Leaf Stacking Design


All the best gardeners I know have a great eye not only for finding the right place in their landscape for plants they love but also for combining them in a way that shows off leaves as well as blooms.Woodland Garden


Thinking about this I walked through my garden picking leaves at random, noting their shape, color and texture. I laid them on the ground and created a design of sorts – a fleeting collage of color. It became even more brilliant a few days later after a rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there’s no playing with leaves today. Today is the day to prepare  for the first hard freeze of the season. Tender plants moved into the garage for the winter, special plants saved for the next growing season, and outdoor pots and newly planted beds watered ahead of the cold.

 

I know I’ll take another walk though weeks from now, after all the leaves have fallen, been raked and piled, and become compost gold. As I walk my eye will fall on evergreen trees, shrubs, and  ground covers, the workhorses of winter and  the “bones” of a good garden. Perhaps I’ll choose a few to make a winter leaf design…

 By Kris Blevons

 

 

Thoughts Of Fall On A November Weekend

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day...

Liam, sunning himself on a warm fall day…

Every year it happens. Fall arrives, and we welcome it with open arms as a happy counterpoint to months of sizzling temperatures.

 

Fall - Violas, Peppers and Minipumpkins

It comes just in time too, since by this point  we’ve tired of watching spring plantings gradually and inexorably succumb to summer’s never ending heat and humidity.

Branches of bittersweet and mini pumpkins accent an oncidium orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the new season come truckloads of pumpkins, branches of bittersweet, traditional mums, and sweet pansies, showing all the hues  of the harvest, blanketing the front of  the shop with a riot of color.

Fall - PansiesFall - Pansies

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Orchid Arrangement

 

Even the orchids give way, the elegant white phalaenopsis stepping aside as oncidiums and dendrobiums in shades of yellows, golds, deep purples, and browns take center stage.

End of the season coleus mingle with ornamental peppers...

Fall - Arrangement

Working with plants as we do, the seasons seem magnified.

 

 

Our livelihoods are driven by them, and we look forward to the next, even as we finally tire of the previous palette’s flowers, herbs, shrubs, vegetables.

 

 

Of all the seasons, fall seems to be the most fleeting, at least here in Birmingham, Alabama.

Fall - Pumpkins

Perhaps it’s the relentless march of the holidays, with Thanksgiving  accordioned between October and December, and hearing the strains of Christmas music all too soon.

 

Harvest centerpiece...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

Cotton bolls in arranged with pods and stems, in a pumpkin...

So, as I write this the beginning of November, with Thanksgiving still weeks away, I’m already feeling melancholy for fall.

Fall - Gourd and Bittersweet

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Mailbox Decoration

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The harvest season simply doesn’t last long enough for me. Looking through the pictures to add to this post lifted my spirits,  and I hope they do yours too.

Pumpkin centerpieces...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall - Arrangement

 

 

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and the opportunity to celebrate all we have to be thankful for, and I’m trying to remember to enjoy each season, even those that pass far too quickly.

Planted...violas, herbs and pods...design Molly Hand

 

 

Fall - Lettuce and Herb Arrangements...

Orchids and Gourds Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A final thought; Don’t allow yourself to get overly stressed during the coming holidays. Try to appreciate each day and the beauty it brings, and, above all, remember to slow down and breathe. A new season with fresh beginnings is right around the corner.

 

By Kris BlevonsFall - PumpkinsFall - Gourd Arrangement

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall in the greenhouse..

Fall...Yellowwood tree

 

Fall Is Here, And The Harvest Is In!

Fall seems to have arrived, at last! When temperatures slowly drop after the sweltering long, hot days of summer, we all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year the heat felt like it would never let go, and we were unloading the harvest coming in from Tennessee as the temps soared higher and higher, nearing the 100 degree mark daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still it’s an exciting time, unloading by hand (It’s quite the workout!) all of the beautiful and unusual pumpkins and gourds. How could anyone imagine the variety and intricacy of each one? Each one individual, and, I dare say, even exhibiting personality if you look closely enough.

Speaking of personalities, the ‘Lunch Lady’ gourds really show off theirs (They also have my favorite name!). The other day a woman walked by with her ‘Lunch Lady’ purchase, one whose neck was turned back against itself exactly like a swan’s. I practically tackled her as she walked out the door, exclaiming that she’d found the best one and if I’d spotted it I’d have designed something with it for sure.

She laughed, agreeing that it did look just like a swan, and left. A few hours later she returned, saying she wanted to use her “swan gourd” on the center of her table and she had a silver platter she’d like to put it on, could I design something for her? I include the pictures of it in this post so you can see how it turned out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacking pumpkins is still a “thing”, and we have all sizes for them. Here’s an over the top giant stack, using white pumpkins with added elements and branches between each pumpkin. Other smaller stacks also incorporate gourds, smaller pumpkins, lichen, and other organic items. There’s a lot of detail in these pieces!

Succulent pumpkins also continue to be huge, though we’ve put our own twist on them, adding more to our designs besides the beautiful succulents.

 

 

 

 

This vignette was created using a customer’s large piece of driftwood. Set on a large round table, different shapes, sizes, and colors of pumpkins and gourds are nestled into the wood piece and bittersweet, moss, and angelvine complete the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using lichen branches, different dried materials, and mosses has been exciting for all of us. Stretching the boundaries is always an interesting and fun thing, and we’re so grateful to have customers who appreciate this as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are just a sampling of the things we’re doing – each piece is a custom design, carefully thought out. The addition of bittersweet adds yet more color to some pieces, like the two here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We use bittersweet whenever it’s available. We’re grateful that our supplier in North Carolina takes the time to cut long, beautiful pieces for us. We have one customer who wraps her chandelier with it each fall. She showed us pictures of it; it is beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are more examples of some things we’ve been working on. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made In Alabama, Lisa Bunting Howard Pots and Vases Are Handmade Beauty!

Lisa Bunting Howard PotsLast year we began carrying Birmingham native Lisa Bunting Howard’s beautiful handmade pots. Pictured here are some we’ve had in the past, though no two are alike and we fly through each shipment quickly.

