Glory's Garden

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best gray and white foliage plants

What makes a perennial border stand out among other kinds of flower beds is its ever-changing aspect. When planted with a vast array of plants of differing textures, bloom times and colors the perennial border never becomes boring and stagnant. If, however, your perennial bed seems to lack in these important qualities, if it seems just a drab, uniform green with not much diversity, it may be necessary for you to add a few interesting variegated foliage plants. Perhaps what you need is to get a few gray and white foliage plants.

Why gray and white? Several reasons come quickly to mind. In a vast stretch of green a plant with gray or white leaves brightens up the bed. Other “normal” greens get a shot of visual adrenalin when next to a plant of varying colors, especially the muted grays and bright whites. Gray and white foliage plants, many of them anyway, have excitingly touchable leaves, soft and fuzzy, sleek and shiny or perhaps wooly, giving the perennial garden more texture. Gray and white foliage makes a garden come alive merely because they are unexpected.

With all this in mind let us take a good look at the very best gray and white foliage plants.

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys Byzantina).

The leaves of this plant look exactly as they are named, like the ears of a lamb and they feel as soft and cuddly. Many a Botanical garden will have Lamb’s Ear in their Children’s gardens with the expressed order for it to be touched and often. It is a rather rough and tumble sort of perennial, used as a groundcover. Leaves form low growing rosettes from which grow 1-2 foot high stalks with insignificant pale lavender flowers. Most gardeners simply cut these off entirely preferring the grayish white or whitish gray foliage. Likes well drained soil and full sun.

Fancy Leaf Caladium.

For a true ghostly touch to the flower bed “Candidum” is the very best of the Fancy Leaf Caladiums. The foliage is a striking white and the veins are very subtle and a bright unmistakable green. They pop in the semi-shady garden but do quite well in full sun, too, just as long as they get ample water and are planted in a well draining, rich, loam soil. “Aaron” is a creamy white with a solid green margin and “White Christmas” is much like “Candidum” but has more vibrant and visible veining. “White Queen” has a dramatic hot pink veining running down the center of white leaves with faint green veins throughout. For a great array of Fancy Leaf Caladiums, not just white in color, go to:

Russian Olive (Elaeagnus Angustifolia).

A small, multi-stemmed tree or shrub bearing red berries songbirds love to nibble, Russian Olive is a drought tolerant, blustering-wind withstanding and perfectly lovely plant. It has silvery white, greyish green leaves and in spring gets tiny pale yellow flowers with a perfume to knock you silly. Good for the back of a border or as a freestanding specimen.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium).

Once a wildflower, a medicinal herb and now a staple of the cutting garden Yarrow has fernlike foliage in a grey green. Flowers are usually white or yellow but there now are many hybrids in pretty pastels. Perfect for dried flower arrangements.

Wormwood Artemisia.

Named thus for the wormlike root system which runs at a dramatic pace through the garden if not held strictly in check. Makes a great perennial groundcover on dry, sloping areas and rock or alpine gardens. Silvery gray leaves are delicately divided and have a strong, pleasant scent. Wonderful as filler in fresh or dried flower arrangements.

Echeveria Elegans.

“Ghost Hen and Chicks” some call this sedum because of its tightly packed, gray-white rosettes. Perfect for the dry, rock garden or as a house plant. Not very hardy, only to zones 8-11 but it can burn in hot sun. Yellow flowers are born on 8 inch long stems. The plant look good as edging, groundcover and cascading over garden walls.

Snow-In-Summer (Cerastium Tomentosum).

The foliage of this low-growing, short lived perennial is a silvery gray and has abundant tiny, half inch wide, white flowers. Works well anywhere as a groundcover, edging, alpine gardens, tucked into crevices in rock walls and even between stepping stones. Full sun and well drained soil a must.

Russian sage (Perovskia).

This shrubby perennial has grayish white, upright growing stems and green gray leaves. The flowers, tiny and lavender blue bloom in late spring and appear as a faint, gray-blue mist in the summer heat. 3-4 feet high at maturity. Loves full sun, well draining soil of any type and is rather drought and heat tolerant.

“Dancing In The Rain” Hosta.

