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Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden

When the cares of the world are all around us, what is it that draws us to our gardens? 

Flowers Are for Everyone 

Flowers Are for Everyone

Perhaps, as someone suggested, gardens teach us grand lessons. Flowers, for example, do not judge — they respond to everybody the same way. Plant them at the right time, in the right soil, with the right amount of water, etc., and they grow and blossom for you.

Even better. A plant doesn’t care what neighborhood it’s in — whether its home is a lush landscape or a tiny window box. 

And a flower or plant doesn’t even care if it’s alone. Nurtured right, it will smile its bright colors, wave gently in the breeze, and feed visiting pollinators — all on its lonesome. 

As for this summer’s garden, if you waited too long, and didn’t get around to planting bulbs this spring, no worries. Even though long hot summer days will soon be upon us, there’s lots of beautiful summer-loving flowers you can add. And since weather in the northeast over the next week or so should remain reasonably temperate, there’ll be plenty of time to spend in your gardens.

 

 

Contact your local nursery

Contact your local nursery

Nurseries and COVID-19

If you are concerned about purchasing flowers during COVID-19, and you are not using a landscaper such as Deck and Patio which supplies the plantings, you can phone your local nursery and see how they are handling sales. 

Hicks Nurseries, a well-known Long Island nursery, says it is practicing safe distancing and all their staff wear masks. They also tell us that those who do not wish to go inside their greenhouse can shop outside where they have also set up a check out.

 

 

 

Now for some beautiful summer plant ideas:

Lilies

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies are perfect summer plants. They come in lots of colors and have a lovely symbolism. 

To enjoy them all summer long, you can plant a variety of the bulbs. Here’s the bloom times for some varieties:

Madonna Lilly blooms in early June.

Asian Lilies: Mid-June

Trumpet Lilies: Late-June

Oriental Lilies: Early August

Nepalese Lilies: Mid-August

Speciosum Hybrids: September

 

 

Coneflowers

One of our favorites is a wildflower — the black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are tough and take heat and bright sunshine well. They add gorgeous bursts of color to any garden, including around water gardens. But they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are Deck and Patio projects.

 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

 

 

Red Coleus

Again, we have a plant here that thrives in the sun. These beautifully leafed flora are great as container or bedding plants. It’s certainly a good time to add them to your gardens — or anywhere you’d like a spot of color — as they don’t survive during frost and cold climes unless you take them inside.

If you plant them now they’ll thrive through the warm months…just pinch the tips from the stems regularly to help growth.

The following Deck and Patio project shows coleus we planted near a water feature.

Red Coleus for drama.

Red Coleus for drama.

 

 

Globe Amaranth

This lovely annual looks like pom-poms; their flowers come in purple, red, and white and last into fall. Hardy as it is, do water it from the soil, not overhead, which can cause a powderly mildew to grow.

These plants will die back when frost appears but their seeds will germinate after winter.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms

 

 

Hibiscus

People often think of hibiscus as a tropical flower — which it is. But it will thrive surprisingly well elsewhere, including the northeast. They do need lots of space, rich well-drained soil, and plenty of water but are worth the coddling.

Some varieties of hibiscus can grow into trees. How about that.

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

 

Verbena

Talk about saving the best for the last. Verbena shows its stuff (beautiful blooms) during the hottest of summer heat. Available in annual and perennial varieties, they are long lasting spreaders. They come in 250 varieties so there’s lots of color to choose from, including white, pink, or purple.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas…and as if all this wasn’t good enough, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

Verbena/Ideal summer plants  

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

 

 

By |2020-06-04T13:51:31-05:00June 4th, 2020|Backyard Escapes, Gardening, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden

Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

When it comes to summer loves (no, not the kind in Justin Timberlake’s song, or Olivia Newton John’s and John Travolta’s Summer Nights), we’re talking about those you meet when you go outdoors: flowers — beautiful, colorful and fragrant flowers.

But for all their hardiness in some ways, in other ways flowers can be delicate. Not all of them can stand up to intense heat. And since most outdoor living happens in the high temperatures of summer, you need to plan for that.

If, however, when the month of June arrived, you realized you never planted spring bulbs, no worries. A beautiful landscape, spruced up with heat-tolerant flora, is still possible.

Tell me more, tell me more

The weather in the northeast over the next week or so includes great planting weather, if intermittently. So we’re highlighting today a few plants that will stand up well to even long summer heatwaves and still thrive.

Hibiscus

People often think of hibiscus as a tropical flower — which it is. But it will thrive surprisingly well elsewhere, including the northeast. They do need lots of space, rich well-drained soil, and plenty of water but are worth the coddling.

