Friday, October 5, 2012

Gardeners Photograph your hard work

Dogwood tree and blossoms

You toil and toil to propagate a lovely garden, but do you photograph your hard work? It is imperative that the world see your creative side as well. A gardeners hands and eye for beauty and composition are not unlike any artist or professional photographer.

Vivid pink Azaleas
Vivid pink Azaleas (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Grab your cameras and commemorate your accomplishments. If you have some you'd like to share with this site please let me know through a comment and I will happy to help you display your talent and your artistry through the lens of your camera. Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words.. :)
Red blossoms on a branch
Red blossoms on a branch (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flowers All Year Calendar 2013

For sale, 2013 Calendar, lovely flowers all year long, not just in Spring and Summer Calendar. Makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift for Mom, Grandma, Aunts, and Sister.
Flowers All Year 2013 Calendar
Flowers All Year 2013 Calendar by DawnellasDesigns

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Awesome and easy greenhouses

A greenhouse

A greenhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you love gardening you're probably the type that would love to have your own greenhouse. Whether you love starting your own seeds or you need a designated space to work in, greenhouses are great places to do what you love best. Here are some great new ones currently out there in the market.

1. Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse
small indoor greenhouse
What I love about this is it is great for those working with limited space. I can see this being used indoors, on a back porch or even in a sun room.  Super handy, super cute and under $40.00 Click on the image to check this one out.

2. Spring Gardener Gable Greenhouse
This green house is portable, inexpensive and great solution for those who do container gardening especially when there is an early frost and you need to protect your hanging baskets and container plants. At a cost of under $200.00 it can be a great green house for those just starting out with gardening.  Click on the image to check it out.

3. Greenhouse 15'x7'x7' Arch LARGE Green Garden Hot House

Now this green house is definitely for the no frills gardener that has a big garden and needs the extra space to start those seedlings off early. With measurements of 15'X7'X7' it's big enough to house a lot of plants especially if you make good use of the vertical space this one allows for. This one is inexpensive to at under $130.00 click on the image to check it out.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Growing bigger tomatoes

A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and fl...A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would like huge tomato plants you may be missing out on this handy little tip. Those living in the South know that having a large root base and plenty of warm sun and water produce big healthy tomato plants. Here's a great tip if you buy your tomatoes already started.

  • If you purchase tomato plants that are already about 8 to 12 inches tall, strip all the leaves except for a few off of the top. Every leaf you remove will form a root which will create a huge root system on a young plant. The bigger the root system, the bigger the plant, the more tomatoes you'll yield.
  • On a raised bed dig a hole big enough to accommodate your tomato plant. Remove your plant from its container and if the plant is root bound loosen by hand the roots at the base. 
  • If you want to ensure better root production, you can apply rooting hormone to your plant prior to placing into the ground. 
  •  Lay your tomato plant down sideways, yes, side ways and cover with a few inches of soil and compost leaving an inch or two below the cluster of top foliage. Do not bury too deep the warmth from the sun and quick absorption of water will help promote root production faster.
  • At the neck of the plant just below the cluster of leaves at the top, wrap a 3-4 inch piece of newspaper around the plant. This will protect the plant from pests since it is the only part exposed.This will help prevent tomato cut worms from feasting on your newly planted tomato bush. 
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Monday, June 18, 2012

How to attract more butterflies to your garden

Orange Butterfly
© Dawn Gagnon Photography 2013

Butterflies are lovely little garden visitors that help pollinate your flowers and vegetables. Attracting them to your garden is easy if you plant plenty of flowers they love and follow a few simple tips. South Carolina is home to many varieties of wild flowers and butterflies. See this list below to attract them to your garden.
  1. Avoid using too much pesticides. Even though we love butterflies they are an insect and as such are vulnerable to the same pesticides all insects are. Use natural and organic means of pest control when possible and be mindful of those that kill caterpillars.

  2. Plant flowering shrubs, trees and vegetables in groups to help bees and butterflies pollinate easily. This also creates a grand impact visually as well.

  3. Allow for some naturally blooming wild areas in your garden. While you may not think it an attractive area of the garden, you can always add to a wild section of a yard by adding additional wild flowers to it. Butterflies in particular need an undisturbed area to make nests for a butterfly friendly environment to flourish. If needed, add butterfly houses to your garden area.

  4. Flowers that produce great quantities of nectar are more likely to have your garden teaming with butterflies. Flowers such as Peacock Butterfly Bush, Coreopsis, Asters, Phlox and many others are especially attractive to butterflies.

