Garden Gifts to make Mom smile

Garden Gifts to make Mom smile

Yes its early, but now is a great time to start thinking about garden gifts for the special people in your life. I am getting so stir crazy for spring that I might start getting garden gifts for myself soon. Garden Gifts This might sound boring, but its hard to beat a gift certificate to a local garden center!  Yes, I know what you’re thinking, that this would be the easy way out, but what if you include yourself and a lunch after? How cool are these?!? I would love to get these Marimo Moss balls as one of my favorite spring garden gifts. They are easy– you simply take a cool container and drop them in. The folks at The Sill have these available. One of my favorite garden gifts last year was a hummingbird feeder. There are countless styles and price points for these, but it really doesn’t take much to attract hummingbirds to your yard.  I hesitate to include weeding products on here, but the gardener in your life is sure to appreciate the thought that went into selecting the CobraHead weeder for their use! This handy tool is so easy to use and is very efficient at getting to weeds that have a large root system without tearing up nearby plants.  For a smaller gift that could be shared with anyone, how about this Hanging Glass Bulb Vase from Ferry Morse? At only $3.99 each, these would be a great unique gift for just about anyone! Possibly the ultimate garden gift! Does your gardener already have a fountain in their garden? This is a great way to add a focal point and attract wildlife to the garden. There are many to chose from, but high on my list right now is this fountain at Wayfair. I love all of these Campania products, so selecting one might be hard but you really can’t go wrong.  You know what garden gifts I would love? A gift certificate to Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. For one thing, their catalog reads like a book and I know the gardener in your life will enjoy reading these lively plant descriptions before choosing their purchase. Be warned: they are going to spend more than your gift certificate! It might seem crazy, but clothes are important garden gifts too! I am a big fan of my Duluth Trading long tailed shirts for covering me while I am working and my Tommy John women’s underwear that stay in place while I am planting. I have three different Tula hats because I love them all! These look great and help keep the sun off of your face. I think a Tula hat would be an unexpected and greatly appreciated garden gift this spring. Okay, if this garden gifts list doesn’t give you some ideas then you are on your own! Have you given or received something special? I would love to hear what garden gifts were special to you. Need even more ideas? My friends at Small Garden News have created their own Garden Gifts list of ideas...
How do you support local conservation?

How do you support local conservation?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Nature Conservancy. All opinions are 100% mine. It’s a Wednesday morning in January and I am working harder than I would like to admit to keep up with my dad. The thermometer reads 22 degrees.  But as we walk around the lake the cold, crisp air is barely felt through our warm clothing. It is a beautiful day and we talk about a variety of things including the way the surrounding prairie planting has changed throughout the fall and winter and the shift of the ice on the lake. We, like many others, are blessed to take advantage of public lands. The local conservation of these public spaces is talked about often, and on a morning like this, I appreciate the work of organizations such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Their support for local conservation and protecting the natural world provides the promise that others can enjoy a morning like ours. Have you visited The Nature Conservancy’s website, nature.org, lately? I was so impressed to see their work around the world, plus a detail of their work close to my home in Iowa. “Our vision for Iowa is healthy lands and water, plus sustainable agriculture that supports biodiversity and provides for the needs of Iowa and the world.” In a place such as Iowa, their work helps to create the bridge and balance between agriculture and the preservation of natural lands. By fostering collaboration between so many concerned entities, helping shape practical policies, and safeguarding nature, The Nature Conservancy aligns many different interests for the good of our environment. In addition to preserving natural resources, creating healthy environments for people is just as important. With two thirds of the world’s population expected to live in urban environments by 2050, the need to develop healthy cities is urgent. This can be easy to forget when looking out our windows at fields of corn, but seeing the sprawl of new homes where field once grew is a quick reminder. The Nature Conservancy sets a priority of helping to plan smart cities where humans and habitat can help preserve food and water. It is painful to see the loss of natural resources around our world, but your support of The Nature Conservancy helps to move preservation efforts in the right direction. With scientists on the ground in more than 72 countries around the world, your gift helps to effectively conserve the most ecologically important lands, oceans, lakes and rivers. Now is the time to take action for our planet and donate today. If our love and appreciation of the outdoors occurs only on warm sunny days, then we are missing out on an amazing part of the year to get outside. Have you taken the time to appreciate the shape and textures of your garden when it is covered with freshly fallen snow? As you take in the sights of winter I encourage you to support the work of The Nature Conservancy and their efforts to conserve our environment. I challenge you to think the same way and donate today to support tomorrow’s...
Growing orchids indoors this winter

