Is it possible that we spend too much time thinking about color schemes and designs for our gardens? Could colorblind gardening be the next trend for gardeners?
Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Garden Writers conference in Buffalo, New York. Have you been to Buffalo recently? It is wonderful! Garden Walk Buffalo is America’s largest garden tour and gives you the opportunity to snoop, I mean explore, private gardens across the city.
The photos on this post share one of the most memorable gardens I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. A small sign reads:
Colorblind people make the best gardeners.
Joe, the gardener here has a major color deficiency. Hope you can’t tell!
I would say that Joe’s colorblind gardening should give us all inspiration. Pulling together the brightest, happiest plants you can find into a single space can only exude one feeling: happiness.
I loved experiencing this garden. I found myself walking around with a huge grin on my face and realized the other folks visiting might think I was a little crazy. That’s the emotion this garden makes you feel.
Another sign reads: This garden has over 150 pots. Each is planted with annuals every year. What?! By the time of my visit in early August you couldn’t even see the pots under all of the foliage.
If you decide to attend Garden Walk Buffalo, and I highly recommend you do, this garden is part of the Block Alliance of 16th Street.
Oh how nice it must be to sit out here in the evenings! Many times I’ve looked through my hundreds of photos from Buffalo and I inevitably stop to look at the images from this “colorblind garden”. Oh what fun he must have!
If you’re someone that tends to look out into your yard and sigh, then you may find that you tend to get frustrated with the state of your outside space. And it happens. Because our yards always seem to take a lot of work and maintenance to look and feel great all of the time. But when you’re busy it’s not always easy to prioritize your yard maintenance – particularly when you’re just trying to stay on top of your interiors. So, instead, find a few things to make a difference right away. If you don’t want to wait forever or put too much time and money into your yard, but you want instant results, here are five things that can make a difference in your yard today.
Decluttering & Clearing
First of all, a good old-fashioned clearout always works wonders. Technically, this is going to be one of the things that does take up some time and energy, depending on how your yard looks today, but you willnfind that it’s really one of the most effective of all. When you’ve managed to clear away all of the clutter and you’ve cleaned things up so that your yard looks much more presentable and tidy, you will feel so much better when you look out onto it.
Caring For Your Lawn
Maybe your lawn is looking a little worse for wear? Winter can be tough on lawn health, so you often need to revive it in spring. But you may not have the first idea of how to do it yourself. So bring in a lawn care service, such as Atkins, to do it for you. By leaving this to the experts and then learning to carry out a bit of ongoing maintenance to keep it that way, your lawn will sparkle.
Sprucing Your Boundaries
Think about your boundaries and bringing them back to life. When you have a broken fence, untidy hedges, or just no real clear boundary at all, your garden will always look a little messy. By really working on keeping neat and tidy edges, the rest will be pulled together too.
Planting For Spring
Next, you’re going to want to think about how you can bring your yard alive for the rest of spring and into summer. There are lots of different things that you can sow and grow in March, as Thompson & Morgan talk through. By doing this now, your yard will start to blossom over the coming months.
Dressing The Deck
Finally, be sure to give your decking and outdoor dining area a little love too. This is where you will probably spend the most time, so you’ll want to really dress it up. Bring in some new seating or accessories such as lights or a fire pit for summer and you’ll be really excited to actually get out into your yard and use it, not just look at it.
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When it comes to the garden, there’s a lot you can do to make sure it stays looking fresh, growing food, supporting any animals you have, and simply remaining your own at the end of the day. However, if you’re building a boundary for yourself, there’s a lot of things you can do wrong that means your plants and trees will spill out, and you won’t have any security from the rest of the outside world. Thankfully, this post is here to bridge the gap for you. So if you’re out to make the garden of your dreams, work your way from the outside in.
Trim and Edge Your Lawn
This is more of an inner boundary of course, but it still matters quite a lot when concerning both the look and functionality of your backyard space. The lawn in our gardens often make up the most use of space, and thus it’s going to be one of your primary needs to maintain.
Simply trim back the lawn whenever you want to or you can put down something permanent to keep it in shape. Not only does something like brick lining, plastic lining, or a garden path retain the use of your free green space, but it also hides any unsightly messes. These can include uneven edges, muddy areas, and thinning grass.