 

 

 

 

With the publishing of this post we’re pleased to say Lisa has delivered another group of pots and even some small bud vases. We think any one of them would make a beautiful gift for someone special or to mark an occasion.

Anything of this quality and made with such attention to detail is definitely worth waiting for. We are happy to take your name and give you a call when more arrive if you come in between shipments.

Hope to see you soon!

 

 

 

Ginger Clark’s “We Bees Working” Local Honey Is HERE!

We are thrilled to announce that we are exclusively offering Mountain Brook resident gardener, bee keeper, and friend Ginger Clark’s “We Bees Working” honey at Oak Street Garden Shop and Local Market.

Stop in and try some next time you’re in the neighborhood. Her honey is tasty and the packaging is beautiful as well, so either size make the perfect gift too. We’ll also offer honeycomb as it is available.

 

Container Gardening – Pointers & Possibilities…

Early spring in Birmingham….the temperatures fluctuate up and down, and it’s still early to be planting the real heat lovers like caladiums and vinca in the ground – oh, but your fingers are itching to dig in the garden again…

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting....

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting….

Here perennial lamb's ear mixes with lavender and a pepperomia - a common houseplant that also adds great texture...

Here perennial lamb’s ear mixes with lavender, sedum and a pepperomia – (a common houseplant that also adds great texture…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sun lover includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca and a 'Red Rubin' purple basil as well as a variegated Swedish ivy to meander through the entire composition...

This combination for sun includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca, purple basil, and variegated Swedish ivy meandering through the entire composition…

Happily, you can begin planning your summer container plantings, which can also be great springboards for future garden groupings – testing them in a pot first is a safe and fun way to experiment.

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia...

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia…

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are container combos from seasons past  – all lasted through the brutal heat of summer given water, deadheading and cutting back as necessary.

 

The old cliché of using a “thriller, filler and spiller” has been much used, (Maybe a little too much?) but don’t feel tied to it please! Designing creative plantings shouldn’t be absolute or bound by rigid rules.

'Indian Dune's' fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun...

‘Indian Dune’s’ fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun…

 

However, do try to combine plants that appreciate the same amount of light and water and have  growing habits that compliment one another.

 

 

 

If you can do that, any plant combo you like within those parameters is fair game. There are many plants that will handle a lot of sun but still appreciate a little shade, especially in the afternoon, when the heat is the most brutal. Others will need partial to full shade in our climate. The important thing is to choose  the right plants for whatever conditions you have.

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, 'Gartenmeister' and a trailing maidenhair fern - this one was planted with a shady area in mind...

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, ‘Gartenmeister’ and a trailing maidenhair fern – this one was planted with a shady area in mind…

The larger the container your space can accommodate the better! Not only will you be able to add more plants, but watering will be easier as well. Having said that, when maintaining large planters, if temperatures are in the 90’s every day and lows don’t get below the 70’s at night (July and August in Birmingham!), be prepared to water every day, even if your planters are in only half day sun. Of course, there are always exceptions…succulents, purslane, portulaca – these are a few plants that can take dry soil and heat, but even they will need water eventually!

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears...morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting...

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears…morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting…

Plant choices change weekly during the height of spring and it can be overwhelming…we’re happy to help you come up with the right combinations of plants for your containers if you’re unsure. Just be sure you know how much sun (or not!) they receive and the sizes of your planters,  and we can take it from there.

 

 

Another tip: Flowers aren’t always what adds the most pizazz. There are great foliage choices out there, many that add color with no blooms at all. Some of the most striking planters are those done with just foliage – try it sometime!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

A shade planter - all foliage!

A shade planter – all foliage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kris Blevons

 

Our Seed Racks Are Full…So Much Promise In A Tiny Package!

 It’s always a fun day when the box of seeds arrive, their colorful packages full of promise. So why are people daunted by them? Maybe it’s the preparation of the garden beds? Or perhaps it’s the angst of sowing them just right and at the proper depth? Maybe it’s the thought of having to water them faithfully until tiny green shoots appear on dark soil?

Whatever your reason, this year let it go and give yourself up to their promise and the wonder of watching life begin from a tiny seed to something to eat, cut, or simply enjoy in the garden. There really is no greater feeling of accomplishment than when tiny green sprouts emerge!

Seed PacketsSuccess with spring and summer flower and vegetable seeds does require you to understand the last average frost date in your area. Here, in Birmingham, Alabama, our last average frost date is mid-April.

The directions on a seed packet will tell you when to sow outside, usually a number of days after the last average frost date, or they might tell you to sow the seed directly in the ground and at a certain depth. Seed packets offer a wealth of information!Seed Packet Information

For example, the information on the cucumber packet shown here tells us that sowing outside is RECOMMENDED 1-2 weeks after the last average frost. It tell us to start them inside but that they’re sensitive to root disturbance, so if we do they should be sown in biodegradable pots that will be planted directly into the garden.

It tells us that, if we have successful germination, the seeds should emerge in 5-10 days, how deeply to sow them (1/2″),  how far apart to space them, and when to thin them.

Seed Packet InformationThere’s even a picture of the seedling so you don’t mistake it for a weed!  That’s a lot of information that will help us succeed in our seed planting venture. Some seeds need to be soaked for a length of time to soften their hard seed coating or nicked with a file to help them germinate. Read your package carefully for any specific instructions, and look on the inside for more information as well.

So, armed with the information on the seed packet, we know when to sow; now we need to be sure our garden beds are ready. What do we do to ensure our tiny seeds will come up? Well, the first thing to remember is that seeds need loose soil to  work their way up into the light and for their roots to take hold.

The best way to accomplish this is to loosen the soil with a garden fork. Break apart large clumps and remove any old roots, sticks, or large rocks. Add soil amendments, if necessary, like  PlantTone, cow manure, or topsoil and rake the soil to create an even, level surface to sow your seeds. Look at the directions on the seed packet to tell you how deeply to sow them. Some might only need to be pressed onto  the top of the soil where they’ll have sunlight to germinate.

If you have very fine seed, a good method to ensure even sowing is to mix the tiny seeds with sand before sowing. For larger seeds create a furrow the right depth, set the seed in the furrow at the correct spacing, and gently cover. Finally, don’t forget to label each planting area.

