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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Japanese Maple Garden

And now here comes my favorite part of the patio project so far. No project feels quite as complete as when you finally plant something. OK I suppose that only holds true for gardening projects but it really is the exciting part! Welcome to the Japanese Maple Garden! It's a small raised bed made from the edging stones that I used around the patio. To either side of the garden are the beginnings of pathways to the yard. They will be worked on in subsequent phases of our backyard project with the sidewalk pathway on the left tentatively scheduled for next year. I have to make sure I can get the work crew back for phase 2...oh wait, that's me! The pathway on the top side of the garden will be natural stone stepping stones inset in the grass so that I can mow over them easily.

The Japanese Maple Garden could not possibly be planted without what? The Japanese Maple! He's standing over there on the left side of the picture below. On the right is a Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' I picked up for a dollar last week, I love those discount racks! Mr. Morning Light will only be there until the Japanese maple gets well established. I wanted a plant that would help shield the young maple from direct sunlight for a little while and an ornamental grass fit the bill. I might divide it in the spring. After I move him I have my eyes on some Muhly grass that would look really nice next to the Japanese maple.

Here's a view from the other side of the garden which would be on the patio. The pots on the far side are two lemon trees and a grapefruit tree I grew from seed. I won't show you how they look right now as they suffer from SNS (Summer Neglect Syndrome). I put them farther away from the house than I should have to conveniently water them. The grapefruit doesn't look bad but the lemons aren't very happy citrus trees right now. I hope they can make it through the winter in the garage alright! Anyway they are off topic, back to the Japanese maple garden!

Here is the miscanthus. It's planted on the western side of the garden and should help deflect some of the late afternoon rays.

Here' s the maple. I potted it up for the summer and kept it watered but it's roots overtook the pot and needed a larger place to grow. Fortunately now it has a new home! It's a little dry around the edges but it should bounce back shortly.

I also planted two discount threadleaf coreopsis plants in the garden. I'm not sure of the variety but they have a light purplish to pinkish colored bloom. On the other side will go two discount Penstemon 'Husker's Red' that I have in pots on the front porch. I'll move them into the ground before temperatures fall too much.

To prepare the new bed I double dug the ground to a shovel's depth. Then I covered the turned turn with newspaper and filled with dirt that was used in the patio excavation. I added a bag of peat moss to the top of the soil but I need to go back with a cultivator and mix it in more with the soil. Peat moss can add some good organic nutrients. Then I planted and mulched around the plants with a little pine bark mulch. I'll come back and add more to the rest of the bed when I get the chance.

Here's the bed from the patio view. On the right I'll put the penstemon and close to the patio I have a place to plant another plant. That spot is still open for now!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Deck Remodel (or The Deck Being Decked Out!)

Another part of our back yard patio project was fixing up the deck. I suppose you could almost call this project more of a backyard remodel. In my last post I showed you a step/landing I built to bridge the gap between our patio and the deck. Today's post is all about (and around) the deck. In the picture below you can see what our deck looked like before this weekend, a nondescript-builder-standard-pressure-treated deck. Our deck was kind of like the windshield wipers on a car, they are there and functional but you really don't talk about them! There's almost two feet of clearance under most of the deck, which would barely be enough to store things. I would love to have a deck I could finish off the underside as a storage area or even as a gathering spot but that won't happen with this house. To dress up this area we added latticework. You can even see it stored underneath the deck!

In these pictures you can see the completed latticework around the deck as well as the new landscape timber planter beds. The latticework encloses the deck area while still allowing good air flow. I plan to install finishing pieces later to cover the edges near the posts. The planter beds will need filled and then planted but the most tedious work is done: the building. I used an electric miter saw to make the cuts and deck screws to hold them together. The timbers aren't staked into the ground but their weight is enough to hold them in place. I tried to make the screws as inconspicuous as possible by placing them on the insides of the beds. In the top right picture you can see the drainage tube from the water downspout. I'm considering turning that into a dry creek bed that will direct water into the birdbath garden.

