Garden tuteurs, or obelisks, give your garden upright forms to train vines and other climbing plants. They also add interest to an area by lifting the eye upward. Tuteurs can be as plain, or as ornate, as you wish them to be. As simple as a few bamboo canes lashed together, or as elaborate as a tall metal structure fused into a rather fussy design, these pyramid shaped frames have been part of gardens for hundreds of years.
If you're looking for a splash of color in a shady garden area, try Caladiums. Even the beginner gardener can grow these tubers with minimal skill. Dig a two-inch hole, drop in a tuber (eyes up), give it a little water and a slow release fertilizer, and cover it up. You're on your way to success!
Cissus quadrangularis, also known as Veldt Grape, is one of the most unusual plants in my garden. I have it contained in a hanging basket, but when a piece is knocked off, it will readily root on the ground. Cissus prefers to climb and will wind its way into the tree limbs if allowed. In early fall, the plant has small insignificant white flowers and, occasionally, small red berries that are are sterile.
If you've ever eaten East Indian food, you've probably tasted turmeric, the bright yellow, pungent spice. It's usually found in powdered form, but it can also be eaten freshly sliced from the root. Would you believe that you can grow it yourself from tubers that are found in most international markets? If that doesn't catch your attention, you can also grow these same tubers/rhizomes into lovely blooming gingers for your summer garden before you harvest the roots in fall for turmeric.
Have you ever wandered through a grocery produce section and wondered how some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables are grown and how they should be prepared? I recently roamed the aisles of a local grocery that caters to our city's growing international transplants. I had never seen so many root vegetables that were unknown to me. My husband wasn't along and therefore could not be embarrassed by his wife, so I asked permission to photograph some of the produce with my phone. The produce manager smiled and said, "People do it all the time."
Gordon Hawkins' Brooklyn roof garden is well known in gardening website circles. He frequently posts photos of his exotic and eclectic collection of brugmansias, passifloras, clerodendrons, and more. The source of many brugmansia collections has been his generous free cuttings in late fall each year. Gordon also freely shares his clever directions for building planters and patio furniture from foam insulation boards.
Try to find a mentor, someone you can ask about choices and techniques.
A few years ago, two fellow Master Gardeners wondered if it was possible to construct a simple greenhouse in three hours. Their goal was to teach four people how to build one. Those four would then each teach four more, and so on. The two recruited me to write the instructions, compile a supply and tool list, and take photos. The first greenhouse was built on the grounds of Zilker Botanical Garden.
Plan your garden so you have some foundation plants that will be there through all the seasons. The annuals of spring and summer won't always live through a hot summer. Likewise, some of the perennials that bloom so beautifully in spring and fall will die back in both summer and winter.
Now there’s actual proof that the effects of being outdoors and exercising are good for your health. An article in Scientific American magazine cited a research study conducted by scientists at the University of Essex just outside London. It was published in the Environmental Health and Technology journal.
My husband surprised me one day with two large stone balls for the front garden. He had to have two men help him place them. I just loved them peeking out of the salvias near the sidewalk. Our neighbors would walk up the hill and take a rest, letting their kids sit on top of the balls. This is a story of how the balls wound up hidden in our backyard.
If you've ever watched the rain shoot off your roof, across the yard and soak into your neighbors' garden, you may appreciate this article. What follows is a fairly inexpensive alternative to rain barrels on every down spout. It's easy to do, especially if you can talk someone else into doing it!
These instructions are for you to put away somewhere for fall. You know, after you buy all of those hibiscus and bananas and realize you don't have room to store them in the garage. If you're an engineer, do not read any further... This greenhouse is low-tech and designed to fit below the fence line if necessary, to appease one picky neighbor or an entire neighborhood association. You can make yours any length or height you prefer. I made mine rather long so that I could fit quite a few pots in. Well, honestly, I made it that long because my husband was out of town and I could! Mine was tall because I was covering some palms and large pots that I didn’t want to move.