Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

stepping stones 682x1024 Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

Planning out a new garden path? For the gardener who enjoys a little greenery around their paving stones here are four great low growing perennials you can easily purchase as young plants or  ”start” as seeds on your own.

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Ajuga                                   Irish Moss

creeping jenny 150x150 Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways lemon thyme 150x150 Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

Creeping Jenny                     Lemon Thyme

Ajuga is a very hardy perennial, with multicolored foliage (check out your local selection of cultivars), that is great for growing between bricks, pavers, or rough stone paths. Many varieties are evergreen, and others are semi-evergreen, doing well in both deeply shady and sunny locations.  It spreads quickly and easily through runners, and when left unchecked can become invasive.  Care may need to be taken to keep the plant in the designated spot you choose for it. This is a plant you can feel no guilt in walking over, and is a great plant for areas that see a lot of children’s activities. Prune this Ajuga back every year by mowing over it, and thin it out every couple years to prevent rot in it’s dense vegetation.

Irish Moss is a charming classic that isn’t actually a moss. It sends up a tiny carpet of white blooms each summer, which moss never does, and once it is established in good soil, can be easily trimmed back and spread though cuttings.  This is not a plant that will take over your pathway easily, and will actually need to be planted in every place you desire it to be. When healthy this plant tends to mound in place, but minimal skill is needed to trim off and place excess growth into new areas.  If you keep cuttings planted in good soil, and keep them moist they will establish themselves rapidly, and fill in your pathway beautifully.

Creeping Jenny is a perennial in all but the coldest climates. Aside from having unique evergreen foliage, it also sends up yellow blooms in the summer.  This container garden favorite can be found in most garden centers, and will spread quickly in soil that is kept moist.  In dry climates this plant needs to be kept moist daily, and cannot tolerate dry roots in hot weather. Without care this plant can become invasive, but with trimming it will remain in place.  While Creeping Jenny is an excellent choice to plant in problem areas in your garden that may have moisture issues, or some standing water, it is less foot traffic friendly, and for that reason I don’t recommend it on pathways for families that have small children.  Constant walk-overs, or toy trucks driving though it will be hard for the plant to overcome, and it may never fill in your pathway in the manner you would like.

Lemon Thyme may be a plant you will have to start from seed, since it is relatively harder to find, but the crop will be well worth your time.  This is another hardy plant that can tolerate rough and tumble pathways, and it kicks up a sweet lemon citrus fragrance every time you walk by and brush it.  It can also work double duty as a path accent and a cooking additive.  Cooks often use it in chicken or fish recipes, and it also works as a substitute in baking for Lemon or citrus zest!

Try any of these plants in your garden during the summer months, or order them as seeds mid-winter to place them in the ground this spring, and really get a jump on your garden projects!

Happy Gardening!

Photos Courtesy of: nakaehoneymoon musicthatredhead4,

How to Recycle Sneakers For Use In Sports Arenas and School Tracks

sneaker bin How to Recycle Sneakers For Use In Sports Arenas and School Tracks

I’m tough on Sneakers.  In fact I go through about three pairs per year with all the walking and gardening I do.  You might say I’m the perfect candidate to recycle my sneakers since I do more than my part to contribute to their collecting in land fills!

I recently discovered a location north of Baltimore that participates in Nike’s “Reuse-a-Shoe” program, turning 100% of any athletic brand shoe into either a running track, basketball court, tennis court, or golf surface.  The program has donation centers all around the country and describes how it creates these useful surfaces on Nike’s main website.  Most collection programs accept donations in person or via mail, and you can donate shoes from all over the country to the effort.  Since I plan on accumulating a few pairs before I make the trip to my local project collection site, I’ll add a bin in my trash container to save both my shoes and that of my family’s.

Curious as to how to recycle your own sneakers, check out this link and watch the video on how they reuse unwanted sneakers from around the country!

