Enjoying the mild temps!

It seems this year us Northerners get a little break from the long cold winter.  I and most people I know have been VERY thankful!  Winter is normally just too long here in Wisconsin and the rest of the Northern states.  I have lived here all my life and probably will stay, but I wouldn’t mind moving just a little further South to shorten the winter on a yearly basis!

I made good use of the milder weather…did you?  I ended up working in the yard a little more. Between this week and last, my husband and I planted 500 Fortune Daffodils, 400 Van Eijk Darwin Hybrid tulips,   400 Blue & Pink Hyacinths, 100 Snowdrops, 500 mixed daffodils, and  200 Latifolium!  It didn’t really take that long since we planted each en masse together.  It was hard finding room for them, but it will look so awesome in spring. When you end up with free bulbs, you MUST plant them!

This great weather has allowed the kids to ride the ATV and work on their fort, my husband to stain some new trim outside, and all of us to take nice walks after dinner.   I am hoping this will relate to me as a shorter winter this year.  I wish this mild weather would last longer, but I really prefer to skip ahead to Spring! It looks as though its over with the blustery winds and 4-8″ of snow we are getting now!



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Merry Christmas!

The Spirit of Christmas

We have been a little busy here at work making changes, adding new plants while finishing up the Fall & Winter season and preparing for the Spring season.  If you are curious- here is a sneak peak: New plants for 2012.  I have been busy preparing, shopping, baking, and visiting with friends when I am not at work.

Busy, busy, busy.  We generally bring most of the pressure upon ourselves.  Christmas is every year.  We know the people we always give gifts to.  We have the choice of how many parties or get-togethers we put on our schedule.  The most organized people probably get the most enjoyment this time of year!

Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  “We” have made it into much more, too;  celebrating family, friends and thankfulness.  Even though it can get busy and stressful dealing with family members,  I hope you can enjoy this time of year.  It’s not about all of the gifts…its about relationships.

This year my family and friends have had some struggles, disappointments and loss.  Life unfortunately can be a real drag at times.  Hopefully you can still find much to be thankful for despite your hardships as well.

I am thankful that I have a job, a husband that loves me, two beautiful  children (both inside & out), family that cares about us, a home, plenty of food to eat and God who loves me and is always with me.

I wish for you all of these things and a wonderful Christmas!


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Highlighting your front door for winter

Winter Container 2007Do you create a focal point at your main entrance?  What do you do to add interest for the winter?  A large majority of us have too cold of temperatures to have flowers survive the entire winter. 🙁  So that just means we need to be a bit more creative!

During the warmer temperatures, there seem to be a flood of new articles and blogs on container gardening for your main entrances, deck & patio areas.  I just haven’t seen many ideas for winter interest.  Many decorate these areas for Christmas for the month of December, but then what?

I rarely do the same thing each year at my front entrance.  Some years I’m more lazy than others-or should we say I’m not as ambitious every year!  I often decorate my  front entrance for the entire winter by the end of November.  I then add the extra ‘bling’ (usually lights and sparkly things) for Christmas.  After January 1st, I remove the extra showy items.

Most years I go out and cut a few evergreen branches, cut back some red & yellow dogwood twigs, and search for a few pine cones. (You could also buy these at craft stores or even cut some junk branches and spray paint them on your own.)  I have multiple picks of various shapes and items from the craft stores which I like to use: silver leafed branches, glass snowflakes, red berries, etc.  I do not use fake flowers… I figure if they wouldn’t survive in the current weather- they just don’t look right.  Add some colorful, tasteful ribbons to!.  All these items will last the winter through rain and snow and wind.

These branches can be inserted into the topsoil of your large containers(that are winter friendly) , laid across the opening, hung on the door, on window ledges, or above the entrance.  Be creative and try something different.  I use a fake evergreen wreath from fall to spring, just changing out some picks for Fall, Christmas and Winter. I often use my 2 small cone trellis in both my large pots and wrap with garland and add the picks and lights (for Christmas).

Here are a few photo ideas from Pinterest too!






























I have even more photos to see in Pinterest on my FOR THE HOME board.  Hopefully I stirred up some creative ideas for you to use!  I’d love to hear of your cool ideas too!

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Thanksgiving Everyday

Thanksgiving Flowers

This time of year is good for all of us, as life sometimes can become overwhelming and discouraging.  The Thanksgiving holiday helps us reflect and think about what is really important.  Sometimes it can be hard to focus on those things through our busy chaotic daily life.

Here is a poem that says what I think a little better:

Thanksgiving DinnerThanksgiving Every Day

The table is brimming with good things to eat;
We’re surrounded by family and friends; what a treat.
The feelings that fill us today can’t be beat;
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and it all feels complete.

