How to attract butterflies to your garden:

attract butterflies gardening tips

Butterflies, like birds, are attracted to colourful plants that produce the food they eat at various stages of their lives.

attract butterfliesTo attract butterflies into your garden, you need to support these little critters at every stage of their life cycle. It’s a very worthy goal. Not only will you have the pleasure of watching them flutter around your garden, you’ll also be providing a valuable service. Creating a habitat for butterflies means encouraging some of the most effective pollinators.

At the recent 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show, the ‘Butterflies Live’ exhibition made guests aware that butterfly populations have decreased by 90% over the past few years. Because butterflies are important pollinators, like bees, this can seriously impact the production of fruit and vegetables.

What plants will attract butterflies?

The answer will vary depending on the stage of the butterfly lifecycle. As butterflies hatch from eggs, you will need plants on which the tiny caterpillars can feed. The trouble is that they have voracious appetites and can strip plants of their leaves!

During this stage, the caterpillar will undergo several skin moults. Eventually the final stage before becoming a butterfly is the chrysalis stage, when the caterpillar becomes a pupa hidden under the protective walls of an outer shell or chrysalis.

While hiding away, the caterpillar is undergoing a metamorphasis where they develop their wings and their body structure changes to the body of a butterfly. Once the butterfly is fully formed, it then breaks out of the chrysalis and the wings slowly unfurl and dry out until it is ready to take flight.

attract butterfliesOnce the butterfly begins to fly it goes in search of food. Only this time, it’s not leaves it needs. Butterflies feed on nectar of flowers, which is how they pick up the pollen and transport it to other plants which become pollinated.

The best way to attract butterflies is to use a combination of colour and nectar producing plants. As flowers produce nectar and flowers are usually colorful, this means planting lots of flowering plants.

Here’s a list of some of the plants which attract butterflies like magnets:

– asters
– sedum
– black eyed Susans
– azaleas
– butterfly bush
– bee balm
– impatiens
– marigolds
– verbena
– most fruit bearing flowers
– golden rod
– roses
– cone flower
– phlox
– viburnum

plus many more. Come in and chat with our horticulturalists who can advise you as to what will work best in your garden.

fall color mumsLike many little creatures, butterflies prefer warm, but not too hot, weather. They don’t like being rained on and need to take shelter to avoid their wings becoming waterlogged.

In your garden, create spaces by grouping plants, including shrubs, so that there is shelter when it rains or gets too hot and there is a place for the butterflies to rest overnight under leaves. Provide a nice flat rock that can warm up in the sun, allowing butterflies to sit resting with wings outstretched when the sun shines in early spring.

You can even create a pretty butterfly house in your garden where they can spend the winter in hibernation. Yes, butterflies hibernate! They do so at all stages of the life cycle, although they will more than likely choose a hibernation spot somewhere amongst the shrubs, in a log pile, or in any number of sheltered spots in your garden. Still, the butterfly house is a nice accessory in the landscape and if it is surrounded and sheltered by the plants they love, they may surprise you by adopting it!

Organic Pest Control Tips

eco friendly gardening tips

As the weather warms and things begin to grow, so does the pest problem. Many people don’t like using pesticides to control these infestations, so here are a few organic pest control tips from a survey done by Mother Earth News Organic Gardening.

Slugs:

organic pest control slugsOne of the most effective organic remedies to control slugs,  beetles, cut worms and other  bugs is to have a few ducks, chickens or geese waddling around the garden.  They love fat juicy slugs and enjoy nothing better than keeping your garden bug free.  Plus, they provide organic fertilizer while on the job and lay eggs which you can eat.

If you don’t fancy keeping geese or ducks, some other slug remedies include:

  • sprinkling crushed egg shells around the plants you want to protect
  • creating beer traps – apparently slugs love beer!
  • hand picking

Cutworms:

organic pest control cutwormAnother effective remedy for cutworms in seedlings is to use rigid collars made from cardboard tissue rolls or disposable drinking cups.  Planting out your seedlings later when they are bigger and stronger is also helpful.  Some people have found that by turning over the soil a few times prior to planting allows birds to pick off the various worms and bugs which are unearthed.

