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Colorful Shade – Ways to Bring Color to a Shade Garden

Green is a color. In fact, when you look at just about any garden, I bet you can pick out several shades of green. As I am sure you know, gardens can practically explode with colors other than green, but for some reason there is the misconception that a shade or part shade garden means green and only green. I love designing and planting shade gardens. There is a quiet energy about them, and finding ways to add color to them through plants and other garden elements makes them all the more attractive.

Here are some easy ways to bring color to a shade garden:

Plants

Plants can bring color to a shade or part shade garden through their leaves, flowers, or bark. Japanese maple trees (Acer  palmatumvarieties) do really well in filtered light. Many varieties have red, orange, and even variegated leaves. For example, the Sango-Kaku or coral bark Japanese maple puts on a show with leaves that transition from yellow to orange to red AND has bark that is a vibrant red, which looks great especially in the winter.

Other favorite plants with colorful leaves that I regularly use in shady spaces include Heuchera and Solenostemon. Heuchera is

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Bursting with Flavor! 6 Tips for Growing Your Own Herbs

I remember the first time I ate a salad with herbs in it. Amidst all of the typical lettucey (not really a word, but I am going for it anyway) flavors was something deeper yet familiar. Dill! And Italian parsley! OMG – There are herbs in this salad!! I would never look at a salad the same way again. Fresh mint and oregano and basil were itching to get into my salad bowl, so I went to the market and bought a bunch of those little plastic boxes of fresh herbs. Some TV chef said, snip the ends and put them in a glass of water in the refrigerator, so I did what I was told. I snipped off some mint and sprinkled on some watermelon, and then promptly forgot about the herbs.

A couple of days later, I wanted to use my fresh herb bundle in some chicken salad. I opened the fridge only to be disappointed. The herbs were now droopy and well, icky looking, and not so fresh. What a waste of $10! That’s when I decided to invest a bit of time into growing my own. Fresh herbs are one of the easiest edibles for the

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From Garden to Vase- 8 Favorite Flowers for Your Cutting Garden

 

Confession time…When I was little, say 10 years old, my neighborhood friends and I would grab a pair of scissors to wander our neighborhood and steal prune flowers here and there from the beautiful gardens to give to our moms. We always told our moms that we cut the flowers the flowers from our friends’ yards, and our moms thought we were such generous and thoughtful children.

While I certainly don’t condone stealing your neighbors’ flowers, this little foray into the ‘dark side’ started a love of floral arrangements and flower gardens, and I am especially fond those that have that have that loose, gathered from the garden, inspired by Dutch master painters feel.

A reader asked me recently what are the best flowers to grow in a cutting garden. There are dozens of flowers that work well in floral arrangements – I mean you could dedicate your whole garden to roses! I thought I would help you out here and give you a list of 10 of my favorite flowers that are fairly easy to grow and look beautiful both in the garden as well as in the vase.

Choose flowers that have stiffer stems, have long lasting

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Help Me! Help My Garden! #3 Bugs and Berries

Today we tackle aphids, and planting strawberries and blueberries.

Bugs on my roses!  Q: My roses are starting to bud, and I can’t wait to see them bloom, but now the buds are covered with tiny bugs. What are they, and how to I get rid of them?

A: I am afraid your roses have aphids on them. The tender buds are these insects’ favorite treats, and if left untreated, they will suck the life out of the buds. These soft bodied insects are usually pale green or brown and will suck the sap from almost any plant. There are several non-chemical/less toxic methods to controlling them.

A good blast with a hose will easily knock them off the plants. Do this in the early morning so the leaves will have time to dry. You will need to repeat this often. Lady bugs LOVE to eat aphids. Most nursery centers sell little containers of lady bugs. Sprinkle them on the affected plants at dusk (so they don’t fly away), and let them enjoy the buffet. Be warned though, the containers hold hundreds of lady bugs, so if you have a small yard, share some with a neighbor. Insecticidal soap spray.

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Help Me, Help My Garden! Oh, Deer!

How cute are these guys? Not so cute if they are in your garden munching away on your Hydrangea…

Deer Proof Plants Q: I love seeing deer in my neighborhood, but they are a menace to my garden! Are there plants that deer won’t eat?

A: Yes, they’re cute, but deer are not particularly picky when it comes to what they like to eat. They can also jump over fences. While you won’t be able to deer proof your garden completely, there are plants that deer tend to pass over on the buffet. Here are some plants that I like, and you can also ask a local nursery professional if these plants aren’t available in your area.

Shrubs: Cape Mallow (Anisodontea), Bamboo, Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia), Bottlebrush (Callistemon), Lavender, Oleander (Nerium Oleander), Rosemary, Jade Plant

Vines: Bougainvillea, Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium Sempervirens), Jasmine, Potato vine (Solanum laxum)

Perennials/ Annuals: Yarrow (Achillea), Agave, Columbine (Aquilegia), Aster, Artemesia, Dahlias, Freesia, Hellebore, Peony, Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta), Calla lily, Narcissus, Impatiens, Basil, Thyme

Deer can jump up to eight feet high, so erecting fencing that is at least that high around vegetable gardens, fruit gardens,  and rose gardens will also help deter these lovelies.

