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Prolific and Terrific Ranunculus

Prolific and Terrific RanunculusBrilliantly colored flowers are ranunculus’ chief attraction, and they are indeed special. They most often come in multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper–thin petals, looking like an origami masterwork. Ranunculus (R. asiaticus) excel in southern and western gardens, and make terrific container plants everywhere. They also make long-lasting cut flowers. Bulbs are widely available in Fall at retail nurseries in mild-winter climates; in Fall and early spring from mail-order catalogs.

Ranunculus leaves, grass green and vaguely celery-like, grow in a mound 6 to 12 inches across. Flowers on 12- to 18-inch stems emerge in March from fall-planted bulbs, June and July from spring-planted bulbs; they last up to six weeks. On the most common type, the Tecolote strain, flowers are mostly fully double, 3 to 6 inches wide, and available in bicolored picotee, gold, pastel mix, pink, red, rose, salmon, sunset orange, white, and yellow. The less common Bloomingdale strain is shorter, to 10 inches, with pale orange, pink, red, yellow, and white double flowers.

Where and How Ranunculus Grow Best

Broadly speaking, ranunculus are frost-hardy cool-season perennials. They perform best where winters are relatively mild and springs are

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Drought gardening tips for growing food

Drought gardening tips for growing foodAs we head into what could become an epochal drought, despite recent welcome rains, vegetable gardeners are feeling the uncertainty. Will water restrictions snuff out the salad garden, bash beans and thwart tomato dreams?

We do know that it is typical for Central California to have great variations in annual rainfall. Our location between a wetter north and a desert south puts us at the mercy of small shifts in weather. Those of us who were living in California during the mid-’70s drought, which is about half the number of people living here now, remember the anxiety and water restrictions then. That drought did end, as did some smaller droughts later. But if climate change is under way, who knows how this one will turn out? While we can’t know what is in store, we can plan this year’s garden with care.

By all accounts, we’ve been, overall, very good at saving water in recent decades. Now it’s time to rededicate ourselves to conservation.

There are good reasons to grow your own vegetables and herbs. You can do so

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Urban Gardening with Vegetables

Urban Gardening with VegetablesFOR SOME gardeners, growing vegetables in containers is a necessity. Urban gardening make use of rooftops, balconies, alleyways, sidewalks or whatever little space the gardener has available. Gardeners with physical disabilities find that growing vegetables in containers makes them far easier to reach and tend. Property with difficult soil conditions (sand, stone, clay, permafrost …) make growing vegetables especially challenging. And even in urban areas, gardeners often find container gardening is a way to avoid sharing their harvest with deer, rabbits and woodchucks.

If you are new to growing vegetables in containers, or have had limited success, here are a few tips to help you succeed.

Selecting a Container

As a general rule, select as large a container as possible. Small containers dry out more quickly and need daily watering. Self-watering planters designed for urban balconies and patios extend the time between waterings. You’ll want to think about weight (once the pot is filled with wet soil and plant material it’s going to be very heavy). And you may want to think about appearance. What look

6 Surprising Mother’s Day Facts No One Ever Told You

With over 30% of Brits admitting their mother is the most important person in their life and half coming to realise they are indeed turning into their mums, it’s no surprise we don’t scrimp around Mother’s Sunday. If we let figures speak for themselves, it becomes quite evident what an important meaning we ascribe to this celebration – every year, we send over 30 million Happy Mother’s Day cards and spend one and a half billion pounds on flowers and presents such as jewellery, beauty products, and gardening tools.

Pardon the cliché, but we all know this, of all holidays, should be the least about trivial gifts and cheesy Facebook messages. As we are about to celebrate the mum-praising day for yet another year, we decided to find out more about mother’s day traditions in the UK and what British mums really want for their day. So, here’s our collection of facts about Mothering Sunday you probably didn’t know and some mum-verified advice on how to make next Sunday really special

1. Mothering Sunday has a Religious Origin

Although Laetare Sunday – the fourth Sunday of Lent – had been associated with mothers and

7 Hot Garden Trends to Sync with Nature

it’s 2016 and the world has started to realise how rapidly we have lost connection to the very nature that has created us. We’ve began to acknowledge how our thirst for development and progress has trumped the foundations of our existence – the Earth – the only home we have.

We cannot regress to account for our failure to include nature in our plans. But we can use our knowledge to preserve and integrate it into our society, so that it becomes once more a part of our lives.

