01: Impressions — published on May 30, 2008

Flowers for instant curb appeal

The experts all agree that curb appeal is one of the most important aspects to consider when selling your home.When selling, it’s the appearance from the street that will very often determine whether potential buyers come in to see the inside, or never get out of their cars.

Flowers are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to make the front of your house look inviting and instantly increase the curb appeal of your home. Without any real landscaping at all, flowers can transform a rather drab and dreary looking front yard into one that looks colorful and lush. Especially during spring and summer, you should take advantage of the season by planting pots and flower boxes.

You should choose colorful flowers that will be in bloom during the time you’re selling your home. Planting the flowers in planter boxes and pots is easier than planting them in the ground and lets you more easily place them where they can have the most visual impact. You don’t need to have a green thumb, or spend a lot of money to get great results either. Visit your local home improvement center or nursery and they will be happy to advise you of the best flowers and plants for your purpose. You can put together several very nice planter boxes and pots of flowers for well under $100. And it’s easy!

One of the nice things about using flowers in this way is that you’ll see the results immediately. And so will buyers visiting your home.

01: Impressions — published on May 26, 2008

Beyond Curb appeal

The “For Sale” and “Open House” signs are popping up like dandelions in Toronto area front yards. Home buyers are buzzing through neighbourhoods to check out the new listings. Curb appeal is the nectar that beckons buyers to stop and sniff the flowers. Peeling paint, overgrown shrubbery and an unkempt appearance is a buzz kill. Buyers read “keep out” when the message should be “welcome.”

Prospective home buyers usually make up their minds about viewing a home less than 10 seconds after seeing the exterior. If they don’t like what they see outside, nothing a real estate agent says or does — short of dragging them kicking and screaming — will get them inside.

Even if the interior has been redone, they don’t want to stop and go in. People want to be excited about coming home to their house every day. It sends a subliminal message when a potential buyer drives up and sees everything is neat, clean and in its place. That says ‘this is a great home’ and sends the message that if the exterior is taken care of, probably they’ve cared for the interiors, too.

Make the front entry as welcoming and warm as possible. That front door needs to be clean, the glass sparkling, the porch cleaned up, and when you open the door, no clutter and no odors.

Beyond curb appeal:

One of the biggest errors is trying to mask an odor rather than get rid of it. Too many scented plug-ins and candles from room to room is just as bad. If there are pet odors, some people won’t even go through the door because of allergies.

The better dressed your home, the more people want to see it. Make it inviting. Repaint, hose down the siding, make sure the landscaping is trimmed back and presentable, put a wreath on the door. Step back and be objective. Ask yourself, ‘Would I want to go into this house or would I pass it by?’

But a seller’s efforts don’t stop at the front door. It’s the “little things” that can make or break a sale, particularly odor, cleanliness and clutter. Some real estate agents suggest a teaspoon of vanilla poured on a cookie sheet and placed in a warm oven will fill the house with a light, appealing fragrance before a showing. Just remember to turn off the oven before leaving the house.

If a home isn’t sparkling clean and uncluttered, especially the kitchens and bathrooms, the woman is going to walk out the door. Thoroughly scrub bathrooms and kitchens. Replacing worn, corroded fixtures can give older sinks and tubs an inexpensive facelift. Remove small appliances and give counters a clean sweep to clear counter space. Clean off magnets, photos and take-out menus from the refrigerator door.

You want bathrooms and kitchens looking their best because those are the rooms that will reap the most rewards. Also, if you have old carpeting throughout the house and hardwood floors underneath, remove the carpeting and get the floors cleaned up. Let them sing. If the carpet is in good shape, have it cleaned.

De-personalize the space by removing the family photo gallery off the walls. Prospective buyers should picture themselves living in the home.

Pack up salt-and-pepper shakers, velvet Elvis paintings and Precious Moments collections and put them in storage. Clean out and organize basements, garages and attics. Ask children to help out by removing posters and glow-in-the-dark stickers from their bedroom walls. Paint rooms to freshen the space. Have a garage sale to get rid of stuff you don’t want and have been meaning to ditch for years.

Don’t over-decorate. “People would rather see more of a blank slate so they can envision their own personality in the house. Toss down personal colors. Take down those family pictures — a buyer doesn’t want to feel they’re moving a family out, they want to envision themselves moving in.

