Home & Garden

Fall Planters and Window Boxes

We are now into the fall season and with the gorgeous weather that we have been having, a lot of my flowers from summer are still strong and blooming. I will let them bloom and grow as long as they can!

A few weeks ago, I added some fall touches to some of my existing planters as well as created some new window boxes and one new planter for fall.

In my existing planters of pink and green caladium along with my pink geraniums, I added a small hamelan dwarf fountain grass plant. Next on my list was to create a pretty, small fall planter. I used burgundy, white, pink, and burnt orange mums and finally purchased myself a purple fountain grass plant and added them into a burgundy pot. I have wanted one of these purple fountain grass plants for the past few years.  To add a little bit more of a fall touch, I also added a gourd inside the planter.

I filled my window boxes with burgundy, pink, and burnt orange mums, along with millet, sunflowers, pumpkins, and gourds.

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Existing summer container: pink caladium and pink geraniums. I added the hamelan dwarf fountain grass.

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Fall Planter: burgundy, white, pink, and burnt orange mums with purple fountain grass. (Hidden: you can’t see the gourd in this photo.)

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Fall Window box close up: burgundy, pink, and burnt orange mums with millet and sunflowers. Pumpkins and gourds were additional touches. (Waiting for the pink mums to bloom!)

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View of both window boxes. (This was before I added the pumpkins and gourds.)

What did you put in your fall planters and window boxes this year?

Pennsylvania Gardens and Arboretums

http://visitpa.com/articles/gardens-and-arboretums-pennsylvania

One of my hobbies is gardening.  Some days, all I need to make me feel better is to put my hands in dirt and plant something.  I love to watch what I plant grow and bloom as time moves along.  Flowers and plants just have a way of brightening up a day.  An enjoyable way to spend a day would be taking a walk through some of PA’s best gardens and arboretums.  The link above will give you a list to gardens and arboretums near you in PA.

Here are some of the ones closest to where I live.

Laurel Highlands

  • Laurel Hill State Park

This park is beautiful and peaceful.  I was here a few years ago.  We camped out (RV Style-More Glamping than Camping). It was such a wonderful time!  Thankfully, I was with an experienced camper, since I am not, haha.  It was such an enjoyable weekend!  Now, I’m in the mood for a campfire, some hobo pies, wine (yes, a glass of wine) and s’mores!!!  I’d love to go back!  The park was clean and well kept.

  • Ohiopyle State Park

Although this was not listed on the webpage, this park hits close to home.  I recently drove up here since this park is very close to where I live.  I had the windows down, and the drive to Ohiopyle was just absolutely gorgeous!  There are bike trails, restaurants and pubs, white water rafting, and so much more.  There are natural water slides.  Cucumber Falls is a must see! I recommend getting some ice cream or eating at Firefly Grill or Falls City Pub!  If you are spending some time up there, a few other attractions to visit would be Kentuck Knob, Fallingwater, and Nemacolin Woodlands.  An intimate, beautiful, peaceful cafe that I suggest would be Bittersweet Cafe. It’s so important to take in the beauty so close around us! If you live in the Pittsburgh area, take a day or weekend and take a ride south, and explore the Laurel Highlands!

Pittsburgh and its Countryside

  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Inc.

I love Phipps! It is beautiful to visit in any season.  They have everything imaginable.  Butterflies, palms, orchids, herbs, children’s discovery garden, bonsai, a Japanese garden, and more!  They offer classes and have events throughout year.  One of my favorite times to visit is during the Christmas season.

  • Botanic Garden of Western PA

I have not been here yet.  It is also known as the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.  This is on my bucket list!  I really hope to explore it before summer ends.  It looks like there are a variety of trails to walk on. It is only 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.  There are adult workshops, geocaching challenges, and events.

  • Chatham Arboretum

There are many varieties of tree species. It is said to be a wonderful place to relax and meditate.  The arboretum provides an outdoor classroom for students.  The grounds are perfect for a stroll.

The Alleghenies

  • Arboretum at Penn State

While this may be a bit of a drive from Pittsburgh, I had to put it on the list.  I’m adding this to my bucket list as well!  I’ve never toured the Arboretum at Penn State, but I am a PSU grad, so anything in State College, holds a special place in my heart!  The last time I was up there visiting my cousins and celebrating my cousin, Caleigh’s 21st birthday, I noticed the arboretum.  The weekend flew by and I didn’t have time to stop by.  I love how their mission strives to achieve beauty and renewal.  A venue for art, enrichment, and discovery.  It is said they have gardens and groves, sculptures and special attractions, as well as a children’s garden.  Another bonus is that there is no admission fee and free parking!

I am looking forward to visiting some of these local gardens and arboretums this summer.  Have you been to any of these? What are some of your favorite garden and arboretums to visit?

National Pollinator Week

If I’m not working, reading, or writing, then you can most likely find me outside. I’ll be pruning and dead heading plants or flowers, pulling weeds or tilling soil, planting new plants and flowers, or feeding and watering the ones that I have.

How have I never heard of National Pollinator Week? It is an International celebration! As I researched to learn more, I found out that it started in 2006 by the US State Senate to bring awareness and recognition of how important pollinators are to our world and how valuable they are to our ecosystem. This year it was celebrated June 19-25, 2017.

You may be thinking to yourself, “What are pollinators?” Birds, butterflies, beetles, bats, and bees are all pollinators. These pollinators sustain our ecosystems, help plants reproduce, and help with our food supply. Did you know that our landscapes could collapse if it wasn’t for these pollinators? They are very important for us and our environment. The website pollinator.org has tons of information and promotes “National Pollinator Week.”

