backyard

  • The top 6 things to know about the Philadelphia Flower Show, before you go!

    This is Philadelphia Flower Show time!

    For most people living in the mid-Atlantic region, March is a bitter cold time of year often with snow on the ground and temperatures that make hibernation sound like a good thing.  But luckily for those within a reasonable distance of Philadelphia, there is something that takes place each and every year unlike any event anywhere else.  And that's The Philadelphia Flower Show.  There may be frozen rain and chilly temperatures outside.  But on the floor of the Pennsylvania Convention Center for nine days in March, you'll see nothing but nature's beauty, specimen plants, and flowers from all over the world.  Before you make your way to the show, remember these few important tidbits.

    BulbsinGarden Bulbs are blooming at the Philadelphia Flower Show!

    1- Bring a camera!

    You will be seeing thousands of gorgeous living flowers, plants, trees, shrubs and more.  And with all of them in perfect bloom at exactly the same time, this is not something you will see in your backyard!

    2- Check the theme.

    The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society does a magnificent job of coming up with an interesting and memorable theme for each year's show.  Previous themes included Articulture, Springtime in Paris and Jazz it up!  This year's theme is Explore America which focuses on our country's National Parks.  Knowing the theme in advance is a great way to build up excitement, anticipating what you may see at the show!

    Bonsai at Philadelphia Flower Show Bonsai can live for hundreds of years.

    3- Wear comfortable shoes.

    There's a lot to see which means there's a lot of walking.  But don't worry, there are plenty of seating areas throughout the show where you can take a break, enjoy a beverage, and plan what to check out next!  Your most comfortable pair of sneakers or shoes will be your best friend for the day.

    4- Don't forget the Marketplace!

    As you make your way through the show, you might wonder what all the bright lights and buzz is about at the far end of the room.  That's the marketplace!  You'll find everything from flowers to plants, sheds  to hoses, pictures to potpourri!  It's a nice change of pace during your stroll through the show and often a favorite for many show-goers.

    5- Take the train.

    Why worry about driving and parking when you can take the train?  The Jefferson train stop is literally in the basement.  You won't even have to set foot outside!  Simply go up the escalators and you'll be smelling the roses before you know it.  Talk about convenient!

    Philadelphia Flower Show Booth Be sure to see us at the Philadelphia Flower Show!

    6- Take a piece of the show home!

    After a day of seeing so much beauty, the last thing you want is to head home with no flowers.  I mean... it's called the Flower Show, right?  Luckily, the Flower Show is a great place to pick up the most gorgeous flowers at spectacular prices!  Every year, you are guaranteed to get a show special at one of the Kremp Florist booths.  Their roses are the favorite every year and when you see them in a rainbow of colors, you'll agree!

     

    We hope this information helps you enjoy the show to the fullest!  So with or without your green thumb, be sure to visit this year's Philadelphia Flower Show.  There's truly something for everyone!

  • Getting Ready for Spring

    Getting Ready For Spring! With deep snow and cold temperatures outside, it’s hard to believe that we will be out in the garden with dirt on our hands in no time. There’s no better way to beat cabin fever than to get a jump on planning the great things that you are going to do in your yard to get ready for spring. Grab a cup of coffee, curl up in front of the fire with your dog, a blanket and your ipad or laptop and start dreaming. Make getting ready for spring something that you look forward to each year.

    Remember that section of the yard that didn’t get as much sun as you thought it would where your petunias didn’t do so well? How about that hook on the porch where you couldn’t decide what to hang there and it stayed empty all summer? Where’s the best place to hang that birdhouse that your kids made for you at school?

    A really cute bird house help you getting ready for spring This hand made bird house is perfect for your garden and the visiting chickadees.

    The internet has all of the answers to questions about getting ready for spring and now is the time to find them. Start out by searching for answers to your specific questions and see where it takes you. You’ll not only find that petunias don’t do well in the shade, but also that there are countless options to bring color to that area that you never knew existed. That empty hanger? There are so many more options than the same old hanging baskets that you see on all of your neighbor’s porches. The birdhouse? What size is the hole on the house and what birds will use it? How high and where should it be hung so that the birds will find it an attractive place to call home?

    Every year, plant breeders release new improved varieties of all of your favorite plants, as well as brand new introductions that have never been available before. Whether it’s a new color of an old standby, a new trailing growth habit on a plant that has always grown upright or a hybrid that takes a shade plant and allows it to grow in full sun, you are sure to find something that will perfectly fit your needs. Some suggestions to make getting ready for spring easy: Draw a rough sketch of your gardens with dimensions and notes on sun exposure. Surf through garden sites to find what you would like to plant in each area and how many of each plants you will need. By putting a list together now you’ll spend less time reading labels and scratching your head at the store and more time planting the perfect garden.

