Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: LEAVES

Wingthorn rose
(Rosa sericea)

Weeping larch
(Larix decidua 'Pendula')

Pin oak
(Quercus palustris)

Dwarf Fothergilla
(Fothergilla gardenii 'Mt. Airy')

Burning Bush
(Euonymus alatus)

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba


Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Inaba shidare')

Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum 'Full Moon')

Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Orangeola')

Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum 'Autumn Moon')

Japanese maple 'Harp Strings'
(Acer palmatum 'Koto-no-ito')

Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum 'Emperor I')

Kousa dogwood
(Cornus kousa)

Hydrangea macrophylla

Endless Summer® Hydrangea

(Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lady in Red')

Japanese Forest Grass
(Hakonechloa macra)


Snow Fountains Weeping Cherry
(Prunus 'Snofozam')

Japanese maple
(Acer palmatum 'Emperor I')

(Liquidambar styraciflua)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Peeking Under the Leaves

When you have over 100 trees on an acre, that makes for a lot of leaves in the fall.  That might be an annoyance to some, but we take it in stride, as we have for the 36 years we've lived here.  Since we've enlarged the gardens over the last ten years or so, we've actually welcomed the fact that we have plenty of leaves.

Leaves return rich nutrients back to the soil if allowed to decompose.  How do you think that beautiful, dark, loose soil that you find in a woods got there?  We have heavy clay as our natural soil type around here, but just go into a woods and dig around and you'll see something entirely different.  In most cases, you'll be able to dig without the aid of tools, just using your hands.

In a woods, the decaying process is ongoing - year after year, things die, they decompose, they grow, they die again.  And for the most part, the process is uninterrupted.  But in a garden, we control the environment and we change the natural process of things.  So sometimes we have to provide a little help with the decomposition and nourishing the soil part.

Here, we chop the excess leaves and add it to the compost bins.  Usually, all it takes is several months over the course of a winter for whatever we've put in the bins to decompose into rich, dark compost suitable for adding to our gardens.  But there are some places where we let the leaves remain.  Unless they're going to smother small perennials,  allowing some leaves to remain provides a winter home for beneficial insects.  Like ladybugs.

Don't worry.  I covered them back up.

They're all tucked away for the winter now.  I'd feel bad if I'd taken all the leaves away.  They would likely have found another place to stay but I want them here in my garden where they'll help control aphids and other pests during the growing season.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

SweeTango® Apple - Let Your Taste Buds Dance!

If the only apple I'd ever tasted was 'Red Delicious', I don't think I'd eat very many apples.  It tastes okay, but once I had a 'Granny Smith', I turned my back on 'Red Delicious'.  There were other apples that came later - 'Gala', 'Fuji', 'Idared', and many more.  Then along came Honeycrisp™ and it was game over.

I can pinch pennies with the best of 'em, but I like Honeycrisp™ so well that I'm willing to pay a higher price for them because they really are that much better, according to my taste buds.  I like JAZZ™ apples too, but Honeycrisp™ still wins out.

SweeTango® apples                                                                    Stemilt Growers / Wikimedia Commons

This week, I found a new (to me) apple in the produce section.  It was the name that caught my attention: SweeTango®.  I guessed that it would be sweet and tart - just the way I like my apples.  There was the matter of texture and juiciness too, but there was only one way to find out how it measured up.  I bought five of them.
Today, I ate my first SweeTango® and it's all that a good eating apple should be.  Just the right combination of sweet with a hint of tart.  The flesh was firm and dense and crispy when I bit into it.  Not overly juicy, but juicy enough.  Finally - and this is big - the skin tasted good too.  So many apples have skins that have a slightly bitter taste but not this one.  As I said on Facebook, this apple may just give Honeycrisp™ a run for the money.

It's not surprising that SweeTango® rivals Honeycrisp™ because Honeycrisp™ is one of its parents.  Crossed with Zestar!™,  SweeTango® was hybridized at the University of Minnesota, the same program that brought us 'Haralson', 'Honeygold', and yes, Honeycrisp™.  It debuted in 2009.


It took them 10 years to get  SweeTango® just right.  It took me just a few seconds to confirm it.

