Java Talk: Garden Tips, Decorating Your Outdoor Space & Container Gardens


Are you ready to talk gardening? Get your cup of java or tea and let's start today's discussion. I have plenty to say about gardening! And lots of photos today.


The first tip I have is to put solar lights in container plants at various heights. It lights your way throughout the garden and looks so pretty at night.


Group container plantings together, as it makes for a much prettier setting. Think of it as an outdoor vignette. 

Use all sorts of containers. If it holds dirt, it can hold a plant. Just make sure it has drain holes.


Collections always look better when grouped together. Here is a photo of my steel gazing balls in an old wagon. (Note: Pay a tiny bit more and get steel gazing balls. I've broken every glass one I ever had.)


Along with perennial vines, plants some annual vines. I've had a lot of luck with this Hyacinth Bean vine from a packet of seeds. Morning glory vines are annual beauties and might reseed and come back.


Pick up pretties at garage sales and put them in your garden. Gives it a whimsical look.

 
A nice touch is to place a mirror in your garden. Don't put it in bright sunlight. It might start a fire.

 
Plant flowers that will attract birds to your garden. Put up bird houses and a bird bath and birds will come visit you. 


Make pathways in your garden. Gives your space more visual interest. (My Tyler gardens)


If you have old chairs you aren't using, put a pot where the seat was and make it a planter.


Colored bottles are beautiful in the garden, with the sun shining through the glass.


Don't just stick your bird bath in the yard. Put it in a more natural setting. like in a grouping of plants. It is better camouflage for birds to escape predators, and it just looks better.


Have comfy seating in the garden so you can rest or have your coffee and gaze at your flowers.


Make a fairy garden. Children love them, and so do adults. You can make themed fairy gardens, or just add whatever you have in miniature. Garage sales are a wonderful place to pick up items for your fairy gardens.

Also it's a nice project to help the grandchildren or children make one of their own. 


If you have old plates you don't use anymore, line a garden bed with them. If they are broken you can still use them and push the broken part down into the dirt. 

I have used broken pots by turning them sideways or slightly upward, digging it down in the dirt a ways, and planting in them. Doesn't show the broken part, and it doesn't end up in the landfill.


Don't forget to garden vertically. It takes up little space. And adds pretty blooms growing skyward.

Okay, these were from my beautiful Texas garden. I didn't get as much done here at this house in terms of gardening due to my ankle getting injured my first summer here. 

So next you'll be seeing what I do at the new place on the patio. I cannot wait to get that started!

Let's dish. What tips or plans do you have to share? I'm fairly adept at this subject, so fire away with questions you may have. And if I don't have the answer, most likely someone else will. 

I'm off to top off my coffee cup.



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99 comments

  1. I did a fairy garden last yr. with the grands and they loved it. This year while I might use some of the fairy stuff that is still around, i am going to put that huge pot to another use as well...I will have a patio tomato plant or something in there that is useful.
    Always grow morning glories and this year will also grow the cardinal vine that I saw over at The Enchanged Cottage last year. I guess it is a variation of morning glory...red...hummingbirds are supposed to love it.
    This will be my first year for that hyacinth bean vine ; Balisha sent me some seeds.
    Had great success with thunbergia vine last year, though there are no seeds in the stores for it. Rather than spend a small fortune on having to buy one at the nursery again I ordered seeds online and hopefully will have luck with starting them on my own this year! Then I have the perennial trumpet vine with grows like mad and while it is pretty what a lot of work it is keeping it trimmed during the summer months! The middle part is very strong and thick now, though, so it is heavy enough to hold a bird feeder that the squirrels have decided is their feeder! :)
    Containers...I always have a few small ones and then long shallow ones that I plant sweet alyssum in. Last year I bought three larger ones in the early spring. Brilliant idea to grow green beans and minaature pumpkins and something else in them. Not enough holes in the bottom or something...constantly flooding due to so much rain last year, so that idea bombed ! I will have to shovel out the dirt in each of them, make more holes or borrow a drill or something to make more and then maybe I'll have success with that this year. Of course if I go to all that trouble we won't have alot of rain this time around :)
    Well it is raining now and to rain for days. We are not in the pretty stage here...more like...still brown and now more mud to contend with. And in between...clean up...there are plant and flower stalks that I left standing over the winter for bird shelter that need dealt with...stuff like that yet...not at the fun part yet, lol....:)

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  2. If your container is plastic or or a galvanized container, I just take big nails and hammer them in the bottom to make more drainage. I don't have a drill so that's what I do. With the hyacinth bean vine, save the dried bean pods for next year. I think I managed to lose mine in the last move. But I remember originally buying the seeds from Renee's Heirloom Seeds. I will try to take some of the passion vine, but so far it is not showing any signs of green. Either the hard winter got it or it doesn't come out for awhile.

