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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Land Scape Ho!

Welcome back, blogmates and neighbors to our Summer Solstice program for 2014!  It is so good to be here, and, see all of your beaming faces eager for knowledge!  I hope I'm not too late for Bermuda shorts, Coca Cola, and watermelon!  And, oh yes, are you ready for the 4th of July picnics and celebrations?  My brother was born on July 4th, and, that made for the most fun celebrations ever!  Hot dogs, cake and ice cream, and fireworks, were the catch of the day!


I wanted to come by and spend a little time sharing some information I recently acquired.  On the Yahoo Shine site, from HGTV Family of Sites, comes a list of 7 Landscaping Don'ts.  So, in getting right to it, here's what we can do to avoid the time, money and maintenance generated by landscaping booboos!

'Must-Not-Dos of Home Landscaping!'  

1.  Landscape Overkill-don't let landscaping overwhelm your house.  You don't want to spend your time pruning trees and shrubs that 'over-grow' to a size, forcing you to fight your way out the front door!

2.  Don't start landscaping without a can draw your own plans out, but do your homework, and plant varieties that are indigenous to your neck of the woods. It's okay to try new and exotic plantings, I've sure been guilty of that, and, sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised.  Just be sure you can access the planted area easily with water and yard maintenance equipment, allowing you to keep your garden healthy and beautiful.  Isn't it great, however, that you can go online to find garden plans from various gardening sites, and garden magazines!  There is some great advice out there!

3.  Don't plant too much of the same thing.  Try to provide a bit of variety of planting, so as to keep blooms coming throughout the seasons.  The photo below illustrates just that!  Beautiful shrub roses, aren't they?  But, tell me what happens once the blooms are gone...what is left in this area to look at?  Additionally, the space must be trimmed and cleaned after blooming season is over.  Not for me!

4.  Don't let a big lawn suck your resources.  A large area of lush grass is nice, but, it can be a glutton for your time, requiring large amounts of water and nutrients. Try to reduce the size of a large lawn with some landscape beds that are attractive and low maintenance.  May I suggest some perennial beds that re-appear over the years, and possibly some low-maintenance shrubs?

5.  Don't let ivy climb your house unless you are ready to do annual pruning.  I agree-ivy vines are lovely, but once they are established, they can cover your windows, clog your gutters, and encourage pests like termites!  OH GAG!  Who'd of thought?  Thanks, but I'll keep my ivy in a controlled pot!

6.  Don't plant trees too close to your house, meaning species that may overtake the yard or your home's proportions.  An invite for headaches and nightmares, I promise!

7.  Don't install one-dimensional planting beds.  Try to plant in layers, featuring low-growing plants such as begonias or impatiens in front of the taller plants to conceal the legginess.  You can co-ordinate your colors to offer appeal, such as red or blue salvia with silvery Lamb's ear or white impatiens bordering the front.
The raised bed below would have been served better with fewer of the tall flowers, say in a rounded formation in the center.  Then, you could probably get away with planting one color of coleus around them, or a colored plant of the same substance as coleus.  Since this is a raised bed, a very low bordering plant such as begonias, would not show up over the edge of the box.  You could border this with liriope, also known as monkey grass.  

And, there we have it, gracious gardeners!  Not a tall order after all, you think?  
A few things to remember:
 When planning for a bed containing various plants or flowers, find the types that compliment each other in size, color...and, do they get along and grow well together?
Sun vs. shade-Zinnias, Periwinkles, Moss Rose, and Marigolds just LOVE the sun, and lots of it!
Hosta, ferns, impatiens, violas, and purple jew can do 4 or 5 hours of sun, and then they need some filtered light shade.

Okay, okay...I'll stop!  But, do your homework, ask questions, and look it up!

Thank You:
Yahoo images

***  Thank you, and, thank you so much for coming by.  I enjoy your visits, and I hope you do too. Did this presentation help answer any questions you may have?  I appreciate you and your comments!  And, as usual,  I did put in at least 2 cents, and added my own suggestions to the article, in hopes of clarifying any confusing terminology.

Our little 'Scooter' * June 8, 2014 * Fort Worth, TX
~photo by Suzanne

"Aaah, summer...that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days,
 free of responsibility, and rife with possibility.
 It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes,
 conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends."
~Darell Hammond

*note:  all photos except the last one of our Scooter were acquired from Yahoo images.  

Be safe...give love...AND laugh a lot!
See you next time!  ♥

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Magnolia Mile!

Magnolia blossoms ~ Artist unknown to me

Well, where have you all been?  I've been right here, minding my own business, and trying to stay out of trouble, just kidding...what fun is that?  I know I haven't written in a while, but I have NOT left the building!  

Gosh, I've been taking the same route to and from work everyday (almost) for the past 21 years, and, I never know what gorgeous sites I am going to encounter!  I had no idea Magnolia trees were so prominent in this area of north Fort Worth as I have seen over the past years.  I don't have a Magnolia tree, and I don't even know why!  So,  I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to this beauteous species!

What I have learned thus far-YOU CAN'T REACH THE BLOSSOMS!  How does anyone ever get to pick a Magnolia blossom to enjoy on the veranda whilst sipping a cool mint julep?  
"Oh, Ashley!"

