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I am a 'down to earth' gardener with perpetually dirty fingernails. I own a whole wardrobe of well worn and comfortable gardening duds and I am a sucker for gardening gadgets galore! I love to blog about the gardening world, it's fads and trends and have personally killed most plants at least once. I am a gardening designer by profession but there is no rhyme or reason to my own garden. If I want a plant, I buy and stick it somewhere just because I 'need' it!
Gardening is my passion and I find it leads you to other interests, such as cooking, entertaining, decorating, and flower arranging. So, stay tuned!
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Maybe it is just me. Since I had an order for 40 of my miniature gardens as gifts at the local Johns Hopkins for the staff of one of the hospitals, I am going crazy with Christmas decorating in miniature. Instead of dreaming about sugarplums, I’m dreaming of miniature gardens in an endless line that I am decorating! I love making these small creations that people can enjoy for months to come.
For my popular posts on making miniature gardens, go to Miniature Gardens-Whimisical Creations, Fairy Gardens, and Fairytale Christmas.
It merely takes a small glass terrarium container, bonsai pot, or low terra cotta container and you can make your own. For materials, I use small Christmas balls, reindeer moss, miniatures, sheet moss, and small potted plants from a local nursery. I use either woodland plants for a moist container or succulents for a drier one.
For details on making gnome homes in a cut away pot, go to Gnome Home. You need to cut a chunk out of a terra cotta pot to create this and I give you instructions on how to cut the pot.
All of the plants will get much larger and can be kept in bounds for at least a year. Transplanting and replanting would be in order when the plants grow too large for the container and you could keep the planter going for several years or more.
Step By Step
Place potting soil in container with drainage: Alternatively, if you have a glass type terrarium, place gravel in bottom with some horticultural charcoal ( few tablespoons, available at garden centers)
Plant a variety of plants with different textures and colors, starting with the largest ones first; I used from 3 to 5 plants for each small garden
If a woodland garden, I like to place moss in between the plants to hide soil; If a succulent garden, place small gravel on surface
Place any pathways, ornaments, reindeer moss, or gnomes at the very end; I like to use colored glass chunks for added color
Water thoroughly until the soil is saturated and place in a filtered sun spot for woodland scenes and full sun for succulent ones
For care, I stick my finger down into the soil to see if it is moist or not; For succulent gardens in the winter water every few weeks, and for woodland ones, water about once a week, depending on how warm and dry your house is
A sea of crimson poppies has sprung up in a 16 acre barren dry moat surrounding the Tower of London. Starting on July 17, a total of 888, 246 hand crafted ceramic poppies, each one representing a British military death in WWI, have been individually placed in the moat with the final one being placed today, November 11, culminating with a ceremony and a two minute silence to honor the dead.
The art installation is called “Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red” and is literally a sea of blood-red tide of poppies. Each poppy represents an individual who did not grow old.
An army of volunteers will dismantle the exhibit, checking, cleaning and packing each poppy to be shipped to new owners. Each poppy was sold for 25 pounds or about $40 to benefit the six armed forces charities. More than five million visitors trekked to the Tower of London to view this incredible art installation. Photos courtesy of Amy Sparwasser.
This 3 minute Youtube video shows the scope of the installation:
The autumn color palette is astounding here in the mid-Atlantic for weeks in October and November. Magenta, orange, scarlet, persimmon yellow, and purple tones are well represented. Here are some of my favorite plants to enjoy and plant for their beautiful displays in the fall.
Amsonia, Fall Perennial
The frostier it gets, the colors display better and more intensified hues. For plantings, if you plant the perennial amsonia, you will have great fall color and a perfect backdrop for the fall show of colors.
Turing a flaming golden color when the nights turn chilly, amsonia is the perennial for fall. I ignore amsonia through the summer adorned with it’s feathery green foliage and starry blue flowers, suddenly noticing it in the fall, admiring the perfect backdrop effect to set off autumn colors.
Almost over night, the feathery green foliage turns a beautiful golden-yellow, which becomes a perfect foil for fall flowers, notably Dahlias and other large-leaved accent plants like Castor Oil Bean. The fine foliage of amsonia is a perfect companion for coarser leaved plants.
