The Black Hills (Paha Sapa) Of South Dakota

The Black Hills in South Dakota are one of the most beautiful places on earth  to visit.  The views are breathtaking.  But, to the Native Sioux People, the Black Hills or Paha Sapa,  is a holy place, their sacred mountains.  The words Paha Sapa when combined 295together describe the view of the hills from a distance in the Native Language.  Pa literally describes the sacred mountains emerging from the earth.

I have been to the Black Hills many times in my life.  The natural beauty combined with the flora and fauna of the area strike your soul like no-where else. It’s unforgettable. Elders of the Sioux used to describe Paha Sapa as the “heart of all there is” and amazingly satellite photos of the Black Hills show that the mountains are indeed in the shape of an actual human heart! 305

I recently found photos I took many years ago of wildflowers I found growing here and there along the hiking trails. Just for fun, I thought I would share them with you.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Day:  “Just as every biological being has a heart, every land has a heart too, a region that keeps the movement within it flowing.” – Ben First Eagle





Biennials comprise some of the most beautiful flowers in the landscape.  Biennials include such lovely flowers as hollyhocks, sweet william (also called dianthus), and foxglove.  But what exactly is a biennial and how do you grow it?

What is a biennial?

To answer the question, “What is a biennial?”, it may help to first define the other types of flowers that are more well known.  Annuals are flower that must be planted every year.  They grow, set seed, and die within the same season. They don’t come back.  Perennials are flowers that grow, flower, die back to the ground, and come back the following year and the year after and so on.

Biennials are odd in that they combine the behaviors of both annuals and perennials.  Biennials sprout from seed the first year.  The plants focus all their energy on growing sturdy roots and healthy greens but will not flower during the first year of growth.  Biennials will then die back to the ground for the winter and come back the following spring.  In the second year of growth, the biennials create a stunning display of flowers and set seed. After setting seed, biennial plants die completely and don’t come back.  So a biennial grows the first year and dies back to the ground for the winter like a perennial.  The following year the biennial will flower, set seed, and die, root and all,  like an annual.

How do you grow a biennial?

Because of the interesting growing behavior of biennials, there is a trick to growing them.  In order to have beautiful flowers every year when you start biennials, plant biennials by seed for two years consecutively or plant potted biennials for several years in a row.  Thereafter, either let the seeds fall to the ground or collect the seeds to reseed the following year. This means do not deadhead your biennial flowers.  Instead, allow the flower head to dry up and collect the seeds to replant the following season or allow them to drop to the ground so the plant reseeds itself. This process of planting will give you a never ending supply of biennial flowers year after year after year.

How are biennials special?

Biennials are a special type of plant. They have a fascinating mix of annual and perennial growth behavior.  In order to have their flowering presence in the garden every year, the gardener must follow a special process.  However, biennials are well worth the effort. They have some of the most beautiful flowers of any garden plant.

Happy Gardening!

Quote of the Day


Shed no tear! O shed no tear!

The flower will bloom another year.

Weep no more! O weep no more!

Young buds sleep in the root’s white core.

-John Keats, English poet





Harvesting History: A New Plant Catalog With So Much More Than Bulbs!

I opened my mailbox a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that it contained a plant catalog from a new company called Harvesting History. The company specializes in heirloom seeds and bulbs. The tasteful beauty of the catalog itself sent me on a mission to learn more about this wonderful new company dedicated to the plants of old.

For those of you that are new to gardening, the term “heirloom” simply means the plant has been openly pollinated by insects or the wind without mechanical means and that the cultivar is somewhere between at least 50 to 100 years old.  GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are not considered heirloom cultivars no matter the age. Traditionally, heirloom cultivars were considered to be handed down from one generation to the next for many generations.

According to the website, Harvesting History  was created in 2016 by a group of horticultural professionals with the combined experience in excess of 500 years! The company is dedicated to the preservation of heirloom varieties and their history.  The company carries a wide variety of heirloom cultivars including flowers, vegetables, and herbs along with a variety of other classic gardening products. About Harvesting History

Harvesting History’s stunning full color catalog contains a brilliant collection of detailed photographs of the many varieties of bulbs the company has for purchase along with a beautifully crafted narrative describing the history of each plant. A short description of each plant, its hardiness, and growing zones help the gardener choose from the large selection Harvesting History has available for purchase.

The Harvesting History company has piqued my interest.  Their stunning full color catalog and beautifully designed website make it fun and interesting to browse through the many varieties of bulbs, tubers, seeds, and other products they have available for sale. Check it out!  You may find your new favorite!

