Category Archives: Flower Gardening

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All About Bulbs: PLANTING BULBS

The highlight of using bulbs for gardening is the ease of planting bulbs. Bulbs can be planted pretty much anywhere as long as the soil is well drained. Prepare the soil by digging and moving it around so it is workable. Add some compost in and mix it through to provide well-nourished surroundings for the bulb.

Using bulb-specific guidelines plant your bulbs in the soil at their recommended depth. A general rule of thumb is that small bulbs are planted about 5 inches deep, while large bulbs can be planted 8 inches deep. The bulb should be planted with the pointier side up, but don’t worry if you don’t, bulbs are typically able to move themselves upright so they grow and flower.

This is most important – never put fertilizer in the dug out hole with the bulb. Fertilizer is capable of killing the bulb and its roots. Organic fertilizer can be used on the soil outside the bulb’s casing if you deem it necessary.

All About Bulbs: YOUR REGIONAL GARDENING HARDINESS ZONE

Knowing your gardening hardiness zone is the first step in choosing which bulbs are best suited for your garden. It is important to remember that spring flowering bulbs are planted in fall before the frost and flower the following spring. Summer flowering bulbs are planted after spring’s last frost to flower within the next few months.

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As mentioned in this Love Your Yard blog post, a hardiness zone is expressed as a “geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.” These zones, according to the USDA, are based on the average annual extreme minimum temperature during a 30-year period in the past, not the lowest temperature that has ever occurred or is predicted to occur.

Visit this map provided by the USDA and click on your location. A box will pop up and share information with you like what zone you reside, what your zone’s average temperature is, and what the range is. Avant Garden Décor is located in zone 6B.

Head over to Google and get searching! Enter the terms “zone 6B frost dates” and you’ll find an incredible amount of information. From the results we were given we are able to understand our first frost date is October 15th and our last frost date is April 15th.

What information did you find when you searched? Are you planning your plantings based on your frost dates? Share with us in the comments section!

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All About Roses: HOW-TO GROW ROSES FROM SEEDS

When growing roses gardeners typically transplant rose bushes to their garden from a local gardening center. Starting your rose bushes from seed can be a very rewarding activity but it will have its disappointments and challenges. Rose seed starting is also the best way to create your very own rose hybrid. Let’s take a look at how you can start your spring roses from seed.

Collect rose hips that have been formed for about four months. Cut the rose hip in half with a knife and remove the seeds from inside. You will then place these seeds in water and let them soak overnight. In the morning remove any floating seeds from your collection as these will either produce weak seedlings or may not germinate at all.

You will need to remove the pulp from your seeds and can do this simply with a blender. Place the seeds in the blender with fresh water and blend for a few seconds. This will allow the pulp to be scrubbed from the seeds.

Place the seeds on a moist paper towel and fold it over a few times. Place this small packet into a plastic bag to create a germination environment for your rose seeds. You can help force germination by chilling your seeds for about six to ten weeks before planting by placing them in the refrigerator or cool garage.

In early spring, after soaking your seeds for a month or two you can begin creating seedlings. Fill a shallow container or individual pots with half potting soil and half compost and place seeds about a half-inch deep. Water your seed collection so the soil is moist.

Place a plastic or glass cover over the pots and place them in a warm and sun-filled place. Keep the soil moist and seeds will begin germinating. When the seedlings begin to get high enough you can remove the glass or plastic cover so they are not restricted. After six weeks the small seedlings will be a few inches tall and will be ready for their next step!

You can plant them into separate pots if initially put into a tray or you can plant them directly outside. Become familiar with your gardening hardiness zone so you do not ruin all your hard work by planting before the last frost.