    Getting ready for spring with beautiful hanging baskets Alyssum hanging baskets in gorgeous colors.

    Old standbys like fuchsias, geraniums and new guinea impatiens make for some great hanging baskets, but there are lots of exciting options available today. Names like lobularia, calibrachoa, portulaca and scaevola won’t be any more confusing or intimidating than impatiens, petunia or begonia if you take the time to learn about them now. You’ll find that there will almost certainly be plants that will out perform those same old duds that you stick there each year.

    You will feel a sense of accomplishment when that wren or chickadee starts checking out that house that you hung in that spot intending to specifically attract that bird. While learning about their housing preferences, take some time to research what the best food is to put out for them. You’ll find that suet and peanuts are often a better choice than plain old bird seed. A bird bath will likely attract as many birds as the feeders so find a good place for one of those too! Putting together a good plan now goes a long way towards getting the garden ready for spring. Take the time to figure things out now while youre stuck inside so that you can better enjoy being outside in a couple of months!

    Article submitted by Steve Kremp, Head Grower for Kremp Florist/Kremp Cutting Gardens and Greenhouses.

  • Proper care for your Hydrangea Plants

    This complex flower has become very popular as a cut flower as well as a garden plant.  It is easy to see why.  The colors are great, they last along time, can easily be dried, and they are the perfect flower to use either in a vase by themselves or a filler with others.  They are blooming profusely in area gardens through the summer.  Experienced gardeners know that the color of the blossoms can be altered by changing the ph of the soil.  The more acidic the soil the more blue; the more alkaline the more pink with cream in the middle for neutral ph soil.  Even without any additives, the flower colors change as it matures.  When left on the plant, the blooms change to very muted tones touched with grey.  But what about the proper care for your hydrangea plants? They can be cut and brought indoors at any point.  It is important to always use a clean vase, take off any foliage that would be below the water line and add a food like Floralife.   The ideal system is to change the water every two or three days.

     

    Purple and Blue hydrangea Purple and Blue Hydrangea

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    The flowers will dry naturally by just hanging them upside down in a dry area like the basement or garage.  Even those that are put in water will dry and after removing all the leaves can be kept in a dry vase or even laid out for decoration in areas like a mantle for months.

     

    Purple Lace-cap hydrangea Lace-Cap Hydrangea

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    Hydrangeas are a great flower to use in a vase as a base.  After putting enough stems in the vase to have the flowers cover the opening of the vase, other thin stemmed flowers like roses or zinnias can be placed between the florets.  Dried hydrangeas can be glued on wreaths or pieces of cloth for a decorative accessory.

     

    Snow Queen Hydrangea bush Snow Queen Hydrangea

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    For those who either don’t have garden hydrangeas to cut, or prefer to leave the flowers on the plants to beautify the outdoors of their homes, hydrangeas are in plentiful supply in flower shops and markets.  When making a purchase, be sure you are buying from someone you trust.  Select only those stems where the flowers are perky and firm.  There should not be any dry edges and the stems should be firm and healthy looking.  Hydrangeas look great with lilies and roses.  For a smaller bouquet, add spray roses or alstromeria through the center of the flower.  The wonderful thing about hydrangeas and really all flowers is that you can’t make a mistake.  The beauty is there and all you need to do is combine them with anything else that you like.

    Pink Hydrangea Bush Pink Hydrangea Bush

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

  • Living Flower Arrangements that you can enjoy all Summer long

    Flower arrangements are combinations of flowers and foliage arranged in a manner that pleases the senses.  With the introduction of many new varieties of summer flowering plants, patio pots and hanging baskets are more popular than ever.  When potted together in large containers, the colorful combinations can be enjoyed all summer long with a minimum amount of care.  These are truly living flower arrangements.

     

    Assorted outdoor blooming plants in patio pot Outdoor Patio Pot

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    Small containers of old standards such as impatiens and begonias are still available, but they are rapidly losing the popularity race against the superior new varieties, planted in larger pots.    Prior to the new introductions, gardeners were limited to old stand-bys such as geraniums, vinca, and seed grown bedding plants.  A few years ago plant breeders began introducing new vegetative varieties that are produced from cuttings instead of seed.  Firms like Yoder Brothers, and Ecke released whole collections of plants, such as The Flower Fields.  The wide variety of colors, shapes, and textures available in these collections took hold, and they are now widely available.

