Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bleeding Hearts

Dicentra spectabilis, commonly referred to as Bleeding Heart is a most unique and favorite late Spring/early Summer plant. A lovely splash of color to the shade garden, Bleeding Hearts will reward you with beautiful blooms for years to come.

Bleeding Heart prefers light shade and will flourish if happy.
The biggest and prettiest plants I ever grew had a north-eastern exposure. Be sure to water regularly keeping care to not over water... the soil should not become soggy. Bleeding Hearts will die down to the ground usually by mid to late Summer. Some gardeners have had success in cutting the plant back by about 2/3rds to the fresh basal growth and have been rewarded with re-blooms throughout the growing season. I have yet to see re-blooms using this method, but try it anyway... this may work for you!

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets), you can spread your plantings around your garden, or share them with friends, family, neighbors or other avid gardeners.

And speaking of avid gardeners, I found these beautiful bleeding heart ornaments that are sure to bring an air of springtime to your Christmas tree. These make thoughtful gifts for your favorite gardener, too! Wouldn't these look lovely on a garden themed table setting? Dress the outside of a gift with a bleeding heart ornament for a lasting impression, or display them year round... they're just too pretty to use only at Christmas! Just click on the photo below if you would like to order them directly from Gardener's Supply.

Happy Spring!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tree Trunk Table Project

I started a new project that turned out as well as I had envisioned.

In my husbands wood pile were several large pieces of a tree trunk that he intended to cut up for use in the fireplace this past winter. Four of those pieces had some lovely character, so I talked my hubby into saving those pieces for me, at least until I could decide which one I would like to turn into an end table for use on our deck. I have to say hubby was quite resistant to my idea at first, but he did finally relent. He is now helping me with my project. See ladies, being persistent does pay off!

The tree trunk had been sitting in the wood pile for about 18 months. Good for me because the bark naturally peeled off of it making my job so much easier. All that remained to be done was to level the top of it, sand it smooth and then apply several layers of polyurethane to protect and preserve it.

Below are the steps we took to complete this project:

Step 1: Leveling the table top with a chain saw. The table top had too much of a slant to it for me to sand it level with the belt sander. The chain saw was able to get the table closer to level rather quickly.

Step 2: Sanding the table top with a belt sander. This step is necessary to smooth out the surface and to make the table top as level as possible. After we belt sanded the table top, we used a fine grit sand paper and hand sanded the top for a smoother finish. The rest of the trunk was not sanded at all and left as is for a more natural look.

Step 3: Applying the polyurethane. I decided to go with the MinWax Clear Satin Polyurethane since this table will be in a covered area and not exposed to the elements. We first applied several coats of polyurethane to the bottom of the log. After the bottom had dried for 24 hours, we added 1/4" legs to allow for air circulation underneath the table. We turned the table upright and began applying the polyurethane to the rest of the table. All in all 6 coats were applied to the bottom, 5 coats to the sides and 6 coats to the top. After applying each coat of polyurethane to the table top, I used very fine sand paper to sand in between coats for a glassy smooth finish. The side of the log was not sanded between coats as I wanted it to remain as natural as possible. If you decide to take on a similar project and your piece will be exposed to the elements, then I recommend that you use a marine grade polyurethane for lasting beauty and protection from the elements.

As you can see in the above photo, the polyurethane brings out the beauty of the piece nicely.

Hmmmm...I spy another piece in my husbands wood pile that would make a lovely table as well... looks like I've found myself another project!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring is such a lovely time of year.... actually Spring is my favorite season. I love it because the earth springs forth with new life reminding us yet again of the fresh scent of tulips, daffodils, peony's and lilacs wafting through the air as it only can in Spring. The wonderful warm Spring sun washes over us reminding us that winter is but a fading and distant memory with warmer brighter days ahead.

Along with Spring comes yard and garden cleanup as well as the preparation of soil for the planting of flowers and vegetables. Please feel free to visit my website for some good garden tips: Gardening Tips. You'll find tips on growing, fertilizing and pruning your plants. We also have a section on heirloom tomatoes, bonsai, a section on specialized pruning of clematis, hydrangea, fruit trees, azalea's and more! Don't forget the ABC's of Bulb Gardening at the end of the page. You're sure to find many helpful tips that will help you throughout the growing season!

As of today we have cleaned up our garden beds of last years decaying leaves and such, pulled weeds and added dark brown mulch to the garden beds. I love the look of the dark brown mulch and quite frankly, the dark brown mulch has a way of making my flowers and foliage pop! I have yet to have the same result with the lighter colored mulches, and this includes red mulch (my LEAST favorite of the mulches).

I should add here that if you have dogs or cats, DO NOT purchase Coco mulch, also referred to as Cocoa mulch or Coco Hulls. These are toxic to pets and can kill them!! Coco mulch contains theobromine which is extremely toxic to pets.

My all time favorite Spring fragrances come from Lilacs and Peony's. I also love the fragrance of Erlicheer daffodils... these are the small, double, extremely fragrant daffodils. These daffodils are so fragrant, the scent will waft through your entire yard! For a floral bouquet, simply plant Erlicheer and Lilacs close to your window... you'll be delighted with the scent as the Spring breezes drift their rich perfumes into your home. You'll find two of my favorite fragrant Lilacs, the Znamia Lenina Lilac and the Krasavista Moskvy Lilac, here: Plants and Flowers . Plant one of these lilacs in your garden and they will reward you with rich fragrance for many years to come!

Happy Planting!!