False Dandelions: Free Food Source?

Catsear False Dandelion

Will the real Dandelion please stand up?

I have been betrayed by the weeds on my lawn. They are impostors. Catsear, one of several False Dandelions, impersonate Dandelions so well that everyone I know calls them Dandelions and seem to “have never heard of Catsear.”

I found out about Catsear, and other False Dandelions when hundreds of them sprang up on lawns, fields and road sides after recent Spring rainy days. I thought they looked rather pretty, even though my lawn was in bad need of a good mow. And didn’t I hear somewhere that dandelions were very nutritious and have some healing benefits? Knowing they would only last as long as the mower blades were silent I decided to investigate. That’s when I learned about Catsear and false dandelions.

Question: Can Catsear and other false dandelions be consumed for the same health benefits as dandelions?

Benefits of Dandelions

Not only do dandelions have nutritional and medicinal qualities they also make good garden companions The longish taproot brings up nutrients for shallower rooted plants. Dandelions add nitrogen to the soil and attract pollinating insects to the garden.

Dandelion leaves are loaded with vitamins A, K and C, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. They have long been used as a folk remedy for liver and kidney problems and high blood pressure. Dandelions are a natural diuretic and are safer than other diuretics because they add potassium back that we lose through water elimination.

What is Catsear?

Catsear are perennials and will shoot up and bloom every Spring and Summer. They are native to Europe and are introduced, or invasive In the United States. Catsear is found from the southeast north to New Jersey and westward to Mississippi. As with dandelions and other false dandelions, the seeds of Catsear are dispersed on a breeze and can travel far.

Those who wish to eliminate Catsear from the lawn can do so by using lime and nitrogen fertilizers for healthier grass. Healthier grass will discourage the growth of Catsear. There are also herbicides available that will eradicate them.

False Dandelion Types

Common Name
Scientific Name
Characteristics
Location
Catsear
Hypocaeris Radicata
Tall stems, basal rosette, hairy leaves
Southeastern United States, west to Mississippi, North to New Jersey
Texas Dandelion
Pyrrhopappus Caroliniaus
Deeply lobed and hairy leaves, distinguish from Catsear by purple middle
Eastern United States
Smooth Catsear
Hypocaeris Glabra
Smooth leaves, less bitter
Souteastern & Northeastern U.S. Western U.S, parts of Canada
Mountain Dandelion
Agoseris Glauca
waxy leaves, basal but not rosette
Western United States & Canada
Hawksbeard, Elegant & Narrowleaf
Crepis, Crepis Tectorum
Has both basal rosette and hairy leaves on stem, annual, not perenniel
Northern Hemispjhere, Tropical Africa, invasive in Northeastern U.S. & Canada
Autumn Hawkbit, Fall Dandelion
Leontondon Autumnalis
Resembles Catsear, flowers reddish underneath, appear June-October
Parts of Europe, Great Britian, Ireland

Ways To Eat Dandelions,False Dandelions

Add freshly washed leaves to garden salads

  • Make dandelion tea from the flowers
  • Make dandelion wine from the flowers
  • boil or saute leaves and eat like spinach
  • use the leaves in stir fries
  • Make into a batter with flour, onions, spices and a little milk to fry in a healthy oil

Are False Dandelions Edible?

To eat or not to eat…..that is the question. I am 99.9 percent sure that my “imposters” are Catsear. Although I found overwhelming support that Catsear is safe to eat I am not going to munch on my weeds. There is evidence that invasive weeds can mutate. In the state of Washington, False Dandelions are listed as noxious weeds. Best practices for weed eating is to consult an expert.

The possibility of insecticides or other chemicals in the soil is another reason to take care in eating weeds. Never eat weeds from an area that has been treated within in the past two years.

While I definitively would like the health benefits these weeds may offer, I am going to order Dandelion seeds, Taraxacum Officinale to plant in my garden. Then I know what I am eating is safe, and my garden will benefit as well.

Using Acorns, Seeds, Pods And Pine Cones In Fall Decor

Fall Decorating Using Acorns Seed Pods and Pine Cone

I love the rustic feel and colors of Autumn. All the pine cones, seeds, and seed pods signify the end of the growing season. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures that can make some interesting crafts. Use them as part of flower arrangements or in Fall crafts such as a sustainable pine cone and nut wreath.

As I was walking down the path on another one of my walks for inspiration by nature for unique ideas, I was hit on the head with a round object. Ping, Kerplink. Ping, Kerplunk. Acorns were falling to the ground from the tall oak trees.

And like Sir Issac Newton and the Apple, bright ideas started popping up (or rather down in this case). I noticed that the acorns were well – pretty. That got me to thinking about what I could do with those acorns. From there, the search for acorns, seeds, pods and pine cones began!

 

Acorns Galore

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The acorn is the fruit of the oak tree. Oak trees are very common and grow just about anywhere any tree will grow. Identifying an acorn as belonging to any one particular type of oak tree would be a daunting task.

I was not going to try to be a botanist on this walk but rather look for the fattest, juiciest looking acorns for our decorations. Those squirrels and other critters can wait, I will give them back later. Maybe. The squirrels have sabotaged the late tomatoes and early pecans.

Seeds and Seed Pods

 

Seeds grow new plants that look like the parent plant. Remember learning that in second-grade science? A coconut is the seed of a palm tree. It is only dispersed by a floating river. They are too heavy for animals’ furs to transport, and I doubt there is any creature that would eat one whole and thus disperse it through the digestive system. (Which is what birds do when they sometimes miss and hit your windshield). Hickory nuts, black walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts are abundant in the Southeastern United States. Once again, I did not try to match and identify. I found a lot of seeds and pods that are eye-catching.