In the pictures below you can see how it looks from a short distance away. The landscape timbers need 2-3 more additional timbers and they will be complete, I just ran out of them! In the bottom two pictures you can see the types of cuts I made. The bottom left picture used two 22.5 degree cuts to make an angles edge on the corner. Against the deck and the latticework I put the back of the landscape timber planter bed. It should protect the latticework from the soil that will be put inside the bed to make the deck garden. There's another new garden name!

Here in this picture you can see the opening underneath the deck that I left intentionally. I wanted a way to get underneath the deck should the need arise. Gail asked me the other day in my post about the pyracantha cuttings where I would plant one. The answer is halfway in between the deck and the crawl space access door. There's a viburnum near that spot right now that I plan on moving this fall toward the deck and a little more forward. To the right of the timbers will be a gravel pathway to the crawl space access door.

Here's the view from the backyard toward the house. To the right is the birdbath garden and up ahead you can see the patio that was still a mess when I took the picture. Since the picture was taken the patio has been cleaned off and the Japanese maple garden has been planted with some of it's new residents.

Now I need to consider what to plant in the new beds! Of course I have to fill them the good soil first. Do you have any suggestions for what to plant in The Deck Garden? It's a full sun location most of the year.

A Step to Bridge the Gap

The first major task I tackled this week with our patio project was this step landing. It was a problem that had to be fixed. When we had our home inspected before we purchased it the inspector noticed that the deck needed one more step to fit codes. That wasn't the only problem here, the stairs led right out to the septic drain access pipe. It was a bad spot for the builder to put it. Here's the solution I came up with: cover it all with a removable landing!

I built this 100% removable landing step to bridge the gap between our patio and the deck. The step covers the drain pipe but can be removed by two people easily and one person if needed. I used 2"x6" pressure treated lumber to make a 46"x48" box. I put another 2"x6" board to serve as a brace to attach the tread boards and to give extra support. Then I attached 8" stilts made from a 4"x4" to each corner. Once I put it in place I screwed in the 1.25"x6" tread boards to the frame.

I have one more board to place but I have to cut it lengthwise to about 2.5 inches wide. I'll have to borrow my dad's table saw to do it but that should be easily accomplished this week. You can see in the picture below a drain pipe on the left of the landing. It will funnel the downspout from the roof away from the deck and patio out into the yard and toward the bird bath garden.

Here's a closer look at the step.

A view from the front.

A view from the deck.

I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. It's removable for easy access and very stable. It can also double as a stage for my performance loving 3 year old daughter! What's not to like about that?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Patio Progress

This past week I have been diligently and furiously working on the big patio project. Everyday through the past month there has been a little progress but never more than this week. Maybe it's just because I can see the project almost complete. Or maybe it's because I've worked myself to death while trying to bring this patio project to a close. (Obviously that's just a figure of speech or else I wouldn't be typing this!) Whatever the case is I'm very excited with how the patio is shaping up.

Here's the short list of the week's accomplishments.
  1. Completed the patio to deck bridge/landing/step. I'm not sure what to officially call it and I do have one more piece to fit into it but the landing is safe, sound and usable as it stands right now.
  2. Installed the latticework around the deck. Finally! That's only been on the to-do list for a year!
  3. Installed a landscape timber raised bed around the deck. I still need to fill, mulch and plant the beds. Of course the planting is the fun part! Or maybe it's visiting the nursery to get the plants...hmm.
  4. Filled in the semi-oval shaped garden bed on the western side of the patio.
  5. I planted some things into the western oval-shaped garden bed. I officially dub thee The Japanese Maple Garden. (insert trumpet fanfare here!)
I'll go into greater detail about these projects (with pictures) this week so stay tuned!

What Did I Bring Home Last Weekend?

Last weekend I brought home a few things from my in-laws house. I'm very fortunate to be able to take cuttings of anything they have around or to be able to gather rocks for edging in our garden. So what did I bring home last weekend? I've already told you about one thing, the pyracantha cuttings. I took 14 cuttings from their Firethorn or "orange berry bush." Once they root I'll show you a little more about them.

