Exciting News + Brief Update

May 5, 2020

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4F1FE61A-2F45-45C5-AF19-7CE3013A9615

I’m SO incredibly excited to finally announce that I will be attending Cornell University to study plant science beginning this August!

You might have noticed that I took a hiatus from social media and this website for the past several months. 

Here’s a brief update: 

I finished up my last year of high school in 2019 and was offered a Transfer Option from Cornell University. A Transfer Option is essentially a guaranteed transfer into the university after one year at another institution. 

I attended Louisiana Tech (Go Dawgs!!) for a year to satisfy the requirements. Although I enjoyed my time at Tech, it was extremely stressful because I was required to maintain a high GPA in all classes, hence my absence from social media. I’m sad to say goodbye to all of the amazing friends I’ve made while at Tech, but am optimistic about what the future holds; this will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this process as well as all of my amazing, encouraging friends and family – without you all this couldn’t have happened. 

All the Best,

Travis

P.S. – I’m studying for finals right now but expect more posts in the next month or so!

Exciting News + Brief Update

May 5, 2020

4F1FE61A-2F45-45C5-AF19-7CE3013A9615

I’m SO incredibly excited to finally announce that I will be attending Cornell University to study plant science beginning this August!

You might have noticed that I took a hiatus from social media and this website for the past several months. 

Here’s a brief update: 

I finished up my last year of high school in 2019 and was offered a Transfer Option from Cornell University. A Transfer Option is essentially a guaranteed transfer into the university after one year at another institution. 

I attended Louisiana Tech (Go Dawgs!!) for a year to satisfy the requirements. Although I enjoyed my time at Tech, it was extremely stressful because I was required to maintain a high GPA in all classes, hence my absence from social media. I’m sad to say goodbye to all of the amazing friends I’ve made while at Tech, but am optimistic about what the future holds; this will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this process as well as all of my amazing, encouraging friends and family – without you all this couldn’t have happened. 

All the Best,

Travis

P.S. – I’m studying for finals right now but expect more posts in the next month or so!

Exciting News + Brief Update

May 5, 2020

4F1FE61A-2F45-45C5-AF19-7CE3013A9615

I’m SO incredibly excited to finally announce that I will be attending Cornell University to study plant science beginning this August!

You might have noticed that I took a hiatus from social media and this website for the past several months. 

Here’s a brief update: 

I finished up my last year of high school in 2019 and was offered a Transfer Option from Cornell University. A Transfer Option is essentially a guaranteed transfer into the university after one year at another institution. 

I attended Louisiana Tech (Go Dawgs!!) for a year to satisfy the requirements. Although I enjoyed my time at Tech, it was extremely stressful because I was required to maintain a high GPA in all classes, hence my absence from social media. I’m sad to say goodbye to all of the amazing friends I’ve made while at Tech, but am optimistic about what the future holds; this will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this process as well as all of my amazing, encouraging friends and family – without you all this couldn’t have happened. 

All the Best,

Travis

P.S. – I’m studying for finals right now but expect more posts in the next month or so!

More Posts...

A Look At My Summer Garden

Jul 26, 2019

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Hi friends!

I took a hiatus from blogging due to a crazy school year (senior year is complete!) but now that summer is officially here, I wanted to resume posting periodically.

I will confess that the garden has become a little more wild and wooly over the past few months, my rigorous academic year requiring most of my attention. The never-ending battle with Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and Purple Nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) continues, and the dry, sandy Louisiana soil is not helping the situation. While I was busy traveling and preparing for school last summer a drought devastated most of my more delicate plants, opening gaping holes in the cottage garden and encouraging the reentry of Bermudagrass. The eradication process is progressing smoothly and the cottage garden (the vegetable garden is a different story) is almost completely free of those pernicious weeds.

The gaps left by the drought (R.I.P. Rudbeckia lacinata, Helianthus angustifolius, numerous Salvias, ‘Ryan’s Pink’ Chrysanthemum, and ‘Homestead Purple’ Verbena to name a few) are already in the process of being filled. I just purchased two Echinops bannaticus ‘Taplow Blue’ that will replace the Rudbeckia in the back of the border, and plan to add more structure to the garden in the form of shrubs with multi-seasonal interest. A Master Gardener friend also gifted me two healthy Carolina Lupines (Thermopsis caroliniana) that will replace a large clump I lost to the neighborhood pocket gopher. A couple of more recent purchases include ‘Silver Lyre’ Afghan Fig (Ficus afghanistanica ‘Silver Lyre’) and the wonderfully fragrant Mock Orange (Philadelphus mexicanus ‘Plena’) – both of which will be welcome additions to a garden that, until recently, was comprised of mainly herbaceous perennials.

'Scheherazade' Lily

The “orienpet” (a hybrid of oriental and trumpet) lily ‘Scheherazade’ looks better every year. I have heard tales of this variety sporting up to 50 flowers per stem, but so far mine have only mustered up a few blooms. They were planted about three years ago, so I can only expect them to improve over time, right? 😉

Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine. Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine.

Note to self – move the Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata) planted only ONE FOOT away from the path. I stuck a tiny stem from a bouquet picked on the side of the road in south Louisiana in the ground, expecting it to fizzle out last summer. Of course, it rooted and has since begun to crowd out its more delicate neighbors. The constant pruning to keep the viciously spiny branches out of the path is an ongoing battle. I’m considering moving it to the edge of the field, where it can clamber up into the low-hanging branches of Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda) and look like the snowfall we never have when it blooms in May. I’m still deciding.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum  vulgare 'Purpureum') is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also - can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also – can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) has never done much for me, until this year. I guess it enjoyed the copious amounts of rain this spring and the above-average winter temperatures. As of right now it is about five and a half feet tall and sporting its beautifully see-through umbels of yellow flowers – pollinator heaven. I am expecting the misty purple-grey foliage to disappear any day now as Black Swallowtail butterflies seek out suitable foodplants for their larva – so far only a couple have been spotted.

Now that summer has “officially” arrived, the weather is becoming more miserable by the day – the high heat and humidity has already forced many of my gardener-friends indoors until more hospitable weather arrives in the fall. My attempts at early-morning gardening before the worst of the heat were foiled by summer school and work, although a change in my class schedule might allow at least 30 minutes of gardening – fingers crossed.

