daylight hours (it's already light at 6:00 in the morning)!  The bugs and the bees are waking up from their long winter slumber and looking desperately for a food source.  Even the birds are making a comeback.  

Those of us who love hummingbirds will be watching the Hummingbird Migration Maps for 2020!  They are already in parts of Florida and coming to your neighborhood soon!  Be the first one in your neighborhood to mark the map with the first sighting in your area. 


Spring, so much to do and so much pleasure in doing it too!


If you hang out bird feeders, now is the time to get them ready.  Clean and disinfect them all carefully.  We want to feed the birds and not harm them.  Clean feeders are a must!  Pathogens that can harm them can and might live over in the winter months.  There is need to be extra vigilant in making the birds source of food a safe source.  

Wash down all bird feeders, clean out birds nests from last year and give this years birds a really good chance of thriving and surviving.  Clean them out with a mild bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to a sink full of hot soapy water).  Make sure you rinse them well and let them air dry before setting them out again.  

 

Special Care for Hummingbird Feeders!


Many people give up on putting out hummingbird feeders because they do require extra care.  It may seem wasteful, but their nectar needs to be changed every week.  Spoiled nectar in feeders can cause their death.  No one wants to be responsible for that!  So in the early spring, before you even see them, you need to change that nectar every week.  

Make only a cup of nectar at a time, so as not to waste all that sugar water.  And remember, red dyes are NOT NECESSARY  to attract those little flying gems.  Your hummingbird syrup should be roughly 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water.  The measurement does not have to be exact, but close is good.  Use only 1/2 to 1 cup of syrup in your feeders (keep the rest in the refrigerator) until you are sure the hummingbirds have found you!  Once you know they are coming to your feeders, go to town and fill it right up.


Maybe this is the year you decide to help the birds and the bees.

 
You can easily do this with bird feeders, bird houses and even bee houses.  The birds and bees give us so much enjoyment, it's the least we can do to make them welcome in our yards.  Our own Renaissance Woman will even teach you how to make your own bird feeders if you feel so inclined.  It would be a great spring time activity for your children or grandchildren.  Check it out right here: DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder!

Building bird houses is also a lot of fun and an easy craft to share with your family as well.  The most important thing to remember is that certain birds require different housing.  Some are solitary breeders, while others love to be in community.  You might have to do some research to find out what kinds of birds come to your neighborhood, before you start building.  This review might help you get started! What you need to know about  Basic Bird House Construction!


The Bees are Getting a Lot of Press Lately!  The Key to Success

 
Science has let it be known that the bee population is in trouble.  If we don't have them as pollinators our whole food sources are at risk.  So let's help those pollinators by growing gardens that feed them all spring, summer and fall.  It's not hard to do and I'm sure you will enjoy the efforts that you put into making a beautiful "bee" friendly garden. 

There are a few guidelines that will help you to help the bees!  
  • Plant a garden that will give lots of blooms all season long.
  • Plant single flowered species rather than the big double and triple flowers.  The singles produce more nectar and the bees can easily get to it.
  • Plant lots of different annuals as well as perennials.
  • Build a bee house.
  • Have a water source available too!

Do you need more information?  I like this website for all inclusive information about bees and keeping them happy!  The  Honey Bee Conservancy  I like to keep my family happy, so, with my son-in-law being a beekeeper, this is for him!  I try to do my part in helping him help the bees and I get to enjoy some of the honey too.

Spring is a time of Renewal, Revival, Rebirth and Joy!  Let's make an effort to help Mother Nature in all of this,  by doing something to help all her little creatures.

feeding the bees, helping Mother Nature, hummingbird feeders
Image by jggrz from Pixabay








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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Review of the Meaning Behind Different Colored Roses

The Meaning Behind Different Colored Roses
Did You Know that Each Rose Color Has a Unique Meaning?

With Valentine's Day around the corner, there's nothing carved in stone that says you have to give Red Roses.

If you want to send a different message, check out the meaning of each colored rose as described below. Once you determine what you really want to say, send a dozen roses of that color instead.

Red Roses

This one you know. It generally means "I love you". Sending red roses tells the person in no uncertain terms that you love them. It also speaks to beauty and lets the person know, that in your eyes, they're perfect just the way they are.

Yellow Roses

If you want to send someone a flower that expresses thanks for the friendship you share, yellow roses are a good choice. Yellow roses tell the person that they make you happy and you're thankful to have them in your life.

Lavender (Purple) Roses

If you've just met someone and you've got that love-at-first-sight thing going on between the two of you, then sending them purple roses says you're eager to continue and grow this unexpected relationship. Purple is also associated with Royalty, so if you happen to fall in love with a Prince or a Princess at first sight, send them purple roses.

