Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Moon gardens are designed to feature plants that hold your interest at night: white flowers, plants with silver or green and white variegated foliage, night-blooming flowers, and fragrant plants. You can plant it in a container on the patio or somewhere in the garden. Night-blooming flowers such as moonflower (Ipomoea ), four-o'clocks, and angels' trumpets add their own unique qualities to the garden for children though because their fragrances attract night pollinators to the garden.
After your eyes adjust to the dark, the light colors and white nearly glow and many blooms appear to be almost floating because the green stems and leaves have faded into the darkness. Make sure to create a comfortable place to sit by your moon garden so you can enjoy the fragrance and be able to see all the visitors that come to see your new garden.
Here's how to get started:
For a three season moon garden, choose a variety of shrubs and perennials that flower at different times of the year. Fragrant shrubs like Judd or Korean Spice Viburnums or Carol Mackie Daphne brighten a moon garden in the spring. Clethra alternifolia (Summersweet) flower in July and August. Sweet Autumn Clematis and Cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty' bloom from late summer to fall. Add some white annuals, white flowering or fragrant perennials, and night-blooming flowers and you've got yourself a Moon Garden.
For a smaller space or in a container, try to choose several white, fragrant plants and at least one night-blooming variety.
- Night Blooming Favorites. Night bloomers include evening primrose, four o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), tropical night-blooming water lilies such as 'Texas Shell Pink' and 'Trudy Slocum', Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia arborea) and nightscented stock (Matthiola bicomis or M. incana).
- Fragrant Plants. The sweet, heavy scent of flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris or N. alata) is most evident at night; look for ones with white or lime green flowers. The late-summer flowers of night jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) have a wonderful fragrance. There are great fragrant hostas too like Fried Green Tomatoes, Guacamole, Summer Breeze, or Fragrant Bouquet. Try to limit the number of fragrant plants in one area of the garden though to avoid competing scents or try to plant ones with different bloom times.
- White flowers. Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana), Phlox p. 'David', 'Casa Blanca' Oriental Lily, bellflower (Campanula sp), Baby's Breath (Gypsophylla sp), or 'Gentle Shephard' Daylily.
- Variegated foliage. Look for plants with bright white variegation and great texture. You can create unusual effects with different types of variegation--whether it be a hosta or caladium in the shade garden or an ornamental grass in a sunny spot.
- Moon garden climbers. Climbing roses, moonflower (Ipomoea alba), or clematis varieties such as Henrii, Duchess of Edinburg, or Sweet Autumn (Clematis paniculata) add both fragrance and white blooms when trained to climb a trellis or pergola.
In April, we planted our moon garden in a couple of pots on the deck. At the time, I didn't think I wanted to make a big commitment to it this season, but since then I've kind of fallen in love with the subded hues and fragrance so I'm going to continue the color theme and concept into my other containers that I usually put up on the deck. Although for those containers, the flowering tobacco and variegated ivy will be the only repeats. The woodland phlox and leucojum are done blooming and will be transplanted into the garden and replaced. This time I'm probably going to plant jasmine or gardenias at the back, then some other fragrant herbs and annuals around the edges.
Here's our Moon Garden Plant List (shown above):
- Viola 'Sorbet Coconut Swirl'
- Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’
- Ipomoea sylvestris (planted as seeds)
- Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)
- Lavender 'Goodwin Creek'
- Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum)
- Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
- Pineapple Sage
- variegated ivy
I found a fun project for glow-in-the-dark garden signs in a book called Night Science for Kids by Terry Krautwurst that I hope to try soon. I'll include a description and directions in my next post.
Friday, May 1, 2009
- 7 to 8-power magnification
- Weatherproof and have a rainguard
- Help children set the barrels for the distance between their eyes.
- Choose an IPD range of 50mm to 55mm, providing a full field of view.
- Avoid a compact model. The smaller diameter focus dials on compact models make the binoculars actually focus "faster" making the image more challenging to refine. Also, small eye pieces can be titring to use over prolonged periods of time and small objective lenses might yield a smaller exit pupil diameter.
- Find a lower magnification with a larger field of view, 6 to 8-power. Viewing birds or other small (and often moving) wildlife through a binocular with a wide field of view is less challenging.
You can check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's article "The Age of Binoculars" for a more comprehensive review of binoculars for birders at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Publications/LivingBird/Winter2005/Age_Binos.html.
