Picture Snob

June 15, 2011

California Lilac is lovely in June

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Locally this plant is called "buckbrush" because deer browse it and lie, during the heat of the day, in its shade. It has come back very strong after the fire wiped out overgrowth. It's latin name is Ceanothus. There are about 80 varieties of this species and most are evergreen. The flowers are tiny and produced in large, dense clusters that are very fragant which the wind carries the fragrance. It is very pleasant to have these plants in abundance in June when they flower.

The seeds of this plant can lie dormant for hundreds of years, and Ceanothus species are typically dependent on forest fires to trigger germination of its seeds. If you are looking for a plant that adapts well to dry hot summers and wet winters, will take snow and cold weather, this is a perfect choice. Deer may browse them, but the plants seem to flourish anyway. The tiny leaves lend themselves well to shearing which can be done after bloom to create a hedge. The natural form of ceanothus to develop into an attractive border specimen. Plants will grow 6' x 6' and are best suited for sunny dry sites.

The one linked below is a lovely blue.61EzZJz3MZL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

At California Lilac

Read More in: Plants

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June 14, 2011

Leaf Blower antipathy! Get a good hand rake!

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Im sorry. I just can't bring myself to check out leaf blowers for this site. I can't stand them and maybe it is my puritan upbringing. My father ranted about automatic shift cars--"Too lazy to shift the gears!" I was brought up using a push lawnmower as I've blogged about before. But the noise is the main reason I don't like them. And the fact that it's using gas and making exhaust fumes on a task that used to be kind of fun for me as a child. We piled the leaves up high and then would jump in them for a soft landing.

I'm still an advocat of the hand held rake. I use a tarp and rake the leaves or mowed grass or pulled weeds into it and pull it along to another spot until I get a full load to take to the compost pile. Nothing heats compost up faster than cut grass which is one reason for raking it rather than letting it stay and decompose in the yard.

The Yard Butler is pricey but I like the fact that the tines are replaceable and that they are flexible enough to rake over bedding plants.

At Yard Butler

Read More in: Composters | Garden Tools

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June 10, 2011

Try a Trillium for a shady spot in the garden

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Trillium are really lovely flowers that blooms in early spring and comes in a variety of colors, red, white and yellow. The trillium grows wild in my area sometimes capeting a large area of moist shady woodland, so it's easy to see what kind of conditions support it's growth. The blooms have three large showy petals which are quite striking in the forest. It is an understory plant which could be grown in the shade of other taller flowers.

It is an interesting plant because the seeds are spread mostly by ants. It should be noted that deer love Trillium and will eat it to the exclusion of other choices. It is considered endangered in some areas. Picking the flowers is very damaging because it keeps the plant from producing the food necessary for new growth and so weakens it, so it cannot be used as a cut flower.

At Yellow Trillium

Read More in: Bulbs

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June 9, 2011

Strathwood anti gravity recliner means comfort

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I have two of these recliners and they are really comfortable, sturdy and relaxing. That this recliner is designed "to provide the same weightless, floating sensations NASA astronauts experience in a gravity-free environment" is probably pushing the limits on believablity. The recliner has positions that raise the legs with a bend in the knees so that does reduce pressure on the spine . The recliner adjusts to offer infinite back and foot positions and locks into place. There is a removeable pillow that can serve as a headrest or lumbar support.

The chair is fairly light and folds compactly, but not sure it's light enough really to "take the chair absolutely anywhere". It has a steel frame and can hold 250 pounds and the fabric of the seat is polyester yarn with a resin coating, woven into very durable and elastic fabric. The arms are made of a hard plastic for durability. The steel frame is powder coated to resist rusting, but nevertheless, it is not meant to be left outdoors overwinter.

I love the chair and recommend it as a great summer lemonade in the shade restful place to enjoy your garden and lawn.

At Anti gravity recliner

Read More in: Decorations for Garden and Patio

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June 8, 2011

Organic Consumers has a petition to label GMOs

Getting everyone you meet to join the Millions Against Monsanto campaign should be easy - upwards of 90% of the public already agrees that foods made with genetically modified organisms should be labeled - but if you need some ammunition and inspiration to inspire you to spread the word, look no further than these 10 scary reasons to label GMOs:

#1 Monsanto's Bt-toxin, in its Bt-producing GMO corn and cotton (used in food in the form of cottonseed oil), was found by Canadian doctors in the blood of 93% of pregnant women and 80% of the umbilical blood of their babies.

#2 The authors of the Canadian study conclude that the women and their babies were exposed to Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin through a "normal" non-organic Canadian diet, including non-organic (so-called "natural" and "conventional") meat, egg, and dairy products from animals fed Bt corn.

#3 Monsanto's GMO "Bt" corn and cotton plants are engineered to produce a insecticide in every cell of the plant that kills insects by breaking open their stomachs.

#4 Mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn had elevated levels of immune system substances that are also higher in humans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, allergies, Lou Gehrig's disease, autoimmune disease, and colitis.

#5 Young mice in the same study had elevated T-cells, which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.