Declutter closets. If your closets are jammed full of stuff, if you’ve got shoeboxes and sweatshirts stacked 2 feet high, even if it’s a huge closet or a walk-in closet, you’re giving the buyer the thought that closets aren’t big enough.

Rearrange furniture and remove pieces to aid traffic flow. Minimalist — that’s the thought process … if you have too many chairs or your furniture is large, a buyer is going to think the rooms are too small because all the furniture doesn’t fit. If somebody is truly thinking about buying a house and get into a home and every corner is full, it’s going to discourage the buyer. Unconsciously if they like the house, a buyer’s eyes gravitate to an empty corner and they start arranging their own furniture. If they don’t have that empty corner, they’ll move on.

Inside and out, tackle chores on the “honey-do” list. Unfinished projects are red flags to potential buyers. Wives often say, ‘Sure, you’ll fix that for the realtor but I’ve been after you to finish that for the last 10 years’. If you’re selling your house, you can’t live in it like you normally would. It’s all about presentation.

If possible, remove pets from the home during a showing. It will make for happier pets who may feel threatened by strangers, and a better showing.

Homeowners should leave during showings. Otherwise prospective buyers won’t feel free to ask questions and the real estate agent can’t effectively do their job.

01: Impressions — published on April 20, 2008

So what is Curb Appeal?

It’s the key component to selling your home

You’ve probably heard the term a thousand times, especially if your home is already listed and you’re working actively with a real estate agent. “Curb appeal”, simply put is the look of your home’s exterior based on a buyer drive-by. The key to selling a home is to give your home “curb appeal” so if a potential buyer were to see your home while passing through the neighborhood, it would catch their eye. There are a number of ways you can give your home curb appeal without going broke.

Landscaping

A properly groomed lawn is paramount if you wish to sell your home for top dollar. Make sure the grass is green and evenly trimmed, and plant some fresh flowers to give your home an even brighter look. You may even consider removing some unappealing bushes or an overbearing tree. Whether the job is major or minor, landscaping has a proven track record of increasing the value of your home. Just make sure there aren’t any landscaping tools left out in the yard as they can negate the changes you’ve made.

Lighting and Entryway

You want your home to look inviting, so potential buyers will be chomping at the bit to get a chance to view your home. If you brighten your home with new Malibu lights or lanterns, as well as clear the entry way or highlight it in some way, buyers will be even more interested in seeing your home. Flowers, lights, and even props that match the theme of your home leading up to the front door can have a big effect without breaking the bank.

Paint and Windows

Let’s face it, a lot of old homes have old windows, and a lot of times it’s very obvious. Windows may have sun damage, cracks or bubbling, and rusty old frames. The paint on the siding of your home may also be chipped, cracking, and out of date. For a relatively small amount of money, you can replace your windows and get a new coat of paint to modernize your home. These changes can really frame your home, and give it the finishing touches needed to wrangle in a new owner.

Driveways, Garage Doors, and the Porch

While the three of these items can add value to your home, they can also show wear and tear that can suck the value out of your home. By updating these aspects of your home, you can increase the selling price of your home dramatically. If you have a driveway full of potholes and crumbled asphalt, consider at least filling in the holes and smoothing out the imperfections. If your garage door needs a new paint job or a new coat of oil, by all means get it done. If the battery no longer works, see what you can do to get the garage door back in working order. Some people insist upon parking indoors. And finally if you have a nice porch, highlight it with new paint, colorful plants and perhaps even some new furniture.

Remember, simple changes can boost your home’s curb appeal and make selling it faster and more rewarding.

01: Impressions — published on April 9, 2008

Curb Appeal Basics

Keep things simple…

  1. Take an honest look at your property from across the street and make note of the strengths and weaknesses.
  2. A clean, newly-painted home, with a simple, but well-planned landscape will add to the value and saleability of your home.
  3. Don’t add too much color to the landscape beds. Mass plantings of colour are great, but avoid mixing and matching too many colours.
  4. Use different textures and shapes of plants to make them stand out and contrast.
  5. Avoid planting shrubs in long straight lines. Mass plantings in odd numbers create interest. Use broad sweeping curves to help break the strong linear lines of most homes.
  6. Mow lawns frequently to keep them looking sharp and mow in different directions to create patterns.
01: Impressions — published on April 8, 2008

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Builders

The home buying season is quickly approaching and it’s time to think about ways to improve the curb appeal of your home. With all the recent activity in the real estate market and with long-term mortgage rates moving lower, it’s now a buyers market in the Toronto area. So you need to get a competitive edge over other home sellers in your area by making your home look better than the rest.

