Once in a Blue Moon …

August 31st, 2012 § 3

August’s Blue Moon —99% Full Last Night— Rises in the Dusty-Violet Twilight

This month’s Blue Moon —also the last full moon of summer— will rise tonight at 7:08pm ET. Be sure to catch it, or you’ll have to wait almost three years to see another one! The next time two full moons will occur in the same month won’t be until July, 2015. Learn more about the Blue Moon at Space.com. You can also explore a list of moon names and find a full moon calendar and a complete lunar phase calendar at The Farmers’ Almanac online, here.

Enjoy the Celestial Show!

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Endless Summer: A Garden Designed for Season-Spanning Beauty & Interest . . .

August 28th, 2012 § 2

Late August in Susan & Bob’s Front Entryway Garden. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ Mass Planted for a Beautiful, Long-Blooming Lavender-Blue-Haze. A Background of Coreopsis, Heuchera micrantha, Echinacea purpurea, Eupatorium maculatum, E. rugosum & Thalictrum, Round Out the Late-Summer Color-Scheme. Ceramic Vessel: Stephen Procter

Endless summer. Yes, I realize the phrase might seem a bit odd for a Vermont-based gardening journal. After all, we are heading toward autumn, and New England is rather famous for “nine months of winter and three months of damned poor sledding”. But the fleeting days of balmy weather needn’t cramp a northern gardener’s style. A well-designed landscape remains beautiful every month of the year, and by choosing the right plants, colorful, textural compositions can enliven gardens throughout the growing season and well into the dark days of winter.

Designing a four season garden does require a certain amount of experience or research and usually involves more than one-stop shopping at the local nursery. Over time, seasoned gardeners develop an understanding of  how plants change throughout the growing year. When foliage begins to shift from the greens of summertime to the gold, red and burgundy hues of autumn, opportunities for new vignettes appear. Later —as winter chill settles in and leaves disappear altogether— texture, underlying color and structure is revealed; offering endless ways to play with glistening snow and ice.

Dry-Laid Stone Retaining Walls (By Massachusetts Artist Curtis Gray) Provide Ample Opportunities to Play Plant Textures & Colors Against Rock (Plantings Include: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, Baptisia australis & Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’)

In the Front Entry, Rich Colors and Textures Keep the Garden Lively in August (Plantings Include: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Amsonia illustris, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Baptisia australis, Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’, Coreopsis and Huechera)

The Entry Garden –Pictured Above– in Late Spring (Blooming Here Are Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’ and Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’)

As beautiful as blossoms are, in order for a garden to remain interesting in autumn and winter, the design must contain more than flowering plants. Perennials and grasses with colorful foliage and sensual textures, trees and shrubs with great structure, bright berries and unusual bark are the keys to creating never-ending beauty in the landscape.

Featured here is a young garden I created, in several stages, over the past year. The oldest part of the garden —welcoming entry walk and perennial-filled retaining walls— was planted for my clients late last summer. In autumn of 2011, I created a bulb plan for the front gardens and began designing borders for edging the back meadow and a soft, breezy screen to surround the stone terrace and sunken fire feature. Work continues with a second bulb plan this autumn, and preliminary sketches for another garden room with a water feature, to be created next spring. The gardens change dramatically from season to season, with colors and textures shifting from pale and delicate to bright and bold.

A Mass Planing of Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’) and Russian Sage (Perovskia antriplicifolia) Softens the Edge of a Deck, Facing the Meadow and Hills Beyond

Blooming Brightly from Early August Straight Through Early Frost, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ is the Perfect Perennial for Mid to Front Border, Late-Summer Compositions (Planted Here with Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’)

To Soften the Edge of the Stone Patio/Fire Pit and Benches (Stonework by Curtis Gray), I Created a Summer-Screen of Fine-Textured Grasses and Meadow Flowers, Backed by a Beautiful Wind-Breaking Wall of Viburnum. Eventually, this Outdoor Room will be a Semi-Enclosed, Three-Season Space for Grilling & Entertaining. In Winter, the Snow-Catching, Sculptural Beauty of Ornamental Grasses and Horizontal Lines of Viburnum plicatum will Remain Visible from the Indoor Living/Dining Space (Plantings Include: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’, Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Venus’ and Veronica)

