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Entries in garden (3)

Thursday
Aug162012

Attracting BUTTERFLIES and HUMMINGBIRDS to your balcony

Late summer brings many outdoor pleasures, but two of my favorite things that turn up this time of year are butterflies and hummingbirds. Our annual big butterflies like monarchs and swallowtails typically begin to arrive in July and August. Hummingbirds have been flitting around since April, but some of their favorite flowers are blooming now.

If you have a sunny, protected spot in your yard or on your balcony, consider building your very own butterfly and hummingbird container to attract these colorful creatures. You can do a mix of annuals and perennials for a longer show.

Butterflies favor flowers high in nectar production such as verbena, milkweed and lantana. Hummingbirds are attracted to red and blue tubular blossoms where they can sip nectar with their long tongues. They love salvia, fuchsia and lobelia. You can create a mix of colors and textures to attract both species. Consider annual coleus for its big, bright, colorful leaves, but allow it to flower instead of pinching back. Mix in some perennials such as sunset hyssop, coneflower and black-eyed Susan for added nectar sources.

If you choose annual or perennial milkweed, check your leaves frequently. Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on plants in the milkweed family and you may get a caterpillar or two! Raising caterpillars and watching them transform into chrysalises then butterflies can be a magical experience, especially for your little gardeners.

 

Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.

Monday
Jun252012

Tips for making your HERB garden GROW

Herbs can liven up any meal, from breakfast to dessert. A sprinkle of chives in scrambled eggs adds a dash of bright onion flavor, while a sprig of mint in your ice cream can make it even more refreshing. If you've been reluctant to grow your own, remember that herbs are easy to grow, making them a great plant for novice gardeners.

 

How to Grow

Herb growing is a practically foolproof prospect, and the results come quickly. There are a few tips to keep in mind, however:

1) Most herbs thrive in sun, so you’ll need a space that gets at least six hours of sun.

2) You can grow herbs in pots or in the ground. If in containers, keep them evenly moist, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. If you are growing indoors, your herbs may require more water due to air conditioning’s lack of humidity.

3) In general, herbs do not require much fertilizer, if any, and if you do fertilize, it can change the flavor of the foliage. Of course there are some exceptions, so read your plants’ growing instructions.

 

 

What to Grow

Most of us are familiar with basil, rosemary and mint. This summer, why not try something new? Experiment with fresh herbs in your cooking, but remember they are much stronger fresh than dried, so a little can go a long way. Here are some perennial herbs that are staples in my garden and in our pantry.

Greek oregano: A spreading perennial, its strong woodsy flavor is ideal for Italian dishes.
Lavender: Its beautiful blooms and buds are delicious added to pound cake or frozen into ice cubes to dress up your iced tea
Sage: A classic for pork, but try stuffing a roasting chicken with sage and onions for a succulent flavor.
Summer savory: Similar to thyme, but stronger, it is excellent with poultry, pork and in pasta salad
Tarragon: Essential to classic French cooking, its anise flavor is wonderful with meaty fish, chicken salad or roasted meats.

 

Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.

Wednesday
May302012

FRAGRANT Flowers for Summer GARDENS

Summer means enjoying the outdoors on our patios, decks and yards. You've probably thought about how you want your outdoor space to look, but don't forget about delighting your sense of smell. This summer, consider plants that are not only colorful, but also fragrant. Here are some suggestions to scent your summer:

Alyssum

This low growing tiny-leaved plant can be used in beds, containers or window boxes for a long season of spicy fragrance in full sun to part shade. It blooms in shades of white, lavender and purple and may reseed itself. The white blossoms can be especially nice in a moonlit or after work garden.

Gardenia

A sentimental favorite of mine because it was my prom corsage, the white waxy flowers of gardenia will perfume the air in all directions. In our area, they prefer part sun and a rich, organic soil with some moisture retention. Gardenias love humidity and acidic soil can be found frequently in tree form.

Heliotrope

An heirloom favorite of the Victorians, heliotrope has a sweet, strong fragrance and blooms purple or white. Remove spent blooms to keep it flowering all summer in full sun to part shade. It prefers a rich soil, so give it an extra boost of slow-release fertilizer.

Nicotiana

Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco, releases its sweet scent from trumpet-shaped flowers at dusk. Another plant ideal for the evening or after work garden, it blooms in white, green and a range of pinks. Nicotiana likes full sun to part shade and can be fairly drought tolerant. It will sometimes reseed and can be anything from six inches to three feet in size.

Scented geranium

Not all fragrance can be from flowers! For a fragrant foliage plant with tiny flowers, try scented geraniums. With a huge range of foliage colors and fragrance reminiscent of rose, fruit or spice, they also make a good houseplant. Plant them in full sun and brush the leaves to release their scent. Leaves are edible and may be used in jellies, sauces, teas, or dried for a long-lasting potpourri.

 

Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.

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