Category Archives: Spring

Healthy is the new Wealthy

The idiom “cabin fever” perfectly describes that claustrophobic feeling we have after months indoors peering out the windows over the frozen tundra. We long for the color green and the aroma and feel of soil as the earthy canvas for renewal. I have read studies that claim soil has natural anti-depressant qualities and I be-”leaf” it.
I recently read the Garden Media Group Garden Trends report stating “Forest bathing” is the medicine of being in the forest and is today where yoga was 30 years ago. Research continues to tell us that time spent in nature reduces stress and increases well being. From the practice of using living plants to “soundscape” our landscapes (buffering noise) to the simple benefit of a shade tree providing a sunscreen equivalent to SPF 10, we instinctively understand the benefits of nature.

How about some spring time forest bathing?

I remember in the 70’s the houseplant and indoor foliage craze and that too has found a resurgence of sorts. Today two things drive the resurgence. One is the array of options for indoor plants from succulents to tillandsias, citrus to herbs and trendy foliage like fiddle leaf figs. The second thing driving the resurgence is the tech savvy Millennials (18-34). Five million of the six million ‘new’ gardeners last year were 18-34 year olds, according to the 2016 National Gardening Report. These tech savvy millennials will “naturally” make gardening a 365 day-a-year activity via indoor lighting, apps, lifestyle and indoor growing techniques. This attitude carries over to the workplace where ROI is replaced by ROV (return on value) understanding that plants create happier and healthier workers.
An understanding has “seeded” in the minds of Americans that finding joy in less is part of a downsizing trend to gardening in smaller spaces. Keeping what you need or love and what loves your garden and de-cluttering the rest. Creating boundaries and defining spaces.
Beat that cabin fever and get “wealthy” by adding some plants to your indoor living space and going for a forest bathing walk in the woods. March is a great month to “turn over a new leaf”.

Rick Vuyst

Hoping for an early Spring

Here’s hoping the beautiful weather we enjoyed on Valentine’s day is sign of things to come! Hoping for an early spring 2017!

Sunrise February 14, 2017

May Day

May Day May Day
It is ironic that May Day is an emergency word used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications that we have seen used in the movies. It is ironic, because the arrival of the first day of May is a celebration of flowers and spring. May Day was celebrated on May 1 by some early European settlers to North America with May baskets. These are baskets that were filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged. Good idea to wear running shoes that day so you can catch the ringer and “plant” one on them!
Today the arrival of May usually means the last frost days are passing and tender flowering plants can be enjoyed in our gardens and landscapes. Mother’s day is a weekend to give and receive flowers to celebrate both Mom and the promise of a new gardening season. Later in May as we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, plants and flowers play a big role in remembrance as well as our home gardening enjoyment.
I read recently that “a weed is a flower with an advertising budget”. Today plant breeders have developed flowering plants for our landscapes that bloom longer, brighter and more reliably than the blooms enjoyed years ago. Dahlias, Pansies, Gerbera Daisies, Calibrachoa, Coleus and Petunias are great examples of how we have come a long way baby.

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy

Container gardening popularity has driven the development of reliable, continuous blooming and colorful plants that you can enjoy all summer long in your little corner of the world.
An easy container to design is a mono-culture container. Choose a single variety for your container along with an attractive container. Next mono-color combinations use two different shades of a color, but because you are using the same color you don’t have to worry about the colors clashing…they blend in shades. Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and mix together easily. These can be effective and very colorful combinations of pink and red, pink and orange (a favorite of mine) yellow and orange, orange and red, violet and red, blue and green, and blue-violet. My favorite approach is using complimentary colors. On a color wheel, complimentary colors are directly opposite of each other…like red and green, orange and blue, or yellow and violet.

Complimentary colors Purple and Yellow

Complimentary colors Purple and Yellow

Finally you might want to try your hand at a three way combination color scheme. I call it a triple play, some people call it a triad. This combination uses 3 colors that are spaced equally on the color wheel – the points of a triangle. Examples would be a red-yellow-blue or violet-orange-green combination. Try a red-yellow-blue or pink-yellow-blue triangle combination.
Here are two quick pointers for your May Day combinations. Remember that pink is a great color to include because it plays well with almost any color including orange and red. Also remember for best success plant your container working from the inside to the outside of the pot thinking “Focal, Filler, Edger, Trailer”.

Pink and Orange combination

Pink and Orange combination

Tulip Time Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking at Tulip Time on Saturday May 7

Tulip Time 2016

Tulip Time 2016

Visit http://www.tuliptime.com/garden for more information!

When you have “Thyme” on your hands

In this fast paced world of busy lives, Herbs pamper us with gifts from the garden. We all know that the garden is good for the mind, body and spirit when we need to unplug. It is “sage” advice to take some “thyme” for yourself and benefit from growing some Herbs. Herbs are easy to grow with some good soil and sunshine. Perfectly suited for containers they can be grown anywhere, even if your space is small.

Herbs are perfect for use in containers with other plant material

Herbs are perfect for use in containers with other plant material

That said I recommend also incorporating Herbs into the landscape with your other plants and flowers. A dash of Lavender, Nepeta, Thyme or Oregano can spice up any landscape with color, interest and aroma.
“Basil” instinct tells us that Herbs in our life provide a lot of benefit. Your garden should give back to you. Herbs do that in a big way. Aside from their obvious “scent”-uous nature, herbs give back to us in countless ways. As soaks and teas, aromatherapy and steams, oils and perfumes, elixirs and medicine, rubs and skin care, treats and colorful garnish, herbs like the garden truly benefit the mind, body and spirit.

Sweet Woodruff is an herbal groundcover used to float or "steep" in white wine (thank our German friends) to make a great tasting white wine for a sunny May day!

Sweet Woodruff is an herbal groundcover used to float or “steep” in white wine (thank our German friends) to make a great tasting white wine for a sunny May day!

Start with a good lightweight growing mix and a good sized container. Pick a sunny spot and you will be in your ele-“mint”. No need for lots of fertilizer, over-watering and over-fertilizing weakens the plants and diminishes the oils in their aromatic foliage. Remember that herbs are a collaborative sort, often making great companions with vegetable plants. I don’t have scientific proof but I can tell you I am convinced that tomatoes off the vine taste better when basil is planted nearby.

Affordable and fun to grow

Affordable and fun to grow

Here are some herb suggestions for you from my garden and the benefits they provide me.
Basil….uplifting and energizing. Make me think of summer and fresh tomatoes.
Borage….easy to grow, a good companion with a cucumber like aroma
Chamomile….soothing with a sweet apple fragrance
Hops….amazing visual impact in the landscape
Lavender….beautiful flowers, healing and rest
Lemon Balm….aroma, rest, cleansing
Mint….stimulating and cleansing. And invasive…grow only in containers
Parsley….Healthy refreshing edger or border
Rosemary….Aroma, strong pine like fragrance. Perfect late season herb.
Sage….Rich, earthy, appealing foliage
Thyme….decorative, stimulating and collaborative
Oregano….spice of life, great groundcover or container edge or trailer
Nepeta and Catmint….pungent aroma and long lasting bloom.