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  3. Love the java talk Brenda! I have a raised vegetable garden with a deer proof fence around it. I rotate my crops in an effort to utilize the small space. We have radishes, asparagus, peas and onions coming up now. I plant my radishes every two weeks so I can harvest them every two weeks until the temperature gets too warm. I also plant my potatoes in a tower made from fence wire. It stands about 3 feet tall and 20 inches wide. Last year it gave me three buckets of new red potatoes. I found the idea on Pinterest and it sure beats planting them in rows and taking up so much space. I plant marigolds around the perimeter and put cedar shavings under my tomatoes to keep the bugs away. No chemicals here!

    As for my flowers, I had to resort to drought proof plants and bushes as dragging the hose across two acres was just too much. I love hanging baskets of petunias but I had to water them twice a day and the heat still cooked them so I quit getting them. I do love all of my roses and day lillies, they tolerate the sun and heat very well. Happy gardening!

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    1. I've found that it's very hard to keep hanging plants from drying out. Most are in plastic pots, and maybe that's part of it. I'd like to try the potato idea. I want to grow more of my food. With just me to feed, I should be able to do that. I agree it is best to surround your tomatoes, etc., with marigolds and pungent smelling flowers that bugs do not like. Have not tried cedar shavings. Bugs tend to not like herbs either.

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    2. Another good way to grow potatoes, if you have old tires laying around, is to plop one tire on the ground, lay the potato "seeds" (chunks) on the ground, cover with straw. Then plop another tire on top, add more straw, and maybe once more, or two is OK. No digging! The green sprouts come up through the straw and eventually you have new potatoes laying on the ground! Really neat. It's kind of similar using the fence wire.

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  4. I want to try a hydrangea in a big pot. I have only tried hydrangeas a few times, and in the ground at that, and never seem to have any luck. Anyone have ideas? I know there are hydrangeas suitable for pots.

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  5. When I bought my hydrangea years ago at a nursery it was in a pot ! : ) It's a Pee Gee Hydrangea / I wonder if rather than putting them in the ground and letting them get big, they'd stay smaller in the pot with constant trimming? Not sure about that one.

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    1. They will stay smaller if you prune throughout the year, a nice result of the pruning is your hydrangeas will be come bushier (more branching with pruning) and more flower... more branching more flowers. But, make sure if you live in cold weather how cold hardy they are. Plant above ground temps are very different from below ground. What I do is tuck my containers in a sheltered corner of our house, keep them out of cold winds and mulch them on top for added protection.

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  6. Me either. Will have to do a little research. I just love blue hydrangea blooms though.

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  7. I cannot bend and have my big garden anymore, so now my garden is lots of pots on my patio. I have strawberries in several of them and two with Swiss Chard grown from seed. All organic. I am gradually going to add more and more. My only issue is my patio is part of a caged-in pool, and I cannot put the plants outside of the screening because we have very aggressive squirrels here and they will destroy any potted plant in a matter of minutes. So I may have to pollinate the strawberry flowers by hand. We will see how that turns out. I also have, in the yard beyond the screened patio, a long stretch of wooden fence that looks like a fort. I want to put a few flowering vines along it to break up the monotony. Thinking maybe bougainvilla with a pretty red flower. Sorry I know nothing about hydrangeas in pots, but I would think if the pot was big enough it would be ok.

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    1. Where do you buy your organic seeds? Some flowering vines would look lovely up a trellis you buy or make yourself. I dress up my fences with decorative suns and a medley of things. Including bird houses. It most certainly breaks up the monotony! Did you know you can buy outdoor paintings now?

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    2. Lana I feed the little squirrels around here but was dumbfounded to find them digging in my containers when I started alyssum seeds last year. I googled what to do and the advice was plastic forks! So I bought a box of plastic forks and spaced them around the flowers and then around some newly planted tomato starts and the little squirrels got the message! :)

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    3. Wow I never thought of plastic forks - great idea! Yes Brenda I could never forget your pretty sun surrounded by vines. I am also thinking of some artsy garden objects hung on the fence. I do not remember the name of the catalog but if you google organic seed catalog a bunch will come up. That is how I found mine. I bought Seascape day neutral strawberries so I get fruit longer and not all at once.

