Informations About Small Garden Ideas

gh4There are some informations about small garden Ideas:

Create an Outdoor Room
Turn a tiny patio into a gorgeous outdoor room by adding a freestanding pergola. Here, a small wooden pergola was constructed over a gravel patio and enhanced with a teak seating arrangement. The pergola creates a sense of enclosure and makes the patio seem a lot larger then it actually is.

Go Gravel
Crushed brick or gravel is a beautiful and low-maintenance paving option for small gardens. It’s also easier to use and less expensive than brick or flagstone. Just be sure to spread a layer of landscape fabric underneath the gravel to keep weeds from popping through. On this California hillside, the gravel also allows rainfall to percolate through to the soil instead of running off down the hillside.

Capitalize on Trees
If you have large trees with bare spots underneath them, why not put the barren ground to use by creating an outdoor living space? In this small garden, several trees made growing a lawn or flower border impossible. So, the homeowners paved part of the area with flagstone and added a table and chairs.
Small Garden Tip: When you are working under a large tree, be sure to leave any exposed roots alone and never raise the grade around the base of the tree.

Add a Pond
You don’t need a huge backyard to have a water garden. In fact, installing a water garden is a great way to handle low or wet spots in your garden. Just dig out the area, add a pond liner and pump, and you’re on your way. Even a tiny oasis will attract a wide range of colorful butterflies and birds. In this garden, Water Snowflake, Nymphoides humboldtiana, a small relative of water lily, provides color in tight quarters.

Learn how to create a small container water feature.
Double Your Pleasure
Get twice the flowers and vegetables in your small garden by adding a trellis or low fence behind every planting bed. That way, you can grow vine crops vertically so they don’t sprawl over their plant neighbors. In this narrow garden bed, a trio of rustic wooden trellises support flowering vines at the back of the perennial border.

Trees for Small Spaces
A small yard doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous tree. See these shade-providing beauties that can squeeze into small spots.

Welcome Wildlife
Even a small garden can become a haven for birds and butterflies when you choose flowers they prefer. For example, this square bed is packed with bird and butterfly favorites, such as black-eyed Susan and phlox. A bird feeder and birdhouse add to the garden’s wildlife-friendly features.

See landscaping ideas for the front yard.
Add a Mowing Strip
Keeping turf grass from encroaching in your garden beds is a lot easier when you install a mowing strip at the border’s edge. This mowing strip was specially designed to keep weeds at bay and act as a low-maintenance garden path. It also provides easy, mud-free access to the garden for wheelbarrows, mowers, and other equipment.

Eliminate Lawns
Put every square inch of your backyard to work by removing the sod to create useable outdoor living spaces. In this small courtyard, the turf was torn up and replaced by a gravel base that supports a gorgeous dining table and flower-filled containers. Plus, the homeowners have a lot more time to enjoy the space because they no longer have to mow.

Add Drama
Give small gardens a big boost of style by adding an oversize gate or arbor at one end to act as a focal point. It will draw the eye in and make the space seem larger. Here, a large-scale ornamental entry arbor gives this tiny side yard some visual heft. Plus, it supports a crown of climbing roses. White lilies in the center bed mirror the white roses and arbor.

Curve Walkways
One way to create a sense of space in a small garden is to put some curves into your garden paths. A slightly meandering walkway is always better than a straight path because it will give visitors the sense that they are traveling through a large landscape. Just be sure to make your path wide enough for two people to walk side by side comfortably. This curved concrete path is especially appealing because a ribbon of tile separates each slab of concrete.

Rely on Pots
Enjoy your own corner of paradise by packing your small garden with pots and planters overflowing with flowers and fragrant herbs. In this luxurious backyard, pots of geranium (scented and standard) and marguerite daisy provide the bulk of color surrounding a welcoming teak bench. A large terra-cotta bowl acts as a reflecting pool and birdbath.

Consider the Seasons
When you plan your garden, think about how it’s going to look in all four seasons. Many gardens look terrific in the spring and early summer, but by fall they fade. Choose perennials and annuals that offer late-season color and shrubs and trees that bear colorful berries or interesting bark in the winter. In this tiny front border, a bevy of tulips provide plenty of spring color. After they fade, they are replaced with summer beauties such as geranium and verbena. Holly shrubs, which flank the front door, develop showy red berries that keep the landscape looking good after frost.

