Bloglikes - Gardening en-US Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:57:17 +0000 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter How to use an Instant Pot to germinate garden seeds

If you're temporarily tried of making meals in your multicooker, you can use it to create a self-contained greenhouse-like environment to germinate seeds for your garden. Along with the Instant Pot and seeds, you'll need a plastic Ziploc bag, paper towel, sharpie, strainer, potting containers, soil, and a pie plate/casserole dish and lid (optional). — Read the rest

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 13:57:31 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Post Gardening News Plants Instant Pot
I cleaned up my garden. Fight me.

Spring in Western New York is fleeting, maybe just a little bit more than a state of mind. The actual gardening season from early summer to mid-fall is more substantial, but still short enough. The other day, our Facebook gardening group got this private message: “Am I evil for clearing away leaf litter and dead branches before temps get reliably to 50 degrees? Some advice says consistently 50 during the day and some say overnight temps of 50. Gardening season is short enough as it is, and following this rule seems excessive.”

Leaf debris works fine here.

“Am I evil?” EVIL?  No, she is not evil—I know her personally and she’s a kind, intelligent person. Her lovely garden is filled with native plants, as well as others, and, like me, she does no fall cleanup, with seedheads left up for whomever may want to avail themselves. But the 50 degree rule is a bit harsh for our zone. A lot of the time, you can’t even count on that in June—not at night, anyway—and by then, you really should have had the garden in shape, if you care about it at all. Nongardeners would have the advantage here, I suppose, but I find that nongardeners tend to value neatness more and would neither know nor care about any 50 degree rule.

Not so much here.

These edicts tend to show up as memes on social media and they are having an effect. I think this is, overall, a good thing. We should be sensitive to the needs of pollinators, and many are unaware of the lifecycles of the insects who share their gardens. But compromise is necessary. I have many reasons for keeping a garden, but one of my main sources of joy is the emergence of perennials and bulbs, like the species tulips shown above and at top—my only color in a front area that is all shade in the summer—in the early season. I can’t see them if they’re buried under leaf litter and other debris. It has to be cleared away at some point and, in my small urban space, there’s nowhere to hide it. It gets picked up for composting. I’ll do my best in other ways—no spraying obviously, the use of natives, and dense plantings that are left up through winter. Otherwise, at some point, there will be cleanup, and it will be earlier than some creatures may prefer. I had to laugh when I saw this comment in our group: “Any insects still trying to snooze in my beds just got woken up like a teenager on Monday morning!”

Rise and shine. 

I cleaned up my garden. Fight me. originally appeared on GardenRant on April 13, 2021.

The post I cleaned up my garden. Fight me. appeared first on GardenRant.

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 11:08:13 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Facebook Gardening Western New York Real Gardening
Redbud Sings Amidst the Green


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:59 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Vicki Lane
Josie as Cinderella

Oh, hi. I am having a cup of tea before I get started on my project. I am going to make a Big Mess.

I am taking everything off my shelves and putting it all over The Room. The books and plushies go on my bed and I am putting other things all around. Meema is watching quietly instead of fussing, for once.

So much stuff! But I got it done and said Look Meema, my shelves are bare! and she said, Good, I will give you an old towel to wipe the shelves with and then I will help you put everything back very neatly.  So that's what we did.
Then I wiped the window sills and the wood stove and everything. I told Meema I was like Cinderella, doing All the Work!

But that wasn't all. I went out on the little deck and wiped things there too. Cinderella has to work hard.

This towel is getting dirty.

But I keep wiping.

I even wipe the plant. (Meema says it is a juniper.) When there is nothing left to wipe, I see that there are some dead leaves in the corner by the wall and I pick up handfuls and drop them off the deck. It is a lot of fun making leaf showers. Now I am like Elsa in Frozen except instead of leaves, she did ice and snow.
I wonder who I will be tomorrow?


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Elsa Gardening Cinderella Josie Vicki Lane Spring cleaning Meema Look Meema
The Southern Woman--Waking

In my writing workshop, we were discussing a hilarious piece by one of the class members who writes wild, over-the-top, occasionally bittersweet vignettes of life in the South. This piece profiled her mother-in-law as the quintessential Southern woman: keeper of heritage, wearer of Doncaster suits, lover of tobacco, and God. Painted with very broad strokes, it was a delightful read.

Then one of the class raised the question, “Shouldn’t you specify that she was White—I mean, there are a lot of different Southern women.”

Good question. And it stopped me cold.

I was still thinking about this the next morning as I lay in bed waiting for the sunrise, thinking how, as a White person myself, White is the default mode in my perception of characters—unless the character is identified as a POC, whether by description or, alas, unfortunate racial stereotype.

The Southern woman—I immediately think of my maternal grandmother. Born in Alabama, a Baptist Sunday School teacher in her youth, bridge player, visitor/supporter of Tampa’s ‘old folks’ home,’ traditional (and this encompasses Black and White) Southern cook, compulsive solitaire player in the long afternoons, and a most excellent grandmother, teaching me to embroider, sew, and even, heaven help us, to do simple drawn work, aka hem-stitching.

She was a lady of leisure—though she bustled around in the mornings, airing pillows, cutting flowers to fill the vases in the big, spotless house, and baking endless pound cakes, loaves of banana bread, and chocolate chip cookies.

And the shadowy Southern woman who kept that big house so spotless?   Annie Davis, who for many years daily prowled the premises like a noiseless dark Roomba, dusting, sweeping, polishing. It fell to her to shell the field peas and snap the beans, to hang out the laundry in the pre-dryer days, to iron virtually everything including bed linens and my grandfather’s underwear, even to take a vengeful hoe to the occasional snake that dared to appear in the back yard.  

At lunch time the two Southern women shared a meal. But my grandmother ate in the breakfast room and Annie perched on a stool at a counter in the adjoining kitchen. There was a little amiable conversation, called back and forth between the two rooms, usually about what needed doing that afternoon. Annie, by the way, was provided with her own separate plate, glass, and eating utensils, just as she had a ‘maid’s bathroom’ in the garage.

The memory of this is painful to me now. Why didn’t I see the ridiculousness of it, the injustice? But it was the way it had always been and, as a child, I never questioned it, any more than I questioned the separate drinking fountains and restrooms in public places.

It took the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties to wake me up—though I realize I still have a long way to go to understand the extent to which White privilege has permeated my life.

But this morning, as I lay reflecting on all of this, I swear I could hear the taciturn Annie Davis crying out, “Ain’t I a woman? Ain’t I a Southern woman?”


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Race Alabama Doncaster Annie Nostalgia Tampa White Stereotypes White Privilege Writing Class Vicki Lane Annie Davis Black and White Southern
Silent Sunday


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Vicki Lane
Soft Opening

It felt like a rehearsal for next year's (fingers crossed) Easter party. Virginia cousins (adults vaccinated!)  were visiting and the planned camping  and family cookout were detoured by the rain to the new shop.  

It almost felt like we should be breaking a bottle of bubbly over the front door--what a grand way to bless the new building!

Kids having fun . . .

Josie was so delighted to have her cousins to play with. . .

She was also sporting a new haircut, courtesy of her mama and Cousin Amelia.

Does it make her look older? Seems to me it does.

But that is NOT her beer.

Wonderful food shared, conversations, the occasional hug-much like times past and times to come.

It was a fine soft opening for the new shop as future party venue.

And then, as we were enjoying the food and the pleasant company. . .

The sky lit up with a golden glow . . . much like the light in the eye of a hurricane. . .

Or a benediction.

[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Virginia Josie Vicki Lane
Daffodils and Crow


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:57 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Crow Daffodils Vicki Lane
Kusama at NY Botanical Garden

[Author: Jane Berger]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:39 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art Accessories Gardening New York Events Landscapes New York Botanical Garden David Zwirner ETC Yayoi Kusama Kusama Jane Berger Exhibitions / Shows Garden Art Japanese Art NY Botanical Garden Garden Exhibitions Tokyo Singapore Shanghai Victoria Miro London Venice
Flower Cascades

[Author: Jane Berger]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:08:39 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Boston Gardner Museum Garden Design Jane Berger Exhibitions / Shows Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Nasturtiums Sean Scarff
The Power of Names: Why generic labels disrespect horticulture and the plant-buying public

By C.L. Fornari

Sparky, a Sato, wonders why he’s being asked to sit next to a Hydrangea, tentatively identified as a H. macrophylla ‘Sandy Summer’ 

I went to the grocery store recently, and when I checked out, my cart contained the food I needed and a Hydrangea that I didn’t. The store was filled with living plants and cut flowers before Easter, and this particular shrub called to me. I justified the purchase by saying that it would be nice in the background for an upcoming virtual talk I was giving about Hydrangeas. In reality, I was merely succumbing to an attack of plant lust.

On returning home I took off the decorative foil that covered the pot, and looked at the tag to see which shrub I had purchased. It was not unexpected to discover that the information on this label was completely generic. It was identified as a Hydrangea macrophylla, but no cultivar name was given. The guesstimate of size was a broad 3-6 feet tall. I wasn’t at all surprised.

The Trend Toward Nonspecific Labels

It’s understandable that it’s easier for the grower and wholesaler to label a group of plants as “Foliage Assortment,” but that cheats the plant-buying public out of the opportunity to learn about those plants. 

I’ve ranted about growers using all-purpose labels before. In 2018, in an article in Garden Center Magazine, I pleaded with those growing house plants to stop using a general “Tropical Plant” tag. I am sympathetic with the reasons that growers use such common labels, of course. Their stock and particular varieties can change quickly and there can be crop failures, both of which might lead to an excess of wasted labels. Additionally, their work force that prepares the plants for shipping may not be conversant with the language on the tags. But in placing generic labels on plants, our industry devalues the public’s curiosity and intelligence in a way that ultimately impairs horticulture.

The Desire to Name

Human beings love to put names to living things and objects. People who would never consider themselves “a birder,” take photos of unfamiliar birds, and post them online asking for identification. When I walk my dog Sparky in local parks, I am frequently asked what breed he is. He is a mixed breed, but even calling him a Sato, the slang term for street dog in Puerto Rico, where Sparky is from, seems to satisfy people more than just saying he’s a mutt.

As an admin of several plant-related Facebook groups, I see thousands of requests for identification each week. From the international Hydrangea Happiness group (24,300 members) to the regional Cape Cod Gardening gathering (9,000 members), daily requests for plant identification are common. Yet in these groups and others, these inquiries are about more than just genus and species; those posting want to know what variety they’ve got.

