Book Giveaway: DK Simple Steps to Success – Shrubs and Trees

I have been looking through my book stack and found this nice, little, book to offer as an AGN Giveaway item. Complete the options in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. You can get up to 3 entries by commenting on this post, following AGN or Twitter or giving AGN a Like on Facebook. Giveaway ends at end of May.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Propagating Azaleas using Layering

My wife was doing some cleanup in the front azalea beds this morning and pruned a few branches so she could get the leaf litter underneath. When I happened upon her trimmings this afternoon I noticed that I just might be able to get some new plants from these trimmings.

I don’t prune these azaleas that often so they often get quite dense and have a lot of leaf litter beneath them from the other trees in the yard. This lends itself to excellent conditions for a natural propagation behavior called layering1. This occurs in certain plants when stems lie upon the damp ground. A this point roots will begin to form. Eventually this can lead to an entirely separate plant if the stem breaks of the original plant dies.

Azalea branches showing layering roots

Azalea branches showing layering roots Azalea branches showing layering roots Azalea branches showing layering roots

As you might imagine, we can use this behavior to our advantage. In my case, I checked eat stem that my wife had trimmed and found at least 4 separate areas showing layering. I trimmed each stem just below the new roots and then potted these up in one 1 gallon pot. Ideally you would want the roots to be more established, but there seemed to be enough roots to, at least, give it a try. I will keep these watered and wait to see if more roots develop. If so, I have some bare areas of the garden where these plants would be a nice addition.

Layered azalea roots potted up Layered azalea roots potted up

I’ll keep you informed on my progress. I will also continue looking for more, stronger examples of layering to show you in the future.

Air Layering

Of course, when you know that a plant has the natural propensity to layer, you can actually help it along using a process called Air Layering. In this method, you select a stem on the plant you wish to layer. You then scrape the bark of the stem creating a wound. This wound is then wrapped in sphagnum moss or potting soil which is then wrapped in plastic and tied at each end. This moist environment should trigger the natural layering and in a few months you should be able to cut the newly rooted stem from the main plant and use it as you wish.

Layering in the ground


You need not use the potting soil and plastic wrap, though Another method involves simply  burying a stem in the nearby soil and staking it so it cannot pull itself out. Eventually, this stem will root and can be detached from the parent plant. 


Video: Garden Tip – Seed leaves vs. true leaves

In this tip, Douglas shows the difference between seed leaves and true leaves on his seedlings. Standard advice is to thin or re-pot your seedlings once they develop their first set of true leaves.


Can’t see the video above? Watch “Garden Tip – Seed leaves vs. true leaves” on YouTube.


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Subscribe to the A Gardener’s Notebook podcast using iTunes

Elsewhere: Gardening Tips for Beginners and Reminders for Veterans – Saturday6

My fellow Saturday6 blogger,”Meems”, has some great advice and reminders for gardeners new and old on the Troy-Bilt web site today. — Douglas 

Sat6 logo

Gardening Tips for Beginners and Reminders for Veterans

By Cynthia “Meems” Glover,

Being a gardener has countless benefits. Sowing a tiny seed into the earth, watering it with faith that a sprout will shoot out of the ground, and then nurturing that plant with the care it needs until it matures is nothing short of adventurous. Successful gardening endeavors make our hearts swell with satisfaction and urge us forward to the next effort.

As a teacher of patience, diligence, commitment and resolve, a garden will hand out these valuable virtues to the gardener as they are earned. Celebrate the victories and learn from the upsets. Every disappointment becomes a lesson in personal growth; each success a humble reminder of what we’ve learned and where we began.

Read the entire article

Photo: An Orchid from Southern California Spring Garden Show

A lovely orchid I spotted as I walked through the Southern California Spring Garden Show 2012 a few weeks ago. 


Click for larger image

See the complete set of photos from the Southern California Spring Garden Show.

AGN joins Troy-Bilt for another season of the Saturday6™!

