Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summertime update!

This is my house I bought in March 2015
I thought I’d do an update of the front of my house for now. I’m pleased with it compared to this time last year! Gardening on a budget is a challenge, but I make progress here and there.

 One of the things I'm most excited about is the two Clematises I planted. You see them above - they weren't very vigorous plants to begin with so I wasn't sure if they'd even make it. Some of you told me not to worry because they are very hardy. You were right! And note the color of the pink one....the light one doesn't look anything like it.

You can barely see them, but they are under the small obelisk I put there for them to climb. I know I need to do something more grand for them, but I had to see if they'd make it. I planted the Clematis with two Knockout rosebushes that I got at WalMart for $2.73 each! Now THAT was a great deal.(Left) Here's the Knockouts going crazy!
The Clematis in all their glory. The light one is a pale lavender and the dark purple - supposed to be a Jackmanii - has huge flowers. I'm not sure if this is a J. but I love it. I believe J. has smaller flowers. The photo is too bright - I'll take more to show you the real colors.

Summer 2016
A beautiful pot of Lantana and matching petunias and yellow gazanias!

My next project is to create a shade garden under my remaining tree in the back yard.
More to come!
Happy gardening to you,

I'd love to have any comments from you. Or you can email me at libbylottie@yahoo.com.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cicada - Invasion of the 17 year-olds!

I wonder about the Cicadas. Their life cycle just fascinates me.  They are all over my area – the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.
I truly wonder why God created certain things, like slugs and cicadas. They seem to have no purpose to me – and are annoying - and yet they thrive!

Last week there were a few of them – this week they’re literally dripping off the trees and clinging to anything and everything. I went out and came into my house and one flew right in!

Dr. Daniel Frank, Entomologist Specialist at West Virginia University sums up the lifestyle of cicada’s perfectly:

My neighbor's tree
Have you heard of Brood V? Brood V is a group of periodic cicadas that will be appearing throughout much of West Virginia in 2016. These cicadas will be emerging in mass from the soil where they have spent the last 17 years sucking the nutrients from tree roots. From May through June the adult male cicadas will announce their presence with a loud chorus of sound that they use to attract a potential mate. Once the females have successfully mated, they will cut small slits in the twigs of trees to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch the immature cicadas (called nymphs) will burrow into the soil where they will remain for another 17 years to start the process anew.

Next to my tree
The only damage that cicadas can inflict is on small or young trees, as they slice into the branches to bury their eggs. Dr. Frank suggests that people cover their small and/or newly planted trees with light fabric to keep the insects away from them.

This is my remaining tree (above). The roots are so thick that I couldn't grow anything under it, so last year I just put several pots under it and planted flowers and ferns in them. The cicadas are all  over the pots and in them. I wanted to plant them today, but YUCK!

And, yep, the males have started their mating call......

As I said, I’m in awe of these creatures. There’s just an existential depressing “ness” about them that makes me ask “why?” But maybe I should leave the philosophy to the philosophers!

Do you know why?

What is your cicada situation where you live?

Would love to hear from you below, or you can email me at libbbylottie@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Million Pollinators Garden Challenge

Starting in 2014 the National Pollinator Garden Network, which consists of groups of people concerned about the decline of pollinating creatures, got together to start the Million Pollinators Garden Challenge after President Obama issued an Executive Memorandum. The memorandum outlines the President’s strategy to “Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”.

 “Pollinator gardens provide one way to reverse that decline (of pollinators) by offering food, water, cover and places to raise young for honey bees, native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.”
Hummingbird: Audubon
Butterfly: PBS

Other pollinators also include bats, moths, flies, beetles and ants.
Bat - don't be afraid!
One in three bites of food we eat is because of pollinators. Without them a major food source would be eliminated , as fruits and vegetables must be pollinated to bloom, which is part of the process for their production. 
Native bee
Honey bee
So pollinating flying things go around spreading the good stuff to keep the cycle going.

Register your yard or site hereThere are almost 188,000 sites registered so far.

To find out more information, such as what a good pollinating garden looks like, go here

I'm hoping I can get a good start on building a pollinator-friendly garden this summer. I think they like what I already have, but I want to make it lush and protective for them, which takes time and money. It'll be worth it.

How about you? Is your garden pollinator-worthy?

I'd love to see your comments below. If you care to email me please do so at: libbylottie@yahoo.com.

Happy gardening ~


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wedding Flowers - Unique at West Farms in West Virginia

While researching photos for one of my posts I stumbled across a unique farm - West Farms in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

West Farms is a cutting flower farm with three acres of beautiful healthy specialty flowers - 120 varieties to be exact! They also grow other things such as herbs. You’ll find them parked at local farmer’s markets in the area as well.

Pam West
Pam West has been growing cut flowers at West Farms since 2000 and has received the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Women in Agriculture Award in years past.

What is so unique about Pam’s farm is that a bride-to-be can take herself and her bridesmaids on a ride throughout the farm and pick out the flowers she would like to have in her wedding, from bouquets, to corsages and boutonnieres to bunches of flowers in Mason jars hung on a Shepherd’s hook.

See my post on Shepherd's hooks here  .                                             
The finishing touch to the bride’s visit at West Farms is when Pam presents her with a complimentary bouquet of the flowers she picked out to take home.

If you are thinking of a rustic or outdoor wedding, try West Farms for your flowers. They can also give you a list of venues in the area for your celebration.