Photo Courtesy of: Don Hankins

Fall Mixed Foliage and Decoration Designs

I was cleaning up the last of the seasonal decor to make way for my winter decorations, and realized that I hadn’t shown off a few of my Fall displays!  So while I pull out the outdoor winter decorations, take a look at a few more of the cute arrangements from warmer weather gone by!

img 1927 768x1024 Fall Mixed Foliage and Decoration Designs

My Scarecrows and Moonshine Design [Read more...]

A Begonia and Vinca Vine Container Garden Idea for Partial Shade

img 1934 768x1024 A Begonia and Vinca Vine Container Garden Idea for Partial Shade

Begonias are great container plants for both the summer and fall seasons.   This recipe is one of of the easiest partial shade designs to make. The quantities listed are designed to work in 24 inch diameter pots, although you can alter your own quanties for your container.

scan 736x1024 A Begonia and Vinca Vine Container Garden Idea for Partial Shade

What You Need:

  • Circle #1:  Two 4-6inch pots of Pink Begonias
  • Circle #2:  Two 4-6 inch pots White Begonias
  • Circle #3:  One Geranium
  • Four to Eight Annual Vinca Vines around the perimeter

Plant the pot according to the chart on the right, and water two to three times a week in warm weather, and once per week in cool weather.

Cool Weather Tips:

If you live in an area with cool fall and winter months where temperatures regularly dip below 40 degrees, bring the begonias and geranium indoors for the winter.

When To Move Outdoor Caladium Plants Inside

1065118743 ba1a22a505 b When To Move Outdoor Caladium Plants Inside

Caladium are tropical natives that thrive indoors our out in warm weather, and moist conditions. Once the plant has been growing for about 8 months it will begin to wilt and die back as part of its natural cycle. In cold climates when kept outdoors, the fall months of September through November will trigger sudden complete wilting in the plant.

If nighttime temperatures in your area are beginning to regularly dip below 55 degrees, it is time to dig the plants up, cut off the foliage, and bring the bulb indoors.


How To Save Caladium Bulbs Indoors:

Bulbs can be saved from year to year by dusting them lightly in an antifungal powder like the common athlete’s foot powder you can pick up at your local drugstore. Once the bulb has been dusted, you can store it in a paper bag or container filled with sphagnum moss. Store your bulb containers in a cool dark place between 50 and 60 degrees.

In the late Spring bring them back out to the garden and plant them again for another year of tropical foliage.  For added impact, try adding them to a water garden container or pond.

Photo courtesy of: michael_baltic

Where To See Monarch Butterflies Migrating South

monarchs 199x300 Where To See Monarch Butterflies Migrating South

Monarch Butterflies are once again working their way down the East and West Coasts and across the central United States on their journey to their wintering grounds in Mexico.  Maryland, where I live, is just beginning to see relatively large numbers. The coastline towns and beaches are already seeing daily numbers in the thousands as the northern butterflies work their way down from New England. Monarchs choose to follow the beaches southward so they can refuel on the minerals found in sandy areas.

For Marylanders, a late season visit to the beaches, particularly Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, will provide you with an excellent chance for some one-of-a-kind photography experiences.  Researchers there that study these amazing insects count the buterflies by remaining in one spot for several hours, and estimating the full numbers of butterflies based on their stationary sightings. To count the numbers, and monitor the lifespan of the Monarchs, the insects are also gently caught, and tagged with lightweight stickers, to be followed up on by researchers in Mexico, and back in the USA once the insects return northward in the spring.

This year Monarchs are loading trees and sand dunes in numbers researchers reported in Assateague as high as 620 new Monarchs moving past stationary positions every hour.

To see where the peak numbers of butterflies are across the nation, check out this interactive migratory map of the United States. Citizen volunteers, and scientists alike update the site daily, and provide weekly map updates on all migrations in spring, summer and fall.