But other days, sometimes, things don’t seem so fine;
Those days are not polished and don’t seem to shine.
It’s then in our minds, we forget all the good,
And think of the things we would get, if we could.

On days when our thinking causes us dread,
If we could remember, it’s all in our head,
And not let our minds take our gratitude away,
Then we’d make every day like Thanksgiving Day.
By Karl Fuchs  www.poemsource.com

The more I am thankful, the less I am ungrateful and less disappointed.


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Creativity inspired by new website!

Scene on Pinterest

Have you found Pinterest yet?  I have.  I see why people say they get addicted.  I am finding it as a creative release.  I think I may get lost on Pinterest this winter as I wait for spring to arrive.

Pinterest contains information and pictures of just about anything from products, crafts, styles…  I believe many gardeners are creative and would love this site.  It has such a wide range of style and interest for anyone.



Idea on Pinterest

You can ‘pin’  any picture you find to save it into your ‘profile’. You can then organize them on your ‘boards’ that are similar file folders.  Your boards can be called what you choose: Flowers, Craft Ideas, Room Decorating, Art, etc.  Some even have some details on what was done to create it!

I think this site is going to help me find some creative projects to do during my winter hibernation.  If only my monetary funds were limitless- I may start redesigning each room in the house.  If you want to take a look at what I have found, I put a link button on my home page so you can follow me!

A winter scene from Pinterest



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521 flower bulbs in 3.5 hours

a few rocks

Will this be the last planting for 2011?

This past week I got to plant just a few more bulbs! I planted about 150 Dwarf Dutch Reticulata Iris Pauline between my patio and my pond.  It is going to look so adorable in April!



I also decided to make a wide bulb border in front of my fruit garden.  I found these chunks of Lannon stone about 6inches deep.   One was 3 feet long and about 4 inches thick- ugh.

bulb border fruit garden

I made somewhat of a pattern border: 7 Daffodils, then a patch of Tulips, 7-9 daffodils, a patch of Tulips, 7-9 daffodils, a patch of tulips and then another patch of 7 daffodils!  Above the tulips I also planted a small back border of  25 Scilla Campanulata that will bloom in early spring.  My Daffodils will bloom mid spring.  Then my patch of tulips were a mix of a pink fringed Tulip and a reddish purple Tulip Recreado that will bloom late spring.

waiting to bloom: bulb border fruit garden

I get so excited thinking about them blooming.  That includes about 100 tulips and 30 daffodils here.  I also planted  another 120 Single late Tulips Perestroyka as 2 patches near my pond area.  I also added 36 Nectaroscordum Allium and 60 Darwin Hybrid Apricot Impression Tulips in various areas in my front and back yard.

It took me 1.5 hours one day and then another 2 hours to plant the second day.   So, it took me 3.5 hours to un-package, decide on location, dig and plant about 521 flower bulbs.  That means I planted 2.48 bulbs per minute on average.  Either way it doesn’t seem like it took that long to plant 521 bulbs.

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Loving Fall

Fall Foliage

I love fall because of the cooling temperatures and more work and more ideas to do in the garden. Yes- I love to work in my garden.  A fellow blogger has this comment that I totally agree with: ” a day without dirt under your nails is a day wasted”.  I often ignore or seriously procrastinate cleaning my house, doing laundry, preparing dinner for the family…the list goes on. However,  I find any “excuse” to be working outside.

This year I cut back my shrubs, hostas and other perennials a little early.  I wanted to have a more “clean slate” for planning.  My husband and I decided to rearrange some of the Hostas and Astilbe in our shade garden.  And of course, finding areas to replace and add more flower bulbs is always part of my planning process!

Yes, I already planted my new “key” bulbs that I just had to have, but now I want to replace some Hyacinths and some Tulips.  Must have more and more flowers!

My dog Gunner

I also love fall for all the change in colors and all the beautiful fall scenes which create great opportunities to take pictures of with my camera as well as my eyes.  This is simply a great time of year to spend outdoors- breathing the fresh cool air.

Fun ride in the woods

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HUGE blooms for winter blahs

Amaryllis are wonderful huge flowers to enjoy indoors during the winter.  They are SO easy to grow.  They really don’t need dirt (you can use peat) and they barely need any water.  How great is that! (I am not good with indoor plants, because I don’t water enough.  I am definitely an outdoor gardener!)

I have at least 2 blooming each month during the winter.  I hate the cold and I hate being stuck indoors.  Its a little piece of beautiful for me to look at each morning to bring a smile to my heart.