More Seeds and Seed Pods

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Various holly trees and bushes produce berries (seeds) of brilliant orange and red. I found that magnolias can produce some interesting seed pods. Some shiny red seeds inside have popped out and can be used in my creation. Some of the pods didn’t make it to maturity to produce seeds. They have fallen none-the-less, and will add variety to my collection. Many of the larger pods still have some seeds in them, giving them a festive look.

Painful but Pretty

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Sweetgum balls and the hulls of chestnuts could add great texture to my display.They can be painful to touch but are pretty to look at.They remind me of porcupines. I suppose that is the way they protect themselves from too many squirrels and chipmunks.I wanted to add chestnuts to my growing collection. I noticed they are much more scarce than the empty seed pods. Where ever you live, just walk and think about how you can display any seed and seed pods that you find in an arrangement.

Pine Cones for Fall and Winter Holidays

Conifers are evergreen trees that produce seeds in a cone-shaped seed pod. Hemlock, cedar, and different pine varieties produce cones in different shapes and sizes.Pine cones have long been used in holiday decorations. Folks wrap them up prettily in bags along with long matches for gifts. Small pine cones, nut shells, small nuts and dried berries provide a natural filler for potpourri making.

Fall and Winter Holidays wouldn’t quite be the same without some nice large pine cones. The kids turn them into turkeys, and the parents use them to stoke a fire. Pine cones provide us with plenty of free,sustainable material to create some lovely and inexpensive holiday decorations.

They can be displayed in baskets ,glass containers, or as surrounding a candle. Use them naturally or spray with gold or silver spray paint. Dab essential oil on them to add aroma.

Displaying My Finds

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I decided the best way to show off my collection of acorns, seeds, seed pods and pine cones was to put them all in a glass container. I was pleased with the arrangement. All the shapes, sizes, and textures worked together to create a rustic looking arrangement. I added a plaid ribbon at the bottom (sans a bow) to add a touch of class. I am thinking about using it as my Thanksgiving Holiday table arrangement paired with autumn candles in miniature pumpkins or perhaps long white tapers in glass candlesticks for a more elegant look. Then after dinner, I will scatter them around outdoors so those squirrels can continue to stock up for winter. I will forgive them for the tomatoes and pecans. Besides, there are still plenty of pine cones left to start using for my Country Christmas decorating!

 

 

 

Use A Real Pumpkin As A Planter For Fall Flowers

The Season of the Pumpkin

Pumpkins are a big part of fall and the end-of-the-year holidays from jack-o-lanterns to pumpkin pies. All around town this time of year, you can find pumpkin-flavored coffee, pumpkin ice cream and all sorts of pumpkin treats. You see them stacked by scarecrows and hay bales on lawns.

Here’s a cool idea for using pumpkins. Make a pumpkin planter for some of your fall flowers such as pansies, violas, mums and ornamental kale and cabbages. Hollow out a large pumpkin just as you would for making a jack-o-lantern. Drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill will a good potting soil mixture and plant your fall plants.

Now you can enjoy your chilly weather-loving plants on the patio table or on your doorstep throughout the season. Then, depending on the growing zone you live in, plant the whole thing in the winter container garden or elsewhere. The pumpkin will then decompose, making rich soil.

How to Turn a Pumpkin into a Planter

 

  1. Choose a medium to large pumpkin.
  2. Decide what plants to use.
  3. Cut the top off the pumpkin, a little wider than for a jack-o-lantern
  4. Scrape the insides out thoroughly.
  5. Drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage.
  6. Fill it about three-quarters full with a good soil mix.
  7. Arrange plants and plant them.
  8. Fill in around them with more soil.
  9. Water sparingly.

You can personalize your pumpkin planter by choosing white or green pumpkins. Use a combination of plants or simply plant a pot of mums in a large pumpkin.

Tip: If you want your pumpkin planter to last longer, scrape it out very thoroughly and coat the inside of it with petroleum jelly. Break up some charcoal briquettes and add an inch to the bottom. This way, the pumpkin will last a couple of weeks.

Plants for your Pumpkin Planter

Here are a few suggestions for what to add to your pumpkin planter. These plants can thrive outdoors and withstand frost.

  • Ornamental pepper
  • Purple Kale
  • Green Kale
  • Pansies
  • Variegated vinca
  • Black-eyed susan
  • Ornamental cabbages
  • Violas
  • Swiss Chard

Some Popular Choices for Fall Flower Gardens

Pansies

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Pansies are colorful annuals that are great for the garden all year in zones 4 to 8. They come in a lot of different colors. They like full sun. Pansies can be started in the spring from seeds. Start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before they can be planted outdoors. Water them regularly and use an all purpose fertilizer on them.

Mums

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Mums, or chrysanthemums as they are sometimes called come in a variety of colors and sizes. These plants are perennials in zones 5-9. Fall mums sold as annuals are very inexpensive and worth the price even though they won’t bloom again next year. They come in pretty rustic colors like deep gold and burgundy. You can also get white, pink, yellow and lavender ones. They like at least 5 hours of full sun. Water and fertilize regularly.

Ornamental Cabbages and Kale

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Ornamental cabbages and kale go great in the fall garden alongside mums and pansies. They can withstand temperature drops to 15 to 20 degrees, making them excellent choices for zones 5 to 7. If you are going to experience 20 degree nights for more than a day or so, they will need to be covered with perhaps a sheet.

Can you eat ornamental cabbages and kale? Yes, but they are not very tender and they are not as tasty as the others.

Swiss Chard

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Swiss chard is grown more for its tasty health benefits for salads more than it is for ornamental purposes. But its green and purple curly leaves make it attractive to use in flower gardens. For the prettiest and freshest Swiss chard, grow your own starting in spring. Then you will have Swiss chard for salads and gourmet cooking until a hard freeze. Not to mention green and purple beauty for your fall flower garden.

Other Possible Pumpkin Planter

There are so many cool ways to use pumpkin planters. I want to do a green pumpkin with burgundy-colored mums. I also want to do a gourmet cooking one with peppers and Swiss chard. Think up your own cool pumpkin planter idea this fall! This project was a lot of fun!

