GETTING CREATIVE IN THE GARDEN

I’m always looking for creative new ideas to enhance my landscape and the landscapes of the homes we create designs for.  It’s also fun to share these finds with our readers.  Whether you choose to implement my most recent discoveries or use them as inspiration to create something that compliments your personality, I hope you’ll find our ideas a little different.

TAKING A BITE OUT OF THE MOSQUITO POPULATION

They are the peskiest of pests, and they are at their height of peskiness during August.  But there are ways to  control the population in your yard.  It’s not only their itchy bites that are problematic, but there is also need for worry over the diseases they carry. Armed with the right knowledge, you make it a fair fight and hopefully come close to winning the battle against these annoying summer visitors.

GARDEN STRUCTURES – ARBORS, PERGOLAS, TRELLISES and MORE

Garden structures are a great way to add height interest to your landscape.  Arbors, pergolas, vine poles and trellises all have a purpose, but along with that purpose comes the prospect of a new way to add more beauty and color to your landscape.

WHAT’S YOUR GARDEN STYLE? TAKE THE QUIZ.

Thinking about a new landscape, but really don’t know what exactly it is you might be looking for? Certainly not an uncommon problem, but one we encounter on a regular basis. Your landscape should reflect your own interests and lifestyle. There are so many different styles to choose from that trying to decide on one specific style may seem a little overwhelming to the novice.

IMPROVE YOUR CURB APPEAL

How can you improve your curb appeal?  In a multitude of ways! You can do it quickly and with minimal cost or you can make some dynamic changes and really spruce things up.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST GARDEN BENCH FOR YOUR OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE

There are so many ways to add interest to your landscape, but nothing can bring as much comfort as a garden bench.  Garden benches have provided outdoor pleasure to people for centuries, and while everything else in our environment has changed and grown, the pleasure of a few minutes stolen from the business of your day has not. Garden benches are great for reflecting with that first cup of coffee in the morning, while reading the news or planning your day.  A comfortable seat in a quiet location, before you begin the day allows you to take in the sights and smells of your garden, as well.  In the evening, a garden bench gives you the opportunity to calm down, take a breath and unwind in the most visually appealing, harmonious location of your entire home, both indoors and out.

LOW MAINTENANCE LANDSCAPING IDEAS

It seems as though everyone wants to cutback on the yard maintenance these days. There are several ways to make sure you spend less time on maintenance and more time on enjoyment.

THE ZEN GARDEN…A STRESS RELIEVING GARDENING STYLE

Tranquil. Peaceful. Calming. Elegant. The term the Japanese use for a Zen garden is “karensansui” and it means dry landscape. To achieve this look, a merging of gravel, rocks and boulders are used to create a vision that represents islands and mountains surrounded by an imagery of flowing water.  A Zen Garden is not a Japanese Garden. There are differences in the two. A Zen Garden will not include a pond, but a Japanese Garden typically will.

SUMMER VEGETABLE RECIPE – FLAMIN’ HOT CORN ON THE COB

We love all things HOT! And we’ll admit that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are part of our obsession. After trying this recipe, we just had to share.  Give it a try. If you like HOT as much as we do, you will not be disappointed with the flavor. And don’t let the Cheetos deter you from giving it a try.

GET OUT OF THE SUN! AND ENJOY YOUR PATIO!

You got that new patio or deck you’d been dreaming of. You enjoyed it all spring and into the early summer. Your neighbors oohed and aahed over your new backyard living space and you smiled over everyone’s excitement. But now it’s dead in the middle of summer and well…it’s too hot to enjoy your new space during the middle of the day. The sun is banging on everyone and the guests don’t seem as excited over your invites. What to do? What to do?

FOR THOSE WHO HATE TO WATER THEIR LANDSCAPING

Summers in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states can often be very hot and very dry. Very dry. And when it feels like 100 degrees outside, the sun is beating on you and you look outside at all your beautiful flowers struggling outside, knowing you have to water them AGAIN, it can sometimes be a struggle. A real struggle. But you can make things easier on yourself by planting drought tolerant perennials to brighten your outdoors. There are plenty of varieties available. The color, size and texture variations are many and finding the right plants for your yard will be a fun adventure.

