Care for a Juniper Bonsai

Some tree species are better suited for this style than others. Juniper and Cotoneaster are the two most popularly used to develop cascade bonsai because of their natural tendencies. Both of these species naturally grow close to the ground and are commonly used as ground cover. With a little wiring, you can easily train both of these species into cascade bonsai.

Other trees that are used to make great specimen cascade bonsai are Japanese Black and White Pines, Mountain Pine, and Scotch Pine. Pines are typically best for this style, but with some extra work, just about any species can be used. If you are ambitious and use a broadleaf species, make sure that the sun is not beaming on the undersides of the leaves.

It is best to start this process in early spring while the branches are the softest. Clean all dead wood and foliage out so you have a clean tree to work with. You may want to trim about half of the branches off of the tree. Start with the smaller branches first, then see how it looks after those are removed. After that, decide where you want the apex of the tree to end up.

Once you have that figured out, you can start wiring the truck and branches into the desired shape. You may have to double the wire to get the right amount of bend, since bending downward is not easy. Start by anchoring the wire to the trunk and then move your way up the entire trunk. With the trunk wired up tight, you can bend the tree in the desired shape.

Care For a Hibiscus Plant

Hibiscus Basics

You can consider the hibiscus a small tree or a large bush. These plants produce the hibiscus which is a large, vividly colored, horn-shaped flower.

Today’s hibiscus are descendants of the natural ancestors that were native to Fiji, Madagascar, Mauritius, China and, yes, Hawaii. These plants are self-flowering (pollinating) that grow tall and willowy, almost like large green cotton.

There are many different color variations available with today’s hibiscus. These colors include: yellow, orange, red, white, brown and lavender. There are also a vast amount of color combinations, shades and flower forms.

Care and Growth

The hibiscus is highly susceptible to colder temperatures. If the temperature where you live falls below the 35 degree Fahrenheit mark then your hibiscus is probably going to be in trouble. You may be able to protect a hibiscus plant for a few cold days and nights with frost cloth but not much more than that.

Hibiscus requires a 50/50 split of sun and shade during the days at a minimum. Make sure your hibiscus is planted with plenty of sunlight for the proper care and growth.

Soil

Keep in mind, hibiscus have a very low tolerance for salty soils. Many gardeners will add salt to soils to discourage slugs from pestering their plants so that would be a bad move in a garden with hibiscus growing in it.

It’s also important that hibiscus have soil that is well-drained and well watered. Don’t mistake “well drained” for lack of water. They are two totally different things. Ensure that you water your hibiscus regularly but that the water has somewhere to go. Standing water on the top layer of soil is a sure sign that it is not draining properly enough for hibiscus.

Fertilization

Fertilize early, lightly and often for a perfect hibiscus growing environment. For the hibiscus to maintain a good growing cycle it is important that it is done regularly… but lightly. Try to avoid applying fertilizer near or on the trunk of the plant, instead fertilize your hibiscus high nitrogen and multi-nutrient products under the canopy of the plant.

Pruning and Picking the Hibiscus Flowers

As a best practice, it’s best to prune and pick the hibiscus during the spring and early summer. Try to avoid the winter and fall. If you’re truly growing a tropical garden where the seasons stay the same all year round just follow the typical “four season” times of the year. The bottom line, though, is that you know your plant the best and the time to prune and pick flowers is when needed and available.

Hibiscus Pest Enemies and Disease

If you’re tropical garden includes edible fruits and vegetables try to stay away from non-natural insecticides or be sure that your hibiscus plants are well away from any edible growing that you’re doing.

Natural pests to hibiscus include: spider mites, fungus gnats, shoreflies, thrips, snow scale, mealy bugs, white flies, aphids and caterpillar. Basically, anything that sucks or eats foliage.

Creating Outdoor Rooms

  • Determine where the garden room will be located and the size of the room.
  • Choose a floor surface such as dirt, grass, decking, stone, gravel or brick.
  • Create garden room walls with fences, hedges or flower beds. If I want to completely separate the room use a tall formal hedge or privacy fence. To keep the rooms open and more connected I might choose to use flower beds, containers or just a different type of floor surface.
  • I stand in the space and look up. I can then decide what type of ceiling I want to incorporate into the space. The sky usually acts as the ceiling, but I could choose to use a pergola, covered porch, a canopy of trees, a garden arbor or an umbrella.
  • Once the work is complete, I can accessorize the casual living patio furniture with container gardens, outdoor lighting, plants, fountains, fire pits and weather-resistant fabrics.

I have my plan in hand and head to my local garden center where I purchase the needed supplies to make that plan a reality.

