Gardening has become one of the most popular hobbies, and you probably know a gardener or two that would love a gardening gift for their upcoming special occasion. There are hundreds of gardening gifts to buy for both the beginner and expert gardener, and the great thing about gardening gifts is they can be bought just about anywhere: online, nursery, feed store, farmer's market, even your local Wal-Mart or grocery store.
If buying a gardening gift for a beginner, an instructional or informational book is always a good idea. Books like this will give tips on how to eliminate gardening nightmares like disease, insects, and weeds. They will tell gardeners which kind of plants thrive in different climates, as well as how much sun, water, and nutrients various types of plants require. Books like this can be purchased at nurseries, online, or at your local bookstore. If your gardening friend is a "computer nerd", a gardening information CD might be a better gardening gift for them than a book.
Whether giving to a novice or expert professional, a plant is always a great gardening gift. Whether buying the traditional gift, like a poinsettia at Christmas, or just some random plant random, like moss, a plant is sure to be greatly appreciated and enjoyed. Another idea is to buy seeds or just a bulb for someone to transplant. Giving a perennial would be a gift that keeps on giving.
Theme gardening gifts using plants can also be loads of fun. An herb can come with an attached card including a recipe using that herb. A plant that produces nectar and will attract butterflies can be coupled with a book on butterflies.
Possibly the best and most common, gardening gift is gardening tools. This can be anything as simple as a hoe or rake to something more high-tech like an electric blower or vacuum. These are good for removing debris, leaves, or grass from driveways and side walks. Other favorites are gloves, hedge trimmers, and sprinklers.
An excellent gardening gift that is rarely though of is a calendar. Calendar's can serve dual purposes; it can be decorative with beautiful gardening themes, or can be used to keep up with the moon phase that affects most all plants. A farmer's almanac is also a good idea, it is full of information regarding the weather, moon phase, when to plant, when to prune; it is the best guidebook to gardening there is.
The ultimate gardening gift is for any gardener is a gift certificate to a nursery or store where gardening tools or plants are available. This way, your friend can get any tool they do not have in their collection, or any kind of plant their heart desires.
Gift giving is a difficult task at best, but if you have gardeners for friends, a gardening gift is an easy way out and makes your gift buying simple. Gardening gifts can range anywhere from tools to actual plants and with gardening gifts you have a wide range of costs to choose from. You can give a cheap pair of gloves or an expensive power tiller. So the next time you go gift shopping, thing about a gardening gift for your friends with green thumbs!
How To Ensure Early Bulbs Bloom Year After Year
I often notice when visiting gardens the great quantities of Daffodils and other early bulbs that we plant to herald in the spring. But how do we ensure we have a great display each year?
The early flowering bulbs
Quite a few seasoned gardeners have had their first horticultural "experience" by the planting of a few Daffodil or Tulip bulbs, thus spurring them onto more adventurous plantings. At the end of April the very early flowering bulbs will come to the end of their blooming season. This group of early bloomers includes Daffodils, Hyacinths, Bluebells, Crocus, Snowdrops and early Tulips. All these bulbs will flower well for any gardener the first growing season but for them to bloom well the following seasons we must give them some care.
Dieback not tieback
All bulbs leaves must be allowed a minimum of six weeks after flowering to die down, so if these bulbs are planted in a lawn that area of lawn must remain uncut for six weeks. Refrain from tying your Daffodil leaves in knots to neaten their appearance, also avoid folding them over and securing with rubber bands. If the bulbs leaves are naturally allowed to die back then they will take in the energy for next years flowering. I would also recommend nipping off the spent flower heads on bulbs once flowering is finished, this will prevent the bulb using vital energy for seed production instead using all that energy to bulk up its food store for next season.
Don't forget to feed
The final tip for blooming bulbs next spring is to feed your bulbs, this is especially important if you have a hungry soil. Apply a foliar feed to the fully emerged leaves before the blooms start to form. Choose a general purpose purpose liquid feed.I would also advise you to feed your bulbs just as the blooms have faded with a granular bulb fertiliser applied around the bulbs base. This is the most important feed they will receive. Ensure this feed has a higher potassium or potash content than nitrogen content. Apply according to the manufacturers instructions and heed safety warnings.
Platform Bird Feeders
What are platform bird feeders you may be wondering and what is their purpose with feeding birds? Well to put it simply a platform bird feeder is designed for birds who like to eat bird seed off of the ground. Platform bird feeders can be places slightly above ground, or the can be mounted off a deck a tree or a stump. You can also order a platform pole mount to mount your platform bird feeder on a pole.