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  8. Taking all this great info in! I wanted to plant some containers this year but looks like I won't be back home to stay until June sometime. I'll still try some sort of plants. My new home is a challenge as the sun is so intense here. Love Java talk Brenda!!
    hugs, Linda

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    1. Zinnias are hardy annuals. You might try those plants once you're back. Also the pretty dark purple or chartreuse potato vine is an annual and grows like crazy. You can pinch it off and stick it someplace else and it till grow. Moss rose and those type plants would probably work. As well as all the sedums and succulents so popular now.

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    2. I love planting Nastursiums for really hot spots and poor soil. they are annuals but you can save the weeds from them for the next year. There are climbing ones also that are great for climbing up wire fences and trellis. They are also great in pots on hot decks as do well without alot of watering.

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  9. I love gardening, but the yard at my current home has very many trees and hubby likes them so none will be cut. I want a big vegetable garden but have no sunny place except the driveway. We do line the driveway with huge pots that we grow our heirloom tomatoes (Cherokee Red, beautiful and the very best tomato I have ever eaten) and a few pepper plants. Most of my gardening now is in containers on the patio, deck, and scattered around under the trees. Seems that everything I have put in the ground has failed to thrive. It lives but never really grows. I keep meaning to take soil samples to see what may be needed to amend the soil, but I never seem to get it done.
    We keep a huge compost pile going and use that on a 50/50 basis for our containers and they do thrive!
    Happy gardening friend and don't forget to smell the roses!
    Susan

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    1. There are lots of shade plants. Hostas for one. And mints like some shade. So nice to brush up against the mint and it releases its scent. Come on, folks, come up with some others. Don't plant near the trees. Always problems when you do. Many plants can't tolerate full sign at the height of summer. I always remember to smell the roses!

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    2. I have ferns and hostas in my yard as well as tons of bulbs that all do well. I don't plant under the trees, therefore there is precious little space left! Getting some fresh ideas from this exchange. Thank you for hosting! The coffee is great!

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    3. Impatiens are wonderful shade plants, too, especially if you want a blast of color. Even in pots they do so well and spread so nicely to fill out. They come in such a variety of colors, too.

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    4. Susan...my backyard has always been shrouded in shade and I do the same as you, plant containers on the patio. Impatiens, petunias and geraniums work well. Out in the yard I have hostas, daylilys. astilbe, columbine, and sedum. We trimmed our trees radically last summer so I'm hoping some new plants will work out. Good luck!

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  10. What a great idea for growing potatoes. I am going to try that. I stick vegetables and herbs in with my flowers. I have chives everywhere as I like the foliage and even when they bloom. Swiss chard looks pretty in with the flowers. I have just experimented and have found what works for me. We don't have a lot of water on our farm and with well water very hard to let a hose run for a long time. I use large 5 gallon buckets, poke holes in the bottom and place around my beds. Works for me.

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    1. I just found this idea and think it would be very doable...http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Drip-Irrigator-from-a-Plastic-Bottle. You may have to copy the link and put it in your search. A very cheap way to irrigate your plants underground properly.

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  11. I have done most of the things you mention in my past gardens. I loved the plate border...I got a deal on a whole stack of plates at a flea market. My friend took an old bowling ball and covered it in pennies and placed it in her garden. I go to garage sales all the time, flea markets also. There are so many things to use if you can "think outside the box". I have planted an old metal tool box, a copper spitoon. I planted several old copper jello molds with sedums and succulents. A shower soap caddy wire thing can be planted with dirt in moss and hung on a fence. I find old bird houses at garage sales. I had lots of Coral Bells in my shade garden, and they now come in a bunch of cool foliage colors....Tiarella and foam flower too. A wonderful shade plant that blooms now is Lenten Rose or Hellebore. There are some perennial Geraniums that do well in shade...I had a chocolate colored bloom one. Bleeding Hearts and Columbines also like shade. Pulminaria and spring bulbs also do well in shade, as do all the different ferns. There are dozens of Hostas in many shapes and sizes, even yellow ones like Sun Power. Just look at the shade section of a catalog or nursery web site...

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    1. Oh, and I had all this under my huge Oak trees...my only problem was that the trees sucked out a lot of moisture from the soil!

