A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons

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25 July 2016

Sundries and Bits

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Sundries and Bits -- little things I thought you might like to know.

I've been listening to podcasts for years, but somehow I have not made the jump to listening to gardening podcasts.  Well, this month I made the jump and sampled as many of them as I could find.  Here are my favorites:

You Bet Your Garden - My favorite~!  The host is Mike McGrath, former editor of Organic Gardening Magazine. The best way I know how to introduce you to Mike and the podcast is as the "Dave Ramsey of Gardening Podcasts".

GardenNerd Tip of the Week - At only a minute and a half long, these podcasts are great little "Did You Know" bits that are fun and informative.  (PS: If you like this type of podcast, check out the new This Week I Learned)

Gardens Illustrated - This podcast is loooooong -over an hour each recording. It is short on entertainment and long on inspiring information, so if you are  seriously into garden design, check this one out!

Poison Ivy

Lambs don't get poison ivy.  In fact, they EAT it. However it gets on their noses and their noses nuzzle their shepherdess and well...THIS ridiculously overpriced scrub actually DOES work.

You also might be interested to know the famed poison ivy antitode jewelweed DOES grow like a week around creekbeds where ivy grows rampant. The bigger the weed the better, as you pull the plant up by the roots, crack open the stem and use the liquid inside to wipe away the poison. The jury is still out on how effective this one actually is (for me), but it is a fun trick to know and a worthy weed to know how to identify. THIS blogger has a creek that looks like mine (and lots of good jewelweed info too!)

Tea and Notes

Tea and Florals Stationary

Elizabeth of Bottle Branch recently emailed in regards to my book, Crafting With Nature. I was so happy she made contact because she has the MOST BEAUTIFUL instagram and I have been enjoying following along as she makes art out of little flowers and plant bits and half empty teacups and the mundane bits of prettiness.

The cards pictured above are from my favorite line of Elizabeth's cards - Tea Time.  The summer flowers line she has out now is also a favorite of mine, but I really adore all the "fallish" colors in the tea cards. You can follow Elizabeth's (FANTASTIC) blog HERE and check out the adorable cards at her Etsy shop HERE!

Yellow Zinnia

Nature Thought it Won the War

Nature does typically win out over my efforts to tame it, but in this case, it just thinks it is winning. You see, we have this checkerboard type driveway in front of our house that used to have wooden spacers between the pavers. Years passed and the wooden spacers rotted away and weeds took hold. I have considered many different options, including a flame thrower to burn the weeds, pea gravel to cover the whole driveaway and eventually fill in the cracks...etc, etc.  Then, I realized that I actually quite like the green bits between the pavers when I squint my eyes and ignore the taller, gangly weeds. In fact, once the cracks were mown with a hand mower, they actually looked quite nice.

Enter this wicked looking tool from Ames:

Ames Stand Up Weeder Stonecrest Manor Pavers by Amy Renea
AMES periodically sends tools to A Nest for All Seasons for review.  All opinions are mine.
It is a simple push down with the foot that sends the tool into the ground, then a twist pulls the taproot up and out of the ground. 
You are left with a small hole in the ground, so you actually aerate the soil as you weed.

Ames Stand Up Weeder Stonecrest Manor Pavers by Amy Renea

The plan?  Get rid of those tallish weeds and leave anything that is low, lush and green and can be mown.
 In fall, I will seed more grass into any holes in the lawn and ideally it will look a bit like THESE pretty examples on Houzz.

Landscape Design

The Ames stand-up weeder is a must-have for that person in your live that HATES the dandelions in the lawn. When I was in college (Cedarville University), the President (Dr. Dixon) had this THING against dandelions. He abhored them in the lawn. There was this "rule" around campus to refrain from trampling all over the grass unless you saw a dandelion. You were encouraged to race across the perfect grass and rip those weeds out. If I were still in Ohio, I would definitely gift this weeder to Dr. Dixon. For now, it is helping me beat nature at her own game.

Seeding Grass Between Pavers at Stonecrest Manor by Amy Renea

One last bit: If you like coffee and you have not tried the Chameleon Cold Brew Concentrates, YOU ARE MISSING OUT.  Here is a link to them on Amazon so you know what the bottle looks like -- CLICK HERE -- then go buy a bottle at Target. (The Amazon price is ridiculously high because of the whole shipping heavy glass bottles thing -- don't buy them on Amazon.) It will make a week of summer afternoons SO nice for you :)

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11 July 2016

Rockers, Spikes and Record Growth

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Let's start with the rockers, shall we?

