I Like This – June 27, 2011

Photo: The Garden in Summer

A nice shot of the woodland corner of the garden during our annual summer party. This spot remains cool in the summer and brings a little bit of the forest into our urban Van Nuys back yard.

I have my bird feeders and birdbath in this area, too. My wife’s favorite willow swing, the second we have owned, sits in the corner with comfortable cushions. The kids often find this secluded spot during the party to get away from all the adults.

On a more prosaic note, my composters sit at the right side if the photo.

Click the photo for a much larger image

garden-summer-2011.jpg

Credit: Jaime Cadegan

 

Products: Troy-Bilt Hand Gardening Tools

Three boxes just arrived on my door step and, having heard from my fellow Saturday6 bloggers, I knew exactly what they would be. As part of the Saturday6 program, Troy-Bilt has sent us all a collection of their new line of hand tools.

Troy-Bilt Hand Tools

According to Troy-Bilt, “The tools are made from hardened, coated and ground steel making them non-corrosive, non-stick and durable. They’re manufactured in Germany at the same plant as Wolf-Garten, a high quality brand in Europe and then are shipped to the US.  The tools are only available on troybilt.com or by calling 1-800-828-5500.

Wolf-Garten is a European division of MTD, the parent company of Troy-Bilt, Inc. and they make garden equipment, including lawnmowers, for that market.

Here in my small garden, hand tools are often more important and more useful than other, larger equipment. I have used a series of tools running from low-end, no-name tools to high-end, name brand pruners, so it will be interesting to see how these tools compare.

Out of the box, the initial impression is one of quality and durability. They are weighty in the hand and the moving parts operate well. I can’t wait to get out in the garden and put them to work. In fact, that is probably what I will do as soon as I publish this blog post. Look for a more thorough review in the next week or so.

Troy-Bilt Hand Tools

The complete package included (listed top-down in the photo above)…

  • 3 weeders of different types, including a cultivator-style one
  • 2 trowels
  • 3 pruners (bypass, pro bypass, anvil)
  • 1 large lopper

I tend to go through loppers like candy around here. Like many people, I often choose limbs that are bit too big, so that should give these quite a test.

Disclosure: This post is in conjunction with my paid partnership as one of the Saturday6 from Troy-Bilt. All thoughts are my own.

Project: Bottle Garden Bed Edging

While I was out on a computer consulting call, my wife and son started in on this project. We had seen edging like this in the past and I also did some Google Image searches to see how others had used empty glass bottles in their garden.There are a variety of ways to do it, but I think this is one of the most traditional. For the last 5-7 years these beds had been edged with limbs from the numerous small trees that needed to be removed due to over-planting. It has taken quite a long time for those limbs to decompose, but it was now evident that something else had to be done.

(You can click each photo for a larger version from my Flickr Photostream)

As avid wine drinkers, we knew we would have a certain number of bottles to start with and we also put out the call to our friends and family to start saving their bottles as well. I am sure we will have plenty to finish the small bed in no time.

Bottle Garden Edging

After seeing how they had placed a few bottles I realized they needed to be buried much deeper to keep them stable. We could have gone a bit deeper still, but the ground around these beds is very hard and I think this makes the best match between stability and design. You need to have some part of the bottle shoulder embedded in the dirt or the bottle will be too easy to tip as people walk by.

Bottle Garden Edging

Some might have elected to remove all the labels from the bottles first, but I think nature will take care of that over time. The sun will bleach them and the rain and watering will loosen them. Depending on how this first batch fares, we might decide to “plant” them a bit lower or hill up around the bottles more. It will also be interesting to see how they effect our raking of leaves within these beds. It will probably make it a bit more difficult as they are quite high compared to the edging we had there.

Bottle Garden Edging

We noticed immediately how the glass catches the sunlight as it plays across the garden. I think it will add a very nice look and add another point of interest to the garden.

Photo: Updated Succulent Container



Updated Succlent Container, originally uploaded by dewelch.

Last week we visited the Photos: Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society 11th Annual Exhibit and Plant Sale. While there we picked up 5 mall plants and today my son, joe, and I used them to refurbish this succulent container.

I would love to tell you what the plants were, but the identifying plant stakes were also the price tags so they didn’t make it home with us. Oh well, sometimes gardening is just about growing without being obsessed with latin names and all. At least that is what I will tell myself for a little while. (LAUGH)

Photo: Heirloom tomatoes at Farmer’s Market

I found this lovely tableau of heirloom tomatoes at the Fashion Square Farmer’s Market on Tuesday night.

Heirloom Tomatos at the Fashion Square Farmer's Market

This is quite a striking indicator of what the tomato world must once had been before the over-large, over-red, easily transportable varieties hit found their way to market.

