Art of the Seed

Botanical Illustration is Alive and Well

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At this time of year, I actually have time to look through the seed catalogs that I have stacked up. I automatically throw away any miscellaneous catalogs that come to my mailbox, but still keep the seed catalogs. I much prefer to order seeds from a print catalog than on-line. The tactile experience of leafing through the beautiful pages of a seed catalog is not the same as ordering on the computer. I get to see what is featured brand new in the front of the catalog, and visit old friends in the later pages. And some of the art work that is done with botanical illustrations is outstanding and should be framed!

Seed Art

Seed Art

Botanical illustration fortunately is not a lost art.  It is still being pursued today and you can see great examples at Renee’s GardensHudson Valley Seed Library, and Botanical Interests.

Rack of Renees Seeds

Rack of Renees Seeds

Renee’s Garden Seeds

According to Renee’s Garden Seeds website, her seed line is a “personal selection of new, exciting and unusual seed choices of time-tested heirlooms, certified organic seeds, the best international hybrids and fine open-pollinated varieties”. Her seed packets are water color illustrated with personally written descriptions, growing tips, planting charts, harvesting information, and cooking ideas. It is a company run by gardeners, for gardeners. Organic for over 25 years, Renee Shepherd has several cookbooks filled with garden fresh vegetable and herb recipes to use up all those fresh veggies.

Tomato seed packet

Tomato seed packet

Hudson Valley Seed Library

Hudson Valley Seed Library commissions artwork for their pack covers. Over 300 artists applied to be pack cover artists last year, and 24 new varieties were added to their collection of art packs with heirloom seeds. Their blog claims that the seeds are art packs – heirloom seeds and contemporary art, all in one pack. You can plant the seeds, then frame the art!

Seed Art from Hudson Valley Seed Library

Seed Art from Hudson Valley Seed Library

Botanical Interests

Starting out in their spare bedroom in 1995, Curtis and Judy wanted to make sure that gardeners were getting the information they needed to be successful from their seed packets.  As a result, they have created a unique seed packet that is beautiful as well as informative.

Botanical Interests seed packet

Botanical Interests seed packet

Botanical Interest‘s seed packets are like mini-encyclopedias, full of information to help out the inexperienced as well as the experienced gardener. I love their collections, like the “Baby Vegetables”, or the “Bee Happy” collection. The colors and detail on all their seed packets are extraordinary.

The inside of a Botanical Interests seed packet contains lots of useful information

The inside of a Botanical Interests seed packet contains lots of useful information

Kale is beautifully illustrated

Kale is beautifully illustrated

Early Seed Growers

Commercial growers of seeds and nursery plants played an important role in the development of horticulture in America. Many early seed growers and nursery owners were horticultural experimenters and botanical enthusiasts, and were largely responsible for the introduction and spread of new garden species in the United States, and the development and popularization of new plant varieties for the American garden.

2013 Landreth Seed Catalog is a piece of art!

2013 Landreth Seed Catalog is a piece of art!

Landreth Seeds

Landreth Seeds is one of those early companies and the past Landreth seed catalogs are chock full of original vintage seed packet illustrations that are extraordinary. Complete descriptions are included on growing the plants. Landreth’s seed catalog carries only heirloom varieties, and it also contains full color photographs of all the flower and vegetable varieties in the centerfold.

Vintage vegetable seed packets from Landreth Seed

Vintage vegetable seed packets from Landreth Seed

Various heirloom varieties of tomatoes from Landreth Seeds

Various heirloom varieties of tomatoes from Landreth Seeds

The Landreth Seed Company is the fifth oldest corporation in American today. The company claims to have sold seeds to every president from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The founding fathers were very interested in gardening and landscaping which is not very well-known today.  Can you imagine one of our current presidents espousing a love of horticulture? It was radical when First Lady Michelle Obama put in the White House Garden! See my post American Grown-the Story of the White House Kitchen Garden.  But in reality, the history of the United States has a rich agricultural and horticultural heritage.