Dahlias, Fall Flower
Dahlias, another overlooked plant in the early summer comes into its own in the late summer and fall, lighting up the garden when the nights turn cool. Sporting large bold foliage, Elephant Ears becomes a perfect backdrop for this beautiful bloom. Dahlias bloom for weeks and weeks starting in the late summer, continuing into November with painterly splashes of bright color.
Maples, The Best Fall Tree
If you plant a maple, you will have fall color guaranteed! There are few maples that don’t put on a colorful fall display. It doesn’t matter if it is a red maple, Japanese maple, or a sugar maple, you are in for weeks of brilliant colors.
Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and more Pumpkins !
You might have noticed a theme of pumpkins with the last few posts, like Gourdzillas, Decorating Pumpkins With Succulents, and Pumpkin Eye Candy, and I thought I was done with the whole pumpkin theme for the season. But in my travels recently, I noticed Pumpkin On a Stick, or Solanum integrifolium and am putting this on my list of “must grows” for next year.
Ornamental or Food?
Falling in the eggplant family, the little pumpkins are used in stir-fried Asian dishes. But I just want to grow this cute ornamental jack-o-lantern for jazzing up my Thansgiving table and fall flower arrangements.
Bearing thorns, fuzzy leaves, and a four feet height, the plant towers over other eggplants in the garden, and the plant looks remarkably like Bed of Nails or Solanum quitoense, profiled in Plant Geek Alert.
Around for over 125 years which makes it an official heirloom vegetable, it has also been called Pumpkin Tree and Pumpkin Bush. Planted directly in full sun in your garden, the plant needs steady moisture and benefits from regular fertilizing as it grows large fast. Pretty soon, the insignificant blooms appear, followed by pale green nubby fruit that turn into their final pumpkin ribbed shape a few weeks later.
In late summer, the fruit changes to a scarlet color and when frosts start to hit, the eggplants turn their final rich orange color. You can harvest up to a dozen pumpkins on one plant. Use in cooking or arrangements!
Growing titanic orbs or gourds is a competitive cut throat sport. As recently as 16 years ago, the heaviest (official) pumpkin weighed a mere 403 pounds. Now in 2014 the one ton mark has been surpassed! That is a lot of pumpkin, not to mention, how do you move one that size?? With a fork lift and pickup truck at least, so this is not something that any home grower can do. Champion pumpkin growers have their own methods and secrets that they guard closely in hopes of breaking the record books one more time.
Start Right-Good Genetics!
The most important step in growing a champion is getting the right seeds and these aren’t available at any nursery. Dedicated and obsessed Growers have been refining the genetic makeup potential and integrity of these for many years, and have developed more superior strains than are available at the local nursery on their seed packet displays.
Obtaining the proper seeds is truly the “secret” to growing huge pumpkins and are available at specialty companies and growers, and on EBay.
Work, Work, and More Work to Produce a Champion
Ground preparation with lots of organic material tilled under begins in the fall. A minimum of 400 square feet in full sun is required and forget about taking a vacation while the pumpkins is growing, because the plant requires constant tending. Among the tasks confronting a serious grower is daily pruning, removing excess pumpkins, pollinating, rotating the gourd, watering, fertilizing, setting up a temporary cold frame over tender plants, soaking and filing the seeds for better germination, applying fungicides and pesticides, and the list goes on and on.
Splitsville, Oh No!
The pumpkin can gain 20 to 40 pounds a day during high summer! And that puts stress on the stem and the biggest calamity of all, splits! Once a fissure or rupture has occurred, the grower might as well hang it up and hope that he has another vine to fall back on. Literally, the grower devotes a whole year of his/her life to this endeavor and one day if the pumpkin develops a fatal split, he has to wait until next year to start all over again.
You can sink a lot of money into this highly competitive endeavor – from foliar nutrients, specialized sprinklers, beneficial soil inoculants, miniature cold frames, and other tools to help you grow that record breaker. And once you have a mammoth sitting in your garden, then you have to harvest it and it isn’t just a matter of cutting the stem and bringing the pumpkin into the house. There is a company that markets giant pumpkin lifting rings or slings for “lifting the gold” that can run up to $400! This is not a cheap hobby!
Final Reward-Winning a Blue Ribbon
But if you are successful at fighting back the weeds, insects, and splits that can attack at any point, you can enter at one of the many pumpkin contests around the country and take home a prize of thousands of dollars. Considering the many problems and uncertainties that can strike without warning (think hail storm!), I think I will settle for carving pumpkins!