18 May 2009

Sending Flowers to Loved Ones

Today is my and my car's birthday! Yes, I bought my Saturn SL1 on my birthday - 16 years ago today. How old am I? That's another story (you can leave your guesses in the comments section).

When I arrived home late this morning from running errands, a delivery of flowers awaited me. They were from my relatives on the west coast. Two dozen red roses!!!!!! Thank you Imogene and Carl!

I love flowers! I love receiving them, sending them, buying and planting them, and even have flowers on my wedding china. My backyard is filled with lilacs and peonies. Obviously, writing a gardening blog, means I love flowers as well. Call me crazy - I even email pictures of flowers attached to quick messages to my friends! I am very predictable when it comes to flowers!

Flowers are great gifts for people who have too much stuff and don't have any self control when it comes to chocolates (me!). I send flowers all the time because my family and friends from childhood are now very spread out across the USA (and many have too much stuff!). Thank goodness for the internet - finding a New York florist, California florist, Texas florist, Colorado florist and Arizona florist is easy nowadays.

I have several sources for sending flowers. For a friend who recently moved away, I use Booth Flower Shop in New York. They deliver to quite a vast area and have no service fees which is great for a New York florist. Actually, that's great for ANY florist!

For my family and friends in the previously mentioned states, I use either 800-Flowers or Pro-Flowers. I visit their websites and see what I like best and then make my decision. I'm picky and want to see all my choices!

04 April 2009

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC

Every year in early spring, Washington D.C. hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It's just over two weeks of activities, performances, events and shows during the blooming of the Japanese cherry trees that are planted throughout the city. The average peak bloom date is April 4th. Every year the cherry trees are carefully watched and their buds measured to plan the festival's dates. Back in 1912, three thousand trees were given to the city by Yukio Ozaki, the mayor of Tokoyo.

There is a parade down Constitution Avenue complete with giant character balloons, marching bands and celebrities. There are fireworks, strolls and evening lantern walks among the trees, yacht rides, teas and dinner cruises along the Potomac River, a marathon, an art show, Japanese culture, and so much more. The Festival is a beautiful and fun way to kick off spring.

25 March 2009

Evil Crabgrass and How to Banish It

Crabgrass is evil. You can mow your lawn all the way down to a quarter inch, killing it, and the crabgrass will survive. It's seeds can sit up to four years, waiting, waiting, waiting...I think it's related to cockroaches. They can survive anything, too.

My hubby says, "It's green, leave it alone," every single year and I, in reply, remind him that it's an annual, dies in the fall, leaves big bare dirt patches that turn into mud during the winter and spring and then require seeding.

I do everything I can to stop, kill and prevent it. Winning the fight against crabgrass requires a multi-plan attack.

I pull crabgrass by hand. It grows out sideways like a fanned out hand and has a slightly different color from my lawn grass. Every week end I walk in rows, scanning my lawn for crabgrass and pull. I usually check out the front and side lawns on Saturday and the back lawn on Sunday. I also check out the mulch beds. Sometimes crabgrass tries to be sneaky and start growing right next to the base of a bush. A few days after a rain when the ground is still soft but no longer muddy is the best time for pulling. In the summer, morning is best before it gets too hot outside. The best way to pull crabgrass is to use one of those hand cultivators (looks like a claw on a short handle) to pull up all the lateral branches. Then grab them with your hand and slowly pull. If you only pull on a few of the branches, there's the chance they'll break off, leaving the root and remaining branches behind.

In am in Pennsylvania. During the first two weeks of Spring, I put down a pre-emergent control. You might want to do this in January if you live in southern states. Out here they call it "Weed and Feed" - it's a granular mix of fertilizer and something that inhibits seed germination. Many different companies make crabgrass preventer. You can get a bag of this at the nursery - just make sure it says "pre-emergent" and "crabgrass." Most products allow you reapply it six weeks later, maybe at 4 weeks if you've received alot of rain. Note - it stops all seeds from germinating as well as bulbs. Don't use a pre-emergent if you've got crocus or other bulbs planted. They will become weakened and eventually die. Another note - use a hand or push broadcaster. Don't use your bare hands with chemicals.

There are also sprays for crabgrass. They come full strength and concentrated and can be found in the herbicide section of your nursery or hardware store. It will weaken your lawn, making it look a little yellow, but it should recover. Sprays are good for when the soil is too hard for pulling and when you have just a little bit of crabgrass here and there. I don't recommend sprays for large areas or if you live where the rain water in your yard runs off into the storm sewers or a creek. Don't want years of accumulation destroying the frogs, fish and other creatures that live near the water.

If you have a patch that's kind of large, just dig the whole thing up with a shovel. Break the soil up and rake out all the grass. Break the clumps into smooth soil and even the ground out. If some regular grass clumps survive, replant them. Sprinkle some grass seed and water as directed.

If you have BIG areas of crabgrass, it's best to cook them. Yes, I said "cook." Get a black plastic garbage bag and lay it over the affected area. Hold the edges down with rocks and wait about two weeks. Heat will build up underneath and kill everything. Then you can break up the ground, remove the dead grasses, and start anew.

If your whole yard is a crabgrass festival, then go with using pre-emergent and making your grass as healthy as possible. Seed heavily in the fall as soon as you start getting cool nights. Crabgrass does not germinate in the fall.

Making my lawn as healthy as possible is the final part of my attack. A lawn that grows vigorously is a good defense. Regular feeding, deep watering, aeration/thatch reduction, weeding and seeding in the fall keep my lawn at it's best. I have a mulching lawn mower which is great - it breaks the blades of grass into powder-sized pieces that fall to the ground and decompose, feeding the soil. I know my soil is in good shape because I find worms whenever I dig. Yes, worms are a sign of good soil.