After planting your seeds it’s important to water them with a fine shower of water to moisten the soil. Here’s the important trick: You must keep the seed bed moistened until the seeds begin to come up. Be careful not to dislodge them with a strong spray of water and remember that on very hot days you may need to water twice.

Seedlings need to be thinned once they’re up and growing.  This is the process where you eliminate the weakest so the strongest have room to grow to their full potential. The best way to thin seedlings is to snip the ones you’re removing at soil level with your fingers or a pair of scissors. Don’t pull them as that could disturb the soil too much around those you’re allowing to stay.

All of the above information assumes you are sowing your seeds directly into a garden bed, but in some cases you might want to start them early inside. This requires either a greenhouse or grow lights or, at the very least, a very bright window and some bottom heat to aid in germination.  I remember my Dad putting pots planted with tomato seeds on top of our  warm furnace in Wisconsin. He’d move them into an unheated greenhouse after they’d started growing but while it was still too early to plant them in the ground.

As a general rule, don’t start seeds inside too early! Most annual vegetables can be sown inside roughly 5 weeks before the last average frost date.  Again, follow all the directions on your seed packet and move them outside when the soil is warmed, usually after the last average frost date.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pick out some seeds!

 

 

 

Edgeworthia

The February Garden, Dreaming Of Spring

Lenten Rose

Lenten rose

Recently on a weekend off I spent a bit of an afternoon doing some necessary chores in the garden and much of the rest simply piddling.

Daylily

Daylily emerging

 

I enjoy observing my plantings, checking buds on shrubs and trees, and scratching through the leaf litter looking for signs of life from perennials I know are there but just not awake yet.

I call these tours of the garden ‘taking a walk.’ When I say that, my husband knows I’ll be gone a while, and, if it’s in the afternoon, he usually has a glass of wine ready for me, knowing I’m not planning on doing any serious work.

Ipheion

First ipheion bloom

 

Viola

Pansy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier in the day I’d cut back the Carex ‘Blue Zinger’ that is slowly beginning to take over the corners of some raised beds where I’d planted it a few years ago.

Carex 'Everillo' in a Container

Carex ‘Everillo’ in a planter…

The Carex family is a tough group of plants, and this one has a beautiful blue hue that I admire. A couple of other carex in my garden include ‘Evergold’, a cream and green variegated selection, and ‘Everillo’, a chartreuse beauty that lights up any shade area its placed in.

 

 

 

Begonia and Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’ spilling out of a container…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger areas of mondo grass will be tackled soon, as February is the month to get all the ornamental grasses cut back to make way for fresh new growth.

Strawberry Begonia - Saxifrage

Saxifrage, strawberry begonia

Some plants hug the ground tightly, as if hanging on for dear life. The strawberry begonias are like that. I know in another month or so though that their delicate white flowers will be reaching for the sky.

Poppy and Snapdragon - Winter

Poppy and Snapdragon behind

 

 

 

This winter saw a few cold snaps, but even so, with this string of very wet days and warmer temperatures, the pansies will hopefully begin to look happier, not hunkered down and miserable but plump and full of buds and blooms.

 

I deadhead the ones that need  it and notice the poppies I’d planted last fall are taking on their characteristic spring fullness as well.

The snapdragons have green growth beginning to show below the brown tops, and there are larkspur seedlings coming up between them too. Sometimes it’s a waiting game, requiring patience to see what will be.

Georgia Blue Veronica

Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’

The tiny ipheion are beginning to bloom, the earliest of my bulbs, their flowering always coinciding with the first of the veronicas, ‘Georgia Blue’.  I make a note to combine these two for an early symphony of blue next year.

Lenten roses and Trillium

Lenten Rose and Trillium

 

 

 

Of course the Lenten roses are blooming, stalwarts of the shade garden, and I diligently pull  seedlings that come up each year too close to a patch of prized trillium.

This year I’ve added some hybrid Lenten roses in beautiful hues with blooms held proudly – they’ll stay in one spot rather than seeding themselves and cavorting through the garden like the others.

 

 

 

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

I turn away and spot the very first bloodroot bloom and immediately go to check another area I know they’ll be, but there’s no sign of them. Microclimates at work!

Sedum ‘Ogon’

Sedum ‘Ogon’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden leaved Sedum makinoi  ‘Ogon’ is filling a small trough planter and looks none the worse for the winter. It’s also in other containers and in the ground as well.

 

 

Sedum and Resurrection Fern - Kris' GardenSedum makinoi grows at the very top of the rock outcrop, happily mingling with resurrection fern. I clamber up the rocks, to check it out.

 

 

 

 

I continue on with my walk and notice the ipheion isn’t blooming quite yet at the base of a bird bath.

IpheionNative azalea buds are full of promise. I love their honeysuckle-like fragrant blooms and can almost smell them, but no, that’s the edgeworthia. It and the daphne are at their best now  and perfume the air. Next month will be the native azalea’s time.

 

 

I make my way back to the house, past the Spiraea ‘Ogon’, in full bloom with it’s tiny white flowers.  I know that froth of white will soon give way to chartreuse, airy foliage, yet another promise of spring on a gray, February day.Spiraea ‘Ogon’

By Kris Blevons

Bromeliad Kokedama

String Gardens – Create Your Own Kokedama

 

Bromeliad KokedamaKokedama:  Kokedama is a Japanese bonsai planting technique, dating back hundreds of years.  These unique hanging gardens are also called string gardens or moss balls and are incredibly easy and fun to create. Almost any plant can be used, so it’s a great project for experimenting  with different plants.

A kokedama garden is created by hanging different plants together in a cluster to create a “garden”. You might choose to group indoor houseplants in a string garden, arrange them outside, or simply have one hanging in a prominent spot.

Plumosa Fern Kokedama

 

If you don’t have a lot of space, these gardens are the perfect solution. They can even be used together seated on a beautiful tray or saucer. Kokedama are a simple, beautiful, and artistic way to display plants inside or out.

Over the years this is the method we’ve come up with for creating these simple creations. It’s a messy process but a lot of fun too.

