Thursday, May 31, 2012


Hostas are great plants for shade gardens. In the summer, they have spikes of lavender or white blooms. While the flowers are pretty, hostas are best known for their beautiful leaves. These lily-like plants are native to Northeast Asia. They are named in honor of the Austrian botanist, Nicholas Thomas Host. There are more than 2,500 varieties.
Here are a few of the most popular: Gold Standard (yellow leaves with green edges), Francee (green leaves with white edges), June (blue green leaves with creamy centers), and Sum and Substance (chartreuse yellow leaves). Most hostas prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. In general, blue leafed hostas require shade, while gold, yellow, and white-leafed hostas can tolerate more sun.
Hostas grow best in a rich, organic soil that is well drained and slightly acidic. They should get an inch of water per week. Hostas can be propagated by dividing them. This is best done in early spring.
The hosta plant is round in shape and can range in size from a few inches in diameter to 8 feet wide. They reach full maturity in 4-8 years. Unfortunately, hostas are a favorite food for deer, slugs, and snails. Try to plant them in areas where deer do not wander. If slugs are a problem, you can try slug poison which can be found at garden supply stores, or you can try putting out a shallow dish with beer in it. Slugs can't seem to resist beer, and when they drink it, they usually drown in it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens are located in Norfolk, Virginia. They cover about 155 acres. There are forty themed gardens scattered over the property. Some focus on a single plant (like roses). Others focus on plants from a specific region (like Japan).
One of the themed gardens, is the World of Wonders Children's Garden. This place is fabulous! It's three acres of fun for little ones. Kids can follow the world's Trade Route and find plants from different countries. They can also visit the dirt factory, which is a great place to dig and climb. And what kid doesn't like dirt? There's also a big treehouse where kids can learn about bugs and plant seeds. If you visit in the summer, be sure to bring a bathing suit. Kids can have fun splashing through the fountains and jet sprays.
The garden is open October through March from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM and in April through October from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Admission is $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gardens at Washington Park

The Gardens at Washington Park are located in Sandusky, Ohio. They're a nice place to visit if you happen to be in that part of Ohio (the amusement park, Cedar Point is nearby). Although it's not big, there are some very pretty flower displays. Visitors can see a sunken garden, a greenhouse displaying tropical plants, and the well-known floral clock that even spells out the date.
The garden is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Biddulph Grange Garden

The Biddulph Grange Garden, located in Biddulph, Staffordshire, England, is a Victorian garden created by James Bateman in the 1840s. Bateman was an avid collector of plants from around the world. He built the gardens to feature his impressive collection. Visitors will take a global journey from Italy, to Egypt, to Scotland, to China.
In addition to the international gardens, there are beautiful rose gardens, a topiary garden with rocks and tunnels that children absolutely love, a cherry orchard, and gardens with rhododendrons and azaleas which are simply spectacular in the spring.
The gardens are open daily from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Admission for adults is 7.35 Britsih pounds. Admission for chldren is 3.70 British pounds.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to Make a Salad Container Garden

