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Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had flowers to give to a friend or to decorate your table?


Instead of heading out to the store for a generic bouquet, how about creating a lovely bouquet straight from your garden?


Now before you say that you don’t have any flowers suitable for a bouquet, think again.  


Here are several bouquets from my garden and a few from the family farm….


Isn’t this a lovely arrangement?

Believe it or not, the flowers in these vases all came from plants that many of you probably have in your own garden.

My mother created this arrangement using gold lantana (Lantana ‘New Gold Mound’), orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) and Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) flowers.  As you can see, it is beautiful, didn’t cost her anything and took minutes to create.


This is a bouquet that I created using flowers from my late winter garden.  Pink and white globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) coupled with Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) are a vision of pinks and purples.


I used a small pitcher to put cuttings of purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) and flowers from my cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco).


This antique milk of magnesia glass jar makes the perfect vase for sweet white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) , purple violas and pink bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) flowers.


Flowers aren’t the only thing from the garden that you can use to create a bouquet with.  

A mason jar filled with cut branches from a kumquat tree looks lovely on this table in winter.


Maybe your winter garden has no flowers.  Well, don’t let that stop you.  A small vase filled with seedpods and dried leaves from a Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) looks great on my mother’s diningroom table.


Perhaps you’ve never thought that petunias could look be used in a vase.  But, if you use a small, shallow bowl, they can add a beautiful spot of color on your table.


Of course, roses always make a lovely bouquet.

Bouquets created from items in your garden are a great way to add a personal touch of beauty to your space.

So, are you inspired to create your own unique garden bouquet?  Step outside in your garden and take a new look at your plants – you’ll probably be surprised at how many would look nice in a vase.

**How about you?  What plants would you use to create a bouquet with?

Have you ever been on live television?  


If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said “no”.  I had done some filming for “how-to” gardening videos for SheKnows.com – but they weren’t live and took place in my back garden.  Somehow, live TV is quite different.


Last time, I told you about my upcoming appearance on our local ABC station to talk about creative container gardening tips.  


Posing next to my newly-planted container filled with purple basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  White petunias add beauty to the pot.



This was the second time that I had been asked to appear on Sonoran Living, which is a local morning program.  

Last time I was on the show, I spoke about ‘Fuss Free’ Plants.  This time, I would be talking about  creative tips for container gardening.  


So, I went shopping for my ‘props’.  I decided to plant an herb container as well as a pot filled with vegetables and flowers.  I bought several medium-sized pots, a variety of potting mixes and of course, plants.


My sister came along with me to help with the props and setting up.  I had planted the pots ahead of time, so setting up wasn’t too difficult.

The main focus of the demonstration would be the three pots, the potting mixes and the recyclable grocery bag.

They tell you to bring a lot of props, which look good on television.  So, I brought gardening gloves, some hand tools and extra plants to help ‘set the stage’.  My microphone was there for me to put on and I was almost ready.

Finishing up planting my vegetable/flower container.

Last time I was on the show, mine was the first segment.  It went very fast and we were back on the road before the show was over.  

This time, I was to go last.  So after everything was set up, my sister and I were invited to wait in the staff break room.  

To say that I wasn’t nervous would be an exaggeration.  But, I was not as nervous as my first time.  It’s actually not as hard as doing a “how-to” video where you have to talk to the camera.  On the show, I am talking to a person who asks me questions so I don’t speak directly to the camera at all.  If you lose your train of thought, they are there to get you back on track.

Of the tips I shared on air – using recycled, plastic containers to fill the bottom of large pots as well as using a recycled grocery bag as a container were the most popular with the hosts.

I had a great time and hope to be invited back again.  

Below, is the link for my container gardening segment and at the end you see where I accidentally got involved in a conversation at the end about “Dancing With the Stars”.

I hope you enjoy it and come away with some helpful tips that you can use when creating your own container garden.

**You can view my first appearance on Sonoran Living where I talk about “Fuss-Free Plants” here.


Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall?
Will you use a ‘regular’ container?


Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…


 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂

One of the joys of gardening, is sharing it with others.


I have shared it with my kids and am now starting with my first grandchild, Lily.


Last week, we made a Valentine’s Day present for her mom and dad.


We started with a trip to the nursery…



We bought two types of flowers for a fragrant container – Stock and Alyssum.

I already had the pot, the potting soil and slow-release fertilizer – so we were good to go.


When I had planned to do this with Lily – I had counted on my husband being there to take pictures of us.  But, he had to leave at the last minute to take the dog to the vet (abscessed tooth – he’s okay now).