Many new gardeners focus on spring-blooming perennials —iris, peonies, roses, etc— creating fragrant, floriferous gardens that, while beautiful in June, fizzle out by Fourth of July. If you are new to four-season gardening, have a look at some of the later blooming perennials –Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex), Asters, Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), Coneflowers (Echinacea), Russian Sage (Perovskia), Sedum, Windflowers (Anemone), The Rocket (Ligularia), Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis), Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum & E. rugosum), Globe Thistle (Echinops), Sea Holly (Eryngium), Turtlehead (Chelone), Phlox, Tick Seed (Coreopsis), Sneeze-Weed (Helenium), False Sunflower (Heliopsis), Yellow Waxbells (Kirengeshoma palmata) and Bush Clover (Lespedeza), to name a few— as well as ornamental grasses, ferns, berry-producing plants, and shrubs and trees with fall foliage, interesting bark and sculptural form for winter interest.

An Early Tint of Rusty-Red on Viburnum trilobum ‘Bailey Compact’ is Accented by Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and in the Foreground, Salvia nemerosa ‘May Night’ (Second Flush of Blooms Brought on by Timely Pruning of Spent Blossoms from the First Wave) Brightens the Meadow-Edge

The Front Entryway Garden —Pictured at Top of Post— in Very Early Spring of its First Year

And Later in Spring of its First Year, with Sunny Perennials Blooming on the Left and Shade Garden Plants Emerging at Right (Hosta, Ferns & Astilbe Beneath Stewartia)

Detail of Front Entryway Garden Walk in Late August

All Stonework: Curtis Gray.

Hardscape Materials/Site Prep & Plants: Turner & Renaud.

Ceramic Vessel: Stephen Procter.

Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Singing for Their Supper: Gardening to Attract Migratory Songbirds . . .

August 23rd, 2012 § 3

Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’ Fruits in the Garden – A Cedar Waxwing Favorite

Late in summer, when tall grass sways in golden light and crickets sing long into morning, the garden begins to ripen in shades of red, orange, violet and plum. In August, migratory birds —making their way to exotic, tropical destinations— flock to my garden like jet-setters pausing for a gourmet meal and quick rest at a hip, mountain-top resort. Cedar Waxwings, with their high whistling calls, are the happening crowd this week; flitting about and flashing their glorious plumage and dark masks in fruity Viburnums …

Photo of the week - Cedar waxwing (MA)Cedar Waxwing ⓒ Bill Thompson/USFWS

Beautiful birds are as important to my garden as any of the plants growing within it. In order to attract and support birds, I’ve planted a wide variety of fruiting trees, shrubs and seed-producing perennials in the landscape. The Viburnum genus is especially attractive to songbirds, and with so many species and cultivars to choose from, it’s easy to find more than one to fit in any garden. Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum (featured previously here) is a beautiful shrub that provides season-spanning support for wildlife. In addition to Viburnums, I grow a number of Dogwood (Cornus) species, Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Juniper, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Ornamental Sumac (Rhus typhina), Elderberry (Sambucus), Buckeye (Aesculus) and many other fruit-bearing shrubs.

Nannyberry Viburnum (V. lentago) Fruits Ripen from Citrusy Hues to Blueish Black. The Coral Colored Stems Make a Stunning Contrast to the Dark-Hued Berries. Although Birds Eventually will Pick the Shrub Clean, There’s Plenty of Time to Enjoy the Visual Feast as Well…

Creating a bird-friendly habitat also means providing water —fresh, clean birdbath or water feature— and shelter. Conifers and shrubs with dense branching patterns offer excellent cover and protection from predators and the elements. Hemlock (Tsuga), Spruce (Picea), Fir (Abies) and Cedar (Thuja) are important sources of both food and shelter for birds throughout the seasons. For more information on attracting birds, visit Cornell-University’s Lab of Ornithology here. And for additional photos and berry-good planting ideas, click back to my earlier post —Oh Tutti-Fruitti— here.

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) Berries Provide Sustenance to a Variety of Birds and Squirrels From Late Summer through Early Winter

Magical Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issi’ is Not Only a Beautiful Ornamental, but a Magnet for Feathered Garden Guests as Well!