I really enjoy summer salads. It's so nice just to walk out onto my back porch and pick whatever I need. You don't need a lot of space to make one. You can even do it it you live in an apartment and have a little outdoor area. Here's how you make one:
1. First, figure out what kind of vegetables you want to grow for your salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, bell/banana peppers, green onions, carrots, and cucumbers are some ideas. 2. Then figure out how much space you'll need. You can make a container garden a couple of differents ways. You can use multiple containers, or you can use one very big container. 3. If you're using multiple containers, get some of varying heights. I like to use a low,wide bowl-shaped container for the lettuce. Use larger containers for tomatoes and cucumbers. Position your vegetables so that the tallest plants are in the center or back, and scale down from there. This allows your plants to all get enough sunlight. 4. If you're using one big container, make sure it's big enough to fit several plants. 5. Make sure your conatainer has good drainage. It helps to put a layer of small rocks on the bottom before you fill it with potting soil. This allows for better drainage and circulation. 6. Add potting soil 3/4 of the way to the top. 7. Put your tomato plant in first, along the back. Add a cage or trellis so it has someplace to grow upward. 8. Add cucumbers and peppers next to the tomato. Make sure you give them enough space. The cucumber is going to do some rambling, so make sure it can trail off over the container. 9. Add carrots, onions, and herbs. 10. Lettuce should go in the front, since it's the shortest. 11. Water thoroughly!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This week, I just planted my geraniums outside. They look just lovely. I like geraniums, because they are an unusual-looking flower, and they add such a nice splash of color. Geraniums grow in any kind of soil, as long as it isn't saturated with water. They prefer slightly acidic soil, though, and like to be in full sun. They are hardy in zones 8-10, which means that if you don't live in those zones, every year, you'll have to buy new ones - unless you learn how to propagate them.
My mom taught me how to do this, so I'll share it with you: 1. Fill a small container with about 4 inches of moist rooting medium. You can buy this at a garden supply store, or make your own using sand, perlite, and vermiculite. 2. Cut 3-5 inches off the tips of several healthy shoots. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Keep in mind that some of your shoots may die, so have enough to allow for that. 3. Dip the stems into a commercial rooting hormone, which can also be bought at a garden supply store. 4. Push a pencil into the rooting medium about 2 inches deep. Then insert the prepared cutting and firm the medium around it to hold it in place. 5. Place the container in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight. 6. Check the plants to make sure the rooting medium is moist. Do this several times a week. 7. Once the roots are established, you can transplant them into larger containers. How do you know if the roots are established? Just give the plant a gentle tug. If it doesn't want to come out, the roots are established.
Did you know that geraniums can come in a variety of scents? Yes they do! Lemon, rose, apple, and mint are some of the interesting varieties. Next time you visit your nursery, see if you can find them. Rub their leaves and have a sniff!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden is located in Bronx, New York. It was founded in 1891, and coveres about 250 acres. Visitors will see waterfalls, hills, rivers, woods, ponds, and of course, lots of plants and flowers.
Located within the garden, is the Everette Children's Adventure Garden. There's a Boulder Maze that kids can climb, and a touch tank for getting up close to water-loving plants. There's also an indoor lab for doing experiments.
The garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is $1.00 for children, and $6.00 for adults.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dawes Arboretum

Dawes Arboretum is located in Newark, Ohio, east of Columbus. It's a 1,149 acre collection of gardens founded in 1929 by Bertie and Beman Dawes. Inspired by their love of trees and nature, they wanted to create a lasting legacy on their property.
Some of the gardens include, an All Season Garden, which can give you excellent ideas for how to keep your garden blooming year round, an Azalea Glen, which is great to visit in the spring, a conifer glen, a cypress swamp, which is one of the northern-most bald-cypress swamps in North America (if you visit in the spring, you may see Jefferson and Spotted Salamanders.), a Japanese garden, and the Daweswood house garden. If you have time, you may want to tour the Daweswood House which has been turned into a museum.
You'll also want to visit the Outlook tower - a 36-foot tower which provides quite a view at the top. If you like hiking, you may want to allow time to explore the East trails on the property. A word of caution, though, these trails can get really muddy after it rains, and sometimes the terrain is a little uneven.
Dawes Arboretum is open daily from 7:00 AM until sunset. Admission is free.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens are located in Sydney, Australia and cover about 80 acres. They were founded in 1816 by Governor Macquarie, and were originally part of his estate.
Today, there are several gardens located on the property: a Pyramid greenhouse, which houses tropical displays, a rose garden, and herb garden, a cactus garden, and an oriental garden. There's also a lovely pond which is a perfect setting for a picnic.
One interesting note about the garden is that it was home to a colony of 22,000 flying foxes - a type of fruit bat. These little guys were causing quite a problem, so in 2011, a plan was implemented to remove the bats. I don't know how that worked. If you go, just keep an eye out for flying foxes.
The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Make a Pizza Garden

