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Archive for the ‘flowers’ tag

March 27th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Spring Gardening Preparation

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If you like to garden, or want to start one, now’s the time to get ready for planting! (Did we mention that April is National Gardening Month?) As the ground thaws, soil needs to be prepared in order to create the best growing medium for your plants. Different types of plants require different kinds of care, including the timing of their planting, exposure to sunlight, supplemented nutrition, watering, spacing, and harvesting. Get your kids involved and let them help you however they can. Here are some basic guidelines for starting your spring planting.

  1. Determine your frost date. If you live in an area where you get a true winter, it’s important that you know your area’s frost date to avoid planting too soon. There are quite a few online resources to help you figure it out. Try Dave’s Garden…you just put in your zip code and it tells you your frost risks and timing.
  2. Choose your plants. Gather your bulbs and seeds and determine which ones need to be planted first. Some plants can survive colder temperatures.
  3. Section your garden. Plants should be grouped by type and care. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. should have their own sections. Keep their “requirements” in mind when you create your sections…some need lots of direct sunlight, while others thrive in shady spots.
  4. Test your soil. You should first make sure the soil is ready to be prepared. Heavy soil that is still wet from snow and rain will not let your plants breathe. You can tell it’s ready when you pick it up, squeeze it into a ball with your hands, and then drop it, or poke it. If it crumbles into small particles, it is dry enough to be worked. If it breaks into large clumps or stays in form, it is still too moist. Not all soil is equal, so learning a bit about your native soil will help you understand when it’s ready.
  5. Prepare your soil. There are a lot of things you can do to improve the medium your plants grow in. Without going into too much detail, consider looking into the various soil-improvement methods, including pH testing, composting, fertilizing, tilling, mulching, etc. Hint: Used coffee grounds and egg shells make great fertilizers!
  6. Plant! When your soil is ready, plant your seeds and bulbs, take care of them and watch them grow! Garden maintenance can be tedious, but rewarding. Make sure you water and fertilize as needed, and don’t forget to pick those pesky weeds!

Do you have a garden and have tips to share? Post them and/or pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.ivillage.com

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June 6th, 2013 at 5:00 am

DIY Flower Arrangements

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I’ve always admired the gorgeous bouquets my local florist puts together. Flowers are great as gifts for pretty much any occasion and they brighten up a room with pops of color and fragrance. Recently, I decided it was time for me to try my hand at floral arranging. Here’s what I learned:

1)    Start by planning a theme.

A lot of things needs to be considered…color, size, types of flowers, type of vase or base, where it’s going/who you’re giving it to, etc. I like bright, colorful bouquets myself.

2)    Purchase materials.

You’ll need a base, flowers, filler (berries, leafy plants, babies breath, etc.), and possibly floral foam or plastic water dish. Other materials you might need, you probably have around the house: scissors or floral shears and scotch tape.

3)    Form the base.

Your base can really be anything…use your imagination. You can use a regular vase or get creative with a wide curved bowl, a basket, or even a chalice for a smaller arrangement. If you decide to use a wide base, make a grid with the scotch tape so you are able to use it as a guide. If you use the floral foam, cut it to fit your base and then soak it in water before you add your florals.

4)    Work from the outside in.

Choose leafy greens and place them along the outside of the base, draping over the lip slightly. Work your way inside, alternating different sizes…I like to work in floral “rings.” I also prefer to leave the berry/delicate filler to the end and disperse it throughout wherever it looks good. Sometimes very delicate filler needs to be placed in bunches, and can be kept together by wrapping thin wire around a few sprigs. Keep in mind that most arrangements need dimension, so clip your stems at different lengths that look best…it creates “levels” and allows all the different flowers to show through at all angles.

If you’re looking for a really simple tutorial to wet your feet with, Weddingchicks.com offers this great step-by-step guide for making the gorgeous arrangement shown above. Martha Stewart also offers her expertise with these flower arranging tips.

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May 15th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

DIY Flowers & Crafts

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It’s the perfect time to get out your craft supplies and create some beautiful flower masterpieces! One of the nicest things about flower crafts is that there are so many great materials you can use….fresh flowers, fake flowers, felt, tissue paper, etc. the possibilities are endless! It’s also a great way to bring pops of bright color to your home. Flowers make great home décor, and instead of buying or cutting fresh flowers that will die in a matter of days, using other lasting materials will ensure you can enjoy your floral décor for years to come. We even found these adorable DIY flower invitations (see picture below), which are perfect for any type of spring or summer party. While you’re working on your creations, we also included a few ideas for kids to do alongside you. Let the crafting begin!

 

 

For the kids:

 

Speaking of flowers, what’s your favorite?

 

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April 12th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Guilty Pleasures

Recently, I watched the Glee episode on the musical Guilty Pleasures. I started thinking about my personal guilty pleasures. I regularly talk about taking time for yourself on my posts, and your guilty pleasures are a great way to think about yourself. Treating yourself with these things can lift your mood and release your stress.

I’m sharing some of my guilty pleasures so you can start thinking about the possibilities!

Flowers – I love flowers. I the spring you will find me wandering around the Garden Center just looking at all the possibilities!

Reality Television – I am definitely a reality junkie! Whether it be the Real Housewives series, a cooking competition show, or pretty much any reality show, it’s on my DVR list. These definitely make my husband roll his eyes.

Hot Fudge Sundae – Just writing about this has me drooling. Some vanilla custard covered with Hot Fudge trailing down, YUMMO!

Sleeping in – I used to love mornings! As my kids get older I covet these. On the weekends when they are quietly playing downstairs, you’ll find me laying in bed trying to fall back asleep or laying in bed playing on my iPhone.

Office Supplies – I truly think I have an office supply obsession.  There is nothing better than a new notebook and a nice pen or a freshly sharpened pencil.

