Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Woohoo, it's contest time! What's the prize? This beautiful, durable, and very handy Fiskars gardening apron. Isn't it a beauty? Just think of all of the things you could carry in it!

Why, there's room for a water bottle (gotta keep hydrated, right?), pruners, gloves, you name it. There's even a clip on the back which just might come in handy. The front has 5 pockets and the back has another 4 pockets plus 2 pen/pencil/marker pockets.

It easily adjusts to fit most any size gardener and is well made. And the best part of all is that it's unisex!

So what do you have to do to win this beauty? It's simple. Here are the rules (and I promise there is no legal gobbledygook involved!). There are 3 ways to enter:

1) If you "like" my Facebook page*, you earn a chance to win the apron.

2) If you become a member of my blog**, you earn another chance to win it.

3) If you refer someone who likes my Facebook page and/or becomes a member of my blog, you get another chance to win the gardening apron AND that person also earns chances to win it.

One more thing to do: Just to make sure your Facebook "like" or blog membership or referral doesn't get unnoticed by me, please drop me a quick note ( indicating that you have done steps 1, 2 and/or 3 above so I can make sure your name goes in the hat as many times as you're eligible for. Sorry this isn't more streamlined but I'm doing the best I can with the tools at my disposal!

In your email to me, please give your name, the name you used to like my Facebook page or became a blog member under, or the name of the person you referred. That's all there is to it.

*How do you 'like' my Facebook page?
- When you visit, you'll see a "Like" button on the photo near the top of the page, just click "Like" and you've done it! (and thank you!)

**How do you become a member of my blog?
- Well, you've already found my blog so you're halfway there. Look in the righthand column where it says "Members." Click on the "Join This Site" button. It will ask you to log in using a Google (gmail) or Yahoo account. The next window allows you to type in the name that will be seen under the list of members. If you don't want your name there, just type in a nickname like "Weed-eater" or something. Finally, click on "follow this blog" and you're done.

The contest begins Sept. 18th at 12:01 a.m., and ends at 6 p.m. Oct. 11th. At that point, the winner will be drawn randomly by an impartial individual. I'll contact you via email so I know where to ship the apron. The winner will be announced on Oct. 13th.

You have my solemn promise that your information will be kept private and will NOT be shared with any other individuals or companies. Thank you for entering and GOOD LUCK!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sept. 14 column

Amaranth 'Joseph's Coat'

Here's a link to my column in today's edition of The Spokesman-Review: Blend of gardening, quilting. This one is all about an upcoming event that I think you'll enjoy. It's called "Art in Bloom: Flowers, Fabric and Friends" and it's a fundraiser for the beautiful Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens on Spokane's lower South Hill.

The event, held on Sat. Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,  is a unique pairing of quilts made by local artists and custom-designed floral arrangements created by local florists. It only costs $2.50 to attend the event. There will also be a floral arranging class that will be held at 10 a.m.;it costs $10.

Art in Bloom will take place at Corbin Art Center, 507 W. 7th Ave., Spokane. If you're interested in attending the floral arranging class, please pre-register by calling (509) 625-6677.

If you aren't familiar with the heritage gardens, please read my column because it's truly a unique and special place that Spokane should be very proud of.

A quick note about the jazzy flower pictured above: there are a lot of these Amaranths growing in the gardens right now because they would have been grown there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. So they are historically appropriate. Pretty cool, huh?

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fabulous fall perennials and shrubs

American Cranberry Bush
While the calendar says it's not technically fall yet, you can certainly feel it in the air these days. Some of the leaves on trees and shrubs are starting to turn color and there's certainly a little nip in the air each morning.

Black-eyed Susan
Even though I have mixed emotions about the impending frosts we'll be getting soon, which will signal the end of gardening season, there are many flowers blooming away this time of year that look terrific late in the season. And there are some shrubs that look downright pretty, too. Here are my favorites: (and be sure to click on each of them for a better view)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and several of its family members are still blooming their hearts out. I've done a minimal amount of deadheading, yet they still look super. They love lots of sunshine and fairly regular watering. Most plants grow about 2 feet high although can reach 3 feet if they're particularly happy. Some are hardy down to zone 3, which is impressive, but many will survive zone 5 and 6 winters.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
Stonecrop 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum) is high on my list because the bees just love it. The large flower heads are light pink and the leaves are an interesting pale green. They will grow in part to full sun and reach 18 to 24 inches in height. They are hardy down to zone 4. I have other stonecrops in my garden that also do well, such as 'Matrona'. This spring, I planted a newer variety called 'Dazzleberry' and it has performed well so far.

