Picture Snob

May 31, 2011

Summertime is here!

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At last in Boston the sun has appeared. We have been having 50 degree days and clouds and rain since I got here. Now a week of warm and sunny has been forecast! And it's such a delight to have sunshine! The backyard again becomes a place to hang out and play and it's time to plant all the warm weather loving vegies and they are some of the ones we love the most.

The nurseries are bursting with both flowers and vegetables, and the kids have planted some pumpkin seeds that germinated nicely. The squirrels are a real problem here and there isn't a cat or a dog to deter them, so tomatoes and summer squash will have to be planted on the deck where they are more protected. It's impossible to not to want some zucchini for the summer. It's fast growing, prolific, and a versatile companion to almost any meal.

You should start several plants in sequence of about two or three weeks to get a steady and abundant source of zukes. Zucchini are usually picked when under eight inches in length, while the seeds are soft and immature. Some are picked with the flowers still attached and the zucchini barely formed.

Zucchini can be prepared steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffl├ęs. It also can be baked into a bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

At Black Beauty Zucchini

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May 25, 2011

Planting Boxwood to foil the deer

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There is an interesting article in the New York Times suggesting boxwood which comes in so many varieties is a good plant which the deer don't bother. Many boxwood are tropical but the European varieties are frost tolerant.

If you love green, and the deer are eating everything in your garden, boxwood -- which comes in a range of shades, shapes and sizes -- is a lovely alternative. Unlike English boxwood, which prefers partial shade, most will tolerate sun without turning yellow, but almost all are darker green in the shade.

Many people shape boxwood but it can be grown without shearing and left to it's natural shape. With so many varieties to choose from it's possible to have contrasting and complimentary colors and shapes from this one species. American boxwood is a wide-spreading shrub and sometimes grows to a small tree with very dense evergreen foliage. The leaves are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long and are usually shiny, dark green on the upper surface and pale green on the lower surface.

Flowers come in early spring and are pale green and hardly noticeable. This boxwood grows 5 to 10 ft tall, though old plants may attain a height of 20 ft. in tree form if left unpruned. This species and most of its cultivars are tolerant of cold weather.

At Boxwood

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May 20, 2011

Getting the garden started in Boston

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I've been here a week and we've had mostly rain, cold and dreary weather. Yesterday the sun shone and the grandkids and I got inspired and planted some lettuce and then went to the nursery and bought flowers. Most of the flowers we will put in pots in the front yard but the perinneals will go along the edge of the yard where we hope to build up a flower garden.

The nurseries were full of rainbow colors of flowers and many vegies. It's such a pleasure to walk through the rows upon rows of seedlings and six pacs and choose a variety of colors and shapes. We came home and planted them. It was supposed to be the only nice day for a week and we wanted them in the ground before the rain. We got a mix of seeds to attract butterflies and birds and some perinneals. In the six packs we bought petunias, sweet williams and snapdragons.

Such fun with the whole family out in the yard, mixing potting soil and digging rows. The grandkids were so excited it was hard to get them to slow down. This a great project for the family and it teaches kids where their food comes from and the effort it takes to grow it, and they also participate in the miracle of seeing sunlight, soil and water work their magic on seeds.

At Wildflower Butterfly Mix

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May 13, 2011

Grow Daylillies for ease and beauty

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Daylilies are perennial plants that are beautiful. The flowers themselves last only twenty four hours, opening at sunrise and withering at sunset. Some species are night-blooming. Daylilies they make good cut flowers otherwise as new flowers continue to open on cut stems over several days.

Daylilies grow best in full sun. They will tolerate light shade, but flower best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun. Light shade during the hottest part of the day keeps the flowers fresh. They do well in all soil, but naturally respond to rich and slightly acid loam.

Daylilies can be planted almost any time the soil can be worked. A hole large enough for the roots without bending or crowding them. The best time to transplant or divide plants is early spring or immediately after flowering. . A winter mulch of straw or shredded leaves helps ensure against winter injury for unestablished plants.

Daylilies are vigorous growers and can be divided every three to four years. They are lovely as a border in perinneal gardens and their hardiness makes them desirable for the flower garden.

At Stella de Oro

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May 12, 2011

Shasta Daisy is a chrysanthemum problem free and beautiful

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Shasta Daisy is easy to grow and can be planted now. It will over winter and grow into blossoming flowers in summer. It grows to 24 - 28 Inches and is a hardy perennial, forming dense colonies once established. The plant blooms over a long period, from early summer until fall.

Shasta daisys should be planted in spring and the plants should be spaced 1 to 2 feet apart. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. The hole should be twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly. Once established Shasta Daisys don't need much care. They may need some staking if they are tall to keep them upright. The plants should be divided every three to four years.