    Oversized English Garden Blooming Planter English Barrel Garden Planter

    Image courtesy 0f ( Flickr )

    Serious plant lovers have learned that the extra soil in the larger containers holds much more water than 8” or 10” pots.  More water available to the plants means less care is required, and the plants last longer.   A large pot purchased in May or June will now thrive all summer long, and still be flowering beautifully in September.   Choosing a quality supplier ensures that the plants have been properly grown and cared for before you bought them, and are off to a healthy start.  Plants that have been neglected at the store may be damaged to the point that they will never reach their potential, and often only last a week or two after they are brought home.

     

    Large outdoor planter suitable for full sun conditions Large Outdoor Blooming Planter

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    The larger containers allow many of the top performing varieties to be planted together in the English Garden style.  Color combinations can be shades of peach, yellow, and orange; or purple, pink, lavender, and red.  .  The varieties are extremely versatile, and perform well in conditions that range from light shade to full sun..  Extremely windy locations should be avoided, but the plants will recover well from the occasional strong thunderstorm. Only basic care is required to keep your pots colorful.  Water daily, feed with common water soluble fertilizer according to the directions, and remove any straggly shoots or dead flowers.

    Outdoor planter with orange and yellow blooming plants Deluxe Patio Planter

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

    By choosing quality plants from a reputable supplier, and giving them basic, simple care, you will be rewarded with beautiful living flower arrangements for your home that last all summer long.

    Outdoor planter of tulips and pansies Outdoor Tulip Planter

    Image courtesy of ( Flickr )

  • Decorate Your Home With Cut Flowers From Your Own Garden

    As you have seen in all furniture ads, home magazines, and anyplace where our living areas are displayed, flowers are added to make the space inviting, more attractive, and as recent research has shown better for our well being. Summer is a great time of the year. You can go out to your garden, no matter how small, and bring in a little color. Summer garden flowers are plentiful enough that they are a great value to purchase as well. The varieties range from ageratum to zinnias. The flowers you purchase have probably been grown locally and very fresh. We grow our own at our greenhouses in Churchville and often are in our customers’ homes the same day they were cut. To get the maximum enjoyment out of these summer flowers there are a few things you should know.

    Cutting and Collecting Garden Flowers

    Photo by ( Flickr )

    Planning your arrangement Flowers and foliage will instantly improve the ambiance of a room. Select a spot that will catch your eye, pick out a container that seems to be the right scale for the spot, and roughly measure how high and wide you would like the arrangement to be. The container could be something as simple as a glass jar. Then go out and find the materials that will fill the space with the right colors and shape. Don’t limit your imagination to any specifics. Dead or dried branches could be great for height, as could be tall grasses. Broad leaves like hostas could fill a vase in a mass design. Even rocks could be used as accent pieces. But of course, the flowers will usually be the main event. As different varieties come into bloom, take advantage of their beauty by bringing some inside.

    Cut lilacs and tulips in vase

    Photo by ( Flickr )

    When and how to cut

    It is best to cut in the morning or at least when it is cool. During the heat of the day, flowers are already in stress and this stress shortens their vase life. Cut the flower with as long a stem as possible but above a node. This is the point on the stem where leaves join the stem. This will allow the plant to send out more shoots for more flowers in a few weeks so don’t think that you will be losing the outdoor beauty. Your actions will actually stimulate more flowers later. The plan will also look better for there will not be any unsightly half stems sticking out.

    Purple garden flowers

    Photo by ( Flickr )

    Care and handling Probably the single best hint is to take a bucket of warm water with you and put the flowers in water as soon as they are cut. It would be best to use a plastic bucket with water that includes flower nutrient. The commercial flower foods interact with metal and that would harm the flowers. Warm water is used for it goes up the stem more quickly. This first drink by the flower is very important. This is the time that the flower is hydrating and the stem will stiffen up. Many times people cut the flowers, bring them in the house, lay them on the table and don’t arrange them for some time. During this period, the stems soften, the flowers wilt as does the enthusiasm of the flower arranger. When you buy your flowers this first conditioning step has been done for you.

    Cut zinnias from the garden

    Photo by ( Flickr )

    Arranging tips Be certain the container you are using is squeaky clean. The least bit of residue will contaminate the water and dramatically shorten flower life. Use flower food here as well in the dosage prescribed for on the label. With flower food, too much is just as bad a too little. If you are using Oasis brand flower foam, soak the foam in water that has the nutrient added. Either group the flowers by color or variety. A mixed bouquet of one variety of flowers is stunning. A few black-eyed susans in a small pitcher is easy and very effective. If the container has a large mouth, first add foliage or branches, ivy is a great choice. Re-cut the stems and take off any foliage that would be below the water line and insert the stem into the container. As a general rule, put larger flowers or those with darker colors deeper in the arrangement. Most flowers have a face. That is a side from which you would view them. Design the flowers in a way that the faces are aimed in a way that the viewer can best see the full beauty of each blossom. If you need to visualize something, think of the garden; a natural look will certainly show off the flowers. Be sure to keep the arrangement away from the sun or heat. For instance, do not put the flowers on the TV. Every day or two fill the container and if the water becomes discolored, change it. Your flowers should last at least 5-7 days.

