Written on May 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm , by Jane McKeon
I don’t know about you, but my patience has been tested this spring. Just when I thought winter had finally lost its grip, a freak snowstorm hit Iowa last week, leaving several inches of heavy, wet, white stuff in its wake. But we Midwesterners are resilient. And so too, it appears, are many of the blooms that were caught naked in the arctic blast. The fat lavender buds on my Jane magnolia, for example, were just beginning to open when temps plunged from 82 degrees one day to 32 the next. If the cold doesn’t finish them off, I figured, the wind and driving sleet will. Happily, I was proven wrong. My magnolia blooms are still intact and prettier than ever.
This isn’t the first year that early blooms have had their toughness tested. Spring’s mood swings happen so often that cool-season gardening has become, well, cool. We can resist planting tender geraniums and petunias until warm weather is here to stay if garden centers offer up a smorgasbord of irrepressible flowers. Here are several container recipes that I’ve tried that will flourish even if temperatures dip into the nippy range.
Categories: Gardening, Plants | Tags: ajuga, armeria, bacopa, chives, cool-season garden, diascia, English ivy, Geranium, helichrysum, heucherella, hosta, kale, lettuce, magnolia, osteospermum, pansy, petunia, phlox, spring garden, sutera, viola
Written on May 7, 2013 at 6:00 am , by Shawna Coronado
Big, blank, shady walls are bullies in my garden. Limited by no sun, dry conditions, and poor soil, my shady walls ogle my garden tools threateningly and push me around with that intimidating attitude all bullies have. I spend hours staring at an empty wall trying to come to terms with a sustainable solution that might work. Without a doubt, you have the same mean wall-bully hiding in your garden that hides in mine.
There’s only one way to fix a perplexing shady wall. In dealing with a wall-bully, one must cover it with a creative solution. A quick answer to that problem is to paint the wall, add several trellis’s all along the area, then plant a non-invasive shade climber at the base of a trellis, so the wall becomes less threatening and more appealing.
How To Say No To Bullies
My favorite wall-bully solution, however, is to recycle old rain gutters into a vertical wall of garden. Find both new and old gutters and downspouts online, at home salvage warehouses, or at your local hardware store. Screw the rain gutters into the wall. Be sure to screw into supports and joists whenever possible to give the wall garden extra support.
While you could hang the old gutters on a wall and place the soil and plants directly in the gutters, I adore the idea of using a repetitive color pattern as a bright pop on the wall. Here you see rows of preplanted Asparagus Fern sitting in bold orange containers within the gutters. Each container has its special spot on the recycled gutters that stretch nearly ten feet high up a tall shade-filled wall. If one of the plants dies, it is easy to replace the plant by simply adding another container, thereby making this technique an easy-to-manage solution.
Do not let shady wall-bullies push you around; get out there and discover a creative, sustainable, solution like recycled gutters to make that difficult wall into your best friend.
Written on May 3, 2013 at 9:01 am , by James A. Baggett
The Burpee Home Gardens Grow Anywhere Tour rolled into town Wednesday and Country Gardens art director Nick Crow and I caught up with them at the Moulton Extended Learning Center here in Des Moines. The Grow Anywhere Tour launched in March and is traveling 10,000 miles to deliver 13,000 plants and 30,000 pounds of produce to 23 cities with food deserts or areas with limited access to fresh produce.
The location for each Grow Anywhere Tour event was voted on via Facebook earlier this year by community members, students, and staff at local schools and community organizations. It was so cool to watch as neighbors and school children picked out a tomato or a pepper or a cucumber plant, fill a five-gallon container with compost, and plant up their new plant to take home. Everybody also got to take home a shopping bag of fresh produce as well as organic fertilizer. It was wonderful to see so many folks turn out on a cold and blustery afternoon in May and it was nice to catch up with our friends Jerry Gorchels and Katie Rotella —that’s me and Katie (above) from Ball Horticultural who have partnered with Burpee Home Gardens on this impressive program. By helping communities explore the basics of gardening and demonstrating simple ways to grow food, Burpee Home Gardens is showing the county just how easy it is to grow anywhere
Written on May 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm , by Katie A Ketelsen
Tomorrow the Better Homes and Garden Test Garden officially opens for the season (yay!) But if you live in the Des Moines area, you know a romp in the garden doesn’t really sound appealing.
We (grumpily) woke to snow on the ground, pelting our windows and piercing our faces. Mother Nature has a cruel way of welcoming spring this year, but frankly, she’s always kept Iowa’s gardeners anxious about planting anything until mid-May.
Complementary spring-bloomers redbud and forsythia reached out from the garden fence, beckoning me to enter the Test Garden.
As did the relaxing ambiance projected from the raised deck surrounded by blooming grape hyacinths and tulips.
The water fountain took its first breath this week, overflowing with soothing sensations, perfect for a late lunch…..
…or a meeting of the minds. (Pictured: Andrea, Test Garden Assistant; Sandra, Test Garden Manager; Eric, Deputy Garden Editor)
An Autumn Brilliance serviceberry boasted its stunning white blooms….
…while the ferns uncoiled, reaching for the warm sun.
I miss that warm sun.
Late spring snowstorms sure have a way of making an Iowa gardener more humble.
How the weather in your garden today?
Come visit the Test Garden every Friday from 12-2pm!
Written on May 2, 2013 at 9:02 am , by Eric Liskey
Snow in May is not unprecedented, so the meteorologists tell us. But it is unusual. And pretty. And aggravating. I would normally be putting my first warm season veggies and annuals in the ground about now. I’ll be delaying that a week or two, obviously! The silver lining is that trees haven’t leafed out yet, for the most part. So the damage is going to be little to none. So we can just sit back and enjoy it. I guess.
Written on April 30, 2013 at 11:10 am , by Eric Liskey
I thought I’d share this shot of my front walkway. Flowers are sure happy things, aren’t they? I can’t believe it’s May tomorrow. It’s one of the latest springs I can recall, so this has been a long time coming!
This bed is a testament to the value of maturity. A few years ago I planted a signficant number of bulbs and phlox in this space, and this year, it’s more spectacular than ever. The reason is the sheer volume of bloom. Each year, the daffs and grape hyacinth and phlox just get bigger and better. A nice garden can happen in a season. A spectacular one takes time.