Find the perfect small garden plan for your space!
Rehab a Shed
If the view from your backyard faces an ugly shed or garage, think about incorporating it into your garden design. On this narrow lot, the only view was of the homeowner’s ugly garage. But with a can of paint and an inexpensive French door, they turned an ugly duckling into a swan. In fact, they were so happy with the transformation, they added a Mediterranean style patio right up against the new garage doors.

Color Your World
Shady backyards are a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon, but too often, they can be a bit dark and dull. Brighten the view with colorful pillows, fabrics, outdoor rugs, and pots in a variety of colors and patterns. This shady deck is now a colorful spot for family fun.

Camouflage Trash
Nothing ruins the view in a small backyard faster than a set of garbage cans blown over in the wind. Instead of having your garbage in plain sight, build a wooden surround to keep them contained. Here, a set of stylish wooden panels camouflages the homeowners garbage with a little space left over for bags of potting soil and extra garden tools. When the gate panel is closed, everything is completely hidden.

Spider Plants, Easy HousePlants II

gh2Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are called this not because they attract and harbor spiders, but rather the little plantlets or offshoots at the ends of long wiry stems are “spidery”. You may see them called “airplane plants” for this reason, too.

This is one of the easiest houseplants to grow, generally being grown in a hanging container to allow the stems to cascade. They’ll form plants about two or more feet wide, and two to three feet long. A NASA study in the 1980’s found that spider plants were one of the top indoor plants for removing formaldehyde and other toxins such as carbon monoxide, common in homes and public spaces now from the off-gassing of synthetic materials.

Leaves come from the base of plants, are rather long (maybe up to a foot long), and rather narrow. It’s probably good that these are grown hanging from raised containers, as cats are fond of chewing on leaves. While the usual spider plants you see have white leaves with green stripes near the edge (the cultivar Vittatum), you can find ones with the opposite—green leaves with white edges (the cultivar Variegatum). This latter cultivar (cultivated variety) tends to have longer leaves than the former. Both will form small white flowers, usually in summer.

Once they form, the little offshoots are plants in miniature with small roots. They often form during the shorter days of fall. You can leave them on for a full plant, or remove some and pot to make new plants. If plants get quite potbound, you can divide them too. Over time, the thick fleshy roots can get so massive they’ll crack containers. Use a potting soil formulated specially for houseplants, not garden soil.

Plants grow best in bright, indirect light. An east window works well, even a south or west one that gets some shade during hot summer days.

Ideal temperatures for spider plants are between 65 and 75 degrees (F) during the day, and maybe 10 degrees cooler at night, but they are fairly tolerant of other temperatures. Just don’t let them get much below 50 degrees in winter, and keep away from drafts near doors and non-insulated windows.

Keep plants watered, but make sure that excess water drains from pots or containers. If a hanging basket, make sure that the draining water doesn’t overflow and ruin floors and furniture. For this reason, and to give plants more humidity that they prefer, water over a sink or bathtub. Too wet soil and roots will rot. Too dry soil and leaf tips turn brown. Check plants every few days for water and, if pot bound, they may need watering several times a week.

Leaf tips also will turn brown if plants get too much fertilizer, salts from such build up in the soil (look for a white crust around the inner rim of pots), or the humidity is too low. Especially during winter, and in dry homes with forced air heat, a humidifier near spider plants will help to prevent such problems. Feed plants when they are actively growing with the fertilizer of your choice, following label directions. If leaf tips still turn brown, and you’re using a public water supply, fluoride in the water may cause this problem. If you suspect this, try watering with bottled or distilled water.

Spider plants almost never get diseases, and few pests. The main insect pests to watch for are small, hard brown scale insects on leaves. Wipe them and white mealybugs off with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. If a plant gets too infested, it may be easier to just discard it and to get a new one, or to propagate clean plants from the offsets.

Grape Ivy, Easy Houseplants

gh1Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) is called this not because they produce grapes, but rather their leaves resemble those of grapes—just much smaller. In fact, they are in the same Vitus or “Vitaceae” family as grapes. They’re not true ivy plants, but get this name from their growth habit. They are among the easiest houseplants to grow, generally being grown in a hanging or raised container to allow the stems to cascade.

Although grape ivy prefers medium to bright light, it will tolerate fairly low light levels indoors. You may see it listed as Venezuelan treebine in reference to where it grows native in tropical and subtropical habitats with filtered light on forest floors. If it gets “leggy” from too little light, just pinch it back to shape. Too much light, such as direct sun, may sunburn leaves, giving them a bleached appearance before turning brown.