The Garden Media Group has prepared a fantastic report that describes new trends in bridging people back with nature by using technology and advancements in information and entertainment systems to educate and collectively increase our preservation efforts. This post will explore the hottest trends in the garden for 2016.  Read on for many tips, ideas and inspiration.

We live busy lives. Especially in metropolises, like London, time is not an expendable resource. Many urban dwellers are interested in gardening, but the knowledge barrier for successfully cultivating and caring for plants prevents them to make the first step.

Fact is that gardening is not an elementary

Gardening trends set to gain ground in 2016 Day

Now that everyone wants to have it all — successful career, perfect kids, beautiful home in high-demand neighbourhood and don’t forget the pedigree dog — does anyone have the time (and patience) to grow things?

I asked Paul Zammit, the hyper-energetic head of horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden, for his thoughts.

He had good — and bad — news.

“A lot of people want low maintenance, no question,” he says. “Shrubs are increasing in popularity. Also succulent plants, because they’re easy-care. And I see more and more vendors offering ready-potted plants in decorative containers, because everyone is so busy.”

However, there are still many of us who like getting our hands dirty — and, encouragingly, 30-somethings, especially homeowners, are plunging in, planting everything from zucchini to zinnias.

Some of Zammit’s predictions for the year ahead:

  • Drinking from the garden: Mojitos made with our own potted Cuban mint, bloody marys using homegrown dill. Plus teas, smoothies and syrups.

Early Spring Bulbs about Early Spring Bulbs

Q. The hyacinth bulbs I forced indoors are droopy. Is there anything I can do to make them stand up?

A. It’s likely that the room is too warm or the plant ins’t getting enough light. Hyacinths like it on the cool side, around 60F, and should be kept in a bright room but out of direct sunlight.

Q. After some heavy rains last spring, my grape hyacinth (Muscari) bulbs, which have been in the ground for a number of years, started popping out of the ground. What happened?

A. Soil erosion, frost heaving, or overcrowding could be the cause. Since these bulbs are planted only a few inches deep, freezing and thawing of the ground, coupled with the soil washing away during spring rains, could have eroded soil around the bulbs and made it appear as if they had popped out. Simply push the bulbs back into the ground. To avoid this problem in the future, in fall after the ground has frozen, mulch the planting with 2 to 4 inches of bark.

Q. My crocuses are becoming very tall and falling over. Should I cut them back?

Take Note of Garden Journals

Winter is a great time for garden planning, We can make lengthy lists of plants we want to try growing, seeds to order, and drawings of new plot plans.

Unfortunately a lot of this gets lost when the gardening season revs up and we are overwhelmed with work. Even though I start out the year with every intention of keeping close track of things in a garden journal, I am usually so busy by June that my record keeping has degenerated into hasty notes scribbled on muddy scraps of paper.

Keeping a garden journal is indispensible when spring planting rolls around. Vegetable crops need to be rotated every year to avoid depleting the same nutrients from the soil and to discourage insects and pests from gaining a foothold. It is a good practice not to plant the same family of crops – such as nightshades, curcurbits, legumes, and brassicas – in the same spot for at least four years. Can you remember back that far? I know I can’t! There is an old Chinese saying, “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.”

The extent to which you keep your garden journal is entirely up to. Whether you just keep

Gardens to visit this weekend

Knowle Hill Farm

Perched on south-facing slope on the North Downs, Knowle Hill’s garden offers spectacular views out across the Kent countryside that provide a constant backdrop to the feast of treasures on offer in the two-acre garden. Snowdrops, including a good selection of named varieties, are the highlight in February but you will also be able to take in the quality of the garden’s design that has been built up by the present owners over 30 years. The walled garden with its pool and rill shows how to get proportions right in a garden.

Only a few miles away at the bottom of the hill and definitely worth combining a visit with, is Mere House, Mereworth ME18 5NB (2-5pm, £4 children free, home-made teas.) Here the 6-acre garden combines wonderful spring planting within the setting of a historic landscape to make for a memorable visit at this time of year. The lake was made in the 18th century and today is enhanced by the variety of trees that have been carefully chosen and planted by two generations of the Wells family. There is endless exploration for children.

Open

How to Preserve Fresh Cut Flowers – Naturally

Cut flowers make us feel good. They help us celebrate special events and communicate emotions by saying thank you, get well, I’m sorry, and I love you.