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    2. That's why I mentioned not growing close to trees. I love hellebores and ferns. Will have to get geraniums. Haven't had those since TX. Sounds like you have wonderful ideas to decorate your garden and repurpose!

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    3. Walnut trees are NOT the friend of veg gardens. We have such a hard time w/ tomatoes, cukes and peppers esp. and the trees are about 50 feet away.

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    4. I have used Geraniums in other places that I have lived but I have found that they just don't do well for me in Tulsa for some reason. Begonias do very well here in shade or partial sun.
      I also have a plant called a Chinese Pink Indigo. I have grown it in Houston, Denver and now in Tulsa. It does great under trees. It is a small, wispy bush and has pink flowers that look like small Wisteria blooms. It freezes to the ground and comes back up. Blooms all summer. If will grow in a pot. If you would like a cutting let me know and I will bring you one when it starts coming out.

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  12. You have certainly had some beautiful gardens, Brenda...lots of great hints! I love using vintage in the garden...I can hardly wait to get out in the yard this year...

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    1. Vintage in the garden is always so pretty! Each time I move, seems I have a new "landscape" to deal with. But that's good. It challenges me!

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  13. Also, to keep dirt from going through the container drainage hole, you can add a paper coffee filter to the bottom.

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  14. I live in So Cal where our summers can be 90 and into the 100s for weeks at a time. I was growing succulents one summer and they weren't doing good. I visited a nursery that had them all over and they were beautiful. I asked what the secret was and she said to put a tray under them with some water in it, it gives them moisture. I've been doing it now for years and it helps so much. My sedum autumn joy which I found on your site one time, Brenda, thrives! I grow a lot of herbs in pots, but this year I'm using an old horse galvanized tub to plant tomatoes and my herbs in. Can you explain the difference to me between perennials and annuals? I think I have them totally mixed up.

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  15. Perennials are plants that will come back year after year. Annuals are one season. But for where you live, many annuals will also be perennials because your weather never gets too cold to kill them off. I like the tray idea!

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    1. Thanks, Brenda. I thought that was the case. I love that blue bird bath. They are so expensive now.

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  16. I love seeing all of your pictures of your garden and accessories that you had in Texas.. I got so many ideas last year from reading your blog and seeing your garden pictures..
    I don't think it has been mentioned that astilbe is a shade loving perennial plant.. It comes in several colors and is a nice addition to a shade garden.
    I've just come in from working in my yard.. I have two big clumps of fountain grass that had turned a beige color and needed to be trimmed so it could grow back to it's full "glory" this summer.. I usually cut it with hand clippers but the grass cuts like a knife.. I put my thinking cap on and decided to use my hedge trimmers to cut it this time.. The trimmers went through it like a knife through soft butter.. The only problem I had was deciding what to do with the clippings.. I used some of them for mulch and thought, also, that my birds might like to use small pieces for their nests. I used my rake like a pitch fork to lift the trimmings where I wanted them to go. I'm glad that job is done.
    I like your idea of using a mirror in the garden, but can't figure where I'd put one.. Don't want to start a fire for sure.
    Even though we've had such an usual winter here in Northern Virginia my perennials seem to all be coming back..
    I have forsythia and jonquils in bloom and my spirea is ready to pop.
    I'm, sooooo, looking forward seeing what you're going to do with containers, etc. in your new garden, Brenda. I would enjoy reading any ideas that you and your readers have concerning gardens and the beautifying of them. ;o)
    Keep those thumbs a beautiful shade of green.
    Charlotte

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  17. You've got more going on in your yard than I do for sure! Be careful of that sharp ornamental grass. I want some for containers and plant smaller things around it.

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    1. I planted some bulbs not too far from my fountain grass. The grass got so big that it covered the jonquils.. I didn't get cut this time while using the hedge trimmers.. Will use them again next spring.
      I'm worn out so I think I'll call it a day..