We need pollinators and pollinators need us! Many pollinator populations are declining due to loss of nesting habitats and feeding. We can help pollinators by providing them with proper plants. Planting and placing plants in home gardens, schools, farms, and near highways will help supply pollinators. Other ways to help them would be to buy locally, shop at farmer’s markets, spread the word and create awareness.

There are Eco-regional planting guides available online and there is even an app for your phone to help you determine and decide what plants will attract pollinators.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about the importance of native and heirloom plants. It is a good idea to incorporate these types of plants into your gardens. Bees have been, and still are on a decline, and now I’m beginning to hear that monarch butterflies are on a decline as well. Monarchs love milkweed. This plant in your yard will provide monarch butterflies with food.

If you are asking yourself how to create an environment for pollinators, you can plant a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the seasons of spring through fall. Also, limit the use of pesticides. Make sure to provide shelter and water for pollinators. Just as we need water, water is important for wildlife and nature as well.

It can be quite enjoyable watching pollinators connect with nature. You can watch them by going for a walk, or just sitting outside and paying attention to your surroundings. Look at the plants, flowers, animals, and pollinators around you. Take it all in, and in no time at all, you will be connecting yourself back to nature as well!

The website pollinator.org suggests some great ways to create awareness to others by providing ways to show the importance of pollinators. Some of their suggestions were using a symbol or pictures of pollinators next to the foods that they pollinate. Another idea was hosting a cooking class or creating a menu that showcases the food we eat to bring awareness to people as they sample and taste foods that we enjoy. Pollinators are important in that they help produce what we need to be able to have foods, spices, beverages, and even some medicines. This makes the situation more realistic knowing that if pollinators keep declining, we will have less of these foods, spices, and medicines in our daily lives.

It is important to bring awareness not only one week out of the year, but throughout the year. We need to educate not only adults, but children as well, because they are our future!

What are some of your ideas to bring awareness to others about the decline and importance of pollinators to others? How do you celebrate National Pollinator Week?

April Showers, Bring May Flowers…

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful and enjoyable weekend! Although it was a rainy Saturday, Sunday was absolutely gorgeous out, and I hope that you did something that made you feel happy and put a smile on your face!

After debating back and forth about attending the Penn State Master Gardeners, Garden Marketplace at the ice rink at Shady Side Academy, located in Fox Chapel, I decided to go by myself and check it out. Let me tell you, that I am so glad that I went! Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies. I, by no means, am a professional gardener, but I get so much enjoyment while I’m outside planting things and watching them grow! I was completely overwhelmed not only by all of the gorgeous plants, flowers, and herbs, but by the friendliness, kindness, and knowledgeable gardeners and vendors that were there. There were native plants, unique varieties, perennials, annuals, and herbs galore! I was so excited walking down each aisle, imagining how I could landscape these beauties of nature into my own secret garden one day.

When I first walked into the Marketplace, I noticed the local daffodil society’s annual show and competition. I never realized how many different types of daffodils existed. There were some really pretty varieties that I have never seen before.

After walking through the aisles two times, I went back around and made a few purchases. I loved the idea of them having a plant check, (similar to a wine check, only instead of wine, it is for your purchased plants.) This was such a great idea, because it isn’t always easy carrying around a bunch of plants of different shapes and sizes. This Marketplace, really put me in a wonderful mood!  (All that beauty and the wonderful smells!)

On Sunday, I woke up knowing that I needed to plant what I purchased on Saturday. That required adding additional dirt/soil in my flower beds so that I could begin planting. Instead of making things easy on myself and just buying an already prepared soil mix, I tried to make a more organic mix on my own. I mixed organic topsoil, mushroom compost, and organic gardening soil. I will say this process took a lot longer than anticipated, but hopefully in the end, it will be worth it, and my perennials will grow back year after year. Knowing that May is here, I wanted to hang up my hummingbird feeder. I made my homemade hummingbird food and hung up the feeder.  Now, the waiting begins in hopes that the two hummingbirds from last year return again soon! I’ve always wanted a space that I could create with flowers that would attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Today, I planted a butterfly bush, bee balm, bearded tongue penstemon, two types of salvia, english daisies, and blonde platinum lavender. Also, pineapple sage, mint julep mint, pesto basil, and rosemary to start off my herb garden. After the outdoor gardening, I spent some more time planting several seeds that I had from packets. I’ll be anxious to see what grows, since I tried planting many things that I’ve never tried before. You can never have too many plants or flowers, and I can’t wait to add more beauty to my garden throughout summer! Have a great 1st day of May everyone!

Here is just the initial start of my garden…

My Secret Garden

As summer comes to an end, one thing that I was quite passionate about was my garden and my flowers.  This is a place where I would not think, but just take in the beauty of each delicate plant.  I found a sense of peace and pride watching the beautifully colored blooms, vegetables, and herbs grow throughout the summer.  Their vibrant colors could brighten any dull day.  The gentle breeze brushing through the air brought a sense of calmness, and watching the bees pollinate the flowers provided me with happiness and left me with a smile.

Throughout the summer, I had two loyal hummingbirds that would make an appearance daily.  Seeing them fluttering around the feeder was an added bonus to the day!  I will share my hummingbird sugar water recipe with you that I used in my hummingbird feeder to attract them.

In addition to the beauty of my plants, hanging birdfeeders and windchimes were the perfect accents to create some fun to my backyard environment.  The animals can be quite entertaining.  We were fortunate here in PA to have a beautiful summer, but I am more than ready to move on to my favorite season fall!

Sugar Water Recipe for Hummingbirds

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In a pot, add 4 cups of water.
  2. Heat the water to a slight boil.
  3. Take the pot off of the burner and add the 1 cup of sugar.
  4. Stir the sugar and let the sugar water cool before pouring it into the hummingbird feeder.

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(Look very closely to see the hummingbird!)

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