GO FROM BLAND TO BREATHTAKING…ROLL OUT THE OUTDOOR RUGS.

Is your deck or patio a little boring? Is it too hot to walk on when the sun is its brightest and the temps their highest? Do you feel like something is keeping you from feeling like your outdoor living space isn’t quite a livable as you’d like? An outdoor rug will instantly turn your patio or deck into an outdoor lounging or living space that will host you and your guests comfortably and longingly.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – PETCHOA SUPERCAL PREMIUM

Petchoa  is a scrumptious cross between a petunia and calibrachoa. It’s got the size of a petunia and it’s profuse flowering power, as well. But the bonus is that it has the wonderfully rich and vibrant colors of a calibrachoa. The newest version of the Petchoa is the SuperCal Premium and its size and color will not disappoint.

HOW TO DECORATE A PATIO

It’s not just a slab of concrete to put your grill on. It’s so much more. A patio should be extension of your home and style. The ways you can decorate your patio are numerous, and you can do something lovely no matter your budget. Creativity and inspiration are key. How do you find inspiration? Think about the things that most inspire you and go forward. Is it a song? Think about the title and lyrics and how you can transpose that into your design. A certain type of flower? Use that as your color palette starting point. How about something as simple as an outdoor memory from a past vacation? Even a search through a magazine will help to spark your creativity and imagination.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – DWARF PLUMBAGO

We love a plant that blooms blue. And one of our favorites is plumbago.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – CANDY APPLE HYDRANGEA

Everyone loves a pretty hydrangea bush. Right? We certainly do, and nothing excites us as much as a new variety.  Candy Apple is just that plant. If you’re familiar with Limelight, then you’ll love Candy Apple. It has the same stunning lime green clusters that you see on Limelight, but with a much more compact form.

COOL AS A CUCUMBER – RECIPES FROM YOUR GARDEN

Do you know where the expression “cool as a cucumber comes from? It’s because cucumbers are typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the temperature around them. Try inserting a thermometer into one if you need a little proof. Not only do cucumbers have a cool temperature, but they’re also the key ingredient to some of the summer’s best cool down recipes.  There was a time when we only knew two main types of cucumbers – slicing and pickling. But things have changed and there is now a large variety of cucumber types available to gardeners and shoppers. They include Armenian, Diva, English Telegraph, Burpless, Persian, Lemon, Parisian Gherkins, Dasher, Sweet Success and Calypso varieties.

PLANT OF THE DAY – EVOLUTION YELLOW FALLS CONEFLOWER

Evolution Yellow Falls Coneflower is a new perennial that will bring your yard a bright touch of sunshine from late spring and into the fall. Lemon yellow petals arch slightly downward from showy center cones.  It’s great for the gardeners who love to include some cutting flowers into their lives. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

ADD MORE MAY PEAS TO YOUR MAY: CREAMED MAY PEAS AND NEW POTATOES

One of our favorite vegetables, if not our very favorite, is May peas. I always look forward to the arrival of May and one of the biggest reasons is for the May peas. There are lots of great ways to fix them, but this is an all time favorite. We like to use the multi-colored fingerling potatoes because they had such an interesting element to the dish. But whatever potatoes you choose to use, the dish may become one of your favorites, too.

COLOR TO MAKE YOUR SUMMER SCREAM… THE BRIGHTEST FLOWERS FOR YOUR SUMMER LANDSCAPE

Everyone loves the color that summer flowers bring to their yard. Whether you plant in the ground, in containers or in hanging baskets, it’s the color that brings the excitement. Who doesn’t love a day spent at the nursery discovering new plants or remembering old favorites. We spent the past couple of weekends visiting a few of our favorite nurseries and these are the plants that caught our eye.

SPRING IS ALMOST HERE…FLOWERS TO PLANT THIS SPRING

And with it, come lots of new plant varieties to excite you about the upcoming planting season. Since the start of the year, we’ve been looking to all of our favorite growers and have found more than a few that we’ve quickly fallen in love with. Since pictures are worth a thousand words and pictures of flowers are worth a million words, we’ve decided to share photos of those that captured our hearts.