*This blog post contains a video.  If you are receiving Our Little Acre by email, the video may not appear.  Click here to go to the Our Little Acre website to view it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Indoor Plant Décor" - It's Everywhere!

Well, not everywhere, but Jenny and I continue in our march towards world dominance and I'm happy to say it's progressing quite nicely.  More news on that in a bit.

Background: Croton / Bloom: Abutilon
Up here in the soon-to-be frozen hinterlands of Northwest Ohio, plant lovers have brought their gardens inside, where they can live happy as clams until we all go back outside together, sometime around April or May. Tender perennials and tropicals now occupy all kinds of indoor space next to the year-round residents and you might think we have a bit of a "plant problem" if you walk into my house right now.  Let me tell you, it's not a problem at all

My husband Romie has always said that he loves it when the plants are all inside for the winter because he feels like he's living in a jungle. This is a man whose dream is to live in a cabin in the woods up on a remote mountain.  Just him and nature.  This is sort of like that, right?  Yeah.

In any case, before you ask, yes, it takes some time to water these 100+ plants (I haven't really counted, but this figure is likely well below the actual number), but when we water, we get to admire their finer qualities up close, and that's a big reason why we have them in the first place - they're real lookers, these houseplants!  They also help to filter the air, which is a plus for my allergy-plagued hubby.

So, back to ruling the world...  Our book, Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook For Houseplants, is doing very well and is popping up all over the internet in some pretty cool places!  There have been some giveaways, including one which P. Allen Smith has been hosting for the past week over on his blog

If you have our book already, you know that Allen loves it and gave his recommendation, which appears on the back cover:

"Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson's passion for designing with indoor plants makes them the perfect guides to help us make new, fresh and stylish additions to every room.  The brilliance of Indoor Plant Décor is its clarity in communicating their creative ideas."

- P. Allen Smith

We even got a line on the COVER!  Woot!
We were featured in the September/October issue of the Saturday Evening Post magazine, as well as garnering a spot in their online site.  They really liked one of our DIY features that goes along with each design chapter in the book, and you can see the video they made of themselves making our cork planters, as well as a really fun interview they did with the two of us. 

And then there was a review over at Southern Living magazine, by senior writer Steve Bender, a.k.a. The Grumpy Gardener.  Like I told Steve when thanking him for giving our book some real estate on the site of their popular publication, it's always an honor to have some of The Grump's snark thrown your way.  But seriously, I love this review a lot because what he says he likes about it is exactly what we wanted to do when we set out to write the book.  That spells success, as far as I'm concerned.

Our book was also featured in an article on and in the same week, we learned that Indoor Plant Décor was on Amazon's List of the Top Books for 2013 in our category!!!!!!!!!

 This is how it looks on Amazon, even though we're #18 out of the top 19. 
We don't care how they show it.  We're just pleased as punch to be on THE LIST!!

Making the Amazon list is just about the best thing that could have happened to us as authors and something that took us completely by surprise.  Of course, we're extremely happy about it and we hope that all the readers that made that possible are enjoying our book.  If you've purchased a copy of our book, thank you!  And if you haven't, we're suggesting that you do.  Here's where you can get it:
Barnes & Noble (it's in their bricks and mortar stores too)
Powell's Books


If you want a signed copy for yourself or as a special gift for the holidays, you can order that right here (see the right-hand sidebar).  I'll even gift wrap it for free!  Just let me know in the notes section when you pay, who you want me to inscribe it to and if you want it tied up in a bow.

Can I just make one more really important point about our book?  You might be tempted to think that it's just for gardeners and I can see how you might think that.  But it's also for those that like to decorate their homes.  You see, this is what our book is really all about. 

Plants can add panache and give your home a personal touch in ways that a pillow or curtains can't.  Plants go with every style, no matter what yours is, and our book helps you choose those that will enhance it.  There's a big wide world of houseplants out there - something for everyone - so let us help you get started!  It's kind of like eating potato chips.  You won't be able to stop with one.