From Troy-Bilt Newsletter: The Lazy Gardener

From the Troy-Bilt Newsletter, The Dirt…

Agapanthus bloomTHE LAZY GARDENER

by Douglas E. Welch

I have a confession to make.  I am a lazy gardener.  I am far more interested in enjoying my garden than working in it.  Sure, I putter about neatening things up, pruning, weeding, etc., but I would much rather be sitting in my comfy chair, looking through the trees at the feeding birds and sipping a cool beverage than double-digging the flower beds.

Each year, I see the real gardeners preparing their soil, making many trips to the garden center for annual plants in full bloom and then planting it all in neat little arrangements.  This can be the straight rows of a vegetable garden or geometric plantings of pansies and petunias.  Instead, though, I rely on the stalwart guardians of my garden – the perennials.

When I started gardening again 15 years ago, I quickly remembered how much I disliked planting annuals.  Thankfully, the previous owners of our home had a love for perennials as deep as my own.  There were mature, or soon to be mature, trees, roses, pittosporum, huge beds of azaleas and vines galore.  With just a little care these plants would provide me with gardening pleasure with nothing more than a little watering and a little pruning.

This doesn’t leave my garden work-free by any measure, though.  With so many trees, keeping up with the leaves alone is a weekly job year-round.  Here in our Southern California climate, plants can quickly grow out of control.  I have a volunteer fig tree that is currently threatening to take over one corner of the garden as I type.  Irrigation must be maintained.  Pruning crews must be hired and organized for the larger trees on the property.  There are a hundred little jobs, as with any garden.

Still, when I look at this work, it makes me feel more accomplished than planting flowers only to have them die at the end of the season.  Heck, here in our climate, the season is so out of whack with typical gardening schedules I am not sure what I would plant or where I would plant it.  Annuals also require a lot of sun, which is something that is in short supply here.  It is situations like this that have me loving my perennials more each year.

I am reminded of this every year when the bulbs begin their progression as soon as the first rains arrive – usually in January.  Within a day or two of our first significant moisture, the foliage pushes through the leaf litter.  First the paperwhites, then the snowbells and then, finally – and most dramatically – the daffodils.  I plant a few more bulbs each year and the previous bulbs are slowly naturalizing around the garden.  Each year the show gets better and better without requiring lots of digging, raking and weeding.

I admire the annual plantings in other yards and gardens, even if I wouldn’t do it myself.  I do this much in the same way I enjoy our friends’ dogs without ever really needing to have my own.  Nice to visit.  Nice to look at, but a bit too much trouble to have yourself.

Yes, I am probably the epitome of the lazy gardener, but I must place some of the blame on my perennials.  They are my enablers.  They make it easy to do a little bit of this, a little bit of that and then sit back and enjoy the show.

Disclosure: This post is in conjunction with my paid partnership as one of the Saturday6 from Troy-Bilt. All thoughts are my own.

 

Photos: Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society 11th Annual Exhibit and Plant Sale

We were up and out of the house early to head over to the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society 11th Annual Exhibit and Plant Sale which was held just a couple of miles away at the Sepulveda Garden Center. The show continue on Sunday, June 12, 2011, so check it out if you can.

It was our first time and we were very pleased with the selection of plants for sale and the various displays. It is sometimes amazing what small groups and societies around Los Angeles can do. We have friends who are members of the Del Aire Rockhounds and their gem shows are quite amazing, too.

Rosanne and Joe had a prickly time on this cactus bench…

A prickly seat for Rosanne and Joe...

We picked up a few small succulents to refill a planter we purchased a Joe’s school a few years ago. A few of the cacti had died, but one remained. Our purchases will help to fill out that container again. It was also good to get some advice on caring for succulents as it is one area where I am severely lacking my gardening knowledge.

Here is a slide show of some photos I took of our visit. Click the link below if you don’t see the slideshow in your RSS reader or email program.

View the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society Slideshow

I Like This – June 10, 2011

    A collection of gardening items I found interesting this week.

  • Growing carrot patterns with DIY seed planting sheets – June 4, 2011 – Great idea. Can’t imagine why I hadn’t seen someone do this before as it is so obvious — once you have seen it done (SMILE). Definitely something to try with the kids.
  • Pretty Perennial Leaves for the Shade – June 4, 2011 – Great collection of shade plant ideas. I am really involved in expanding the garden this year, so ideas like this are much appreciated.

Elsewhere Online: Pretty Perennial Leaves for the Shade from Northern Shade Gardening

Great collection of shade plant ideas. I am really involved in expanding the garden this year, so ideas like this are much appreciated. – Douglas


Here are some foliage plants for the shade garden with pretty leaves. These perennials add beautiful texture, colour and shine to shady areas, even when not in bloom.
On the upper left is a combination of Asarum europaeum (European ginger) in front and Athyrium ‘Lady in Red’ (lady in red fern) behind. I especially like the pairing of shiny, rounded heart shaped leaves of the ginger with the feathery fern fronds. ‘Lady in Red’ has a fresh, light green colour, but the centre of each frond is red when they first emerge. The foliage pairing is appealing all season long, and both do well with very little light.
Read the entire article on the Northern Shade Gardening blog