Check Your Fencing
Fencing is what most people use to enclose their garden away from prying eyes and the rest of the invasive plant life out there, and it’s effective in most instances. This is because it’s easy to install and repair, and you there’s so many different fencing types you’ll be spoiled for choice.
So make sure you know where your boundary is, and try to get a fence that’s at least 6 feet tall to better keep your space in good condition. It’s not too hard to install quality fences either, as wood is easy to peg into the ground and stands up against some of the harshest conditions.
Sometimes we like it when our plants are overgrown. However, make sure you’re always trimming the most unruly bushes and creepers, and keep an overall polished look to your garden. If it looks neat, it looks good, and you’re going to be able to see the fruits of your labour right in front of you.
Cut the stems most of all, as a few leaves here and there isn’t going to make much difference. Don’t worry about the lost buds, they’ll grow back at a slower rate and at a much more manageable size. Trimming a hedge? Follow my easy directions here for help.
Building the right kind of boundaries for your garden is worth the effort. Be ruthless in your shearing and trimming practices, but don’t be afraid of a little overgrowth. When a plant is overgrown, it often means less space for weeds!
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Everyone has a different name for the room that overlooks the garden. Sunroom, orangery, conservatory, garden room, extension and about 103 others. But no matter what you call yours, it is probably one of the most adored spaces in your home; that place you can go for a little peace and quiet, a little sunshine-therapy; an escape from all the distractions that fill your other rooms (yeah, we’re talking about your TV!).
Of course, to make this the hallowed escape you can sneak off to unwind and relax in, you need to know how to design it effectively. The flood of natural sunlight and vibrant colors that burst from your garden are going to play a starring role themselves, but to get this space absolutely perfect for all those moments you want to escape, there is some essential information to soak yourself in; things that will make this room an absolute hit with you, your family and everyone that pops over for a cup of tea.
Before You Get Started
Every Space Has A Reason For Being
Before you can even start thinking about the little details and finishing touches you’ll add to your space, give some thought to how this room will be used. Think about what activities it may need to accommodate, what sort of lifestyle you lead, whether it will be used for the occasional gathering and what sort of foot traffic it’s going to handle. Once you’ve answered these kinds of questions you’ll have a much better of what sort of design will work for you.
Every Room Needs A Focal Point
In most rooms, the focal point gets picked on autopilot. It’s the television in the corner, the fireplace in the centre of the wall or the lovely bay window that overlooks your backyard. But in a garden room, the options aren’t quite as clear. As such, you need to create a little scene that your eyes will naturally rest upon. That could be the view outside, a piece of art on the wall, a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, the gorgeous coffee table you brought back with you from Morocco or that statement rug you fell in love with the moment you set eyes on it. Anything is possible.
Picking The Perfect Colour Palette
In a room that’s as filled with natural light as your sunroom (or whatever you call it), light pastel tones that work best. The reason for this is they help maximize the sense of light and airiness. Where windows aren’t looking outward, try painting your walls accordingly – pale greens, duck egg blues, soft pinks, light grays and creams. Compliment these by adding understated furnishings into your space or, alternatively, introduce splashes of color through your furniture and furnishings.
Time To Talk About Traffic
One of the most overlooked aspects to designing a room is how people will move throughout the space. To manage this successfully, look at the entrances and exits and make sure your furniture is positioned so that people can move about without getting tangled, bumped or bruised.
Deciding On The Layout
Decorating this space of sunny disposition will depend on how you intend to enjoy it and, of course, how much space you have to play around with. Typically speaking, most conservatory-type rooms are used as secondary living spaces, the big difference is they don’t have the obvious distraction of a television. They’re used for escaping, enjoying each other’s company, thinking, reading and staring out the window onto your little slice of the great outdoors. As such, the furniture you decide to carry in will have a huge influence on the look and feel.
Style Of Sofa
When it comes to picking a style of sofa, think carefully about what sort of vibe you want to give off and whether this room will get use all year or just in those months when the sun shines. Having sofas that are made of wood, wicker or woven-rattan will all make your space feel like an extension of your garden; they will all help you bring the outdoors in during the summer. If, however, you want to enjoy this room all-year-round and make it feel like retreat you can sneak off to with a cup of tea and a great book, you’ll want to use soft, upholstered sofas with warm colors.
