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How to Grow Amazing Echinacea

Echinacea color varieties

Echinacea, also known as the cone flower is a native prairie perennial that’s very easy to grow in direct sunlight.

With the right conditions you can enjoy this amazing flower right in your backyard garden. The best part, they bloom every year with little effort.

When I was a little girl my grandmother always had a patch of daisies growing along the fence line.  She would say, “They’re not my favorite flowers but they’re perfect for filling in empty spaces.”

I agree with that because they do grow into a nice size plant.  I was known to sneak a few blooms, remove the petals one by one saying, he loves me…. he loves me not….

Back then, I’m not sure who I was talking about and little did I know there could be so many varieties of a simple daisy.

Echinacea color varieties

Echinacea is grown for a variety of reasons.  The most common would be for beautiful flowers and medicinal properties. Harvesting for tea or extract is typical because the plant is a great immune system enhancer.

You may even take echinacea tablets over the winter to keep flu at a distance?

Growing echinacea is possible in zones 3 – 9 which is pretty fantastic.  For those of you in colder climates you may want to provide a little winter protection that first planting season as sometimes it takes a while for them to climatize.

We’re going to begin our growing tips with where to purchase seeds or plants because you can start both ways.

Where to Purchase Plants

I found a really neat resource for echinacea plants and seeds at American Meadows.  They have some neat varieties!

Also note that you can purchase plants this time of year at a discount from the big box store nurseries.

Many times, after their plants sit on shelves for several weeks, they get moved to clearance racks.  They might not look great and that’s okay because echinacea is easy to revive with a little trim, water and the right planting conditions.

Don’t hesitate to begin because there’s plenty of time to enjoy this plant now and perhaps get a modest harvest in the fall.

If starting by seed is of interest then you’ll have to wait for next planting season as seeds should be germinated indoors over the later part of winter.

Bush of Echinacea

How to Grow Amazing Echinacea

  • Lighting: They love the sun requiring at least 5 hours a day.  For a plentiful harvest make sure they have access to sunlight.
  • Soil: They can thrive in a variety of soil types, sandy, rocky and clay.  However, they don’t like to be over watered and prefer a neutral PH.
  • Water Schedule: I have great news for those of us further south, they’re drought tolerant.  New plants water once or twice a week to help get established and future growing seasons they’ll need very little water because they’ve been climatized.
  • When to Fertilize: Keep it simple and fertilize every spring with mulch.  I like to cover the base with natural material like leaves and then follow up with mulch.
  • Pruning:  Begin with seasonal dead heading during the growing season.  This is a matter of removing expired blooms with clippers to encourage new growth.  Once fall arrives let it be through winter so the birds can eat.  Prior to spring prune back, then clip about half way to inspire new growth for a bushier plant.  Seeking good clippers read here.
  • Growth Size: This plant loves to branch out as it grows.  However, the potential size really depends on the variety.  Transplant according to suggested growth at the time of purchase to allow the proper space and consider over the course of a few years you may need to propagate. Mature size can range anywhere from 12 – 36 inches wide and 4 ft. tall.

Echinacea is a wonderful wild flower that really adds amazing color to any large or small garden. It can be perfectly paired with salvia which is another perennial I enjoy growing.

Think about adding echinacea to your garden and use these easy to follow grow tips with very little effort.

Learn to Grow Amazing Echinacea and how this herb can benefit your environment. #GardenTips, #Echinacea

Visiting Beautiful Tyler Rose Garden

Tour at Tyler Rose Garden

When most folks come to Texas they travel to the major cities.  What visitors and even some fellow Texans don’t realize is there happens to be additional outings that carry a whole lot of soul beyond the metropolitan area.

Places like the beautiful Tyler Rose Garden, I visited earlier this week because this area is one of my favorites.

I’m always up for a change of scenery especially now because I’m in the stages of planning our future.  This begins with where we want to actually retire in Texas.  Course, I’m not sure we’ll ever retire…

We’ve been in our current area for over ten years and by the time we finish Quail Grove I’m almost positive we’ll both be ready to move.

Don’t get me wrong it’s beautiful here but it just doesn’t feel like a place we’d want to stay forever.

Warmer winters would be nice!

My favorite rose in the entire garden

Tyler Rose Garden is about an hour and a half from Quail Grove.

My day started early and to be honest I wasn’t sure what the roses would look like because our weather has been brutal.

It was a nice drive and the temperatures wereperfect so it really didn’t matter what the roses would look like because I was planning on having a great day.

The last time we visited these gardens the kids were little, that was in 2005.  We happen to be on our way to visit Robert’s mom and the one thing I remember perfectly clear was East, Texans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

It’s a total shift in personality and I love it.

A view from the balcony

I wanted to begin this tour with a photo off a balcony; this is just one garden area of many.

There’s another side and additional theme gardens can be explored which really makes this tour grand.  It was super bright and as you can see things were not in full bloom.

