Flower of the Week: Ginger

Whether found in the kitchens of 5 star chefs or the suburban gardening landscape, Zingiber officinale, commonly known as garden ginger, is a popular plant for many reasons. A perennial endemic to tropical Asia, ginger is often grown for its multiple uses; their aromatic fibrous rhizomes are a favorite in Asian and Indian cuisine, and have been clinically proven to relieve nausea, indigestion, bronchitis and congestion. While equally happy as an indoor windowsill plant, in an outdoor garden, or as a container plant, ginger is easily cultivated and cared for.

These perennial reed-like favorites feature sturdy leafy stems that grow to a height of about 3 to 4 feet tall. Appearing in many tropical settings worldwide, they are a handsome tropical landscaping plant that flourishes in warmer climates. The ginger plant offers a beautiful array of large, brightly colored flowers that attract insects and wildlife. A mature plant produces clusters of white and pink  buds that develop into cheerful yellow flowers.

Ginger prefers a sunny location with rich, moist, well-drained soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 and a regular watering schedule and monthly applications of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. They are particularly suited to pond landscaping. They grow best in warm, temperate climates, but if their rhizomes are protected, they go dormant and survive frosty temperatures. Mulch your plants when gardening in the fall, or bring your rhizomes inside when temperatures dip below freezing. Rhizomes may be dug up in the fall after their dried stalks have withered.

Whether found in the kitchens of 5 star chefs or the suburban gardening landscape, Zingiber officinale, commonly known as garden ginger, is a popular plant for many reasons.

A perennial endemic to tropical Asia, ginger is often grown for its multiple uses; their aromatic fibrous rhizomes are a favorite in Asian and Indian cuisine, and have been clinically proven to relieve nausea, indigestion, bronchitis and congestion. While equally happy as an indoor windowsill plant, in an outdoor garden, or as a container plant, ginger is easily cultivated and cared for.

These perennial reed-like favorites feature sturdy leafy stems that grow to a height of about 3 to 4 feet tall. Appearing in many tropical settings worldwide, they are a handsome tropical landscaping plant that flourishes in warmer climates.

The ginger plant offers a beautiful array of large, brightly colored flowers that attract insects and wildlife. A mature plant produces clusters of white and pink  buds that develop into cheerful yellow flowers.

Ginger prefers a sunny location with rich, moist, well-drained soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 and a regular watering schedule and monthly applications of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. They are particularly suited to pond landscaping. They grow best in warm, temperate climates, but if their rhizomes are protected, they go dormant and survive frosty temperatures. Mulch your plants when gardening in the fall, or bring your rhizomes inside when temperatures dip below freezing. Rhizomes may be dug up in the fall after their dried stalks have withered.

Photos via: alfredmoya

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Divide and Conquer

Are you the proud owner of a garden that is at least five years old?  Make a cup of tea and take a long leisurely stroll out into your garden.  Are any of your plants beginning to crowd out their neighbors?  Are there any robust plants that can be divided?  Take a good hard look at your thriving perennials in need of division.  Your perennials actually need to be divided to retain their healthy growth rate and blooms.

Don’t despair if your large plant looks half dead in the center it will come alive in the spring grateful for your care.  Hostas, grasses, day lilies, astilbes, yarrow, autumn joy sedums, black eyed susans, and irises all adore being divided. Try to do it at least 4 weeks before the first frost if possible so the plants to have time to get established.  If you miss the fall division time and the first frost has already passed think about doing this in the spring which is also an ideal time for this worthwhile activity.  If you have no more room in your garden – gift the divisions to a  neighbor or family member!

Tips for division:

  • Dig the whole plant out paying attention to its’ entire rootball circumference
  • Place it gently on a tarp
  • Assess where the best divisions can be made.  3 pieces?  4?  5?  it’s up to you!
  • Brutally divide it with a very sharp tunnel:  fear not your plant will love you for it.
  • If needs be use a small saw to cut the rootball into sections.
  • Dig new holes and check if the new divisions fit perfectly at the right depth.  They must be level with the surrounding earth so adjust if necessary.
  • Fill in the hole around them with dirt.
  • Punch the earth into the hole with your garden glove covered hand so it is firmly planted.
  • Step with your full body weight around the newly planted perennials to double check the soil around them is firm.
  • Water them in well.  You can use transplanter solution if you really wish to baby them along but it is not essential

Photos via: London looks

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Flower of the week: Avens

Avens are perennial plants that are members of the rose family and an excellent planting choice for those with a garden in an area that gets cool summers. The plants have clumps of vibrant green leaves covered with fine down and are topped by yellow, white or red single flowers. The bloom season of avens is from spring through summer, and because they are perennial plants, they’ll come back on a yearly basis. They are fairly easy plants to care for, though in regions where the temperatures get below freezing for any length of time, they should be mulched to protect the roots.

Avens are excellent plants for inclusion in a rock garden because the bright flowers stand out so well against the colors of the stones. The front of the border is also a place to effectively showcase these little jewels. Avens also make good container plants and are sometimes seen included in hanging baskets.