DIY Rustic Flower Vase

Rustic Flower Arrangements

All of those lovely wildflowers we find in the woods and wastelands, spring, summer, and fall make delightful (and free) arrangements to enjoy for entertaining, weddings, and any special event. They are also nice to have around in the house or out on the porch or patio.

A DIY rustic flower vase compliments those wildflowers nicely. And the best part is, they are fun to make, not to mention a good way to reuse and recycle.

Wine bottles, mason jars, baskets, and other containers are popular items to use for DIY wildflower arrangements .

Here is another idea for a rustic DIY flower vase. It’s pretty, easy to do, and totally rustic. All you need is a big empty coffee can, hot glue, acrylic paint, and a raffia or burlap ribbon.

DIY Rustic Flower Vase

Gather twigs and prune them roughly to  the size of the coffee can.

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Paint the coffee can brown with spray paint. 

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When the paint drys, glue the twigs around the can.

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Add a burlap or raffia bow, and you have a classy looking rustic DIY vase!

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DIY Arrangements Using Fall Wildflowers

 

Simple Beautiful Wildflower Arrangments

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A stroll through a park, meadow or forest is a wonderful way to unwind and get in touch with the cycle of life. Blue skies and vibrant colors on an autumn will inspire you to spice up your traditional decor this year with your imagination and what you find on your walks.

The daily grind of life often smothers our creative thinking process. Creativity is often defined as using resources available to you to produce original material and ideas. While it is resourceful to use other people’s ideas, you can gain self-satisfaction from seeing your own ideas come to life.

If you live in an area with a variety of deciduous trees that change color, collect some pretty ones and take a close-up look. You will see that most are spotted, two-toned or have a “tie-dyed” look. Take a bag with you so you can pick up the best specimens. I’ll bet you can come up with a creative way to display them. Just remember that if you are going to use them in an arrangement they will dry and crumble in a day or two so be prepared to show your display right away.

Goldenrod is a prevalent wild lower across North America that showcases in the Fall. There are several varieties, and they take the rap for aggravating allergies when it is actually ragweed that is the bad guy.

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Using Goldenrod in Arrangements

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A big bouquet of goldenrod alone in a glass container makes a tasteful centerpiece. Add a ribbon of Autumn colors or designs if desired. Depending on the region where you live, the fields are rich with an assortment of Fall wildflowers. Finding and identifying them can be a fun activity as well.

Be creative as you look around your particular region. I found that leftover blackberries dried on a fading vine added interest to my bouquets along with some yellowing wild grapevine. Learn to include what is indigenous to your region.

After your walk, look around your home for glass vases, old watering cans, and other containers to creatively display your finds. Acorns seed pods, red berries, small pine cones and other natural objects can be placed in glass jars to display.

Fall Art Projects

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When I was a child we pressed our leaves between sheets of wax paper with a warm iron to help preserve them. Nowadays we can take this process a step further with clear Contact brand plastic sheeting. A great project to do with kids is to create leaf place mats for Thanksgiving.

 

Other ideas for preserved leaves include mobiles or sun catchers. Follow directions for making a mobile and use your leaf cut-outs. Purchase small suction cups at a craft store and glue to your leaf cut-outs for some unique suncatchers. How impressed your guests will be to see real leaves as sun catchers in a sunny window!

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Be Creative,Be Green

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What I have attempted to relate by sharing my projects is that by opening up to the natural resources around us we can help our creative juices flow. I have often found it satisfying to use others’ ideas as a springboard to come up with personalized projects.My projects will not look exactly like theirs because I have used my own resources. And unlike plastic decorations, natural items are mostly free and always a sustainable choice. Being a good steward to Earth is one more thing to feel good about. Happy Autumn!

You may also like this idea for a simple, sustainable wreath.

 

What To Do With Tomatoes: Sliced Diced Stewed And Dried

 

What to do with all those tomatoes

Summer in the south just wouldn’t be the same without juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes. They are quite possibly the most versatile fruit from the garden. (Yes, they are a fruit, not a vegetable). Growing your own tomatoes is a great way to stretch your food budget both summer and winter. Enjoy them fresh all summer all the way until fall’s first frost.

Savor the flavor of a BLT sandwich made with fresh sliced tomatoes and a tall glass of sweet iced tea.

Dice them along with other veggies for a delightful garden salad,or cold pasta salad.

Slice green ones for a platter of fried green tomatoes, a southern delicacy that inspired a Hollywood hit movie.

Can stewed tomatoes in jars for delicious soups and sauces next winter.

Learn to make sun dried tomatoes that will add a gourmet touch to recipes.

Canned or frozen tomatoes can be used in many dishes all winter. An added bonus is the nutritional value in tomatoes. They are a truly nutritious food. Loaded with vitamin C, and the antioxidants lycopene and zeaxanthin, tomatoes help fight skin cancer and eye disease.

Growing tomatoes can be challenging at times, but fairly easy if you follow a few tricks and tips. Try using the tips on growing tomatoes at the end of this article for growing your next crop. Chances are, you too will be wondering what to do with all those tomatoes!

What to do with sliced tomatoes

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One of my favorite ways of using sliced tomatoes is making fried green tomatoes, a dish that has risen from country simplicity to gourmet goodness. Use tomatoes that are green in color upon ripeness, or true green, unripe ones. Slice them about a quarter of an inch thick. Spread the slices out on paper towels and salt them down with kosher salt. Let them sit for about half an hour. This helps remove the water from the tomato slices.

Meanwhile, beat a couple of eggs with a dollop of milk, in a bowl with a fork. Set up a breading station near the stove with a bowl of flour and cornmeal in separate bowls. Add some cayenne pepper to the cornmeal. Heat an eighth of an inch of oil with a pat of butter on medium heat. Right when the butter begins to sizzle, dip each tomato slice in flour first, then the egg mixture, and finally the cornmeal. Use a fork to do this. Fry the slices until golden brown, turning once. Serve these tangy tomato slices with a sauce made of mayonnaise, pickle relish, and hot sauce. This is a delicious appetizer!