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  18. Great topic, Brenda. I well remember your beautiful gardens in Tyler. It was like an outdoor sanctuary that you created. So nice to see these pictures once again. I love the idea of putting solar lights in containers. I have put decorative stakes with solar features into some of my pots, but the solar feature (usually like a round glass piece) never seems to glow at night. Sounds like the lights would work much better and add a nice ambience in the evenings.
    We are currently getting estimates for having a waterfall type feature installed off of the patio. Our patio needs to be replaced and it seems like a good time to do this. I find the sounds of a waterfall to be so relaxing. I seem to remember that you had something like this at your previous house. If so, would you comment on how you liked it and what kind of upkeep was involved. So far I have been told that there is very little upkeep (just a small filter to empty). One guy told me that if we put fish in it they would take care of the algae. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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    1. The one I finally ended up with, after the fish fried due to a malfunction in the pump, was a pondless waterfall. It has far less upkeep. The water recirculates, so you don't have to add water much. There are no dead leaves at the bottom you have to dig out, because there are rocks filling up the hole. If you want me to send you a better pic, let me know. I liked it much better. Get a strong pump and you will hear that water. That will cost you, but it will be well worth it. I think the whole thing was less than $4000, but I had some of the rocks they used. Took them about 5 hours to do it all.

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  19. Brenda,

    Have you had any luck with those large fountain grasses? I just love them and see them all over and have never had any luck growing them. We have so much acreage and need some big ideas to cover some of it. Any ideas?

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    1. I tried fountain grasses in TX and had good luck. Check out muhly grass. It is gorgeous. One giant feathery sweep of pink. I'm going to put some in pots as the center plant and surround them with other flowers/herbs. If you have a big area, I'd plant three or more not too far apart.

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    2. Thank You I am going to look for it.

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  20. Brenda, your garden in Texas was beautiful, and love the idea of using plates for borders! this will help my cottage garden look more cottagey. I will also start adding solar light to my containers. I like to use heavy reseeders in my containers, ie. Dianthus. Five years ago I planted planters with Dianthus and haven't need to put a new one in since, each year reseeds and a free plants are great

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    1. With your house, the plate edging will look fantastic! When I didn't have electrical where I wanted it, I simply went to solar lighting in pots and they seem to last forever. I don't like lighting all lined up. I like them staggered in pots for the best dramatic effect.

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  21. I've gotten lots of great ideas on Pinterest! I made some "garden totems" out of discarded glass vases and had fun making them to tuck between plants in my yard. This year I am going to re-do my herb bed and put in a spiral garden lined with colored bottles (I've been collecting blue and green ones). I use the herbs in an herb bread (oregano/rosemary and thyme) and it's so fun to go out in my own garden to pick them! I have pictures of these on a blog post of July 2012 and Oct. 2013 OR do a search on Pinterest for many pics of them. I, too, have lots of shady spots and the plants that have worked well for me there are rosemary, ground orchids, ajuga, some salvias and chrysanthemums. I LOVE your blue birdbath!! Why have a plain concrete one when you could have color!!

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    1. I'm surprised that rosemary does okay in shade. I'll remember that. I've never planted ground orchids. Will check into that too. I've been planting and enjoying herbs since I started gardening. I love your idea of a spiral garden lined with colored bottles. Have you ever visited Pam Penick's blog in Austin. It's call Digging. She is very good and I have her on my blog roll if you don't know her. She does spectacular things in her yard. I'm going to check you out on Pinterest!

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    2. I LOVE Pam's blog! I discovered it a few months ago and her recent one of the drive-by gardens in Houston Heights was a feast for the eyes! (my guess is that they have help with those yards!) But then again, your blog is a "feast" as well and you are so talented with your camera and your words. Keep up the great job - I look forward to your blog in my inbox daily!

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    3. P.S. - after seeing your happy "sun", I put something similar on my fence outside my kitchen window. You've inspired many more than you realize to bring a smile to their day. God bless!

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  22. You certainly had some beautiful gardens in Tyler, Brenda. I bet you miss those more than you miss just about anything there. I loved all your tips. I have not gardened as much at this house as I have in our other houses. The lot is so oversized that it takes BIG to make impact. I am going to come back and read some more comments as they come in- I rarely read comments but I love the gardening posts- xo Diana

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  23. I would rather have a small area than a huge expanse. It's hard to know quite where to start with a huge expanse. Yes, I don't care about the house in TX. What I miss are my gardens, my cats and my neighbors.

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  24. My first question: Would you come over and make my yard pretty!!!??? LoL I am not good at gardening mainly because I have a bad back and can't bend and stoop like I once did. It drives me insane to see my bare yard! I am going to be watching to see what you do in your new garden area and hopefully get some ideas.

    Did I ever tell you, I am originally from East Texas and two of my children still live there? My oldest is a Medic/Fireman for Jacksonville and Troup. I was actually born in Lufkin and raised in Mt. Enterprise. Small world, isn't it.

