9 Garden Design Tips from Moss Mountain

To prepare for my trip to Garden2Blog at P. Allen Smith's breathtaking Moss Mountain Farm this week, I've decided to share some inspiration and tips that were inspired by my visit during last year's event. Whether your garden is small or virtually nonexistent, in a cold climate or a tropical one, there's always lots to learn from a well executed garden design. For starters:

Giving Garden Tours to a One-Year Old

Gardening is a lot different now that I have a kid. I used to spend so much time anticipating the unfurling of each new leaf and flower petal on my balcony, viewing the little miracles of nature through the eyes of a child, as if I was experiencing it for the very first time. Now I'm watching my kid grow before my very eyes, and he's the one looking at each little miracle for the first time. Instead of getting lost in the moment, I'm just trying to keep him from eating the bugs.

Impatience is a Virtue

It's hard to find time to garden when you're a dad who works from home, but sometimes it's even harder to justify putting forth the time and effort in the first place. I started to feel insecure, doubting my purpose and vision when the weeds seemed to grow faster than the plants themeslves. There's a lot to be said for patience when it comes to gardening, but a case could also be made for being impatient.

Refreshing the Patio for Spring

I'm proud to announce that I've teamed up with Tuesday Morning to share some creative tips for whipping your garden into shape this spring. This post was originally published on their blog yesterday but I'm also posting it here so that I can show you how to do things like turn bird suet feeder baskets into vertical gardens or make some eye-catching container combinations.

Turn a Shower Caddy into a Vertical Garden

Want to add a little bit of romance to your boring shower? All you need is a hanging shower caddy, a plastic loofah, orchid bark and a few other epiphytic 'air' plants to turn a well-lit bathroom into a tropical spa getaway. Here's how to make your own!

Make this Glowing Houseplant Combo

Some plants survive on neglect with dull and wrinkled leaves, while others seem to glow. Such is the case with this dazzling living flower arrangement that I planted last fall with 'window leaved' Haworthias and a flaming orange 'Wild Tiger' bromeliad burning bright in a bowl of black sand. This combo thrives both indoors and out with lots of sunlight and casual watering. Here's how to make your own in 15-30 minutes.

Before and After my Slate Path

A garden isn't much fun if you're the only one who gets to enjoy it. "Come look at my new planting of ferns!" I would call enthusiastically from the back of the garden to my wife, who timidly stood at the edge of the patio in her nice shoes, clutching onto our baby. "Uh huh! I can see them from here!" she assured me. I can't say I blame her for not venturing from the safety of the concrete into the weeds, mud and exposed roots beyond.

Grow a Miniature Forest in a Wood Bowl

My seven-month old son loves windows to his exciting new world. If I put him on the floor, I can pretty much count on him scrambling to the sliding glass door with squeals of delight exclaiming "Hey! Hey! Hey!" as he stands up and plants his palms on the glass and gazes upon a realm of possibility and excitement. Stay with me now... I'm going somewhere with this.

An Early Winter for My Florida Garden

It might not be the seven feet of snow that got dumped on Buffalo, but last week's cold snap definitely caught us off guard here in Northeast Florida. It was too early for one thing, and it also got colder than we had anticipated. One night was only supposed to reach 30 degrees, yet I woke up to find that it stayed at around 23 degrees all night. Just like that, we were plunged into an early winter. Here's how that played out.

Troy-Bilt JET: Win the World's Most Powerful Leaf Blower

I've given the most powerful leaf blower on the market a test drive and Troy-Bilt and I are giving one away. You might be wondering if you even really need a blower that displaces 650 cfm and releases it with catastrophic hurricane force 130 mph winds, but after using the Troy-Bilt TB2MB JET in my own garden I can assure you that yes, you do. Here's why all of that power is a good thing.

New Priorities for a New Dad's Garden

After a year in my new home and the arrival of my baby boy, my priorities as a gardener have changed. Getting my son and ourselves into the habit of eating fresh vegetables every day is of tantamount importance to me now, and I'm also desperate to bring order and predictability to a life filled with this beautiful chaos called parenthood. I want to simplify and focus on what matters most.

