June 27th, 2015

Gardening in a Bag

I recently read an article about a woman in Africa who used bags that were discarded to grow vegetables in her small yard. She was so successful at it that she also brought in added income for her family. I later learned that many ladies in Africa have cleverly created gardens  using bags. As they realize, a container is a container is a container so that as long as the vegetable roots have space to grow, the plant will thrive.

I have always wanted to try planting potatoes in a black plastic bag.  You can use any black bag as long as it is not transparent. For directions check out the YouTube video above. This is a fun project for kids to try.

If you want to be an even lazier gardener, you can buy a sack of gardening soil and cut out a hole and plant your tomato plant in it.  You will need to use fertilizer in the garden soil you buy if it doesn’t have any added and a tomato cage for the tomato plant to grow and not topple upright. (see here) You don’t have to only grow tomatoes and potatoes in the bags, you can grow beans or peppers or experiment with other vegetables or flowers.

If you live in an apartment and only have a deck or patio that is in a sunny location, try “farming in a bag.”  Or if you are limited in space, you can garden without doing any building of raised beds or buying fancy containers.

Have fun. And let the readers of TheGardenLady blog know how you succeeded with your bag garden.

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June 26th, 2015

15 Steps to Tick-Proof your Property

I just heard that a friend was bitten by a tick that she found embedded in her skin and she found the tell tale bull’s eye mark in the area. She fears that she may have Lyme disease and is being treated with antibiotics.  She was lucky because she found both the tiny tick and the tell tale bull’s eye. Not everyone is so lucky to find this evidence. This is her second encounter with a tick that carries a disease. The last time she had a tick borne disease called Babesiosis.  Ticks can carry numerous diseases, not just Lyme disease and/or Babesiosis. See here.

Because ticks carry or are what is called a vector for numerous diseases, you can get different tick borne diseases. And you can get these tick borne  diseases in many parts of the world as well as in all states in the US. See here.

Keep reading →

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June 19th, 2015

Spring Ephemerals

Real Spring weather might finally get here. The flowers don’t seem to mind this unusually coldish April weather that we are having. They are merrily blooming their heads off, while I am too cold to sit in the garden to do any work. So I am just walking around and admiring.

This is the time of the year to take a walk in the woods to see the little flowers that are called Spring ephemerals. These are perennials with a very short lifetime. They bloom and then the plant seems to disappear. The word ephemeral means “lasting for a very short time.”  And one doesn’t see the plant again until it flowers the following spring.

Since TheGardenLady’s property is basically in the woods, my front lawn is covered with some of the spring ephemerals. Growing up, my daughter loved the flower called the Spring Beauty -Claytonia virginiana. I hate to mow my front lawn that first time in the spring because I always fear that because we couldn’t see the plants after flowering, we would kill the plants. But so far, we are lucky that they are still coming up every year for our delight. (One reason for NEVER using weed killers.)

I fear that spring ephemerals are not the hardiest “weed” in the garden and from what I have read about them, they do need a special environment- the rich undisturbed moist woodland. And they also need very specific pollinators. One pollinator is the Bumble bee (Bombus). (A reason not to use pesticides, too.)

Some of the other spring ephemerals on my property are:

Erythronium americium (Trout lily, Yellow Trout lily, Yellow dogtooth violet)

I had never seen this flower before I moved to this property. The first year I raked and found a trout lily, I made my husband come out to photograph it. I am proud to say that I now have one section of my garden where the trout lily has grown into a large 2 ft by 2ft patch.

I also have had the Trillium with the common name of Wakerobin. I guess it got its common name because it blooms in the spring when robins seem to awake after winter (though some robins stay around and are awake all winter). I looked for the Wakerobins this year but didn’t find them. Did they die off because of something or will they come back another year?  It takes 7 years from it to grow from seed to plant.

Can you plant any of these spring ephemerals?   If you have the proper environment that they like the answer is yes.

If you want to try raising spring ephemerals, don’t dig them up from the wild. Get them from friends’ gardens or there are nurseries that sell them. The good nurseries all raise them from seed- not from the wild.  You can even buy seeds. Some of the spring ephemerals like Virginia bluebells I have planted and they are easy to grow and I am growing them successfully. Some like the bloodrood Sanguinaria canadensis and the Trillium grandiflorum are struggling even on my woodland property.

Go on line to find the particular plant you want. One wildflower seed source is this:

For buying plants check out this:

For more information on spring ephemerals read this:

TheGardenLady readers would love to see photos of any spring ephemerals growing in your woodland garden.

June 18th, 2015

VIDEO: How to maintain your garden

Every gardener needs a few tools, and a few tricks to keep their plants and flowers growing and blooming. Here are the basics from gardening editor Kristin Schleiter on how to maintain your garden.

Keep reading →

June 14th, 2015

Pollinator Plants

This spring, TheGardenLady just planted a packet of organic Sunflowers Helianthus annuus Lemon Queen (see here). These sunflowers are known to attract numerous kinds of bees and butterflies. And after they have finished blooming, I can save the seeds to plant again the following year as well as give seeds to friends so that more gardens will have a good host plant for more pollinators.