Vintage flower seed packets at Landreth Seed

Vintage flower seed packets at Landreth Seed

William D. Burt Seed

Another seed company, the William D. Burt Seed Company in New York, which is no longer in business, has an interesting story. A few years ago when the William D. Burt Seed Company in Dalton, New York was torn down, the bulldozer that was clearing away the debris accidentally uncovered a hidden trap door that led to a forgotten cellar. In the cellar were boxes covered with wax full of unused seed packets from 1917. The seed packets retained their original vivid colors because they were preserved from light and air. The art work on the seed packets was hand lithographed by artists. In recent years, seed packets from the 20th century have been recognized as an art form and are collected. Historically, many of these flower and vegetable varieties are extinct today. These packets are sold today as framed works of art.

WD Burt Old Home Collection small

WD Burt Chinese Celery Cabbage Poster small

Vintage Seed Packets

Some of the old seed packets show a sense of humor!

Some other favorites:

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Northwest Flower & Garden Highlights

Balmy weather at the Bloedel Reserve brought out all the spring flowers

Balmy weather at the Bloedel Reserve brought out all the spring flowers

Arriving in Seattle last week for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show was like traveling to the tropics from Siberia. A cold snap in the mid-Atlantic had its icy hold on the region and when I landed in Seattle, I shed all my gloves, jackets and scarves with relief and basked in mid-60’s weather. Flowers were in full bloom outside and native Seattleites assured me that the warmth was unusual weather this early in the season.

Camellias were in full bloom in Seattle

Camellias were in full bloom in Seattle

Camellias and Hellebores were in bloom everywhere.

I had never been to the Northwest Flower  & Garden show but was doing two presentations there and was very impressed with the size and scale of the show. A heart (It was Valentines weekend) of thousands of succulents towered over the front entrance to the show.

Heart of succulents

Heart of succulents

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show  floor was acres of blooming flowers, vendors, and gardening ideas that I spent two full days exploring.

Steam Punk Garden

Steam Punk Garden

The Steam Punk Garden and the Bee Friendly Garden were two of my favorite displays.

Bee Friendly Garden

Bee Friendly Garden

After doing my speaking duty, I was free to explore.

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The show had lots of interesting vendors and it never got too crowded like the Philadelphia flower show where you are always bumping into people trying to get a closer look.

I need this car! Subaru, one of the show sponsors had this gardening dream car on display

I need this car! Subaru, one of the show sponsors had this gardening dream car on display

 Vendors

For vendors, I was expecting the usual mix of home improvement companies and jewelry and scarf vendors. But I was proved wrong with the quality and selection of down to earth garden vendors. A gardener could get into real trouble here!

I could have ordered one of these custom built garden sheds for a mere $7000

I could have ordered one of these custom built garden sheds for a mere $7000

I was especially interested in a Cedar Cold Frame kit to extend my growing season. See them at http://www.cedarcoldframes.com/ , but the kit was too bulky to take on a plane. I will probably order one for the spring. The cold frames were well made and they even had one that was table height so you didn’t have to bend over. Also Charley’s Greenhouses had an awesome display and I am seriously considering buying one. I need the triple wall, cedar frame “Northern Heritage” one. I will put this on my Christmas list!

A Charley's greenhouse with triple wall insulation

A Charley’s greenhouse with triple wall insulation

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The vintage gardening section was incredible. I have never seen vintage vendors at a gardening show before. See my post at Vintage Gardening  to see the different kinds of products you could buy. I went through the area three times! How about repurposing an old sink into a potting bench? Or making a hanging container out of an old funnel?

A repurposed funnel

A repurposed funnel

A "vintage" sink becomes a potting bench

A “vintage” sink becomes a potting bench

Chihuly glass is everywhere in Seattle gardens because Dale Chihuly was born in Washington State. We went to the Chihuly gardens and museum in downtown Seattle and I will do a post on that garden later as it was so incredible. But you could buy your very own Chihuly knock off in the market place for quite a bit less than the real thing.

