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The author of Small-Space Vegetable Gardens on the advantages of smaller gardens and the best edible plants for them.

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The rose garden at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, where the roses are planted alongside asters and other herbaceous plants, trees, shrubs, and bulbs.

The rose garden at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, where the roses are planted alongside asters and other herbaceous plants, trees, shrubs, and bulbs. All images by Paul Picton.

Reduce the need for chemicals while increasing wildlife diversity with these companion planting suggestions from The Plant Lover’s Guide to Asters.

Away from the traditional positions such as herbaceous borders, asters can find homes in places that may seem surprising to the uninitiated. An increasingly common idea is that to reduce the need for chemicals in the garden, and to keep roses healthy and happy, they need to be planted with other plants. The increased diversity encourages more wildlife to the garden including the natural predators of pesky visitors, namely, aphids.

A more truthful sentiment than “roses need friends” has rarely been uttered, but how does this relate directly to asters? The answer is twofold. Firstly, many roses will have a second flush of flowers, and some are even naturally late, which means that either way their flowering coincides with the earliest of the autumn asters. For example, a stunning display can be achieved using the lavender-blue mounds of Aster ×frikartii ‘Wunder von Stäfa’ to complement the deep pink Rosa ‘Braveheart’. Secondly, if the roses do not have a second flush, a rose garden can be empty of color and interest for a remarkably long time. This can be solved by using asters to bring the garden back to life for the autumn without detracting from the earlier beauty of the roses.

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LaManda Joy, founder of the Peterson Garden Project in Chicago

LaManda Joy, founder of the Peterson Garden Project in Chicago

The Start a Community Food Garden author on getting involved in gardening and in your community.

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What do roses need?

by Timber Press on March 19, 2015

in Gardening

A large-flowered climber, 'Rosanna' is a very strong grower, sending up large and sturdy canes that are covered in deep green, glossy foliage. Image: Peter Kukielski

A large-flowered climber, ‘Rosanna’ is a very strong grower, sending up large and sturdy canes that are covered in deep green, glossy foliage. Image: Peter Kukielski

The key to healthy, prosperous roses is knowing what they need. In this post, Roses Without Chemicals author Peter Kuklieski explains the basics.

Over the years I have been asked time and again, “What do I do with my rose when I take it home? How do I plant it and care for it?” My answer has evolved over the years, and nowadays I like to stress that the main thing is to understand what roses need in order to thrive.

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The bold contrasting colors of this simple spiral design have big visual impact. Image: Justin Myers

The bold contrasting colors of this simple spiral design have big visual impact. All images: Justin Myers

Congratulations to Melody from Michigan for winning our Mosaic Gardening Projects kit! And thanks to all for participating.

One of many fun, colorful garden art ideas from Mosaic Gardening Projects.

This stepping-stone mosaic is a beginner-level project that can have a big impact in your garden. The spiral design is simple and timeless, and the bold colors are eye-catching. Stepping-stones are fun to use for walkways in your garden, or just as neat pieces of color popping up at ground level wherever you choose to place them.

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063_kb100808_042-550-WEBA Girl’s Best Friend

This elegant piece is the Marilyn Monroe of the terrarium world—fluffy, soft, curvy, and spiked with sass—a definite show-stopper and larger-than-life experience. Layers of ermine-white sand, nubbly pebble, smooth river rock, jewel-like sea urchin, raw fluorite rock, and downy clumps of moss are topped with a superstar succulent to create a sparkly, almost edible vision of sensual abundance.

Read on to learn how to make this elegant terrarium.

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Air Plants

These pineapple relatives are known as air plants because they do not root into soil. Even though they look similar, there are many kinds, with different floral and foliar shapes and colors, and sometimes, even slightly different requirements. Learning the proper names of any air plant you add to your terrarium will help you care for it so that it doesn’t just survive but actually thrives. In general, however, air plants are adaptable and basic care instructions will keep them healthy.

The best air plants for terrariums are tillandsias. They can be placed just about anywhere indoors for a month or so without harm. But to keep a tillandsia healthy over the long term, you need to provide fresh air, bright natural light, and humidity or moisture. An ideal situation for a tillandsia is to be suspended so it receives maximum bright yet indirect sunlight, air circulation, humidity (such as in a bathroom or sometimes steamy kitchen), and fertilization. Some species, particularly those with a silvery cast to the foliage, can tolerate direct sun and some drought, as long as they are positioned in a humid area or properly soaked from time to time.

To water: submerge tillandsias every 1 to 2 weeks for an hour or up to 8 hours or so (overnight). Misting is helpful in very dry conditions but cannot make up for regular soaking. Some tillandsias are especially sensitive to hard water, chemicals, or pollution in water. Distilled, bottled, or rainwater is sometimes recommended when misting or soaking.

Fertilize by misting recently soaked plants with a dilute solution of high nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10. Choose a fertilizer with a non-urea–based nitrogen, as urea cannot be absorbed by air plants (urea-free formulas are often available through orchid retailers). You can also add fertilizer directly to the soaking water.

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“Simple growing tips and chic design know-how in an easy-to-follow, lovely-to-read format. Creating your own terrarium will definitely be next on your crafty to-do list.”—Dwell

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Terrarium Craft
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“Simple growing tips and chic design know-how in an easy-to-follow, lovely-to-read format. Creating your own terrarium will definitely be next on your crafty to-do list.”Dwell

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Understanding the specific needs of perennials can save you time and money. Here, the authors of Essential Perennials start you off with soil preparation basics.

In many respects, garden plants constitute what an investment adviser would describe as “fungible assets”—that is, they are interchangeable, at least in the sense that if you can grow one successfully, you can apply those same techniques to others. You can, for example, use the skills you perfected in growing tomatoes to grow other annuals such as petunias (which are, in fact, close relatives of tomatoes). But when you move on to more dissimilar plants, you do have to make adjustments. Cultivating orchids with exactly the same techniques you perfected with cacti will result in disappointment. That may seem obvious, but many gardeners who have developed their skills on annuals and food crops don’t bother to inform themselves about the special needs of perennials before they begin to invest in them, and the results can be painful.

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“I wish I had this when I planted my rose garden twenty-five years ago. I am now about to plant another garden, full of wonderful rose varieties and I intend to follow Peter’s advice wholeheartedly.”Martha Stewart

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