Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Grow Pansy or Pansies

Pansies are one of the earliest flowering plants, blooming right alongside your spring bulbs. These members of the violet family herald in the new garden season with a wide variety of bright, brilliant colors. They include almost all colors of the rainbow including black, and many bi-colors. There are so many combinations of these profuse bloomers that we don't' think any two are alike!
Pansies are popular, easy, and fun to grow. Fill an area or entire bed with Pansies for a striking spring effect! They also are great in windowsills and containers.

Pansy are grown from seeds. Pansy plants like full to partial sun. Pansies can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later. For spring blooms, you need to start your Pansies in pots and containers indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost.
Sow  Pansy seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8" soil. Water thoroughly once. They germinate slowly.
Note: We highly recommend a heated germination mat, to increase  the speed of germination, and for a higher germination rate.
Transplant Pansy into your garden after the last frost date for your area. Space them 6" apart. They will tolerate a little crowding. If you are creating a flower bed, you may want to create a pattern or color scheme prior to planting. Or, use mixed varieties.

How to Grow Pansies:
Pansies prefer cool to warm climates, and wilt a bit in mid-summer heat.  In warmer areas, we recommend partial shade. Pansy plants tolerate a variety of soils. Add a general purpose fertilizer when planting them, then once a month after that.
Once your Pansies are established, they should grow well, even if left unattended. Soil should be moist, but not wet. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Keep them well weeded.
Remove spent blooms to promote additional blooms and extend the blooming period. This will also keep the appearance neat and beautiful. Also see deadheading blooms.
Pansy are hardy annuals. They will often survive the first frost if it is light. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.

Insect and Disease:
Pansies seldom have problems with insects and disease. If insect or disease problems occur, treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.

lawn mowers

A lawn mower is a machine that uses a revolving blade or blades to cut a lawn at an even length.
A lawn mower is a machine that uses a revolving blade or blades to cut a lawn at an even length.

Lawn mowers employing a blade that rotates about a vertical axis are known as rotary mowers, while those employing a blade assembly that rotates about a horizontal axis are known as cylinder or reel mowers.
Many different designs have been made, each suited to a particular purpose. The smallest types, pushed by a human, are suitable for small residential lawns and gardens, while larger, self-contained, ride-on mowers are suitable for large lawns, and the largest, multi-gang mowers pulled behind a tractor, are designed for large expanses of grass such as golf courses and municipal

Cylinder mowers
The first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1827 in Thrupp, just outside Stroud, in Gloucestershire. Budding's mower was designed primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and expensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was patented in 1830. It took ten more years and further innovations to create a machine that could be worked by animals, and sixty years before a steam-powered lawn mower was built. In an agreement between John Ferrabee and Edwin Budding dated May 18, 1830, Ferrabee paid the costs of development, obtained letters of patent and acquired rights to manufacture, sell and license other manufacturers in the production of lawn mowers.

Thomas Green produced the first chain-driven mower in 1859. Manufacture of lawn mowers began in the 1860s. By 1862, Farrabee's company was making eight models in various roller sizes. He manufactured over 5000 machines until production ceased in 1863. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a human-pushed lawn mower, which was very lightweight and a commercial success. John Burr, an African American, patented an improved rotary-blade lawn mower in 1899, with the wheel placement altered for better performance. Amariah Hills went on to found the Archimedean Lawn Mower Co. in 1871. Around 1900, one of the best known English machines was the Ransomes' Automaton, available in chain- or gear-driven models. JP Engineering of Leicester, founded after World War I, produced a range of very popular chain driven mowers. About this time, an operator could ride behind animals that pulled the large machines. These were the first riding mowers.
The rise in popularity of lawn sports helped prompt the spread of the invention. Lawn mowers became a more efficient alternative to the scytheand domesticated grazing animals. James Sumner of Lancashire patented the first steam-powered lawn mower in 1893. His machine burned petrol and/or paraffin (kerosene) as fuel. After numerous advances, the machines were sold by the Stott Fertilizer and Insecticide Company ofManchester and, later, Sumner took over sales. The company they controlled was called the Leyland Steam Motor Company. Numerous manufacturers entered the field with petrol (gasoline)-driven mowers after the turn of the century. The first grass boxes were flat trays but took their present shape in the 1860s. The roller-drive lawn mower has changed very little since around 1930. Gang mowers, those with multiple sets of blades, were built in the United States in 1919 by a Mister Worthington. His company was taken over by the Jacobsen Corporation, but his name is still cast on the frames of their gang units.

