Liriope is a genus of low-growing foliage plants that are grown widely in temperate regions as ground covers and landscape plants. These grass-like evergreen plants are usually associated with the lily family. Ideal for pots, baskets, pathways, borders and as patio plants, most species of Liriope are quite easy to grow and maintain.
One of the commercially popular species is Liriope Muscari which grows in clumps of narrow leaves. This beautiful plant spreads quickly and easily and is suitable for garden landscapes as ground cover. It can also be grown as indoor pot plant when provided with adequate light and temperature.
Liriopes Muscari, Image by Martin Vicentea
Liriope plants prefer bright sunlight and regular watering in a well-drained soil mix. Liriope Miscari, which is commonly known as monkey grass, spider grass or lily turf, propagates easily from root mass. The plant produces green, sometimes variegated foliage, and violet flowers on dense spikes in summer. Flowers last long and can be used as cut flower.
There is nothing like a secluded, lush green lawn in your home for summer retreats. However having a grassy green and manicured lawn is not as easy job – it requires good preparation and a lot of patience especially when you are growing it from scratch. Today, we are featuring a few tips for creating a lush green lawn from scratch.
1. Check the soil
First and the foremost step is to check the pH of soil. Ideally, it should be near 6.5. If the value is lower than 6.5, add lime to the soil before hoeing it.
Hoe your soil extensively to make sure that it loose and properly tilled. If you want to install an automatic sprinkler system, this is the right time. Rake the soil tediously to remove rubble, weeds, stones and lumps of soil.
Image by Russell James Smith (flickr)
3. Spread Seeds
Once the soil is ready, spread seeds equally and evenly all across your lawn area. It is recommended that you divide the whole quantity (ask your seed supplier for correct quantity of seeds for your lawn area) into two parts. Add sand to each part; it helps spread seeds evenly. Spread the first lot of seeds in one direction, and then the second lot at the right angles to it. Once seeds have been spread, rake them lightly before watering the area. Depending on your budget, you can also lay ‘ready-made’ turf. It established quickly and does not have bare patches.
4. Dampen the Soil
For best results and successful germination, keep the soil moist all the time. If you are staring in warmer months, do not allow the soil to go dry.
5. Pamper Your Lawn
Once seeds have germinated and started covering the ground, spot bare patches and seeds them again until the entire areas has been covered. Occasionally fertilize the soil as poor soil would have more weeds and less healthy grass.
Do not mow your lawn vigorously before the grass has established and the entire area of your lawn is covered properly. Keep regular maintenance and enjoy a lush green lawn for years to come.
Cotyledon is a genus of wonderful succulent plants for gardens, rockeries, landscape designs or just as ornamental houseplants. These hardy succulents offer a lot of variety to choose from – small pot plants, tall leafy shrubs, evergreen ornamentals, beautiful hanging plants, and miniature plants for window gardens. Cotyledons are known for their fleshy leaves and beautiful flowers that make them stand out in any garden or landscape.
Native to South Africa and parts of Arabian Peninsula, Cotyledon require grow best in temperate and dry climates where they receive just sufficient water to survive. These plants are capable of storing enough water in their succulent leaves to survive spells of drought. Leaves of most species of Cotyledon have powdery surface that helps retain water by preventing evaporation and blocking harsh sunlight.
Cotyledon Orbiculata, Pig's Ear, Image by Mollivan Jon
Cotyledon Orbiculata or Pig’ Ear is the most popular species of this genus which is widely grown by commercial nurseries as ornamental plant. This beautiful plant produces grey-green leaves with red or pink margins in pair. Orange, bell-shaped flowers grow in summer on long stalks.
Cotyledon Orbiculata can be grown in landscapes, rockeries or just as ornamental container plants. It propagates easy from cuttings and requires moderate watering in a well-drained soil. Protect from overwatering.
Acanthus is a genus of perennial sub-shrubs that are grown for their ornamental foliage and flowers. They are quite showy plants and can be recognized easily in a landscape for their glossy-green leaves. Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Acanthus has inspired several architectural designs and patterns in the Greek and Roman culture. One can easily recognize and relate several architectural motifs in ancient Roman culture with beautiful foliage of Acanthus. In fact, Roman and Greeks revered this plant and used it as a decorative plant.
Flowers on Acanthus plants are borne along long stalks (up to 2 meters) that stand out in plantation. Flowers are usually white or cream with a hint of purple.
