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May 2nd, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

Another helpful guest post from Grace Bailey

The eco-friendly garden is not something that exists only in the magazines or on TV. It is so easy to have one, especially when you are starting from the beginning, probably after you have moved to a new house.
If once you have grown a garden, you are aware of the main principles and the needs of the plants, so it will be easy for you to understand, that the eco-friendly style will not harm your future plant growing in any way.So if you are inpatient to start creating your new garden, here is what to keep in mind, when you want to do it both beautiful and harmless for the environment and your health.
The protection of the planet is mostly connected with the wise organizing and usage of the sources. Besides the power of the soil, the flowers need much water to grow and to live. So be sure you have found the best way to collect and use water, as you not only count on the pipes of the house

Here is what you can do to make this aspect better for the environment. First try to install gallons to collect rain water if your garden is so big and you can put them in a way they do not make it look ugly or it is not uncomfortable for you to work there. Try to pick the flowers very carefully. You can combine some that need less water with those which have to have it daily. Having only some of the second type will increase your costs and will not be good for the environment. It is also essential to have plants that can live best with the conditions of your garden. Otherwise you will put too many efforts to changing the type of the soil, watering and others.
To keep it rational you have to make groups of flowers with similar needs of sun and water. Thus you will organize the water supply better and will take care of them easier.
As you organize your garden do not underestimate the influence of the compost. Choose only an organic one that will let you retain a great quantity of water in the soil, which is very good for the plants. It will also reduce the water that evaporates from the ground, so be sure you will only have benefits of the use of this compost.  Mulch will also fight the weeds and help with the nutrition of the soil for your garden. Read more tips on eco living and cleaning by visiting http://www.cleanershouse.co.uk/house-cleaning/EC4-home-cleaners-temple.html

July 12th, 2012
By Vivian Martin
 

An English landscape is characterized by sweeping vistas across rolling lawns, distant groves of trees, natural ponds and lakes, discreetly placed Greek and Roman “ruins,” and a sense of pastoral peacefulness. It’s a parklike setting that represents the landscape of the English Isles and much of North America.This is not the English cottage garden look, with its masses of uncontained annuals and perennials, nor is it the French-style garden set in a strict geometric pattern. In fact, the first English gardens were designed in the early 1700s as a reaction to the formality of the latter. The goal was a natural landscape, albeit one that was prettied up and romanticized to conceal the mundane and unattractive parts.

While the gardens designed by Lancelot (Capability) Brown define the basic elements of an English garden, the style itself has grown and changed over the past 300 years. It’s been modified to include influences from China and Gothic Revival architecture, as well as the sweeping flower beds popularized by Gertrude Jekyll.

Although most of us don’t have grand estates, some basics of the style can be applied even to the smallest garden.

Follow this slideshow for a visual garden tour!

June 27th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Anyone who has walked into a room painted in a dull or garish palette knows the power of color. Color intuitively influences our emotions, whether we’re in a soothing spa environment or an electrifying casino. In a garden landscape, color plays an equally powerful role. 

Our color choices can create a garden that is nurturing, romantic, playful, tranquil or exciting.Although you may have heard strict rules from other gardeners, such as “Never plant anything orange,” or “Don’t use blue, purple or red shades in your garden’s bed and borders,” I like to think that any color can fit in a landscape.

Color is highly subjective, and since it’s so personal, you can design, plant and decorate your landscape with your favorites. Let’s follow the rainbow — and lessons from the color wheel — to make color choices that establish a mood, infuse energy or define a theme in an outdoor setting.Perhaps you’ll see new possibilities for your landscape.

Follow this Houzz slideshow for a primer on the use of color in your garden!

May 7th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Are you thinking of adding a water feature to your garden this year?

A water feature creates great Feng Shui by establishing a sense of reflection, depth and refreshing vitality in your space.

If a fountain, bird bath or small pond are in your future, you’ll want to place it properly and in the most auspicious location to encourage good Feng Shui.

According to the Feng Shui Garden Bagua Map, the best locations for your water feature are the Life Journey, Family/New Beginnings, or Wealth/Prosperity sectors of your garden.

These three areas are nourished by Water in the Five Elements cycle that drives Chi flow in Feng Shui.

The Water element represents your Life Journey and Career, the sector that’s located in the bottom center of your garden, near its entryway.

Likewise it nourishes the Wood element that’s associated with the Wealth sector in the back left corner as well as the adjacent Family and New Beginnings sector.

It’s just as important to make sure that your water feature flows in the most auspicious direction.

Any fountain or stream that you set up for good Feng Shui should flow inwards, towards the center of your garden.  When its flow is directed outwards you will lose out on the benefits of its natural Chi energy.

Good luck with your new fountain!

(Feng Shui advice courtesy of Ann Bingley Gallops of Open Spaces Feng Shui)

March 9th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

March is notoriously unpredictable. Shrubs can be crusty with snow on the first of the month, and then, a couple of weeks later, temperatures can warm up enough for flower and leaf buds to show signs of life.

Still, some early spring cleanup tasks are sure things this time of year. So go ahead and remove burlap from trees and shrubs as the weather warms. Prune away winter-killed branches to make room for new growth. Cut back spent perennials and pull up old annuals if you didn’t get around to it last fall. Then look around. “March is a good time to take stock of your yard and see if it’s time to thin out crowded beds and do some transplanting to fill in bare spots,” says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.