Rotary mowers

Rotary mowers were not developed until engines were small enough and powerful enough to run the blades at a high speed. Many people experimented with rotary blades in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and Power Specialties Ltd. introduced a gasoline-powered rotary mower. One company that produced rotary mowers commercially was the Victa company, starting in 1952: these mowers were lighter and easier to use than the mowers that came before.

Types of lawn mowers

By rotation

Cylinder (UK) or Reel (US) mowers

The cylinder mower carries a fixed, horizontal cutting blade at the desired height of cut. Over this is a fast-spinning reel of blades which force the grass past the cutting bar. Each blade in the blade cylinder forms a helix around the reel axis, and the set of spinning blades describes a cylinder.
Of all the mowers, a properly adjusted cylinder mower makes the cleanest cut of the grass, and this allows the grass to heal more quickly. The cutting action is often likened to that of scissors; however, it is not necessary for the blades of the spinning cylinder to contact the horizontal cutting bar. If the gap between the blades is less than the thickness of the grass, a clean cut can still be made.
There are many variants of the cylinder mower. Push mowers (illustrated) have no motor and are used on small lawns. As the mower is pushed along, the wheels drive gears which rapidly spin the reel. Typical cutting widths are 12 to 20 inches (510 mm).
The basic push mower mechanism is also used in gangs towed behind a tractor. The individual mowers are arranged in a vee behind the tractor with each mower's track slightly overlapping that of the mower in front of it. Gang mowers are used over large areas of turf such as sports fields or parks.
A gasoline engine or electric motor can be added to a reel mower to power the reel, the wheels, or both. A typical arrangement for residential lawns has the motor spinning the reel while the operator pushes the mower along. The electric models can be corded or cordless. Some variants have only 3 blades in a reel spinning at great speed, and these models can cut grass which has grown too long for ordinary push mowers. One type of reel mower, now largely obsolete, was a powered version of the traditional side wheel push mower and was used on residential lawns. An internal combustion engine sat atop the reel housing and drove the wheels, usually though a belt. The wheels in turn drove the reel, as in the push mower.
Greens (roller) mowers are used for the precision cutting of golf greens. The reel is followed by a large roller which smooths the freshly cut lawn and minimizes wheel marks. Due to the weight, the engine also propels the mower. Much smaller and lighter variants of the roller mower are sometimes used for small patches of ornamental lawns around flower beds, and these have no engine.
Riding reel mowers are also produced. Typically, the cutting reels are ahead of the vehicle's main wheels, so that the grass can be cut before the wheels push the grass over onto the ground. The reels are often hydraulically powered.

Rotary mowers

A rotary mower rotates about a vertical axis.
By energy source

Gasoline (petrol)

Most rotary push mowers are powered by internal combustion engines. Such engines can be either two-stroke or four-stroke cycle engines, running on gasoline (petrol) or other liquid fuels. Internal combustion engines used with lawn mowers normally have only one cylinder. Power generally ranges from two to seven horsepower (1.5 to 6.75 kW). The engines are usually carbureted and require a manual pull crank to start them, although electric starting is offered on some models. Some mowers have a throttle control on the handlebar with which the operator can adjust the engine speed. Other mowers have a fixed, pre-set engine speed. Gasoline mowers have the advantages over electric mowers of greater power and distance range. However, they create substantial pollution and their engines require periodic maintenance such as cleaning or replacement of the spark plug and air filter.


