I'm so busy writing about unicorns, dinosaurs, and why manhole covers are round that I haven't added a brief and awesome bio to my Contently portfolio yet. I should absolutely do so now!
My neighbor, we call him "Farmer Mel," does something I find baffling. He practices serious delayed gratification. Throughout the summer and into fall, he freezes about 50 quarts of homegrown, luscious, sweet, red, ripe raspberries. He, his wife, grown kids and grandkids enjoy them all winter.
Welcome friends, neighbors, dog lovers, artists, birders, musicians, volunteers of all ages and native plants (yes, plants) to the award-winning High School Park. Begone invaders- pesky, alien, invasive plants that ruin the party and take so much time (decades) and effort to remove.
Though we couldn't plant a fig tree outdoors with winter coming, we certainly can buy one to grow indoors then plant outside in the spring. With global climate change and the USDA Planting Zone adjustments, some fig varieties will thrive where before they'd likely have died in temperatures below 10 F.
Do you enjoy gardening among refreshing scents? Fascinating spring flowers? Plants with rounded, lobed, semi-evergreen leaves that turn orange-red-copper in the autumn? Do you want an easy care, four-season perennial that spreads by rhizomes?
We gardeners walk hand-in-hand with Nature. Holiday gift giving and sustainability can go hand-in-hand too. So many clever ways to recycle, aka "repurpose"- sweaters and bags made from plastic bags, patio furniture fashioned from recycled milk jugs, Olsenhaus Eco Chic Vegan shoes created from discarded TV screen microfiber (www.olsenhaus.com).
Yes, there is a no-mow lawn. And there are many handsome grasses that show well with once-, twice-, or thrice-a-year mowings. Plant clumps of ground-hugging dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) and you'll not need to clip that area again.
What is that pink cloud hugging the ground? A sweep of pink muhly or pink hair grass swaying in the breeze is irresistible. Solo or en masse, pink muhly (Mulenbergia capillaris) is dramatic, drought-resistant and easy to grow. Many consider it the most highly ornamental of the muhly grasses.
No, this broadleaf evergreen shrub is not a holly. On first glance, Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) is easy to mistake for an English holly. Its boldly distinctive form and four-season show in the shade set it apart though.
Roses in winter? That's what people think when they see gorgeous, richly colorful, winter-blooming camellias. The U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., has been introducing "cold hardy" camellia hybrids with hope but also caution and no guarantee they'll thrive in USDA 6 or colder.
Creating and growing fascinating conifer combinations in containers is easy. "I definitely suggest them for people who don't want to be watering their pots all the time," says Mary Costello, owner of City Planter in Philadelphia. "Conifers are lower maintenance than annuals." With bigger root systems, they last longer between waterings.
Lawn care is experiencing a revolution at its roots. And 2012 is a watershed year, literally and figuratively. Garden center shelves will have few if any turf fertilizers with phosphorus (the P in NPK). Most commercially manufactured lawn care products will be completely free of phosphorus. Others will have less nitrogen (N) too.
I met Chinese woodland peony (Paeonia obovata ssp. obovata var. willmottiae), a come-hither autumn siren, in the woodlands of Chanticleer garden in Radnor. Her scarlet sterile seeds in split seedpods beckoned full attention in an otherwise green textural setting with some pastel blooms.
We all rake leaves in the fall, but this year, resist the urge to bag and dispose of these gifts from nature. Autumn foliage adds nitrogen and phosphorous to the soil, provides food for soil microbes and increases the soil's tilth and moisture retention.