Choice Of Chairs
This is another way to shape the ambience of your space, as well as prove that extra seating. It could be that you use big wingback chairs, or drop in a beautiful oversized chair that you can get lost in, or add a modern-design to make a corner of the room pop. There are so many options and each one will transform your room in a different way. Focus on how you can use chairs to balance the feel, create an air of symmetry, complement the color scheme or make a bold statement.
At The Centre Of It All
Every room needs to have a centre point and none works better than a coffee table. There are three things you need to consider when picking the perfect coffee table: proportion, scale and design. Pick a table that fits in with the size of your room and your furniture. Too big and it will make the rest of your space feel small, cramped and overcrowded. Too small, and it will feel lost in comparison to everything else. Selecting a coffee table that stands out, whether because of its contemporary design, shape, material or the way it is adorned will all help it become as much of a feature as it will a utility.
Come Dine With Us
Not all garden rooms are joined via the kitchen, but the majority are. The reason we’re mentioning this is that you can turn them into informal eating spaces by adding dining tables and chairs, especially ones that are made from more natural-looking materials. Not only will this leave your actual dining room for more formal occasions, it will open up a whole new family space that can be enjoyed all year.
For The Big Finish
Accessories You’ll Love
Nothing is complete until the finishing touches have been added and that’s exactly where small accessories come in. Candles and lanterns, wicker baskets and decorative glassware, houseplants and mirrors and pieces of art to adorn the walls. Each of this will give your space that stylish flair and extra pizzazz.
Let There Be Light
The best thing about this room is the amount of light, which is why you may find the topic of lighting entering your mind as an afterthought. The good news is: the lighting you choose is less about practicality and more about creating an inviting atmosphere. Our best tip: embrace as many lamps as you can. Floor lamps to go behind your reading chair, statement lamps to go on your end tables and anywhere else you can squeeze them in. There is just something utterly irresistible about a room that is lit by lamps and nothing else. It is what creates that feeling of a traditional living room once the sun goes down and the evening is yours to enjoy.
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Sometimes I feel like if I put out to the universe what I am looking for then these things tend to show up. Okay, universe, you’ve been alerted, on the top of my “plant wish list” is Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, “Purple Bell Vine”. Are you familiar with this plant?
The first time I saw Rhodochiton atrosanguineum was during a garden visit as part of the Garden Writers Association conference in Buffalo, New York last summer. As I toured this homeowner’s garden taking photos I literally stopped when I saw this plant. It doesn’t happen too often that I see an entirely new plant. Well, new to me, that is.
What could this be? Where do I get one?
The Purple Bells Vine was being grown on a small obelisk structure and had completely engulfed the metal frame. The deep purple flowers were hanging from top to bottom.
It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I couldn’t help but to start researching this plant as soon as I sat down on the bus. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
From Annie’s Annuals and Perennials: Introduced from Mexico way back in 1833, Rhodochiton atrosanguineum is a funky fast growing option for baskets or a shady trellis. Vines stay a compact 10’ and produce masses of bell-shaped, maroon-purple, pendant flowers that dangle like flowery ornaments on fine threadlike stems. Inspiring! Lovely 2”, heart-shaped leaves edged in purple adorn its tendrils. Best blooms occur in bright shade throughout Summer and Fall. Protect from frost in Winter or bring indoors. Rich soil and a good feedings will make for a happy vine. Part shade to full shade.
From Select Seeds: This refined beauty of a vine was introduced from Mexico in 1833. The small heart-shaped toothed leaves are dark green with burgundy edges. The violet bell-shaped flowers have a maroon “clapper”, and the 2″ flowers sway from the ends of thread-like stems. Try it in containers or twining up string trellises where it will bloom until late fall freezes.
Hardiness: Tender Annual
Size: 6-10 ft
Season: Summer to fall
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained
So I think the real question at this point is: Am I ordering plants or seeds?
Some people like to use their garden for growing vegetables and flowers but that takes a fair amount of hard work. Why not consider using your garden as a great entertaining space instead? When the summer comes back around it’s the perfect place for hosting parties and bbq’s (and you can even set it up for some winter evening events!). It’ll take a bit of work to get it all set up, so here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.