Electric mowers are further subdivided into corded and cordless electric models. Both are relatively quiet, typically producing less than 75 decibels, while a gasoline lawn mower can be as loud as 95 decibels or more.This kind of mower can also be safer to operate as they come equipped with a dead man's switch to immediately stop the motor when it is not being operated.
Corded electric
Corded electric mowers are limited in range by their trailing power cord, which may limit their use with lawns extending outward more than 100-150 feet from the nearest available power outlet. There is the additional hazard with these machines of accidentally mowing over the power cable, which stops the mower and may put users at risk of receiving a dangerous electric shock. Installing a residual-current device (GFCI) on the outlet may reduce the shock risk. On the United States market as of summer 2008, a corded electric mower from a respectable manufacturer costs about the same as an entry-level internal-combustion mower ($150–200), with significantly higher reliability, significantly lower cost of ownership, and a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
Cordless electric
Cordless electric mowers are powered by a variable number (typically 1-4) of 12 volt rechargeable batteries. Typically more batteries mean more run time and/or power. Batteries can be in the interior of the lawn mower or on the outside. If on the outside the drained batteries can be replaced with recharged batteries. Cordless mowers have the maneuverability of a gasoline powered mower and the environmental friendliness of a corded electric but are more expensive and come in fewer models (particularly self-propelling) than either.

Other Notable Types

Hover mowers are powered rotary push lawn mowers that use a turbine above the spinning blades to drive air downwards, thereby creating an air cushion that lifts the mower above the ground. The operator can then easily move the mower as it floats over the grass. Hover mowers are necessarily light in order to achieve the air cushion and typically have plastic bodies with an electric motor. The most significant downside, however, is the cumbersome usability in rough terrain or on the edges of lawns, as the lifting air-cushion is destroyed by wide gaps between the chassis and the ground.
A robotic mower is contained by a border wire around the lawn that defines the area to be mowed. The robot uses this wire to locate the boundary of the area to be trimmed and in some cases to locate a recharging dock. Robotic mowers are capable of maintaining up to 5 acres (20,000 m2) of grass. Robotic lawn mowers are increasingly sophisticated, are usually self-docking and contain rain sensors, nearly eliminating human interaction for mowing grass. Multiple robotic mowers can be used to mow an even larger area.
Riding mowers (U.S.) or ride-on mowers (U.K.) are a popular alternative for large lawns. The operator is provided with a seat and controls on the mower and literally 'rides' on the machine. Most use the horizontal rotating blade system, though usually with multiple blades.
A common form of ride-on mower is the lawn tractor. These are usually designed to resemble a small agricultural tractor, with the cutting deck mounted amidships between the front and rear axles.
The drives for these mowers are in several categories. The most common transmission for tractors is a manual transmission. The second most common transmission type is a form of continuously variable transmission called the hydrostatic transmission. These transmissions take several forms, from pumps driving separate motors, which may incorporate a gear reduction, to fully integrated units containing a pump, motor and gear reduction. Hydrostatic transmissions are more expensive than mechanical transmissions but they are easier to use and can transmit greater torque to the wheels as compared to a typical mechanical transmission. The least common drive type, and the most expensive, is electric.
There have been a number of attempts to replace hydrostatic transmissions with a lower cost alternative, but these attempts, which include variable belt types (e.g., MTD's Auto Drive) and toroidal, have various performance or perception problems that has caused their market life to be short or their market penetration to be limited.
Riding lawnmowers can often mount other devices such as rototillers/rotavators, snowplows, snowblowers, yard vacuums, occasionally even front buckets or fork-lift tines.
The deck of a rotary mower is typically made of steel. Lighter steel is used on less expensive models, and heavier steel on more expensive models for durability. Other deck materials include aluminum, which does not rust and is a staple of higher priced mowers, and hard composite plastic, which does not rust and is lighter and less expensive than aluminum. Electric mowers typically have a plastic deck.
Riding mowers typically have an opening in the side or rear of the housing where the cut grass is expelled. Some have a grass catcher attachment at the opening to bag the grass clippings. Special mulching blades are available for rotary mowers. The blade is designed to keep the clippings circulating underneath the mower until the clippings are chopped quite small. Other designs have twin blades to mulch the clippings to small pieces. This function has the advantages of forgoing the additional work collecting and disposing grass clippings while reducing lawn waste in such a way that also creates convenient compost for the lawn, forgoing the expense of fertilizer.
Mower manufacturers market their mowers as side discharge, 2-in-1, meaning bagging and mulching or side discharging and mulching, and 3-in-1, meaning bagging, mulching, and side discharge. Most 2-in-1 bagging and mulching mowers require a separate attachment to discharge grass onto the lawn. Some side discharge mower manufacturers also sell separate "mulching plates" that will cover the opening on the side discharge mower and, in combination with the proper blades, will convert the mower to a mulching mower. These conversions are impractical when compared with 2- or 3-in-1 mowers which can be converted in the field in seconds. There are two types of bagging mowers. A rear bag mower features an opening on the back of the mower through which the grass is expelled into the bag. Hi-vac mowers have a tunnel that extends from the side discharge to the bag. Hi-vac is also the type of grass collection used on riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors and is considered more efficient. Mulching and bagging mowers are not well suited to long grass or thick weeds.
Rotary mowers with internal combustion engines come in three price ranges. Low priced mowers use older technology, smaller motors, and lighter steel decks. These mowers are targeted at the residential market and typically price is the most important selling point. These mowers are sold through large discount and home improvement stores, range between $100–400 on the US market, and have a typical service life of 7–10 years. Higher priced mowers are also primarily targeted at residential customers. These mowers have more features and often have heavier steel, composite plastic or aluminum decks. Most of these mowers are sold through independent dealers who also service the equipment and cost between $200 and $1000. These mowers will last as long as twenty years given regular maintenance. Commercial grade mowers are the most expensive rotary mowers. They are "targeted" at grounds maintenance companies and other professionals, but are commonly sold to home owners as well. These mowers feature the latest technology and include features such as disk drive, oil filters, and very heavy steel and, more often, aluminum decks. These mowers are sold through independent dealers who service the product and, with regular maintenance, they have a service life far beyond twenty years. A commercial grade mower typically costs from $4,000 to as much as $90,000.
Professional grass-cutting equipment (used by large establishments such as universities, sports stadiums and local authorities) usually take the form of much larger, dedicated, ride-on platforms or attachments that can be mounted on, or behind, a standard tractor unit (a "gang-mower"). Either type may use rotating-blade or cylindrical-blade type cutters, although high-quality mowed surfaces demand the latter. Wide-area mowers (WAMs) are commercial grade mowers which have decks extended to either side, many to 12 feet (3.7 m). These extensions can be lowered for large area mowing or raised to decrease the mower's width and allow for easy transport on city roads or trailers.

