Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crepe Myrtle - A Beloved Landscape Focal

Wrinkled Flowers Resemble Crepe Paper
My Crepe Myrtle is in bloom right now and I just had to share my thoughts on this wonderful shrub.  As you can see from the pictures, this shrub provides brilliant color when very little others are blooming.  Also considered a tree in some varieties, Crepe Myrtles are rather carefree, easy growers.  This particular one started around 3 or 4 foot high and has grown to this size, well over 12 feet within a 6 year period.  Yes, a fast grower.  They like sun and well drained soil and that is exactly what this one gets in its current location.  I suppose that has something to do with its vigor.

It seems to be a very hardy, disease and insect resistant species.  Just as I'm anxious for my Azaleas to bloom in the Spring, I am for my Crepe Myrtle to bloom in late Summer.  They also produce a wonderful, light, sweet fragrance.  This light pink color seems to be most prominent and the norm in this area of the Eastern US (Pennsylvania).  I do however see darker pinks hinging more toward purple as well from time to time and long to get my hands on one of them.  I suppose I'll have to order one online as I'm not finding the purple varieties in the local garden centers.

If you have the space or want a showy shrub (tree) that blooms when little else does, consider a Crepe Myrtle.  It blooms much longer than Azaleas and faded, initial blooms can be snipped to promote another, although less brilliant bout of blooming.

Plant them in the Fall or early Spring although they seem to be easier to find at merchants during fall planting time.  Prune with care as they bloom on their new growth and too much pruning may develop spindly branches that can not support the weight of the large blooms.  I have yet to prune mine and am thrilled with its shape and display of flowers, so a natural growth habit and shape has been most successful for me.  You can prune lower branches however to help push the growth toward the top and keep the bottom looking more trunk-like and tidy.

Color while little other shrubs are in bloom.
Other current, blooming shrubs are Rose of  Sharon

Go ahead and plant a Crepe Myrtle.  You won't be disappointed with this wonderful, landscape addition!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Birdbath Plant Stand

Do you have an old birdbath that has seen better days?  Use it as an outdoor plant stand.  You can invert them as I have done in this photo so no water collects in the basin.  Or you can drill holes into the basin to allow for proper draining.  I have done this with numerous old birdbaths.  It looks great with a trailing and draping annual.

Impatiens and Creeping Jenny provide "no-fuss" beauty and color.

For more information on Container Gardening, or to see more images of birdbath planters, visit

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Murderous Cave

Well, tragedy struck late last week.  During a windy storm, a tree branch fell into my fish pond, knocking a stone cave down.  Unfortunately, one of my larger gold fish was inside and got pinned down.  It was a very sad thing to find, knowing he had gotten trapped and I wasn't around to possibly free him.

So I just wanted to tell all the pond builders out there to be careful with how you construct your underwater caves and dwelling for our swimming friends.  This cave has been like this for over seven years but a freak accident caused it to collapse.  If you are going to build a few caves for your fish to hide in, be sure they have sturdy, base rocks and a top rock that can't flip if anything should fall against it.  I actually began removing more of my caves just be sure this thing doesn't happen again.  You can purchase waterfall spray-foam that fills in the gaps around rocks to keep the water flowing over the rocks rather than seeping behind them.  I'm wondering if this foam, being non-toxic would be worth using to connect seams as you build simple caves.  A means of adhering the rocks together to give them further strength.  I'll have to do a bit of research.

All of these fish are about 6+ years old. 

Here are my "guys" a day or so afterward when things were cleaned up around the pond and excess vegetation trimmed.  Wow, I never realized how much overgrowth was hiding this wonderful feature till I really got in there and cut stuff back.  It's nice to have it be more of a focal along this pathway.  Too bad this incident is what prompted some action.

So, beware of your caves.  Be sure they are "structurally sound" to keep a safe environment for your fish.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chimney Top "REPURPOSED" As Planter

In case you missed my earlier posts on this subject at the frugal website and facebook page, here it is again.  My chimney was redone back in October of 2010.  I saved the two toppers, knowing they would function somehow in my outdoor living areas.  I decided to use them to disguise and bulk up the look of some plain ole plastic planters that are concealed within.  Perhaps I'll repurpose them differently next year.  A fire pit idea crossed my mind.

Excellent complementary colors of purple, red, lavender and yellow.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Showy Fushia

A fushia full of bright blooms was near my entryway for the past couple of weeks.  I have it placed in an inverted birdbath so it "spills" over the sides.  Quite a neat effect.  For more info on repurposed birdbaths, visit this page.

For some reason, my planter fushia always seem to lose their blooms and get "straggly" looking.  It is rather odd as it is in the perfect, shady location and they supposedly love shade.  They are also rather messy, dropping dead flowers and leaves everywhere.  I have since moved it to my wishing-well planter, also shaded but in a bed where dropped blooms won't create such a mess.  I replaced the fushia with a planter full of Creeping Jenny and Impatiens (my favorite, no-fuss, annuals.)  I'll share some of my Impatiens images soon.  For now, the bright green of the Creeping Jenny sure looks vibrant in an otherwise dull, shaded corner.  Hopefully it does o.k. there as they prefer sun.  It's a game of hit or miss.


Friday, July 1, 2011

"Bug Week" is Coming to a Close

Since I've been posting images of "bugs" around the property, I decided I would call this week "Bug Week".  I'll be posting more images of  "them" from time to time.

I wanted to share this great picture I took last Summer.  My butterfly bushes are just now coming into full bloom so hopefully I'll be getting more shots like this.

I actually witnessed a "new" butterfly from the cocoon about a month back; stumbling around trying to get its wings to dry out.  I sat him on a warm rock in the muted sunlight to help him out.   I think I have those pics, although not the greatest, on my phone.  I'll have to see if they are worth posting.  

My two, favorite, complementary colors in nature - purple and orange.

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