You could buy your own Chihuly glass knock offs at the market place

You could buy your own Chihuly glass knock offs at the market place

 The flowers of course were stunning with the orchid display especially beautiful. There was a meadow of orchids presented by the Northwest Orchid Society.

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Gardening in February is still going on here in the mid-Atlantic even though we have an arctic blast! For  some of my winter tips on the best way to start seeds, go to Hartley Botanic’s gardening calendar.

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Vintage Gardening

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Recently I visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and was blown away by all the vendors with new and old garden equipment.

Vintage flower arranging "frogs"

Vintage flower arranging “frogs”

So many vendors, that I spent two days wandering the aisles trying to take it all in. My favorite part though was the “vintage gardening” section.

Vintage items creating a new bird house

Vintage items creating a new bird house

And if you are confused between the designation “vintage” and “antique” like I was, because I just think of these items as being “old”, then wonder no longer. Vintage defines items as at least 50 years old but no older than 100. Antique is older than 100 years old.

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 I had no idea that gardening items were a hot ticket when they became over 50 years old. I think I have lots of these relics sitting on my shelves at home and I still use them!

An old fire truck toy used as a cooler for drinks

An old fire truck toy used as a cooler for drinks

Flower “frogs” are made of lead, pottery, glass, or bronze and sit at the bottom of a bowl or a vase to hold even the trickiest flower arrangements firmly in place. These can often be found at yard sales, garage sales, or flea markets for a song. But they are gaining popularity as a “collectable”.

Collectable "frogs" are sought after and can be made of wire, metal, or plastic

Collectable “frogs” are sought after and can be made of wire, metal, glass, or plastic

A "vintage" sink becomes a potting bench

A “vintage” sink becomes a potting bench

Also old items can be repurposed into “vintage” gardening stuff. Such as the sink above made into a potting bench or old items made into a new bird house.

Potting bench made out of vintage items

Potting bench made out of vintage items

Bird house made out of vintage items

Bird house made out of vintage items

Old gardening tools

Old gardening tools

I found this fascinating web site of old and antique gardening tools that is a reference for looking up old tools at http://www.oldgardentools.co.uk. If you want to see some really old gardening tools or clothing, check this web site out.

An old trailer that displays vintage gardening equipment at the Northwest Flower and Gardening Show

An old trailer that displays vintage gardening equipment at the Northwest Flower and Gardening Show

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Old watering cans used as decorations

Old watering cans used as decorations

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New Patio-Old House

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Old houses are so picturesque and have lots of charm inside, but outside can be a different story. I got a call for a job for an early 1800’s house that had been decorated to the nines inside but lacked the same appeal on the outside.

Stone Work

There were several obstacles-one was the imposing curved brick wall around the sun room with the steep drop down to the lower level (lower blue arrow). The other was the very small exit from the brick surround to the grassy area, only 2 1/2 feet wide (upper blue arrow).

Adding an upper patio and cutting out a new wider entrance

Adding an upper patio and cutting out a new wider entrance

The first order of business was to add a mortared blue stone patio behind the mud room (small off-set room), replacing the old brick pavers next to the house. Adding six or seven large four to five feet wide guillotined steps curving down the slope took care of the steep drop from the patio.

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We filled in the old narrow opening with new brick and removed old brick to create a wider five foot wide opening making for easier access. At the bottom of the steps, large steppers curved around the imposing brick wall.

Large steppers curve around brick wall

Large steppers curve around brick wall

A small water feature was installed on the upper patio.

Placing the base of the water feature

Placing the base of the water feature

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Right outside the mudroom door we built a small entrance patio to the larger patio. A sitting wall encircled the larger patio to give additional seating room. Lighting was installed around the patio and down the steps.