This 32 inch tall, 40 inch spreading Hosta with pale lavender flowers and sky-pointing, huge, pure white foliage edged in bright green will light up any shady corner. Will do fine in rich, loam, well draining soil and part shade too. Go to: for a great selection.

Lavender Cotton (Santolina Incana).

A somewhat shrubby perennial little known but valuable as a low hedge or edging plant. Grows to 2 feet high with bright yellow flowers but looks better trimmed to one foot when used for edging flower beds. Leaves are rough textured yet delicately divided, gray white in color and a bit aromatic when bruised. Drought resistant and cold hardy even in coldest regions where it may die down to the ground but re-emerge come spring. The “Lemon Queen” cultivar has lemony yellow flowers and grows to 2 feet high and wide.

They may not seem like much, these gray-white foliage plants. After all, their flowers aren’t at all as dramatic as the Iris, Rose or Lily. They may not seem to have much appeal but when mixed with other plants the entire garden will be much more visually appealing. Any and all of these silvery, gray and white foliage plants once tucked in and around your perennials will give a new spark to your landscape. So, give a few of these a try. Your garden will thank you, your neighbors will gape at your beautiful yard and you’ll be a garden legend. Not bad for just a few seemingly lackluster white and gray foliage plants.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

House Plants That Look After Themselves

Perhaps you lead a hectic life. Maybe you don’t have time to breath let alone to care for anything other than your family or yourself. But you do know that house plants can help clean indoor air, keep down heating and cooling costs and they miraculously relieve stress if only subconsciously. Therefore you need and want house plants around you and you want the ones that pretty much look after themselves. With this in mind let us go over a few of the best for just this purpose.


This is one plant that longs to be left alone. Move it, brush up against it too often or in any other way fuss over it and it will reward, or perhaps a better word would be punish you by dropping half its leaves. Just stick it in a bright corner, out of direct sunlight, water sparingly and it’ll please you to no end just as long as you almost totally ignore it.

Snake plant.

A jungle plant which can do quite well with little light, the Snake plant’s long, variegated, snake-like leaves, fleshy and stiff, can take household conditions without wilting nor leaf-drop. Moderate watering and placing it standing above a saucer full of pebbles and water to increase humidity is all the care it needs to look rather nice.

Rubber tree plant.

Large, glossy, stiff, dark green leaves with a red, pink or brownish underside, the rubber Tree plant can sit in any corner with little light, moderate water and not much else. Dusting the leaves will keep it looking pretty or better yet, stick it under a cool shower every once in a while and it’ll be as happy as it might be in its natural jungle paradise.

Spider plant.

Mostly seem in hanging baskets with a profusion of baby spiders arching out from the mama, the Spider plant requires a bright, indirect light, moderate watering and the occasional clipping of babies so they can root in water. These babies make nice gifts for friends and co-workers once planted in their own tiny pot.


A beauty whether the bright green or the variegated cultivar, the Schefflera takes bright indirect light or low office light and dry indoor winter conditions without a complaint. Likes a bit of water diluted with a mild fertilizer every once in a while but other than that carefree.

Dumb cane.

A lovely plant with variegated leaves and a tendency to get leggy when not placed in bright, indirect light but no big deal. If the leaves drop off at the bottom just cut the whole thing down. It will re-sprout in no time and you can root the top portion of the plant in water. Once roots form, which usually takes two to four weeks, plant this in the same pot and almost instantly you have a fuller looking house plant.

Christmas Cactus.

Though not a true Cactus, this plant along with its cousin the Easter Cactus are succulents and can tolerate drought quite easily. Water infrequently, feed lightly and it’ll do fine. Take it outside to a shady spot on the porch in summer to promote flowering when you bring it back indoors.

Fiddle leaf Dieffenbachia.

A cousin of the Dumb Cane, the Fiddle leaf Dieffenbachia takes low light and dry winter conditions well with moderate watering and not too much fuss.

Golden Pathos.

This vining plant looks quite attractive in hanging baskets or planted at the base of other houseplants to cascade over the pot. It can take bright light or low light but likes a bit of water to keep it happy. If it gets too leggy simply snip off the ends, stick these pieces in water and you add a few hydroponically growing plants to your ever increasing collection of house plants. Of course you could also pot them up and give to friends.

