Posts Tagged flowers

Simple Landscaping Ideas

Sometimes the best looking landscape is the one with the simplest design.  When we look at magazines and see great landscapes, they are usually several simple ideas put together and made into a cohesive whole.  So, here are some simple ideas you should consider when taking a look at your own landscape:Trellis

– Think within a specific color scheme.  Whether you are looking at hardscaping or plants, you can consider basic color schemes.  For example, if you love red, you can work that in to your yard with bright zinnia, poppies, celosia, or an accent tile or stone.  Keeping the color consistent will help your yard look more pulled together and cohesive as a whole.

– Don’t fret about bare spots.  Instead of worrying about bare spots in your yard, utilize them by placing a piece of art, a water feature, or a bench over that spot.

– Don’t worry about mixing and matching.  Mother Nature mixes and matches all the time and comes up with meadows filled with flowers or mysterious forests.  Try it yourself by utilizing different types of plants and hardscaping materials.  Just try grouping like things together as much as possible.

–  Create private spaces.  If you have a bit of room in your yard, you can get a simple, private space designed for you- separated by a low wall or a hedge.

– Install islands of plants or hardscaping.  Reverse the usual borders by making your grass a boarder for a hardscaped retreat or colorful island of plants.

– Have fun with textures and geometry.  Exploring different types and sizes of plants, as well as a variety of hardscaping materials can lead to an organic and interesting look you can’t get with a plain grass lawn.

– When in doubt, try something traditional.  If you aren’t sure what to do with that wide open space, plant a lawn there.  You can mix and match type of grass, add in flowers, or create an island later on.  Sometimes keeping things traditional opens up the space to more fun ideas later on down the road.

These are just a few of the many simple and interesting techniques you can utilize for your yard.  Here’s to a gorgeous yard filled with fun and laughter!

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day!  While I hope you thought of your mother early enough to get her a present, her are some last minute ideas that may be great for an entire gift, or just icing on the cake!Mother's Day Concept

Plant Flowers

Every year you buy your mother cut flowers or some other short-lived gift.  Why not buy your mother plants that will continue to remind her of your love for her?  Buy some flowers or flowering plants and either plant them around her yard, or put them in pretty pots and give them to her.

Favorite picks: Love-in-a-puff, Lilac, Lavender, Roses, Morning Glory, Sunflowers, Artichokes, Aster, Catmint, Forget-me-not, Coneflower, Salvia leucantha, Hyacinth, Bee Balm, and Zinnia.

If your mother is very particular, take her to the nursery with you on Mother’s Day and buy her the plant she’s been yearning for.

Help Her in the Yard

As we get older, yard work gets harder and harder.  Take the time to help your mother out in the garden this Mother’s Day. If she is an avid gardener, but her knees or back pain her, discuss installing raised beds and help her do it.

If you can’t help her on Mother’s Day, or have other plans with her, give her an IOU that she can cash in at any time for yard work.  This gives you and her future reasons to spend time together.

Get Her Yard Landscaped

If your mom doesn’t want to have to deal with her yard anymore, pitch in on getting her a professional landscaper.  This may mean she wants to hardscape over the back, or get sprinklers and sod installed for the grandkids.  Either way, it will make her time at home more enjoyable and create a place that you can visit and enjoy alongside her.

Fireproof Her Yard

With the recent fires alarming people all around Southern California, helping your mom create a fire-proof environment gives her the gift of a nicer yard and you the gift of peace of mind.  Some fire proofing actions are:

  • Pull dead leaves, weeds, and branches
  • Get her sprinkler schedule consistent
  • Turn her compost
  • Clean up the back area – especially around a firepit or barbecue
  • Clean out any ponds or water features

Pick a Bouquet from Your Own Yard

Explore your own yard for flowers that can be arranged into a gorgeous bouquet.  You might get a better group of flowers than you would have found in the store!

Here’s to mothers everywhere!

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Making a Gorgeous Veggie Patch

It seems like vegetable gardens can be pretty boring places – if delicious.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, making your vegetable garden prettier can actually help it thrive.  Adding flowers, as well as additional little details can help transform the space into a place to be enjoyed.  Here are some ideas:Bright Veggie Garden

– Location, Location, Location

Picking a pretty location for your garden makes the space that much more enjoyable.   This can be challenging if you don’t have much yard, but a small hillside or a little spot that overlooks the rest of your yard can work great.

