Member Ideas by SongofJoy

Beloved Around the World: the HibiscusBeloved Around the World: the Hibiscus
By SongofJoy on September 3, 2015

Love for hibiscuses extends literally around the world. There are several hundred species in this large genus of flowering annuals and perennials. Here we'll focus on three main flower types, three species, and their distinctive characteristics.

(Full article54 comments)

The Tennessee Coneflower: Endangered Species Success StoryThe Tennessee Coneflower: Endangered Species Success Story
By SongofJoy on August 17, 2015

Once thought to be extinct, the Tennessee Coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) had a place on the Endangered Species List for decades. Happily, it has now been removed from the list.

(Full article7 comments)

Azalea: Spectacular Shrub of the SouthAzalea: Spectacular Shrub of the South
By SongofJoy on April 14, 2015

One of the most popular shrubs in the South, the Azalea is spectacular when in bloom.

(Full article8 comments)

The Need for Native Plants and WildflowersThe Need for Native Plants and Wildflowers
By SongofJoy on October 22, 2014

Loss of songbird habitat, fewer Monarch butterflies, mysterious bee deaths … just a few of the reports that seem to be appearing in the news more and more frequently these days. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s possible to do something to restore natural habitats for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife in our own landscapes and gardens.

(Full article19 comments)

Beautiful 'Blue Fortune' AgastacheBeautiful 'Blue Fortune' Agastache
By SongofJoy on September 26, 2014

I didn't grow Agastaches out West. Since moving to Tennessee, I have discovered the many positive attributes and beautiful colors of this wonderful plant.

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The Potager GardenThe Potager Garden
By SongofJoy on August 22, 2014

The delightful potager garden has its origin in Europe, specifically in France. Over the centuries, many inventive European gardeners have left their stamp on this style of gardening.

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Beautiful Lamb's EarsBeautiful Lamb's Ears
By SongofJoy on July 25, 2014

One of my favorite foliage plants is the 'Silver Carpet' variety of Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina). It's tough and semi-drought-tolerant.

(Full article11 comments)

Some of My Favorite Xeriscape Plants Are Real StinkersSome of My Favorite Xeriscape Plants Are Real Stinkers
By SongofJoy on July 21, 2014

I love stapeliads, especially Stapelia gigantea. Some people say the blooms emit a terrible odor. Others say they can't smell them at all.

(Full article15 comments)

A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By SongofJoy on July 13, 2014

The Nature Conservancy calls Tennessee the most biologically rich of all the inland states. As I walk through my property and neighborhood, I see many exotic plants. Fortunately, I also see an abundance of native plants.

(Full article35 comments)

Bagworms and the Damage They Can CauseBagworms and the Damage They Can Cause
By SongofJoy on July 6, 2014

In the South as in other places, bagworms can be a serious problem. Every year they defoliate and destroy many valuable evergreens and other landscape plants.

(Full article9 comments)

Vegetable Canning SafetyVegetable Canning Safety
By SongofJoy on June 30, 2014

It's always good to remember that vegetable-processing times should be followed exactly to ensure that your home-canned veggies (or other foods) are safe to eat.

(Full article2 comments)

Honeysuckle Vine Can Evoke Strong FeelingsHoneysuckle Vine Can Evoke Strong Feelings
By SongofJoy on June 24, 2014

Not only can it evoke strong feelings with its powerful fragrance, but the much-maligned Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) can also evoke feelings of anger if it escapes into your landscape or beyond. Fortunately, there are other species of this vine that can provide the positive characteristics of honeysuckle without as many of the negative ones.

(Full article4 comments)

By SongofJoy on June 9, 2014

Living in Washington State for two years resulted in my first introduction to elderberries (Sambucus sp.). A friend took me on a hike into the woods and showed me where they were and how to identify them. The resulting jelly was wonderful.

(Full article16 comments)

Four o'ClocksFour o'Clocks
By SongofJoy on May 18, 2014

Most people who have experience with these tuberous plants that thrive in the heat of summer seem to have definite opinions about Four o'Clocks. Because they are prolific re-seeders, some find them an annoyance to be yanked out of the garden asap. Others love them, as I do.

(Full article24 comments)

Variegated Vinca Vine - Love It Or Hate It?Variegated Vinca Vine - Love It Or Hate It?
By SongofJoy on April 22, 2014

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with the variegated vinca vine. I know its invasive tendencies, but I still admire it for its hardiness, its striking blue-purple flowers, and its lovely variegated foliage.

