All about plant care

The Partnership Of Vines And Windows

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Vines and windows just naturally go together; each helps the other to brighten a room and give it a garden air. And most windows are so light and bright, you’re not limited to the trustworthy foliage vines. You can have flowers. And you have a wide, wide variety of vines to choose from. Even a shaded window is the best place to display some sun-loving plant you’ve grown to full flower in other, more suitable quarters.

A single hanging container displayed at eye level – a luxuriant tuberous begonia or fuchsia spilling cascades of glowing flowers; the silver-patterned, plum purple Cissus discolor; or the brilliancy of an ivy geranium – will stop visitors in their tracks. Or use a matching pair of wall brackets, one at each side, to soften the straight lines and sharp corners of the window frame, with a flowering or foliage variety that drifts down or climbs up the casing. Or set a fast-growing specimen like velvety Cissus in an urn on the floor at one side of the window, and let it scramble up cords strung inside the frame.

Vines For Walls And Other Vertical Areas

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Restful and easy-to-live-with as they are, vines are not at their best trained haphazardly on a wall – any available wall – the way paintings are often hung to fill an empty space.

The lines of vines are so prominent that using them in a by-guess-and-by-golly manner can cause confusion and even offense. Except for spectacular specimens that become focal points wherever they’re placed, vines are usually most effective used in combination with other plants or items like pictures, mirrors, pieces of furniture.

But used with care, vines can create breathtaking effects against walls, fireplaces, railings of stairs, and other vertical areas. To harmonize and connect a background – the wall – with a table or chair standing before it, hang or train a vine just above the furniture. Stand back and squint at the composition to see if it is balanced. Check the relative proportions of space, to furniture, to plant. Decide whether the shapes are harmonious, whether colors and textures have interesting contrast. Then, congratulate yourself on achieving one of the difficult but most artistic types of interior design.

Vines As Garden Accents

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Walls and fences of all dimensions are erected for any of many reasons – to define property boundaries, to create a center of privacy, to connect two areas or levels, even to break up small areas and make gardens seem larger. Fences can be used in place of trees and shrubs as background for a flower border, with spectacular vines as accent or subdued varieties for subordinate effect. And, of course, there’s nothing like a good-looking fence or wall to obscure unattractive outbuildings, or necessary atrocities like the compost heap.

For fences and walls, again, vines are selected according to available sunlight, moisture, and other cultural considerations – and then according to decorative purpose. If the fence is in itself decorative, the vine should enhance, not smother it. Avoid rampant-growing types and choose, instead, restrained vines with delicacy and charm, and those that can be pruned and trained to shape. For ugly or tottering fences, select a fast, thick covering vine.

The Lifestyle Of Attracting Birds

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

All manner of men find birds diverting. Children, shut-ins and even very busy folks find their chirps, calls and hammerings sweet and their flashing ways instructive. Some while away dull hours watching birds. Others, besides getting entertainment, also add new facts to our knowledge by making notes on bird behavior and migration.

Winter time and the livin’s not easy. Attracting birds within whispering distance, then, is not difficult. Birds, which in summer were wary of the slightest motion, are then emboldened by scarcity. Moreover, they’re free of nesting duties to wander farther afield. Winter is when birds will visit your doorstep, perch on your windowsill and come to your fingertips for the food they crave.

Not climate but different preferences in food determine which birds will winter north. Insect eaters such as swallows, flycatchers and warblers migrate southward to points where a supply of active insects exists. Those remaining depend on insect and spider eggs, larvae and cocoons.

Birds seeking such food – hibernating insects, their eggs or young – find it on twigs, in crevices of bark or within the riddled wood of trees. Man-provided substitutes for natural food, such as beef suet, peanut butter, bacon drippings, all high in protein and fat content, should be placed where birds look for food.

Dahlia Growers – Tubers And Winter Storage

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Like every other garden flower, the dahlia has its special pests, and reknowned Dahlia grower Conrad Faust has been fighting them every year. During past seasons he found malathion spray to be very effective against most dahlia pests. He reported, however, that there was a serious outbreak of red spider in many dahlia gardens in the Atlanta area. Sprays seemed to be ineffective, but upon recommendation of the state entomologist the plants were sprayed or dusted with sulfur and this brought the trouble under control. Mr. Faust says this same sulfur is also excellent for the control of mildew which often attacks dahlia foliage in hot, humid weather.

Conrad is always being asked how he digs and stores his dahlia tubers.

The clumps are dug very carefully so as to avoid breaking or injuring the tubers. He then washes all the soil off them with a hose; next he cuts off all the fibrous roots from the tubers, and after that he allows them to dry for a day or two in the garden. Ho is very careful, of course, to label each clump as it is dug, using an indelible pencil for this purpose. Some of Mr. Faust’s clumps are too large and cumbersome for storing, and so he cuts the largest ones in half and dusts the cut portions with sulfur before putting them away for the winter. The smaller clumps are turned upside down to allow all the moisture to drain from the stems.