Here are six things you can do to your home to make it look more appealing to buyers that won’t cost you a fortune and could make the difference in your home being sold versus your neighbour’s.

Paint the House

A new coat of paint can go a long way to making your home look a bit newer. Bold colors can reflect your personal taste, so make sure you choose a neutral color that will appeal to the most number of people.

Clean the Yard

Take the time to clean up the yard. Rake the dead leaves and grass and put away any tools or equipment that may be lying around. If buyers see a mess in your yard, they’ll think twice about wanting to see the inside of the house as it may be an indication of what else may await them.

Plant New Flowers and Trees

Another easy and inexpensive way to improve the look of your home is to plant some new flowers and/or trees. Adding some new color can make a big difference in brightening up your home?s appearance and make it look more cheery to prospective buyers.

Enhance Your Walkway

You can boost your home’s look by adding a brick- or stone-paved walkway to the front of your house. Dress it up even more by adding some solar-powered walkway lights. They’ll make your home more inviting by adding more ambiance.

Replace Your Front Door

You may think it wouldn’t make a difference, but changing the front door can change the entire look of your home. Replace that stale and plain-looking door with a nice wooden one with a decorative, beveled window.

Add Window Treatments

They say windows can be the soul of your house, so it’s important to dress up your home by dressing up your windows. Add some decorative shutters to keep your home from looking plain and boring. Adorn them even further by adding some plant boxes. You’ll be amazed at how much a simple thing can improve your home’s appeal.

Home buying season is nearly here and it’s time to get a competitive edge over other home sellers by sprucing up the look of your home. Luckily, adding to your home’s curb appeal doesn’t have to set you back financially. Adding some color and a few adornments will go far in helping you sell your home faster.

01: Impressions — published on April 7, 2008

A Glossary

of Gardening and Landscape Terms

acid soil : A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil. (a soil pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline) Basically, pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil.

acre: A measure of land totaling 43,560 square feet. A square acre is 208.75 feet on each side.

aerate: Loosening or puncturing the soil to increase water penetration.

air layering: A specialized method of plant propagation accomplished by cutting into the bark of the plant to induce new roots to form.

alkaline soil: A soil with a pH higher than 7.0 is an alkaline soil. (a soil pH lower than 7.0 is acidic) Basically, pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil.

annuals: Plants whose life cycle lasts only one year, from seed to blooms to seed.

arboretum: A garden with a large collection of trees and shrubs cultivated for scientific or educational purposes.

aquatic plants: Plants which grow in, live in, or live on the water.

bare root: Plants offered for sale which have had all of the soil removed from their roots.

bedding plant: Plants (mainly annuals), nursery grown and suitable for growing in beds. Quick, colorful flowers.

biennial: A plant that usually only lives two years, normally producing flowers and seed the second year.

bolting: Vegetables which quickly go to flower rather than producing the food crop. Usually caused by late planting and too warm temperatures.

bonsai: The art of growing carefully trained, dwarf plants in containers.

botanical name: The Latin or “scientific” name of a plant, usually composed of two words,the genus and the species.

bract: Modified leaves growing just below a flower. Often confused with the flower itself.

bud: Early stages of development of a flower or plant growth.

bulb: The thickened underground storage organ of the group of perennials which includes daffodils and tulips.

cambium: The thin membrane located just beneath the bark of a plant.

catkin: A slender, spikelike, drooping flower cluster.

chlorophyll: The green pigment in leaves. When present and healthy usually dominates all other pigments.

complete fertilizer: A plant food which contains all three of the primary elements… nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

compost: An organic soil amendment resulting from the decomposition of organic matter.

conifer: A cone bearing tree with tiny needlelike leaves.

corm: A thickened underground stem which produces roots, leaves and flowers during the growing season.

cover crop: A crop which is planted in the absence of the normal crop to control weeds and add humus to the soil when it is plowed in prior to regular planting.

crown: The point at which a plants roots and top join. (usually at soil level)

cultivate: Process of breaking up the soil surface, removing weeds, and preparing for planting.

cuttings: A method of propagation using sections of stems, roots or leaves.

