Going Giddy for Spring Gardening Ideas

Ten ways to brighten your 2015 garden 

By Teresa Woodard

Blame it on cabin fever, but I’m giddy over the jackpot of spring gardening ideas showcased at the recent Columbus Home & Garden Show. White kale and golden forsythia branches for spring container gardens. Out-of-the-ordinary conifers in bright yellow, two-tone colors and funky shapes. A 10-foot waterwall for a patio. Disney-esque fountains for the backyard. And even some new twists on those ever-popular pollinator houses.

With fellow blogger Michael Leach as my guide, I snapped lots of pictures to share with Heartland Gardening readers. Let us know ideas you’re “Pinning” for this year’s garden.


IMG_4738Known for its bright yellow winter color, this Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ is a winner in a snowy landscape.

IMG_4746A unique water feature that brings a soothing sound and visual appeal to this outdoor bar design.

IMG_4758A great water feature for tight spaces and an eye-catching sculpture carved from an old wooden palette.

IMG_4761A two-sided fireplace is shaded by an attractive sail cloth.

Pollinator hotelThis pollinator hotel by Steven Maravich offers plenty of rooms for beneficial insects.

IMG_4762Greenhouses are becoming popular with backyard gardeners who want to grow food year-round.

IMG_4763Ornamental kale is not just for fall displays. Here, Warwick’s Landscaping uses kale with birch logs, pussy willow, forsythia and ivy.

IMG_4754This fountain creates an arched entry to this garden design by Landscape Design Solutions.

IMG_4750This blooming cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’) is a crowd stopper at Warwick’s display. The multi-stemmed shrub blooms with star-like yellow flowers in later winter.

IMG_4752Larry Burchfield and his team at Cedarbrook Landscaping offered another fun-filled, themed garden with its “Saturday Night Fever” design. It highlights many vintage finds from this fountain of saxophones to a set of old bed springs turned into a bed of succulents.

20150219_124049It’s disco fever – or perhaps spring fever – for Teresa and Michael at the Home & Garden show.

Plants, Gardens Becoming Trendy — Again

20150217_114333Science helps industry tout plant benefits to boost sales

By Michael Leach

Brace yourselves.

Instead of being merely muddy and vaguely nerdy, we gardeners will soon appear cool and with-it to our family, friends and perhaps the rest of the world.

In order to sell more flora, the horticultural industry is touting scientific studies showing positive effects of plants. Meanwhile, interior designers are rediscovering gardens and nature and predicting such themes as  trendy in 2015. (More on this in an upcoming report.)

Today we’ll look an industry campaign showing ways plants help people, from stress relieve to a better environment. (We recently discovered some of their erotic effects in Teresa’s review of Plants with Benefits.)

The sales approach is a far cry from the traditional song and dance about new varieties and bigger flowers and fruit — stuff only gardens care about. Science is proving what gardeners have always known, plants are good for you and working with them is even better.

Plants Love You — GreenhouseGrower, a horticultural industry trade magazine, reports the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance is promoting a campaign aimed at inspiring people to make plants a part of their life. The theme is Plants Love You.

The goal is “… to educate consumers about the benefits of plants. In addition to pushing plants’ aesthetic benefits, the campaign produces documented health, environmental and economic benefits.”

Plants “pay you” —Trees, for instance, score in environmental and economic ways. “They provide cooling shade that can reduce air conditioning costs, sequester carbon dioxide (the notorious greenhouse gas), while releasing oxygen, and provide windbreaks.” Don’t forget they can be beautiful and fruitful, too. 20141114_083606_Android

As for that humble pothos and other potted plants on countless cubicle desks — drum roll please!

Plants improve your memory — “A recent study indicated people received a 20 percent increase in memory and concentration in the presence of ornamental plants at work.” The report adds, “Researchers believe the calming influence of a natural environment increases the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Work performed in the presence of plants was of higher quality and completed more accurately than in an environment without plants.”

One must presume these plants are in a healthy condition. Some of the potted flora we’ve seen over the years would more likely inspire depression, given their withered leaves and scrawny stature. Still, my home office is going to get much greener — before I forget again.

Helpful websites — Along with the Canadian program, a couple of Florida growers were cited for making sales from telling buyers the positives of plants. Both have websites that can help we Midwest types in buying houseplants and summer tropicals.

Check out Costa Farms and Delray Plants. The latter has its own trademarked line of “Plants with Benefits.” Those shopping for houseplants will find easy-to-access information, presented in visually appealing ways.

If you know other nurseries or garden centers with especially useful websites, please send them along.

(Writer’s note: This is another of our now-and-then posts focusing on why you H.A.V.E. to garden — to benefit your health, attitude, property values and environment.)Leach garden (43)


On Thursday at 1 p.m., Michael will answer gardening questions as part of a Garden Guru panel at the Columbus Home & Garden Show.  He’ll also be leading Garden Showcase Tours at noon on several days at the show.


Book Notes: Plants with Benefits

Plants with benefits


Amp Up Your Valentine’s Day with Some Sexy Plants

By Teresa Woodard

Planning a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day? Well, seek out garden writer Helen Yoest’s intriguing book, Plants with Benefits for some helpful advice and titillating recipes.

From arugula to watermelon, she compiles an uninhibited guide to 45 aphrodisiac plants and cleverly uses this sexy topic and a good dose of humor to share the history and science lessons behind each plant.

After reading her account on lavender, I’ll definitely be planting more of this intoxicating perennial to my landscape. Lav ang. Hidcote Marys garden cropFrom historic days, women like the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra knew the power of this alluring scent as they doused themselves with this love potion. More recently, Yoest says a food aroma study proved the scent’s seductive power among men. In fact, the fragrance of lavender increased participants’ blood flow by 40 percent compared to pizza (5 percent) or popcorn (9 percent).

While the book’s lavender cookie recipe might make a good addition to a Valentine’s Day menu, I’m thinking I’ll start with a basil pesto spread. Yoest says the herb was used as a love token thousands of years ago in Malaysia, Iran and Egypt, and its aroma still “drives us wild” today.PPA Bowood Farms 2 7-22-09 resize

For the entry, I’ll serve up my husband’s favorite tenderloin steak with a flirtatious side dish of asparagus and morels. Yoest praises asparagus for its suggestive qualities and hormone-boosting power. Morels, once named Phallus exculentus by father of taxonomy Carl Linnaeus, is praised for its warming effects much like cayenne and its power-packed nutrients.

And of course, for dessert, chocolate may be the classic choice, but I think I’ll have more luck with a honey treat, like Honey Apple Crisp. Yoest writes how Cupid, the trickster, dipped his arrows in honey before aiming at lovers.

Check out Plants with Benefits for planning your own Valentine’s Day menu and planting a love-filled garden.

“A plant that helps us to love is a plant worth having,” says Yoest.


Catch Us If You Can

Catch Debra at the 36th Annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). She will be offering a two hour workshop on Permaculture: Fitting It into the Context of Your Life. There is still space at this eclectic conference which is this weekend, February 14th and 15th in Granville, Ohio.  

Here is a description from OEFFA’s website:  “With almost 100 workshops to choose from throughout the weekend, OEFFA’s conference has something for everyone to love! Eighteen workshop tracks will be offered, covering everything from farm and garden basics, commercial production, food and farm policy, research, sustainable living, and much more!”  

The exhibition hall is filled with local producers of food, and items for the home, garden and farm.  And, wait, there’s more: for readers there is a bookstore.  Check it out!


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