Beat the summer heat with watermelon from the garden!

Small garden pond ideas
Small garden pond ideas
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Summer flowering perennial Bell Flowers

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.Over the last few weeks, the one flower that stands out in my perennial garden is the Canterbury bells--and they are one of my favorite flowers for cutting. As a cut flower, they will last 2 weeks or more in a tall vase of water, so if you want tall perennial flowers in the garden or for cutting, this is the one for you to plant in your garden now or in the spring. These wonderful flowers come in blue, purple, pink, and white colors and they are winter hardy all over the Northeast, where some taller growing flowers have problems wintering over. The stems are strong and they are covered with many star-shaped or bell-shaped flowers, depending on the variety you select.

Here is all you will need to grow these wonderful perennials. Select a location with full sun (but they will tolerate a bit of shade late in the day or first thing in the morning). Your garden soil must be light and well-drained all year. Clay soils or areas in your garden that have a tendency of staying wet after a heavy rain will not do, as this plant will rot in wet soils. Before you plant, condition the soil with lots of compost, animal manure, seaweed kelp or the new coir product now available. The better the soil, the more stems of flowers the plant will produce and the longer they will stay in bloom during the summer. In a cold climate, the plants will do much better if your garden has 2 to 3 inches of mulch, compost or pine needles covering the garden bed. The plants will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and, once established, the plant will spread to a clump 2 to 3 feet wide.

I planted my Canterbury bells in a place where they are sheltered from strong summer thunder storms and wind. Alternatively, plant them near a fence where you can tie them up or brace them easily. A mature plant can, and will, produce 15 to 25 stems of flowers during July and early August. Each flower stem can produce 15 to 25 flowers, depending on the variety you have chosen. Some of the bell-shaped flowers can be one inch wide and 2 inches long, so the flowers are heavy on this strong stem. They will bend or fall over if the plant is in full bloom and severe weather develops. That is why they should have some protection or be planted with other tall-growing perennials for support.

The plant begins as a mound or a rosette of foliage in the spring and will spread out on the ground 12 to 18 inches wide. The flower stems will have small leaves along the length of the flower stem but most of the foliage stays in this 6 to 10 inch mound of foliage on the ground. Bellflowers do not like the heat, and prefer temperatures from 70 at night. During the summer, if temperatures get above 90 degrees they will fade and the blooming time is shortened. Knowing this, you should keep plants away from asphalt driveways or stone walkways like brick or cobblestones. They also do not like to be in a raised bed made of stone or planted near a stone wall as the stone does hold the heat around the plant longer.

Bellflowers are best planted in the spring, or in the fall during September so the plant has time to get established before winter arrives. If you're planting in a rock garden this fall use extra compost to help plants get established faster and be sure to mulch around plants to help cool the roots of the plant during the summer months. Keep plants well watered for the first 4 to 6 weeks in the spring or fall planting and if possible use "Plant Thrive" the wonderful liquid fertilizer with Mycorrhizae for faster root development. When you water your new plants, water the garden deeply to encourage the roots to develop deep into the soil.
When your flowers are in bloom and they begin to fade, be sure to deadhead the plants, as this will prolong the flowering time in the garden. When the flowers are finished blooming, cut the stem right down to the foliage cluster near the ground. If your plants are happy growing in your garden, they will need to be divided every 3 to 5 years in the spring or early fall (September). Dig up the entire clump and break it apart with your hands. Discard any parts of the plant that don't look healthy--like the older growth or any side shoots that developed and look weak. Keep the best looking parts and condition the soil before planting them, as they will be in the ground for 3 to 5 years and now is the time to get them off to a good start.

Campanula has very few problems with insects and disease, a real positive trait for this plant. Your selection by variety is very wide, as there are over 300 varieties to choose from--so do your research before planting. Besides the tall growing varieties you will be able to find dwarf or low growing varieties for your garden. Bellflowers are wonderful for perennial beds, border gardens, and rock gardens; some varieties make great plants for wildflower plantings, and the low-growing types can be used as a ground cover. You could say that there is a bellflower for every area of your gardens from the front of the flower bed, medium-growing varieties for the middle of your garden, and tall varieties for the back of the garden. Some of the miniature varieties can also be planted in a wall garden and will thrive in the cracks and crevices.

Campanula flowers are tubular to star in shape and they are frequently visited by many butterflies, all types of bees and humming birds--for a real bonus with their activity in the garden. Because there are so many different varieties of Campanula, you can have bellflowers in bloom from early spring right up until the fall season. Another nice thing about the bellflowers is that they work well when combined with other flowers like astilbe, columbine, foxgloves, delphiniums, lilies, daylilies, summer-flowering daisies, and coneflowers. I have a couple clumps planted in light shade and they look great with annuals like coleus, impatiens and wax begonias.

