Everyday Gardeners

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Plants

Cocktail Herb Garden Patio Tile View Shawna Coronado

This year I expanded my front patio to include sedum lined tiles, more space for seating, and a cocktail herb garden. This spot is a delicious smelling niche that has become the focus of outdoor room entertaining in my front garden.  Many of my friends and family discover birds and other pollinators like bees and butterflies flitting all around the herbs while we are out on the front patio spending time together.The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Inspired by Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist, this garden design was intended to be a relaxing place that bathes you in delightful scents as you sip herbal cocktails and watch the wildlife. Pollinators love the plants that surround the patio. I planted basil, thyme, and plants from The Drunken Botanist plant collection such as, the “Old Tom Gin Garden” and the “Old Havana Rum Garden”. Sitting out front has become an amazing experience because of the bees and butterflies that dance through the herb garden as much as for the delicious herbal cocktails.

Bird watching is a part of this experience as well. We have a wonderful little hummingbird that flies in and out of the hostas and herbs. She loves the sage flowers, bee balm, cat mint, and my little red hummingbird feeder. I keep it stocked up with nectar just for her so she can entertain us with her antics.

Building an herbal garden with the goal of attracting the birds and bees and a few dozen cocktail aficionados could be just the fantastic late summer project you need to end your summer with a garden bang. Plan the lay-out, amend the soil, and then toss in a few perennial herbs such as lemon thyme, tricolor sage, and lavender. You can enjoy the herbs this fall and be surprised by new growth in the early spring for the first outdoor garden cocktail parties of the season.

Herbal Cocktail Garden Patio Shawna Coronado

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Outdoor Garden Room with Potting Bench

Outdoor garden rooms are all the rage right now and having a unique spot in the garden to call my own sounded pretty appealing. My goal: Transform my haphazard back potting patio into a better looking space that serves the dual purpose of both being an outdoor room and a storage area for my container planting supplies.

Outdoor Room Before Photo
My home exterior is an odd mixture of suburban siding and 1970′s design – I’m always trying to switch it about or update it. We resided the house a few years ago, which was a tremendous change for the exterior image of the garden and home itself, but the back patio really needed some help. It’s an odd shaped deck enclosed by fencing and used as a storage place for the garbage cans and a landing spot for anything and everything [see above].

Removing the extra fencing was the first step, then the garbage cans and old seating. After that I decided what my goal was for an outdoor garden potting bench room — I wanted a functional area I could store my containers, layer my bagged potting soil, sit and entertain friends, and enjoy a beautiful view.

Garden Room Potting Bench

TOP 3 MUST HAVES FOR AN OUTDOOR GARDEN POTTING BENCH ROOM

1. Potting Bench – My husband built my bench – he had no plan, just used 4×4′s, wood planks, galvanized nails, and his amazing engineering-based imagination.

2. Seating - The two bright orange Adirondack chairs came from Freecycle.org. A local family in the community gave them to me unpainted and covered in moss. I bleached the chairs, sanded them, then painted them with brightly colored exterior paint.

3. A View – By removing the deck fencing I opened up the view significantly. Then I built a colorful outdoor fireplace photo and chandelier wall as a centerpiece for the deck (here is the how to do – LINK). A container tower acts as a median view between the garden room and the garden itself.

Transforming your deck or patio into a garden potting bench area that also serves as an outdoor garden room is a great way to combine two needs into your outdoor design plan. Building a room with a view and reusing older things to help with the transformation is a terrific way to make the garden more green and sustainable as well. Build a patio room in your garden this summer that is functional, fun, and a nice place to spend time.

Outdoor Garden Room Adirondack Chairs


Succulent plants in a container from Shawna Coronado

Want container gardens without the pain of regular watering? Planting succulents in creative container gardens usually means you water less, but still have all the beauty of gorgeous plants on your patio or balcony. In the photo right I have combined three succulents in individual pots (Rainbow Bush – Variegated Elephant Plant, Coppertone Stonecrop, and Jet Beads Stonecrop). Top photo shows several succulents within a single container (Ghost Plant, Paddle Plant, and Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’).

Succulents in containers at Shawna Coronado garden.

