Archive for January, 2013

Colorful Houseplants can Light up the Winter Home as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013


It’s time to take a close look at all your houseplants and take stock of how they are doing.
Look carefully at the leaves, if there are yellow or brown foliage, remove them. Any part of a plant that’s looking worse for wear should be cut off and put in the compost (you do compost don’t you?). Look at the plants closely. If there are discolored leaves, maybe a purple tint, that’s a clue they are not getting what they need, so hit them with some organic fertilizer. There are a couple ways to do that. One is to use a liquid fertilizer like Organic Liquid Kelp from Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply. As the days get longer, the plants will need some fertilizer and with more light, they are able to use it too.

If the tips of the leaves are turning brown there might be a salt build up from chemical fertilizers. Be sure your pot has good drainage to flush those salts out.

The leaves of houseplants are more important than the flowers — they need to be kept clean so they can stay healthy. My house is old and often dusty, so I let the houseplants dry out and then place them all in the bathtub and run the shower over them once or twice a year. This is also a great way to flush out the soil. With plants that have big sturdy leaves, I wipe them down as they go back near the window.

Most houseplants should be kept on the dry side, over watering and over fertilizing kills them.
I love to include flowering plants like begonias, primrose, peace lily and that pretty orange flower, Calathea crocata seen in the photo above.

It’s great to have something to take care of inside during the winter, and neglect is actually a good thing. As the days get longer, the birds begin to sing, the air smell different and it won’t be long until the crocus poke through the soil. When that happens there’s nothing left to stop us.

Two seats left to see the Gardens of London with Doug.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Kew Gardens is just one of the incredible gardens we’ll see together on our trip.


I’m thrilled to present The Gardens of London featuring the Centennial Chelsea Flower Show.

It’s an eight day trip which will includes air transportation, hotel, nine meals and great garden, castle and city tours.

Trip runs from May 18th through 25th 2013.
Here are some of the highlights-
Special access to the 100th anniversary Chelsea Flower Show.
London city tour.
Hampton Court Palace.
Windsor Castle.
Wisley Gardens.
Kew Gardens

Call me if you’re interested 412-779-5861.
All the details are here.

Take Care of the Birds in Winter as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

I love watching the birds, but there’s an advantage for gardeners to attract them now. They’ll stick around the food source in the spring and will hunt lots of bad bugs, which makes our gardening life easier. The main feed I use is black oil sunflower seeds.
But during the winter, I always like to give them something else to boost their energy. Suet is something that helps them thrive during the hardest part of winter. I love these little suet nuts that Cole’s offers, they also make a suet called Hot Meats filled with hot pepper. The squirrels won’t touch it, and the birds can’t taste the pepper. The company makes my favorite varieties of bird seed and suet and it’s easy to find in your area by using this link. If you can’t physically block squirrels and chipmunks from the feeder, they have a whole line of feed laced with hot pepper.

They also have a liquid hot pepper to apply to seed you buy in bulk. One year I did a segment on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live and Jon Burnett thought it would be funny to taste some. Man was he sorry, live on the air he was dying! I told him not to try it. I just put out one of the Hot Meat suet cakes and forgot to wash my hands. I rubbed my eyes and now I was the one who was sorry. I feed the squirrels at their own feeder.

I also enjoy making my own suet. I usually make enough to last most of the winter and keep it in the freezer. Suet is a type of fat from a certain part of a cow; you can find it at the meat counter of the grocery store. If you don’t see it, just ask they’ll get you some.

Here’s everything you need to know about suet including lots of recipes for making your own.

This is one of my favorites-

1 cup suet

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups corn meal

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Melt the suet in a saucepan at low heat; add the peanut butter while stirring until it’s blended with the suet. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.

Anything that a bird likes can be added to the recipe. If I have raisins or peanuts, I’ll put them in too.

I use hamburger patty makers to form the suet cakes and also pack it into big pine cones and hang them from the feeder.

Bringing birds into the yard is not only fun, it will help you garden next spring.
Here’s where you can get Cole’s products.

Plant a windowsill garden of herbs as seen on KDKA’S PTL

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

This is the perfect time to plant an herb garden on the windowsill.
As the days get longer the herbs will be happy in the light of a big window.
Choose a container with good drainage so the soil can dry out. Water will also flush salts out of t1he soil.
Oregano, thyme, chives, sage and rosemary are all good choices to grow.
It’s wonderful to pick them and use them in the kitchen.
It’s also great to grow something through the winter.

Doug is going to London on a garden tour for the 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show, here’s how to come along.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Kew Gardens is just one of the incredible gardens we’ll see together on our trip.


I’m thrilled to present The Gardens of London featuring the Centennial Chelsea Flower Show.

It’s an eight day trip which will includes air transportation, hotel, nine meals and great garden, castle and city tours.

Trip runs from May 18th through 25th 2013.
Here are some of the highlights-
Special access to the 100th anniversary Chelsea Flower Show.
London city tour.
Hampton Court Palace.
Windsor Castle.
Wisley Gardens.
Kew Gardens

Call me if you’re interested 412-779-5861.
All the details are here.

Amazing plants for the new year as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

I have to confess that even though we’re really only two weeks into winter…I hate it and miss my garden.
One of the only ways to stay sane for me and many gardeners is the peruse the catalogs which come in the mail.
Here’s my top ten list from the catalogs I’ve got so far. Everyone finds something different from these glossy, photo heavy catalogs. Any good local nursery would be glad to order then for you if they don’t carry them.
Agastache ‘golden jubilee.’ It’s beautiful, fragrant, the bees love it and it’s tough. Blooms in the sun or in part sun.

Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee


Columbine ‘Clementine Red.’ Columbine are hardy early summer perennials and this one just looks pretty to me.

Columbine ‘Clementine Red’


Clematis ‘Piilu.’ Clematis takes a little while to get going, but when it does will outlive the gardener. I can’t resist the form and color of this plant.

Clematis ‘Piilu’


Helleborus ‘Harlequin Gem.’ I love all hellebores, this variety blooms with the crocus and it’s just one of a series of amazing colors.

Helleborus ‘Harlequin Gem’


Hosta ‘Empress Wu.’ This is supposed to be the biggest hosta ever offered. That’s reason enough to add it to the landscape.

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’

Viburnum ‘Onondaga.’[/caption] I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it looks cool. Viburnums are an understory plant, which thrive in part shade.

Viburnum ‘Onondaga’


Potentilla ‘Happy Face Pink Paradise.’ Potentilla is one of the most underused plants in the garden. The yellow species is referred to as “Buttercup Bush.” It starts blooming in mid-summer and blooms until frost. ‘Pink Paradise’ is a remarkable color, perfect for full sun.

Potentilla ‘Happy Face Pink Paradise’


Azalea ‘Bloom-A-Thon Pink Double.’ It’s rebloomer with double pink blooms…what else is there to know?

Azalea ‘Bloom-A-Thon Pink Double’


‘Lilac ‘Bloomerang.’ A lilac which will throw flowers off and on all season. It’s a winner.

‘Lilac ‘Bloomerang’