 

 

Materials needed:

Peat Moss/ Cat Litter Mixture for Kokedama

Peat moss/clay cat litter mix

Peat moss, bonsai soil or clay cat litter (the cheapest, unscented), sphagnum moss,  green sheet moss, garden twine, fishing line, latex gloves, container filled with water – optional: cotton string.

 

Directions for soil mix and sphagnum moss:

In a large container, measure out peat moss and bonsai soil/cat litter.  Use 7 parts peat moss  to 3 parts soil/litter. Add water, mixing well, until the consistency is of soil that can be formed into a ball that will not fall apart.  Set aside. Wearing latex gloves, take a handful of sphagnum moss and moisten it in a container of water; wring out excess.

Plant prep:

Remove as much soil from the rootball of the plant as you can and set aside.

 Assembling your string garden:

  1. Take a handful of the dampened sphagnum moss and wrap it around the roots of the plant. At this point it is optional to wrap the sphagnum with cotton string to secure it. As the plant roots grow through the sphagnum, the cotton string will decompose. I don’t use the cotton string, opting to form the dampened sphagnum around the roots alone.
  2. Now it’s time to form the soil mixture around the sphagnum wrapped plant. Firm the mixture onto it, taking small amounts and pressing firmly. Try to create a round ball. Set aside.Peat Moss/Cat Litter Soil around a Portulacaria Kokedama
  3. Take a piece of green sheet moss large enough to wrap around your string garden. Set aside.
  4. Cut a long piece of garden twine or fishing line  – this will be what you wrap around the ball and secure the moss with.
  5. Wrap the moss around the ball, pulling off excess moss. Center the twine or fishing line under the ball, and begin to wrap it so the moss is secure, then tie off. Cut more if necessary. Wrap it tightly, forming a smooth ball.
  6. Cut 3 pieces of fishing line to hang your string garden and you’re done!

 

Maintaining your string garden:

Water your string garden when the ball begins to feel light, or if the plant begins to wilt. As with any other planting, you will begin to get a feel for the timing of watering. Always try to water before  your plant begins to look stressed. Soak the ball in a bowl of water until it is completely saturated. If it is hanging inside, squeeze excess water out of the moss ball before re-hanging.

 

A few plant choices for your string garden:

Inside:  ivy, pothos, bromeliad,  fittonia, pilea. Outside:  herbs, ajuga, carex, succulents.

Some observations I’ve made on string gardens I’ve planted and maintained:

The plants in a string garden do seem to “bonsai” themselves simply by the virtue of having the roots so constricted. The theory behind the moss ball and the plant becoming “bonsaid” is that as the roots begin to grow out of the moss ball the roots actually “air prune” themselves, thus keeping the plant small.Orchid Kokedama

Obviously, with the peat/bonsai soil mix, the ball will dry out, so keep an eye on it. It may work best to try plants that aren’t too demanding at first  – bromeliads, succulents, and such.

Play around with the types of string/twine wrap you use – I’ve used light weight colored wire as well for a fun “artsy” look. Another idea is to find a natural netting of some sort to wrap around the moss and tie it on with clear fishing line… there are so many creative possibilities. The bottom line? Choose a plant, and have fun!

Want to make one with us? Join us Saturday, March 16th, 2019 at 10:30am for a “make and take” workshop. Give us a call at (205) 870-7542 to reserve your spot.  Fee: $35   You’ll make your own and take it home!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

                                   

                 

 

Calla Lily

The Winter Greenhouse Is Lush With Houseplants and Flowers

Bromeliads, Anthurium and Needle Palm in the GreenhouseIf you’ve never stepped into a lush greenhouse in the middle of winter on a rainy, cold day (or any day for that matter), you’re in for a real treat.

January was a turn the greenhouse upside down month, as pretty much every last thing was moved and rearranged, including one entire area that held an abundance of pots.Benches and Fountain Vignette In the Greenhouse

 

 

 

Anyone who ever said working in a greenhouse was a walk in the park never worked with us! Hard work aside, we’re pleased with the changes and hope you like it as well.

Tacca

Tacca, supervising…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cats took part too, though Tacca was more than happy to settle into a box and watch the goings on, and they all found new spots to take naps!

 

Liam, true to his personality, likes to be center stage, right at the front door where everyone who sees him gives him a pet, and sometimes Tacca joins him there.Tacca and Liam In the Greenhouse

Of course there are beautiful houseplants of all sizes in the greenhouse, and we pay attention to them so they’re at their best when you take them home. We’re all plant junkies too and are always on the lookout for new and different offerings (One for you, one for me…).Houseplants and Pots in the Greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miniature Garden

Haley at work on the miniature garden display…

For everyone who loves tiny, miniature garden magic, Haley has taken over the display, transforming a corner of the greenhouse.

Our fairyland table now has a new backdrop and floating clouds above it. It’s a special spot for the young and the young at heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret’s miniature garden…

Margaret was inspired to make her own little garden in a teacup. She had a little gnome; now he lives under a “tree” with a bench nearby if he wants to sit a spell. It is so cute!

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps you have an interesting container you’d like to work a little miniature magic on. They’re so much fun, and we have everything you need to make it happen.Greenhouse

If you’re on social media, we are too! We were discussing the other day that the shop is the perfect spot to take social media pictures, so look for us on FaceBook – Oak Street Garden Shop and Local Market,  Pinterest, and  Instagram too.

 

 

 

 

Houseplant Monstera deliciosaThen, while you’re visiting the shop, take a selfie and tag us (We have the perfect monstera for #monsteramonday !). The enormous pot ours is planted in was rotated, the huge leaves cleaned, and lots of pictures were taken of it. It has been our shop mascot for many years now, and we think it’s worthy of Instagram fame!

Moving the Monstera deliciosa houseplant

Jamie and Allen rotating the monstera…

 

 

 

 

 

Installing the New Heater

Replacing the heater…

 

We all appreciate being warm, and well maintained and reliable heaters are the backbone of any greenhouse. One of ours finally wore out after almost 30 years of use, and while replacing it took the better part of a rainy Saturday, we’re sure the plants (and us)  will feel the difference.Houseplants in the Greenhouse

 

 

One thing is for sure, a lush greenhouse is the perfect place to be on any winter day – among houseplants and orchids, flowers, succulents, and blooming spring bulbs. Take a moment to walk through, you won’t be sorry!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

New To Houseplants? Let Us Help!