Then there’s the special joy of receiving flowers, whether it’s a red rose from the local florist or a fistful of dandelions from your daughter. Flowers, especially the intention behind them, mean so much. Unfortunately though, flowers wilt. Do you ever feel delighted to receive beautiful flowers only to feel a little depressed as you watch them fade? While you can’t bring cut flowers back to life, here are some tips for keeping them looking fresh longer. Let’s start with learning the best way to cut your own bouquets…

What’s the best way to cut flowers?

Flowers keep best when cut with a sharp knife (un-serrated) and plunged immediately into water. Always make a cut on a slant, as it exposes more stem surface area. Also, remove leaves that will be under water in the arrangement, but do not remove thorns from roses as it tends to shorten their life.

When is the best time to cut flowers?

Some people I know would say it’s never a good time to cut flowers. They prefer to enjoy them alive

Heat And Drought Tolerant Perennials What Are Some Drought Tolerant Plants With Color

Water is in short supply across much of the country, and responsible gardening means making the best use of available resources. Fortunately, all it takes is a little advance planning to grow a beautiful garden with a variety of plants, including low maintenance, drought resistant perennials. Read on for a few ideas to inspire you.

Heat and Drought Tolerant Plants with Color

Selecting drought tolerant plants with color isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some popular perennials that will add a pop of color while handling the heat of sun and drought-like conditions:

  • Salvia (Salvia spp.) is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant greatly loved by butterflies and hummingbirds. This low-maintenance cousin to kitchen sage displays tall spikes of tiny white, pink, violet, red and blue flowers. Most varieties are suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, although some may tolerate cooler climates.
  • Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) is a hardy prairie plant that produces flashy blooms of intense yellow and red from early summer through autumn. This tough plant grows in zones 3 through 11.
  • Yarrow (Achillea) is another toughie that loves heat and sunlight. This drought-tolerant plant produces bright summertime blooms in shades of red, orange, yellow pink and white. It grows

Fall Flowering Plants: Common Plants That Bloom In Fall

In the mood for a few autumn blooming plants to liven up your garden when summer flowers are winding down for the season? Read on for a helpful list of fall flowering plants to inspire you.

Fall Blooming Perennials

When it comes to fall blooming perennials, you have an abundance of choices for every spot in your autumn garden.

  • Russian sage – This tough plant, suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, produces masses of spiky bluish-purple blooms and silvery foliage. Watch for hordes of butterflies and hummingbirds!
  • Helenium – If you’re looking for a tall plant for the back of borders or flower beds, helenium reaches heights of up to 5 feet. The red, orange or yellow, daisy-like blooms are highly attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. This drought-tolerant plant grows in zones 4 through 8.
  • Lily turf – With grassy leaves and spiky white, blue or violet flowers that last until the arrival of frosty winter weather, this low growing plant makes a great groundcover or border plant. Suitable for zones 6 through 10, lily turf is a good choice if you’re looking for fall blooming plants for shade, as it tolerates either full fun or deep shade.
  • Joe Pye

Harvesting Edible Flowers How And When To Pick Edible Flowers

Many of us grow flowers for their pleasant aroma, beautiful shapes and colors but did you know that many of them are edible? Flower harvesting for food dates back to the Stone Age with archaeological evidence showing that early humans ate flowers. It’s time to move flower picking from solely olfactory and visual to picking flowers to eat. The question is “how to harvest edible flowers and which ones are edible.”

Harvesting Edible Flowers

Flowers have been used for centuries from China to Morocco to Ecuador for making teas, tinctures, and aromatics but they have also been used in cuisine from soups to pies and even stir-fries. That doesn’t mean that every flower you encounter is edible. Many of us already utilize the blossoms from our herb gardens but there are many other edible flowers.

Before picking flowers to eat, however, be sure to identify the flower first. Some flowers look like an edible flower but are not. Don’t eat flowers if you have hay fever, asthma or other allergies. Only eat those that are organically grown; you don’t want to ingest pesticides.

Which Flowers are Edible?

There are many edible annual and perennial flowers, so when flower harvesting for food, you have plenty of

Bonsai Styles

Observe old trees in nature, and you will see plenty of variation. Trees grow upright or slanting, in groups, pairs, or alone, out on plains or clinging to the sides of mountains. They are found in arid, moist, hot, freezing, still, and windy environments, and everywhere in between. Wherever they grow, trees are also affected by animals and diseases. All the stresses that nature places on trees are reflected in their shapes. Bonsai artists look at what nature creates with these factors and work to emulate it when shaping a tree, but they also add their own vision to produce a beautiful bonsai. That’s why a bonsai is so much more than just a tree in a container.