Hopefully this helps you choose a binocular that will help your little one enjoy birding more. For now, my little birders will be using their inexpensive toy ones when they want to feel like a grown-up. They spot more with their eyes than I do with my binoculars anyway.
Monday, April 27, 2009
- Orange tulips at the center surrounded by yellow, red and white ranunculas
- Purple viola or Johnny jump-ups at the base
- Gold Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia num. 'Aurea') and variegated ivy (Hedera helix) trail between the violets.
For instant kid-appeal, it screams with a mix of bright, happy colors. But this kind of combination gives you the opportunity to talk about bulbs and how they work, identifying plant parts, noticing differences between each plant in the pot (like the petals or the leaves), and later re-planting the bulbs in the garden.
Here's another planted in a basket by my friend MaryBeth. Same concept: forced bulbs for height (orange tulips and hyacinth). Spring annuals include fushia stock, purple angelonia, orange callibrichoa, pansies, and variegated ivy in the foreground. Cut pussy willow stems are also stuck in here and there.
I love this one with the perennial in the center. This is 'Ivory Prince' Hellebore with the green blooms surrounded by pansies in antique shades of pastel yellow and mauve, and the seemingly requisite variegated ivy. This kind of combination gives us the opportunity to teach about hellebores and why we don't eat them, and more artsy concepts like texture and color.
I'm including this one because my sons like this guy (they say he's Ironman and who am I to argue). I think they might like the unfussiness of these planters, too. The crazy plant coming out of his head that looks like corydalis (although that would look great) is actually Cytisus x. spachianus or Scotch Broom. There's also a pot of clear yellow pansies in the back. This would look great stuffed with hens-n-chicks or sedums. My boys seem to love succulents.
I think, at its most basic, you'll have success if you let them choose their own pot and select the colors and types of plants. They'll love it because they planted it and hopefully take care of it. Who are we kidding? The spring containers featured above were not planted by children, but with a little guidance there's no reason why they couldn't be.
And who says it has to be JUST flowers? The little wheelbarrow above is planted with spring greens, herbs, pansies, and violas -- all edibles. Look around your yard and garage, or grandma and grandpa's for that matter. Is there an old wagon, bike, or tree stump that might make an interesting planter? I have a friend that planted sempervivens in pair of baby Crocs last year, (which have great drainage, by the way). Ask your kids for ideas.
Here are some things children can do when planting their spring container:
- Let them fill the pot with potting soil.
- Teach them how to remove the plant from its container and gently loosen the root ball.
- Help them place their flowers into the potting soil and then add more potting soil.
- Get a child size watering can so they can give their “garden” it’s first drink.
- Teach your child about what a plant needs to be happy and the importance of not over-watering.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Welcome to Dig It! Children's Gardening Resource blog. I started this blog in an effort to reach a new generation of gardeners and their parents, with a basic goal of inspiring children to love gardening and care for the earth. I thought, to mix it up a bit, I will periodically offer giveaways of great gardening products, books, and resources for grown-ups and their kids. I look forward to sharing my family's gardening projects and discoveries with you. My first giveaway is The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
"One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book" -- Editorial Review @ amazon.com
Want to know how to win?
To enter the giveaway contest simply leave a comment under this giveaway post AND become a follower. If you are not a blogger, please make sure you leave an e-mail address where you can be reached in case you win the giveaway. For more chances to win, you can earn an extra entry by one or ALL of the following ways.
1. Leave another comment saying that you became a follower.
2. Write about Dig It! on your own blog and leave an additional comment with a link to your post.
If you are not a blogger, forward this post to 2 of your friends and cc: firstname.lastname@example.org on the email. A winner will be chosen at random on April 30, 2009.
To be eligible to enter the giveaway contest you must be at least 18 years old and live in the United States (sorry, my friends overseas). Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CST on the deadline date of the contest. Limit one entry per household unless we can verify that you have taken the correct steps to gain extra bonus entries as outlined above. A winner will be chosen at random the day after the giveaway has ended. If you win I will contact you via e-mail. You must respond within 4 days or you will forfeit your prize and a new winner will be chosen. When entering the giveaway, please leave a valid e-mail address where you can be contacted in the event that you win. Dig It! cannot be held responsible if you do not provide the correct e-mail address or if the e-mail was delivered to your spam folder. Odds of winning are dependent on the number of entries received (which are pretty good at this point since only four people have visited the blog). Your privacy is of the utmost importance to me. Your e-mail and home address will not be shared or sold to anyone. I will only use it to mail you your prize. I am not responsible for any injuries, damages, losses, legal or medical expenses that may arise from the use of the products given away. Please use the product at your own risk.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
This show is not intended for the experienced gardener, but rather a more popular audience. It's great for kids and it's a nice introduction to ecology, family gardening, and making a commitment to conserving wildlife. Even the more experienced gardener can't help but think about the potential their own yard has at attracting wildlife. After just seeing a couple of episodes, my kids are really motivated and excited about working towards our own NWF Wildlife Habitat certification.