DECKS…MORE THAN WOOD AND RAILS

It’s almost March. The perfect time to start thinking about your exterior projects. If a new deck or deck renovation is on your list, then you need to consider what your needs entail and how you can best maximize your budget in order to meet those needs. Since a new deck is a valuable investment for your home, you want to take the time to look at the options that will serve you best from both an aesthetic viewpoint and functional aspect. People understand that decks have the ability to extend your home’s living space during all the season of the year, and have become increasingly interested in ways to utilize that space to its highest optimization.

THE BEST TIME TO GET A NEW FENCE

February is a perfect time to get that new fence or replace your old rotting fence. There are several reasons why this month is the most opportune time to think about your fencing. For one reason,  it’s not the growing season which means it will be much easier to install a fence when weed growth and landscaping are pretty much dormant. This means there will be less labor to install your fence, and a quicker turn around time.

LOW MAINTENANCE LANDSCAPING – PLANTS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER

No one can deny that having a yard that looks admirable, enviable or approachable requires some level of maintenance. Often way more maintenance than you may be interested in investing. One way to cut back on the amount of time you need to spend on your landscape each week is to choose low maintenance plants for your landscaping. A favorite for both color and smell is lavender. It’s silvery leaves and purple blooms make it a lovely addition for any style garden, but it’s also extremely hardy and requires minimal attendance during the growing season. There are several varieties to choose from, some more compact than others.  Munstead is a compact shrub with mounding silver foliage and an abundance of blooms that create a border that’s a blanket of purple. Hidcote is another attractive variety.

ENJOY YOUR OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE DURING THE COLD

Yes, it’s C-O-L-D, but that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the outdoors. There are plenty of ways to extend the season of your outdoor living space. From fire pits and fireplaces to outdoor heaters to blankets, you can stay warm and enjoy those starlit nights even in January. A wood burning fire pit serves as a great gathering spot for those who enjoy sitting close to the heat source. It’s easy to circle around the pit with a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of wine or a good sipping bourbon. Even if most of your group is inside, once they see that fire lit, they will gravitate to the outdoors. Options are enormous and there is something for every style and taste.

MUM IS THE WORD WHEN IT COMES TO BRIGHT, BEAUTIFUL FALL COLOR FOR YOUR YARD

When September arrives, we start to usher in Mum Season. Who doesn’t love the color and attention that mums bring to your yard? How you display them can really add an impact to your home’s appearance. Here are a few of our favorite displays we’ve found on the internet. Nothing is more welcoming than an abundance of color on your steps, and this set of steps really steps up its game. Large pots, and lots of color. When displayed with a group of pumpkins, you let everyone know fall is here.  

RIPE AND READY. TOMATOES ARE SUMMER’S GIFT. TOMATO PIE RECIPE

Now that July is here, I’m pretty sure (or at least I hope), your tomato plants are now producing those ripe and ready jewels of summer. Hopefully, your crop is handling this heat and lack of rain the past several days, and your crop is looking its best. I’m the first to admit that I love nothing more than a tomato sandwich. Slices of red, ripe and juicy tomatoes, smeared with mayonnaise (has to be Duke’s) and sprinkled with salt and pepper, on some very lightly toasted bread. Nothing beats that first tomato sandwich of the year!

PLANT OF THE WEEK – DELICIOUS CANDY CONEFLOWER

I’ll eagerly admit that I’m a huge fan of coneflowers. I love the color and height they bring to a landscape, especially if you tend to enjoy a cottage style landscape. And they’re an all season flower, too. If you leave them uncut during the winter, you’ll give those birds a nice little snack to discover during those “oh so cold” months. I always try to think about the animals when I’m selecting plants for my gardens, and conflower will definitely bring all the animals to your yard.    

