Plant-based essential oils boost the mind, body and spirit during the holidays

Gardener’s Supply Company Warming wraps infused with essential oils can provide relief to those suffering from sore shoulder and neck muscles.

Gardener’s Supply Company
Warming wraps infused with essential oils can provide relief to those suffering from sore shoulder and neck muscles.

By Melinda Myers

Ease into the hectic holiday season with the help of aromatherapy. The fragrances of plant-derived essential oils have long been used to improve the health of our mind, body and spirit.

Boost your energy and increase your focus as you work to balance work, family and holiday fun. Peppermint has long been prized for this and so much more. You’ll find it also helps relieve headaches and indigestion.

Freshen your home with the scent of grapefruit.  It’s the perfect solution when unexpected guests drop by for a visit. You may also find the grapefruit aroma, along with your company, help to lighten your mood.

Use eucalyptus essential oil in the fight against colds and flu this winter. Just place a few drops into a diffuser on your desk at work, in your bedroom or family room.  The diffusers come in a wide array of shapes and sizes. Some use heat, ultrasonic vibrations, fans or wood wicks to disperse the fragrance throughout the room. Others, like the Eden Aroma Diffuser, allow the fragrance to seep through the porous portion of the diffuser pot and into the room.

Or use a eucalyptus eye mask to help relieve sinus pressure and sooth tired eyes. Just gently heat or cool the mask, cover your eyes and relax into a bit of relief.

End your day with relaxing lavender. It helps reduce anxiety, relieves headaches and improves sleep. Turn up the heat and fragrance Continue reading

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Gardening with Melinda: Brighten the indoors with amaryllis

Credit: Longfield-Gardens.com ‘Red Pearl,’ a newer variety of amaryllis, has huge red velvety flowers that are deep crimson, overlaid with burgundy and maroon.

Credit: Longfield-Gardens.com
‘Red Pearl,’ a newer variety of amaryllis, has huge red velvety flowers that are deep crimson, overlaid with burgundy and maroon.

By Melinda Myers

Brighten those gray winter days with a few colorful, easy-care amaryllis. The 6- to 10-inch trumpet shaped blossoms are sure to generate a smile and brighten your mood. And consider sharing the fun of growing these beauties with friends and families. Watching the bulbs transform into beautiful blossoms is an experience everyone will enjoy – and it’s a gift that requires no dusting.

When buying amaryllis, purchase large bulbs for the biggest and longest lasting floral display. One jumbo bulb will send up multiple flower stems over several weeks. Smaller bulbs can be planted two or three to a pot to create a living bouquet.

Try some of the newer varieties like ‘Lagoon’ and ‘Red Pearl’. Their ten-inch blossoms are sure to enliven any indoor decor.  Grow the ‘Nymph’ series of double amaryllis if you prefer large flowers on shorter stems. ‘Cherry Nymph’ has a rose-like beauty with layers of fire engine red petals.

And for something different, grow amaryllis ‘Evergreen’ with long Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Plant easy-care daffodils now for added spring beauty

Photo by Longfield-Gardens.com Unique daffodil varieties like Lingerie offer double flowering.

Photo by Longfield-Gardens.com
Unique daffodil varieties like Lingerie offer double flowering.

By Melinda Myers

Daffodils have a cheery presence in the spring garden and are a surefire way to chase away the winter blues. These fall-planted bulbs are also reliable perennials that require no maintenance and are not bothered by deer or other pests. The National Garden Bureau has declared 2017 the Year of the Daffodil, and with the fall planting season right around the corner, now is the time to choose your favorites.

Yellow trumpet daffodils are classics, but there are many other flower styles and colors to choose from. Double-flowering types like white and yellow Lingerie and long lasting lemon-yellow Sherbourne feature multiple rows of petals and some varieties look more like peonies than daffodils.

Multi-flowering varieties like Beautiful Eyes, display several flowers on each stem. This variety’s white and orange blossoms have a gardenia-like fragrance. Miniature Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Proper tree planting and care is critical to survival

The GreenWell water saver contains and concentrates the water where it is needed during a tree’s critical root establishment phase.

The GreenWell water saver contains and concentrates the water where it is needed during a tree’s critical root establishment phase.

By Melinda Myers

Whether planting a tree to add seasonal beauty, grow backyard fruit, provide a bit of shade, or reduce energy costs, it’s a big upfront investment.  Make the most of your money spent by giving your tree its best chance at survival with proper planting and care.

Now is a great time to plant trees. Cooler air temperatures make it less stressful on newly planted trees and the gardeners planting them.

Select a tree suited to the growing conditions. Make sure it tolerates the sunlight, soil and temperature extremes. Check the tag for the mature height and spread. You’ll have a better-looking plant that always fits the space with minimal pruning.

Plant it correctly to insure your tree thrives for many years to come. Dig a Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Enjoy an Attractive and Convenient Composting Station

By Melinda Myers, LLC Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers, LLC
Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers

Make recycling green debris into compost convenient and attractive. Create a space you and your neighbors will appreciate. And locate composting in a convenient area that is easy to access and manage, so you are more likely to do it.