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All About Roses: ROSE INSECTS AND DISEASES

Given the opportunity, insects will tear apart your rose garden. The following are bugs that may be your rose’s biggest contenders in the garden:

  1. Aphid – Aphid presence is apparent if a sticky honey-dew-like excretion is on your plants (if affected by sooty mold fungus this substance will turn black). Yellowing or curling leaves suggest a large infestation, as does stunted plant growth. Use an insect killing soap spray like Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap to quickly tackle an aphid issue.
  2. Japanese Beetle – Leaf feeding and skeletonizing plants is the Japanese Beetle’s favorite hobby.  To eliminate this insect at its larval stage you’ll want to use a grub killer like Safer® Brand Grub Killer, but once they become grown you’ll need to use a trap. The Safer® Brand Japanese Beetle Trap lures and traps these bugs from wreaking havoc on your property.
  3. Thrip – Thrips are thirsty and attack plants by sucking on stem and leave tissue leaving the plant looking mottled. Often leaves take on a silvery appearance because the deep green coloring has been syphoned out. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will kill Thrips and create a healthy environment for your roses.
  4. Caterpillar – With a diet of leaves and petals, the caterpillar loves to snack on rose plants. A garden B.t. dust like Safer® Brand Garden Dust with B.t. will deter caterpillars from using your rose bushes as lunch.

When watering your rose bushes be sure to spray water along all the leaves to knock any insects off. This is an initial preventive measure for insect control, however continuous observation should help you catch an bug problems before they become too out of control.

Roses have also been known to attract a few problem diseases that can leave your rose garden a mess after they hit. Keeping a few products on hand will allow you to manage most problems before they are able to spread.

  1. Black Spot – This fungal disease can be identified by yellowing leaves, premature leaf drop or a decline in plant growth. Employ a fungicide like Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide to cure your rose plants of Black Spot.
  2. Powdery Mildew – A white or gray mold present on leaves is a sure sign of powdery mildew. Like black spot, you can contain and kill powdery mildew using Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide.
  3. Rust – Over 5,000 species of plant rust exist, but typically they appear similar – brownish-yellow to bright orange spots formed on plant leaves. Rust spreads easily from plant to plant through the air, so it is important to contain this rose-loving disease as soon as you spot it! Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide will tackle rust.
  4. Sooty Mold – Similar to soot, this form of mold will form powdery gray to black spots on a rose’s leaves and stem. Too much of this plant disease will affect the proper photosynthesis process negatively impacting the plant. Safer® Brand Insect Killing Soap will kill the bacteria and keep your roses healthy.

Like most bacteria, the above rose diseases are escalated when given the opportunity to grow. Water and moisture can create a breeding ground, so if possible you should water your rose bushes in the morning to mid-afternoon when there is still time for water to dry off before sun fall and dropping temperatures.

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All About Roses: FAMOUS ROSE GARDENS

Gardens dedicated to the rose have been around for centuries. Whether it was an amateur gardener embracing a rose theme or the royal monarchy growing rows and rows of roses as a means of embracing their bartering power, the rose garden has a fan following and has created some of the most popular gardening destinations in the world. Let’s see where the top famous rose gardens exist and why they’re favorite vacation destinations:

  1. France – La Roseraie du Val de Marne – the world’s oldest existing garden devoted solely to roses was created in 1894 and contains a collection of roses and species specific to the time it was built.
  2. Japan – Flower Festival Commemorative Park – Two main rose gardens – the Rose Theme Garden and Royal Rose Garden – comprise this park containing 7,000 varieties and 30,000 plants.
  3. United States – International Rose Test Garden – is a hot bed of new rose varieties as it is the world’s testing ground for hybrid roses.
  4. United Kingdom – Coughton Court – The Rose Labyrinth is the only British garden given the Award of Garden Excellence by the International Federation of Rose Societies
  5. Australia – Ruston’s Rose Garden – Grounds containing 50,000 rose bushes and 4,000 varieties cover this garden that was created in 1924. The garden is open 363 days a year!
  6. United Kingdom – Hever Castle and Gardens – The childhood home of Anne Boleyn features a walled rose garden hosting over 4,000 rose bushes.
  7. Monaco – Princess Grace Rose Garden – A home to over 4,000 rose bushes, this garden celebrates the Princess’s favorite flower and subject of her book “My Book of Flowers” which was published in 1980.
  8. Ireland – The City of Belfast International Rose Garden – This garden of over 30,000 rose bushes hosts and annual Rose Week every July where final judging of the international rose trials takes place.
  9. Spain – The Cervantes Rose Garden – A collection of 10,000 international rose bushes is displayed in this garden set on a hill in Barcelona.
  10. South Africa – Vergelegen Rose Gardens – Combined with a vineyard, this estate, who’s name means “situated far away,” hosts a themed rose garden focused on formal hybrid tea rose varieties.