Topdressing the lawn

Topdressing the lawn is the process of adding a fine layer of ‘home mixed quality soil’ to the lawn surface. Top dressing benefits the lawn as it builds up the quality of the soil over a period of time, - sandy soils will be able to retain moisture better and so the lawn will be more resistant to drought, clay soils will drain better thus improving root development. Another benefit of top dressing the lawn is that it will help to even out any lumps and bumps that are present on an uneven lawn, filling in any small hollows that may develop. Top dressing also stimulates the grass to produce new shoots and so results in denser grass cover which helps combat the onset of weed and moss infestation.
Top dressing is carried out routinely by professional greenkeepers to ensure a top quality finish. If you want a really top quality lawn that can meet professional standards then you should top dress your lawn annually.

What topdressing mixture should I use?

First you need to make your topdressing by combining a mixture of loam, sand and peat. The proportions of these 3 ingredients will vary depending on your type of soil but for a loamy soil type then the following is a good guide: 3 parts sand to 3 parts loam to 1 part peat. The top dressing ingredients should be reasonably dry before you start mixing them to ensure that they are mixed as well as can be expected.
Try and use a good peat rather than garden compost as garden compost can contain weed seeds that will germinate in the lawn. Your sand should be lime free and so sea sand is not suitable.
For heavy clay soils you can increase the amount of sand and reduce the amount of loam.
For sandy soils you can reduce the amount of sand.
The topdressing mixture should be very fine so that it can penetrate the grass surface and reach the existing soil. Because of this you may want to run your mixture through a soil sieve (1/4” holes) before applying the topdressing.