I also combat the blistering heat by following the shade cast by the numerous trees around the yard as the sun moves across the sky. Every area of the garden is shaded sometime throughout the day, rendering this strategy the most effective I’ve found.

Although flowers are relatively scarce in my garden this time of year due to the heat (and the fact I was traveling when I should have been starting seed 🙂 ), I still have a fair amount of color.

Wingstem (Verbesina ) is one of the few composites I grow that enjoys full shade.

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is a new one to me. This native daisy relative bloomed for the first time this year, reminding me it was still existing in the back corner of my shade garden after four years of silence. I’m considering moving it to the banks of the small creek that flows through one corner of my property; it doesn’t appear to enjoy the rich but dry soil in its current situation.

This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden. This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden.

The screaming magenta phlox in the cottage garden seems to call “Look at me! Look at me!” as I walk past it each day. Although it is prone to mildew and tends to self-sow politely, I prefer it to the more modern selections because of its height and vigor.

Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a. Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a.

For the past five years this begonia has reliably overwintered unprotected in a sheltered location on the north side of my house. It resembles the tender Begonia ‘Dragon Wing,’ only with slightly smaller, white flowers. An enthusiastic gardener gave me a start of this Begonia at a local plant swap, labelling itHardy Begonia (Begonia grandis).” Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to pinpoint the exact species and variety, besides concluding that it is an unknown member of the cane-stemmed Begonia clan.

Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps. Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps.

Silphiums are the reigning composite in my midsummer garden. They begin blooming as their neighbor, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) fades and won’t slow down until late August when Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) bursts onto the scene. I currently grow three species (with plans to try more): Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), Rough Rosinweed (Silphium radula), and lacy-leaved Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum).

Here are a few more pics from the summer garden:

This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! 'David' Phlox is just beginning to bloom. ‘David’ Phlox is just beginning to bloom. I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma 'Emporer.' I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma ‘Emporer.’ Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Curcuma 'Emerald Choco Zebra' is a highly unusual ginger relative. Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ is a highly unusual ginger relative.

I can’t believe this exotic Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ has survived two Louisiana winters! The Master Gardener who gave this to me labeled it as a Zone 9 plant, but with heavy mulching and well-drained soil it seems to survive in Zone 8a.

My garden definitely needs some rearranging come Fall, but until then I am enjoying the spontaneity of it all: unplanned, but beautiful.

Hopefully I can resume posting regularly soon, but until then I will be on instagram @thegardenscout. Happy gardening!

Share This Post:

A Look At My Summer Garden

Jul 26, 2019

Hi friends!

I took a hiatus from blogging due to a crazy school year (senior year is complete!) but now that summer is officially here, I wanted to resume posting periodically.

I will confess that the garden has become a little more wild and wooly over the past few months, my rigorous academic year requiring most of my attention. The never-ending battle with Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and Purple Nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) continues, and the dry, sandy Louisiana soil is not helping the situation. While I was busy traveling and preparing for school last summer a drought devastated most of my more delicate plants, opening gaping holes in the cottage garden and encouraging the reentry of Bermudagrass. The eradication process is progressing smoothly and the cottage garden (the vegetable garden is a different story) is almost completely free of those pernicious weeds.

The gaps left by the drought (R.I.P. Rudbeckia lacinata, Helianthus angustifolius, numerous Salvias, ‘Ryan’s Pink’ Chrysanthemum, and ‘Homestead Purple’ Verbena to name a few) are already in the process of being filled. I just purchased two Echinops bannaticus ‘Taplow Blue’ that will replace the Rudbeckia in the back of the border, and plan to add more structure to the garden in the form of shrubs with multi-seasonal interest. A Master Gardener friend also gifted me two healthy Carolina Lupines (Thermopsis caroliniana) that will replace a large clump I lost to the neighborhood pocket gopher. A couple of more recent purchases include ‘Silver Lyre’ Afghan Fig (Ficus afghanistanica ‘Silver Lyre’) and the wonderfully fragrant Mock Orange (Philadelphus mexicanus ‘Plena’) – both of which will be welcome additions to a garden that, until recently, was comprised of mainly herbaceous perennials.

'Scheherazade' Lily

The “orienpet” (a hybrid of oriental and trumpet) lily ‘Scheherazade’ looks better every year. I have heard tales of this variety sporting up to 50 flowers per stem, but so far mine have only mustered up a few blooms. They were planted about three years ago, so I can only expect them to improve over time, right? 😉

Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine. Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine.

Note to self – move the Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata) planted only ONE FOOT away from the path. I stuck a tiny stem from a bouquet picked on the side of the road in south Louisiana in the ground, expecting it to fizzle out last summer. Of course, it rooted and has since begun to crowd out its more delicate neighbors. The constant pruning to keep the viciously spiny branches out of the path is an ongoing battle. I’m considering moving it to the edge of the field, where it can clamber up into the low-hanging branches of Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda) and look like the snowfall we never have when it blooms in May. I’m still deciding.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum  vulgare 'Purpureum') is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also - can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also – can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) has never done much for me, until this year. I guess it enjoyed the copious amounts of rain this spring and the above-average winter temperatures. As of right now it is about five and a half feet tall and sporting its beautifully see-through umbels of yellow flowers – pollinator heaven. I am expecting the misty purple-grey foliage to disappear any day now as Black Swallowtail butterflies seek out suitable foodplants for their larva – so far only a couple have been spotted.

Now that summer has “officially” arrived, the weather is becoming more miserable by the day – the high heat and humidity has already forced many of my gardener-friends indoors until more hospitable weather arrives in the fall. My attempts at early-morning gardening before the worst of the heat were foiled by summer school and work, although a change in my class schedule might allow at least 30 minutes of gardening – fingers crossed.

I also combat the blistering heat by following the shade cast by the numerous trees around the yard as the sun moves across the sky. Every area of the garden is shaded sometime throughout the day, rendering this strategy the most effective I’ve found.

Although flowers are relatively scarce in my garden this time of year due to the heat (and the fact I was traveling when I should have been starting seed 🙂 ), I still have a fair amount of color.

Wingstem (Verbesina ) is one of the few composites I grow that enjoys full shade.