Anyway, just wanted to share some of our good news with you!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Coach Vince Dooley: The Man and the Garden

At this time last year, I'd never heard of Vince Dooley.  In case you haven't either, he was the head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years (1964-1988) and  its athletic director from 1979 to 2004.  With Coach Dooley at the helm, the Bulldogs won six Southeastern Conference titles and one National Championship (1980).  He received numerous awards, including being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Coach Vince Dooley
You'd think I'd at least know this honored man's name, given that both of our sons-in-law played football, one as the quarterback for his college team. Both of them are mad for the game and have managed to turn both of our daughters into football fans as well. But the fact of the matter is, I don't like football.  I never have, even when I was a high school cheerleader cheering for a team playing a game that I don't think I'll ever completely understand.  I'm more of a baseball and basketball kind of gal.

Then last January, while attending National Green Centre in St. Louis, the Western Landscape & Nursery Association's education and trade show, Coach Dooley was a keynote speaker and I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with him in person.

Why would a football coach be speaking to a bunch of hort heads?  It turns out that football isn't his only passion.  The University of Georgia is also home to some horticultural giants, namely Dr. Michael Dirr and Dr. Allan Armitage.  I'll bet you recognize those names. Curiosity and a desire to learn impelled Coach Dooley to take horticulture classes at U of G and he became a personal friend of both Dirr and Armitage.

In the years since, Coach Dooley has created a world class garden at his home in Athens, Georgia.  He wrote a book about it too.  Because I'd heard Coach speak and shared a little bit of personal conversation with him, I began reading his book with the desire to get to know him a little better and learn more about his gardening adventures.

Coach Dooley is a very down-to-earth, humble, and congenial person who clearly loves gardening and talking to others who love it too.  The journey he's traveled since taking up gardening is fascinating and one that most of us can only dream about.  He shares the details in his book, which also has some beautiful impressionist artwork by his friend, Steve Penley, along with some photos of his own garden.

The friendship he developed with both Dr. Armitage and Dr. Dirr is now legendary and oh what I'd give to be a little mouse in one of their pockets when they've got their heads together!  These men are very serious about their plants, but they know how to have a good time as well.  I learned quite a bit about some behind-the-scenes activities of the plant-obsessed.

The University of Georgia is home to one of the nation's foremost trial gardens.  Dr. Armitage started it in 1982 and many plant introductions have come out of the program.  The university is also home to the 313-acre state botanical garden.  Imagine living with all this green goodness around you!  Despite having all this in his own backyard, Coach Dooley has traveled extensively with Dr. Dirr and Dr. Armitage, along with his lovely wife, Barbara, and in his book, he whet my appetite for seeing some of the places he's been.

If I've got one quibble with the book, it's that there aren't enough photos of his garden.  Guess I'll just have to take Coach Dooley up on his invitation one of these days and go see it for myself:

Maybe I should brush up on my football.  If anyone could lure me into that arena and end up with me actually enjoying it, Coach Dooley could.

Vince Dooley's Garden: The Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach
by Vince Dooley
with paintings by Steve Penley

154 pages, hardcover
Looking Glass Books, 2010
List price:  $35.00

It was a two-fer!  Meeting Dr. Michael Dirr (left) and Coach Vince Dooley (R) was the
highlight of my trip to St. Louis.

When I wanted to purchase a copy of Coach Dooley's book from him, he wouldn't hear of it.  He gave it to me, asking only that I send him a copy of my book when it was published.  Never in a million years would I have expected to be swapping books with a man such as this.  It was an honor to meet you, Coach, and your good friend, too.  ;-)

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Favorite Plants: Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

Spring growth on Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'

Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'

Common name:  Spurge
Type of plant:  Perennial
USDA Hardiness Zone:  5-9
Height:  18-24 inches
Spread:  18-24 inches
Light:  Full sun to part shade
Soil:  Acidic, Neutral, or Alkaline
Water:  Average to dry
Bloom time:  Spring (late April, early May in my Ohio garden)

Why I like it...

I bought this plant on the recommendation of Heidi Grasman from Garden Crossings.  At the time that she was raving to me about it and its unique blooms, the plants I was looking at weren't in bloom and I'd already spent a fair amount of money on plants already.  But I never forgot about her gushing over it, so when I saw it later and I had the dollars to spare, I snatched it up.  Three of them, in fact.

Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' in winter in Zone 5b

Even if 'Ascot Rainbow' never bloomed, this is a plant worth setting aside some real estate for.  I'm a sucker for variegated foliage and this plant sure delivers.  Not only is it gorgeous all summer long, it sports lovely colors in the fall too.  It will stay evergreen in warmer climates, but it keeps its color for the most part well into our winter here in Zone 5b too.

Now, about those flowers...

Blooms on Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' grow in clusters at the ends of the stems.

This Euphorbia has a lot going for it besides its good looks.  It's hardly ever bothered by pests or disease and it earns a spot on the deer and rabbit resistant lists. If you find Daphne 'Carol Mackie' difficult to grow, this might be a decent substitute.

Word of caution:  As with all euphorbias, it contains a milky latex sap that can be very irritating to the skin, so wear gloves when handling it.  Don't let that scare you away.  You'd be missing out on a fabulous plant.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's Tulip Time!

What?  It's fall!  Tulips bloom in the spring, but if you want them then, you need to plant the bulbs NOW.  One of my very favorite bulb companies, Longfield Gardens, sent me some tulip bulbs and I planted them yesterday.

We have a strip of This, That and The Other growing at the south edge of our property, which we put there as a sort of privacy feature. (That's really a much too sophisticated name for what this is.)  Since we live in extreme rural America, part of our personal aesthetic is wanting to include some natural areas so that our landscaping doesn't look like Las Vegas plopped in the middle of the desert.  I know this isn't for everyone, but formal gardens just aren't a part of what we do here at Our Little Acre.

So we live and let live (sort of) here in this part of the yard.  Romie calls this his garden, because when I take something out of the other gardens and it's still a healthy plant, he doesn't like to see it wasted.  I get that.  So here they go. There's a wild assortment of plants, including sumac, a tree peony, mums, ornamental grass, columbine, a cedar tree, sweet autumn clematis, bugle weed, black-eyed Susans, bee balm,bloody sorrel, a grape vine, and Shasta daisies.

And there will now be tulips.  When we received the bulbs from Longfield, we decided to plant them along the edge of this budding woodsy area to give it a colorful zing next spring.

During my Master Gardener classes a few years ago, we learned about the different types of soil and looked at soil maps for our county.  Even without seeing those detailed maps, I knew we had a couple of different kinds in our yard.  Dig in one spot, and you'll be swearing at the heavy, mucky clay.  Dig somewhere else and you'll be jumping up and down, rejoicing at how wonderful it is and wishing the entire property could be this way.When we dug the trench for planting the tulips, I was doing the happy dance.  No amendments needed here!

With a 100% chance of rain due for the next day, and daylight hours running out quickly, we opted to just mix up the three varieties of tulips we'd gotten:  Striped Apeldoorn, Hemisphere, and Moulin Rouge.  I typically wouldn't mix those pink ones with the red and yellow ones, but we did it anyway.  If it's too hideous next year, I'll just dig up the Apeldoorns and move them.  (Yeah, because I like doing things the hard way.)

L-R: Hemisphere, Moulin Rouge, Striped Apeldoorn

We also received 100 Muscari armeniacum - grape hyacinths - so I layered those with the tulips.  The tulips are planted 6-8 inches deep and the muscaris are at four inches, so I planted the tulips, covered them with a couple of inches of soil and then laid in the smaller hyacinth bulbs over that.

We had several tulips bulbs left over, so they were placed in clumps randomly further in the bed, between other plants. Everything blooms about mid-spring, so no matter how well the colors mix with each other, it will be a big burst of color for sure!

Earlier in the year, Easy Gardener had sent me an assortment of their Jobe's Organic products, so I mixed the Bulb Food into the soil according to directions on the package, as I planted the bulbs.

Once I had all the bulbs in the ground, I covered them with the rest of the soil and then mulched with chopped leaves from our yard.  Now we'll just have to wait about five months or so and see what happens.

I've used several bulbs from Longfield Gardens and am greatly impressed with their health and size.  To see what else they have to offer, visit their website at

The Jobe's Organic Bulb Food and the tulip and Muscari bulbs were provided to me at no charge.  All thoughts and opinions stated here are my own. 

blogger templates | Make Money Online