Gardening

  • The Complete Guide to Growing a Garden Full of Flowers, Herbs, & Vegetables

    growing a garden-HEADER

    Gardening has been around as long as humans, and has a wide range of benefits associated with it. Not only is it a fun leisure activity, but it’s also useful for harvesting healthy and fresh food in your own backyard.

    For anyone who’s looking to dip their toes in the gardening pond or even for those that have more experience in the trade of growing, it’s likely that questions will arise from time to time. Luckily, we’re here with your go-to guide for all of your harvesting needs, leading you to a bountiful garden year after year.

    Gardening: It’s For Everyone!

    Research shows that more people are gardening in today’s world than ever before. 35 percent of all American households are growing food either at home or in a community garden (as of 2014), equating to an astounding 42 million active household gardeners. In the spring of 2017, 117.6 million Americans reported that they had gardened in the past twelve months.

    The National Gardening Survey revealed that Baby Boomers, married households, and those with annual incomes in an excess of $75,000 as well as college graduates were among those who spent the most on gardening. Furthermore, five million of the six million reported “new” gardening households were Millennials, aged 18- to 34-years old.

    The same survey reported that food gardening and flower gardening were the most popular in 2015 among gardening activities, and that approximately one out of every three households participated in food gardening or flower gardening.

    Gardeners are willing to invest in their gardens, too. Households spent an estimated $3.6 billion growing their own vegetables, fruits, berries, and herbs and another $2.7 billion on flower gardening in 2015.

    The Benefits of Growing a Gardening

    Gardening is not only suited for everyone, it has a wide range of benefits associated with it, too!:

    • Stress relief: It’s been reported that gardening lowers one’s cortisol levels, which is the “stress hormone”. In a study, those who spent 30 minutes gardening outdoors reported better moods than those who spent the same amount of time indoor reading.

    • Immunity booster: Spending time around plants and dirt is known to boost one’s immune levels.

    • Physical activity: Gardening provides the opportunity for physical exercise to those that participate in it, adding to one’s overall health.

    • Exposure to Vitamin D: Gardening and spending time outside provides individuals with exposure to the sun, which means receiving vitamin D.

    • A sharpened mind: A study found that regular gardening could reduce the chance of dementia by up to 36 percent, making it a great activity to do to keep one’s mind sharp.

    growing a garden-BENEFITS

    Gardening for Beginners

    Below, learn how simple it is to start your own flower, herb, and vegetable gardens to begin reaping the benefits that millions of Americans enjoy as a result of their hard work outside.

    Flower Growing for Beginners

    You may be wondering how to take a drab square of soil to a colorful and lush garden that helps to create beautiful bouquets. It’s easy! Here are some tips to start your flower garden from ground zero:

    • Get to know your planting site: You’ll want to choose a great spot within your yard to plant flowers on. This means taking some time to get to know the area - how much moisture does it typically receive? How much sunlight does it attract each day? What is the terrain and soil right? This will help you to make important decisions that will set up your flower garden for success.

    • Conduct a soil test: Collect soil samples by digging a hole one foot deep and then taking a few tablespoons of soil, completing the process throughout your scouted garden spot until you fill a quart-sized jar. Send your soil sample to a testing lab or bring it to your local nursery to learn about its conditions and how to best treat it while gardening.

    • Design your oasis: This is the fun part! Choose a color palette, figure out the best shape for your garden to take, and determine how many flowers you’ll need to fill the space. To achieve a pleasing aesthetic, pull one layer subtly into another for a natural look and utilize repetition of shapes and colors to maintain continuity.