Some varieties of hibiscus can grow into trees. How about that.

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

Verbena

Available in annual and perennial varieties (a total of 250 varieties in fact), this stunning flora is at its best during the hottest of summer heat.

With so many varieties, it’s a cinch to find a glorious purple specimen for your garden.

Often used in herbal teas, it’s beloved by more than humans. Yup. Butterflies and hummingbirds adore its blooms as well.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas. In addition, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

Butterflies love Verbena

Butterflies love Verbena

 

Coneflowers 

One of our favorites for summer endurance is a wildflower — the Black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are tough and take heat and bright sunshine well. They add gorgeous bursts of color to any garden, including around water gardens. And they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are from Deck and Patio projects.

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Red Coleus

Again, we have a plant here that thrives in the sun. These beautifully leafed flora are great as container or bedding plants. It’s certainly a good time to add them to your gardens — or anywhere you’d like a spot of color — as they don’t survive during frost and cold climes unless you take them inside. If you plant them now they’ll thrive through the warm months…just pinch the tips from the stems regularly to help growth.

The following Deck and Patio project shows coleus we planted near a water feature.

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Globe Amaranth

This lovely annual looks like pom-poms; their flowers come in purple, red, and white and last into fall. Hardy as this plant is, do water it from the soil, not overhead, which can cause a powderly mildew to grow.

These plants will die back when frost appears, but their seeds will germinate after winter.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

 

Purple Allium 

Although planted in fall, the Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon, seen in the foreground of this Deck and Patio project, is a summer blooming delight.

Its robust color thrives beautifully on Long Island and in the Northeast in general.

Deck and Patio landscape designers chose the Purple Allium here for its height, as well as the lovely color contrast it made against the green and yellows around it.

The plants first open green, and then mature to a bright crimson-purple. More good news. It’s rabbit, deer and rodent resistant and is loved by pollinators.

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

 

Outdoor Lighting

Speaking of Summer Nights, you can enjoy your backyard garden in the evening and at night (including late summer by adding the right flowers like asters)  —  if you’ve installed some landscape lighting. A beautifully lighted garden makes a perfect romantic setting that stimulates the sense of smell as well as sight.

Ahh. Summer days drifting away to oh oh the summer nights

Landscape Lighting

Landscape Lighting Makes Night Beautiful

 

By |2019-06-14T12:57:17-05:00June 14th, 2019|Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

“The key to an ideal water garden eco-system is maintaining clean, healthy water,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It is then that you attract and support delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, frogs, etc.”

Pond filtration systems and operating waterfalls are a big part of keeping water clean and oxygenated (aerated), adds Dave. “However, another major part of creating and maintaining a healthy water garden system is the aquatic and surrounding landscaping you do.”

Deck and Patio Pond

Deck and Patio Pond

Aquatic Plants

Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — the country’s leading experts on all things pond and water gardens — describes the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

Water Lilies Lotus

Marginal Plants Water Lily-like Plants

Floating Plants Submerged Plants

(Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is a Lotus.)

“The best designs for ponds and water gardens utilize a wide mixture of plants in different heights, textures and color from at least three of the above groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. When installing these, at Deck and Patio we don’t do it in a symmetrical way. We find that a more random placement provides the most natural look.”

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (canna lily) offers a nice tall statement. It thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

But there’s more to aquatic plants than aesthetics. Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for small creatures attracted to the water garden. 

Aquatic floaters and marginals, adds Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which also controls the growth of algae. 

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

One submerged plant, arable hornwort, is a great example of plants that eat up algae and will also release oxygen. 

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave. “However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. For example, when plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

Dave says not to fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. “Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance. 

To complete an enchanting water garden eco-system, the plants you put in around your water feature’s edge will aid in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators, etc. No pond/water feature will be completely free of algae but it can be kept in check and in a natural way.

 

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants (Deck and Patio Project /Long Island/NY):

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

_____________

Bonus: Keeping the garden’s water circulating using a pump, or adding waterfalls, will help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. 

 

By |2019-05-22T14:14:02-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Aquascape Biofalls, Creative Design, Gardening, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

The Benefits of Aquatic Plants and Water Garden Landscaping


Water Gardens, and the plants installed in and around them, are delightful to look at. They also attract creatures that offer a daily open-air symphony: chirping birds, flapping butterflies, and croaking frogs.

For an ideal water garden eco-system, the key is maintaining clean, healthy water. Pond filtration systems do a lot, as do waterfalls etc. that aerate and oxygenate the water. But at the end of the day, a huge part of creating a healthy system is the water landscaping you do.

