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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Boy did I get a deal 

My mother was leafing through the Sunday paper and saw a circular for Walmart advertising 100 day lily bulbs for 7 dollars and something. What a deal! She waited until Wednesday evening to tell me about it and then said, "if anyone happens to be going to Walmart they could pick up those bulbs." Hint, hint. Being the good daughter that I try to be, I stopped by Walmart today to get the darn bulbs. Well, you guessed it. They were sold out. I looked inside and around the box and no day lily bulbs to be found. (Just after I searched, another lady came along behind me who not only did the same thing but more - she turned the box upside down hoping to find either bulbs underneath or possibly hiding in the cardboard flap.)

Realizing they were probably sold out and, at the price advertised were never going to get more in, I decided to take a stroll through their garden area. Keeping an eye out for Ranger Raccoon (my last visit to the Walmart garden had me making an abrupt turn inside after spotting a HUGE raccoon sauntering around the aisles) and realizing there were too many shoppers around for him to make a showing, I slowly circled through all of the plant aisles. On my second trip past the usual Easter stuff I found a hibiscus bush that looked a little tough. There on the pot was a red sticker - CLEARANCE PRICE - REDUCED - 50% OFF - big as life. The adrenalin started to flow and I grabbed the plant and stuck it in my cart. Pretty soon I saw more red stickers - plaintain $1.88. It's hosta! I'd been thinking of ordering some hosta for the shady area under the oak tree but the minimum price before shipping was 4 bucks a plant. This was a deal so I grabbed 7 of those babies. Then there was a daisy 50% off and an elephant ear and... Well, you guessed it 70 bucks later I'm rolling my cart out the door, but I got a haul. I'm so excited and can't wait to get going in the garden this weekend. Nicotiana in the new shade garden (you'll see more of that soon), a baby palm for the pool area, a pink azalea for another shady area. Is it Saturday yet? No day lillies for Mom but I'm going to Lowe's tomorrow and will grab some to make her happy. I'm not such a bad daughter after all. Happy Gardening.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


My husband and I were discussing how much we enjoy artichokes and wondering how they were grown. Always up for plant research, I learned that there are actually two kinds of artichokes - Jerusalem and Globe. Jerusalem is the type where you can eat the tuber; the Globe is well the globe. You know, the ones you usually see on cooking shows. We've tried preparing the entire vegetable and it's ok, but we prefer the heart so it's easier to purchase the canned variety. But, wouldn't it be nice if we could grow our own?

Artichokes were introduced to California in the late 1800s by Italian farmers and here's a bit of trivia, Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen of Castroville, supposedly the artichoke capital of the world. The vegetable is actually a thistle and a member of the sunflower family. Requiring a temperate climate that remains fairly steady all year round - in other words, no frost and no severe heat - it will grow 6 feet in width and about 4 feet high.

So the question remains - can we grow our own? Nope. Based on what I've read we might be able to but it's just not worth the effort. Not that we have severe heat, but it gets pretty humid and apparently the plant takes a lot of attention. As much as I think I would like the challenge, it will be easier to go to the grocery store and buy Vigo hearts. I'll stick to the stuff I know. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dish garden gifts 

We've all gotten them - dish garden gifts - to commemorate an anniversary, birthday, or other special occasion. We had one sitting on our front porch that had been given to my mother-in-law when she was planning to move here. She stayed in Maryland and we kept the plants. Over time a couple of the plants looked ok and a couple more looked pretty scraggly. The dracaena and croton were growing, although the croton was getting a bit leggy, but one of the the dieffenbachia was dying.

Last weekend when the gardening bug bit, I decided it was time to clean up the plants on the front porch and either give them a proper burial or nurture them into growth. The dracaena moved to the new garden (more about that later) while the croton and both dieffenbachia stayed out front. While one of the dieffs still had leaves, the other was barely a stub but I decided to give it a chance. I cleaned up the flower box, added new soil and placed both dieffs in the planter with a basil plant, two chives and a croton. As the croton gets larger, I will move it to the side garden but for now it's gaining strength where it is. The soil is richer and everything is frequently watered. Oh, and the dieff that I gave up for lost? Take a look at the picture on the frog's right. It's got green! And, see the little sprout behind it? That's one of the tulip bulbs from last Easter - the brown bag trick seems to have worked after all. Happy Gardening.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Call me a tree hugger 

The most recent Plow & Hearth catalog arrived in the mail yesterday. As I leafed through it, I saw something called Forest Faces that looked kind of fun. I had intended to write a small article about it and provide a couple of sources. As I surfed around to get more information, I learned that the faces are applied to the trees using nails. So, in order to have something cutesy in the garden a person is required to put nails in their tree. The individual face components then hang from the nails. According to the National Gardening Association, no harm is done to the tree. I beg to differ. Any time you purposefully put an object into a tree that will tear its bark or puncture a limb, it causes harm. It may not kill the tree, but it could result in a disease entering the weakened tree and eventually causing death or at a minimum threatening its integrity. Not only that, but a nail can rust and rust will cause a scar that again can result in a weakened tree. According to the Ohio State University Extension Service, wounds through the bark start the process that leads to decay. Now not all wounds lead to decay, but the chances are pretty good it could happen.