At its essence, your yard needs to provide elements from each of the following areas:
- Food: native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar planted or provided in feeders
- Water: birdbath, pond, water garden, stream
- Cover: thicket, dense shrubs, rockpile, birdhouse
- Places to Raise Young: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond
- Sustainable gardening practices: mulch, compost, rain garden, chemical-free fertilizer
I'll keep you posted about our progress. Check out http://www.nwf.org/ for more information about their certificate program. Their website is an excellent resource for information on wildlife gardening, starting community and school gardens, and Green Hour (which I LOVE). Also, the NWF website has native and invasive plant lists, bird and wildlife field guides, and life lists you can view or print out.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
- several bird houses
- dwarf arborvitae, boxwood, and evergreens
- dwarf perennials and groundcovers: columbine, heucherella, creeping jenny, hens and chicks, creeping thymes, irish moss, veronicas (check any Steppables display at your local garden center for ideas)
- spring bulbs and annuals: tete-a-tete daffodils, dianthus, anything else within scale and colorful and/or fragrant
- larger and smaller stones
- plastic saucer or 1 gallon pot for a pond
- pea gravel for mulch and line their little gnome walkways
Here's a look at the Gnome Garden in the winter. As you can see, all of the annuals and most of the perennial groundcovers have been removed (they wouldn't have survived our winter in a container anyway) and she's replaced them with cut stems, evergreen tips, and the all too necessary fuzzy fake deer and tiny gnome figures. (You have to have a sense of humor when designing your gnome garden). Although I think hers is more sweet than silly. Otherwise, the foundation stayed relatively the same. Structures, paths, and the pond remained.
Detail of gnomes by the pond in the winter.
There are so many possibilities to create your own miniature garden. Let your children and their interests guide you. I've seen wonderful gardens built with train tracks winding through, but you could have a lot of fun with plastic dinosaurs, zoo animals, or giant insects. The tough part is creating something that they can play with without completely destroying or, in the case at my house, running away with all the figures. Let me know about the gnomes in your garden...and where they live.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Presidential gardeners and vegetable gardens at the White House have been there on and off since John Adams, the building's first resident, in 1800. Thomas Jefferson's famous gardens at Monticello were meticulously documented (www.moticello.org/gardens/index.html). Monticello has made it easy by selling seeds (both by variety and sample packs) that seem reasonably priced at www.monticellostore.stores.yahoo.net/plants---seeds.html. And if you're lucky enough to live nearby, you can actually visit and buy plants from their nursery. In 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden at the White House. Jimmy Carter planted herbs between the flowers. The Clinton and W. Bush staff harvested food from a vegetable garden on the roof, too. Yes, I admit, this type of "theme garden" might not get every child super excited about gardening. But it might be a great starting point for garden planning with your children this year.
Now, if you decide to grow a historic period garden, there are several considerations to take into account. In the 1800's, most home gardens were started from seed or divisions from family, friends and neighbors. The commercial seed trade really did not boom until the 19th century, and the popularity of specific varieties have changed through time. It may be difficult or impossible to find the exact varieties from the historic garden you're replicating. Be flexible. The effect will be the same. Search online for heirloom seeds. A good place to start is Victory Seed Company or Burpee Seed. If you can't find the specific plant, or they just seem too expensive, ask your local garden center to suggest a good substitute.
Victory Seed has a list containing varieties appropriate for an 18th century kitchen garden and herbal pharmacy, "either actual varieties used in the period or close in characteristics to varieties described in primary source documentation". Pretty cool if you're really going for authenticity.
If you want to plant what the Obamas are planting this spring, you can view the garden design at http:www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/garden_layout.pdf. It includes raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, herbs, peas, broccoli, and lots and lots of greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, and collards). Most of the plants are very common and should be relatively easy to find.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
When: Wednesday, April 1, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Where: Independence Grove Visitor Center, Libertyville, IL
To Register, please call Water's Edge Waldorf School at 847-526-1372
For more information about the documentary you can visit www.wfum.org/childrenplay.