    Kill-Proof Flowers

    Especially if you’re just starting your flower garden, you’ll want flowers that are easy to grow and maintain. Here are the best kill-proof flowers to invest in to make your floral fantasies come to life:

    growing a garden-SUNFLOWER
    • Sunflowers: Not only do these flowers brighten up any garden, but their seeds are large and easy to handle. They grow easily in sunny gardens and come in a range of sizes.
    growing a garden-MARIGOLDS
    • Marigolds: Growing in shades of yellow, red, and gold these flowers bloom in sunny gardens all summer long. These flowers can grow to be up to five feet tall, but they’re also available in more stunted sizes.
    growing a garden-PANSIES
    • Pansies: Adding a beautiful pop of color to any garden, pansies are easy to take care of and bloom well in cooler temperatures, mainly in the spring and fall. All these pretty pansies need is sun and well-draining soil.
    growing a garden-BEGONIAS
    • Begonias: These flowers need only a combination of sun and shade to grow to be lush and colorful in any garden or hanging planter.
    growing a garden-DAFFODILS
    • Daffodils: Plant these once and you’ll reap the benefits year after year. Daffodil bulbs will bring you the gift of their sunny appearance as the weather turns each spring. These are suitable in gardens and containers and only require partial sunlight to bloom.

    Herb Growing for Beginners

    Herb growing, luckily, is just as easy and rewarding as flower growing is. Expand your new garden with these tips for easy herb growth.

    Set up your herb garden for success by following these tips:

    • While herbs can grow in pots or containers, they prefer to be in the ground where they have the ability to spread out.

    • The most important thing for successful herb gardening is to plant them in the right spot. Herbs thrive in sunny areas that don’t ever reach temperatures of over 90 degrees. These plants also require well-draining soil and do best with some fertilizer or compost.

    • Prepare the soil for herb planting by digging with a large garden fork that will loosen any compacted dirt. Add about an inch of compost to the top of your soil and mix it thoroughly.

    • Once you plant your herbs in your prepared soil, water them whenever their soil is dry. Check this often, as temperature and humidity levels will affect the time it takes for your plants to soak up water.

    Easy Herbs to Plant and Grow

    Many herbs are easy to plant and grow for beginner gardeners. Even better, many of these herbs have a wealth of uses in the kitchen:

    growing a garden-SAGE
    • Sage: This herb is commonly used for cooking and is easy to grow. Plant this in a sunny spot with fertile and well-drained soil. Don’t plant sage in an area that is prone to flooding as it doesn’t like a wet ground. Some sage varieties even have colored leaves, making them a beautiful addition to any garden.
    growing a garden-MINT
    • Mint: Always have the necessities on hand to muddle your own mint for a mojito by planting this easy-to-grow herb. Purchase a young mint plant from your local nursery and plant it in your garden wherever it will receive full sun. This herb spreads easily, so it may be a smart idea to plant it in pots to keep it from taking over your garden.
    growing a garden-ROSEMARY
    • Rosemary: This herb loves both sun and shade and isn’t picky about soil, as long as it’s not too wet. That makes this a perfect herb for any gardener who’s just getting started.
    growing a garden-BASIL
    • Basil: An incredibly versatile herb, basil is very tasty, too. This plant enjoys warmer weather and prefers full sun for optimal growth.
    growing a garden-DILL
    • Dill: This herb will give your garden a new dimension with its unique texture. Dill likes rich, well-drained soil that receives full sun. Once harvested, use dill in salads or enjoy in creams or sauces.

    Vegetable Growing for Beginners

    If you’re looking to further supplement your kitchen and grow your garden, vegetables are the perfect choice. They may seem like an intimidating to grow if you haven’t planted any before, but getting started on your own vegetable garden is easy when you follow these tips for planting and growing:

    • Choose the right location: The success of your vegetable garden will rely on the correct location. The following factors are a part of the recipe for a perfect vegetable garden:

      • Choose a spot that receives six or more hours of direct sunlight each day.

      • Select an area with soft soil for roots to easily penetrate. Enrich your soil with compost so that plants get the nutrients they need, and ensure that the soil in your garden drains well, not letting water pool at the top but also not draining too quickly.

      • A stable environment is needed to ensure the longevity of your veggie garden. Thus, don’t choose an area that’s prone to either flooding or drying out. Also avoid areas that frequently receive heavy winds.

    • Space crops properly: When planting vegetables, be sure to give them the room they need to properly flourish. If you plant crops too closely together, they may end up competing for sunlight, water, and nutrition.