It still looks pretty amazing because as you know, I love shades of green.

Patch of Tyler Roses

At ground level it can be almost intimidating because there’s just so many plants and they go on forever.

I’m going to guess if you want to view these gardens in full bloom then May and October would be the best months as the temperatures are a little cooler and the roses would in peak blooming.

I’ve found in my own Texas garden that my roses always look their best in May and June and then again in the fall.

More Beautiful Tyler Roses

These three were simply delicate and reminded me a single rose is more powerful than a dozen.

I love garden roses they have this ability to keep giving no matter what time of day…

I found myself in awe with shades of orange, lavender and coral.  You can guess those are the colors I tend to incorporate in my own garden because I already have the beautiful coral drift roses that I adore.

Rose Bed Base

I wanted you to see how they grow their roses.  They use raised beds and caring for these gardens is a full-time job.

The grounds men were busy trimming while I was there and to my surprise, they use a small chain saw. I was shocked but it made sense because I can’t imagine hand trimming each plant when you have thousands.

For those of you interested in growing roses in your own yard let me suggest installing taller beds.  Roses do amazing in raised soil and to decrease maintenance I can’t stress enough how taller beds will make your life easier.

In this situation one board higher would make a huge difference.

For those of you looking for a natural privacy wall consider trailer roses attached to welded panels.  Choose easy care varieties that offer a nice retreat and continue to look amazing even when they’re not blooming.

There were also several water features and this pond was my favorite, because it looks natural.

Robert and I keep talking about having a property with a huge pond and after this view a modest pond featured around trees would be amazing.

Perhaps we’ll test this idea at Quail Grove because we have the perfect acre lot for a pond and there’s many trees to create a nice focal point.

Part of this outing was to get me thinking about the future and what that will look like because when Robert asks, I don’t have an answer.

We agree the countryside works best for us because we love the peace and quiet.

What I want more than ever is to live in an area where the majority of the population is nice to one another.

I know that could be hard to find, but I’ve noticed the further you get away from the cities the better life becomes.

My favorite rose in the entire garden

I believe this cluster of roses says it all.

It also happens to be the favorite from this visit.  It was posing in the shade, overlooked near the Idea Garden.

There are some things in life that shouldn’t be overlooked…

I went to Tyler to see if this was a city we might want to have nearby when we find our next piece of land.  Like a “go to place” when we actually want to be around a larger population.

Robert grew up in East Texas and the one thing we can agree upon is the people in East Texas have that true southern hospitality that is so contagious.

We’ve lived all over this awesome state and this is the one area that I always leave smiling.

Nobody is a stranger and as I traveled through the Tyler Rose garden I thought, wouldn’t it be neat if we all allowed ourselves to bloom into something beautiful everyday…

Looking for a fun garden outing in Texas, well try the beautiful Tyler Rose Garden in east Texas. #Travel, #RoseGarden

Make Copper Beaded Garden Charms

Make Copper Beaded Garden Charms

Making artistic elements for the garden is something I enjoy because they add a little creativity in the mix of each growing season.

On a recent trip to Michaels I spotted copper wire and these funky beads.  The colors were perfect and it seemed a few charms would be my next item of interest because I was on a mission to gather garden charm supplies.

This craft can be used outside in the garden or indoors with house plants.  They add a little glamour, especially when the sun appears.

Garden Charm Supplies

Michaels Shopping Trip

All of my supplies came from Michaels but I’m sure any craft store would have what you need to recreate this project.  I’ve been wanting to make something with copper for awhile and when I saw those beads, I knew following through was the next step.

My larger strand of wire (not seen in this photo) came from Lowes, it can also be purchased by the foot at Home Depot.  The heavier wore made the hanger for the charms which is optional.

  • 4 Charms with positive words.
  • 2 strands of funky beads.
  • Copper Jewelry wire 16 gauge is perfect for bending.
  • Jewelry wire cutters and crimper.
  • Paper plate or a dish to sort materials.
  • Size 8 Copper Wire – 5 Feet for two Charms – not necessary if you already have something for them to hang on.
  • Heavy duty wire cutters.

Sorting Bead Supplies

Getting Supplies Ready and Encouragement

I used a paper plate to sort everything and when choosing charms; they don’t have to be positive messages.  A unique symbol of a bird or whatever you like would also be neat.

My project is a gift and I liked what each charm had to say, especially “believe in yourself.”  It’s that little boost of confidence that encourages others to try new things regardless of age.

That would be true with these garden charms, this was a first-time project for me and it was fun.

For others this project may be just the push you need to get creative this summer.

Take this concept, recreate it and make it even better by adding your own twist.

So, lets dive in and go over how to make these unique garden charms.

Garden Charm Assembly

Each Creative Step

There’s a lot of twist and turns in this project and why I chose 16-gauge wire, it’s easy to bend yet heavy enough to hold shape.

