Rainy Day Gardener | Sharing Views
(Their introduction) which was set up in 2008 to pursue the owner’s interest in gardening and flowers in particular in their part of the world. But the beauty of gardening that the basic of growing are universal and we all can learn from their experiences.
Welcome to The RainyDayGardener, a blog about organically gardening in the Pacific Northwest. Through this blog, I have been able to combine my love of writing, photography and gardening. This has been a wonderful undertaking and I enjoy the adventure of it. I am a passionate ornamental and edible grower and I strive to create a landscape, that is budget, kid and pet friendly, while choosing alternatives to chemicals and pesticides. I started this blogging adventure in 2008 and have expanded my interest from only growing classic ornamental plants to creating a large vegetable garden, complete with fruit trees and several varieties of berries. And, while I still appreciate classic and traditional plants, I have become more selective about my plant choices, taking care that they are water wise, multi-season and adding more natives to my plant selections. I enjoy bringing in relatively rare and collector conifer species into my gardens. The greatest joy I have experienced through blogging is connecting with fellow garden bloggers. Truly, gardeners are some of the nicest people. I have learned so much from this great group and hope to share my enthusiasm and lessons learned as I weave a life around garden time.
Take a look at some of their pages and see if they can inspire you. And there is not better place than your own garden.
By combining our expertise of over 40 years in the summer houses industry with RainyDayGardener then we hope we can share our knowledge with you.
Designing Your First Flower Garden
Whether in a large or small garden flowers can brighten your life. A flower garden can be as small as three flowers planted in pots by your front door or large garden that covers an acre. Anyone easily can design a flower garden to suit your lifestyle.
When it comes to your flower garden design, it’s mostly your decision. Sure, it’s important to do a good job preparation of the soil and carefully matching plants to the site. If you ignore these imperatives, your results will likely be disappointing.
Get started with paper. Putting your design ideas on paper. This allows you to change your mind before digging.
Begin by drawing from the back forward. Use taller plants to give support your to your overall flower garden design.
Plant flowers where you can see them. Don’t forget about how the flowers will look when viewed through your windows from inside your house. Particularly consider the views from private outdoor spaces such as patios, decks, and terraces.
Use perennials. Although they are more expensive than annuals, perennials are worth the additional money. They appear year after year, bigger and better. Choose carefully to get flowers that bloom during the entire growing season. Use around the garden and maybe in front of your summer house or garden shed.
Plant bulbs. Bulbs, like perennials, will come back every year.
Place some bright annuals in flower pots that can be moved. This ensures there will be no empty spaces in your garden. It also lets you enjoy your flower garden’s beauty and fragrance inside.
Add some colour with annuals. These short lived beauties will add sparkle to your garden design. Fill in empty spaces with some annuals and you will have nearly continuous bloom.
Matching plant types to the sun
Break this rule at your own risk. Different plants require different amounts of light. Most contenders for flower gardens like full sun. Others require full or partial shade. Some plants may grow fine in the shade but flower better in full sun.
When it comes to your particular garden design be creative and use the internet to discover unique flower garden design.
Flower gardening has grown from a process of selection of the prettiest weeds that grow in a certain region. The process marks the entire history of agriculture with farmers tolerating those weeds that seemed attractive to them. Flowers are known as companion plants as compared to food plants that have a practical side exclusively. It was in the 19th century that flower gardening became popular in the UK and created favourable grounds for landscaping. It was also around this time where garden workshops or sorts were started to be used and over the years have become a main staple of the gardener’s desires.
Flower gardening has presently reached such an extent that there are corporations that pay for professional gardening services to change their garden every season in order to preserve a consistency in the colour patterns. Flower gardening is demanding as it relies on good knowledge of soil peculiarities, plant species, fertilisation and so much more. And in terms of occupation, some people take flower gardening as a hobby why others have made a profession out of it.
Flower gardening usually defines larger residences where many flowers are initially grown indoors so as to be then displayed outdoors. A fertile location with plenty of sunlight is the main condition for flowers to grow and bloom, and when artistically arranged the effect is more than rewarding. You can even try flower gardening in parallel with cultivating ornamental vegetables and herbs. The combination is perfectly fine and suitable.
