Cat- Friendly Garden

Creating a cat-friendly garden can be easy and fun, if you have outdoor cats. You can create plenty of structures for climbing and plants that are safe for them to nibble on. They also have multiple dirt-filled areas in which to “relieve” themselves. Of course, this type of setup may not be for everyone, so here are some other cat-friendly garden ideas.

First and foremost, cats are naturally curious with a need for exploration. Choosing a location in the backyard just for them can help keep your furry friends appeased. They love to climb, hide, and pounce. With this in mind you will want to include climbing structures like cat posts, fencing, and trees.

Create designated play areas for younger felines and don’t forget to include mounds of dirt, mulch, or sand for them as well. Cats typically go potty in the same place, so this can help deter them from going into your prized garden spaces Choosing plants for your cat’s garden space must be done with care. Hardy, but safe, plants are obviously an important consideration. Since cats enjoy chasing things, those that attract butterflies may be a good choice. In fact, attracting insects in the cat garden is a good thing in that you want to avoid using any toxic pesticides that could be harmful.

Cat-Friendly Plants for the Garden A number of plants may not be suitable for your feline and may even is poisonous, so choose your plants carefully.

Here are some plants you can add to create safe gardens for cats: Herbs, flowers and foliage plants Catnip (Nepeta cataria)- probably one of the more obvious choices for a cat garden, this plant is found to be highly attractive to cats, even inducing a sense of euphoria when around the plant.

Cat grass– cat grass is normally a variety of several grasses that cats may nibble on, but oat grass (Avena sativa) or wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) are the two most popular.

Asters– these plants require little maintenance and are just right for adding dense cover for a cat’s hunting expeditions.

 Blue mist shrub (Caryopteris)- this flowering shrub is highly attractive to pollinators and provides plenty of privacy and shelter for cats.

 Sunflowers– nothing is more charming in the garden, or easier to grow, than sunflowers. These large plants will provide plenty of cover while the blooms offer something to play with when added near climbing structures.

Cosmos– yet another fun plant for cats, this one offers wispy growth, wonderful color, and great screening, which your cats will appreciate.

Cats are wonderful. Plants are wonderful. Let’s all enjoy them together and make this a purr-fect world.

Bug Hotel for your Garden

If you are an organic gardener like me, then you will want to be sure that there is a place in your garden for beneficial insects to lodge for this upcoming fall and winter. Why start now? Creating a bug hotel this summer can jumpstart your garden army that helps to keep the bad bugs under control. Setting up different protected areas in your bug hostel will let the bugs find a room that suits them and prepare it as they wish. Placing a bug abode in the garden increases the chances that beneficial insects will naturally visit. Also known as bug hotels, bug boxes, and bug houses, these human-made structures offer several benefits. In addition to their decorative qualities, they help supplement the increasing loss of natural habitats.

Attracting Ladybugs

Ladybugs like to overwinter as large groups in between dry plant material. Some twigs packed together give the ladybugs plenty of room to squeeze in and wait for warmer days and eating aphids. Read more about attracting ladybugs as garden helpers in this post:

Attracting Beetles, Spiders, Lacewings, and Friends

Many other insects will have all sorts of different nesting needs. By providing a variety of plant material in your bug hotel you will encourage all sorts of garden friends to lodge. How can you be sure that you are only providing shelter for beneficial insects? Well, you can’t. It’s a tough world out there and at times bad bugs (earwigs – yuck!!) will move in. Some may even eat their neighbors. You can’t control what happens in the bug hostel, just trust that if you provide enough space for the good guys, you can create balance in the garden.

How to build your insect home

Choose a good spot for your insect home. Firstly, because most insects like cool, moist conditions, so a shady area next to a hedge or under the tree works well. Secondly, make sure the home has a firm base, because it will end up quite heavy. Thirdly, choose a spot where the insect home can remain for at least this winter.

Create a structure with pallets. Layer old pallets on top of each other as tall as you’d like the insect home to be – ours are around eight pallets high, but five will do. Place any larger pallets at the bottom. Check the pallets don’t wobble; secure each to the one below (with string, wire or pull ties) if you need to.

Fill in the gaps with other materials. There are no rules as to how you fill the empty pallets, but here are some ideas to attract different insects:

Dead wood makes a great home for wood-boring beetles, such as the majestic stag beetle, and their larvae. It also supports fungi, which can break down the natural material. Centipedes and woodlice can burrow under the bark.