Regaining the Joy of Blogging

The days have finally started to give a glimpse of fall in my Florida garden, and that means that I can spend more time outside - with my little baby boy by my side and a camera and trowel in my hands. The home and garden have come a long way since we moved in one year ago, but there's still so much to do and share. This blog is about to get busy.

Dress Up an Ugly Corner with a Rain Chain

Yesterday I used a rain chain and a few plants to turn a trashy looking corner of my yard into a little pocket of paradise, and I was able to knock it out in about 30 minutes while my baby was taking a nap. I had been meaning to do something with the awkward strip of dirt and weeds between the patio, house and sidewalk, but couldn't decide on what to do. That is, until I was asked to test and review a copper rain chain from Rain Chains Direct.

Turning a Garden's Problems into Personality

When we bought our house last year, I knew that the yard had issues; terrible erosion, poor drainage, dry shade and a doomed tree, to name a few. Yet for all of these problems, their solutions can make the garden into something more special; erosion can become an exciting dry creek bed and bad drainage can become a brimming rain garden. When you look at it like that, a perfect yard looks pretty boring after all.

How to Design your own Garden: 12 Easy Tips

Whether you're starting from scratch or trying to bring some order to an existing garden, any landscape can benefit from a little bit of planning. More importantly, organizing your daydreams onto paper is fun! In my last post I sung the praises of real gardens; loved patches of dirt with weeds, unfinished areas and a wealth of potential. Now I'll show how to visualize those possibilities. Put some garden boots on those cold feet and turn your yard into a beautiful garden with these 12 creative tricks and ideas.

The Joys of an Imperfect Garden

My fences are falling apart, the previous owner's doghouse is still being dismantled to make room for veggies, my cucumbers are plagued by caterpillars and I have weeds up the wazoo. I've even resorted to using Round-Up on the cracks in my driveway the other day... not that it even worked. For all of these headaches, I'm overjoyed. I fail to see the appeal in a 'finished' garden and applaud those who choose to garden without seeking the approval of others.

Troy-Bilt TB6044 XP Review and Giveaway

My idea of a perfect lawn is one that is kept neat and trim, and steadily becoming replaced by new garden beds. Lawn work should be fast, easy and even fun, and should never take time away from the garden or time with my family. Now that I have the TB6044 XP I was finally able to tackle what I thought was an impenetrable jungle of overgrown weeds and can now look forward to giving my lawn and garden beds a manicured look. Want to win one for yourself? Read on!

My Backyard Oasis Makeover, Before and After

When we moved into our house last year, the back yard was a disaster zone with rotting fences, a foot of soil washed out from beneath the mildew-blackened patio and a lawn so choked with invasive weeds that... well, I just gave up. I've found lots of articles showing how to distract from an eyesore in the garden, but what if the whole backyard is a bleeping eyesore? I'll eventually replace the fences and get my stuff together, but what I really needed in the meantime was a diversion.

Make this Living Flower Arrangement

If you've ever received an orchid, bromeliad or Christmas cactus as a gift, only to find that they're bloomless and boring the rest of the year, then let me show you how to combine them into an easy and long-lasting living flower arrangement! Since my Easter cactus was just blooming last week, I've decided to share this whole container garden 'recipe' from my book so that you can make it yourself.

3 Easy Kumquat Glaze Recipes

Finally, a use for all of those extra kumquats! The kumquat is the kind of fruit that you tend to either love or hate, but even the most ardent avoider of this bittersweet little citrus relative would love it as a tangy glaze. If kumquats are unavailable, it's a great use for other acidic citrus like calamondins or key limes. Below are my three favorite variations, from a two-ingredient version to an exotic spicy ginger kumquat glaze for the more adventurous. Each of the glazes can be used with the bonus 15-minute glazed salmon recipe at the bottom of this post.