Anytime you're setting up an outdoor space, make sure you consider natural shade sources to help keep the space cool. Taking space-planning cues from its central planting bed, the courtyard offers plenty of shade thanks to its planted tree.
Put a kid-friendly spin on tree decor with ornaments made from stacked buttons. Add thread to a needle and knot the end, then slide an assortment of small neutral-toned buttons onto the thread as a tree base. Gradually build a tree silhouette with an assortment of large buttons added along the bottom, medium buttons in the center and smaller buttons near the top. For a tree topper effect, add a small star decoration on the top with looped string as a hanger.
Rabbits, voles and field mice nibble bark along the base of shrubs and young trees. Their handiwork is especially difficult to detect on brushy shrubs that give them cover while they chew. Protect the trunks of woody plants by encircling them with commercial tree guards or homemade versions crafted from corrugated drainage pipe (shown), hardware cloth or small mesh poultry wire.
The Oatlands gardens in Leesburg, Virginia are distinguished by unusual and old-growth trees including gingko, blue atlas cedar, black walnut, European larch, shagbark hickory, horse chesnut, littleleaf linden, Japanese zelkova and osage orange, among many others.
Saturated soil from frequent rains coupled with high winds can result in windthrow, where strong winds literally push a tree over. Researchers have discovered that in most cases of windthrow, the trees had damaged root systems. Usually the downward growing roots were damaged, so the tree wasn’t anchored in the ground. Take care when digging around trees.
A chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) is a large plant, not starting to flower until it reaches 5 to 7 feet tall. It craves warmth (temps above 60 F) and bright light. Sit it outdoors for summer to encourage flowering. Blooms typically form spring through fall, followed by a large pod-like fruit. The fruit starts green and ripens to golden yellow. Inside the fruit are the chocolate beans, which must be fermented and dried before use.
Create tabletop trees from newspaper and cardboard boxes. To make these, you’ll need discarded cardboard, a utility knife, scissors, hot glue sticks and glue gun. Cut the cardboard boxes down into flat sheets and then roll each sheet into a conical. Next, cut the uneven cardboard along the bottom of the conical and keep both ends of the cardboard fastened together with hot glue. Next, cut newspaper into 4-inch strips and then fray the newspaper with scissors. Wrap each conical with the layers of frayed newspaper and then secure them in place with hot glue.
Sharing plants can save them from extinction, as in the case of the beautiful native Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha), which is now widely grown by gardeners only because its seeds were collected in the 1700s by early American plant explorers – before the plant vanished forever from its native habitat.