No matter what your indoor home condition, your schedule or if the shade of your thumb goes more towards the brown than to the green, these house plants should give you the best hope for indoor gardening success because they pretty much look after themselves. What could be better?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Six Best Houseplants for Improved Indoor Air Quality

Perhaps you lead a hectic life. Perhaps? There’s a laugh! Who amongst us doesn’t? You’re likely bouncing around from dawn to dusk and beyond without a moment to rest. In fact you barely have time to breath. Luckily that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, fresh air. Or do you?

Maybe not if you are a forest ranger but if you are like so many others you spend a vast amount of time indoors either at work or at home. But do you have any idea of the contaminants lying in wait to make you sick within these supposedly safe walls? Perhaps you’d rather not know but you’re going to hear it anyway. It’s for your own good.

Everything around you, the furniture, carpets, the paint on walls, detergents, grocery bags, rubber, plastics, varnishes and even cleaning solvents all exude potentially harmful chemicals. By name these chemicals, Benzene, Trichoroethylene and Formaldehyde in particular, can cause allergies, asthma, skin and eye irritation, respiratory distress and even psychological disturbances, liver and kidney damage and cancer. Yikes! We’re talking serious damage here and that’s more

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blooming Daylily hill

My Daylilies all abloom look so nice along the driveway and bordering what used to be the cutting garden. Right now this is the most weed-free spot in the yard. Due to too much rain and not enough of me to go around, my garden is a mass of weeds with just a few plants in between just to make things interesting. I simply can't keep up anymore. My weeding hand can only do so much before it protests (let's not even talk about my back and knees) and the worst thing that could befall a gardener happened last year; the sawmill in town caught fire and burnt to the ground. Why is that a problem for me? Now I can't get cheap mulch to suppress the weeds. Woe is me and my lovely gardens!

Proper Garden Shoes?

This has always baffled me. What exactly is the proper footwear when gardening? I know what is touted as the perfect shoe–-plastic boots, rubber clog things, waterproof, hideous and uncomfortable, slips on/off and easy to clean. That is all every well and good but not my idea of the perfect shoe, not for the way I garden anyway.

Easy on/off may sound like a good idea, so you can easily take them off before going into the house. That way you don’t tract all sorts of mud and dirt all over, but in my yard, where in spring time, directly after the snow is melted and the ground pretty much is a marshy pit, those easy on/off shoes would be mostly off and stuck in the muck. The ground here in spring time is so saturated with water, your feet will sink in to your ankles. Yes, they don’t call the Poconos the highest elevation swamp in the USA for nothing.

Then there is the boot, duck boots to be exact. They are good to keep the foot dry but they don’t feel comfy enough to trudge all over the yard. I know, I’ve tried and I don’t like them. They are heavy, clunky and just not right.

Easy to clean,slip on Keds which can be tossed into the wash are good if you don’t tackle the rough side of gardening but I do. That rough side includes digging, and if you’ve ever tried to put a shovel in hard packed dirt, you’d know those Keds are pretty much useless. Your feet will be hurting you something awful after digging for any length of time. Yes, I use my feet to push that shovel into the dirt and I expect to hit rocks. That’s what you get in the Poconos, rock and loads of them hidden in the soil. And rocks make your feet hurt all the more.

No, the perfect footwear has to be tough, has to be sturdy and has to be comfortable. So what is the perfect footwear? Basketball sneakers, high-tops with thick, gripping soles and hiking boots work too. For me anyway, these are best. How about you? Got a favorite shoe you like to wear in the garden? Please, don't tell me high heels, cuz that'll just make me laugh at you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Trees for nothing.

*I truly like this Corkscrew Willow for its unusual curling branches. So I was rather annoyed when a late spring storm snapped several branches, huge ones, clean off. They fell into the nearby pond and stayed there while we assessed other storm damage. Wouldn’t you know the branches rooted in the pond? Now there is a long line of “baby” Corkscrew willows! We planted them all and gave some away, too! Baby trees for free. What could be better?