damping off: A fungus, usually affecting seedlings and causes the stem to rot off at soil level. Sterilized potting soil and careful sanitation practices usually prevent this.

dead head: The process of pinching off used or spent blooms to keep the plants well groomed and to prevent them from setting seed. This will promote continued bloom.

dibble stick: A pointed tool used to make holes in the soil for seeds, bulbs, or young plants.

dethatch: Process of removing dead stems that build up beneath lawn grasses.

dividing: The process of splitting up plants, roots and all that have began to get bound together. This will make several plants from one plant, and usually should be done to mature perennials every 3 to 4 years.

dormancy: The yearly cycle in a plants life when growth slows and the plant rests. Fertilizing should be withheld when a plant is in dormancy.

double digging: Preparing the soil by systematically digging an area to the depth of two shovels.

double flower: A flower with many overlapping petals which gives it a very full appearance.

drip line: The circle which would exist if you drew a line below the tips of the outer most branches of a tree or plant.

epiphyte: A plant which grows on another plant but gets its nourishment from the air and rainfall. They do no damage to the host plant.

erosion: The wearing away, washing away, or removal of soil by wind, water or man.

espalier: Process of training a tree or shrub so its branches grow in a flat pattern.

evergreen: A plant which never loses all of it’s leaves at one time.

eye: An undeveloped bud growth which will ultimately produce new growth.

evaporation: Process by which water returns to the air. Higher temperatures speed the process of evaporation.

fertilizer: Organic or inorganic plant foods which may be either liquid or granular used to amend the soil in order to improve the quality or quantity of plant growth.

flat: A shallow box or tray used to start cuttings or seedlings.

foliar feeding: Fertilizer applied in liquid form to the plants foliage in a fine spray.

forcing: The process of hastening a plants growth to maturity or bloom.

frond: The term used to describe the branch and leaf structure of a fern or members of the palm family.

frost: The condensation and freezing of moisture in the air. Tender plants will suffer extensive damage or die when exposed to frost.

germinate: The process of the sprouting of a seed.

girdling: The choking of a branch by a wire or other material, most often in the stems of woody plants that have been tied to tightly to a stake or support.

grafting: The uniting of a short length of stem of one plant onto the root stock of a different plant. This is often done to produce a hardier or more disease resistant plant.

ground cover: A group of plants usually used to cover bare earth and create a uniform appearance.

growing season: The number of days between the average date of the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall. Vegetables and certain plants require a minimum number of days to reach maturity, so be sure your growing season is long enough.

hardening off: The process of gradually acclimatizing greenhouse or indoor grown plants to outdoor growing conditions.

hardpan: The impervious layer of soil or clay lying beneath the topsoil.

hardiness: The ability of a plant to withstand low temperatures or frost, without artificial protection.

heading back: Cutting an older branch or stem back to a stub or twig.

heeling in: Temporarily setting a plant into a shallow trench and covering the roots with soil to provide protection until it is ready to be permanently planted.

herbaceous: Describes a plant with soft rather than woody tissues.

honeydew: The sticky secretion produced by sucking insects such as aphids.

humus: The brown or black organic part of the soil resulting from the partial decay of leaves and other matter.

hybrid: The offspring of two plants of different species or varieties of plants. Hybrids are created when the pollen from one kind of plant is used to pollinate and entirely different variety, resulting in a new plant altogether.

hydroponics: The science of growing plants in mineral solutions or liquid, instead of in soil.

lath: In gardening, an overhead structure of evenly spaced slats of wood or other materials used to create shade.

layering: A method of propagation, by which a branch of a plant is rooted while still attached to the plant by securing it to the soil with a piece of wire or other means.

leaching: The removal or loss of excess salts or nutrients from soil. The soil around over fertilized plants can be leached clean by large quantities of fresh water used to ‘wash’ the soil. Areas of extremely high rainfall sometimes lose the nutrients from the soil by natural leaching.

leaf mold: Partially decomposed leaf matter, used as a soil amendment.

loam: A rich soil composed of clay, sand, and organic matter.

manure: Organic matter, excreted by animals, which is used as a soil amendment and fertilizer. Green manures are plant cover crops which are tilled into the soil.

