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the daily gardener

urban beekeeping

On 07, Mar 2012 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

For all bee keeping enthusiasts out there, here is a photo in anticipation of spring. Given the limitations of living in dense communities, not many of us can experience the joy of seeing the friendly industrious bees hard at work, although believe it or not, it can be done. Read more…

waiting for spring

On 12, Feb 2012 | 2 Comments | In the daily gardener | By All Year Garden

I was browsing through some gardening books to get ideas for perennial plantings and I got lost in the world inside them, among abundant flower beds with blooms in every color Read more…

glass fairy

My daughter picked this ornament during one of our trips to Michigan, when we visited the Bronner Christmas Store. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, let me tell you that it is the largest Christmas store in the world, and most importantly, one that is open all year round. Read more…


A delicate curtain of blue trumpets is gracefully draping the pine tree, vines hanging loosely from the branches, double looping around themselves, weaving in both directions to create a blue and green fall coat for an evergreen tree. Read more…


At this time of year the garden pretty much takes over from the stubborn gardener who is just wasting effort trying to put some neatness and order into the jumbled mess of falling leaves, dried stems, popping seed heads and perennials preparing for winter. Read more…

butterfly farming

On 08, Aug 2011 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Did you ever wonder where the butterflies from butterfly houses and butterfly gardens come from? A small group of farmers dedicate their efforts to raising them for conservatories, weddings, anniversaries and many other special events. Read more…


Ladybugs are the gardener’s best friend. They are pretty, eat aphids and are always hungry. Their babies, the larvae, have a voracious apetite too. One ladybug can eat up to 5000 aphids a day. Their colorful polka-dotted half domes say to predators “I’m poisonous”, even though they are not, really. When stressed, they secrete a small amount of blood, which is yellowish and foul smelling and tastes really bad, so predators tend to avoid them.

Did you know that ladybugs were sent into space with the NASA space shuttle in 1999? Four ladybugs went on the space shuttle as part of a study on the effects of low gravity.

If you don’t have them, you can buy them, believe it or not. My daughter raised some as pets in a terrarium and released them in the garden when they became adults. If you buy ladybug larvae, a word to the wise, they are lively little creatures and will scatter faster that you can catch them. Don’t open the terrarium unless you absolutely have to. They need plenty of moisture and feed on a diet of chopped raisins. If they like your garden, they’ll stay, hopefully. They live 2 to 3 years and lay plenty of eggs.

If you find some in your home during the winter, don’t stress them out, they will not multiply and will go outside as soon as the weather warms up.

computerized greenhouse environmental controls

On 24, Jul 2011 | No Comments | In innovation | By All Year Garden

I was looking for greenhouse heating and cooling and I ran into this website about Greenhouse Climate Control Systems. It is unbelievable how an entire greenhouse operation can be completely automated, from temperature and humidity control to shade and louver operation, watering, fertilizing and residual water filtration.

A little wall mounted touch pad the size of a thermostat puts greenhouse environmental controls at your fingertips. Multiple computer programs allow for detailed customization of greenhouse operation.

summer nights

After the fireflies go to sleep and the last purple glow dies on the horizon the soft breath of the garden blends fragrances and sounds. Very tall flowering tobacco, eerie in the moonlight, gathers night moths with irresistible force. White flowers that are unassuming during the day gain unexpected importance in the night garden by reflecting the sparse and diluted rays of moonlight.

A nightingale’s song turns the most banal summer planting into a magical land of make believe. Old forgotten childhood tales of Saint John’s Eve come back to memory. The story goes that on the night of June 24th all plants are granted special gifts, including the ability to walk and talk, so they can travel to attend an annual congregation where their beauty, fragrance and healing qualities are renewed.

I walk the familiar path knee deep in plant lore, every step so many times repeated that I could do it in my sleep, reaching out to move a low branch before it brushes against me, careful not to step on overgrowing myrtle that blends in the darkness. It smells like petunias and southern magnolia flowers.

The night garden is peacefully at rest.

green living walls

On 23, Jun 2011 | One Comment | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Most of us consider vine covered brick a living wall and wouldn’t conceive of the picture above if it wasn’t shown to us. While the green roof is an old but somewhat logical idea, (after all every urban dweller can see the benefits of creating a roof garden), planting a vertical wall is a gravity defining challenge for both architects and horticulturists. How do you keep the dirt from running off, the plants from growing scraggly and the water from infiltrating into the building? It is not easy, but it is possible. If you are curious about the typical structure of such planted walls, please check out the Biotecture website, for instance.

What are the benefits of living wall systems? For dense urban environments, processing of air pollutants and additional oxygenation alone would be enough, but add to this reduction in storm water runoff, heat island effect improvement (the living walls reflect only 20% of the absorbed heat), great insulating qualities, (especially related to heat loss due to convection) and overall air quality improvement and you got a winning combination.

For a scaled down, approachable and eminently residential version of the living wall system Meet Wolly, the “grow your plant in a pocket” wall mat.

These systems can be installed on any structurally sound wall and the type of plantings available is surprisingly broad. There you have it: if you run low on gardening space, please fill free to start planting the walls.