Small entrance patio

Small entrance patio

Sitting wall

Sitting wall

Plantings

The lighting was partial shade and I didn’t have to worry with deer as the house was surrounded by farm fields that interested the deer more. Between the wall and the steps, I planted Serbian Cypress, Microbiota decussata, an evergreen ground cover that stays low to the ground and is quite beautiful. It looks like juniper but has a softer texture and doesn’t have the disease problems that junipers can get.

Serbian Cypress is next to the brick wall

Serbian Cypress is next to the brick wall

 

Serbian Cypress

Serbian Cypress

On the right side of the steps, I planted pink drift roses which bloom all summer long and stay low and mound like. The gold perennial between the steps is ‘Angelina’ Sedum.

Base of the steps plantings

Base of the steps plantings

Around the base of the steps, I planted ‘Guacamole’ Hosta, ‘Patriot’ Hosta, variegated ‘Solomans Seal’, Japanese Painted Fern, and ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea for some height.

Frances Williams Hosta

Frances Williams Hosta

Down on the existing patio there was a foot wide strip of soil that needed plantings and I chose ‘Frances Williams’ Hosta for its spectacular size and leaf markings.

Japanese Painted Fern 'Ghost'

Japanese Painted Fern ‘Ghost’

A tricolor beech brightens up the border next to the house

A tricolor beech brightens up the border next to the house

Additional plantings were added around the house to spruce it up when the rear patio and plantings were completed. A tri-color Beech gives the shady side planting bed a pop of color and and vertical element.

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Kousa Dogwood in full bloom set in the lawn

Kousa Dogwood in full bloom set in the lawn

 

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Making of a Queen

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Queen bee in her bee cage with attendants, plugged with a sugar cube

Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby, but by far the creation of a queen bee is the most interesting aspect. You can buy a mated queen from a commercial operation that produces queens –  mating them either naturally or inseminating them- or your hive will take things into their own “claws” and make their own.  The cage above that I ordered and came in the mail includes a mated queen with her attendants, who feed and take care of her until she is introduced into a hive and starts laying her eggs.

Antique bee cages

Antique bee cages

A mated queen is sent in the mail and once you introduce her into the hive via a cage, the bees should accept her after getting used to the scent of her pheromones. She then eats through a sugar plug in the queen cage and joins her worker bees.

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That is- if everything goes right. I have introduced queens the proper way with the cage hanging in the hive for a few days and she eats her way through the sugar cube plug, and then have the queen emerge and the worker bees kill her or she just flies away!

Placing the queen cage in the hive

Placing the queen cage in the hive

The other way is supersedure, where the bees decide to make their own queen for a variety of reasons. It could be that the queen is getting older and not laying as many eggs or the hive becomes over crowded or the queen dies unexpectedly. In any of those cases, the hive will make their own queen and will construct up to 20 wax queen cells for extra insurance. The peanut shaped cells are easy to spot.

Queen or swarm cell

Queen or swarm cell

The current or failing queen lays fertilized eggs in all the queen cells and young nurse bees feed all the larvae with royal jelly, a special substance that is secreted from the glands located in the head of the bees. If the queen is dead, then the worker bees lay eggs that can also become queens. All larvae are fed with royal jelly for three days, but only larvae destined to become queens are copiously fed this throughout their development which in turn triggers the development of the large ovaries of a queen bee.

Immature queen bee

Immature queen bee

The worker bees extend the wax cell downwards to make a peanut shape to accommodate the larger form of the queen bee. Nine days after laying the egg destined to become the queen, the last layer of wax is deposited around the growing larvae.

Queen cell

 A large swarm of bees (1/3 to 1/2 of the hive) gathers and starts to exit the hive taking the old queen with them and the workers are laden with stores of honey for the new home.

A swarm starting to pour out of a hive

A swarm starting to pour out of a hive

 The swarm usually heads for a nearby tree or structure and regroups and starts sending out scouts to look for a suitable home. They will usually do this several times, stopping and sending out scouts, until the scouts come back with information about a good location for their new home.