 

Gardening with avens is not at all difficult. Like most flowering perennials, they should be divided every two or three years. They thrive in full sun but will take some shade in warmer areas. In fact, most varieties of this plant will be difficult to grow if summer temperatures are too warm. Avens should be well watered and provided with a nutrient rich soil to be at their best. Those who include avens in their gardening efforts are more than satisfied with their performance if they give the plants a little care.

Photo via: wackybadger

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Flower of the week: Morning Glory

Many people overlook the simple beauty of morning glories for more elaborate flowering annuals, but experienced gardening experts know that morning glories have many uses in ornamental landscaping. Because they grow so easily from seed, it’s rare to see morning glories offered for sale as seedlings in garden centers. All that is needed to have containers full of cascading, vibrant morning glories is a packet of seeds, some potting soil and a couple of empty egg cartons.

Those who are starting morning glories from seeds are advised to nick them with a knife and soak them in clean water overnight before planting. This will speed up germination. After the eggs cartons are filled with potting soil, the seeds can be planted about half an inch deep and the cartons places on a sunny windowsill. If the last frost date has already been passed, the seeds can be directly planted where they are to grow.

Because morning glories are vining plants, they are best planted in garden areas that have supports for them to grow on. They can make a vibrant, colorful display against a back trellis or spilling out of a hanging basket.  Although the most common morning glory ranges from various pink shades to scarlet, gardening aficionados prefer the type that is a clear sky blue. These have the largest flowers and the most vigorous vines.

Because they sprout and grow easily, morning glories be excellent learning experiences for children who are learning how to garden.

Photos via: qhwaEcstatic Mark

 

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Leaf it Alone?

Here are the pros and cons of leaving leaves in your garden over the winter.  There are benefits and drawbacks to letting your nutritious leaves cover your garden or raking them up in a tidy fashion.  Let’s discover these ideas together…

Pros

  • Leaves make excellent compost especially when shredded which is easy to do with a lawnmower.*
  • Leaves provide free fertilizer by returning organic matter’s nutrients back into the soil.
  • A light coating of shredded leaves is excellent for lawns.
  • Leaves provide fantastic winter mulch insulating more delicate plants such as roses, new plantings, or bulbs.
  • Vegetable scraps in your compost are more easily broken down with leaves.

Cons

  • Leaves create a soggy mess in the spring when the snow melts.
  • They cause root rot in lavender and other Mediterranean species.
  • If the leaves are not raked up from your lawn they will hinder its’ growth from lack of sunlight.
  • The leaves may have diseases which will spread throughout your garden.  Watch out for rust, mildew, black spot, and tar spot.
  • Black walnut trees have toxic leaves so always pick them up and bag them.
  • Leaves help ALL bugs overwinter, both harmful and good.

*These three lawnmower techniques will turn your leaves into confetti!  First spread the leaves around about 3 inches deep and mow on the highest setting.  Secondly remember morning is the best time to do this as they are less likely to fly all around because they are slightly damp from morning dew.  And lastly run over them at least twice!

Photos via: Marco ArmentTim in Sydney

 

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Flower of the Week: Queen Anne’s Lace

What plant thrives in parched fields, fights bugs in the garden and serves as a food source in a pinch? It’s the flower of the week: Queen Anne’s Lace.

This well-named biennial, a native of Europe, blooms from mid-spring until early fall, sending its lacy white flower clusters high into the air. Flourishing in dry and sunny areas, it has adapted well to North American soil; so well, in fact, that it sometimes crowds out native plants. Because of this tendency, some gardening enthusiasts deem it unfit for inclusion in their flowerbeds.

Many desirable insects, however, find Queen Anne’s Lace essential to their quality of life. While bees relish its sweet nectar, caterpillars of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly consider its leaves a delicacy. As another major draw, the flat-surfaced flower head allows the plant to serve as a convenient meet-and-greet for bugs on the prowl for Mr. Goodbar.

Queen Anne’s Lace is particularly attractive to the predatory Green Lacewing. Known to many as nature’s insect repellent, this bug is valued in any garden for the inclination of its larva to feast on the eggs of pests like aphids and spider mites.

Since it is so famous for its showy flowers, many gardening aficionados are surprised to learn that the taproot of Queen Anne’s Lace is actually an edible wild carrot. Before adding it to the dinner menu, though, it’s essential to identify the plant correctly. The ill-fated gardener who mistakenly ingests its poisonous lookalike, the Water Hemlock, might not live to weed another day.

Photos via: BobolinkBY-YOUR-⌘

 

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Totally Tuber-ular

At the summer market this year you were dazzled by the seduction of the dahlia.  Now that fall has come your dahlia is producing less and less.  Many of you in the northern climates might treat them like annuals and  just throw them out each year, but you don’t have to!  Dahlia collecting is a full time pleasure for gardeners who worship this perky flower of perfection.  You can dig up those tubers and keep their glory your upcoming year!