Unleashing Growth Of The Dahlia Root System

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Because most Georgia soils are rather heavy, the Father of Georgia Dalhia growing Conrad Faust went to great length to incorporate quantities of humus into his garden. Over the years he built up an ideal soil by adding leaf-mold, stable manure and peatmoss, in addition to which he plants his entire plot to a green cover crop after the tubers are dug in the fall. The cover crop, which may be of rye, vetch or Austrian winter peas, is plowed under in the spring in time to rot and mellow before dahlia planting time.

Moisture conservation is one of the phases of soil management that Mr. Faust stresses. He digs his soil thoroughly to a depth of 12 inches, breaking up any hardpan that may form in the subsoil. This permits an unrestricted growth of the dahlia root systems.

A strict fertilizing schedule is also advocated. Starting with the initial preparation of the soil just before planting time. “A fertilizer of 3 or 4 per cent nitrogen, 10 per cent phosphate and 5 or 6 per cent potash is ideal. When planting, two good handsful of bonemeal together with a small amount of the commercial fertilizer (say a level tablespoonful) should be added to the soil in a radius of at least 2 feet where the dahlia will be planted – or this can be broadcast over the soil.”

The Interesting Life Of Birds

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

What kind of a bird has a big bill, black wings and is yellow all over?” asked a seventh grade girl at Hanover, New Hampshire, who fed birds on a small shelf not more than a foot and 6 inches wide at her second-story bedroom window. I not only expected four or live such email a day but I expected to be called out of bed early in the morning or have a meeting interrupted at least once a week to make recommendations to a lady confronted with a hawk outside her window ready to pounce on the chickadees at her feeder, or to identify a strange bird.

After identifying the bird at Jane’s window as an evening grosbeak, I suggested that we try to take some pictures of the birds and possibly band some so that she and some of her friends who were members of the Junior Nature Club could learn how it was done.

Give Special Attention And Good Food To Birds

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Birds are surprisingly selective in their eating habits, as you will quickly find. They seem to have a sixth sense for the most expensive kinds of food. Watch a blue jay carefully sorting through a tray of mixed grains. What is he after? Sunflower seeds, of course! And at a few cents per pound. None of this nickel-a-pound chick feed for him! This is rough on the pocketbook and should not be encouraged by lavish feeding of high priced seeds, but do not berate the jays too much. They are the watchmen of your garden. They will be the first to see a hunting cat or a circling hawk, and give noisy warning to your other friends.

And do not begrudge the pesky little English sparrows what they eat, either, for they will be the very first birds to find your feeding stations, and will lead other and more shy birds to them. These two, the jays and the English sparrows, are pests in many ways, but they repay you by rendering good services.

How To Care Of The Dahlia Tubers

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Although winter weather does not permit gardening outdoors in December, the Northern gardener does have a few opportunities to actively practice his hobby. For example, it is during this month (December) that he can clean and store the tender summer flowering bulbs and tubers until they can be used again for the garden next year.

The dahlias that were dug after hard frosts ended their season’s growth need a little attention now. Tubers that have a great deal of soil clinging to them because they were dug when the ground was very moist or because they were growing in a very heavy soil which tends to stick to the roots, should be cleaned by gently rubbing away the dried earth or washing it off.

Some dahlia growers object greatly to the washing method, but others practice it regularly. If they are cleaned with water they should he allowed to dry off before packing them for the winter.

For years, vermiculite has become a favored packing material for dahlia tubers and the bulbs, roots and tubers of other plant materials that have to be dug and stored for the winter. Dahlia tubers must be handled with great care so that the individual tubers do not break off at the main stalk without possessing a part of the latter and the growth “eyes” that will produce a new plant next year.

What To Do In The Garden For January

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

In Northern United States and Canada

Now is the time to check out seed catalogs and online along with placing orders. Early in the month sow seeds of Clarkia, Godedia, Larkspur, Stocks and other annuals for Spring bloom in the greenhouse. Toward the end of January sow in the greenhouse Wax Begonias, Lobelias, Vinca roses, Delphiniums and Pansies for Summer bloom outdoors…

Remove pots of bulbs, such as Hyacinths, Daffodils and Tulips, that are to be forced for early bloom, a few at a time, from the cool basement or sand bed outdoors where they have been rooting, and bring them into the greenhouse or house. Shade them for the first few days and give them lots of water at all times. Keep them cool at first; increase the temperature gradually.

As soon as dormant potted Amaryllis bulbs show signs of life, remove a little of the old surface soil, replace with rich new soil, water thoroughly and place the pots in a warm, light location in the greenhouse or house. Pot new Amaryllis bulbs in well-drained pots of fertile sandy soil.

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