Good Morning Glory!

September 27, 2011

Morning Glory

Morning Glories are the birth flower for the month of September and so we thought they would be the perfect flower to spotlight this week!

I think we can all guess where the name “Morning Glory” came from. Most species of Morning Glory bloom their brightest and best in the early hours of the day, but, if you can believe it, there is actually one type of Morning Glory that blooms at night and they are commonly referred to as “Moonflowers”. Morning Glories are very adaptive plants and are cultivated in both cold and warmer climates, although they are considered annuals in cold climates, and perennials in warmer climates.

Morning Glories have a long history of use. In Ancient Mesoamerica, the Morning Glory was used to make rubber balls, in China, Morning Glories were used medicinally as a laxative, in Japan they were cultivated for their beauty, and in Aztec civilizations, they were used as hallucinogens. Today, Morning Glories are primarily used for their beauty and the color they add to our gardens. The most popular varieties are  “heavenly blue” and “sunspot”  and you will see these in just about every garden you pass.

Happy Birthday to all you born in September!! Every time you see a Morning Glory remember it’s in honor of your birth month.

Advertisements

Organic Gardening

June 30, 2011

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about organic gardening lately. It’s becoming a very popular method of gardening, but to the novice, it can seem confusing and overwhelming. Organic gardening doesn’t have to be complicated and will make a huge difference in the way your plants and flowers grow, so we thought we would give you some easy organic gardening tips and tricks.

First things first, what should you grow? 

Red Mountain Sage-  This plant does very well in full sunlight and flowers beautifully. Its ideal if you’re starting your first organic garden.

American Agave- This plant has a beautiful structural shape and can grow pretty large. Its leaves do have sharp edges so handle it with care but it’s drought tolerant and really thrives in dry soil and full sun.

Scotch Bonnet- If you like hot peppers as much as I do, this pepper is an absolute necessity in your organic garden. It’s pretty spicy and comparable to a habanero pepper but does really well in full sun and drier soil. Always wear gloves when handling these peppers- I learned that the hard way.

You’ve got your plants, now how do you take care of them organically?

Watering- Collecting rainwater is one of the best organic gardening tips. Just put barrels or buckets out in the open when it rains and keep the collected water to use on your plants and flowers on days when it’s not raining. If you live in an area with little rainfall, I recommend using a watering can instead of a hose. Usually, when people use hoses to water their plants and flowers they end up wasting a lot of water by using a watering can, you can quench your plants thirst without wasting much.

Compost- Feed your plants with waste from your own kitchen and yard. You can buy compost, but you don’t really know what goes into it. Creating your own compost is really easy and I’ve found it meets my plants and flowers needs better than anything I’ve ever used.

Organic Pest Control- You can buy organic pest control and they seem to work pretty well but there are also lots recipes for homemade pest controls that work very well. Usually, these pest controls contain garlic, chili power or oil, fish, soap, vegetable oil, and other plants that have natural insecticides. You can find recipes for these all over the internet. I have had the best luck with is Garlic Chili spray. It’s powerful stuff.

Pay Attention- You can’t ignore your organic garden, it needs daily attention. It doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes each day, but you do need to put in that time to make sure it’s growing and thriving.

Anyone else have some good organic gardening tips?

Summer is a great time for gardeners as everything begins to grow rapidly and flourish. Keeping your flowers blooming this summer will depend on a delicate balance of feeding, watering and weeding. Here are some critical tips to keep your flowers and garden blooming all summer long.

Feeding

·        Make a plan that works for you and is safe for your plants.

·        Feeding with a slow release fertilizer will allow your flowers to get the nutrition they need, when they need it.

·        Use feeds that are high in nitrogen until midsummer and then use feeds that are high in potassium in late summer.

Watering

·        Regular watering is important to keep your garden looking fresh all summer long.

·        To save on water costs, you can collect rain water and use it to water the plants in your garden.

·        Watering your plants in the morning will allow them to absorb the water they need before the midday heat dries out the soil.

·        Avoiding nighttime watering will reduce the chances of fungus and slugs on your plants.

Weeding

·        The best time to weed is just after it rains.

·        To save time down the road, try to remove the weeds before the seedheads are developed.

Are there any tips you recommend for healthy summertime flowers??

small pink flowers

Courtesy of Sincerely Sarah Photography

Grow The right stuff for the audience you want!