How do I topdress the lawn?

The key to applying the top dressing is to make sure that you get an even spread of the top dressing over the area and to make sure that the top dressing does not remain ‘on top’ of the grass. The top dressing should penetrate down to soil level.
Before you begin you may find that on heavy / compacted soils aerating the lawn a few days before will help your top dressing application.
When your top dressing mixture has been evenly mixed you can start to apply it to the lawn by using a spade to deposit the mixture onto the lawn surface. A general guide is around 1.5-2 kg (3-4 lb) of top dressing mixture per square metre. This figure can be increased for lawns with a more uneven surface.
You then spread the top dressing over the required area using a flat surface such as the back side of a rake or a tool called a lute that is made especially for this purpose. You can make your own lute using a 5 foot long plank of wood. As well as spreading the top dressing over the desired area this action also works the top dressing down into the turfs soil surface. Make sure that the spreading action leaves no bumps on the surface and fills all the hollows in.
Do not leave top dressing lying on the surface of the lawn. If there is excess top dressing left on the grass surface after spreading then remove it

When should I topdress the lawn?

You should topdress the lawn in autumn. Lawns which are based on poor soil will benefit from top dressing the soil each year. Lawns based on good quality soil should not need top dressing every year although if you want a really top class lawn then you may wish to do so.
If you are scarifying the lawn in autumn (September is a good month for this) then you should do this BEFORE you top dress the lawn. Otherwise the thatch (layer of dead grass) will be mixed in with the top dressing and you will lose some top dressing and/or prevent the thatch from being effectively removed.

How to build a Cactus Garden

Cacti are some of nature's most beautiful and exotic plants. Most cacti are native to the desert and arid regions, but most species can grow anywhere with a little accommodation. A cactus garden can liven up your yard and give your home an original look.
The first step in making a cactus garden is, of course, to plan it out. Scout out a location in your yard for your garden. The optimal place for a cactus garden is on hill, because this allows the garden bed to easily drain. You can still make a cactus garden if your yard is flat, you will
just have to do more digging.
When you decide where you want your cactus garden, decide what size and shape you want. Use your imagination and be creative; you can have a circle, square, rectangle, semicircle, triangle, whatever you desire. Then mark the border of the garden onto the ground before you begin, this
will make the digging much easier.
Now for the digging. If your garden is going to be on a hill, you have it pretty easy. You need to level out the ground where your garden is going to be, digging into the hill on the upper end of your garden. You will also need to dig a few inches of earth up over the entire base of the garden to remove all the grass and weeds that would harm the cacti. The area does not have to be perfectly level, you just don’t want any big bumps that will make your garden uneven or any foliage that will prevent proper drainage and cause your cacti to rot.
If you don’t have a suitable hill to place your cactus garden on, choose any spot and decide the shape and size of your garden. After marking the borders of the garden onto the ground, dig out 6"-12" of earth.
Now that you have finished digging, you are ready to begin constructing your garden. First you will need to get outdoor tile blocks or stones to build a wall around your garden. Although the tile blocks come in a variety of styles and are very beautiful, they are also very expensive.
If you are willing to foot the expense, these tile blocks can be purchased at garden centers and home improvement stores. Rocks work just as well and also look beautiful and more natural and are much less expensive. I suggest using rocks, which you can buy or find yourself.
You will also need a strip of plastic equal to the length of the border of your garden. Any plastic will do (it will not be seen), such as an old tarp. The plastic is optional, but it eliminates weeds and it will save you a lot of time and backaches.
Cactus soil is also another necessity. You will need enough to fill your garden to the top of the wall. You will have to wait until after construction of your garden to see how much soil you will need. You can purchase cactus soil at your local gardening center or home improvement store. If you cannot find any cactus soil, you can make your own by
Thoroughly mixing two parts potting soil, two parts sand and one part gravel.
The first step in building your garden is to cover the edge of the grass with the strip of plastic. This will help prevent weeds from spreading into the garden bed. Next, stack your rocks or tile blocks along the edge of the garden. How high you decide to make the wall is up to you, but 12” works well. After building the wall, you should fill your garden with the cactus soil.
Now comes the fun part, planting your cacti. Choose plants that will do well in your area. You should be able to get this information wherever you buy your cacti. If you live in an area where the temperatures fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there is an easy way for you to still have a
cactus garden. Plant the cacti, pot and all, in the ground. Then when wintertime rolls around, you can simply lift your plants out of the ground and bring them inside to wait until spring.
When planting your cacti, be creative in your design. You can plant the cacti in a pattern or randomly, however you choose. After you have finishing planting your cacti, your garden is complete.
Your cacti garden will need very little maintenance. No watering or irrigation is needed, the rainfall will be enough. Feeding your cacti with 10-10-10 fertilizer once a year in the spring is the only thing you will need to do.