  1. Begin with about a foot of wire, or choose double the length you want for each design. This allows excess for wire twisting.
  2. The first step is to begin with the end making a loop, this is where I hung the first charm.
  3. Make a couple twists afterwards and add two or three beads.
  4. Continue with more wire twisting and use the crimpers if bending by hand is difficult.  Tools will always offer a tighter close and shape.
  5. Repeat by adding more beads, twist and as you move upwards add another charm by making a loop and sliding the charm in place.
  6. Finally, when you get to the end close the top with additional wire bending and now you have a finished garden charm.

Easy to Make Garden Charms

Finished Garden Charms

This was a super easy project and it’s the perfect summer craft, think about getting together with friends one hot summer afternoon to make these beaded garden charms.

Remember you can hang them outside in the garden from an existing trellis or even from a nearby tree.  I thought they might even look neat hanging from a birdhouse?

If you want to make your own hanger then keep reading because I used copper wire from the hardware store.

Garden Charms using Copper and Beads

Copper Wire Hangers

Hangers can be made tall or short or incorporated into one.

The goal is to allow them to hang in the air so the light can shine through.  We all need a little light, don’t you agree?

I took my size 8 wire and cut 2 and 3 ft. lengths for each hanger. That was my original plan, then I decided to take those strands and wrap them together because I thought it looked cool.

If you want taller hangers then expand the purchase length and you may even want to use a thicker wire.

All I did was bend and twist the wire together until I was satisfied with the shape, it’s that simple!

Hope you enjoyed making garden charms with me today, this is a fun activity that I’m pretty sure almost anyone would enjoy this project because there is no right or wrong way to create them.

Let your artistic flair shine!

Get creative and make copper beaded garden charms. This is a fun activity to share with friends and give as gifts or enjoy for yourself. #GardenCharms, #CopperBeads

Easy Growing Panicled Hydrangea

Grow Panicled Hydrangea plants

Last month when I took y’all on a tour of the Biedenharn gardens I skipped sharing their Panicled Hydrangea.  I wanted to do a little research first because this one grabbed my attention right away as I hadn’t seen it before.

It was beautifully planted along this brick path and I couldn’t decide if I like the foliage or floral blooms more.  It was very striking and after a little research I learned it was from the hydrangea family.  The foliage kept me guessing, it was massive and very healthy.

I guess what I discovered here is to never second guess yourself.

At this point I became even more interested in this shrub, because I haven’t had the best experience growing hydrangeas down south.

This variety is perfect for zones 3 – 9 which made me realize I had to share it with y’all.

Here’s the kicker, the Panicled Hydrangea is heat, cold and drought tolerant.  No other hydrangea offers these three perks which is probably why it was doing so magnificent here in the south.

Easy Growing Tips

  • Thrives in full sun – 6 hours a day.
  • Pests don’t bother with it – Chlorosis can occur in alkaline soils.
  • Prefers moist soil with good drainage.

The Panicled Hydrangea is native to China and Japan which is no wonder I liked it because Robert is always telling me I have a very Japanese garden style.  I guess because everything is organized and natural looking, honestly, I’m not really sure…

It will bloom later than other species, summer into fall offering lots of color to fills in the gaps.  This is perfect for those of us further south when the garden begins to look a little wilted towards the end of July through August.

This variety was obviously white but it comes in assorted colors that will be deeper in color for those in the north, colder temps enhance their color.

You’re so lucky!

Beautiful Panicled Hydrangea

The blooms form off the branches that grow in the current season, so even a harsh winter does not stop the flower growth, another perk!

The flowers are held upright on very sturdy stems and that green foliage makes the most amazing contrast.  Which means this could be used as a cut flower in vase arrangements.

I can see it now – they would look amazing draped on an elegant table used as a centerpiece.

It’s Also Fast Growing

When transplanting you’ll want to offer plenty of room to grow as it can range in size. Dwarf plants are anywhere from 2 – 3 feet high and larger shrubs can expand 15 to 20 feet.

Make account for the width because the one from our tour was massive and they grow fast.

I could see a driveway lined with this variety or they would be perfect at the front of a garden entrance.  I’m already planning out ideas for when Robert and I get settled.

These hydrangeas are on the top of my list along with my favorite coral drift roses. 

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with this discovery, I pretty much gave up on hydrangeas years ago as they never recovered from our hot summers.  The question is, why did it take so long for me to find this beauty?

It’s my hope you may want to add this to your landscaping because it’s going to be a real show stopper that easy to grow.

 

NOTE: After writing this y’all and Daisy commenting that she’d be planting the Oakleaf Hydrangea I noticed some similarites between the two.   I went to Monrova’s website where they have many photos and I guess it’s the foliage that has me digging deeper.

Regardless, the Panicled would still be my go to because it’s easy to grow which is perfect for my lifestyle.  The two are also so similar so why not go with the Panicle Hydrangea?