Image via http://www.roseraieduvaldemarne.fr/

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All About Roses: ROSE PRUNING

As rose bushes grow they will need to be maintained so they remain healthy and provide optimal blooms. Rose pruning is the act of trimming and maintaining your rose bushes. Don’t worry that a pruning mistake will ruin the look of your beautiful rose bushes, as they will most likely grow out within a short period of time.

Equip yourself with clean and sharp tools and thick gardening gloves. When you start pruning you’ll want to start at the base of the plant and move your way out and up.  Cuts should be made at 45-degree angles and about ¼ inch above buds facing the outside of the plant.

You will want to remove all stalks that are broken or dead and any diseased or dying wood. Additionally you’ll want to prune to open the center of the plant, which will further provide air (space) and water to the plant.

Pruning is done at various times depending on which gardening hardiness zone you reside. Mostly gardeners will prune in the spring, and a good indicator of proper pruning time is when forsythia is in bloom. Check your hardiness zone information for any variations of pruning you should be aware of.

Rosa 'Zéphirine Drouhin' image via missouribotanicalgarden.org

All About Roses: ROSE VARIETIES

There are over 6,500 rose varieties of the Rose species, which allows gardeners a wide range to choose from. The rose variety, or varieties, you choose to grow should depend mostly on your gardening zone and climate. If you’re not sure which gardening hardiness zone you reside in, check out our January article where you will learn all about defining your zone and what it means for you.

Which varieties should you try? Check out this list of ten popular rose varieties to plant this year:

  1. Carefree Wonder – An award-winning cold hardy that is known for both its excellent disease resistance and season-long blossoms. Be sure to give this shrub a location of full sun.
  2. Iceberg – Generous blooming capabilities and signature pure white petals continue to keep this variety a gardener’s favorite. Use Iceberg roses for decorative use like draping over fences and rock walls.
  3. Knock Out – With a remarkable resistance to disease, this rose variety is a tough flower with a rare almost-immunity to blackspot.
  4. Golden Celebration – Like its name implies, this gorgeous yellow variety offers a sweet honey toned scent. Repeat-blooming, strong disposition, and mid-sized blooms make this variety popular.
  5. The Fairy – Twice wide as it is tall this dense rose plant does well in small gardens. Season long dwarf blooms and a tough hardiness attract this variety to northern gardeners.
  6. Zephirine Drouhin – Thornless stems and strong fragrance showcase this variety as a top contender for social settings. Combined with exceptional climbing skills, these characteristics allow trellises and pergolas to be great homes for the Zephirine Drouhin.
  7. Penelope – With heights reaching 6 feet this variety is a great addition to any garden background. Clusters resembling bouquets create gorgeous focal points.
  8. Gallica – Simple cultivation and semi double pink flowers reward a gardening fan base for the Gallica variety. Color ranges have been seen in white to pink to deep purple.
  9. Alba – A white rose hybrid whose ancestry dates further back than the Roman Empire. Upright schrubs and blue-green foliage combined with white blooms create a pretty addition to any garden.
  10. Fragrant Plum – The name really spells out this variety’s benefits – a gorgeous lavender blush color and a very sweet scent. Growing as a large shrub, about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, make this a great garden focal point.

