Sunday, July 31, 2016

Party in the front….business in the back

Party in the front......

Yes, the saying is reversed and this post isn’t about mullets! It’s about my back porch. I just wanted to share with you this year’s flowers. If you click on the first photo, you will get a slideshow and the photos will be larger.

Beautiful large coleus

Love this coleus

Looking out on the backyard

"Don't take my picture!" says Holly

Someday there will be a beautiful flower garden out there!

Happy angelic couple

Healthy plants....

Ferocious protector.....

Bath time

My favorite place to drink a cup of coffee and chat with a friend

This coleus may be "Chocolate Mint" - It sure is gorgeous!

The porch overlooks the back yard. Holly enjoys a bath.

Angel Wing Begonia -  one of my favorites

and Business in the back......

I couldn't put this old buffet in the house, so it makes good storage and a surface to work on if needed.

Thanks for looking at this summer's plants. I love my porch because it's very private and quiet and always has a beautiful breeze blowing through. This means I have to water the plants more than usual, but it's worth it!

Until next time, happy gardening, my friends ~

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to clean your bird bath

I hope you all have some water sources for the birdies out there. It’s been in the 90’s here in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. It’s hard for me to imagine how the wildlife endures extreme temperatures.

Here’s my bird bath.

It’s made out of resin and I’ve had it many years. I am concerned about keeping it out in the direct sun, but I know birdies love to take sun baths. I also know that in this heat, I walk outside every other day and the water is getting ready to turn green. If for some reason I ignore it longer, I find green water and lots of mold on the bottom. I truly try not to let it get this way.
Here's my other bird bath:

This morning I dumped the water out of this bath to clean and refill a little later. I looked out the window at it and there is a mourning dove flitting around it and finally settling in to the empty bath. I felt bad I hadn't yet filled it, but she seemed OK with it. She filled the whole bowl up with her size. I hurried up and filled it up but of course haven't seen her the rest of the day!

To clean my baths, I dump the water out and I’m left with dark slimy gunk on the bottom of the bird bath. What I have been doing is taking a gallon of water and putting a drop of Dawn, and a drop of bleach in it and dumping it in the bath. I get a scrubby and scrub it as much as I can. I rinse with another gallon of water, but then I let dry for a day, because I don’t know if my cleaners will harm the birds. Well, of course they would if they drank  them, but I mean after I rinse out the bird bath.

I decided to see if there was an organic way to clean my bath, and sure enough came across this recipe that might work:

4 and a  1/2 cups of white vinegar
½ cup water
Pour into the bird bath and let it sit for a while. Scrub and rinse it out with a good amount of water.

As far as the birds' drinking water, some resources suggest putting a cap full of apple cider vinegar in the water all the time, which will keep down the algae and also provide vitamins and minerals to the birds. I’ve got some inquiries out to see if this is an acceptable practice, too, so in the meantime I’ll stick to my bleaching out the bird baths and filling them with plain water.

It's also suggested to place the bath near bushes where birds can fly to quickly to preen and dry themselves off.
Here's a couple of pretty bird baths:
This is available at Amazon. I'd love to have a fresh water feature for my birds and others to enjoy.

What do you do to clean your bird bath?

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you leave a comment and share with friends and family.

Happy gardening, my friends ~


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Garden candy!

In keeping with my blog theme of writing about gardening on a budget, I thought I’d show you the wonderful finds I’ve come across – so far.

This is certainly the time of year to hit the stores to see what plants they’ve reduced so they can clear their shelves. I’ve been to Busy Beaver, Walmart, Kroger’s and Lowe’s.

Below are photos I found of the healthy specimens that I hope my sad plants will turn into. It'll be amazing what regular watering will do!

I paid way more than I hoped I would, but purchased plants that were on my Plant Bucket List: Crape Myrtles. WalMart had them 50% off for $7.50 each. They looked neglected, of course, but I snatched up the two best ones.

                                         Crape Myrtle (2):

                    Everything else below I got for $1.00 each:
Double Knockout Roses (3)- I do love these - they are so hardy. The three I planted last year all came up beautifully.

                                      Weigela Pink Poppet
This is a small one - only reaches 3-4 feet
                                      Dappled Willow:

                                     Japanese Painted Fern:


                   Penstemon Red Husker "Bearded Tongue" (2)


I love Coreopsis. I found them for 1.00 each. I was so excited I bought two! When I got home I read the tag -  Highland Blast Coreopsis – MOUNDING ANNUAL. I never knew Coreopsis came in an annual! Why did I buy TWO?! So, so disappointed. Lesson learned: Read the tag! Duh.

Annie’s Tips: Read the plant tag so you are not bitterly disappointed when you get home with that “bargain”. LOL

I listed everything I got on sale and planted last Fall here: I lost one plant and the rhodies did not bloom, but are healthy and look good.

What good buys have you gotten for your garden?

Thanks for reading and please sign up for my blog and share with your friends.

Happy gardening, my friends -


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Northern WV Gardener: Beauty in a city block

Weirton, West Virginia is a small industrial town of 17,000 people. As a reference point, the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia is about 40 minutes West of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The Panhandle is surrounded by Ohio and Pennsylvania and consists primarily of four counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall.

My goal in writing this garden blog is to introduce you to the beautiful area that makes up Northern West Virginia and its wonderful gardeners, besides gardening on a budget. I hope to share commercial and community gardens, but my heart is mostly with home gardeners like myself.