    Easy Vegetables to Plant and Grow

    There are so many vegetables to be grown, but when you’re just starting out, focus on harvesting those that can make you a staple salad. They’re easy to plant, nurture, and eventually harvest!

    growing a garden-LETTUCE
    • Lettuce: You can’t make a salad without lettuce, and luckily - it’s easy to grow! It can grow next to flowers or under taller plants, and lettuce plants grow well in shaded area. Lettuce is also easy to harvest - all you have to do is snip the tops off the plants or pick leaves as you need them.
    growing a garden-TOMATO
    • Tomatoes: These are probably the most popular vegetable to grow because they’re versatile. They can fit seamlessly into any sized garden, whether it be in the ground, in containers, or in hanging baskets. Place them in the center of your garden with stalks for support in a spot that receives an abundance of sunlight.
    growing a garden-CARROT
    • Carrots: Carrots are also easy to grow, especially in raised bed gardens. These veggies prefer full sun but can also tolerate some shade and still grow to their full potential.
    growing a garden-CUCUMBER
    • Cucumbers: No salad is complete without crisp cucumbers! These plants like sunlight and warm temperatures, and they also need support for climbing as they grow. They need regular water, but with that, they’ll grow quickly.

    A Guide for Experienced Gardeners

    So you know you’re way around the garden, but you’re looking to learn more? This is the section for you. See below for our best tips and tricks to elevate your already strong gardening game.

    Getting Rid of Garden Pests

    Whether your planting flowers, herbs, or vegetables, you may find throughout your gardening experience that pests make their way into the area, wreaking havoc on your carefully curated plants. Use the following tips to keep your garden safe from bugs:

    • Keep soil healthy: Maintaining healthy soil is a good way to not necessarily keep bugs out, but to ensure your plants can withstand their presence. Keep your garden’s soil healthy by using compost or mulch regularly and by ensuring that your soil is not turned too often.

    • Decipher between good and bad pests: Not all bugs are bad for a garden! Some actually help pollinate plants and eat other, harmful pests. The graphic below details good versus bad pests: growing a garden-BUGS

    • Ward off bugs:  A sure-fire way to keep your garden in good shape is to keep bugs out. For natural remedies, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and eggshells help keep certain species of bugs away. Chemical sprays are another option to take care of this issue.

    Flower Growing for Experienced Gardeners

    If you’ve found planting, growing, and harvesting flowers to be a cinch, you may want to hone in on your floral garden design skills by using the below tips and tricks for the ultimate aesthetic:

    • Plant for year round pleasure: When planting perennials, be sure to plant a variety that grow throughout the entirety of the year. These florals all bloom for a month or so during one of the four seasons, so mixing it up means that you’ll have a colorful garden at virtually all times. growing a garden-FLOWER GROWTH

    • Avoid monotony: To ensure that your garden has variety and different dimensions to it, choose plants in a variety of heights.

    • Add greens: Flower gardens should include greens to complement the colors. Use evergreens or ornamental grasses to keep your garden interesting.

    Furthermore, if you’ve mastered the art of flower growing when it comes to simple florals, it may be time to move on to those that are more rare and complex. Here are some of the best options to expand your floral horizons:

    • Hoya: These flowers occur naturally when nestled in a tree branch or bark crevice. To bloom these in your garden, provide them with sharply draining soil and provide them with regular misting. Hoyas blossom best in sheltered spots that don’t ever get below 40 degrees fahrenheit.

    • Lady’s Slipper: These are a beautiful flower that sparks conversation about your garden! Thriving in shady areas, these flowers are hard to come by as they can only be purchased in nurseries. These orchid-like plants require moisture, dappled shade, and and undisturbed location. Lady’s slippers shouldn’t be treated with chemical fertilizers, as it will lead to their demise.

    • Bat Flower: This is another conversation piece given their unique look. This tropical plant can grow up to a foot tall and should be kept in filtered shade. For watering, bat flowers should be kept moist but never soggy. These plants love humidity and have no tolerance for the cold.

    • Red Button Ginger: This is another tropical plant that prefers filtered sunlight. These flowers can grow to be up to four feet tall when they’re in the ground. Although this plant prefers the heat, it can bounce back even after light frosts.

    • Snail Vine: Creating a beautiful flower, these seeds should be planted in a sunny spot with average soil. These do take some time to make an appearance - around six weeks - but they’re worth it for their pop of color and wonderful fragrance. These grow best in the heat and will populate a vine up to 25 feet long.