So, I had to take the photos myself, while making sure that Lily didn’t fall off the bench – hence the picture, above, of her sitting in my lap.

She seemed pretty steady on the picnic bench, so I let her sit by herself for a few seconds for this picture…


She did just great, but I did have to teach her not to pull the flowers off – I think that is first lesson that I have had to teach each of my kids.

When my daughter came over to pick her up later that day – Lily had a pretty container of flowers to give to her mom.

Lily is 15-months old and at a great age to start letting her accompanying me in the garden.

Next week, I think we will pull some carrots from the vegetable garden for her to take home.

My two oldest daughters, don’t have any special interest in gardening – although I did try my best.

My 15-year old daughter, Ruthie, loves the vegetable garden.  I hope that she will continue to enjoy gardening as she grows up.


How about you?  Do you like to garden with your kids or grandkids?

One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting antique stores with my mother.  We usually did this whenever we went on vacation.  My dad would stop the car whenever she saw a store that looked promising.

Now that I am an adult, my mother and I have fun visiting antique stores when we travel together.  I don’t have a lot of antiques myself, but I do have some special pieces.

Last summer, our family traveled to Prescott, which I blogged about back then in “Antique Junk for the Garden“.


 One of the pieces that I got was an old, antique watering can.
I had a vision of seeing it full of flowering annuals.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t plant in the summer because it was too hot for plants to survive in the container.  (It can be very hard to grow plants in smaller containers in summer because the outer 6 inches of soil is often too hot for roots to grow.
However, once fall arrived, I was ready to plant my new (old) container.  
First, I had to make some holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then I filled it with planting mix and then my annuals…
    
 I planted alyssum, violas and lobelia.  The watering can is now sitting in the middle of my vegetable garden.  I added a drip emitter, so my new container is watered whenever my vegetables are.
I must admit that I am quite pleased with how it turned out.
Have any of you used old, antique containers in the garden? 
Guess who went plant shopping!
Not me….
But, my mom did.
She went to buy her fall vegetables at Baker’s Nursery, which is a hugely popular nursery in Phoenix.
Since I knew was going, she kindly offered to buy the remaining plants on my list.
And as another example of how wonderful she is – she took my two youngest kids (Kai and Gracie) with her and treated them to lunch.
So, what did we get?
 Dill, Parsley and Thyme, which are herbs that will do well through the winter in my garden.
Green and Purple Leaf Lettuce that I will be growing in pots and in a very unusual place that I will share later.
 Lobelia and Alyssum, which are great flowering, low-growing annuals that I will use in a unique container.

Lots of Broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable.
I didn’t get the garlic from Baker’s Nursery.  I usually buy my garlic from my local grocery store and it works just fine.  Although, you can buy different varieties from online nurseries.

The last thing they bought were Petunias, which weren’t on my list.  But, my mother loves to help foster a love for gardening with her grandchildren.  
So, she let Kai and Gracie each choose a six-pack of flowering annuals.  They choose Petunias, which they planted just after they got home.


Okay, I admit that my son looks less then thrilled.  But to be honest, that is how he looks in most of his pictures now.  He really was happy – he spent a few hours with me helping me to plant everything.

Why is it that young boys get this ‘fake’ smile once they hit 5 years old and then later – it is almost like pulling teeth to get them to smile at all?
I promise to share with you the few different things we did with our ‘goodies’ from Baker’s Nursery over the next few posts 🙂


I have a major confession to make….


I am a total ‘plant nerd’.


When I mentioned that to my husband, he said “I already knew that” with a smile on his face.


I came upon this revelation when we visited Disneyland last week. 


I had my camera ready to take pictures of the kids enjoying themselves.  But, I found myself stopping to take photos of the beautiful plants, particularly the container plantings.


In the end, I had three times more photos of plants then of my kids….


But in my defense, it is easier to take photos of stationary plants then kids on moving rides (the pictures came out all blurry).

I do have some great container photos (and other plants) to share with you and some of the kids having fun….

Ivy pruned into a topiary surrounded by pansies.

I just love this color contrast, don’t you?

Creative use of different grasses and flowering plants.


Gracie and Kai having fun in ‘ToonTown’

If I had a pretty staircase like this one, I would put container plants along it too!

Icelandic Poppies and Alyssum


Camellias (they don’t do that well in the desert, but they are  pretty just the same).

A three-tiered Azalea

Gracie and Kai got ‘caught’ up in a fisherman’s net along California Adventure’s Fisherman’s Wharf

I love this planting shelf with herb-planted containers.

