Monday, April 24, 2017

Maine Garden Greenhouses: American Made Beauties

I love greenhouses like a baby loves it's mama. I love the idea of walking into a warm, cozy spot that fools Mother Nature into coaxing seeds into growth months ahead of the sun-warmed soil. Although ubiquitous in England, greenhouses are less common in the States. But thanks to Maine Garden Products, a made in America greenhouse is just a click away.

Dee Nash, of Red Dirt Ramblings, has a custom made Maine Garden Products greenhouse. How cool is that??

All greenhouses from Maine Garden Products are made in Maine from locally harvested Eastern White cedar and are available in custom or standard sizes. They features such super cool options as natural convection ventilation, a thermostatically controlled ventilation system, LED lights, a rain gutter,  a drip tube system, or additional fasteners to make a greenhouse in a windy location more wind resistant. I want one!!

Greenhouses are available in custom or standard sizes so the possibilities to create a greenhouse perfect for your needs are endless. They also feature a variety of bench options such as an automatic flood bench, a cedar slat bench, or a wire mesh bench, which is perfect for seed starting. So instead of drooling over British greenhouses, head to Maine Garden Products for an all American beauty designed to handle whatever your climate can offer. 

A greenhouse I can enter from indoors? Yes, please!

Monday, April 17, 2017

PlantsMap: Connecting People With Plants

Have you ever wandered your garden and looked at a plant and thought, "I know we've met but I can't remember your name or how you got here" as if your garden had become a crash pad after a wild party. Despite my best efforts to keep every plant tag from every plant, they end up in the wash, dropped in the grass and run over by the mower, or accidentally thrown away. Because I can't afford to hire a personal assistant and the idea of being followed around all day by a lackey would drive me nuts, online digital plant journal PlantsMap is the best solution. You can think of it as Pinterest for Plants or Facebook for Landscapes.

" is a website community that hosts botanical collections with customized tools that solve the challenges of documenting, organizing, mapping, tagging and sharing information about plants. The easy to learn My Plants Map tools have wide appeal among a diversity of users from those that manage public landscapes to avid plant collectors, professionals, community groups, weekend gardeners and more." The account can be accessed through a mobile-friendly website, allowing you to retrieve the info while you're out in the garden but also at your desktop/laptop computer or tablet.

Interactive plant tags are created to help you identify the plants in your collection, landscape, or garden. PlantsMap "labels are beautiful and durable, but they also have something you won’t find on other tags: a QR code that directly connects your plants to a smartphone or mobile device. This allows quick access to update your plant with photos, notes, and other growing details. Visitors can also scan the code to experience the full story of your plant."

PlantsMap also hosts information about upcoming garden events, making it easy to stay informed about what's happening in horticulture in your local area while you browse digital plant collections or just wander from profile to profile to see what people are growing in their gardens. It is the ultimate online gardening tool.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sustane: Organic Soil Builders for a Healthier Garden

One of the things I love about the Fling is meeting the cool sponsors and hearing about their products. Instead of just standing in the garden center or surfing the Internet looking for a fabulous product that will do what it claims, you're able to meet the people who actually own the company and make the products. It's very cool! Sustane, a leader in organic soil building products, gave the bloggers at the Minnesota Fling bags of their compost tea bags and my garden and I are grateful. 

Zinnias fed compost tea from Sustane.

Sustane "is a line of fertilizers that combines the many benefits of high quality compost with the performance and precision of a slow-release fertilizer." Made in Minnesota from composted turkey litter, Sustane  "is proven to be effective in helping fight plant disease caused by soil borne pathogens. SustÃ¥ne has been tested for its capacity to reduce plant injury and help plants recover from disease-causing organisms by enhancing beneficial soil biological activity without pesticide use."