    Herb Growing for Experienced Gardeners

    If you’ve successfully grown the basic herbs and are ready to move on to those that are more out-of-the-box, we have some great options for you:

    • Stevia: This is an insanely sweet leaf that is commonly dried and crushed, then to be used in place of regular sugar. These plants can grow to be up to two feet tall and they prefer full sun as well as a moist and well-draining soil.

    • Fennel: This herb can be used in cooking in a variety of ways, and it’s an attractive plant with wispy foliage that can grow up to five feet tall.  Fennel self-seeds easily and can be grown as an annual in cooler northern climates.

    • Borage: Boasting a cucumber-like taste, borage is said to give you courage if you munch on it. This plant grows best in full sun and can grow to be two to three feet tall. This is typically grown as an annual and shows off blue and star shaped flowers.

    • Winter Savory: Resembling thyme, this herb tastes like a mix of sage and rosemary. This herb can grow to be up to a foot tall and it grows best in full sun or an area with partial shade.

    If you have the hang of growing these plants and want to do something different with your herb garden, why not try organizing them into a vertical garden? This is a great step for a more advanced gardener to take to really make their space something special:

    growing a garden-VERTICAL GARDEN
    •  Choose your structure: First, to create a vertical garden, choose where it will be. This could be along a fence or wall or it could also exist in a free-standing frame.
    •  Decide on irrigation: Next, choose how your vertical garden will receive the water it needs to flourish. Common ways to irrigate these structures are to use sprinklers, garden hoses, or soaker hoses.
    •  Choose your plants: Next, choose the herbs that will fill your vertical garden. Ensure that they will all fit well in the space that you chose and that the environmental factors jive well with what the plants need to thrive.
    •  Plant, maintain, and harvest: Once you’ve nailed down the logistics, plant herbs in your vertical garden, maintain them, and harvest them as appropriate. Herbs are perfect for vertical gardens as they’re lush, quick growing, and many of them have similar growing requirements.

    Vegetable Growing for Experienced Gardeners

    Perhaps you started with a small vegetable garden and now you’re ready to branch out to really feed your family off of your own land.  There are so many reasons to cultivate a bountiful vegetable garden, including the following:

    • Nutrition: Growing your own vegetables means they’re completely organic, making them healthier than that purchased at the grocery store. Eating them fresh, they’ll be rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    • Financial benefit: Now that you have experience gardening, you probably have it down to a science! Planting and harvesting your own vegetables will save your family money, cutting down on the need to visit your local grocery store.

    • It’s fun!: Growing your own food is not only healthy and financially beneficial - it’s also fun and rewarding!

    After you’ve mastered growing the more straightforward vegetables, the good news is that there are endless alternate varieties to try your hand at! Once you start growing the following veggies in your at-home garden, you’ll be the envy of the farmer’s market:

    • Eggplants: These warm-weather crops need two to three months of warm days and nights to flourish, but they’re worth the wait. Plant in a well-spaced row, perhaps as the border of your garden. It’s easiest to start these from nursery-grown plants.

    • Radishes: This root crop grows quickly, and you’ll love having your own stock of them. These can thrive in pots and raised beds and they enjoy the sun in mild climates and shade in areas that are hot. Plant these seeds six inches apart in a diamond pattern. When the tops are up, pull them and use them in the kitchen.

    • Broccoli: This fall and spring vegetable is a summer-dish staple. Broccoli grows best in sunny areas and requires well-drained soil.

    • Kale: Known as a trendy healthy food, kale is a cold-weather crop that tastes better after a frost. This is a food rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a great crop to have on hand.

    • Brussel Sprouts: Proving to be a slow-growing cool weather crop, brussel sprouts can flourish in even freezing temperatures in your garden, giving you fresh veggies all year round.

    growing a garden-VEGETABLES

    Gardening can add a wealth of enjoyment and fulfillment to your life. Use this guide to help you either get started or grow your gardening skills so that you can get everything out of your outdoor space that you ever imagined!

  • 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.

  • Foliage Plants in Winter

    Foliage plants in winter.