Flowers usually appeal to people in a large number of ways, they improve the mood, they make us feel better at home and they become a source of positive energy. They delight senses and bring peace, harmony and tranquillity wherever they grow. One or two flower beds may be enough to add colour and beauty to your garden.
If you love nature and have a special attraction for flowers, then, flower gardening tips could be a more than lovely occupation. And although results take months and years sometimes, the actual cultivation process is rewarding in itself. Garden workshops are often a great help in this hobby.
You just need some basic tools, good seeds, fertile soil and plenty of sun. Knowledge comes with experience and if you make mistakes at the beginning, flower gardening will get better with every season. Don’t take up this occupation unless you are patient and you feel positive towards nature. Gardening could be a gift you can discover at any point in your life.
Lavender Q And A’s
The following are some of the most common Lavender related questions and answers to help you look after your Lavender plants.
Q. When is the best time to plant my lavender plants?
A. The hardy lavenders (such as “English” lavenders and the Lavandins) can be planted at anytime, but the best time would be in the spring as the soil temperature starts to rise. Planting in the height of summer is OK, but you do need to watch out that they get enough water until their root systems are established.
Q. What do I do with my Garden Ready Lavender Plug Plants when they arrive?
A. Unpack them promptly and stand them in some water. They are ready to plant out. If you receive the plugs in the winter we would recommend potting them up and allowing them to grow on in a cool, sheltered environment – an unheated greenhouse perhaps. Do not over water them. As the weather starts getting warmer in the spring the lavenders can be planted out.
Q. How long do lavender plants last for?
A. If you take care of them and give them a good prune each year, there is no reason why your L.angustifolia (English lavender) orL.intermedia (Lavandin) will not last for years – some of ours in the fields are 24 years old! L.stoechas(French lavender) is more difficult to keep compact and healthy for a lot of years. These days, French lavenders are treated by many as annuals and replaced each year as many of the newer varieties are not comfortable with our cold winters, and the have a tendency to go straggly.
Q. How much water do lavenders need?
A. Lavenders are drought tolerant plants and once established in the garden, they do not need watering. Lavender in pots need careful watering all summer. In the winter they will need minimal watering. Over watering is the most common mistake – leading to root rot and the plant’s demise.
Q. Do people use a summerhouse as a backdrop for their flower display?
A. This is more common that expected. In front of my summerhouse my wife uses that a backdrop and the warmth from the radiated sun helps them flourish.
Q. How should I prune lavender?
A. Look within the heart of the plant and you should see small shoots on the side of stems. You should prune so these shoots are left below where you cut. You can prune with a pair of secateurs or with some shears. The shoots will push out to form the new greenery of the plant. Lavenders like a really good haircut so be very brave about it? Many people carefully snip off the old flowering stems. This is certainly not a hard enough prune if you are to avoid your lavender becoming woody and straggly.
Q. When should I prune lavender?
A. It will depend on the species. English lavender and lavandin should be pruned after they finish flowering – around late July to mid August. This allows plenty of time for the plant to recover and push out new shoots before the winter cold sets in. French lavenders, because they grow all summer, can be cut back in after their first flush of growth in spring.
Flower Gardening By Starting With Cuttings
If your home gardening efforts have been modest thus far, and you’d rather not just plunge straight into rose growing without easing in gently, you might get some experience in growing roses by starting with cuttings.
If you have a friend with some roses, perhaps they’d be willing to give you a few stems so you can try to start some in this way. Floribunda roses grow well from cuttings, as do miniatures, but others don’t have as much success.
You’ll have to pick your roses carefully, though, because not all types of roses grow well from cuttings. It’s likely some expert gardeners have managed to do it even with the difficult varieties, like hybrid teas.
But if you still don’t know much about flower gardening, or you’re not very experienced, then you will find varieties that simply will not grow by this method. Floribundas and many others that are actually garden roses do much better, and miniature roses are usually grown this way.
You should do the rose pruning in early spring, taking three or four six-inch stems (or for miniatures, three-inch stems). With these flower gardening tips you can cut them on a slight diagonal, in the morning before the stresses of the day.
In the past, people knew how to grow roses with cuttings protected by Mason jars, and the practice still works well. So once you have your cuttings, take off the bottom leaves, with just a few at the top, and dip the stems into a rooting powder.