    Grace & Peace

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  25. Indeed it is a small world! I do yoga stretching twice a day due to a bad back I've had since my late twenties. It really helps. Since I'll be container gardening, I'll just roll around on my little garden cart and play in the dirt.

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    1. I do a bit of stretching, as well, but more times than not, it makes the pain worse. I am also doing a bit of container gardening, this year, because I can't imagine not having fresh veggies during the summer!

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  26. Such inspiring garden pictures! I can't wait for the season proper to start. Still raining here. I have a spot all set out for a fairy garden but haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe this year will be my year! :-) ~Angela~

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  27. I hunted through all of the yard sales and finally found a rather tall three tiered fountain with good sized tiers ( usually the top one is too small) .
    The bottom basin that the fountain
    stood in was broken and would not
    hold water and the fountain had no
    pump. But that didn't matter because
    I intended to plant the fountain. A
    few vines hanging down from each
    tier to mimic water falling and lots of
    colourful flowers planted in each tier as well helped to make an old
    monstrosity into a year round garden
    showpiece. I lived in a Mediterranean
    climate so we did not freeze.

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  28. Steel gazing balls, I didn't know they made them. Now I'll be looking for some. I love the way you adorn your gardens making them so charming and a place I'd love to sip a cuppa tea and pick your brain for anything I can learn about gardening. Now if we'd only get more than a day of sunny weather in between almost torrential rain I could get outdoors and work on my garden !

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    1. Those thin glass gazing balls are a waste of money. I sure wasted enough before I realized there were steel ones. Besides them getting broken moving them around, hail would break those thin things. If you can't find any in your locale, look online. These will last forever. Also you can take bowling balls and paint or cover with pennies or mosaic pieces.

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    2. I just briefly checked. Amazon has some. Just make sure it says steel.

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  29. Brenda, you really are a very talented and creative gardener. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures and truly helpful gardening tips. Our backyard is woods, housing many types of animals, mostly deer. So our front yard is our canvas, all surrounded by deer proof netting. We have hostas, daylillies, hyacinth, tulips, lillies of the valley, among other things. I've been struggling for years with my blue hydrangeas. Will definitely need to research this. Plan to add strawberries, pumpkin for granddaughter, and a sunflower for me. I think they look like big smiling faces! Kind of silly, I know! Haven't figured out what to put in our big clay container yet. But we have plenty of time. Expecting a snow storm today and tomorrow!

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    1. The birds love those sunflowers as well!

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    2. I too struggled with the blue hydrangea...I believe mine got too much shade. Many in this area get total neglect, full sun, and bloom beautifully!!!!! Good luck!!!

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  30. I'm excited to read about so many great ideas here Brenda. I always learn so much, and the sense of community is palpable.

    My garden at our former house was lovely and took years to achieve. It actually was featured on the cover of a magazine. I never thought of myself as much of a gardener, but that feature gave me the confidence I was lacking.

    I have a couple of old posts on my blog that show some of it. We had LOTS of shade because the house was surrounded by many trees, so I'm pretty knowledgeable about shade gardening. I saw Susan's comment and want her to know she has options! I have a post called 'shade gardening and deer resistant plants' she might want to look at. (I don't like to put direct links in comments...it's not good for your blog and might be considered spam). Also one called 'hosta lovin'. We had over 250 hostas, and some were more than five feet in diameter. It's not as difficult as some people think to keep deer away. It just takes a little time but since they're creatures of habit, once they figure out your garden is not deer friendly they move on. At least for another year or so.

    We had a sprinkler system installed which was the best money we ever spent, but we can't do that at the cabin (did you see my recent post about retiring?) so I will be planting mostly drought tolerant plants there. I have no desire to spend half my time watering plants! Guess it is time for another post about that :).

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    1. I had a sprinkler system in TX, but cannot afford such a thing anymore. There are drip irrigation systems you can devise that are supposed to be much better, as it drips water slowly to the roots.

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    2. I had a terrible Deer problem at my old house. I mixed eggs and water in a blender, put it in a spray bottle, and sprayed my flowers. It keeps the deer away. you have to respray every few weeks, but it was worth it! IT DOES WORK!!!!!!

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  31. Wowsa Brenda, thanks for the garden tips.
    I had to pin a few so I wouldn't forget them!

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    1. I have every Java Talk now on my navigation bar at the top of the blog, in sequence. So you can also reference there.

