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Small Vegetable Garden Ideas - Vegetable Garden Design Ideas
Small Vegetable Garden Ideas - Vegetable Garden Design Ideas
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Hardy and graceful Junipers for Northern climates 



Mother Nature has made plants that will grow in every type of growing condition that we may have: every soil type, every climate and every exposure. One of these families of plants that are found everywhere is the Juniper family, which will thrive in your yard in full sun to partial shade, with or without your help.


This wonderful needle evergreen shrub is very durable and these Junipers will grow in many conditions that most plants just give up and die. The two varieties I have selected for you to consider are plants that will work well for you in your landscape as a screen, hedge, and single specimen in the foundation planting or used in a group for mass plantings. These two varieties are available at most nurseries and are among the most common varieties used in the juniper family today.


The 'Hetzii' is the larger growing of the two, with a spreading-upright growing habit. The foliage is unique because of its blue-green needle color and ability to make blue-green cones that resemble small 1/4-inch berries. The cones look like small wild-growing blueberries and are covered with a powdery blue dust that softens the dark blue fruit or cone. The foliage looks like small scales growing together along a stem.


The new foliage is soft and flexible but as the foliage matures, it will become sharp and scratchy to the touch. . The older foliage, especially inside and under the plant, will give you a rash when you do some pruning on the plant, so wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt. When I worked in the nursery and unloaded tractor-trailers filled with shrubs from the grower, I dreaded this plant and always put on a rain jacket to avoid the rash it gave me on my arms. This is one of the reasons no one would try to come across into your yard and through the juniper hedge after the first try--it is a painful experience.


The juniper 'Hetzii' will grow 5 to 10 feet tall but you can prune it to control the height in the spring. It will also spread just as wide but pruning will control the size of the plant. The branches of foliage, which grow in the shape of giant feathers, are graceful and give the plant a very soft appearance as they grow upright but weep down on the tips of the branches. When used as a hedge or in groups, plant the 'Hetzii' juniper on 6 to 8 foot centers. In 3 to 4 years they will fill in the open space between plants.


The juniper family does best in a sandy soil that is well drained and fertile. Plant junipers with compost, animal manure or peat moss; this will help the plant establish roots quickly in your yard or garden. Water two times a week for the first year; fertilize spring, and fall. I like Holly-tone or Dr. Earth evergreen food with pro-biotic because they feed the plant slowly for several weeks.


The juniper 'Pfitzeriana' is much like the 'Hetzii' juniper except that it is sage-green in color and more spreading than upright growing. This juniper will grow five to six feet tall and spread five to ten feet wide. This juniper is wonderful to plant on a banking to hold it in place, in foundation plantings, or in hedges that you can see over but can't get through--to keep people out. The 'Pfitzeriana,' often called 'Pfitzer,' is the more popular of the two.


The branches of the 'Pfitzeriana' are pendulous and soft looking--almost like waves breaking on the beach at the seashore. This plant does not make cones and the needles are not sharp--which means no rash on your arms. This plant has been around for a long time; it is hardy to minus 30 to 40 below zero and disease and insect problems are rare.


Junipers are still one of the most popular plants that demand very little from you, but keep giving you what you are looking for in an evergreen plant.



Easy to grow evergreen Yew hedge





If you were to visit a nursery and ask for the best needle evergreen plant that they have, most would say the yew family of plants. Let me tell you why the yews are so good for your home landscaping. First is the winter hardiness of the plant, to -20 to -30 degree temperatures, in all types of exposures from shade to full sun. Next is the resistance to most insects and disease problems.


The color of the foliage all year long is lustrous dark green top of the needle and lighter on the underside. The yew family also grows compact and the new growth develops slowly to medium making the plant easy to control in your yard. Some of the varieties even have small red fruit that develops during the fall and feeds birds during the winter. In addition, the many varieties in the family grow differently, giving us many different shapes, heights and width to choose from.


The yew family of plants has a rich history and mention of the plant dates back to the 1100s. In England, Scotland and Wales, yew trees are documentated to be greater than 4000 years old. A recent discovery in Llangermyw, Wales, shows that a churchyard yew tree, having a circumference of 47 feet, is 4000 plus years old.


If you grew up on the legend of Robin Hood as I did, you might remember that Robin was chased into the woods of Sherwood Forest by the Sheriff of Nottingham. This legendary English outlaw, known for "robbing the rich and giving to the poor," made his bow from the yew trees that grew in the forest. If you have a large yew plant in your yard, carefully bend the branches and see how flexible they are. Mythology or not, Robin Hood is still in Sherwood Forest in my mind.


The Yew's foliage is called a needle and is much like the foliage of the pine tree. Each needle grows 1/2 to 1 inch long and about 1/8 wide. This short needle is pointed on the tip and has a raised midrib on both the bottom and top. The top of the needle is dark green and glossy, while the bottom is paler green with a blue band of color running the length of the needle. This blue green band is more noticeable during the spring and summer months.