Cedar Waxwing Photo is ⓒ Bill Thompson/USFWS  – Courtesy of the Photographer, via Flickr Creative Commons 

All Other Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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A Surprise Visit from the Gray Treefrog: Musical Chameleon of the Native Forest

August 19th, 2012 § 4

Wait… Is That Lichen on My Chair? Luckily, I Spotted This Tiny Member of the Arboreal Choir (Hyla versicolor), in the Nick of Time!

If you live in North America, chances are you’re more familiar with the springtime song of gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor), than you are with the colors and patterns of this amphibian’s chameleon-like skin. The gray treefrog is a tiny creature —measuring less than 2″ long— and with its highly-effective camouflage, it often escapes detection. In fact, these little fellas blend in so well with their surrounding environment, I nearly mistook one for lichen on my old lounge chair. Luckily — just before sitting down— I paused to get a closer look at the “lichen” growing on my chair. Well… Hello friend!

In Addition to Its Chameleon-Like Coloration, the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) Has Beautiful, Distinctive Markings on Its Back, Sides, Head and Legs

The North American Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) is most famous for the bird-like, musical trills made by male frogs during the mating season (click here to listen), but its ability to change color  —much like a chameleon— is another unique characteristic. Depending upon its surroundings, the tree frog’s skin will change color within seconds; from nearly white to nearly black, as well as various shades of green, gray and brown in between. The treefrog is a great garden-friend, consuming a wide range of insects; including flies, beetles and caterpillars.

Learn more about the gray treefrog by visiting AmphibiaWeb, linked here.

Listen to the Gray Treefrog at Mister-Toad’s Website linked here.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Back in the Limelight Again …

August 14th, 2012 Comments Off

The Dew-Kissed Blossoms of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ Sparkle in My Garden at Dawn

A Lightly Fragrant, Fresh-Cut Beauty for the Late Summer Vase, Limelight Hydrangea Blossoms also Dry Beautifully  (Perfect for Autumn Arrangements & Winter Wreaths)

By October, Limelight has Morphed from Pale Pistachio to Strawberries and Crean and on to Honey-Drizzled Cherry Hues. Come Winter, the Blossoms Shift to Sugar-Coated Caramel. A Feast for the Eyes!

Some garden divas strut their stuff early in the season; stopping us in our tracks with outrageous June displays. Yes, the perfumed Peonies and romantic Roses make an unforgettable, early impression. But as every party-hopping bombshell knows, there’s a distinct advantage to the well-timed, late arrival. By mid-August, even the most star-studded garden parties can look a little tired. Somewhere in the middle of the dog days, all of the ephemeral, ingenues mysteriously disappear and the colorful garden conversations begin to fade. But wait —before you retrieve your party platter and bid the hostess adieu— out of nowhere, those gorgeous Hydrangeas slip through the back door to strike a pose. It may be late, but suddenly this Hydrangea paniculata has the stage all to herself, and she certainly knows how to sparkle in the Limelight…

Limelight Blossoms Unfold Minty Vanilla to Pale Pistachio; Usually Beginning in Late July or Early August

Hardy in USDA zones 3/4 – 8/9, H. paniculata ‘Limelight’ can reach a mature size of approximately 6-8′ tall and wide. Far more heat and drought tolerant than her cousins —particularly the thirsty H. macrophylla clan— this delightful shrub does best in full to partial sun and average garden soil. Because H. paniculata ‘Limelight’ blooms on new wood, I like to prune it back hard in early spring to keep the plant looking tidy and to encourage abundant, large flowers (I take down about 1/3 of the shrub, shaping as I go). In late July or early August —when so many plants wilt and fade in the humid air— newly emerging Limelight blossoms cool the garden with citrus-hued refreshment. Later on in the season —as temperatures drop and nightly frosts settle into the garden— Limelight responds to Jack’s kiss with a charming blush. Gorgeous! But the wonderful color transition doesn’t stop there either. As autumn waltzes toward winter, the over-sized blooms shift from honey-drizzled cherry to sugar-coated caramel; continuing straight through early snows until they take to the winter wind as rice-colored crisps!