Moving Forward

It used to be that those in horticultural businesses would say that the public was intimidated by specific botanic names and long registered titles. Yet in these times when most people carry a computer in their pockets, looking up a particular plant is a matter of copying that name into Google…you don’t even have to know how to pronounce it. But for identification, having a place to start is important.

The grower of my supermarket plant did have a URL on their tag, and this website contains photos that can get the consumer closer to a specific name. But Hydrangeas are especially hard to id since the color varies so much according to the pH of the potting mix and the flower’s stage of development. It’s a step in the right direction, however, and one that I wish would be adopted by other growers. It would be wonderful if all generic labels at least contained a website where the consumer could easily find a “What Plant Do I Have?” page that contained a few photos for comparison of each plant.

For several years, members of the green industry have worried about the tendency toward “plant blindness” in the general public. This is the term given to the predisposition for many people to view plants as a nonspecific green background to their lives. Why are we so slow to recognize that in placing generic labels in plants, those in horticultural businesses have actually been encouraging this impaired vision?

Let’s get down to details.

C.L. Fornari is a garden communicator who takes pleasure in bringing the joy of plants to the general public. Find more about her books at and hear the podcast she co-hosts at C.L.’s not-so-secret mission is to put horticulture back into popular culture. In the meantime, she grows plants at her property, named Poison Ivy Acres.

The Power of Names: Why generic labels disrespect horticulture and the plant-buying public originally appeared on GardenRant on April 9, 2021.

The post The Power of Names: Why generic labels disrespect horticulture and the plant-buying public appeared first on GardenRant.

[Author: C.L. Fornari]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:07:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Google Gardening Puerto Rico Sparky Sato Guest Rants Plantrama Fornari Your Gardening Dollar C.L. Fornari Fornari Sparky Sandy Summer Garden Center Magazine Hydrangea Happiness Cape Cod Gardening
That time I started a “native” prairie

Guest rant from Jack Kramer

Our current home of eighteen years is sited on a one-and-a-half acre lot, originally part wooded and part field. I had told the builder to leave a section of the field undisturbed, thus earmarking this land for what I hoped would be native prairie. I opted for this rather than preparing the soil and buying bags of “instant prairie” seed. It would be interesting to see what popped up in the field.

I acquired native plants for our flower garden, but at first did not add anything to the prairie, leaving it to Mother Nature to decide what to grow there. I eventually departed from plan by adding two Viburnum trilobum bushes to provide food for the birds. I probably should have referred to this “purely native” prairie as a “natural” area instead. Yes, native plants such as Milkweed and Goldenrod did sprout. But a lot of nonnatives also appeared, such as Chicory, various clovers, Peppergrass, Mullein, Queen Anne’s Lace, Rocket Larkspur, and Yellow Goat’s-Beard. I guess they’re ubiquitous.

The first thing I realized was that a natural area is not maintenance-free. There were some annoying things I wanted to get rid of, such as ragweed and various burrs. Ragweed has fairly shallow roots; it can simply be pulled out of the ground, even the giant variety. The burr plants were repeatedly pulled out before they had a chance to set seeds, though I’m still doing battle with burrs here and there. I used spot weed killer on the broad leaved Burdock. Early-on, I allowed wild roses to grow, only to discover they have absolutely wicked thorns. They had to go. Wild grapes looked interesting and fed the wildlife, but they soon intertwined among everything else. They had to go too. But was this going to be a natural prairie after all? It seemed as though I was really messing with nature.

Another discovery: the adjoining wooded area wanted to invade the prairie. I was constantly pulling and digging out little trees. Some were box elders that seeded themselves willy-nilly. Black walnut and mulberry trees were planted by squirrels and other critters. Ultimately, I left a few trees along the edge of the lot.

I had hoped to maintain a wide variety of plants, even nonnatives, but over the years the Goldenrod spread aggressively; in fall, the prairie is a field of yellow. In order to allow other plants room to grow, some of the Goldenrod must be periodically pulled out. The grasses (native and introduced) are also vigorous growers—a judicious spray of Grass-be-Gone controls them. Every now and then, some new plant turns up. For example, there is now a large clump of native Smooth Blue Asters (Symphyotrichum laeve) that somehow migrated from the other end of our property. They seem as tough as the Goldenrod, demanding their own space.

Another item of maintenance is what I would call “grooming”. A couple of our neighbors on larger acreages also have natural areas where they do controlled burns to help deter invasives and clean up dead plants in early spring. They suggested that I do the same, but I’m leery of using fire; instead, after the snow melts, I run the lawn tractor over the prairie to mow down the previous year’s dead vegetation. It also serves as an opportunity to cut down any wild rose and grape vines that I missed during summer trimming. During the growing season, it’s also a good idea to keep a mowed path through the prairie for easier access. And I initially kept the prairie mowed down along the property line so it wouldn’t intrude on my neighbor’s lot.

Along the way, I’ve learned that a technicolor extravaganza is the stuff of fantasy. For a large part of the year the prairie simply looks like a green, overgrown field. My wife doesn’t get it— she refers to it as “that mess out there.” But up close, you do see some interesting things growing.

Is it a success? During warmer months, it’s alive with birds, bees and butterflies. In the photo of the prairie, you might notice a small orange-colored spot, which on closer inspection turns out to be a butterfly visiting a milkweed. Trampled down grass indicates where deer have bedded down for the night. But here’s what I consider the ultimate measure of success: my next door neighbor asked me to stop mowing the strip along the lot line and allow the prairie to grow over onto their property!

That time I started a “native” prairie originally appeared on GardenRant on April 12, 2021.

The post That time I started a “native” prairie appeared first on GardenRant.

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:07:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Anne Larkspur Guest Rants Jack Kramer Real Gardening
In Defense of Inclusive Biodiversity

As a follow up to Elizabeth’s post last week remarking on the sorrowful tone of Margaret Renkl’s NYT article on non-native spring color, The AHS kindly allowed GardenRant to run an excerpt of my recent column in The American Gardener this month. A link to the full article is available at the end of the excerpt.  Please consider supporting the American Horticultural Society and the valuable work they do by becoming a member this year. 

LAST SPRING , a friend volunteered her time to create a pollinator-friendly garden that would overlook a large railway hub in her small city. She publicized the project on social media to solicit donations from the public, and her dedication to regreen an industrial space was universally applauded—until she published the planned plant list that contained a mixture of native and non-native plants.

Three of her would-be donors informed her that if the plants were all native, they would oblige. If not, her re-greening project didn’t warrant their support.

Forget about the Panicum, Coreopsis, Achillea, and Echinacea that had made the list. Those wildlife-friendly natives were going to be sharing space with cultivars of Hemerocallis, frequented by butterflies and hummingbirds but originally from east Asia; Caryopteris, beloved of wild bees, but shamefully sharing the same provenance; and Buddleia, known commonly and justifiably as the butterfly bush, but whose tough habit and ability to re-green industrial wastelands of its own accord has made it a pariah.

Better to have nothing, these three felt, than to support the willful planting of non-native plants into this inhospitable environment.

Thankfully, my friend persevered. The site’s compacted and polluted soil was lightened and amended, and a melting pot of native and non-native plants was established, creating a garden that both beautified an ecologically damaged space and provided habitat for wildlife displaced decades before.


People build gardens for many reasons. In recent years, however, the popularity of building gardens specifically to attract an abundance of wildlife has grown exponentially. Such a worthy cause has attracted the otherwise indifferent to a more garden-focused life. It is no doubt one of the reasons we experienced such a resurgence in gardening in 2020, as people forced to quarantine at home became reacquainted with their landscapes and began to observe the many creatures that also inhabited those spaces.

At the same time, a parallel movement has grown in visibility and vociferousness. The promotion and protection of native plants has gained an incredible following throughout the many geographically diverse regions of North America.

bee and rosemary

A non-native honey bee alights upon the two-lipped flowers of a non-native rosemary in summer. To some, this is a problem that needs solving.

It has slowly trickled down from industry leaders who have devoted careers to their study, to advocacy groups and Extension agents, and eventually to our schools and everyday gardeners. Awareness of the much-touted superiority of native plants is so great that even some non-gardeners looking for quick solutions to suburban lots mention it as a requirement during the annual spring trip to the garden center.

It is not surprising, therefore, that these two movements should meet and marry, creating a sub-movement that supports and promotes the planting of native species to build more biodiverse, wildlife-friendly gardens.

But as my friend’s experience shows, many native plant proponents go further— favoring the exclusion of all exotic species in the landscape to achieve this worthy goal. The purest disciples of the movement also eschew the use of “nativars,” or cultivated varieties of native plants, for their straight-species parents—regardless of merit.

“Merit” is the key word in that last sentence, and precisely the characteristic we should be plucking out of this mire of easy absolutes. Plant species should be evaluated on their merits and their faults, and how they adapt to, function in, and sometimes remediate specific conditions of soil, exposure and climate, all while providing for wildlife populations.

Making these determinations irrespective of labels that designate a plant “good” or “bad” based on human chronologies and borders will aid us (and the wildlife we adore) to navigate a planet facing the pressures of climate change and overpopulation.

The use of native plants should be encouraged as a means to an end, not the means to an end. Reflexive demonization of alien species ignores the beautiful but complex truth that nature fights to find a way—and for a planet navigating the pressures of climate change and overpopulation, that just might be our saving grace.


“Native plants are plants that grow naturally in a particular area or ecosystem” says the introduction to native plants in the Bureau of Land Management’s Junior Explorer Activity Book. A harmless sentence in a child’s primer—until you recognize the subtext quietly absorbed by young minds: Non-native plants are not natural.

“Natural” is a powerful word, and today’s young people are tomorrow’s consumers and decision makers. If something is not natural, it is artificial, and suspect. And yet, in this context—pitting plant against plant—the absolute opposite is true.

My bio-complex melting pot of a garden is alive with many creatures during the growing season – some of which are just getting to know each other, some of which are old friends. The same goes for the plants.

A strict adherence to a “pure” native plant landscape, with all of the editing, eradicating, and protecting necessary to preserve it, puts an unnatural construct on nature and natural selection—a process that does not issue passports but instead relies on ecological adaptability to determine if a plant will survive or fail. Nature does not tag favorites beyond these criteria, and gives no preference to human economies or personal attachments.


Were I to give up on my annual quest to rid my woodland of multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), I am well aware that a very natural process would resume once I stopped directing traffic.

