12 Jun

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for the Green Thumbs

1. Louvered Wooden Planters ($49.99 / gardeners.com) – Wooden planters with a grow bag inside. Neat surface finish with option to paint to match garden theme.

2. Sue Patrick Garden Labels ($5 per label/ etsy.com) – Made from white stoneware clay and finished with a clear glaze, these lovely labels are a creative way to mark plants and garden beds.

Garden Labels

Garden Labels by Sue Patrick

3. Garden Rain Gauge ($12.95/ plowhearth.com) – Beautiful and practical garden rain gauge sculpture; crafted of metal and resin with a glass gauge.

4. Black & Decker PlantSmart ($50/ blackanddecker.com) – Digital plant care sensor that analyzes soil conditions, temperature, moisture and sunlight to recommend suitable plants from a database of 6000 plants.

5. Moleskine Gardening Journal ($19.95/ moleskine.com) – Practical gardening journal with 5 themed sections to fill in, 5 tabbed sections to personalize, plants and pots information, hardiness zones, garden log, design grids, plant care records and more.

Gardening Journal

Gardening Journal

6. Scrollwork Hose Hanger ($19.95/ gardeners.com) an economical but very useful and stylish hanger to keep the hose neatly coiled and free of bends and cracks.

7. Plant Stand Trio ($170/ gardeners.com) – Sturdy and elegant set of three tables (small, medium and large) for displaying a variety of plants. Good for gardens, patios, exhibits etc.

Plant Trio

Plants Trio

8. Revolver Spray Nozzle ($14.95/ gardeners.com) – Heavy-duty spray nozzle with 9 different spray patterns; comfortable and ergonomic grip and quick-click selection.

9. Rolling Compost Tumbler ($139.99/ gardeners.com) – Easy to assemble compost tumbler with 43 gallons capacity; light-weight, easy to movement, and rugged body.

10. Planters with Trellis and Water Reservoir ($129.95/ plowhearth.com) – Weather-resistant polyethylene planters with 2-gallon self-watering reservoir. Smooth-rolling wheels with locking casters let you move it and station it easily; Available in white and green colors.

11. Cordless Hedge Trimmer ($50/ blackanddecker.com) – Powerful 4.0 amp motor for superior cutting performance. Full wrap-around front handle provides a comfortable gripping area in all cutting orientations.

11 Jun

Lovely Ground Cover for Coastal Climates: Armeria maritima

Armeria maritima is a compact, low-growing plant, which is known for its prolific and long-lasting spring flowers. The plant is commonly known as Thrift or Sea Pink – the latter is perhaps the more appropriate name for this lovely plant because of its ability to produce large clumps of grassy growth which is topped with vigorous pink flowering – thus making a ‘sea’ of pink flowers in its native habitat.

Armeria maritima, Sea Pink, Thrift

Armeria maritima, Image by Randi Hausken

Though the plant belongs to the coast lines of Northern Hemisphere, especially Europe but it has been grown successfully in many parts of the world as an excellent ground cover. The plant can grow in almost all types of soils with good drainage and under bright sunny exposure. In fact, Armeria maritime can grow quite easily in poor soil conditions and spots where very few plants would survive.

As a compact and low-growing plant, Armeria maritime is a good choice for edging, border fronts, rock gardens or wall pockets. The plant requires moderate watering and can be grown easily from seeds. Flowers are useful for both ornamental as well as cut-flower arrangements.

11 Jun

Pachypodium lamerei: The Madagascar Palm

Pachypodium is a genus of caudiciform succulents from the family of Plumeria. The plants in this genus are characterized by thick, succulent stems that are usually covered by long spines and crowned by lance-shaped leaves that are arranged in a circular fashion. Belonging to Africa and Madagascar, Pachypodium are quite hardy plants that can adapt to a variety of growing conditions in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Pachypodium offers a variety of unusual yet attractive plants of different sizes (as small as a few inches and as tall as 4 meters or even more). Since these plants originate from hot and dry climates, they are a good choice for designing low maintenance landscapes such as rock gardens and xeriscapes where they can store sufficient amount of water in their succulents stems to survive long spells of drought. In fact, the name ‘Pachypodium’ (pachy- podium/thick-footed) is derived from their habit of forming thick and succulent stems.

From a number of commercially grown species, Pachypodium lamerei is the most popular and widely cultivated in landscapes and gardens. It is fairly easy to grown both indoors and outdoors where it receives sufficient exposure to sunlight and moderate water except in winter. It is cold sensitive and needs to be protected from frost, overwatering and freezing temperatures in winter.