Last Year’s October Snow Caught the East Coast by Surprise. Damage was Extensive in New England, but the Hardy Hydrangea Blossoms in My Garden Took the Early Winter in Stride!

I’ve featured this favorite late-summer to late-autumn garden beauty here before. To read more about Limelight —a Proven Winners introduction— and some of her gorgeous garden companions, click back to my previous post here. Of course, my favorite part of growing hydrangea is cutting and sharing the blooms. Fresh or dried, Limelight Hydrangea blossoms are beautiful additions to flower arrangements.

Hydrangeas are so Lovely, I Can Never Resist Cutting Bouquets to Share with Friends (Sprigs of Eucalyptus cinerea & Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ with Early Autumn Blush)

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ Blossoms in January Snow

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Casual, Late Summer Arrangements … Shadow, Light & Texture for the Vase

August 10th, 2012 § 4

The Dark Centers of Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Fine Texture of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) Play with Light and Shadow on the Early Evening Dinner Table –  Jar from Terrain

I love fresh cut flowers, and at the end of a busy week, I find there’s nothing more relaxing than a stroll through the garden, meadow and surrounding forest, to gather leaves, ferns, branches and flowers for arrangements. Beginning the day with a bit of meditative flower arrangement is the perfect way to get creative juices flowing. While outside I like to keep my eyes open for fresh combinations. Late summer blossoms are beautiful in vases, of course, but why not bring more of nature’s abundant beauty indoors?

An Old Atlas Jar, Filled with Un-Ripe Blackberries, Sprigs of Elderberry and Luminous Hair Grass from the Meadow

In late summer, the garden is overflowing and I’m constantly taming borders and clearing paths by clipping things back. Rather than compost my cuttings, I’m often inspired to create arrangements with some of the the extra foliage. Shiny hosts leaves, textural conifer branches, feathery ferns, wispy blades of wild grass and lacy tendrils from vines all make beautiful additions to the vase. Wayward bits of foliage in the vegetable garden and berry patch are fair game as well! Why not create an edible centerpiece with berries or nasturtiums? When putting arrangements together, I like to contrast bits and pieces that catch light (grass, delicate seed pods, lacy flowers) with darker elements (berries, gnarly brown branches or shadowy leaves). Looking for inspiration? Lately, I enjoy visiting Pinterest for fresh, creative ideas!

Gathering Foliage & Flowers in the Morning, Fresh from the Garden: The Entire Process —Selecting, Cutting, Prepping, Arranging— is Relaxing and Fun

Delicate Queen Anne’s Lace and Immature Hydrangea Blossoms Lighten a Vase Filled with Lush Foliage in Cool Shades is Calm & Refreshing on a Hot Summer Day

Tips for Keeping Flower Arrangements Fresh & Lovely

1) Cut flowers & foliage when it’s cool in the garden. Morning or evening.

2) Use sharp, clean pruners or shears.

3) Carry a bucket with you while cutting and place flowers & foliage in tepid water.

4) Cut flowers in bud or just as they are beginning to open & young, fresh foliage. Be creative. Select twigs and branches, berry brambles, ferns, conifers, vegetables and other items. Have fun and experiment!

5) Cut stems long, but take care to remember the rules of pruning; particularly when cutting roses, lilacs & other shrubs (revisit this basic pruning post).

6) Strip off lower foliage and side branches as you go (anything below the waterline of the intended vase).

7) Sear sappy/milky stems with a flame or boiling water (poppies, hollyhocks, etc).

8) Hammer the bottom and strip bark from woody stems.

9) Arrange flowers in a clean vase, filled with tepid water. If you are having a party and want to keep arrangements fresh until guests arrive, place vases in a cool basement or refrigerator (be sure cool storage temp is set well above the freezing mark)

10) Add a tiny bit of sugar and a few drops of bleach (hydrogen peroxide based is fine) to the vase when you arrange flowers.

11) Check and change the water in vases every day when it’s hot. For greatest longevity, try to place arrangements out of direct sunlight and in a cooler part of the house, if possible.