If you’re of a certain age, you well remember when houseplants were a mainstay in most houses. The home I grew up in in the 1970’s was filled with plants.

My mother tended them, each week working her way through the house with her watering can and sometimes a sponge to wipe dusty leaves. Even now, at the age of 86, she has a house filled with plants.

I remember floor-size planters and smaller pots grouped together on end tables and beautiful green and variegated leaves of varied shapes and sizes. If you looked up, macrame hangers supported pretty pots filled with hoyas, pothos, creeping fig, and ivy, the trailing vines winding their way here and there.

Today you can Google houseplants or look on Instagram and many similar images appear. Houseplants are making a comeback. Hallelujah, it’s about time!  Whether you’re a novice  with a few small pots on a windowsill in your first apartment or live in a downtown loft and need something bigger, there really is a houseplant for everyone.

Theories abound as to why houseplants are making such a comeback. Some say it’s that younger people need something to nurture. Others say it’s cyclical, and it was just time for them to reappear. Still others say it’s because the world is in such turmoil that  people are turning to their homes for comfort. Whatever the case, plants are a warm and lovely addition to any indoor space.

Plants help purify the air too. There are lists of those that researchers have deemed the most helpful for this. They include many old favorites like spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), snake plant (sanseveria), pothos (Epipremnum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ivy (Hedera), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), aloe, dracaena, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), rubber plant (ficus robusta), and nephthytis (Syngonium).

Of course this listing is just the tip of the houseplant iceberg. A few other plants pictured here include the puckered leaved peperomias, hardy Norfolk Island pines, alocasias, succulent jade plants, philodendrons, and, in the background one of our greenhouse “mascots”, a very large Monstera deliciosa, filling out its new pot. We love our plants too!

Monstera deliciosa

 

 

Some basic houseplant info: Light is important. Pay attention to how the sun moves through your home. Is your landscape outside filled with trees that block the light coming in on certain sides? Are there buildings that shade even western or south facing windows? Is your home bright and filled with windows that are unobstructed, or does it feel dark even on sunny days? Plants that don’t have enough light tend to “stretch”, leaning toward the sun and may be pale even with diligent fertilizing.

Assorted pothos

Plants that tolerate low light levels are the workhorses of the houseplant world. They’re also some of the best plants for beginners. Here are a few to try:

Pothos are virtually indestructible in low light and also prefer to be on the dry side. Don’t overwater and they’ll live happily in your home. Sanseveria thrive in bright light but also will add a lovely vertical accent in low light spots too. Philodendrons, spider plants, prayer plants, many ferns, and the indestructible ZZ plant are other good choices.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree

If you have bright, light flooded rooms with plenty of windows, the choices widen. Peace lilies prefer this  light, though they’ll tolerate lower light levels too. Ficus, including ficus lyrata, the popular fiddle leaf fig, aralia, jade plants and other succulents, croton, ponytail palm, hoyas, grape ivy and aloe vera need the brightest light you can provide.

Anthurium

If you’re not sure you have enough light for those but want to try something other than the low-light plants above, Chinese evergreens, parlor palmsanthurium, bromeliads, ivy, creeping fig, Schefflera arboricola, fittonia, or peperomia are worth trying.

Each plant will have specific water requirements, and I remember my mom checking hers each week, watering if it was needed or simply “grooming”, removing yellow or dead leaves and clipping wayward stems.

Sanseveria

 

 

The amount and frequency of water depend on the brightness of the light, how warm or cool the room is, and the type of plant. Moisture meters can be helpful to determine the moisture in a planter, especially if they’re large. With so much information at our fingertips, researching individual plants is easy; so learn as much as you can about your new purchase to give it the proper care.

Healthy plants need food, and fertilizing should be done at least every two weeks during the growing season, spring through summer, and monthly in the winter when growth slows.

Cissus, Grape Ivy

Even with the best conditions, indoor plants may be susceptible to insect damage.  These pests might include cottony-looking mealy bugs that hide in leaf axils or along stems, spider mites (Common  when humidity levels are low and, in advanced infestations, even showing webbing on plants.), scale (Usually seen as dark bumps on stems and the underside of leaves.), and aphids, soft bodied insects typically found on tender new growth.

If you tend your plants weekly you should spot insect problems early on when they’re more easily managed with a natural pyrethrum or soap spray. There are also systemic granular insecticides that can be sprinkled onto the soil. Always read the labels before using.

 

Houseplants not only look good and purify our indoor air, they add to our interior style, give us something to care for, and bring a little of the outside in. So, with the “comeback” of the houseplant, we say, “Cheers!”

Plants to use with caution around children and pets: Dieffenbachia, Easter lily (very toxic to cats), and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

A Repurposed Bird Tree For the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Pollinator Garden

Better Late Than Never GardenAs usual, the ‘Better Late than Never’ pollinator garden received very little attention through the holiday season, other than a much needed clean up that included cutting all the dead vines off the two arbors, pulling out spent summer annuals, and giving it a good raking.

It’s been a sleepy little garden since then, though the winter seedlings of larkspur and some bachelor buttons have appeared – along with more than a few weeds.  I’ve only seen a few poppies; I hope they’re just slow to come up this year.

January days at the shop are also filled with mundane tasks – cleaning, completing inventory, and, just like everyone, trying to get rid of the last of the Christmas tree needles that never seem to all quite go away.

In fact, we still had one very large Christmas tree to be disposed of after Christmas. It lay on its side in the nursery, a sad leftover from the holiday season. What a shame it was never decorated or showed off pretty wrapped gifts under its branches, I thought. Contemplating this, I eyed the tree. Then it occurred to me that I could use it in the little garden across the street.