You don’t have to plant flowers for a pretty container.

Primulas are one of my favorite cool-season annuals.

Italian Cypress pruned into a spiral.

The kids ran into a storm trooper as well as Darth Vader & Darth Maul.

Strawberry Pot planted with succulents.

I love how the ivy trails down the sides of the container.

When we were walking into Disneyland, Gracie told us that the only character she wanted to meet was Mickey Mouse.







To her delight, she saw him three different times 🙂

A few days ago, you may remember my post about my uncontrolled container plants.

Well, I pulled out some of my excess Trailing Lantana, which can be used in other areas of my garden.
Then I cut back the remaining Lantana and my Sweet Potato vine.
At this point, things were looking much neater, if a little bare.
I only bought a few new plants since I decided to keep much of my existing perennials.
I purchased Alyssum because I love their sweet fragrance.
I also bought Johnny-Jump-Ups, which are little Violas that are native to Spain.
I remember growing them in my little garden as a child and I loved how easily they grew for me.
Lastly, I purchased two Lavender.  They make great container plants and I love their flowers.
And so I began….
First, I dug a hole for my Lavender and then as I was removing the container, I discovered that they were extremely root bound.
Root-bound plants aren’t uncommon and are a result of being in the container too long.  The roots start growing round and round since they can’t grow outward.
If you find yourself with a root-bound plant, it is easy to fix.
Here’s how…
You simply make cuts to the roots.  This forces the roots to stop growing around and around and makes them grow outward into the surrounding soil.
I used my hand pruners to make the cuts, but you can use strong scissors or even a box cutter.
After you make the cuts, you need to ‘work’ the root ball.  What I mean by this is give it a ‘massage’.  This helps to further loosen the root ball and will help your plant to transplant much more easily….
Now my Lavender is ready to plant.
So, you may be wondering what happens if you don’t cut and loosen the roots of a root-bound plant?  Well, the roots will tend not to grow out into the soil, where there is moisture and nutrients and you plant will not do all that well.
After I was finished planting, my containers looked nice a neat – but a bit bare.  It will take a couple of weeks for my plants to grow and cover the bare spots.
In my purple container, I planted a mixture of Johnny-Jump-Ups and Alyssum.
In my yellow container.  I planted one of my Lavender and pruned back my Sweet Potato Vine, which will grow back quickly.
My blue container has a Lavender and White Trailing Lantana growing.  I pruned the Lantana back but like the vine, it will grow fast.
**Although both the Sweet Potato Vine and my Trailing Lantana are susceptible to frost damage – they are protected because my containers are located underneath the overhang of my house.
 
You may be wondering why I don’t fill my pots with colorful cool-season annuals such as Petunias, Pansies, Snapdragons and Stock?
I was thinking about this the other day and I think it is because when I managed landscapes, I was responsible for thousands of colorful annuals being planted twice a year, keeping them alive, fertilizing them often and trying to keep them from being eaten by Javelina and rabbits.
I also know a designer who creates beautiful containers filled with both annuals and perennials every year…
Her name is Maggie and someday, I may even try to recreate one of her beautiful container designs in my own containers.
But for now, I am happy with my humble containers.
I will show you some good ideas for cool-season container plantings with lots of color in the next week.  (Just because I didn’t plant that many in my own garden doesn’t mean I don’t know how 😉
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Baby watch update:
Two days overdue.
I have a feeling it might come today, but then, I have been known to be wrong 😉
I’ll let you know!

You know what?  I just love this time of year.  The garden is full of colorful, blooming plants and all the brown, crispy frost-damaged growth has been pruned away.

That was what my husband and I did yesterday.  We finished pruning off all of the frost damaged growth and everything now looks so much better.

I spent some time out in my vegetable garden, which has some winter vegetables still growing as well as summer vegetables.  I will show you more about my vegetable garden soon.

Alyssum, Marigold and Bachelor’s Button growing in the vegetable garden.
What really caught my eye were my beautiful, flowering companion plants in the vegetable garden.  What are companion plants you may wonder?  Well, basically they are plants that attract beneficial insects to your garden and/or repel damaging insects, which decrease or even eliminate the need for pesticides.
Alyssum growing beneath a San Marzano tomato plant.
 I just love the fragrance and delicate beauty of alyssum.  It also attracts bees to my garden, which help to pollinate my summer vegetables.