This invasive species would once again take the upper hand in the landscape, working inevitably toward a new, balanced, but completely unrecognizable ecosystem whose evolutionary partners I can no more predict than I can control. It might take 5 or 500 of my lifetimes to create, but a human lifetime on a 4.5-billion-year-old planet is many times less than a second, a fact that we appear to have forgotten in our myopic quest to curate static ecosystems…

Read the rest of this article HERE in the March/April issue of The American Gardener, the magazine of The American Horticultural Society.

In Defense of Inclusive Biodiversity originally appeared on GardenRant on April 8, 2021.

The post In Defense of Inclusive Biodiversity appeared first on GardenRant.

[Author: Marianne Willburn]

Tue, 13 Apr 2021 05:07:57 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Asia Gardening North America Elizabeth Rosa Bureau of Land Management Ministry of Controversy Achillea American Horticultural Society Margaret Renkl Buddleia Marianne Willburn
Community meetings in the San Fernando Valley, April 12-19  

Encino Neighborhood Council has 49 candidates running for 18 board seats and they will present their platforms on April 12 during a Zoom meeting. A view of a shopping area on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. (Google Street View)



Community meetings bring people together for exchange of ideas and memorable shared experiences. Here’s a sampling of online meetings in the San Fernando Valley.


Wings Over Wendy’s: Veterans of all services and their supporters meet online on Zoom. Meet and greet, 8:30 a.m., followed by meeting, 9:30 a.m. every Monday of the month. Guest speakers scheduled for every meeting. Contact Ed Reynolds for the Zoom link, ID and password. 818-884-4013. Email:

How to Help Your Child Succeed with the Transitioning Back-to-School: Local District Northeast of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Parent and Community Engagement group present the parent workshop, 1-2 p.m. April 12. Join the meeting on Zoom (log-in here: and use ID: 85148460974 and Passcode: 029051. 818-252-5400.

Encino Neighborhood Council – Special Board Meeting for a Candidate Forum: There are 49 candidates running for 18 seats and each will have two minutes to present their platform, 6:30 p.m. April 12. Join the Zoom meeting here: and use ID: 86965241742. By phone, 669-900-6833 and use the ID and press #. Questions for the candidates may be sent to Facebook page:

North Hills East Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 12. Join the meeting on Zoom by clicking on the board meeting link here: and use ID: 83160320531. By phone, 669-900-6833 and use the ID and press #. Voice mail, 818-672-6674.

Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council: A board meeting and candidate forum, 6:30 p.m. April 12. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 85140543942. By phone, 833-548-0282 and use the ID and press #. Voice mail, 818-503-2399.

Northridge West Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:15 p.m. April 13. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 94115763566. By phone, 669-900-9128 and use the ID and press #. 818-697-0639. Email:

Winnetka Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 13. Check the website for the agenda and how to join the meeting by Zoom or by phone.

Mystery Book Club at West Valley Regional Branch Library: Guest speaker Stuart Turton discusses his book “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” 10:30 a.m. April 14. Request the Zoom link in advance to (put Mystery Book Club in the subject line). The library is in Reseda.

Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:15 p.m. April 14. Check the council Facebook page ( or the website for how to join the meeting on Zoom or by phone. Voice mail, 818-217-0279.

Book Club at Pacoima Branch Library: Discusses “Up at the Villa” by William Somerset Maugham, 6:30 p.m. April 14. Request the Zoom link in advance to

North Hollywood West Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 14. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 85136642487. By phone, 669-900-6833 and use the ID and press #. 818-446-6469. Email:

Woodland Hills – Warner Center Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 14. Check the agenda on the website for how to join the meeting by Zoom or by phone. Voice mail, 818-639-9444.

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:45 p.m. April 14. Join the Zoom meeting here: and use ID: 91892785703. By phone, 888-475-4499 and use the ID and press #. Voice mail, 818-951-7411.

North Hollywood Northeast Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 14. Join the Zoom meeting here: and use ID: 85757507556. By phone, 888-475-4499 and use the ID and press #. Check the Documents section on the website for the agenda. Email the board:

Van Nuys Neighborhood Council: A board meeting and candidate forum, 7 p.m. April 14. Join the Zoom meeting here: and use ID: 83366296988. By phone, 669-900-6833 and use the ID and press #. Email:

Northridge Woman’s Club Spring Luncheon and Fundraiser: The event includes entertainment and prizes, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 15. Tickets $65. 18401 Lassen St., Northridge. Contact Hattie Spiegel for tickets and reservationa, 818-886-5271.

Burbank African Violet Society: Guest speaker Dale Martens, a gesneriad hybridizer, discusses “Growing Small Sinningias,” 10 a.m. April 15. Request the Zoom meeting information, 661-940-3990.

Redistricting – How It Works and What It Means for You: The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles presents Margo Reeg, second vice president of the league, discussing the topic, 12:30 p.m. April 15. Request the link for the Zoom meeting to Marily Guevara at The league’s website:

North Hills West Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 15. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 97936776899. By phone, 877-853-5257 and use the ID and press #.

Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 15. Check the agenda on the website on how to join the meeting on Zoom or by phone. The council covers Lake View Terrace, Shadow Hills and La Tuna Canyon. Voice mail, 818-353-2000.

The Judson Stained Glass Studio – Five Generations of Art, History and Craftsmanship: Sherman Oaks Friends of the Library present a talk by David Judson, the fifth generation to own and run the studio based in Highland Park, 6:15 p.m. April 19. Free. Register in advance for the Zoom meeting (link sent out 48 hours prior to the talk):

Online Tuesday Evening Book Club with Calabasas Library: Discusses “The Overstory” by Richard Powers, 6 p.m. April 20. Request the Zoom link in advance from Barbara Lockwood at

Virtual Veterans Job Fair: City of Burbank’s Workforce Connection Office holds the online event, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 21. Job seekers need to register in advance and be ready to set up a profile, upload their photo, cover letter and resume. Register here:

Online Wednesday Morning Book Club with Calabasas Library: Discusses “We Were the Mulvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates, 11 a.m. April 21. Request the Zoom link in advance from Karilyn Steward at

Adult Book Club at Studio City Branch Library: Discusses “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict, 6:30 p.m. April 21. Request the Zoom link in advance to Emily at

Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants: Online classes:”California Native Container Plants,” with Flora Ito, 5:30 p.m. April 21 ($35; “Irrigation Practices for Native Plant Gardens,” with Max Kanter, 10 a.m. April 24 ($35; The foundation’s nursery is open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with a time slot reservation (see the website). 10459 Tuxford St., Sun Valley. 818-768-1802.

Mother’s Day Spring Fling Boutique: The Woodland Hills Woman’s Club presents sales of Mother’s Day baskets, clothing, flower orders, gifts, handbags, jewelry and handmade pottery, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 24. Event is outdoors. Woodland Hills Presbyterian Church, 5751 Platt Ave. Cheri, 818-932-5300.;

Mystery and Thriller Book Club at Studio City Branch Library: Discusses “The Law and the Lady” by Wilkie Collins, 6:30 p.m. April 28. Request the Zoom link in advance to Emily at




Feathers, Flippers and Fur – Online Auction and Event for the California Wildlife Center: A fundraiser to support the group that helps rehabilitate injured, orphaned and sick native animals in order to return them into the wild. Auction bidding begins, 8 a.m. April 11 and continues through 3 p.m. April 17. Items include a signed guitar by Slash (Guns N’ Roses), art, beauty and health, clothing, food and wine, home and garden, jewelry, pet items and travel. Bid here: Registration and more information here: Live event, 3 p.m. April 17.Facebook: The center is in Malibu. 310-458-9453.

American Red Cross blood donations: Blood and platelet donations needed. Appointments: 8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. April 16 and 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m. April 17 and 7:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m. April 18 and 12:15-7:30 p.m. April 19-21 (Woodland Hills Blood Donation Center, 6338 Variel Ave.) See website for guidelines on how to give blood. Make an appointment by phone 1-800-733-2767, or online

Send information at least two weeks in advance to Holly Andres at 818-713-3708.

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What every gardener should know about daffodils, society garlic and ginger lilies The famous trumpeting, cupped receptacle on daffodils is called a corona, and botanists are confounded as to its function. However, the presence of the corona does assist us in explaining why daffodil flowers nod as opposed to staying upright. Were the cupped corona to face the sky, rainwater would collect in it, causing the pollen on the anthers inside of it to rot, preventing pollination and seed formation from taking place.

It is worth noting that daffodil species that bloom in the fall have coronas that stay upright, the reason being that these species are native to the Mediterranean basin where rain arrives later, after their flowers have faded, in the winter. Moreover, through hybridization and selecting for corona orientation, there are now spring daffodils with upright flowers as well.

There are two explanations for the daffodil’s scientific name, which is Narcissus. One is that the nodding daffodil evokes Narcissus from ancient Greek mythology, the handsome youth who gazed with bent head into a pool of water and fell in love with his image. He became so infatuated with himself – the most extreme form of unrequited love – that he fell into despair, would neither eat nor drink and withered away. His dead body was transformed into the flowers that bear his name.

  • Daffodil Narcissus February Gold (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Shell ginger Alpinia zerumbet Variegata. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Sound The gallery will resume in seconds
  • Dwarf cannas (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Orange canna 5-feet-tall (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Amole Beschorneria yuccoides. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Canna Mellow Yello (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

  • Daffodil. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Show Caption of


The other explanation for the name Narcissus comes from its etymological root, narke, a Greek word meaning numbness or intoxication. There does seem to be a connection between the two names since a narcissist is effectively numb to others. The fragrance of some Narcissus flowers – paperwhites are most notable in this regard — is also said to be intoxicating. Place a vase of paperwhites in the center of a room and the scent will find its way into every corner.

All parts of Narcissus species are poisonous, especially the bulbs, due to the presence of alkaloids. So keep small children and pets at a distance from your hill of daffodils. And do not combine the daffodils you put in a vase with other flowers since cut daffodil or Narcissus stems exude lycorine, a toxic alkaloid that will be taken up the stems of other species, causing their flowers to wilt.

Daffodils and paperwhites are among the easiest bulbs to grow since they spread in sun or dappled shade, are pest-free, and naturalize or spread throughout the garden with no effort on your part. And yes, you can still plant them now. K. van Bourgondien, a popular source for bulbs located in Ohio, ships pre-chilled daffodil bulbs until May 1st. You can access them at or by calling 855-489-2538. Upon request, they will even mail you a free catalog with photos of a large variety of bulbs and other perennials in vivid color. Browsing through the catalog is a great way to bolster your confidence in plant identification.

