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Jack in the Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum

This past winter I was shopping for garden seeds at Lowe's when I spotted a couple of packages of Jack-in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, corms for 99 cents. Having wanted these for a long time I purchased a couple and decided to try to grow them in my garden. In the spring I potted up the Jack-in-the-Pulpit corms and pretty much forgot about them because they didn't sprout. I was just about to toss the pots when I we had some severe weather in Chicago and I noticed the heavy rains were bringing the Jack-in-the-Pulpit corms in one of the pots out of dormancy

Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower picture


Viola 'BlackJack'

If you've been reading my garden blog for a while you may know how much I like to start plants from seeds and how much I like black flowers and plants. At one time I wanted a completely Gothic garden, I still do actually, but that hasn't come to pass. This year I started Viola 'Blackjack' from a pack of Burpee seeds and eagerly anticipated having these beautiful "black" blooms decorate the container garden. Now, I should mention for all the budding black plants enthusiasts out there that "black" plants and flowers are usually just a deep purple or blue. Sometimes, as in the case of Viola 'Blackjack,' there will be some color in the bloom.

Viola Blackjack flower, black flowers, Gothic gardening


Upside Down Pepper Planter

The Topsy Turvy® started the upside down container gardening fad, much to the chagrin of gardening purists. Growing vegetables upside down has recieved mainstream recognition by being profiled in newspapers and magazines. There is even an upside down container DIY project in Gayla Trail's latest book, Grow Great Grub. While you can buy several upside down planters like the Topsy Turvy®  you can also make your own upside down planter for plants like tomatoes and peppers.

One day while cleaning out food from the fridge I came across a deli container I was going to toss out. Being a frugal gardener I decided to recycle the container in the garden.

how to make an upside down pepper planter


Coleus, Petunias, Euphorbias And Impatiens From Ball Horticultural Company

A couple of weeks ago the Ball Horticultural Company sent me a free trial pack of some of their annuals to plant in my garden. The box arrived during a weekend that I was unexpectedly busy and stayed closed for a couple of days. Then, the weather turned really hot after I put the plants out and they didn't like it. I've begged and pleaded with these annuals to recuperate and they're bouncing back nicely. What garden annuals came in the package from Ball Hort? I'm glad you asked. Two petunias, two coleus, some euphorbias and impatiens- great for container gardening.

Petunia Sun Spun Yellow, Ball Horticultural Company


How To Water Small Seeds And Seedlings

My favorite part of gardening is growing plants from seeds I haven't grown before. Oftentimes it seems like the best flowers come from really small seeds. Small garden seeds, like the bee balm pictured below, pose the unique problem of how to best go about watering the small seeds and seedlings. You can water seeds from the bottom to keep the small seeds from spilling out of their seed starting pots. If you're growing a lot of small seeds you may not have enough time to sit there and submerge individual seed pots in water. Then there's the issue of gardening with kids. Their little brains sometimes don't easily grasp the idea of when they should stop watering your seeds and seedlings.

how to water seedlings, how to water seeds from the bottom


Voodoo Lily, Dracunculus vulgaris

A few year ago I traded plants with a gardener on the Internet and what I received were about three bulbs labeled "Voodoo Lily." Not really knowing much about them I planted them in the garden closest to the house to help protect and overwinter them in the garden. For about three years the foliage would get about two feet high in the shady part of the garden and then die down when it go really hot. The first year growing Voodoo Lily bulbs I thought they had died after surviving the winter.

Last fall I was on this garden design kick and had psyched myself up to sit down and create a plan for the garden and properly place plants. While digging up some other plants I came across the Voodoo Lily bulbs and decided to move them to the sunniest part of the garden.

Voodoo Lily Flower scape Drancunculus vulgaris flower scape


Damaged Nasturtium Foliage

A couple of weeks ago after my Nasturtium seedlings emerged in the garden some kind of pest had a field day in the garden. Most of the cotyledons were eaten back to the stems and some leaves had been chewed like the picture below.

Damaged Nasturtium foliage


How to Pollinate Strawberry Plants

Strawberries are self-fertile. Strawberry plants will pollinate themselves, but they usually need the assistance of wind or pollinators, such as bees, to do the work of transferring the pollen from the stamens, the male parts of the flowers, to the stigma, the female part of the flower. Once you can identify the stamen you'll be on your way to learning how to pollinate your strawberry plants.

This year has seen a dramatic decrease in honeybees visiting my ornamental garden, which is causing me to worry about the vegetables and herbs I'm growing that rely on pollinators like bees on the balcony garden. My strawberry plants began to bloom in the container garden and the lack of bees has meant that I've had a lot of strawberry blooms to go waste. They've opened and withered without setting fruit, until I stepped in and act as the pollinator.

how to pollinate strawberry plants. Strawberry flower