  5. Have a decorative dish with damp, water logged soil in the garden. Be sure to keep it damp with water as butterflies will drink from this. They do not drink from standing water.

  6. Lovely rocks and garden sculptures in the garden make ideal places for butterflies to rest. An added bonus to attracting butterflies is that in most cases the same things attract hummingbirds as well.
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Friday, May 25, 2012

How to build a bird feeder/plant hanger

bird feeder plant hanger

Getting the most out of your focal point requires a little imagination and ingenuity. Adding function to an otherwise decorative item makes it even more valuable. Birds will love this beautiful feeding station, and you'll love how lovely this plant hanger is for a focal point in the yard.

Items you'll need:

* 1 rounded shovel
* 1 level
* 1 metal bird feeder, we used a lantern style
* 1 4X4 pressure treated post
* 1 bag of ready mix cement
* Phillips head screw driver
* 4-6 plant hangers with their hardware for attaching to post
* 1 pint of paint (optional and your color choice, stain can also be an option)
* 4-6 hanging flower baskets
* birdseed

Pick a spot in your yard or garden that you want to be a focal point. Make sure you have easy access to it though, because you will need to fill the bird feeder on occasion.

Dig a hole 2 feet deep into the ground. Place two feet of your post or more if you like it lower, into the ground. Pack some dirt around the sides to stabilize and have someone hold it for you. Make sure to use your level on all sides so that it is perfectly straight.

Add one bag of Ready mix cement into the hole.

Fill the hole with water. Let the post set for 5-6 hours. Once cement hardens, cover the hole completely with any remaining dirt.

Now attach your Lantern style bird feeder to the top by drilling holes and securing with the screws that come with your bird feeder.

Paint or stain your post in any color you desire and allow to dry. This time will vary depending on weather conditions/humidity..etc.

Once your post is dry, you are now ready to attach your plant hangers. I put mine at varying levels to showcase the hanging baskets that I wanted.
This is a long term beautiful focal point for any area of your yard that needs a little something extra.

Please note:

* Bird seed will fall into your hanging baskets so keep an eye on the grass that sprouts in your baskets.
* You can also hang wind chimes and birdhouses from this post just primarily for decorative looks.
* Try planting a climbing rose at the base, or a Mandevilla vine to train up the post for an even more dramatic effect.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weed remedies that use no poison

DandelionDandelion (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

If you're like me, you really hate to use any chemical in your yard. You never know what kind of an impact it can have on your lawn, other plants, pets or even ground water. If there are gentler ways to rid ourselves of weeds, I am all for it. Here's a few suggestions:

1. Pour hot - near boiling water on the weed- This is an effective way to kill single isolated instances of weeds in your yard.

2. Pour a mixture of 1 part lemon juice to one part hot water on the weed.

3. Use salt mixed with hot water. Once cooled and salt has become diluted add to a spray bottle and spray entire weed with the solution. The ratio is 1/2 cup salt to 3 cups water.

4. Fill spray bottle with ordinary white household vinegar and spray weeds thoroughly.

5. As a weed preventative, some have had success using corn gluten meal. It is supposed to stop the weed seeds from germinating.

6. For really difficult weeds try a stronger vinegar solution currently called Weed Pharm. See Amazon link below. It actually has 20% more acetic acid than your regular household vinegar and is still safe for use.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

How to correctly prune your rose bushes

Josephs Coat Rose
Josephs Coat Rose (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden but they do require some maintenance to keep them looking beautiful. Proper pruning and dead heading your roses is one part of the maintenance that must be done every season.

1. Prune your rose in early spring and once all danger of frost has past.

2. Make sure you have clean, sharp by-pass pruners and thick gloves. Some roses like the Joseph Coat are extremely thorny and can really cause a lot of damage to your hands and arms.

3. During the growing season, prune roses by looking for the first set of five leaves where you'll see a leaf bud. Prune just above this bud at a 45 degree angle that will assure the new growth will grow outward from the plant and not inward. This can be done as you dead head your roses.

4. Remove all dead and dying wood and any spindly canes that are less than the diameter of a pencil. Also look for sucker growth. These are canes that shoot out from the base of your plant under the main bud union. The main bud union is where all the main canes of the rose bush emerge from. Anything growing and shooting out from under this is a sucker and should be removed completely.

5. If you have a problem with cane borers, it is suggested that you can cover fresh pruning cuts with basic white school glue to prevent infestation.