If you live in a somewhat mild climate and you want to risk the lives of your dahlias cover them up plentifully with straw or mulch and hope for the best.

But for 100% chance of a gorgeous new bunch of dahlias next year take heed of the following tips:

  • The trick is to dig them up before the first freeze!
  • Cut the plant down to a four inch stub which will be blackened by the first frost already.
  • Dig around the tuber and remove it carefully from the soil and brush all the dirt off.
  • Place upside down in an airy dry space until the tubers have no more moisture in them.
  • Double check that they are totally dry for safe keeping.
  • Cut off any diseased parts with a sharp knife.
  • Store dahlias in a tray, pot or box of peat moss.
  • The place must be cool but not freezing – a garage, a shed,  a storage cupboard or a cellar could work
  • After the first frost has passed in the spring carefully replant your beloved dahlias in your garden and you will be amply rewarded for your effort.

Photos via: Yuki SasakiF. D. Richards

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Flower of the Week – Daisy

The daisy, so bright and cheery, is one of the best-loved flowers of all time. Poems and songs are written about it. Daisies have decorated greeting cards and scrapbooks since Victorian times. Until recently, Daisy was a popular name for girls. It was often a nickname for Margaret. Is there a place for daisies in your life? Many people include them in window boxes or in a garden.

A daisy is usually envisioned as a white flower with a bright gold center. This is only one of a wide array of flowers in beautiful colors. There are hundreds of different types, and they are found all over the world. Daisies are a composite flower, which means that each petal is actually a flower in and of itself.

The traditional meanings for this sweet flower are innocence, honor and the ability to keep a confidence. They are also known for endurance, as they can resist freezing temperatures, regenerating themselves from the roots. The daisy should be a part of every herb garden. The flower is made into a salve for cuts and bruises. Brew it as a tea to soothe coughs and asthma. Use the leaves and stems in salads, and as a seasoning in soups and stews.

Gardening with daisies is a snap. They’re a hardy perennial and a great border plant. Most daisies will grow best in full sun or partial shade. They need moist, well-drained soil.

Every garden should have some daisies. Ask your local gardening expert what they recommend as the best types of daisies for your area.

Photos via: basheertomeljhar6

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Tired of Tulips?

Are you feeling more adventurous lately in the garden?  Do you want to dive into a whole new world of bulbs this spring?  Have you heard of alliums?  Well I have found a cousin to the more common purple allium.  She is called Allium Schubertii.  Like her cousin she also looks like a fireworks display.  Both are spectacular ornamental onions. Schubertii  is an amazing focal point of any garden with long pink stalks radiating out from the centre like a many legged spidery alien.  It is entirely possible for her head to hold over 100 individual blooms! There are 50 closer to the centre and 50 longer blooms giving it the exploding fireworks effect. These flowers eventually turn into amazing fluffy seedheads.

Also her delightful antenna’s span is almost the size of a human head!  Unlike her purple cousin she comes in a rosy pink hue.  Alliums bring remarkable architecture to any garden and act as show plant for all your visitors.  Allium Schubertii makes excellent decorative cut flowers both fresh or dry.  Alliums come up dependably year after year with their amazing seedheads bringing a feeling of celebration and joy to your spring garden.  You must order these special bulbs soon as you have to bury them in the ground this fall.  Plant in full sun and in well drained soil as Allium schubertii is native to Palestine, Syria and Iran.

Make sure there is ample space around your bulbs so she will not be overshadowed by her neighbours. If you like attracting butterflies, but deterring deer in your garden this plant is a good choice for you! But if you have pets this plant may NOT be for you as it is poisonous for dogs and cats!

Photos via: renee_mcgurk

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Flower of the week: Gerbera

Gerbera daisies are famous for their large, bright flowers.  Similar in shape to sunflowers, gerbera daisies come in a range of colors.  Some of the more common varieties include yellow, pink, fuchsia and orange.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking to add some of these gorgeous flowers to your garden, keep in mind that gerbera daisies can be finicky.  But with a little care and attention you should be able to keep gerbera daisies happy and thriving even if you are a gardening novice.

The most important step is to plant these flowers in the appropriate spot in your garden.  You need to find somewhere that consistently receives plenty of sunlight.  At the same time, it’s best to make sure that your daisies don’t get overheated.  Temperatures higher than 70 degrees can stop your flowers from blooming.  You also want to keep the plants evenly moist.

In many climates, keeping a plant sunny, not too cool and consistently watered can be a challenge.  If you’re concerned your region might not support these conditions, don’t worry.  You can also keep your gerbera daisy as a houseplant.  You can learn just as much about gardening by caring for plants indoors.

The reason that these plants prefer conditions that are hard to find in North America is because they originated far away in South Africa.  Gerbera daises were first discovered in the 1880s by naturalist Robert Jameson.  The flowers were taken to England, where enthusiasts bred them into the wide variety of colors we see today.

Photos via: mick / Lumix

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