microclimate: Variations of the climate within a given area, usually influenced by hills, hollows, structures or proximity to bodies of water. (i.e. when it’s raining at your house, and the sun is shining on the other side of the street)

micro nutrients: Mineral elements which are needed by some plants in very small quantities. If the plants you are growing require specific ‘trace elements’ and they are not available in the soil, they must be added.

mulch: Any loose material placed over the soil to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. Usually this is a coarse organic matter, such as leaves, clippings or bark, but plastic sheeting and other commercial products can also be used.

native plant: Any plant that occurs and grows naturally in a specific region or locality.

naturalize: To plant randomly, without a pattern. The idea is to create the effect that the plants grew in that space without man’s help, such as you would find wild flowers growing.

node: The part of a stem from which a leaf or new branch starts to grow.

organic gardening: The method of gardening utilizing only materials derived from living things. (i.e. composts and manures)

organic material: Any material which originated as a living organism. (i.e. peat moss, compost, manure)

parasitic plant: A plant which lives on, and acquires it’s nutrients from another plant. This often results in declined vigor or death of the host plant.

peat moss: The partially decomposed remains of various mosses. This is a good, water retentive addition to the soil, but tends to add the acidity of the soil pH.

perennial: A nonwoody plant which grows and lives for more than two years. Perennials usually produce one flower crop each year, lasting anywhere from a week to a month or longer.

perlite: A mineral, which when expanded by a heating process forms light granuals. Perlite is a good addition to container potting mixes, to promote moisture retention while allowing good drainage.

pest: Any insect or animal which is detrimental to the health and well being of plants or other animals.

photosynthesis: The internal process by which a plant turns sunlight into growing energy. The formation of carbohydrates in plants from water and carbon dioxide, by the action of sunlight on the Chlorophyll within the leaves.

pinching back: Utilizing the thumb and forefinger to nip back the very tip of a branch or stem. Pinching promotes branching, and a bushier, fuller plant

pistil: The seed-bearing organ of a flower, consisting of the ovary, stigma, and style.

pollination: The transfer of pollen from the stamen (male part of the flower) to the pistil (female part of the flower), which results in the formation of a seed. Hybrids are created when the pollen from one kind of plant is used to pollinate and entirely different variety, resulting in a new plant altogether.

potting soil: A soil mixture designed for use in container gardens and potted plants. Potting mixes should be loose, light, and sterile.

propagation: Various methods of starting new plants ranging from starting seeds to identical clones created by cuttings or layering.

pruning: The cutting and trimming of plants to remove dead or injured wood, or to control and direct the new growth of a plant.

pH: Basically, pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil, a soil pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline soil. Soil pH can be tested with an inexpensive test kit.

rhizome: A modified plant stem which grows horizontally, under the surface of the soil. New growth then emerges from different points of the rhizome. Irises and some lawn grasses are rhizome plants.

root ball: The network of roots along with the attached soil, of any given plant.

rootbound: A condition which exists when a potted plant has outgrown its container. The roots become entangled and matted together, and the growth of the plant becomes stunted. When repotting, loosen the roots on the outer edges of the root ball, to induce them to once again grow outward.

rooting hormone: A powder of liquid growth hormone, used to promote the development of roots on a cutting.

runner: A slender stem growing out from the base of some plants, which terminates with a new offset plant. The new plant may be severed from the parent after it has developed sufficient roots.

relative humidity: The measurement of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

scion: A short length of stem, taken from one plant which is then grafted onto the rootstock of another plant.

single flower: A flower having only a minimum number of petals for that variety of plant.

soil pH: Basically, pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil, a soil pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline soil. Soil pH can be tested with an inexpensive test kit.

sphagnum: A bog moss which is collected and composted. Most peat moss is composed primarily of sphagnum moss. This moss is also packaged and sold in a fresh state, and used for lining hanging baskets and air layering.

spore: The reproductive cell of ferns, fungi and mosses. (these plants do not produce seeds)

staking: The practice of driving a stake into the ground next to, and as a support for a plant. When attaching the plant to the stake, be sure that it is tied loosely so it doesn’t strangle the stem. When staking a potted plant, the stake should be set into the planter before the plant is added.

sucker: A growth originating from the rootstock of a grafted plant, rather than the desired part of the plant. Sucker growth should be removed, so it doesn’t draw energy from the plant.

systemic: A chemical which is absorbed directly into a plants system to either kill feeding insects on the plant, or to kill the plant itself.

