This winter has been long already. We seem to have been getting rain, snow and/or ice almost every other day, oddly interspersed with days close to sixty degrees. On those nice days you know where I’ve been! The garden calls me. I’ve been trying to get a jump on freshening up all the garden beds by getting rid of winter weeds and stirring up the existing mulch, and as luck would have it, the county park at the top of my neighborhood just had a delivery of compost. My favorite! LOL!
I’ve already managed to bring home six car loads to amend the soil. What a difference it makes. In the spring when the grass starts growing again, I will add some additional clippings and stir it all in. This makes the absolutely perfect soil for flowers, veggie gardens, and young foundation transplants. I highly encourage you to check with your local county office and inquire if they also have a compost/mulch program. Some even will deliver to your home for a small fee. Ours here in Fairfax County doesn’t offer that, so I collect my own in large flower pots. They are easy to fill, and not too heavy to carry to wherever I’m spreading it in the garden. A two to three inch layer is perfect. Aside from dressing up the garden and providing nutrients, finely composted leaves stay in place better than the bark mulch on hillsides. So if you have a yard with terrain, it’s perfect.
It seems autumn has finally arrived! In celebration, I always am drawn to the nursery to bring home a few of my favorite harbingers of autumn, the beautiful chrysanthemum. I am going to give you some tips today to give you at least DOUBLE the blooming time on these beauties. Sometimes I have kept them going for almost three months of flowers using this strategy.
When purchasing mums, look for plants that are just showing color, but in a bud stage. This will give you the longest amount of time to enjoy.
First, when choosing your mum, buy one that is still in the “color showing bud” stage. This way, you will have the opportunity to get every minute of flowering time.
Instead of planting the mums in the garden, plant them in pots at least four inches larger than the nursery pot that they come in. This allows you to pull them under cover of a porch, garage or even into your house during fall rainstorms — their biggest enemy!
Mums in all their glory are one of the most beautiful sights of fall. I love to have some by the front door to great visitors.
When watering the potted mums, just water the the root zone from under the foliage. This is very important. Water on the flowers after they open will kill the flower. It breaks my heart when I see a well-intentioned gardener plant their mums and then water from above with a hose, only to see that the mums are dead the next week. Watering only the soil keeps the foliage and flowers dry and protects them. Using this method should give you at least a month and half of bloom time.
Deadheading your mum after the first set of blooms have bit the dust will expose a second set of blooms. You can have double your bloom time!
Now to extend that month and a half of blooms for a month or possibly even more, here’s my final tip: deadheading. If you remove the first set of blooms when they have finished, you will see a second set of buds hidden underneath. These are smaller, but will provide you with a second bloom cycle of flowers. Double the fun!
Second set of blooms opening! Gardener’s gold…
I hope you will give this method a try if you love mums as much as I do. Happy autumn gardening everyone!
Here is the “before” photo of the front entrance garden. I want to fill in the area between the boxwoods with a seating area that will soften the straight edge of the walkway by adding curves.
Long ago, when I first designed the front yard of our house, I left a 15 foot wide gap between the boxwood bushes that wrap the front of the house. This was supposed to be very temporary. My intent was to change the path of the front walkway and bring it up the middle of the lawn instead of from the driveway on the side. Well, as years slipped by, I have had much more pressing projects. The front pathway took a back seat, but it’s time to get started with a new plan. I’ve changed my mind on moving the location of the walkway for now, but I still want to soften up the existing straight line of the boxwood garden. To improve curb appeal, I added some seating and space for seasonal color by the front entrance. I’ll show you how I went about it, step by step.
First, I laid out a long rope to define where I wanted to expand the edge of the garden bed and marked the new edge with landscape paint. Then, the hard part — cutting the edge with a scallop edger, and turning all the turf over with a rounded shovel. This is back breaking work, but I prefer this to a cultivator — you have far less grass growing back up, almost none! You can see already how the curvy edge softens up the row of boxwoods.
Here’s another angle from the side that shows the new edge. Once it had rested for a few days, I broke up the shovelfuls of turf to smooth it out. Over time the turned grass will degrade, providing nutrients for the new garden area.