(Full article22 comments)

Pass-Along Plants - a Southern TraditionPass-Along Plants - a Southern Tradition
By SongofJoy on March 27, 2014

I'm sure pass-along plants are a tradition in other parts of the country besides the South. Today, some of the plants of our southern heritage can only be obtained at specialized nurseries or from friends and neighbors.

(Full article23 comments)

Short-Day, Intermediate-Day, and Long-Day OnionsShort-Day, Intermediate-Day, and Long-Day Onions
By SongofJoy on March 22, 2014

Many onion varieties will be sold as either short-day onions, intermediate-day onions, or long-day onions.

(Full article8 comments)

Landscaping To Attract CardinalsLandscaping To Attract Cardinals
By SongofJoy on March 11, 2014

Cardinals are among the most colorful and popular backyard birds. Providing a landscape that will attract them is well worth the effort.

(Full article11 comments)

Giant Marconi Sweet PeppersGiant Marconi Sweet Peppers
By SongofJoy on March 4, 2014

My new favorite sweet pepper to grow at home is the hybrid Italian variety, 'Giant Marconi' (Capsicum annuum 'Giant Marconi'). It's one of the largest of the Italian sweet peppers and has an oblong profile with a slightly lobed stem end. The fruits reach 6-8 inches or more in length.

(Full article15 comments)

The Bitter HerbsThe Bitter Herbs
By SongofJoy on February 18, 2014

Bitter herbs (also known as bitters) have been used for thousands of years. They are frequently used in cooking, in herbal and alternative medicine, and in the religious ceremonies of numerous cultures around the world. These herbs can be powerful enough to cause physiological reactions within the body. So, what are the bitter herbs?

(Full article11 comments)

Recycle Christmas Trees To Benefit BirdsRecycle Christmas Trees To Benefit Birds
By SongofJoy on December 26, 2013

Evergreen trees are good for protecting bird feeders from predators and wind. After the holidays, recycle your old Christmas tree to help the birds.

(Full article6 comments)

Use Leftover Cooking Water To Water PlantsUse Leftover Cooking Water To Water Plants
By SongofJoy on December 9, 2013

When you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain. Save the cooled water and use it to water potted plants. Many plants will respond well to the added nutrients from the water. Fruit and vegetable peels can also be soaked in water for about eight hours before the water is used to water houseplants. Strain out the peelings and toss them onto the compost pile.


Brush PilesBrush Piles
By SongofJoy on November 19, 2013

Very few projects are as easy to do or have as much benefit for wildlife as the creation of a brush pile.

(Full article12 comments)

Establishing a Monarch WaystationEstablishing a Monarch Waystation
By SongofJoy on August 23, 2013

It doesn’t take a lot of space or expense to establish a Monarch Waystation, and the rewards can be great.

(Full article50 comments)

Success with WildflowersSuccess with Wildflowers
By SongofJoy on August 21, 2013

Growing wildflowers successfully is easiest if you don't try to fight what happens naturally in your location. Find out which wildflowers are native to your area and be true to your region when selecting varieties for your garden. While it can be very tempting to try wildflowers that flourish in other parts of the country, the best results can be achieved by growing only species that are native to your area.


2013 All-America Selections Award Winners2013 All-America Selections Award Winners
By SongofJoy on February 18, 2013

If you are anything like me, you spend what might be deemed as a considerable amount of time admiring and researching plants. After all, that’s what brought us together here at ATP. The All-America Selections have been made for 2013 and include some wonderful plants to consider for the year.

(Full article10 comments)

Basil and BugsBasil and Bugs
By SongofJoy on January 29, 2013

Aphids are drawn to prolific leaf growth and may attack herbs such as basil.

(Full article13 comments)

Leeks for Container Vegetable GardeningLeeks for Container Vegetable Gardening
By SongofJoy on January 17, 2013

Are you a container gardener who wants to grow more vegetables? Looking for an onion flavor without the heartburn? The mild and sweet leek may be your answer.

(Full article29 comments)

A Quick Bulb TipA Quick Bulb Tip
By SongofJoy on December 31, 2012

When planting bulbs, make sure the bottom of the bulb is in direct contact with the bottom of the planting hole. A gap can allow an air pocket to form and possibly cause the bulb to rot.

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Value MistletoeValue Mistletoe
By SongofJoy on December 12, 2012

Mistletoe has often been considered a pest that kills trees as well as degrading and devaluing natural habitat. The plant has now been recognized as an ecological keystone species, playing "a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community" (Wikipedia).