You’ll quickly recoup your initial investment of time and money.  Spend less time hauling the materials to the recycling center and money spent on soil amendments.

Most importantly, you’ll boost the health and beauty of your landscape while helping the environment.

Start by looking for spaces in the landscape or garden where compostable materials can easily be moved into the bin, pile turned, and the finished compost Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Work with Nature to Manage Garden Pests and Mosquitoes

By Melinda Myers, LLC A bee pollinating a coneflower.

By Melinda Myers, LLC
A bee pollinating a coneflower.

By Melinda Myers

A garden filled with flowers, birds, bees and butterflies is a sight to behold. These winged beauties add color, sound and motion to our gardens. Plus, they help maximize a garden’s productivity by pollinating plants and managing plant-damaging pests.

But what about those unwanted visitors to the garden? The aphids, mites and cabbage worms that feed upon our plants or the mosquitoes that feed upon us.  There are ways to have a beautiful garden and at the same time enjoy the outdoors when we work with nature to manage our landscape.

Add a birdbath, a few birdhouses and plants for the birds. They’ll repay Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Add extra appeal with garden art

Gardener’s Supply Company The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

Gardener’s Supply Company
The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

By Melinda Myers

Adding excitement to your garden is easy.  You can create instant, year-round color, structure, motion and fun to your landscape with a bit of garden art.

Just like shopping for plants, look for pieces that complement your gardening style. And consider all the benefits each piece of art provides. Many pieces are functional as well as beautiful, helping you get the most from your garden budget.

In centuries past, garden art included statues of gods and beautiful people as well as pieces that mimicked nature’s ornamental qualities. You can still find those traditional garden statues. But these days you will also find colorful pieces made from a variety Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Harvesting, Storing and Preserving Herbs from the Garden

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants
Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

By Melinda Myers

Enjoy herbs all year round. Harvest herbs now for garden-fresh meals and preserve a few for the winter ahead.

Snip a few leaves or leaf-covered stems as needed. For the same intensity of flavor, you generally need two to three times more fresh herbs than dried except for Rosemary which has an equally strong flavor fresh or dried. Continue harvesting herbs as needed throughout the growing season. And don’t worry about harming the plant because regular harvesting encourages new growth which means more for you to harvest. Just be sure to leave enough foliage to maintain plant growth.

You can remove as much as fifty percent of the foliage from annual herb plants. This is about when the plants near their final height.  You can remove up to one third from established perennial plants that have been in the garden for several months or more. Harvest when the plant has formed buds, but before they open into flowers for the greatest concentration of flavor. This is the perfect time to Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Grow Your Own Tropical Paradise in a Container or Garden

Longfield-Gardens.com Elephant ears, like this Black Stem variety, can be grown in the garden or in containers.

Longfield-Gardens.com
Elephant ears, like this Black Stem variety, can be grown in the garden or in containers.

By Melinda Myers

Add an exciting new look to your garden, poolside, patio or deck with elephant ears.  These easy tropical plants have tall stems and giant leaves that measure up to two feet across. You can use them to create an instant focal point in the garden, screen an unwanted view, or extend a bold welcome at the front door.

Elephant ears can be grown in containers as well as the garden, so if space is an issue, try some of the more compact varieties like Hawaiian Punch. You’ll appreciate the impact this three-foot tall plant makes with its red stems and bright green leaves with dark red veining.

Or go big with six-foot tall Black Stem. Its smooth blue-green leaves are displayed atop striking purple-black stems. Variegated varieties are another option. The unusual foliage of Mojito, is decorated with blue-black dashes and splashes. No two leaves are alike on this beauty. For even more color and drama, don’t miss Black Magic. Its dark, blue-black leaves measure 2 feet across and can grow up to 5 feet tall. Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: From the garden to the party

Melinda Myers Add a bit of color and interest to salads with edible flowers like nasturtium.

Melinda Myers
Add a bit of color and interest to salads with edible flowers like nasturtium.

By Melinda Myers

Make every meal a special event by bringing the garden to the table. Serve your favorite dishes made from homegrown ingredients. Then allow guests to add their own herbal seasonings right from the garden or container.

Start by growing the ingredients for your favorite recipes and beverages. Consider those, like tomatoes, that taste best fresh from the garden.  Or create a salad bar by filling window boxes and raised beds with greens, hot peppers, green onions and more. Just hand your guests a plate and let them create their own fresh salad.

Dress up the table or balcony with a few containers of herbs on your patio, deck or near the grill.  Use small herb containers as edible centerpieces. Just include a pair of garden scissors and allow your family and guests to season the meal to their taste.

Add a bit of color to your meal with edible flowers.  Try nasturtium and daylily blossoms stuffed with cream cheese, calendula petals sprinkled on your salad and mint leaves a top a slice of chocolate cake.

Include a few herbs and vegetables that can be blended, muddled or added to your favorite beverage. Use the hollow stems of lovage as a straw for your tomato juice or bloody Mary.  You’ll enjoy the celery flavor this edible straw provides. Or pluck a few mint or rosemary leaves to flavor iced tea and lemonade. Continue reading