Front Porch of Stonecrest with Black Rockers by Amy Renea of  A Nest for All Seasons Decor Americana

I have always always always wanted a lineup of black rockers on a front porch.  When we purchased Stonecrest, I knew black rockers were on the "search for" list from day 1.  I researched various brands and looked online and in person, finding various prices and qualities. From $132 on Amazon to Walmart/Mainstays for $122 to in store end-of-season sales (Lowes $80-88) and Cracker Barrel ($149) to the crazy priced, but beautifully made Owen Reins (think $1,200 EACH), there were a lot of options.  I mulled over the decision for almost 2 years, knowing that assembling 6-8 rockers was going to be terribly time consuming and the price of even the cheapest rockers made this an investment.

Lightning struck when my blogging friend out of Boston, (Melanie from A Beautiful Bite) mentioned an auction in passing on Facebook.  It turns out that (AWESOME) auction was local to me and included items from the various Hershey Entertainment locations.  Most (all?) of the items I ended up winning were from the Woodside Cottages of Hotel Hershey.   ...and guess what?  On the very first page of the auction were perhaps 100 black rockers. Fully assembled, still in great shape and I was sold, sold, sold.  Each rocker ended up costing between $40-60 on auction day.  The cheaper ($40) ones had a couple slightly loose slats which were easily adjusted and re-secured. The description actually said "increased finish lost" on the cheaper rockers and the picture looked terrible, but with a quick spray of the hose, they all cleaned up very nicely.  I was impressed with the condition that they were in as a commercially used product. They are exactly what I was looking for.

Front Porch of Stonecrest with Black Rockers by Amy Renea of  A Nest for All Seasons Decor Americana

If you are in south/central Pennsylvania, the auction company is called Jennings Auction Group 
and they regularly run large online auctions of local businesses. They are one of my top three auction houses right now.

Front Porch of Stonecrest with Black Rockers by Amy Renea of  A Nest for All Seasons Decor Americana

As a refresher, last year our front porch looked like this.  This year, the major addition was the conversation-inducing black rockers, but I also wanted to add more plants and a simplified color scheme.  I am sticking to butter (yellow) and lime (foliage) with accents of plum, purple and apricot for new flowering plants. Here are a few favorites that fit the color scheme:

Favorites

‘ANGYO STAR’ FATSHEDERA - SOUTHERN LIVING COLLECTION

‘ANGYO STAR’ FATSHEDERA - Southern Living Collection

I have almost double the amount of pots/plants as last year and have been excited to watch some take off in unexpected ways.  While some plants are a year or two old and performing solidly (Southern Living Collection ' Angyo Star' and good old Sedum 'Autumn Joy'), I have a few new favorites to share with you. Sakata Seed, Ball Seed and Pan American Seed sent along several samples of new introductions to test out and here are the best!

Candyland Tomato Pan American Seed at A Nest for All Seasons by Amy Renea

Candyland Tomato - Pan American Seed -- This plant is hands down the most surprising plant of the bunch.  I simply potted it up in a good potting mix and this puppy TOOK OFF.  Literally growing inches a day, I have to pinch branches almost daily to keep up with it.  There are masses of flowers and soon to be masses of tomatoes (Note: I took this picture and 4 days later there ARE INDEED loads of baby tomatoes now!)

Candyland Tomato Pan American Seed at A Nest for All Seasons by Amy Renea

 I am so impressed with this tomato, I will definitely be growing it again!  
Note that I have sweet potato vine covering the ugly legs of the tomato. 

Candyland Tomato Pan American Seed at A Nest for All Seasons by Amy Renea

The tomato needs extra water and feeding with this competition, but it does not seem to mind the company 
and I love the contrast of the greens from the pot to the vines to the tomato.  (More on feeding below...keep reading!)

Candyland Tomato Pan American Seed at A Nest for All Seasons by Amy Renea
Note the pretty yellow hue towards the center of each leaf!

Wave Petunias - Ball Seed These upgraded classics are fantastic and spread like crazy for one season, then they bow out here in my zone 6 garden.  While I enjoy the pinks and purples and silvers and whites, the YELLOWS are my favorite.  They are a beautiful butter yellow and look good with just about everything.  These pretty girls are coming indoors with me this winter and I hope to keep them alive for next year!

Wave Petunias at A Nest for All Seasons

Sunpatians - Sakata Seed -- These impatian hybrids are a new development that allows impatians to be grown IN the sun.  I like having them in pots because I can move the pots in OR out of the sun when I have a bare spot on the porch and they fill in nicely.  The foliage is a deep deep green with purple undertones, fitting my color scheme on the porch.  Once they bloom out, the lightest pinks pass for white, so they can stay, but the electric orange and magenta go elsewhere to brighten up dark spots.  I paired the sunpatiens with an astilbe in each pot for some height and a little wispiness to contrast their solid shape/form.