They also have turned out to be very appreciated gifts from me at Christmas too!  My mother-in-law has a collection of them now; that she keeps setting out on her kitchen island each year.  My grandma always calls when her Amaryllis re-blooms to tell me how beautiful it is.  🙂

Begun early enough, amaryllises can be planted to flower for Christmas or just give them the bulb to bloom in February (still cold and wintery!)  It usually takes 6-8 weeks for them to bloom.

Your amaryllis bulbs will bloom again and again, provided they are properly cared for. After the bulb finishes blooming, cut off the flower stalk close to the base. Keep the plant a little moist and add house plant fertilizer (or not).   Stop watering in August, and allow the plant to dry out completely in the sun. In early fall, remove and clean the bulbs of old scales and dead foliage. Roots should be fleshy and not damaged.  You can re-pot when you are ready to restart the process.

I hope you find joy in having these in your home and maybe from giving them to others as well!

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Forcing Flower Bulbs

There are so many people who really miss out on Spring blooming bulbs! (Those in zone 8 or warmer).  Then there are people like me who long for winter to be over and want flowers all the time.  So, forcing bulbs is a great option to get those blooms!

Typically, growing flower bulbs is almost fool proof, but forcing bulbs takes a little more time and attention.  “Forcing” bulbs is the term used for mimicking what normally happens to bulbs when planted outdoors.  It is a process that stimulates bulbs to bloom out of season.

The most common and easiest bulbs to force are:  paper-white narcissus, amaryllis, muscari, and hyacinths.  Daffodils and tulips are not too difficult either, but choose shorter varieties for best show.  The best tulips for indoor forcing:  Triumph Tulips, Single Early Tulips, Darwin Hybrid Tulips.  Spring flowering bulbs usually require about 12-20 weeks at temperatures between 41-48°F in order to produce a good root system for the best blooms.

Name of bulb                         Weeks of cold                    Weeks to bloom

AmaryllisNone6 to 10
Chionodoxa152 to 3
Crocus152 to 3
Hyacinths11 to 142 to 3
Iris152 to 3
Muscari13 to 152 to 3
Narcissus15 to 172 to 3
Paper-whitesNone3 to 5
Scilla12 to 152 to 3
Tulip15 to 202 to 3

Pot your bulbs right away if you have an appropriate location immediately available, such as a refrigerator, a root cellar or cool basement, or outdoors if temps are below 48°F.  When storing pots outdoors for cold period be sure that if temps drop below 30°F that you cover them with some type of insulation.  If you can’t plant them immediately, bare bulbs can be stored in a mesh bag or paper bag with holes that permit ventilation for several weeks in refrigerator prior to potting without damage.  Note: Do not store them in same drawer as fruit.

Use clean pots with drainage holes and plain potting soil. Make sure you allow for 2 inches of soil below the bulb and select a pot large enough to allow the top of the bulb to be even with the rim when placed on the soil. The bulbs should be touching each other for the best look when blooming.  Then water them well in order to settle the soil.

The bulbs will flower anywhere from 2-5 weeks after they have been brought into warmer temperatures.   If you have a set time when you want them to bloom, make sure you add flowering period to the rooting/cold period for the total number of weeks to wait.  Amaryllis and Paper-whites do not need this cold period.

These next steps would be ideal for the best and most perfect blooms Move your pots to an indoor area with indirect sunlight and temperatures about 60°F for a week or two.  When the shoots are 4-6 inches tall, move the pots to a bright, sunny window to stimulate blooming. A temperature of about 68°F and direct sunlight would be ideal.  When you see the color on the buds, return the plants to indirect sunlight to make the blossoms last. Keep the soil moist at all times.

After blooming, hardy bulbs such as hyacinths and tulips cannot be forced again and should be discarded. Or they can be planted outdoors where they may rebloom within a year or two.

Amaryllis bulbs will bloom again and again, provided they are properly cared for. After the bulb finishes blooming, cut off the flower stalk close to the base. Keep the plant moist and add house plant fertilizer.   Stop watering in August, and allow the plant to dry out completely in the sun. In early fall, remove and clean the bulbs of old scales and dead foliage. Roots should be fleshy and not damaged.  You can re-pot when you are ready to restart the process.

Maybe you will want to give this a try now?  I especially enjoy forcing Hyacinths for indoor enjoyment because of there sweet fragrance!  I hope you found this helpful and easy to understand.

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Cool idea for storing bulbs

I have read many different ways to store bulbs.  I explained how to properly save and store bulbs on my post Preparing your garden for winter.  I just wanted to share photos on another way to store them, like I am this year.

You can use old nylons, or old holey tights!  Hang them somewhere dark and cool and the nylons will keep them ventilated!  I only had some old knee highs to use.  I added some bigger holes since they are a little thicker weave.

Stored Gladiolus
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