Friday, March 30, 2012

Making a Spring Container Garden

  I thought I'd share a few ideas for making a spring container garden.  The first is using bulbs.  Now, it's a little late this year to do a bulb container garden, but you can keep this in mind for next year.  I will also share a few ideas for a garden you can create now.

To make a bulb container garden:

1.  Select a location that gets an adequate amount of sun.

2.  Choose a container that's large enough for the flowers and has good drainage.

3.  Decide what bulb arrangement you'd like.  I'd recommend using bulbs that flower at different times in the spring, so you have continuous color for a while.  Bulbs to consider are daffodils, tulips, crocus, and grape hyacinth.

4.  Fill your container with soil, leaving two inches at the top which will be used for mulch or moss.

5.  Place bulbs in  according to the directions on the packaging, taller ones in the center, three inches apart.  Cover with soil.  Fill the rest of the container with the mulch or moss.

6.  Take the container indoors if the weather gets too cold.

Now for some ideas for container gardens you can create now.  Of course you can use pansies and violets.  Those are always popular in the spring.  I happen to like primroses, so my suggestions are going to be for combinations with primroses:

Combination 1:  Use red and yellow primroses and combine with the purple foilage of amethyst mist coral bells, and grassy sprigs of Ogon Golden Variegated Sweet Flag.


Combination 2:  Use shocking pink primroses (vivid chic primrose in pink) and combine with white columbine, soft pink English daisies,  and ribbon grass.


Thursday, March 29, 2012


  Would you believe my tulips are almost done blooming?  I wish these pretty flowers would last longer.  Tulips are one of the most popular spring flowers.  They are native to southern Europe, North Africa, Iran, and China.  Although they are associated with the Netherlands, cultivation began in Turkey.

Tulips can be recognized by their cup-shaped flowers.  It looks like they have 6 petals, but technically they have 3 petals and 3 sepals.  Tulips can be as short as 4 inches tall, or be a whopping 28 inches tall.  They come in a variety of colors.  There are 3,000 registered varieties of tulips.


If you're interested in flower meanings, tulips symbolize imagination, dreaminess, and a declaration of love, which is why you see them offered on Valentines Day.    Here's another tidbit of information you may not have known:  tulip bulbs can be used as a substitute for onions in cooking.

When growing tulips, select good quality bulbs.  Bigger bulbs mean bigger tulips.  Plant the bulbs 6-8 inches apart at a depth twice the diameter of the bulb.  After the tulips are finished blooming, allow the foilage to die off so the energy can go back to the bulbs.  Tulip bulbs require a period of cold, so if you don't live in a cold climate, extract the bulbs after the foilage has died, and store them in a cold dry place (like a refrigerator).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Michigan 4-H Children's Garden

 The Michigan 4-H Children's Garden is located on the campus of Michigan State University.  It opened in 1993, as one of five gardens that are part of the Michigan State University Horticulture Demonstration Gardens.


The children's garden covers about half an acre, and it features 30 different play areas.  These include a dinosaur garden, a pizza garden, a Peter Rabbit garden, an ABC Kindergarten garden, a Teddy Bear and Animal garden, a Storybook garden, and an Alice in Wonderland Maze which leads to a secret garden.

  Some of the fun things kids can do are find lambs ear and feel the leaves, smell chocolate mint, dance on dance chimes, and cross over the Monet bridge.
 The garden is open Monday through Friday from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free, but parking is $3.00 for 1 1/2 hours or $5.00 for 3 hours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

 The Cleveland Cultural gardens, located in Cleveland, Ohio in the area known as Rockefeller Park, contain over 50 acres of gardens divided into individual gardens representing the ethnic communities of the great Cleveland area.


The gardens were created by students and professors of Cleveland State University.  The first garden, the British, or Shakespeare Garden, was built in 1916.  In 1926, Leo Weidenthal, editor of Jewish  Independent, had the idea to make the cultural gardens represent the city's different communities.  He wanted people of different nationalities to work together and learn about each other's culture.


Today there are 35 gardens.  These include Polish, Slovenian, Czech, Russian, Slovak, Italian, Greek, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, and Hebrew gardens, amongst others.  The newest is the Croation garden, built in 2011.

When I lived in Cleveland, I enjoyed visiting these gardens.  There are lots of fountains, decorative iron work and sculptures.

  The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Palaise Het Loo

Palais Het Loo vtveen Palais Het Loo is a Dutch baroque garden in the Netherlands which was made in 1684 by William and Mary, the same people who later became king and queen of England.

Palais Het Loo has been called the "Versaille of Holland" because of the layout, fountains, and statues.  As is typical of Baroque gardens, they follow perfect symmetry.  Within the gardens are four individual gardens:  a King's garden which has a bowling green, a Lower garden with beautiful statues, a Queen's garden, which was the private garden of Queen Mary, and an Upper garden.


If you visit the gardens in warmer months, you'll see orange trees planted in square white tubs.  These are placed in the garden as an emblem of the Prince of Orange.  They are returned to the orangery in the colder months.

