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Spring Makeover- Indoor Fairy Garden

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The indoor fairy garden got a recent update… complete with a shimmery blue pool and a very violet African Violet. Lala and I were going for magical.

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We traded the stone path for little round wood discs and refreshed the design with some new plants including a Fire Fold Leaf Sedum (front left), a Dwarf Brush Cherry (the tree-like plant in the back) and Elfin Thyme (right front). The new violet is called SaintPaulia.

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I love how long African Violets stay in bloom!

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The planter makes a sweet centerpiece and lasts easily through spring and summer!

Indoors or out-  if you’ve never made one you should try it! Many garden centers are now carrying miniature plants and items for fairy gardens. I find them enchanting. Here is a link to our outdoor fairy garden project and the indoor garden decked out for the winter/holiday season.




Overwintering Rosemary Topiaries

Rosemary Topiary

After selling topiaries at my shows for a number of years I’ve learned something… people are nervous about purchasing Rosemary plants for indoor use. And I’ve also learned… there is no reason to be! With a south facing exposure and a little attention you can have fresh rosemary on your windowsill all year long even in colder growing zones. I kid you not. It’s -12 wind chill here today. Eegads.

Shown above is one of a pair of rosemary standards that I brought home after the Devon Horse Show in May of 2013. The pair spent the summer planted in the potager providing garden structure as well as culinary deliciousness. This photo was taken soon after they were dug and potted up to bring indoors for the winter. I would recommend polyfoam or ceramic containers… terra cotta drys out much too quickly in a heated environment.

I LOVE the shape of these filled-out standards! They are gorgeous on either side of the fireplace. Generally they are kept in a south facing window with lots of natural light.

So, after some trial and error and a little “dried” rosemary over the years- here is my secret to overwintering Rosemary topiary.

  • Wait.
  • Soak with warm water.
  • Soak again.
  • Drain thoroughly.
  • Full sun.

Repeat.

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I know, right!? Wait to water them until their new growth starts to show signs of wilting. They are a Mediterranean herb and the soil will need to dry out but they WILL give you a sign of when to water. When you perceive the new growth start to droop take them and soak them with WARM water. They need to be watered deeply, twice, drained and then given full sun.

I will admit- Rosemary is not terribly forgiving and you DO have to pay attention to them. But it is so worth it. The only time that I have ever killed (gasp!) a plant (I think) was when I put it in a place that I was not constantly buzzing in and out of. They all tell you when they are ready to be watered.

RIP my sweet bonzi ficus- though you looked so Zen by the bath tub I could not support your daily watering needs. If only you could have fit on the window sill in the kitchen- because we all know those dishes are a never-ending daily nirvana.

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Do you have a south facing window in a place that you frequent? A perfect place for a Rosemary topiary! Looking for a yummy recipe to put those trimmings to use? Look no further! Tuscan Herb Seasoning one of my FAVORITE ways to use fresh Rosemary- perfect for meats and soups.

Do you have a favorite recipe that includes fresh Rosemary? Please share!

 




Winter Sowing

I did not come up with this idea… I wish I could take credit for it. I learned about it from Trudy in the Winter Sowing forum on GardenWeb a number of years ago and have since grown hundreds of plants using this method. I thought it would be fun to show how LaLa and I do it. This post will be linked to other post that I will be doing regarding gardening with children… so stay tuned for that!

First you get a milk carton and add your drainage holes.

Cut the carton in half leaving one side attached, then pet Gracie who is patiently waiting for a treat…

I find it easier to label them before the soil is added. I’ve tried numerous pens and markers but have found opaque paint pens to work the best to handle the elements outside without wearing off.

I usually fill the utility sink in the laundry room with potting soil if I will be filling numerous containers but today I only had 4 to fill and I thought this would be easier for LaLa.

People use various mixes to start their seeds. I don’t fuss over it too much. I normally use a regular potting soil (miraclegro) and add additional perlite to lighten the mix. It is not necessary to use seed starting mix although I do add it to my potting soil if I have it.

So… add your soil, add your perlite and get those little hands going! Children (and adults) love to get their hands in the dirt when there is 3 ft of snow on the ground! It gives me a little gardening fix to get me through the long winters in Upstate New York.

After your soil is mixed and moistened, then fill your carton.

I keep my seeds in an old wine box. For some reason I cannot find most of my perennial seeds so we’ll go with Delphinium, Oriental Poppies and Lupines.

Now sprinkle those seeds! If they are tiny like poppies, just gently pat them to make contact with the soil. You can plant as little as 1 per carton but I usually sow at least 6 or 8 seeds (even with large plants).  Once they get started they can be separated or planted out later. If your seeds are larger you can poke little holes to put them or just sprinkle more soil on the top once you are done sowing.

Gently water in your seeds. I water them numerous times… until the soil is completely soaked and draining from the bottom. Remember the top half of the carton gets put back on and they will use the water that you put in now as condensation as the mini greenhouses warm in the spring sun.

Watch your children when watering…  they can be very overzealous as we know!  You don’t want the water pooling up on the top and your seeds washing away down the sides of the carton. At this point I put them in the sink and let them drain.

I have found that using a hole punch on the top and bottom and provides a nice little way to thread a twisty tie to hold them shut. The last step is an important one. Tape your cartons around the middle. You want the air inside to warm as the sun shines on them. I use packing tape but duct tape works too. Don’t put the cap back on the carton.

After that… put those little darlings outside and forget about them until the weather starts to warm. When they are ready they will sprout.  Your children will enjoy peaking down into the hole to look for green sprouts! I promise.

My sweet LaLa. I’ve done this every year with the kids since they were old enough to stand on a chair without falling off. I didn’t realize until now that that was my condition. : )

 

 

For more information on Winter Sowing click here. The forum is full of information, encouragement and overall gardening joy but be prepared to hear alot of rejoicing about green babies, zone wars and container counts!




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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