Here's a fun post for you: making a pizza garden. This is something my kids really enjoy, so I'm sure your kids/grandkids would have a blast doing it.
First, choose a spot that gets lots of sun - about 6-8 hours a day. Then locate the center of your garden and drive a stake into the ground. Create a circular shape by tying a rope to the stake, and then tie a stick at the other end. Have kids drag the stick through the dirt, keeping the rope tight. (This should create a circle.) Then decide what you want to grow. Of course you can't grow cheese, or dough, or pepperoni, but there are lots of other ingredients to grow. I like to grow tomatoes (Italia Pompeii or Camp Joy cherry tomatoes are good), green peppers, or if you like a little color, Jewel-toned Sweet Bells, onion, garlic, oregano (I like True Greek), and basil (I like salad leaf basil). Divide your garden into pizza slices. If you'd like, you can separate the slices with little paths in between, or use long wooden sticks to create spokes. When you are planning your slices, allow 2-4 slices for the tomatoes. Involve kids at every step of the process from planting, to watering, to harvesting. When the big day comes to make the pizza, they can help slice and chop the vegetables and herbs (if they're old enough) and then place the toppings on their pizza. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Roses are my all-time favorite flowers. I have lots of them growing around my house, and they are all in full bloom right now. They smell and look heavenly!
There are 100 species of roses. Some are shrubs, some climb, and some are trailing plants. They are characterized by their large showy flowers which come in a multitude of colors - white, yellow, pink, orange, red, and even blue and purple. Roses have stems that often have sharp prickles on them. Most people call the prickles thorns, but technically, they are not true thorns. They're outgrowths of the outer layer of the stem. Even though roses have prickles, deer still won't hesitate to munch on them, so make sure your roses are protected from them.
Most roses are native to Asia. Cultivation of roses began in 500 BC in Mediterranean countries. Roses are best known for their beauty and fragrance, but there are actually many uses for roses. Rose water can be used for cooking, cosmetics, medicine, and religious practices. Rose hips can be used to make jam and jelly or brewed for tea. Rose hips are very high in vitamin C. Research is also being done to see if they can control cancer growth. Of course you know that roses are used in making perfume. Rose oil is obtained by steam distilling the crushed petals of roses.
To care for your roses, be sure to fertilize regularly. You can use slow release granular rose food. Also mulch generously around roses. Prune in early spring to encourage lots of buds. And don't forget to water them. They need about an inch of water per week.

Kreativ Blogger Award

I would like to thank Betty Alark for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Be sure to check out her blogs! First of all, I apologize for the run-on paragraph. My issue with blogger still has not been resolved, but hopefully you will have no problem reading this. According to the rules, I have to list ten little-known things about myself. To spice it up, I'm going to throw in one fake fact. See if you can spot it. I'll let you know what it is at the end. Here we go: 1. When I was a kid, I almost drowned in our swimming pool. Fortunately my dad saw me and pulled me out in time. 2. One night, in Germany, my friend and I stayed out a little too late, and the hotel locked the doors. We had to crawl in through a window. 3. Another time, in Germany, my friend and I were walking through a train tunnel. We thought it was abandoned. Then we heard a rumble. We figured we'd better get out of there. Two minutes later, the train came through. 4. I'm allergic to pine trees. 5. I have visited all fifty states. 6. I have gone SCUBA diving with sharks. 7. I rode a camel in Israel. 8. I wrote music for a movie. 9. I hate the sound of nails scratching against a chalk board. 10. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an opera singer. Now I'm going to pass the award on to six new friends I made through the A-Z blog challenge: 1. Amanda Heitler 2. Misha Gericke 3. Joanne Faries 4. Sherri Lackey 5. Leslie Rose 6. Lynda R. Young If you have a chance, stop by and visit these bloggers. (They're a different bunch from the ones I listed when I won this award on my other blog, Mama Diaries.) Did you guess which fact is false? It's number 5. I have not visited all fifty states, but I intend to do so!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cox Arboretum

