St Louis Spring More Dramatic Than So Cal!

We’re visiting our lovely and talented daughter in St Louis and spring is busting out all over. The seasonal change is very subtle in our gardens in So Cal but not in the Midwest. Tulips, crocus, daffodils have shaken off the snow and are reaching for the warmth of the sun. The trees and bushes are massive displays of pinks, whites and yellows.

Tulips in St Lou
Tulips in St Lou

The plants aren’t the only living things enjoying the sun. The bright white legs of many of the inhabitants provide a startling contrast with the new green grass. It seems that everyone is happy to be done with the long dreary winter. St Louis has many wonderful parks and, like lizards in the garden, people are stretched out in the sun soaking up all the rays and vitamin D they can take in.

Seasonal depression, which was overwhelming about a month ago, now gives away to optimism and even a few smiles. Bike riders and joggers are everywhere. Everyone is in a good mood!

We took a drive to Indianapolis, listening to George Jones barely get by, and passed vast fields waiting to be plowed, planted and produce this year’s crops. Being just a backyard gardener, it’s hard to imagine the scale of operation that these farmers must contend with. The changing weather, an occasional tornado, the timing involved in planting and harvesting, the equipment and on and on. Makes our struggles with growing vegetables in our backyard garden pale by comparison. Still, we roll up our sleeves, work extra hard and hope for our harvest to come in.

Mary and Brian are backyard gardeners who like to share their passion for all things gardening.

Visit them at The Backyard Gardeners.

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What is a Backyard Garden?

What is a backyard garden?

A backyard garden can be any garden. It can be a few planted pots on the patio, it can be a corner of the2015-03-16 14.37.49 yard, it can even be the front yard. A backyard garden is your own personal plot of land. It’s your palette to paint with rocks and bricks, vegetables and flowers. It’s said that the sculptor Michelangelo could look at a block of marble and see the form held inside.

A backyard garden is your opportunity to change your outdoor space and transform it into something that works for you. Every new gardener has a different reason for getting started.

Some gardeners enjoy the challenge of growing their own food, some want to save money on groceries, some want a more nutritious meal, some cooks have discovered that fresh food just tastes better. Parents like their children to be involved and see where food comes from. And some garden to create a special, beautiful space to retreat to.

Gardeners still desire beautiful gardens, but now we must be more aware of conserving water. Drought tolerant gardens can incorporate wonderfully colorful plantings, interesting arrangements, be sustainable and be water wise.

Mary and Brian are backyard gardeners who like to share their passion for all things gardening. 

Visit them at TheBackyardGardeners.

Our first eBook is now available on Amazon in the Kindle bookstore or click the link below!


The Best 8 Garden Tips with The Backyard Gardeners

The Best 8 Gardening Tips with the Backyard Gardeners2014-05-24 10.57.09

  1. Want Monarch butterflies in your garden? Plant native milkweed. Plant it and they will come. Milkweed is the preferred plant for monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. As the monarch caterpillar grows it voraciously eats the leaves of the milkweed. The leaves are toxic (not to the monarch) to birds and other enemies leaving the caterpillar alone.
  2. Potted plants are like your dependents. Plants in pots are totally dependent on you for food and water, much like your children. Keep an eye on your potted plant’s needs as the plants roots are unable to reach down in the soil for water and nutrients.
  3. Plant in odd numbers. Three can be tricky in human relationships but in gardening this fits very nicely. This composition looks more natural to the eye and gives the illusion that the plants are bigger and healthier. If you bought four plants at the nursery, plant three in a triangle and one as a focal point.
  4. Keep cut flowers fresh with pennies. Even though the penny may not be worth much these days, try putting a penny into your vase of flowers. The copper works as a fungicide to kill bacteria and fungus that attack your freshly cut stems. Thanks to Abe your cut roses will last longer.
  5. Don’t overdo it. You’ve heard the saying, “If a little is good, a lot is better.” For the beginning gardener it’s better to start small. Start with a 3’ by 3’ bed or no more than 6 good sized pots. This will give a good harvest of vegetables and be easy to manage.
  6. Use egg shells as fertilizer. Dried egg shells are rich in calcium carbonate and can be worked into your backyard garden as fertilizer. Crush the shells to help speed up the process of breaking down so that plants take use the nutrients.
  7. Reduce your watering needs up to 50% by mulching. Mulching on top of the soil reduces evaporation, keeps the soil cool and suppresses weeds.
  8. Coffee grounds as an organic slug deterrent. Spread a few coffee grounds around your seedlings or new plants to help keep slugs away. The grounds cause the slugs to produce an excess of slime causing them to dry out.

The Backyard Gardeners – Mary and Brian

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What Happened to the Rose?

Has the rose lost it’s place in the garden?

What happened to the rose …the Queen of the garden? Has she fallen out of favor? Because of her great beauty is she thought of as too difficult, like a spoiled actress? Is this a thorny issue?


A few years back we would go to the nursery in February and see bare root roses everywhere. Row upon row of roses.There were new varieties, disease resistant varieties, varieties for every spot in your garden. Hybrid tea, Floribunda, Miniature, old English, new English, Polyanthas, Grandiflora’s for God’s sake.

I’m a bit of a rose snob I must admit. We have a lot of roses and I find them to be the perfect companion to just about any plant or garden. We have them in succulent gardens as well as vegetable gardens.

Here are few reasons I think the rose should be in every garden:

It wants to please you. The rose will continue to bloom all year round. Especially where we live in SoCal. Give it a good hard pruning in January or February and it will bloom in about 9 weeks. Prune again and it will bloom again in 9 weeks. Repeat. Repeat.

It’s drought tolerant. No, not like a cactus but a rose can be trained to get by on little water. I set up a drip system that waters our roses for 5 minutes every other day. I’d say about 95% of the time that works great. There are a few days a year when the heat is too much and I may have to give them an extra drink.

Fairly low maintenance. I won’t insult you by saying roses are maintenance free. Like the difficult actor they require attention. Most of your plants like to be fed on a regular basis and the rose is no exception. I use a systemic fertilizer several times during the year to keep the bugs at bay.  Along the coast we have a lot of moisture in the air so the roses will occasionally get mildew. I’ll spray with an oil spray several times a year. I’m always looking for alternative ways to keep roses healthy without the use of chemicals.

So I say bring back the rose to it’s rightful place of prominence in the garden! There’s nothing better than a big bouquet of roses from your own garden!

Mary and Brian are backyard gardeners who like to share their passion for all things gardening.

Visit them at TheBackyardGardeners.

Our first eBook is available now on Amazon in the Kindle bookstore or click the link below!