The main difference between hanging bird feeders and platform bird feeders is that with a hanging bird feeder the bird seed is dispensed through a crack or a small opening in the bird feeder. With a platform bird feeder the bird seed is placed on a platform, or a plate and the birds peck the food from a pile or scattering.
With a platform bird feeder, or a tray bird feeder the birds that are attracted depends on the seeds, but if you are using a platform bird feeder, or fly thru feeder then you may end up seeing a cardinal and other various birds.
Platform bird feeders can also be squirrel proof. By having your platform bird feeder hang, squirrels are less likely to reach your bird seed, saving you money and allowing the various birds to eat. Some platform bird feeders, or tray bird feeders come with a screen big enough for the birds beaks, but too small for the hands of the squirrels, this is a great feature.
Platform bird feeders and tray bird feeders also know as ground bird feeders are easy to maintain and clean, and will bring different types of birds to your backyard than that of a hanging bird feeder. If you decide to buy a platform bird feeder, be sure that you have an adequate location in your yard before you make the purchase
Curb Appeal Tips And Hints
It has been said that the curb appeal of your property is the difference between a quick sale and a property that may stay on the market for months and months. That is why it is so important to have good curb appeal when selling your home.
If you have the money to invest, it would be a good idea to hire a company that offers landscaping and has a history of preparing houses for selling purposes. This type of company would be able to make excellent recommendations and be able to give you the best opportunity to sell you home fast.
If you don't have the money to invest in a landscaping company, there are a few things that you may be able to do as a home owner to beautify the front of your property in order to prepare your house for selling.
If you have the cash, it always looks nice if you have fresh sod laid when someone is walking up to your house. It gives the feeling of a brand new house, even if the house may not really be brand new. Sod can get a bit pricey depending on how large your front lawn is but it can definitely b worth it if you are looking to sell your home fast.
If you can't afford sodding your front lawn, you should consider mulching the front of your property. This should only be done if you have a relatively small front lawn. If you have a big front yard then mulching it would take away from the beauty of your property. Mulch the entire front yard and put in a few small bushes to bring out the curb appeal.
Lastly, you may want to fence in the front yard with an iron fence. This is really a regional option. In certain regions and neighborhoods you will see more fenced in yards than others.
Care Tips For Planting And Growing Orchids Inside Your House
Orchids are typically an outdoor plant, thus it can be difficult to flower indoors. However, you can buy orchids that can thrive indoors or in a greenhouse. You do need to be familiar with the characteristics and conditions that orchids need to thrive in to result in a healthy indoor living condition. Here are some tips to care for the wholesale orchids you have purchased.
Contrary to typical plants, orchids do not grow in soil. In fact, planting an orchid in soil will kill the plant. In the wild, orchids grow on the bark of trees. Orchids should be grown in a similar way. Pots should be filled with loosely packed material such as bark or stones. Water is capable of draining quickly and also exposes the orchid roots to air. If wholesale orchids are left in standing water, they will eventually die.
Wholesale orchids also need to have the temperature variations of the plants that are grown in the wild. In nature, orchids go through a range of temperatures between night and day time hours. This can be achieved indoors by creating a drop in temperature at night by a minimum of ten degrees. This will encourage flower buds to set more readily. Wholesale orchids can survive without this change in temperature, but they will not necessarily thrive without it.
Depending on the color of the leaf on the orchid, this will demonstrate whether or night the orchid is getting the proper amount of light. If it is not getting enough light, the leaves will appear dark green. If the leaves have a grassy color, then the plant is getting the right amount of light for blooming. Too much light can result in a yellowish color on the orchid leaves.
Growing orchids can be a fun rewarding experience inside your home. Use the research above to help the orchid make the transition from the outside to the indoors without putting the life of the orchid at risk. Follow the proper care instructions for an indoor orchid and you will be able to provide a colorful look inside your home.
Hose Reels Watermelon Traits
Hose reels are to watermelons as sunshine to a daisy. If your want prize watermelons, buy them a cool hose holder. Watermelons are very fashion conscious vegetables. Noting makes them sweeter than a sexy motor driven hose reel - with a chauffer. It's not like watermelons just sit around all day with nothing to do. A recent survey showed watermelons prefer cool hose reels to splash around with ten to one. They get very upset when their motor driven hose reel wants to sleep all day long.
How to Grow Watermelon - Hose Reels Guide
Imagine the most mouth watering watermelon you ever tasted in your life. Then stop to honor the lowly hose holder that watered your prize melon. Growing a prize watermelon is a bit like pig farming. I worked on a pig farm once and we had crummy water hose reels. The pigs didn't care much... The minute those pigs saw the hose holder, they came running to cool off on a
hot day. OK, so a baby watermelon doesn't come running when it sees a motor driven hose reel, but that doesn't mean they don't have feelings too.
