29 Apr

My Rooftop Succulent Garden 2018

My rooftop succulent garden has changed a lot since I first posted pictures of my succulent garden from 2007. You can see pictures of my rooftop succulent garden in 2007 here, here, here and here.

A large part of my cacti collection is now replaced by Sansevieria, Agave, Gasteria, and Haworthia plants – most of them are rare hybrids or variegated varieties.

Here are a few pictures of my succulent garden including some of my recently purchased variegated Sansevierias and a few bulbs of the spiral grass.

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26 Feb

Best Fragrant Houseplants for Your Home

Indoor plants, especially fragrant houseplants are ideal when it comes to bringing nature and its goodness to your home. Weather you are looking for plants for your living room, patio, or the sunroom garden, fragrant houseplants freshen up the air and add that distinctive and irresistible natural look to your indoor space. The following are some of the best fragrant houseplants you should consider for your home:

Gardenia

Gardenia
Gardenia is one of the best fragrant houseplant you will find. Their dark green leaves and creamy-white flowers are a sight to behold and easily compliment any décor you may have. Gardenia may not be the easiest indoor plant to care for, but the look and fragrance they offer your living space are all worth the extra effort.

Jasmine

Jasmine fragrant flowers
Jasmine plants produce a particular nighttime scent and belong to a class of winter blooms. Not all of them are sweet smelling, but Jasminum polyanthum is what you will be looking for if the nighttime fragrance is your goal. Just make sure they sit next to a sunny window and are in an area with adequate air circulation.

Scented Geraniums

Scented Geranium
There is a wide variety of Scented Geranium with each having a distinctive scent. They are natives of South Africa and rarely survive the American winters outdoors. Scented Geraniums feature bright green lemon-scented leaves and colorful flowers. You can train them as standards, have them in hanging baskets and put them in cute pots for your living room or kitchen.

Spearmint

Spearmint in Flower & the Insects that came to Feed (48)
Most of us want a plant that is easy to grow and maintain. Spearmint releases a unique minty smell to make any living room feel fabulous. The aroma is almost similar to that of peppermint but has less menthol. Spearmint has a square-shaped stem and spear-like leaves. It is pest-resistant and is rich in vital nutrients, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. You can harvest leaves to spice up your morning tea and evening dessert.

Lavender

Lavender
Lavender has a reputation for its sweet fragrance and appealing flowers. It is generally a low maintenance plant that also repels mosquitoes and other bugs. They thrive in dry climatic conditions, and it’s perfectly fine to water them once per month. However, lavender requires a good dose of lighting so placing them on a windowsill is a good idea.

For more information on fragrant houseplants and gardening tips, check out Michelle’s website: https://www.gardeningleave.org

13 Feb

Top Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Sustainable gardening is a way of gardening that reduces waste, minimizes environmental impact and enhances natural environment. Modern gardening techniques involve usage of chemicals, fertilizers, and materials that not only impact natural environment but also become a source of pollution. The idea behind sustainable gardening is to adopt methods and use substances and materials that are sources from nature and do not harm the local ecosystem. Think of chemical sprays that kill insects bugs but also wipe out honey bees or friendly bugs that condition the soil or are eaten by birds. Killing those bugs affects population of birds that visit gardens not only to obtain their food but also to pollinate flowers or spread seeds. Disturbing a single link in the ecosystem eventually disturbs the whole ecosystem that might lead to catastrophic changes in the long run.

Sustainable gardening is all about being sensitive to the nature and minimizing impacts of gardening activities on the nature. There are a number of tips and techniques (such as composting, mulching, xeriscaping etc) you can use to make sure that your garden is sustainable. The following is a few easy ways to adopt sustainable gardening habits.

Sustainable Gardening

Avoid chemicals

Part of achieving a sustainable gardening is removing the chemicals entirely from your garden space. There are plenty of pests and weeds that may be easier to deal with using pesticides, but the damage it does to the health of your garden and wildlife as a whole can be massive. For this to work, you need to commit to de-weeding by hand and only using natural fertilizers to help your plants reach their full potential. This does not necessarily have to be as hard as it sounds, depending on the state of your garden. Planning ahead to cut chemicals from your garden can be the best way to integrate this sustainability effort slowly over time.