80′s Movies – Wasting time watching pretty much anything with Molly Ringwald or Meg Ryan in it just makes me happy!

Yoga Pants  You’ll find me in my yoga pants anytime I am at home and even sometimes while I am in the drive thru at school picking up my son. They are so soft and heavenly!

Playlist –  This is littered with Madonna, ABBA, the Wicked Soundtrack and old school rap music. Thrown in there is my favorite classical composer Vivaldi. Weird… I know!

Tote Bags –  Another small obsession… you can never have enough!

iPhone/ipad – I can never get enough time with these…

So, here are some of my indulgences. What are your’s?

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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April 10th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Starting a Garden

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Last week, we gave you some great tips on getting your children started on their very own garden. This week, I’d like to focus more on your own cultivations. Gardening is not only a great an inexpensive way to grow delicious vegetables or make your yard look gorgeous with colorful flowers and shrubs; beautifying your home will make you feel better on the inside.  Here are a few tips for making a beautiful backyard oasis:

Make sure your soil is adequately fertilized!  Instead of buying fertilizer, you can take a trip to the local grocery store! Believe it or not, eggshells can provide soil with the nutrients they need to grow healthy plants.  You can either gather the broken eggshells and grind them into a powder or just put the shells directly on the soil.

Remove any large stones from the soil that will impede the growth of your plants or vegetables.

Decide what you want to grow! Burpee sells more varieties of seeds than I had ever imagined and I get gratifying results. My favorite seeds to plant at this time of year are basil, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. As for flowers, now is the time to plant annuals. You can either buy the seeds or go to your local nursery for the actual flowers and plant them right into the ground!

Make sure you read the instructions on the back of the package of seeds you buy to determine how deep they must be planted.

Be sure to plant your seeds in an area where they will get direct sunlight. If it’s not raining a lot in your area, you will need to be diligent about providing your plants with adequate water. The higher the temperature, the more water you will need.

Plants need TLC just as humans and animals do. If you follow these steps, you will soon be watching plants and vegetables sprout from the ground and you can enjoy your beautiful new garden!  Happy planting!

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April 3rd, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Gardening for Kids

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Gardening is an outdoor activity you can involve your kids in easily, and it’s a great learning experience for them. It’s an opportunity for you to teach them about plants and how they grow, healthy foods like vegetables and fruit, and most importantly, responsibility, all while still having fun! Here are some tips for how to introduce your child to the wonders of gardening:

1)   Designate an area as his/her own garden.

Plywood planks can be used to actually make a square garden box for them, or you can just give them an area of your landscape. Let them help you “prepare the area” with weeding, tilling, fertilizing, etc.

2)   Let them make decisions.

When you go to the store to purchase your gardening needs, let them choose one to three different seeds or bulbs. Steer them in the right direction by helping them pick ones that don’t require special care and are easy and fast-growing, like beans, sunflowers, morning glory, and marigolds . Teach them about the different types of plants and help them understand that some need special light, soil, watering, etc.

3)   Teach them how to plant.

Help them do the planting but guide them instead of actually doing. You’ll be surprised how much your little one will enjoy poking holes in the soil, dropping in seeds, covering them and watering the area.

4)   Teach them to organize and maintain.

Help them create garden labels by writing the names on popsicle sticks so they can keep track of where they placed their different plant types. Then, help them create a “growth chart” where they can keep track of how the plants are doing and remind them to water and take care of them.

You’ll see how excited your kids will get as they see their plants grow. If you choose vegetables, when they’re ripe for picking you can teach them how to harvest and clean them, and EAT them! This website  has even more tips and tricks for family gardening.

What will YOU plant with your kids this year?

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September 7th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hummingbirds and Hurricanes

I was checking in with some east-coast relatives the day after Hurricane Irene hit, and my cousin mentioned that she was surprised to see a hummingbird in her yard so soon after the storm. Then I saw this stunning video, where swarms of hummingbirds visited a feeder in a Virginia backyard in the wake of Irene.

Hummingbirds are pretty amazing creatures. They are the smallest birds in the world and can flap their wings 60-80 times per second (200 times per second during courtship). They are also the only birds that can fly forwards, backwards, up, down and sideways, as well as hover in mid air—a skill any mom would love to have. The smallest, the Bee Hummingbird, weighs only 2.2 grams (less than a dime), and the largest, the Giant Hummingbird, weighs about 10 times that much (still less than an ounce).

Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism rate of any creature, and eat 2-3 times their weight every day—another trick I’d like to adapt. Tapered bills and grooved tongues help them lap up nectar from flowers.

In addition to being fascinating to watch, hummingbirds are great pollinators, another reason you want to attract them to your garden. Putting up a hummingbird feeder is one way to lure them to your yard, but be sure you buy one that discourages pests and bees. Keeping up with your feeder by cleaning it regularly and replacing the sugar mixture is vital for the safety of the birds you’re trying to feed. Here are some good tips on choosing and maintaining a hummingbird feeder.

Planting a hummingbird-friendly garden is an even more fun way to bring the birds home. Hummingbirds are attracted to vibrant colors, especially reds and bright pinks. There is still plenty of time before winter sets in to plant some garden perennials that hummingbirds will look for when they bloom next spring and summer. Columbine, Bee Balm and Foxglove are just a few perennial hummingbird favorites. They particularly like trumpet-shaped flowers.

Hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere, and while more than 300 species have been identified, only 26 are in North America. Of those, only five are commonly seen, and east of the Mississippi, you’re most likely spot the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Check this list for species seen in your state.

Hummingbirds migrate south for the winter and for much of the US, the season is coming to an end. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama will be celebrating their hummingbird migration festivals in September and October, so keep your eyes open.

 

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


 

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