Friday, February 27, 2009

Arbors-- Oh so lovely!


There is just not a more welcome site in a garden than an arbor. They capture you to look into some new world, a magical space just beyond. Okay, maybe that is a bit much.... but they are so wonderful in so many ways..... AND I DON"T HAVE ONE!


Rose Arbor



I have just the place, the perfect place actually. It is just outside my garage, just as the sidewalk begins. I have The Fairy Roses in a mature bed to be it's feet and loads of perennials on the other side. All I need is a few climbers and it would be spectacular!



But.... I just want it to be perfect, and I keep putting it off. Why? Well I just can't seem to find the perfect one, or at least the perfect one on sale...lol.





With so many things going on with our family I hate to spend a ton of money this year on garden accents. And I refuse to put one of the cheaper ones up and the weight of my vines tear it up in a few years.



I am actually thinking of having hubby build one. I need a small fence for my new kitchen garden and am thinking if I can get that project going I would like to have an arbor and gate with that bed and a matching one in the front yard.





But, I'm guessing any big projects might be on hold for a bit. Who knows what is happening with the economy, so it is a hard sell to do this "fu-fu" stuff this year. So until then I'll just dream.... and share some lovely ideas with you today.



First off, please visit these site for AWESOME arbor pictures and info on growing roses and other vines....

http://www.rose-gardening-made-easy.com/roses-on-arbors.html



(Wow is all I have to say, I would love to visit this garden)




Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did.

I watched the weather last night before bed and they said we could get up to an inch of snow today. But after this weekend it is suppose to warm up and keep in the mid 50's. I am thinking of getting my new beds ready and sprinkling some seed in a week or so. Is it still too early? Not the annuals, but perennial seed like foxglove, yarrow, columbine, and primrose.

I am so ready! Thanks for all the nice comments on my site. I have really enjoyed doing this blog, it is quite addictive!

Happy Gardening!

~Brooke



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Come Back Butterflies!



Each year that we have lived here I have been amazed at the number of butterflies we have in our garden. We live in a very rural setting with hardly any houses and open fields all around us. I have always had some sort of a garden, with plants that I thought butterflies would like, but out here it is a different story. I planted 7 or 8 butterfly bushes and up-teen perennials that they enjoy, and this year so many of them should be bigger and brighter for my visitors. I thought it might be neat to have some sort of idea when they might be coming back. So here is what I found online about Monarch Butterflies....



(The following info is from this site.... http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/ )

Spring migration begins in March, and an announcement comes from Mexico that the monarchs are on their way. After living off their fat reserves all winter, tens of millions of monarch butterflies head northward. With just a few weeks to live, they race to produce the next generation.

As the migration progresses from March through June, students predict the path the monarchs travel and map their journey north. They explore what scientists know about migration mysteries, and discover how much more there is to learn. They see the many risks the monarchs face and learn about conservation efforts underway to protect monarchs--on the wintering grounds and at points along the path.

To see where they are right now click here....

To learn when they should be in your area click here....

The Life Cycle(s) of a Monarch Butterfly



Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. It’s a little confusing but keep reading and you will understand. The four stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle are the egg, the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult butterfly. The four generations are actually four different butterflies going through these four stages during one year until it is time to start over again with stage one and generation one.



In February and March, the final generation of hibernating monarch butterflies comes out of hibernation to find a mate. They then migrate north and east in order to find a place to lay their eggs. This starts stage one and generation one of the new year for the monarch butterfly.



In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called the larvae. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow. After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so that it can start the process of metamorphosis.



The caterpillar will become wrapped up in a cocoon called the pupa, or chrysalis. It will stay wrapped in the pupa while it transforms into a butterfly. This process takes about ten days.



The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.



The second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.

The fourth generation of monarch butterflies is a little bit different than the first three generations. The fourth generation is born in September and October and goes through exactly the same process as the first, second and third generations except for one part. The fourth generation of monarch butterflies does not die after two to six weeks. Instead, this generation of monarch butterflies migrates to warmer climates like Mexico and California and will live for six to eight months until it is time to start the whole process over again.




It is amazing how the four generations of monarch butterflies works out so that the monarch population can continue to live on throughout the years, but not become overpopulated. Mother Nature sure has some cool ways of doing things, doesn’t she?

Our articles are free for you to copy and distribute. Make sure to give
http://www.Monarch-Butterfly.com credit for the article.



Another good source for information and images is here.

Now of course I cannot talk about butterflies without adding plants that attract them. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoy my butterfly bushes.



They are not a fancy addition to my garden, but do they ever put on a show. I have a bench where I can sit and watch the never ending show of visitors fluttering by. Mine are violet, dark purple and hot pink.... but I am looking for a white one this year too.