You may enjoy all the visuals found on Monrova’s site here.

Even better you can click their “Find a Garden Center” option for purchasing.  Have a Great day, Carole

Learn more about the panicled hydrangea plant and see if t might be a good option for your yard. #Hydrangea, #GardenFlowers

How to Harvest Fresh Onions

How to Harvest Fresh Onions

I’ve been a little skeptical this gardening season because our weather has been unpredictable.  It’s still pretty early to decide how successful the garden will be so I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but also be realistic.

Which brings me to our onion harvest.

I never planned to begin harvesting until the end of June but our last visit from mother nature was pretty brutal. I had to make some quick decisions on what would be staying and what should be removed.

Fallen Onions from Rain and wind

This journey began in the quail sanctuary.

As you can see the onions took a hit and I knew they wouldn’t be very large because the soil has remained water logged far too long.  I thought they may even be rotten because I had already experienced that with some of my other plants.

Now, if these beds were higher things would grow through the worst of weather because the water would have additional drainage space.

With the present situation I decided to harvest because even small fresh onions taste pretty amazing in just about anything you’ll ever cook.  Their essential for most main dishes and if you store mature onions in the dark, with their skins attached they can last for up to 12 months.

When to Harvest Onions

During a healthy growing season, you would normally harvest onions mid-summer or for those of us further south the middle of June.  This is when the bulbs begin to increase in size and enjoy fresh from the garden.

In the later part of the summer as we approach fall, the leaves of your onion plant flop over.  This signals the actual harvest time; for some gardeners this time frame will vary depending on your planting zone.

Now as you can see, my plants are flat on the ground but this was caused from weather damage.

In a normal growing season, the stems would be dryer and mean their ready to harvest for storing.  This is what I was hoping for but sometimes you have to take things for what they are and enjoy what you have in the moment.

Pull Onions from the Ground

How to Remove Onions from the Ground

Remove onions using a hand spade, I find this to be the best tool without slicing any onions verses digging with a large shovel.

If you have a lighter soil you may be able to pull them out by hand and remove any clumps of dirt back to the soil base.

I really wasn’t sure what I’d find because honestly, I thought they would be rotten since they’ve been sitting in wet soil for months.

Fresh Onion Harvest

To my surprise even though they were small the harvest looked good enough to enjoy fresh from the garden. This was a positive sign and a reminder to count your blessings no matter what.

Sometimes it’s those small blessings that really add up to something amazing.

Harvested ready to wash up

Prepping a Fresh Onion Harvest

For fresh onions like mine prepping is pretty simple.

  • Remove green stems and wash away the soil with clean water.
  • Store in a cool place like the fridge and enjoy when you cook your next meal.

Fresh onions from the garden are amazing so make something wonderful and enjoy that flavor.

 

Curing Onions for Storage

If you’re lucky enough to have a mature harvest then go ahead and take those onions you pulled from the garden and let them dry in the sun on a tray for a day or two.  Do this only in dry weather.

I normally place on trays and sit on a picnic table or bench during the day, then bring indoors at night.

The point of this is to allow the onions to dry out prior to storing.  If it’s wet outdoors then let them dry in a garage or covered porch.

  • You’ll want to lay them in single layers on trays and place in 70 to 80-degree weather, we call this the curing process.
  • Their necks will dry out and the skins will tighten.
  • Then remove the stems and roots with scissors.
  • Combine dry onions into a mesh bag or crate ready for storage.

Cured onions can be stored in a shed, ideal temperatures would be 35 – 40 degrees. If it gets colder where you live then the basement or pantry might be a better option adn don’t forget they’ll last up to a year.

Harvesting onions is probably one of the easiest things to do because it doesn’t take that much time.  But if truth be told I really enjoy eating them fresh from the garden because the flavor is just a little richer.

To get tips on planting onions read here. 

Learn how to harvest fresh onions right from the backyard garden. #Harvesting, #Gardentips

Why and How to Wire Gerbera Daisies

Wire Stem Gerbera Daisies

Last week we chatted about Growing Gerbera daisies and I found that I’m not the only one who adores these beautiful flowers.  Many of us right here are either growing or purchasing gerberas to enjoy at home.

Did you know you can help these flowers after they’re cut by supporting the blooms using wire?

It’s true and this was something we did back in my floral shop days when boxes arrived for every day arrangements and weddings.

Wiring is a simple tip that with a little practice will become second nature and easy to use the next time you purchase or harvest gerberas from the garden.

Wire Stem Lifts the Gerbera daisy head upward

Why we Wire Gerbera Daisies

Years ago, when I was learning to be a florist, one of the first techniques was how to wire flowers.  At the time, this was an alien concept, but rather quickly I discovered with a little wire you could do some pretty amazing things with fresh cut flowers.

Wiring gerbera daisies is a matter of offering support to those heavy blooms. The flower head is quite large compared to its delicate stem and once cut from the base plant they quickly tilt looking almost wilted.