Acanthus Mollis, Image by meggle (flickr)
How to Grow Acanthus
Acanthus is easy to grow and maintain. These ornamental perennials are grown best under share or filtered sunlight. Young plants requite regular watering, however, once establish they do not require much attention. Most species of Acanthus have long tap roots making it difficult to root them out. Since these plants are quiet showy and noticeable in size, it is recommended that you do not grow them near low growing plants. Acanthus is best grown as border plants or as background foliage plants in a landscape. These shrubby plants can be propagated from cuttings. Among all species, the most cultivated is Acanthus mollis, which is also known as Bear’s Breeches. Other popular species are: Acanthus spinosus and Acanthus hungaricus.
Soil, being the basic component of your garden, determines quality, health and volume of growth you can have in your garden. Hence before you start experimenting with anything else to make your garden lush and thriving, it is a good idea to spend some time and effort to improve your garden soil. The following are a few tips to improve sandy garden soil.
Lush Home Garden, Image from topdesigninterior.com
A sandy, light and granule soil is good for growing a wide range of plants. However, too sandy soil can make your gardening experience a tough job. It drains off moisture very quickly and forms a crusty surface preventing essential moisture from getting down to the roots. If you are living in coastal areas or near mountain range, you probably have a higher proportion of sand in the soil.
Improving sandy soil is not very difficult but it does require a lot of organic portion added to it. You can add well rotted compost and manures to correct the sandy soil. If you are preparing ground for plantation, the best way is to dig the organic matter into the soil several weeks before plantation.
If you already have an established garden with sandy soil, add gradual layers of organic matter as mulch. As a layer breaks down and becomes part of the soil, add a new layer and allow it to break down and become part of the soil. This continuous process may take some time to form a perfect soil however the results are satisfactory – lush and thriving garden.
Areca Catechu also known as betel nut tree or betel palm is a tall, slender and elegant tree that bears strong fragrant flowers and popular betel nut. Originally belonging to Philippines and Malaysia, betel nut palm grows in the long tropical belt of Pacific, Asia and Africa.
Areca Catechu makes a graceful, tall tree with dark green leaflets. Normally, a betel nut tree gains a height of 20 meters or more (up to 30 meters) with a crown of beautiful trees on a slender trunk of just 45 cm. The grey stem of betel nut tree has ring formations caused by fallen leaves. White flowers are followed by orange drupes commonly known as betel nut (though it is not actually a nut). Dried nuts are used for fragrance and flavor in Paan. It is estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of betel nut are consumed annually for chewing with Paan all over the world. The extract from betel nut is supposed to have digestive and anti-depressant properties but could be addictive and toxic.
How to Grow Betel Nut Tree
Betel nut tree is extremely easy to grow in warmer climates. It requires regular watering (mostly moist soil) and bright sunlight but does not survive colder climates. Areca Catechu grows well as ornamental plant in containers or as indoor or outdoor landscape tree. As an indoor ornamental plant, Areca Catechu grows slower and requires less water.
Creating and designing your garden landscape like a professional is just as easy as click-click-click. GardenPuzzle is a smart software application that allows you to design your garden layout before you actually start digging and planting trees and plants. Thus, you can imagine how your actual garden would look like.
You just have to define your climatic conditions and desired layout plan, the application suggests suitable plants and allows you to design your garden with simple mouse clicks. You can download and install GardenPuzzle on your PC as a desktop application or use it online in your web browser for free.
Here is a brief summary of my experience with GardenPuzzle
To get started with your new garden layout, choose scenery (back yard, lawn etc.)
Choose Scenery in GardenPuzzle
Define the type of ground (fertile, dry, acidic etc.) and climatic conditions (your country, state and hardiness zone).
Describe Garden Conditions
Now that you have basic layout of your garden, you are ready to go ahead and start designing your landscape.
Basic Garden Layout
Based on your selection, GardenPuzzle would display suitable plants for your climate. You can select from a variety of Conifers, Vines, Perennials, Trees, etc.
Plants in GardenPuzzle
Set surface type: Leaves, Grass, Lawn, Brick, Meadow, Planks etc.
Add bridge, arbor, trellis, fences, garden furniture etc.
Garden Equipment and Furniture
Now ‘plant’ trees, vine, shrubs as per your choice. You can filter plants by size (large, small etc.) and type (vines, herbaceous etc.). GardenPuzzle provides complete information on habit and culture of plants that you choose so that you can select appropriate plants for your garden.