Sunpatians by Sakata Seed at A Nest for All Seasons

Begonia - 'Magawatt Pink Bronze Leaf' -- Pan American Seed Again, the foliage is the star here, adding a bit of deep bronze purple.  The blooms are a pretty pink and they are abundant!

Begonia - 'Magawatt Pink Bronze Leaf' -- Pan American Seed at A Nest for All Seasons

Alternanthera 'Purple Prince' -  This is one of my very favorite plants on the porch right now.  It exploded in growth just a few days after being planted.

Alternanthera Purple Prince at A Nest for All Seasons
Note the way the underside of each leaf has a more magenta hue that shines through when hit by sunlight!
Planting Box at A Nest for All Seasons

You can see the young Alternanthera there in the back, but they have filled out even more since I took the photo above. I finished the rest of the planter with clearance daisies and zinnias for more "butter" yellow.  This particular planter will transition well into fall with the dark purples and yellows to contrast burnt orange mums and flaming maples.

Balancing the other side of the porch is a truly beautiful clover -- it is purple!
Purple Clover at A Nest for All Seasons

The clover here was previously used for THIS St. Patrick's Day Project, but outgrew the smaller container.  
Both of these purple plants will come indoors this winter and join the rotation of my favorite potted plants.  

Unnamed Floribunda Rose at A Nest for All Seasons
Anybody know the name of this pretty Floribunda??
There are a few older plants (like that pretty Floribunda rose above) that don't exactly fit the color scheme, but they are too nice to take out, so I keep them trimmed and use the flowers indoors. Down the road, I would love to try grafting apricot-tinted roses onto the hardy rootstock that is already there.  I have also planted out plenty of summer/perennial bulbs in plum and apricot to keep the color coming all summer!

Growing Bulbs at A Nest for All Seasons with Amy Renea

So I told you about the rockers score and the record growth of some new plants, but now I am going to talk SPIKES.
Have you ever used spikes in the garden? They are the lazy, easy way of feeding plants that need an extra boost.

Jobes Organics Spikes in use at A Nest for All Seasons

Thank you to Jobes Organics, Sakata Seed, Ball Seed Company and Pan American Seed for contributing to this post. I am happy to partner with relevant gardening brands here at A Nest for All Seasons!

Jobes is the first to develop ORGANIC fertilizer spikes (as opposed to the classic chemically green kind) and they are cheap too -- 30 spikes for less than $6 on Amazon and another option here at the same price with free shipping. Jobes can also be found at the usual suspects -- Lowes, Target, etc.

Spikes are simple enough for even the smallest helpers to push into pots and they are far less messy than sprinkling blood meal or fish meal.  I do not use any type of food for plants in the actual beds/ground aside from compost and organic matter (mostly leaves) that settles over the beds in the fall.  The pots, however, DO need help to keep producing all summer long and organic spikes are the food of choice for mine.

Jobes Organics Spikes in use at A Nest for All Seasons

Just one more because the look of concentration is too cute :")
Jobes Organics Spikes in use at A Nest for All Seasons
Note the gardening while in princess dress!

If you are looking for other organic fertilizing options -- Jobes has you covered there as well:

Jobes Organics Spikes in use at A Nest for All Seasons

...but try the spikes!  They are SUPER easy, inexpensive and effective :)

Ivy at  Nest for All Seasons

So to sign off, here are a couple of "room view" shots where you can get an idea of how the porch looks now. On this side, I want to add a couple more stump side tables for drinks and MORE LIME plants!   I love the freshness of lime, especially during the muggy months of late summer.

Front Porch of Stonecrest with Black Rockers by Amy Renea of  A Nest for All Seasons Decor Americana

We also have resident chipmunks on this side of the porch which are in equal parts adorable and anger inducing
 (when they dig up freshly planted bulbs).  For now, we coexist due to their cuteness.

Front Porch of Stonecrest with Black Rockers by Amy Renea of  A Nest for All Seasons Decor Americana

Here is the opposite side of the porch, slightly longer so the rockers stretch out in a row instead of conversational seating. I love the Angyo Star on this side and again just want MORE LIME! I plan to keep propagating sweet potato vine and perhaps purchase a few 'string of pearls' succulents on end-of-season clearances.  Maybe more ferns?  We shall see!  For now, I am a happy bird rocking away each morning and afternoon on our front porch.



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