The thing is, they have a lot of life to offer once cut and by adding wire we can help prolong their beautiful appearance.

Supplies for wiring gerbera daisies

Supplies for Wiring Gerbera Daisies

Our supply list for this activity is very basic and can be purchased at crafts stores in the floral department, local flower shops and I’ve also encountered these materials at Dollar General.

Flowers can be tracked down at local nurseries, floral shops and many grocery store florists.

  • Fresh Cut Gerbera Daisy blooms
  • Wire Cutters
  • Green plastic-coated floral wire – 18 gauge for large blooms or 20 gauge for medium size.
  • Green Floral tape

How to Wire and floral wrap a gerbera daisy

How to Add Wire and Tape

  1. To begin you want to first take a strand of wire and slightly poke into the base of the flower.
  2. Then carefully wire wrap around the stem.
  3. Take the floral tape, stretch around the base, cover the wire and wrap until you reach the end of the wire.

First practice this technique using a plastic straw until you get the hang of it.  This tape is coated so it can be difficult to work with.

It will grab and stick to any live stem but it will be necessary to master the technique first.

 

This is how I was Taught

Stretch tape, wrap and secure around stem.  This is done pretty much all at the same time as you cover the stem with tape.

It can be a little tricky to learn but with practice it will become very natural.

The goal is to make sure the wire is covered so when these flowers are in bouquets, they look consistent with the rest of the arrangement.  This is especially important if you’re making wedding arrangements.

The last thing a bride wants is to see wire within her bridal bouquet.

The Finished Look

Once flowers are wired, they can be arranged into a vase or wet oasis. You’ll barely notice the gerbera’s have been doctored and they’ll last much longer than if they were inserted without wire.

This is a great little technique that can also be used for roses and peonies.  Just skip taping because those flowers just look better with a few leaves on their stem.

Hope you enjoyed this little tip; floral arranging is a fun craft.  One that I really enjoyed long ago and still do today.

Learn how to improve gerbera daisies by wiring for floral arrangements and finishing with tape. #GerberaDaisy, #FloralDesign

Easy Summer Garden Care Tips

Get Summer Garden Care Tips

Summer is right around the corner and I promised prior to spring that I’d be diving into each season to help understand and maintain your garden.

We’re weeks away from the seasons changing and it won’t be long before temperatures begin to spike.  When that happens sometimes it can feel like we’re spending more hours managing our garden than we have to give.

I have to admit I actually enjoy the warmer temperatures.  They don’t really begin to bother me until about the middle of August because that’s when I notice the impact they’re having on my garden.

However, I do appreciate by July new grass growth has slowed down and if I’ve prepped everything correctly in June then I’m not really spending as many hours working in the garden as most.

Work Smarter Theory

I have this theory to work smarter not harder but most of all, let nature work for me.

To keep up, I try to keep things as simple as possible.  That’s probably no big surprise as my focus remains to enjoy life more while doing the things I love.

So, I put together an easy to follow guide for summer garden care tips.  You can get this free download when you subscribe to Garden Up Green in your welcome email.

You’ll also gain access to our Resource Library; this is for subscribers and includes additional free downloads and resources I use here at GUG.  I’m always adding to the library and I’d like to invite you to join us here.

But most of all I want you know that Summer gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming, it’s a time to really enjoy the beauty planting brings into our lives.

Let summer be that time of looking ahead to the next batch of flower blossoms or the fresh produce and herbs that continue to bring forth that natural beauty we love.

My goal is to help you have a successful season by keeping things simple.

I’m Excited for you to Receive this Free Download

  • Includes my three simple care tips.
  • We chat about creating a routine.
  • With emphasis on stop feeling defeated once those temperatures rise.

Get these easy to implement tips to help maintain and enjoy your outdoor space.  Get Summer Garden Care Tips here.

Easy care tips that you'll want to implement in our summer garden. #Gardentips, #SummerGarden

How to Grow Beautiful Gerbera Daisies

How to Grow Beautiful Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera daisies have always been one of my favorite flowers, especially when I was a florist.  That was a long time ago, but I remember it was the variety of bright color that sparked my attention.

These beautiful flowers originated in South Africa; depending on where you live, they perform as an annual further north and a perennial for southern gardeners in zone 8.

If you want to add gerberas to your garden, I recommend the compact plants as the stems will be sturdy and continue standing for a longer period of time.

My Favorite Gerbera Daisy

How to Begin Growing Gerbera Daisies

You have a few options to begin growing gerberas, first would be to germinate seeds.

This can be a little challenging and seeds may be difficult to find, but if you want those nice long stem gerberas for vase arrangements this might be the avenue to pursue.

Seeds must be started immediately because after opened they lose their zest for quality germination.

Beginning with seedlings or even divided plants would be much easier and less difficult to find at specialty nurseries.