What to do with diced tomatoes

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Create a classic tossed side salad for a main meal with diced tomatoes, lettuce, and other Summer garden veggies. Make a huge one when grilling out. It’s the only side dish you will need! Learn to grow a few varieties of lettuces, or pick heads of lettuce up cheaply at a produce stand.

Diced tomatoes can be used in cold pasta salads and quick, hot stir-fries. Toss tuna or chicken with pasta, diced tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers, peppers, and whatever other fresh goodies you might have with salad dressing, and make a unique pasta salad for dinner. A little olive oil, a saute pan or wok, chicken or beef strips, diced tomatoes and other Summer veggies is an inexpensive stir-fry for another night!

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Make bruschetta, another great appetizer or party food with finely diced tomatoes, garlic, onions and fresh chopped basil. I use Roma and Golden Boy tomatoes for greater color. If you have leftover hot dog or hamburger buns, use those to save money. Slice the buns at a slant for visual interest. Otherwise used sliced Italian bread. Top the slices with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and a mixture of the tomatoes and herbs. I like sprinkling the tops with more Parmesan cheese and toasting in a low broiler for 15-20 minutes. This gives the ingredients a chance to weld together. Watch out that it doesn’t burn!. This is an easy and inexpensive appetizer.

Preserving tomatoes for winter cooking

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Tomatoes can be preserved for Wwnter cooking, saving dollars off of your grocery bill. There are methods for freezing, canning and drying tomatoes.

Freezing is the messiest, but fairly easy, and well worth being able to avoid paying high prices for less flavorful hothouse tomatoes all winter.  The freezing of tomatoes involves blanching them to easily remove the skins and cores. Tomatoes are dropped into hot, boiling water for just seconds. Take care not to begin a cooking process. That is the tricky part. The hot tomatoes are dropped immediately into cold water, causing the skins to split open for easy removal. The core is removed with a knife, and the tomato flesh is then vacuum sealed in Ziplock bags.

Unless you have a lot of freezer space, such as a stand-alone chest-type freezer, canning or drying tomatoes may be the best option.  See this article describing canning stewed tomatoes  How To Can Stewed Tomatoes-Recipe. Again, the tomatoes are blanched and the peeled, cored tomatoes are processed in jars sterilized in the dishwasher.

Tomatoes can be dried in the sun or in a food dehydrator. Sun dried tomatoes are popular in gourmet dishes. They can also be reconstituted for use in sauces by covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes. The water can also be used in the sauces.

Dry tomatoes in the sun by covering with metal screens or cheese cloth. Bring them in at night, and with a few days in the sun, you can have real sun dried tomatoes. Store them for reconstitution or for use in recipes. A food dehydrator is a better way to go if you have one. It is less trouble and faster. Slice tomatoes about one-quarter inch thick. Sprinkle each layer for the food dehydrator with kosher salt. Leave the dehydrator plugged in for about 10 hours.

Recipes using sun dried tomatoes

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Add a gourmet touch to cooking with sun dried tomatoes or tomatoes dried in a food hydra-tor. Pricey at the supermarket, dried homegrown tomatoes can save money. Make a Greek pizza by topping pizza crust with tomato sauce, feta cheese, dried tomatoes and black olives. Or try the angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomatoes recipe.

 

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked
  • 1teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, fresh (chopped) or dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the chopped dried tomatoes, parsley and garlic. Saute quickly.
  3. Top hot pasta with the dried tomato, herb and olive oil mixture and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese generously.

Tips for growing tomatoes

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  • start seeds indoors for early tomatoes
  • plant seeds or seedlings after a frost-free date
  • get seedlings from a local nursery to get the best for your area
  • get varieties that mature at different times, early Summer to late Fall.
  • mulch and fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer after planting
  • use soil that has been “worked”
  • plant where the tomatoes can get at least 6 hours of sun
  • make sure the tomatoes stay watered
  • fertilizer every 3-4 weeks with household plant food
  • provide a stake or cage for support

 

How To Use Seashells In Home Decor

Using Seashells in Home Decor

Are you looking for some new and different home decorating ideas? Try incorporating seashells into your decor. Seashells are natural sustainable decorating items and will add a nautical touch to your home. A trip to the beach is not necessary to get seashells. Order them online.

Sea shells are of course free from the beach and inexpensive elsewhere. I like to mix the common ones that I find at the beach with  more exotic ones sold in specialty shops. Hot glue guns and glue sticks work very well when “shelling” mirrors that you perhaps bought at a yard sale or thrift shop. Glass containers, fill-able glass lamps and baskets will help display shells.Below are some ideas to get you started on crafts with seashells. Incorporate nautical beachside creations into your home decor.

Please remember the less is best rule when applying any theme in decorating. Let your shell creations be a part of a nautical decor or simply have your shell decor blend into a bigger scheme of things.

Make a Shell Garden

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For a lovely shell garden simply choose a tall glass container and arrange shells. Start with smaller shells at the bottom and then alternate with small and larger shells. Play around with them until you achieve the look you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Seashell Lamp

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Purchase a fill-able glass based lamp and follow the same procedure as with the shell garden.Then add the shade and Voila! You have a lovely nautical table lamp.

 

 

 

 

Seashell Mirrors

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Oval Shelled Mirror

 

This shelled mirror looks much harder to make than it actually is. Just be sure to plan it out before gluing the shells with the hot glue. Use smaller shells to fill in gaps around the bigger shells. Plan for a special grouping for the top and the bottom. Here a starfish is the “star” attraction.

Go here for step-by-step instructions on shelling a mirror.

You may wish to make a smaller one like the one below to gain some experience first in shelling a mirror. The rectangular mirror on the smaller one is 30 inches x 22 inches.