Aphids:

organic pest control aphidsMany plants such as roses attract aphids. Rather than immediately pruning infected areas and washing with insecticidal soap, try companion planting some herbs and flowers that attract predators that feast on aphids.

Sweet alyssum and other flowers such as calendula, borage, zinnias, cosmos and nasturtiums which all  attract hoverflies and ladybugs which feed on aphids.

Organic Give and Take:

In general, many organic gardeners are willing to put up with some ‘bad’ bugs for the sake of the ‘good’ bugs in the garden.  Some suggest planting more vegetables than you need in order to reap enough.  If you have excess it can always be donated.

Birds are a great form of pest control, so attracting bug eating birds into your garden by companion planting what attracts them as well as providing nesting areas and feeders appropriate to the specific birds you want to attract.

Soil Quality:

It’s a good thing to remember that the better the soil quality, the less problems you will have with pest infestations.  Regular mulching and organic fertilizing is recommended.  Regular crop rotation will also help discourage some pests.

Most common effective remedy for the majority of pests:

Handpicking.  While it’s tedious and tiring, this method is still one of the most earth friendly and effective of all methods.

The Power of Perennials.

When planning your garden, plan for the future.

It’s not just about this season, or even the next.  Many of us don’t have a lot of time to spend in the garden.  Full time employment, full time parenthood, home maintenance and ongoing chores mean we’re full time busy.  However, gardening is good for us and if you have a garden, it’s worthwhile making it a pleasure rather than just another chore.

Here are some ideas as to how you can put in the time, thought and energy once and reap the rewards for years to come:

Xeriscaping:

Plan your garden so that it doesn’t need a lot of watering and endless care.  Xeriscaping makes the most of plants that grow naturally in your environment, meaning that they’ll survive and thrive on a minimum of attention.  It’s not only eco-friendly, it’s human friendly too!  See more about xeriscaping here.

Permaculture:

Permaculture is becoming a popular way for ordinary people with ordinary gardens to try their hand at urban farming.  If you fancy the idea of growing your own food and having a more sustainable lifestyle, then this is a practical option.  Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables that are perennial rather than annual will help make permaculture an easy choice for those who like to plant once and reap twice, or three times or much more over subsequent years.

Choose Perennials rather than Annuals:

lavender is a drought tolerant plantAnnuals can be very pretty and brighten up the landscape immensely.  But plants that grow all year long, or die off in Winter only to re-emerge in Spring are a lot more productive. If you want to create an ongoing crop year after year, consider planting things such as:

Berries: raspberry, blueberry and some strawberry varieties will produce crops of fruit for years.

Rhubarb will keep on growing allowing you to harvest stalks almost forever!

perennial rhubarbFruit trees will also be a source of ongoing crops for years.  Apples, pears, cherries and plums are popular in this area.

Vegetables:  there are a few vegetables that will produce ongoing harvests.  Examples are perennial onions, asparagus, artichokes and chives.

Perennial Chives

Many herbs are perennial.  Examples are lavender, rosemary, thyme, peppermint, mint, majoram, curry plant, oregano and sage.  Many of these are quite drought tolerant  as well.  Learn how to spot a drought tolerant plant here.

For advice on how to create your own waterwise and productive garden, please feel free to visit with our professional horticulturalists in the nursery.

 

New In Store for Spring:

Michel Design Works INto the Woods

Along with all the beautiful Spring flowers arriving in the nursery, we have some equally beautiful and fragrant items arriving in the store.

 

Anticipate Spring  with these lovely soaps, lotions and candles.  You don’t have to wait for warmer weather, you can enjoy them right now.

We’ve just received new shipments from Mistral:

mistral for springmistral for springAs well as new shipment from Michel Design Works:

michel design works for spring… and it’s not just soaps, lotions and candles!  You’ll find an array of exclusive home decor elements and ideas in store as well.  Add some European panache to your home and lifestyle… whether you dream of an English country garden or a French gite in Provence, you’ll find inspiration here!

It’s Time to Start Thinking ‘Spring’!