The Five Basic Styles

Bonsai styles can be grouped in many ways. Five basic forms derive their names from the tree’s angle of growth from a container and provide a common starting point for exploring styles.

Formal Upright Style | Chokan

The bonsai of this style are reminiscent of trees growing in nature in an open location without stress. The trunk line is vertical with the apex located over the center of the trunk base, and must taper from base to apex. Each sucessive branch is,

How to Create an Herb Garden in the Shade

Though it is true that most herbs prefer full sun, there are some that thrive in shade or require at least some shade for their best performance. Gardening with herbs in the shade can be an excellent retreat from the sun. The exact amount of shade a particular herb needs or tolerates depends on the intensity of the summer sun and varies depending on the region. Numerous herbs can grow in the sun in the North but need protection from the intense light in southern areas in the summer.

To assess the intensity and duration of shade, horticulturists have come up with a few simple terms to qualify it. An area is in partial shade or light shade when it receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, but at least four of them are in the morning when the sun is less intense. In filtered or dappled shade some sunlight is blocked by overhead trees or structures such as lattices. In full or dense shade, there is no direct sunlight. With the exception of wildflowers that bloom before leaves fully develop on overhead trees, few plants can thrive in dense shade unless they receive ambient or reflected sunlight.

To encourage

Cut Flower Care How to Make Fresh Flowers from Your Garden Last Indoors

It’s late spring, early summer. Your garden is in peak bloom, filled with vibrantly colored flowers. And now you’ve picked up an article urging you to cut those beautiful blossoms. “No, never!” you say. But this is precisely the time to create a stunning bouquet from the fruits of your labor, so you can enjoy the sights and smells of the garden inside your home as well as outside it.

As soon as the plants in my small border garden begin flowering, I begin cutting. I know that it only takes one gusty wind or heavy summer rain to destroy my beloved blooms. Cutting guarantees that at least some of my flowers will be spared this cruel fate.

There is another reason I cut: It encourages more flowering on my plants throughout the summer months and even into early fall. Periodic cutting performs the same function as deadheading—promoting more blooms by delaying the onset of fruit.

Of course, the main reason I cut is for the tremendous satisfaction I get seeing my garden-grown flowers sitting pretty in a vase on the kitchen table. The number of flowers needed depends on the size of the vase used. In order to avoid cutting too many,

Fresh Flower Care Tips

So, you just had flowers delivered to you, now what?

  • Keep fresh flowers away from drafts and extreme temperatures, which can quickly dry out the flowers and cause wilting.
  • If your flowers came in plastic, remove this as soon as possible.
  • Do not place your arrangement near fruit or in the path of cigarette smoke. The ethylene gas is detrimental to many flower types.
  • Avoid placing flower arrangements in windowsills and other areas with full sun where flowers can wilt due to overheating.
  • Most flowers will last longer under cool conditions.

How To Keep Your Flowers Looking Fresh

  • Keep your vase filled with water! All flower and foliage stems should be submerged. Flowers stay fresher, longer when they can get a drink!
  • If your flowers came in a basket or other container with foam, add fresh water every day.
  • Immediately remove dead or wilting leaves and stems from fresh flower arrangements.
  • Watch your water. When it gets cloudy it’s time to change it out.

Changing The Water In Your Flower Arrangement

  • First remove any dead or dying flowers from the arrangement.
  • After carefully removing the good flowers, clean the vase thoroughly with soapy water to remove any bacteria that could cause the fresh flowers to deteriorate even quicker. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
  • Replace

Five common flower care mistakes

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for advice on plants and flowers. There is so much to remember and you are always worried about doing the wrong thing and accidently killing your houseplant. In order to keep your houseplants and cut flowers fresh as a daisy without all the jargon, simply follow our list of what NOT to do with your plants and flowers for a stress-free experience.