I also brought home a few cuttings of their Japanese dappled willow. I found at a plant swap in the spring that these are very popular so I thought I would make a few more plants. I also need a few more to replace some that died due to the dry conditions this summer (it didn't help that they got run over by a lawnmower!)

I brought home another shipment of rocks for edging. These rocks are in a newer garden area along the backside of our house.

I also brought home 3 'Little Jane' magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora) saplings. They were volunteers that popped up in their front garden. I'm not sure where they'll go yet but I'll find a place. For now they are potted up on the back porch where I can monitor and water them easily. Little Jane is a deciduous magnolia that grows somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 feet tall.

Little Jane Magnolia (Magnolia liliifola)

That's not all! I planted 4 native dogwood trees in our backyard that I brought home from my in-law's garden. These were volunteers like the magnolias and were even in the same garden. They really needed moved since they were taking over their front garden area. I suspect that the are either gray dogwoods (Cornus racemosa) or maybe rough-leaved dogwoods (Cornus drummondii). Take a look and see what you think. I planted them along a ditch in the backyard to hopefully help with soil erosion. Over time they should grow large enough to provide us with some privacy in the very back corner of our yard.


Friday, September 26, 2008

TGT: Plant Propagation by Cuttings

Here is part 12 of The Home Garden's Series on Gardening on a budget (aka Thrifty Gardening Tips or simply cheap gardening!)

Propagating plants by cuttings is by far the most common way I propagate plants. When you take a cutting from a plant you are making an exact genetic duplicate of the original plant. Essentially it's a clone. No you won't see any George Lucas movies about plant propagation (I don't even want to think about weeds using the Force. The dark side might win out in our yard!) These clones are taking advantage of the natural plant ability to produce more roots. In nature many plants make roots naturally through layering but by taking cuttings we can encourage the process on a larger scale.

Taking cuttings is a simple process but there are a few terms you should know. Do you know what a node is? That's the spot where the leaves emerge from along the stem. That's important so you can tell the difference between nodal and internodal cuttings. Can you guess what they might be? You got it, nodal cuttings are taken just below a node and internodal cuttings are taken between the nodes! Now what about stem tip cuttings? OK I probably don't need to elaborate but just in case, stem tip cuttings are taken from the tip of the stem! I hope you were sitting down for that definition. Can you guess where basal stem cuttings come from? If you answered from the base of the stem or from the top of the root crown you would be correct!

Now what did I leave out? Greenwood, semi-ripe and hardwood cuttings. These three terms usually refer to the age of the wood. Think of a new stem or branch growing on a plant. It starts off fresh, green, and happy then gradually changes and matures to become a denser and stronger branch with a hard outer surface. In the beginning it was greenwood and toward the end it became hardwood. Can you guess what it was in the middle? Yep semi-ripe! Think of semi-ripe wood like a banana. You buy it at the store when it's not quite ripe, with a little yellow and just a little green. It's not quite ripe, it's semi-ripe!

Depending on what type of cutting you are taking there are some general guidelines for when to take them. Greenwood does best early in the growing season so try these kinds of cuttings in the spring and early summer. Semi-ripe cuttings should work well in summer while hardwood cuttings tend to do better in fall and over winter. These are just general guidelines and may not hold true for every plant. Most cuttings seem to do best from the first year's growth.

One thing to always watch out for when taking cuttings is diseased material. It's a good bet that if you take a cutting from diseased material that the cutting will fail to root or the plant will be diseased as well. To avoid this take cuttings from good quality branches that show no signs of diseases. Also make sure you have clean pruners for your cuttings! A 5% bleach-water solution should clean your tools and keep them from transferring diseases from plant to cutting or plant to plant. This is a good idea to do periodically after pruning shrubs and trees anyway.