Happy Gardening!

Quote of the Day

” I continue to be interested in new things that seem old and old things that seem new.”

– Jaquelin T. Robertson, American architect and urban designer





Simple Advice for Fall Plant Sales

Daily announcements of fall plant sales have been filling up my inbox recently.  “Buy now!”, “Huge sale”, these ads say.  My advice is, buy now!  Here’s why:

Huge savings for you.

You benefit with extremely low prices from the company trying to clear out its inventory.  At the nursery where I used to work, we always had huge fall sales with drastic cuts in prices because any plants we had to keep for the winter had to be stored.  Storing all those plants required a lot of labor and work hours for which the company received no profit. Then in the spring, we would have to pull all those plants out of storage again which took a lot of labor and work hours. There is no profit in this for the company, therefore they would rather sell off their inventory at drastically reduced prices than store plants for winter.  Therefore You benefit! As the consumer, you get really really low prices for plants that would have cost you double or even triple the price in the spring.

Fall planting.

If you buy plants at fall sales, it’s still ok to plant them.  In fact, fall is the best time for transplanting many flowers including daylilies, irises, and peonies. Some plants may not look the best because they are no longer actively growing on top but there is still plenty of time for the roots to grow down before winter.  Water the plant well when you plant it (or transplant it) and keep it moist until such time as evening temperatures are at the freezing point and daytime temperatures are cool.  Then stop watering to allow the roots to dry out.  Wet roots rot so you only want the roots to remain moist but not wet for the winter.

In the colder climate zones, cover any new plants or transplants  with leaves, mulch, or straw for the winter to ensure they stay insulated and warm for the winter. Also, when you plant or transplant in the fall, don’t fertilize your plants. You don’t want to encourage new growth.  It may damage or kill your new plant as winter sets in. You want them stop growing and setting in for winter weather.

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Designate an area of the yard for sale plants

For sale plants that don’t have a place in your garden yet, designate an out-of-site area in your yard to heel the plants in for winter and make sure to label them if  necessary so you don’t forget what you bought. Over the winter, you can plan and map out your new garden arrangement. Then in the spring, move your new plants to their designated spot and watch them grow!

Hint: Heeling plants in simply means temporarily planting plants until their permanent planting area is ready.  For a great demonstration of heeling plants in check out this video I found on Youtube:


Take advantage of those plant sales.  It will save you a lot of money in the end and you may even be able to afford that expensive plant you have been coveting but could not afford until now.   Besides, in the spring, think of the fun you get to have creating new areas of the garden without spending a dime!

Happy gardening!

Quote of the Day

“Autumn’s the mellow time.”

-William Allingham, poet

Tree Stump Flower Bed

What if you could transform a tree stump from an eye sore into a focal point?  A tree stump flower bed is an inexpensive fix to an unsightly tree stump, adding height and variety to the landscape.  It can also serve as a raised planter for those individuals restricted by physical limitations.


Here is what you’ll need for this inexpensive project:

  • safety glasses
  • leather gloves
  • chicken wire
  • wire cutters
  • hammer
  • 1 nail (any size)
  • garden twine
  • fencing staples
  • permanent marker
  • potting soil
  • Sphagnum moss
  • annual flowers, herbs, or vegetables of your choice

Step 1.  Put on your safety glasses.  Tap a nail anywhere into the side of the stump.  Attach the twine to the nail and circle the stump with the twine back to the nail.  Mark the twine with the permanent marker where it meets the nail.  Remove the twine and the nail from the stump.  Add approximately two inches onto the length of twine.  This will equal the length of chicken wire you will need to complete this project.

Step 2.  Roll the chicken wire out on the ground.  Wearing gloves and using wire cutters, carefully cut the chicken wire to the length of the twine. Discard the twine and take the chicken wire to the stump.  Encircle the top of the stump with the length of chicken wire. Approximately 10 to 12 inches of chicken wire should be sticking up above the top of the stump. The lower half of the chicken wire should encircle the stump.  This creates the “pot” or container in which to grow your plants.  Bend the freshly cut ends of the chicken wire to hook the chicken wire to itself to make an enclosed circle of chicken wire around the top of the stump.  Holding the chicken wire in place, use fencing staples to fasten the wire to the stump.  Make any adjustments necessary and use as many fencing staples as needed to ensure the chicken wire fits snugly and securely to the stump.