Yes, I’d decorate it for the birds.  It would have a purpose, and I’d feel better about the whole situation. Enlisting Bert’s help to cut the top out of the 9’ tree I ended up with about a 6’ section that he put up on a tree stand for me. It was perfect!Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

The next day I strung popcorn on raffia, took apart an old scarf I never wore so the yarn could be used for nesting material, and made a list of things to buy for the tree or use from the shop.

There were pinecones that I tied yarn around to hang, smeared with peanut butter, and rolled in bird seed. How many of you did that as a kid and have long forgotten about it? It’s just as messy as I remember…thank goodness for latex gloves!

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never GarenYarn threaded through cut up pieces of orange slices added more color to the little tree, and pieces of cotton from an old wreath added fluff for their nests. I worked on it  all morning at the nursery, then when it was finished Alyson and I loaded it onto the cart and rolled it to its place of honor in the garden.

I stood there surveying the little tree standing in front of the white fencing, hoping the birds would make their way back to our bare winter garden and discover my gift to them. How nice it would be if the community would add to the little tree too, I thought.

With this in mind I walked across the street to the library and then on to the Chamber of Commerce, asking them to spread the word about the Christmas tree with a new life in the ‘Better Late Than Never’ pollinator garden and that anyone was welcome to participate.Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

I’m tickled with our repurposed tree for the birds in the little pollinator garden on the corner and hope you like it too. If you’re walking by, take a minute to admire the Christmas tree that became something even better, the symbol of a good and hopeful way to begin the new year. Just maybe you’ll see some happy feathered friends, too.

By Kris Blevons 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangements

Making Our Way Through Another Holiday Season

Christmas Trees ArrivingThere hasn’t been much time to write lately, so with this post I hope to catch you up with a bit of what’s been going on at Oak Street Garden Shop.

The day before Thanksgiving the first truckload of Fraser fir Christmas trees arrived, and all hands were on deck to unload and begin setting them up for sale, pick-up, or delivery.Mailbox Decoration

This year the trees (As usual!) were beautiful and full, and they disappeared quickly. Because Thanksgiving was early this year, many wanted to select their tree and begin decorating. We were ready and had the goods!

 

The trees, wreaths, garlands, and other outdoor decorating staples are the first things people want as they begin to ready their homes for the holidays.

It’s a predictable progression of decorating, beginning outside and then moving inside. Our greenhouse flowers and arrangements are in high demand through Holiday Arrangement in A Large Dough Bowl

the middle of the month, and we make sure to have enough of the most beautiful flowers and greenery to work with. Holiday ArrangementsAmaryllis Holiday ArrangementHoliday Orchid ArrangementHoliday Sleigh Arrangement

 

 

 

Holiday ArrangementGifts and centerpieces come last, and we enjoy creating custom pieces for people, either with our containers or theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday ArrangementThis post shows some of our work, but if you’re in the area and would like to see what we’re up to, stop in, as our work area is right up front.Amaryllis Holiday Arrangement

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Azalea Topiary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Cypress Topiaries Dressed For the Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaryllis Gift Arrangement

 

 

 

 

We’ll be taking some time off after the Christmas holiday and hope you’re able to do the same. If you’re signed up for our weekly emails on this website, they’ll be monthly January – March and will resume each week beginning  April, 2019. Holiday Hours: Dec. 23-27 Closed;  Dec. 28-29 Open;  Dec. 30 Closed;  Dec 31 Open; Jan 1, 2019  Closed

By Kris Blevons

Fall Planting Tips To Creating A Great Spring Garden

Yellow snapdragons and white foxglove…

Fall Planting Tips To Create A Great Spring Garden:

  • Amend your soil. You might think since you followed our advice and added soil conditioner, PlantTone, cow manure or compost  to your beds last spring you’re done. Not so fast! High temperatures break down soil amendments quickly, and plants take up nutrients. Continue adding to your soil every season. Healthy, loose soils create healthy plants.  (Instead of putting fallen leaves to the curb, start a compost pile with them, or run over them with your lawn mower and throw them in your beds. They’ll decompose and add to your soil’s structure and health.)

 

  • After you get your plants home, be sure to keep them watered, especially if you can’t plant them right away. We water small transplants in 4″ pots and cell packs at least once a day, especially if it’s hot and sunny. Of course, less water is required in cloudy, cool conditions. Right before you plant them, be sure they’re moist.

 

  • Early in the season while the soil is still warm, you can still plant with Osmocote. However, later in the winter months, use Calcium Nitrate to feed your plants, especially if the foliage of your pansies turns a reddish color. Remember, you’re planting for spring color, though on warm days through the winter you should also have some blooms.

 

  • Water your bed thoroughly after planting, and keep it watered while your transplants are getting their feet settled in their new home. Take care not to overwater, though, especially as the temperatures cool down going into the winter months.

    Mid-December. Mulched and growing…

 

  • Mulch your beds with shredded mulch or pine straw  to keep soil temperature around the roots as warm as possible.

 

  • Deadhead your pansies and violas! I can’t stress enough how important this is. A pansy that you leave a dead bloom on will form a seed there, instead of putting that energy into more flowers. Make a practice to walk through your garden at least once a week, taking a good look at your plants and deadheading  faded blooms. If you’ve missed some, you’ll see the seed pod beginning to form. Pinch any and all off! This will go a long way toward keeping your pansies happy!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fall Inspiration With Pumpkins And Gourds As A New Season Begins

Late Summer Kris' GardenIt sure hasn’t felt like fall, but sooner or later the temperatures will begin to drop, the days will become shorter, and summer’s heat will finally give way to perfect days when we all want to spend as much time outside as we can.

That’s when we look at each other and say, “We are so lucky to work outside!” We’ve been looking forward to this, and with the arrival of pumpkins, gourds, and fall decorating staples, we are willing the temperatures to fall.Hanging Pumpkin/Gourd Garden

 

The hanging “platforms” shown here were used to create a pumpkin/gourd garden in the air.

Hanging Pumpkin Gourd Garden

 

 

 

 

We envision them as an elevated centerpiece for a party, hanging on a screened-in or covered porch area, or simply set in the perfect place to spotlight the abundance of the season.Pumpkins and Gourds

There are so many varied sizes, shapes and textures of gourds and pumpkins  that can be used alone or with plants for centerpieces and gifts.Pie PumpkinsPeanut PumpkinsGourdsMini White PumpkinsPumpkinsLunch Lady Gourds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply gather those you like, being sure to get enough of a selection. With so many to choose from, it’s more than likely you’ll gather more than you need!

Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangements

 

 

We use all manner of organic materials to complement them and have a customer who brings us beautiful fallen acorns to use. We add lichen, mosses, branches, burlap, and ribbon too, depending on the container.

Our succulent topped pumpkins have made a return for the season as well. If you’re in the area and would like one, give us a call!

 

 

 

Stacking pumpkins is a popular way to display them in front of your house.Pumpkin Stack

P:umpkin Stack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply find two or three that are different colors (or the same!), stack them as is or add another element like moss between them, and, voila,  you have a beautiful entrance for the season.Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

 

 

 

We are just beginning to work with the small gourds that can be grouped together in containers for tablescapes, on bedside tables in guest rooms, or on coffee tables. Make a nest of angelvine or moss and position them however you like them.Gourd/Pumpkin Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

Our pumpkin supplier comes weekly with the best assortments hand picked for us. We hope you’ll stop in if you’re in the area!

By Kris Blevons

 

Gardening…One Step at a Time…One Plant at a Time…

Kris' Sunny Border - Planters InterspersedAre you frustrated with your gardening efforts…or lack thereof? Recently a friend and I were discussing work issues we encounter in our respective jobs when this subject came up. “Kris, I see what other people are doing in their gardens, and I look at mine and get so frustrated. Then I waste a bunch of time on Facebook and feel even worse.”

I told her quite quickly that, as smart as she was, she shouldn’t be so self-defeating. “Take one step at a time , one plant at a time,”, I said. I should have added that there is no “right” way to create a garden. “Garden design” is such an intimidating notion for many. Who is the arbiter of good garden design anyway?  It’s your garden; do with it what you like and don’t be afraid of the garden police!Kris' Woodland Garden

Of course, you want to do your homework if you’re planning to plant a tree or a lot of shrubs. No one should put a tree that will eventually grow  50′ tall three feet from their house or sun loving shrubs in the shade. Even if you’re a free gardening spirit, certain things must be thought out!

But choosing to create a path through your garden, deciding whether you’d like a bird bath to attract more feathered friends,  contemplating where to put a piece of garden art you bought on a whim..,This is all part of creating your own garden space that reflects your personality.

A Path Through the Garden...It’s so easy to become paralyzed with indecision before you take a first step, but, once that hurdle is jumped, the next one is easier. Think of it as gardening building blocks. Once you have the path, where does it lead and what can you discover at the end? Sometimes the hardest choices, once made, lead to more discovery.Olive Jar in the Garden...

For others, it’s not so much indecision as lack of time or interest. New parents have young children to take care of; others are empty nesters and may be traveling and away from any garden activities for long stretches of time. For them, the ready-made landscape of a garden home or condo is just right for where they are in their lives.

Art in the Garden - BuddhaBut for so many, like my friend, creating a beautiful outdoor home environment is a somewhat anxious endeavor that eventually simply  immobilizes them. If you’re feeling this way, always remember it only takes one step, one plant, then the next step…small steps at a time. Learn what your plants need and provide that as best you can. Once you’ve been successful at one thing, try another. And you’ll find that, just like those building blocks, eventually something amazing will be your  reward.

Beautiful Lightweight Fountains Perfect For Your Garden, Patio, and Landscape – Come Take A Look!

Lightweight Stone FountainsThe first shipment of these beautiful fountains sold quickly even though we’d increased our order from the year before.

Usually I let these things go, not wanting to push my luck, but a couple of people asked if we could get more of them, so I wrote up an even bigger order and sent it in.

Light Weight Stone Fountain

In a customer’s Florida garden…

 

Unfortunately for us, they must be popular all over the country because there was a back-up in production and they weren’t scheduled to be shipped until the end of July, well past the busiest part of our season.

Their popularity is well deserved. The stone color is so realistic most people who saw the first grouping  asked how heavy they were. And, while the water adds weight,they are not difficult to move when empty. The LED light can be used for a very nice effect both day and night, and the sound is pleasant too.

The new shipment arrived this week. Perhaps one might be just right for a special anniversary or birthday gift? At any rate, we’re happy to have them in stock to beautify the greenhouse and nursery too. If you’re in the market for a pretty fountain, stop in and take a look!

 

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

The Gardening Tool That Is Always With You

Front Door Container Garden

May 10th

Do you forget each year exactly what you planted the year before or have trouble keeping track of how many plants you used in a planter or bed?

There’s an easy answer, and it’s probably in your pocket or purse right now. Our phone cameras are a great gardening tool.

I use mine to take pictures of new container plantings and garden beds and continue taking pictures through the season to track the progress of their growth.

Front Door Container Gardens

May 24th

 

 

The pictures here are one example. These planters are on a busy street and are seen from some distance, so they need to grow large. I took pictures the day they were planted and a couple of times after to show the progression of their growth.

July 5th Front Door Container Garden

July 5th

 

 

 

 

Taking pictures as a reference is helpful if you’re asking for help choosing plants for your garden too.  Simply take your pictures into the garden shop the next year and let them  see what you did the year previous. Then you can recreate all or part of it – or none of it if it didn’t do well for you. It’s really a very helpful tool!

Front Door Container Gardens

July 30th

These containers are tall and narrow, and they’re planted intensively, so consistent watering is a must. The first pictures were taken at the beginning of May and the final shots are at the very end of July.

After 3 full months they’re still looking great, and with some clipping to cut back the coleus they should continue well into September.

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

July 30th

 

 

 

This is also an example of choosing the right plants for the person. She’s a busy mom who doesn’t want to fuss over the pots and is lucky enough to have her mom help water when she’s out of town.

I chose the lime green coleus and big leaf begonias because I knew they’d grow large and accented them with the variegated leaves of cuban oregano and caladiums, then tucked in the airy white blooming euphorbia. The potato vine is another toughie that contributed more of the chartreuse green color to show up from a distance.