Then set them either into your garden soil or into containers of potting soil. At this point, place a Mason jar over each stem and water now and then over the next few weeks.
Garden offices can be decorated with the flowers which you can cut from your garden making your effort even more worthwhile. What can be better?
How to grow roses from cuttings might vary slightly in different regions, depending on the climate. For example, in a warmer location you might just skip the Mason jar altogether and root your stems in the soil of your garden outside.
In a cooler climate, you might want all the help you can get, with an indoor container and Mason jar, or with a heating pad under the container. You can probably find gardening tips from a local rose society or the internet to help you decide on your exact procedure.
If you succeed at starting a new rose plant from a cutting, then this may encourage you to go farther, and get into rose growing in a serious way.
Flowers and Green Foliage – A Natural Combo
When putting together a flower design you want to display them to the their best advantage. Face it, flowers look best when they are combined with green foliage, get real that is the way they grow.
What do you do when a florist’s dozen arrive unexpectedly – try one of the following combinations: juniper with carnations; pieris (Pieris japonica) with roses; leucothoe or hybrid rhododendron with gladiolus. Any of these will look well with chrysanthemums. Since they are notable for their keeping qualities, it makes good sense to try them together, for such an arrangement should last several weeks. Not to be overlooked are ivy, pachysandra and large violet leaves. These all provide dark green colour masses.
All of the hostas combine well with lilies. Perhaps this seems like too much stress on the addition of foliage, but it results in better contrast of colour, texture and form. It can also be the starting point of a design pattern without which no arrangement will stand scrutiny, for the very word arrangement presupposes the word design.
There is little more to say about working with florists’ flowers that does not also pertain to garden flowers like the false aralia plant, especially with regard to arranging them. In both instances we deal with the same problems of suiting the arrangement to its surroundings, colour wise and style wise. Scale and proportion of flowers to vase and the inter-relationship of flower sizes themselves must be carefully considered.
When we buy flowers we usually have a definite purpose in mind for them and select those which will complement a colour scheme, provide exciting beauty or give the best effect for the least money. Six stems of chrysanthemums or four gladiolus stalks combined with foliage and presented dramatically will prove to be economical and pleasing to the eye. Three coral pink anthuriums, possibly in combination with a few ti leaves, will present an exotic appearance and keep longer than any other combination. For sheer beauty of form and colour, lilies are my choice. Most of them are wonderfully fragrant and all have reasonably good keeping quality.
Roses, of course, are perennial favourites. A point to remember, however, is that they never do well in low containers since they prefer at least one-third of their stems in water. Usually, they arrive from the florist in a uniform stage of development. I sometimes keep half of them in a cool, dark place overnight, leaving the others under a light in a warmer spot. This coaxes some into opening and provides a variety of shapes for arranging.
Today’s carnations are grown in a great variety of colour. They can hardly be called seasonal flowers for they are in the market at least 10 months of the year. Consequently, they remain in the medium price range, except for the red ones of Christmas. It is always with the greatest regret that I instinctively smell them and all too frequently find no scent!
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What Makes Wild Flowers Charming
The felicitous grouping of plants is one of the signs of a gardener’s coming of age. It takes knowledge, thought, imagination and taste to assemble together plants which like the same soil, exposure and cultural conditions, which bloom at the right time to make the picture, and which look as though they belong together.
This is the time of year to be thinking about next year’s garden pictures, and it is a pleasant game to be playing. What our gardens need is originality and imagination. Too many of us take the easy way and follow the lead of others, and the result is an uninteresting and boring sameness of pattern.
If fresh ideas don’t flow readily, take a look at wild flower groupings, analyze them and find out what makes them charming. Is it foliage shape or texture, or flower colour or quality? Is it harmony or contrast? Wild flower drifts are especially effective in helping us to widen our vision of colour association and in giving us tips on new and exciting combinations. Reflect on the banks of blue gilias and collinsias in many shades of purple, on cerise penstemons growing with blue and purple penstemons, on lavender Iris macrosiphon growing in among wine-red Calochortus rubellus.
Self-sown plants bring the happiest accidents to my garden, creating effects I would never have dreamed of. One year, green-blue nigellas sprang up in a patch of crimson-scarlet Delphinium nudicaule. Another time some very bright pink ixias, apparently dropped by absent-minded gophers en route to their store houses, bloomed among the flower-laden branches of a lavender-blue ceanothus. And once Campanula rotundifolia came up in the arms of a Beatrix dianthus, some of whose blooms had reverted to the old sweet-william deep pink.
