Tag Archives: landscaping

Meadow Blazingstar

Add this native perennial plant to  attract butterflies into your garden with the beautiful native plant “Meadow Blazingstar“.  For more information click here

Perennial Native Plant Meadow Blazingstar

Meadow Blazingstar

Jump Start Your Garden Now

Ion Exchange makes it so easy and simple to start a native wildflower garden that will be envy of the neighborhood. You wont want to miss out on these amazing native wildflower kits. Rain Garden Kit, Butterfly Attractor Kit and Urban Garden Kit

Ion Exchange's beautiful native wildflower kits

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False Indigo, a Native for Riverbanks

false indigo plant close up

By: Julie Jenkins
Greenhouse Manager at Ion Exchange, Inc.

AMORPHA FRUTICOSA is also known as False Indigo, Indigo Bush, Desert False Indigo, or River Locust. This is a native perennial shrub that will grow 4-16 feet tall with occasional branching. The lower stem becomes woody and smoothly gray while the upper stem is dull light green. The ½-1 ½ foot leaves are alternate on relatively short petioles with 11-35 leaflets that are each 1-2 inches long, ½-1 inch wide, and are dull gray green. The leaflets are paired along the central stem with a single leaflet attached at the stem tip so the total number of leaflets is always uneven. The undersides of the leaflets have visible glands that appear as scattered small dots. Unlike the related Amorpha canescens, False Indigo is hairless and much larger in all aspects.

In June, July, and August 3-8 inch spike-like flower clusters develop from the upper branches. This species is a valued ornamental because of the showy blooms. The individual flowers are a ¼ inch long tubular structure from a single purple petal which is wrapped around ten yellow stamens. Amorpha is from the Greek term describing “without shape” in reference to the single petal design of the flower. Seed pods of about ¼ inch long replace the flowers and each pod contains 1-2 seeds. For optimal germination the seed hulls should be removed. Moist, cold stratification for 10 days will also enhance germination.
False Indigo is found growing in wet thickets and along stream and river banks and prefers full to partial sun but does not survive well in shade. This species tolerates a variety of soils and is capable of withstanding occasional flooding. It is valuable as a soil anchor along stream banks. Since it is a legume it fixes nitrogen in the soil. Small to medium sized bees looking for nectar and pollen typically pollinate the flowers. The purple blossoms also provide nectar for butterflies. Caterpillars of various butterflies and moths feed on the foliage and flowers. False Indigo provides good wildlife food. Bobwhite quail eat the fruit and deer will occasionally browse on this shrub. Despite the open growth of the False Indigo, Red winged blackbirds frequently make use of it as a nesting site.
Amorpha fruticosa is native to much of the continental United States but is considered an invasive species in some locations. It is not considered native in the Pacific North West but has distributed itself along rivers and streams where it is not really welcome.
The roots and stems of the False Indigo contain rotenone which is used as an insecticide and fish poison. Some commercial use yields a poor indigo (blue) dye.

To learn more click HERE

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Howard Bright, President
Ion Exchange, Inc.

“Helping you create your own natural beauty”
http://www.ionxchange.com/no mow low grow.htm
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Compost Basics – Key Componets

A basic article on composting for those of you that have experience in composting please share your thoughts and ideas at Earthytalk

Municipal waste of food residuals and yard trimmings constitute approximately 25 percent of the total waste and that’s a lot that gets sent to America’s landfills. If we just stop to think for a moment, this waste could be turned into environmentally useful compost instead of lying in the muck heap rotting away.

In this article on compost basics we cover what to compost and what not to compost and cannot stress enough the importance of composting. The finished compost can be applied to gardens and lawns to recondition the soil, replenishing nutrients. It is important that you note that compost is not potting soil and should not be used for house plants because of the weed and grass seeds present in its composition.

Composting is extremely easy to do and there are a lot of items that can go on the compost heap. Make sure you start at the very bottom of the garden because it can stink! To maintain your compost heap takes very little effort. All you need to do is mix and turn the pile every so often and add a little water to it.

Get a large bin and put it at the bottom of the garden, preferably near a water source. All compost requires 3 basic elements:

1. greens: grass clippings, vegetable waste and fruit scraps;

2. browns: branches, twigs and dead leaves and

3. water.

You should keep a pitchfork handy for turning and mixing the compost. There is no ideal composting method so feel free to follow any process you are comfortable with.

Some of the materials that can be used to compost include:
•    Coffee grounds and the filter papers
•    Animal manure
•    Clean paper and shredded newspaper
•    Cardboard rolls like what comes out of your toilet roll and kitchen paper towel roll
•    Eggshells
•    Fireplace ashes
•    Cotton rags and wool rags
•    Fruit parings
•    Sawdust
•    Wood chips
•    Tea bags
•    Shredded newspaper
•    Hair and animal fur
•    Grass clippings and yard trimmings
•    Leaves, twigs and branches
•    Houseplants
•    Nut shells
•    Hay and straw
Some of the materials that should not be used to compost include:
•    Coal and charcoal ashes which possible contain substances harmful to plants
•    Black walnut tree leaves and twigs which release harmful substances
•    Diseased, insect ridden plants
•    Dairy products like yogurt and milk which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
•    Grease, fat, lard and oil which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
•    Pet waste products
•    Meat or fish bones which create a stink and attract rodents and flies
In bygone days burning leaves, twigs, branches and other clippings and trimmings was the standard norm. In our more enlightened world today we know that it can pollute the air, causing breathing problems for people with asthma, emphysema and allergies and also lead to wild fires. In fact many states ban leaf burning.