PLANT OF THE WEEK – WIZARD OF AHHS MAGIC SHOW VERONICA

If you’ve been walking around your neighborhood, and noticed a big splash of purple in someone’s landscape what you may have seen is a new Veronica variety. Wizard of Ahhs. It’s part of a popular collection of Veronica knows as the Magic Show. Bonus points for this variety is that it is one of the earliest Veronica to bloom. This plant produces thick spikes of violet blue flowers that cover the top half of a low, wide growth habit. Reaching heights of 14 to 16″, you can expect this one to spread between 18 to 22″.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – SUMMER BERRIES YARROW

One thing about the landscaping business is that it certainly is BUSY this time of year. Lots of people in the industry call March, April and May the 100 Days of Hell. And with good reason. It’s hard to catch your breath, much less keep up with your blog. But with all the color popping out everywhere, I was reminded that I need to get back to sharing some of my favorite plants.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – LUNA PINK SWIRL HARDY HIBISCUS

With today’s rain and lack of sun, I found myself in desperate need of a plant pick me up.  What better way to bring the tropics into your life than a tropical plant like the hibiscus. And the variety we’ve chose as this week’s Plant of the Week is the Luna Pink Swirl Hardy Hibiscus. 

PLANT OF THE WEEK – MINUET WEIGELA

If you haven’t added Weigela to your landscape, we have to wonder ‘Why Not?’ One of our favorites is Minuet Weigela. Both the foliage and flowers will add a lovely splash of color to your spring garden. The incredible display of rosy-pink blooms against a backdrop of purple-tinged foliage mixes fantastically in a shrub border, but it also works well anywhere else as a colorful garden accent. 

PLANT OF THE WEEK – VIBE IGNITION PURPLE SAGE

This week I chose a fairly new specimen called VIBE Ignition Purple Sage. My first reason for selecting this plant is my passion for purple flowers. Especially deep purple flowers! I particularly love that it’s heat and drought tolerant because we do live on the East Coast.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – REGAL EMPRESS CLEMATIS

This week we’ve chosen the Regal Empress Clematis. Every mailbox, every fence post, every porch rail deserves a splash of color and drama.This prolific, compact climber offers large, double flowers in shades of pink, continually producing over a long season.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – DREAM CATCHER FLOWERING CHERRY

This week we’re celebrating the Dream Catcher Flowering Cherry. This tree is categorized by its Large, single, clear pink flowers that cover its upright branches that expose dark green foliage. Fall brings orange-red to purple foliage color.

PLANT OF THE WEEK – THE EARLY BLOOMING FORSYTHIA

Since this is our FIRST “Plant of the Week” post, I selected an early spring bloomer to get you into gardening mode. The Show Off Forsythia is a new compact selection that gives a stunning display compared to some of the older forsythia varieties. Its early spring blooms fill its branches with bright yellow color in early spring It has lovely dark green foliage that provides visual interest all season long. Planted as a short hedge, in mixed borders or even as a foundation plant, it produces blooms that work well as a cut flower. It’s also a very easy plant to propagate. Use stem cuttings from your shrub to create more forsythia plants. … Moisten a paper towel with water and wrap it around the cut ends of the stems. Place the cuttings in a dark plastic bag until you can transfer cuttings to the rooting medium, preferably within 24 hours. An alternative propagation method can be accomplished by bending a branch down from an existing bush, covering the first 6 inches of the branch with soil and mulch, and using a brick or rock to weigh it down. The branch will root next to its mother plant and can be transplanted later. Forsythia will be a welcome addition to your landscape when you see it’s early yellow blooms showing up on a cold, early spring day.    

YOUR HOME’S FIRST IMPRESSION SHOULD ALWAYS SAY “WELCOME.”

When someone walks or drives past your home, does its exterior make them pause and want to visit or does it make them gasp and want to keep on going?  Stand in the street in front of your house.  If it wasn’t your home, how would you feel about walking up to the front door?  Perhaps it’s time to make some changes to your landscape. There are numerous ways to make your home more inviting.  How can you improve your front yard?  Does it involve your door?  Your porch?  The overall landscape?  With a little thought, your home can invite people to stop in, with or without the welcome sign.  