Glossary: CleistogamusGlossary: Cleistogamus
By SongofJoy on December 4, 2012

Cleistogamus is a Greek word meaning closed mouth. Cleistogamus flowers are small, inconspicuous closed self-pollinating flowers that are additional to and often more fruitful than the open showier flowers on the same plant. Violas and peas are examples of cleistogamus plants.

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Harvesting Juniper BerriesHarvesting Juniper Berries
By SongofJoy on November 28, 2012

Edible common Juniper berries (Juniperus communis) turn from green to dark blue when ripe and to black when dried. To dry them, pick only ripe blue berries and allow to dry. Crush the dried berries well just before using; flavor will decline quickly when exposed to air. Three or four berries should flavor most dishes without being overpowering. Pregnant women and those with kidney problems should avoid Juniper berries due to their diuretic qualities.


Glossary:  Naturalized, Invasive and NoxiousGlossary: Naturalized, Invasive and Noxious
By SongofJoy on November 26, 2012

The terms “invasive” and “naturalized” are used to refer to both garden plants and non-native plants growing in wild areas.

(Full article7 comments)

Cold Weather Gardening TipCold Weather Gardening Tip
By SongofJoy on November 9, 2012

Watering before a predicted freeze helps outoor plants, especially container plants, make it through a hard freeze by allowing the plants to take up moisture before the soil or ground is frozen, preventing water from reaching the root zone. Making sure your outdoor plants have adequate hydration is one of the best ways to protect them from harsh weather.


Seed BombsSeed Bombs
By SongofJoy on May 31, 2012

A fun, easy, and environmentally friendly way to plant large or difficult to reach areas is with seed bombs. A typical recipe for seed bombs is: 5 parts dry powdered natural clay, 3 parts dry organic compost,1 part seed,1-2 parts water. After mixing together all of the dry ingredients, slowly add water to the mixture until the mixture sticks together but isn't too wet or so dry and crumbly that you cannot roll it into balls. Roll into quarter-size balls. Let dry for 48-72 hours. Bombs away!


Poison Ivy TipPoison Ivy Tip
By SongofJoy on May 10, 2012

Need to eradicate poison ivy in your yard this spring? If the leaves are still young and shiny, spray the plant with a solution of 4 tablespoons pure liquid soap (not detergent) mixed in a quart of water. This can kill surrounding vegetation as well so be careful when spraying. And don't handle any parts of the dead plants without gloves and skin protection since the toxic oil (urushiol) can remain active for years in a dead poison ivy plant.


Growing and Making Your Own SpicesGrowing and Making Your Own Spices
By SongofJoy on March 31, 2012

In the duo of "herbs and spices", herbs tend to get most of the attention when it comes to growing them and making seasonings and flavorings at home. However, a number of spices are equally as easy to grow and preserve yourself. There's also the added reassurance of knowing exactly how they were grown.

(Full article34 comments)

Swiss Chard for Spring PlantingSwiss Chard for Spring Planting
By SongofJoy on March 20, 2012

This green leafy vegetable has to be one of my all-time favorites for a number of good reasons. If you've never tried growing it, there's no time like the present. It's perfect for spring planting, amazingly easy to grow, and very resilient.

(Full article28 comments)

Little House on the Suburban PrairieLittle House on the Suburban Prairie
By SongofJoy on February 16, 2012

America has become a nation of suburbs and now exurbs. There's no getting around it. More Americans live there than anywhere else these days. But does that mean we all need to have a parcel of ground with a solitary shade tree in the front yard and a patch of lawn to manicure? I hope not.

(Full article27 comments)

Toxic (to Pets) PlantsToxic (to Pets) Plants
By SongofJoy on February 13, 2012

Gardeners love their plants and their pets. Many popular house plants such as Ivy and Philodendron are poisonous to cats. The following list contains a few of the more common house plants toxic to them: Arrowhead Fern, Amaryllis, Anthurium, Avocado, Cactus, Caladium, Chrysanthemum, Creeping Fig, Crocus, Croton, Daffodil, Dieffenbachia, Euphorbias, Fiddleleaf Fig, Holly, Hydrangea, Ivy, Easter Lily (most lilies are highly toxic to cats), Mistletoe, Narcissus, Philodendron, Tomato leaves.


A Drought-Tolerant GardenA Drought-Tolerant Garden
By SongofJoy on February 10, 2012

The year 2011 was a violent weather year in the US, with at least 12 weather-related disasters exceeding a billion dollars in damage. Some say it was Earth's most extreme weather year since 1816. Much of the country suffered from record heat and drought . . . and so did the yards and gardens.