And of course Purple Coneflowers.....



I know almost all of us have these, but they are wonderful for the birds and butterflies. And easy to grow and cheap (or free) is a BONUS! If you do not have them, just ask just about any midwest gardner and they will have plenty to share.

Here is a pic from my garden of another good one.... Bee Balm.



I have red, my mom has the purple (must remember to get starts this spring) and there is other colors too. It spreads like crazy, but pretty in bloom and interesting smell too. Natural pest repellant they say, so I have it by my front porch to keep the bugs off. I don't know if it really works, but it is pretty to look at anyway.

Another one I love is yarrow....



This pick is from my garden by the front walk. The butterflies seem to like the very small flowers the best, wonder why. This is a constant bloomer for me and has fern like folage that is pretty even when not in bloom.



Here is a list of common plants and the butterflies they attract.

(I put a star on the ones I have in my garden or near my home.)


*Alfalfa- Eastern black swallowtail, orange sulphur, dogface, large wood nymph


*Aster- Checkered white, common & orange sulphur, question mark, painted ladies, red admiral, buckeye


*Black-eyed Susan- Great spangled fritillary, pearly crescentspot


*Butterfly Bush- Swallowtails, mourning cloak, comma anglewing, painted ladies, red admiral


*Daisy- Pearly crescentspot, red admiral, queen


*Dandelion- Cabbage shite, common sulphur, comma anglewing, red admiral


Dogbane- Spicebush swallowtail, checkered white, common & orange sulphur, gray hairstreak, spring azure, pearly crescentspot, mourning cloak, American painted lady, buckeye


*Goldenrod- Common & orange sulphur, gray hairstreak, American painted lady, red admiral, viceroy


*Lantana- Swallowtails, cabbage white, Gulf fritillary


*Lupine- Common blue


Marigold- Milbert's tortoiseshell, American painted lady


*Milkweed- Swallowtails, checkered & cabbage white, common & orange sulphur, gray hairstreak, spring azure, pearly crescentspot, common blue, great spangled fritillary, question mark, mourning cloak, painted ladies, red admiral, viceroy, monarch, queen


*Mint- Swallowtails, cabbage whie, gray hairstreak, painted ladies, red admiral, monarch, large wood nymph


Privet- Spring azure, painted ladies, red-spotted purple


*Purple Coneflower- Silvery blue, great spangled fritillary


*Queen Anne's Lace- Eastern black swallowtail, gray hairstreak


*Red Clover- Cabbage white, great spangled fritillary, painted ladies, red admiral


*Scabiosa- Painted ladies


*Sweet Pea- Gray hairstreak


Sweet Pepperbush- Spicebush swallowtail, question mark, American painted lady, red admiral


*Thistle- Swallowtails, dogface, Gulf fritillary, pearly crescentspot, Milbert's tortoiseshell, American painted lady, red admiral, viceroy, monarch


*Verbena- Great spangled fritillary


Winter Cress- Checkered white, gray hairstreak, spring azure, pearly crecentspot



Well.... I am out of time for today. Spring just cannot come soon enough, and these are just a few more reasons why.



Happy Gardening!!

Just for Laughs....Gardening Humor

These are all from the net. The art images below are by Andre Jordan. Please visit his site, A Way To Garden for more.... I LOVE THEM.











More to enjoy.....
God made rainy days, so gardeners could get the housework done.
Bulb: potential flower buried in Autumn, never to be seen again.- Henry Beard
Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.
The real meaning of plant catalog terminology:

"A favorite of birds" means to avoid planting near cars, sidewalks, or clotheslines.
"Grows more beautiful each year" means "Looks like roadkill for the foreseeable future."
"Zone 5 with protection" is a variation on the phrase "Russian roulette."
"May require support" means your daughter's engineering degree will finally pay off.
"Moisture-loving" plants are ideal for landscaping all your bogs and swamps.
"Carefree" refers more to the plant's attitude than to your workload.
"Vigorous" is code for "has a Napoleonic compulsion to take over the world."
"Grandma's Favorite" -- until she discovered free-flowering, disease-resistant hybrids.
A man should never plant a garden largerthan his wife can take care of. - T.H. Everett
Like a prune, you are not getting any better looking, but you are getting sweeter.- N. D. Stice

Two men were talking one day. "My wife asked me to buy ORGANIC vegetables from the market garden," said the first man.
"So were you able to find some?" the second man asked.
"Well when I got to the market, I asked the gardener, 'These vegetables are for my wife. Have they been sprayed with any poisonous chemicals?'"
The first man continued, "The gardener said: 'No, you'll have to do that yourself.'"