Rectangular Shelled Mirror

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Make your first shelled mirror project with a smaller mirror. Notice the grouping in the top middle (oysters shells) and the spiral shells in the corners.

The idea is to create a focal grouping on the top and bottom of the mirror and then follow a sort of pattern down the sides.

Other Seashell Decor Ideas

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Add a nautical look to a window sill or shelf with large scallop shells, starfish, and a sand dollar. Fish figurines complete the nautical look for this bathroom window.

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Make a garland of shells and starfish to string across a window. Use twine such as that used for wrapping packages. Most shells have a “natural hole” in them to help you with your stringing.Or if necessary use a Dremel tool for boring a small hole. From southernliving.com

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Anchor a pretty peachy pink candle in a glass container with lots of small and medium shells. Lots of cowry shells are included in this cluster. Use any small to medium shells for grouping. From Do It Yourself.com

 

Collecting And Decorating With Sea Glass

What is Sea Glass or Beach Glass?

I was first introduced to sea glass collecting by a year around resident of one of North Carolina’s quaintest beaches, Ocean Isle Beach. She was agog with the hobby and gave me a call to encourage my participation.

“Try to find a red piece. Blue is good too. Call me and let me know what you find.”

“So what,” I thought. ” A piece of glass?” Then one day while walking the shores of the Ashely River at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, I spotted a frosty white piece of glass.

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white sea glass

“This is it! This is what she is talking about.” I had found my first piece of sea glass. I was hooked!

 

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kelly green

Sea or beach glass is broken glass tumbled for years and smoothed by water, sand, gravel and the elements. The term beach glass is inclusive to that found on freshwater bays and the oceans’ beaches. Sea glass refers exclusively to pieces found on salt water shores

Hydration is a slow process in which the lime and soda present in the glass are washed out by the water to combine with other elements. This process, along with tossing and tumbling, will help give the pieces a frosty look. A true piece of sea glass must have two distinct qualities present; smooth edges and a frosty worn look.

Identifying Sea or Beach Glass

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yellow green

Color and imprints are ways of identifying sea and beach glass. The most commonly found colors are white, brown and green. Newer soda bottles, jars, plates, windows and auto glass are sources of the white sea or beach glass. Green can be found in various shades. Beer, wine, juice and soft drink bottles are the most common sources. Brown pieces are mostly from beer and medicine bottles.

 

Many products packaged in plastic today used to be sold in glass containers. Amber pieces come from bleach and medicine bottles. Some of these pieces have numbers and imprints that are visible enough for identification. Lighter amber comes from auto or boat tail lights.

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brown

Old ink, fruit, and baking soda jars are the source of soft blues and forest green. Cobalt and cornflower blues are rarer and come from Phillips Milk of Magnesia, Noxema, and Bromo Seltzer bottles. Pastel pinks and grays are from old Depression Era glassware.

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amber

Red, orange, and black sea or beach glass are the rarest colors for Sea and beach glass. Red comes from old Schlitz beer bottles, dinnerware or auto, and nautical lights. Carnival glass and other dinnerware are the sources of orange pieces.

Dark olive or black pieces are from very old containers used to transport “spirits” in the 18th century.  A rare dark purple, almost black, can be traced to insulators on the bottom of early light bulbs.

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light lavender

Color charts have been created to help identify sea and beach glass, but cannot be totally accurate because of the many nuances in the colors. More uncommon green pieces from very old Coca-Cola, RC, Dr. Pepper and beer bottles have variations in color because the bottles were locally produced. Some pieces that appear as a light lavender color may actually be from white glass sources. Before WWI the chemical used to make glass white gave it a greenish tint. After war broke out the chemical was changed. The replacement chemical gave the glass a lavender tint.

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soft blue & soft green
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olive green & lime green

Common Sources Of Sea And Beach Glass By Color

soda bottles, jars, plates, windows, auto glass

Color Of Glass
Source Of Glass
white
brown
beer bottles, medicine bottles
yellow-green/kelly green
beer, juice, soft drink bottles
uncommon green
early Coke, Dr. Pepper, wine and beer bottles
gray, pink
Depression glass
lime green
1950s soda bottle
soft blue, forest green
ink, fruit, baking soda jars
lavender
originally white tinted by replacement chemical
cornflower/cobalt blue
Noxema, Phillips, Bromo Seltzer, medicine, poison
dark amber
whiskey, medicine, bleach bottles
light amber
auto or boat tail loghts
dark olive/black
old bottles used to transport spirits
orange
Carnival glass
red
old Schlitz bottle, dinnerware, car and nautical lights

Finding and Collecting Sea or Beach Glass

sea foam
sea foam

People have been finding and collecting sea and beach glass for a long time. In the past, the frosty glass pieces were called mermaids tears or sea gems. The most sea glass found has been in the United States from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

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cornflower & cobalt

The best time to find sea glass is after extremely low or neap tides and the first low tide after a storm. The best beaches for sea and beach glass searching are located near what is or used to be the city dump. The most bountiful beaches for finding beach and sea glass in the US have been in Northern California, parts of Hawaii, the southern shores of the Great Lakes and the northern east coast.

Glass Beach, located in Northern California, was the former town dump before “going green” and is a sea glass lover’s paradise. There are reports that it is no longer “allowed” to be taken but if that is the case check out Sea Side State Beach in Monterey. Beaches in the Caribbean are good sources of rubbish from old “rum runners.”

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red & light amber

Sea and beach glass are becoming harder and harder to find because of more collectors and anti-litter campaigns. Avid collectors are willing to travel worldwide to search for their treasures.

If you can’t be near the best beaches to find sea or beach glass you can still find it with some persistence. All of my pieces are from beaches in the South Eastern US. It may take a while to have a sizable collection but once you do you can use your pieces in some beautiful displays and artwork.

