Hügelkultur (German, meaning “hill culture” or “mound culture”) is the garden concept of building raised beds over decaying wood piles. Decayed timbers become porous and retain moisture while releasing nutrients into the soil that, in turn, promote root growth in plant materials. As the logs decay, they expand and contract, creating air pockets that assist in aerating the soil, allowing roots to easily penetrate the soil. This decaying environment creates a beneficial home to earthworms. As the worms burrow into the soil, they loosen the soil and deposit nutrient-rich worm castings, beneficial to plants. An earthworm can produce its weight in castings on a daily basis.  

The best decayed wood for a Hügelkultur, according to A Growing Culture, comes from alders, applewood, cottonwood, poplar, maple and birch. Use wood products that have been in the process of decay for about a year (using green, or fresh, wood products will rob the soil of necessary nitrogen). Some wood products, like cedar and black walnut, should be avoided because they produce organisms that negatively effect plant growth.   

Read more at A Growing Culture

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 
Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 

Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 

Bare Root Roses. It’s time to start gathering those roses in winter, bare root roses! 

And to get everyone off to another great rose season, Wallace Gardens is giving away a copy of the Four Seasons of Roses 2014 Monthly Guide to Rose Care by Susan Fox, including one bare root rose: David Austin’s English Rose ‘Winchester Cathedral.’ You’ll have Susan’s advice, right at your fingertips when you receive this rose, pictured above in a bare root box with Susan’s calendar. To enter: you must have a mailing address within the Continental United States. See below for instructions to enter.

The American Rose Society awarded Susan with its Presidential Citation “for Promoting the Rose and Rose Education Via Social Media,” and her photo of the Julia Child Rose is included in the 2014 ARS Calendar for the month of July. This is a woman who knows her roses. 

'Winchester Cathedral' is a large, fragrant white-blooming rose. Mature size will depend upon where you live, but expect it to grow to at least 4-5’ tall and wide, with masses of white flowers that continue at regular intervals throughout the summer. David Austin describes the scent as a “Light Old Rose with hints of honey and almond.” What garden wouldn’t be improved by such summer fragrance? 

Instructions to enter: all you have to do is “like” and/or comment on the ‘Winchester Cathedral’ photo on Pinterest. You must have a mailing address within the Continental United States. The winner will be selected at random and announced on TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014. So hop to it! 

Herb Garden Design with Essential Fruits and Vegetables 
Before planning an edible garden, think about the purpose of the garden first. These four window boxes were designed so that the client can easily open her windows and make a selection, or water everything from the convenience of her kitchen. We chose all my client’s favorite herbs and edible flowers: garlic chives, marigolds, parsley, several varieties of basil, creeping thyme, cilantro, and even a couple of strawberry plants.  
Some herbs are also “perennials” and will last year round, while others (like basil) are seasonal. Group seasonal items together so that they are easily replaced with something else once their growing season is complete. 
When replacing plants, don’t forget to replenish the soil, especially if you are planting in window boxes or containers. Valuable nutrients pass through containers quickly, so fresh soil amendments will ensure that the new plants get off to a great start. 
Theme gardens are popular right now. Consider grouping herbs and vegetables together in a raised bed for cooking purposes. If you love Asian cooking, you might want to grow lemongrass, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, Chinese eggplant, and dwarf pepper plants (like ‘Baby Belle’). A great way to introduce children to the concept of gardening is to grow something they will also consume. Create a “Lemonade Garden” with all the plants you might use to make fresh lemonade: pineapple mint, orange mint, basil, cucumbers, and lemongrass. Plant a Meyer lemon tree, dwarf blueberry bushes, and strawberries in containers to complete the Lemonade Garden. Don’t forget to make ice cubes with the blueberries and strawberries for the lemonade. 
Get creative. Did you know you can regrow many herbs and vegetables from your own garden, or re-root favorite edibles from the farmers market (celery and mint, for example)? Mother Earth Living provides a great how-to, HERE. Many of these can be started indoors on a sunny window ledge, and then transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed. 

Herb Garden Design with Essential Fruits and Vegetables 

Before planning an edible garden, think about the purpose of the garden first. These four window boxes were designed so that the client can easily open her windows and make a selection, or water everything from the convenience of her kitchen. We chose all my client’s favorite herbs and edible flowers: garlic chives, marigolds, parsley, several varieties of basil, creeping thyme, cilantro, and even a couple of strawberry plants.  

Some herbs are also “perennials” and will last year round, while others (like basil) are seasonal. Group seasonal items together so that they are easily replaced with something else once their growing season is complete. 