    One of the easiest ways to get through the dark days of winter and brighten up the room in your home is with foliage plants. Foliage plants in winter can do very well with minimal care and should be at the top of your list for a great decorating solution.

    foliage plants winter zz One of our most popular foliage plants, the ZZ plant or Zamioculcas zamiifolia require very very little water

    If you are redecorating with foliage plants, remember that there is much less light during these months so you can put them in sunnier spots. With the heat on in your home, the air is much drier than before, so you will have to water the plants more often. Watering plants is the most important care activity and should be taken seriously. Over watering is just as detrimental as under watering and maybe more so. The best universal guide for watering is to water the plant well and allow to soil to feel dry to the touch before watering again. This may mean watering everyday or once a week. The size of the plant and size of the pot are the principle factors. A large plant in a small pot has lots of roots that pull the moisture from the soil to support all the foliage. Conversely, a small plant in a large pot is not drawing nearly as much so the soil will stay wet longer. One must be very careful that the soil doesn’t stay wet, for the fine fibrous roots of the plant will rot and since there will be no way for the plant to get water it will wilt and look the same as if the soil was dry. It really is better to err on the side of dryness and even let the plant wilt a little before re-watering. Keep in mind that the main stimulus for growth is the roots reaching out for moisture. If the soil is always wet, the roots will not grow and neither will the plant.

    Since the foliage plants in winter are not as actively growing as during the rest of the year, they will not need as much plant food. Generally, half the dosage is sufficient. All purpose plant food will usually be fine for all plants.

    foliage plants winter home decoration Assorted foliage plants are ready to brighten your home this winter

    This is also a good time to trim out all of the old straggly parts of the plant or just cut away stems that are growing in the wrong direction. If there are a few brown edges you can cut the brown parts off with a pair of scissors. There is no need to take off the whole leaf. In a couple of months as the days get longer, new growth will sprout and the plant will be very robust. It would be a good idea to also check the soil. If it is hard or discolored, break away some of the old soil ball surrounding the plant and put it into a pot with new potting soil. Don’t just use dirt from your yard. The plant needs to be in a soil mixture that contains materials like peat moss and something to keep the soil loose, like vermiculite. If the root ball is a solid mass of roots when you take it out of the pot, you should move it up to a larger pot. Select a new one that is not too much larger than the original pot. If the new pot is too big, the soil will hold too much moisture and the plant will rot. Hold the plant at the same level as in the old pot and fill with soil. Water the soil well, at least a couple of times, to be sure it settles.

    When you are going out to buy a new plant, there really are no hidden secrets with foliage plants. If you buy one that looks healthy it will continue to grow for you. Select a plant with firm foliage, good color, and no signs of stress. If the leaves are wilted, the plant may have root damage or if it was too dry for too long, the tips of the leaves will turn brown. Most importantly, buy the plant from someone you know and trust.

    Here at our store, in our two story greenhouse, we have lots of foliage plants to choose from!

    Contributed by Charles F. Kremp, 3rd

  • 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 )

  • What Gardening, fishing, and playing golf have in common

    What Gardening, fishing, and playing golf have in common.....It has been said that a lot of golfers are also avid fishermen.  What connects those two activities is very similar to gardening. We bet you never noticed just how much these activities have in common. We didn't either until we came across this gem...

    Fishing in Golf Attire

     

    Image courtesy of (Flickr)

    • It is solitary.
    • The results are entirely up to you.
    • Much of the enjoyment comes from the “doing”.
    • It is only done when the weather cooperates.
    • Mother Nature plays a part in your success.
    • It can be done by all skill levels, all ages and all economic levels.
    • Watching how others do their things is appealing.
    • It can be very costly or done for very little money.
    Golfer teeing off

     

    Image courtesy of (Flickr)

    The efforts of gardening can be most appreciated by simple results such as the single rose that blooms in the spring. This is right up there with catching the “big one” or having a career round. While you can certainly garden, play golf, or fish as a group, it is not necessary to the act or the outcome and often can be just as enjoyable all by one's self.

    Garden plants along walkway

     

    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

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Flowers to get you out of the doghouse

Dried Flower Wreaths

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