Friday, March 14, 2014

Camo Baby Shower

Who knew making cute little diaper cakes could be so much fun and so easy?
The two bottom tiers are made from size 1 diapers and are wrapped in camouflage ribbon, which was not easy to find. The bottom tier contains 28 diapers, the second tier 17. The top tier is a paper "centerpiece" and the assorted animals (buck, bear, and rabbit) came from various toy stores. The cake fits perfectly on a standard size cake stand.
For the table cloth I puddled baby blue satin, then added a deep chocolate satin fabric over the blue. I tossed around a few individually wrapped "it's a boy" baby blue mints, and cute little baby shoes and socks.
The second diaper cake is exactly the same, except for the assorted forest animals on top. This one has a raccoon, doe, and sleeping bunny for a topper.
With all the camo, things started to blend together. That stuff really works. ;)
Pretty shade of green punch was a perfect compliment for the camouflage, browns, and baby blue. Not just pretty, it was really good, and so easy to make. Two liters ginger ale, 46 ounces of pineapple juice, and 128 ounces of strawberry-kiwi Hawaiian Punch.

 I love how the buck adds masculinity to the otherwise pretty centerpiece.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As usual, I spent the last few days following Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas. I added very few new ornaments to the tree this year, but I did add several to the garland and wreath that drape and hang above the fireplace.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Signs of Spring

Spring is in the air! After a mild winter, my roses never even lost their leaves this time around, I'm seeing blooms galore. For the first time since I planted the tea olive shrubs they are blooming like crazy. And they smell heavenly just outside my dining room window.

The weather has me so inspired, I added an extra 4 feet to an already established raised bed.

I love the tinted red mulch. It compliments the red brick of the house and makes the green pop.

A new privacy fence will be added here with the corner coming between the end of the house and the gutter. At that time I'll most likely extend the bed all the way to the end of the fence.

I kept this lantana in the house to winter over. It did fairly well in spite of losing most of its leaves. I pruned it back and have been hanging it outside on sunny days. Looks like it's going to bounce back. Maybe a shot of Miracle Gro is in order once the threat of frost is passed?

Lots of work is underway in the backyard. The roses were pruned in February even though they were still fully leafed out. I have 3 little mini rose bushes ready to go in the ground and I'm anticipating it will take about 12 bags of mulch to fill in the backyard beds. The mulch will go down after some serious weed pulling occurs.

I didn't realize the bleeding heart is such an early bloomer. I stumbled upon this one by accident. I had no idea it had even resurfaced after going completely dormant last August.

This is just a fraction of signs of spring in my yard. I hope to post more soon.

What's blooming in your yard?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

...and it's meager beginnings. Generally on the Saturday following Thanksgiving my Christmas decorations are complete, both inside and outside. I'm getting off to a much slower start this year for some reason. So far I've only managed to take down the fall and Thanksgiving decorations and pull together the dining room tablescape.

Fall really is my favorite time of year and I was completely smitten the first time I found acorns and autumn leaves incorporated into Christmas decorations. I love the white acorns I found to add to my table centerpiece.

After finishing the table I ran out of energy and have little desire to even get the tree down from the attic. Hopefully my next post will be of my tree and mantle both decked out for the holidays.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Care and Maintence: Grandiflora Rose Variety

In 1954, in honor of Queen Elizabeth, Grandiflora roses were created by crossing hybrid tea roses and floribundas. They are a tall and vigorous hybrid with large flowers and long stems that grow in clusters. They are popular but ironically, in England aren't even recognized as a distinct variety. There are several varieties and newer strains tend to be shorter and more compact than the older varieties. The care for grandifloras is similar to that of hybrid tea roses. Compared to most roses, they need a bit more attention including watering, fertilizing and in some cases, fungicide.