Woody Stems of Old Fashioned, Flowering Weigela (W. florida ‘Red Prince’) Fill My Kitchen Sink

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Friend or Foe? A Wise Gardener Knows

August 8th, 2012 § 1

 Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) on Wild Carrot (Dacus carota)

Fear can lead people to do foolish things. Human beings have an tendency to fear and strike out at things they do not know. At a certain level, fear is important to our survival. The human fight or flight response was designed to protect us, and it’s a great instinct —until it isn’t. Sometimes, someone who appears to be an enemy, is actually a friend in disguise… And no one wants to hurt a friend, right? Right.

A Slightly Younger Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar is Shown Here, Feeding Upon the Same Queen Anne’s Lace as the One Pictured Above

In the garden —as elsewhere in life— sometimes allies are mistaken for enemies. Take the Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes), for example. In its larval phase, the colorful caterpillar (pictured above, munching wild carrot foliage), feeds mainly upon the leaves and stems of plants in the Apiacea family; including vegetables and herbs like carrots, dill, parsley and fennel. In its early stage of life, some gardener’s refer to the Black Swallowtail as a “parsley worm”, and consider it a pest. Yet when mature, this voracious eater morphs into a beautiful, nectar-sipping butterfly. Moving from flower to flower —carrying golden dust on their legs, wings and bodies—Black Swallowtail Butterflies become important pollinators as adults; ironically serving the very plants they enjoy consuming in their youth. Instead of killing “parsley worms”, I recommend covering vulnerable crops with Reemay Cloth or —if your garden is small— remove caterpillars by hand and place them on wild alternatives (they emit an unpleasant odor as a form of defense, so wear gloves or just wash your hands!). Some gardeners —including this one— actually plant ornamental carrots and dill for the purpose of attracting beneficial insects. A few minor inconveniences rarely bother organic gardeners and lovers of natural beauty. After all, isn’t the creation of a welcoming, butterfly habitat  a wonderful thing? Learn more about the Black Swallowtail Butterfly at ButterliesandMoths.Org, by clicking here.

Welcome to My Garden! Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Habitat Encourages a Healthy, Diverse Ecosystem. Set a Good Example by Becoming a Friendly Member of  Earth’s Community: Swing Your Gate Open to New Friends! Pollinator Favorites: Queen Anne’s Lace and Goldenrod (Daucus carota and Solidago)

So how do you know if you’ve spotted a friend or an enemy in the garden?  If something seems unfamiliar, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research before impulsively squashing it. Of course, you can try asking an experienced neighbor, but if all else fails, the internet is always standing by! Some of the best insect identification resources I’ve found are free and readily available online; including Identification.Org and BugGuide.Net. For butterfly identification specifically —including the all-important larval stage— I like ButterfliesandMoths.org.  Basic entomological skills (the study of insects) are important to all gardeners. I recommend the books below —Good Bug Bad Bug  &  Garden Insects of North America—  for ease of use and comprehensive coverage, respectively. For more insect identification and organic pest control resources, visit the Library page by clicking here.

Jessica Walliser’s easy to use, Good Bug Bad Bug

Whitney Cranshaw’s comprehensive guide,  Garden Insects of North America

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Notes from the Mid-Summer Potager & A Home Remedy for Powdery Mildew …

August 2nd, 2012 § 2

The Verdant Hues of My Mid-Summer Potager

Midsummer is a wonderful time in the vegetable garden. Daily harvests of squash, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, salad greens, herbs & fruit keep my pantry & kitchen well stocked with fresh ingredients for home-cooked meals. But the dog days can be tough on gardens, and gardeners as well. Scorching heat, high humidity and a lack of rain have made this growing season tougher than usual for many farmers and home gardeners. Although Vermont has technically avoided the historic drought currently ravaging crops throughout North America, keeping gardens watered and healthy has been a real challenge —even in the Green Mountain State.  Thankfully, rainfall has recently increased for those of us in New England; easing the burden on our wells and watering arms.