The garden is open year round Tuesday through Sunday from 10 -5.  Admission is 12.50 euros for adults and 4.00 euros for children.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vegetable Container Gardens

  I was just outside planting onions and lettuce in my vegetable garden.  It's nice to be back in gardening mode!  I have a habit of planting vegetables in both a regular garden and container gardens.  Mostly, it's because my dog jumps over the little fence I have around my garden, and tramples over everything.  But I also like container gardens because I have more control over the dirt and less problems with pests.  It's like having a little insurance to do both.

 It's surpising how many different vegetables and fruit can be grown in containers.  Lettuce, onions, beans, carrots, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, and even squash and watermelon do well in containers.

Here's how you grow vegetables in containers:

1.  Figure out how much sun your space gets.  Root crops and leaf crops tolerate shade, but tomatoes, green beans, and peppers need a least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

2.  Figure out what you can grow in the containers you have.  10 inch pots are good for herbs and green onions.  Larger 5 gallon containers are necessary for tomatoes, egg plant, and peppers.

3. Make sure your containers have drainage holes on the bottom.  It's a good idea to put gravel in your pot's saucer or elevate your pot on bricks to improve drainage.

4.  Fill your pot with good potting soil.  Then follow the directions on your seed packets regarding how deep to plant the seeds.  For larger plants, I usually just do one plant per pot.

5. Water daily.  Container gardens dry out faster than regular gardens, so you'll want to make sure they are getting enough water.

6. Install trellises or wires for climbing plants.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


 Are your hyacinths up?  Mine are.  I just love these spring flowers!  Hyacinths are spring bulbs that can be recognized by their dense compact spike of bell-shaped flowers.  They are highly fragrant, and they come in a variety of colors:  white, peach, yellow, pink, purple, lavender, and blue.

Hyacinths are native to the Mediterranean region and Africa.  There's an interesting story from Greek mythology about the origin of hyacinths.  Here's the story:  Two gods, Apollo (the sun god) and Zephyr (the wind god) liked a Greek dude named Hyakinthos.  One day, Apollo decided to teach Hyakinthos how to throw a discus.  Well, Zephyr got jealous.  So what did he do?  He blew the discus back so that it hit Hyakinthos in the head and killed him.  (Dumb god!)  From his blood, grew a flower.  Apollo, grief-stricken, named the flower after him.

 Hyacinth bulbs should be planted in the fall before a frost.  Where I live, September is good.  Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep.  Set the bulb in the hole, making sure the neck is up.  Then cover with soil.  Space the bulbs 4-6 inches apart.  Make sure you give them plenty of water after planting.  In the spring, after the plants have finished flowering, you can cut back the flower stalks (or not, I sometimes leave mine on).  Just make sure you allow the leaves to die back naturally so the nutrients can go back into the bulb.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Longwood Gardens

 Longwood Gardens, located about 30 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a gorgeous collection of flowers situated on 1077 acres of land.  (Only 325 acres are open to the public.)  There are twenty indoor gardens, housed in a conservatory which contains 5,500 types of plants.  There are also 20 outdoor gardens featuring exquisite flowers, trees, and dazzling fountains.


Longwood Gardens has a very rich history.  Over two hundred years ago, the land was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians.  In 1700, a Quaker family purchased the property from William Penn (the guy Pennsylvania is named after) and established a farm there.  In 1906, Pierre du Pont, the famous industrialist, purchased the property and created what is enjoyed today.  In 1946, the Gardens were turned over to a foundation set up by Mr. du Pont.


One of the gardens is the Bee-aMazed children's garden.  It features a tree house, pictured above, a Honeycomb Maze, Flower fountain, and Buzz Trail.  Kids can learn about bees and the various parts of a flower through these interactive features.

The Gardens are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.  Admission for adults is $18.00.  Admission for children is $8.00.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ault Park

  Ault Park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a little gem that's just about in my own backyard.  It's a 224 acre park in the Hyde Park/Mount Lookout area of Cincinnati.

 The gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect, Albert D. Taylor, and named after Levi and Ida Ault who played a big roll in developing Cincinnati parks.  They  were opened to the public on May 30, 1930.  The gardens have changed quite a bit through the years.  Today, the main attractions are a dahlia garden, and the Hilda Rothchilde Memorial Old Fashioned Rose Garden.


 There is also an Italian-style Pavilion located on the grounds, which is a popular site for weddings.  The gardens are open year round from 6 AM to 10 PM.  Admission is free.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Viceroy's Palace Garden

RBhavan Mughal GardenThe Viceroy's Palace Garden, located in New Delhi, India is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.  It is part of the property of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India

The garden covers 13 acres.  It was designed in the late 1920s by Edwin Lutyens.  There are beautiful ornamental fountains, walls, gazebos, flowering trees, gorgeous flowers, and shrubs.  Indians call it "God's own Heaven."                                                 

The gardens are open to the public only two weeks out of the year, in late February and early March.  Expect security to be tight, but it is certainly well-worth the visit!