A perfect tear drop shaped swarm with the queen in the middle

A perfect tear drop shaped swarm with the queen in the middle

At this point the queen cells in the old hive continue to mature for another week. The first queen to emerge goes to each queen cell and stings the queen bees that haven’t emerged through the wax wall to death. The victorious young queen then flies around outside the hive to acquaint herself with the surroundings and will mate with up to 20 different drones or males who die after mating. Three days later the new queen will start laying up to 2000 eggs a day.

A marked queen surrounded by attendant bees

A marked queen surrounded by attendant bees

Queens can live up to 5 years and will continue to lay eggs except in the winter. This newly hatched queen will stay with the hive for at least a year or until the hive starts a new swarm and starts the whole process again. Go to Swarming of the Bees to see how I capture swarms to start a new colony.Capturing a bee swarm

Capturing a bee swarm

Fascinating stuff! If you want more bee blog posts, go to Beekeeping Start-Up or Beekeeping 101.

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Miniature Gardening in the Winter

Mini garden

Mini Gardens 

I am a garden designer by trade and normally design gardens in full size, but also love to design gardens in miniature- especially in the winter when I am housebound. There is something unique about creating a complete space in small scale that is so satisfying and fun!  I can have garden features that I have only dreamed about – like a bridge over a dry stream bed, mossy nooks and crannies, arbors, and birdhouses just like I was creating a larger space.

A fairy garden in the landscape

A fairy garden in the landscape

I can enjoy a tiny gazing ball- but at a fraction of the cost of a full size version. It seems like more nurseries are catering to this gardening trend and it isn’t hard to find small scale plants and miniatures, even in the dead of winter.

Fairy garden accessories

Fairy garden accessories

 

Containers

I think the hardest part of creating mini gardens is finding the appropriate container.  A shallow wide open container is desirable but hard to find.  That is why I make a lot of my own with hypertufa. Use my recipe to make your own container at http://https://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/hypertufa-making-mud-pies/.

Try making your hypertufa in a basket mold. After the mixture sets, cut off the basket and peel it off the hypertufa. The basket weave leaves great indentations in the cement.

If that is too much trouble, then use shallow ceramic or wooden containers with drainage holes. But occasionally I discover a perfect pottery container in my travels and grab it. Bonsai pots are excellent if you can find them.

Bonsai containers make perfect miniature garden containers

Bonsai containers make perfect miniature garden containers

Planting

A shallow boat shaped container found at a fabric store!

Planting DIY

After choosing the perfect container, fill it up about 2/3 of the way with some good loose potting soil.  Notice that I recommend good potting soil.  An organic one with lots of peat is the best mix even though you might pay a few more bucks a bag. Arrange your plants, usually 3 to 5 of them in an interesting design. Use creeping ones, as well as taller ones like small grasses and different colors to give variety. Make sure you have room for a meandering pathway and small areas to place your accessories.

Fill shallow container with soil

Arrange your small plants with different textures and colors in the bowl.

Suggested Plants

Use naturally miniature plants that are in scale with a tiny garden.  I use ajugas, alternethera, small grasses, creeping thymes, sedums, sempervivums, mosses, silver falls, trailing rosemary, wire vine, mini liriope, and miniature alpines, like armeria. The plants will eventually outgrow your garden, so you need to refresh and edit the garden periodically. If my thyme or ajuga gets out of hand, I dig it up, separate and use the extras to make a new garden.

Use a variety of plants, including some blooming ones

Use a variety of plants, including some blooming ones

After planting your selections, I take moistened sheet moss and press it in between the plants to cover the soil. This covering gives you a base to place your stepping stones and other accessories. It also prevents the soil from coming loose and overflowing the container when you water.

Choose some round polished stones for a pathway

Create a pathway with stones

After creating a pathway, I like to scatter coarse aquarium gravel around the stones to give them definition. As a last flourish, scatter small bits of beach glass or ‘mermaid tears’ to make the path stand out.

