Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plants of the Week


These multi-branched, upright shrubs are fast growers. In spring, Diablo ninebark bears white or pinkish-white flowers that grow in clusters. The purplish foliage of Diablo ninebark plants (with a touch of red here and there) earn them the nickname, "purple ninebarks" or purple-leafed ninebarks." An increase in red color and a hint of bronze added to the purple in the leaves make them even more attractive in fall. Mature branches exhibit exfoliating bark, giving Diablo ninebark plants winter interest.

Diablo Ninebark

Besides it's aesthetic value in the landscape, Diablo is also loved for it's versatility. While it will flower best in full sun, it also thrives in partial shade.  Additionally this extremely hard plant, Diablo prefers a well drained soil, but can also be used as a wetland species -- while conversely...tolerating some drought!!

Ninebark Diablo grows 8-10' tall with a similar spread.  It makes an excellent specimen plant or privacy hedge.  Many prefer a natural 'overgrown' look, but Diablo can be pruned after blooming to make it more compact or shaped.


Traditionally in the midwest, perennials add background and greenery to the garden and the most powerful color punch comes from annuals.  Re-blooming daylilies offer summer-long bright and colorful blooms from a perennial plant.


The award-winning Plants that Work® "Twice as Nice" Daylily Collection represents some of the best hybridization and breeding the Daylily world has to offer. As America's most loved perennial, these selections offer a broad range of color, form and bloom time, with heights suitable for most any garden. And in most zones and under normal conditions, attentive gardening practices result in repeat blooms! "Twice as Nice" Daylily Collection continues to be a favorite choice of the home gardener including favorites like "Going Bananas", "Bright Sunser", and "Siloam Double Classic"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers

Nothing says "welcome" or "relax" - it's summertime like a pot full of beaming flowers.  In our climate, perennials give color burst for moments each season. 

Sweet Gerber Tropics

Containers are essential for color and style in the garden.  You can design your own amazing looking containers:

- Be creative in your plant choices (think outside the 4 pack)

- Select plants that will thrive in the container and location

- Use a top quality potting keep hearing this,

  but it's MOST important

- Use a design scheme of thrillers, fillers and spillers...

     Thrillers: Plants that bring punch to the containers

        Common choices: green spike, coleus, evergreen shrub

        Unique choices: cordyline, grasses, fuschia plant, or

         tropical plants like this croton.

     Fillers: Plants that bring fullness to the containers

        Common choices: pansies, begonias, verbena, geraniums,

        impatiens, petunias

        Unique choices: coralbells, hostas, herbs, strawberry 

        plants, and even lettuce!

  Spillers: Plants that, well, spill out of your container

        Common choices: vinca vine, asparagus fern, licorice, & ivy

        Unique choices: ferns, sweet potato vine, ivy geranium

tropical container

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few cool plants

Walking through the garden…I couldn’t help but notice some understated, unassuming plants that I just love!

Nashika Willow:

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Nashika Willow enjoys part sun/part shade…it has an interesting and airy branch structure.  It’s white and green variegated leaves add a pop of color and it has small blooms in spring…

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Lady’s mantle…is a low growing perennial.  It fills in nicely to create a sort of ground cover or border feature.  She’s my kind of lady because she prefers a little sunshine…

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And no shade garden is complete without the stately Solomon’s seal…(on the left) It grows tall and proud and it’s white variegated leaves provide a beacon of light for the dark shade garden.  It’s dainty blooms are just delightful…

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None of these plants are as showy and fragrant as the lilacs about to burst into bloom…but they have a quiet well-deserved place in the garden…beyond May :)

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Lawn Care: 2 methods – 3 steps

Fight, Feed & Seed for Spring

A few tips to keep in mind for your lawn in early spring:

FIGHT weeds now:

-  Early spring is the optimum time to prevent crabgrass! Crabgrass will germinate when the soil temperature reaches  approximately 60 apply your crabgrass preventer now

FEED your lawn:

-  Fertilizing your lawn now will provide lusher, greener grass for bare feet in summer

SEED your lawn:

-  Spring is also a good time to repair patches or overseed your lawn.