    Cut sunflowers in vase

    Photo by ( Flickr )

    Hints for selecting purchased flowers When buying summer garden flowers, you should check the foliage and stems. They should be firm and a healthy shade of green. The flowers should not be bruised and usually fully open. Most varieties, like zinnias, will not open in water. Buy the flowers from someone you trust and if they do not last at least 5-7days, take them back.

  • When is the best time to plant your garden?

    This is a question that misses the mark of gardening.  Gardening is not a task but a life style.  Proper gardening is not done for the result of a nice garden but for the enjoyment of building the garden and seeing the changes through the seasons.  My personal experiences flow from the anticipation of spring through to the frost in winter.  Here are some of those experiences.  I point them out to help those who may be missing some of the joy of having any size garden.

    Woman planting plants in the garden

     

    Image Source ( Flickr )

    End of winter

    Assess winter damage and plan for spring activities-

    • What plants will need to be replaced due to freezing.
    • Hardscape repairs such as cracks in the patio or re-pointing of stone or brick walks or walls.
    • Trim dead wood from trees and bushes and clean out beds.  Only trim obviously dead branches for some plants don’t show growth until it gets warm.
    • Pressure wash patio and walks
    • Fill the birdbath

     

    Garden in the Spring

    Image Source ( Flickr )

    Spring

    Enjoy the first flowering from bulbs and flowering bushes and trees

    • First cut of grass, including edging, and begin lawn care program of weed and feed.
    • Plant summer blooming bulbs such as Gladiolas.
    • Plant pansies in focal points for early color.
    • Weed.  This is especially important to be sure they don’t go to seed and then multiply the problem.
    • Trim plants of all dead wood and hedges to shape.
    • Replace dead plants.
    • Plant annuals in beds and pots
    • Fertilize and Mulch beds.  Be sure mulch is not piled up against the trunks of trees or wood siding on your home.
    • Have large trees trimmed in manner to prevent them from falling or breaking off and causing damage.  They many, such as flowering fruit trees, should be trimmed in a way that lets more light in for growth.

     

    Summer Garden Plants

     

    Image Source ( Flickr )

    Summer

    Every morning as you go out to water, take in the beauty of the garden and the changes that come from growth and the new perennials that bloom at different times through the year.

    • Water everyday that it doesn’t rain
    • Replace pansies with summer blooming annuals
    • Remove spring flowering bulbs from focal points and store in dry cool place for fall planting.
    • Fertilize annuals weekly and other plants monthly
    • Inspect for insects and diseases.  If present, deal with according to directions on insecticides and fungicides.
    • Deadhead flowers that need it such as Geraniums.
    • Trim flowering shrubs immediately after they flower.  If you wait until the fall, you will cut off the buds that are forming for next year.
    • After flowering cut roses back to the second set of five leaves.
    • Weed frequently to not only keep the garden looking good but to help eliminate them in the future.
    • Stake up any plants that need it.
    • Cut some of your flowers and bring indoors.

     

    Autumn Garden

    Image Source ( Flickr )

    Autumn

    Possibly the best time of the year in the garden.  The light from the sun is golden and the air is clear.  The colors of your plants are as vibrant as they will ever be.  Your annuals are at their largest and the beds full.  Weeds no longer pose a problem and watering is not necessary as often.

    • This is the best time to see if there are any places that garden sculpture will add a special look to a part of your garden.
    • Take out any annuals that are finished and plant hardy mums in focal points.
    • Plant spring bulbs.  These can be planted deep in the focal point areas so that annuals can be planted over them.
    • Trim back plants like Roses and certain Hydrangeas
    • Rake leaves.

     

    Winter garden flowers

    Image Source ( Flickr )

    Winter

    Good gardens have a special look during the winter.  The dried pods and stems of perennials along with the bare trees and look of evergreens give a different character to your landscape.

    • Ponds need to have a pond heater or bubbler to prevent the pond from freezing over.
    • Walks should be de-iced carefully so that excess salt does not build up in the beds.
    • Keep the bird feeder filled
    • Research what possibilities there are for you to improve your garden once the winter is over.