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is a new one to me. This native daisy relative bloomed for the first time this year, reminding me it was still existing in the back corner of my shade garden after four years of silence. I’m considering moving it to the banks of the small creek that flows through one corner of my property; it doesn’t appear to enjoy the rich but dry soil in its current situation.

This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden. This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden.

The screaming magenta phlox in the cottage garden seems to call “Look at me! Look at me!” as I walk past it each day. Although it is prone to mildew and tends to self-sow politely, I prefer it to the more modern selections because of its height and vigor.

Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a. Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a.

For the past five years this begonia has reliably overwintered unprotected in a sheltered location on the north side of my house. It resembles the tender Begonia ‘Dragon Wing,’ only with slightly smaller, white flowers. An enthusiastic gardener gave me a start of this Begonia at a local plant swap, labelling itHardy Begonia (Begonia grandis).” Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to pinpoint the exact species and variety, besides concluding that it is an unknown member of the cane-stemmed Begonia clan.

Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps. Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps.

Silphiums are the reigning composite in my midsummer garden. They begin blooming as their neighbor, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) fades and won’t slow down until late August when Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) bursts onto the scene. I currently grow three species (with plans to try more): Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), Rough Rosinweed (Silphium radula), and lacy-leaved Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum).

Here are a few more pics from the summer garden:

This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! 'David' Phlox is just beginning to bloom. ‘David’ Phlox is just beginning to bloom. I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma 'Emporer.' I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma ‘Emporer.’ Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Curcuma 'Emerald Choco Zebra' is a highly unusual ginger relative. Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ is a highly unusual ginger relative.

I can’t believe this exotic Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ has survived two Louisiana winters! The Master Gardener who gave this to me labeled it as a Zone 9 plant, but with heavy mulching and well-drained soil it seems to survive in Zone 8a.

My garden definitely needs some rearranging come Fall, but until then I am enjoying the spontaneity of it all: unplanned, but beautiful.

Hopefully I can resume posting regularly soon, but until then I will be on instagram @thegardenscout. Happy gardening!

Share This Post:

A Look At My Summer Garden

Jul 26, 2019

Hi friends!

I took a hiatus from blogging due to a crazy school year (senior year is complete!) but now that summer is officially here, I wanted to resume posting periodically.

I will confess that the garden has become a little more wild and wooly over the past few months, my rigorous academic year requiring most of my attention. The never-ending battle with Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and Purple Nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) continues, and the dry, sandy Louisiana soil is not helping the situation. While I was busy traveling and preparing for school last summer a drought devastated most of my more delicate plants, opening gaping holes in the cottage garden and encouraging the reentry of Bermudagrass. The eradication process is progressing smoothly and the cottage garden (the vegetable garden is a different story) is almost completely free of those pernicious weeds.

The gaps left by the drought (R.I.P. Rudbeckia lacinata, Helianthus angustifolius, numerous Salvias, ‘Ryan’s Pink’ Chrysanthemum, and ‘Homestead Purple’ Verbena to name a few) are already in the process of being filled. I just purchased two Echinops bannaticus ‘Taplow Blue’ that will replace the Rudbeckia in the back of the border, and plan to add more structure to the garden in the form of shrubs with multi-seasonal interest. A Master Gardener friend also gifted me two healthy Carolina Lupines (Thermopsis caroliniana) that will replace a large clump I lost to the neighborhood pocket gopher. A couple of more recent purchases include ‘Silver Lyre’ Afghan Fig (Ficus afghanistanica ‘Silver Lyre’) and the wonderfully fragrant Mock Orange (Philadelphus mexicanus ‘Plena’) – both of which will be welcome additions to a garden that, until recently, was comprised of mainly herbaceous perennials.

'Scheherazade' Lily

The “orienpet” (a hybrid of oriental and trumpet) lily ‘Scheherazade’ looks better every year. I have heard tales of this variety sporting up to 50 flowers per stem, but so far mine have only mustered up a few blooms. They were planted about three years ago, so I can only expect them to improve over time, right? 😉

Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine. Cherokee Rose last spring feat. pollen from the overhanging pine.

Note to self – move the Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata) planted only ONE FOOT away from the path. I stuck a tiny stem from a bouquet picked on the side of the road in south Louisiana in the ground, expecting it to fizzle out last summer. Of course, it rooted and has since begun to crowd out its more delicate neighbors. The constant pruning to keep the viciously spiny branches out of the path is an ongoing battle. I’m considering moving it to the edge of the field, where it can clamber up into the low-hanging branches of Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda) and look like the snowfall we never have when it blooms in May. I’m still deciding.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum  vulgare 'Purpureum') is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also - can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) is a wonderful filler in the cottage garden. Also – can you spot the swallowtail chrysalises? Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars devour the bronze fennel in my Cottage Garden.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) has never done much for me, until this year. I guess it enjoyed the copious amounts of rain this spring and the above-average winter temperatures. As of right now it is about five and a half feet tall and sporting its beautifully see-through umbels of yellow flowers – pollinator heaven. I am expecting the misty purple-grey foliage to disappear any day now as Black Swallowtail butterflies seek out suitable foodplants for their larva – so far only a couple have been spotted.

Now that summer has “officially” arrived, the weather is becoming more miserable by the day – the high heat and humidity has already forced many of my gardener-friends indoors until more hospitable weather arrives in the fall. My attempts at early-morning gardening before the worst of the heat were foiled by summer school and work, although a change in my class schedule might allow at least 30 minutes of gardening – fingers crossed.

I also combat the blistering heat by following the shade cast by the numerous trees around the yard as the sun moves across the sky. Every area of the garden is shaded sometime throughout the day, rendering this strategy the most effective I’ve found.

Although flowers are relatively scarce in my garden this time of year due to the heat (and the fact I was traveling when I should have been starting seed 🙂 ), I still have a fair amount of color.

Wingstem (Verbesina ) is one of the few composites I grow that enjoys full shade.

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) is a new one to me. This native daisy relative bloomed for the first time this year, reminding me it was still existing in the back corner of my shade garden after four years of silence. I’m considering moving it to the banks of the small creek that flows through one corner of my property; it doesn’t appear to enjoy the rich but dry soil in its current situation.

This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden. This magenta/mauve phlox is one of the hardiest plants in my garden.