Save your project and see how your garden would actually look like.
Garden Deign with GardenPuzzle
Some of the features are not available in free version of GardenPuzzle.
The worst you can do to your newly purchased plants is rushing ahead and planting them in the ground. Of course, you are keen to see those plants growing in your landscape but this enthusiasm could hurt your plants. Ideally you should prepare both the plants and the ground before you start the job.
Today, I am sharing some of the steps that I follow to transplant my plants into the landscape.
Planning the landscape
Whenever you want to plant trees in your landscape, first make sure that it is suitable for your climatic conditions. Also observer you landscape (garden, lawn etc.) and visualize how the plant would actually look like when it reaches it potential. Imagine how it would grow (some plants have columnar growth, some grow as woody shrubs, some are evergreen and some deciduous).
Imagine how your new plant would accompany others. Make sure that it does not intrude in to adjoining plants or is subdued by its neighbors. Every plant requires some ‘private space’ to grow healthy.
When to buy new plants for the landscape
Do not purchase plants until you are ready to transfer them in the ground. Keeping plants sitting in their containers for a long time could be bad for the plants, especially when you do not have proper space and required environment for those container-bound plants.
Select healthy plants from your nursery and make sure that they are already established in their containers (not transferred from the ground or another container). Also make sure that the plant is suitable for your climate, lighting and soil conditions.
The day before the job
Water the ground thoroughly the day before planting to make sure that the soil is a little damp. Also water the plant thoroughly to make the transplanting easy for you and the plant.
The best time to transplant is early morning or later afternoon. Do not transplant in the heat of the day, especially in summer.
How to transplant them in the ground
Dig a hole that is at least twice the size of the container of the plant. Add some rotted compost as base for the plant. Also add some organic fertilizer and cover it with a layer of soil. This would make a perfect mixture for the plant to establish and grow roots.
Take care while removing the plant from its container. Be gentle and avoid damaging roots of the plant. Some old container-bound plants are hard to remove from their containers and you might have to cut or break the container. Root-bound plants are hard to remove from their containers. Keep this point in mind when purchasing plants for your landscape.
After the plant has been positioned in its new place, fill the hole with soil and rotted compost. Do not pack the soil in hard neither keep it too lean to support the plant. Some plants might require additional support, provide them with stakes.
Lastly, water the plant and well and try to keep the soil moist until the plant has established itself in its new place.
Native plants do not usually resist transplanting, however exotic plant might be sensitive to transplant and not bear the shock. Make sure you understand all the requirements of such plants.
Espalier is art of pruning and training trees or shrubs usually against a wall or trellis to form symmetrical and flat geometric shapes. Training trees into flat, two-dimensional shapes has more value than just decoration of walls and gardens. Espaliered trees are perfect for lawn and gardens with limited space. When grown against walls, they reflect sunlight and protect the wall from heat waves.
There are a number of techniques and methods to train and transform shapes in to flat espaliers. With a little practice, you can craft interesting shapes out of your shrubs and trees. Get started with some simple espalier techniques given here.
Here are a 10 amazing examples of espaliered trees for your inspiration.
Image via willowbrookpark.blogspot.com
Image via apartmenttherapy.com
Image by Marie Richie
Image by Graham Bould
Image via frogview.com
Image by Mike
Image via ubcbotanicalgarden.org
Image via giverny-impression.com
Image via pleach.org
Image via frogview.com
If you need further information on designing and caring for espaliers, I would highly recommend Karl Pieber’s book: Espalier Fruit Trees for Wall, Hedge and Pergola.
Today, I came across Google SketchUp, a free 3D modeling tool for architects, landscape designers and gardeners. Google SketchUp is quite simple to use and does not require specialized training as you need for major CAD based 3D modeling software. SketchUp is a handy tool for converting your creative ideas into virtual reality. It allows you to design interesting landscapes in a 3D environment quickly and intuitively – thus you can create, revise, improve and experiment with landscape designs in a paperless environment. That means, you save a lot of time, effort and of course, paper that comes from tress.
With Google SketchUp, you can also ‘preview’ your landscape design and imagine how it would actually look before making actual changes to your landscape or purchasing plants for your landscape garden.
The basic version of Google SketchUp is free and provides a reasonable set of functionalities. You can also purchased Google SketchUp Pro for advance options. For details, see http://sketchup.google.com.
Here are a few examples of landscape designs made using Google SketchUp.