     

    You can tell if you are a true gardener by how you look at the above.  A true gardener looks forward to these tasks as pleasurable experiences not as chores.

  • How to Grow Apple Trees At Home by Kremp Florist

    Apple

    Photo by Elise (Flickr)

    Have you always wanted to grow your own apples, but weren't sure where to begin? Even if you don't have the greenest thumb, it's easier than you think! Whether you want to start from apple seeds, or plant a full grown one in your yard, here are a few things you need to know before you get started.

    If you are going the replanting route, then going to your local nursery should be your first step. Learning which apple trees grow best in your area is important because not all will flourish in every climate, so it's good to know which ones work best in your neck of the woods. It is also important to realize that apple trees do best when they are planted in the early spring, so deciding when you want to start planting is a key factor in how well your trees will do.

    Most apple trees must cross-pollinate in order to bear fruit, so grabbing more than one type of apple tree at your nursery will be necessary in most cases. While bees and other plants can help to pollinate your apple tree, its best to have two types to be sure your tree will bear fruit. When deciding what size or age apple tree to buy, remember that replanting a younger tree such as a dwarf or semi dwarf will be easier and will have fruit quicker than a normal size tree. Keep in mind the amount of space in your yard and the amount of light they will get; most apple trees need to get 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

    Once you have gotten your trees, you will need to prep your soil by getting rid of weeds and other plants that may interfere with your trees growing. You don't want to plant too close to forests or wooded areas, because animals will more likely get to your apple trees and cause damage. In most cases, digging a 2 foot deep hole and making the hole about two times the size of the tree's root ball (or container it was previously in) should be sufficient. Also remember that in order for your trees to cross-pollinate, they must not be more than 100 feet apart when you plant them. Keeping all this in mind will give you a better shot at having a healthy, fruit-bearing tree. After planting, be sure to add mulch to your newly planted apple tree. Be sure to never fertilize your young fruit tree. Fertilizing too soon can burn and damage the roots of your young plant. By adding mulch to the surrounding area of your plant base, your tree will retain water and moisture better. Watering your newly planted tree will be vital during the first and second growing season. Making sure to water your trees twice a week, without drowning them and just making the soil moist is important. If you see your leaves wilting or looking dry, watering more often might be necessary.

    The last thing you need to remember is maintaining your trees once you've planted them in the ground. Although there isn't a laundry list of care instructions, there are still a few things you need to do to keep those apple trees kicking! Adding a trellis, or putting a post alongside your trees in the dirt, can be helpful as they grow to give them stability. After a few years it might be unnecessary, but in the beginning, having some extra support can be helpful. Until your tree has matured, doing minor maintenance will be your best bet. Getting rid of dead branches or fruit is fine, but don't begin cutting branches or doing any intense pruning until your trees have been growing for a few years.

    If you are looking for an easier, kid-friendly project, then planting apple seeds at home is a fun activity for the family! All you'll need are a few apples, paper towels, a sandwich bag, and potting soil with pots. First, cut the apples down the center and get as many of the seeds as possible, leaving any that have been broken. Then, place the seeds on a plate or somewhere for a few days so they can dry out. Next, wet a few paper towels and stick the seeds inside them. You'll want to place them in a sandwich bag and put them in the refrigerator to allow the seeds to germinate. This part will probably take a few weeks, so keep an eye on them. Once the seeds have begun to sprout, the fun part begins! You can finally plant your baby seeds in pots. Be sure to water them daily and place them in a sunny area of your home. Once your seeds have grown to be about a foot in height, you can transplant them to your garden or yard and admire what you grew!

    Choosing a Tree

    Preparation

    Planting your Tree

    Apple Tree Maintenance

    Growing an Apple Tree from a Seed

  • Growing (Up) in the Garden: Gardening is Great for Kids

    I believe that gardens grow better with a child's magical touch. Kids seem to have a natural affinity for the garden, and that comes as no surprise; every walk in the garden presents something new and interesting to grab a child's curiosity, whether it is a mud puddle or an unfurling flower. I would hazard to say that most people who are gardeners have fond memories of growing up in the garden; I know I do. Growing up in the garden is both fun and a great learning experience! Gardening is a fun activity for kids, and it has a wide variety of benefits - here are just a few.

    Watering Plants Watering Plants

    [Photo by pizzawhale (Flickr)]

    Playing in the Dirt is Fun!