When you really want to use a pesticide, make sure you use an organic pesticide such as  EcoSmart Organic Botanical Garden Insect Killer

Reuse & Recycle Materials

From plant pots to your old rake, there are plenty of things that you can reuse and breathe new life into. The creation of these items takes a heavy toll on the environment, so getting as much use out of them as possible is important in order to achieve sustainability in your garden space. Recycling indoor items for use outdoors can also be a great way to boost your garden’s sustainability. A flower pot made out of your Aunt Mable’s favorite teapot may make a great interest piece, for example, as well as adding to your garden’s sustainability.

Also See:

Harvesting Water

High water usage has a big impact on the environment, with gardeners being some of the biggest culprits of too much water use. You want your plants to survive, but at what expense? The compromise for this problem comes from harvesting your own water.

Use a rainwater collection barrel, buy a rainwater tank or simply keep a few jugs on hand for the drizzles. Either way, make sure that your plants are only being supplied by sustainable water. Of course, you won’t always collect enough water year round; but, it should go a long way to help your garden become self-sufficient.

Rainwater Collection Barrel

Rainwater Collection Barrel, Made with 100% Recycled Plastic and Plastic Spigot

Zero Waste

Don’t throw away a twig. No, really. If you want your garden to be truly sustainable then it needs to be a zero waste zone. No bin, landfill or dump should ever receive a scrap from your garden. So this means having a compost bin. Meaning all of your natural waste can be recycled back into your flower beds, creating the circle of life in your own garden.

Consider Sustainable Furniture Options

For a fully sustainable garden space, you need to ensure that everything you buy for your garden is responsibly sourced. Including the furniture. Outdoor rattan furniture is a sustainable option, with much of the rattan supply coming from Indonesia. Here communities are supported by the growth of this rattan for furniture and rely upon it for economic stability.

Ensuring you have environmentally friendly furnishings is a must for a sustainable garden space, so invest in this area of your garden!

As a whole, a sustainable gardening is not as difficult as you might at first suspect! Simply put in a little hard work from the beginning and you will have a beautifully sustainable space in no time.

19 Jan

How to Identify and Get Rid of Houseplant Insects

Houseplant insects, if not identified and removed properly, can kill your plants. It is important to spot early signs of infestation by regularly examining your plants especially those surrounded by other plants or placed in hard to reach locations and corners. Most insects are small and live on parts of the plants that are not usually visible such as under the leaves and nodes or around stems.

If you find your houseplants infested with insects, immediately isolate the affected plant and make sure that insects have not already spread. The next step to identify insects and use an appropriate insecticide to get rid of infestation. This following is a brief guide to identifying houseplant insects and getting rid of them.

Scale

Scales look like white cottony masses, sometimes with brown crusty bumps. Sometimes, they are flattened red or grey bodies. They can attack any part of the plant – stem, nodes or leaves where they suck sap from the plant and excrete sticky fluid. Scales are easily visible and are easily scraped off the plant surface.

How to get rid of scale insects – Scrape off larger scales and then use a soft brush dipped in soapy water or horticultural oil to clean affected areas thoroughly. Keep the plant under watch for at least a week and repeat the process, if required.

Scale insects

Mealybugs

Mealybugs usually look like scales because of their size and appearance. They are identified by their white waxy body and their habit of living in clusters. Plants infested with mealybugs would look distinctly weak, unhealthy and covers with sticky sap. Mealybugs usually live underside of leaves and cause deformation of leaves.

Mealybugs

How to get rid of mealybugs – Mealybugs can spread quickly and are difficult to control. If spotted earlier, mealybugs can be removed by wiping off the affected parts with a damp cloth or cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Serious infestation can be controlled by using an appropriate insecticide and re-potting the plant with fresh soil. Do not use the infested soil.

If possible, use organic insecticides such as EcoSmart Organic Botanical Garden Insect Killer. I prefer organic pesticides because they use natural plant oils and have no harmful effects on humans and pets. Most organic pesticides are odorless and can be used safely on indoor plants.

Thrips

Thrips are one of the most common and difficult to control houseplant insects. They feed on fruits, flowers, leaves and stems of houseplants and lay eggs in silts they cut in plants. The eggs, if left unattended, hatch and send off a fresh colony of thrips.

How to get rid of thrips – There are thousands of species of thrips varying is size and color – some are easily identified and controlled whereas some of them are more resilient. Most species of thrips can be controlled by using an organic insecticide.

Thrips - Houseplant insects

Aphids

Aphids are small green, pink, brown, yellow or black insects that usually attach young buds, new foliage, and stems. These pesky houseplant insects live in small clusters and suck sap from plants resulting in weak growth and wilted leaves.