The new growth is almost kelly green when young but quickly darkens with the heat of summer. During the winter the needles will darken, sometime turning reddish if you have a cold winter. The growing habit of the yew family is spreading or upright-spreading and most plants are multi-stemmed. The new growth makes the plant look very soft and it is soft to touch. On a windy day, this new growth moves like waves at the seashore.


Here are my favorite varieties of the yew plant and their uses in the landscape. The Taxus 'Densiformis' is a spreading variety; it will spread twice as wide as it will grow tall. It grows 1 to 5 feet tall, depending on how you prune and what you want from the plant. It makes a wonderful evergreen hedge--1 to 3 feet tall and just as wide. Space plants on three-foot centers when planting and prune in May, after the new growth has formed, to control the size of the plant. Fertilize every spring with Holly Tone fertilizer to help keep plants thick and beautiful.


The 'Hatfieldii' yew is spreading, but more upright growing and almost pyramidal in shape. It will grow to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide, but you can prune it easily to keep plants 5 or 6 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide--making a great privacy hedge. This is a great plant to place on each side of your front steps to hide and soften them as long as you prune yearly to control size.

The 'Hicksii' yew is more upright growing than it is spreading and, like the 'Hatfieldii' yew, it will make a wonderful tall hedge--up to 20 feet tall. The 'Hicksii' yew, with pruning, can also be kept at almost any height but it will grow narrower than the 'Hatfieldii' yew.


Yews love the sun but do very well in partial shade. Plant them in a well-drained soil, rich in organic matter, and keep them away from wet areas, as the roots will rot easily. All yews look wonderful as individual plants, in groupings on the side of a hill (to hold it in place), as a short hedge for an herb garden or a tall privacy hedge. The last thing you need to know is that deer love them, so check the neighborhood before planting.



Small garden fountain
Small garden fountains


Northern Bayberry great gray colored fruit in the fall




When the Pilgrims landed in America in 1620, their ship the Mayflower had supplies for them to live on for the first year but they had to become self-sufficient quickly or their ordeal would be for nothing. Oil lamp fluid was at a premium, beeswax was rare--but they found a native plant growing along the salt marshes that made a wax for the candles they needed so much.


The bayberry plant makes a fruit in the fall that is covered with a naturally-occurring wax that they used to make candles and still is used today. Because the plant was native to the coastal area where they chose to live, and because the plant grew in such abundance, the Pilgrims had light during those first dark days in their new home. This plant, the bayberry, was also called the candleberry plant by the Pilgrims and was one of the first plants to make it possible for the new settlers to survive in the new world.


The bayberry plant grows from Newfoundland to North Carolina as a native plant. It prefers a coastal habitat with sandy soils. I was always amazed with this plant, as it grew in a salty soil where high tides frequently flooded the soil that it grew in. The plant was tolerant to salt water, grew in infertile soil, and tolerated the strong ocean winds of winter storms--truly an amazing plant.

The bayberry plant grows in the shape of a mount 3 to 6 feet tall--but in a good soil, it can reach up to 10 feet tall. The spread of the plant is as wide as it is tall and the plant has the ability to spread in the soil with suckering branches that grow underground from the mature plant.


Another oddity with the bayberry plant is that it is "dioecious," which means the plants are either male or female. The male plants produce a non-showy yellow-green flower that resembles a tiny pinecone. The female produces a gray waxy-coated berry called a drupe that will grow to about 1/4 inch in diameter, in clusters on the branches of the new growth. The bayberry fruit will ripen in September and can last on the plant until April, unless the birds eat the berries.


The foliage is dull green, oval in shape, growing one inch wide and 2 to 4 inches long. Most of the foliage will drop from the plant during the winter, exposing the silvery clusters of fruit. The plants will grow best in acid soils that are sandy but they will tolerate a bit of clay in the soil as long as they do not stay wet. The plants grow best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade in the late afternoon.


Keep the plants out of planting beds with sprinkler systems in them. When planting bayberry, prepare the soil with organic matter like compost and animal manure to get them off to a good start. Fertilize in the spring with Plant -Tone fertilizer or Natural Guard evergreen and holly fertilizer by Fertilome . Once the plants are established, feeding is not necessary unless you want them to grow faster and taller.


Plant bayberry in rows for a natural-looking hedge, in groups to hold back sandy slopes, or mix with other plants for a different combination of textures in the planting beds. One male plant will have enough pollen to fertilize five female plants and your local nursery should have plants that are labeled by the sex of the plant. If they not labeled look for the cones (male), or silver berries (female) on the new growth or the tips of the plant.