It’s Spring here in the northern hemisphere and time for gardening to kick into high gear.

It’s also time for another season of Troy-Bilt’s Saturday6!

For the second year in a row, I have been asked — along with 5 of my fellow bloggers — to be part of this program for Troy-Bilt. This involves doing what we do best — blogging about gardening — but also gives us access to all sorts of tools and equipment from Troy-Bilt to try out in our own garden — and review for you!

Even better, we will all be having giveaways of Troy-Bilt equipment and tools on our blogs throughout the Summer and Fall. Be sure to watch this space and my fellow Saturday6 bloggers to get your chance to win some great stuff.

Where can you find the other members of the Saturday6? Here is information on each of the bloggers including links to some of our articles for the Troy-Bilt newsletter, The Dirt, and some videos we did as part of last year’s program.

I’m looking forward to another great season of the Saturday6 and reading all the great content from my fellow bloggers. Please join me on his journey through the 2012 growing season courtesy of Troy-Bilt!

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Sign up for your own copy of “The Dirt” email newsletter!




Who are the Saturday6?

Direct from their backyards, these bloggers share their trials, tribulations and triumphs in all things lawn and gardening. Now, they’re teaming up with Troy-Bilt® to bring you their best tips and tricks to help make your Saturday in the yard a rewarding one. Let us introduce you to the Saturday Six. In coming months, you will see more from this talented group in The Dirt with how-to videos, sharing favorite lawn and gardening projects, product reviews and giveaways.

Kylee Baumle

Kylee Baumle from Our Little Acre

Kylee Baumle lives and gardens in Zone 5b in northwest Ohio, where she tames the native clay to produce vegetables, fruits, and as many annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees as she can fit onto an acre surrounded by rural farmland. Author of the popular gardening blog, Our Little Acre, Kylee is a freelance writer and photographer who feels fortunate to have a husband who sometimes joins in on her gardening projects and who loves cats as much as she does.

Jennah Watters

Jennah Watters from Jennah’s Garden

After a lifetime of consciously avoiding helping her mother garden, Jennah started gardening voluntarily in 2007, when she and her husband bought their first home. It came with only a few sad, half-dead bushes and one all-the-way-dead mum. (Things are much better now.) Notorious for moving plants several times before being content with their location, Jennah gardens by trial and error, and attempts not to dwell on the error. She is wife to a deputy sheriff and mom to two cats and one dog, and hopes to one day be as good a gardener as her grandparents.

Cynthia Glover

Cynthia “Meems” Glover from Hoe and Shovel

Cynthia lives and gardens in her beloved native state of Florida only a short distance from the beautiful shores of the Gulf of Mexico. She is a blogger, freelance writer, amateur photographer, Master Gardener, and garden coach. Cynthia specializes in Florida-friendly and native plants, while steadfastly adhering to “right-plant, right place” in her mostly shady garden.  It is her passion to share and teach all she’s learned while gardening in a challenging growing climate and to inspire hopeful gardeners to enjoy their gardens, too.

Douglas E. Welch

Douglas E. Welch from A Gardener’s Notebook

Born in the epitome of small town America – New London, Ohio – Douglas Welch spent many summers digging and planting vegetables in his grandmother’s garden or driving a tractor on his family’s small soybean farm.  Computer work called him to the big city of Los Angeles, but he managed to take a piece of Ohio with him. When he and his wife bought their first home, they inherited an overgrown, 10 year old garden. He has spent his years renovating what was a meticulous Japanese garden into a small piece of woodland among the urban cement.  This double life illustrates his belief that balance in this modern world requires a combination of high-tech and high-touch living. Douglas’ gardening column and podcast, A Gardener’s Notebook, began in 1996 and is available at