When you’re creating the perfect entertainment area in the garden you need to build a focal point in the garden where you can put furniture for people to sit around. Proficient Patios is one good option because it’s a no fuss staging area that doesn’t require much upkeep. The other benefit of putting a patio in the garden is that it can add an additional “room”, giving the illusion of more space. Keep some of the existing grass in the garden so you make the space multifunctional and add some other great features.
Add a Gazebo
In the height of summer when the sun is shining entertaining outside is an easy choice. Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on the weather and if you haven’t made any preparations for the rain, your party might have to be cut short. The simple solution to that is to put a gazebo up so everybody can take shelter underneath. It will also be perfect for hot days when the sun is too much and you need some shade. Bonus: It’s the perfect way of keeping ice and drinks out of the sun as well.
If your garden parties are a success they’ll carry on late into the evening, but only if everybody can still see each other. That’s why it’s vital that you get some good lighting out there. There are a wide variety of options for any budget. A cheap set of fairy lights draped around your gazebo will do the trick and will cost little. For a larger budget, uplighting and permanent fixtures will provide many years of lighting.
A great entertaining space is a favorite use of our garden. How do you utilize yours?
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Somethings are just better left to the experts, but the garden is often not one of them. If it looks exactly how you want it to, then maintaining it yourself can be a pleasure. However, if it is not how you’d like it to look, then things are definitely best left to the experts. There are plenty of things you can do to change the look of your garden for the summer. The summer might seem like a far cry away for a lot of us, but it’ll come round quicker than we know it. So we’ve got some garden renovation ideas that we know you’ll love, but that are definitely best left to the experts.
A Dip In A Pool
A pool to a lot of people seems like a thing of luxury; a pool is an area of fun, relaxation, and beauty. But if you’re thinking of having one installed the possibilities can be endless. There are companies such as Unique Landscapes, who can pull of any design you want, and have a crazy imagination to inspire you. A lot of people have a jacuzzi attached to the pool for that added bit of relaxation. It makes the whole are more sociable for adults as well as children. Consider options such as infinity pools or highly designed cave-like landscapes to surround the pool.
A Relaxation Area
If you’re going to enjoy your garden in the summer, you’re going to need a place to relax with friends, family, or even by yourself. So what we recommend for this is a nice decking or patio area that is shaded? For a lot of people, this might be installing a veranda above an exisiting patio. These come in a wide range of prices and can be made to look lovely.
Decking is more likely to get hotter if it is left in the sun, which might be something for you to consider for your planning purposes. A hammock, a log burner to replicate a campfire, and plenty of comfy seating are additional options to consider. Sofa styled garden furniture is definitely the one to put in your garden if you’re looking for relaxation. Come the night time, when the log burner is crackling away and the night sky is shining with stars, you truly will feel relaxed.
So there you go. A few ideas for renovating your garden that we know you’re going to love.
Today I am writing a short article on how I use Pinterest for easy garden design tools. Yes, Pinterest can become a black hole of time spent looking endlessly at home decor, gardens, plants, pets and everything else I never even knew I wanted. But, it can also be inspirational, insightful and help you organize your thoughts. I swear, Pinterest really can help with easy garden design and especially plant selection.
Okay, I admit that some direction is needed. Do you have an idea in mind? One of my projects last summer was adding a new mixed perennial and shrub bed outside of our kitchen window and near our back deck. One new bed a year has been my self imposed limit! I really appreciate gardens that are well planned and have color combinations that compliment the plants. Lyndale Park Gardens always comes to mind for me when I think of very thoughtful color design.
I decided that I wanted this new bed to have a combination of purple, orange and chartreuse. Bright and vibrant, this bed will not have room for reds, pinks or yellows. One of the reasons I started my Pinterest board was to help me see the plants I was considering together and this easy garden design tool also helped me eliminate plants where the colors were just not compatible (sorry, lupines).
Below shows a screenshot of my board for this flower bed. You can see the actual Pinterest board HERE and explore the full potential plant palette. I don’t think this bed will ever include all of these plants, but it is a great visual to see what looks good together and what doesn’t. It also helps me to make sure I am only purchasing, and pinning, zone appropriate plants.
In addition to helping me decide what I wanted to buy throughout the season, or start from seed, this board also serves as a way to record what I buy. For instance, PowWow Echinacea was on sale one afternoon so I picked up several of these. While this cultivar was not specified on my “New Flower Bed” board, I searched for an image of this to add. This will help me remember the varieties of plants far longer than I am able to keep track of the tags.