    This is probably the first and most obvious benefit of gardening for little ones. Most children are perfectly content to play in the soil, and it is easy to sneak in a lesson about digging an appropriate hole for a plant or seed as part of this play. Perhaps while digging, you will be fortunate enough to find some slimy earthworms to play with - or have your little shadow assist with watering plants and then let them play in the mud puddles! Show your gardening buddy how to make a hollyhock doll, how to make a snap dragon "eat" a piece of grass, and how to twist the flowers of an obedient plant into a fun pattern. In such a beautiful and stimulating environment, a child's imagination knows no bounds. Try planting fun theme gardens, like fairy gardens full of mini plants and fairy accessories or sensory gardens made up of plants like mint and lamb's ear.

    Enormous Cucumber Enormous Cucumber

    [Photo by woodleywonderworks (Flickr)]

    Gardening is Healthy

    If you want to inspire a lifetime love of healthy eating, then let kids plant and care for fruits and vegetables of their own. Children take great pride in growing their own food, and even Brussels sprouts stand a chance of being relished. Some great fruits and vegetables for young gardeners to grow are strawberries, green beans, sunflowers, pumpkins, and potatoes, just to name a few; herbs are also easy to care for, and kids will love smelling their different scents. Gardening is also great exercise for the whole family and is therapeutic mentally as well. Much research has shown that gardening helps reduce stress, which makes it a wonderful hobby for kids to keep up when they grow older.

    Orion in the Garden

    [Photo by Dylan Parker (Flickr)]

    It's a Fun Way to Teach Life Lessons

    Teaching a child how to be patient is generally not a fun task, but gardening can take some of the pain out of it. Plant some bean or sunflower seeds and wait for them to emerge, and then wait some more for them to put out leaves and produce healthy snacks. Kids learn responsibility through the natural consequences of how good care of the garden produces beautiful, healthy plants and how poor care results in sickly and dying plants that produce nothing. Teach your child that different flowers and vegetables need different kinds of care, much like different people. Share the abundance of fruits, flowers, and vegetables that you grow with the neighbors and let your child experience the joy of giving to others.

    Lady Bug

    [Photo by Lauren Hammond (Flickr)]

    Growing Plants Teaches Kids About Science

    Growing a garden teaches so many science lessons that it is impossible to name them all, and it is likely to inspire conversations between you and your little one about anything under the sun. The most obvious lesson for kids to learn is about plant and insect life cycles; sure, kids can learn this in a book, but actually experiencing it through all of the senses really makes the information sink in, especially for kinesthetic learners and those with special needs. Teach your child to appreciate pollinators and earthworms for the work that they do in the garden, and teach them about responsible gardening practices that are earth-friendly like composting and companion planting. Explain why weeding is important as you pull the weeds and how deadheading and pinching back are good for flowers; every action in gardening is a teachable moment.

    Camden Children's Garden

    [Photo by Dyogi (Flickr)]

    You Are Building Good Memories

    When you garden with a child, you build memories that will last a lifetime. To this day, some of my favorite and most vivid memories are of gardening with my grandparents, and I hope to give my own children and grandchildren the same sweet gardening memories someday. Little ones will remember the time you spent showing them how to care for plants, but most of all, they will remember the time and attention you spent caring for them. When you garden with a child, you are sowing and nurturing seeds of responsibility, respect, knowledge, and love along with the seeds of flowers and vegetables.

  • Summer Gardening Goals

    Watering the Flowers

    Photo by Chris Parfitt (Flickr)]

    Now that August is here, chances are good that it is becoming hot and possibly dry in your area. Most plants will need more frequent watering to deal with the excessive heat unless it is raining regularly in your region. Some of your plants will be struggling, while those that love the heat will be thriving. If you are like me, you may be struggling with the heat, too, and may dread the idea of getting out in the garden! Unfortunately, there is still work to be done. Watering and Fertilizing. Watering becomes especially crucial in the hot months of summer. Use a rain gauge to measure how much rain you are getting and water your plants as needed; if plants are starting to droop, you need to water. Container plants especially need frequent watering - the smaller the container, the more frequently the plants will need to be watered. At this time of year, I check my containers every day and my gardens every three days if it hasn't rained. Plants like tomatoes and peppers also need plenty of water to produce their delicious fruits. Even lawns and newly planted trees and shrubs will need water in the absence of rain - and don't forget your bird baths. Wildlife will welcome the water in this heat. Remember to water plants deeply at the roots and to water in the early morning if possible; this lessens the amount of water lost to evaporation and prevents fungal and bacterial diseases in plants. If you haven't already mulched your gardens yet, you may want to so that you don't have to water as frequently. Remember to stay on schedule for fertilizing plants.