And then, of course, there are summer and fall flowering bulbs and rhizomes as well. In Los Angeles, the most earnest flowering bulb plant is society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), which may be planted from containers at any time of the year, blooms profusely and constantly, and is highly popular as a bulletproof ground cover. Two types are commonly planted, both with violet blooms. The standard type has shiny, slender green leaves and the variegated version has green-and-white striped foliage.

The downside of maintaining this plant is removal of the spent flowers which, unless they are painstakingly snipped off, remain attached for months in the form of floppy brown strands. There is an efficient way around this problem, however. When the quantity of faded flowers has given a stale look to the normally fresh-looking society garlic, simply shear the plant to the ground. It will be grateful for the brief rest you have given it before it regroups, releafs, and starts flowering again. There is, of course, the matter of the pungent garlicky odor you assume when working with society garlic, an ironic name considering its anti-social olfactory aspect.

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And if you are in search of a non-garlicky society garlic, select sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans) instead. Be aware that sweet garlic is less vigorous than society garlic and is more useful as one among many selections for an English garden, as opposed to being used by itself as a mass ground cover planting.

The ginger lily is a rhizomatous plant whose relative obscurity is matched only by its beauty and reliability in the garden. As is so often the case with plants, ginger lily is a misleading name; this species is not a lily and, although a member of the ginger family, has no vaunted culinary attributes.

Like other rhizomatous plants such as bearded iris and agapanthus, the ginger lily is famous for its cut flowers. The showiest ginger lily is kahili ginger (Hedychium garderanum), from the Himalayas, which has large yellow flower spikes with red stamens and an outstandingly sweet fragrance. The gold and green-leafed variety of shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is as impressive as a variegated plant can be.

Ginger lilies are excellent companions to the banana-leaved and rhizomatous canna, requiring the same conditions for growth. I realize this may not be of much help, since the canna is somewhat finicky. Actually, it grows easily enough; the problem is that its leaves burn when exposed to full sun, yet it refuses to flower in the shade.

Sunset Western Garden Book recommends “light shade” for the ginger lily, a microclimate found directly under a tall tree whose branches allow a reasonable dose of sun to get through. But ginger lilies – and cannas too, for that matter – may also do well in two other microclimates. One is that found in the no man’s land between neighboring houses or buildings, and the other is up against an east- or west-facing wall. In both of these situations, the full sun that the plant receives does not dry out the soil around its roots, especially when the roots are covered in two to three inches of mulch. Between buildings, the sun cannot find an angle to reach the soil; when a plant is situated against a wall, its root hairs will cling to the always-moist soil next to the foundation. So yes, canna and ginger lilies do benefit from moist soil but that does not mean excessive watering is needed if the proper microclimate is found and a thick layer of mulch is in place.

The curvaceous bronze or rainbow-striped leaves of certain Canna cultivars, complemented by hot orange flowers, command attention. Or if green leaves are your preference, you can choose Cannas in flaming red or yellow or impetuous pink. The flowers of irises, which they resemble, are the only garden blooms that can compete with Cannas for sheer opulence.

Banana trees with red leaves (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’) or red blotches on the leaves (Musa acuminata ‘Zebrina’) make fine background plants for the half-sun, half-shade garden. They grow to 15 feet or more. Black elephant’s ear (Alocasia plumbea), five feet tall with two-foot-long deep violet leaves, is a fitting red banana companion.

Toward the front of such a planting, you might choose the smaller black calla (Calla palaestinum), quite similar to the more familiar white calla except for its dark purple spathe and spadix.

Finally, Italian arum ‘Pictum’ (Arum italicum) is a year-round eyecatcher thanks to its arrowhead, white-veined foliage and large clusters of orange fruit.

Tip of the Week: Amole (Beschorneria yuccoides) is a plant native to Mexico that no garden should be without. The flowers are unique in the plant kingdom and resemble those seen on Audrey, the carnivorous plant in the movie “Little Shop of Horrors,” although this species is rather benign. In fact, although related to yuccas and agaves, its foliage is soft and smooth. And although it produces pups like agaves do, it does not die in the manner of agaves after flowering but persists for years. In the language of the Aztecs, amole meant detergent or soap and referred to the fact that this plant’s roots, in the manner of agave and yucca roots generally, can be made into cleansing products.

Please send questions, comments, and photos to

Sat, 10 Apr 2021 11:14:19 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Mexico Los Angeles Sport Things To Do Soccer Ohio Himalayas Mediterranean Musa Garden Party Narcissus Top Stories LADN Top Stories OCR Top Stories PE Top Stories IVDB Top Stories RDF Top Stories Sun Home + Garden Top Stories Breeze Top Stories LBPT Top Stories WDN Top Stories SGVT Top Stories PSN Joshua Siskin Joshua Siskin Shell Joshua Siskin Amole Beschorneria Joshua Siskin Canna Mellow Yello Joshua Siskin Daffodil Photo K van Bourgondien Related Articles Garden Party
Spring Flowers Instant Win Happy Friday Steamy Kitchen! Spin to instantly win the Spring Flowers Instant Win Game. You have the chance to win 1 of 4 prizes for your garden or to start growing your own.

15 Culinary Herb Seeds Pack

  • 15 Most Popular Culinary Herbs – we have selected the most popular herbs with the pack – Italian Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, Chives, Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Dill, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage, Summer Savory, Lemon Balm, Arugula. So you can finally stop buying flavorless dry herbs and start growing aromatic fresh herbs yourself.

The Complete Gardener’s Guide

Choose plants that will thrive in your space. Design a border for year-round color. Grasp different pruning techniques. Discover how to protect your veg patch from pests. Make the best compost. Delve into this concise, practical encyclopedia to find all the ideas and advice you need to create a spectacular, thriving garden.

Wanyi Garden Tool Set

  • There are 6 gardening pieces, including shovel, rake, weeder, spatula, field cultivator, pruning shears, durable traditional suit. Suitable for many tasks, including pruning, digging, weeding, loosening the soil, aerating, transplanting, etc.
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Miracle-Gro Plant Food

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How to tell which critter is eating fruit out of your trees Q: Some critter has been peeling & eating the rind off my lemons & leaving the fruit hanging on the tree. Same thing has happened to another neighbor’s avocados.

I don’t know if it’s the neighborhood squirrels, an opossum, or rats. Next door neighbor’s dog did catch & kill an opossum recently. Have you ever heard of this?

A: Squirrels, opossums, and rats can all wreak havoc in the garden, each in their own way. Squirrels will visit your fruit trees just as the fruit is ripening, then take a bite out of every single fruit and toss it aside. You are left with a lot of ruined fruit rotting on the ground. I really, really hate ground squirrels.

Opossums can also climb into fruit trees, but they prefer to go after fallen fruit. They will eat anything and everything, but they can be kind of lazy. Don’t leave pet food outside, cover your compost bin, and pick up any fallen fruit. They may still go after vegetables that are within reach – they seem to especially like pumpkins and winter squash. Stack firewood tightly since they like to nest under wood piles. They also tend to fight with domestic cats and dogs, and their sharp teeth can do some serious damage. (However, we did have a young opossum that would visit and seemed to have befriended my cat. Of course, they aren’t very bright and probably thought he was just an especially ugly cat.) When opossums visit your garden, you will usually see half-eaten fruit on the ground, but they won’t take everything out of the tree.

Rats will hollow out fruit while it’s still hanging on the tree. They really like citrus and avocado, so my guess is that you have a rat problem. You can identify their hideouts by the piles of empty snail shells they leave behind. Too bad they don’t just eat snails!

Gardening resources

Trapping is the most environmentally friendly way to control rats. Poison has many drawbacks, including unintentional poisoning of pets and wildlife. For detailed instructions on how to trap rats, visit

Q: I read your recent column on ant control in the yard, and I have a question for you. I have been unable to find ant bait that is no more than 1% borate.  All the products that are online are 5%. Can you give me a brand name? Thank you so much for your help! We have had a serious ant problem the last few years.

A: Almost all the commercially available ant baits are 5% boric acid, which is too concentrated to be effective for ant control. Luckily, ant bait with a 1% boric acid concentration is easy to make yourself.

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of powdered boric acid (which can be found in most drug stores) and 9 teaspoons of sugar into one cup of hot water. This is enough to kill ants, but not before they get a chance to take it back to their nest.Have questions? Email

Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.

Los Angeles County; 626-586-1988;

Orange County; 949-809-9760;

Riverside County; 951-683-6491 ext. 231;

San Bernardino County; 909-387-2182;

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Thu, 08 Apr 2021 13:21:56 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Sport Things To Do Soccer Orange County Riverside County Los Angeles County San Bernardino County San Fernando Valley Garden Party Top Stories OCR Top Stories PE Home + Garden San Fernando Valley LA
Cicada Karma/Weather Retribution

 A notorious 17-year cicada returns to portions of the eastern United States  in a few weeks.  If you’re in the path of Brood X  you may need to stuff cotton balls in your ears, but don’t worry. They won’t bite.

This is a repost from a mid-June 2008  Human Flower Project story. Julie Ardery’s Human Flower Project was an international newsgroup, photo album and discussion of humankind’s relationship with the floral world from 2004-2012. They reported on art, medicine, society, history, politics, religion, and commerce. Many thanks to Julie for her inspiration.


Wikimedia Commons image

I’ve been worried silly the last few weeks. The word on the street in Louisville: the 17- year cicada was coming – again. Brood X, the Mother of all 17-year periodical cicada broods, checked in 4 years ago, and the otherworldly drone of the scuffling swarm sounded like a million rain sticks. Why do I deserve Brood XIV?

Wikimedia Commons, Katja Schultz photo.

I can’t remember a more beautiful mid-spring. There were no late frosts; no pounding thunderstorms – not a one – and the weather was cool with wonderful gentle rains. I’ve been holding my breath for a May like this. Dogwood blossoms lingered past Derby and daffodils went on forever.

But there were those irksome few who dampened my sunny view and said “We’re gonna pay for this.” The wages of sin: a nice May? Our Hellfire— blast furnace summer heat— arrives punctually before the solstice. I can live with that. But I don’t want any more cicadas, not now.