#6 Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin has properties of known allergens - it actually fails the World Health Organization's allergen screening tests.

#7 Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin has been found to bind with the small intestines in mice and with intestinal tissue in rhesus monkeys.

#8 In addition to its GMO "Bt" crops which are engineered to produce insecticide, Monsanto also produces GMO "RoundUp Ready" crops, engineered with a bacterial DNA that allows it to survive otherwise deadly doses of its herbicide RoundUp.

#9 In the only human feeding study ever published on GMOs, Monsanto's GMO "RoundUp Ready" soybeans were found to transfer Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" DNA to the bacteria living inside human intestines.

#10 According to Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, the transfer of Monsanto's GMO Bt DNA to human digestive bacteria could create a "living pesticide factory" that could be responsible for the "increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders - since 1996 when Bt crops came on the market."

At Organic Consumers

Read More in: Industry News

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June 7, 2011

Cherry tomatoes grow well in containers

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Cherry tomatoes were developed fairly recently, in 1973, to be exact. Since that time they have become extremely popular with home gardeners and are used widely in salads, as an appetizer and as a garnish. They are usually round but can be oblong in which case they are used as a paste tomato.

Cherry tomatoes also have a way of thriving on their own and without much care from the gardener. Many of them will grow perfectly fine without staking, although I always use a cage for them as they do grow five feet tall. They are more tolerant of drought and weather fluctuations, and less prone to the cracking and blossom end rot that frequently afflict full sized tomato varieties.

Cherry tomatoes will mature and ripen earlier in the season and continue to bear ripe fruits throughout the summer and into the fall months. Most cherry tomato varieties are incredibly productive, yielding hundreds of ripe fruits from a single plant.

At Cherry Tomatoes

Read More in: Container Gardens & Window Boxes

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June 6, 2011

Rhododendrons are amazingly beautiful

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When I first came to New England I wondered about this rather large leaved green shrub that was so commonly planted around houses here. It was green all winter long which I figured was the reason it was so ubiquitous. But once here in late May, I was amazed to see the plant burst into brilliant color, rose or white, with flowers at once large, and massed in great clusters.

These plants need little or no care during the year. In winter the leaves take cold down to 0 degrees or less. The foliage droops a little but the cold does no harm. Once well established rhododendrons need little care.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are shrubs for all seasons. In winter some stand out with large evergreen leaves. I. The spectacular spring flowers of azaleas and rhododendrons make them among the most popular garden shrubs.

At Ramapo Rhododendron

Read More in: Plants

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June 3, 2011

Irises make a perfect addition to a perinneal flower garden

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Irises have a fan-like foliage and spectacular flowers. Better yet, they are easy to grow. They are versatile, carefree plants that bloom dependably and multiply annually without much help. The blossoms are large and have a huge array of colors.

There are lots of varieties, including bearded iris, reblooming iris, Siberian iris, They do well in borders or in their own groupings.. Their soil needs are flexible so you can plant them nearly anywhere in your garden. They thrive in partial shade and can even tolerate full sun, giving you lots of landscape design options.

Because of their blooming height, and the "church and spire" effect of foliage and stalk, irises work best in the bed or border where clumps are rather widely separated and placed toward the back of the planting. They can be planted as accent clumps singly, or if space permits, in drifts. Like most flower gardens, it's best never to plant irises in a single line with no backing or companion growth.

At Three Seasons of Iris

Read More in: Bulbs

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June 2, 2011

Gladiolus are easy to grow and beautiful

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Gladiolus is a perennial flowering plants grown from bulbs and is in the iris family. It is sometimes called the sword lily because gladius means sword in Latin. There are about 250 species of this plant, discovered in South Africa. In my childhood, for some reason they were unfortunately associated with funerals and so I never appreciated how beautiful and what varieties are available.

Gladioli have been extensively hybridized and a wide range of ornamental flower colours are available from the many varieties. They make very good cut flowers. They are tall flowers and the cultivated forms frequently tend to fall over in the wind if left on the plant. So this variety from Hirt's is shorter and more study.

Hirt's is proud to introduce a new type of glad that blooms earlier, more profusely, and over a longer period than ordinary glads...yet needs no staking! Discovered and developed very recently in Holland, Glaminis are a new form of gladiolus that grows just 20" tall. Each top quality bulb will produce up to 20 richly coloured, full-size blooms, with flowering lasting up to 19 days! Plant them in borders, pots and even window boxes. Glaminis are also fabulous in a vase!

These gladioli offer an enormous color range, including the most delicate pastels, bold hues and almost unimaginable bi-colors. Their sword-like foliage and tall impressive flower spikes, make striking accents in the mixed flower border. For best garden effect, plant in groups of six or more of a single color. Or grow dozens of them in a bed reserved for cutting.

To enjoy blooms for many weeks through July and August, plant corms at two week intervals from early spring until the end of June. Glads are easy to grow, requiring only full sun and good drainage. Hardy in zones 8-10; elsewhere treat as an annual, or dig them in the fall and store over winter.

At Mixed Glamini Gladiolus

Read More in: Bulbs

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June 1, 2011

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