Your garden is a natural wonder for its own beauty with flowers and plants. To add some natural wildlife and delight to the already wonderful everyday views, how about trying gardening to attract wild birds and butterflies! To promote these wonderful creatures to your garden you have to plant the right flowers. You also have to target the wildlife native to your region and choose the flowers that those birds and butterflies would gravitate towards. Wild birds will flock towards insect-rich blooms and dying seed heads of spent flowers. Gardening to attract butterflies is a little trickier with a larger variety of flowers that will attract different butterflies.

Growing the right flowers and plants in your garden can lead to the lifelong visit from migratory birds such as song-birds. Here are the a few essential tips to start your wild bird garden:

·        Use native plants to your area and bird population

·        Have your soil tested for nutrient levels and organic deficiencies

·        Have a water source for both your garden and your bird visitors

·        Layout the plan and design for your bird garden that fits with the space you have

·        Most common garden birds are:

o   Hairy woodpecker

o   Rofous hummingbird

o   Baltimore oriole

o   Caroline wren

o   Song sparrow

o   House wren

o   Anna’s hummingbid

o   Eastern towhee

o   Northern mockingbird

To start a garden to attract butterflies you should start with the following steps:

·        Find out the butterflies native to your region

·        Find a sunny location (average of 5-6 hours/day) that is sheltered from strong winds

·        Lay stones, rock or something with a flatter surface for butterflies to land on and take a break

·        Have a water source (a small one) near the plants

·        Avoid pesticide use when creating your butterfly garden

·        Most common nectar bearing plants for butterflies:

o   Asters

o   Bee balm

o   Butterfly brush

o   Butterfly plant

o   Bush cinquefolia

o   Cosmos

o   Dandelion

o   Lilac

o   Milkweed

o   Marigold

o   Ornamental thistles

o   Rabbitbrush

o   Sunflower

o   Sweet pea

o   Verbena

o   Wild rose

o   Zinnias

What can be more joyous then seeing your garden filled with butterflies and wild birds enjoying the flowers that you have planted. Create your first bird and butterfly friendly gardens today!

Flower Heirlooms.

April 15, 2011

Garden at Versailles

We all know how beautiful flowers are, but did you know they can also be historic? Heirloom bulbs are stunning examples of the beauty and the history of flowers. Some bulbs can be passed down from generation to generation and as long as they are cared for, these flowers can last indefinitely.

If you aren’t someone who has been passed down bulbs it’s still possible to find and plant historic bulbs. There are many websites on the internet that specialize in finding and selling heirloom bulbs. Some of these are more reputable than others so make sure your bulbs come with authentication. You can find bulbs from just about any period in history going back all the way to the 1200’s.

Just imagine, you could be planting gladiolus from 17th century France or 18th century authentic Dutch tulips. Heirloom bulbs make it possible to literally grow history in your garden! There are many types of heirloom bulbs to buy. For Spring planting, we recommend getting gladiolus, day lilies, dahlias, and iris. For Fall planting, we recommend trying daffodils, tulips, or hyacinths. The historical period you choose is completely up to you.

Personally, I have my backyard separated into sections by time-period. For example, I might say “Won’t you stroll with me through my 17th century tulips?” or “Welcome to my 16th century daffodil corner, tea?” I love being able to have a piece of history in my backyard! What makes planting heirloom bulbs even more appealing is that they are very reasonably priced. You can’t find anything else from 1888 for less than $20.

Have you planted heirloom bulbs before?

Happy Sweet Pea Month!

April 6, 2011

Sweet Pea

The April birth flower is the sweet pea. According to tradition, the sweet pea means blissful pleasure. The sweet pea is an annual climbing plant that blooms purple/pink flowers and has a very sweet fragrance. In fact, sweet pea is one of the most popular fragrances sold at Bath & Body Works.

Sweet Pea is a great plant to grow but be aware they are susceptible to pests, especially the greenfly. Pest control is essential to successfully growing sweet pea and there are many organic and non-toxic sprays that will achieve this goal. Unlike what it’s name might suggest, sweet peas are not edible. In fact, sweet peas are toxic so don’t let the name tempt you into trying to eat one.

An interesting fact about sweet peas is that they have been used extensively in the realm of genetic experimentation. Many geneticists have used sweet pea as a model for genetic testing due to it’s ability to self-pollinate and for it’s easily observed physical traits.

Happy birthday to all those readers who were born in April! Celebrate by buying and growing some sweet pea- some say it brings good luck to be surrounded by your birth flower.

Weeds We Love!