The screaming magenta phlox in the cottage garden seems to call “Look at me! Look at me!” as I walk past it each day. Although it is prone to mildew and tends to self-sow politely, I prefer it to the more modern selections because of its height and vigor.

Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a. Unknown Begonia Variety that overwinters nicely in Zone 8a.

For the past five years this begonia has reliably overwintered unprotected in a sheltered location on the north side of my house. It resembles the tender Begonia ‘Dragon Wing,’ only with slightly smaller, white flowers. An enthusiastic gardener gave me a start of this Begonia at a local plant swap, labelling itHardy Begonia (Begonia grandis).” Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to pinpoint the exact species and variety, besides concluding that it is an unknown member of the cane-stemmed Begonia clan.

Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps. Silphium radula is attractive to hundreds of native bees and beneficial wasps.

Silphiums are the reigning composite in my midsummer garden. They begin blooming as their neighbor, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) fades and won’t slow down until late August when Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) bursts onto the scene. I currently grow three species (with plans to try more): Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), Rough Rosinweed (Silphium radula), and lacy-leaved Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum).

Here are a few more pics from the summer garden:

This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! This is the first year Nicotiana sylvestris has bloomed for me. It was definitely worth the wait! 'David' Phlox is just beginning to bloom. ‘David’ Phlox is just beginning to bloom. I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma 'Emporer.' I love this combination of Rudbeckia fulgida and Curcuma ‘Emporer.’ Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Native Hibiscus moschuetos becomes more impressive every year. Curcuma 'Emerald Choco Zebra' is a highly unusual ginger relative. Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ is a highly unusual ginger relative.

I can’t believe this exotic Curcuma ‘Emerald Choco Zebra’ has survived two Louisiana winters! The Master Gardener who gave this to me labeled it as a Zone 9 plant, but with heavy mulching and well-drained soil it seems to survive in Zone 8a.

My garden definitely needs some rearranging come Fall, but until then I am enjoying the spontaneity of it all: unplanned, but beautiful.

Hopefully I can resume posting regularly soon, but until then I will be on instagram @thegardenscout. Happy gardening!

Share This Post:

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How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

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Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


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Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


Get Access

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How I Created A Self-Sustaining Garden

May 24, 2018

Recently, I attended a conference where Jean-Martin Fortier and Joel Salatin spoke. It was a great experience meeting people interested in the same things as me. Of course, the main topic of the convention was growing plants and animals to sell at a market (market gardening/farming), but almost everyone there was an avid gardener as well. As I visited with other gardeners and farmers throughout my state, I became aware that I had something different in my garden.

While almost everyone around me was struggling with weeds (sometimes having to weed as much as 3 times a week!) my garden stayed weed-free for weeks at a time. I never water my garden (except for once or twice in the summer drought), and my plants always seem to grow twice as tall as their estimated height. I used to put it off, making excuses such as “I guess my soil is good,” or, “I’ve just been lucky,” when really, it was a combination of right practices and plant placement.

Last weekend was just the icing on the cake when the large group of people at the convention were amazed at my garden and wondered “what kind of magic” I had up my sleeve. This made me seriously think – why was my garden performing so well?

My Garden 5-24-18

After a little thought, I jotted down a list. After reading over my list, I realized that my garden was centered around nature, not around a set standard that I held it to. Calling it ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘permaculturesque’ (here I go making up words…), or just simply ‘naturalistic,’ would describe it best in a nutshell.

Today I will share some of those key practices that contributed to my garden’s success.

1. Let the leaves fall.

Once the first frosts arrive, browning all of the foliage and causing the plants to go dormant, I rarely remove the stems and leaves from my garden. Instead, I let them stand all winter, decaying in my garden and providing habitat for overwintering wildlife. Once spring arrives, I remove all woody stems and other slow-decaying items, but leave small stems, leaves, old flowerheads, and last fall’s mulch to decay and build up the soil. This creates a rich layer of soil and debris that harbors beneficial microbes and fungi, while retaining water and cooling the soil.

2. Ignore spacing recommendations.

When most people visit my garden, they are stunned at how closely spaced everything is. “You will get more pests and diseases that way,” a university extension agent once told me, but my research has proven otherwise. As long as you have a healthy soil structure high in beneficial fungi, microbes, and organic matter (achieved by mulching and no-till practices), close spacing has the opposite result.

The plants will be taller, water will be lost more slowly, and wildlife will be more present than in a conventionally planted garden. One way I determine how closely to space plants is to observe how large they get with no close neighbors, and then plant them in the garden in a space slightly smaller than their maximum size.

3. Let plants achieve their natural shape.

I know, sometimes plants get leggy or their flowers are too tall to “properly” enjoy, but a garden is not the place for perfection. I’ve noticed that when plants are allowed to reach their full stature without interruption, they tend to become more vigorous every year, almost as if it’s challenging itself to beat least year’s stats. Natural processes work best with as little human interference as possible.

4. Don’t supplement with any type of fertilizer (even natural!).

Fertilizer encourages beautiful, lush growth, right? What many people don’t know is that by using any type of added fertilizer, they are creating more work for themselves. In order to support the extra large leaves and flowers that fertilizer produces, plants demand more water and a sustained level of nutrients to perform well.

As soon as the fertilizer wears off, the plant can’t support the large amount of foliage and flower it had produced and starts having nutrient deficiencies. The only way to prevent this, of course, is by adding more fertilizer and watering more regularly, and no one wants that, right? Especially if the plants would have been more than happy anyway.

5. Mulch every fall.

I’ve already mentioned this, but I mulch once a year, usually in November (although that time varies depending on where you live). By using leaves and needles from nearby trees, the fungi and microbes in the soil are already adapted to break down the particular type of leaves that you add. This means quicker decomposition, and richer soil.

6. Encourage Fungi.

This is one of the most important practices I do. Without fungi, my garden would not be the same. Leaves would decompose slower, diseases would be more prevalent, and nutrient absorption would be more uneven. If you omit fungicides and follow the other points on this list (assuming you’re an organic gardener), fungi should naturally make their appearance.

7. Water only when absolutely necessary.

By watering only when your plants start to wilt, you encourage a strong and durable root system. This in turn, allows plants to search farther and deeper for nutrients, creating a more stable garden ecosystem.