This is the time of year when I start to find trouble-shooting questions about insects and diseases in my email and voicemail boxes. If the question comes from far away, I often refer the gardener to Cornell University’s excellent resource, Vegetable MD Online, or I might suggest a book with organic solutions to common vegetable growing problems (see the Garden Library Page here). Insects and diseases are often air-borne, and know no boundaries. At some point in the growing year —regardless of education or experience level— all gardeners will face horticultural challenges. How to keep crops alive during less-than-ideal conditions? “The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow” may be a time-worn Chinese proverb —which you may recall that I have mentioned here before— but it’s one certainly worth repeating. When I am out filling my harvest basket each morning, I make it a habit to patrol for pests and diseases on the plants in my garden. Catching little problems when they first appear makes them much easier to manage than when they explode into big disasters …

Dreamy Elite Zucchini

Golden Gifts from the Garden – I Harvest Produce Early, Every Morning. While Gathering Fruits & Vegetables I Always Check on Plant Health and Patrol for Garden Pests

Golden Summer Squash

Take powdery mildew, for example. A common problem in gardens during hot, humid conditions —particularly during long dry spells— powdery mildew is easy to spot on leaves when it makes its first appearance (see photograph below). This air-born fungus can be found on the leaves of everything from beans, summer squash, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and peas to ornamental herbs and flowers like bee balm and garden phlox. Left unchecked, powdery mildew will spread and weaken plants. In addition, mildew infected flower buds will fail to open, reducing yields. Preventative measures such as crop rotation and wide spacing for air circulation will only go so far, as the spores of this fungus travel on the wind. Planting susceptible vegetables and flowers in full sun will certainly help reduce the risk of infection, but in gardens where mildew is an ongoing problem, I like to suggest regular, spray-applications of either neem oil (also acts as an insecticide, so beware of use around pollinators) or homemade anti-fungal solution as a method for controlling this common disease. The easy-to-prepare anti-fungal recipe listed below —made from basic ingredients found in most kitchens— is my favorite, quick and economical powdery-mildew solution …

Powdery Mildew (Pictured on the Leaves of the Summer Squash Above) is Common Both in Mid to Late Summer Potagers and Ornamental Gardens. Easy-to-Control When Caught Early, Spray Applications of Baking Soda Solution Will Quickly Put a Stop to the Spread of Powdery Mildew. Neem Oil Can Also be Used Both Preventatively and as Effective Rx.

DIY Anti-Fungal Baking Soda Solution – Useful for Controlling Powdery Mildew, Downy Mildew & Black Spot

Anti-Fungal Baking Soda Solution*

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1 Gallon of Warm Water

Method: Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil with 1 cup of  warm water until dissolved. Add the mixture to the remaining  warm water and pour as needed into a spray bottle. Apply to all areas of susceptible crops when powdery mildew is first noticed, and continue applications once a week. This solution may also be used preventatively on susceptible crops during hot, humid weather (particularly when there is a lack of rain). Be sure to spray both the underside as well at the surface of foliage on affected plants and nearby crops once every one to two weeks while hot, humid conditions persist.

*divide or multiple this recipe evenly to suit your needs.

For More Organic Solutions to Common Garden Problems, Visit My Past Post on the Subject Here

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Into the August Haze …

August 1st, 2012 § 5

Ladybells (Adenophora confusa) Spill, Languid Blossoms to the Lawn

August is a languid month; hazy, verdant hills saturated with the weight of humid air. It’s mid-summer, and the fields are ripe. Come stroll with me through the blowzy gardens and wildflower meadow; gathering Black-eyed Susans, Ladybells and Queen Anne’s Lace for carefree bouquets. It’s time for fruit picking in the peach-filled orchards, cocktails on the sun-warmed terrace and drifting off to sleep beside the deep blue lake …

Like an August Sunset, Woodside Daylily Mix adds Fiery Heat to the Entry Garden

Queen Anne’s Lace and Goldenrod in the Wildflower Meadow

Peaches at Walker Farm

The Sun-Warmed Hammock Floats Above the Tickle of Tawny Hairgrass (Native Deschampsia  flexuosa)

Rudbeckia hirta and Adenophora confusa Along the Wildflower Walk

Sultry Summer Moonlight in the Indigo Haze

Remember to Look for the Full, Green Corn Moon Tonight! The First Full Moon of August Moon will Rise Tonight at 7:37pm ET. A Second, Blue Moon  will Rise this Month on August 31st. See the Old Farmer’s Almanac Online for a Listing of Full Moon Dates, Times & Names

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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