Scattered coarse gravel

Crushed colored beach glass

Accessories

Here is the fun part! I am always on the lookout on my travels for small pieces to use in my gardens and you can find them in the most unexpected places.  Christmas decorations are a surprising rich source. I find lots of miniature gardening tools and watering cans at Christmas as ornaments.

Don’t worry that the piece will not be the exact scale for your garden  –  no one is measuring! Just make sure that you don’t clutter the garden up too much, so use only two or three minis. I love using miniature wheel barrows with a tiny terra cotta pot or a bird house on a stake. Small resin animals, twig arbors, fences, miniature benches or chairs add to the charm. These make a perfect gift for someone who is housebound and cannot garden outdoors.

Mini with accessories

Care

Use a mister to water your garden every 4 to 5 days, and more if the container is in the sun.  Use small trimmers to keep everything pruned to scale. As the plants grow, you will need to pot them out to another container and replace with a new miniature plant.  The gravel or crushed shells will need to be refreshed periodically.  I have been successful with keeping my gardens both indoors and outdoors.  Usually, I place my gardens in partial sun outdoors during the summer and bring them indoors for the winter, keeping it on a windowsill with bright light.

Planted garden with accessories

Planted garden

Planted garden

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Best of Houzz 2015!!

If Houzz is not on your radar screen and you are decorating or landscaping, sign up and take a look. It is a great resource of ideas, kind of like the pinterest board for interior and exterior design. One of my design/build jobs scored Best of Houzz 2015 which is the pond waterfall installation at Hillside Makeover which came as a total surprise to me! The picture or the completed waterfall was shared to 368 idea books! Check out my blog post to see this incredible once in a lifetime job. The waterfall was just one part of the job. I did the whole property and have attached pics of those also.

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Old Christmas Tree Creates Bottle Tree

Bottle tree in snow

Bottle tree in snow

I see the remnants of Christmas trees on my walk every day, ready for trash pick up. Pieces of tinsel hang off the branches blowing in the wintry wind and I feel sorry for them! Destined to be carted off to the nearest landfill, with most of them ground up into chips that will be sold for mulch in the spring.

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Piled up Christmas trees at the landfill

 

But I like to keep my tree for a much-needed winter insulating mulch, using the cut up branches under large trees or layered into perennial borders on my property.

Chopping off branches of our Christmas Fraser Fir

Chopping off branches of our Christmas Fraser Fir

Putting cut branches in a large trash can to take outdoors

Putting cut branches in a large trash can to take outdoors

Once we pull off all the decorations, we take pruners and chop off half of the branches until we are left with the naked trunk of the tree with some stubs sticking out. Maybe this part would make a good walking stick or even better – a bottle tree!

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Pruning the branches off to make a bottle tree

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Bottle tree made out of an old Christmas tree

 The evergreen branches are carted outside in a large trash can and laid down as mulch under a large tree that has a lot of pokeweed seedlings come up in the spring. I hope that by laying the flat fans of fraser fir  fans on the ground that I won’t see as many pokeweeds in the spring, and that the thick covering will smother any volunteer seedlings.

Laying the branches as mulch under a large spruce

Laying the branches as mulch under a large spruce

Another environmental idea is sticking the tree trunk into the ground and hanging suet bags and pine cones filled with peanut butter for the birds.

Bottle tree in the snow

Bottle tree in the snow

If you go to http://www.housekeeping.org/blog/9-ways-to-recycle-your-christmas-tree/ you will see nine different ways to recycle your Christmas tree. With so many ways to take care of your tree, none should end up in a landfill!

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Top 14 Garden Trends for 2015

 

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black

I don’t need to read tea leaves or get out my crystal ball to figure out what is bubbling up in the horticulture world for 2015. Traveling to lots of nurseryman’s and flower shows, cutting edge gardens, and keeping up with my blog, gives me a good handle on what is up and coming in the gardening world. Some of these are trends have been around and are still going strong, while others are just getting a foothold, like smoking or drinking your garden!  Or one of my personal favs,  Orange is the New Black!

