Book Review Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces, by Garden Gate Magazine

The 98 pages of Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces are divided into sections for typical small problem areas you might have in your garden: Foundations, Island Beds, Corners, Narrow Spaces and Patio & Decks. I particularly liked that built into these chapters are design lessons on Scale, Focal Points, Repetition, Going Vertical and Containers. I believe that the design of a tight gardening spot is even more important than in a larger garden, and the lessons are given in a very understandable way, something that even I can do without needing professional help.


“No Space is Too Small for a Spectacular Garden” shouts the cover. Well, I’m from the Show-Me-State of Missouri. I put myself in the shoes of friends who live in attached villas with small patios. What can you really do with that little space besides a few pots? As in the other chapters, they guided me from what I wanted from this patio to getting the finished look, and they are solutions you can really live with, not the “far out” examples I’ve seen on some of the TV shows.

How to

Formal Gardens – Not as Snooty as You Think

A formal garden…..oh, how great they looked in the books and gardening magazines. Yup, we’ll do that one day. So….we did! But we got way more than we bargained for and I mean that in all good ways!


The land was barren; it was a former sod farm. There was nothing good about the scape nor the dirt. But we did have our backdrop of the mountains – well, foothills I guess to y’all in real mountainous places on this globe.

We had moved from a place where we kept a large vegetable garden and somehow, my brain went completely haywire as I drooled over the formal garden pictures.I wanted flowers and boxwoods.I pictured myself in a lovely hat with an English trog and my snips out there just cutting gorgeous blooms; coming in and arranging perfect creations for the new digs.

My husband is an Engineer by training amongst other things. He also knows me to a “T”. Okeedokee, a formal garden you shall have m’dear. But he knew – he can see into my future

Topiary Art with Nature, Part 2~How To Do It Yourself

The Specimen
Shrubs or trees that are suitable for tall styles of topiary design include Alberta spruce, arborvitae, and Juniper. For wider sculpted pieces, globe arborvitae, boxwood, or privet are accommodating. For the classic topiary “ball on a stick” design, you’ll need a tree with a straight leader that will grow up a stake.


The Technique: Spiral
This Alberta spruce had grown too large for the corner where it had been planted as a sapling. I needed to either remove it, or prune it to be less overpowering in the small space. Armed with my bypass shears and a roll of orange surveyor’s tape, I decided to try my hand at designing a spiral topiary. The tree is about 6 feet tall, and the project tok me a little over two hours.

Look at your tree from all angles and decide just how sloping you want the spiral design to be. Take into consideration the height of the tree, and how wide the bottom is. The taller the tree, the closer together the spirals can be.

Start at the top and tie the

Growing Your Own Food – The Benefits of a Productive Garden

For many years now the Government and environmentalists have been encouraging us to think about the planet and ways we can conserve its dwindling resources. We’ve been taught to reduce, re-use and recycle wherever possible and many of you will have taken that on board. But did you realise there’s also a way you can save money – by growing your own food. Food prices seem to be getting higher and higher and the quality is not all it’s cracked up to be. Supermarket shelves are stacked high with perfect looking produce but when it comes to taste you’ll find them sorely lacking. Growing your own produce may seem a little overwhelming but it really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Even the smallest garden or patio space can be productive with just a little thought and planning. But growing your own has countless other benefits:

Health Benefits

  • Eating fresh fruit and vegetables will have a huge impact on your family’s health. What is more by picking them straight from your garden you’ll benefit from the highest level of vitamins and nutrients. Studies have shown that children who are encouraged to eat produce from the garden are more likely to

Did You Eat Your Flowers Today

Many fine dining restaurants make the use of flowers to enhance the flavors and textures of the food they offer. Flowers can be added to main dishes, desserts or salads for an exciting twist or can be used as a garnish. There are many beverages which infused with flowers. Flowers can also be used for making spreads and preserves, marinades and dressings, to cakes and puddings, appetizers and starters- the options are endless. All you need is some imagination and creativity.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that not all flowers are edible. So make sure that you depend on some reliable source when choosing flowers to consume. If possible, try to grow your own edible flowers. To ensure best flavor, choose fresh flowers and avoid the wilted ones. Also, flower buds can be bitter, so are better left alone. Some flowers can be eaten whole, except for bitter parts like stems and stamens.

If you suffer from any allergies, add flowers to your diet gradually as too much of them can aggravate your condition. Avoid eating flowers plucked from public parks or even from the florist as they could carry traces of pesticides or herbicides.