Hollow stems, canes, and holes drilled into blocks of wood are all ideal spots for solitary bees to lay their eggs. These bees help pollinate flowers (so helping your plants produce vegetables) in the garden. Because solitary bees like sunny spots, place these on the sunniest side of the insect home.

Stone and tiles provide lovely cool, moist conditions for frogs and newts. They might be best lower down, on the shadiest side of the insect home.

Hay and straw give insects a good place to burrow and hibernate.

Dry leaves provide homes for insects, just like leaf litter on the forest floor. Ladybirds hibernate here over winter – and they’re great for eating aphids in the garden.

Rotting wood and bark is where beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice love to be. Because woodlice and millipedes break down woody plant material, they’re an important part of your garden recycling system.

Corrugated cardboard rolled up inside a lemonade bottle will attract lacewings, which are really good at eating pests.

Have you created a bug hotel? If so, please share below!

Sensory Garden

What Is a Sensory Garden?

A sensory garden is a garden that has a collection of plants that are appealing to one or more of the five senses; sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Sensory gardens should be accessible for all people to enjoy – disabled and non-disabled. Sensory gardens are typically geared towards young children, but are enjoyed by people of all ages.

This type of garden not only allows you to connect to nature, but encourages you to become more aware of your surroundings and your response to them, tapping into the principles of mindfulness.

Spending time in a sensory garden can help enhance your sense of wellbeing, reduce stress and calm your mind.

Make a sensory garden for kids with a theme such as Scratch n Sniff’ Theme. With this you would use different textures for walkways like paving slabs and crushed gravel. Use a variety of mulch options such as bark, pebbles, sand, etc. In addition to plants, include different types of screening like bamboo or lattice fencing.

Sensory gardens include features, surfaces, objects and plants that stimulate our senses through touch, sight, scent, taste and hearing. They are places that can be designed with many different purposes in mind. Such as using pathways, wind chimes, edible plants, and high fragrance flowers. Start with a well thought out plan and be sure to accommodate space for the mature size of the plants you have chosen. Incorporate hardscape elements such as benches, paths, water fountains, bird feeders, and garden art into the sensory space for an added effect.

Growing Guide: Sensory Plants for your garden.

Plants come in all sorts of shapes, colors, sizes, with seemingly infinite fragrances and tastes. However, not all plants are good choices for a sensory garden — some of the most beautiful are the most toxic, and some invite a closer look only to snag you with a thorn. Following are some good options for your garden. The first sense impression of a garden is usually sight, and in this domain plants are an especially rich source of variation in size, shape, color, and visual texture. Plants in hot colors — reds, yellows, oranges — draw the eye and bring energy to a garden spot. Cool colors, on the other hand, tend to recede and calm, making them an ideal backdrop for a quiet seating area. A few flower ideas are Sunflowers, Zinnia, and Snapdragons

These are “hands-on” plants — offering a surprising variety of textures and surfaces, some begging to be caressed, others offering a more “pointed” experience. In addition to plants, you can display rough pieces of bark, river-smoothed stones, pinecones, moss-covered branches, and other natural materials to expand this touch-sense opportunity.

Our minds are so tuned into smells that one whiff of a fragrance can call up memories from events long ago. Including plants with a variety of scents in your sensory garden offers visitors the opportunity to explore the incredible variety of fragrances plants offer — and perhaps they’ll begin creating their own olfactory memories! A few plant ideas are Basil, mint, lavender.

Taste me!

Depending on the design of your garden space and your intended clientele, it might be best to group all the “tasting” plants together to eliminate confusion about what’s okay to sample. Here are a few suggestions for plants; additional options include basils and other culinary herbs and any garden vegetable. A few plants that are great for tasting would be strawberries, Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and peppers.

It’s always a good idea to clearly label your plants. Visitors will learn the name of the plant, and it can be useful information in case something is consumed that shouldn’t be.

Vertical Garden trend

When you lack garden space, you still have plenty of vertical space. There are plenty of vegetables you can grow vertically in small areas. Vertical gardening is growing plants on a support such as a stake, trellis, cage, or fence. Pole beans, peas and tomatoes are commonly grown this way. But other vining crops such as cucumbers, squashes—both summer and winter, and melons can also be grown vertically. Not only does it add a visual aspect and beauty to your garden, but it also helps increase air circulation and decrease pests and diseases. Healthy vegetable plants produce larger harvests, so you can expect quite a bounty from these plants.