When replacing plants, don’t forget to replenish the soil, especially if you are planting in window boxes or containers. Valuable nutrients pass through containers quickly, so fresh soil amendments will ensure that the new plants get off to a great start. 

Theme gardens are popular right now. Consider grouping herbs and vegetables together in a raised bed for cooking purposes. If you love Asian cooking, you might want to grow lemongrass, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, Chinese eggplant, and dwarf pepper plants (like ‘Baby Belle’). A great way to introduce children to the concept of gardening is to grow something they will also consume. Create a “Lemonade Garden” with all the plants you might use to make fresh lemonade: pineapple mint, orange mint, basil, cucumbers, and lemongrass. Plant a Meyer lemon tree, dwarf blueberry bushes, and strawberries in containers to complete the Lemonade Garden. Don’t forget to make ice cubes with the blueberries and strawberries for the lemonade. 

Get creative. Did you know you can regrow many herbs and vegetables from your own garden, or re-root favorite edibles from the farmers market (celery and mint, for example)? Mother Earth Living provides a great how-to, HERE. Many of these can be started indoors on a sunny window ledge, and then transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed. 

Keyhole Gardening: a Drought-Tolerant, Compost-Style, Sustainable Concept 
The key hole garden concept is quite simple. A circular planting bed (with a “keyhole” to allow access to the center) is constructed with bricks, stone, gabion-style walls, or even aluminum siding. In the center of the keyhole is a circular compost bin in which kitchen scraps and household “gray water” are poured.  Layers of soil inside the circular walls slope slightly outward to encourage positive drainage away from the central compost bin. As kitchen and garden waste breaks down and gray water is added, a natural “compost tea” soaks into the surrounding soil providing nutrients to plants growing within the circular wall. More information and instructions at the link. 

Keyhole Gardening: a Drought-Tolerant, Compost-Style, Sustainable Concept 

The key hole garden concept is quite simple. A circular planting bed (with a “keyhole” to allow access to the center) is constructed with bricks, stone, gabion-style walls, or even aluminum siding. In the center of the keyhole is a circular compost bin in which kitchen scraps and household “gray water” are poured.  

Layers of soil inside the circular walls slope slightly outward to encourage positive drainage away from the central compost bin. As kitchen and garden waste breaks down and gray water is added, a natural “compost tea” soaks into the surrounding soil providing nutrients to plants growing within the circular wall. More information and instructions at the link. 

Happy Valentine’s Day. 
Make your own: start with one snow storm. Add items from the horticulture apothecary, such as dried rose buds, deer moss, primrose, preserved greenery, tallow berry, all spice, winter berry, fern fronds, lenten roses, pine cones, assorted winter flower buds. 
Send to someone you love. 

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Make your own: start with one snow storm. Add items from the horticulture apothecary, such as dried rose buds, deer moss, primrose, preserved greenery, tallow berry, all spice, winter berry, fern fronds, lenten roses, pine cones, assorted winter flower buds. 

Send to someone you love. 

An ice storm is on its way. This, after two polar vortexes in January and a two-inch snowfall that paralyzed Atlanta’s roadways for 24 hours. Thank goodness for primroses (Primula vulgarism) - just in time for an icy, snow-bitten Valentine’s Day.  

It’s still too early for spring bulbs to appear from beneath the frozen tundra, so I brought home a few primroses from the local garden center to brighten an otherwise grim growing season. I dressed up an old vintage plant stand with terra cotta pots and filled them with primroses. Then I tucked a couple of plants into milk glass vessels that I keep on hand for various flower projects. The snow-white milk glass is such a pretty contrast to plant materials, and the primroses are no exception. For a tabletop centerpiece, I placed a pretty red primrose under a garden cloche for Valentine’s Day. What better way to spend the next two weeks, than under the influence of primroses? 

Because primroses like cool temperatures and moist soil conditions, they are an easy flower to grow this time of year. The garden doesn’t offer a lot of color in February, so the first burst of spring usually comes in the form of primroses. As the garden starts to break out of winter, group primroses in planters with violets and pansies, all of which are edible flowers if you grow them organically (I use an organic cow manure tea from Authentic Haven Brand to keep my primroses blooming over a long period of time). Add organically-grown flower petals to salads, pasta dishes, or desserts for subtle, colorful flavors from the garden. Freeze the petals in ice cube trays for fruity beverages, or dry them to use in tea, but introduce them sparingly to guard against possible allergic reaction.  

"Primrose" comes from Medieval Latin: prīma rosa, or “first rose.” They are my first flowers every spring.