And I don’t deserve them. A year ago we had a terrible mid-April freeze, on the heels of a very warm late March and early April. The tender new growth on trees, shrubs and perennials got hammered. Even the new leaves on a hackberry got singed. (I’m counting on the genus to survive the apocalypse – which it may.)

Things got worse. Waking-up to low morning temperatures in the high seventies doesn’t suit me. As the day oozes toward noon, it only gets hotter. A hailstorm is over as quick as it comes, but a drought doesn’t let go soon enough. By August, I craved an early freeze – to put an end to the misery. Mercifully, September and October were cool and sunny. There would be another day.

Colorado four o’clock, Mirabilis multiflora

But I want more than just another day. I want a garden season – just like May – from March through November. Cool daytime temperatures in the 70s and nighttime lows in the mid 50 would work. And how about gentle, overnight rains, too? I’m entitled. I’ve paid my dues, but a cloud follows me. 

I moved to the mountains of North Carolina, thirty years ago chasing a better growing climate where the summers would be cooler and the winters not so cold and gray as Louisville. There were no floods or tornadoes but, in my first ten years in the nursery business, near Asheville, there were a record freeze, summer droughts that beat all and a March blizzard that closed Interstate 40 for a day. When I explained my turn of luck to a group of visiting nursery folks, one fella, from the back of the crowd, replied in a drawl, “Everything was ok before you got here.” 

This cicada thing has got me spooked. The thought of another 17-year home invasion is worse than a long road trip in the mid 70s with the blues-rock band, Foghat, playing continuous loop on a busted eight-track. (How many times would you want to hear Slow Ride…Take it easy?)


Campanula ‘Sarastro’


I am a little bewildered why we’ve been spared. I went to a party this afternoon and folks there who live not so far away, in Jeffersontown, said they’ve been under siege for weeks. But nothing here. Go figure….

Actually, cicadas don’t do significant damage (they aren’t locusts). The females lay eggs along the tips ends of tender new shoots of trees and shrubs. A few weeks afterwards these new shoots turn brown and die. It ends up being little more than tip pruning.

The tiny nymphs, said to be egg-shaped (I haven’t seen them) fall to the ground, burrow underground and feed on tree roots for 13 or 17 years or whatever the primary number incubation period. But these don’t cause any problems either. Some folks recommend putting netting over newly planted trees and shrubs as a precaution but this seems overly fussy to me. Let ‘em be, but send ‘em packin’!

Kniphofia ‘Primrose Beauty’ and Penstemon digitalis

My blessed month of May has come and gone but is not a faded memory. Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’ started flowering near the end of the month and is still here. So is Geranium wlassovianun, a tough Siberian species that doesn’t mind muggy. The showy Colorado four o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora) and Campanula ‘Sarastro’ are June bloomers. They flower in defiance of this week’s heat wave with Kniphofia ‘Primrose Beauty’ and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’.

Photo courtesy of Cicada Mania

The cicadas have been circling outlying areas, and making a racket for three weeks, but they’re nowhere to be heard in my neighborhood. Friends in the countryside say the mating season of Brood XIV has quieted and is coming to an end – for another 17 years.

No cicadas this year… I am living a charmed life and I am not going to pay for it.


Cicada Karma/Weather Retribution originally appeared on GardenRant on April 7, 2021.

The post Cicada Karma/Weather Retribution appeared first on GardenRant.

Wed, 07 Apr 2021 11:12:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Colorado United States North Carolina Louisville Julie Asheville Jeffersontown Gardening on the Planet Penstemon Sarastro Campanula Human Flower Project Cicada Karma Weather Retribution Julie Ardery Brood X the Mother Katja Schultz Campanula Sarastro Kniphofia ` Primrose Beauty Cicada Mania
Shop Update

Come on in! 

Yes, it's a mess but the wiring is done, insulation, wainscoting(of a sort,) and drywall in place, though not yet mudded and painted. Ceiling to come.
 The pleasant weather is allowing John and Justin to make progress. John is fairly itching to get benches and power tools and storage shelves in place and turn it into a shop rather than a worksite.
Soon. I'll keep you posted.


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Wed, 07 Apr 2021 05:11:17 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening John Justin Vicki Lane


[Author: Vicki Lane]

Tue, 06 Apr 2021 05:08:55 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Vicki Lane
The 5 best gardening shovels in 2021
  • Whether it's for weeding, breaking up soil, or digging beds, you need a good gardening shovel.
  • The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel is easy to use and won't break the bank.
  • If you're looking for a snow shovel, check out our guide to the best snow shovels.
  • While a shovel might not be your most thrilling purchase, at least one belongs in the tool shed of every gardener, whether they're looking after a few potted plants or an extensive vegetable garden. The only question is which type of shovel or spade you need. Serious gardeners will likely have more than one.

    That's why we decided to do the research for you, and put together this list of the best shovels, spades, scoops, and trowels out there (read more on the different types of shovels, and which one may best fit your needs, here).

    And while there is certainly no reason to break the budget on a shovel, it's also true that you generally get what you pay for, and a quality garden tool should last many years with just a little care and maintenance.

    Here are the best garden shovels and spades in 2021

    Updated 04/05/2021: We still stand by our picks from last year, but we are going to give the Bully Tools 82515 a try this spring to see how it compares to our top pick from Fiskars, and determine whether it's worth the step-up in price.

    The best overall fiskars shovel


    No need to throw your back out digging in tough soil. The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel cuts through even compacted dirt and clods without breaking a sweat.

    Pros: Extremely durable steel construction, welded blade and handle, lifetime guarantee

    Cons: A bit heavy, not good for digging small holes

    Before you can plant that beautiful rosebush, shade tree, or blooming perennial, you need to dig a hole big enough to contain the roots. With the Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel, you'll get the job done with less effort and sweat than with many lesser garden shovels. If you only choose one shovel for your garden, we recommend that this be the one.

    This beauty of a tool has a 14-gauge steel blade and an 18-gauge steel handle welded together so the shovel won't snap even under rugged use. It has a large foot platform so you can really throw your weight into your digging, and a rubbery orange grip to keep your gloved hands in place without slipping or sliding. (You are wearing gardening gloves while doing heavy yard work, right?)

    The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel is 57.5 inches long, making it suitable for most average-height gardeners. But this isn't the tool you want to use to plant seeds or do detail work.

    The best short garden shovel bond shovel


    If you prefer short-handled shovels, or are working in tight quarters in a flowerbed, you'll appreciate the sturdy construction, D-shaped handle for easy gripping, and compact size of the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel.

    Pros: Strong steel construction, D-shaped handle is easy to grip, reasonable price, easy to fit in your car's trunk

    Cons: Short-handled shovels can be hard on your back

    While a long-handled shovel provides more leverage and allows you to remain more upright while digging, in some situations, a short-handled shovel is easier to work with.

    If you are digging in a tightly defined area, are digging a trench, or are very short, you might prefer a shovel with a short handle. And if so, you'll find the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel to be the best choice.

    But the entire shovel is only 27.6 inches long, which means that this tool can be hard on your back during extended sessions of digging. Instead of using for long digging sessions, this might be most useful for small digging jobs in flowerbeds, or for lifting and moving dirt and other garden debris.

    The best garden spade fiskars shovel 2


    When it's time to edge, move mulch or compost, or break through extra-tough soil, the Fiskars D-Handle Garden Spade is up to the job.

    Pros: Very sturdy construction, sharp edge cuts cleanly through sod, compacted soil, and roots

    Cons: D-shaped handle encourages a grip that might not be comfortable for some gardeners

    Like the Fiskars Long-Handle Shovel, the Fiskars Spade has a 14-gauge steel blade welded to an 18-gauge steel handle that won't break or bend even during the heaviest of gardening jobs.

    The edge of the blade is sharp, so you'll slice right through sod, hard soil, compacted roots, and tough weeds without much of a struggle. And the rubberized D-shaped grip gives you a little bit of extra leverage when needed. This is a useful tool for moving garden debris of all types.

    The Fiskars garden spade is 47 inches long and weighs just under five pounds, so it's light enough for long sessions but heavy enough that it can throw its weight around.

    The square head is great for edge work or sectioning our garden plots.

    The best garden scoop ames shovel


    When it's time to move soil, leaves, gravel, mulch, or even snow from point A to point B, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop won't let you down.

    Pros: Sized just right for the best leverage without straining your back, sturdy construction

    Cons: Not meant for digging, the shovel blade is thin so it may not hold up to heavy loads

    Gardening often calls for moving various materials from one spot to another: You dug a hole, now you need to move the dirt, you're spreading compost over your vegetable bed, or you need to move fallen leaves to the trash or scrape snow off your driveway.

    For any of these tasks, plus many others, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop is designed to provide the most leverage for the most efficient use of your muscle power.

    The wooden handle of the tool is 24.5 inches long and topped with a molded D-shaped plastic handle that's easy to grip. The aluminum blade is 15 inches wide and 11 inches deep, so it's roomy enough to get the job done without being too heavy. And it won't rust or spark when scraped against the ground.

    The best garden trowel Wilcox All Pro trowel

    Wilcox All Pro

    If you're a container gardener, or just like to get down and dirty in your vegetable or flower garden, the Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel is a must-have.

    A garden trowel is basically a small shovel with a long blade designed to be held in one hand for use in transplanting small plants and seedlings, planting individual bulbs, working in a container garden, removing individual weeds, or any other small gardening job that requires up-close, precise digging.

    The Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel's sturdy stainless steel blade comes to a sharp point so you can cut through soil with precision, almost coring out your plants for easy transplanting. You won't be scooping much soil at a time with the small blade, but it's great for smaller tasks that require more finesse.

    While the 14-inch size is probably the handiest (that's 14 inches from tip of the blade to the bottom of the handle), the trowel is also available in 9-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes.