Here is the “after” shot: I added stone benches, transplanted pachysandra and annuals, and finished it out with a nice topping of mulch. You already hardly notice the straight line of the walkway. I’m planning to add some flagstone pieces to the side bordering the walkway and fill in with more pachysandra between the stones in the fall when the weather is cooler. Until then, I’m happy with the progress, and the more welcoming look!
I’m not quite finished with it, but already I’m much happier with the amped-up curb appeal, and a new place to sit in the garden. I’ll post another photo in the fall when I add some flagstone pieces to transition from the walkway to the benches. I’ll transplant more ground cover to fill it in when the weather cools off. Hope you all have a safe and wonderful 4th of July! Happy gardening!
Sunflowers are one of my favorite fall flowers. I love to have them on the kitchen table to enjoy.
I hope this finds everyone enjoying the beauty of autumn. I feel like the rich colors of the season — golds, oranges and reds — are always so heartwarming.
It inspires me to bring those colors inside my home and display as many of my favorite pumpkins, gourds and fall flowers as I can. I use real, dried and artificial ones in bowls, baskets and flower pots all over the house. The more the merrier for me.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bit of an obsession for those cute little gourds. I’ve been collecting them for years and love putting them out each fall. This year’s decoration is more casual and simple here at the house. Here are some photos of some of my favorites — hope you enjoy the autumn tour!
The weather vane gets something different for each season. This time of year I surround it with gourds.
My collection of paper mache gourds are used to fill containers which I use on tabletops and as centerpieces. Whenever I see new gourd varieties this collection grows!
I like to have some flowers by all the entry doors to welcome visitors. This year I used beautiful deep yellow mums by the front door. My favorite gargoyle is welcoming visitors, too!
By the kitchen door, I have pansies, violas and mums in yellow, plum and burgundy colors. Most of my friends and family use this door so I always like it to look cheery.
More pansies fill containers on the deck to look festive for entertaining outside.
Back inside, on the family room mantle I love to display the pumpkins with lanterns, ivy and more candles.
Adding a few of my chubby birds into the mix in the family room, too!
The living room fireplace has a fun new twist this year with the addition of some antique spools on which I display small pumpkins. Reminds me of my dear friend who gave them to me every time I see them!
A grapevine pumpkin with a spray of fall leaves and berries under a garden cloche sits on the coffee table.
Pumpkins piled simply on a platter add color on the dining room mantle.
Who wants soup? I added these to my collection a few years ago. They have a lid to keep things hot. I’ve used them to bake pumpkin custard in, too – yum!
In years past, we created much more elaborate arrangements. This one was made by my Mom and me for her garden club event, but this year I’m feeling like a more casual style fits my mood.
And last, but not least a favorite table runner with a pumpkin motif, and a trifle bowl full of gourds on the dining room table. It’s not fancy, and I like the simpleness for everyday. Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving and hope this will inspire you to bring some autumn bounty into your home!
A gracious welcome to your house and garden is always appreciated. It sets the mood for all who enter. I like to think of my front entrance plants and flowers like “house jewelry”. It’s important to me to mark the seasons with fresh plantings of flowers and greenery — not just at Christmas and summer, but year round. Even though it’s sometimes hard to part with a flower or a pumpkin that is still O.K., I like to give each season its due with a clean slate. It creates a focal point to the front yard, and the front entrance area is most worthy of your care and attention as far as curb appeal is concerned.
Seasonal color is always welcoming
The front entrance isn’t the only place in the yard worthy of this treatment. Look at other views from windows and doors to see what you would like to highlight.
I like to frame a view of my hammock in the backyard by looking through a wisteria-draped arbor. It gives me peace every time I look out, even if I don’t have time to go out and enjoy at that time. A sort of momentary vacation.
Framing a view
Framing a view is a great way of giving greater importance to an object of art, or other feature you would like to be noticed. Another way is by funneling your attention between two taller plants or trees. Even narrowing a pathway, then widening it again, can visually create a new entrance. There are many ways to draw your eyes into a destination. Using graduating color is another way to discretely frame an object. The eye is always drawn to the boldest color first.
With so many beautiful “jewels” out there I hope you find just the right ones to make your entrance sparkle!