GO ORGANIC – here’s how…

FIGHT weeds now:

-  Even organic gardeners dislike weeds!! Applying a natural weed blocker on the lawn now will 'smother' weeds like crabgrass, dandelions and other annaul weeds. Corn gluten meal is a common choice for organic gardeners. Well, that and a spade!!!

FEED your lawn:

-  Fertilizing organically can be done using a number of products and methods also.  The key to a healthy organic lawn is good, healthy soil.  Aeration is hugely beneficial in spring.  Following aeration, try a compost dressing or tea.  You can also purchase bagged fertilizers such as milorganite or Nature Guard's Soil Activator.

SEED your lawn:
-  Seeding is very important in organic lawn care.  The more healthy grass thrives, the less room weeds have to invade.  Plant a mixed crop of grasses, so that if one or two varieties fail, the other varieties can fill in instead of weeds. 

You can combine Fight, Feed, and Seed with other green practices.  Raise your mower blade, let grass clippings compost onto the lawn, water more thoroughly less frequently.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How does your garden grow?

It seems just a few days ago we were asking…

“When will the flowers get here??


Well…we have flowers everywhere now and we wonder…

Do you plant…


The perpetually friendly face of gerbera daisies??


The petite humility of a pansy?Green Thumbers 020


The over joyous osteos?Green Thumbers 032


The lovingly patient ranunculus?

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The politely pleasant petunia?Green Thumbers 036


The quiet, thoughtful fern?

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The timeless geranium?

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I just wonder friends…what do you plant in your garden?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You say Potatoe I say Potato

Potatoes are relatively easy to grow and require little space.  It’s even feasible to grow potatoes in containers!  Potatoes are best planted now in early to mid spring because maximal tuber formation occurs at soil temperatures between 60° and 70°F. The tubers fail to form when the soil temperature reaches 80°F. Potatoes withstand light frosts in the spring.

Consider these varieties:

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Dakota Pearl has a very smooth, uniform, shape.  It has round tubers with bright white skin and flesh. Good for chipping and mashing. Mid season maturity. Disease resistant. Stores well

Kennebec is a large potato, and it looks very pretty with its light tan skin, nice uniform appearance and attractive white fleshy insides. Thin skin peels quickly. Resists blight. High yield. Winters well for a long storage time.

Yukon Gold is the most famous of the new wave of yellow-fleshed varieties now available. Long popular in Europe, these have good flavor and moist flesh, which many people claim requires less of the fattening condiments required by other potatoes. All-purpose. Early to mid-season. Keeps well.

Red Norland is a round tuber type with bright red skin. Medium yield potential. Good for boiling, roasting and salad.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vegetable Gardens

A sight such as this…is beautiful, but rarely seen…

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Most families lack the land, the time, and the knowledge to host a large, traditional garden of vegetables lined up in proud rows ready to fight against sun, wind, and whatever comes there way until harvest.

For the last couple of decades, vegetable gardening has been a quiet sport contended by retirees or the rare few, but it is now ‘en vogue’ to think local, think healthy and of course – think green.

As a result more and more families are thinking outside of the box formerly known as the vegetable garden…


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Would you believe there are 5 tomato plants, 3 pepper plants, 10 onion sets, a handful of herbs and even a blueberry bush growing among this landscape of ornamental grasses and newly planted cutting flowers?

container gardening

Of course container gardening is also a hot topic!!


If you already have decorative planters of flowers, consider mixing lettuce for cutting such as “Black-seeded Simpson” or “Buttercrunch” creating edible greenery in your containers.  For a punch of color consider “kale” or “swiss chard”.


Some gardeners are creating signature touches by including a strawberrystrawberry plant or pepper plant in each container they have…can you imagine…a bright red strawberry!!! What a wonderful surprise!!!



