For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
[ Member listing ]

Landscape Design Tips, The Importance of Soil and Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!

I am a Cottage Gardener through and through~ I love the free form it allows me to have... the natural flow that occurs with time... the feel that everything has been there forever. Cottage gardens just seem happy and inviting to me~ they seem to say, 'go ahead & pick a bouquet.. take it in the house, smell it... gaze upon it's beauty and wonder...' Daisies, lupines, delphiniums and roses are just a few of the Cottage Gardens blooms that abound. I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain how to do other garden types. I believe your heart becomes a part of your garden over time, it calls out to you each time you pass by and invites you in like an old friend. Landscaping can be fun and exciting, filled with anticipation of what each year will bring, what news plants will be added, new walkways, arbors... Enjoy your gardens and be one with it, it will bring you years of peaceful abundance. There are several aspects to consider when considering your Landscape Design. These elements will effect the outcome quite drastically and need to be planned well in advance. *First make your Plan~ Walk through your yard and break it into three basic areas~1. Public Spaces- your front yard and driveway; these should be neat and organized; 2. Private Spaces- patios, pools areas and children's play areas; these spaces allow for your personal creativity; 3. Utility Spaces- garbage cans, propane tanks, central air units, firewood piles and such- be practical when planning these areas. For instance, you don't want to walk across your entire yard in the winter when you want to get some firewood. *Decide what your Personal Taste is~ this is probably going to be the easiest step in my opinion, unless of course you are not a gardener at heart and simply want a yard that is esthetically appealing to the eye and don't really care about personal expression. If this is the case, I would recommend going to a book store that has gobs of magazines; look at the covers of all the gardening magazine and see what catches your eye; decide what you like and then purchase several in that category of gardening; what is your budget? what is your time limit to maintenance? *Take into consideration the Style of your home when choosing your garden style. You wouldn't want to put a formal English garden with an old Victorian home. *Blueprint your yard~ you don't have to be an architect to do this. You can actually purchase kits at garden centers to aid you, or do as I do, just take a pad of paper and rough draw your entire property or just the area in which you want to do the landscaping. Take into consideration where all shade, all sun and partial shade/sun areas are located. This will make a big difference in the plants that you finally choose. Jot down where trees, fences, ditches, buildings, sidewalks, driveways, etc. are located. * Make a Plan of Action~ take time to develop your blueprint and plan. Most well done gardens are a work in progress that require time and patience, not to mention funds! Decide on all the elements that you want to incorporate into the landscape and then decide what is the most practical thing to start with. You will more than likely be incorporating hard scape elements into the design with the plants and maybe some garden art. These would include walkways, pergola's, patios, pools, arbors and trellises. Also bird baths, sun dials, statues and any other 'art' you want. *Choosing the plants will be another big decision. You will need to decide on trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. This will need to be decided upon once you choose your style. *When deciding on the Layout, if you choose to incorporate paths, make them winding if at all possible; this adds interest and creates a feeling of anticipation as to what is coming up around the bend. This obviously is not possible in all yards, so a way to create that feel is in your flower beds. Instead of making a straight line edge for your beds, put curves in them to create interest. It is amazing how this creates a natural flow that is appealing to the on lookers eye. Different things to consider when planning: ~ do you want a veggie & herb garden? ~ do you want shrubs and trees that require little pruning ~ do you want flowering or evergreen shrubs & trees? or a mixture of both. ~ take into consideration all four seasons when choosing your plants. ~ be sure to look at growth patterns- maturity height & width, shade or sun, dry or wet, etc. Designing and planning your garden is the fun part of gardening, but there is another very important element that is the Key to Success~ your Soil. The following information was found and adapted from "Michigan Gardener" magazine, April 2012 issue on page 9. "Soil is comprised of three materials: sand, clay, and loam. The best soil has equal parts of all three. Problems arise when there is too much of one material. Sandy soil is too loose and drains too quickly... Clay soil is too hard when dry, repelling water and making it difficult for roots to grow. When wet, it holds too much water, leading to root rot.... Spending a little time becoming familiar with the soil type in your backyard will greatly improve your gardening success. If you need help, bring a sample into your local garden center and an expert will help you determine your soil type.... You're not necessarily stuck with the soil you're given. Adding amendments will help create a rich, loamy composition that's a great environment for plants to thrive. For sandy soil, add organic matter, such a peat moss or compost, to give it more texture add water holding properties. To break up clay soil, add gypsum, pine bark fines or ceramic pellets. It is also important to know your soil's pH as well as nutrient composition before applying fertilizers.... Tests are available for about $20...." There is much information to be had on this topic that I wouldn't have time to get into here. I would advise you to get a soil sample done and get your soil prepped for maximum benefits. Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes! Here is yet anther way to use Taylor's awesome pancake mixes! Be sure to pick one up at the market! 1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe Regular Pancake Mix. Follow package instructions for 1 recipe. 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 apple, cored, peeled, quartered, grated and divided sugar for sprinkling butter for melting to fry in 1. Make batter according to package instructions adding the cinnamon. 2. On a heated skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter; sprinkle 1/2 tsp. sugar on top of melted butter; add 1 Tbsp. grated apple on top of this. 3. Immediately pour 1/4 cup of batter over top of apple, sugar & butter; cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and continue to fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Serve warm with maple syrup , butter and whipped cream. Happy Day, Jean
 
 

Nifty Bird Feeders, Homemade Hummingbird Nectar, A Lovely Garden Path and Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes!