Turning waste into compost is an environmentally responsible way of dealing with waste products and reducing the burden on landfills.

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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Justin_Blackheel  <http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Justin_Blackheel&gt;

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The Joy of Letting Native Plants Take Over Your Yard.

 by: desmoinesdem Sun May 24, 2009 at 00:48:56 AM CDT Richard Doak wrote a great piece in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register urging readers to “plant the seeds of a more eco-thoughtful Iowa.” Seeding native plants along roadsides has helped the state Department of Transportation save money and labor while user fewer chemicals. Highway officials cite a long list of other benefits, such as controlling blowing snow, improving air quality, reducing erosion, filtering pollutants and providing wildlife habitat. They’re even said to improve safety by reducing the effects of highway hypnosis, delineating upcoming curves and screening headlight glare. Doak wants to see much more native landscaping in Iowa: To set the example, let’s have every school, every courthouse, every park, every hospital, every library set aside at least a patch of space for wild indigo, prairie sage, golden Alexanders, blackeyed Susan, pale-purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, prairie larkspur, shooting star, compass plant, partridge pea, spiderwort, ironweed, blazing star, smooth blue aster or any of hundreds of other flowering plants that were native to the tallgrass prairie. […] It’s estimated that up to one-third of residential water use goes to lawn watering, and lawn mowing uses 800 million gallons of gasoline per year, including 17 million gallons spilled while refueling. Some 5 percent of air pollution is attributed to lawn mowers. Native plants require no fertilizer or herbicide, no watering and only enough mowing to mimic the effects of the occasional wildfires that kept the prairie clean of trees. Interest in reducing pollution and conserving water and energy should be reason enough to switch to native landscaping. About ten years ago, our family stopped trying to grow a grassy lawn in our shady yard. After the jump I’ve listed some of the benefits of going native. desmoinesdem :: The joy of letting native plants take over your yard We have a beautiful yard. While some people might not appreciate the collective of native Iowa plants (weeds) in our yard, we would never trade it for a monotonous expanse of grass. A decade into our experiment, we have more than 15 types of wildflowers on our property. The landscape changes throughout the spring, summer and fall. Our kids enjoy exploring the yard and get excited whenever a new type of plant starts blooming or getting tall. They love seeing butterflies or other pollinators on the plants too. We save time. As Doak writes, our yard requires almost no maintenance. It needs mowing about three times a year. We save water. We have never watered our lawn since deciding to go native. The plants in our yard tolerated a long dry spell a couple of summers ago very well compared to the grassy lawns in the neighborhood. We save money. We don’t buy grass seed, fertilizer or herbicides, and our water bills are lower than if we were trying to maintain a grassy lawn. We don’t use chemicals. The only time I can remember using herbicides in the last decade was when we had a small patch of poison ivy sprayed near our front sidewalk. We can let our dog and kids run around the yard without worrying about the chemicals they will track in the house afterwards. I’ve never understood why so many Americans spray their lawns and then encourage children to go outside to play there. Kids put their hands in their mouths frequently. Ditching our grassy yard was easy. We are fortunate to live near woods, so we didn’t incur any “start-up costs.” We just stopped trying to grow a grassy lawn and let nature take over from there. Gradually plants from the woods covered almost the whole yard. Most homeowners would have to spend some money for native landscaping, but reduced maintenance in subsequent years should compensate for the initial cost. For Iowans who want native plants on their property, Doak passes along this advice from Loren Lown, natural-resources specialist with the Polk County Conservation Board. -Talk with people who have prairie plantings. They can steer you to sources of seed and expertise. Attend workshops. – Choose plants adapted for your site. There are 1,500 native species of vascular plants in Iowa, but not all will thrive in all locations. You’ll need different species for a sunny hillside than for a soggy low spot. Species for a rain garden would differ from species for a butterfly garden. – Use native plants for accent or a centerpiece, but not for the entire yard. Keep mowing the turf around the prairie plantings to establish a border for them and to make it clear the native patch was deliberately planned, not just lawn gone wild. – Be patient. Most native plants are deep-rooted perennials. They will spend a couple of years establishing roots before they blossom. After that, said Lown, people will have a planting that requires no spraying, no watering and no maintenance except cutting once a year -“and it will live longer than you will.” My advice is to make that native patch as big as possible. Once you get used to the variety of shapes and colors outside your window, you won’t miss your Kentucky bluegrass at all.