The work is complete now and I am enjoying my new outdoor room with casual living patio furniture, containers filled with vibrant colored flowers, a garden arbor covered with wisteria, birds and butterflies fluttering around and a beautiful fountain that makes me remember a stream near my home when I was a child.

Create Small Vegetable Gardens

  • Bush French Beans – plant six bushy plants. The pods are ready to be picked if they snap when bent.
  • Courgettes – use two plants. Water and feed plants regularly and harvest them while young.
  • Lettuce – you can grow eight of them in a bag.
  • Tomatoes – you can grow 3-4 plants in one growing bag, you need to ensure that you put in supports. You need to pick fruits as they ripen. Tomatoes can also be grown in hanging baskets or pots. Whichever option you choose, side shoots need to be removed.
  • Other vegetables for small gardens are:
  • Aubergines – otherwise known as egg plants. These plants are frost tender. They can be grown in sheltered and warm beds, as well as growing bags and large pots. Plant established plants once the frost has passed and use compost.
  • Beetroot – choose globe types that are round and mature quickly. You need to plant these in spring. Saw the seeds about 30 cm apart.
  • Cucumbers – they need a warm and sunny, wind sheltered position. You can plant them mid-spring in warmer areas and early summer in cooler areas. They love the goodness of compost. Water them and cover each seedling with a jam jar. Harvest ripe cucumber between mid to late summer when they are about 15-20 cm long.
  • Carrots – choose short rooted carrots, they are ideal for containers. you should plant them mid-spring or early summer. You can harvest them once they are large enough to eat.
  • Radishes – choose summer radishes, sow them mid-spring to late summer. When the seedlings are large enough to handle thin them out to 2.5 cm apart. Pull up young plants when they are large enough to use in salads.
  • Spring onions – are ideal for salads. You need to prepare the soil for them in winter by digging it up, followed by an early spring fork and rake. You can saw the seeds from mid-spring to mid-summer, if you sow every two weeks you should have spring onions from early summer to early autumn.

Compose Landscapes

  • Every landscape should have a focal point. This is the center of interest, the part of the picture your eye is drawn to. It can be a distant mountain, the facade of a building, or a clump of trees. Without a focal point, your landscape will likely fall flat.
  • Make sure the subject is big enough. If you use a wide-angle lens, a distant focal point such as a mountain may be too small or the sea may seem to trail off into nothing but water. Your eye seeks a center of interest. If there is none, it will simply wander off to infinity because there is nothing in the picture to hold your attention. A small main subject can express the vastness and grandeur of a scene, but if this isn’t your aim, move closer to the main subject and reframe the shot. If the main subject is still too far away or you can’t get closer, use a longer lens.
  • Let the subject guide your approach. If the main subject area contains people, experiment with placing them nearer or farther from the camera to achieve different-sized images. Some images can be more effective if they look large and overpowering. Small figures emphasize the vastness of a woodland area.
  • Pay attention to subject placement. Impressive or dynamic subjects (for example, the plant in picture on left) can often be centrally placed. Medium-sized landscape images are usually more effective when placed off-center (such as leaves and tree trunks in picture above).
  • Consider framing your subject. Dramatic central subjects generally don’t require framing, but other landscape subjects are usually improved by framing. Without some framing, the main subject at a distance appears lost in the enlarged print or projection. The foremost framing device is foliage. An arch, doorway, or natural rock formation can also serve as a useful frame to lead the viewer’s eye.
  • Keep the frame in focus. In landscape photography, it’s important that both the frame and the subject be sharp. Visually, an out-of-focus frame is usually disturbing and draws attention away from the main subject. If depth of field is insufficient, shift the focus point or stop the lens down.
  • Create the illusion of depth. Giving the feeling of three-dimensional space enhances landscapes. Placing different subjects or framing elements at different planes helps the picture hold the viewer.

Desert Gardening and Landscaping

The desert shrubs are known for vivid coloring, easy planting and caring requirements, and green environment in the garden premises. There are shrubs that grow in desert regions that are not the typical desert plants. The viburnum shrub is great inclusion in the desert garden landscape area. Offering extended foliage, versatility, and convenient growth habits; these are often treasured plants in the garden. They are widely recognized for magnificent aromatic flowers and bright color fruits that are highly favorable for attracting wildlife to your home garden. With over 150 species to choose, you have plethora of them including the Japanese Snowball Viburnum, Old Fashioned Snowball, and the evergreen shrub Pragense (Prague Viburnum).

One of the most beautiful desert plants is the Succulent species is the Delosperma or Iceplant with its glimmering flowers. These plants grow about 6 to 8 inches tall and are spreaders. Other succulent plants include sedum. There are creeping sedum used as ground covers and upright garden sedum plants. Creeping sedums are mostly evergreen plants while the taller growing garden sedums act more as perennials.