Landscape Lighting

Lighting is an important part of any landscape  project. The lighting and highlighting of walls, shrubs, trees, building facades, etc. can make a huge difference in the nighttime aesthetics throughout a project and create an atmosphere that is pleasing and beautiful as well as give people a sense of being safe and secure.
There are many different types of landscape lighting available.  Here are the choices we have to choose from:
Bollards - These lights are typically no more than 42" tall and are used mostly for lighting walkways and sidewalks. They are available in spun aluminum, cast aluminum, cast iron, concrete, and fiberglass.
In-Ground Lights - These lights are mounted flush in the ground and are used in areas where you don't want anything to protrude above ground level. They can be mounted in soil or on concrete.
Bullet Lights - Floodlights can be used to light walls, trees, statues, etc. These bullet shaped floodlights usually have an integral 1/2" threaded knuckle mount and can be supplied with a wide variety of lamp types and sources to meet any needs.
Floodlights - Simialar to the bullet lights above except they are most often rectangular in shape and usually have HID type lamps. These hi-powered lights can be used to light large objects or, with a narrow beam spread, to light objects from a large distance away.
Festoon Lights - Unlike Christmas tree strings of lights which utilize small lamps with low wattages, Festoon lights are very heavy duty with larger lamp globes and higher wattages. Our Festoon light strings are the ONLY ones UL listed as a system and in Europe they are even listed to be submerged in water! Go to the Festoon Picture pages to see some applications.
String Lights - Putting strings of white lights in trees for decoration and to create a festive atmosphere all year long has become very popular in recent years. Our string lights are heavy duty commercial grade and are made to be used all year round and to last for many years (Christmas tree lights only have a seasonal UL listing and are designed to be used for only a few weeks a year). The lamps we use in our strings have a very long life and do not have to replaced as often as other types of string lights. We even have a light string which utilizes LED lamps that can last 10 to 20 years before burning out and use only 10 to 20 percent of the power of incandescent systems!
Pathway Lighting - Small pathways and walkways can often be lit using very low level (6"-18" high) lights. These lights are very cost effective and can supply a very good lighting job. Some have side and uplight components that can light shrubs that are near them.
Underwater Lights - These lights are designed to be completely submersed in water. They are commonly used in fountains to light water jets and effects.
Residential Lights - Residential grade landscape lighting can be used on many custom residences and light commercial projects. These products can be very cost effective and ours are of a very high quality.

that has such low maintenance.

Phoenix roebelenii


This delightful little palm is a favorite landscape item in areas where it is hardy. It is just as likely to be encountered as a popular indoor container plant often used in shopping mallscapes and other commercial plantings. Pygmy date palm grow slowly reaching heights of 8-10 ft (2.4-3.1 m). The stem is covered with old leaf bases and is topped with a dense head of bright green pinnate leaves that grow to about 4 ft (1.2 m) in length. Delicate leaflets, arranged neatly along the upper length of the gently arched leaf stem lend the plant a very graceful aspect. Lower leaflets are modified into sharp pointed 2-3 in (5-8 cm) spines.
Cream colored flowers are held on short, 1 ft (0.3 m) inflorescences and are followed by small black dates on the female plants (male flowers are borne on a separate plant). Although this palm is single stemmed most nurseries offer it in containers planted with 3 to 5 specimens. When grouped like this, the stems tend to curve gracefully away from the center of the clump creating an especially attractive arrangement.