Proper pruning of these roses can result in a healthier bush with more abundant blooms. Prune rather severely in January or February.
  1. Prune most aggressively in late winter, when the plant is dormant--all the leaves have dropped off, and there are no visible signs of growth. At this time you should remove all dead or diseased wood. Keep in mind to cut canes above a bud slanting away from the bud.
  2. Remove any canes that are touching or crossing each other, and prune out twigs and branches from the center of the bush to allow light and air to circulate.
  3. Cut canes back to a height of 18 to 24 inches. From new canes, prune off only one third. If the bush is very dense with canes, thin them out, using pruning shears remove all but 5-8 of the oldest canes, leave more on vigorous shrubs. If the canes are thick, use lopping shears or a pruning saw.
  4. Prune gently during blooming and growing season. Shape the plant by cutting back depending on what you want the bush to do. Look at the leaflet clusters. Rose leaves usually cluster in groups of 5 and 7. Each type of cluster results in a somewhat different growth patterns.
  5. Cut for new blooms. Dead head flowers down to the next leaf with 5 leaflets. If you want to stimulate blooms, cut the rose branch at a 5-leaflet cluster. Prune about ¼-inch above where the leaf stem meets the branch--the new bud is tucked in there. The resulting branch will be shorter and bloom sooner.
  6. Cut for new branches. If you want to stimulate new branch growth (which will result in new blooms at the end, but it will take longer) cut the rose branch at the 7-leaflet cluster. Prune about a ¼-inch above where the leaf stem meets the branch--the new bud is set in there.
  7. Keep an eye out for die back ( when branches turn yellow or black, and then die) or diseased wood. This can happen throughout the season and should be removed in a timely manner.
  8. Clean up all debris and dispose of properly to avoid pests and disease gathering on the trimmings.
Pruning Tips:
  1. When pruning, always prune at an angle to prevent saturation on the open wound of the branch. This helps it seal more quickly.
  2. Seal the open cuts on shrubs and bushes to minimize infection. Consider using water-based Elmer’s glue.
  3. Don't spray water on the bush immediately after pruning; you may increase the risk of infection on the cut because it literally is open. Give the wound a few hours to seal over.
Appearance and Description
  1. Grandiflora roses tend to be taller bushes, often growing up to 6 feet, and are usually characterized by clusters of large flowers on long stems.
  2. With proper care, they bloom almost continuously from late spring to autumn.
  3. The aromas and scents from them can be described as “sweet tea”
  4. Petals per bloom: 30
  5. Bloom size: 5"
  1. Zones 5-10
  2. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil
  3. Roses prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil
  4. Plant where roses receive sun for 6 hours or more
  5. Air circulation is important
  6. Space 3-5 feet apart
  7. Eastern exposure is beneficial
Roses require more frequent watering than most other landscape plants.
  1. During the cool winter months, water roses once a week or when needed.
  2. In spring and fall, loam soils are usually irrigated two to three times per week.
  3. During the summer heat you will probably need to water three or four times per week (3-4 gal./plant). You may have to water every day, depending on soil and weather conditions. (Clay soil retains more moisture than sandy soil. Loam soil is between clay and sand.)
  4. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but don’t allow the plant to become stressed.
Roses need frequent applications of a slow-release fertilizer
  1. The first application of slow-release fertilizer should be applied after the roses have been pruned in January or February and repeated every six weeks until June.
  2. Roses can be given a break during the hot summer months with no fertilizer applications. Then start the slow-release fertilizer again in September, with the last application around mid-October.
Planting roses
  1. Follow planting guide from the providing nursery
  2. Be sure the bud (graft) union is just below soil level
  3. Select healthy plants, if packaged or bare root plants are dry, immerse in water for a few hours.
  4. Container roses can be planted year-round.
Preventative Care and Maintenance
  1. Deep water to a depth of 2 feet throughout the growing season.
  2. Hose off roses regularly with water. Spray in the early morning before the sun gets hot to decrease chances of leaf burn. Spray the underside of the leaf. This will keep the roses clean, increase the surrounding humidity, and will help to control insects before they can cause any damage.
  3. Use a forceful water spray to eliminate aphids and spider mites.
  4. Roses slow down during hot months and produce smaller and fewer blooms. Remove spent blooms by cutting back to the first five-leaflet set. Leave as much foliage as possible, which will help to shade the bush.
  5. Shade the trunks of tree roses during hot summers to prevent sunburn. Painting the trunk with white tree paint or covering the trunk with cardboard or shade cloth will also help.
  6. Watch for sucker growth on grafted roses. These are canes that come from below the bud union. They appear different from the other canes. Cut them off below the bud (graft) union.
  7. Seal all pruning cuts with a good wood glue to prevent cane borers from entering. The borer larva eats the stem center and the infested cane grows poorly or dies. Cut back the injured cane an inch at a time until you find healthy wood.
  8. Learn to recognize Lady Beetles, Lace Wings and other beneficial insects in all stages of their lives (egg, pupa, adult).
  9. Check roses on a regular basis to identify potential problems.
  10. At the end of the growing season, slow down the plant growth and allow the plant to harden off by leaving the rose hips on the bush after the last blooming cycle.