How to get rid of aphids – Isolate affected plants. If caught earlier, wipe off insects with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Keep the plant under watch and repeat the process every two or three days until full rescue. If infestation is severe, use an appropriate insecticide. You may have to spray the plant multiple times at weekly intervals.

Hibiscus: Aphids on furled flower

Whiteflies

Whiteflies, like most houseplant insects, weaken plants by sucking plant sap and coating parts of the plants with sticky substance. Whiteflies are small, white flying insects that flutter around the plants and lay eggs under the foliage. Affected plants show signs of weak growth and poor foliage.

Whitefly
How to get rid of whiteflies – Move the plant to an airy spot. Wipe off eggs and larva with damp cloth or cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. If the infestation is severe, use an insecticidal soap or an appropriate organic insecticide.

Rubbing alcohol

Spider mites

Spider mites are too small houseplant insects to be noticed easily. They are wind surfers and easily travel from one plant to another. Spider mites live underside leaves where they spin protective webbing. These pesky insects damage leaves by sucking sap and making holes in them. Affected leaves usually show sign of discoloration or prominent yellow stripes. Spider mites reproduce quickly in a dry environment such as in a greenhouse.

Spider mites on corn leaf

How to get rid of spider mites – Remove affected leaves and stems. Wash the plan with a strong stream of water and then use an insecticide, preferably an organic insecticide like  EcoSmart Organic Botanical Garden Insect Killer.

11 Nov

How to Create a Garden Pond: The Ultimate Guide

Creating a garden pond can be a complex task; it can be difficult to manage every detail without forgetting a step. We are here to help. You always want to be sure to do your research and plan the location of your pond before you jump in to installing it and planting. We’ve created a guide to planning and putting in your perfect garden pond, from what type of pond to choose to how to best plan out your foliage. Let’s dive in!

Garden Pond Guide

Decide on the size of your garden pond

This step should be done first and foremost. The decision should be made based on three things: your budget, your land, and what you want. If you’re wanting a giant koi pond, but barely have room for a garden pond, you shouldn’t get your hopes up. Be realistic in your planning stages because otherwise, your dream garden will remain a dream. Small ponds give you more options for where you can put them, are usually cheaper, and are easier to maintain. Larger ponds can add to your property value, are larger and have to be planned for accordingly, and are a little further on the pricier side. Don’t forget to consider the cost and size of your pond liner: http://www.swelluk.com/pond/pond-liners-54/ – this is of great importance.

Visualize how you want the end project to look

This will help you stay within the lines of what you envisioned, as well as help you plan your budget accordingly. If you’re wanting to surround the pond with stones, lots of plants, and statues and fill it with fish, your budget is going to need to be pretty high. What kind of pond were you thinking, the liners or the plastic molds? The plastic molds are a little more expensive but they save you tremendously in maintenance and hassle with installment, plus it has a longer life.

Make a detailed budget and stick to it

This can be the most challenging part as surprise expenses happen, but it’s important to adhere as closely to your budget as possible, so it doesn’t kill you when those surprise expenses do happen. Shop around and research before you purchase your pond, plants, and whatever else you want to go around it; make sure you’re getting the best price. You might like these tips, provided by The Guardian.

Plan out the perfect place for your pond to go

Don’t just trust that the land will be fine in the area you pictured for your pond; do your research before trying to install it. You should place your pond in an area with level land that has ample exposure to sunlight for your plants. You don’t want your pond to be placed near any overhanging trees, if possible; the leaves litter your pond and it’ll save you a tremendous hassle in cleaning out the pond every day in the fall.

Garden Pond Design

Getting your perfect garden pond can be a challenge, but if you plan ahead, shop wisely, and stick to your vision, it can be possible. Whether you picture a small garden pond surrounded by stones and plants or larger pond with a bench swing in the background and statues for added elegance, you can make it happen with our ultimate guide. Be sure to do your research before jumping in and always plan ahead. We hope your garden pond is everything you envisioned it to be.

For your inspiration, here are a few examples of beautiful garden ponds.

@ large ponds one for fish and one is a watergarden traditional-landscape
Lot 82 tropical-landscape
Traditional Landscape traditional-landscape
Barnes contemporary-landscape
Maher Residence Back modern-patio
Chevy Chase contemporary-landscape
Dalkeith garden contemporary-landscape
28 Jul

How to Make the Most of a Small Lawn

They say good things come in small packages, and that’s definitely true for lawns. For one thing, they’re easier to maintain than large lawns, and it only requires a little of creativity to work around the challenges a small space presents. Here’s how to make the most of a small lawn if that’s what you have…

Also see: Top Tips for Landscaping a Small Lawn

Work out your priorities: First of all, decide what you to do with the space. Have you always fancied trying to grow your own vegetables, or are you harboring ambitions to be a green-fingered Mother Nature type that can cultivate even the most exotic species of flower? Whatever the case, be clear about your requirements, and don’t be afraid to sketch it out to help solidify your ideas in your mind. This will help you to plan out the space to ensure it ticks the right boxes.