Friday, June 18, 2010

* Evening Primrose: Garden and learn even more

Although I pull them out by the hundreds, there is no being rid of these bright as sun-shine yellow Evening Primrose. They are ever so pretty in mass planting and make a great mid-height ground cover but they do get away with themselves, which is to say they spread like wildfire! So, even though I like them I still yank them out every chance I get, just to keep them at a reasonable, manageable number. This is why they will be found here hiding under the hibiscus I planted after I thought I had yanked them all out. Oh, but I was a naive one back then! I actually thought I could just...well, live and learn, or rather, garden and learn even more.

Fooled by a Snowball Viburnum

*I bought this Snowball Viburnum very long ago, thinking it was a Hydrangea. They simply called it a Snowball bush so and passed it off as a white version of the Hydrangea so I was fooled. Not that it mattered. It was a lovely addition to my white flower bed and as it turned out, it is far more hardy than the weak-willed Hydrangeas I did buy and which subsequently died the following year, again, after a vicious, killer winter. It is a vigorous grower and keeps sneaking under the edging of the flower bed to spread into the walkway. More babies to plant elsewhere or to give away, is all.*
Stella D’Oro Daylilies, which translates from the Latin to "Star of gold" and not to be confused with the Cookie and breadstick company, are just about the most planted, most readily available and most beloved Daylily around. You can see extensive plantings of these along highways, at rest stops along those highways, around commercial buildings and malls and in your neighbor’s front yard. They are everywhere!

This could be because they have a lovely, glowing, buttercup yellow color and light yet nice fragrance, but I believe it is mostly due to the fact they bloom for such an extraordinarily long time in summer. Stella D'Oro daylilies are just that, stars of gold for any garden.
*I bought about six rose bushes last year. They were on sale and I wanted to give them another try. I had given up on roses, you see, when they all died on me one tragically cold winter at the beginning of my ventures in the garden. I was a novice then and didn’t know any better. Well, now I do and gosh-darn-it! I was going to have roses again! So, I got these. They were supposed to be all different colors. The packaging said as much, but as it turns out they were almost identical, in color, in size, in everything. Granted they are pretty but I like variety and here I have 3-4 of them virtually the same shade of this pretty coral pink. All I can think is, “There are far worse things that can befall a gardener than to have the same roses,” Wouldn’t you agree?

Surprise, surprise!

I've had these Junipers, horizontalis procumben, for longer than I can recall. It was very soon after moving to this house anyway. So I was surprised to see these pretty blue-grey berries growing on them after all these years. I know they are supposed to have them but I never saw them before. Perhaps they have to be a certain age before they produce. Whatever the reason, I like it that my garden still can surprise me.
This Orange Asiatic Lily is sitting pretty among the Hosta in the front Planter box. This is one of the only ones the rabbits don't manage to chew to bits. Have I said lately I need a mean old dog?

New Uses for Old Toys.

“Where ya going, little girl, with your little red wagon?” Tommy always teases me this way when he sees me dragging behind me the old, now rusted, little red wagon which Santa had brought for the kids too many Christmases ago to recall. I remember all 4 of our kids sitting in it and me taking a picture of it. This picture is actually hanging on the wall. Ah, memories!

But my kids, now all grown, no longer have a use for the little red wagon. They aren’t even close to giving me grand-kids, so....what to do with this little red wagon? Why, use it in the garden, of course! I load up my wagon with seedling and take them for a ride to the vegetable patch. This might seem over-kill and thoroughly un-needed (I hear you saying, "couldn't you just carry them?") but when you’ve got 4 acres with the green house on one end and the veggie patch at the other end, a little wagon comes in handy. I carry my hand tools in it, too, plus my cell phone, in case Tommy’s not home and he needs to get a hold of me. Once I’m in the garden, it’s hard to get me out of it!

Don’t suppose I gotta tell you I also put other old toys my kids have left behind to new uses, most of them within the garden. I will anyway.

I use sand buckets for carrying seed packets, plant labels, small bits of string to tie back unruly vines and paper and pen to take notes. I always get great ideas out in the garden but forget them by the time I get back to the house. Taking notes if invaluable!