Follow the full checklist from This Old House to give your green patch a clean start.

March 4th, 2012
By Vivian Martin
Fireplace Pavillion with Wood Gate traditional landscape
 

With warmer weather right around the corner, we’re dreaming of spring and, more specifically, garden parties! For everyone from ladies who lunch to cocktail-shaking couples, entertaining at home is even better when it involves the great outdoors. Follow this slideshow for tips on making guests feel welcome from the minute they walk through the garden gate.

January 3rd, 2012
By Vivian Martin
Timber Tea House traditional exterior
 
The dictionary app on my iPhone alerts me every afternoon to a “word of the day.” The other day it came up with “opuscule,” a word I’d never before encountered. It turns out to be a derivation of the Latin word, opus (a piece of literary or musical work, as in Mr. Holland’s Opus). And, just as in Spanish where one can add “ita” to any noun to mean the diminutive of that noun, one can add “cule” in Latin to achieve the same result. So “opuscule” literally means “diminutive work” or, in this interpretation, a small, endearing literary or artistic composition.

There is a long tradition of architectural opuscule, particularly in general and residential design. For example, there are the garden follies of the 19th-century landscapes. In more recent times, there are observation towers, tea houses, garden sheds, detached garages and more. What they all have in common is their small size and endearing quality.

So the next time you start to plan a new project, be it a new home or backyard play area, consider your own opuscule and, as always, have fun.

 
Click on the image below for slideshow and full article…
 


August 16th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

I thing everyone had a mudpie experience as a child. The technique of making hypertufa will stir your memories of this experience or be a great project to do with your children’s or grandchildren’s help.

For those who are not familiar, hypertufa is a man-made substitute for natural tufa (a slowly precipitated limestone rock). As it is very porous, it is favorable for plant growth.

With hypertufa, you can release your inner sculptor and create garden ornaments, pots, troughs, mimic alpine garden worn stone… it is limited only by your artistic sense! As added benefits, it is lighter than concrete and able to withstand harsh winters (at least down to -30 °C (−22 °F). I was at a garden show demo a number of years back and have been meaning to try this. Today, I came across a great article from Fine Gardening complete with recipe and instructions.

Containers made from hypertufa are wonderful for displaying rock-garden plants or succulents. Over time, the hypertufa ages gracefully, collecting a patina of mosses and lichens. In this article you will find the recipe and instructions for making hypertufa.

The process I use to mold containers is much simpler that the usual box-in-box method that sandwiches hypertufa and some metal mesh in a frame. Instead, I simply pack hypertufa around an overturned plastic pot or planter. And because it’s so easy to work with, hypertufa can be molded into many sizes and shapes. 

Read the original Fine Gardening article and full recipe here…

Don’t forget to share pictures of your projects. We would love to share!

August 1st, 2011
By Vivian Martin

An easy way to ease into gardening is when you receive a tangible benefit. A cottage herb garden provides visual interest, delightful scents and a perpetual supply of fresh herbs. A snip here, a pluck there and the fruits of your cooking will dazzle family and guests. I like keeping a herb planter close to the barbeque. Fresh basil leaves wilted on a grilled pizza are divine. This article from BuildDirect provides a primer on how to plan for your culinary garden!

***

Herb Garden

If you’re looking for a home improvement project that will add beauty, relaxation and delicious fresh herbs to your life all at the same time, adding an herb garden to your home or yard can be the perfect choice. I love cooking with fresh herbs, but find that buying them at the grocery store can be quite expensive. Fortunately, most herb plants are actually quite easy to grow at home.

For the price of a few packs of seeds or a few nursery plants, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh and delicious herbs all summer long. In fact, I find that many herbs can also be grown inside the house, as long as you provide them with an adequate light supply. If you’d like to try your hand at growing your own herbs, here are a few ideas you can use as inspiration. (continue with the full article here…)

July 26th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Create a stunning landscape that can be enjoyed during the day and night with inventive outdoor lighting solutions.

Define the Purpose for Landscape Lighting

Before you invest in any landscape lighting, ask yourself what your purposes are for wanting illumination in your backyard. Perhaps you want to set a soft, romantic mood during the evening hours. Maybe you have a bench or a shadowy garden corner you need to illuminate for security reasons. A path leading through the garden may require landscape lighting to mark its boundaries. You might want to highlight some features of your backyard like a water fountain or pond.

Make a Sketch of Your Yard

After you have defined your reasons for wanting to add landscape lighting, sketch your yard. Include in the sketch existing lights, buildings, benches, trees and shrubs, as well as the vegetation and decorations in the garden. Each of these items will reflect light or absorb it. Estimate the height of each of the objects, especially the foliage.

Decide Where Landscape Lighting Should Go

Match the reason for lighting to specific locations in your backyard. You may want to illuminate a bench along the path with a pole-type lamp placed behind it. A soft mood can be achieved by hiding landscape lighting under shrubs. A path may require a series of short stake lights along its border on one side or on both sides (Image 1). A water fountain can be enhanced with a spotlight (Image 2), and a pond can have soft lighting around its perimeter.

Read full and related articles here…

 



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