    Pros: Extremely durable construction, sharp blade easily penetrates even clay or hard soil

    Cons: Not for moving large amounts of soil

    FAQs gardening shovel faq


    What are the different types of shovels?
    • As a general rule, garden shovels have rounded, concave blades that come to a point. Shovels are mostly used to dig holes in dirt, but are also handy for moving soil, snow, or other loose materials.
    • Typically, garden spades have slightly concave blades with a flat edge, and while not so good for digging holes, they are useful for cutting through sod, edging your lawn, or marking a trench.
    • Garden scoops have wide, flat blades that rise up into small "walls" along the sides. This is the tool of choice for moving mulch, compost, dead leaves, hay, or other lightweight loose materials.
    • Trowels are small garden tools designed for one-handed use. They have a long, shovel-shaped blade and a short handle. Use your trowel for transplanting or digging in containers, making small holes in the garden for new plants, or removing individual weeds.
    Check out our other great gardening guides container gardening


    Read the original article on Business Insider

    [Author: (Michelle Ullman)]

    Mon, 05 Apr 2021 17:28:07 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Reviews Home Outdoors Gardening Trends Features Buying Guide Fiskars Home And Garden Shovel Insider Picks Guides Best Guides Guide Update Home (Reviews Michelle Ullman Home Improvement Guides Insider Reviews 2021 Spring Forward 2021 Handle Garden SpadeBest garden Handle Garden Spade Fiskars Spade Ames D Handle Aluminum Scoop
    Nursery catalogs—the good, the bad, and the merely annoying

    Guest rant by Jack Kramer

    Guess you could say I started gardening at about age four when I planted onion sets in my sandbox. That means I now have seventy-eight years of gardening under my belt. But I’m still learning. Each year, I buy plants from local nurseries, avoiding the often-drooping stock at big box stores. On the other hand, I probably spend even more at mail-order nurseries. There are many very reputable firms, but there’s this thing about some of the catalogs. Maybe I’m just crusty.

    Seed/nursery catalogs begin arriving in late December, and for gardeners that’s a great Christmas present. They offer a much wider variety of plants at better prices than a local brick-and-mortar nursery can afford. And they get your spring juices flowing. Quite often, another catalog will show up from the same company a couple of months later. The cover may be different, but the innards are identical to the one you previously received. A hard sell? (Probably.) But maybe they assume I trashed the first catalog, though I’ve usually saved it. Then perhaps they’ll send an additional catalog a couple of months after that. Can an outfit really afford to waste so much coin? And when you order from any catalog, the word gets out, because others hit your mailbox like rabbits multiplying in springtime.

    Hardiness zones and soil conditions are issues. While there are plants that will grow just fine regardless of where you happen to live, it seems more reliable to order from a nursery located where conditions are similar to mine in the Midwest. Will nursery stock from California or North Carolina thrive as well in my soil and climate? (It depends.) Anyway, those are catalogs that hit the recycling bin.

    It’s hard not to be enticed by photos of beautiful fruits and vegetables. (Don’t look at the pictures on an empty stomach!) How come some of mine don’t turn out that nicely? The pictures of grand-looking evergreens and shade trees always invite a second look too. But here’s the morbid fact: at my age I can’t expect to see those trees, especially fruiting ones, to maturity. A word to the nurseries: “It’s not you, it’s me.”

    While on the subject of visuals, what’s with the catalogs that show their products as black-and-white line drawings, or perhaps with a little wash of water color to suggest that the flowers are yellow or pink? Those, too, are the catalogs that hit the bin in short order. I suspect the idea is to give the impression that the company has been around so long that it still uses presentation techniques from when it were founded, say about a hundred years ago. Call me shallow, but if you’re going through the expense of sending out a large catalog, make it interesting with actual photos of real plants.

    When we moved to our current acreage eighteen years ago (shown at top), there was a lot of real estate to fill with flowers and bushes—I left part as native prairie—and I wanted to minimize the amount of lawn. Fortunately, we have great neighbors who contributed their plant divisions and seeds that they had saved. But I also ordered from a couple of “discount” nursery catalogs (both of which happen to be located at the same site in central Illinois). Big mistake. Some of the items turned out okay, but some didn’t look like what was in their catalogs. Sometimes hardiness zones were misstated. Then there was the assorted iris order where half of the bulbs were rotted. The absolute worst is their “guarantee,” which requires you to send back the label from the box that the order was shipped in when registering a complaint. The receipt isn’t good enough. Who clips and saves shipping labels? That’s one way to sabotage a guarantee. They’re still in business, with generally bad customer reviews. Should have checked first. You do get what you pay for.

    Sometimes customer service becomes a sort of comedy routine. Several years ago, I decided to experiment by ordering nematodes that—purportedly—would kill vine borers that had plagued my squash and pumpkins. The nematodes arrived in early April. The directions indicated they should be mixed with water and injected into the vines within a week of receipt. Wait a minute … we have no squash growing in April! Upon calling customer service, I spoke with a pleasant gentleman with a heavy East Indian accent who could not understand that squash in the US Midwest are not growing at this time of year. He said I would have to order again, but he didn’t know whether they would have nematodes available in mid-summer (my mid-summer). I wish this had all been made clear in the firm’s spring catalog.

    Here are the catalog features I look for. Does the firm has actually grown the items itself and share info on results? Does it let you know whether a certain plant self-seeds or spreads, even if that diminishes the prospect of larger sales? Are there photos of the owners and/or employees, which lends an air of hands-on integrity?

    Final lesson learned: enjoy thumbing through the plethora of catalogs, but stay loyal to firms where you’ve had long and positive relationships.

    Nursery catalogs—the good, the bad, and the merely annoying originally appeared on GardenRant on April 5, 2021.

    The post Nursery catalogs—the good, the bad, and the merely annoying appeared first on GardenRant.

    Mon, 05 Apr 2021 11:09:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening California North Carolina Illinois Don US Midwest Guest Rants Jack Kramer Your Gardening Dollar Midwest Will
    How dwarf tomatoes have become a trendy addition to garden spaces For thousands of years, home gardeners who have wanted to grow unique heirloom tomato varieties have had to contend with massive, sprawling plants. But dwarf tomato plants, which pack full-size fruit on compact stalks, are growing in popularity.

    As home gardeners picked up growing plants during the coronavirus pandemic but didn’t necessarily have the space for a full-size garden, dwarf tomatoes found their way into containers on patios and balconies. And while a couple decades ago you’d be hard-pressed to find a mention of dwarves in seed and plant catalogs, they’re everywhere now, with whole sections dedicated to dwarves at plant sales like TomatoMania and seed companies offering dozens of varieties.

    Dwarf tomatoes can produce full-size fruit and lots of it, but they don’t grow huge like indeterminate varieties you have to support and prune throughout the season. Dwarf plants have a short, stalky stem and grow less than an inch for every 2-3 inches that an indeterminate variety grows, according to tomato author and avid tomato grower Craig LeHoullier.

    Gardening resources

    Back in the 1800s there were only about three varieties of dwarf tomatoes but there’s been an explosion of different varieties within the last 15 years thanks in part to the Dwarf Tomato Project, a cooperative venture started by LeHoullier, who lives in North Carolina, and Patrina Nuske-Small, who lives in Australia. The project has resulted in 133 different dwarf tomatoes that can be found in catalogs and tomato sales.

    “You can pick a color, a shape, a size and a flavor and they now exist,” LeHoullier said of all the varieties developed for the project.

    In the early 2000s when LeHoullier was selling tomato seedlings in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, container gardening was becoming more common. He started getting questions about smaller varieties from customers.

    “They wanted to grow gardens on their patio or their deck or their balcony and they would ask me the question of, ‘What do you have that’s really interesting and delicious and large size but I can grow it in a container?’ And at the time customers asked there were no real good solutions,” he said.

    So LeHoullier began talking with Nuske-Small, his friend who was good at breeding hybrid tomatoes, about crossing dwarves with heirlooms to produce varieties that grew the kinds of interesting tomatoes that people were looking for, but in a smaller plant.

    Now, people around the world breed their own varieties for the project, which are then given to seed companies for inclusion in their catalogs.

    LeHoullier said he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic has even underscored the importance of tomatoes for smaller spaces because it created a lot of new gardeners who may not have the big acre of space that they can dig up part of for a garden.

    “If we want to continue to grow gardeners we have to help them with container varieties and how to grow everything that they can grow in a traditional garden in a container somewhere and I think dwarves nicely fill that niche of a way to bring great tomatoes to people that are space challenged,” he said.

    Scott Daigre, owner of TomatoMania, said that after the pandemic hit, everyone wanted to get their hands on anything they could plant in soil.

    He said this year the roving tomato sale, which has included dwarf plants for years, wanted to channel that interest toward dwarves because the plants are not only prolific and come in many different varieties, but they’re also manageable.

    “They grow anywhere from 2-4 feet tall,” Daigre said. “But tomato growers know that’s nothing. With a single stake you can hold that up.”

    Even big plant companies such as Bonnie Plants, which supplies tomatoes to stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, are leaning into the trend of growing tomatoes in small spaces.

    Sid Phelps, director of e-commerce for Bonnie, said dwarf tomatoes are particularly popular right now. He said tomatoes with compact genetics are featured prominently in both Bonnie’s Foodie Fresh line for Lowe’s and Harvest Select line for Home Depot.

    Gardening resources

    There’s still more to be done for the dwarf tomato project, however. LeHoullier says that the varieties haven’t been around long enough for him to know which ones do best in which growing areas and which varieties people like most. He said that’s some of the work that will need to be done in the coming decade.

    “I’ve released 133 kids to the world and now I don’t know how people are going to like them,” he said.

    But he’s proud of what he’s accomplished thus far.

    “I’ve just done it to create interesting varieties for people to grow and I have to let the seed companies be the ones that get the income from it,” he said. “I’m just the one that gets the gratification that knows he developed some tomatoes that people enjoy.”

    Dwarf tomato care tips 

    • Like their larger counterparts, dwarf tomatoes need a lot of light. Optimally it should get between 6-8 hours.
    • When planting in a pot, bigger is better. LeHoullier said he’s grown his dwarf tomatoes in 5-gallon containers and they have grown well. You can put one plant in each 5-gallon container.
    • Fill the pot with potting soil for growing tomatoes and mix in some compost to give your tomatoes a good dose of nutrients.
    • Even though they’re shorter than indeterminate varieties, dwarf tomatoes still need support. Use a tomato cage, a short stake or set them against a wall or fence. The good news is that because they don’t grow the same way that big indeterminate varieties do, they shouldn’t outgrow the support system.
    • Fertilize your tomatoes regularly according to directions on the fertilizer label.
    • Water plants deeply and infrequently, letting the soil dry slightly between waterings. You can stick your hands into the first 2-3 inches of the soil. If it’s damp, that means your potted tomato is fine and can go a little longer without watering, Phelps said.

    Sources:; TomatoMania owner Scott Daigre; Tomato author and expert Craig LeHoullier; Bonnie Director of E-Commerce Sid Phelps.