If you’re just seeking color to add within landscaping then honestly, I would go ahead and choose a variety of 6-inch potted plants that you can transplant right into your beds.

There are many available options and my favorite would be that hot pink, well if I was being honest all shades of pink.

 

The Right Planting Conditions

Finding the right planting conditions isn’t that difficult because these beauties love full sun and sandy soil.  Of course, composting will always help produce amazing blooms so it’s important to make sure the soil is prepped for best results.

If you live in an area where clay is in abundance then this is a flower, you’ll want to consider planting in containers or raised beds.

I love using terracotta pots.

 

Dealing with Crown Rot, Watering and Mulch

Since gerberas do originate from south Africa, they’re partial to hot dry weather.  Which means they can prey easily to fungal diseases like crown rot.

To avoid do not plant deep into the soil, the plant crown should be visible above the soil and allowed to dry out between each watering. It’s easy enough to water in the mornings so the leaves can dry out during the day reducing risk of disease.

Mulch is also fine but it’s important to make sure the crown isn’t covered.  If you live in a wet or humid climate then planting in pots would also be a better option to avoid crown rot.

Gerbera Daisy Planting Tips

About halfway through the growing season you can add a nice fish fertilizer to the soil to encourage new blooms.  My grandmother used this variety through her flower beds and it did wonders for the bloom population throughout her yard.

Fish fertilizer can be purchased at small or large nurseries and if you homestead animals then don’t hesitate to make your own fertilizer tea.

I did this on our farm all the time using llama and sheep droppings and wow do I miss having access to that.

Learn how to make fertilizer tea here.

Anybody can grow beautiful gerbera daisies in their garden or yard, just remember they take a little more care than most blooming plants and that’s simply because they’re not a native plant.

Learn how to grow beautiful gerbera daisies in your own garden. #GerberaDaisies, #FlowerGarden

Inspiration Found at Biedenharn Garden

Inspiration from our Biedenharn Tour

We recently decided to go on a little journey.  This took us to The Biedenharn Museum and Gardens in Monroe, Louisiana.

This outing was a nice change of scenery filled with inspiration.

Originally our visit was focused on the Coca-Cola tour, somewhere I missed we’d also be walking through the historic family home, the ELSong gardens and a bible museum.

This was such a treat, but if you can believe it, I forgot to bring my good camera.  It was such an error on my part but it’s my hope I’ve captured the beauty of this garden with the help of my smart phone.

Additional photos can be found on my Instagram page.

If you’re not familiar with Joe Biedenharn, he was the first man to put coca cola in a bottle. The family home was left to his daughter Emy Lou, an opera singer prior to WW11.  She left her career to move back home and care for her father until he passed in 1952.

She continued living at the Biedenharn estate until her passing in 1984.

Emy Lou appeared to me as a dramatic person who enjoyed detail.  It was present her heart and soul transformed this home and garden into this beautiful place that is incredibly peaceful.

Garden Spaces with a statement

Since this tour offered many areas of interest, I thought it would be fun to focus on our walk through the gardens because this is where everything came to life.

With the right attention, a garden has this amazing way of carrying on even when others have passed on.

Emy Lou left the estate in the form of a foundation; the tour guides and many of the others we met were very nice and welcoming.

At the time of our tour most of the spring flowers had already passed and I was okay with that. There’s something amazing about the texture and shades of green that help me focus my attention to detail.

I was inspired with every step as we walked along this perfectly placed brick pathway.

Statues and water features were in abundance along with countless areas to sit and relax.

A view that captures shades of green

This was probably my favorite area while standing inside the greenhouse.  This is where they winter many plants and these huge doors open to this amazing english garden.

As I looked through the opening, I thought of my grandmother who was also a dramatic person… “She would have loved this tour.”

This greenhouse made me think of a space I would like to create one day after we complete Quail Grove.  It was magical…

Eveyrthing felt very personal and energizing.

Natural beauty along the walkpath

Established gardens are just fantastic because they offer that everlasting growth like this cedar tree.  I couldn’t believe how massive their cedar trees were and I loved the ivy topiary in the middle of this walk path.

In the distance you can vaguely see a statue.

These were present throughout and they added such elegance in the mix of all that natural beauty.

Pomegrant Tree

We first noticed this tree when we were inside the house.  It captured my attention immediately!

The flowers looked like azalea blossoms in the color of coral and later we learned this was a pomegranate tree.  I’m not sure when it was planted and I can only imagine when in full bloom it’s even more breath taking.

We just may have to come back next spring.

5 cent cokes for two

This ledge was fantastic, a nice maintained planting area right outside the family home.

As I mentioned earlier, we attended to learn how Mr. Biedenharn had a hand in the success of Coca Cola.  In the gardens they have a coke machine filled with five cent cokes.  Robert and I enjoy our cold cokes while we walked outdoors.