 

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Help Me, Help My Garden!

I have always been a huge admirer and fan of advice columnists like Dear Abby, Ask Amy, Dear Prudie. When I was still in Human Resources, I was thrilled when my boss asked my to write workplace advice column called ‘Dear Gabby’. I admit, I’m a helper, and I love giving advice when it is solicited. I know you have garden questions because I get dozens of them emailed to me every month, so I am starting a garden ‘advice’ column as part of the Eden Condensed blog. I hope you’ll learn something, get some advice, and feel more confident about your gardening skills by following along. And send me questions!! You can comment here with questions or fill out my message form.

Here are today’s garden issues:

Wilting Hydrangea  Q. I just planted a big leaf hydrangea in a shady area of my garden and it’s not doing well. It’s wilting and the leaves are starting to fall off. What did I do wrong?

A. The prefix ‘hydra’ means water, and hydrangeas need a lot of water. They have fleshy roots, and if they don’t get consistently moist soil, they will wilt very quickly, especially when they

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My Garden Goals

Happy New Year, garden friends! I don’t really do New Year’s Eve as I can barely stay awake past 10:00PM, but I do love champagne. I also hate new year’s resolutions. What I love about this time of the year is the sense of new beginnings, new and actionable goals, and the knowledge that what we plant and nurture now will sprout and grow and provide us with the sustenance we need throughout the year.

As I write this, it is 55 degrees and blustery in Los Angeles, so it feels like winter. Yes, I know it’s 20 below where you live and snowing. I used to live in Syracuse, NY, so I remember what real winter is. I am thinking about my garden. It suffered a bit of neglect in 2014, but we did put in a dedicated chicken yard, and we removed the 2 dead trees from the front yard, and the roses did really well in spite of the drought. I am also writing down my garden goals for 2015:

1. Plant more perennials along my front fence. I really don’t have time to keep planting annuals every couple of months, and now that the two trees

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Garden Lifestyle – Color

I had the great opportunity to work with the very talented designer Caitlin McCarthy of Caitlin & Caitlin on a patio garden in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Silver Lake is a very hilly neighborhood, so many of the homes are terraced into the hillsides. If you spend any time outdoors, your daily exercise is built in simply by hiking up and down stairs. This job entailed designing and installing container gardens on upper and lower patios as well as planting a privacy hedge and refreshing the plants in the front yard. Working on this project got me thinking about how important color is when creating a garden lifestyle for my clients. In addition to the plants chosen, outdoor furniture, area rugs, planters, and accessories all provide opportunity to add color into an outdoor living space.

The house and patios are painted a lovely shade of dark grey. Grey is one of my favorite neutrals with which to work. On the upper dining patio, Caitlin had placed a strong, concrete colored table over a sky blue area rug. The chairs are  forest green with white cushions. For the planters, I chose contemporary white self watering planters

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December in My Garden

Happy December! I worked in retail for two major companies for a really long time, so the holiday season for me involved looong hours, not much time with my family, and cranky customers. It also involved beautiful wonderland store displays, easy shopping (I worked in a store with a discount!), and congratulatory champagne in the store manager’s office on Christmas Eve. Not having a personal life between Thanksgiving and Christmas was so much the norm that when I left retail for the entertainment industry (that doesn’t work a whole lot during that time), I hardly knew what to do with myself or my kids. Now that I have my own business, December always feels like a month of possibilities, reflection, planning, and joy. I am busy, and I love it!

December includes selling my hand blown glass miniature terrariums at my younger son’s school’s holiday boutique and the incredibly popular Unique USA Holiday Market in Downtown LA. It’s all about my garden art and supporting local, handmade, and made in the USA designers and artists. This year, I am sharing a booth with a very talented jewelry designer, April Laird, of Smithy Jewelry. Through 12/02/2014, you

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Basil, King of Herbs (and a cocktail, of course)

Somehow in my series on culinary herbs and how to use them in cocktails, I left out one of the best known and most widely herbs: basil. You would think that an herb with a nearly 4000 year history (mentioned first by the ancient Egyptians and used an an embalming herb) and whose Latin name Ocimum basilicum references a Greek warrior and the Greek word for “king” would have been first on my list. It is my favorite herb!

Basil is known in India (by the name Tulsi or Toolsi) as a holy herb. Hindus believe that basil is sacred to all the gods and acts as a protector. It is often planted around temples and cemeteries. Other cultures view basil as a love token or even as a protector against evil. Oddly enough, through much of history, basil was thought to be poisonous and a symbol of poverty, hate, or abuse. Victorians, in their love of floral symbolism, categorize basil as representing both hatred and best wishes.

The numerous modern cultivars of basil include scented basils like cinnamon, lime, licorice, and lemon. Other varieties include Thai basil, lettuce leaf basil, Genovese basil, amethyst basil, and Christmas basil. One of

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