    Harvest Time

    Photo by Pete (Flickr)

    Harvest and Plant More By now, you should be harvesting vegetables from your garden daily; picking mature fruits daily allows plants to direct energy toward producing more fruits. You can start digging up garlic, onions, and potatoes as well. You should be planting successive rows of plants like beans, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, and herbs. Pull old cool-weather plants like lettuce and spinach if you haven't already, and you will make more room in your garden. Later this month, sew seed for fall crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale or start seeds indoors. In zones 6 and higher, you can wait until August to start fall seeds. If you have a cut flower garden, plant successive rows of annuals like zinnias and cosmos. You may want to consider planting a cover crop in bare areas of your garden - cover crops are turned back into the garden and enrich the soil.

    Petunias in Need of Cutting Back

     

    Photo by daryl_mitchell (Flickr)]

    Cut Back, Deadhead, Pinch, and Prune

    This week, you will want to pinch back chrysanthemums and asters for the last time. Continue to remove dead flowers from plants; coneflowers and black-eyed Susans are two flowers in bloom now that greatly benefit from deadheading. Use your fingers or pruners to pinch off old flowers so that the plant's energy can focus on making new blooms. Also, It is time to cut back annuals that are getting leggy, like petunias and impatiens - shear back one third of the plant for renewed vigor and growth. Prune summer flowering trees and shrubs right after blooming. Of course, you should keep weeding for optimum plant growth and health.

    Seeds for Sale

    Photo by Everyday Growing (Flickr)]

    Go Shopping In the August heat, this is my favorite gardening task for the month! Now is the time you will find great deals on plants, since the gardening season is winding down. Buy some heat-resistant and drought-tolerant plants like coleus, pentas, and portulaca to perk up your August garden. Hanging baskets, perennials, and annuals will likely be marked down, and you may also find deals on seeds. It's a good time to consider what you want to grow for fall and order seeds or plants in time if needed. In fact, it is a good time to consider what you want to grow next year to take advantage of deals now. I encourage you to consider growing something new and unusual!

  • The 13 Best Flowers for a Butterfly Garden

    Do you love butterflies? Well, it is time to show your love by helping them to survive. You and I may be attracted to exotic, high-priced plants, but butterflies require nothing so fancy; in fact, butterflies are attracted to many native plants that are considered weeds by many and eradicated with herbicides. If you want to attract butterflies to your garden, here are a few tips. First of all, do not use any pesticides or herbicides near your garden, as they are toxic for the butterflies and other pollinators. Second, plant a garden with a wide variety of plants that will provide flowers throughout the season. Third, plant nectar-rich flowers that are colorful and flat-topped or clustered with short flower tubes. Here are 13 such flowers that butterflies find irresistible:

    5860091172_8c86f647bd_o Butterfly Weed

    Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa [Photo by Wayne National Forest (Flickr)]

    Butterfly weed is a member of the milkweed family and thus is a host for monarch larvae, which only eat milkweed. It serves as a host to grey hairstreak and queen butterfly larvae as well, in addition to being a favorite nectar source for monarchs and many other types of butterflies. Butterfly weed is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant perennial with bright orange flowers that are great for cutting. It starts blooming in late spring and continues blooming all summer, providing a long-lasting buffet for butterflies as well as hummingbirds.

    3828830534_9975467dbc_o Butterfly Bush

    Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii [Photo by Jim, the Photographer (Flickr)]

    This summer- and fall-blooming shrub is a butterfly magnet as well as a sweet-scented beauty. Choose from shades of purple, white, and pink flowers, which attract bees and hummingbirds as well as butterflies. Butterfly bush is hardy in USDA zones 5-10 and may die back to the ground in the north, or you can take the initiative and cut it down to the ground in winter or spring if you prefer; it is a fast grower. Some varieties can reach ten feet tall, but there are now miniature cultivars available.

    Bee Balm Bee Balm

    Bee balm, Monarda species [Photo by raymondgobis (Flickr)]

    Scarlet bee balm is very popular as an ornamental plant, but purple-, pink-, and white-flowered varieties are also available. The leaves of this perennial are highly fragrant and edible to both humans and all types of butterflies. It is susceptible to powdery mildew, so consider a resistant variety.

    Milkweed Milkweed

    Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca [Photo by Dave Bonta (Flickr)]

    Common milkweed used to be seen all over fields, roadsides, and ditches but has been largely eradicated by herbicides. This is very unfortunate, as plants from the milkweed family are the only food source for monarch caterpillars, and they are a primary food source for other insects as well. Milkweed may be considered a weed, but I find its pink clustered flowers and seed pods to be beautiful.