When I brewed their plant tea, my plants were vigorous, happy, and free of disease. Their compost tea and fertilizers improve the health of your plants and improves their ability to pull nutrients from the soil. Over 500 independent research studies over the past 25 years prove what an amazing product Sustane offers. To find a retailer near you that carries Sustane, just check out their website.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Saunders Brothers: A Local Gem

I love a big pot of happy and that's exactly what I find when I buy plants from Saunders Brothers at my local garden center. Bigger and more robust than the competitors, they offer more interesting cultivars than many of the other growers. 'Amber Moon' astilbe is just one of the many Saunders Brothers plants in my garden.

'Amber Moon' astilbe

Located in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, Saunders Brothers is a family operated wholesale nursery specializing in boxwood, annuals, perennials, container grown trees, roses, and many woody shrubs. By working with the National Boxwood Trials, they are continually working to identify cultivars best suited to the various climates across the US.

Buxus sempervirens 'Dee Runk' 

Saunders works to bring unique plants well suited to local growing conditions into area garden centers. When I'm looking for a well-tested plant that will thrive in my Virginia clay loam and hot, humid summer, plants from Saunders are my first choice. 

 'Low-Scape Mound' aronia melanocarpa, a Proven Winners selection, is a low growing variety of the native chokeberry reaching only 1-2 ft in height and propagated and sold by Saunders. What a cool shrub! 

Be sure to ask your local garden center to carry plants from Saunders Brothers!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Save the Date for Austin Fling 2018!

Dust off your cowboy hat, and saddle your horse! In 2018, after the upcoming DC Fling, Garden Bloggers Fling will return to Austin, Texas, the keeping-it-weird bloggers' mecca where the Fling began 10 years ago.

We'll have a sneak preview at the Capital Region Fling Dinner this June. But for those who like to plan their travel a year or more in advance, we wanted to go ahead and give you the dates to save: May 3-6, 2018.

Mark your calendars, and we'll see you then, pardner!

Austin Garden Bloggers Fling Planning Committee: 
Diana Kirby / Sharing Nature's Garden
Pam Penick / Digging
Laura Wills / Wills Family Acres

Sunday, April 2, 2017

John and Bob's Soil Solutions: My Magic Wand

Have you ever stood in your garden wishing you had a magic wand? With a quick flip of your wrist you'd be able to solve every soil problem, zap leaf and root devouring pests, and help those struggling plants thrive until you had a garden worthy of the pages of a posh magazine. I don't have a magic wand but I do have a secret formula thanks to the brilliant minds at John and Bob's.

Thanks to John and Bob's amazing soil solutions, Solomon's Seal and amsonia thrive in the former bed of Death and Misery.

When I moved to Virginia 14 years ago, my soil had been stripped and compacted to build the cookie cutter subdivision where we built our house. The topsoil was gone and it took an hour to dig a hole large enough to plant a shrub. When it rained, instead of soaking into the soil and percolating deep into empty pockets of air, the water ran off into the storm drain. My plants were struggling and I was frustrated. So what's a gardener to do?

My front butterfly garden is thriving thanks to John and Bob's Soil Solutions.

Salvation came in the form of John and Bob's Penetrate,  a liquid bio-tiller that forces the clay particles apart, increasing pore space and allowing water to penetrate the soil. Using a pitch fork, I stabbed holes into the hard clay soil, mixed up the Penetrate, and poured it on. I added their granular soil builders and waited for the magic to happen. 

Because I can't resist a fun experiment, my first application of Penetrate came a few days before a storm. As the rain fell, I stood at the window and watched what was happening in the garden. Instead of running off into the lawn, the rain was gushing into the soil. Once the skies cleared, I checked my beds and could hear one of my favorite garden sounds, the bubbling of water as it percolates into the soil. My magic wand comes in a package labeled John and Bob's.

Orange butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) flourishing in soil repaired by the products from John and Bob's.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Paw Paw Everlast Labels: A Reputation for Excellence

I wish my plants could talk. Instead of calling them 'the purple plant by the pink rose', they would speak up to remind me of their name and exactly what growing conditions they'd like. If they could also tell me where I left my pruners, that would be awesome. But because I doubt this will happen, the Everlast Plant Label company had solved the problem for me by creating amazing metal labels designed to withstand the harshest weather Mother Nature can throw at us. 