Gina Thomas

Gina Thomas from My Skinny Garden

Gina lives and gardens in the Chicagoland area, zone 5b. One summer day in 2007, she decided to grow an organic tomato – four years later, most of the yard of her small house has been replaced by vegetable and perennial gardens. While she still considers herself a novice gardener, killing the occasional plant, every now and then, she grows something phenomenal or builds something interesting. Her greatest gardening accomplishments are the cedar pergola built over a weekend with good friends, raised vegetable beds she constructed herself, and the trip to Las Vegas she won in a tastiest tomato contest. Her philosophy is simple – grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere. Gina is a part-time freelance writer and the cofounder and vice president of Forest Park Community Garden, a nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to educating the community on building organic sustainable food systems. Gina chronicles her gardening and DIY conundrums at her blog My Skinny Garden.

Mark Clement

Mark Clement from MyFixitUpLife

Mark Clement is a licensed contractor, co-hosts the live radio show MyFixitUpLife with his wife Theresa, regularly contributes to “Extreme How-To” magazine, “Professional Deck Builder” magazine, AOL’s DIY Life,,, OldHouseWeb, “Old House Journal,” and has been a featured guest on DIY Network, Discovery Channel, HGTV and PBS.



While Troy-Bilt provides me payment and equipment for being part of the Saturday6, the opinions you see here are always my own. I review Troy-Bilt’s equipment as any gardener user would and should. I depend on honest reviews for my own purchasing decisions and I assure you that my reviews will be my honest feelings and opinions, too. 

Photo: Amaryllis

A few closeups of the Amaryllis blooming in my garden.


Amaryllis Amaryllis

P5064656 Amaryllis

Propagating pittosporum


After 16 years in this house and garden, we have developed a quite a few empty areas in the garden beds. As the trees have matured, the garden has developed more and more shade, which has made it very difficult for some of the more sun-loving plants like our roses.

These holes have been bothering me a lot lately. Thankfully, my wife has gotten the gardening bug again, so I have some extra help in the garden to attack this issues. Starting this week, I am working my way through the garden and looking at those shrubs which are doing well in the shadier garden. Then I am taking cuttings of these plants so I can propagate my own replacements to re-green the garden.

I was looking up information on propagating pittosporum today and found a wealth of information online. (Isn’t the Internet wonderful?!) I was a bit surprised to see that unlike a lot of plants, pittosporum is best propagated using semi-hardwood cuttings from your existing plant. These are the newest freshest growth, but rather something that is a few months (or perhaps, more). The stems should be a little woody.


This week, perhaps as early as tomorrow, I am going to make some cuttings and get them started in a few pots. it should take several weeks before I am sure they have rooted, but hopefully after that I will have an excellent start in adding some more, evergreen, life to my garden.


Video: What Douglas Dug – Show 001 – Podcast

This episode of “What Douglas Dug” is the first in a series of shows where I highlight some of my most recently shared gardening items to my TwitterFacebook and Pinterest accounts. When I share something I don’t often get much of a chance to tell you WHY I found something interesting or useful, so I am taking this opportunity to show some items to you along with a bit of commentary.

What Douglas Dug 001

Please let me know what items you find most useful in your garden.

If you don’t see the YouTube video above, please view the What Douglas Dug – Show 001 directly on the AGN web site or YouTube.

Photo: Healing Waters Design Garden from SoCal Spring Garden Show 2012

These photos show the “Healing Waters” Design Garden at the  Southern California Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, California

It was striking in its use of massive stone elements that then integrated water into their design. This huge stone table had a rivulet running its length which then emptied into a large ceramic pot. Another fountain sculpture was a stone column split into two pieces allowing water and light to flow between the pieces. (See lower picture)

Healing Waters” was created by The Garden Gallery Design and Consulting in Orange, California.

Healing Waters Design Garden

Healing Waters Design Garden Healing Waters Design Garden Healing Waters Design Garden

Click photos for larger versions

There was much to see and learn and I also took a host of photos, which will continue to appear here in A Gardener’s Notebook over the next few weeks.

You can view the entire collection of photos in this Flickr set – Southern California Spring Garden Show.