~photo by Suzanne * Riverside Drive * Fort Worth, Texas * June 2013

Okay, we know this...Magnolia trees come in many sizes, the largest being the Southern Magnolia, growing to 80 feet, and the Cucumbertree Magnolia, also hailing from the US, at 90 feet tall.  I've seen these large beauties in front yards, and, adorning a vacant lot here and there in town.  They are actually native to the eastern half of the nation, with only the cucumbertree thriving as far north as New York State.  And, the Southern Magnolia has the largest range, from North Carolina, through the upper half of Florida...then, westward HO into Texas!

~photo by Suzanne * Rayner Street *  Fort Worth, Texas * June 4, 2014
This photo is out of focus (I guess it's the photographer, lol!)
But notice how large it is...and just full of blooms!
And, I had to hurry...I didn't want to get arrested for sneaking into a strange neighborhood to shoot pics of a tree?  Sure, they would really believe that,wouldn't they!

As we are all aware, it is rumored that these trees have reputations for attractive flowers and fine foliage.  I do know that some of them are evergreen.  Most of the larger Magnolia trees in my area stay leafy all year round, however, I have seen some of them turn brown.  Some of the leaves will fall and accumulate under the tree, leaving little chance for anything else to grow beneath it.  Magnolias are well noted as one of the premier shade and landscaping trees in the Deep South-the blooms being the official state flower for both Mississippi (nicknamed 'the Magnolia State') and Louisiana.

~ photo by Suzanne * Beach and I-121 * Fort Worth, TX

Some uses of Magnolia Trees:
* magnolias are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species,
including Giant Leopard Moth.
* the bark and flower buds have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
* In parts of Japan, the leaves of Magnolia are used for wrapping food
and as cooking dishes.

~photo by Suzanne * Higgins Street * Fort Worth, TX * May 2014

As you can see here, Magnolia blossoms grow at the end of a tree's branches.  And, it looks to me as though they kind of tuck themselves in which would make them hard to cut.  Also, I want to mention that Magnolia trees may feature pink, red, purple and yellow blooms.  They seldom have pest or disease problems, and, aren't usually munched on by deer-well, THAT'S refreshing!

~photo by Suzanne on Higgins Street * Fort Worth, TX in May 2014

See how the sunlight lends a soft glow to this bloom?  If you look upward to the right, you can see a new bud, and then, on the left up a ways behind a smaller, sunlit leaf, appears the fruit of the it okay at this point to call it a 'Mag'?

~ photo from Yahoo images
Here's a closer look at an unripened 'Mag' fruit.  As it ripens, the fruit kernels turn a bright chartreuse reddish.  Darn!  I didn't know that, because I haven't seen any red fruit on the trees in my area.  The kernels are high in water content, and a good food source for birds.  The kernels are actually the seeds, and start popping out as they ripen, however,  only about 50%  of them germinate, so, good luck on getting a 'Mag' tree to start successfully!  My research suggests that it takes about 10 years or more for a 'Mag' tree to start producing blooms and seeds.  I have come across some smaller 'Mag' trees in the area, but, haven't gotten any photos of them-I do look for blooms, and, I guess the information is correct.  After watching a few of the small trees during the past few years, I have yet to see any blooms appear.

~ripened Magnolia seeds * photo from Yahoo images

Sooo...are we at a 'wrap- it-up' point?

 Here are just a few 'Mag' tips:

* Pick the site for your 'Mag' carefully...don't crowd it.  These trees are hard to move, so find a spot with rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic, and add organic matter when planting.

* Mulch in the early years with a cooling mulch over the root area.

* Water deeply and thoroughly, but, don't leave the soil waterlogged, or the tree will drown.

*Sometimes the 'Mags' can develop 'chlorosis' (yellow leaves with veins), and you should treat with iron chelates.   Okay, here's what that kinda means!  Iron chelate is a soluable complex of iron, sodium and a chelating agent, which I cannot begin to pronounce-but it's soluable in water.  Sheesh!

* If your 'Mag' is desiduous ( the leaves fall seasonally), pruning is best after it blooms, however, it is suggested to prune desiduous trees only when necessary to correct the plant's shape, as the cuts are slow to heal.  On evergreen 'Mags', prune before the spring growth flush, removing the entire twig or limb to its base.  You can remove lower limbs from the trunk as the tree gains height.

  ~photo by Suzanne * Beach Street * Fort Worth, TX * May 30, 2014

Questions anyone?
  Gosh...I hope not!  I think I will continue to admire this gracious species whilst driving through town,
 and let the experts handle the 'Maintenance of the Mags'!

Please allow me to thank:

Thank you so much for your visit.  I love seeing you all, or, y'all, as we say here in the Lone Star State.  I hope you're doing well, and laughing a lot.  We have gotten some rain lately, and the temps are hovering in the high 80's and low 90's right now.  It's tolerable, but, we've got to run that air conditioning frequently.

And I want to tip my hat to you dads tonight.  Even if you don't have children of your own, I'll bet you've been a dad to a child at sometime in your life by just giving of yourself.  Being a mentor, tossing a ball back and forth, congratulating a child on a job well done, defines a dad in my book!

Happy Father's Day to you guys!

And now...
~ Somewhere in the early 1970's

"Sit with me in the top of a Magnolia tree.
Tell me all your secrets, darlin...tell me that you'll stay."
~from Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

Love and Hugs to you safe, eat sugar-free popsicles!
See you soon!  ♥