Cold Frames and Hot Beds

A cold frame is an outdoor growing "area" built without a bottom but with a solid-sided frame of wood, cement or brick, and a removable hinged top, glazed with glass, Fiberglas, or plastic. Cold frames are invaluable. For instance, they take some of the spring bulge from a greenhouse. Then there are plants such as delphiniums, pansies, and Oriental poppies, to be planted in the frame in late summer and kept there over winter. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterfly Gardens

Everyone loves butterflies but knowing how to keep and attract them to your home is really quite easy. There is no minimum size to a Butterfly garden; they can be as small as a container or window planter, or as large as your can design and build. What you want to create is a complete environment that will not only attract butterflies but will also entice them to lay their eggs; so you will want plants that caterpillars would love to eat too. In essence, you will create a complete ecosystem for all stages of their life.

First you will need to do a little research on your local area as to what butterflies are common, then you can begin searching for the best nectar and host plants for your butterfly garden. Monarch butterfly caterpillars like Milkweed, the Common Snout-Nosed wants hackberries and so it is important to know what butterflies live where you live. You also should know that what caterpillars eat is not what a Butterfly gets its nourishment from. Butterflies drink their food thus they need nectar bearing flowers and plants which hold water on their leaves. Caterpillars eat leaves.

The following is a partial list of host plants for butterfly egg laying and caterpillar food:

Monarch – Milkweed Swallowtail – parsley, parsnips, carrots, fennel, anise, pipe vine, snakeroot Great Southern White – mustard Zebras, Julia, Gulf Fritillary – passion flower leaves Greater and Lesser Fritillaries – violets Comma – nettle and hops Buckeye – plantain and gerardia Red Admiral – nettles Common Blue – dogwood flowers California Sister – live oak Fawn – birch and elder

Nectar bearing plants and flowers include the following varieties:

Lantana (full sun) Zinnias (partial to full sun) Sage (full sun) Sunflower (full sun) Butterfly bush and weeds (partial to full sun) Bee balm (partial to full sun) Lilac (partial to full sun) Marjoram (partial to full sun) Hebe (partial to full sun) Pentas (partial to full sun) Purple Coneflowers (partial to full sun)

Butterflies require sunlight in order to regulate their body temperature, but just like us humans too much sun can also be harmful, so any butterfly garden should have both full sunlight and partial shade to offer the best of everything. As with any garden, proper soil or bed preparation is important as is adequate nutrients and water for the plants you select. Also, placement of the plants in your garden is equally important for their survival. You should not put plant requiring full sun in the shaded areas and vise-versa. With the right planning and proper care, you can create a complete lifecycle environment for your butterflies.

Bulb Gardens

Bulb gardens tend to be a favorite of many, particularly when you want a formal looking garden which has lots of vibrant, cheery color in it. When you mention bulb gardens to most people though, they automatically think you're talking about tulips or daffodils. There are in fact though, many variations of plants that grow from bulbs. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating Border Gardens

Creating a border garden is a wonderful way to improve the overall look of your yard in general, and create dividing lines between specific areas or sections. If for instance, you want to divide your front yard space from the back yard, you could put a border garden in that will look pretty and define the space, without taking up a lot of room or completely blocking the view. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating an Annual Flower Bed

Annual flower beds are a beautiful site to see. Since most annual flowers are quite colorful, they're planted into beds where color is most desired or needed. Used for a wide variety of exterior landscaping and garden design purposes, annual flowers come in every color of the rainbow and they can have any number of textures and shapes too. Read the rest of this entry »