Fertilize them every spring during April, and again in the early fall, with Flower-Tone or Garden trust 5-5-5  to help them to develop extra foliage for next year's growth and more flowers on the plant. Once you plant campanula in your garden, you will want other varieties to increase your collection because of the many different flower shapes and their length of flowering in your garden. These are great plants for your garden, they are hardy, low maintenance and trouble free. Enjoy !



Globe Thistle for a hot sunny garden


One of my favorite summer flowering perennials is the globe thistle. The flowers are steel-blue, a color rare to find in the garden during the summer. The globe thistle flower is in the shape of a blue ball one to two inches across and covered with hard-pointed flower buds silvery-green in color that open to reveal a deep blue flower. The flower is bristly--you would be wise to wear gloves to pick it for an arrangement for the kitchen table. As a cut flower, it will last for several weeks and in the garden for a month or two.

The foliage looks like a dandelion growing in a rosette around a central stem. The leaf is silvery-green, deeply cut with many indentations that are pointed. Some of these points are very sharp, so you will not have to worry that the kids next door will steal the flower from your garden for their mother.

The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and produces many side branches that contain 3 to 5 flowers on each stem. When the flower go by, remove them and new stems will develop on the plant with more flowers. Globe thistles will bloom for several weeks, especially if the weather is hot and dry.

The plants almost look like weeds growing in your garden at first and like most of the plants growing wild on the side of the road. Once you plant it in the garden, it will not be mistaken as weed again, because of the unique foliage. The plants are tough and requires little care once established in your garden. They also require little to no fertilizer in your garden--if you feed too often, the plant will grow tall and flop over easily.

Feed them in the spring with compost and keep liquid fertilizer away from them. Plants are drought tolerant and the thick stems will hold the flower up without staking, even in seaside gardens exposed to wind and weather.

Plant globe thistles in a garden with plenty of sun, in a soil that is well-drained and not too fertile. Clay-type soil will rot the root system, especially in the springtime or during the winter. The root of the plant is a taproot that will grow well over a foot deep and because of this, they do not transplant easily. It is best not to try to divide or move them; if you like them, buy a new plant from your garden center.

Potted plants can be planted in your garden at any time of the year but you must water weekly until the plants have established their permanent roots. Try to keep the foliage of the plant dry when you water, as fungus disease can be a problem during a hot and humid summer. Keep plants away from flowerbeds that have sprinkler systems installed in them, because globe thistle really likes a dry soil to grow.

If you have a flower bed that is in full sun, hot, dry and nothing seems to grow there, than the globe thistle will thrive there. In rock gardens, near stone walls or groupings of large stones, this plant will do very well as it will tolerate the heat that the stone brings into the soil.

The globe thistle is unique and you will always remember this plant for blue flowers that form during the heat of summer. Butterflies love the flowers when they first open. In the fall, small birds like finches and chickadees will go crazy for the seed in the flower head.

You can cut the flowers when they are in full bloom and hang them from the rafters in your garage to dry. As a dried cut flower, they are wonderful and so is the foliage on the stem, as it also dries well--so do not remove the foliage when drying the plant.



Turn Your Small Patio into A Beautiful Garden
Turn Your Small Patio into A Beautiful Garden

Japanese Anemones 


With September just around the corner, you might be thinking of fall flowers for your garden, and I want you to consider the Japanese anemones this year. Mums and fall asters are nice but when you see the anemones in bloom in your garden, you will say to yourself, "Where were these plants when I was looking for fall flowers all these years!" Anemones will begin to flower in early September and last for 5 weeks or more in your garden, or until a hard frost kills the plant back to the ground like other perennials. The plants are hardy to zone 4 with winter temperatures down to -30 degrees and with a 3 inch covering of bark mulch around the plant. The flowers of the anemones look like windmills on tall stems and you will enjoy watching them sway back and forth with the cool fall winds.

Plant Japanese anemones in a sunny garden but it will tolerate a bit of late-in-the-day shade. Your soil is the key to grow this wonderful perennial plant in your garden. It MUST be well drained at all times and the plant will not tolerate standing water or areas where water will collect and turn into ice during the winter months. Before planting in your garden be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss to increase the organic matter level in the soil, as these plants will do much better in a rich soil. Also add a bit of Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture around the roots for the first season and a teaspoon of Dynamite slow release fertilizer to keep the plant well fed while it becomes established in your garden.