Other Interesting Pieces From the Sea

Ceramic shards from old china and dishes are fun finds when looking for sea glass. They make awesome additions to mosaics.

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My rarest piece of sea glass is this dark, dark green.  It is from an old 18th-century spirit bottle.

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Crafting And Decorating With Sea Glass

Decorating and crafting with sea and beach glass is an art form. Artisans create beautiful jewelry with it. Wreaths, wind chimes, mobiles, and mosaics are popular crafts using sea and beach glass. A simple and elegant display with glass containers is an easy way to display your collection. Then your pieces aren’t glued down and you can take them out to enjoy their beauty up close.

Leave it to humans to try to copy what takes nature and time to create. Manufactured sea glass is made by tumbling glass in a rock tumbler. It is sold in bulk and is plentiful and inexpensive. It’s great for those who want to create crafts with sea and beach glass but can’t go searching for it.

Ways to Display Sea Glass

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Glass jars, vases, and baskets are great ways to display sea or beach glass. Purchase a fillable lamp to display sea or beach glass. Glass vases and bowls can make beautiful displays for sea or beach glass.

Purchase a candle in a glass jar. Set the candle in a slightly larger jar. Fill in the gaps with pieces of sea or beach glass.It will look lovely on a patio table–simple yet elegant. The flicker of candlelight reflects off of the glass for a stunning effect at dusk or after dark. Imagine cocktails and conversation with candle light and glasses with sea, beach glass charms attached!

 

Make A Wind Chime With Sea Or Beach Glass

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A clever method to make a sea or beach glass wind chime or mobile is shared by Hannah Milman.  Bottle tops and bottoms are great for this.She learned the technique from J.M. Porter, owner of a sea glass specialty shop in Isleford, Maine near Bar Harbor. She uses 8 poundSpiderwire fish line, super glue and driftwood to create a rustic wind chime. The secret is in tying a knot and cinching the sea glass with the fish line and then using brush-onKrazy Glue to secure. With this technique, no holes need to be drilled in the glass.

sea glass bottle tops
sea glass bottle tops

I decided to give it a try. I am very protective of my sea glass, so I decided to use the greens, browns, and whites of which I have the most. It worked well. The trick is in spacing out the pieces. Cut a 3-foot strand of the Spiderwire.Leaving 7 or 8 inches at the top and bottom, work horizontally to create tiers. Tie knots around the pieces and secure with the brush-on glue. Then tie the strands to a wooden holder, such as a piece of driftwood. Make a rustic hanger from twine.

sea glass bottle bottoms
sea glass bottle bottoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

To me, collecting and crafting with sea or beach glass is not only an art form, it is a way to recycle. The litter bugs who left all this glass behind left us with a fun hobby and great decorating and crafting ideas!

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Lasagna Gardening: No Dig Gardening The Easy Way

 

No Dig Container Gardening

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After leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind to enjoy the country lifestyle, I soon found myself contemplating having a garden. I began to explore my gardening options and decided that a no dig garden method was definitively the way to go for me.

I learned that raised beds, lasagna gardening, and straw bale gardening were no dig gardening plans that could work for me. Although I might not get to grow those tall stalks of corn like Mr. Farmer Up the Road, I decided that I could still grow quite a variety of tasty fresh veggies with a no dig garden plan.

A huge factor in the decision to go with a no dig garden design was the local soil, red clay soil. It is low in major nutrients such as calcium and potassium and difficult to dig and cultivate. Lime and other fertilizers have to be added for growing vegetables. A second factor was the fact that I didn’t own a tiller or tractor and didn’t really care to. Raised beds together with lasagna gardening, sometimes called sheet composting and straw bale gardening are two ways to grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs with no back-breaking digging.
 

Benefits of Raised Bed Gardens

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The first good solution to gardening where the soil is rocky or of poor quality is a raised bed garden plot. A raised bed is a sort of bottomless box making it different from a container garden. The most common materials used are plywood boards that are hinged together. However, there are other options. Avoid the cost of lumber and hardware with whatever you have on hand. Bricks, concrete blocks, old logs, large rocks or boulders and railroad ties are some suggestions. There are raised bed gardening kits available for ordering if building your own is just not possible for you.

There are many benefits of using raised beds for gardening:
  • weed control is much easier
  • garden plot can be placed in best location for sunlight
  • soil will be warmer
  • better drainage
  • less bending and stooping for planting and weeding
  • pathway weeds are avoided
  • cold air sinks down around the base of the box making tender plants less susceptible to freeze
  • easier to cover plants for late frost
  • kids and pets are less likely to run through the garden

Ingredients for Lasagna Gardening

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Whatever you decide to use for your raised bed there needs to be room for about 2 feet of soil or growing medium. Lasagna gardening, also known as sheet composting, is a less expensive way to provide a rich, nutritious environment for vegetable garden planting. Lasagna gardening involves layering carbon-rich (brown) and nitrogen-rich (green) materials. Just as there are different recipes for making a dish of lasagna, so can the ingredients for a lasagna garden vary. When combining greens and browns for your lasagna garden use what you have on hand.

Composting Materials

Browns
Greens
old leaves
grass clippings
pine straw
dead plants or flowers
shredded paper
fruit and vegetable left-overs
sawdust
egg shells
wood chips
coffee grounds
dryer lint
pruning clippings
animal hair
animal manure,vegetarian animals

Putting Your Lasagna Garden Together

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Just as long and slow baked dishes are tastier, your lasagna garden will do best if the “ingredients for cooking” are started in the fall before the following planting season. The lasagna ingredients can be used to form a garden bed without boards or a border, but I like to think of the raised box as a “pan” to hold the lasagna garden.

After you have a raised bed border (built in a good sunny location for “baking”) it will be time for the layering. Start by lining the bottom with a “crust” of newspaper or cardboard, wetting it well. There is no need for digging. Remember: this is a no dig garden. The newspaper or cardboard will serve to suffocate any grass or weeds that might grow in the garden. The dark damp environment will encourage earthworms to enter the garden. They will eat their way through the decomposing paper to become “little tillers” in the no dig lasagna garden.