Studying plants show that annuals, bulbs, as well as some clean air plants do their own perpetuating are invaluable in bringing unexpected colour contrasts or harmonies to the garden. Brilliant-coloured plants like the brilliant blue Agathea aethiopica is lovely with cherry-red helianthemums, and the lesser of the two dingle grasses, Briza minor, at one season brought fairiness to a group of volunteer lobelias in light, bright blue and white.
And anyone who lets his babianas and sparaxis seed themselves knows what startling results ensue when exceptional shades show up in the scilla colony or come out of a blazing plant of blue lithospermum Heavenly Blue. Anagalis, in blue and in tomato-red, Linaria maroccana in yellow, purple, mauve and lilac, all are splendid companion pieces, and the linaria is particularly valuable because of its spike-shaped flower heads.
And to get a contrast in styles and feelings the addition of a log cabin to your garden enhances the overall effect. The wild effect of the flowers and the delightful appearance of a log cabin works very well together. Mainly because of the opposites attract phenomenon.
Nature doesn’t have to do it all. We can take things into our own hands and create our own pictures, and there are annuals suitable for this purpose in every garden on the West Coast. Use the grace and sweetness of Papaver heterophylla and see how much appeal its bendy bud stems and its tangerine, maroon-blotched flowers will add. Put the deep, rich magnolia purple of old honesty behind blue and blue-purple April flowering cinerarias, and be sure not to side-step the dusty mauves, grey-purples and ashes-of-roses of tall annual nicotines. The advantage of using annuals for purposeful plantings is that the seed sowing or the transplanting can be con-trolled to make the blossoming come to pass at the appointed time.
Looking after your Poinsettia
The poinsettia brings a cheerful touch to homes in the winter. Native to Mexico, where it blooms in the wild and in gardens at Christmas time, the poinsettia is also known as the “Christmas Star” for its star-like shape. An important symbol of Navidad, the poinsettia plays a leading role in a Mexican Christmas legend similar to “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Britons often give poinsettias as gifts and use them to decorate their own homes. In fact, poinsettias sell more than any other plant at supermarkets. While the poinsettia is native to Mexico, most of the world’s poinsettias originated from California growers.
You may even be planning to purchase a few of these plants on your next trip to the nursery. Or perhaps you live in a warm, Southern California region where you are enjoying the winter blooms in your garden. If you are bringing potted poinsettias into your home for the holidays, here are some tips for their care:
• Remove any foil or plastic that is surrounding the pot. Proper drainage is vital. Instead, place the potted poinsettia in a festive container (or simply on a saucer).
• Keep your poinsettia away from cold and drafty places as well as away from heat sources such a heater vent or fireplace.
• Do place your poinsettias where they can soak up lots of sunlight.
• Water only when your plant’s soil is dry. After watering, wait about 15 minutes and then empty the saucer under the poinsettia of any water
so that the water doesn’t rot the roots.
• Check frequently for insect infestation, and if any insects are detected, spray with an organic insecticidal soap. Common poinsettia pests are spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids and whiteflies.
Since potted poinsettias are difficult to maintain, most are thrown away. If you’re not going to keep yours, add it to the compost heap. However, if you have several and want to try getting them to bloom next season, here’s what you’ll need to do.
In late March, cut the plants back. Continue watering regularly. Begin applying a balanced fertiliser (once every two weeks). When night temperatures are no longer dropping much below 55° F, the poinsettias can go outside in their containers. Don’t plant these in the ground. Prune during the summer months. Come September, when night temperatures begin to drop, bring the poinsettias indoors again.
Around the first of October when the days grow darker, use artificial lighting if needed to provide day long light. However, the poinsettia needs its beauty sleep at night, so as soon as the sun goes down, cover each plant with a box that blocks out all light, and the uncover at dawn (we told you this wouldn’t be easy!). Finally, around the beginning of December when the bracts begin to colour, get ready to enjoy the fiery red Christmas stars again!
Compare the delightful colour of these plants with steel frame buildings or concrete garages and you see the difference. All these items serve their purpose very well and all are essential for our modern lives.