Butterfly Tip: Weed Not Want Not

Butterfly on Clover Butterfly Tip: Weed Not Want Not

Butterflies are uber popular right now it the gardening world,  and from decorations to special garden plots especially designed to attract them, there are a myriad of ways to get your butterfly fix in the garden!  You can try things like adding butterfly friendly water features to your yard, or planting shade trees that act as a host for their eggs, but one of the most butterfly friendly things you can do in your garden plot is a cheap “fix” you’re going to love.  NO WEEDING!

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Attracting Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

DSC 0207 Attracting Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

Gardening for Butterflies is growing in popularity, and it’s a three season love affair that can take you from spring cocoons to fall migrations!  Try these host plants for Larvae and Caterpillars to use in the flower garden, and raise your own butterflies!

Growing Flowers For Black Swallowtail Caterpillars:

  • Parsley
  • Carrot
  • Queen Ann’s Lace
  • Dill
  • Alfalfa
  • Sweet Fennel
  • Sunflower
  • Aster
  • Broccoli
  • Milkweed
  • Hollyhock
  • Clover
  • Partridge Pea
  • Snapdragon
  • Thistle
  • Sunflower

Growing Trees For Larvae and Caterpillars:

  • Willow
  • Elm
  • Chokecherry
  • Oak
  • Plum
  • Hackberry
  • Cottonwood
  • Birch


Mix these flowers and trees into your landscape, or organize them into clumps to create a special butterfly garden.  Keep extra herbs like Carrot, Parsley and Dill in a butterfly garden area to create a safe place for the caterpillars to feed, and as a depository for them if you find them in your herb patch.

Happy gardening!


Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

IMG 1851 768x1024 Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

When it’s warm outside, show your interior plants some love by giving them a little freedom!  Try mixing indoor plants with your exterior annuals, and building them into your container designs!  This happy cocophany of color and texture is a montage of interior and exterior leafy greens.


  • Caladium
  • Spider Plant
  • Zebra Striped Wandering Jew, Zebrina pendula
  • Purple Heart Wandering Jew
  • Red and Green Coleus
  • Deep Purple Coleus
  • Moss Rose,  Portulaca Grandiflora
  • White Begonia

If you own most of these, try them together in a large container in a partially or fully shaded area. If you don’t own some of these indoor tropicals, pick up some of the Purple Heart, Zebra Wandering Jew, or Spider Plant, at your local home and garden store, and plan to move them indoors for the winter if necessary.  Using your indoor plants outside is a great way to check their root systems, and clean out their containers at the same time for fresh usage when it gets cool again!

And remember, Caladium bulbs can be cleaned and stored indoors for use next year if you expect a snowy winter.  Check out my article on getting more usage out of your Caladium plants.

IMG 1852 1024x1024 Partial Shade Container Garden; Indoor Tropicals and Exterior Annuals

Happy Gardening!

Attracting Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

Monarch Caterpillar Attracting Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars

Gardening for butterflies is growing in popularity, and it’s a great way to add some interest and movement into your garden for three seasons per year.  Butterfly gardening takes you from the larvae stage to becoming a fully fledged butterfly, and the best way to ensure loads of butterflies visit your yard to to provide them with the food sources they need from stage one.  The advantage and disadvantage when attracting Monarchs for breeding is that they only lay eggs and feed on Milkweed varieties as larvae and caterpillars, so in order to really create a stand of milkweed you probably need to like the look of it. More good news is that Milkweed comes in several types and colors, so you may find one you like to incorporate into your butterfly garden, or to spread along the tree line in your backyard.  The flowers of the Milkweed family also attract a variety of other wildlife, and are highly fragrant, so these are great additions to any area near outdoor seating!

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Impatiens Hanging Baskets

IMG 2926 1024x768 Impatiens Hanging Baskets


There is beauty in simplicity and repetition!  These simple hanging baskets are comprised of common pink Impatiens, but together they look simply stunning!  I snapped a picture of these at the Baltimore Country Club a few weeks before I was married there.  What a gorgeous place!

Make This Basket:

  • 4-5 four inch pink Impatiens per basket,
  • 3 small trailing Vinca vines per basket
  • Liberal use of potting soil
  • Rinse and Repeat!