Please visit West Farms in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Call Pam at 304-647-8195 for directions or more information.

I'd love to hear any comments from you, and if you'd like to email me please do so at: libbylottie@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading, and sign up for all my future posts!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shepherd’s hooks

If you’re like me and gardening on a budget, or you're a beginning gardener, take a look at shepherd’s hooks. They are strong wrought iron rods with an oval top and a hook for hanging baskets of flowers or whatever you wish to hang.
Photo: West Farms

Give your yard and garden a little bit of architectural interest with these hooks, and a great big burst of color! They will be a fairly inexpensive addition to your landscape.

Shepherd’s hooks run the gamut in price probably starting as low as 4-5 dollars on up to well over a hundred for heavy ornate hooks. Oh heck, we know you could probably pay thousands somewhere for one, right?
Fulton Square

They can hold one basket of plants or they can have up to four to six hooks for multiple baskets. You can also use them for bird feeders, which I plan on doing. I think I'll get a taller one for a feeder for greater protection for the birds.

I bought three small hooks – probably four feet tall after I put them in the ground. They come in all sizes up to seven feet. I would imagine anything taller than this will not be a very stable plant holder or be proportional to the size of most homes.  I got shorter ones to make them easier for me to move around. I plan on putting two in front of my house which from the front looks like a small low ranch and will be in good proportion, I think.

You can also get 2 foot ones to hang solar lights, or even small baskets.

Shepherd's hooks make beautiful wedding decorations. Photo: West Farms 

Photo: West Farms
 I came across a wonderful farm in West Virginia called West Farms. The two photos above were taken by Pam West to show how you can use shepherd hooks for weddings or other special occasions. Read about West Farms here.

Hang Tuff

I'm excited about my Shepherd's hooks and hope to get them up this weekend. It'll be a coordinated effort, as I want to plant all the pots in front of my house to match the shepherd's hook pots with bright flowers. We'll see. I can't wait to show you how they turn out!

Do you have shepherd's hooks?

Please sign up for my blog through email and/or Google friends, and I would love to hear from you with your tips or experiences. Gardeners are all about sharing!

If you'd like to email me please do so at: libbylottie@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Garden surprises!

The weather here in the Northern West Virginia Panhandle has been pretty rainy with cold mornings, and afternoons either cool or fairly warm. I walked out at lunchtime today and I got a whiff of something that makes me shudder – not from the cold – but from the onset of my LEAST FAVORITE weather: HHH. Hot, Hazy and Humid. It’s amazing to me how our biology dictates to what degree we can tolerate this weather. I really dislike it and I wilt like the proverbial ice cube.

I had two happy gardening surprises this week. One of the most joyful things about spring is the emergence of the perennials in the garden. But even more exciting are those that pop up after being planted for the first time the fall before.

I walked out of my house this morning and looked over at the two clematii (?) clematises. They were in small three inch pots and barely had healthy vines and leaves on them before I planted them in the Fall. 

Clematis jackmanii
One was a shocking hot pink and the other a Jackmanii – deep dark purple. I planted them together hoping that they will climb up the front of my house and intertwine together and look beautiful! Of course I worried all winter they would live at all, but they did! They look healthy and I keep saying “they”, but I don’t know if both survived or only one survived! 

Well, I got a partial answer today when I went out this morning and there was a gigantic pink flower open as if to greet me and say “I made it, Ann!” 
The pink clematis survived, but I don't know it's name!

Tonight I stepped out on my front porch to look down on the big pink flower and there is another next to it getting ready to bloom. I studied all the leaves that were climbing up the twine trellis I made to see if I could see a difference in them. I believe I did – the pink flowered leaves seem a bit wider than the other leaves I see, so I hope the thinner ones are the Jackmanii.

Then it dawned on me: Clematis blooms at all different times of the season. Some bloom in the spring, some in mid-summer some in late summer. I didn’t think about this when I planted my two last fall. AND, the pink that is blooming is not the flower on the tag of the plant that I planted. Mine is a very large pale pink with a slightly darker stripe on it. It is definitely not the hot pink with a big bushy center! Lesson learned: The tags don’t always tell you what you’re really getting.

Photo: RampantScotland.com
I found out that Jackmanii blooms in June.  So, my plan to have them overlap blooms may or may not pan out. 

Clematis have a GREAT seed pod. These alone give the plant a unique visual interest after the flowers fade, as seen here:

Annie's Tips: Keep your tags from your plants together in an envelope or container. That way you'll know for sure if what you planted is what is growing, and you can go over the growing tips needed for that plant! Not only that keep the receipt for the plant with the tag because most stores will give you a refund within a year of purchase if the plant doesn't make it!

A good perennial resource is here. They tell me that hummingbirds love clematis - and bunnies don’t! (I’ve got lots of them.) I’m so excited!

Check out my clematis board on Pinterest

My other gardening surprise this week was the one and only living thing on my property when I bought my house  a year ago this past March (besides the two giant trees in the back yard): a very sickly looking lilac bush.
This was from last summer. I think it was in shock. It doesn't look like the same bush. See how the leaves are all folded up?
It was whacked down considerably so I could have my porch built. I was not sure it would survive, but look at it now!
Before the buds opened. Look at the leaves compared to above photo.

So lush and pretty!

                                      Thank you little lilac bush. I’ll take good care of you.

What were you most happy to see pop up this spring?

Please leave a message below or write me at: libbylottie@yahoo.com