Spring primulas

It’s time to start thinking ‘Spring’ and we have just the right plants to brighten up your garden

 

Check out these cheerful Primulas:

Spring primulasand how about these potted Daffodils?

spring potted daffodils
not to mention these gorgeous Hellebores

spring helleboresThings are beginning to warm up and it’s time to get your garden prepared for this wonderful season. Click here for a few tips to help you get started.

We have what you need to create your dream landscape. Whether you prefer to plant from our potted items or start with a seed, you’ll find everything from flowers, to shrubs, to herbs, annuals and perennials as well as a good range of West Coast and GMO free seeds.

non gmo seedsCome in and spend some time in the nursery and the store.  We’ll help you with advice, products and plants… everything you need to get off to a successful Spring garden!

spring is almost here

Brambles Bistro Recipe: Carrot Patch Carrot Cake

carrot-cake

Brambles Bistro Recipe: Carrot Patch Carrot Cake

carrot-cake

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
Sift together sugar,flour,soda,salt and cinnamon.  Stir in oil.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add carrots, nuts and vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Pour into a floured and greased 13 x 9 x2-inch cake pan.   Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Do not overtake.  Cool in pan.  Spread with cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup melted butter
1  8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1-pound bag confectioners sugar

Combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla, mixing well.  Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating until smooth.  Spread on cooled cake.   Enjoy

Proper Growth of Trees – How to Plant and Maintain Trees in a Nursery Bed

planting trees

Do you love the cool breeze that trees offer?

Also, don’t forget that spot where you like to sit and read or think in its soothing shade. That purified air that you feel and breathe as you walk along a tree-lined path. If you do enjoy the existence of trees and their many benefits, you will need to learn how to plant and maintain trees from their young age in the nursery bed.

planting trees

A walking path, full of grown trees.

Planting and maintaining trees is not as simple as it looks. There are steps to consider to ensure you do it in the best way possible.

planting treesTo save nature, always plant a tree.

Steps on Planting a Tree

1. Select and mark the planting location
You should choose a spot that is preferably 20 feet from any building premises or even other trees to make sure the tree has enough space for proper growth of the roots as well as the canopy. Don’t forget to mark the spot you have chosen either by placing a stake into the ground or spraying with paint.

2. Check the measurements of the root ball
Why do I need to measure the root ball? It’s to expose the root flare. Also, the height of the root ball determines the depth of the hole to plant the tree. To expose the root flare, you need to remove the burlap and the soil around the root ball.

3. Dig the hole
make sure the hole is big enough to accommodate the root ball. Preferably it should be at least twice the size of the root ball. You can use a shovel, which you can purchase at any garden store to dig the hole.

4. Place the tree in the hole
It’s time for you to plant the tree. Gently put the tree in the hole. You need to make sure the hole is not too shallow or too deep. Place it in such a way that the roots are not exposed and ensure the crown is above the ground. You can also position the tree in the direction you want it to face. At this stage, remove the burlap and any wire basket around the root ball.

5. Refill the hole
It’s advisable to use the same quantity of soil you dug out from the hole. You can decide to mix the soil with compost or using superphosphate (not preferred since most commercial fertilizers can over-boost the growing tree and make it thrive improperly) to provide the necessary nutrients for the tree’s growth. Make sure the root flare is not exposed. You can mix the soil using a shovel and leave enough space for the roots to grow. Also, water just a little

6. Staking
To assist the tree to grow upright, you can use stakes but only for the first year. It helps in the establishment of roots as it protects the tree from coming into direct contact with animals or humans.

planting treesA beautiful canopy formed by trees, a great view indeed.

Maintaining the Trees

1. Watering
After planting the tree, it’s time for you to do the watering. You can choose to water regularly for at least two years or use drip irrigation. Preferably you can do watering every day up to the sixth week, to ensure that the best establishment of the roots is achieved.

2. Mulching
You can use wood chips, leaf litter, or pine bark as mulch. It helps the tree by keeping a proper moisture in as well as getting rid of any growing weeds. It also protects the tree from lawnmowers and trampling. Use organic mulch since while decomposing they add nutrients to the soil. Do you want to plant grass? You can also check on how to keep birds from eating grass seeds by using the grown trees leaves as mulch.