Not all vegetables grow vertically, so I picked the best choices to add to your garden.

Types of peas – snow peas, snap peas, and garden peas – grow well vertically. They don’t require any fancy kind of support system. It can be as simple as a twin trellis. Pea plants have tiny, delicate tendrils that carry the vines upwards, gripping onto any support type. It doesn’t take much work from you, and pea plants are vigorous growers. My kids love to eat garden peas off the vine, but pea plants can cover an entire arch with long, delicate vines filled with blossoms and pods.

You should know that pea plants are a cool-season crop, so they should only be grown in the spring and fall times. In the summer, you can replace them with pole beans or any other vining crop.

Green beans, wax beans, and French filet beans grow vertically, climbing up any strong trellis that you can create. Some plants easily reach 8-10 feet high. The bonus of growing pole beans rather than bush beans is that pole beans produce all growing season.

Try growing small pumpkins vertically, , such as baby pumpkins, on different support systems. You do need to make sure whatever vertical support you select is strong enough to handle the weight.

Vining tomatoes can be trained to grow up a vertical structure. Unlike determinate or bush tomatoes, these types continue to grow from the tip of the plant, and they handle structures like cages or poles.

Summer squash plants, like zucchini, love to spread out and take up valuable space in your garden. They tend to spread over to neighboring plants and choke them out.

Many summer squash varieties are bush or semi-vining plants, which can be hard to train on a trellis. A few types produce more massive vines that can be grown vertically. Remember that these plants aren’t natural climbers, but they’re natural vines. You will need to weave the vines around whatever support system you use regularly. Twine can be used to secure the vines.

These are a few veggie plant ideas to start your own vertical garden, be creative and find something that works for you and your unique situation. Growing a vertical vegetable garden is the perfect way for urban gardeners and others to still enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables without taking up their already limited space.

Types of Air Plants

If you have an air plant, one of the most important things you can learn about it is exactly what type of air plant you own! Believe it or not, there are dozens of varieties of Tillandsia, and they often have their own individual care needs. Here’s how to identify air plants and care for them.

Air plants just about the coolest and most versatile indoor plants you can adopt. The Tillandsia species doesn’t require soil to grow, as they absorb water through their leaves. Even more fun? There are many different types of air plants! They come in a ton of different sizes and shapes, ranging from tiny delicate cones to huge thick tentacles. Often when people refer to air plants, they don’t know which type of air plant they have. This is crucial info to have, as the different varieties often have different care needs.

Getting to Know the Air Plant Varieties

The T. stricta ‘Black Tip’ is a small-to-medium sized dark green air plant with vertical, pointed leaves that deepen in color at the ends.

Special Notes: this is considered one of the easiest air plants to grow, so it’s great for beginners.

T. ionantha v. rubra

This type of air plant is a small, ball-shaped air plant with bright green leaves that deepen to a crimson color in the center of the plant. It is heavily covered in trichomes, giving it a fuzzy appearance. ( these are found at our shop on Etsy:

T. ionantha ‘Conehead’

The Conehead air plant is large and shaped like a spiky pinecone. The foliage blushes bright red when flowering, and it produces a beautiful purple flower spike. The leaves grow more upright than many other air plants, giving it its characteristic compact cone shape.

T. tectorum (AKA Snowball)

The snowball is a fluffy, white air plant with hair on their leaves called trichomes that give it the attractive snowball effect. It comes from Peru where it prefers a drier climate. Snowball won’t do as well in a hot, humid climate so this is a perfect indoor air plant. T. tectorum is rare, and therefore quite a bit more expensive than some other varieties.

Special Notes: give T. tectorum lots of air circulation and let it dry well between watering. Only bathe this air plant and save the misting for humidity-loving varieties.

T. xerographica (AKA the King of Tillandsias)

There’s a good reason this is known as the King of Tillandsias! It is a very large (up to three feet in diameter!) rosette-shaped air plant with silvery-blue leaves. T. xerographica is native to dry forests of Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Tillandsia bulbosa really don’t require much water to thrive. If they need additional water, a (very) light misting should be sufficient. For open terrariums and vivarium’s you may need to mist them once every few days.

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