But in my garden I also have many other native plants, as well as nonnative plants, that pollinators love to nectar on. These include:

Buddleja davidii butterfly bush
Asclepias tuberosa butterfly weed
Asclepias incarnata milkweed
Monarda Bee balm
Kniphophia red hot poker plant

Scabiosa pincushion flower

Of course, TheGardenLady has many more pollinator plants, but the above list was considered among the best plants for attracting pollinators. For a more complete list of pollinator plants for your area, go here.

What are you, dear reader, doing to attract pollinators to your property that you would recommend others to also do?

June 1st, 2015

How to Help a Stressed Avocado Tree

TheGardenLady received this question from Yvonne.

I planted a hass avocado tree in my garden about three years ago and it has been doing great until a week ago.  I live in the NE side of Houston TX and have had so much rain in the last 30 days that the leaves are wilting and turning brown.  The tree is about 11 ft tall.  What should I do?

Flooding or too much rain is not good for most plants. It deprives the roots of oxygen. Avocado trees are particularly stressed from getting water-logged. (see here)

With all the rains the news has been reporting that Texas is having, there will be lots of plant problems – not only with your avocado tree. It is sad to say, but you might lose this avocado tree because of the excessive rains.

You can leave it in the ground and hope that it does not die.

Or, to try to save it as you asked, if the tree is not too big for you to handle you can dig it up and re-pot it with new soil. Get rid of as much of the mud as you can, put the tree in a pot large enough to put soil underneath and around the root (it should not be planted deeper in the pot than it was in the ground), prune back the tree from the top of the plant so that the tree is short (this will allow the plant to concentrate its energy to growing the root, not the entire plant) and then bring the newly re-potted plant into the house. Because you gave it the new dry soil, water it a normal amount – do not over water.

Though the video above shows how the transfer is done from pot to pot, you will be putting it in from the ground, but the instructions are the same (see here). Get the soil recommended in this video and give the tree a good start with azomite.  What is azomite? (see here)

May 31st, 2015

More on Private Gardens

More and more gardeners are using sculpture in their gardens as another level of interest.  Many of us do not have the money to buy real sculpture or don’t like the same cement items that are made in hundreds of reproductions that we can afford. So many people are getting very creative, turning their “junque” into interesting sculpture.

I once went on one of those private garden tours where one lady bought lots of flea market items that she transformed into plant holders or sculpture. She hung bed pans – you read correctly, they were discarded hospital bed pans – on her wood fence and filled the deeper lip with succulents. This display made everyone laugh as they passed by.

Keep reading →

May 20th, 2015

A private garden in Seattle, Washington

Most gardens are very private. Unlike TheGardenLady’s garden whose garden is in the front of the house for all to see, with the back yard being more natural and tranquil, most gardens are only seen by the owners and their guests.  It is exciting to get invited into a private garden to see what their garden is like.  So here are some photos of a private garden in Seattle.

Back Gate   Back Gate

Back 40          Back 40

Camus & Pac Coast Iris     Camus & Pac Coast Iris


Front door gardenFront Door Garden

Lenton RoseLenton Rose

Oregon Grape & HuckleberryOregon Grape and Huckleberry

Side rock gardenSide Rock Garden

Wisteria & Two MaplesWisteria and Two Maples

Readers of  TheGardenLady would love to see photos of your private garden. Please share your photos with us.

May 14th, 2015

Flowers Growing in the TheGardenLady’s Garden


TheGardenLady readers might like to see a list of the flowers growing in my garden this year.

A list of most of the Plants in TheGardenLady’s garden

Perennials Keep reading →

May 11th, 2015

Some Flowers in the TheGardenLady’s Garden on Mother’s Day

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Photo 1: Snowball Bush Viburnum that is in a garden overlooking the woods and stream on the property. Because this Viburnum is the focal point and the area is shaded, TheGardenLady is trying to make this a White Garden. The major plantings have “whitish” flowers. There are Korean Spice Bushes and a Fothergilla that just finished blooming. I just planted a white Hybrid Musk rose that I hope will bloom in this shady garden. Someone wrote that everyone should have a white garden. The most famous White Garden is in England, created in the 1930s by Rita Sackville-West in her garden called Sissinghurst.

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Photo 2: My front garden has color and this is the Chinese Tree Peony I bought from Cricket Hill Nursery. This year it has a dozen pink flowers. What the photo does not show is that it is surrounded by blue wood hyacinths and blue cammasias.

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Photo 3 The path leading to my front door is planted with daffodils and pansies. Even though the plant does not last long where I live, I love pansies. To get more flowering, I plant them in the fall and they return in the spring- then die when the weather gets hot.

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Photo 4: A side garden with colorful plants. This photo shows two azaleas and a Scarlet Heaven Intersectional peony in bloom near a giant hosta. The photo does not show the dicentra, bleeding hearts and the anemone sylvestris, spring anemone that are in bloom in front. (The tree is an ornamental flowering crab apple.)

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Photo 5: Is a close-up of a Wisteria that is growing as a Standard Wisteria Tree. TheGardenLady also has one growing as a vine on a fence.