Being tropical, grape ivy really prefers warm temperatures above 50 degrees (F), but will tolerate down to 35 degrees. Ideal is a fairly consistent temperature, between 65 and 80 degrees.

Allow grape ivy plants to dry slightly between watering, and don’t let plants stay waterlogged (such as pots with saucers or no drainage). If pots are in saucers to protect furniture and indoor furnishings, make sure to dump out any water an hour or so after watering. Leaves dropping excessively and prematurely often indicates the soil staying too wet.

When plants are putting on new growth (often spring and summer), fertilize them with a product of your choice, according to package directions. Fertilize them more often if you want them to grow faster.

The palm-shaped leaves of the grape ivy are divided into thirds (“3-palmate”), each of these leaflets in a diamond or rhomboid shape (hence the species name). Leaflets are larger, with deeper lobe indentations, in the cultivar ‘Ellen Danica’ which you more often see called merely “oak leaf ivy”.

Leaves can be six inches long, have coarse “teeth” along the leaflet margins, and rust-red hairs on the undersides. Leaves are along vining stems which, if given support such as a trellis, will climb to several feet. Flowers are seldom produced or seen indoors, rather it is grown for its lush, tropical foliage. Studies by Dr. Bill Wolverton, originally with NASA, showed that grape ivy did remove some pollutants from the air, but wasn’t as effective as some other popular houseplant choices.

Grape Ivy is non-toxic to cats and dogs according to the ASPCA plant listing. That’s a good thing, as my cat likes to climb on cabinets to nibble on the ends of the vines from a hanging basket. It is non-toxic to humans, although the sap may cause a slight skin rash in some people.

While grape ivy is commonly found, you may also see a relative—the Kangaroo vine (Cissus antarctica). The main difference is that its leaves are not divided, but rather broadly “ovate” or egg-shaped. It grows similar to grape ivy, with similar culture.

A much more colorful relative is the Rex begonia vine (Cissus discolor). This one, too, has leaves that aren’t divided and are roughly ovate, but with heart-shaped leaf bases and lance-shaped tips. Leaves are deep green, with silver, grey or pink zones similar to a Rex begonia. Yet this is a vine like its relatives, with similar environmental needs and culture. A bit less colorful is Amazon vine (Cissus amazonica) with arrow-shaped leaves, flushed with purple, and silvery veins.

A Guide to Using Your Front Loading Washing Machine

It’s worth it to give front loading washing machines a try. Not only are these machines more energy efficient than typical top loading washers, they also help conserve water by using less of it to wash clothes. As sales of front loaders increase, more and more people want to know how to use these washers and how their operation differs from top loaders. Here are some important pointers that can make you a good front loading user.

Administering Water

It may be a little jarring at first when you turn on your front loading washer and notice there isn’t much water filling up. You may be tempted to manually adjust the water loading settings, but the truth is you have nothing to worry about. A front load washer uses much less water than a top loader, ranging from twenty to twenty-five gallons, as opposed to the forty gallons a top washer is likely to use. When you first put in your laundry, the washer will fill in a small portion of water typically under the door level. Then, the clothes will start tumbling. Once the clothes absorb the water, the washer will spray additional water to keep up the water level. It’s good to trust a front loading washer’s automatic water selection. Once you’ve put in your clothes, your washer will determine how much water you need.

Using Detergent

Similarly, because front loading washing machines use less water, they also don’t need as much detergent as a top loader. Additionally, you should use detergent that is made for high efficiency washers. Detergent that produces too much foam or bubbles can actually ruin a front loading machine, destroying the electronic system and make the warranty on the machine void. Also, with a lower level of water during rinsing, detergent and bubbles will stick in your clothing. Instead, look for detergent that is labeled with an HE logo and is specified to produce a low amount of suds. If you administer the detergent yourself, employ a single tablespoon of HE detergent and no more. For detergent that is 2x concentrate, pour in two teaspoons. If it’s 3x concentrate, just use a single teaspoon.

Loading Laundry

When you’re putting clothes into your front loader, don’t load them in by the pound. Focus on how much space they take up inside. If you load up too many clothes, the washer won’t clean them correctly. Balance your loads with large and small clothes. A bundle of too many small items won’t tumble properly and could cause imbalance in the washer. Imbalanced laundry loads can make noise and shake the machine, producing unnecessary wear on your machine. And although front loading washing machines agitate clothing more gently than a top loading washer, you still want to inspect your clothes for personal items that don’t belong in your washer, as well as fastening hooks and closing up zippers.