The Yucca species and cultivars in North America are in the growth range of USDA Hardiness Zone of 4-10. These species are highly appreciated for distinct appearance, extending colorful plant life, and vertically stalked flowers, boasting over extreme weather conditions. Yucca plants can survive drought and high temperature conditions to retain long years of survival. Yucca Color Guard is a newer yucca cultivar that is smaller in size and perfect for small yards.

Characterized with sword-shaped leaves and sharp tips, the leaves of Yucca species are very interesting and vary from one to another in terms of margin colors. There are curly margins of the leaf filaments. The color of the margins in Variegata is white, Bright edge and Goden edge is yellow and so on. The golden sword has leaves with beautiful yellow centers. The flowers of the Yucca species are recognized by bell shaped appearance having lighter shades of creamy white to light yellow.

Starting with the inexpensive methods is a great idea for a trial period. Succulent plants are great for cultivating in small pots. The winters are very crucial for your garden desert plant species with stressful consequences. During this period, the plants require waterproof covering to prevent contact with direct snowfall. With simple care measures you can prevent adversities and protect your existing desert garden plants.

Growing a Hardy Banana Tree

Asides from giving of the awesome banana fruit, these plants can also offer other things:

  • They are good for wind, boundary and noise screens
  • They make good use of water and the nutrients in waste drainage systems.
  • You can actually use the dried remains of trunks for weaving (how about that for a side job from your tropical gardening?)
  • You can sell your dried banana leaves to local farmers or owners of horses, cows and other grazing animals.

How to Grow Strong Banana Trees

  • Plant in fertile soils. The darker and richer, the better.
  • Pile on as much mulch and organic matter as you can get and that doesn’t get in the way. (Seriously, banana trees love this stuff!)
  • For best results use a fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen and potassium. Chicken manure works great. Maybe you can trade your dried banana leaves to farmers in exchange for chicken manure.)
  • A consistent, warm temperature. If it gets too hot or too cold your banana plant will suffer.
  • To protect your banana tree from strong winds, shield them with other banana trees or other screening type of tropical plants like bamboo.

How NOT to Care for Banana Plants

  • Expose it to strong winds.
  • Expose it to intense heat or extreme cold.
  • Don’t use lots of mulch and organic matter.
  • Don’t water it plenty.
  • Leave it alone and over-exposed to the elements.

Growing the Banana Tree

Even though these plants are often called “banana palms”, they’re not palm trees or even trees. These plants are actually perennial herbs. Who woulda’ thunk, right?

Your banana tree will take about 9 months to grow to maturity and start producing fruit. Strangely enough, the mother plant will then die off. What is left is, at the base of the mother plant, a whole bunch of baby banana plants. These are corn-like plants, called suckers. You can take these baby plants and transplant them in different areas and leave 1 or 2 in place to start growing right there.

Benefits of Using a Lot of Compost

Compost not only returns or adds nutrients but also helps with water retention and acts as a mulch. Many organisms and good bacteria thrive in well composted soil thus ensuring constant biological activity that helps break down ‘hard’ soils and aerates plant roots.

Too many gardeners are struggling to garden in some horrific soil conditions and see the treatment of garden soil as an unaffordable option. Ordering compost in large loads is not only cost effective but also very convenient as in most cases, it is delivered to your home. Be sure to buy any compost from reputable sources as often, compost bought off the street, contains weeds and disease.

Compost should also not contain certain components such as dog feces. Freshly cut grass can also cause more harm then good so make sure that it is well composted on not visible in any bought compost. Large branches and shrubs can be used but make sure your supplier has broken them down, or had them chipped and that there is no evidence of large sticks or branches. It is also worth checking for building rubble as this is a sure sign that the compost has been very poorly made.

In essence, nothing in this article should come as a surprise to any gardener but composting is an activity that is easily forgotten, especially when finance is tight. The benefits, however, should not be overlooked as a healthy and established garden is not only exceptionally pleasing to the eye but can also play a major role in securing a good price for your property, should the time come to sell.