8. Have variation in plant selection.

The more of one species you plant, the more likely that plant is to get a disease or pest. By planting in smaller groups, you discourage pests and allow even the most delicate plants to perform to their best ability.

9. Keep an open mind.

Since everyone has a different climate and unique challenges, there should be no standardized way of gardening that applies to the entire world. If a plant performs well in a certain spot, even if it was accidentally planted there, maybe you’ve discovered its ideal growing conditions.

10. Natives are always an asset.

Since a native plant is fully acclimated to your climate, they will almost always thrive. They even create some of the best ornamental and wildlife friendly additions to your garden. Try some and see! They will quickly become long-standing favorites.

 

Was this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Join the Movement to Bring Back Gardening

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to reinvent the world of gardening!

!

!


Get Access

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

More Posts...

Product Scouted: Barebones Hori Hori Knife

May 12, 2018

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Are you ever in need of a sharp, portable digging tool that can also serve as a knife, twine cutter, bottle opener, measuring device, or stake hammer?

If your answer was yes to even one of those questions (even the bottle opener), then you must check out the Barebones Living Hori Hori knife.

The name Hori Hori translates to “dig dig,” implying its main use. Of course, this is only a recommendation on what to use it for. In reality it is useful for a huge range of jobs, from performing impromptu amputations on storm-damaged limbs, to cutting twine for staking and tying plants, measuring planting depths, pounding in stakes, and yes, digging.

 

Hori Hori Knife Digging

Basically, this is the tool to use in the garden. Period.

It is just the right size to fit comfortably in your hand and the sustainable bamboo handle will last a lifetime with proper care. I was impressed with how solid it is, and am positive that it will remain a favorite for years to come!

So…What to do next?

Head over to Barebones Living and experience it for yourself! (This is not an affiliate post. I just really like this tool and wanted you to know about it!)

Share This Post:

Hori Hori Knife Featured Image
Hori Hori 2

Product Scouted: Barebones Hori Hori Knife

May 12, 2018

Are you ever in need of a sharp, portable digging tool that can also serve as a knife, twine cutter, bottle opener, measuring device, or stake hammer?

If your answer was yes to even one of those questions (even the bottle opener), then you must check out the Barebones Living Hori Hori knife.

The name Hori Hori translates to “dig dig,” implying its main use. Of course, this is only a recommendation on what to use it for. In reality it is useful for a huge range of jobs, from performing impromptu amputations on storm-damaged limbs, to cutting twine for staking and tying plants, measuring planting depths, pounding in stakes, and yes, digging.

 

Hori Hori Knife Digging

Basically, this is the tool to use in the garden. Period.

It is just the right size to fit comfortably in your hand and the sustainable bamboo handle will last a lifetime with proper care. I was impressed with how solid it is, and am positive that it will remain a favorite for years to come!

So…What to do next?

Head over to Barebones Living and experience it for yourself! (This is not an affiliate post. I just really like this tool and wanted you to know about it!)

Share This Post:

Hori Hori Knife Featured Image
Hori Hori 2

Product Scouted: Barebones Hori Hori Knife

May 12, 2018

Are you ever in need of a sharp, portable digging tool that can also serve as a knife, twine cutter, bottle opener, measuring device, or stake hammer?

If your answer was yes to even one of those questions (even the bottle opener), then you must check out the Barebones Living Hori Hori knife.

The name Hori Hori translates to “dig dig,” implying its main use. Of course, this is only a recommendation on what to use it for. In reality it is useful for a huge range of jobs, from performing impromptu amputations on storm-damaged limbs, to cutting twine for staking and tying plants, measuring planting depths, pounding in stakes, and yes, digging.

 

Hori Hori Knife Digging

Basically, this is the tool to use in the garden. Period.

It is just the right size to fit comfortably in your hand and the sustainable bamboo handle will last a lifetime with proper care. I was impressed with how solid it is, and am positive that it will remain a favorite for years to come!

So…What to do next?

Head over to Barebones Living and experience it for yourself! (This is not an affiliate post. I just really like this tool and wanted you to know about it!)

Share This Post:

Hori Hori Knife Featured Image
Hori Hori 2

More Posts...

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

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Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

Five Tips For Scouting Out Plants On A Budget

May 4, 2018

Imagine a candy store filled with all of your favorite candies, but only having the money to buy one. How would you go about choosing the right one? What if you wanted multiple types or couldn’t decide? Ahh, the frustration! This is the same sort of dilemma that many budget-conscious gardeners run into on their search for plants to fill up their garden. How would someone go about finding their favorite plants on a budget? This question has multiple answers, but I’ve taken the five main tips for acquiring plants on a budget and listed them below.

1: Have a Set Budget Before Visiting a Nursery or Garden Center

If I were to visit my local nursery with the intent to browse around, see what they have, and then leave, it would be easy for me to overspend – especially if I see an new or uncommon plant.

That being said, garden centers are not bad places. They provide a continuous supply of beautiful, healthy plants that are great if you have the money to buy them. I check out my local garden center about once a month to see what they have, and I almost always end up purchasing something.

One way of ensuring that you don’t overspend is to bring cash. If you only have $20 with you, there is no possible way of buying $25 worth of plants.

2: Trade With Friends

Since most gardeners are generous with their plants, it never hurts to ask someone if they have a plant you want. Many gardeners (although we hate to admit it!) end up weeding out hundreds of unwanted plants a year, whether that be from overly ambitious spreaders or a mass of self-sown seedlings.

I’ve collected several of my favorite garden plants from friends who were rethinking an old garden, downsizing, or just throwing out extra plants!

Don’t be afraid to offer a trade to a fellow gardener. I always have too much Phlox (various species), so when I saw an eye-catching bearded iris cultivar in a friend’s garden, I offered a start of some phlox (which they didn’t have) for a nice healthy iris division. Don’t be afraid, just ask! It’s surprising how far that will get you.

 

Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.
Everything you see in this photo was acquired through trading.

3: Attend Plant Sales

This may seem counterintuitive to the idea of saving money, but you can almost always find some steals at local plant sales. I’ve found extremely rare arums and bulbs on sale for $2 a plant…all because someone was dividing their stock! If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach a plant sale, check out this post I wrote on shopping a plant sale.