    Phlox Phlox

    Phlox, Phlox paniculata [Photo by Patrick Standish (Flickr)]

    Tall phlox are an old-fashioned favorite, and it is no wonder; they are hardy, beautiful, sweet-scented, and have a long bloom time. Heights and colors vary greatly, but butterflies love them all! American painted lady, sulfur, cloudywing, and swallowtail butterflies all enjoy feasting on phlox.

    Anise Hyssop Anise Hyssop

    Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum [Photo by chipmunk_1 (Flickr)]

    Anise hyssop, which is also considered an herb, is a food source for butterflies, birds, and people; the white checkered butterfly especially enjoys the tiny tubular purple flowers of anise hyssop. The fragrant leaves and flowers taste and smell of anise, but the plant is actually a member of the mint family. Anise hyssop is heat-resistant and drought-tolerant, and rabbits and deer don't like it - wow, what more could you ask for? The flowers last from the middle of summer until frost, and the perennial is hardy in zones 4-10.

    Blazing Star Blazing Star

    Blazing star, Liatris spicata [Photo by Drew Avery (Flickr)]

    The unique vertical shape and the fluffy flower texture of blazing star will give your garden added interest and extra butterflies. Blazing star is a tall, moisture-loving, heat-tolerant perennial that blooms in July and August. Aphrodite fritillary, tiger swallowtail, orange sulphur, and wood nymph butterflies are just a few that enjoy feeding on blazing star; it is also host to Glorious Flower Moth caterpillars, and goldfinches enjoy the seeds.

    Asters Asters

    Asters, Aster species [Photo by Maja Dumat (Flickr)]

    Asters are a valuable addition to the garden because they are one of the plants that bloom in fall when most other flowers are dying. This is great news for any remaining butterflies, especially migrating monarchs. Pearl crescent larvae use the aster as a host plant, which makes the aster especially valuable in the butterfly garden. The small star-shaped blooms come in pink, purple, blue, white, and yellow, although the yellow ones suffer from an untreatable virus. Some asters can reach up to eight feet tall, so be sure you pick one that is the right size for your garden.

    Goldenrod Goldenrod

    Goldenrod, Solidago species [Photo by Dendroica cerulea (Flickr)]

    When I hear the word "goldenrod," I can't help but think of the vivid yellow crayon named after this plant. Yes, goldenrod is famous for its sunny yellow flower stalks, but it should be famous for its service to insects as well. Goldenrod can be invasive in the garden, so you may want to plant it in pots before putting it into the ground to keep it from spreading. This plant attracts monarch, clouded sulfur, American small copper, and gray hairstreak butterflies.

    Autumn Joy Autumn Joy

    Autumn Joy Sedum, Sedum x "Autumn Joy" [Photo by Leonora Enking (Flickr)]

    "Autumn Joy" stonecrop is one of the most popular perennials in my area; I see them everywhere, and it is not hard to guess why. The deep coppery-pink flower heads seem to last forever, and the plants bloom from August to November; even the dead flower heads provide interest in winter. The flowers are flat-topped and brightly colored, which is perfect for attracting butterflies, especially the variegated fritillary. The plant is extremely hardy and easy to care for.

    Joe-Pye Weed Joe-Pye Weed

    Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorum purpureaum [Photo by InAweofGod'sCreation (Flickr)]

    Joe-Pye weed is another valuable plant that blooms in later summer and autumn when other plants have stopped for the season. It is naturally a very tall plant for the back of the garden, reaching up to seven feet in some cases, but smaller types are available. It does require moist soil, especially when planted in full sun. It is quite hardy and deer-resistant; in addition to this, Joe-Pye weed attracts butterflies such as tiger swallowtails and black swallowtails.

    Zinnia Zinnia

    Zinnia, Zinnia species [Photo by liz west (Flickr)]

    Zinnias are colorful, old-fashioned annuals that are very easy to grow from seed. They remind me of jewels with their bright colors and varying shapes. However, not all zinnias attract butterflies equally; the taller ones with the bigger blooms seem to attract butterflies the best. Tall "State Fair Mix," "Cut and Come Again," and "Zowie! Yellow Flame" are some types that butterflies like to frequent. Monarchs, swallowtails, and painted ladies are some of the butterflies seen sipping nectar from these beauties.

    Lantana Lantana

    Lantana, Lantana species [Photo by Jason (Flickr)]

    Let's just say that there aren't many butterflies that don't enjoy drinking nectar from lantanas. With their flat-topped, brightly colored flower clusters, lantana practically screams "drink me!" to butterflies. Lantana has the added benefit of being fragrant, beautiful, and versatile, working well in a flower bed or in a container. Although we usually treat lantana as an annual flower, it is in truth a tender perennial.

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Flowers to get you out of the doghouse

Dried Flower Wreaths

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