The woman applying for a job in a Florida lemon grove seemed way too qualified for the job. "Look Miss," said the foreman, "have you any actual experience in picking lemons?" "Well, as a matter if fact, yes!" she replied. "I've been divorced three times.

One spring morning, my husband and I were in the garden looking at the flowers he had just planted. As luck would have it, a bird flew over us leaving his calling card on my clean white shirt.
When I showed my husband, he didn't miss a beat and said, "You know, Dear, they sing for most folks."

I used to impale the heads of door-to-door sales people on pikes in the garden as a warning to others ... until I learned that it's bad Feng Shui.
Once there was a beautiful woman who loved to work in her vegetable garden, but no matter what she did, she couldn't get her tomatoes to ripen. Admiring her neighbor's garden, which had beautiful, bright-red tomatoes, she went one day and inquired of him his secret.
"It's really quite simple," the old man explained. "Twice each day, in the morning and in the evening, I expose myself in front of the tomatoes and they turn red with embarrassment."
Desperate for the perfect garden, she tried his advice and proceeded to expose herself to her plants, twice daily. Two weeks passed and her neighbor stopped by to check her progress. "So," he asked. "Any luck with the tomatoes?"
"No," she replied excitedly. "But you should see the size of my cucumbers!"
No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

A husband is someone who takes out the trash and gives the impression that he just cleaned the whole house.

A smart husband buys his wife very fine china so she won't trust him to wash it.

Did you hear about the new household cleaner just on the market called "Bachelor?" It works fast, and leaves no ring.

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

Top Ten Signs You Have Gone Over the Garden Edge.....

10. Your favorite poem is "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.
9. Your kids are named Rose, Violet, Daisy and Zucchini.
8. You have 8 X 10 family pictures of your Tomatoes and Peppers on your office shelf.
7. Your idea of Saturday Date Night is going out in the garden and hand pollinating the plants.
6. You think a cocktail is liquid fertilizer.
5. You rush home from work and go straight to the garden and hug your roses. (Ouch!) Then, you go in to your house and see you family.
4. On Christmas Eve, visions of "Sugar Peas" dance in your head.
3. After the first frost, you are seen holding funeral services in your garden.
2. You take your kids multiple vitamins from them to use as a supplement to your plants fertilizer.
And, the number one sign that you have gone over the garden edge is..
1. Every Spring your family files a "Missing Person's" report. You remain missing all summer, and mysteriously re-appear in the fall.

Gardening's Better Than Sex
Here are the top reasons why gardening is better than sex:

#25 - Gardeners are not embarrassed explaining the birds and the bees to their kids.
#24 - If your regular gardening partner isn't available, he/she won't object if you garden with someone else.
#23 - It's absolutely acceptable to garden before you're married.
#22 - The Ten Commandments don't say anything against gardening.
#21 - You don't have to shower and shave before gardening.
#20 - You'll always be able to garden, no matter how old you are.
#19 - You'l never hear anyone say: "Is gardening all you ever think about?"
#18 - You don't have to hide your Gardening magazines.
#17 - Telling gardening jokes, and invite co-workers to garden with you is not considered workplace harassment.
#16 - Email with gardening content is not considered offensive material.
#15 - When you become famous, you don't have to worry about pictures and videotapes of you gardening being shown on the Internet.
#14 - Your gardening partner doesn't get upset about people you gardened with a long time ago.
#13 - It's perfectly respectable to enjoy gardening with a total stranger.
#12 - When you see a really good gardener, you don't have to feel guilty about imagining the two of you gardening together.
#11 - Every time you garden, you hope to produce fruit.
#10 - Nobody will ever tell you that you will go blind if you garden by yourself.
#9 - When dealing with a gardening pro, you never have to wonder if they're really an undercover cop.
#8 - You don't have to go to a sleazy shop in a seedy neighborhood to buy gardening stuff.
#7 - You can have a gardening related calendar on your wall at the office.
#6 - There are no gardening-transmitted diseases.
#5 - No one objects if you watch the gardening channel on television.
#4 - Nobody expects you to garden with the same person your whole life.
#3 - Nobody expects you to give up gardening if your partner loses interest.
#2 - You don't have to be a newlywed to plan a vacation primarily to enjoy your favorite activity. #1 - Your partner will never say, "Not again? We just gardened last week! "
When gardeners garden, it is not just plants that grow, but the gardeners themselves. - Ken Druse

Always try to grow in your garden some plant or plants out ofthe ordinary, something your neighbors never attempted. For you can receive no greater flattery than to have a gardener of equal intelligence stand before your plant and ask, "What is that?" - Richardson Wright
These were not by my.... just gathered on the net for you to enjoy and me to keep somewhere that I could find them again!
Happy Gardening!





Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh how I love NATIVES!


There is nothing better than a good deal. I'm the first one to admit, I'm a cheap Gardener. Yep, if there is a deal out there, I will find it, or die trying. Which is why the idea of using native plants is ideal for my garden. Well... one of the reasons at least. You see where I live is a bit different than most of my area. Our ground was surface coal mined about 30 years ago. So my soil is a blend of clay, rock and who knows what. Before we built the house we had a nice 6 inches of topsoil everywhere. But then we dug a basement and chopped off about 10 foot off the top of the hill, moving the dirt to level out my front yard, what we ended up with is a bit of a mystery.

All in all, the garden was not at the top of our list at first (shocking I know). The house, the view etc were most important... and I knew I would have to build up beds and amend soils anyway. So the first few areas I worked on we're carefully planted and "good dirt" added just so.... Then of course, I wanted "MORE!!!" and planted here, there and everywhere. And actually, things are doing fine. Luck, good fertilizer and lots of mulch I guess. But no longer am I buying topsoil and back filling before planting. (Unless of course I buy something with special needs). Anyway, back to what I was suppose to post about.....


Why natives?


It's common sense, if it grows in a fence row with no watering..... it has a good chance of growing in my yard. Period. I have two kids, two dogs, somewhat of a job.... and I need some things that will just "coast" in my garden. No special treatment, just keep on the show season after season.



When you really think about it, most all things in all our yards are natives. Just not to all our zones. I live in the Midwest and have been fascinated by wildflowers ever since I was a child.

I loved Queen Anne's Lace......




and Native Daylilys......


So last fall I got on "Old Red" my four-wheeler and brought a good shovel and some 5 gallon buckets and roamed around my house and neighbors pastures. We are blessed with good friends that have livestock and farms and let my roam wherever I please. And of course dig up what I find... "Less we have to mow..." Anyway, I cannot wait to see what comes back this year and how it does. I have an area about 30 ft by 4 ft of Native Daylily that is 3 years old now and filling in nicely. I have a good section of Queen Anne's Lace that is established too. My new ones this year will be (if they make it....) ---


Joe Pye Weed for my butterflies.... I found this near our lake and planted it about 30 feet from my garage on a hill. So pretty and TALL.... blooms late summer (I think!) I also found.....


Butterfly weed, it is a bright orange and I have it near my mailbox.


Red Clover, although I did not plant it, we have this everywhere here, and I think it is pretty. It grows by the road in a ditch that cannot be mowed.



Thistle-- this is another that I did not plant, but is growing down by our lake. It is pretty from a distance, but invasive and troublesome. But you can see big waves of purple going down the road and it is this plant in bloom here.



Sweet peas! Yes, they grow in fence rows here and I have tried to move them and they die every time. I will start some from seed this year. But you see pink and purple colors popping up in the weeds around here. The farmers hate them! But I think they are so pretty and sweet.



Swamp Rose Mallow, and yes, ours looks just like this.... It is EVERYWHERE down by our lake and kind of a pain, but so pretty for about a month. But is gets eaten so bad by bugs and is not a very pretty plant up close. I have another nursery Mallow and it is much better for the flower border.





This is it from last summer. It is not invasive (I hope!)




Fleabane, I never really knew what this was called...but it grows here. Not in my beds, but out in the fields.






Mistflower, this also grows down by the lake. Ours is a bit more purple, I may have the wrong plant, but very similar looking.



Trumpet Vine, this is invasive and grows like crazy in small trees around here. We have it growing in the front yard up a "junk tree". I like it, but hubby threatens to pull it out every spring....



Blue Eyed Grass....Not a grass at all, but rather like a tiny delicate iris. Flowers range from blue to purple Up to 14" tall. I was silly enough to buy this last year, then found it growing in my yard one day. It is so pretty and delicate.

And last but not least.... my favorite....


Bearded Iris, yes, you can find these growing near old home sites. I love mine and I found my purple ones at the end rows of a bean field. (Of course not all of mine we're free!)

I have enjoyed putting these pictures together. It makes me miss summer and all the lovely surprises we find. I know I left out spring bulbs that grow wild.... I have lots of those too, but I'll save that one for another time. Hope I might have given you an idea or two. Most of these plants are excellent performers in the Midwest and you can even find them at the nurseries, but I got news for them.... I got mine for free!!!




Happy gardening.... and explore your own backyard! You never know what you'll find!