Deck Lighting

  • Post Lights – With Optional Light Sensor Controls. Any number of deck post designs can be used to increase outdoor ambience and day-to-night use. Think of flood lights… lantern designs set in as deck post or wall mounted… quartz flood… LED deck lights. Dawn-to-dusk adaptation becomes a cinch with the use of high tech hi-lo sensor units… saving energy when you need to, or providing motion detection when people enter the deck area. Deck lamps can be post-mounted, screwed into the deck directly, or wall mounted too adapt to any outdoor lighting need.
  • Step Lights. Deck stair lights are critical for night time safety. Homeowners should consider a pattern, with two fixtures on the opposite ends of wide stairs over 6 to 8 feet, or a single center-positioned deck step light for narrower deck stairs.
  • LED Deck Lighting. Recessed lighting got a design boost with the advent of solar powered LED systems. A simple kit for 1 or multiple lighting points, LED designs exploit the “free energy” from the sun… charging up in under 4 hours… generating up to 12 hours of subtle low-wattage lighting… and the Big Winner is that you’re entirely free of troublesome wires and the associated additional wiring costs. Several solar panels “collect” energy during the day. You can program the LED to come on automatically, or use a remote control for when-needed lighting control.
  • Low Voltage Lighting. Is your deck shaded and limited in terms of capturing sunlight? If so then the alternative to solarlighting is hard-wired low voltage deck lighting. You’ll get 100% guaranteed light-on-demand with the flick of a wall switch. Around 10 watts of power running through halogen bulbs gives you complete control over your deck lighting needs. Design materials include the range of copper, wood, bronze and mixed materials. Some individual low voltage lights can be screwed directly into the deck, be grounded and placed along garden pathways.
  • Solar Deck Lighting. Residential deck and stairs or even large landscape lighting needs are well met by the new breed of 2 to 4 watt solar ighting designs. Typically fabricated in long life anodized metal, solar deck post lights weight less than 2 pounds… each can be located exactly where you need it… self-contained with discrete solar panels combining with LED intensive lights… plus, the huge advantage of “no messy wires and connections” to be made. Charging time of 4 hours equals sufficient stored energy to run for up to 12 hours.
  • Recessed Lighting – Subtle Designing With Light. When lighting decks, while custom in design and installation, creates the most subtle yet safe way to locate lights so that you and your friends can comfortably see… yet not be blinded. Recessed lighting systems safely trail connective wires below the deck, and eye line. Once wired in to a nearby switch box, recessed fixtures carry a protective cap so that the accidental step from kids, dogs or guests causes no harm. Alternative to wires? Look into the range of solar lights, especially recessed kits… easy to install, weather resistant.

Greenhouse Polycarbonate

  • Greenhouse polycarbonate is crystal clear like glass. This is incorrect. Twinwall or triplewall polycarbonate is used for greenhouses. The easiest way to describe it is to envision looking down the end of a cardboard box. There is a sheet on the outside, a sheet on the inside and a rib that runs directly between these two sheets. Although the exterior sheets both have glass like clarity, the center rib will distort your view. You will see colors, but not forms clearly.
  • Greenhouse polycarbonate is difficult to cut. No, it isn’t. The sheets can be cut with a circular saw, a table saw, even a jig saw with a fine tooth blade. Simply cut it as you would a sheet of plywood. If you would like, you can use compressed air to remove any dust from the channels.
  • I can store my greenhouse polycarbonate in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Oh, please do not do this. There is a protective film on the sheets. This is for protection during transport and also to direct you which side of the sheet needs to go out to the sun (UV protected). If you leave the sheets uncovered in the sun for an extended time, the protective film will melt into the sheets and become impossible to remove.
  • I can bend my greenhouse polycarbonate in as tight of a circle as I want. Incorrect again. There is a minimum bending radius specified by each manufacturer for each thickness of sheet. Please be sure to request this information if your design calls for bending of sheets.
  • The sheets are going to be heavy and difficult to handle. Nope. A 4′ x 12′ sheet of 8mm clear twinwall polycarbonate will weigh approximately 20 pounds.
  • I need to silicone all of my joints. Not necessary. The profiles that come with the sheets (H, U, R and F) all fit tightly and do not require silicone when installed according to manufacturers specifications.
  • I don’t need to order my sheets for my entire roof length. I will just join them together with an H profile running horizontally. This is the worst offense of all. Your roof will leak at this joint, and become a moldy mess. Please be sure to order your sheets for the entire length you will need.
  • I can run my sheets with the ribs running vertically or horizontally, whichever I prefer. NO! The sheets must be run with the ribs vertically so that any condensation which forms in the channels can drain.
  • I can lay greenhouse polycarbonate flat. Nope! You must have at least a 1 on 12 roof pitch, or 5 degree slope. Many have tried going flatter. Many have been unhappy when their roof leaks. There is no way to fix this and no way around this rule.
  • Greenhouse polycarbonate will only last a couple of years. Not true. Most manufacturers supply a ten year warranty on the material. Some even have 15 year warranties now. Polycarbonate typically exceeds the warranty period while still performing and looking good.