A front load washer is actually easy to use once you’ve got the basics down. It not only helps you get your clothes clean just as well as you would with a top loader, but you’re doing the environment a great service by conserving water and energy.

Informations About Flowers For Your Valentine

Although traditional, red roses aren’t the only flowers that say “be mine” this February 14. Tulips (cut or in pots), carnations, iris, fragrant freesia, Peruvian lily, potted azaleas, and orchids are alternative flowers for giving to a special person on St. Valentine’s Day.

If you want to give roses, but can’t afford the high price tag for long-stemmed reds, why not choose sweetheart or miniature roses. They’re less expensive, just as lovely, and are available in the same range of colors including red, pale pink, white, lavender, yellow, and peach. Or, simply give one stem in a bouquet with the small white flowers of some baby’s breath, and a green fern leaf.

When choosing roses, you may want to pay attention to the color as different colors may have different meanings to the recipient. Red, of course, is the most popular and represents romance and love, while lilac-colored roses are said to represent love at first sight. Yellow, on the other hand, represents friendship and loyalty. Pink roses can be used to express gratitude and to say thanks.

Or, select red and white carnations which are less expensive than roses. You may consider a mixed bouquet of red, white, and pink flowers. For example, you could ask your florist to make up a bouquet of white tulips, pink carnations, and a few red roses with sprigs of baby’s breath for the finishing touch. Or include a few long-lasting and more specialty flowers such as alstroemeria, freesia, or even cut orchid stems. If you want a large and exotic bouquet, look for the large tropical red anthurium or ginger. Some florists have walk-in coolers where you can pick your own flower combinations.

If you select your own blooms, choose ones that are just beginning to open. Wrap the flowers well to protect them from the cold on your way home. Once you arrive home, recut the stems and immediately place in warm water with floral preservative. You can find this preservative in small packets at florists, or they may be included in pre-made bouquets. Flowers will last longest if the water in the vase is changed, with new preservative and stems recut, every 3 or 4 days. Make sure to remove any leaves that may be under water.

A flowering potted plant will provide enjoyment for many weeks, usually longer than cut flowers. Potted tulips, azaleas, and cyclamen are all easy to care for and are commonly available in shades of pink, white, and red this time of year.

When buying a potted plant for indoors, look for one with many buds about to open rather than one already in full bloom. Inspect buds, flowers, and undersides of leaves for signs of disease or insect pests.

You may want to enclose a note with your gift to ensure that the plant will be given proper care. Mention that the plant needs to be kept well watered, but not overwatered, and out of drafts. If the foil or paper covering the pot is not removed to allow adequate drainage, make a hole in the bottom to allow excess water to drain and of course place in a saucer to keep water off of indoor surfaces.

Tips To Care of Flowering Holiday Plants

If you purchased or received a poinsettia, cyclamen, or other flowering potted plant for the holidays, there’s no need to throw it out after bloom. With proper care and feeding, these potted plants will continue to flower for many weeks, and may even bloom again next year.

The most popular flowering potted plant and one most buy, or receive as a gift, is the poinsettia. They need good drainage, so if the pot is wrapped in foil, remove the foil or make a hole in the bottom so water can drain out. Put a saucer underneath to protect furniture, but make sure water does remain in the saucer. Then water only when the soil surface is dry. If in doubt, don’t water. Too much water leads to drooping and falling leaves, and root rots.

A common complaint about poinsettias is that they lose their leaves too quickly. This is a sign of poor growing conditions. Poinsettias need at least a half day of sun or bright light for at least 8 hours, a draft-free location, and night temperatures of 65 degrees (F) or above. Given the proper care, you’ll probably get tired of the poinsettias before they begin to lose their color, often as late as mid-summer.

If you want to try and get poinsettias to bloom next year, grow them through the season as you would other houseplants. Then from early October, for at least 10 weeks, you’ll need to move the plant into darkness every night, and bring it out into daylight every day. Plants need 12 hours or less of daylight for this period, every day, to rebloom.

The Christmas cactus responds well to the shorter days of fall, and cool temperatures. It usually will bloom year after year if kept at 50 degrees for several weeks each fall. Starting about mid-September, gradually reduce watering until buds set. Then keep soil constantly moist (but not waterlogged).