4: Buy Plants That Are Easy To Propagate

This does not mean planting invasives  that will cover ground at lightning speed. It may seem like a smart idea in the now, but a few years in, you will realize that was a BIG MISTAKE (like the bamboo I’m currently battling). Instead, focus on plants that are easy to root from cuttings or grow from seed.

Planting some quick spreaders is fine, just be mindful of where you place them, and be prepared to routinely dig out the unwanted pieces.

5: Grow Plants From Seed

If you are really interested in gardening on a budget and have the time and space to do so, start some seed! Just a single seed packet of a given annual contains enough seed to equal $200 worth of starts from the nursery, and that’s a conservative estimate.

The selection is also much greater if you order seed versus purchasing plant starts.

The only thing to keep in mind when starting seed is the time commitment. If you’re busy, like me, you may run off and forget about the seeds you planted for a few days at a time. By the time you remember them, they’re all dead from lack of water. If you can devote the time, then growing plants from seed is a tremendous money saver!

 

Anything you’d like to add about finding plants on a budget? Let’s hear it!

More Posts...

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

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Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

Is Time An Issue? Take The Ten Minute Challenge With Me!

Apr 27, 2018

Whew!

Life has been busy.

Between school, keeping up my garden, writing posts, working a part-time job, taking photos, editing the photos… you get the idea.

Since I’ve been so short on time, I took a brief stroll through my garden today to see what was happening. Can you believe that in just a couple of days my whole mid-spring garden has come to life?? There were flowers EVERYWHERE – but a closer look also revealed the same imperfections: weeds, landscape fabric showing through in the paths, erosion problems, mole and gopher excavations that caused the erosion, etc.

 

This got me to thinking: I need to spend some quality time getting my garden back in order.

The Cottage Garden Spring 2018

After a few hours’ worth of work, it looked great! The beds were weeded, paths were mulched, holes filled, and I even planted some ‘Purity’ Cosmos to fill in a bare spot in the back of the Cottage Garden. This just shows that a couple of hours can go a long way!

 

I think that is one of the most common misconceptions about gardening: it takes too much time. That is simply not the case. It can take a good deal of time if you have to care for a huge garden, but it doesn’t have to.

 

People also confuse the time spent working in the garden with the time spent waiting.

 

The time spent working in my garden, for instance (now that it is established), varies from one to seven hours a week. That is all the time I need to sow seed, do a quick pass over the beds looking for weeds, and water anything that is thirsty. Any time after that is extra time I spend enjoying my hobby. It’s not necessary, but it’s worth it to me.

 

The time spent waiting is the time it takes for my plants to mature and flourish. This can be anywhere from a month to a few years depending on what kind of plant we’re talking about and what the growing conditions are like. This doesn’t require you to be there except to help direct the plant’s growth as needed.

Part of my mission (as I’ve repeated many times on this site) is to encourage young and budding gardeners to dig in and get dirty.

I feel that many people are afraid to become a gardener because of the “huge time commitment” involved.

Don’t be afraid.

I didn’t start off gardening for hours a week.

It came over time, and if I can do it, so can you!

Alright, Here’s the Challenge:

Start off by making a commitment, say, 10 minutes a day for six days this week.

If you follow through with it, you’ll have spent a whole hour in nature!

Here are some simple tasks you could spend your time on:

  • Weeding an existing bed
  • Digging a new bed
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in containers
  • Raking leaves
  • Dreaming about your future garden (yes, this is important!)
  • Planting herbs in your garden
  • Sowing seeds

And the list goes on.

Give it a try! You’ll find it liberating to reconnect with nature and become more interested as time goes on.

Seriously!

You can count me in. I’ll even post about it on Instagram each day for accountability. 🙂

Will you take the 10 Minute Challenge with me?

P.S. – Don’t forget to share this post and invite others to take on the challenge!

More Posts...

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

BLOG

the

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

More Posts...

Garden Photography: A Short Rundown of What You Need To Know

Apr 2, 2018

BLOG

the

I have always been fascinated with plants.

I have always been fascinated with photography.

Put them together and what do you get? Plant photography (surprise!).

Since this is such big part of my life, I figured that today is the day that I finally share some tips and tricks for photographing your garden. Although I’m not a “professional” photographer, in the sense that I don’t make a living off of my pictures, I have devoted a great deal of time to figuring out my camera and the art of composing photos.

You know, now that I think about it, why am I not selling my photos? Hmmm… I may just change that sometime in the future. 🙂

Let’s get this conversation rolling!

FullSizeRender (14)

I’ll start by discussing equipment.

There are hundreds of options out there for equipment, but the only thing that is truly necessary is the camera itself. A tripod, such as this inexpensive option, is useful for longer exposures to stabilize your camera, but is not necessary for basic garden photography. Pretty much any other piece of equipment you can think of is extra.

Now let’s breeze through the never-ending topic of cameras.

There are three “classes” that I categorize cameras by: phone cameras, point and shoots, and DSLRs. These days, as phone cameras are becoming incredibly effective and easy to use, I’d say ditch the point and shoot and either use your phone, or a good DSLR. I personally use both. If I can’t lug my large black Canon DSLR around with me, I simply pull out my phone and (click!) it’s as easy as that. Even when I can use my DSLR, sometimes I just don’t feel like it, so I take a photo using my phone instead.

Zoning in on DSLRs for a second… There are several good brands out there (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc.) that all have good options, but I personally use Canon. The autofocusing system is near-perfection and, unlike some cameras (cough cough, Sony), has nearly perfect coloration right from the start. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever correct the color. It just means that the color looks nice and neutral (no tints) right out of the camera.

Alright, now let’s get to the meat of this post, photographing your garden. Regardless of whether you use a phone or a DSLR, the process is the same. When I’m outside doing my daily walk round the garden, I usually bring my camera with me and take photos of anything interesting that I may see. This could be a treefrog on a canna, or the way the light is shining through some trees in the shade garden. The possibilities are endless.

Processed with VSCO with j4 preset

 

Once I find a shot (say, the Gingko leaves from my last post above), I adjust the camera to the correct settings and take the picture.

“What are these correct settings?” You might say.

They vary. I use manual settings for the most part (unless I can’t spare the time), but I won’t cover all of that in detail here. I found a good article about manual camera settings (for a DSLR) if you’re interested.

