Tag Archive for Garden tips

A Winter’s Day

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.

Just look at that beautiful compost! It is very popular with all the gardeners and disappears fast, so I keep an eye out for the deliveries. This is created from the leaves that are picked up in the fall on yard waste collection days. I’ve found that it is the best quality, and because it’s from local trees, it’s a great recycling effort. And did I mention – FREE!

In between the snow and ice storms I’ve already gotten quite a bit done in my garden prep for spring. I still need to cut back the big grasses, liriope and sedums, but spreading the compost makes it look fresh again.

I even use the compost in my large flower pots. These cabbages were from my fall display, but I have them back on the front porch to brighten things up now that the Christmas decorations are packed away. I love to fill them out with additional magnolia leaves, where the mums were originally. Anywhere you would ordinarily use potting soil, you can use compost.

Here we go again with another ice storm! Back and forth weather like this can be very hard on plants. If your plants get covered with ice like this it’s best to let Mother Nature melt it on her own time. Knocking snow and ice off can break branches if you are not careful. Also, that nice compost I just spread around the garden will insulate the roots to prevent them from heaving due to freezing and thawing.

One more thing to do now that the trees are dormant: Take a good look from all sides, and see if there are any branches in need of pruning. This is the perfect time to do that, before they come back to leaf in the spring.

Another snow! If your garden borders the road like mine does, you might want to define the edge of your yard with large rocks or taller reflector stakes. That way drivers of snowplows will know where their boundaries are.

That’s all for this time! From our snow covered home to yours, remember that spring is just around the corner.

Summer’s Here!

Lots of rainfall this year has given us a fabulous flower display.

Lots of rainfall this year is giving us a fabulous flower display.

Next week is the summer solstice, which means we now have the longest days of the year. That means more gardening time! The flowers in my garden are looking fabulous this year due to the incredible amount of rain we’ve had so far. We’ve been very lucky — I haven’t even had to water anything yet, except for the transplants and annuals. We are expecting a heatwave though, so that’s about to change.

I want to bring you up to date on some things I’ve been up to lately. First, I’d like to say thank you to Karen, a friend who included me in her office plant swap. It was so good, we had another, just to share some more! I love to see what plants people bring to these events, because it shows what is growing best in our region. I was lucky to swap for some elephant ear, black-eyed Susan and a Jalapeno seedling. Karen also brought some prized delights from her garden — orchid, snow on the mountain, begonias and more! Thankfully all are doing well.

Plant swap tip- If possible try to include a picture of the item, so that people will know what it looks like.

Plant swap tip: If possible, include a picture of the item so your “swapee” will know what it looks like.

I brought lots of white iris and ornamental grass, and have a long list of items I will divide in the fall to share. Plant swaps are truly great ways to try new plants and to give away your extras — and they are always fun. Good tip: It helps to print out a picture of the plants you are giving away if they aren’t in bloom. (I have found that I have forgotten what color something is when I’m back home, so I think others probably have, too.) It also helps to wrap small plants in damp newspaper if they are prone to drying out quickly. I always water everything as soon as I’m home, and try to get everything planted quickly thereafter.

This is also the time of the year that I like to tackle the maintenance of the hardscape around the property. The driveway was in need of a new coat of sealer, the front door needed varnishing, and the front porch needed some repair and new mortar. Those were big jobs, and I’m a little worse for the wear, but what a difference it makes to have them freshened up! I will leave you with some photos of the after-shots, and don’t forget to set your sundials to the correct time on the 21st at Noon!

Happy Summer!

Some earthquake repair and fresh coat of sealer make the driveway look like new!

Some earthquake repair and a fresh coat of sealer make the driveway look like new!

Even the door got a fresh coat of varnish to get ready for Summer.

Even the door got a fresh coat of varnish to get ready for Summer.

Many stones and bricks were reset, and new mortar updates the front steps.

Many stones and bricks were reset, and new mortar updates the front steps.


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