Thoughts to consider when planning your vegetable garden:

- What do you want?

Spend some time at dinner one evening jotting down all that the fruits and vegetables you would like to grow. The next night, highlight your top priorities on the list.

- How much time?

Write down how much time you can dedicate each day and each week to tending…including watering, weeding, and harvest.

- How much space?

Decide how many containers how many sections of your yard or current flower beds you can dedicate.

After you have this information on paper, draw a sketch of the spaces you are considering.

-Highlight or shade orange areas that are full sun or receive sunlight in morning and afternoon

-Highlight or shade yellow areas that are part sun (shaded partially in either afternoon or morning)

- Highlight or shade blue areas that are mostly shady

Now you can match up the types of plants from your priority list that match that spaces you currently have available.  A little pocket here and there can really put to use when you have the right plants in the right place. 

Helpful Hint: For busy gardeners, put your plants near areas that you use…walkways, patios, and near the most common entrance of your home.  This will make it easier to water and not forget your plants when your schedule gets hectic!

family gardening

Success is motivating.

Start small.

Think outside the box.

When you enjoy the fun and taste of harvest…you will want to add more next year!

For more on starting your vegetable garden on a budget…consider Starting Seeds with a little help from Dr. Earth!

Dr. Earth Tea

Fertilizer's easy!

Fill a bucket with water. Use 1 cup of Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer for every gallon of water. (A good method is to use 5 cups in a 5 gallon bucket)

Stir and let the mixture sit for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, stir well. Strain the solids and mulch soilds around the root zone.

Use the liquid tea for foliar feed or deep root feeding.

Use 1-2 cups per plant (2-4 cups for larger plants)

This can be done at planting and repeated monthly if desired.


Compost Tea

You will need a - 5gallon bucket.
Fill the bucket 3/4 full with water and let it sit for 24 hours (to allow chlorine gas to evaporate).

After 24 hours, add approximately 1 gallon of Dr. Earth Pro-biotic soil and 1 ounce of unsulfured molasses (extra food for the microbes!) to the water.

Stir the soil and water well until the soil is completely wet and the water is a rich, dark brown color. Use your tea within 24 hours of ''brewing.''

How to apply-

Soil Drench Application-
Apply directly to the soil around your plants at a rate of 1 cup ''tea'' to your plants monthly.

Foliar Application- Sprayer or Watering can -
Filter resulting tea through folded cheesecloth.

If using a watering can, pour liquid full strength over foliage of plants as you water tea mixture in to the planting area.

Apply the strained tea with a standard pump sprayer both to the top and bottom on leaves.

Do not throw the solid material away; add it to the soil as mulch around any plant in the garden.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A peek at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Right away I noticed tulips and hyacinths tucked into every kind of landscape!  I L-O-ve this!!! In the northern tundra we wait soooo long for spring to bloom.  Spring bulbs give us color before our shrubs and perennials have warmed up for the season.  The whole left from spring bulbs is the perfect place to fill in annuals for color punch the rest of the season…

Another trend that I L-O-ve was the frequent use of kale and purple cabbage.  Again, I L-O-ve this because it lends cool-tolerant color for early spring and late autumn.  Flower show & Kane County 046

This picture shows cacti…but replacing it with kale would be a really great statement especially for early spring or late fall!! Flower show & Kane County 038

My favorite is always LUCIOUS containers!!!

Dusty Miller is a fun surprise here…Flower show & Kane County 065

The boxwood is a great backdrop for this colorful mix of bulbs, annuals, and trailing vines…

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This monochromatic scheme brings elegance and tranquility --- plus it can be over-wintered indoors…prolonging your investment

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The Green Thumbers floral team started talking in January about the importance of botanicals in arrangements this year…and guess what….they were right on!!!!  (No surprise though:) )

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Hope you are inspired…it’s time to start getting dirty hands!!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grills website page

Weber welcome

Weber Grills...