Becky Walker has been a gardener her whole life and has lived in the house she’s in with her husband for ten years. She is a West Virginia University Master Gardener.

If you click on any photo you will get a slideshow of all the photos and you can see the details better!

The front yard was replaced with raised beds . "When I moved in there was two ugly shrubs in the front. My husband said do whatever you want as long as I can mow around it!" To the right are three water feature urns.

The back yard is a steep slope, then flattens out.

A dry riverbed meanders down the yard...

Pampas grass, butterfly bush, red hot poker plant and Joe Pye Weed line the stream

A fairy garden sculpture made by Glenn Zarfos overlooks the garden

This greenhouse was a kit from Harbor Freight that Becky and her husband put together.

Peony located on the slope

Deck overlooking the back yard

How did Becky become interested in gardening? "I was inspired by my grandparents who taught me to love flowers - and how to pinch them off, root them and take care of them. I wanted to do two things when I retired from nursing: quilting and gardening. I now have a winter hobby and a summer hobby - and I love them both!"

If you know anyone in the Northern Panhandle that has a beautiful garden that they would like to share with us, please let me know. Email me at

Thanks for reading and I'd love it if you would sign up for my blog and make a comment.

Happy gardening, my friends,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The noisy visitors are gone…

The day finally came where I walked out the door and noticed a strange thing: All I could hear was the wind blowing, the birds singing, the children playing. The roar of Brood V cicada was gone; that loud undulating cry of the males seeking hanky-panky was absent. Too much information? I know. To us it's cacophony, but to them it's a symphony of love. And no more dive-bombing us unsuspecting humans that like to go outside. Their bombing was unintentional, I’m sure – they just were in a frenzied state and didn’t know what they were doing or where they were going! You can read my original post about cicadas here.

In their absence, signs of their destruction lay all around. Empty shells, where the insects were sheltered for a very long period of time until they hatched, lay in piles all over the yard.

Many tips of my maple tree branches (they only live in certain trees) are brown and crumbling and getting ready to drop off at some point. I’m assuming this is where the new batch of cicada crawled to, buried themselves in the branches and wait to fall off and once again burrow to their new home in the earth. Whew!
What a process!  If you click on the photos you'll get a better view of the brown branch tips.
I drove down a nearby street and the owners of a home had built gigantic screened-in frames to place over their small, maybe newly planted Japanese Maples. They did what the experts recommended: cover your small trees. When I was able to try to take a photo, the cages were gone - because the cicadas were gone. That was a lot of work to protect their trees, but I'm sure the trees cost a lot of money.

The best thing about the invasion  – if you can look at it this way (and I do) is that the cicada’s have completely aerated our lawns. About ¼ inch wide holes, maybe an inch apart pepper the landscape which will allow our lawns to receive water like they never had before (my lawn anyway). I figure between the holes and the break-down of the exoskeletons , our lawns will be pretty healthy!

I will never stop being fascinated by this Cicada circle of life. I’m sure there are equally amazing animal and insect life-cycles in the world, but this one comes to our back doors and lets us share in their brief visit on top of the earth.

Have any of you experienced a cicada invasion?

Thanks for reading and I would love it if you would share this post, and sign up to receive my blog regularly. But I'd especially love it if you would comment down below! If you are having trouble commenting, please email me at

Happy gardening, my friends~


Monday, July 4, 2016

A gardener carries on.....

It’s been a rough almost four weeks (and continues) as I recover from shoulder surgery. But, you can’t keep a good gardener down – or a determined gardener! It’s amazing what you can accomplish with one hand and one arm. Looking back I really did get a lot done – with the help of my Master Gardener friends and wonderful neighbors.
                                 I got my deck pots planted.
                      I got a deck-railing pot and got it planted.

I got two junk trees cut down, including this “West Virginia Palm Tree” (above), the name according to my friend Becky.

 The dead tree now supports poison ivy, which I got in my ear when I cut it down off the tree. Ugh. My plan is to grow a couple of climbing flowering plants to climb the tree, like a rose and clematis. I have to check how much sun the area gets.

No, my shed is not being held up by the tires!

I got plantings under my tree, with a few to go. I’m going to put a lot of dirt right on top, then plant a couple impatiens and a begonia as well as a couple small ferns in the pots. The roots of the tree are so thick that I would never be able to dig holes for the plants. I do hope the fern roots will dig in, though, like the others that dug in last year did.

I got some of my donated plants planted and my garden mapped out. It will be large and I’m sure will take years to fill in. But half the fun is in the planning and process. I’ve got a daisy, lamb’s ear, my beloved moonflower, black-eyed Susan, pink Echinacea, liatrus (blazing star) , daylily and coreopsis.  My friend who planted the plants split up the Echinacea into two plants. Came out the next day and the one was chewed almost down to the ground from the bunnies. Sigh.
I hung these three planters on the fence at the end of my yard.
Finally, I’ve managed to keep all my container gardens alive with every-other-day watering. I wish it would rain every 3-4 days. That would be so helpful!

I'm going for the "country cottage" look - I want one of everything in my garden. It is nothing to look at this year - the goal is to get the plants and keep them healthy - but next summer it will be beautiful! I have to go have a talk with the bunnies.....

What have you accomplished in your garden so far?
Happy gardening my friends,
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