Boosting Curb Appeal With This Easy Terrace Plan

 Boosting Curb Appeal With This Easy Terrace Plan

Looking for another DIY way to boost your curb appeal in a weekend?  Try this method of terrace gardening to warm up the entrance to your house.

What You Need:

  • Shovels
  • Topsoil or Garden Soil
  • River Rocks, or a half palette of landscaping rock pieces
  • Mulch
  • 1 or more rolls of landscape fabric
  • Landscaping pins or sod staples
  • 7 varieties of either annuals, perennials or dwarf bushes (see my suggestions below!)

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Why Don’t Ornamental Cherry Trees Produce Fruit?

IMG 2461 1024x768 Why Don’t Ornamental Cherry Trees Produce Fruit?

There are two types of Cherry Trees, one type is bred for its beautiful blossoms (sakura) and the other for its fruit (sakuranbo). If you look closely, you will notice that the cherry trees with beautiful blossoms do have tiny cherries, they are the small and inedible remnants of the ornamental Cherry Tree’s past as the fruiting Cherry.

Unlike the fruiting variety, the Ornamental Cherry Tree is a human bred cultivar.  Historical records indicate that the Japanese nobility began a practice of sharing meals, and hosting picnics under blooming Cherry trees around the 700s AD, and as Cherry Trees because synonymous with hospitality, relaxation, and leisure, they were bred and adapted into more showy varieties for the home and garden.  Now many many generations later we have several different colors and varieties of trees bred only for their beauty, who provide gorgeous displays of blooms each spring even though they have lost their ability over the years to produce their own fruit.

When To Prune Blackberries and Raspberries

LC0143c.GIF When To Prune Blackberries and Raspberries

Blackberries and Raspberries have had their run by the time you’ve made it to the late fall, so it’s time to trim them back in October and early November.  These berries bloom and fruit on new growth, and as a vining plant that can grow to be a tangled mess when left alone any Blackberry and Raspberry bush that you depend on for your own fruit needs to be heavily pruned back to maximize the next year’s crop, and to be trained into shape for next year. The key with fruiting plants is to prune them for growth, and shape them into forms that allow for easy harvesting and lots of air circulation in the warm sumer heat. Your goal is to prune and shape your berry bushes so that you can see and access your fruit when it’s ripe, and minimize the spread of powdery mildews, and warm weather diseases that thrive in moist dark areas on your fruit leaves.

How To Prune:

The best way to set yourself up for success next year is to prune your Blackberries and Raspberries back down to the main canes every fall.  Trace each one of the berry stems back down to where the plant is sprouting from the ground, this is the main cane. Use a pair of bi-pass Fiskars 7936 PowerGear Pruner When To Prune Blackberries and Raspberries shears to make a clean cut, and trim the main cane back to a height of  8-12 inches above the soil line at a 45 degree angle, and remove all of this year’s growth to compost or discard. On the diagram above the proper pruning height is marked as the “first year cane.”

Even if there are no leaves or bud unions on the section of cane that remains after pruning this is the correct height, and will rejuvenate the plant for the following seasons. The canes may also leaf out again from the main cane before going dormant for the winter.

Prepare to shape next years growth on a trellis or up against a fence to support your fresh growth, and secure them into position with twine or string.

Photo Courtesy of: The Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Canada.

Prickly Pear Nopales: A New Grilling Classic

Prickly Pear Cactus Prickly Pear Nopales: A New Grilling Classic

Who say’s Cactus isn’t edible?  Did you know that if you grow Prickly Pear in your yard or sunroom you’ve got a great and unusual addition to the common tortilla. Prickly Pear are edible, from the fruits to the leaf pads, which are known as Nopales, they’ve been a welcome addition to the desert kitchen for hundreds and possibly thousands of years!  They can be harvested in the spring, fall, and summer, and you can grill them like a pro in minutes to impress all your friends!

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Broadleaf Weeds; What Are They and How Do Herbicides Kill Them?

Ground Ivy Broadleaf Weeds; What Are They and How Do Herbicides Kill Them?

What Are Broadleaf Weeds?

Broadleaf weeds are weeds like Plantains, Chickweed, Clover, Ground Ivy, and Dandelions. They are a classification of weeds that are not grasslike, and are therefor more susceptible to a different set of chemicals than lawn grass is.  They can be perennial or annual, and treated to removal by hand, with tilling, selective spray of an herbicide, or a broadcast chemical.

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