Orange is being used everywhere in the garden

Orange is being used everywhere in the garden

 2014 Trends

For a read on the 2014 trends, go to Top 12 Garden Trends For 2014. What was trending a year ago still is gathering steam, like grafted vegetables, especially tomatoes. I grew 3 grafted tomatoes last season and I need to grow some more to say for sure if the extra work (grafting when young) and expense is worth it.

 1. Native Pollinators-Pollinator gardens are still going strong for native pollinators such as mason bees, honeybees, and butterflies. But in keeping with back to nature gardening, people are thinking about plants that sustain pollinators as well as birds, so we are looking for and planting multi-use/season plants. The newest wrinkle is creating a monarch way station to feed the monarchs on their long migration. Go to Monarch Way Station to see how to set your own up.

Monarch on Zinnia

2. Bambi Proof- With the skyrocketing growth of deer and the distress of seeing your hard-earned cash become salad, people are demanding low maintenance deer resistant plants.

Disney wedding 078See my Deer Combat post for strategies on planting for deer, and What is Deer Resistant, Blooms in the Winter, and is Evergreen? for the ultimate deer proof plant – Hellebores.

helleborus

 

3. New Cultivars- The pace of new cultivar releases increases every year so that I can’t keep up with all the new varieties rolling off the plant benches. But think colorful foliage plants, dwarf plants, and new varieties of old fashioneds on steroids like the new gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle Gomphrena’. Plant breeders are looking to amp up the size and color of flowers to appeal to consumers. Oodles of color and larger flowers, are the order of the day.

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‘Pink Zazzle’ Gomphrena

4. Food in Jars- Definitely, not your grandma’s canning! Preserving food in small designer batches like chutney and tomato jam, make growing veggies fun and creative. Go to my post All Jammed Up! Easy Tomato Jam to make a delicious chocolate-laced jam. People are having a new kind of party-preserving ones! I know because I have had several, like Jam Session for strawberry jam.

Tomato Jam
Tomato Jam

5.  PPA-Geranium ‘Biokovo’- Finally a  perennial Geranium made this coveted list, the Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. Geraniums are the unsung heroes of the perennial world – tough, attractive during most of the season, long-lived, and an underused deer-proof ground cover. Not a glamorous plant by any means, but I would not be without these workhorses. See Choosing the Right Ground Cover For Shade for more examples of under-used ground covers.

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The deeply lobed leaves of Biokovo Geranium turn an attractive russet color in the autumn and winter

6. Eco-Chic/Homesteading- Raising bees, chickens, rabbits, and goats has gotten quite trendy. As an off-shoot you can make your own soap, body cream, and cheese even! Go to my post Beekeeping Start-Up, How to Jump Into the World of Beekeeping, and Beekeeping 101 to see if this is something you are dying to try. My post Honey Scented Body Butter is one of my top five post for hits. Go figure….

Beehive

Growing your own food organically still tops the list of most gardeners and is intimidating to newbies. Start small, take it slow, and don’t bite off more than you can chew, is the best advice I can give. As you grow more confident and are successful with a small garden, move on to larger projects. Talk to any gardener in August, and they will wish that they didn’t have such a large garden to weed and water! Many people are buying organic veggies at the local farmer’s market if they don’t have access to space for a garden, or alternatively growing edibles in containers.

Patio Baby Eggplant is made to grow in containers

Patio Baby Eggplant is made to grow in containers

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Buying organic vegetables at a local farmer’s market is a trend that just keeps spreading

 

7. Slow/Thoughtful Gardening-Growing plants that need less water, are more pest resistant and better for the environment just got pushed up the garden trend list. People are becoming more responsible in plant selections, educating themselves about the varieties before going to the nursery, or looking it up on their smart phone while at the nursery. There are tons of plants that don’t have pot appeal in the spring when most people visit the nursery, that languish on the benches. Instead these plants should be jumping in the cart, because they are a better choice than a spring fling plant. Good examples are fall blooming perennials like Monkshood-Deadly Blue Beauty or Autumn All-Stars.