I wrote in a post a while back about the basics of propagating plants by cuttings so I won't touch on that now but I can offer you a few tips that may help.
  1. Don't get frustrated. Many cuttings will fail and some will succeed. If one fails just toss it in the compost bin and try again.
  2. Always take a few more cuttings than you need. This will help to offset some of those failures. If you end up with extra plants give them to a friend, neighbor or take them to a plant exchange!
  3. Label the cuttings. If you're only working on one or two kinds of plants you may not need to worry about it but I've found that when I have several varieties of the same plant I forget which is which.
  4. Use a notebook to track what you've done. You can keep track of your success and failures, how you did things, and even write down the name of your favorite blog so you don't forget to check back. (Hopefully it's this one!)
  5. Once the plants have rooted try bottom watering. Just put the pot in a second container capable of holding some water. I've found that old store bought cake tops work good but you could do the same with cheap plastic ware. Then water into the outer container allowing the water to ease up into the pots from the drainage holes. It encourages deeper roots which is a good thing!

Plants you can propagate:

There are a huge number of plants that you can take cuttings from successfully. Way too many to list but if it has a stem with multiple nodes it can probably be done. Some plants are easy and other are difficult. Experimentation for me has been a lot of fun and very educational. Here's the list of plants I have successfully propagated so far:

Crape Myrtle
Firethorn Pyracanthus augustofolia
Variegated, Oak Leaf, Mophead)
Japanese Dappled Willow
‘Hiroku Nishiki’

Purple Leaf Plum
Red Twig Dogwood
Russian Sage Perovskia artriplicifolia
Salvia nemorosa
Salvia x farinacea
Sedums (several kinds!)
Silver mound (Artemisia)
Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’

I hope you enjoyed this series of money saving gardening tips. Feel free to look back if you missed one by using the links below!

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 4: Think Small Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 5: Make Compost
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 6: Making a List
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 7: Know Thy Landscape
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 8: A Two Season Trick
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 9: Plant Propagation
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 10: Divide and Conquer
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 11: Layering Shrubs, Trees, and Perennials

Don't forget to get involved in the Garden Blogger Fall Color Project, just click on the pic to learn more about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rose Buds and Blooms

I had intended to continue my series of Thrifty Gardening Tips but unfortunately blogger ate my post. Or most of my post. I'm not sure what happened, half of it disappeared which of course was the half that took me a couple hours to write. So instead I'm showing you a couple pictures of the rose bush I we bought my wife for Mother's Day. I'll get back to gardening on the cheap side for Friday.

The rose bush tolerated the summer heat of August and began shooting up new stems a week or so ago. The buds are coming up all over the bush and several have broken into flowering roses.

Here's a close-up of the rose. Can't you just smell it? The sweet scent of roses on the wind. Well maybe you can't, since you're on the other end of an Internet connection but we can! The new leaves begin with reddish hues and gradually turn green as they mature. Rest assured, propagating roses is on my list of things to do! I'll let you know as soon as that has been accomplished. Now back to writing about cuttings for Friday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pyracantha Propagation (Firethorn)

While out of town this past weekend at my in-laws home I took the opportunity to take more cuttings from their pyracantha (Pyracanthus augustifolia). It is a favorite of birds due to its bright orange berries and is has an appropriately named common name: Firethorn.

Firethorn berries

Firethorn's thorns are quite sharp and offer the plant good protection from would be herbaceous plant munchers, like deer and rabbits, not to mention plant propagators! It is a challenge to take cuttings from but if you're careful you can get by with minimal or if you're really lucky no damage. Pyracantha would make a great plant for security reasons around windows as would roses and hollies. It is also commonly trained into espalier. Last year I managed to root two cuttings of Firethorn but sadly they died over the winter as I made the mistake of leaving them unprotected outside. I thought they were hardened off enough but apparently I was wrong. Live and learn, or die and learn I guess! I'll keep these cuttings in the garage greenhouse until the spring freezes have finished.