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Aquatic Plants

The gurus of all things pond/water garden — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

  •  Water Lilies
  •  Lotus
  •  Marginal Plants
  •  Water Lily-like Plants
  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these groups,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement looks the most natural.”

But there’s more to it than aesthetics. Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for small creatures attracted to the water garden.

Aquatic floaters and marginals, adds Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which also helps control the growth of algae.

Submerged plants  (e.g., anacharis, parrot’s feather or hornwort) will also release oxygen.

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave. “However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. For example, when plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

Dave says not to fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. “Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance.

 

 

To complete an enchanting water garden eco-system, the plants you put in around your water feature’s edge will aid in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators, etc.

 

No pond/water feature will be completely free of algae but it can be kept in check and in a natural way — providing you with a daily outdoor natural symphony.

 

 

 

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (a canna lily) thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features:

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features:

This photo was taken just after we built the pond. Lily pads, and other in-pond aquatic plants, had yet to be added. But we had installed some attractive peripheral landscaping using plants that like moist, but well-draining soil. These do well around a pond but not in one. The red/pink flowers in the foreground are roses. To the right of them are variegated hydrangea and to the left are variegated hosta. All of these plants attract birds and butterflies.

 

Aquatic Plants:

Aquatic Plants:

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

 

“Pondless" Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

Pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.

 

 

 

 

Ideal Landscaping Takes Planning

 

Lush beautiful landscaping that lasts and expresses those who live there is rarely random. It involves a thoughtful plan, which means that any expert professional involved needs to understand the client.

When planning a delightful outdoor landscape, it is key to consider such questions as: how do you feel about the upkeep of the space? Frequently that means choosing plants that will survive with little effort, with shade, and are generally easy to maintain.

However, to complete the right outdoor vistas, it’s not just the softscapes (or plantings) that are important. Where additional hardscaping is desired, the types of materials used need to fit the mood and tastes of those living there. It is equally important to soften around these areas with hardy plants and shrubs, along with dramatic statements like a mature Japanese maple — all of which add a soft allure to any patio, walkway, walls and steps.

Another crucial consideration is how do you want to use the space, with the size of your property – and, of course, budget –  affecting these decisions.

In the end, the ideal project begins with the right plan to express those who live there – and express them ‘beautifully.’

 

 

Hardscapes That Look Natural:

Hardscapes That Look Natural:

This beautiful walking area in the clients’ yard appears to have been designed by Mother Nature herself. Stepping stones leading to steps of natural stone  are flanked by lush plantings that include bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.”

 

 

Landscaping Around a Pond:

Landscaping Around a Pond:

These clients wanted a water feature as part of their landscaping plan. Along with robust green ground cover that Deck and Patio added in and around the waterfall’s natural rocks, the pond also bursts alive with color. Bright orange blossoms of “Canna Lilies” (left), which take full sun but can thrive in partial shade, offer up tropical-like blossoms. The green-leafed plant to the right is “Hosta” which boasts delightful waxy leaves and produces white flowers in late summer.

 

 

Backyard Streams with Landscaping:

Backyard Streams with Landscaping:

So many clients these days want a stream with waterfalls that they can stroll or sit beside to enjoy peaceful contemplative moments. The key is to making such a delightful experience is for it to appear as if Mother Nature carved it out long ago. This means careful thought must go into the plants and rocks used along the banks.

The bright reds seen along this stream are “Wave Petunias” which are summer favorites. They are definitely easy-care as well as fast growing. Note: they are not the cascading Petunias you see growing in porch hanging baskets, but are garden favorites that spread and trail along full of flowers. The pretty bluish-purple flowers just behind them are “Russian Sage” and the robust green evergreens rolling along the banks are “Procumben Junipers.”

 

 

A Pond Monet Would Love:

A Pond Monet Would Love:

These clients wanted a stunning, natural looking expansive pond and if we say so ourselves, the finished water feature is a spot the painter Monet would appreciate. The joyous colors bobbing in the water are tropical water lilies that come in a variety of colors and are seen here in white, red and pink varieties. In choosing these plants, you’ll want to be sure they are mostly day-bloomers, but if you have good landscape lighting, and want to experience something very special once the sun goes down, include a few night bloomers in your pond.

 

 

Dramatic Curb Appeal:

Dramatic Curb Appeal:

When you want your entranceway to say “wow” like these clients did consider a hardscape in muted soft colors. Around the walkway and porch, we lavishly landscaped the area with bright eye-catching plantings. On the far left, for example, there is a blush of purple “Coneflowers” shining out from a much more expansive swath of sunny yellows of the same variety.