Look at where the sun is: Next up, you’ll need to spend a little bit of time looking at the amount of sunlight your yard receives. It will depend on the way your property faces and the time of year, but just be mindful that you’ll need to make every square inch count if you don’t have much space to begin with. So, put sun-loving plants where the rays linger for the longest portion of the day, and plan something creative with parts of your lawn that are shadier.

Buy once, buy well: If you’re planning on sectioning off a portion of your small lawn for a patio, for example, (a great idea if you know you’d like to spend significant amounts of time dining or relaxing outside), don’t be tempted to buy cheap paving stones. Instead, buy them once and buy them well – good quality paving stones will last for years if you look after them well, and considering you only have a small area to cover, you’ll find that even the best quality paving stones are very affordable. The same is true for decking, or any other material you want to use to maximize your outdoor space.

Invest in the right tools: On a similar note, make sure you’re investing in the right tools to look after your lawn. For example, a small lawn won’t need a large, cumbersome power mower. Instead, you can probably just use a reel-action push mower, which is much lighter and will probably be easier to store away too. Likewise, if you like to use lawn feed, look for one that’s designed for small areas so that you don’t overwhelm the area you have.

Lawn-Boy Lawn Mower - Best choice for a small lawn

Lawn-Boy 177-32 Lawn Mower is simple yet gives surprising mowing experience. Probably the best available option for a small lawn. You can buy it online.

Grow vertically: A small lawn means you’re unlikely to have enough space to plant everything in the ground. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have all the flower beds and herb gardens you’re hoping for. The solution is to simply grow vertically – fill your space with climbing plants to add interest and texture to your small lawn, and consider planting blooms in pots that are hung from your fences or walls – you’ll get an awful lot of color and greenery into your yard by doing this.

Use of vertical space in a small lawn

 

Use mirrors: Yes, really! Mirrors aren’t just for indoor use. When you place them outside in your small lawn, you’ll find that you make the lawn look bigger by reflecting it. Tuck mirrors behind a trellis or on a fence at the far end of the lawn to cleverly create the illusion of size, and just be careful to take note of where you’re placing it… you won’t want to reflect ugly drain pipes for example. It’s also worth hanging a mirror relatively low to the ground if you don’t want to interrupt a bird in flight. And remember to hang a mirror out of the sun – you don’t want to risk a fire in your yard, or your neighbor’s!

Using mirrors in a small garden

 

Select your flowers carefully: Finally, give some careful consideration to the plants you want to put in your lawn. Flowering shrubs are low maintenance, but it’s worth paying attention to what time of year they’ll flower and for how long so that one plant is beginning to flower as the other one is reaching the end of its season. Also, you can create depth and interest by adding plants of varying heights to help make your narrow lawn borders look a little thicker.

Also see: Best Flowering Shrubs to Grow in Your Lawn

24 Jul

Gazebo Design Ideas for Gardens and Landscapes

Planning to build a gazebo is your garden? Browse these beautiful gazebo design ideas for building a perfect outdoor living space.

Also see:

Gazebo in backyard
Wooden Gazebo Design Idea
Modern Gazebo - outdoor living
Poolside Gazebo Design Idea
Large Gazebo
Custom Design Gazebo
Small Gazebo Design
Gazebo Design Idea
Gazebo / Cabana
Gazebo / Log Cabin
Gazebo in Garden
Gazebo in Japanese Garden
Lovely Gazebo
Gazebo in Landscape Design
07 Jul

Eco-Friendly Pest Control for Your Home

There is no doubt that insects are an important part of the world’s eco system, so we should probably not simply try to kill them all off. This does not mean that you should find yourself pinned to the chair because a family of spiders is standing in the middle of the floor. It also does not mean that you should have to throw out a ton of food items because ants have found their way into your kitchen cupboards.

You want to make sure that insects stay outside of your home. Doing this successfully, involves using pest control. But what about the problem of using chemicals? We have already mentioned how killing all insects is bad for the ecosystem; you may be concerned about pest control chemicals, for the same reason. Many pest control experts actually offer services that are more environmentally friendly than was previously the case; you can find out more about eco-friendly pest control service. If you would rather try your own eco-friendly methods first, here are a few ideas.