    Mon, 05 Apr 2021 10:37:29 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Australia Sport Things To Do Soccer North Carolina Tomato Lowe Raleigh North Carolina Bonnie Phelps Garden Party Top Stories LADN Top Stories OCR Top Stories PE Top Stories IVDB Top Stories RDF Top Stories Sun Home + Garden Top Stories Breeze Top Stories LBPT Top Stories WDN Top Stories SGVT Top Stories PSN Tomatomania Sid Phelps Bonnie Plants Scott Daigre Daigre Craig LeHoullier LeHoullier Patrina Nuske Nuske Small
    Community meetings in the San Fernando Valley, April 5-12  

    Veterans Memorial Community Regional Park in Sylmar on February 4, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)


    Community meetings bring people together for exchange of ideas and memorable shared experiences. Here’s a sampling of online meetings in the San Fernando Valley.


    Wings Over Wendy’s: Veterans of all services and their supporters meet online on Zoom. Meet and greet, 8:30 a.m., followed by meeting, 9:30 a.m. every Monday of the month. Guest speakers scheduled for every meeting. Contact Ed Reynolds for the Zoom link, ID and password. 818-884-4013. Email:

    Greater Valley Glen Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 5. Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Scott Schmerelson is the scheduled guest speaker. Join the meeting by phone, 669-900-6833 and use ID: 81445706341 and press #.

    Mission Hills Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 5. Check the agenda on the website for how to join the meeting on Zoom or by phone. Council’s voice mail, 818-869-4577. Email:

    Where Are the Stars? Light Pollution in Our Ecosystems: Sylmar Branch Library presents a talk with a guest speaker from Globe at Night in recognition of International Dark Sky Week, 4 p.m. April 6. For ages 9 and older. Make a reservation to join the Zoom meeting here: Globe at Night:

    Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 6. Join the meeting on Zoom here: By phone, 833-548-0282 and use ID: 98538834487 and press #. Email:

    Friends of the Chatsworth Library Book Club: Discusses “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, 1:30-3 p.m. April 7. Request the Zoom link by email to

    Chatsworth Neighborhood Council: A board meeting is scheduled, 6:30 p.m. April 7. Check the agenda on the website for how to join the meeting on Zoom or by phone. Council’s voice mail, 818-464-3511. Email:

    Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 7 p.m. April 7. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 93626962330. By phone, 669-900-9128 and use the ID and #. Council’s voice mail, 818-779-9026.

    School Anxiety – Social and Academic Pressure: Daybreak Health holds an online class for parents on teen emotional well being, 7-8 p.m. April 8. Free. Register in advance. 415-992-5084.

    NoHo Book Club with North Hollywood Regional Branch Library: Discuss a book of your choice that you have enjoyed, 10 a.m. April 9. Send a request for the Zoom link to

    Current Events Nonfiction Book Club with Studio City Branch Library: Discusses “Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding” by Scott Weidensaul, 12:15 p.m. April 9. Request the Zoom link in advance to Emily at

    American Association of University Women, Glendale Branch: Guest speaker Susan Hallgren, a longtime volunteer docent at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, discusses “The Secret Lives of the Native Trees of Descanso,” 10 a.m. April 10. The retired Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school teacher was inspired by the book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. Send an email request to receive the meeting’s Zoom link to by April 7 (include your full name and email).

    The Strangest Cooking Methods in the World: Culinary author and historian Richard Foss discusses the topic at a meeting of the Culinary Historians of Southern California, 10:30 a.m April 10. Free. Register in advance for the Zoom meeting here:

    Divorce Telephone Workshop: A family law attorney from the Law Collaborative in Woodland Hills discusses the divorce process and issues including state guidelines for child custody and support, financial and tax concerns, 10 a.m.-noon April 10. Free. 609-663-5450.

    Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants: Wildflower Hotline with information on where to see wildflowers is updated every Friday through May, 818-768-1802, Ext. 7 ( Online classes: “Native Plant Garden Maintenance,” with Katherine Pakradouni, 10 a.m. April 10 ($35; “California Native Container Plants,” with Flora Ito, 5:30 p.m. April 21 ($35; The foundation’s nursery is open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with a time slot reservation (see the website). 10459 Tuxford St., Sun Valley. 818-768-1802.

    Mystery Book Club at West Valley Regional Branch Library: Guest speaker Stuart Turton discusses his book “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” 10:30 a.m. April 14. Request the Zoom link in advance to (put Mystery Book Club in the subject line). The library is in Reseda.

    Book Club at Pacoima Branch Library: Discusses “Up at the Villa” by William Somerset Maugham, 6:30 p.m. April 14. Request the Zoom link in advance to

    North Hollywood West Neighborhood Council: A board meeting, 6:30 p.m. April 14. Join the meeting on Zoom here: and use ID: 85136642487. By phone, 669-900-6833 and use the ID and press #. 818-446-6469. Email:

    Northridge Woman’s Club Spring Luncheon and Fundraiser: The event includes entertainment and prizes, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 15. Tickets $65. 18401 Lassen St., Northridge. Contact Hattie Spiegel for tickets and reservation, 818-886-5271.

    National Coalition of Girls’ Schools’ Advantage Program: Parents of girls in grade levels K-12 are invited to learn about the benefits of all-girls schooling option, 5-6:30 p.m. April 15. Register for the online talk by April 9.

    Online Tuesday Evening Book Club with Calabasas Library: Discusses “The Overstory” by Richard Powers, 6 p.m. April 20. Request the Zoom link in advance from Barbara Lockwood at

    Online Wednesday Morning Book Club with Calabasas Library: Discusses “We Were the Mulvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates, 11 a.m. April 21. Request the Zoom link in advance from Karilyn Steward at

    Adult Book Club at Studio City Branch Library: Discusses “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict, 6:30 p.m. April 21. Request the Zoom link in advance to Emily at

    Mystery and Thriller Book Club at Studio City Branch Library: Discusses “The Law and the Lady” by Wilkie Collins, 6:30 p.m. April 28. Request the Zoom link in advance to Emily at




    Eat. Drink. Give. – A Virtual Dinner Party with Chef Wolfgang Puck: Children’s Bureau and Ernst & Young LLP, presenting sponsor), offer the event to bring awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Host Billy Harris (a former “Iron Chef” judge) and musical guest Marc Cohn entertain on the Zoom meet-up that includes a cooking demonstration by Puck, 6:30 p.m. April 17. Tickets $50 for viewing only; $500 includes ingredients and instructions for a four-course meal, cocktails and a bottle of wine for two (extra fee for delivery with 30 miles of Hollywood; or pick-up option in Hollywood). Tickets must be purchased by April 8. Information on the meal and to register here: Information about Children’s Bureau here:

    Feathers, Flippers and Fur – Online Auction and Event for the California Wildlife Center: A fundraiser to support the group that helps rehabilitate injured, orphaned and sick native animals in order to return them into the wild. Auction bidding begins, 8 a.m. April 11 and continues through 3 p.m. April 17. Items include a signed guitar by Slash (Guns N’ Roses), art, beauty and health, clothing, food and wine, home and garden, jewelry, pet items and travel. Bid here: Registration and more information here: Live event, 3 p.m. April 17.Facebook: The center is in Malibu. 310-458-9453.

    Send information at least two weeks in advance to 818-713-3708.

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    How to build a custom deer fence for your garden How to build a custom deer fence for your garden

    When I started my garden, I had a fence using T posts and plastic deer fence. It worked for deer, but didn’t keep out smaller animals that would come in underneath it. This year, since I was expanding the garden, I wanted to improve the deer fence as well. We decided to build a permanent wood and welded wire fence that extended underground with hardware cloth.


    Mon, 05 Apr 2021 08:21:13 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Health Garden Gardening Deer Infertility Build Fence Custom Critters Cattle Panel Deer Fence Hogwire Sloped
    Josie's Easter

    I have a new Easter dress and green sandals.
    The Easter Bunny brought me three new castle people. This one is Elsa from Frozen.

    The other two are Rapunzel and Briar Rose. They are getting to know the other princesses.

    Now it is time to hunt eggs. Bobadog is going too.

    I see one!

    Got it!

    I know there are more out here. I will find them.

    A blue one to match my dress!

    I think there's another one . . . 

    Here it is!

    Good thing I have a big basket.
    No more here. . .
    How many do I have?

    This was a sneaky one. 
                                      Also, we saw an Easter toad. 

    Daddy and Grumpy helped me look. 

    Then we had to pose for a family picture.
    We are a happy family.

    Then it was time for lunch. The grownups had salad with shrimp and salmon and oranges and stuff. Also hot rolls with butter. I had an open-face cream cheese sandwich. It was shaped like an egg and had sprinkles on it for decoration. I had some hot rolls too.
    It was a Happy Easter!


    [Author: Vicki Lane]

    Mon, 05 Apr 2021 05:08:53 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Elsa Gardening Josie Vicki Lane
    I’m Project-ed Out! Weariness Projected Through Labor Day!

    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021

    Dear Marianne,

    Thanks for your last letter and your continued interest in my life. I apologize that it has again taken me over a month to reply. Fact is, I have no self-discipline. I have no self-discipline and I was mired in a self-isolated hell of trying to launch, sell, produce, and present two simultaneous, five-part, virtual horticultural lecture series without any of the skill sets. On top of that, someone at work is being mean to me!

    Michele dressed for Easter this morning!

    Before I forget, I want to lock onto and dwell on something from your letter. It was at the very end in the postscript, almost as if it were there as a test to see if I actually read all of your letter. It was the part where you said that one of my fans emailed you last week and called me a “treasure.” Is that true? Please don’t tease me with something like that if it isn’t true. Because I’m vulnerable. And I’m the kind of guy who could run with this. And I could launch an ego trip that burns through the atmosphere like a comet. And if you allow all that to happen only to go all Lucy on me and pull away the football, it could prove quite embarrassing for me. And it will hurt my feelings, which I know can still happen, because someone at work is being mean to me. Which I already mentioned. 

    A trap?

    I’m glad you didn’t write to me on Valentine’s Day like you said you almost did. Indeed, as you implied, I probably would have not handled that responsibly and would have run amok with inappropriate remarks that your ex-marine husband simply would not be able to ignore. But, I do think it’s appropriate that I’m writing to you on Easter. A) because I’m resurrecting this correspondence after something like a 40-day lapse; and, B) because it truly feels like we’re now in Spring. And a beautiful one! And like we’re nearing the end of the pandemic. 

    Although my longtime Pasque Flower did not return this year, an alpine species in the crevice garden stepped up and is keeping the Easter tradition alive.