I should mention that the label for this board, “New Flower Bed,” was far from inspirational. I’ve since changed it to “Backyard Deck Bed” to help specify where these are at, and because I know there will be another new flower bed in my future!
Curious what this actually looks like? Stay tuned for an update to come.
Your garden is an important aspect of your home. You want to be able to sit in your garden and enjoying spending them there. Even with some fantastic plants and lovely garden furniture, you may feel like it is missing something. With that in mind, here are three potential garden features.
Few gardens are complete without some kind of water feature. This can be lovely and add extra depth and color to your garden. Options can include a fish pond, simple reflection pool, or perhaps a fountain or stream. Either way, a water feature can be a great garden feature and provide the focal point your garden needs.
Moving water comes with a distinct and unique sound that makes your garden that much more relaxing. When planning a water feature for your garden, there are several things that you first need to consider. Firstly you want to think of the practical side of things. This means planning where any water pipes and tubes are going to go. If they have to run directly through or under an existing landscape, then you might not want to install a water feature. You also want to consider the size of your garden and whether you have space for this type of garden feature.
Most gardens need a shed. It is an integral part of the garde nbecause it is used to store important garden items and tools. However, with a little extra work, it can also adds the aesthetic of the garden as well. You might want to get a wooden shed or one of those metal buildings.
Consider using your shed beyond the practical aspects; you can turn your garden shed into a relaxing area where you go to read a book, play a game or just putter about. You can design the inside of your shed so that it fits whatever needs you have. However, much like a water feature, you want to make sure that your garden has space for a shed. If it is a squeeze, then you may want to consider getting a small shed or going with a different garden feature entirely.
Almost every garden will already have some kind of path, whether formal or just a naturally worn walkway. However, what kind of path and what you do with it will likely be unique to each person’s garden. I am slightly in love with garden paths and featured many forms here. You may decide to go with paving that goes through the middle of your garden or have more traditional stone slabs that go around the edge. A path helps you to explore your garden and walk around it with ease.
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Imagine my surprise when I came across a major mealybug infestation on my succulents. Mealybugs on succulents are not rare, however I was surprised to see just how many I (or rather my aeoniums) had to deal with! I was cleaning up some plants and as I turned this container a half turn, bam! There they were.
How did I get mealybugs on my succulents?
That’s a good question. Quite honestly, they’ve probably always been there, but just not in these numbers. Stressed plants are going to be more favorable to mealybugs, so that may be an indicator which plants need some care. Mealybugs on succulents is common and since I did bring in a lot of plants from outside this fall, I may have accidentally brought these pests indoors too.
When we lived in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to have an outbreak in the landscape occasionally. Hibiscus are especially prone to this and you can see how I dealt with those HERE.
What do mealybugs look like?
Mealybugs look like little pieces of cotton stuck to the plant. They are often found along the stem and where leaves attach to the stem is a really good place to look. The mealybugs shown here have found a nice protected place under the canopy of the leaves on this aeonium. Outdoors it would provide them protection from the elements, in my house it provides them a place to hide where I am not likely to see them!
According to California Extension, “Mealybugs suck sap from plant phloem, reducing plant vigor, and they excrete sticky honeydew and wax, which reduces plant and fruit quality, especially when black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. Large accumulations of mealybugs, their egg sacs, and wax can be unattractive. High populations feeding on foliage or stems can slow plant growth and cause leaf drop; however, healthy plants can tolerate low populations without significant damage. ”
How do I get rid of mealybugs on succulents?
The supplies for this are simple: Rubbing alcohol and Q-tips.
I like to pour some of the rubbing alcohol into the cap and then use the Q-tip to soak up as much as possible. Then, simply touch the wet tip to the mealybugs. Sometimes they will turn black instantly (my favorite!) and if there are a lot you can kind of wipe them up with this.
This is also a good time to look for any dead or yellowing leaves that might have collections of these mealybugs on them. I just remove these and throw them in the trash in combination with the alcohol rub down.
Once cleaned the plant looks great again. I will keep my eye on it for a few weeks to come back and treat any mealybugs that were missed.
What a simple and easy way to treat mealybugs on succulents without introducing unwanted chemicals or pesticides into your home.