I saved the bottles to remember this awesome day because I may turn them into outdoor lights in my country garden.

Saying Good Bye to Biedenharn Gardens

As we left, I couldn’t help but turn around and notice that beautiful magnolia tree next to the bible museum.  Everything in this photo is so pronounced; it might surprise you but I also love this style of gardening.

This outing reminded me some of the best adventures are never planned, they just happen.  The Biedenharn visit was truly a neat experience and it’s my hope we return when it’s in full bloom.

Monroe in general is just a really neat place, filled with nice people… We ended the day with a walk through the downtown area and a few sweet treats from Ms. Kays Sweets and Eats.

I’d like to encourage you to take a garden tour this summer and let it inspire the best in you.

Take a Visit to the Biedenharn museum and garden for inspiration and a neat experience in Monroe Lousiana. #Gardens, #Gardentour

How to Prepare a Quail Habitat

How to Prep a Quail Sanctuary

How to prepare a habitat for quail can be a bit of a process.  It’s important not to overlook a few key things before the birds arrive because it’s much easier to set up a large sanctuary when it’s empty.

Before we dive in, I want to answer all those questions about when Bobwhite quail will arrive here at the grove?

The answer to that question has a lot more to do with our weather than anything else.  I’m hoping towards the beginning of June.

Preparing the ground

You might remember I used this space last summer to raise a few baby chickens?  It was a positive experience and the new sanctuary worked perfectly.  I was basically using those chicks to test the run.

My plan was to add quail shortly after that.  Then it started raining in September so I tabled the arrival of quail waiting for the ground to dry out.

Here we are in May and I’m still waiting for the ground to dry. Can you believe we’ve had rain almost every week since September?

To say I’m anxious for the arrival of quail would be an understatement, I decided instead of focusing on the weather, getting their habitat ready would be a better use of my time.

Clearing the Grass

Since the ground has been extremely wet, I made a clear decision against planting Spring grass seed.  Instead I allowed the grass transplanted last fall to get established.

This includes letting it grow, trim and repeat.

I started this towards the end of March and it’s paying off because the grass is already thicker.

I use my Sthl weed eater and in just a few minutes the grass is trimmed and the cuttings are left behind to work into the ground.  This has helped fill in low and thin areas, create a solid base and allows the grass to grow back healthier each week.

It takes about three weeks to see results and it’s possible if the rain slows down, I may still sprinkle in some seed.

To learn more about planting quail grass read here. 

Clearing an interior path

Making A Path and Nesting Boxes

After the last trim I decided to leave some tall grass behind; this will be expanded towards the back right and the front left.

The goal is to leave just a walk path in front of the raised beds where I have vegetables growing.

Offering tall grass is important, this helps the quail feel calm in their environment in addition to providing shelter and places to nest.

In this space I’ve also offered three shelter boxes; the quail will use them during all types of weather.  I’ve made mine via scrap wood back when we lived on the farm.

These boxes can also be raised off ground with landscaping timbers during wet or colder temperatures. Get those building nest box details here.

Food Dishes and Details

Also make sure to add necessary food dishes, these are moved around because quail are messy and many times if dishes are left in the same location, they will attract fire ants.

Additional details like adding logs or tree branches is also a good idea.  I’ve only incorporated a few small logs at the moment but I have some nice branches I plan to include once the ground is dry.

Bobwhite Quail use this debris to perch or hide and it’s nice to have natural elements in their sanctuary for them to explore.

Checking Exterior Wire

Checking the Exterior

The final step would be to check the exterior wire.  Inspect square footage by making sure wire is secure and no force of entry has occurred, then make any necessary corrections.

I want to bring attention to the peppermint border; it’s growing outside the sanctuary working like a charm.

This was incorporated last summer to detour rodents and so far, there hasn’t been a point of entry.  Learn more about mint borders here.

Planting a mint border around coops and garden areas is something I highly recommend because it does help detour rodents; dogs don’t like it either.

This sanctuary is also placed in a fenced area so make sure to check your fence line as this will help keep quail safe from predators.  Placing all types of quail housing in a fenced area is necessary.

Quail that live on the ground have a neat life, they’re allowed to use their instincts and thrive as God intended.  I love that!

This habitat is ready for quail, we just need some dry out time before welcoming a new flock at the grove.

Learn how to prepare a habitat for all quail. #QuailHabitat, #Quail, #Homestead

Difference between Oregano and Marjoram

The Difference between Oregano and Marjoram

I have this love for growing herbs and they truly are one of my favorite plants to have in the garden.

Every spring and sometimes fall I like to incorporate a new herb variety; back in February this began with Marjoram.

This herb was on my inventory sheet for several years but I wasn’t sure because it seemed very similar to oregano.  It didn’t take long to uncover the differences between oregano and marjoram beginning with taste.

Both are members of the mint-family; each one has a distinct scent and flavor that sets them apart.