(Full article40 comments)

Bokashi for the GardenBokashi for the Garden
By SongofJoy on January 25, 2012

Bokashi is a Japanese word literally translated as shading off. It has come to denote the process of anaerobic fermentation of organic waste that produces what is known as beneficial and effective microorganisms. The resulting organic material might be likened to probiotics for the soil.

(Full article24 comments)

Keep a Gardening CalendarKeep a Gardening Calendar
By SongofJoy on January 13, 2012

January is a good time to start keeping a personal gardening calendar. Use any type of calendar you like, but a wall calendar that already has large, empty blocks of space allotted for each day is ideal to hang where it can easily be seen daily. Hang a pen along with it to jot down notes, garden observations, and reminders for future reference.


A How-To Guide for Propagating BromeliadsA How-To Guide for Propagating Bromeliads
By SongofJoy on January 3, 2012

When it comes to separating a bromeliad offset, often called a pup, from the mother plant, many people develop a case of "separation anxiety." I know I did. While it isn't terribly difficult to do, there are some basic guidelines to follow in order to achieve success.

(Full article106 comments)

Uses for Mesh BagsUses for Mesh Bags
By SongofJoy on December 27, 2011

Reuse mesh produce bags to store bulbs and tubers. A small plastic nursery pot placed in the bottom of the bag helps keep the mesh extended and makes it easier to insert and remove tubers. The mesh bags are also good for scrubbing birdbaths, garden tools, and other implements without scratching and can be used for stuffing with nesting materials to hang outside for the birds in spring.


All About Grapefruit, Limeys, and Orange ConservatoriesAll About Grapefruit, Limeys, and Orange Conservatories
By SongofJoy on December 13, 2011

Most of us are aware that we need a certain amount of Vitamin C daily in order to maintain optimal good health, but winter is a time when our bodies may need additional amounts of this vital nutrient. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, limes, lemons, and oranges are a great-tasting way to add more Vitamin C to our diets. You may even decide to grow your own.

(Full article92 comments)

The History of the PoinsettiaThe History of the Poinsettia
By SongofJoy on December 6, 2011

Few plants are as closely associated with any holiday the way the poinsettia is with Christmas. It's an intriguing plant with an interesting history.

(Full article44 comments)

All About Sweet PotatoesAll About Sweet Potatoes
By SongofJoy on November 25, 2011

Sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouses, but they enjoy less popularity in America than in most parts of the world. Here, the white spud is king. Apart from the color, the two do bear a strong resemblance, but some differences emerge when you dig a bit deeper.

(Full article101 comments)

Sprouting GrainsSprouting Grains
By SongofJoy on November 18, 2011

Sprouting seeds for eating is easy, interesting, and extremely nutritious.

(Full article88 comments)

The Hummingbirds Are Gone NowThe Hummingbirds Are Gone Now
By SongofJoy on October 24, 2011

It always makes me a little melancholy when I realize that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have left here on their annual fall migration to southern Mexico, Central America, and even as far away as South America.

(Full article43 comments)

All About SchlumbergeraAll About Schlumbergera
By SongofJoy on October 10, 2011

Winter blooms can be especially enchanting and are very much appreciated by most gardeners. The genus Schlumbergera provides us with beautiful blooms during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and beyond. Let's take a closer look at these plants and learn how to successfully cultivate their beautiful blooming colors.

(Full article19 comments)

A Primer for Drying and Preserving HerbsA Primer for Drying and Preserving Herbs
By SongofJoy on September 23, 2011

There are few things easier to preserve than herbs. Here we will explore some of the basics of drying and storing them.

(Full article8 comments)

What To Do with All Those HerbsWhat To Do with All Those Herbs
By SongofJoy on September 9, 2011

Growing herbs can be addictive. You begin with one or two small plants in a window and end up with an entire herb garden. It's fun and relatively easy to grow them, and you just might reap a bountiful harvest. Here are some ideas for what to do with all those wonderful herbs.

(Full article14 comments)

Summer Stars of My 'Dog Days' GardenSummer Stars of My 'Dog Days' Garden
By SongofJoy on August 31, 2011

The move from California to Tennessee brought with it a change in plant selections and gardening techniques. What grows well there frequently does not grow here at all. The most prominent plant diseases and pests in the two locations can also differ quite markedly. Starting over has been a real challenge.

(Full article28 comments)

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