April 4, 2011

plantains

What is a weed? A weed is a type of plant that someone decides shouldn’t be growing in a certain place. A weed is also a plant that might be beneficial to one gardener and would be a nuisance to another. Lots of weeds have both culinary and medicinal purposes but are destroyed in gardens because of their pesky nature to take over and dominate. There are some weeds that if found in your garden should be left to grow and utilized for their healing powers!

The weed known as dandelions (native to Europe and Asia) were brought to America by immigrants. They can be used for multiple healing purposes including as tonic to aid in digestion. They have also been used to detoxify the liver, clean blood, clear blemishes, pimples, acne and more! So why are we so eager to destroy this weed when it shows up in our garden?Dandelions also can be used in culinary purposes and are an abundant source of many vitamins and minerals. They contain large amounts of vitamins A, C and K and minerals calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. Next time you come across a dandelion in your garden, consider using it for a medicinal purpose instead of taking out the weed killer.

Another common weed that is typically looked down upon by gardeners is the stinging nettle. This plant is often feared because of its little stinging hairs. If you should be so lucky to find stinging nettle growing in your garden then you should take full advantage of the rich nutrients and healing powers it possesses. It has been used to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, allergies, asthma, and other bronchial conditions. It can also stimulate new hair growth! Since it does have those stinging hairs, it’s best to only attempt to pick this weed from your garden with gloves on and never consume any part of it raw!

Our next weed that we love is commonly mistaken to be a fruit but is actually a weed- plantains. Plantains can be found in many places such as backyards, along roads and in fields. They have some incredible healing powers including taking bee sting pain away almost entirely! You can make a poultice from the leaves which is super effective to heal urinary tract infections and inflammatory conditions when ingested orally. You can also make a tea from the mucilage in the seeds which yields an effective laxative.

Next time you come across a pesky weed in your lawn or garden, be sure to check to see if it has alternative uses that can be medicinal or even culinary in some cases. You can save on weed killer and cure an illness all in one and that’s why we love these weeds.

Something Smells Good.

March 31, 2011

Lavender

Smells like heaven.

Visually, flowers are beautiful and decorative, but they can also fulfill your sense of smell. Flowers can be great aromatherapy but sometimes, the most beautiful blooms don’t have any smell at all or have too overwhelming of a smell.  Below is a list to help you navigate the fragrant world of flowers.

Lavender- This is one of my favorite flowers to use for beauty and scent. The smell of lavender evokes feeling of calm and rest and is a perfect bloom to use frequently in your home. The flowers last a long time as does the calming scent.

Roses- This may seem a bit cliche, but trust me, roses are not only beautiful but also have a very mellow fresh scent. In fact, rose is one of my very favorite scents. It’s romantic but not overpowering. The trick is to get the roses from a farmers market and not a commercial seller. Commercially sold roses usually have less of a scent.

Peonies- Peonies are beautiful and unique flowers to use in arrangements and bouquets. They have a very light woodsy scent that can sometimes come off as citrusy. Peonies are some of my favorite flowers to have around the house because they are so unexpected and the scent is very really fresh and clean smelling.

What are your favorite smelling flowers?

Favorite Flower Quotes

March 29, 2011

small pink flowers

Courtesy of Sincerely Sarah Photography

Sometimes- other people say it better than you. Sometimes, they just say it first. Enjoy a collection of some of the things people have said about flowers that we love.

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.  ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.  ~Emma Goldman

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.  ~Beverly Nichols

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.  ~Chinese Proverb

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.  ~Andrew Mason

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?  ~Maurice Maeterlinck

 

Share your favorite flowers quotes with us!

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

Unless you grew up in a frozen tundra where nothing blooms, chances are, you’ve plucked a flower petal or two to see if the object of your affection loved you or loved you not. But does anyone know where this whimsical game began?

Apparently, the French started it. Based on my research this game originated in France centuries ago. You are supposed to focus on your object of affection and then begin pulling petals off a flower, usually a daisy, and whatever phrase lands on the last petal is supposed to tell the truth about their affection for you. Of course, we all know this is at best a really haphazard way of discerning affection but we still find ourselves doing it anyway. And, let’s be honest, we do feel a bit disappointed when it ends up being “he loves me not”.

Flowers have historically been used for romantic occasions. Unmarried maidens wove flowers around a maypole on Mayday. Women often wear flowers in their hair on their wedding day. Corsages for dances and roses on Valentine’s Day. We have flowers and romance inextricably tied together in our minds. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that- although, I think it’s important not to let a flower dictate our love lives.