My grandmother’s garden lit up late every afternoon and through the night with fragrant four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalopa), which Thomas Jefferson grew and called “the marvel of Peru.” Its big seeds are easy to save, and in the late afternoon hummingbirds gorge on them, followed by giant hovering sphinx moths at night.
This little tent can go anywhere! We built this small-scale tent frame with simple garden trellis cut to the desired size. Connect the two pieces at the top with a couple of hinges to create an A-frame. Drape a colorful flat sheet or table cloth over the frame, then when it’s time to pack up camp, just fold it up for easy storage.
Garden or shelling peas are super easy to grow and bring a lot of nutrition to the dinner table. Peas contain nearly every vitamin and mineral you need and are a low glycemic index veggie, helping to stabilize blood glucose. Packed with fiber, they also make you feel full longer. The trickiest part of growing garden peas is knowing when to harvest. Pods should be full and firm to the touch, which is a clue the peas are fully formed. If the pod is soft and the sides press in easily, the peas haven’t yet filled out. This variety is ‘Feisty,’ which is a tendril or afila type of pea. The vines produce more tendrils than leaves. With fewer leaves, pods are easy to spot and pick. The tendrils are edible and make a beautiful garnish or salad green.
Japanese beetles invade gardens and planting beds in early summer, feasting on choice crops like roses, marigolds, raspberries and a host of other plants.
Easy Solution: When you spy Japanese beetles, create a soapy solution (dish soap works well) in a container. Hold the container beneath the beetles and gently knock them into the suds. They’ll quickly drown.
Usually, bathrooms are a study in functional furnishings and neutral color palettes. But there is an easy way to liven up the landscape of your powder room without a big investment. Add a single accessory to take the color palette in a new and exciting direction. For this bathroom a bright shades enters with the addition of this Chinese garden stool painted in a stunning citron hue.
Onions were an important food for the Pilgrims because they were easy to grow and stored well. In Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife, first published in 1615, a recipe for turkey gravy recommends including a “good store of onions.” This onion, ‘Pumba,’ is actually a great storage onion, but only recommended for Southern gardeners because it is a short day type.
Powdery mildew makes garden plants unsightly, and it limits a plant’s ability to nourish itself and flower or produce fruit. Plants like bee balm, roses, squash and cosmos are often infected with powdery mildew.
Easy Solution: Spray plants with a home brew fungicide—you can find many recipes online. A favorite is 1 tablespoon baking soda and 2.5 tablespoons horticultural oil in 1 gallon of water. Spray plants weekly to protect new growth.
This holly is the result of a cross between an English and Chinese holly. Leaves are glossy, and many gardeners use plants as a privacy screen. Flowers are easy to miss, but give rise to eye-catching berries. Plants grow 15 to 20 feet tall and up to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 6 to 9. Botanical name: Ilex x ‘Nellie R. Stevens’
Discover the beauty of a bush clematis—Clematis recta. This clematis grows like a perennial, dying back to the ground each year when hard freezes arrive. White, fragrant flowers appear in late spring to early summer, followed by more blooms later in the year. In the garden, grow Clematis recta like a shrub, although stems tend to tumble over without some kind of support. Many gardeners grow this pretty clematis beside taller perennials that give it a natural, easy support. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 to 9 inches above a pair of strong, healthy buds. Vines grow 2 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Cheerful and bright, marigolds make an easy-to-grow addition to any garden plan—in pots or planting beds. These perky annuals bring terrific color all season long. What you might not know is that marigolds pack a punch to many insects, including mosquitoes, thanks to chemical insecticides they release. That’s why marigolds have such a strong odor when you touch them. Both flowers and leaves release the chemicals, but blossoms deliver the strongest punch. Other insects that marigolds deter include aphid, whitefly, thrips, tomato hornworm, Mexican bean beetle and squash bug. Tuck marigolds into pots on the patio to make summer evenings less buggy. Or use them in the vegetable garden to help repel pests.
Consider lava rock as a mulch in xeriscape gardens or around shrubs, succulents or other plantings that won’t change much over time. This type of rock is lightweight compared to traditional stone mulch, which makes it easier to haul and handle without professional help. Individual rock edges tend to be sharp. Stone mulch doesn’t ever break down or disappear—it’s a permanent addition to the landscape. Place it on a layer of landscape fabric to prevent rocks from sinking into soil.
Fall sedums bring strong multi-season interest to garden beds. Flowers shift colors as they develop from buds to open blooms. Faded flower clusters add color to winter scenery, too. Easy-growing sedum is rabbit resistant and a terrific pollinator plant, attracting butterflies and all kinds of bees. Site in full sun in well-drained soil. Drought tolerant plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Earwigs inspire terror with those giant pincer claws on their backside. Those claws are used to grasp prey, including slugs, aphids and insect larvae. They’re also used to fend off predators. Earwigs fill two roles in the garden. On the positive side, they scavenge and consume decaying organic matter and eat other plant pests. But when populations are high, they can damage desirable plants by feeding on the soft tissue of seedlings, new shoots and flower petals. One easy way to deter earwigs is placing rolled up newspapers around the garden as traps. The earwigs crawl inside, and you can shake them into a bucket of soapy water. Diatomaceous earth also works against earwigs. Sprinkle it at the base of plants, on earwig clusters or anywhere earwig populations are high.
For outstanding fall color, include easy-growing ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’) in your garden. Low-maintenance and deer-resistant, goldenrod unfurls tiny, bright yellow blooms on horizontal branches that add color from late summer well into fall. This is a super pollinator plant, attracting all kinds of bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. Flowers make a great addition to bouquets. If you’re an allergy sufferer, please note that goldenrod doesn’t cause hayfever. Plants grow 30 to 36 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
An unspoken badge of honor always goes to the gardener with the earliest tomato. Technology makes getting that first tomato even easier, thanks to products like this pop-up tomato accelerator. It uses greenhouse covering material to create a growing environment that surrounds seedlings with warm air, which keeps plants cozy on cool spring nights. This means you can tuck tomatoes into soil as soon as it warms up, even though air temps might still be on the chilly side. Using individual mini greenhouses accelerates plant growth, allowing you to pick fresh tomatoes up to a few weeks sooner than from plants grown without the hothouse effect.
Perennial weeds are tricky garden invaders because they can sprout from seeds, root pieces and stems. Common perennial weeds include tree of heaven, Canada thistle, dock and dandelion.
Easy Solution: Learn to identify weed seedlings. As soon as you spot a perennial weed, get on your hands and knees and dig it out. This broadleaf dock sinks a deep taproot quickly. Getting all of it out of soil is the key to keeping this perennial weed from coming back.
Pump up the color in your late summer to fall garden with the stunning blooms of ‘Mars Madness’ hibiscus. Flowers open from midsummer through early fall, unfurling to a whopping 6 to 8 inches wide—as big as a dinner plate! Leaves serve copper highlights and a deer-resistant constitution. Perennial hibiscus are easy to grow, requiring little care in exchange for their flower power. Plants grow to shrub size, reaching 4 to 4.5 feet tall by 6 to 6.5 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Composting is a fantastic thing to do, both to reduce waste and to improve your garden. It’s not always super-convenient, though, and it can be … unattractive in the kitchen. The Blanco Solon comes to the rescue for both issues, however. This stainless steel system can be inset into a countertop and has a cover to obscure the cuttings waiting to be relocated to your outdoor location. It saves space, makes composting easier and looks like something that belongs in a luxury kitchen.