Prize Watermelons - Hose Holder Tips
OK, it's been two weeks and your watermelons already sprouted up and are ready to spread their vines among your hose reels...your cute little melons are THIRSTY!... Most experts agree watermelons grown with a motor driven hose reel are disease resistant and hose reel color is a concern of theirs. So choose gaily painted hose holders, hose reels and motor driven hose reels to grow prize winning melons.
Hose Reels - Color Recommendations
Red hose reel turns out a feisty melon
Brown hose holder a sensitive, but dull melon
Orange motor driven hose reel - great seeds to spit
Yellow hose reel - gives a tummy ache
Blue hose holder - artist, writer or musician
Green hose reel - greedy, selfish melon
Black motor driven hose reel - generous, good dancer
Your average watermelon weighs in at about 20 - 30 pounds or so. Feed the same watermelon with a designer hose holder and it may reach fifty pounds! Odd shaped hose reels lead to weird shaped watermelons... Bush Baby watermelons raised around motor driven hose reels and are very hardy melons. If you have a short growing season, plant seedlings indoors near hose reels in little containers or pots. Your trusty hose reel can moisten the peat pots to reduce transplant shock.
Hope you enjoyed this light look at watermelon growing - stay tuned for Zuchini!
Planting The Seeds Of Greatness
Mighty oaks, from tiny acorns grow...and the same is true with human beings. Every accomplished person was once a tiny child, a child who was sparked to strive for excellence. As parents we are in the unique position of being entrusted with a precious soul and it is up to us to protect and nurture that soul for a lifetime.
No parent can make a child great. However a parent can help a child want to be great. Much depends on the early childhood years. With the proper encouragement and praise, your child will follow the path you forge.
Nothing succeeds like success. When your child's first garden bursts into bloom, that pride and joy of accomplishment will be a cherished memory.
So start out by making it easy to succeed! The task involved should fit your time frame. Avoid the disappointment of an unfinished project. However, sometimes things just don't work out and showing your child how to pick up and start over is also a life lesson.
Here are just a few examples of almost foolproof projects that will give great rewards. Quick and simple-to-do, they will be favorites for your whole family.
Planting Seeds for Children Ages 3 and Up
For small children, prepare the seedbed ahead of time. Older kids can be put to work digging their own bed. For it to be your child's garden, it is enough for them just to plant the seeds. Show them where to place the seeds and how many. Large seeds are best for little fingers. Flowers that are easy to grow as well as plant are Nasturtium. An ideal vegetable for the cool season is radish. Their large seeds sprout quickly and they may be ready to harvest as soon as 3 weeks. Though radish may be perceived as a bit sharp to be a childhood favorite, my experience is that the kids don't care so much about eating the crop. The joy of harvest overshadows all. Be sure to take photos of the kids with their hands full of the bounty. These trophy shots will inspire them for years to come.
Other flowers such as tough old favorites like marigolds, can also be planted from starts bought in a nursery. The advantage of this is instant gratification, although the downside is that lessons in patience are lost. Perhaps the easiest vegetable from a start is tomato. Cherry tomatoes, especially, are favorites with kids. They may eat them all off the vine, so plant extras if you want some to make it to the table.
Amaryllis for Children Ages 3 and Up
Amaryllis is an incredible bulb. Very easy to plant and grow in the house, it is absolutely spectacular in bloom. Buy the bulbs in winter, and help your child to plant one in a six or eight inch pot. The bottom 2/3 of the bulb should be buried in the planting mix with the shoulder and top of the bulb exposed. Be sure the planting mix drains well. Water thoroughly once and wait for growth to begin. Don't let it dry out - that means you may have to water more than once! Regular watering should only be done once growth begins. As with most houseplants, check the soil regularly and water thoroughly when it gets dryish. Soon, the flower stalk will grow to an almost impossible height and the mind-boggling amaryllis flower will amaze everyone.
A Miniature Desert Garden for Children Ages 6 and Up
All you need is a 12-inch or so diameter shallow (about 4 inches deep) bowl, a sandy soil mix and some rocks, pieces of wood and, of course, succulent plants. Make sure the bowl or pot has drainage holes or the roots will rot.
For young children, the best plants are succulents, but not cactus. The spines are sharp and some that look harmless like the Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia) have hairs that can be extremely irritating if they lodge in the skin. Some succulents are easier to care for than others, so ask your nurseryman what he would suggest. Of course, taking your children along to pick out the plants adds to the fun.
Favorite plants to include in your miniature desert garden: Sedum (stick with the small ones), Sempervivum (Hens and Chickens), Haworthia species such as the Zebra Haworthia, and Dwarf Aloes.
