Mason Bees: Great Pollinators and Polite House Guests

Mason Bees: Great Pollinators and Polite House Guests

Posted on Mar 05, 2020 | by Kerry Kelley

Most of us know by now that bee populations are in dangerous decline. Concerned gardeners have responded with increased interest in pollinator gardens, native plants, and organics, and in the chemical “friendliness” of purchased plants—wanting to be sure they’re safe for their busy little guests. It takes a little research, but it’s simple enough and something we all can do. Then I saw that some folks even set up “bee motels,” with nesting tubes for certain species, like mason bees. That got me curious. I mean, I love bees as much as the next gardener, but why would one go through all that without the prospect of at least getting some honey out of it?


Easy Flowers That Wow From Seed: #1 Flowering Vines

Easy Flowers That Wow From Seed: #1 Flowering Vines

Posted on Feb 01, 2020 | by Kerry Kelley

It’s been a long time since I started plants from seed, but after taking a tree down this year and opening up some new sunny spots, I’m excited to try some again. That tree unfortunately removed a lot of cover for the birds, so I thought I’d grow some annual vines up the fence since my newly planted shrubs are still small. Having also put up a new Monet Arch, I’m anxious to get something growing on it while the grapes I planted get started. And, since we have these new Go-Grow Kits here, it’s the perfect time to share my fun with you!


The Winter Garden: From Dull to Dazzling

The Winter Garden: From Dull to Dazzling

Posted on Jan 03, 2020 | by Kerry Kelley

Your garden doesn’t have to spend the colder months dull and dreary. If your winter view is lacking a little magic, then add some sparkle with plants that shine when the temperatures take a dive.


How to Beautify an Outdoor Eyesore

How to Beautify an Outdoor Eyesore

Posted on Oct 23, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

You’ve dreamed, you’ve planned and you’ve planted. You’ve watered, mulched, and mowed. Your grass is lush and green, your beds and borders vibrant, and your walkways and patio an elegant tapestry in stone. Yet each time you look out the window to admire your grand design, there’s that one thing….that one permanent disfigurement that constantly draws your gaze. Oh, how you hate that unsightly sewer pipe (or well pump, air conditioning unit, heat pump, transformer, cable box, trash cans-take your pick)! But what can you do?


Fall Pruning is NOT a Thing!

Fall Pruning is NOT a Thing!

Posted on Oct 02, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

Fall is here—a great time to get out in the garden again. Unfortunately, the cooler temperatures herald an onslaught of gardeners hacking away at every bush and tree, figuring it’s time to trim that hedge and shape those bushes. Well, I have one word for them—STOP! Hate to break the bad news, but if the pruning hasn’t been done by now, chances are it will do more harm than good. Granted, most folks don’t know when to prune, so they just do it when it’s most convenient. Of course, they’ll be the ones wondering why those azaleas aren’t blooming in the spring.


Fall Garden Combos

Fall Garden Combos

Posted on Sep 12, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

There's just something about fall.  It announces its changes in more subtle ways than spring.  No bursting through the earth, no popping of buds, no boisterous chorus of songbirds.  No, the onset of fall signals a gentle slowdown, a time when nature prepares to rest--contemplative, almost bittersweet. And yet, there's an undercurrent of excitement, as preparations for survival must be made.  It's a time of renewal, but in a more profound, mysterious way.  Spring announces, "I'm here, I made it."  Fall wonders, "Where will I be?" Despite all that subtlety, fall is not muted in terms of color--the magical transformation of green into gleaming gold, searing red, and vibrant orange is a thrill to behold.  Capturing that excitement in your garden is one of the joys of the season.  After all, summer's pretty planting of pink petunias and white bacopa seems a little lackluster in the golden autumn light, no matter how well grown.  So why not get in step with the season, and freshen up those pots?  It's really pretty simple, and you don't have to empty them out and start over. And, you can include plants that you will enjoy until the buds start popping in spring.


Gardening Responsibly:  Pest and Insect Control

Gardening Responsibly: Pest and Insect Control

Posted on Aug 16, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

Gardening certainly has evolved in recent years. Once upon a time, who cared about needing an arsenal of plant pharmaceuticals and fertilizers in the shed, how much water we used to keep those beds full of annuals pretty, or where our seeds or tomato plants came from? These days, it's not so easy. Before we indulge our planting passion, there are many ethical dilemmas we must overcome, regarding the use of chemicals, fertilizers, and even which plants we choose. A few state and local governments have made some of those choices for us, but there are still questions that seem to have different answers, depending on who's answering. Over the course of this series, we'll look at some of issues we're wrestling with, and what we can choose to do.


July 2019--Underused Perennials and Shrubs

July 2019--Underused Perennials and Shrubs

Posted on Jul 09, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

One of our readers asked us to recommend some plants that were less commonly used, so I thought about my time in retail garden centers and the great plants that really needed a push to leave the bench. It wasn't a lack of showy flowers, or a wimpy constitution that made them invisible--they just didn't have the name recognition that prompts confidence. Folks seem a little afraid of something "new." If they haven't seen it planted all over the neighborhood, they tend to be unsure as to how well it will do for them. Here in Maryland, our sunny gardens seem full of black-eyed Susans (well, it IS our state flower), May Night salvias, purple coneflowers, Knockout roses, hydrangeas, Miscanthus (maiden grass), and dwarf fountain grass. The usual culprits for foundation plantings are azaleas, Manhattan euonymous, and Japanese hollies. And there's nothing wrong with any of those--by and large, they're sturdy and relatively low-maintenance. But now and again, isn't it nice to be just a little different? If you're going to put in the time and effort, it's worth making a unique space that sets you just a bit apart. So be not afraid, and use these recommendations as you see fit:


Buzzing and Humming

Buzzing and Humming

Posted on Jun 15, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

Buzz Off, Skeeters! Is this how it seems you need to spend your summer, wrapped in protective netting whenever you go outdoors? Are you constantly slapping at those bothersome mosquitoes buzzing 'round your head? If not, thank your genetics, and consider yourself lucky. As for me, I had just about given up trying to spend a pleasant evening out of doors, and hiking in my favorite bird-watching spots was out of the question. These days, it's not just itching and irritation we have to worry about. While not common, with West Nile, Zika, and even malaria and dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes in the US, those bites can be downright dangerous. So what are we outdoorsy types to do besides swaddle ourselves with netting, or cover ourselves with (EPA-approved, but still) chemicals?


Beyond the Spike: Sensational Thrillers for your Containers

Beyond the Spike: Sensational Thrillers for your Containers

Posted on May 15, 2019 | by Kerry Kelley

Ok, I admit it. I have a love-hate relationship with the spike. Yes, sometimes it's just the thing you need to perfect that design. They're easy to grow, easy to find, and blend well with almost everything. But ugh, it's like building one more Starbucks on the block--yes, it's good, but ubiquitous. If you've ever looked at your spike plant with less than fervent adoration, perhaps these plants might stir you.





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