  1. Smash or pierce the stems, or use blunt scissors, as this destroys the water vessels and inhibits water uptake, and causes bacteria to multiply more quickly and over a larger area. It also causes the flower undue stress which shortens its life.
  2. Put flowers near ripening fruit – it releases tiny amounts of ethylene gas which prematurely ages flowers. Dying flowers do the same so always remove them from the vase.
  3. Place flowers in a draught which chills the flowers, or in bright sunlight which encourages bacteria to breed. Keep them away from very warm central heating.
  4. Put copper coins, aspirin, lemonade, or bleach in the water. They’re popular tricks but they don’t work, and they can’t feed your flowers adequately. Homemade formulas are messy, time-consuming and do more harm than good.
  5. Mix daffodils and narcissi

Planting Garlic

Few flavorings rival garlic. It’s pungent, exotic, powerful and scrumptious. Fabled uses of the stuff also include the warding off of vampires and the cure for what ails you. Historically, many serfs were forced to grow it as the King demanded it for taxes. Garlic has been a mainstay of most households for a long, long time.

Garlic is actually a highly unusual garden vegetable. Most of the things that we plant have a “season.” We plant them in the spring and we harvest them in the summer or fall. Garlic never stops growing. When it is in the ground, it is moving and changing. That’s why we have to harvest it in July—when it still has some protective layers of skin—and keep it dry until we go to use it or to plant it again in the fall.

The best garlic grows in the north. This is a hardy plant that actually thrives under the snow in the frozen tundra. We have our snow here in the northeast all winter long. Whatever falls from the sky going into winter stays on the ground until the spring. And, when that spring comes and everything outside is looking brown and dead, little green garlic shoots

Gorse Bush Facts Tips On Gorse Control In Landscapes

What is a gorse bush? Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is an evergreen shrub with green leaves shaped like conifer needles and brilliant yellow flowers. Flowering gorse shrubs are important in nature since they provide shelter and food for many insects and birds. However, gorse is a tough, tenacious shrub that spreads quickly and can become invasive. Read on for more gorse bush facts and information on gorse control.

What is a Gorse Bush?

If you ever tumble into a gorse bush, you will never forget it. What is a gorse bush? Gorse is a spiny, evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean. Gorse was brought into the United States as an ornamental in the 19th Century.

Gorse Bush Facts

Gorse bush facts suggest that the shrub is a legume, a member of the pea family. Flowering gorse shrubs can grow tall and wide. Specimens grow to 15 feet in height with a spread of 30 feet. They form compact shrubs, sufficiently dense and spiny to create an impassable hedge.

The bright yellow, coconut-perfumed flowers take the shape of pea blossoms, and grow at the end of the gorse branches. The mature branches have conspicuous spines.

The three principle species of flowering gorse shrubs are: common gorse, Western gorse

Direct Sow Seeds

It’s the miracle everyone wants: You plant a seed in the soil, add a little water and sunshine, and soon you’re eating what you grew.  For many vegetables in many places, that actually requires starting the seeds indoors in winter or early spring to get a head start on a too-short growing season and then moving the plants outdoors when the air and the soil are warm enough.  (See Seed Starting Indoors article.)
But some vegetables really can be sown directly in garden soil and produce a flavorful addition to the dinner table. No indoor seed-starting, no lights, no transplanting.
These are great crops for introducing children to gardening. Children are overjoyed to see the results of their planting and watering, and a child will eat the most amazing things if she grew them herself.
Direct-sown plants have the same basic needs as all vegetables: full sun (eight hours a day); rich, well-drained soil into which you’ve dug lots of organic matter such as compost; appropriate amounts of nutrients, from compost and, if needed, fertilizer; and water.
Follow the directions on the seed packet. In order to do that, you’ll need to know your “last frost date.” This is the

Reclaiming Your Garden Soil

Reclaim a small field, farmland, or large garden soil that is either over-spent or neglected. Then restore the soil to make it productive again! See our tips.

Clearing Your Land

  • The first job is to cut brush and small trees back to the fence line. Even if you can’t do anything else right away, do this before these trees get the soil acclimated for the pine cycle that will follow. Each bush and tree is part of the cycle and prepares the soil for the next stage. Catching it before the soil has changed significantly is half the battle.
  • Using a heavy-duty pair of lopping shears, cut small growth straight across and as close to the ground as possible. A sharply cut sapling stub will go straight through a tractor tire or the sole of a shoe. Larger sapling and tree stumps will have to be pulled out.
  • Walk the area and mark the location of any rocks. The larger rocks were probably plowed around once upon a time, and you may choose to take the route, but it’s best to remove as many rocks as possible.
  • To see how big a rock is, hit it with a crowbar. If it makes a high-pitched