Once I take the picture, there are a few options out there. One is to leave it unedited. This is a good option if your aim is to capture something as is. This is usually for a more practical purpose, because (unless you’re a magician) the photo will most likely look fairly plain. I edit my pictures (in Lightroom) enough to bring out the colors and make the subject stand out, but I never go beyond that. If I went a step further and began to touch the photo up and potentially bring in other elements that were not originally there, the photo would begin to feel unauthentic. I like to have good pictures, but prefer to keep it real.

The last option is for someone who wants an edited look without the time invested in achieving the perfect balance via a hardcore editing software. VSCO (I’ve always pronounced it visco – rhymes with disco) is a decent app on both apple and android devices that provides a TON of good presets, which are basically packaged edits (if that makes sense). I occasionally use them for Instagram if I’m short on time, but I can always get a much better picture if I invest the time to edit a photo with Lightroom. Down below are a couple examples of before and after I edit a photo.

Before
Before
Before
Before
After
After
After
After

Finally, let me say that I’ve just skimmed the surface of Garden Photography. There is much more to learn, and endless techniques to experiment with. Since this is another one of my passions (gardening always being my first), let me know if you want me to cover any particular element of garden photography – I’m happy  to write about it!

 

Garden Photography: A Short Rundown of What You Need To Know

Apr 2, 2018

I have always been fascinated with plants.

I have always been fascinated with photography.

Put them together and what do you get? Plant photography (surprise!).

Since this is such big part of my life, I figured that today is the day that I finally share some tips and tricks for photographing your garden. Although I’m not a “professional” photographer, in the sense that I don’t make a living off of my pictures, I have devoted a great deal of time to figuring out my camera and the art of composing photos.

You know, now that I think about it, why am I not selling my photos? Hmmm… I may just change that sometime in the future. 🙂

Let’s get this conversation rolling!

FullSizeRender (14)

I’ll start by discussing equipment.

There are hundreds of options out there for equipment, but the only thing that is truly necessary is the camera itself. A tripod, such as this inexpensive option, is useful for longer exposures to stabilize your camera, but is not necessary for basic garden photography. Pretty much any other piece of equipment you can think of is extra.

Now let’s breeze through the never-ending topic of cameras.

There are three “classes” that I categorize cameras by: phone cameras, point and shoots, and DSLRs. These days, as phone cameras are becoming incredibly effective and easy to use, I’d say ditch the point and shoot and either use your phone, or a good DSLR. I personally use both. If I can’t lug my large black Canon DSLR around with me, I simply pull out my phone and (click!) it’s as easy as that. Even when I can use my DSLR, sometimes I just don’t feel like it, so I take a photo using my phone instead.

Zoning in on DSLRs for a second… There are several good brands out there (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc.) that all have good options, but I personally use Canon. The autofocusing system is near-perfection and, unlike some cameras (cough cough, Sony), has nearly perfect coloration right from the start. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever correct the color. It just means that the color looks nice and neutral (no tints) right out of the camera.

Alright, now let’s get to the meat of this post, photographing your garden. Regardless of whether you use a phone or a DSLR, the process is the same. When I’m outside doing my daily walk round the garden, I usually bring my camera with me and take photos of anything interesting that I may see. This could be a treefrog on a canna, or the way the light is shining through some trees in the shade garden. The possibilities are endless.

Processed with VSCO with j4 preset

 

Once I find a shot (say, the Gingko leaves from my last post above), I adjust the camera to the correct settings and take the picture.

“What are these correct settings?” You might say.

They vary. I use manual settings for the most part (unless I can’t spare the time), but I won’t cover all of that in detail here. I found a good article about manual camera settings (for a DSLR) if you’re interested.

Once I take the picture, there are a few options out there. One is to leave it unedited. This is a good option if your aim is to capture something as is. This is usually for a more practical purpose, because (unless you’re a magician) the photo will most likely look fairly plain. I edit my pictures (in Lightroom) enough to bring out the colors and make the subject stand out, but I never go beyond that. If I went a step further and began to touch the photo up and potentially bring in other elements that were not originally there, the photo would begin to feel unauthentic. I like to have good pictures, but prefer to keep it real.

The last option is for someone who wants an edited look without the time invested in achieving the perfect balance via a hardcore editing software. VSCO (I’ve always pronounced it visco – rhymes with disco) is a decent app on both apple and android devices that provides a TON of good presets, which are basically packaged edits (if that makes sense). I occasionally use them for Instagram if I’m short on time, but I can always get a much better picture if I invest the time to edit a photo with Lightroom. Down below are a couple examples of before and after I edit a photo.

Before
Before
Before
Before
After
After
After
After

Finally, let me say that I’ve just skimmed the surface of Garden Photography. There is much more to learn, and endless techniques to experiment with. Since this is another one of my passions (gardening always being my first), let me know if you want me to cover any particular element of garden photography – I’m happy  to write about it!

 

Garden Photography: A Short Rundown of What You Need To Know

Apr 2, 2018

I have always been fascinated with plants.

I have always been fascinated with photography.

Put them together and what do you get? Plant photography (surprise!).

Since this is such big part of my life, I figured that today is the day that I finally share some tips and tricks for photographing your garden. Although I’m not a “professional” photographer, in the sense that I don’t make a living off of my pictures, I have devoted a great deal of time to figuring out my camera and the art of composing photos.

You know, now that I think about it, why am I not selling my photos? Hmmm… I may just change that sometime in the future. 🙂

Let’s get this conversation rolling!

FullSizeRender (14)

I’ll start by discussing equipment.

There are hundreds of options out there for equipment, but the only thing that is truly necessary is the camera itself. A tripod, such as this inexpensive option, is useful for longer exposures to stabilize your camera, but is not necessary for basic garden photography. Pretty much any other piece of equipment you can think of is extra.

Now let’s breeze through the never-ending topic of cameras.

There are three “classes” that I categorize cameras by: phone cameras, point and shoots, and DSLRs. These days, as phone cameras are becoming incredibly effective and easy to use, I’d say ditch the point and shoot and either use your phone, or a good DSLR. I personally use both. If I can’t lug my large black Canon DSLR around with me, I simply pull out my phone and (click!) it’s as easy as that. Even when I can use my DSLR, sometimes I just don’t feel like it, so I take a photo using my phone instead.