Another idea is to pick a spot that is nice to look at from inside your home or from your back patio.

– Make an Entrance

Even if you have a little garden, you can make it beautiful by adding an entryway.  This could be as simple as installing a picket fence with a little gate, and as glamorous as installing a terraced walkway with an arch at the entryway.

If you don’t have enough space to install an entryway, try adding ornamentation which makes your veggie patch pop.  You can add little gnomes, a birdhouse or birdbath, or even a bench that overlooks it all.

– Add Flowers 

Don’t just grow veggies or fruit in your veggie patch.  Try growing flowers.  You can grow lavender – which is fragrant and pretty – as well as a useful herb, or plant bright flowers like California Golden Poppies, daisies, magnolias, sunflowers, and more.  You can even force tulips and plant them – which is the perfect flower this time of year.

Another idea is to allow some of your vegetables to flower – or stagger their planting so that they flower at different times.

– Raise the Beds

Raised beds make your garden look neat and orderly.  Additionally, they provide natural walkways between beds.

If you have a hillside home, raised beds are great for keeping the soil where you want it, while still planting on your hillside.

– Think with Color

Vegetables can be other colors besides just green.  Think with both taste and color when you pick varietals.  Additionally, if you want to add flowers, try for colors that will pop and catch your eye.  Not only will you enjoy them, but the bees will too!

– Brighten up with Pots

Sometimes you can add a little color just by adding bright pots to your yard.

– Cut Down on Weeds, Use Mulch

Using mulch helps your vegetables, and has the added benefit of making weeds easy to pull.  One thing to think with when you use mulch, however, is that you should try to pull any weeds before laying it down and if you choose manure, make sure it is fully cured as sometimes weed seeds can survive the digestive system of an animal.

– Attract the Right Animals

When you have a natural yard, you want to attract birds to eat the bad insects off the plants.  Utilizing some native plants, and providing areas for birds to perch and bathe goes a long way in attracting the birds you want to your yard.

Additionally, flowers and staggering your plantings so they bloom at different times will attract bees as long as you have sweet, fragrant, and bright flowers.  You need bees to pollinate things like tomatoes and squash – so cultivate a garden that they will enjoy.

Here’s to a fruitful vegetable patch!

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Garden Successes and Problems

I have a delicious veggy garden, as well as a pretty flower garden, along with a pool and back patio.  However, I wanted to go through my garden successes and failures this year – in hopes that it helps you with your yard.

Veggies:

I planted veggies in their own pots because most of my yard is flower garden, pool, and patio.

Last year, I planted seeds straight into the soil.  I also planted too early in the year, so I ended up buying pre-started plants which I didn’t care for well enough to be as successful as I’d have liked.

This year, I bought started tomato plants (I tried to start seeds indoors for tomatoes, but they ended up leggy and strange looking).  I also planted pots of strawberries, lavender, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, snap peas, and kale.  The kale wasn’t on purpose – I tried to bury the existing kale and it just came up again.

I’ve been keeping my tomatoes well-watered for the most part, but any time I miss I end up with slightly cracked tomatoes.

The strawberries were nice earlier in the year, but in the really sunny times have just been surviving, not producing.

My cucumber is doing great and has been delicious.  This is one I did plant from my own started seeds and was very successful and way more delicious than the started cucumber plant I bought last year.  I’ve also been watering the cucumber at the same time and frequency as my tomatoes, which I think made it more flavorful.

Flowers:

My roses are blooming again, which is always wonderful.

I had a lot of weeds last year, so this year I was really diligent about mulching and pulling.  One thing that can be tough when you plant flowers from seeds like I do, is telling what is a weed while everything is coming up.  It takes some research, and you may need some help from a professional landscaper or gardener, but you can figure it out eventually.  The mulch has made my yard more successful than previously.

Also, I have mixed some native flowers with non-natives that I like and this seems to be really successful.

Final thoughts: With all this garden growth, keeping up with weeds and other things that come through the cracks in the cement surrounding my pool and in my patio area has been a problem and a big pain.  There are some organic methods for this, or my favorite option is getting with a landscaper and getting your cement area re-laid so the cracks are wider and filled with fake grass.  It looks pretty and stops the weeds.