White Roses

If you're looking to send flowers to someone you just met, white roses are the ideal choice. They're used in weddings to symbolize new beginnings but you don't have to be getting married to experience a new beginning. Don't hesitate to send them in the case of anything new; new job, new baby, new friendship, new love.

Pink Roses

Is there someone in your life that you admire? If so, send them pink roses. Perhaps it's a person who has accomplished a great deal, been an awesome friend or set an unparalleled example with their life. Sending your mother pink roses speaks to your admiration for her. Pink also represents gracefulness. For the person with high integrity and who behaves in a classy manner, pink is their flower.

Orange Roses

Orange roses speak to your excitement about being with a person. You're anxious to take on new adventures with them and your relationship is all about enthusiasm and, where applicable, desire. Give orange roses to the person you want to take on the world with. It doesn't have to be a love interest. In fact, if it's a good friend, give them a combination bouquet of yellow, orange and white roses.

Peach Roses

Do you want to send someone a 'Thank you'? If so, then peach roses deliver that message. If you're grateful for someone and what they've done for you, or for just being in your life, peach roses say it without words. When you want to show someone how much you appreciate them, add peach roses to your bouquet.

Now that you understand the general meaning of each rose, consider the message you want to convey and either mix and match them or give a dozen of one color.

If real flowers aren't doable, here's a collection of faux bouquets to send to that special someone:




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Sunday, December 17, 2017

3 Home Decor Items that Will Add Sunshine to Your Space

Yellow Sunflower Clock Here
No need to frown when the sun isn't shining, simply add a few items to your home that bring the sunshine indoors. 

Your home is more than just an assembly of pieces, it's a reflection of who you are.

There's nothing carved in stone that says you have to limit your home decoration pieces to standard, traditional accessories and furnishings. 

Décor items that encourage positive feelings can help to create a positive mood and environment.

Here are three creative ways to add sunshine to a room using funky decorating pieces:

Sunshine, Sunflower Wall Clock

Add this 3D Yellow Leaves Sunshine Clock to the kitchen or hallway. The clock measures approximately twelve inches around and comes in three different colors.

The clocks come in pink, yellow and white making them ideal on a colorful wall as indicated in the photo. Add one to a den or outdoor patio area, or better yet, use it in a flower themed bedroom.

Add an Outstanding 3D Printed Ceiling Mural
Amazing Leaves & Sunshine Ceiling Mural Here

This is certainly unlike anything most of us have seen. Ceiling murals are fast becoming the latest craze.

The three dimensional scenery designs bring the outdoors in. Fabulous and different, that's what you get with one of this on your ceiling!

If you're not ready to add one to a main room, try it in a bedroom first. They look incredible where mouldings have been installed around the ceiling so that the mural appears inset. But if you don't have any trim to frame the mural, not worry, simply put it on the entire ceiling. 

The mural comes in seven size options and is made of a durable, waterproof, self-adhesive PVC material.

Sunshine and Trees 5pc Canvas Art
Golden Sunshine and Trees Canvas Art will add Crisp Freshness

If you're more on the traditional side when it comes to home décor, this funky yet standard canvas art piece makes an excellent choice.

Spread sunshine and a forest feel throughout the room when you feature this outstanding canvas art in the living room, den, office, or bedroom.

They also make an excellent housewarming or birthday gift. The person receiving this will certainly be thrilled ... who wouldn't be. You'll notice that this piece is quite affordable as it's non-framed. That means you have to add the canvas art to your own frame. However, you can easily find numerous pieces of already framed canvas art here.

It's five pieces are non-glare and moisture resistant. They're easy to clean as well; simply wipe them down with a slightly damp cloth. 



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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, March 22, 2017

5 Ways to Guarantee Hummingbirds will Come to You! Feeder Reviews

Hummingbird Feeders and Bright Red Plants are the best way to ensure that these little birds will indeed find you!

Everyone loves these little birds who fly thousands of miles to visit their summer homes.  We will review a few of the ways to entice these little birds to visit and maybe even call your backyard their home for the season.  
                                                 https://pixabay.com/en/hummingbird-feeding-beak-bird-2069273/

Every gardener I know loves to have a backyard full of birds, bird houses and bird feeders.  Nothing thrills them as much as the return of the elusive hummingbirds that flit through the air like little dashes of light.  The whole idea of having these little birds in the garden makes me happy.

So what's the secret to having them come and stay a while? 

First and foremost, you have to make your yard more appealing to these little birds.  If they feel you are putting out a welcome mat, they just might come to visit.  If they like what they find, they will probably stay a while.  So let's see what we can do to make them feel welcome.

Knowledge about their likes and dislikes!