The Taste of Oregano

The Oregano Taste

I’ve been growing oregano for years, it’s one of those perennial herbs that does well on its own and I normally have access to stems year-round, unless I trim to the base in the fall.

The flavor tends to be a little strong, say almost bitter and spicy at the same time.  It’s not very good by itself but wow does it ever add some amazing flavor to certain meals.

In my opinion oregano is best used as a fresh ingredient with slow cooked meals because those strong flavors penetrate perfectly, especially in tomato sauce.

I also enjoy fresh chopped oregano with cooked vegetables, salad dressings and I really like to incorporate in marinades for beef, chicken, lamb and pork.

Hymn, maybe I should begin sharing some of these recipes?

Taste between Oregano and Marjoram

Oregano and Marjoram Differences

Oregano and marjoram have some distinct differences.

They also have some similarities beginning with their leaves having that same oval flat shape.

The pair are very common among European dishes, considered a traditional ingredient.  I would never substitute one for the other because their taste if very different.

They also bloom circular floral spikes when temperatures are warmer making them both a neat addition to any garden.

At first glance they appear similar, but notice the stem texture and leaf appearance are not identical.

Even though these herbs both belong to the mint family, they differ in taste, appearance and texture.

Marjoram in the Garden

The Marjoram Taste

I fell in love with marjoram right away because its flavor is mild, sweet and delicate.  Which means I knew right away it would be fantastic with seafood and it’s really good fresh with light pasta or tuna salads.

With cooked meals I add it freshly chopped towards the end of a cooking period.

An example would be with grilled or baked salmon, drizzle a melted peppered lemon butter over the top and cook.  Then sprinkle fresh chopped marjoram towards the last couple minutes of cook time and enjoy.

This is so good!

Marjoram is also very easy to grow and for most climates further north it would be an annual.

I transplanted mine in February prior to a cold spell and it did amazing.  So, for gardeners down south you may be able to carry it over from one season to the next.

Don’t hesitate to welcome both oregano and marjoram in the garden because they can make a wonderful entrance in the kitchen through their distinct scent and flavor.

Herbs are wonderful and let's discover the difference between Oregano and Marjoram. #Herbs, #GardenTips

Learn How Earthworms Benefit the Garden

How earthworms benefit the garden

I’ve been gardening with worms since childhood and it’s taken me years to keep from cringing each time, I dig up a batch.  I should really be ecstatic but for whatever reason they make me a little queasy.

However, worms play an important role towards natural gardening because they recycle organic waste into a rich soil.

Earthworms are amazing cultivators and have the ability to create these underground passageways that allow air and water to reach plant roots.

Here at Quail Grove the worms are large and in charge.  When we say, “Everything is Bigger in Texas” this includes the worms!

Recently, Robert brought me this 2 ft. beauty to work in one of my newer raised beds.  He was so proud, and my queasy self just wanted to transplant it rather quickly.

With all the rainfall the worm activity has been grand and they’re making tunnels everywhere.

Earthworms love moist and warm soil so they’re living a good life out here.

Earthworms in Raised Beds

All of my raised beds are open to the ground because I like to encourage worm activity.  It’s like having underground helpers improve the soil on a regular basis.  I love that!

Earthworms offer several benefits beginning with this ability to create passageways I mentioned earlier.

They continuously travel seeking nourishment and at some point, if you want them to stay, they’ll need to be fed on a regular basis.  This is really easy to incorporate through Direct Composting.

Important Benefits of Earthworms:

  • Recycle organic waste into a rich soil.
  • Cultivate underground passageways.
  • Their activity allows air and water to get to the roots.
  • They turn food waste into fertilizer.

By allowing earthworms to enter your garden you can also decrease hours of labor.  What I’m saying is, you won’t need composting bins because organic waste can be added to the soil directly.

Some gardeners even implement the method of vermicomposting, which is container composting with worms.

I’ve never really understood this additional effort because why not just keep it all natural in your soil where everything is already growing?

earthworm benefits

How to Welcome Earthworms

To welcome worms you’ll want to avoid any deep tilling because this can damage their burrows.  Choose smaller beds that are taller referenced in my Startle Garden book.

These raised beds are easier to maintain and let me just say the worms love living in taller beds.  You may also enjoy reading no dig gardening.

Inviting earthworms is about creating a routine via direct composting because it works fast.  This is a matter of incorporating food waste directly into beds year-round.

This big 2 ft. worm that Robert brought over began digging immediately after being placed in a new location.  This is good because deep down there’s a nice source of organic waste he can devour.

Finally, don’t use any kind of pesticides because they will expire an entire worm population.  It’s just good practice to garden with nature because it allows you to grow your knowledge and the long-term results are incredible.

I’d like to encourage you to welcome the worms in your garden, let them do the work for you and turn your soil into a nice loam plants will love.

Learn how worms can benefit your garden with just a few simple applications. #GardenTips, #GardenWorms