3. Pruning
It helps remove any dead, broken and diseased branches from the tree. Prune gently to avoid any damage to the healthy parts. You can use a gardening shear or a knife to do the work. If the tree is okay, then there is no need of pruning.

planting treesTrees are the primary source of all fruits.

Final Thoughts
Now you can grow that seedling at the backyard of your home with the simple steps we just discussed. Also, grow grass in your backyard to make it a perfect place for nights out. Still, you ought to learn about how to use best lawn sprinklers to water the lawn. You should plant trees since they are more beneficial to you in many ways.

planting treesHi there! I’m Lucy – founder of GardenAmbition.com and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

Garden Tips for End of February

zucchini-soup

It has been an exceptionally cold and snowy winter, but Spring is coming and it’s time to start preparing the garden.

garden tips

Although things are somewhat warmer now, the ground can still be pretty cold and hard.  Here are a few late Winter / early Spring garden tips to help it warm up:

 

  • Warm the soil by covering your beds with black plastic.  This will help capture warmth from the sun transmitting it into the ground underneath.  An added bonus is that it will help suppress weed growth.
  • Prepare raised beds or furrows to encourage the soil to drain away the abundant water that has accumulated during the winter. Raising areas you wish to plant also allows the sun greater access and allows the raised area to warm quicker than the surrounding areas.
  • Consider creating a cloche to create a warmer micro-climate that will allow you to plant earlier and reap later.  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘cloche’, you’ve nonetheless probably seen them around.  They’re simply a low profile plastic tunnel  formed by making a frame raised above the bed high enough to allow your plants to grow, then covering this frame with clear plastic.
  • If your beds are near or under trees or shrubs, prune them to allow more sunlight to fall on the bed.

Here are a few of the seeds you can plant outdoors at this time of year:

  • Peas
  • Fava Beans
  • Garlic
  • Cool weather salad greens
  • Spinach
  • Leafy Asian Greens
  • Radishes
  • Onions

You can also plant perennials such as:

  • bare root fruit trees and bushes

  • Cane fruits
  • Rhubarb crowns
  • Asparagus crowns
  • Horse Radish roots

Now is also the time to prune your fruit trees and spray them with dormant oil.

If you haven’t yet started seeds indoors that can’t be planted outdoors just yet, it’s a great time to get them going.  There are quite a few vegetables you can start indoors now for later transplanting.  These would include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kholrabi
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes

It’s also time to clean up any winter debri and dead leaves.  Be sure to check that your shrubs and beds are still nicely covered with mulch.  If not, you’ll want to get that done as well.  Mulch helps protect roots in winter from the cold and in summer from excessive moisture loss.  It helps remediate your soil as well.  If tends to be clay like and retain too much water, it will help improve drainage.  If it is sandy and drains too quickly, mulch will help retain water.  It’s an amazing addition to your garden with multiple benefit.

Come in now to find out what seeds, seedlings and plants we have coming in so that you can plan for a spectacular Spring and Summer garden.  Novices welcome!  We have friendly professional horticulturalists who will be glad to help you with advice and practical know how!

Security in Seed Diversity

heritage vegetables

Many of us rarely spare a thought for the vegetables and fruit we eat.

We don’t ever wonder if the many crops that sustain our lives are under threat through shrinking seed diversity.

If the topic is ever mentioned, the first thought that usually comes to mind is ‘climate change’.  However, there’s another serious threat many of us have never heard of: the shrinking number of seed varieties available to farmers.  While some of this might be due to climate change over the past century, there’s no doubt that it’s also a result of corporate seed management.

In the pursuit of aesthetic perfection, lower production costs, longer shelf life and the profitability of farmers having to buy new sowing seed each season, many of the seed varieties known to previous generations have disappeared. A 1983 U.S. study on crop diversity concluded that 93% of fruit and vegetable varieties have disappeared since 1903… a space of just 80 years.

Concern has sparked a huge amount of interest in so-called ‘heritage seeds’, their propagation  and protection. Heritage seeds are varieties which have all but become extinct. You might have seen pictures of exotically coloured and formed vegetables that look quite different to those we buy from our local grocery store? Chances are they’re grown from this type of seed.