Most fall-flowering anemones will grow 18 to 24 inches tall and spread about the same width. You will also find many other varieties that will grow taller in height and the plant will grow wider also. The foliage is half of the plant's height, is dark green and stays very clean looking, as it is not troubled by insects and disease problems. The flower stems grow long and straight from the foliage during the month of August; these stems are very strong and able to hold up many flower buds and open flowers at the same time.

The flower buds and the flowers are elegant looking on the plant, and they will bring much interest to the garden where they grow. The flowers will grow 2 to 4 inches wide and resemble the flowers of poppies, also much like the delicate single-flowering miniature dahlias or real fancy-looking daisies. The flower petals grow around a unique looking rounded green-to-yellow colored center that is also circled with several rows of delicate looking pollen sacks. Most varieties will have several rows of these delicate flower petals, and each flower will last for two weeks or more on the plant. The flower buds are deep green, just like the foliage, and are as round as a marble until they burst open with the flower petals.

Both the flower and the flower buds have a dusty covering on them that makes them glow in the garden on a bright sunny day, at night when the moon is full or when your outdoor lighting is on in the garden. They seem to catch the light and reflect it back to you almost like they are tiny mirrors in your garden. The plant does not look formal in your garden but more natural and almost like a wildflower.

The flowers come in shades of pink, white, rose, red, lavender, and several varieties will have darker looking petals in the center of the flower and lighter colored near the tips of the petals. The colors remind me of the pastel colors of Easter eggs in the spring time--they are so delicate.

As the flowers fade on the plant, the flower petals will fall and leave behind a round seed pod about an inch in diameter. The seed pods will give added interest to the remaining flower and buds on the plant. The plant will still have much interest when all the flowers have faded because of the many round seed pods that will remain on the plant until a hard frost turns the entire plant brown during late October. Once the plant turns brown, it is time to cut it back to the ground and clean the garden of the remaining debris.

By leaving the seed pods on the plant until frost, the seed pods will ripen, turn gray and crack open. When the winds push the flower around, the seed will scatter in your garden, and in the spring new seedlings will germinate and develop all over the garden. Or you could collect the seed pods when all the flowers have faded, and store them in a paper bag until they dry and crack open, so you can spread them in other gardens on your property.

Plant them in mixed perennial gardens, use them as a ground cover on steep hillside where mowing is a problem, or in a mass planting in front of evergreens like rhododendrons and azaleas. They will also grow great in a wildflower garden, or plant them under tall growing trees with few lower branches, allowing sunshine to hit the ground and create a woodland garden.

Japanese anemones are a wonderful plant for your fall landscape and will give your fall-flowering mums added character in the garden. Look for them at your local garden center or nursery this weekend and plant them in your garden now so you can enjoy all stages of the bloom--unique flower buds, flowers, and then seed pods this fall. 

"Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks"


Cozy Patio Ideas for Small Spaces
Cozy Patio Ideas for Small Spaces




Did you know that hen and chicks are native to Europe? Did you know that hen and chicks were grown to prevent lightning damage to homes and buildings? Did you know that the two gods of Lightning, Thor, and Zeus, are associated with this garden perennial? And did you know that hen and chicks can grow in the worst soil in your yard and thrive even if the winter temperatures drop below minus 30 degree below zero.

Hen and chicks are low growing evergreen succulents that will thrive in a cold climate, like cold-tolerant cactus type plants for the north. These plants grow in clusters or like a mat of plants all interconnected covering the ground. The plant has foliage that grows in a rosette form; the individual leaves are thick and filled with a jelly-like fluid that helps keep the plant actively growing in the worst types of growing conditions.

The individual leaves are oval with a point on their tips, and grow up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. This foliage develops on the plant similar to the way a rose bud opens to become a wonderful rose flower in a vase of water. The older leaves are larger and spread out flat on the ground as new foliage develops in the center of the plant from a tight bud of newly emerging leaves. Depending on the variety of the plant, each rosette can spread out to be 4 to 6 inches in diameter and grow 3 to 5 inches tall.

This is a large family of plants and the foliage can come in many colors and shades of those colors to create much interest in your garden. The newer foliage is usually darker and brighter in color than the older foliage and each clump can have plant in all stages of live and plant sizes. A mature clump of hen and chicks can spread up to two feet or more in diameter or width. The plants are slow growing, so it will take several seasons for clumps to grow this large. Plant potted clumps 12 to 15 inches apart for rapid cover or transplanted rosettes in the spring 3 to 5 inches apart.

The plant is grown for it interesting foliage, which can be in many shades of green, red, yellow, gray, purple, and many mixtures of colors on the same plants. Some new hybrids also have interesting string-like growth or silk-like hair that covers the rosette like a spider web on the plant. In the early morning this silky fiber is covered with droplets of morning dew, making the plants truly unique looking until the sun dries them off.