The amaryllis, with its stalk of colorful blooms, is another favorite holiday plant. After the flowers fade, cut the flower stalk to about two inches above the bulb. Place in a lighted area, water, and fertilize as with other houseplants. Next summer, place it outdoors, and continue to water and feed as needed. When the tops die down, bring it indoors again. For four weeks, keep at 70 degrees and water sparingly. At the end of that time, increase water to encourage new stalks and blooms.

The popular kalanchoe (said as cal-AN-cho), found in many bright colors through late fall and winter, is a “succulent” plant or one with thick leaves, and that prefers dry soil. In addition to not overwatering, this plant grows best in high light. Keep cool (55 to 65 degrees) at night and warmer (65 to 75 degrees) during day. Fertilize as with other houseplants while it is blooming and growing. If you want to try and rebloom these next year, you’ll need to give a similar fall light schedule as with poinsettias.

Azaleas are found through the holidays and winter in stores. They will bloom for the longest period if kept cool (68 degrees or less), the soil stays moist (but don’t overwater), and with bright light. Feed monthly, using a fertilizer especially formulated for acid-loving plants, or at least houseplant fertilizer, according to label directions. The ones you find in stores are “florist’s azaleas” and are not hardy planted outdoors in northern climates.

If you plan to keep an azalea, snip off flowers when they fade and pinch back the tips of the new shoots to promote compact, bushy growth. You can put plants outside in their pots during summer. Before the first fall frost, move the plant indoors to a cool, sunny room, preferably with 45 to 50 degree nights until buds begin to swell. Then move it into a warmer (60 degree minimum nights) location to force flowering.

You can prolong the bloom of your cyclamen by keeping it cool (68 degrees or below is best) and evenly moist. Too high temperatures, too little or too much water, or too low light may cause leaves to yellow and drop. With proper conditions, and if plants begin with lots of buds, you can have flowers for many weeks. Feed regularly with houseplant food at about half strength.

Most discard cyclamen after bloom. If you want to keep them for possible future blooms, stop watering when leaves turn yellow and wither. Keep dry, in cool, and out of direct sun. When you see the first signs of growth in fall, or at least by October, water well. Water again and treat as above when shoots and leaves appear.

There are other potted flowering plants you may find in stores, including mums, gerbera daisies, or ornamental peppers. As with other such potted plants, generally cool temperatures (60 to 70 degrees) and avoiding too much water will result in the longest bloom period. You’ll also get the longest bloom if you buy plants with lots of buds rather than all flowers already fully open.

The Reasons Why Houseplants Drop Leaves

Houseplants drop leaves for many reasons, but most are related to improper care or poor growing conditions. Often just giving plants the correct light and temperature, or controlling pests, is all that is needed to prevent future leaf drop.

Either too much or too little watering may cause leaf drop. A common problem is that when you see leaves droop or even fall off, you may be tempted to think the plant is thirsty and needs more water. This could lead to overwatering and even more leaves dropping. Make sure when watering, especially in northern climates in winter, to use lukewarm water. Icy cold water can chill the soil and injure roots of tropical plants, leading to root rots, leaves dropping, and perhaps even dead plants.

Extremely low humidity will cause sensitive plants, such as gardenia, to drop leaves although most common houseplants will not show leaf drop in response to low humidity only.

Fertility, or rather lack of sufficient nutrients, can lead to leaf drop. With this, usually you will notice leaves lighter in color first, so you have a chance to correct this before leaves totally turn yellow and drop. Use a houseplant fertilizer, according to label directions, particularly while plants are growing or flowering.

Plants in pots that are too small may drop leaves. Why? Because there may not be enough root room to support all the leaves the plant tries to form, so the oldest leaves drop off. Because the space for the roots is inadequate, the plant may not be able to absorb enough water and nutrients.

Some leaf drop occurs when plants are subjected to a big change in environment. Such changes occur when plants grown outside for the summer are brought inside for the winter. Greenhouse-grown plants may drop leaves if placed in dimly lit house conditions, when they’ve been grown in high light. Some plants just may require higher light to grow and keep all their leaves. Leaf drop brought on by a change in environment should be temporary and non-life threatening (to the plants), new leaves forming that are adapted to the new site.

Chilling is one cause of leaf drop related to environment. Tropical plants are sensitive to low, but above freezing, temperatures. Plants on windowsills may be exposed to chilling temperatures. Hot or cold drafts may be a problem for some plants. The poinsettia is a prime example of a plant that drops leaves due to exposure to cold drafts of air.

