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plants

all about roses

Whether rose pruning is best done in the fall or spring is a matter of preference. I usually leave it for spring, for some reason I feel the plants will fare better over the winter if they keep the growth from the previous year. If you do choose to prune before winter, do so, keeping in mind that you’ll have to go back to them in spring and clean out any canes that had suffered winter damage.

For the roses which need regular pruning, which do not include most of the once blooming roses and the climbers, keep three or four canes, that are sturdy enough but steel green and not woody, and trim them down to one third of their length. Read more…

how to care for bulbs

When you plant bulbs, whether that happens in fall or spring, don’t forget to mix in a good measure of bone meal into the dirt, to help them set in and give them some food for the first year. Other than that, bulbs don’t need a lot of care.

Because they are usually sprinkled among other perennials, they benefit from the regular feedings and waterings that happen throughout the summer. Don’t cut off their unsightly yellowing leaves after their bloom is spent, they still need them to feed the roots for the following season. Read more…

lunaria

On 02, Nov 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

Speaking of plants for shade, this one kind of is, if you want to call shade the sunlight dappled through a rare tree canopy. Honesty is a biennial plant, but much like the long lasting hollyhocks, it reseeds enough to maintain its presence in the same spot for many years.

I never planted this flower in full sun, so I don’t know how it would behave there, but it performs reliably in part shade and on the north side of the garden. This one is white, but the plant comes in white and purple, like most wild flowers do. Read more…

almost time for bulbs

I really need to pick and plant spring bulbs, it’s been so warm so late into the fall that I almost forgot about them. They can be planted any time before winter, as long as the ground is not frozen. I have some pretty daffodils that I planted in the middle of December as proof of that.

There are a few good gardening practice rules that ensure the success of bulbs, even though they’re pretty forgiving plants and will do well anyway. Read more…

garden planning

On 25, Sep 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

The weather is fickle, leaning on the side of bright and sunny right now. It rained hard yesterday, and the sky was so dark it looked like dusk in the middle of the afternoon. Sunshine, rain, sunshine again.

The temperatures rose and fell with the moisture levels, trying to stabilize into a more seasonally appropriate range. The days are too short already, passing by faster than the leaves carried by the wind, and in the middle of a somewhat uncoordinated schedule I almost missed the spring bulb planting. Read more…

opal basil

Speaking of purple plant pigments, the ones in opal basil are responsible for turning aromatic vinegars a beautiful shade of rose, I always look forward to preparing them during the summer.

For all of us who enjoy this lovely plant it will come as a shock that the Greeks believed the herb to be driving men to madness. It is associated with the basilisk and folk tales say one needs to curse and rant when planting it in order for it to grow, because it embodies hatred and anger and it’s born of scorpion’s poison.

Read more…

herb harvesting

For a good part of the summer the house is strewn with bunches of herbs hung up to dry. The children disapprove. The cat is reluctant to approach them. The surface below them gets messy.

I keep gathering the fragrant greens, excited by their fast growth in June, and tend to put off grinding and storing them in jars, a task which gets tedious after ten minutes.

By the time I finally resign myself to processing them, the bunches are crunchy and the herbs release their scent freely when crushed, trying to assert their flavors from a distance. The kitchen smells like mint, then thyme, then dill, then lovage, while, slowly, the jars get filled, labeled and stored neatly on the shelves in the pantry. Read more…

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!

Read more…