The many hundreds of varieties will also vary in the size of the rosette and leaf size, with many miniature rosette types growing less than one inch in diameter. Some of the foliage can be flat spreading while others can be curled like a tube. The best color and shapes are on plants grown in full sun because shade or partial shade will force plants to have more of a green color to the foliage and less detail.

Now let me tell you how the plant got its name, hen and chicks. This thick mat of plants in the shape of rosettes will spread evenly on the ground until the older plants mature. When the plants mature the rosette of foliage will stop producing foliage and in the middle of this rosette, a tall thick, 6 to 12 inch flower stem will develop. On top of this stem, a cluster of small one-inch star-shaped flowers will form and they will be brightly colored in shades of red to purple. This mature plant is called the hen and when the flowers fade the rosette of foliage will die and be replaced with new small rosettes of foliage, the chicks.

Hen and chicks are among the easiest plant you can grow in a sunny garden, no matter what your soil is like, as long as it is well drained and you never have standing water. This plant will grow in gravel, sandy or stony type soil and is often found growing in cracks of large rocks with no soil at all. If you have a lot of ledge on your property and want to grow something on it to cover the stone, just add a couple inches of top soil and plant right on top of the ledge.

My mother set up a row of concrete cinder blocks on the edge of the driveway where nothing grew, filled them with top soil and planted hen and chicks in them. In just a couple years you could no longer see the concrete blocks, just beautiful rosettes of colorful foliage. She fed them a couple times a year with a granular fertilizer, watered occasionally and they spread so fast, they even came up in the cracks of the driveway.

All she did was to pull the small rosettes from the main clump in the spring with short stems attached to them (and most of the time no roots) and just pushed them in the ground. She watered a couple times a week until they developed roots and fertilized with Blooming and Rooting by Fertilome every other week. She soon had enough for all our neighbors and friends--it's that easy.

In the days of thatched roof all over Europe and still today in many places, including Ireland where thatched roofs are still found, I saw hen and chicks planted in the thatched roofs. Folklore said that if your roof was planted with hen and chicks, it would protect against lightning-induced fires, due to the association with the two gods of lightning: Thor and Zeus. If a fire started in your roof and you had hen and chicks planted in it, the fire was slowed down because of all the thick fluid in the foliage of the plant and because it grew so thick, often covering all the thatch. So yes, these plants are fire resistant and they do slow down the spread of fire-- folklore is right!

If your hen and chicks are in bloom now, you will soon have many new chicks to transplant to a new garden in the spring next year. Enjoy the flowers and when the foliage dies remove it from the cluster so the new plants can form more quickly.

Hen and chicks will grow in containers as long as they are well drained, especially during the winter months. They will make wonderful plants when used as a ground cover, especially if you mix several colors and leaf shapes together in the same planting bed. Use in rock gardens to form an edge planting or in planting beds where pea stone or gravel is used in the place of bark mulch. If you build a stone wall on your property, add a few plants between the rocks you use to make the wall for wonderful special effects. Steep sloping hills where erosion is a problem is the perfect place to plant hen and chicks also.

Because of the many hybrids of this plant be sure to ask your local garden center or nursery for hardiness of the plants you select the plants in your garden. If the plants are in the nursery perennial flowers display it should be hardy but if it is the greenhouse it is most likely an indoor variety and will not survive the winter if your climate is cold. If you order unusual varieties on line, be sure to check the plant zone map for hardiness and stay with plants that are hardy from zone 1 to 5 and not 5 to 10. Enjoy! 


Fresh Red Raspberry Bars



Raspberries are now ready for picking and available at farm stands or pick your own stands. The season is short, so pick extra for freezing for those long days of winter, and eat some over vanilla Ice-cream with whipped cream topping. Or make a pie with them, o so good. This recipe is very easy to make and very good tasting.

2 cups of all-purpose baking mix like Biscuit
1 cup of quick-cooking oats
cup of brown sugar, packed
cup of butter, softened
2 cups of fresh Raspberries, mashed and spreadable
a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


1} Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees

2} Grease a 9 by 9 by 2 inch square baking pan

3} Mix the all-purpose baking mixture, oats, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with the pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly. Press half of the mixture onto the bottom of you baking pan.

4} Spread evenly your fresh mashed Raspberries mixture to within inch of the edges over the crumbly layer in your pan. Drizzle with the Vanilla extract. Add the remaining crumbly layer mixture: press gently into the pan.

5} Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars, making 24 pieces and refrigerate. 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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