Over time your plants will grow and deserts have relatively sparse vegetation so do not plant too close together. Remember, you are making a miniature landscape. Allow enough space to put in some rocks and weathered wood. My kids spent an afternoon collecting items. They trained their eyes to seek miniature boulders, partially buried in the sand they seemed to have been there for centuries. Small weathered twigs, when seen in the right scale, became gnarled logs. The finishing touches were different textured sand and a few bits of gravel then the tiny desert was ready for display.
Water everything well, be careful to avoid a stream of water that will upset the new planting. The easiest way to break the force of the water is by having it spill onto a saucer.
Do not be concerned with the absolute aesthetic level of your child's project. The beauty is in their eyes and will be expressed with that look of wonder and joy when looking at their own creation. We may not agree, but our job is just to support and reassure. My kids always insist on putting a plastic lion or rhinoceros in their desert garden. I grit my teeth and leave the toy there.
There is no limit to the projects you can do with a child in the garden. With a bit of thought you can come up with countless ways to make them a part of your gardening experience.
These are just a few ideas to get your child involved in gardening. The lessons in patience, observation, and responsibility will imbue them with character traits that will continue to blossom throughout their lives. Just about any metaphor you might attach to gardening applies to your children. Preparing fertile ground, giving the essential raw materials, encouraging growth in the right direction, all apply to garden and child alike.
Keep focused as to what is really important and make that your priority. As I am fond of saying, the most important thing I raise in the garden is the children.
Japanese Garden Design The Practical Use Of Stones And Boulders
There is a variety of elements used throughout a Japanese garden, but the three most important and basic ones that you will find in every garden design are: rocks, plants and water features. In this article, we are going to focus on rocks, a very visible and useful Japanese garden element that has many viable and practical applications, along with its aesthetic qualities.
1) Large boulders can block unsightly views. For example, perhaps your water hoses and water connection are near an area of your garden and you don't want it visible to visitors. A large boulder and complimentary bush would hide the out-of-place items, yet allow you access to use them as needed.
2) Interesting rocks can be placed where plants are hard to grow. Sometimes you will find one particular area in your garden where plants just don't seem to do well, no matter what you plant or what you do to the soil. Maybe it's too wet or maybe it's too clay based. Whatever the problem, a nice rock arrangement might do the trick.
3) Use rocks to enhance a water feature. Place near ponds to make the area more natural looking and visually appealing. Next to a water basin, a smooth, flat stone could be used for kneeling down to the basin. A larger stone could be used as a place to sit for a bit.
4) Stones and boulders can help define a pathway. A rock grouping set along a turn in a path provides visual interest and guides the stroller along the proper course. It also encourages them to slow down and contemplate the arrangement, making the walk more enjoyable.
5) Block off a portion of the garden or path. You can use stones to block off an area which you don't want people to enter. They form a natural barrier, but be sure to make the arrangement interesting as well.
6) Rocks are a wonderful backdrop for plants. An angular, vertical rock makes a unique backdrop for a plant grouping. Place the rock a bit farther back from the plants, so as to provide depth perception and allow the plants to be the focus (or vice versa).
7) Secure slopes and use as retaining walls. Boulders and good-size stones make excellent, natural materials for use in low retaining walls. On slopes, flat rocks work beautifully as steps.
8) Defining a stream. As in nature, rocks are always found along a streambed. Secure rocks within the banks to help prevent erosion of the earth by the water.
The Benefits Of Solar Water Features
If you are a keen gardener, you have probably come across solar water features. Below we look at some of the benefits of using them in your garden.
As the experts are shouting louder about environmental melt-down, the amount of solar products on the market over the last few years has significantly increased. This is not only good news for those of us who are determined to be greener within our everyday lives but also for those of us wanting a larger range of products in general. For the gardeners out there, the range of solar products for garden use just gets bigger and bigger. Below we take a closer look at some of the benefits of using solar water features.
There are plenty of different innovative solar water features on the market so what are they and why would you choose them?
Solar water features are usually placed in the garden and involve using the power of the sun to move the water within the feature. They are normally powered by a little pump which derives its energy directly from a photovoltaic cell which converts solar power into electricity. Differing water features which are suitable for solar power usage include, cascading waterfalls and fountains.
The benefits of using solar powered water features include:
An environmentally friendly way of enjoying garden water features
The constant relaxing sound of running water to be enjoyed throughout the sunny days when you are in your garden
Versatility in the number of different materials the feature can be made from, ranging from terracotta to metal
No mains electricity supply needed and so no strain put on electricity bill
An easy way to brighten up a corner of your garden, decking, terrace, balcony or patio
Many solar water features are self-contained which means that you recycle the same water over and over again
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