The bayberry plant will grow where nothing else will grow, such as in windy areas with poor soil, and will tolerate little to no water and neglect. Don't forget the fragrance of the plants' foliage and the berries. Plant a bit of history and grow a plant that helped establish the Pilgrims in the new world. Enjoy!



"The greatest service any one can render his country is to add a new plant to it's culture"
Thomas Jefferson


Small balcony garden ideas
Small balcony garden ideas



Evergreen small leaf inkberry and wonderful fruit




The other day I was visiting friends, and as we walked their property I found wild inkberry growing along the side of the road and near the water edge near the lake. I was so used to seeing this plant as a cultivated evergreen plant sold in nurseries that I had forgotten that the inkberry was a native plant that will grow from Nova Scotia to Florida.


The inkberry plant is a member of the holly family and hardy to 20-30 degrees below zero. It will grow most anywhere in your yard or garden, even in the shade. As a wild plant it will grow in an unruly mound shape and spreads with suckering branches in all directions. The birds do help to spread this plant around the area, as they love the seed-filled berries that the inkberry makes during the summer.


The foliage is deep green and shiny, but during the winter it will pick up a bit of bronzy color with the cold weather. The leaves are 1 to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide--oval with a rounded tip. When the new growth matures in late spring, the small white flowers develop at the base of the new leaves. When the bees do their job, small green fruit will form, and by the late summer, the fruit will change color to shiny black. The fruit is about 1/8 inch in diameter. When it's ripe the birds, and many four legged animals, will feed on them almost like they will on wild blueberries.


Inkberries will grow in most soils--wet or dry--and acidity is never a problem, as the plants adapt to most soils quickly. The inkberry will grow in areas with full sunshine or on wooded lots with moderate shade. Whether you have a sheltered location or one wide open to the wind and weather, the inkberry will thrive for you with little to no care once established. Insect and disease problems are rare on the inkberry plant. Even with cold weather and lots of wind, foliage damage is very rare. Truly, a plant made for your home or a camp by the lake.


You can prune the plant to control the height or let it grow wild, as most plants will mature to 6 to 8 feet tall and just as wide. Most mature plants will have many suckering plants growing around the base of the plant that you can dig up in the spring and transplant during April.


Your local nursery will have several varieties of the plant available to add to your landscape, such as the Ilex Glabra 'Compacta,' which has to be pruned every spring early to control the height of the plant. It is a nice plant for a natural garden look but it does drop the inner foliage and loses its density as it matures. For a more formal-looking plant, use the 'Nigra' variety, as it holds its foliage better and tends to be thicker growing. Because it holds the lower leaves and is darker in color, it will look better as a foundation plant.


My favorite variety of inkberry for hedges or for the formal garden look is the 'Shamrock' variety, as it has very dark green foliage and the foliage is more dense than the other varieties and will grow 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.


Plant inkberry at any time of the year and use organic matter like compost and animal manure to help get the plants off to a good start the first year. Water two times a week for the first year and plants will thrive with a spring feeding of Holly-tone or Acid Adoring fertilizer each spring. This is a great plant to use for erosion control on sloping land. Plant in groups or in a mass for a soft evergreen look with a rich fall color.


Do not forget the small shiny black berries on the plant that will last from August to spring if the animals do not find them. If you're feeding the birds, this plant--the inkberry--will give them evergreen foliage to shield them against the winter weather when the plants mature, along with the berries the birds will eat. Enjoy!




Home-Made Blue Ribbon Blueberry Pie!



The season is here for fresh picked Blueberries and it is a short one so get out there and pick while they are at their peak.  Freeze some; eat some right from the bush, add them to your morning cereal, and make some muffins, but make this pie for a real treat as canned or frozen blueberries will not have the same taste as the fresh picked Blueberries.


Crust options:

1 package of two readymade pie crusts from Pillsbury in the red box

Or use one crust for the bottom and a crumble top crust

Crumbles crust ingredients:

1/2 cup of all-purpose flower

1 teaspoon of baking powder

teaspoon of salt or sea salt

4 tablespoons of butter

2/3 cup of brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup of quick-cooking oatmeal or rolled oats



6 cups of fresh picked blueberries

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of all-Purpose flour

teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter cut up

teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract



1} Preheat the oven to 400 degrees


2} Place the bottom crust in your pie pan, press onto the bottom and sides.  Trim crust leaving a inch overhang.


3} Mix your sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in mixing bowl.  Stir in the vanilla and blueberries and mix well to coat all berries.  Spoon the mixture into the pie crust and dot with butter.  If you're using a second pie crust cover the pie, seal the edges, and cut several slits on top of the pie for vent.


4} if you using the crumble crust, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture looks coarse and crumbles.  Stir in the brown sugar and oatmeal or rolled oats and blend well.  Place the mixture over the blueberries in the pie plate and spread evenly.


5} Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie crust turns light brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with a big scoop of Vanilla Ice cream. Enjoy!






Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


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