Pyracanthus augustifolia thorn

Here's what I did. I cut several 12-16 inch branches off the main plant. Each of the branches had several variations in ripeness. The base was nearly hardwood while the tip was soft greenwood and the middle was...well...somewhere in between! Each branch was then divided into three to four sections about 5-6 inches long. The cuttings should root a little differently since they are all at different stages of ripeness. I stripped the cuttings of most of the leaves and thorns then dipped them in rooting hormone and stuck them in the sand. I used a cheap plastic container that was about 6 inches square to hold the cuttings. I ended up with 14 cuttings in the small container. There's proof that you can do a large amount of cuttings in a small space! I don't really need fourteen pyracantha cuttings but since I was pruning some of the outer branches out of a walkway it was either root them or toss them. I hope you're not surprised which choice I made. Besides it is unlikely that all the cuttings will root but wouldn't it be fun if they did!

For more plant propagation information check out this post.

Don't forget about the Garden Blogger Fall Color project when the colors near you are at their peak! Click on the picture below for more information.

Propagating Oak Leaf Hydrangea through Cuttings

A few weeks ago I took a lone cutting from an Oak Leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). I've read where they are difficult to root but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. It was a stem tip cutting with two leaves and a length of about 3 inches. I dipped the cut in in rooting hormone and stuck the cutting in moist sand. I checked the cutting periodically and watched as the cut end began to swell which is where the new roots were beginning to form. Then in six weeks I gently pulled on the little hydrangea and met resistance. I carefully removed the sand from the base of the cutting and found roots! I find that it helps to add enough water to the sand to make the sand soggy make the roots easier to lift. It was a cutting no more, but a new future shrub for the garden.

After discovering the roots I quickly went and potted the new oak leaf hydrangea. I like to plant new cuttings in pots until their root systems develop more significantly. Putting them in pots makes them easier to care for, especially if they are all in one location. You might question the logic of taking cuttings from a plant that seeds easily, but to me it makes sense. First of all I take cuttings of anything I can just to see if it would work. To me part of it is the challenge and part of it is the chance to get another plant to add to the garden. There is a more logical reason: time. It might be spring of 2009 before any seedlings sprout from our hydrangeas but with cuttings I have a plant ready to grow it's root systems now. I figure that I'm gaining several months of growth. To me that's not a bad reason to propagate a plant!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Tall ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is one of the few non-yellow flowering wildflowers blooming right now here in Tennessee. This extremely tall and purple member of the aster family can be seen throughout roadsides and fields in much of the country during the late summer or early fall. It stands anywhere from 3 feet up to 8 feet tall and occasionally can reach 10 feet. It is definitely aptly named with the "Tall" adjective!

I've noticed that this purple flowering native perennial gets along nicely with it's buddy goldenrod (Solidago). The purple and gold in the fields are putting on quite a show right now. Here is the ironweed in its natural habitat, a field! Near it are several goldenrod plants peaking up from the brush. While they aren't quite in bloom together in this picture I can assure you that that are in bloom at the same time in many places here in Tennessee. These pictures were taken in Mt. Juliet, TN.

Here's a close-up of our purple flowering friend. Tall ironweed looks great when examined closer and even has me considering adding a plant to our garden. The butterflies seem to really enjoy it. I suspect that some pruning during its growth cycle would encourage a bushier and somewhat smaller appearance that might work well in the garden. It's worth a shot!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free Download on Plant Propagation (Rooting Cuttings)

As I mentioned earlier in the week I prepared a handout for my presentation at the Spring Hill Garden Club. It's has some basic information on rooting cuttings. You are welcome to download it and use it for your personal use at home. It's in a PDF file so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it. I hope you find it useful!

Friday, September 19, 2008

10 Great Uses for Fall Leaves

With fall almost here it's time to start thinking about gardening chores and the task that most people have to do in some way is deal with the leaves. What do you do with the leaves is an important question. For way too long many people have burned them which to me is the worst possible way to dispose of unwanted leaves. Often the leaf burners will use additives like gasoline to help the leaves catch on fire (like they really need any help!) In this post I compiled a list of 10 GREAT things to do with your fall leaves!