Pachypodium lamerei, The Madagascar Palm
Pachypodium lamerei , Image by Axel Straub

Though it is not a palm but Pachypodium lamerei is commonly described as Madagascar Plam – may be for its rich green leaves that crown the tall succulent stem of the plant. These leaves usually pale out and fall in winter followed by new growth in spring. This is the time when the plant produces showy white or yellow fragrant flowers. However, it takes a lot of years (up to 10 years) to start blooming. At this stage, the plant reaches the height of 3 meters or more.

Pachypodium lamerei can be propagated from seeds, divisions or grafting. The plant prefers a regular but well-drained soil mix.

Other popular species include:

Pachypodium geayi: Similar to P. lamerei with thicker stems. Tends to branch out and grow up t0 m meters or more. White flowers often appear on branches.

Pachypodium horombense: Grows as a small succulent shrublet and produces a swollen tuberous stem with spiny branches each bearing a rosette of leaves. Average height is 1 meter. Flowers appear in early summer.

10 Jun

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses

In an earlier post, I shared nine ornamental grasses that you can use for designing your garden landscape. Today, I am sharing some brilliant examples of landscapes and gardens that use ornamental grasses.

Growing ornamental grasses in containers – a brilliant idea indeed.

Grass in containers

A nice use of hardy and drought tolerant grass in a xeriscape.

Xeriscaping with hardy grass

Evergreen landscape with ornamental grasses.

Landscaping with Grass

A very handsome mix of ornamental grasses growing in a bed for a dramatic effect.

Grasses in garden

Excellent bed of evergreen ornamental grasses.

Growing grasses in a bed

Nice use of ornamental grass in a pathway.

Growing grasses in pathway

09 Jun

Gelsemium sempervirens: The Carolina Jasmine

Gelsemium is a small genus of evergreen climbers from Southeast Asia and eastern North America particularly Virginia, Florida, Texas and Arkansas. These fast growing climbers can be grown for profuse flowering in spring. The most popular plant from this genus is Gelsemium sempervirens; it is commonly described with various names: Carolina Jasmine, False Jasmine, Yellow Jessamine, and Evening Trumpetflower.

Gelsemium sempervirens, the Carolina Jasmine

Gelsemium sempervirens, the Carolina Jasmine, Image by Mary Keim

Gelsemium sempervirens is a fast growing climber that grows up to 20 feet. It can easily climb adjacent trees or structure, grow on fences, or form a mound when allowed to grow freely on the ground. The plant is not fussy about growing conditions and can be grow in almost any garden.

Gelsemium sempervirens produces showy, evergreen foliage of dark-green color. Yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers grow profusely in spring. These attractive flowers last long and have a hint of fragrance. Flowering is followed by formation of small red berries. Both the flowers and fruits are poisonous and can be lethal for livestock.

Apart from its horticultural use, Gelsemium sempervirens is also used as a homeopathic remedy for motor paralysis, general prostration, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscular weakness.

Gelsemium sempervirens is propagated from seeds or divisions. It requires full to partial sun and moderate watering.

08 Jun

Quick Tip # 1: Applying Mulch

If you are desiging a low maintenance garden, do not forget plants that are still establishing. They need to be watered well. Top the soil with mulch; it retains water and protects the soil from drying effects of wind and sun – thus keeping the plant sufficiently moist and low on maintenance.

If you do not want to purchase commercial organic mulch, use shredded leaves, wood chips or rounded gravel to top off the soil.

07 Jun

9 Examples of Amazing Miniature Pothole Gardens

Being an experimental gardener, I have a special interest in miniature gardens. For me it is not about lack of garden space; it is all about adding novelty and creativity to the hobby. Steve Wheen has, however, gone beyond traditional methods of miniature gardening. He has taken his miniature gardens to the potholes of London streets – a really novel and amazing idea. Here I am sharing 9 examples of pothole gardens by Steve Wheen.

Images by Steve Wheen

1. Miniature Sunshine Garden

Sunshine Garden

Sunshine Garden

2. Miniature Garden with a Bench and a Pansy

Miniature Garden

Miniature Garden with a Bench

3. Miniature Picnic Garden

Miniature Picnic Garden

Miniature Picnic Garden

4. Miniature Winter Garden

Miniature Winter Garden

Miniature Winter Garden

5. Miniature London Phone Box & Garden

Miniature London Phone Box & Garden

Miniature London Phone Box & Garden

6. Mini Pothole Garden with Daisies and a Bicycle

Mini Pothole Garden with Daisy and a Bicycle

Pothole Garden with Daisies and a Bicycle

7. London Street Miniature Garden

London Street Miniature Garden

London Street Miniature Garden

8. Pothole Garden

Pothole Garden

Pothole Garden

9. Miniature Pothole Garden

Miniature Pothole Garden

Miniature Pothole Garden


06 Jun

Tropical, Flowering Bush: Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta is a genus of flowering shrubs and trees from tropical and subtropical climates with wide distribution across Asia and Africa. Plants in this genus are grown for their beautiful and prolific flowering habit.

Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta lanceolata, Image by Satish Nikam

Most plants in the genus of Pavetta are woody shrubs that usually take the form of bushes or small, evergreen trees. They are quite hardy plants and can survive various growing conditions; however, for prolific flowering and foliage, grow them is a regular soil mix and water generously in summer. There are a number of popular species for almost every garden. Pavetta lanceolata is, however, quite common in cultivation. It is grown as ornamental bush for its summer flowers when it produces dense clusters of star-shaped flowers. Flowering is followed by formation of black berries in autumn.

Common name of Pavetta lanceolata is Forest Bride’s bush.

05 Jun

Galtonia candicans, The Berg Lily

Galtonia is a genus of bulbous plants from South Africa that grow in dense clumps and produce tall spikes of beautiful white flowers in late summer. Galtonia candicans is perhaps the most popular species in this genus. The plant is featured by lance-shaped leaves that grow up to 1.5 meter and tall spikes that bear bell-shaped fragrant flowers.
Galtonia candicans

Galtonia candicans, Berg Lily

Galtonia candicans is winter-dormant and produces new growth of leaves in spring. The fragrant and long lasting flowers appear in summer. The plant usually prefers a fertile and well-drained but moist soil under full sun. It is frost tender and needs protection from long spells of winter.
Galtonia candicans can be grown from seed as well as divisions. It can be grown in containers as well as in flower beds where it fills empty spaces makes an excellent choice as companion plant for many other summer bloomers.
Galtonia candicans is commonly known as Berg Lily.
05 Jun

5 Easy to Grow Plants for Cold Climate Gardens

1. Centaurea cineraria is an evergreen and cold hardy plant for outdoor gardens. Commonly described as Dusty Miller, the plan grows up to 1 foot and produces beautiful silvery foliage. Inconspicuous flowers of white or yellow colors appear in summer. Centaurea cineraria prefers full sun but can be grown under light shade. The plant is usually used in borders and flower beds as filler plant. Propagation is done from seeds or cuttings.

Centaurea cineraria

Centaurea cineraria, Image by Kim (flickr)


2. Cordyline ssp.: Cordyline is a genus of beautiful foliage plants grown widely in beds, containers or in coastal as well as urban landscapes. Young plants can be used in bedding or as ornamental container displays. Most species would grow as woody, cold hardy, and evergreen shrubs producing attractive foliage of green, bronze or purple colors. Though cold and frost hardy, Cordylines prefer sunny spot or lightly sheltered positions in a well-drained soil. Propagation is done from divisions.

Cordyline terminalis

Cordyline terminalis, Image by Megan Hansen


3. Matthiola incana is one of the most popular annuals grown in almost all parts of the world. The plant is known for its tall stocks of colorful and fragrant flowers. In cold climates, Matthiola incana is sown in summer for flowering in the following spring (when temperature is under 75º F). Commonly known as Stock, Matthiola incana grows easily from seeds and is used in flower beds for profuse flowering. The plant required sunny exposure and well-drained soil.

Matthiola incana

Matthiola Incana, Image by douneika (flickr)


4. Rudbeckia hirta is a profuse bloomer with daisy like flowers that comes in all shades of yellow, orange and red. The plant usually grows up to 1 meter; flowers appear from mid-summer to early fall. These cold and frost hardy plants are suitable for flower beds, containers, and mixed borders. Rudbeckia hirta prefers a regular but well-drained soil mix under in full sun or partial shade in moderate and cold climates. Seeds can be sown in spring.

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta, Image by Joshua Mayer


5. Lavatera trimestris is commonly known as Rose Mallow. It grows as a bushy plant in produces cup-shaped flowers from summer to fall in cold climates. Originally belonging to the Mediterranean region, Lavatera trimestris can easily tolerate cold and frost. The plant prefers lightly sandy and loamy but well-drained soil mix. In cold climates, it prefers dry or lightly moist soil.

Lavatera trimestris makes a good choice in mixed borders, flower beds or as patio/container plants. In cold climates, seeds are sown in spring for a prolific flowering period from June to September.

Lavatera trimestris

Lavatera trimestris, Image by Andreas Kriz