Hummingbirds are migratory birds.  They do not stay all season long in the north, it's too cold for them.  But once spring and summer arrive, they do head north for a visit.  They will come and breed, stay for the summer and then head back to the south for the winter.  Hummingbirds are tiny little creatures that weigh just a few ounces.  They require lots of nectar to keep them going.  Their metabolism is one of the fastest working metabolisms that you will ever find.  They need lots of nectar to keep them flying.

That is the first secret to attracting the hummers to your yard.  You need to provide a source or two of that nectar that they must have to live.
 
The second secret is to have lots of colors that hummers like in your yard.  This can be done by attaching red or orange colored ribbons to trees and bushes.  The hummers as they are headed north, scope out these colors and are attracted by them.  They assume there are flowers full of nectar for their feeding purposes.

The third secret is to then have lots of plants that are in fact good nectar producers.  Feeders are great, but they also like plants,  they will use the soft leaves and petals for their nests and spider webs to hold them all together.  So leave those spider webs out there.  

The fourth secret is to have lots of hummingbird feeders in your yard.  When plants are dying back and not producing flowers full of nectar, the hummers will need an alternative source of nectar. Hummingbirds can also be quite possessive and will fight over the feeders.  It's better to have one too many feeders than not enough.  If you set them out, they will come. 

The fifth secret is to have a water source handy.  They love fountains or water misters.
If you don't believe me watch this short video and you will see the difference that a water feature can make...Hummer's Bathing and Drinking Station.

Have you ever wondered why Hummingbird feeders are always red and yellow in color?

The quick answer is that these are the colors that really attract hummers.  Many red and reddish-orange plants are great nectar providers.  This color can be spotted by the hummers from miles away.  If you have red flowers and feeders in your yard, they will make a beeline for your yard.  Even before the flowers are in bloom in your area, put out some hummingbird feeders and they will find you.  Once summer is in full swing, the flowers will enhance their nectar likes.

What are the best flowers to grow for hummingbirds?

As stated earlier, red, reddish-orange and red with yellow flowers are the favorite colors for hummers. Some of the flowers and vines that fit this bill will be:
Columbines, Salvias, Cardinal climbers, Agastache, Liatris, Bees Balm, Trumpet vines, Morning Glories, Scarlet Runner Beans, and Honeysuckles.

One year I planted a whole row of Canna across my front garden.  I was delighted when I was out there and a hummingbird was right by my ear.  I could hear his wings flapping and I watched in delight as he swooped in and out of the flower row.

What are the best feeders for hummingbirds?


First Nature 3055 32-ounce Hummingbird FeederFirst Nature 3055 32-ounce Hummingbird Feeder
Hummingbird feeders are usually red in color to attract the birds as they are flying. They can spot this color from far away and will make a straight path to the feeders they find easily. Filled with sugar water they are an instant boost for their feeding needs.













It is not necessary to add red food coloring to the sugar water contained in the feeders. Some experts suggest that the red food coloring actually harms the birds. All you need is one part sugar to 3 parts water to keep the hummingbirds happy. You make your own syrup by boiling these two ingredients and then cooling the mixture.  Placed in the feeders the birds will be super happy.

Having more than one feeder in your yard will keep the birds from fighting over the food supply.
Hummingbird feeders need to be kept clean. If the sugar water stands for more than a day or two it may become contaminated. This will make the birds sick. So once you start to put out food for them, you must remain attentive to the feeders.
They are easy to clean with soapy water, rinse them well and refill them with nectar. Hang them back outside.



As you can see with these examples of hummingbird feeders, all of them have wide openings so that cleaning them out will be much easier.  I have purchased hummingbird feeders that are more artistic looking, but they are impossible to clean completely.  I don't want to harm the birds with unclean feeders.  These are my favorites from the ones available through Amazon.

The Migration of Hummingbirds for 2017






As you can see from the map, the Hummingbirds are already on their way north.  This is the current map for 2017 and you can log when you see your first hummer on the map by going to this site:
Migration Map 2017

It is part of the link below and will allow you to enter your information.  Will you be the first one in your state to log a sighting?
A Great Resource for Hummingbird Lovers


The BBC has amazing nature videos available and the one I have highlighted for you below is wonderful.  In our climate we don't have all the beautiful hummingbirds that are in the world, so you can enjoy and see some of the other species of hummers and their beautiful plumage.  Some species are really quite impressive in both color and their way of life.  It's a great resource for sure.

Super Hummingbirds BBC

My Conclusions


Putting up hummingbird feeders is a little bit of work, but it is worth the time and trouble when you are treated to the sight of these little miracles flitting about in your backyard.  The most important thing is to keep the feeders clean and filled.

I love my hummingbirds and will do everything in my power to make sure they know they are welcomed into my yard.  How about you?  Will you put up a feeder or two?  I can assure you that once you have been treated to hummingbirds in your yard, you will want them to come back again and again.






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