Shred the leaves

1) Use them as mulch in your garden beds.
2) Mow them over into small bits and let them replenish the soil of your lawn. Make sure there are no large pieces of leaves that will kill off your grass.
2) Toss them in the compost bin to make compost!
3) Prepare new beds by incorporating the shredded leaves into the soil either by tilling or double digging.
4) Create new garden beds with newspapers then cover with leaves to kill the grass and weeds underneath.
5) Bag the shredded leaves and poke holes in the bags then add a little moisture. By spring you should have some great leaf mold compost.
6) If you don't use them in your garden give them to someone who does! Gardeners love leaves!

On the Creative Side

7) Collect the leaves and save them by flattening them underneath a book or use a leaf press.
8) Use the leaves to make textured stepping stones or garden art. Just make the stones as you would normally but press a variety of leaves into the surface. Any leaf with a strong veining pattern will work. You may have to scrape the leaves off after the cement dries. I suspect that Tina has done this one and can probably tell you more!
9) After drying and flattening the leaves use them for stencils on your walls and art projects.
10) Photograph the pictures and make prints for decorating your home during the fall.

And one more thing!

Photograph the leaves at their peak, blog about them, and use them to participate in The Garden Blogger Fall Color Project!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TGT: Layering Shrubs, Trees and Perennials

Part 11 of The Home Garden's weekly series about gardening on a budget (aka gardening cheap!)

Layering is a fantastic way to increase your plants with very little risk and a high rate of success. It is a simple method of plant propagation where roots are encouraged to develop by covering stems and branches with soil or other mediums. There are several types of layering:

  1. Simple layering
  2. Trench layering
  3. Compound layering
  4. Tip layering
  5. Mounding
  6. Air layering

The Advantage of Layering for the Home Gardener
The biggest advantage of layering is that you have very little risk of losing your cuttings or the stock plant. The future cutting is still attached to the main plant and still receiving nutrients and water regularly while its roots are forming.

The Disadvantage of Layering
The only disadvantage is that it is a process that makes a limited number of new plants each time since suitable branches are fewer than possible viable cuttings.

Simple layering
This is where a branch is buried partially beneath the soil. Wound the area just beneath a bud by making small slit up to the bud. If you want you can make a small application of rooting hormone to encourage the rooting process. Then hold it open with a toothpick or sphagnum peat moss and place that section of stem underneath the soil. All you need to do now is wait until roots have formed. Check in 4-6 weeks and see if roots have grown sufficiently then you can separate the offspring from the mother plant either into it's own pot or into new location.

Here's an example of one plant that I am trying to use layering to propagate. It's an arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) that should turn a nice burgundy color in a few weeks. By the way, it's a discount plant!

All I did was bury two stems underneath soil and mulch. I'll check them in a few weeks to see what is happening. If there isn't any rooting I'll just rebury the branches and check back again later. Patience is a virtue for the home propagator, which is something I need more of!

Trench Layering
Trench layering is very similar to simple layering. The greatest difference is that you use a longer section of plant to create multiple offspring rather than one. Make a trench for the branch to lay in then place the branch into it and cover it with soil. Like with simple layering you can wound the buds to encourage roots and apply rooting hormone but many plants suitable to trench layering like blackberries and raspberries don't need the help!

Compound Layering
This is a little more complex than simple layering. It is also known as serpentine layering since the method mimics the movement of snakes. Compound layering can be used to make multiple plants from one stem. Just layer each section of a long stem so that there is some plant exposed and some root covered. A good rule of thumb would be to layer a bud and expose a bud. Grapes are good candidates for compound layering.

Tip Layering
Tip layering is another good method of layering and is very successful with plants like forsythias! Just place the tip of a branch underneath the soil and wait. When new growth appears from the tip it may have roots.

Mounding is a good technique for plants like heather. Just cover the base of the plant with extra soil/compost and allow the plant time to form roots along the covered branches. This is a technique that I need to try on my Mediterranean white heather. It is a great wintertime bloomer!

