Monthly Archives: June 2016

Elegant AzaleasElegant azaleas can add a stunning impact in your garden. I have a faint pink azalea with darker markings on the petal edges that is gorgeous with prolific blooms from the bottom of the plant to the end of every branch.

I bought this evergreen azalea last spring and transplanted it this winter into a larger container where it busted out in a plethora of new growth filled with blossoms for the spring fashion show, the only thing missing is fragrance. The good news: azaleas can bloom for several weeks.

Two years ago, I planted a Red Bird Azalea that expanded and I had to transplant it after it doubled in size in one year. Some varieties are smaller and more compact and it is good to choose the correct size for your garden area.

When I was young, we lived in Chamblee, Georgia near Atlanta. At our new house, my Dad planted several azaleas in the front yard and they looked grand with their cranberry blossoms each spring. The azaleas grew well under the pine and dogwood trees in the right environment, in the shade with acidic soil.

This spring, I added eight new azaleas for containers throughout my front and backyard. Azaleas prefer shade or tree cover with acidic soil either in the ground or containers. I have them in containers on the side of the house, on the front porch, on the deck, and on the patio. As long as they have some shade, they develop profusely.

Azaleas are either evergreen or deciduous plants; my plants are evergreen, providing green serenity in between numerous flowering plants in my garden.

During planting, I add soil amendments prepared specifically for azaleas, organic acidic azalea food, seaweed organic fertilizer, rainwater. These organic planting methods ensure healthy soil, healthy leaves and roots, prolific blooms, and sturdy growth.

Prune the plants soon after they bloom to avoid reducing next year's buds. You can prune some of the branches every other year to ensure buds for the next spring. Mulch your plants two to three inches deep with pine straw, leaves or bark.

By providing azaleas with their favorite environment, your plants can produce abundant blossoms and healthy foliage for you to enjoy in your garden setting throughout the year. As a shrub, azaleas provide formal foliage throughout the year or you can prune them in a more casual, branching style.

Perhaps I can help you with your garden design or container gardening to make an impact at your entranceway, porch, or deck. For your commercial business or residential property, I will prepare a plan for your microclimate to make your entrance more inviting with a sense of place and beauty.

Flowering Plants That Attract ButterfliesIn order to attract butterflies to your garden, you need to know exactly what they look for nectar. Plant annual blooming plants amongst your perennial blooming plants to ensure continuous nectar throughout the year. Asters and Parsley are two of the perennials that provide food for the larval hosts. Remember that the more food you provide, the more species of butterfly that you will attract. Plant a garden that will provide continuous bloom as butterflies are active from spring to fall.

Additionally, they like sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and freshwater. Specifically, they look for host plants to lay their eggs. Herbs are very attractive to butterflies because they provide a great environment for their eggs.

The following are some of many flowering plants that are attractive to butterflies:

Lilac: comes in seven different colors, but most of us are familiar with the lilac color. They are perfect for your garden due to their pleasant fragrance. Most lilacs which bloom in the northern states for 2 weeks in late may. They also bloom in early- mid- and late season. They can grow from 5 to 15 feet. They need full sun exposure.

Ironweed: is a late summer bloomer. Ironweed sends flower stalks up to 7 feet. It lasts well into the fall season. It provides nectar for the butterflies that mate in the later seasons. Some species can be used as edible leaf vegetables, such as Vernonia Calvoana, Vernonia Amygdalina, and Vernonia Colorata. Lastly, Ironweed is known to be a larval host for the American Painted Lady butterfly.

Parsley: is the favorite food of black swallowtail caterpillars. It looks beautiful as a border in your flower bed or spilling out of a hanging planter. Parsley is a familiar herb that provides an attractive decoration and a special flavor and nutritious value to dishes.

Coneflower: is easy to grow and provides masses of tall purple bloom. It is also known as a butterfly magnet for its wide variety of colors and prefer by gardeners for its beauty.

Butterfly weed: is a must have in every garden. It tolerates dry soil well, is low maintenance, and has a beautiful flower that can be used as green foliage in your garden when it is not bloom.

Sunflower: is alluring to butterflies, hummingbirds as well as songbirds. They are easy to grow as long as the soil is not soaked. They make an excellent cut flower.

Citrus: are a common place for butterflies to lay their eggs. Popular citrus plants for butterflies include lemons, limes, and oranges.

Dahlia: are big and beautiful shining plants in the garden.

Joe-pye weed: are clusters of pink-purple blooms with a fragrance similar to vanilla. They bloom well into the fall season. Joe-pye weed looks great in a cultivated flower bed.The entire plant can be used, including the root and fresh flower, for herbal tea.