Begin layering the green and brown ingredients for the lasagna garden. Make the brown layers a little thicker than the green. Top off the lasagna garden with a sprinkling of wood ashes from a fire or fireplace. The wood ashes will help condition the soil and act as an organic pesticide. Finally, a layer of mulch, like pine park or pine straw will seal everything inside the “dish” and lock in moisture.

Planting the Lasagna Garden

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To save money, and enjoy the garden experience, even more, it’s great to start seeds in seed starters 3-4 weeks before planting time. Peas, lettuce, green beans, beets, squash, peppers, carrots, radishes and more will grow well. Tomato seeds are so tiny it is best to buy the seedlings. Plant root veggies, like carrots and radishes directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Scattering in a few marigolds between the veggies adds color and beauty, and wild animals will tend to avoid the garden. They don’t like the smell.

Quick Method for Lasagna Gardening

Suppose spring planting time is near and you’ve just learned of the method (as I did). Just as there is a quick cook method for some dishes, there is one for a lasagna garden. Composting is an important process for introducing a variety of microbes to form a rich, loamy soil. Collect green ingredients and begin a compost pile. If you add all of your green kitchen waste it will build up quickly. Toss in last winter’s dead leaves, pine straw or other brown ingredients. In one month you will have good composting matter built up.

Layer the composted material with a few thin layers of a good black top soil that you buy. I also added some of the local red soil. I figured that it must have at least some nutritional value. After all, it is iron that gives it the red color. To make the lasagna garden even more nutritious, add in a couple layers of animal manure (from grain-eating animals only). If you live near a farm this will be free, or a pet store will happily give you all the rabbit poop you want.

These quick cook methods will help jump-start a lasagna garden. Another option is to start in the early spring for early summer planting.

No Dig Straw or Hay Bale Gardening

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The second no dig gardening plan I learned about is straw or hay bale gardening, another variation of container gardening. Bales of hay or straw become the growing medium as the straw or hay begins to decompose. What is the difference between the straw and hay? Straw is a carbon or brown. It will be necessary to add a nitrogen fertilizer to grow anything. Hay naturally contains nitrogen making it an organic way to garden. Hay will probably have seeds in it that sprout and a bit of weeding will need to be done. I am opting for the hay.

As with raised beds, no digging is required and poor soil worries are eliminated. The method shares the same advantages as raised beds except more diligent watering is required.

Straw or hay bale gardening supposedly works anywhere with enough sun, even an abandoned parking lot. The size of garden planned will determine the number of bales needed. Use one bale or many bales to create rows or a pattern. Straw bales can be purchased at garden supply stores. Hay bales may be purchased at animal feed stores. Both are inexpensive and can be purchased for under $5.00 each.

All of the same vegetables, flowers, and herbs that can be grown in raised beds will work in a straw or hay bale garden. Use a stake or trellis to support climbing vines. Tall plants like corn and okra can’t be grown with this no dig garden design. Yes, you will have to get your corn from Mr. Farmer Up the Road.

How to Start a Straw or Hay Bale Garden

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When determining where to place the straw or hay bales look for an area with full sun. Because the bales must be kept wet at all times they will be heavy to move. They will need to be watered twice a day. The size of your garden will determine whether to use a watering can or a hose. Plan your location accordingly.

After deciding on a location water the bales and add any necessary fertilizer. They will begin to cook and get hot. In 2 or 3 weeks, or when the bales feel slightly cooler than body temperature it is time to plant. Check the temperature by placing a hand inside the bale.

To grow directly from seeds, put in a couple of inches starting mix for the seeds. For seedlings, dig into the bale with a spade, add a little potting medium and plant the seedling.

I am a bit skeptical with using straw or hay bales as a no dig gardening plan. I did want to try it though! I decided to start with one bale of hay for a kitchen herb garden.

Quick Start Method for Straw or Hay Bale Gardening

As with lasagna gardening, there is also a quick cook method for straw or hay bale gardening. Use a 10-day regime of adding a high nitrogen fertilizer. On day 4 after watering add 1/2 cup of the fertilizer to the watering. After day 5 cut back to about 1/4 cup of fertilizer for 3 days. Then continue watering without the fertilizer.

 


Ideas For Thrill Fill Spill Container Gardens

Thrill, Fill, Spill

In the spring of 2010, Better Homes and Gardens magazine introduced the thrill, fill and spill method of creating a container garden in one of their issues. Since then, the design has been the mainstay of container gardens everywhere.

At homes, squares, malls and all around the town, you are likely to see thrill, fill and spill container gardens on every corner. Think about the container gardens you see all around the neighborhoods and towns.You will see that the design for these container gardens fit the thrill, fill and spill bill.

Spill, fill and thrill container gardens don’t have to be limited to flowering plants only. Flowers and veggies alike can come together in an awesome thrill, fill and spill container garden design. Tomato and pepper plants are often used as the thrill while a mixture of herbs and flowers provides the spill. Sweet potato vine is perfect for the spill.

What is Thrill, Spill, and Fill

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The thrill, spill, and thrill container garden method creates an aesthetically visual effect. The design’s roots may lie in a sort of structure popular in thrill,fill,spill floral design.

The first step is obvious. Choose plants that will have the same growing needs in the way of light, water and fertilization. Pick something for the thrill, the fill, and the spill.

Pick something stunning, some floral “eye candy” so to speak to be your focal point. Cone-shaped evergreens and climbers such as clematis are good choices.

The Thrill

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My eye candy or thrill is a saucy pink clematis growing up a trellis. This vine plant, with its delicate pink flower, needs full sunlight. It is an easy-to-grow vine plant that loves to climb trellises and posts.