Those small, plastic shovels and scoops which are totally useless unless you’re at the beach. Well, they aren’t as useless as you think. I use them in the greenhouse. They make nice scoops for perlite and other “soft” things like that. The tiny rakes are good for gentle cultivation in potted plants. Popsicle sticks and wooden craft pieces are great for plant labels.

I even use my kids old clothes in the garden. Well, actually I wear them as gardening clothes. Yes, I get hand-me-downs from my kids. I have been wearing their cast-off ever since my youngest at age ten out grew me. People do look at me a bit oddly when they happen to spot me wearing a little league t-shirt. Good thing I don’t much care what others think, huh?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bok Choy nibbled!

Although the protective rubber tire has kept the rabbits from completely feasting on my precious Bok Choy, there is something still nibbling away at it. What do I suspect? Slugs. There will be a need, I fear, to bring out the nasty stuff. It will cause a blood bath, no doubt, but this is war! What to use? Dried and crushed egg shells. Slugs and snails die a dreadful death if they dare cross a line of that stuff. Omelet anyone?

Sun-splashed Poppy

The way the light caught this one Poppy, it made it look bi-colored.

The first common Daylily to bloom

Although this is the first to bloom, it won't be the last. Come two weeks time, the Daylily field will be bursting with flowers. A fine sight to see. Don't miss it!

Japanese Iris

These Japanese Iris have become a bit invasive though in a good way. They make a great, tall ground cover for this sloping area but they do toss their prolific seed all over forcing me to weed some out of the herb garden and beyond. Want some seeds? Will have plenty by summer's end.

Lysmachia Alexander

I was quite disappointed to find that the variegated form had died out leaving me a solid colored Lysmachia. Still, it's quite pretty.

First Rose of the season

Monday, June 7, 2010

*Definition of gardening*

So, Tommy finds me snipping flowers for indoor display. They were just wild Daisies that decided to grow where they weren’t wanted, along the cracks of the driveway, but still...they are pretty.

“What are you doing?” he says. “Thought you said you were going to do some gardening.”

“I am gardening!” I replied, utterly indignant. “Picking flowers is just as much a part of gardening as pulling weeds.” He walks away laughing.

So, it occurred to me that most people would never think that picking flowers, bending over to smell a rose, taking pictures of your flowers, shrubs and trees and merely enjoying the landscape would be in the definition of gardening. Well, why the heck not??? You are in the garden and doing things in the garden with your plants and that, my dear, deprived, and perhaps a bit delusional, friends is my definition of gardening. So there!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Peonies, Daisies, Lupines, o-my!

I come back home from a 4-day weekend trip to the Shenandoah Mountains, and what should I see but my garden exploded in color! The Peonies, Lupines and Daisies have all burst into bloom. Just goes to show you cannot turn your back on your garden lest you miss something wonderful!

It’s finally June and I can be assured now that Jack Frost will keep his freezing touch to himself. Thus I can plant out all the rest of my seedlings that have been so patiently waiting for their protective creator to allow them to breathe fresh, clean, and at night, cool air. But what should I find when I take my little plants from their protected arbor over-hang where they have been acclimating to outdoor life but that some unscrupulous wrascally wabbit (well, who else could it be, really?) chewed up most of the Bok Choy. Rotten stinkin’ beasts!

I need a mean old dog to take care of these terrors of the garden. And what do I have? 4 semi-useless cats. Well Zebrina was never useless but she is getting up there in years and has slowed down considerably. Poor baby. Zebrina was a great mouser in her day though and we can’t really think ill of her getting too old to handle the load. She used to bring home some 4-5 moles, field mice and/or voles per day, sometimes more. That was just the ones she brought to us. I know she ate a few a day because she used to leave heads and guts all over my porch. YUCK!

Once we counted 8 moles she brought to us. She was good! She did that all summer long, too! You know how many that adds up to being? Even with our relatively short summer season, 500 per summer. We’ve had her a good 15 years. That would be 7,500 critters she did away with for me. Blimey! I can’t complain, can I? Zebrina did great, the little killer! If only her offspring were as good, then I'd be all set...but they are not. I need another Zebrina!