    Even March wasn’t too bad this year. Usually March around here is pretty dire. It is when the novelty of the outside air being so cold you can freeze water in it has long lost its charm and when the utter lack of any color outside becomes unbearable. Invariably, it’s the time of year when anything in the garden that might have once promised “winter interest” can only still be identified by means of dental records. But this year was not so bad. Warmer than usual. Less gray. And dry. This meant we were able to enjoy those early bloomers—dafs, crocus, scilla, hellebores, etc., and not once slip in the mud, our feet flying out from under us, free falling backwards for a mile, the jarring impact of the tailbone and elbows upon the ground, head snapping back, and then hollering cuss words that reverberate off all the neighboring houses which causes embarrassment and remorse. An entire March without a concussion. Hey, one for the books!

    But I haven’t been free of aches and pains, because I’m deeply mired in a ditch digging project. Like a mile of ditches. Or 140 feet. Whichever is greater. Here is an overview of the project:

    First, the Problem

    • Rain from the front of the house and the front gutters flows onto the driveway.
    • The driveway drain is clogged, so all that water runs to the pool deck at the side of the house.
    • Somehow, all water on the pool deck winds up in the basement.
    • All basement water is pumped onto the driveway causing a fun but expensive water-go-round.

    The culprit. The first domino.

    And Then a Second Problem

    • Back gutters are clogged. A lot of that water also winds up on the pool deck. (See 1st Problem).
    • Even if these gutters are fixed, they drain into pipes for which I can find no place where they daylight.

    Third Problem

    • The pool is a 1960s vintage gunnite pool with three return lines, of which only one works.

    The pool deck and one wall of the garage. The trench is barely started on this section. The pool is to the right. The serviceberry in the upper center is toast. Still hoping I can save the Juddii viburnum top right.

    Looking a lot like the Keystone Pipeline project around here.

    Attempted Fixes and Fixes Currently in Progress

    • I tried to unclog the driveway drain. It runs around the backside of the garage, between the garage and an 80’ sugar maple. It daylighted nowhere until I dug down and found the old pipe three feet below grade and chopped through it. To nobody’s surprise, it was filled with dirt and roots. It does, however, actually drain a little, enough to drain the driveway of what water is left after the rest has gone to the pool deck.
    • So I decided to install a drain in the pool deck. This required a ditch that runs from the pool deck along the other side of the garage, around the back (where it will combine with the driveway drain once I chop through a million maple tree roots and replace the old pipe), and then along about 80’ of property line. A long ass way. But! This allows me to address these other problems.
      • It gave me time to remove the maple (which had other issues).
      • It will stop the expensive and wasteful water-go-round issue that is dinging me big time on getting LEED certification. (Just kidding on the LEED thing.)
      • The ditches I need to put a drain in the pool deck are the same ones I will need to re-plumb the pool.

    My personal Big Dig. Blown budgets and quality control issues abound. The Gingko on the left has been generous with roots for me to cut. Moving the pool filter a short distance became a project in and of itself and involved removing a lot of wet sand.

    So, when I said “ditch digging project” before, I hope you now see that it’s more like a genius level ditch digging project involving inventions and the sort of ultra smart wizardry I’m not typically known for.  I am not a left-brained person. Indeed, I am a very right-brained woman trapped in a right-brained man’s body. In fact, I am a rich right-brained woman trapped in a poor right-brained man’s body. Just picture Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde suffering away inside my gross and rundown human contraption of life. So, for me, this is some seriously Romanesque engineering. Mulholland would have been proud! Hopefully, none of my crap fails like some of his and  gets somebody killed. And all I want, all I need, Dear Lord, is for driveway and pool deck to drain, the pool return lines to work, and the pool water to get filtered when I’m done. And for my neighbor’s car to not get swept off into the woods. Other people get things. Can I have this?   

    But, Marianne, I’m telling you, the work is killing me. I’m a physical wreck! Every ache and pain you’d expect from digging and chopping through roots and rocks while on your knees in a ditch while smashed between a garage wall and a Mahonia or a serviceberry are proving to be real over achievers in every one of my muscles and joints. They are showing every indication of intending to stay for the long haul. I’m way too old for this, but I’m also, turns out, way to poor to pay any MIT grad capable of understanding both my instructions and doing the physical labor. Seems the current crop of young MIT grads all have hyper inflated ideas about their worth and what they’re willing to to be paid for digging ditches by hand through a forest or roots while routing pipes around this patch of raspberries, that patch of allium, and also an errant Concord grape. None of them have accepted any of my very reasonable offers, and this, if you ask me, is just another of about fifty reasons why this country is going to Hell in a hand basket.

    A range of hellebore blooms taken from mostly seedling plants.

    But, anyway, let’s not dwell on things going to Hell too much. That’s not what one should do on Easter Sunday. In fact, the prettiest Easter Sunday I can ever remember. Instead, one should try to find eggs, eat peeps, eat ham, look at flowers, feel the sun, breath fresh air, think existentially, become renewed, rise up, and start referring to the Winter in the past tense. I hope you’re doing all of that, and maybe a little more! 



    P.S. None of your friends have ever emailed me about you, but if they ever do, I’ll let you know!

    I’m Project-ed Out! Weariness Projected Through Labor Day! originally appeared on GardenRant on April 4, 2021.

    The post I’m Project-ed Out! Weariness Projected Through Labor Day! appeared first on GardenRant.

    Sun, 04 Apr 2021 23:09:54 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Reese Witherspoon Mit Lucy Marianne Michele Mulholland Mahonia Scott Beuerlein Marianne Wilburn Drains Dear Gardener Pasque Flower the Easter garden Trenching Cincinnati Ohio Easter
    Grow with our Garden Party newsletter and virtual event series Whether you love big heirloom tomatoes on a BLT or the sweet pop of cherry tomatoes in a pasta salad, Garden Party wants to help you grown them better.

    Sign up for our free weekly newsletter and for eight weeks reporter Alex Groves will guide you to growing great tomatoes and help you avoid the pitfall of pests, diseases and more. We’ll even include some recipes for when those tomato babies are ripe.

    Visit for more information on this free newsletter.

    If you prefer your plants to live indoors, check out out Garden Party Zoom series. Our next installment is 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 21. Host Marla Jo Fisher will talk with some experts about how to keep your houseplants happy.

    Here’s the list of upcoming events for the coming months:

    April 21: Happy HouseplantsMay 19: Everything TomatoJune 16: Troubleshooting Common Problems

    You can register for the free sessions at and if you aren’t able to make the livestream, a link to a recording will be sent to you after the event

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    Praising and *Defending* the ‘Ogon’ Spirea

    I’ve grown several spirea shrubs over the years but it wasn’t until I found the ‘Ogon’ variety that I became thoroughly smitten, recommending it to the dozens of people who’ve asked me about it admiringly. Here’s why.

    The photo above, taken March 8 of last year, shows how early they bloom – with the ‘February Gold’ daffodils, even earlier than forsythias near me.

    It also has fabulous fall color, which it maintains for an impressively long time – so long that I kept photographing it over the winter so that I could record its last date with leaves.

    And the result? The wreath is a tip-off.  I took the photo above on December 23, just before it began dropping its leaves. Pretty impressive, right?

    And here’s what it looks like the rest of the growing season – willow-like foliage and bright chartreuse color that people go nuts for.

    I was prepared to brag about Ogon’s 10 full months of color. 

    Until this spring, when my Ogons didn’t flower until the last week of March. But still – 9 months of color!

    It’s pretty, but what use is it?

    Sadly, it’s controversial these days to recommend plants solely for their beauty. But in my gardening and garden-coaching experience I’ve found that beauty counts for a lot because that’s what inspires people to garden more, to fill up their little spaces with more and more plants, more diversity, less lawn, and so on. Beauty wins converts to gardening, just as the failure of plants to look good can discourages new gardeners. 

    ALL eco-services

    Plants, of course, perform all sorts of eco-services, wherever they’re from. Per Texas A&M’s “Eco-systems services benefits of plants,” plants sequester carbon, improve air and water quality, reduce stormwater runoff and erosion, and absorb heat.

    Then we get to the eco-service that native-plant purists seem to focus on exclusively – “attracting wildlife and promoting biodiversity.” Shrubs, including Japanese spireas, create habitat for some birds, possibly other critters, too. Some of them even feed pollinators. A quick google of “spirea” reveals that: 

    • Garden Design Magazine, on the subject of spirea’s wildlife benefits, says that it “Attracts bees and butterflies; deer resistant.”
    • The Morton Arboretum says “Butterflies are attracted to the summer flowers.”
    • Michigan State lists spireas as a top shrub for attracting bees.
    • Several sources call (nonnative) spireas one of the best shrubs for attracting pollinators.

    Then there’s the fact that spireas (in my 40+ years growing them in Maryland) need NO inputs. Okay, newly planted ones may need supplemental watering until established or in a VERY long drought, but really, nothing else. Okay, five minutes of yearly renewal pruning after they’re full-grown, just enough to encourage new growth from the base. 

    But that’s all, so in terms of sustainability, spireas are as self-sustaining as can be. That reminds me of the time I mentioned spireas during a talk about “sustainable gardening,” which prompted an angry complaint to the organizers of the talk. Disapproved of spirea’s Asian provenance.

    In the end, aren’t we all just trying to convince people to do more with their yards than grow turfgrass? If they’d all just turn some of it into borders with a mix of shrubs and perennials, both native and nonnative, that would be a huge improvement!

    Shaming people for growing such beautiful, well-adapted nonnatives is counter-productive. So I take the garden-coach approach of recommending plants that create pretty spaces that will be loved and gardened in. I say help create a gardener, a well informed one, and the environment will be better for it.

    One big help are the fast-growing, inexpensive spring-flowering shrubs like spirea and weigela. They can be the gorgeous backdrop for your pollinator garden. 

    Praising and *Defending* the ‘Ogon’ Spirea originally appeared on GardenRant on April 4, 2021.

    The post Praising and *Defending* the ‘Ogon’ Spirea appeared first on GardenRant.

    Sun, 04 Apr 2021 11:15:32 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Maryland Michigan State Morton Arboretum Ogon Spirea Rant's Plants
    Wishing Everyone a Happy Spring Day

      Call it Easter or Eostre or what you will--Spring is in the air~ and it's time to celebrate--safely, of course!

    [Author: Vicki Lane]

    Sun, 04 Apr 2021 05:18:41 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Gardening Vicki Lane