Have you determined which varieties you’d like to try? Become familiar with your gardening hardiness zone and make sure your chosen variety will manage well with your region’s moisture and temperature averages. Not sure what your hardiness zone is? This Love Your Yard blog post will help!

Image: Rosa ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ image via MissouriBotanicalGarden.org

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Your Garden Planning: Flower Garden

Planning a flower garden is not so dissimilar than planning a vegetable garden. You’ll want to start by deciding your goals – are you gardening for color, for scent, for a specific theme? Depending on your goal, or goals, you can begin to gather inspiration. We enjoy creating a large “mood board” full of ideas for our garden and appreciate being able to see a visual of what we are hoping to accomplish.

After you have a mental picture of what you’d like to include in your garden you can take it to paper and pencil. Using the Avant Garden Décor Garden Planner you can map out exactly how you’ll want your garden to look, including what patio area, furniture, fountains, and more you’ll have included.

Make a timeline regarding when to plan the various seeds and the approximate amount of time they’ll need until bloom. You will also want to note whether plants are perennials that bloom multiple times in a garden season or if the flower is an annual that can be replaced once its life cycle is complete.

Next, you’ll want to head online or to your favorite local gardening center to stock up on plants and seeds. Some of our favorite online seed shops include:

Finally, using your timeline and garden tools you’ll want to get started! All your planning hard work will pay off when you can bring your drawings and inspiration to life on your very own property.

Take photos of your planning process for us and share with our community on Facebook. We can’t wait to see them!

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Seed Paper Ornament Instructions

Seed Paper Ornaments are the perfect holiday tree accessory turned garden planter!

Take colorful scrap paper and tear into pieces. Place the paper pieces in your blender and cover with enough water to create a pulp. Blend the paper using a pulse setting. Remove the pitcher from the blender and add wild flower seeds. You’ll want to use the large spoon to blend the seeds in, not the blender itself.

Place a fine mesh colander in your sink and pour the paper pulp to drain. On a flat service place a towel underneath a large piece of felt. Pour the drained paper pulp contents on to the felt and, using your hands, spread evenly into a thin layer. Take a second towel and lay over the thin layer of paper pulp. Dab gently to soak up excess water. Remove the towel and allow the layer of seed paper to dry over night.

The next day, when the seed paper is dried and ready to be shaped, choose which shapes you’d like. Cut the seed paper into stars, flowers, and other shapes to be used as ornaments. Punch a hole in the shape and create a loop for hanging using Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® twine. To distribute, place on Christmas trees of friends or family or add it to a holiday card with instructions to use!

Seed paper ornaments can be placed in the ground in spring and watered to bloom wild flowers in the garden!

Image via CraftIdeasWeekly.com.

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Year-Round Composting

Although our gardens are not highly dynamic during the winter, a great amount of activity occurs below the surface. This is important to keep in mind when composting through cold winter months, as you will want to replenish and build up your stock of nutrients for the gardening season to come!

Remember that compost is the mixture of decaying organic matter that is used to improve soil and provide nutrients. The decomposition process does slow down in winter due to low temperatures, but an essential core of heat helps the process to continue.  Microbes and good bacteria in the compost pile account for a majority of the decomposing, and the decomposition gives off heat – so the process helps itself.

If you find that your compost pile is not keeping, or producing, enough heat try adding some nitrogen rich substances, like chicken or rabbit manure, to the pile. Nitrogen generates heat and will create a solid foundation for over-winter compost.

Not sure what all can be composted? Remember that more than 25% of the typical household’s waste is yard trimmings and food scraps that are compostable. Fall leaves and pine needles, corn stalks, dryer lint, eggshells, and seaweed are all compostable items you may find in use at your home.

Check out an overview of composting, and vital stats to get familiar with, in this composting infographic courtesy of Avant Garden Décor!