Made in the USA, Everlast Labels are made from 99.6% zinc and are available in a variety of sizes. Labels in heavy duty zinc and copper are also available. Everlast Labels blend in while offering the visibility needed to identify each plant. All orders are shipped for free within the continental USA. All questions can be answered by their excellent customer service dept.

Everlast Labels are the original garden label company. Started in Paw Paw, Michigan in 1937, the first labels were made in Leon Cassler's garage. They are still located in Paw Paw and use only American made products. Check them out!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

High Country Gardens: From Agastache to Zauschneria

I'm a sucker for an amazing agastache. Maybe it's all the hummingbirds fighting over the nectar or the butterflies that hang from the flowers, but I stuff my containers and garden with as many varieties as I can. High Country Gardens is a leading source for agastache and other unique xeric plants.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on 'Ava' agastache

Introduced to agastache and all the other amazing drought tolerant plants sold by High Country Gardens when a catalog came in the mail several years ago,  they've become a go-to resource for xeric plants not available locally. 

Agastache thrives in containers.

One of my favorite features of the catalog and website is the attention to detail and excellent information provided about each plant. Instead of vague descriptions, they supply precise information about the water and light needs and the expected size of each plant as well as the wildlife it supports or repels. Plants that only thrive in the western portions of the United States are indicated with a cowboy hat icon, which saves me from trying to grow them in the humid southeast. 

High Country Gardens certifies that all of its perennials and wildflower seeds are neonicotinoid-free. Along with amazing plants, you also receive clean plants free of pesticides. Thanks, High Country Gardens!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Franciscan Monastery Gardens: Sanctuary and Serenity

There is something about a garden that transcends the muck of daily life to remind us that our choices are bigger than we are. Gardens offer common ground, regardless of political or religious beliefs and have long functioned as places of refuge and solitude. Chosen to highlight the need for peace and sanctuary, one of the stops on the Fling itinerary is the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, a quiet oasis in the midst of politics and power. 

Filled with roses as well as perennials, lush annuals, and mature trees and shrubs, the gardens also feature grottos, sculptures, and a chapel. Come with us as we enjoy a garden often overlooked by tourists but much loved by the locals.

Monday, March 13, 2017

American Meadows: Wildflower Warriors

It's a beautiful thing to love a wildflower but even more so to dedicate your life to their preservation. American Meadows started as a wildflower farm and has expanded to carry perennials, grasses, bulbs, groundcovers and gardening tools, all of which are available online. But wildflowers and wildflower seed mixes are at the heart of their business. Seed mixes from American Meadows have been designed to meet the needs of a diverse clientele. Mixes for shade, deer resistance, specific colors, etc, are all available. Over 110 annual and 75 perennial seed mixes are available, as well as many native seeds.

Staffed by expert gardeners, the customer support at American Meadows is a point of pride and the staff is available to help you by phone, live chat, and email. Unsure of what to plant or how to tackle that weird area where nothing will grow? Give them a call! 

Specializing in seed mixes that attract pollinators, American Meadows is excited to be a part of the Wild for Pollinators campaign in Vermont to help introduce wildflowers and pollinators back into open spaces. Ethan Platt and Mike 'The Seedman' Lizotte have turned a passion for sustainable horticulture into a thriving business that puts the environment and the customer first.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Garden Design: The Ultimate Gardening Resource

I stand staring at the stack of magazines in my living room, dividing them into piles of Keep and Toss. Many will be thrown into the Free Bin outside the used book store while others, such as Garden Design, will be carefully organized and kept. To say all gardening magazines are the same would be like comparing a drive through burger to the finest farm fresh steak. There is no garden magazine finer than Garden Design, a thick 148 page ad-free plate of gardening delicousness.

