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How to make a mini gabion

by Timber Press on October 22, 2014

in Craft, Design

All images: Kelly Fitzsimmons

All images: Kelly Fitzsimmons

Gabions, which are metal mesh baskets that hold rocks or concrete, have historically been a tool employed by the likes of civil engineers. But these industrial building blocks have come into vogue for uses beyond securing structures and edifices.

Today, gabion cages are regularly put to use in garden design as an alternative to other retaining wall materials. Additionally, smaller versions can become footings for arbors, benches, planters, or even the foundations of modern water features. On a small scale, you can create a candle holder or base of a planted centerpiece that captures the gabion look and construction.

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Cottage gardens hold near-universal appeal, as they are often the gardens of our parents and grandparents. Born of necessity, the cottage garden was the original homesteader’s paradise. Always an overflowing, informal place where chickens might mingle with kids and bikes and vegetable patches, as well as the occasional artistic work of a neighbor or the homeowner, the cottage garden remains a lively place where there is always something going on.

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Cultivating Garden Style author Rochelle Greayer shares her strategy for design inspiration.

Who wants a cookie cutter house anymore? No one I know. It is much more fun to let your character and taste shine through. We express our personal style every day in the choices we make: clothes, home decor, food, and products we buy. As far as I am concerned, a garden is just another room of the house, another place to define and dress however you see fit. There are many ways to gather and organize motifs, moods, and samples in order to get in touch with your taste and personal style. Here are some of them.

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02 Hydrated and Dehydrated

(L) These deeply channeled leaves of Tillandsia aeranthos curl inward on themselves, demonstrating an unhealthy state of dehydration. (R) Tillandsia aeranthos in a normal, healthy state of hydration. Plants can be fairly easily restored to a hydrated state by soaking them for several hours. Images: Caitlin Atkinson

There are so many different ways to water a tillandsia that it’s easy to get confused. In addition, it’s widely believed that tillandsias don’t need any water at all. But all plants need water and light to photosynthesize, and tillandsias are no exception.

There are essentially three methods for watering tillandsias: misting, dunking, and soaking. All three methods work to different degrees—the right method to adopt is the one that best suits you. Taking the time to understand each method will enable you to make confident decisions about how and when to water your tillandsias.

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Print this graphic and more at  Timber Press on Scribd.

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Olives, woody herbs, and the parchment remains of spring flowers cling to a rocky, sun-drenched Cretan hillside.

Drought-tolerant shrubs in an easy-to-care-for scheme for a sunny spot.

Picture the warm tones of the Mediterranean landscape: red-brown soil and sand-coloured rock blend with low-mounded shrubs adapted to withstand the summer sun, heat, and exposure. To resist desiccation in times of drought, some have small, tough leaves while others sport silver foliage. Colourful flowers appear in spring and early summer, before water is in short supply and shrubs assume a more parched appearance. Some of these blooms appear on the shrubs, while others emerge from bulbs growing between the shrubs. They all add a light, vertical dimension to the planting.

In the glaring Mediterranean midday sun, the landscape becomes less defined as a haze of grey, green, and sand blankets everything. In early morning the mounds of woody stems and foliage become more defined, each one taking on its own unique soft colouring. The landscape is full of aromatic woody herbs, and their pungent fragrance drifts on the warm air. Scent is as an important quality of this style of planting.

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Black nightshade, madrone, and California bay laurel. Three common species most people don't know are edible.

Black nightshade, madrone, and California bay laurel. Three common species most people don’t know are edible.

Rediscover these common plants with help from California Foraging author Judith Larner Lowry.

One foggy summer day near the coast, I discovered an unexpected treasure trove of California hazelnut bushes. They were loaded with sweet, mild nuts that were ripe and ready to eat. I found a comfortable place to sit, a rock to crack the shells, and settled in for a session of hazelnut appreciation. To other hikers on the trail, I was hidden from view by the hazel’s leafy branches. Soon, I heard two parents cajoling their children onward up the trail. The children sounded tired and complained about being hungry and bored. I thought momentarily of having them join me in my cozy fort under the hazel and sharing the bounty.

While I considered it, they disappeared up the path. Maybe I should have called out to them: There is delicious food here. Come join me.

I didn’t then, but I am calling out to you now. There is delicious food all around us.

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By performing essential maintenance tasks in fall or early spring, you can reap the rewards  in late spring when the bulbs come into bloom. Cleaning and repairing greenhouse glazing and  flooring pays off when it’s time to sit and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

By performing essential maintenance tasks in fall or early spring, you can reap the rewards
in late spring when the bulbs come into bloom. Cleaning and repairing greenhouse glazing and
flooring pays off when it’s time to sit and enjoy the rewards of your hard work. (Image: Antema)

Recommended seasonal upkeep from the author of The Greenhouse Gardener’s Manual.

It often seems as if greenhouse maintenance can be done year-round. After all, you spend a lot of time in your greenhouse so why not maintain it all year? But I have found that trying to carry out major cleaning and maintenance around plants can cause damage to the plants, to the owner trying to avoid damaging plants, and to the greenhouse, so I wait until the greenhouse is empty to do major maintenance. The greenhouse is most likely to be empty during summer when plants are moved outside.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing some upkeep on your greenhouse throughout the year. Just as you treat your gardening tools well in order to keep them in good working order, so you should keep the greenhouse in good shape. Don’t neglect small problems like broken glazing until they turn into big problems like an invasion of outdoor pests through that window. Keep surfaces clean, weed greenhouse beds regularly, sweep the floor, and pick up plant litter like dead leaves that can harbor diseases and pests.

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A seat by the lake or a rowboat: either could be the perfect place to relax and enjoy the garden on a warm afternoon.

A seat by the lake or a rowboat: either could be the perfect place to relax and enjoy the garden on a warm afternoon.

You can find more creative shrub mood schemes in Andy McIndoe’s new book, The Creative Shrub Garden.

The colours in this scheme recall a warm summer’s afternoon in the garden. They are easy-to-live-with shades that create a relaxed and dreamy mood in the planting. These are the subtle hues that many of us are drawn to in fashion and in our homes. They convey an aura of comfort and security. They are slightly sleepy and never stimulating and exciting, but also never boring.

The sweet and familiar character of these colours is echoed in the foliage and the fragrance of the flowers. Some depth of colour, in the form of wine purple foliage and flowers, accentuates the lightness of other subjects in the scheme. Flower heads composed of tiny individual blooms add a lacy effect to the planting.
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This greenhouse receives plenty of light but still sheltered from wind by the surrounding trees. Image: Shelley Newman/Hartley Botanic

The Greenhouse Gardener’s Manual author shares questions every homeowner should ask before installing a greenhouse.

Unfortunately, many greenhouses get jammed into odd corners of the garden with little thought given to logistics. Before deciding where to put your greenhouse, carefully evaluate your property for a suitable site, looking for some key features.

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