Where do these ‘lost’ seeds come from?

Fortunately for us and our children, concerned citizens and agriculturalists recognized the danger facing many of these threatened varieties and have been quietly squirreling away seeds in ‘seed banks’ for decades.  Probably the best known of these seed banks is the ‘Doomsday Vault’, deep in a frozen mountain,below the permafrost in Norway’s Svalbard, north of the Arctic circle.

This is not the only seed bank, or seed library. There are many throughout the world – at last count 1,750. The difference between the Doomsday Vault and the others is that most are regional, collecting and preserving seeds only from their own area.  The Doomsday Vault collects seed from all over the world.  Gary Fowler, co-founder of the Doomsday Vault describes it as a type of insurance policy for the world.

Many urban farmers and gardening hobbyists are making a point of not only growing organic produce for their own use, but also cultivating heritage varieties which otherwise would be lost to the world.  Growing your own food is extremely rewarding. Growing your own vintage fruits and vegetables takes the experience to a new level of sustainability.

More reading:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/05/22/seeds-of-time-documentary

http://www.seedsoftimemovie.com/trailer

http://www.takepart.com/photos/seed-catalogs-2015/adaptive-seeds

http://www.seedlibrarymap.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom_plant

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-visit-to-the-doomsday-vault/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-14/bayer-monsanto-confront-global-review-as-farmer-options-shrink

http://www.alternet.org/environment/monsanto-was-put-trial-ecocide-hague-heres-what-happened

 

6 Of The Quickest Growing Vegetables

Flavors of Fall Hands On Cooking Classes

When you first decide to grow your own vegetables it’s always nice to see the fruits of your labour as quickly as possible, especially if you’re gardening with kids.

 

Here are some choices for vegetables that have shorter growing times:

arugula quickest growing vegetablesArugula: this is a fast growing plant wit a slightly peppery taste that’s used primarily in salads and it’s great as a pizza topping or alternative to basil pesto.  It takes less than 4 weeks for the leaves to be large enough to harvest. Best of all, it’s a cool season plant so it’s ideal for spring and fall and it can be grown in a container on your kitchen windowsill from which you can harvest leaves on an ongoing basis!

radish quickest growing vegetablesRadishes: these grow even faster and can be harvested in about 3 weeks from the time seeds are planted.  Radishes are also a good salad ingredient.  They enjoy cooler weather and you can either grow them indoors or start from seeds outside in a protected area.  Sowing radish seeds every 10 to 14 days will provide an ongoing crop.

turnips quickest growing vegetablesTurnips: another ‘no-brainer’ if you want an easy-to-grow, quick harvest which will be ready in just a few weeks.  Turnips are great in stews, soups and roasted.  You can eat both the leaves (which are rich in calcium) and the turnips themselves (which are rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin C).  They’re temperature tolerant though they prefer a cool garden, so you can grow these for the full growing season.

Mesclun Mix quickest growing vegetablesMesclun Mixes: this is a mix of salad greens that are easily grown, even in containers indoors, and are ready for harvest quickly and on an ongoing basis. By planting new seeds every 10 to 14 days, you’ll never run out of lovely, fresh salad greens!

 

 

kale quickest growing vegetablesKale: is a great salad ingredient and can be used in a variety of ways.  Kale leaves roasted in the oven make fabulous healthy snacks and are a great alternative to potato chips.  They enjoy cool weather and moist conditions and can be harvested quickly and for a lengthy period of time if you harvest the outside leaves.

 

broccoli raab quickest growing vegetablesItalian Broccoli: also known as Broccoli Raab has edible leaves, buds and stems.  It’s used quite a lot in Italian cuisine and has a slightly bitter flavour. It’s best to harvest the buds right away before they flower and to harvest leaves and stems when young and tender. Although it resembles broccoli in appearance, it’s actually related to turnips!  It’s another cool season vegetable though you can grow it longer by succession planting.  Some varieties will be ready for harvest in as little as 40 days with others maturing at 60 and 90 days.  You can plant seed directly in the garden.

These are just a few of the choices – feel free to come in and see what we have in stock.  Varieties may vary depending on what’s in season and available.