Photo Courtesy of: mikebaird

Fall Container Design: #003; Artificial Flowers, Apple Baskets, and Native American Figures

img 1928 768x1024 Fall Container Design: #003; Artificial Flowers, Apple Baskets, and Native American Figures

Not every container design needs to be comprised of the real McCoy. Artificial flowers and craft store finds can be combined to make cheerful displays in large containers to welcome guests to your home.  In these designs I used items found entirely at Michaels Crafts Stores to create a few displays in the courtyard of a local nursing home.

To mimic the design above here’s what you need: [Read more...]

How To Control Furry White Mildew In Potted Plants

mold How To Control Furry White Mildew In Potted PlantsFurry white mold and mildew can appear on your houseplants or on top of your potting soil if the conditions the plants are kept in are too warm and moist.  To control the growth of fungus on your houseplants you must first change the conditions of the environment that you keep the plants in.  Move the plants to a new location that is not as moist, or consider whether you are watering your plants too much.  Constantly saturated soil or moist soil is the perfect environment for fungal growth.

To kill and eliminate the mildew already on the topsoil, a light dusting of a drugstore Athlete’s Foot powder will manage the problem for you. Once you have removed the environmental triggers of the fungus growth, and killed the spores, you should have a completely clean container within two weeks.

Looking for more indoor plant care tips?  Check out the book “Success With Houseplants.”

Photo Courtesy of:  psyberartist

Can “Succulents” Be Planted With Cacti?

img 1680 768x1024 Can “Succulents” Be Planted With Cacti?

Yes, although many garden centers label succulents differently than cacti, they are in fact all members of the Succulent family.

Pot cacti and succulents in a potting mix recipe that contains a high amounts of sand and perlite.  Water them regularly in the summer, and withhold water in the winter completely if you are placing them in a cool 55 degree place to promote spring and summer blooms.  For Cacti and succulents that will not receive a winter rest, water them very infrequently in the winter months, and make sure that no matter the season that they receive plenty of sunshine.

The winter months are often the best months to search garden centers for wider varieties of Cacti and succulents since there is a larger market for interior plant sales.  Find shapes and sizes of these desert beauties that please your eye and try putting them together in large dish gardens.

Indian Strawberries; Outdoor Weeds That Make Good Interior Plants

indian strawberry 300x288 Indian Strawberries; Outdoor Weeds That Make Good Interior Plants

Occasionally the best indoor accent plants can come straight from the wild.  The Indian Strawberry is a naturalized weed from India that works wonderfully as an indoor plant, and it’s free! This perennial has tiny decorative blooms, and small brightly colored berries that resemble miniature common strawberries.

Shady lawns and gardens across the United States have been sporting these misplaced plants for decades, where they attract the attention of wildlife and children everywhere.  For the lawn purist the weeds need eradication with selective spraying, or removing by hand in order to control the runners.  Instead of throwing the runners in the compost bin however, try potting them in a simple milk-glass container to brighten up a dimly lit corner of your house.

milkglass 300x225 Indian Strawberries; Outdoor Weeds That Make Good Interior Plants

Blooms and Berries:

This ground cover sends out little yellow flowers in the late spring and early summer, which turn into tasteless miniature berries from mid summer through September.  The berries are safe and edible, so Indian Strawberry is a plant that is also kid and pet friendly.

How to Plant It:

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The mature plant can be dug up and planted in an indoor container year round. To grow your own plants from start to finish, collect seeds from the berries, and plant them in February or March for spring and summer blooms and berries.  Another way to propagate the plant is to lay some of the runners on the soil line of the original container and allow them to root.  As the new runner plants establish themselves they keep the container looking lush.

Another great way to re-purpose this garden green is to use it as a  “spiller” to add to your shaded outdoor hanging baskets and containers.

Give this plant a try, and see what other common plants you can find creative uses for!

Happy Gardening.

Photos Courtesy of: fdecomite, FotoDawg, and Pomponiaarte