6. Once roses go dormant for the year and have been exposed to several hard frosts, cut the rose down to one third of its original size and only leave three to four healthy canes for best results. Add a thick layer of fresh mulch.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

DIY network's newest “Dirtiest Landscaping” sweepstakes is here

Back yard

If you love watching any of the great shows on the DIY network, be sure to enter their latest sweepstakes. The details of this latest sweepstakes are the winner receives $50,000.00 cash to create the backyard of your fantasies. With a grand prize of $50,000.00 and other giveaways, it is hard to resist entering this sweepstakes.

If you have a landscape that is in dire need of help, this sweepstakes can be the chance of a lifetime to finally get everything you ever dreamed of for a back yard oasis. Your own little slice of paradise. Just think of what you can do with the sum of $50,000.00 to create your perfect yard. Maybe all your yard is missing is a swimming pool, or perhaps you have one that would be beautiful flanked with palm trees and gorgeous tropical flowers and landscaping. The possibilities are endless.

Those who enter will also be eligible for six additional prizes of Sears gift cards in the amount of $1000.00. The Sears gift cards will be given away weekly so if you want to enter you may enter once a day through May 4th, at 5 pm eastern standard time.

To enter simply click on this link: DIY Network Dirtiest Landscape Sweepstakes Entry Form
For more on home improvements see: Dawns Decorating Solutions.
For more on gardening see: The Southern Garden

Suggestions by this author:

How to lighten up a dark space

Furnishing small spaces

Maximizing limited space in your small home

Going retro and getting it right

Hot interior decorating trends for 2012

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to grow and care for Dogwood trees

White Dogwood

If you have been bitten by spring fever, you have probably made a trip to your local nursery and or hardware store that sells gardening supplies and flowers. One tree you may have wondered about is the ever present southern bloomer, the Dogwood trees. Lining many streets, and prominently blooming in yards all over the south, the Dogwood tree is a favorite for many homeowner.

Dogwoods can be found throughout the south eastern portion of the United States growing under a thick canopy of taller trees in forests. Dogwoods can be a fickle tree if it isn't happy with its growing conditions so there are a few things that need to do to insure that this tree will thrive in your landscape.

The soil should be acidic and when planting be sure to plant the root ball slightly above ground level. Replace the soil from the hole dug with a prepared garden soil specifically for acid loving plants,shrubs and trees.

Remember many flowering Dogwoods can be found growing in shady forest locations, so they like a shady environment in your yard too. Try to find a spot that has dappled sunlight, and if you plant them among other trees, try to make sure these trees produce natural mulch on the ground since this will keep the soil moist and provide lots of leaf mold for the Dogwood tree.

Newly planted Dogwoods should be watered on a weekly basis and during dry periods water regularly.
When first planted be sure to water, wait until absorbed, and water again. Repeat this.

Dogwoods need a good start in order to thrive in your landscape. Be sure to give new plants a slow release fertilizer to ensure the best possible start.

Dogwoods require very little pruning. You can prune them after they have flowered using good quality pruners if you want to manage their overall shape, but too much pruning can invite disease to your new plant and if its not necessary avoid doing any pruning until your Dogwood is well established, one or two years after planting. Be sure to prune damaged and dead branches on your Dogwood. Keep an eye out for disease and pests and be sure to remove any of these beforehand.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Growing Camellias in your southern garden

Pink Camellia (photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

One shrub you will find beloved by many a southerner is the lovely Camellia bush. Camellias are sturdy small shrubs that produce vivid blossoms appearing October-March. They have thick dark green glossy leaves and the flower heads are similar in size to a rose. Camellia blossoms can come in a myriad of colors from white, soft pinks, vivid reds and in Southern parts of China yellow.

Growing conditions:
Camellias can be grown in full sun, partial or even full shade. Dappled shade is perhaps ideal especially for white flowering forms. Camellia shrubs are known to thrive quite well underneath Pine and Oak trees due to the naturally acidic soil around these types of trees. Basically, a Camellia will grow well wherever a n Azalea will thrive. When planting a Camellia bush, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and once the bush is centered in the middle of the hole be sure to fill in the hole with compost, and a good prepared soil mix.

Zone hardiness:
Camellias can grow in zones 7-9. Many new cultivators have developed varieties that can tolerate zones further north.

Camellias can be pruned almost any time of the year but ideally can be pruned lightly after it is done blooming.

Newly planted Camellias do well with regular watering that keeps the soil moist. Do not over water or keep the plant soggy. Normal annual rainfall is well tolerated, however, when there is extremely hot and dry weather a Camellia should be watered during those times to keep it healthy.