Insects and diseases can cause leaf drop, but are not as common as the previously listed causes. Recently I had a variegated English ivy that was losing leaves. On closer inspection I found leaves infested with spider mites. Washing plants well with mildly soapy water is a good start, and often all that is needed, for pest control.

Some leaf drop on houseplants is normal. Older plants should be expected to drop a leaf or two occasionally. This is particularly the case with plants that grow upright like umbrella plant or cane plant, losing lower leaves as newer ones form on the top. The only solutions for this are to stake plants and live with this habit, to propagate new plants by air layering the canes, or to give away the plant and get a new more compact one.

If you’re not sure of the correct culture and conditions for your houseplants, check any directions that came with them, look online or in books, or ask your local full-service garden center.

Tips To Make Your Own Holiday Decorations

Natural holiday decorations such as roping, swags, wreaths, and table arrangements are not hard to make. You will catch on to the simple principles quickly, and in a short time your results may surprise everyone, including yourself. You can be proud of the decorations you made, giving your home a truly festive spirit and even involving various family or friends too.

Most of the materials you need are inexpensive, or free for the asking, in many locales. But remember to get permission before cutting branches or fruits on someone else’s land! Your local florist also should have natural materials, both local and from warmer climates. Tree farms are a good source of greenery, or even undecorated products you can then decorate yourself. Check local newspapers for such farms, or check online (

For plant materials, evergreen twigs and boughs are the most important. You may be surprised at how much material goes into even small decorations. If you have a cool, moist spot free of drafts for storage, you can start gathering greens as early as Thanksgiving. For longest life, keep them away from heat, wind, and sun.

The most common evergreens include balsam fir (the most common), spruce (needles don’t last as long as fir and are pricky), white pine, and hemlock (needles will drop in dry air). Other less commonly used evergreens are white cedar or arborvitae (foliage fades to yellow in a few weeks), red cedar and other wild junipers (sharp needles, so use sparingly to add variety, color, texture, and form), and broad-leaved evergreens like rhododendrons. One caution about using yew (or taxus) is that all plant parts are poisonous, especially the attractive seeds. Look for a few branches of yellow-leaved evergreens for some color, such as certain variegated yews, gold-thread false cypress, old-gold juniper, or one of the gold arborvitae.

Other plant parts you can use for interest, and to give arrangements a New England “country” appearance include cones, grasses, pods, and berries. The latter can be found in many colors. For red or orange, try winterberry, sumac, crabapples, hawthorn, and mountain ash. For a touch of blue, use nannyberry, arrowwood, or junipers, and for yellow, crabapples. Florist shops may carry more exotic plant parts such as lotus pods (which can be sprayed colors), holly (both for berries and leaves), mistletoe, and various greens (such as boxwood or western cedar).

Some people like to add artificial decorations like bells, balls, and fake berries to their natural arrangements. Red ribbons also are popular, although hundreds of other styles and color combinations of ribbons are available. If using outdoors, make sure you select a ribbon rated for that use. Keep the width in proportion to the size of the arrangement.

In addition to plants and other decorative materials, you will need something for a base for most decorations if starting from scratch. Wreaths require a wire, foam, or straw wreath form or a coat hanger bent into a circle. Rope or thick, coarse twine makes a good base for garlands or roping. Florist foam, which comes in “bricks” that can be cut to fit any container, may be purchased at florist or craft shops.

Other essentials include a pair of clippers or utility scissors, florist picks (to hold greens to straw bases), and florist wire. The latter is a thin green wire, available in several widths, that is used to hold everything together, such as cones to wreaths, greens to frames or rope, and decorations to walls.

The range of decorations you can make reaches far beyond what you may think is possible. Arrangements for sale in florist shops may give you ideas, as can browsing through holiday magazines and online sites. So, don’t hesitate to try out new ideas. Just keep in mind that whatever you make should be in proportion to, and harmonize with, the surroundings.

To make wreaths or ropings, you will need individual branchlets or bundles of them. Simply cut small branch pieces four to six inches in length from main branches, and wire or pin them directly to the frames. Or you can wire several together into a bundle, then wire the bundle to the base.

Overlap one branchlet or bundle over the cut ends of the last to hide them and the wire or rope base. Proceed down the rope or around the frame in this manner. Finally, once the greens are secured, add a bow and a few ornaments of interest, such as cones, berries, or artificial decorations.

