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perennial groundcovers

On 04, Sep 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

I can’t figure out the precise point when a fast spreading plant becomes a ground cover. Some, like ivy, periwinkle and the beautiful blue flowering plumbago in the picture, are quite obvious, others, like lily of the valley and sweet violets, take you by surprise, starting with a shy little clump in spring and filling the garden with their prolific progeny in one season.

I guess if we define as perennial ground cover any plant that fills up all the space it occupies, we can expand the list to include daylilies, beebalms, tickseed, irises, raspberry thickets and strawberry patches. Read more…

herbal cosmetics

I am surprised that yarrow is not used more often in skin care, because it can hold its own with calendula, lavender and chamomile. Yarrow has three qualities that make it useful for beauty regimens: it stimulates superficial circulation, it mends minor injuries and it is astringent.

This gentle cleanser is particularly useful for treating oily skin and hair, and yarrow tea makes an excellent toner or hair rinse. Way back in the day people even believed it to be a cure for baldness, but I wouldn’t go that far. Read more…

rain perfume

On 23, Aug 2017 | No Comments | In plants, scents | By All Year Garden

The hostas are in bloom, and much like last year, they are a sight to behold. You don’t know the true meaning of perfume until you experience the fragrance of hostas lingering in the humid evening air. They scent the rain.

The garden is full of them, it is their month, August, the time when they rule the flower universe. They rise, ghostly white, on slender stems, arching over the garden path here and there, asking for attention. As if there was any need for that!

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goldenrod

I always thought of goldenrod as a dyer’s plant and was surprised to learn that it has medicinal properties.

Its Latin name, Solidago, literally means “to make whole”, and puts goldenrod squarely in the wound healing category. It has other medicinal properties, too, mostly related to improving the kidney and circulatory functions.

Apparently it is edible, but I wouldn’t know about that and will refrain from testing this hypothesis on my long suffering stomach. Read more…

easy color schemes

Unless it was designed that way, it is kind of hard to impose a color scheme on an established garden, especially if you have a spontaneous personality type that succumbs to the charms of any special-special plant seeming to speak to you and you alone at the plant nursery, and have to bring it home despite the fact that it doesn’t fit into your existing garden design.

If you do have the discipline and willpower to stick to the plan, some color themes are easier to maintain than others, because nature itself designed them that way. For instance, a white, yellow and purple theme will last indefinitely; those are the colors wild flowers come in, these hues are part of a packet of dominant traits which impart on the plants resilience and adaptability.  White, yellow and purple perennials make for the most efficient color palette, they tend to live longer, need less maintenance and be healthier than the rest.
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perennial groundcovers

I can’t figure out the precise point when a fast spreading plant becomes a ground cover. Some, like ivy, periwinkle and the beautiful blue flowering plumbago in the picture, are quite obvious, others, like lily of the valley and sweet violets, take you by surprise, starting with a shy little clump in spring and filling the garden with their prolific progeny in one season.

I guess if we define as perennial ground cover any plant that fills up all the space it occupies, we can expand the list to include daylilies, beebalms, tickseed, irises, raspberry thickets and strawberry patches. Read more…

the fullness of summer

There is a time around the middle of July when the garden looks absolutely resplendent. It feels like every flower is in bloom, competing for attention. The late spring blooms haven’t faded yet and the some of the late summer ones decide to show up early, so there is a surreal mix of seasons that coexist in harmony before my very eyes: delphiniums, lilies, salvias, roses, daisies, bee balms, cone flowers, catmints, lavender, yarrow, spider flowers, black eyed Susans, day lilies, hostas, coral bells, and last, but not least, giant clumps of fragrant garden phlox.

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what a mess!

You will not believe the level of chaos nature can impose on a reasonably well tended garden in three weeks. It took the plants that long to look scary and me one week to salvage the back yard from the wilderness. Five foot tall weeds, cracked nutshells, broken branches, vines grown out of control, covering pathways, grabbing onto everything in sight and smothering their defenseless neighbors. And this is the extent of my whining. Seriously, it was offensive.

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how to grow herbs

You decided to start an herb garden? Here are a few tips. Most herbs like full sun (except a few, like mint and lemon balm) and a sweet soil that keeps moist but drains properly. If your soil is acidic, improve it with lime.

If you decide to grow a perennial herb garden, it is easier to start it from seedlings rather than seed, for two reasons. First, some of the perennial herbs, like rosemary and tarragon need to be started from cuttings anyway, germination is not always reliable and very young sprouts are vulnerable to anything from a late frost to dry spells or unseasonably warm weather. Read more…

about watering

Shortly after I took this picture a powerful summer storm started, and not a moment too soon, I was a bit worried because the plants were drooping.

I take this opportunity to mention that rushing to water your plants at the first sign of wilt will keep them from developing a strong root system and will not work out well for either the plants or the gardener in the long run. When the dog days of summer finally arrive you won’t be able to drench their shallow rooted systems enough to keep them alive. Read more…