The bright flowers contrast nicely with the glossy, dark green foliage, livening up any garden bed. The plant is ideal as a cut flower, lasting up to 10 days in arrangements. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds and, better yet, the plant is resistant to deer. A great addition to any flower garden.

At Alaska Shasta Daisy Perennial

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May 11, 2011

Wildflower perinneal garden in a package

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If you want to try a wildflower perinneal garden, this package is just the thing. It contains echinachea, black eyed Susan, California poppy, Shasta Daisy and Foxglove, fiifteen species in all. These flowers grow two to three feet tall on average and provide a variety of color all the growing season.

If you have a garden bed of perinneals that has some bare space in it, I would just throw these seeds out and cover them with some compost or soil. If you have a whole bed to plant, and can dig up the ground and add some compost so much the better. I'd plant these seeds thickly and not worry about crowding. You want this garden to look overgrown, random and lush.

At Wildflower Perennial Mix Seeds

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May 10, 2011

Sage plants make a good border and have a delightful fragrance

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Sage is a perennial herb which grows as an evergreen subshrub. It has with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. Sage has a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

Many cultivars have been found and developed. They vary in leaf and flower color as well as size. Some leaves are variegated. Sage has been used through the centuries for almost every ailment and today is being investigated for it's help in dealing with Alzeimers Disease. We know it in this country for it's use in cooking pork and seasoning stuffing for turkey.

It's a great garden plant and can easily be place in a corner of the garden or along the border where it will grow for years. This sage has deep blue violet blooms. It is hardy in zones 4-7 and grows to a height of three feet.

At May Night Blue Salvia

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May 9, 2011

Creeping thyme makes a great ground cover

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Creeping thyme is a low growing thyme that gets only five to eight inches high and spreads as much as eighteen inches. It can be used in a variety of places. I first saw it when I was on retreat. There was a patio area covered with large sandstones and the creeping thyme was growing in the spaces between the rocks, making a green border around each stone. I am planning to use it in the patio area in back of the house in the same way.

A creeping thyme ground cover will be completely covered in 1/4-inch bells of carmine-pink for months on end. Butterflies love it. The foliage of creeping thyme is attractive even when not in bloom, too, with dark green, slightly hairy leaves. And because it's a long-lived perennial ground cover is hardy just about everywhere in the U.S., you can expect years of beauty from this trouble-free groundcover!

Creeping thyme can be used in rock gardens, walls, bare spots in sunny beds and borders, and just about anywhere that needs some quick, permanent coverage. Creeping thyme tolerates dry soil and needs little care after it is established. It self-sows readily, dropping it seeds after flowering season is over and then this new seed sprouts the next spring keep a robust stand of creeping thyme ground cover thriving. If you can't find plugs of it in a nursery, you can plant seeds which are easy to grow.

At Creeping Thyme

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May 3, 2011

Oregon Grape is a low maintanance landscape plant

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Oregon Grape has been recommended to me for planting around the house and yard. It has several features that make it a good choice. The Oregon grape is not related to true grapes, but gets its name from the purple clusters of berries whose color and slightly dusted appearance are like concord grapes. It has everygreen leaves which are shiny and similar to holly--that is, they are prickly.

It grows wild in the Pacific Northwest and in spring has clusters of bright yellow flowers which last quite a while. The plant grows to 3 ft 3 in-16 ft 5 in tall, although most of the local plants are shrubs about 3ft high. Oregon-grape is used in gardens and natural landscaping as a plant suited for low-maintenance. Oregon-grape is resistant to summer drought, tolerates poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. Its berries attract birds.

The small purplish-black fruits, which are quite tart and contain large seeds. The Oregan grape was in the traditional diets of Pacific Northwest aboriginal peoples. It was used both as food and as medicine. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots of Oregon-grape yield a yellow dye; the berries give purple dye.

It's quite an attractive plant to look at, but not so inviting to touch because of the prickly leaves. It was a little difficult to find a source for this plant, but finally I was able to find one.

At Oregon Grape

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April 28, 2011

Johnny's Seeds Interactive Tool Kit provides precision planting tips

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Johnny's Interactive tool kit gives the gardener a way to plan their garden with some precision. There is a calculator that can give you the amount of seed and the tools you will need for a given amount of space. A harvest date calcuator can determine how many crops you might have by a certain date so you can plan for an event. A calculator for seed starting tells you when it's safe to plant outside and another calculator tells you when to plant for the fall harvest and still another for succession plantings so you will have your favorite crops ripening all summer and fall.

There is a growers library with available downloads of tons of gardening information, growing guides, manuals and charts. If it's flowers your interested in, they have a chart that tells you the best flowers for your situation, planting and growing information. And there is another chart of the same kind for herbs.

If you really would like to be more precise with your gardening, this tool kit will be a great aid in that endeavor.

At Johnny's Interactive tool kit

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