So here's my take on the subject. If you want to put something fun and cutesy in the garden, go with a statue. There's plenty of adorable little animals to choose from. If you want to make faces, do it in the mirror. It will still be fun and it won't damage a tree. Happy Gardening.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Fuzzy trees 

I'm riding down the street last week with my sisters on the way to the Mall. My oldest sister points out the window and says, "What is that fuzzy tree?" Fuzzy tree? I look and expect to see something very soft and kind of furry but there's nothing fitting the description. So I ask "what the heck are you pointing at"? and she points again. This time I see what she's referring to. It's a bottlebrush tree.

Callistemon or bottlebrush, is native to Australia. The flowers are actually long, soft bristle-like stamens hence the bottlebrush reference. There are shrubs and trees in this family. The most common is callistemon rigidus or stiff bottlebrush. This tree will grow up to 20 feet with a 10 foot spread and bloom, depending on the climate, from spring through fall. The flowers are interesting but here's the downside. It's a messy tree. My experience is not only do the flowers fall and are difficult to wash off surfaces, the seed pods drop everywhere once they have aged. Take it from me. If you want to have this tree in your yard, make sure it's far away from the house and driveway. You'll enjoy it more that way. Happy Gardening.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Cat litter revisited 

Have you heard of Feline Pine? There have been many commercials about the product over the last few months and I've been wondering what all the fuss is about. My husband and I talked about it since it's supposed to be more environmentally friendly than the usual cat litter products on the market. I was shopping the other day with my sister, better known as PTFP (part-time FLA person), and came across Feline Pine so decided to purchase it.

According to the package and the website, this litter is made from 100% pure pine - no new trees were cut to make it. There are no chemical additives and there's no silica dust. For all of you who are owned by cats, you know that the dust gets a little annoying when prepping a clean box. I get all choked up and it's not because I love cleaning up after my cat.

Continuing to read through the verbiage on the bag, there is no trash because Feline Pine can be scooped, flushed or mulched. Mulched? Apparently the pine pellets absorb the liquids and break down into sawdust. After about two weeks all the pellets will dissolve and can be used as landscape mulch or compost. Now, I'm all about recycling and keeping the environment clean. But using this as mulch? Doesn't it stand to reason there's got to be a little bit of urine odor if the pellets absorb it? And, if that's the case, if the sawdust is added to the landscape aren't I then creating a huge litter box for the neighborhood kitties? I can see it all now. Joe's cat down the street catches wind of the new litter box in town and invites all his friends over to hang out. Next thing you know we'll have to start charging a cover fee and providing refreshments. Not to mention what a celebrity Girlfriend, our loving little pain-in-the-rump, will become. Somehow I don't think she's much into being in the spotlight these days. Anyway, we'll give this new product a try but will hold the mulch idea until we've seen what it can do in a controlled environment. The good news is that the company offers a rebate for new users so the first bag is free. Happy Gardening and stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

We did it again 

By now I'm sure you know what crazy nuts we are about animals. In the time my husband and I have been together we have rescued nine animals. Six became part of our family - three were taken to our vet for various reasons. This does not count the numerous turtles, birds and sundry others Harlan has rescued in his travels since we've lived here in Florida. Not too long ago we gave a home to a little schnauzer mix who had been a statistic of the hurricanes. We drove four hours south of here to get him and don't regret it for a second.

The problem is that our other dogs are older and do not want to play. They are seniors at 13 years old and this little guy is only 2 with lots of energy. We kept thinking that the other guys would rally and start running around in the yard a little more but it never happened. So, you guessed it. We decided Max needed a playmate. We started searching on petfinder.com (see the icon on the right side of my site) and ultimately found the newest member of our family through Lost Angels Animal Rescue. Kelly, one of the founding members of Lost Angels, is all heart. She has numerous dogs at her home at any one time. All of the dogs are rescues either from the streets or from kill shelters. She and her friends work tirelessly to find them permanent homes. All of the animals are well cared for - they are brought current on all shots, spayed or neutered, and treated for any other medical problems before they are adopted. This group is all volunteer. They work full time jobs and spend their free time taking care of animals. What wonderful people they are.

So, here's our newest little guy, Nicky. Why did we name him Nicky? Well, about six weeks ago we lost our cat to kidney failure. And just about six weeks ago Kelly saved this little guy from a kill shelter and did everything she could to find him a home. We just got thinking about it and came to the realization that in some way our other Nicky may have just come back as this little guy since their personalities are so similar. Nicky is getting used to his new home. He's been running around in the backyard sniffing all the new smells, watching the birds in the pond and even drinking out of the pool. He's even started trying to get Max and the other guys to play. It's a crazy life but well worth it. We will be supporting Lost Angels from now on and every time Nicky gives us a kiss, we'll be very glad we do. Happy Gardening.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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