Archive for December, 2010

Hello? Tink, tink, tink — anybody out there? Activity in blog-land is at a near standstill and we feel like we’ve been talking to ourselves the past couple of weeks. Of course everyone is busy with the holidays, but still…it’s a little lonely in here.

We thought we’d share a bit about the past gardening season — successes and failures, plants or plant combos that excited us. This kind of review is very helpful for planning for next year’s garden.

Mary Beth: This was my first growing season back in Colorado after 5 years on Block Island. I enjoyed reconnecting with my poor, neglected garden.

My vegetable garden was mostly successful with lettuce, strawberries, beets, herbs, tomatillos, and radishes all doing well. The exceptions were kale, chard and squash, which grew to two inches and then, for reasons unknown, stopped. In spite of that little glitch, I was so pleased with how well the vegetable garden did that I put in more beds with about twice the amount of room for veggies this coming season. I also had great success with the potted vegetables (tomatoes and peppers) that I grew on the deck.

I noticed that our Colorado garden had a lot of pinks and blues. So to remedy this I bought some plants in different colors towards the end of the season. I also divided and moved many plants into new and existing beds this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will all come together.

Plant combos I can’t wait to see when they fill in: new bareroot Basye’s Purple rose from the Rose Emporium planted next to the Iceberg climbing rose. The orange butterfly weed combined with Jupiter’s Beard. The one flower the butterfly weed had in the fall looked amazing with the Jupiter’s Beard, very hot color combo. Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise’ combined with Russian Sage and a soft pink rosa rugosa and miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ that I placed in a new bed next to the pond. This coming season I plan on adding more white, silver and flowing grasses to all the beds.

Barbara: I’m still fighting the idea that I have a shade garden and am frustrated that the low light prevents me from growing any vegetable but lettuce. Still my tomato jealousy was at an all-time low this year because all the gardeners in this coastal region of Southern California had a less-than-ideal tomato season. The weather was too cool and overcast for these sun- and heat-loving plants.

I did find a bit of sun in which to plant blood butterfly weed, Asclepias curassavica, (similar to the one MB planted) with Mexican sage. It looked great. Soon I’ll move them even closer because if I can get them to intertwine a bit I think it would look even better. These are also plants that hummingbirds, and of course butterflies, love. We’re always thinking about the birds and the beneficial insects as we plant.

The coffeeberry — Rhamnus californica ‘Eve Case’ — I planted this spring is doing very well. It’s a handsome plant with large cranberry-to-deep-purple berries (for the birds) and grey-green leaves. I want to get a couple more.

In the next few weeks I’m going to start moving plants around. I’ll give a few of them a second chance in different locations. And I’ll “shovel prune” the ones that didn’t perform.

In my clients’ gardens I had great success with giant blue scabiosa. I just planted Convolvulus cneorum ‘Snow Angel’ in another’s garden. (Click here for a “beauty shot.”) I hope it does well because I’m in love with its sweet white flower and silvery, soft grey leaves.

As we get ready to celebrate a brand new year, we’re looking forward to the growing season ahead of us and to sharing our experiences with all of you. Thanks for coming to visit. We appreciate each and every one of you!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

Barbara & Mary Beth


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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Have you hit the wall yet? Stuck picking out those last few Christmas presents, or need a good idea for a host/hostess gift? Get yourself down to your local nursery and finish off your gift list with a selection of indoor plants. Not only will they dress up your recipient’s digs, but these hard-working plants will also clean that stuffy, polluted winter air in their home or office.

Here’s a list of chemicals that commonly pollute indoor environments and some of the plants that will remove them. We’ve also added links to images of the plants so you know what to look for.

Benzene — is found in tobacco smoke, petroleum products, synthetic fibers, plastics, dyes, inks, and rubber products.

Formaldehyde — fumes can come from carpeting, furniture, paper products, foam insulation, plywood, and particle board.

Trichloroethylene — is in adhesives, dry cleaning fluid, dyes, inks, lacquers, paints, and varnishes.

As you can see, some of these plants will filter more than one chemical. Another good plant to have around is the Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria). This impossible-to-kill plant is great to have in the bedroom as it converts CO2 to oxygen at night. How convenient is that? You breath out CO2 all night long and this plant takes it in and gives you back oxygen?!

Indoor plants please the eye, create a sense of calm, and make our living/working spaces healthier. What other gift can make those claims? Just be sure they go in the right space (check the plant tags for light and water requirements), dust their leaves regularly, give them a shower every so often, and everyone will be breathing easier.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Barbara & Mary Beth



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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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Mary Beth: Brazen, bold and more than a little scary! The deer in our neighborhood think they’re in charge and they’re making sure we know it.

The first incident involved one of the herd and my dog, Sage. I was on the phone with Barbara a couple of weeks ago when I heard a huge ruckus outside. Screaming “I’ll call you back!”, I dropped the phone and ran out to protect my maniac dog from an angry buck, and from herself. He was getting ready to ram her as I called her to come up to the porch. Amazingly, she disengaged and came to me. Thank goodness we spent all that time training her! But what I’d really like to know is why on earth she thought she could challenge this creature which is at least four times her size?!

The deer pictured above was in my yard when I pulled in the driveway a couple of days ago. Sage and Kea lost it and I thought they were going right through the window. To my amazement the deer approached the car and moved towards me every time I opened the door and tried to step out. I finally gave up and figured I’d make the best of it by taking a few pictures. By the third shot she was out of there. I’d love to have some insight into her thought process.

What I do know is that the herd frequents my garden (along with the raccoons who have been noisily raiding my crabapple tree every night for at least a week) because I have many delicious goodies that they like to snack on. If I’m going to have anything left to garden in the spring, I’m going to have to mix up a huge vat of my deer spray.

I’ve posted this recipe before, but it’s clearly time for a refresher. This stuff is really stinky, but definitely worth the trouble.

Deer Repellant Spray Recipe:

  • 4 raw eggs
  • 1 tablespoon or more of hot sauce, the hotter the better
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic juice or garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper
  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender with a quart of water. It helps to strain it before putting it into your sprayer because it will clog it, which is really annoying
  2. Pour in a gallon sprayer, add more water to top it off to a gallon and let it sit out of the sun for a couple of days so it gets good and smelly
  3. Spray your plants with a fine mist to coat all the foliage (and flowers)
  4. Respray new growth and after rain or snow

It’s a good idea to switch up the recipe from time to time, because deer will get used to the spray after a while and it won’t be as effective. Add things like a few drops of clove oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, or 1 cup of milk, etc. to change the smell and taste a little. I’ve even added a sliver of Irish Springs soap to my batches and it seems to work really well. I find that the deer may take a bite here and there, but after tasting the spray they move on.

Barbara: I know a lot of you are fans of our photography. One of Mary Beth’s photos was selected by the National Geographic to appear in its 2010 Photo Contest! So please show MB a little love and vote for this gorgeous photo. Today is the last day for voting.

Thanks much!

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California

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