Step 3.  Use the sphagnum moss to line the inside of the chicken wire container on top of the stump. It may help to wet the moss slightly. The moss will hold the dirt inside your new planter. Once the inside of the container is lined with plenty of sphagnum moss, pour enough potting soil on top of the stump to fill the chicken wire container to a depth of at least 8 to 10 inches.  Remember the potting soil will settle so pat it down and add more if necessary.  To settle the soil, it may help to wet it slightly. To help retain moisture and reduce the need to water your new planter, add moisture crystals to the potting mix according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Also, mix well composted manure, compost, or slow release fertilizer into the potting soil to keep your plants well fed all season long.

Step 4.  Finally, plant your annuals, herbs, or vegetables in your new planter to create a beautiful new focal point or handy raised planter in your yard or garden.  Use creeping plants such as sweet potato vine or alyssum to spill down the sides of your new planter or weave any flexible woody vine, like woodbine or grapevine, through the chicken wire to give your new planter the appearance of a basket.

Create, create, create!  Experiment and try new ideas with your tree stump flower bed.  There are thousands of ways to create and fill your new planter.  Your imagination is your only limit!

Happy gardening!

Quote of The Day

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.”

-William Blake, English poet


The Simple Yet Gorgeous Hosta


Photos by Wanette Lenling


Hostas are one of my favorite perennial garden plants because they are so versatile and easy to grow.  This is a great shade plant for a beginning gardener.  And, because there are so many cultivars, it would be hard for a gardener not to find at least one that he or she would like.

Hostas of different varieties will grow anywhere from deep shade to light sun.  The dark blue and green varieties of hosta require a more densely shaded area without direct sunlight whereas the lighter varieties including the yellow and white varieties require more sunlight because they don’t make as much chlorophyll as the dark green and blue varieties which is why they are lighter in color.

Hostas also come is a wide range of sizes from the miniature varieties to the giant varieties which makes them extremely adaptable to small or large landscapes.  Hostas can also be grown in pots or the very popular fairy gardens because of the wide range in sizes.

Do you research if you are interested in hostas.  There are so many varieties available, you are almost guaranteed to find one you’ll love!

Happy Gardening!

Quote of the Day

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

-Warren Buffet, American entrepreneur

Creating a Flower Pot Water Garden

A flower pot water garden is a quick, fun, and easy garden project.  The result is a beautiful water garden that can be placed almost anywhere, even by your front door!

Here is what you’ll need to create a basic flower pot water garden:

  • Watertight flower pot or other decorative container.
  • Assorted pedestal containers (Hint: Old cracked flower pots work well for this)
  • Pebbles or aquarium rocks
  • Assorted aquatic (water) plants
  • *Mosquito dunks
  • Water

*Hint: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Place a mosquito dunk in each of your new  water gardens to keep your creations free of mosquitoes.  Mosquito dunks can be purchased at most garden centers.  Read the package before purchasing the dunks to make sure the brand you buy is child and pet safe.

Step 1.  To start, take your watertight flower pot and your supplies to the space where your water garden will be displayed.  Depending on the size of container you use, your creation may be too heavy to move once it is filled with water.

Step 2.  Arrange the pedestal containers upside down in the bottom of the watertight flower pot or decorative container.  The pedestal containers should have a hole in the bottom so air can rise to the surface and your pedestal container will not float. The pedestals are used as a base for your aquatic plants. All aquatic plants, except the floating varieties, have a specific depth of water in which they grow.  Read the label of each aquatic plant carefully and use the pedestal container of the appropriate height to get your water plant to the right depth under the water.  You may need to use a ruler to get your plant to the right depth. Repeat this step for each of your water plants.*

*Hint:  If you are using a very large container for your water garden, rather than use containers for pedestals for your water plants, it may be easier to simply use clean landscape bricks or flat stones.

Step 3.  Once you have your pedestals in place for each plant, put enough pebbles in the bottom of your container to keep the pedestals from shifting under the water. Two to three inches of pebbles is generally enough to keep the pedestals in place.   If you are using landscape brick or stone for pedestals you may skip this step.

Step 4.  Place the aquatic plants, still in the original containers you purchased them in, on the appropriate pedestal. Fill your planter with water to the appropriate depth and add floating plants. You can also add a solar fountain and underwater lights to give your new water garden extra punch and glamour!

Voilà.  You now have a beautiful new water garden. To maintain your new water garden, simply add water when necessary and use only fertilizer formulated for water plants if you choose to fertilize your new garden. Also, a barley ball tossed into the water helps keep algae out and the water crystal clear!

Remember, the only limit to your creativity is your own imagination so let your imagination soar and create away!

Happy Gardening!