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    2. I have all the Java Talk posts in sequence up in my navigation bar at the top of the blog for reference.

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  32. Hi Brenda, I love this post and all the great ideas here. I have used many of them in my own garden and the last week I've been redesigning my garden after we had to install a new fence. Everything was a mess and in great need of a redo. Your pics are wonderful and so inspiring. Should be in a magazine my friend. For me, my gardens are just another room to decorate and I love it.
    Thanks for sharing. Hugs

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    1. I feel the same way. I no longer have big wooden pavilions and gazebos and pondless waterfalls. But change is part of life. And it will just push me to be more creative with what I do have!

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  33. Replies
    1. Easy to do. And you can have light where you don't have electricity.

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  34. What a fun topic you picked today, Brenda! I put containers and mirrors on the walls in my tiny patio area off the kitchen. We divided the space between the patio and a small flower bed with a diy privacy fence panel that we made out of bi-fold doors and painted a deep turquoise blue. I also have a container garden that I've situated in what was once a boring, empty spot on our flat garage roof--we have a garage that is built into the hillside, so the lawn ends up even with the garage roof and you can walk on the roof. I've used old shelves with low feet, and an old coffee table, and even the base to a slightly taller table, to raise the containers to different levels, which makes a container garden look more interesting. I also love the idea of adding solar lights to containers, and try to do that as well. One thing I've done is limit the smallest size container to a minimum of 2 gallons and preferably larger--I find anything smaller just dries out so quickly that it's too much watering maintenance for me. I also use all kind of containers, free, thrifted and purchased on sale, but I unify the look by painting them all a deep turquoise blue, which matches the accent trim color on our house--I even did the risers for the containers in the same color, and I have a short stretch of blue picket fence and a gate as the backdrop to it all. I found used hayrack planters at a rebuilding store years ago, and we attached those to the fence and I've grown strawberries in them. We had to make repairs to the fence this year, so it's going to look a bit different than in times past, but should still read blue and be a good backdrop when we're done.

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    1. I love the idea of painting all the containers the same color. You're right, unifies them and puts more emphasis on what's in the pots.

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  35. I am a bulb fanatic, and I plant lots! I plant things that are susceptible to burrowing critters in old colanders. (I bury the colander with the bulbs in it I then plant creeping phlox over it, so I don't forget and try to plant something there, or accidentally dig the bulbs up.

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    1. That's a great idea! Have never heard of that one.

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  36. Instead of glass or steel gazing balls I pick up old bowling balls at garage sales and spray paint them the colors that I want. Nothing destroys them!
    I am having a garden party for my neighbors, everyone has to bring a small clipping or plant from their garden to exchange. Great way to share plants and have a good time doing it.
    Your Tyler gardens were beautiful! I miss my gardens in Texas, also. Tulsa weather just hasn't been that cooperative the last few years.

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    1. That's a good idea, and you could make them polka dotted, striped, or anything you want to paint. I do like the shiny look of the gazing balls. So fun to see the rest of the garden reflected in them.

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    2. There are so many spray paint options now. You can even get a mirror finish paint, so the sky is the limit for garden globes made from bowling balls or even cheap kids rubber balls!

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    3. Well, the mirror finish would be great then!

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  37. Wow, so many great tips!! I am going to try to do a few solar lights in my beds, we love to sit out at night and it would be pretty Does anyone have a tip on where to get affordable solar lights? And...I'm wondering how to keep bunnies out of my veggie garden this year without resorting to chicken wire?

    XO,
    Jane

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    1. I believe I got mine at Lowes years ago. And they're still working! I used them in Tyler. I would look online too. You might go to Gardener's Supply because they have decorative items that you might prefer. You can get them most anywhere now.

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  38. I think your garden was what stopped me at your blog years ago, Brenda. You sure have the knack!!

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    1. When you love to do something, I guess it shows. I truly love digging in the dirt and creating pretty gardens.

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  39. Hi Brenda,

    I can't wait to see what you do in your yard because I've seen your Tyler gardens and they were magnificent. Here is a website I found telling you how to grow Hydrangeas in a pot, http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/ You might have to copy and paste and put in your browser but it's worth looking at.

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    1. Thank you! I'll check it out. So far I've tried about three hydrangeas in the ground, and they always die before they even bloom. So maybe it's my soil.