Keeping flowers

Snowflakes for the Garden…the Blooming Kind

The garden snowflakes, from the genus Leucojum and Acis (Amaryllidaceae), are perhaps not as popular as many of our other garden bulbs like lilies, tulips, crocus, etc, but they are deserving of space in the garden in regions where they can be successfully cultivated. At one time all the snowflakes were classified as Leucojum but more recently, most have been placed into a ‘new’ genus called Acis. In reality, Acis is not really new at all; the plants in question were originally classified as Acis back in 1807 but in the 1880’s were lumped into the genus Leucojum. With new DNA studies, the separation of many Leucojum back into Acis happened as recently as 2004. How do the two differ? Leucojum are generally larger plants with wider, strap-like leaves, hollow flower stems and white, bell-shaped flowers whose tepals (sepals and petals that look the same) are tipped in green. They look much like snowdrops on steroids! Acis on the other hand, are smaller, more delicate plants with narrow, grass-like foliage, solid flower stems and nodding bell-like flowers that are either pure white or tinted pink. Their flowers are more reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley. Of the 10 species that were once classified

Winter-Blooming Shrubs The Short List

There is no need to wait for spring to enjoy blooms and fragrance in your landscape. Winter-blooming perennials, shrubs and trees are available to brighten even the coldest days ahead. You may not be outside with the spade and pots of annuals but the garden can still be enjoyed by adding a few plants that bloom in winter.

Like the crocus of spring, which rise through a blanket of snow, many shrubs will bloom while covered with the white of winter. Below are a few shrubs which add, fragrance and interest to the landscape with unexpected winter blooms.

Let’s start with Pieris japonica, featured in the photo above, right (courtesy of Dave’s Garden member growin.)

Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
USDA zones 5 to 8
White or pink 6-inch pendulous clusters of fragrant bell-shaped flowers are born at tips of branches in late winter and early spring. A large evergreen shrub, twelve feet tall, reaching approximately ten feet tall and eight feet wide grows best in rich, moist, well drained soil and partial to full shade. The cultivar ‘Debutante’ is compact at only three feet tall and wide.

Cassia (Cassia bicapsularis)Photo courtesy of
Dave’s Garden
member Mgarr

Cassia (Cassia bicapsularis or Senna bicapsularis)
USDA zones

A Tropical Garden Adjacent to Your Bedroom

We already have three bedrooms, I reasoned, and there are only two of us, so we certainly don’t need them all. Besides, there’s a fourth room up there that’s pretty much vacant. As a Zone 5 gardener smitten by tropical plants, this proposal made perfect sense to me.

Let the Negotiations Begin

“This is absolutely absurd! How are the plants going to survive up there without sunlight? You can’t cram them all in front of the windows.”

“Fluorescent grow lights.”

“How are you going to get those big, heavy pots up there?”

“With a dolly.”

“What if the pots leak or overflow and the water comes down through the ceiling into our dining room?” (which, much to my chagrin, actually happened several years

Reclaiming Your Garden Soil

Clearing Your Land

  • The first job is to cut brush and small trees back to the fence line. Even if you can’t do anything else right away, do this before these trees get the soil acclimated for the pine cycle that will follow. Each bush and tree is part of the cycle and prepares the soil for the next stage. Catching it before the soil has changed significantly is half the battle.
  • Using a heavy-duty pair of lopping shears, cut small growth straight across and as close to the ground as possible. A sharply cut sapling stub will go straight through a tractor tire or the sole of a shoe. Larger sapling and tree stumps will have to be pulled out.
  • Walk the area and mark the location of any rocks. The larger rocks were probably plowed around once upon a time, and you may choose to take the route, but it’s best to remove as many rocks as possible.
  • To see how big a rock is, hit it with a crowbar. If it makes a high-pitched *DING* that normally indicates a larger rock that needs to be dug or pulled out; if it makes a duller sound it should be a rock that

5 Basic Stepping Stones to Water Features

Landscaping is a great way to add some curb appeal to your home, thereby increasing its overall value. When sprucing up your yard, there are some essentials to keep in mind. You should always install a patio, put in some native plants, and an irrigation system is never a bad idea. But it never hurts to give your exterior a dramatic makeover, and sometimes a flowerbed or garden just isn’t enough. If you have a green thumb and like to spend time in your yard, then a new water feature may be just the thing to add some life to your landscape. Here are 5 basic steps that will prepare you to make the right decision.

Step #1: Sound Selection
First off, what is your intention? Do you want a tranquil pond that will soothe away your worries? A zen-like garden pond or a bubbling brook? Or do you want something a bit more theatrical, such as a splashing waterfall or flowing fountain? Answering these questions will help you determine the size and power of your water feature. Creating a raging river in your backyard will take up more space and increase the cost, but it

Should you plant lavender in your garden

Lavender needs a little more care than many hardier plants, but it’s worth putting in that extra effort. Aside from their delicate, light purple flowers, lavender plants produce a fragrance that fills your whole yard and wafts on down the street. These benefits aren’t limited to the months when the flowers are blooming: Spanish lavender flowers make fantastic additions to dried flower arrangements and work well as pressed flowers. The blossoms of French lavender retain their scent when dried and are a popular addition to potpourri and sachets for long-term enjoyment.