Grilling done Right!

Gas and Charcoal grills to meet every

budget and every chef's desires...

Genesis Series Weber Q Series

Spirit Series Performer Grills


Grilling Accessories make it FUN and EASY

to cook your next meal on the GRILL!!

The Green Thumbers offers cookbooks, utensils, grill covers, grill accessories and more!!!

Make the weekends menu easy!!

Home_FindRecipeBtnWeekly Grilling Recipes. Sign up here.

Gourmet Gardens

by The Green Thumbers

A great addition to any BBQ!! Green Thumbers 007

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prune – is that a fruit?

The idea of “pruning” sends many people running out of the garden!!  What do you prune? When do you prune it? How do you prune it? What kind of pruner do you use????

Here is a very plain-language simple look at pruning for Early Spring…remember…this is for Early Spring…

What do you prune?

> Deciduous shrubs and trees (remember the “D” in deciduous can trigger your memory that deciduous plants “die back” in spring…thanks to my 5th grade science teacher for the memory trick:) )

> Roses

> All perennials

> All ornamental grasses

How do you prune it?

> For shape, prune shrubs accordingly

> To encourage new growth, prune shrubs back 1/3…in other words…prune it back to 2/3 of the size it is now

> To encourage better health or tame an overgrown shrub…use “hard cut” pruning method.  In other words do the opposite as above…Cut back 2/3…leaving the shrub 1/3 of the size it is now

What kind of pruner do you use????

> Anvil pruner: Used to trim woody or dead branchesThe Green Thumbers 009

>Bypass Pruner: Used to trim healthy branches The Green Thumbers 008

>Hedge or Grass Shears: Use for perennials or shaping soft shrub branchesThe Green Thumbers 007

>A Knife: as in from the kitchen:) Use like a scythe to release frustration and take down dead foliage The Green Thumbers 020>Cutters: What my 2 year old uses to help!The Green Thumbers 016

Electric Hedge Trimmer:  To make the job on grasses very easy and make me feel very, very powerful

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And lastly…before you have a funeral for your shrub consider

that this guy is still alive…(although living in my shadow – HA!)The Green Thumbers 028  This is cut back hard…very hard…but there is still life in there because the stems are pliable and fleshy.  I trimmed (note: with my anvil pruner) the dead branches. 

The finger test is always a good test with deciduous shrubs…if you can break it off…it’s a dead branch…if it bends…there’s still hope!!!  I will first root stimulate, then fertilize, water, and of course…pray!

Happy pruning!!!

PS…feel free to leave your questions or tips in the comments…we can all learn from each other…

And of course…come in to see us or visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Simple Seed Starting

A great way to enjoy SPRING and save money is growing your own plants from seeds!

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This is a great project to do with children!! They learn not just from the process, but also from knowing where there food comes from…

Here’s a look at some very easy seeds to start.

Start with a simple plastic growing flat with a dome… Blog 081

Dr. Earth made it very easy to start seeds ORGANICALLY this year!!!

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(Click the pic for more on Dr. Earth)

Step 1: Use a high quality potting soil and mix in 2 tablespoons of Dr. Earth ORGANIC fertilizer with one quart of soil.Blog 086

Fill each cell to about 2/3 with mixture Flower show & Kane County 001

Drop Seeds into mixture

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Cover lightly with a dusting of more soil mixtureFlower show & Kane County 002

Label cells according to seeds planted

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Water thoroughly

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Cover with dome and set in warm, sunny window…

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The inside of the dome should become moist after a few days. Just about the time you have forgotten about it…you will have little sprouts coming up just like ours!!

We L-O-ve Dr. Earth!!

Check back soon to find out what to do next, but right now…grab a friend or your family and START SOME SEEDS!!!

Stop into The Green Thumbers for a FREE magazine about organic growing and vegetable garding complements of Dr. Earth :)