I was in the kitchen the other day leaning on the counter looking out one of the windows when a male & female Purple Finch landed on the feeder.  I quick called over baby Aaron and picked him up to watch them.  We were actually only about seven feet away so the view was quite charming.  Aaron got big eyed of course and started pointing and oohing over them.  The birds were quite relaxed due to the 'usual' noise coming out of the house- this was no big deal and continued to eat and enjoy the sunny day.  Soon another pair settled in and things were even more splendid. As I have mentioned in several of my entries, we are big bird watchers and we enjoy feeding them very much.   Although all the bird feed can get a bit expensive I do believe it is well worth the efforts and the rewards of being able to see one of Gods most intricate & beautiful creatures so closely. I have large climbing Sweet Autumn Clematis' growing on both my front arbor and my pergola and the birds just love them. They gather for shelter as well as nesting! Last week I put a bird house in the inside corner of my front arbor well in the vines and I am pleased to say I already have a pair of sparrows nesting in there! 

If you enjoy feeding the birds, here is a really easy bird feeder recipe that you and the children can make to stretch the seed out a 'little' bit longer .
*Nifty Bird Feeders~ General Recipe: Mix about a tablespoon of white corn syrup with approximately 1 cup of bird seed~  Make as much as you want and then using a rolling pin, roll out onto counter or table until about 1/2 inch think or so.  Using cookie cutters have the children cut out shapes; re-roll any remaining seed mix until you have used it all.  Using a thin dowel, no larger than a pencil make a hole about 3/4 of an inch below the top edge of the bird treat; using yarn, thin wire or twine make a loop about 12 inches or so long to hang it out with.  You can also form into suet size to put into your suet holders.
*To make suet cakes use smooth Peanut Butter mixed with a couple tablespoons flour and mix in bird seed of choice, form into cakes and fill your holders.  Keep these in shady areas because they will melt in the heat of August. You can store these in the freezer for up to 3 months, so have fun and make ahead when the peanut butter is on sale and you have time! 
*If you do purchase pre-made suet cakes, save a few of the plastic holders they come in so you have a form handy and they will be the right size.
*Hummingbird nectar is super easy to make without buying the expensive mixes.  Simply add to four cups hot water 1 cup of sugar; stir until sugar is completely dissolved then add  2 drops of red food coloring if you want to, but it is not necessary. Put in fridge to cool down and then fill your feeders- hang out and enjoy the flock that will come. 
*Be sure to plant a row of Mammoth or Giant Grey Striped Sunflowers in your veggie garden or some in your gardens, you will be entertained in the fall by many birds looking for food!
*If you don't have room for a large bird bath somewhere, you can use large Terra cotta or plastic plant saucers for them.  Put down on the ground next to a large shrub so they have somewhere to fly and be sure to keep clean water in it.

*A Pretty Cobblestone Walk ~ see attached photo
One of the first things I did when we purchased our home was plan all the 'future' gardens and then some. There was nothing here when we came except on overgrown apple tree, an ugly shrub next to the front porch steps, two lilac bushes, a hydrangea bush  and one big beautiful Maple in the back yard. Some might be saying, "Well that's not too bad."  Well maybe it's not to some and the ease of that would be just fine & dandy~ not so for me.  I want gardens that surround and abound, both veggie and flower.  In my opinion they go hand in hand~ you can't not have flowers in your veggie garden anymore than you can't have herbs and a few pretty chard or potato plants mixed in the flower beds.  So the planning started.  One thing I had to have was a cobble stone walk.  A good friend of mine, also a gardener, had a form, soooo I put Neil to work, of course I helped, after all someone had to tell him what to do :-) ! He is my muscles when I need certain hard scapeing done, so we got the neighbors cement mixer, bought several bags of  concrete and went to work.  First I dug up the sod from the planned walkway; next I put down black plastic ground cover to hold back the nasty grass that would surly want to rear it's ugly head up into my path; next we put down about four inches of sand. Now we have a gravel/sand pit right across the road from us, so this is free for the taking for township residents.  If you don't have access to free, then you need to buy enough to lay at least 4 to 6 inches of sand down for the stones to mold into. Now I needed my 'muscles' and as usual he came through beautifully. He mixed the concrete and filled the form on and on until the walk was complete.  I wanted it to be more special though so I had each of our children press their little patties (hands) gently into a stone, then I carefully printed their name and the date in another stone beside it.  I added marbles and made smiley faces with them in neighboring stones as well.  I also had Neil & I do the same and put our wedding date and a heart made with marbles in ours (see photo attached).  I wanted a bit more so I took some maple, fern and hosta leaves and pressed them into several of the other stones.  Now after several years they are all still perfectly visible and are a happy reminder of a hard days work. 

Pancakes can have so many variations, it's simply to the cooks imagination as what to add or not. Here is a yummy variation that goes over well at our house!
Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes

1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe 'Buttermilk Pancake Mix'~ follow package directions and then add to one batch recipe:
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup more buttermilk
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup

Fry as you would and serve hot with Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage patties or links and a jug of Kapnick Orchards yummy Apple Cider! 

Happy Day,
Jean,
 
 
RSS feed for For Dragonflies And Me blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader

Calendar


Search


Navigation


Topics


Feeds


BlogRoll