Growing orchids indoors this winter

Having orchids indoors during the winter months is one of the things that keeps me from going crazy during this season. I’m not sure if there is anything better than checking out my orchids indoors while there is snow falling outside! This lovely little miniature orchid was an impulse by from a visit to Home Depot. I am a sucker for all of the things near the checkout line, so a display of small orchids for $6.99 wasn’t even worth fighting. Large or small, you can get an orchid bloom again. I find that most orchid flowers last 3-4 months in our house if they were purchased in good condition with a several of the balloon-like blooms yet to open. What a deal these orchids are compared to cut flowers! Along the stem of the orchid you can see small white lines that circle the green stem. These are called “nodes” and it is at this point the plant is able to produce new growth or where flowers were previously attached. It is worth noting that the stem must be green for your orchid to bloom again on this stem. If it is brown go ahead and cut it off at the base and wait for the next bloom stem in 6-9 months. The arrows on this image show where the nodes are at along this stem. Some folks will recommend to cut the orchid bloom stalk in half to encourage new flowers but I don’t find that is necessary. Almost without fail, the new bloom stem will develop at the third node from the base of the plant. See the little nub on the image below?  That is where a new stem is starting to grow and new orchid blooms will develop. It will take 4-6 weeks for this to mature and flower buds begin to form, but it is worth the wait. In my experience this secondary flower stem is usually smaller than the first, but always a joy to see. At this point just continue to maintain your orchid in the same manner as before. If there is already a stake on your old orchid bloom go ahead and leave that there to help support the new flowers that are forming. You can see how happy some orchids indoors will be to rebloom. This flower spike has been without any flowers on it for about four months, but recently it started sending out new bloom spikes all along the old stem. The other place to get orchids indoors to flower is on completely new flower spikes. You will see these starting to emerge from the base of the plant and they look distinctly different from leaves. My advice here is to be patient, these shoots will take some time to grow to the full size and begin to form the balloon-like blooms. Winter is a wonderful time to appreciate growing orchids indoors. While mine spend the summer outside pretty much fending for themselves, this is a chance to enjoy the delightful colors and...
Gardening Christmas Gifts

Gardening Christmas Gifts

What’s on my list for gardening Christmas gifts this year?  Oh boy, read on for some great ideas! I’ve been trying really hard to scale back, but for the loved ones in your life a thoughtful gardening Christmas gift will make their day– and return throughout the year to remind them of you! This might sound boring, but its hard to beat a gift certificate to a local garden center!  Yes, I know what you’re thinking, that this would be the easy way out, but what if you include yourself and a lunch after? While this gardening Christmas gift would make your loved one happy now, the true gift would be spending time together in the spring shopping for plants. For a stocking stuffer, how about this Hanging Glass Bulb Vase from Ferry Morse? At only $3.99 each, these would be a great unique gift for just about anyone! I hesitate to include weeding products on here, but the gardener in your life is sure to appreciate the thought that went into selecting the CobraHead weeder for their use! This handy tool is so easy to use and is very efficient at getting to weeds that have a large root system without tearing up nearby plants.   You know what gardening Christmas gifts I would love? A gift certificate to Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. For one thing, their catalog reads like a book and I know the gardener in your life will enjoy reading these lively plant descriptions before choosing their purchase. Be warned: they are going to spend more than your gift certificate! One of my favorite gardening Christmas gifts last year was a hummingbird feeder. There are countless styles and price points for these, but it really doesn’t take much to attract hummingbirds to your yard.  Finally, does your gardener already have a fountain in their garden? This is a great way to add a focal point and attract wildlife to the garden. There are many to chose from, but high on my list right now is this fountain at Wayfair. I love all of these Campania products, so selecting one might be hard but you really can’t go wrong. I hope these helps your find the perfect gardening Christmas gifts for this year!  If you need more ideas, my friends at the Washington Gardener and Small Garden News have put together these great lists. Small Garden News Holiday List: https://www.smallgardennews.com/gifts-for-gardeners-in-winter/ Washington Gardener Gift for Gardeners: https://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2018/11/gifts-for-gardeners-gardening-gift.html e439aa4c7b7ee324d1135bd7fa28f52b77f23b98d03887a172...
Winter Containers

Winter Containers

I know it seems so early, but now is a really good time to make your winter containers. These simple instructions will show you just how easy it is to add some holiday cheer and interest to your garden with very easy winter containers. At the end of the summer and a good part into fall, it seems like this is a now or never type of project. As in, if I don’t do it now I will never do it!  These bare planters need some sprucing up and today was the day to get it done. I’ve always had good intentions of doing this, but it seems like it just hasn’t taken priority. I started by gathering some broken branches from evergreens around our home, looking for branches that were crossing or were just starting to get in the way of the lawn mower. I know that a variety of textures and even colors will make this more interesting and was able to find a nice assortment. The centerpiece for these planters on each side of our front steps are some bright red upright branches. A special type of dogwood perhaps? Nope, just some sucker branches from a tree that I spray painted red last year. They still look great so I am reusing them again. Many of the evergreens that I used for this were broken branches that needed to be cleaned up. This seemed like a great reason to do so! I also trimmed excessively long, or in the way, branches too. The recent rain makes inserting these branches into the wet soil very easy and also makes it easy enough to point the stems in different directions to create a full look. At some point, hopefully very far away, the soil will freeze and add more strength to keep these winter containers in all season. I chose to start by adding my painted branches to the middle of the planter. I would love to add more, but I know that may not happen, so it will look okay with just these in the centers. Next, add the branches of the evergreen that you have the most of and place those throughout. The beauty of making your winter containers now is that the soil is pliable and will let you add branches at different angles, so even with a minimal number of branches it can look full! Some branches, like the Colorado Blue Spruce shown below make great accents. I had a couple of containers still looking nice so I simply left the calibrachoa flowers and stuck these evergreens in around it. They will need an accent once the flowers are gone, but for now it will do.  Overall, I think these winter containers turned out great for my first attempt. The entire project took less than an hour and I will be able to enjoy them all winter long. Want more inspiration? I love reading Deborah Silver’s posts on Dirt Simple about her projects, many of which are fabulous seasonal containers. So make the most of this time of year and collect your own pieces for beautiful winter containers this...
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