Some gardeners recommend growing lavender from seed to help plants adapt to their environment right from the time they germinate. However, if you prefer to avoid the extra work of dealing with seedlings, you can buy ready-grown shrubs and transplant them into your garden [source: Sink]. Lavender plants grow up to three or four feet high (0.9 to 1.2 meters) and tend to grow outward at least as much. Lavender can be considered both an annual and a perennial, depending on specific type and location. Some varieties will grow throughout the year, especially in mild or warm climates, in which case the lavender is a

Vegetable Garden Planning for Beginners

Are you new to gardening and not sure how to get started? Let us help. Here’s our quick guide for the beginner vegetable gardener on how to plant a vegetable garden

We’ll highlight the basics of vegetable garden planning: how to pick the right site, figure out how “big” to go, and how to select which vegetables to grow.

Start Small!

Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!

One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.

Gardening for the Beginner

To get started gardening, here are some very basic concepts on topics you’ll want to explore further as you become a vegetable gardener extraordinaire:

  • Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8.
  • Know your soil. Most soil can be enriched with compost and be fine for planting, but some soil needs more help. Vegetables must have good, loamy, well-drained soil. If you’re

Importance Of Healthy Roots What Do Healthy Roots Look Like

One of the most important parts of a plant is the part you can’t see. Roots are absolutely vital to a plant’s health, and if the roots are sick, the plant is sick. But how can you tell if roots are healthy? Keep reading to learn about identifying healthy roots and growing healthy roots.

Importance of Healthy Roots

The importance of healthy roots can’t be stressed enough. Roots hold plants in place. They also carry water and essential minerals to the rest of the plant. It’s how the plant eats and drinks. It’s important to keep healthy roots in plants that are already established, of course, but it’s even more important to check for healthy roots in plants you buy in the store.

If you buy a plant with a bad root system, at best, it will take it a long time to adjust to transplanting. At worst, it’ll die soon after you get it home. But how can you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy roots?

What Do Healthy Roots Look Like?

Identifying healthy roots in the store is easy, since the plants are all potted and the roots are easily

How Wall Fountains Work

The door opens and, practically before you cross the threshold, you feel a sense of calm and tranquility settling over you. The air somehow feels gentler against your skin and cleaner as you breathe it in. The knots of tension in your neck and shoulders begin to loosen as the soothing sound of gurgling water reaches your ears. Welcome to your own personal nirvana (the Buddhist variety, not the Seattle grunge band sort), courtesy of an unassuming and surprisingly uncomplicated wall fountain.

The word “fountain” may conjure up images of places such as Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg or Versailles in France. But the wall fountain is a much subtler and simpler cousin of these grandiose water displays. It’s even a far cry from burbling garden fountains that empty into koi-filled ponds. Rather, wall fountains are quite compact, electricity-powered contraptions that fit right into the décor of a home or office. Unlike fountains that shoot or spray water, a wall fountain sends water in a cascade down a flat front surface. While the effect may not always be as dramatic as an outdoor fountain — and the ensuing calm and relaxation not always as instantaneous as

Vegetable Garden Planning for Beginners

I can’t imagine a garden without the winged gems. Attracting them is easy with the right plants and feeders.

Here, in the eastern United States, the ruby-throated hummingbird rules. Occasionally, migrating hummingbirds from the West pass through, but our ruby friends are impressive enough with their scarlet neck scarves and diminutive size. Did you know they weigh only as much as a dime?

Hummingbirds are small but mighty. In spite of their size, they need plenty of fuel for their powerhouse metabolism. If you beat your wings 90 times a second, you would need major fuel, too! Hummingbirds need nectar from up to 1,000 blossoms a day. Plus, they consume an incredible number of tiny insects for protein.

To create your own hummingbird garden, start with a sunny location. Plan a continuous display of blooms from April to October so hummingbirds have a steady food source. Look for bright, tubular flowers, custom-made for a long, thin bill. Favor red and orange flowers, but include other blooms heavy with nectar.

Some of the hummingbird’s favorite perennials are bee balm (Monarda didyma), coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), bleeding heart (Dicentra) and hollyhock (Alcea).