Packed with in-depth stories often ranging from 8 to 20 pages in length, Garden Design gives you a behind the scenes look at topics relevant to gardeners passionate about the art of horticulture. Delivered quarterly, Garden Design is more like a beautiful book than a magazine. Packed with stunning photography, Garden Design shares stories and photos of gardens from around the world as well as profiles of the people behind the gardens.

The Winter 2017 issue featured expert advice on creating a stunning garden during the dormant season. 
Photo by Richard Bloom

Garden design also features informative how-to articles from leading experts and useful information applicable to every gardener on topics such as designing with plants, landscape design, kitchen gardens, container gardens, etc. To get a free issue, call 855-624-5110 (PST) or visit their website.

Monday, February 20, 2017

American Beauties: The Local Source for Native Plants

Occasionally patience is overrated and I grow tired of waiting. Sometimes I just want what I want and I want it now. When what I want is a certain type of plant and the weather gods are feeling kind, instead of cruising my favorite online sources I head straight to my local garden center and their table packed with native plants from American Beauties. Available locally and online, plants from American Beauties are the easiest and fastest way to add tough native plants to your garden.

Rudbeckia in the native plant garden of Gail Eichelberger. 
Rudbeckia is one of the many plants sold by American Beauties. 

Native plants such as the purple coneflowers and Joe Pye Weed featured in this photo are powerful pollinator magnets. American Beauties plants are robust and well rooted. At the end of many work days, I head to my local garden center before heading home to find the perfect plants to add to my ever-evolving garden. Natives from American Beauties are always my first choice.  

Committed to the protection of our fragile environment, American Beauties is a generous guardian of the pollinators we depend on and recently donated $5,000 to Pollinator Partnership to support their efforts. Adding plants to your garden such as the mountain mint (pycnanthemum muticum) featured above, which is widely available from American Beauties, is an excellent way to attract and sustain pollinators. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Prairie Moon: My True Love

As much as I enjoy ornamentals, my true love is native plants and I stuff them into every empty spot in the garden. Tough and undemanding, natives take the worst that Mother Nature throws at them without flinching or crying for the shelter of a greenhouse. I've been ordering natives from Prairie Moon Nursery for the past 13 years.

My first orange milkweed plants were ordered as bare roots from Prairie Moon and stored in the fridge until I was ready to plant them. As long as no one chopped them up and tossed them in the pasta, all was well. I didn't have to worry about keeping them watered while I was at work. They simply snoozed in the vegetable crisper while I waited for cooler weather. 

Dodecatheon in my garden is a spring ephemeral.

Prairie Moon is home to amazing native plants you've probably never heard of but need to add to your garden. Unavailable at most local nurseries, natives from Prairie Moon are available as bare roots, potted plants and seed. Their website is the first place I go when looking for plants for dry shade that also attract pollinators. I've purchased yellow pimpernel (taenidia integerrima), aster laevis, as well as phlox pilosa to fill my dry shade and keep the pollinators well fed.

Blue eyed grass (sisyrinchium albidum) thrives in the rocks at mouth of my rain garden. The more plants you buy from Prairie Moon, the cheaper they are. That's all the motivation I need! Time to put in an order....

Friday, February 10, 2017

Schreiner's Iris: The Ultimate Iris Resource

I could say I have no idea what it's like to love something so much you devote your life to it but I can't. Combining a career with a genuine passion is a wonderful to spend a life. Started as a family business in 1925, Schreiner's Iris Gardens has grown from a hobby to the largest grower of iris in the country. 

Internationally recognized as the best iris hybridizers in the world, Schreiner's sells iris online as well as at their ten acre display garden. To help name their new hybrids, they hold an annual naming contest. How fun is that? Open to the public every year in early May, Schreiner's is a top garden destination for iris lovers across Oregon. Every rhizome is hand dug and guaranteed to be winter hardy and pest- free.  For every $50 you spend, you're gifted a free iris. Cruising their amazing online catalog is a wonderful way to spend a winter evening.

Fields full of iris at Schreiner's Iris Gardens.