Pentas: are plants that have hairy green leaves and clusters of flowers. They come in many shades of white, red, pink, and purple. Pentas are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

With this information in mind, choose some of these beautiful plants to add to your garden. It'll be pleasant to sit down and look at all of your different flowering plants in bloom. You'll add some color and vibrancy to your garden decor. It will give you great pleasure to know that you contributed to the environment by providing shelter for butterflies while bringing beauty to your yard. It'll also make a great ambiance to bring friends and family. Don't forget that it is important to know which kinds of butterfly are native to your area when pickings your plants!

CompostingWhat should you compost?

It's recommended to compost vegetable waste, shells, flowers, fruits, tea leaves, droppings of household animals, leaves, small branches. It's not recommended to compost weeds with seeds still in them. Once this kind of compost is distributed in soil, it becomes polluted. You can't compost carcass meat, pieces of meat and fish, boiled vegetables. This kind of waste attracts rats and smells terribly.

When should you begin to compost?

It's best to begin in the spring or at the end of the summer - August and September due to the good weather conditions and dry soil.

Where should you compost?

It's recommended to compost in special containers or on specially prepared places on the ground. Using containers is more convenient since it takes less space and the right temperature rises much sooner. Containers provide faster maturity of the compost, and it's easier to sustain humidity. On top of that, it's easier to maintain and take care of the compost this way.

How should you compost?

The two most important things to take into consideration is temperature and ventilation. In order to have great compost, temperature needs to be at least 122 °F. Weed seeds disappear in this temperature. It is also essential to provide the container with enough oxygen. Therefore you have to mix it and don't press too much.

It's imperative that the temperature in the container not be too high. Once it reaches around 158 °F, the amount of nutritious substance reduces in number. To avoid this problem, use a Yimby Tumbler container to water and mix your compost with ease.

It's also important for the temperature not be too low. If the pile temperature is not rising, it could mean one of the two - too much humidity or it is too dry. Dryness can be dealt with by watering the compost, while humidity is taken care of by adding dry substances.

Humidity is also crucial. It should be about 50 to 60 percent. The pile should represent something like a sucked sponge - it's not dry, but it no longer has any water to give. This kind of humidity should be maintained all the time.

It's mandatory to mix the compost frequently. Once it reaches its highest point, the temperatures lowers itself in the next four to five weeks. During this period it's recommended to mix the compost so it gets enough oxygen. Once the shifting of temperatures disappear, leave the compost for another two months to decompose. Matured compost is powdery, almost black color, and smells of forest soil.

To improve the compost, you should use additional fertilizer. You might consider adding elements of phosphor and potassium if your compost is mostly made of grass and leaves.

In order for compost to be without disintegrating mixtures, sieving is required. Mature compost is sieved through a net in order to get rid of small branches, pebbles and other unwanted materials.

How to use the compost?

You can use compost to by spreading it in the soil's surface or digging and putting it deeper. It can also be used for house plants.

In order to protect the compost from infection, it's mandatory to get rid of damaged waste and use completely decomposed compost. Not doing so may attract centipedes, who will cause damage by eating strawberries, potatoes, beans and peas.

Herbs to Grow in Your GardenWe all find ourselves busy and worn out because our lives are packed with so many tasks. Quite often we forget to go to the grocery store after a long day of work to get herbs for a meal. I find myself getting home after work and realising that I didn't get basil for the pasta dish we planned to cook. That's when I decided to grow my own herb garden in the back yard.

My garden was already decorated and complete with a braai area. I have flagstone walkways with grass alongside them, along the walls of my fence I have rose bushes, and the braai area is paved with cladding. So I had decided to allocate a small section of about half a metre by two metres nearest to my kitchen's back door. This section runs along the wall of my house. It doesn't get too much direct sunlight during the day, because I didn't want the herbs to be exposed to direct sunlight all day long. I placed one layer of bricks to partition this area. Then I added copings along the edge of the bricks to give it a rounded and neat appearance. I went to the garden centre to get soil that is ideal for planting herbs, and I bought a few seeds. In our home we use herbs such as basil, rosemary, coriander, garlic, parsley and thyme. I planted each herb's seeds in a rectangular space within the herb garden. In other words, each set of seeds were planted in a half metre by 1/3 of a metre area. I simply placed a piece of string to indicate each sub-section. Then I placed a note on a skewer stick and wrote the name of each herb I planted in each sub-section. Over the next few weeks the herb plants started to sprout and with great care and watering them daily, they grew into fully fledged herb plants.

If you are not an avid gardener, you could get a number of medium plant pots for the herbs and plant each herb in one plant pot. This will give a more decorative set up. You can place paving stones, such as flagstones, to half of your backyard and place five or six identical plant pots along the backyard wall. For added decoration, you can add cladding to the backyard wall to create a feature area for your herb garden.

The type of herbs that you can grow in your garden will depend on which ones you use in your meals often. Also consider the temperature fluctuations of the area that you live in. Overall, you can be quite creative with gardening while enjoying the fresh herbs in your meals every day.