12/21/2007

Native Plant of the Week- The Red Maple

I’m starting to jump on the native plant bandwagon recently. I’m inspired by the idea of creating a mini-habitat in my backyard by growing plants that nurture wildlife. So where to begin? Trees of course!

Trees are the backbone of any garden. And in the Southeastern United States there are many familiar trees that are native to our region, including magnolias, tulip poplars, and red maples, and dogwood trees. Proclaiming yourself a “native plant” gardener may sound elitist, but these native trees certainly aren’t out of the ordinary. You probably already have countless native trees in your backyard!


So why plant some more native trees? Let’s use the native maple trees as an example. The red maple (Acer rubrum), native to the Eastern United States, gets its name from its brilliant fall foliage. Wildlife find it attractive, too! Birds like to nest in its branches and eat the fruits. Deer also like to chomp on the leaves of the red maple. Therefore, the red maple is not only beautiful; it’s also useful to many types of wildlife.

Thinking this way about your garden may be a completely different mindset. At least it was for me. Instead of just planting what I like to look at, I’m also starting to think about what the birds, butterflies, and other critters are going to think about it, too. Luckily, we can all agree that native trees like the red maple are worth growing. They’re beautiful and delicious. (Well I’m taking the deer’s word on that.)

12/13/2007

Poinsettia Rescue 911

Have you ever said, "Oops, I think I killed my poinsettia!"

It happens to the best of us. While you're frantically shopping and baking for the holidays, caring for your poinsettia can become the last thing on your mind. After a few weeks of neglect, that once beautiful poinsettia plant might look almost dead. But don't panic! You might be able to rescue your poinsettia plant with some special care.

Poinsettia 911 Plan
1. Rush your poinsettia to the sink and water throughly.
2. Leave the poinsettia in a tray of water for a couple hours.
3. Remove the tray and let drain.
4. Place the poinsettia in a sunny window.

Unless your poinsettia is already crispy, it will probably recover within 24 hours.

To prevent a poinsettia 911 call, read my previous post:
How to care for poinsettias

12/01/2007

Winter Garden Crafts

Do you ever just get in the mood to craft?

On these days I often end up roaming the isles of Hobby Lobby or AC Moore. Usually I can find inspiration a new baggie of beads for making a necklace or a decorative piece of wood to paint and decorate. Browsing through a craft store can be as addictive for me as a seed catalog or bookstore.

But today I had a new idea- look to nature for my inspiration! Why not combine two of my favorite hobbies? And if listen to some good music while I complete these projects, and write about it at the same time, I'll cover pretty much be doing all my favorite things at once. Bliss!

If you have any ideas, please share! Here's a couple I have in mind:

1. Make a "winter boquet" of dried stems, evergreen leaves, dried grasses, or whatever else I can find outdoors.

2. Press some colored leaves between wax paper and iron to preserve some of the last remnants of fall color.

3. Make some Christmas ornaments by painting pinecones

4. Try making a candle with leaf imprints.