Cox Arboretum, located in Dayton, Ohio, is part of the Five Rivers Metropark. It was founded in 1962, when the Cox family donated their property to create an arboretum.
Cox Arboretum covers 160 acres, and features 19 gardens. These include a water garden, rock garden, clematis arbor, a children's maze, conifer collection, and an Edible Landscape garden, which in the spring is especially pretty with its blooms of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils.
For those who like to hike, there are plenty of trails. You may want to bring a lunch and picnic in one of the pretty gazebos. If you're lucky, you might get to meet Zipp, the working Border Collie, who works diligently to chase away the Canadian geese. The arboretum is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM. Admission is free.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bokrijk Arboretum

Bokrijk Arboretum, located in Bokrijk, Belgium, was founded in 1965. It covers about forty acres.
The garden is best known for its holly collection. It has the largest collection in Europe. It is also the the home of the national bamboo collection. There are several gardens located on the property, including a wetlands garden, a woodland garden, a fern garden, and a Mediterranean garden.
The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Landscape a Hill

Landscaping a hill can be a bit of a challenge. You can hire a landscaping company, but that can be expensive. So here are a few ideas if you're a DIY kind of person. The first thing to consider is water drainage. If you are landscaping a hill, chances are, you will be rerouting the flow of water. Make sure you can direct the water to a safe place (not your neighbor's yard!) If you don't have a clue about this, I would hire a landscaper so you don't have problems.
1. Build terraces on steep slopes using railroad ties or large flat rocks (the ones used for landscaping). Don't use railroad ties around edible plants because the ties might contain creosote. The ties/rocks will mark the edges. Then use soil to create level spaces for planting. 2. Guide the runoff water to appropriate places through the placement of your railroad ties/rocks. 3. Spread mulch between the terraced steps to protect the soil. 4. Select plants. Creeping plants like periwinkle, ivy, and creeping juniper work well. At the bottom half, use shrubs to help prevent erosion. Japanese yew, day lilies, and hostas are good choices. At the bottom, have flood-tolerant ornamental grasses and trees. 5. Embed medium sized boulders in the bottom half to add visual interest. Don't just plop them down, though, or they'll end up rolling. Bury the stones to a third of their height and pack dirt around the base. Other things you can do, are cover the bottom half of the slope with landscape fabric (cut holes for trees and shrubs), to reduce weeds. If you want, rather than covering the fabric with dirt, you can cover it with a four inch layer of pea gravel. The gravel creates an interesting visual effect for the slope. You can also add steps. Retaining walls at the base are another possibility, but I would leave that job to the pros. With careful planning, you can create a beautiful landscape for your slopes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Dianthus is the name of a family that has about 300 species of flowers that includes carnations, Garden Pinks, and Sweet Williams. They are one of the most fragrant flowers around. I have a bunch of them planted outside my front door, and as I walk outside, the smell is just heavenly.
The word, "Dianthus," comes from two Greek words: Dios (god), and anthos (flower). I think this is appropriate because not only are they fragrant, they are also beautiful. Most dianthus are perrenial. They bloom from spring to fall. They are characterized by their five frilly petals. Most are pink. Dianthus come in a variety of sizes. They can range anywhere from 2 inches in height to over three feet. Most are in the ten-twenty inch range.
Dianthus should be grown where they receive at least 4-5 hours of full sun each day. They prefer well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. If they are overwatered, their foilage will turn yellow. For this reason, it is best not to mulch around Dianthus. To keep them blooming through the summer, remove the spent flowers. Dianthus clumps tend to spread through the years, so if you want, you can divide them by digging up the clumps, separating them, and replanting them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Morton Arboretum Children's Garden

Morton Arboretum, located in Lisle, Illinois, west of Chicago, is the home of a lovely children's garden where kids get to splash through streams, climb acorns, and slide down tree roots.
There are two main areas: a Backyard Discovery Garden and Adventure Woods. The two are linked by a Central Plaza.
Within these main areas are 10 themed gardens. These include a Windmill Garden, Curiosity Garden, a grotto with a secret stream, and my favorite, the Wonder Pond. If you go, look for the American Toad tadpoles in the pond. They're a favorite with kids.
The garden is open year-round from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is $9.00 for kids, and $12.00 for adults.