tap root: The main, thick root growing straight down from a plant. (not all plants have tap roots)

tender plants: Plants which are unable to endure frost or freezing temperatures.

tendril: The twisting, clinging, slender growth on many vines, which allows the plant to attach themselves to a support or trellis.

thatch: The layer of dead stems that builds up under many lawn grasses. Thatch should be removed periodically to promote better water and nutrient penetration into the soil.

thinning: Removing excess seedlings, to allow sufficient room for the remaining plants to grow. Thinning also refers to removing entire branches from a tree or shrub, to give the plant a more open structure.

topiary: A method of pruning and training certain plants into formal shapes such as animals.

topsoil: The top layer of native soil. This term may also apply to good quality soil sold at nurseries and garden centers.

transpiration: The release of moisture through the leaves of a plant.

transplanting: The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location.

tuber: A flat underground stem which stores food and plant energy and from which a plant grows. (e.g. Dahlias)

variegated: Leaves which are marked with multiple colors.

vermiculite: The mineral ‘mica’ which has been heated to the point of expansion. A good addition to container potting mixes, vermiculite retains moisture and air within the soil.

01: Impressions — published on April 6, 2008

Spring Is Here!

Spring — by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring —
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs have too far fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden – have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

01: Impressions — published on April 5, 2008

Quick Curb Appeal Tip

Real estate and home improvement experts say the most important areas to spiff up are:

  • main entrance,
  • front door,
  • exterior walls,
  • roof,
  • landscaping.

In fact, good landscaping has been shown to hasten the sale of a home by as much as six weeks. In terms of investment, however, be careful not to “over-improve” for the neighbourhood, as buyers won’t pay much more than what other homes in the neighborhood have sold for.

01: Impressions — published on April 4, 2008

Choosing Plants for the Landscape

Here are some books to help you select and grow the most suitable plants for your landscape.

Kitchen gardeners will love the revised edition of “The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden” by David Hirsch from Ten Speed Press. This features 70 scrumptious recipes along with everything you need to know about selecting the best edible flowers, herbs, and veggies for your garden. For each of the 75 plants, the author explains the different varieties that are available. He focuses specific attention on heirlooms. He explains how to plant, harvest, and prepare them in the kitchen. In addition, there are chapters on kitchen garden design and gardening techniques. This is illustrated with beautiful line drawings.

“The Tree Book” by Jeff Meyer from Scriber has become a classic. The author focuses on over 60 kinds of trees and explains how to choose the best ones for your particular situation. In this easy to use guide, the trees are organized alphabetically by common name. For each, you’ll find a complete description, and details on its features and cultural needs. For quick reference, there are all sorts of handy tables, charts, and lists. There is also a chapter on propagation. This is illustrated with line drawings.

For shady landscapes, the best book by far is “Making the Most of Shade” by Larry Hodgson from Rodale. The plant directory features profiles of the 200 best herbaceous, grasses, and climbing plants for shade. These feature full details with growing tips, care, their landscape performance, and related species. For quick reference, use the sidebar listing the description, garden use, and the cultural requirements. Part I explains how to create shade gardens, how to choose suitable plants, and how to care for them. This is illustrated with gorgeous color photos.

“Landscape Plants for the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts” by Robert J. Black et al from the University Press of Florida is an invaluable regional guide. It explains the factors to consider when you are choosing plants for the area. The authors focus specifically on salinity since this is a potential problem in the area. This is one of the few books I know that tells you exactly how to choose healthy plants at nurseries and garden centers. Readers will learn how to plant properly, get them established, and care for them. Most of the book is devoted to the plant directory with over 400 plants. For each, there is a color photo, and description along with details on its cultural needs and origins.

01: Impressions — published on April 2, 2008

Dress Up a Dormer

Dress Up a Dormer

Dress Up a Dormer

  • A. Sedge (Carex siderosticha ‘Variegata’) — 2
  • B. Kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Osaka’) — 2
  • C. Verbena ‘Tuscany Violet with Eye’ — 2
  • D. Coral bells (Heuchera ‘Pewter Moon’) — 2

Window boxes are the perfect way to make dormers look extra special. Create lots of season-long interest with a mix of profuse bloomers, such as this verbena, and unusual foliage, such as flowering kale and sedge. That way you can enjoy the beautiful leaves and their distinct textures if the flowers take a break.

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