Pests and diseases:
Camellias are prone to tea scale. Tea scale are small insects that have cotton like masses underneath the leaves and the presence of yellow blotches on the top side of leaves. If left untreated the bush will not thrive. Use of a systemic insecticide is preferred. Camellias can become subjected to root rot as well if it is grown in soil that is too damp or is over watered.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weeds in your garden

Yellow Dandelion

If you have been dismayed by the presence of weeds in your garden, there are some things you can do to eliminate their taking over.
1. Use pre emergent herbicide
2. Make sure your lawn is completely dry between waterings to slow weed growth
3. Don't cut your grass too short, weeds germinate in the top most layer of your garden soil. Grass that is allowed to grow to 2 to 3 inches will inhibit weeds from thriving.
4, When establishing your lawn, use weed free seed.
5.  A healthy lawn is one of the best defenses against weeds, Use Root Maximizer, Kelp Meal and EM-1 for best results with your lawn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to keep Boston Ferns alive all summer

Boston FernsBoston Ferns (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Boston Ferns are some of the most beautiful easy to grow hanging plants around. During the hottest months, they can dry out and die without proper care. The most important thing they need is in the form of lighting and watering. Once you figure out what they need they are a welcome addition to any yard, porch or landscape.
Step 1
First things first, once you get your fern home from the store you want to stick your finger in the soil and go around the perimeter of the pot. If you feel a lot of roots, and very little soil your plant is probably root bound and needs a larger pot. Go atleast two sizes up, and use a good potting soil mix with a slow release feed.
Step 2
After repotting your fern, hang it in a an area out of direct sunlight. It thrives on a area that has some shade and good circulation. Keep your Boston ferns looking their best with a trim and keep them free of debris and dead fronds.
Step 3
Give your fern a good drink of water after re-potting. Boston ferns need really good drainage, and at the same time are thirsty plants. To keep them beautiful big and lush all through the hot months is to water every two days. Drenching them with a sprayer is the best way to ensure they have gotten a good dose of water. An occasional shot of liquid fertilizer or feeding will keep them going too.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oak trees in danger in South Carolina

Tree with sunlight streamingTree with sunlight streaming (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

Trees in the south have to be  strong. They face environmental stresses that can take them down quickly or have them struggling for centuries. Many diseases prey on trees that have been damaged from lightening strikes, wind, heat, and low rainfall averages.

Oak trees are no exception, and botanists and homeowners alike have seen an acceleration of death taking place with the giant oak trees and it is due to the fungus hypoxylon canker. Unfortunately, once there is signs of this fungus present on your tree, it is too late to do anything to save the tree.

If the tree is large and next to a structure, it is a good idea to have it removed as the fungus will eventually make the branches weak and damage to any surrounding structures will occur.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Caring for Azaleas in your garden

Gorgeous pink AzaleasGorgeous pink Azaleas (Photo credit: dawnella66)

Azaleas can be a truly spectacular show of color in your landscape. While they aren't the most difficult plant to care for, they do have a few requirements that will ensure better results. There are very few yards in the south that don't have at least one Azalea. If you are a novice gardener, this shrub may be the one to try out. Inexpensive and usually easy to grow, it's an easy way to add beauty and color to your landscape.

  1. Research Azaleas before you buy. A little research can go a long way when it comes to investing in your landscape. Ask questions from your local nurseries and find out which variety you are most likely to have success with. 

  2. Plant Azaleas in a partially shaded location. Ideally it is best to plant Azaleas in early Spring or Fall. Azaleas do well in zones 6 through 8, however many have success in slightly cooler and warmer zones, when they apply more specific care to the shrub.

  3. Make sure dig a hole that is twice as large as the root ball of your Azalea.

  4. To ensure a good start, replace garden soil from your newly dug hole with Miracle grow garden soil mix specifically for all types of deciduous, evergreen, and flowering trees and shrubs. 

  5. Azaleas prefer an acidic soil with a ph level at about 5.5. Have your soil tested if you aren't sure.

  6. Once your Azalea is planted, be sure to give it a long deep drink of water. This eliminates air bubbles and settles the fresh soil. Water like this every day for about two weeks to help your Azalea settle into its new environment. 

  7. Add your mulch. Use fine shredded pine bark mulch, and/or pine straw around the base of your Azalea. Leave a little space between the base of the plant and the mulch. 
Bright red AzaleasBright red Azaleas (Photo credit: dawnella66)

Tip: Drive around your immediate neighborhood area and observe what results others are having with their Azaleas. If you see great results, take note of where the Azaleas are located. If you feel extra friendly stop and ask your neighbor what variety they are growing. Make sure to compliment their yard Most gardeners love the positive feedback for their efforts and don't mind sharing their advice with you.
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