Phoenix roebelenii is native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, in particular Thailand and Burma (called Myanmar by that country's dictatorship). This popular little palm is grown around the world indoors and out.

Very adaptable to most soils (use light, fast draining soils in containers). Fertilize 3 times a year.
Light: Bright sun to partial shade.
Moisture: Needs adequate moisture for best look. Has some drought tolerance when mature.
Hardiness: May be cold damaged at temperatures below 30ºF (-1ºC).
By seeds (they take about 3 months to germinate)


Pygmy date palm excels in containers of all kinds. Also looks great by patios and entry ways. Use clumps of these palms as specimens and to serve as focal point in a mass planting of annuals. Also nice combined with evergreen shrubs in a mixed hedge. This rugged little palm looks great indoors - just give it a bright spot and keep it out of drafts (and away from where someone could brush against the spines - see Warning).

Small stature, delicate lacy appearance and easy care make this an exceptional palm that everyone can enjoy whether in the landscape or indoor containers. Pygmy date palm is inexpensive and available from mail order, nurseries and plant shops everywhere.
The pygmy date is related to the edible date (Phoenix dactylifera) which, as you might guess from its common name, it closely resembles in miniature.

Many palms are armed with dangerous spines and other sharp edges. But we are most likely to come in painful contact with those of smaller stature like the pygmy date palm. This palm has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin, tissue - sometimes even protective clothing. This often results in painful infections and possibly other, more dire complications. Keep this plant away from children's play areas and walkways. Use caution and sturdy protective clothing when gardening near this and similar palms

Adenium obesum

Adenium obesum is actually a succulent member of the Oleander family. It originates in East Africa, from regions where it rains frequently in the summer, but is very dry in winter.
Blooming time: Spring, and a second time in September.
Culture: Desert Rose needs to have a soil mix of sand or brick chips mixed into regular soil, or a cactus mix. The soil should dry completely between waterings. For this reason clay pots are better suited for growing Desert Rose than plastic pots. Water sparingly during winter months.
Propagation: Desert Rose can be grown from seed or cuttings. The best time for either method is in the spring.
Seed: Scatter seed into a mixture of sand/soil. Seeds germinate easily, and seedlings grow without any special attention.
Cuttings: Propagation by cutting is easy. Cut end shoots and let dry for a day or two. Be careful of the toxic sap. Stick shoots into a pot of moist soil, and provide bottom heat. Keep soil moist.


Geraniums are one of the most reliable plants in the home garden. They can be obtained in flower in late spring and will add color to the garden until frost. The new cultivars offer almost shatter-proof flowers that withstand wind and rain. Geraniums can be obtained as seedlings or established plants.

Set out plants in the spring after danger of frost is past. Geraniums that have been injured by cold temperatures will produce little growth and the foliage will often be red. Planting in late May is preferable for the most productive plants. Plant geraniums where they will receive sunlight for best flower production. Select a site where water drainage is good.

Geraniums will grow in almost any type of soil if well-aerated and porous. Heavy clay soils should be improved by adding organic matter each year. An inch of coarse sphagnum peat moss, partially-rotted manure, or compost spaded in when preparing the beds is ideal.

Geranium plants are generally available as rooted cuttings or as seedlings in plastic trays or pots. Plants should be set in the soil no deeper than the depth they were growing in the pot. If possible, plant more shallow--stem rot can kill plants if they are planted too deeply. Once planted, firm the soil around the roots. Be careful not to injure the stem of the plant, as this provides an opening for diseases to enter. Water thoroughly after planting.

Liquid fertilizers such as 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 should also be applied at the rate recommended on the package. Water after applying to ensure that the fertilizer reaches the roots and to avoid burning. Any fertilizer that gets on the foliage of the plants should be sprayed with water.