Phlox 'Shockwave'
Many varieties of Phlox (P. paniculata) are also late-bloomers. I have some large clumps of 'David' which are pure white and they are blooming like crazy right now. I just discovered a newer variety I'm growing, 'Shockwave', is blooming. I'm not sure if that's the norm for it because the deer nipped off all the buds on it earlier in the summer (grrr) but I love the lavender flowers and variegated leaves. 'David' is hardy down to zone 3 and grows anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall. 'Shockwave' is hardy to zone 4 and is just 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall.

Hummingbird mint
I love the sunset colors of the flowers on Hummingbird mint (Agastache rupestris) that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, although it appears our hummers have already headed south for the winter. It's hardy and drought tolerant once established. They usually reach up to 2 1/2 feet tall.

Aster 'Monch'
The 'September Charm' Anemones (Anemone x hybrida) have been blooming profusely for a month now. They have perky purplish-pink flowers. My only complaint is that they will spread out when you're not looking so keep an eye on these guys! Hardy to zone 4, they'll grow in full sun to part shade and reach up to 4 feet tall.

Fall-blooming Asters are quite delightful, too. They bloom reliably when just about everything else has shut down for the season. 'Monch' (A. frikartii) is a popular variety that has lavender blooms and grows great in full sun to part shade. The plants are usually 2 to 3 feet tall and hardy to zone 5.

Hydrangea paniculata
Hydrangeas are quite lovely this time of year because their flowers tend to go from creamy-white to dusty pink or pale green. I have a panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata) called 'Vanilla Strawberry' that is now pink and blooms prolifically. These hydrangeas tend to be quite hardy, usually down to zone 3. Another wonderful hydrangea is the Oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia), with attractive leaves, which is hardy to zone 5. They each prefer to be watered regularly. Panicle hydrangeas grow 8 to 10 feet or more while Oakleaf hydrangeas grow 6 to 8 feet tall.

Even though our American Cranberry Bush (Viburnum trilobum) isn't blooming right now, it certainly earns its keep due to all of the vibrant, red berries. (see photo at top of post) Earlier in the season, the bushes had beautiful white lace-cap style blossoms. The berries will persist into winter at which time they'll be consumed by appreciative overwintering birds. Viburnums tend to be very hardy, with this species being particularly tough -- all the way down to zone 2. Wow. They grow in full sun to part shade and appreciate regular watering.

I suppose it's a no-brainer to include Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus) but I do love its crimson-red foliage this time of year. There are dwarf varieties such as 'Compacta' available in case you don't have much room, although even those can grow up to 9 feet tall. They're hardy down to zone 4 and will grow in full sun to part shade.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Garden travels: Wash. DC green spaces

This is my very last travel story from our August trip to Pennsylvania. What you don't know is that we took a train from Philadelphia down to Washington DC to visit our niece one day. We'd been there before but it's always an amazing place to explore.

As we strolled down different streets and between buildings, it was a pleasant surprise to see just how many green spaces there are for the public to enjoy.

Here's a sampling of some of the photos I took. Be sure to click on them to see more details.

I really like this hoop support system on this bed. Very sturdy!

Check out this huge vertical garden

Love the colorful trellises!

U.S. Botanical Garden Conservatory

Nice sitting spot in a green space.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Garden travels: Chanticleer Garden, part 1

The last public garden we visited in Pennsylvania was Chanticleer Garden, which is located about 30 minutes northwest of Philadelphia. It far exceeded my expectations! The garden is on 47 acres but only 35 acres are open to the public. They have a one-mile walkway around and through the garden that was pretty easy to navigate.

I just loved all of the beautiful sights along the way... the Asian woods, teacup garden, vegetable garden, ruin garden, tennis court garden and so on. Everywhere you look, there is something surprising and delightful to see.