Air Layering
This is probably one of the more complex methods of plant propagation. It is much like simple layering except that you perform the operation in the air. You use the aerial branches for your rooting subjects. First wound the branch just like you would for layering and place a toothpick or sphagnum peat moss in the opening after treating with rooting hormone. Then pack the area with damp (not soggy) sphagnum peat moss and wrap with a piece of black plastic. Tie the ends of the plastic to seal it off. Always use dark plastic since it will keep out the light. If you let light in your chances of mold greatly increase.

One quick tip: If the branch has trouble staying down you can pin it with a piece of a wire clothes hanger, some other kind of a wire, or even a rock!

There you have a few more methods for propagating plants. As I mentioned before layering is usually a safer and easier method than taking cuttings. I'll be talking about the cuttings next week!

Here's a look back at previous Thrifty Gardening Tips:

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 4: Think Small Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 5: Make Compost
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 6: Making a List
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 7: Know Thy Landscape
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 8: A Two Season Trick
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 9: Plant Propagation
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 10: Divide and Conquer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Garden Blogger Fall Color Project

With fall fast approaching and some areas of the world already beginning to see the shades of autumn leaves appearing I thought it might be a fun idea to track where the peak colors are changing. I hope you'll jump in and participate in this project!

Here's the idea:
1) Take pictures of the peak fall colors near you and post about them on your blog. Be sure to tell us some details of where the pictures were taken and what kind of trees are pictured. It doesn't have to be in your yard, just somewhere near you.
2) Then report back to this post and let me know that you've posted your peak post. I'll link to your post so that everyone may enjoy your fall color display.
3) Be sure to identify your City, State (or province) and Country in your post and in the link.
4) Also please be sure to link back to this post to encourage others to participate!

In theory we should be able to follow the transition of peak times from far in the north to as far south as the leaves change color. Sorry to those folks in the deep south or in the tropics this is more of a cooler climate event.

I'll post the most recent 5 blog posts in my sidebar with a link to a summary post that will include some of the details of each fall color location. All bloggers are welcome to participate, it's not just for garden bloggers! So quickly go out there and take some fall color pictures in their prime before the trees get naked!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Difference a Few Months Makes in the Garden

The passage of time in relation to plants is an amazing thing. I was looking back the other day at some old pictures from this past spring and was amazed at how different everything looks today. What was once a nearly barren bed in the front of our house has grown tremendously. The tulips of springtime faded and the front sidewalk garden changed completely into an entirely new entity.

Just look how small the plants look in spring. I was very happy with the tulips at the time but compared to them the rest of the garden appears lacking.

Today it is full of perennials, a few annuals and the foundation plantings have grown significantly. the butterfly bush is five times the size as it was last season. It will need some major trimming if I am to keep it there. The yews and euonymous have doubled in size although I am strongly considering removing the euonymnous. They look fantastic but are spreading and spreading fast. The mums are popping out with their red flowered blooms hearkening the coming of the fall season. The coreopsis have faded after pushing forth their bountiful blooms but the Russian sages in the front have born blossoms all summer and are showing very few signs of stopping. In fact the garden bed on the closest side of the picture wasn't even there when the first shots of spring were taken.

Here is the new section of the sidewalk garden from ground level, or at least as close as I can crouch! Far in the back are the asters from last fall are blooming again with their purple flowers. Purple seems to be a theme in the front garden, with an occasional yellow-orange plant for a contrasting color.

The silver mound artemisia was a new addition this year. I really like how it is spilling out onto the sidewalk with its soft feathery foliage. It definitely lives up to its name! I'd like to add a few more rocks for ornamental reasons into the garden.

I know that summer is still officially the season but with the weather taking a turn toward cooler temperatures it really makes one reflect on the year's successes. This is what is great about blogging about your garden, you see it all as it happens and after it happens! You can truly reflect on the garden's accomplishments. Of course you could do that with just a camera, but it wouldn't be as fun!