Grandifloras are resistant to powdery mildew.
Diseases and pests to look for include

  1. Suck on new growth and buds starting early spring
  2. Control with forceful spray of water or spray with soapy water, repeat daily to control population if necessary
  3. Beneficials: lady beetles and green lacewings
Spider mites
  1. Small, on leaves
  2. Sometimes webbing
  3. Hot, dry weather
  4. Often increase in numbers if a broad spectrum pesticide killed beneficials
  5. Damage to buds cosmetic
  6. Strong stream of (soapy) water
  1. Damage on petals
  2. Thrips in new buds
  3. Damage mostly cosmetic
Cane borer
  1. Tunnels into canes soon after winter pruning -- seal prune wound with Elmer's Glue immediately after pruning
  2. If a hole is present in prune wound, cut back until cane is healthy
  3. Use wood glue to seal wound if desired
Leaf cutter bees
  1. Circular leaf cuts
  2. Damage only cosmetic
Crown gall
  1. Caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens
  2. Infects through wounds
  3. Plant gradually declines as gall develops at base of plant
  4. Remove and destroy infected plants
  5. Don’t replant roses in this soil
Rose mosaic virus
  1. Spreads only through infected stock
  2. Not transmitted through pruners or shovels
  3. Weakens plant over many years
  4. No cure
  1. If soil salinity is too high, excess salts cause leaf injury and dieback.
  2. Remedy by leaching with sufficient irrigation water to push salts below the root zone.
Nutrient deficiencies
  1. Optimum pH for roses is 6.0 - 6.5
  2. Iron deficiency – leaves yellow between the green veins, apply chelated iron
  3. Nitrogen deficiency – old leaves yellow first, spindly growth, small and few flowers, fertilize according to package instructions
  4. Magnesium deficiency – Edges of old leaves turn yellow, apply magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) to rose bushes  

    The Arizona

1975 AARS Rating: 5.8
Classification: Grandiflora
Fragrance: strong tea
Flower description: orange blend, double blooms, 30-35 petals
Foliage color and growth habits: bronze green, semi-glossy, 4'-6'

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Purple Haze

Saturday morning began with a lot of dew and a foggy purple haze. Autumn is in the air.

Is there anything more beautiful than heavy droplets of dew glistening in morning light?


I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow,
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.

....Robert Frost

The meager autumn plantings are coming in nicely.

After a recent rain shower the purple sage burst into bloom.

The showers also encouraged a mass of blooms from the Montezuma rose.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Could it be?

Is it really, finally, autumn in North Texas? We are beginning to see cooler temps and shorter days.

I love this change of season, maybe even a little more than the transition from winter to spring. Shorter days are welcome and remind me that there is less to do now, time to slow down. At the same time, cooler temps jump start my energy level and suddenly there's a new found interest in the depleted gardens.

I was so excited to find chrysanthemums and pansies on sale at Calloways yesterday. I had the perfect planter at home waiting for them, another recent steal of a deal that I got for 75% off.

I added a yellow chrysanthemum, a sprig of the already established lime green sweet potato vine, and a wisp of deep purple wandering Jew.

A few pansies added even more color, and a Spanish dagger provided texture.

Weather permitting, the plants will fill in a little and add a nice splash of color to welcome the new season.