To make a table arrangement, start with a wet block of florist foam, either free standing or cut to fit a basket or other decorative container. Use a saucer under the wet foam, unless the container is water tight. Place sprigs of green in the foam, followed by natural ornaments such as berries and artificial ornaments. Berries can be wired to a florist pick, then stuck in the foam. Follow the same design principles as you would if arranging flowers.

A door swag is simple. Take several branches of a desired length, usually 2 feet or so, and tie together to hang upside down. Then tie a shorter branch or two on top, upright. Where these all tie together, place a bow, group or cones, or other ornamentation.

If you want to use candles, use decorative lanterns to keep candles away from the greens (which, when dry, can be quite flammable), then decorate around these with greenery and color. Get a mold for making a luminary of ice, and place greens and berries in the water before freezing. These, with a candle inside, make an elegant table decoration for a special dinner.

If you have a stairway and banister, hang a grouping or two of greens and berries from the upright supports. Create a winter or holiday scene in a terrarium, glass bowl, or empty fish tank. Make a fairy garden with a holiday theme. Fill a wooden bowl or basket with an assortment of cones and nuts, perhaps with some bright balls for color.

If you have large containers that remain outside over winter, such as whisky barrel halves or even a raised bed near a walk or porch, decorate these too. If you can do so prior to the soil freezing solid, insert branches of greenery, red-twig dogwood branches, or glittery decorations available from craft and home supply stores. If the soil in these has frozen, you make need to get out a power drill to make the holes, as I’ve had to do some years!

Many other decorations are possible using wire or Styrofoam bases in the shapes of candy canes, cones, or balls, among others. You’ll find these online or at local craft stores. Simply follow the above procedures and your own creativity!

Know More About Fall Color In Northern Landscapes

Whether or not you live in an area of colorful sugar maples, there are many landscape plants that can provide wonderful fall colors around your home and yard.

If choosing shrubs or small trees, try a grouping of several. If using large trees, one may be all that is needed or that you have room for. Keep in mind the mature size of woody plants when buying them in nurseries, and space appropriately when planting. Improper spacing (usually too close) and you’ll be pruning in a few years, plants will grow together so won’t realize their final shape and potential, and if near a building or walk may overtake these. An exception to planting close is if you want to establish a hedge.

If planting a group of low shrubs or trees, keep in mind that they may look good against a dark-colored wall or evergreen hedge. Make sure that you plant in soil suited for the species. Try not to plant where snow and ice, or winter road salt, may damage plants. All of the following are hardy to at least USDA zone 4 (-20 to -30 degrees F average minimum) in winter.

For vines, such as those climbing on fences, consider American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) for yellow fall leaves. This one can be vigorous and choke out other plants. Another vigorous vine, this one with red fall leaves, is Virginia creeper. As with many fall leaves, this one shows brighter colors in sun. Boston ivy turns dark red in fall with full sun, yellowish-red in shade. While bittersweet climbs by twining, and Virginia creeper by tendrils, Boston ivy has tendril discs that make an adhesive that holds to walls but which can rot wooden structures.

A couple of groundcovers, both with reddish leaves, are the bearberry (Arctostaphylos) and lowbush blueberry. For small shrubs under four feet high, consider some Spirea cultivars (cultivated varieties) generally with yellow fall leaves except for reddish Japanese sprireas . As with many plants, it may be best to buy them in fall so that you can see for yourself what actual colors they produce. Yellowroot (Xanthorrhiza) has brilliant red and gold fall color.

There are several larger shrubs, generally with reddish fall color. An exception is summersweet (Clethra) with generally yellow leaves. For purplish red leaves in fall, consider the chokeberry (Aronia) with the cultivar ‘Brilliantissima’ turning scarlet. Also purplish-red in fall are red-osier dogwood and some viburnums such as the native nannyberry, blackhaw, and American cranberrybush. Korean spice viburnum turns burgundy. Vanhoutte spirea, and in particular the cultivar ‘Renaissance’, turns an orange-red.

Many of these shrubs have multi-season interest. In particular, deciduous (losing their leaves in winter) rhododendrons such as the Northern lights series from Minnesota have red fall colors in addition to their colorful early season flowers. Redosier dogwood has reddish-purple fall leaves followed by bright red twigs in winter.

There are many trees to consider for fall color, other than maples. For small trees under about 25 to 35 feet tall, red fall leaves are seen on shadbush, hawthorns, and the native shining sumac. Other sumacs, as well as mountainash, turn various colors of red, orange, and yellow. The native American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) turns red in sun and yellow in shade.

