Garden Design Ideas: Create a Focal Point

A few years ago I helped my parents build together a focal point in their yard. It is made of two concentric circles of decorative concrete retaining wall, with the center circle taller than the outer one. The circles serve as a central location in the yard for some garden pathways. In the center ring is a weeping cherry tree that provides beautiful spring flowers. The outer circle is home to mums in the fall and often holds pansies. You could easily plant any type of annuals or perennials in the circles. A focal point could be anything from walls and fences to fountains and trellises. It would be fairly simple to create an elegant fountain or water feature in place of the weeping cherry tree. The sky is the limit! Just use your imagination.

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Plant of the Week:Oak

The plant of the week this past week was an oak tree. This tree is actually in West Tennessee at my wife's grandmother's house. It is a very large and majestic tree that provides great shade and a bounty of acorns each year. The picture was taken from the base of the tree looking up at the canopy. As for the exact type of oak I suspect it is one of two possible candidates: the willow oak or the shingle oak.The willow oak and shingle oak can be sometimes be confused due to the similar nature of their leaves. Each leaf is narrow and oval shaped as opposed to the ridged and pointed leaves of other oaks. The leaves of the shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) tend to be longer than the willow oak (Quercus phellos).For more information and a quick identification guide follow this link (pdf file):The University of Tennessee…

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It’s the The Final Mowdown!

Today I took the mower out for a final spin in the balmy 60 degree weather before closing shop over the winter. I'm sure the mower was appreciative of the action as it had rested in my garage for a month gathering dust. It was a good day. It was just the mower and me, man and machine, making the final cut against the waning weeds and the odoriferous onions. Most of the heat thriving weeds and grasses had faded to that lovely dormant brown color and had given way to the bright green of my fresh cool season Kentucky 31. It's young and thriving, growing strong in the cool fall temperatures!On we rode, up the slopes and back down again, feeling the rush of the wind on the number two speed setting. Over the bumps we careened like some mechanical bull in a seedy western bar, but the grass…

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What did I do this summer?

I propagated plants! Propagating is a great way to increase your landscape plants cheaply. What could be better than cheap plants? This was the first summer I seriously experimented with rooting cuttings. Some plants can be propagated by division, some by stem and tip cuttings and others by root cuttings. What I did was mostly the stem and tip cutting types. Stem cuttings are pretty much what it sounds like: a section of the plant stem. The tip cutting is just as self explanatory: a section of the stem tip. The stem tips tend to be green wood and contain auxins that help to stimulate growth in the plant. In the past I have toyed with rooting willows and several easy to root house plants. This year I expanded my repertoire. I continued to do some willow cuttings, mostly for a deciduous hedge row to define our border, but I…

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A Plant for Winter Interest

When you think of color in the winter garden you may think of evergreens first. You may imagine the dark green needle-like foliage of the pines, whose evergreen branches invoke images of winter scenes with snow covered trees. You may think of the glossy green leaves and the berries of the hollies that birds love to eat for winter time nourishment. But do you think of the bark? The bark can be one of the most interesting colors or textures in the wintertime garden. One of my favorites is the red-twig dogwood (Cornus stolinifera). This deciduous shrub holds its attractive green leaves most of the year, but when the temperates dip this plant sheds all and reveals its flashy red stems. As an added bonus it even has the red berries that dogwoods are known for! Place this plant among evergreens and other berry bearing bushes and you have a…

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It’s a New Baby Girl!

I missed posting yesterday due to the birth of our brand new baby daughter! So let me introduce you to Olivia Rose. She was born yesterday morning at 10:44, healthy and happy! She weighed in at 7 lbs. 8 ozs. and 19 1/4 inches long.Everyone is doing great and both mother and daughter come home tomorrow!

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Hemlock Privacy Screen

Here's a picture of our eastern property line. Along the line we placed 4 Canadian hemlocks about 8 feet apart to create a border hedge. The hemlocks will eventually fill together and create a nice soft evergreen screen for that side of the house. I would like to make this area into a woodland corridor connecting the front yard and the backyard with a shady path. When planting the hemlocks I removed the grass in a 3ft area around the plant location. Then I dug the holes a little wider than the root ball and placed them into the holes making sure that the base of the plant remained slightly above the level of the soil. I then put newspaper down over the edges as a biodegradable landscape fabric and covered with a cypress mulch. I don't recommend amending the soil in the hole. That encourages the roots to stay…

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Trees Trees Trees

Trees serve as the backbone of the garden. Trees add structure and height, clean the air, filter water, prevent soil erosion, provide shade and can be a habitat for wildlife. If you have ever sat beneath a maple tree in the heat of summer and enjoyed the cool shade it provided you understand the value of that tree. To me planting a tree is a no brainer, the more the better!It takes time for trees to grow into a well structured specimen with a great canopy so they should be the first plants put into a landscape. You could splurge and buy trees that are already mature but these are expensive and the root ball can be difficult to plant by yourself. Smaller trees can catch up significantly to the larger ones in a couple seasons since those large root balls have to recover for the missing roots that were…

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Holding Strong (Crape Myrtle Fall Color)

These two crepe myrtles are holding strong to their color. Although these bright red and orange beauties are not mine, I did manage to get a couple seedlings from them to plant in my yard. Most people think of crepe myrtles for their summer flowering colors, but these two are evidence that there is more to a myrtle than meets the eye. I only hope that next fall my crepe myrtles can be as bright and colorful on a cold and cloudy Thanksgiving day!

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Blogging about Blogging

So on Wednesday of this coming week I'll have had this blog open for a month. I find it interesting that about two weeks after I start articles all over pop up about garden blogging. Is it something that is catching on? Or is it publicity brought on by the talented folks who have paved the garden blogging way. The first article I noticed was Doug Green's article in the American Horticultural Society's magazine "The American Gardener." It was a very good article about how to start blogging and about some interesting people who blog. This morning in the USA Weekend section of our newspaper another blurb about garden blogging appeared. Each blog site seems to have its own niche. Subjects range from the personal to the informative or even to the political. To most people who are reading this now this probably isn't news. You probably have your own…

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