Top 3 Tips for Growing Succulents

1. Use a loose soil that drains freely. Too much water is the curse of death for a succulent. Buy commercial succulent and cactus soil or make your own using 1/3 course sand, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 grit (usually a mix of lava fines, pumice, and/or perlite).

2. Position succulent containers in bright growing conditions or in direct full sunlight.

3. Never let water stand in a succulent container and feed with an organic cactus fertilizer.

Ideas for Standard Containers

What about the standard containers you have out now? Perhaps the hot late August weather is encouraging them to dry out a bit. I have an awesome solution: Plant Nanny’s!

Plant Nanny’s are glass watering globes that help you water without constant hovering over your containers. Insert the Plant Nanny stake into moist soil, then fill the watering globe and place into the stake. When the water gets low, you know you need to water again.

Both ideas above offer great late summer time saving ideas for containers. All the beauty with far less watering worries!

Plant Nanny in Shawna Coronado garden.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


I’m fresh off the road from OFA — an industry education and trade show I hope to be sharing more of in the near future — but HAD TO share with you now the true beauty of the Everlasting hydrangeas. You may remember reading about them from Angela Treadwell-Palmer with Plants Nouveau in a recent blog post. I got to see them in person! Actually touched them! {hmmm…..drooled a bit on them too}.

You have to see the blooms of the ‘Opal’ Everlasting hydrangea….

 

These blooms were all on the same plant. THE SAME ‘OPAL’ EVERLASTING HYDRANGEA!! See……!

Gosh, how could you not love that about a plant?!?! The details in the range of colors was phenomenal. Blew me away. Got me thinking how I could stow one away in my carry-on bag at the airport {never did figure that out}.  I’m telling you my fellow plant geeks — this hydrangea is one to try in your garden! Here are its specifics:

Size 3-4′ tall by 3-4′ wide
USDA hardiness Zones 4-9
Sun / Shade full sun to part shade
Soil average garden soil
Moisture moist, but well drained
Disease and Pests none known
Landscape use foundations, cutting gardens, wildlife gardens, borders, foundations, small urban gardens
Uniqueness Strong, sturdy stems support large lavender pink mop head blooms that age to a lovely lime green.
Propagation Methods vegetative cuttings
Date of Introduction 2011
Bloom Time May-June

 

Click here to pre-order one — or five — for your garden!

 

Images taken from phone. Please see Plants Nouveau’s website for more images or Bloom-It.com.

PS: Fuel your own hydrangea obsession on Pinterest — check out our board “Hydrangea Varieties” or visit our plant encyclopedia page for hydrangeas.


Several times each week I take a stroll through our Test Garden. Not only do I stay in touch with the hottest, new plants and how they’re flourishing (or not) but it’s also a great, relaxing retreat for me. I’m one of the brave few that enjoy Iowa’s hot and humid summers. Many days I’ve thought of skipping the computer, putting my gardening shoes on only to help Test Garden manager Sandra for at least an hour or two….probably three.

But alas….I’d never get Garden Notes out the virtual door! (ahem…..are you receiving our weekly dose of garden goodness?)

This week I’m completely…totally…infatuated with the ‘Marmalade’ coneflower. While most online resources show a vibrant orange hue to this flower, the environment in the Test Garden lends to a beautiful mix of fuchsia, coral and orange. It’s simply gorgeous.

Here was the bloom a week ago…..

And then today…

The finishing hues of this coneflower is what really appeals to me. That, and its double-bloom feature. What do you think? Ready to get the shovel out and plant some? Lucky for you, White Flower Farm has them in stock!


Smokebush (Cotinus) is one of the great all-time garden plants, IMO. Easy to grow, hardy (to Zone 4), and gorgeous. The plume-like blooms look great from spring, when they emerge, through much of summer. And the foliage is dynamite. This is purple smokebush (Monrovia’s Royal Purple), which as you can see, has great dark foliage. There’s a chartreuse version as well — Golden Spirit — in addition to more conventional green types.

Other plants come in these light/dark pairs too, which I love to combine for foliage contrast. Garden Debut’s Burgundy Hearts and Rising Sun redbuds, or Spring Meadow’s Black Lace and Sutherland Gold elderberries (Sambucus), are two examples.


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