Many of the colorful large trees turn variations of yellow including yellowwood, American beech (a yellowish bronze), ash (a reddish yellow), ginkgo, honeylocust, larch (looks like a conifer but loses its leaves in winter), quaking aspen, golden weeping willow, and elms. For dark red colors in large trees consider some of the oaks such as the white, swamp white, scarlet, shingle, pin, and red oak. Some of the other oaks’ leaves aren’t particularly showy in fall. One of the few hardy flowering cherries for the north, the Sargent cherry, turns yellow to red.

Tips To Healing Gardens

Whether tending to a houseplant, growing some flowers, or turning an outdoor garden space into a serene and relaxing retreat, plants have the power to heal our body and our soul. The National Garden Bureau has provided some examples on how we might use plants for healing, as well as their past and present use. This is not a new practice, going back millennia.

Chinese were using medicinal herbs for healing as early as 3000 BCE (before the Christian era). Later, the Greeks built a temple for their god of healing, Aesclepius, surrounded by healing gardens. In America, the Quakers were among the first to grow plants for relaxation, restoration of the soul, and to stimulate creativity. They established one of the first therapeutic programs in this country in 1879 at the Philadelphia Friends Hospital. Stimulating this was the observation by a physician that psychiatric patients tending fields and flower gardens at the hospital were calmer. The gardens had a “curative” effect on them.

After a few recent decades of relying primarily on drugs, medical institutions have begun incorporating more views of green spaces, flowerbeds, and garden views around their facilities. Some rehabilitative institutions utilize gardens and horticulture therapy programs as part of their patient treatment.

An excellent example of a healing garden I had the fortune to tour is the Rosecrance Healing Garden at their Rockford, Illinois campus for adolescents, which has a several acre world-class Japanese garden. The ordered and relaxing principles of the garden are incorporated into life analogies, exercise, group therapy, and a place for contemplation. Its value is seen in quotes of its clients. “Whenever I feel weak in recovery, I look out at the garden and I realize that I couldn’t enjoy all the beauty of the world under the influence. It reminds me of how much I want recovery.” Another quote from a client could apply to most any peaceful garden setting. “The Serenity Garden helps me relax when under stress because it helps me reflect on the simple things in life.”

Healing gardens can be found at many other institutions, such as in Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Portland. Doctors at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida found that cardiology patients in rehab, who had a view of their healing garden from their rooms, took less pain medication and had shorter hospitals stays than those without such a view.

Whether a serious illness such as a stroke or cancer, gardens can be an important part of healing by providing hope and inspiration. Hope in Bloom ( is a non-profit organization in Massachusetts that installs free gardens at the homes of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, as well as for other cancer patients. Each garden is specifically designed for the home and lifestyle of the recipient. It gives them a tranquil oasis from the world of doctors, hospitals, sickness and despair.

Gardens and gardening activity can improve mental outlook and our emotional mood by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that gardening, even garden visits, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Researchers at the Cleveland Botanical Garden found that blood pressure of many visitors dropped the longer they stayed in the gardens.

Just as the healing process takes time, so does the design and development of a healing garden. Here are some ideas to get your started.
– Healing gardens can, and should, fulfill individual needs and desires, but they always provide interaction with nature. This natural appeal to our senses may take the form of the touch of a velvety leaf, the color of a flower, the scent of herbs, the sounds of water or leaves in the wind, or the taste of vegetables.
– Consider water for relaxation, or the attraction of wildlife (such as birds and butterflies).
– A healing garden can begin with, or be as simple as, a container of colorful flowers, a potted flowering plant, an outdoors container in summer with a vegetable such as lettuce or dwarf tomato, or a pot of herbs on a sunny windowsill. Simple gardens with just a few different plants and hardscape elements, repeated or used in mass, often are more calming than complex gardens.
– Healing can be more than just observing, incorporating the experience of the gardening process. Maintenance such as watering and repotting, to watching the growth process from seed to flowering plant, provide a sense of accomplishment and well-being.
– Whether indoors or out, make sure when choosing plants to find ones suited for their new environment to ensure success. Light need is perhaps the key factor indoors and out.
– Outdoors, include a gentle path, a place to sit, and shrubs or fencing to provide enclosure. A special plant, sculpture, water fountain, even interesting rocks can provide a focal point for meditation and relaxation.