Monkshood blooms in  October

Monkshood blooms in October

8. Growing Super Foods/Edibles-The ever-increasing interest and use of edibles in containers and in the garden is still up there. Think berries, fruit, and lots of kale(dinosaur, preferably). Okra is another super food that is coming into its own. Go to Okra-Superfood Superstar for more information. The only problem for me is that I don’t like okra!

Aug 2010 016

Dinosaur kale is very trendy

 

So many people don’t have the time or space to devote to a large vegetable growing operation, but when the edibles are contained and automatically watered, it becomes doable.

Growing edibles in easily accessible, self watering containers is very popular

Growing edibles in easily accessible, self watering containers is very popular

8.Water Friendly Gardening- I know, I know, this has gotten a little long in the tooth in gardening worlds. But really, as a landscape designer, water friendly gardening besides deer proof plants, is the number one request. Rain barrels, rain gardens, and using natives that use less water are high on client’s wish lists. See Rain Barrel Eye Candy.

 

Painted rain barrel

Painted rain barrel

 

9. Cool Nurseries-Nurseries are becoming a destination, not just a place to buy tomato plants. Look at Flora Grubb (yes, that is her name!) at Grubb Heaven in San Francisco who says “My goal is always to provide a fascinating encounter with the natural world”. It is not just a gardening store, it is an experience. See Annie’s Annuals and Escape to Surreybrooke, for more destination nursery adventures.

San Francisco fling 044 - Copy

Me having fun at Annie’s Annuals in San Francisco

10. Sedum/Succulent Mania-It has just begun; Look for colorful fantastic shapes and new ways of using them. Succulents are tough, can take abuse and neglect, and come in a dazzling array of shapes and textures. See Succulent Creations for ideas.

Array of colorful succulents

Array of colorful succulents

11. Small is Big- Miniature/Fairy Gardening-Predicted by many to have run its course, this is still running strong with smaller versions (terrarium sized) of regular sized plants. My most popular blog by far is still Home For A Gnome. When I posted this, I was getting more than 2000 hits on my blog a day, where normally I get around 200. I will be doing a fairy/miniature gardening demo at the Philadelphia Flower Show this March, so people are still enthralled with the miniature idea.

Gnome Home

Gnome Home

 

Outdoor miniature garden
Outdoor miniature garden

12. Drink and Smoke Your Garden-Growing your own organic herbs to muddle in a drink, or adding a sprig of lemon thyme in a drink, or making tea from culinary herbs is all the rage.  But I am seeing another related trend just beginning and gathering a little steam, and that is growing marijuana. With the decriminalization of weed in many states, growing your own is not far behind. Growing is legal with the recent passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, where you can cultivate up to 6 plants per adult in your home. Just think of the grow lights and plants that will be flying off the nursery shelves when this hits!

Cannabis plant

Cannabis plant

 

Steeping herbs for tea

13. Repurposing/Old Meets New-Personal style is reflected on how you design and decorate your outdoor spaces. Whether it is a bottle tree that you created or pallets repurposed to build outdoor furniture or containers, this is both an interior and exterior trend.

A repurposed Christmas tree set up as a bottle tree

A repurposed Christmas tree set up as a bottle tree

Repurposing stainless steel kitchen equipment for a garden bench

Repurposing stainless steel kitchen equipment for a garden bench

Using vintage watering cans as decorations

Using vintage watering cans as decorations

14. Orange is the New Black

When I visited Portland this summer and toured some cutting edge gardens, the frequent use of orange flowers and accessories struck me.  Black plants used to be the “in” flower and foliage color,  see 50 Shades of Black, but I think orange has overtaken black for the hottest shade. Maybe it hasn’t hit the east coast yet, but we are always behind the trendy west coast. See Orange is the New Black post to see how orange has come a long way.

Orange Abutilon

Orange Abutilon

Orange is the new black

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 85,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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