Additional plants can be started from stem cuttings, or "slips." Remove cuttings, 3 to 4 inches in length, from the tip of the stems. Shorter cuttings can be taken if necessary. Strip off the lower leaves to facilitate sticking the cuttings in the rooting medium. Perlite or sharp sand alone or mixed equally with sphagnum peat moss is an ideal medium for rooting cuttings. Place cuttings 1 inch deep in the medium and water thoroughly. Place container in a north or east window until rooted. Rooting occurs best with soil temperatures of 72 to 75 degrees F. This generally takes 3 to 4 weeks. Water sparingly during this rooting period--the trick to successful rooting is keep the cuttings fairly dry. When cuttings have rooted, place them in 4-inch pots.

After the cuttings become established (approximately 1 week), start fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 at one-half the recommended rate of application. Make monthly applications thereafter until the plants are planted outside in beds.

Pest problems are minimal with geraniums. Always keep fading flower stalks removed to reduce botrytis, which can be a problem during wet seasons. Proper plant spacing will help to minimize botrytis. Bacterial blight can be a serious problem on geraniums--usually evidence when the plant or single leaves wilt for no apparent reason. Infected plants wilt most readily under high (70 to 80 degrees F) temperatures. No sprays are available and the plant should be removed from the site immediately.

It is possible to keep geraniums from year to year by taking cuttings in late August and rooting them as discussed earlier. Plants can also be dug, trimmed back to one half their original height, repotted and placed in a sunny window for the winter months. Some people also save geraniums by digging up the plants, removing soil and hanging from the rafters in the basement on hooks. This method requires high humidity (85 to 90 percent) and cool temperatures (50 to 55 degrees F).

There are many types of geraniums. The majority today are produced from seed. Look for plants in these seed-propagated families - Ringo, Bandit, Elite, Orbit, Pinto, Multibloom and Lone Ranger - for good results. Red cutting type geraniums that perform well include Kim, Mars, Tango, Yours Truly and Sincerity. Pink and other varieties include: Cherry Blossom, Helena, Katie, Pink Expectations, Pink Satisfaction and Rio.
Unusual geraniums such as ivy-leafed, scented and Martha Washington can also be grown by homeowners. Ivy-leafed geraniums display a characteristic of trailing stems that make them ideal for containers. Keep evenly moist in a east or north exposure. Ivy types do not tolerate temperatures above 85 degrees F for long periods. Scented type geraniums should be grown in full sun to develop the volitile leaf oils. Flowers are less significant with this group, but the soft scented leaves give fragrant oils that are useful in sachets. Martha Washington or Regal geraniums are sold in early spring and require cool temperatures (60 degrees F and below) at night to stay in bloom. Warm summer temperatures will cause flowering to cease until fall, when temperatures become favorable.

Traveler’s Palm (ravenala madagascariensis)

The Traveler’s Palm is one of the most distinctive
and notable plants from Madagascar.   Though not a 
true palm, the traveler's palm gets its name from the 
fact that thirsty travelers could find stores of water in 
many parts of the plant including the leaf folds, flower 
bracts and inside each of the hollow leaf bases, of 
which may hold up to one quart of water!

Its long leaf stems and deep vivid green leaves 
resemble those of the banana and extend out from 
the trunk like slats of a giant hand fan.  The leaves 
range up to 10 feet long and from 12-20 inches in 

Young plants have a subterranean trunk, whereas the 
adult crown elevates itself above grown in symmetrical 
beauty.  The green palm-like trunk grows up to 1ft in 
diameter and displays unique trunk leaf scar rings.

It's not to be confused with it's cousin the Giant Bird of 
Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai).  The Traveler's can grow 
up to 30 feet tall and can take some frost.

It is perfect for that special accent in your tropical/sub-
tropical landscape. Not only is the traveler's palm one 
of the most striking accents in any garden but it's 
unique in nature and is monotypic, meaning it is the 
only species in its genus.


 - rich, well drained.
Sun - full sun. Prefers
protected areas from
Water - ample water, grows
faster with water.
Cold - take down to 29°F.
Natural Habitat -