Zoning in on DSLRs for a second… There are several good brands out there (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc.) that all have good options, but I personally use Canon. The autofocusing system is near-perfection and, unlike some cameras (cough cough, Sony), has nearly perfect coloration right from the start. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever correct the color. It just means that the color looks nice and neutral (no tints) right out of the camera.

Alright, now let’s get to the meat of this post, photographing your garden. Regardless of whether you use a phone or a DSLR, the process is the same. When I’m outside doing my daily walk round the garden, I usually bring my camera with me and take photos of anything interesting that I may see. This could be a treefrog on a canna, or the way the light is shining through some trees in the shade garden. The possibilities are endless.

Processed with VSCO with j4 preset

 

Once I find a shot (say, the Gingko leaves from my last post above), I adjust the camera to the correct settings and take the picture.

“What are these correct settings?” You might say.

They vary. I use manual settings for the most part (unless I can’t spare the time), but I won’t cover all of that in detail here. I found a good article about manual camera settings (for a DSLR) if you’re interested.

Once I take the picture, there are a few options out there. One is to leave it unedited. This is a good option if your aim is to capture something as is. This is usually for a more practical purpose, because (unless you’re a magician) the photo will most likely look fairly plain. I edit my pictures (in Lightroom) enough to bring out the colors and make the subject stand out, but I never go beyond that. If I went a step further and began to touch the photo up and potentially bring in other elements that were not originally there, the photo would begin to feel unauthentic. I like to have good pictures, but prefer to keep it real.

The last option is for someone who wants an edited look without the time invested in achieving the perfect balance via a hardcore editing software. VSCO (I’ve always pronounced it visco – rhymes with disco) is a decent app on both apple and android devices that provides a TON of good presets, which are basically packaged edits (if that makes sense). I occasionally use them for Instagram if I’m short on time, but I can always get a much better picture if I invest the time to edit a photo with Lightroom. Down below are a couple examples of before and after I edit a photo.

Before
Before
Before
Before
After
After
After
After

Finally, let me say that I’ve just skimmed the surface of Garden Photography. There is much more to learn, and endless techniques to experiment with. Since this is another one of my passions (gardening always being my first), let me know if you want me to cover any particular element of garden photography – I’m happy  to write about it!

 

More Posts...

Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

BLOG

the

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

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Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

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Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

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Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

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the

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

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Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Battling Invasive Bamboos

Mar 4, 2018

Lately I’ve been having some plant issues.

Major issues.

The giant bamboo in my backyard (some of which exceeds 50 feet tall) is galloping into the neighboring woods at an astonishing 20 feet per year. Wherever it grows, it creates a monoculture. My neighbor planted it in the 80’s as a novelty way of distinguishing the property line and providing some privacy. Now, about 35 years and two acres later…well, you get the idea.

Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.
Bamboo allows little to no light to penetrate the canopy.

One mistake on researching the right species to plant has cost our neighbors (and us) countless hours chopping, digging, and burning the culms (stems), which sound like fireworks when they burn due to the hollow stems. Every time we burn, there’s at least one neighbor who comes down to inquire what the “gunshots” are from. Since I’m an entirely organic gardener, I’ve never used herbicides as a remedy for the nuisance bamboo. I have, however, been considering using herbicides sparingly if spraying will ultimately cause less damage to the environment than allowing a destructive plant to destroy the ecosystem. I’m still deciding on the best course of action.

Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo surrounding a pine in my backyard.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
Bamboo creates a monoculture wherever it grows.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
A closer look reveals a network of surface roots.
Here's some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.
Here’s some perspective: the trees are well over 100 feet tall.

Bamboos where introduced in the late 19th century as a horticultural novelty. People liked the unusual, tropical look they provided and their ability to form large clumps in a relatively brief period of time. Unfortunately, some species spread faster than people thought, and soon, became naturalized throughout the United States.

The offending species are mostly from the genus Phyllostachys and Sasa. Phyllostachys are the bamboos that most people think of, with large culms in a rainbow of colors. The giant timber bamboo that I am currently battling is Phyllostachys bambusoides.

This species can be well behaved if you have thick, clay soils heavy in nutrients and moisture. If your soil is sandy and poor, like mine, they will spread like wildfire in their endless search for the prime growing conditions.

Sasa is a genus of smaller, scrubbier bamboos that are usually less than 10 feet tall. I’ve seen entire woodland floors swamped with Sasa palmata, displacing the native ferns and sedges and eventually killing the trees they surround. Bamboos in the genus Sasa are endless wanderers. No matter what your soil conditions are like, they will always march forward, and are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Here’s the million-dollar question: “If they are as tough as you say, how do I ever eradicate them?”

 

I've made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor's tractor!).
I’ve made a sizable dent in the bamboo forest (with help from my neighbor’s tractor!).

Although I’m by no means an expert on managing invasive species, I have experimented with various methods on my own stand of bamboo and have found only two viable options. The first effective (and organic) way of controlling them is by hard manual labor – cutting the stalks down to ground-level and continually weedeating and removing any new shoots that emerge. This method works if you have the time to do a twice-weekly cut of any emerging shoots. Eventually, the roots will become starved and die off.

This method might be effective if you have the time, patience, and grit to overcome a tough infestation of bamboo, but what if you’re like me and don’t have the time? Well, at that point you’re about out of luck. Using an herbicide might be the only effective solution to permanently eradicate it. Like I’ve said before, if using an herbicide will be the least harmful way (better than leaving it) of removing a stubborn bamboo, it might be worth it to choose the lesser of two evils.

I want to end by saying that not all bamboos are bad. Many are amazing assets to the landscape, providing interesting colors, forms, and textures to the garden. Just make sure and do the research before you plant!

Does anyone else struggle with bamboo issues? I’d love to chat in the comments below about eradicating bamboos, or better-behaved cultivars to grow.

P.S. If getting rid of an invasive bamboo is not an option, you may as well utilize the resources it provides! Bamboo leaf litter decomposes into some of the richest soil around – use it to mulch your garden. The stems make excellent (environmentally friendly) stakes for the garden, not to mention most bamboos have edible young shoots. As you can see, even though some species may be invasive, they could also be turned into an asset!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


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