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Brightening up your yard

Right now is a wonderful time to plant.  Here are some ideas on flowers and veggies to plants, as well as ideas on brightening up your yard:

– Use brightly colored pots in your yard.  You can put your plain ol’ pots in some brightly colored pots or, if you have clay pots, paint them.

– Line your walkways with bright plants, like pansies, marigolds or nasturtiums.  You can also plant pretty local Southern California flowers like California lilac, godetia, pineleaf penstemon or hummingbird trumpet in pots around the yard, or in your yard.

– Now’s a great time to plant your garden veggies and herbs.  You can plant tomatoes, basil, cucumber, snap peas, and more.

– Install string lighting through your trees and bushes.

– Put a fountain, pond, waterfall in your yard for the sparkly, running water sound.

– Install window boxes, put boxes on any handrails, and put pots on your hardscape areas.   You can also install pots on your fence railing so pretty flowers can peak over your fence.

Here’s to a beautiful Spring!

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Add Some Color to your Yard

It’s around this time of year when yards start dying.  How do you keep your yard colorful over summertime?

Here are some ideas:

1. Plant drought-tolerant or local plants.

2. Install sprinklers!  Seriously, unless you just love standing in the hot sun with a hose, get some sprinklers installed. You may have to hire a professional landscaper, but the cost is worth if you like your lawn and flowers to stay alive.

3. Repaint your house or paint something colorful on your garden wall.

  4. Install pretty hardscaping. Think brick, slate or cement that is paintable. It’s amazing the amount of pretty color you can add to your yard with hardscapes.

  5. If you already have hardscaping and you’re not satisfied with the color combination, a cool idea is to take out the mortar in between stones and install fake grass. It’s a colorful option for hardscaping.

 6. Put up bird feeders or a bird house.  It’s a quick way to both add pretty birds to your yard, and get the lawn fertilized at the same time.

7. Plant air plants in any unused nooks and crannies around your yard.

8. Put out pretty pots with bright flowers.  Just remember, you’ll have to keep them well-watered.

9. Install pretty tiles periodically in your garden wall, path or – if you’re really into it – on your house.

10. Get crazy!  I saw a “bed” (a bed frame) filled with flowers the other day in someone’s yard.  While that’s not really my style, let your yard express your inner artist. 

Here’s to a bright and beautiful summer.

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Bees…bees the musical fruit

Last week, I bought some marigolds and sunflowers in order to do some companion planting with my various veggies that will flower and need to be pollinated.  When I told my boyfriend, he said, “I hate bees!”  No, I’m not going to regale you with relationship drama – I laughed at his comment, because that’s how I used to feel before I discovered how rare and valuable these little bugs are.

I read a lot of gardening news, listen to gardening podcasts and all-in-all, last year, there were a ton of people calling/writing in to gardening blogs, podcasts and radio stations complaining that their tomatoes, squash, etc. were flowering, but not fruiting.  The answer to all of these complaints were, “Have you seen many bees in your yard?”  Of course, they hadn’t seen many bees and this meant their plants were not being pollinated.  This means that, to get yummy, garden grown veggies, these poor folks had to go out and hand-pollinate. 

Now, bees are becoming rarer and rarer all around the world.  Pesticides which kill obnoxious bugs are also killing those bugs which help with your garden.  Also, there is something which scientists have yet to isolate which is causing good bees to disappear. 

So, if you have a yard which has things you want to actually fruit (trees, veggies, etc), you need to find ways to attract bees. 

One pretty way to do this is plant companion plants.  These are plants which attract bees, which gives the plants you want pollinated a chance and in some cases they repell bad bugs.  Here are some great companion plants for Southern California:

Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Parsley, Sage, California Poppies, California Wildflowers, Sunflowers, Roses, California Pearly Everlasting, Cream Cups, Desert Mallow, Prickly Pear Cactus, Climbing Snapdragon, Pride Of Madeira, Golden Stars, Mexican Tulip Poppy, Daisies, Matilija Poppy, Wild Hyacinth, Chaparral Pea, and many many more.

Some of these plants spread like wildfire, so it’d be a good idea to consult a professional landscaper before you start planting things willy-nilly.  Also, you should consider planting as native as possible.  My neighbor down the street literally gets big bumble bees and honey bees almost year round with her gorgeous landscape of all native plants.  Walking by her yard is like walking by a perfume shop and the bees are happy as can be.

Here’s to a beautiful, flowering, fruiting and generally buzzing garden!

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