I've divided up the photos from Chanticleer in two parts; refer to part two below for the next batch. Remember that you can click on any photo to view a larger image.

To learn more about Chanticleer, visit their website.

Teacup garden

Garden travels: Chanticleer Garden, part 2

Here is the second batch of photos that I took while visiting Chanticleer Gardens. What an amazing, beautiful place!

Creative drinking fountain made by staff.

Plant list box made by staff. Cool.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sept. 7 travel article: Gardens of Pennsylvania

Look at these gorgeous Victoria lily pads at Longwood Gardens! Wow.
It's two-fer Sunday! In addition to my garden column in today's edition of The Spokesman-
Review (see post below), I also wrote a travel article about our trip to Pennsylvania. Here's a link to it: A gardener's vacation. Hope you'll enjoy the photos that accompany it as well.

It was such a great trip! I'd love to go back there again someday because I know we didn't see it all. I hope you'll have the opportunity to explore that beautiful state at some point.

Sept. 7 column

Joe uses cattle panels to support his tomato plants.
In my column in today's Spokesman-Review, I've written a profile of another local gardener. His name is Joe Hutchinson and he is crazy about tomato salsa.

Each year, he grows a lot of tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs so he and his wife, Donna, can bottle up 100+ jars of salsa as well as over 100 jars of marinara sauce. Wow.

He used to grow a huge garden with all sorts of different vegetable crops, but soon found that he got the most bang for his buck by growing the ingredients for his own salsa. I thought folks would be interested to hear which varieties of tomatoes, peppers and onions he grows and what he does to get the largest yields possible.

I was hoping to have a photo of Joe working in his garden to share with you but he's quite camera-shy so you just get to see his beautiful garden instead.

Here's a link to my column: Salsa fan plants specialty garden. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How to freeze berries

These blackberries have been frozen individually.
 Are you growing berries in your garden? We grow strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

While I enjoy making jams and jellies, it's nice to freeze some of the berries for those winter fruit cobblers and crisps, too.

Freezing blueberries is a piece of cake: you just pick them, wash them lightly, pop them into freezer bags and put them into the freezer. I think that's because they're a sturdier and drier berry.

But the other berries are juicier and more delicate so they require a different approach for freezing. If you just threw a bunch of strawberries, raspberries or blackberries into a freezer bag, they would freezer together into a big blob.

So here's the very best way to freeze them:

1. Wash the berries and let them dry briefly on paper towels.
2. Gently place them, in a single layer, onto a cookie sheet with sides (i.e., jelly roll pan).
3. Place the sheet in the freezer for a few hours.
4. Once the berries have frozen solid, loosen them from the cookie sheet. You'll notice they've frozen individually, which is exactly what you want.
5. Now you can place them into freeze bags and back into the freezer for future use.

The reason I love this method is because you can easily grab a handful of individual berries for, say, a smoothie or to thaw out as an ice cream topping. You don't have to try to bang off a few berries from "the blob," and you don't have to use all of the berries at once. Slick, huh?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Garden travels: Longwood Gardens, part 1

This is the next installment of my tales of visiting wonderful gardens in Pennsylvania last month. After heading east from Pittsburgh, where I attended the Garden Writers Association's symposium, we visited Hershey Gardens which I wrote about on Aug. 22.

From there, we continued east toward Philadelphia where one of the most fabulous public gardens is. I've known about Longwood Gardens for several years now and hoped I'd have the opportunity to visit there someday. It's long been considered a mecca for anyone who loves gardening.

It's hard to sum up what I loved about Longwood in just a few words but it was probably the overall experience that was so special. The gardens are spread out over more than 1,000 acres and include a 4-acre conservatory -- which I still think I didn't see all off! -- a topiary garden, fountain garden, Italian garden, edible garden and oh-so-memorable aquatic garden. I just can't resist beautiful water lilies, lotuses and huge lily pads.

There were even some enormous tree houses that kids of any age would be envious of. I would love to see their huge fall mum display and their holiday displays sometime. More reasons to go back in the future?

Here are some photos I took during my visit. I'll post more in part 2 (below). Remember to click on any of the photos to view a larger image.

Display garden - love the foliage colors!

Edible garden
Check out this huge tomato support!
Topiary garden