Marigolds

 Marigolds are a powerhouse in terms of repelling damaging insects.  The fragrance of marigolds is just fine with me and I just love their bright flowers.
Finally, I have a new flowering plant in my vegetable garden, which is not listed on any companion plant list, but it is just beautiful and was given to me by my fellow blogger Grace, who lives in Oregon, and has a fabulous blog called Gardening With Grace.  She was kind enough to send me some after I admired it in her garden.

I planted it in the corner of my vegetable garden last October and it started flowering just a few weeks ago.

Pink Oxalis

I just love how the little pink flowers are borne on top of clover-like leaves, don’t you?  I’m not sure how it will do with the summer heat, but the unknown is something that has always attracted me to gardening.  I do hope that it does well.  

In the meantime, whenever I look at this beautiful little plant, I am so thankful for Grace’s generosity.

If you would like to learn more about companion plants, you can check out this earlier post, where I list quite a few beautiful, companion plants.
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I hope your week is going well.  I had a bunch of consults earlier this week, but now I have a chance to catch my breath and have fun writing again 🙂


Please check out my latest blog post over at Birds & Blooms.

All of us (I hope) have experienced the benefits of having a good friend.  A good friend is someone that you can enjoy good times with, but they are also there to lean on in times of trouble and provide support.


Well, don’t you think your vegetables deserve the same benefits that friendship offers?



Now at this point, some of you may be thinking that I have finally turned into a crazy plant lady…..seriously – vegetables need friends?  Well, the answer is yes.  Vegetables do best when special ‘companion’ plants are planted among them.

Okay, so what does a companion plant do?  Well depending on the kind of plant, they can repel damaging insects and/or attract beneficial insects.  If you add companion plants interspersed throughout your vegetables, they will be much healthier and you will have fewer headaches due to fewer insect problems.


Here are some of my favorites…..

Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), not only has a beautiful, sweet fragrance, but they also attract butterflies and ladybugs which are important pollinators.  Insects that eat mealybugs, scale, thrips and spider mites are also attracted to the alyssum and will help to keep those damaging bugs away.

 
Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus), also attracts pollinators that are so important to the formation of your vegetables.  They also attract insects that will prey upon damaging insects such as scales and thrips.
Now who doesn’t love the bright flowers of Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)?  Well your vegetables would love to be friends with them.  In addition to attracting insects that will feast upon mealybugs, Cosmos also serve a general deterrent to insects.

Pelargoniums commonly called Geraniums not only beautify your vegetable garden, but their distinctive smell deters many insects.

Anytime you encounter Lantana in full bloom, you may also notice butterflies hovering above, which serve as pollinators in the garden.  Lantana are also a magnet for the irritating whitefly.  By planting some Lantana in close proximity to your vegetables, the whiteflies will be so busy with the Lantana that they are more likely to leave your vegetables alone.  Try to think of it as a choice between eating an ice cream sundae or broccoli 😉

 I just love Lavender and now I have a reason to include it in my garden.  It serves as a great repellent for ants, aphids, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and silverfish.  In areas where I used to work, it was one of only 10 plants that the rabbits and javelina would leave alone.  Butterflies and bees do not seem to share the same aversion to Lavender…..they love it.
 
Petunia hybrids are a very popular flower and it is easy to see why with their large, bright flowers.  But they also make great companions for vegetables (& roses) as well because aphids do not like them and tend to stay far away.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) isn’t just for cooking.  When in flower, bees are attracted to this wonderful herb and will often stick around to pollinate your vegetable flowers (yes, vegetables do flower and need to be pollinated).  It is thought that the aromatic fragrance of the Rosemary messes with the ability of damaging insects to detect delicious plants in the vicinity.
Anyone who has grown Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), knows that bees are drawn to them.  Well, if you didn’t already know this…..bees are vital for a healthy garden.  Sunflowers also offer another benefit to the vegetable garden.  When planted on the west side of the vegetable garden, they will provide shade in the summer for your vegetable garden.
These are just a sampling of companion plants (and the only ones that I had pictures of).  There are many more wonderful companion plants:
 
Basil

Calendula
Catmint

Catnip
Chives

Coreopsis 
Dill

Fleabane
Marigold

Mint
Nasturtium

Sage
and 

Thyme
 
I currently have both Marigolds and Nasturtium growing inside my vegetable garden.  I am also (meaning my husband) in the midst of building a flower garden which will surround my vegetable garden.  I will include many of these companion plants as well as some purely ornamental flowers.

And so, if you have a vegetable garden that looks a little lonely, or if you are tired of the battle with damaging insects…..try bringing some ‘friends’ into your garden.  Your vegetables will thank you for it.