The Fill

 

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Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) is that silvery fern-like plant that is commonly grown in landscaping and container gardens. It too requires full sunlight. It is easy to grow and very hardy. It bushes out, making it great for the fill of this container garden.

The Spill

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Calibrachoa is the perfect “spill” for my container garden. These tiny petunia-like flowers grow quickly when fertilized, and will cascade over the planter in an enchanting way.

 

 

 

 

How to Design a Thrill, Spill, Fill Container Garden

After the “eye candy” or focal point, concentrate on fill-ins that will compliment your choice as the “thrill.” In this arrangement,dusty miller makes a great silvery fill-in that will compliment the delicate pink clematis blossom. It grows up to 12 inches tall and gets really bushy.

Sometimes two or three different fill plants may be nice, but I think the dusty miller will be enough here. For the spill, choose plants that tend to cascade and spread like vines and ground covers. For my “spill”, the little “petunia like” blossoms of calibrachoa will grow and cascade down the container. It is sort of romantic, isn’t it?

Choosing Plants for Thrill, Spill, Fill Container Gardens

The charts below give a few ideas for flowering plants to use in container gardening. Choose plants that will need about the same type of care. Have fun and pick what you think would look good together.

Another good way to choose your plants is by browsing around a local nursery or gardening center. They usually have little plastic stakes stuck in them giving growing requirements as well as the size they will grow to. It’s always better to purchase plants locally. These nurseries and garden centers only sell plants that will do well in your particular growing zone.

Think about how the flower shapes and colors will go together. Think about how the leaves and vines will look with the flowers you choose. This is what garden design is all about.

Thrill Plants
Plant
Maintenance
Description
Asiatic Lily
Full sun, at least 6-8 hours
Looks similar to day lilies, Grows up to 3′
Celosia
Full sun, easy to care for
Flame-like spikes of brilliant reds and pinks, grows 6″to 8″
Hibiscus
Full sun, tolerates wet soil, tropical
Showy pink blooms the size of a baby’s head, grow 4′ to 10′
Mexican Feathergrass
Full sun, water regularly
beige-colored cascading ornamental grass, grows 1′ to 2′ hihg
Angelonia
Full sun, hardy in both hot and cold extreme temps
Clusters of deep rose-colored flowers with black throats, grows 6″ to !0″.
Rosemary
Needs 6-8 hours sun, somewhat sandy soil, good drainage
An herbal bush , may rarely have pink or blue flowers, grows 1″-6″
Caladium
Partial sun, keep soil moist
colorful foliage, red, green, white variegated leaves , 2 or more ” in diameter, can grow 1′ to 2′ high
Geranium
Full sun, tolerates heat and dryness
pink or red flower clusters, fuzzy leaves, grows 1′ to 2′ tall
Clematis
Full sun, moist soil, regular feeding, needs something to climm
climbing vine, large showy blooms, pinks and purples, can grow up to 12′ tall or more
Fill Plants
Plant
Mainainence
Descritiom
Aster
full to partial sun, loamy soil, keep moist
pink, white, purple red daisy-like flowers, grows 8″ to 8′ depending on variety
Dusty miller
6 or more hours of full sun, water once weekly, fertilizer every 2 weeks
silvery fern-like plant, grows 8″ to 12″ tall
Marigold
full sun, easy to grow
bright gold-colored double carnation-type flowers, grows 6″ to 4′ tall
Petunia
full sun, but some shade when very hot
morning glory-like pink, white,red or purple blooms, grows 6″ to 4′ tall
Star zennia
full sun, loamy well-drained soil
white, yellow, orange daisy-like flowers, grows 1′ tall
Coleus
shade to full sun, depending on variety
very colorful leaves, many varietes grows 1′ to 6′
Impatiens
shade plants, keep moist, doesn’t tolerate heat well
small colorful red, pink, white, orange flowers, grows 6″ to 8″ tall
Splash
prefer indirect sunlight, misting
pink, purple or creamy splashes of color, grows 12″ tall
Lemon Balm
sun to partial shade, moist soil
herb; oval, scalloped leaves, light blue or white flowers in summer, grows to 2′ tall
Spill Plants
Plant
Maintance
Description
Creeping fig
full to partial sun, needs minimum watering
green leafy vine, grows 25 to 30 ‘ long
Trailing geranium
full to partial sun, don’t over-water
pink ,white, red blooms grows up to 2′ long
Vinca Minor
full to partial sun, don’t over-water
blue or lavender small blooms, spreads out 1.5 ‘
Purple Jew
very hardy, full to partial sun
purplish leaves with occasional 3-petaled pink flower, spreads to 2′ long
Swedish ivy
full to partial sun, keep moist not soggy
vine; scalloped,veined leaves, occasional small, white bloom, grows to 3′
Needlepoint ivy
full sun, tolerates some shade, loamy, moist soil
ivy vine; pointy leaves, grow 6″ high then spreads
Lobelia
easy to grow, prefers full sun, moist soil
usually blue flowers, some pink, white or red, compact in height, cascades
Sweet alyssum
full to partial sun, moist soil
white, pale pink, lavender blooms, hairy gray-green leaves, low in height, cascades down
Sweet potato vine
full to partial sun, moderate watering
light green vine, grows out up to 6′
Moss rose
full sun, sandy soil,good drainage
succulent plant with tiny flowers in variety of colors, grows 3-8″ tall and 1′ wide
Calibrachoa
full sun, ample water and fertilizer
tiny petunia-like flowers in deep red, coral, purple, cream, grows 5″ to 10″ tall and 12″ wide

Thrill, Fill, Spill all Around the Square

Growing flowers with the thrill, spill, and fill method is widely used. Stroll around the square with me and get inspired to make a container garden. These are all freshly planted and will grow and fill out over the summer. I will be checking back to see their growth.

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So, remember, thrill, fill, spill. I hope this stroll around the square has inspired you to create a thrill, spill, fill container garden.