Top 5 Secret and Natural Soil Additives For A Healthy Garden

Eleven years ago I was a “traditional gardener”, meaning I used the traditionally advertised products on the market that were filled with chemicals to treat my garden. This led to over-fertilizing and using chemical pesticides regularly. Bottom line: I wantonly abandoned the idea of doing healthy things for my garden in favor of what the media told me I should do. At that time I would consider my garden an average garden even with all of my chemical efforts. Then one season a friend of mine suggested I grow in an environmentally healthy fashion and stop listening to the hype. I thoroughly researched the importance of how to go chemical free and gradually converted my entire property over to about 98.9% organic and natural. An amazing and surprising thing happened in response to that changeover – my garden grew more beautiful, astounding, and lush than it had ever been when I used all those chemical solutions.

The secret for using less chemicals and pesticides in your garden is this: good soil grows healthy plant roots. With healthy plant roots you have strong plants that can survive tough conditions. Over the last ten years I have discovered

How Greenhouses Work

Greenhouses are often seen as romantic structures. Originally the exclusive property of the wealthy and wellborn, the first greenhouses were probably built in Roman times to cultivate exotic fruits and vegetables. In the first century, Pliny the Elder made a reference to the Emperor Tiberius having had a portable greenhouse that was protected with a covering made of transparent stone [source: Janick]. This unusual and rare greenhouse was devised to cultivate the emperor’s favorite vegetable, the cucumber.

Produce that we can find today in most local grocery stores was at one time considered priceless in many parts of the world. In the 17th century, entire buildings were erected to house and propagate oranges and pineapples. Before they were called greenhouses, the names for these structures were as exotic as the fruits they contained. They were called specularia, orangeries and pineries.

Reproducing plants out of season gave man a measure of control over nature. The allure of it sparked the imagination and inspired new methods for building structures devoted to plants. Precious glass began to be used more and more in greenhouse construction. Harnessing the plant world and exploring the possibilities of cultivating useful, exotic species

Best Herbs for Container Gardens

You don’t need an estate to grow a gorgeous (and useful!) herb garden. Most herbs are perfect container garden plants and will thrive on your deck, patio, balcony, fire escape, or front steps, provided you offer them the right growing conditions.

First and foremost, herbs need full sun for best performance. Place your containers in locations that receive at least eight hours of direct sun. Grow indoor herbs in the sunniest location you can find, but don’t expect them to perform as well as they do outside.

Also, don’t give your herbs too much love. Avoid the fertilizer; most herbs will give you the strongest fragrance and flavor if they’re grown in lean soil. Likewise, water wisely; while most herbs prefer dry conditions, some need more moisture to thrive. Use a soil-less potting mix to provide excellent drainage and space for roots to grow.

Perennial herbs can survive in containers outdoors year-round if the pots are large enough (holding at least 5 gallons of soil), have good drainage, and are hardy in your Zone. Use plastic pots; ceramic or clay containers will often crack from freeze-thaw cycles. Or lift your perennial herbs

How to Design Gardens

Thoughts of quiet, private space in which to relax on a warm summer evening lead right to your own backyard. You’ll want your outdoor space to be as comfortable as a cozy room with a glowing fire on a cold winter night. The terrace may lead to a swath of lush grass bordered by beds of rich ground covers, evergreens, and budding flowers. A canopy of trees overhead provide dappled shade that moves with the breeze. Your landscape is a place of peace and beauty because of thoughtful planning, hard work, and patience.

In this article, we’ll show you how to design gardens:

  • Designing a Landscape Garden

    Whether you’re looking to screen an eyesore or frame a beautiful vista, you’ll become personally involved in developing a landscape that suits your needs and desires. You may like to dabble in the yard after a hard day’s work, or you may prefer to spend weekends in the garden working on routine chores. Any way you look at landscaping, you can choose the style that fits your needs. In this section, we’ll teach you how to design a landscape garden.

  • Landscape Garden Tips

    When planting a landscape garden, you’ll want to

Versatile Containers

One of the most versatile and easy ways to grow bushels of colorful annual flowers is in containers. The fast-growing popularity of “color bowls” is proof positive that Americans like container growing, whether they do it themselves or have someone else prepare it for them.

If It Will Hold Soil, It is a Container

While many people think primarily of terra cotta, plastic pots, glazed pots, or half-barrels as likely containers for plants, just about any “container” is a possible prospect. Car tires, old shoes, coffee pots, raw bags of growing mix, and just about anything imaginable can be used to grow plants. If whimsical is your style, don’t be afraid to try it. The basics remain the same.

The Benefits

Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a “garden” just about anywhere. Cement balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens, or splashes of color can be put on a backyard deck or patio. And, providing the containers are not too heavy, potted plants can be moved and rearranged whenever the need or mood arises.

Without a doubt, container gardens will require less