DECORATE YOUR PATIO FOR A PICTURE PERFECT LOOK

Staring out the window at a plain, boring patio?   Unsure where to begin?  Not even sure what look you’re going after?  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the decision process.  If you’re not careful, you’ll just toss the thought away, and end up spending another summer failing to utilize what could be the best “room” of your home. Plants.  Furniture.  Art.  Color.  Seclusion.  Shade.  Sun.  Water.  Sounds.  Sights. Smells.  Flavors. All words that should be part of your patio vocabulary.  Consider all the senses when preparing your patio for the outdoor season.

What’s New In 2018?

One of the my favorite things every year is finding out what new varieties of plants will be showing up at my favorite nurseries. Of course, I have those favorites that I return to again and again, but being the first in the neighborhood to display a new annual or perennial always brings me a bit of joy. I’ve already discovered a few new plants this year that will certainly find a spot in my garden.

MAKE YOUR BACKYARD PRIVATE

Neighbors on top of you?  An adjacent eyesore?  The buzz of a busy street?  Yes, these are the things that can keep you out of your yard, and out of what could be your own retreat and possibly the best part of your home.  There are many ways to create that private space, to camouflage ugly and to bring more welcome sounds to your yard.  The first step is to determine the main problem, the second is to come up with a plan, and then you need to implement the plan. There are several ways to add privacy to your landscape. 

What is the special meaning behind rose colors?

Valentine’s Day is just a week away, but before you splurge for a dozen or more roses wouldn’t you like to know the meaning behind the color of the roses you’re thinking about choosing? While many people think roses are cliché, knowing the meaning behind them will certainly give a little oomph to that bouquet. Roses come in a variety of colors and shades, so choose carefully and let someone know that you actually did put some thought into your selection. Red roses are the standard. They are the symbol for love, and reflect beauty and perfection. Give those red roses to the perfect someone in your life, and let them know why you went with tradition. Pink roses represent feelings of admiration, grace, joy, sweetness and gentleness. They’re a great choice for a daughter or for a younger Valentine since they also communicate happiness.

HELLO THERE COLD WEATHER ! LANDSCAPING CHECKLIST FOR FEBRUARY.

The February checklist for your yard. *Starts your seeds for the cool season vegetables & flowers. *Check your plants and tress for damage. During the cold months, animals can damage your plants when trying to escape the cold. *It’s a good time to start looking for pots and planters. Some stores still have last year’s merchandise to get rid of, and the bargains can be strong. *Cut back your liriope and other perennials now. It will get them ready to grow in the spring. *Prune your dormant trees and shrubs, but leave those spring bloomers alone. *It’s a good time to plant those larger B&B bushes and trees. *Give your holly bushes a hard prune this time of year.

Choosing Color for Your Landscape

Landscaping is an artistic endeavor. It’s important to apply design elements the way an artist does when choosing a color palette for their next painting. Every color and shade awakens a specific feeling, and applying these properly will tie your landscape together and create a visionary masterpiece. You can choose your color palette based on your favorite colors, and by understanding the principles of the color wheel. Some colors are warm, others cool. Each color has a certain identity and performs differently in the landscape. Red. Excitement, intensity, passion, vitality, drama and energy. If you are trying to make an area feel tighter, rather than spread out then red is a good choice. Because it is a warm color, it needs to be in a bright space. Reds do not stand out in shady areas. It’s a great color for a focal point, such as a doorway or the dining area of your patio or deck. The complimentary color for red is green.  Good examples of red blooms include geraniums, petunias, celosia and dahlias.

It may be cold, but it’s time to start thinking about your landscape

Often we allow the cold weather (and especially the snow) to keep us from thinking about the upcoming planting season. But it’s actually the best time of all to get the idea and planning process started.  One of the first things to consider when planning a new landscape is to determine the look and style you’re going after. Landscape styles can often be narrowed down to the following types: classic, cottage, zen, contemporary, tropical or eco-friendly xeriscaping. If you’re not sure what your style is, the quiz found here often helps you narrow it down. During January, it’s time to pull out the magazines and scan the internet for photos and articles related to landscape design and styles. Once you’ve determined what you love, you can read about the types of plants that would best with the scheme you are trying to achieve. A good landscaper can help you with the design and especially the plant selections that will work well with your property’s unique conditions. Visiting a landscaper’s website is a great place for ideas and it will also help you determine if it’s a landscaper you want to work with.