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  40. I just hired a lawn service. I couldnt mow 1/4 acre, but it is very costly at 120.00 a month. My feeling is this: my house is super sweet and tidy inside and I want that to be reflected outside. I want my yard to be tidy and filled with lots and lots of pots filled with flowers. The 8 pots I planted with many seeds are doing very well. I plan on planting some flowers and lay down some mulch (for that tidy look). I plan to head down to the Dollar Store to pick up those solar lights. I hope they still have them. I adore Morning Glories. I am with Stacey, it was your garden...you had me at hello. By the time my garden is done, I should have about 30 planted pots of various sizes. I love going to our junky old flea market on Sundays...I found old vintage aluminum buckets a few years back and they were super cheap.

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    1. While you're at the flea market, you might look for old wagons or children's tricycles to give your area a fun look too. I'm thinking about maybe getting one of those kits for wooden raised beds that are 4 foot by 4 foot at Target. I just don't know if the foot of dirt is enough for most plants. I imagine it would be okay for annuals and sedums and succulents. I don't know. Just a thought...

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    2. I do like those garden beds, but from the picture, I cannot tell if that would be enough dirt. I had an old wagon and someone decided he would keep it...I will be looking. My aunt found a darling old bicycle with a wire basket and she planted flowers in the wire basket, tore out the insides of the seat and planted seeds and voila!

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    3. My husband built me a raised flower bed. We used an old iron head board and foot board and did cedar boards
      on the sides. I have about 14 inches of dirt in it. I planted a Knock out Rose bush and numerous perennials in it. Everything has come up for 3 years now.

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  41. Wow, there are so many wonderful tips here! I have to agree with many of the points made, including the solar lights. At least 7 years ago Target had some solar net lights with micro bulbs. I think they are mean to go over shrubs or something. Anyways, I put them on top of the arbor that goes into one of our vineyards. They have rechargeable batteries in them--I have only had to change them out once so far. In the winter I turn them off, but do not remove them from the arbor. I love how them come on every evening in the warm months. The bulbs are so tiny they look like fireflies, which we do not have out here. Such a simple thing adds so much pleasure to our evenings outside. I also have picked up several of the solar lights that come in packs at Costco. I have those in various places all over the yard, like Brenda mentioned. They can make a grouping of potted plants seem quite dramatic.

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    1. Like you, I love looking out and seeing those little beams of light highlighting my flowers.

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  42. Bowling balls are quite popular I see. I had my grand-daughters do something similar with 2 that I bought for a dollar each at the thrift store. I had a selection of the flat colored marbles in various sizes and colors, and after the girls glued those on, we used grout in between the marbles and then I finished them with a coat of varnish. Looked so pretty in the flower garden with the sun shinning on them. One of my favorite flowers from seeds are nasturtiums. I have a 2 ft. raised flower bed along the front of our house, and they tumble out and bush out with such a beautiful assortment of color. I've had the neighbors ask what they are,and comment how pretty they look. And they grow well in the shade and sun.The blossoms are also edible, and look pretty in salads.We have deer in our area, and happy to say, they don't bother these, but my geraniums are on their menu, unless I spray my homemade "animal away" spray on them. I planted 4 Mop head hydrangeas last summer, and this winter they had at least 6 feet of snow on them, and still have 3 feet covering them. I hope they made it through our wicked winter ok, they really are my favorite of any flower..I'm been thinking too of planting them in a large pot, so will be checking the web site from Denise above, to find if this is a good idea in central WI. This has been fun reading everybody's comments. Great idea you had Brenda!!!!

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    1. I've got to try nasturiums again. Seems like I planted them once in TX and they didn't come up. I bet your bowling ball with marbles is really pretty and striking outside!

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  43. Wow. I love reading all these posts. I just did a post about fairy gardens. The post right before the last one. Between the shale and the deer planting in the ground doesn't work. I have a big antique iron kettle and power boxes that I plan t inpatients in. Last year I had a course me fairy gardens. I am getting ready to do 4. I have a vintage camper I am going to use in one. I love these gardens. They are easier to keep alive. Can't wait to see what you do this year. Your Tyler gardens were wonderful but last year's were all so nice.

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    1. I will have to check it out, Debby. I'm not on top of my reading right now. I love the idea of the antique iron kettle!

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  44. You are a gifted gardener. I can't wait to see what you do in your new place because I know it will be beautiful.

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    1. I guess one is "gifted" when they truly love what they are doing. Like you with writing.

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