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

July 30th

If you have a difficult time keeping track of names of plants, using the Notes feature of your I-Phone can help. As a matter of fact, I have an entire list of most of the plants in my garden in my phone. Believe me, I’ve always depended on pen and paper jotting down info here and there,  but more times than not I misplaced them. Now I keep notes on my phone and they don’t get lost!

By Kris Blevons

Nursery - Late June 2018 Japanese Painted Ferns

Snapshots of the Nursery In June…It’s Not Too Late For Flowers!

One cloudy morning right before a deluge of rain, the light was finally right to take a few pictures of the nursery. Usually the light is too bright, or we’re busy unloading trucks, helping customers, filling orders, and generally running around.Nursery Late June 2018

I’m certain the shots here would be better with a great camera (These are IPhone pictures.), but this gives you an idea of the amount of material still available, fresh plants from local growers ready to take on the midsummer heat.

 

 

Nursery Late June 2018 - Vinca

Vinca

Some of the best annuals for summer planting and filling in tough spots are vinca. They come in a range of colors and once established are extremely drought tolerant. Trailing varieties are also available.

Upright pentas are another workhorse of the summer and are butterfly favorites too. This is another that hybridizers have improved upon each year, and one that also has a trailing version, perfect for sunny containers.

Nursery Late June 2018 - Pentas

Pentas and Angelonia

 

 

 

Nursery - Late June 2018 Caladiums

Caladiums

 

 

 

 

We still have a selection of caladiums too, and the majority of them will tolerate sun as well as brighten shady spots in the garden. If you’ve ever looked at your garden beds and seen nothing but little leaves and a few blooms, caladiums might be just the thing to add that interesting and colorful foliage element to your design.

'Canary Wing' Begonia

‘Canary Wing’ begonia

 

 

This year there’s a new begonia called ‘Canary Wing’ that’s been fun to play with in mixed containers, but it would also be stunning as a single specimen in a pot or massed in a shady garden bed. The red blooms on this large begonia contrast beautifully with the bright yellow leaves.

 

 

 

Angelonia and Canary Begonias in Nursery Late June 2018

Angelonia and ‘Canary Wing’ begonias

As you walk through the nursery, you’ll see a myriad of other choices including angelonia, a great bedding plant for sun. It’s best used in masses, and the spiky blooms add visual contrast when used with other blooming plants like lantana and vinca in sunny spots.

Nursery Late June 2018 - Silver dichondra

‘Silver Falls’ dichondra

 

 

 

 

Silver dichondra adds its silvery sheen to plantings, cascading down the side of pots, over walls and between plantings. It’s a tough plant and drought tolerant too.

 

 

 

 

Nursery - Late June 2018 - Lantana

Lantana

So, if you simply need a few fill-in flowers or have a larger area that still needs planting, we have plenty of healthy and beautiful choices for your garden.  And, while you’re here, take a browse through the perennials and herbs and stroll through the greenhouse as well!

 

Garden Alert! Summer To-Do List

Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne'

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’

It’s almost July in Birmingham, time for weekends at the lake and trips to the beach or mountains (and aren’t we lucky to be so close to both?)  So I promise not to make you work too hard in the garden… but remember, a little work now will mean less later – and a prettier garden too!

So, here are a few things to be thinking about – and you don’t even  have to do them all at once! Simply walk through your garden at least every week and try to do at least a couple of the following tasks each time:

Pull weeds that may be coming up and dispose of them. Never put weeds on your compost pile unless you want more! Pulling weeds a bit at a time is so much easier than ignoring them and doing a marathon weed pull later. Trust me on this; I’ve been there. Did you see the post on mulberry weed? It’s one you need to keep out of your garden!

 'Becky' daisies

‘Becky’ daisies

Deadhead (cut off dead “heads” of blooms) any flowers that have passed their prime.

 

Along the same vein as deadheading is cutting back. Planters benefit greatly from being cut back when they are geting “out of control” in size  (usually around this time of year if you planted them in the early spring).  It’s a difficult thing to do for folks, but try it. Cut back those weedy looking zinnias. That coleus that’s gotten enormous? Cut it back! Those trailing plants that are looking a little worse for wear? Cut them back by at least half.

There, you did it! Now give those plants a bit of fertilizer, keep them watered, and then  stand back while they flush back out. You can thank me later!

Deadheading a phlox bloom...

Deadheading a phlox bloom…

 

Perennials in your garden will also appreciate a little attention here and there. When your phlox has pretty much bloomed out, trim the spent flower head off.  It will usually rebloom a second time. Once they’re completely done blooming, cut them back by half to neaten things up a bit. Rudbeckias, daisies and coneflowers will also continue to bloom longer if you pay attention and deadhead them just as you do your annuals.

 

Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower

Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower

 

Balloon flower is one perennial that you should never cut back while it’s blooming or you’ll lose out on a lot of flowers. Simply pinch off old blooms – this is best done daily. Confused about annuals and perennials? Refresh yourself by reading this post on them.

 

 

Do you see yellowing leaves on perennials or annuals? It only takes a few minute to “groom” a plant  – simply remove the yellow leaves; after all, they’re not going to turn green again! Daylilys definitely look better if you pay attention to this after you’ve cut back the faded bloom stem. You can even cut their  foliage back by half to neaten the plant up after it’s bloom period is completely over.

midsummer...perennials and annual share this bed.

midsummer…perennials and annual share this bed.

Some late blooming perennials should be getting taller…inserting wide border supports keep them in line (They are one of my favorite support systems.).  Take a look HERE  if you missed the post on late blooming perennials and what to do with them early in the season. The Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ shown in the picture at the beginning of this post  is an example of a perennial I cut back in the spring to control it’s height and bloom time. They are in full bloom around town now.

See the mulch?

See the mulch?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need to refresh mulch in beds, now is a good time to get this necessary task done. Not the most fun job, but it keeps the soil temperatures at the root zone of plants at an even temperature – especially important in our hot climate! Mulch conserves moisture, smothers weeds, and eventually will break down, contributing  to the health of the soil too. Pretty good stuff all the way around.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now you can pour yourself a glass of wine, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your beautiful, cared for landscape!

By Kris Blevons