Container Gardening

Hypertufa Ball by Geek2Nurse

Growing plants in containers is popular for all sorts of reasons:

1) you have little available space to make a garden

2) you are elderly or handicapped so it is difficult to garden in a garden

3) the sun or shade on your property may not be where you are able to plant in the ground

4) you want to bring the plant in during the winter season

5) containers are just plain attractive and add another dimension to your garden

Where should one begin with container gardening? Collecting containers is a start. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get containers; but if you have a fortune- you certainly can find containers at all prices.

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Planting Ideas for Difficult Spaces

trough garden by Tchessie

A problem people have who want to garden can be no land or a very small bit of land or something on your property that makes it difficult to plant. You want plants, you want flowers so what are your options? Don’t despair: be creative!

Everyone knows that container gardening is very popular. You can buy or make attractive containers and put them on the steps leading to your building or on your balcony or deck if you have one.

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The Whatcom Seed Company

Moringa oleifera by dinesh_valke

There are so many seed catalogs whose photos show such wonderful plants that you can grow in your gardens, it almost seems too difficult to choose. Still I recently discovered yet another seed catalog that I think TheGardenLady readers will find as exciting as I did. Will this additional site add to the confusion?

This online catalog carries really unique seeds. They sell what they say are the “rare, exotic, unusual and beautiful” plant seeds. For example, if you are a hot pepper lover, they have varieties I never heard of before. They have seeds to raise trees- one has to be patient if one wants a tree, though many of the tree seeds are for bonsai lovers.

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Perennial Plant of 2012 – Siberian Bugloss

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Variegata’ 心葉牛舌草 by beautifulcataya

If you want to plant the Perennial Plant of 2012, it is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. The common name is Siberian bugloss. These shade loving perennial plants have flowers that look like light blue forget-me- nots but with lovely heart shaped leaves. Jack Frost’s green leaf has a silvery grey covering on top with only the green of the veins showing through so it looks frosty.

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Touring Other People’s Gardens – The Garden Conservancy

Untitled by edanastas

Not only is this the time to enjoy your garden and its flowers, but this is the time to start thinking about visiting other gardens to see what others are doing in their gardens. Some of the garden ideas you see in others’ gardens can sometimes be brought home and used in your gardens.

How do you get into other people’s private gardens if you don’t know the people? There is a wonderful organization that allows you to do this. It is The Garden Conservancy. They have convinced gardeners around the country to open their private gardens for a few days each year so that the public can visit.

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2012 Centennial National Cherry Blossom Festival – March 20th through April 27th

Stone Lantern detail – cherry trees – Tidal Basin – Washington DC – 2012-03-15 by dctim1

The cherry blossoms have opened already in my area. I was amazed when I saw the first tree in bloom on Monday, but now I see other cherry trees in flower.

This morning TheGardenLady heard from her Japanese pen pal that it is the 100th anniversary of the giving of the cherry trees to Washington, DC from Tokyo.

So this year, the cherry blossom festival in Washington, DC should be awesome. The festivities will begin on March 20th and go through April 27th, 2012. You can delight in the flowers on about 4,000 trees. What a spectacle that should be! To read about the event, go here.

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5 Fruit-Bearing Shrubs that do Best in Acidic Soil

Our Blueberry Bush by martinrstone

When you plant your garden, the first thing you should do is have the soil tested. The test will include the soil pH of the area of your garden where you want to plant. The pH is a scale from 0 through 14. From 0 to below 7, the soil is acidic. Above 7 the soil is alkaline. 7 is the neutral range where most plants will grow. Those soils that fall in the middle range can be changed a bit with soil amendments to make them more acidic or alkaline. To understand pH check out this site.

TheGardenLady gets soil kits that are sold through the Master Gardener office or county agricultural extension office because I believe they do the most comprehensive testing. Of course you can buy soil testing kits and do it yourself. The results of the extension’s test tell you what your soil type is and what amendments you need to get the garden soil ready for the type of plants you want to grow. Soil pH affects the solubility of minerals or nutrients that in turn affects the plant’s growth.

If you use the Master Gardener or extension soil test kits, after you receive your test results you can go to the Master Gardener or extension office to have them explain your test results and they will give you free advice on amending your soil to make your soil meet the soil pH requirements the plants need. You can amend soil that is in the neutral pH range but you should know that there is a limit to how much you can change the soil pH. If your soil is very alkaline, it is expensive and not practical to change the soil pH to make it acidic.

If you know that your soil is acidic below are five fruit-bearing plants that do best in acidic soil:

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Building a Cold Frame for Planting Seedings and Cold Weather Crops

Cold Frame by terriem

Recycling is the hot word these days. And gardeners are doing more of it. You can, too. For example, if you have external doors made of glass or storm windows that are no longer used, reuse them to build your own cold frame.

What is a cold frame? A cold frame is a bottomless box with a hinged glass door or window on top that is used for planting seedlings and cold weather crops to extend the growing season. It grows cool loving plants for a longer period in the year and helps acclimate plants started indoors in the spring so they warm up (harden) to be planted later in the season.

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Plants that can Survive Outdoors in West Chester, Pennsylvania March Weather

tete-a-tete miniature daffodil by ndrwfgg

TheGardenLady received this question from someone calling him or herself “Garden Challenged”.

I’m having guests next weekend and would like to put something pretty in the outdoor planters. Any suggestions for something that can survive mid-March in West Chester, PA (outside of Philadelphia)?

Visit your neighborhood plant nurseries. I recommend checking the better nurseries in your area where they will have the more interesting plants. Look only at the plants that the nurseries have sitting in their yard. (Don’t look at any plants that they have growing in their green house or indoors. Plants they keep indoors will not be hardy if you put them outdoors in a planter.)

Any plant the nursery has sitting on their grounds is hardy for your outdoor planter at this time of year. They should have many plants sitting outdoors including some that are flowering like pansies and some spring bulbs like daffodils. If you are worried, you can also ask the nursery workers if the plants have to be taken indoors at night. Nursery people love to talk about plants and help people. They will tell you how to plant the container. If they tell you the plant cannot stay outdoors at night, they usually know what they are talking about- they wouldn’t leave plants outdoors to freeze. They would lose money and they would lose you as a customer. You don’t want any plant that has to be taken indoors at night if you are planting something for an event.

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Make Sure that your Outdoor Furniture is Eco-Friendly

Green Furniture by geoftheref

TheGardenLady enjoys going to various flower shows. She just recently attended the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show and she wrote about her experience in the last post. When she visits these flower shows she often sees interesting exhibits of furniture made for the outdoors. And this has the TheGardenLady wonder about what wood furniture one should use when one is making furniture for the outdoors. Here are some of the questions that come to TheGardenLady’s mind: Is the wood that is being used to make the furniture eco-friendly? How do we know if we are buying wood that is on an endangered list? Or how should we know if it is best to use oak furniture for the outdoors or pine wood or teak?

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