Eco Friendly Pest Control

Eco-friendly Pest Control / Image via flickr

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is simply a collection of fossilized remains of a species of algae. The remains consist of hard and sharp pieces which are microscopic in size. These pieces damage the exoskeletons of the insects that may be tempted to invade your property, killing them. You only need a thin layer of diatomaceous earth to do the job and you can sprinkle it wherever you choose, as it’s perfectly safe.

Mint Leaves

Mint is harmless to humans, but ants and flies do not like it. All you should do is scatter a few leaves around where there is a potential problem of infestation, and the culprits should be deterred. As an added bonus, mint gives your home a fresh and clean scent.

Soap and Water

This may sound like a really simple solution; but it can work. You just need to fill a spray bottle with a soap flakes and water solution, then point at the bugs you want to get rid of, and spray. The soap in the mixture damages the exoskeleton of the bug. The water then gets inside and the bug drowns. It’s as simple as that.

Keeping out Termites with Sand

Termites that invade from underground can be deterred by using a barrier of sand. They cannot tunnel through the sand in the same way that they can tunnel through earth. You can use sand around the foundations of your property, in crawl spaces and in any other area that may be susceptible to termite activity.

Nematodes and Termites

This may sound a little gross, but you can actually kill termites using a different type of creature; microscopic worms called nematodes. They are just pumped into areas where there is a problem with termites and they then kill any termites which are present.

You can use any or all of these solutions to try and rid your home of a pest problem. If you have any issues doing so, do not be worried about calling in the experts. You can discuss any concerns about chemicals with them, before any treatment is started.

05 Jul

A Beautiful Example of Contemporary Garden Design

Bricks, concrete blocks, pebbles, rocks and stones are material for contemporary landscapes and gardens. These contemporary materials are used to design gardens and landscapes that are low on maintenance yet high in water efficiency. The whole idea is to cover the ground with ‘hardscape’ elements to reduce evaporation and retain moisture. The hardscape is filled with drought-resistant or water-efficient plants. Hardscape elements also minimize the need to control weeds and use pesticides by naturally controlling weeds and preventing pests.

See more information and resources on water-efficient garden designs and a list of water-efficient plants.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Also browse these beautiful examples of contemporary garden design by Folia Horticulture + Design.

10 Jun

Top Tips for Buying Indoor Plants

When buying indoor plants, make sure that you pick a healthy plant that is great in shape, has no signs of disease or damage, and is ready to be transferred to the intended environment.

When you are buying indoor plants, make sure that you understand their growing conditions and have sufficient space to provide them. Once you have decided what indoor plants you want to buy, make sure you select the best available indoor plants available in the garden center. The following tips for buying indoor plants will help you select the best plant and avoid costly mistakes.

Tips for Buying Indoor Plants


  • Look for healthy foliage and sturdy stem. Avoid plants with drooping leaves or foliage showing signs of discoloration. Do not buy plants with damage or weak stem. Look for firm stem with no signs of damage.

  • If you are buying a seasonal flowering plant, pick the plant with lots of unopened buds. Avoid plants that are end of their flowering cycle.

  • Carefully watch buds, under the leaves, and tips of new stems for insects. Do not buy plants that carry bugs. Also watch for eggs and larva. If you have already brought home an infested plant, immediately isolate it from other plants and treat the affected plant.

  • Make sure that plants roots of the plants are not growing out of the pot. Roots growing out of the pot suggest that the plant has been potted in the same pot for a long time and it would be difficult to transfer it to another pot and that transferring the plant to another pot would put a lot of stress on the plant.

  • Always pick smaller indoor plants. Not only they cost less but also adjust easily in their new environment. You can also prune and train smaller plants to your desired shape. Buying smaller indoor plants also gives you freedom to fit them easily in available space.

  • Check the soil carefully. Make sure that it is not soggy or very dry – clear sign of neglect.

  • Do not place your new plants under direct sunlight. It is advised that new plants should be kept under indirect sunlight for a few days so that they can adjust to their new climate. If you are buying flowering plants, place them in the spot that is best suitable for them so that they are not stressed in the process of acclimatization. Flowering plants, when not provided with the right climate, may shed their flowers and buds immediately.

  • When buying indoor plants, make sure they are handled carefully during the transit. It is advised that they are properly wrapped and provided sufficient support during transfer.