Tag Archives: Garden


Strawberry Cream

Liliaceae Lilium Tango Lily




Pros: Easy Grow, Beautiful Cultivar

Cons: None Found

Liliaceae Lilium Tango Lily, Strawberry Cream is hardy in planting zones 4 through 9. Growing to heights of nearly three feet; lilies like almost any type soil including clay and poor soils so long as it is free draining. Sun to partial shade is suggested for peak growth in most climates with more shaded time during very hot summers. Spacing is 8 – 12 inches with triangle formation with bulbs placed about 3 to the square foot to allow for spread and optimum blossom impact. The old lily garden rule; feet in the shade, faces in the sun, remains pretty accurate today as it has been from those earlier cottage garden days.

I use a step on bulb planting device for digging holes for planting, damp soil is easier to penetrate than is cement hard clay. I place the Lily bulb about three times as deep as the bulb is high in a hole with pebbles, topped with compost in the bottom to help provide drainage and growing medium for young roots. Feeding the Lily cultivars in early spring as new growth thrusts upward and again buds begin to color and before the blossoms open.

Testing soil for potassium may be done if desired to assure best bulb and root growth. Muriate of potash, or a fertilizer high in the nutrient is available from most garden shops and where bulbs are sold.

While nearly all Lilies favor full sun most will flower in partial shade. Because our Oklahoma summers are often quite hot and dry I plant lilies where they will have good shade during afternoon into evening. I find my shaded blossoms tend to retain color better when summer sun is hot in the sky.

Cooler climes allows planting lilies in full sun, I don’t want to take the chance I will singe my pretty cultivars. I generally water once a week during droughty periods.

Because Lily bulbs are never entirely dormant, blubs should be planted pretty quickly following purchase. Bulbs are available from local Lowes and big box stores, online sites, White Flower Farm and Brecks are two, and Hirt’s Garden Lilies are offered online by Amazon. The Lily Store online, as well as many of the various catalog and other sites offers suggestions, guidelines and helps for those new to raising Lilies. Local garden clubs and neighbors are also a source of bulbs for trade and for sales and for information regarding raising Lilies in the area in which you live.

Should need arise; storing bulbs for 14 – 21 days in a cool, about 34-40° F, area is about the longest time and temp to consider before planting or risk damage to the bulbs. Lily bulbs do best when they are put into the garden where growing new roots is begun straightaway.

Asiatic Hybrids recently introduced for garden aficionados, Tango Lilies are early bloomers; blossoms appear at the peak of stout stems standing a tad shorter than earlier variety Orientals. Plant in an area sheltered from strong winds, and plan on staking the taller types.

While Iris remain my absolute first love in the garden; Lilies are a close second among blossoming cultivars. I particularly enjoy cultivars producing large, showy blossoms. Both Iris and Lilies fall in that category. Lilies yield outstanding trumpet petaled blossoms rising from bulbs contrived of non-overlapping scale shaped sections.

I like that these elegant beauties work well in the perpetual border and may be effectively grown in pots. Lilies are often used for bouquets even a single stem in a vase creates a definitive declaration. Stamens may be removed to circumvent contact with pollen; pollen stains tend to be stubborn to remove.

One beautiful feature of these lovely additions to the lily family are the blossoms having a central contrast color area at the throat of each flower with petal tips appearing in another color. The Strawberry Cream lily tends to feature magenta centers with strawberry pink petal tips. Attracting birds, bees and butterflies these gorgeous beauties provide lovely summer color when the Iris has come and gone and the garden is needing a pick me up.

Asiatic Lilies are among the first to blossom during the lily blossoming season.

I like to mulch during most of the year, winter to protect the tender bulbs from the snow and deep cold we have begun to experience over the past several winters, and during spring into summer to help retain cool and damp, not muck, but damp and cool helps my Lilies remain strong and blossoming.

I particularly like to use leaves during fall, and leave them in place until spring when they are raked up and added to the compost heap. Commercial mulch, cedar shavings and the like tend to help keep weeds down and soil cool during hot summer days. Be sure to mulch bulbs in cold climates if a good winter snow cover is not expected. Likewise, in more temperate areas, cold saturated soil will rot lily bulbs some years, so a raised area and fast-draining soil is recommended.

Although more moderate climates only require enough mulch (one to two inches) to reduce winter weed germination, colder climates need a bit more attention, in the same way that roses and other “softer” perennials are protected.

As a rule, to date, I have not seen much pest or disease problem with my lilies. Keeping the planting bed open to allow foliage to dry between rain or irrigation helps to keep incident of fungus to a minimum. Ferns and other shallow rooting cultivars planted in proximity help cool Lily roots during long hot summer days.

For more robust bulbs, blossoms should be removed as they fade to prevent the formation of seedpods. Energy is directed back to the bulb and not to forming of seeds. When all flowers have come and gone the stem should be cut directly below the stems, and foliage left to feed the bulb.

As Lily bulbs go dormant during late autumn is the best time for moving or dividing the clumps. Split the clump taking care to handle the chubby bulbs gently before replanting at the same depth in well-draining, crumbly soil. Smaller offset bulbs if present, can be replanted at a depth three times their height. I tend to lift clumps, separate and replant about every third year.

Once foliage has died back at the end of the growing season, stems may be cut off at ground level. If desired a few inches can be left above soil line if you plan more planting in the area. I add old foliage, mulch, clippings and the like from the garden to the compost heap.

All in all Lilies are a lovely addition to the planting bed and garden as a whole.

I like my yard to have pretty color for as long as is possible. Iris set the state followed by Lilies in myriad heights and colors, and then blossoming shrubs and vines including Rose of Sharon, Crepe Myrtle and Trumpet Vine.

Lilies are a majestic and beautiful addition to the garden, and best of all, they are easy to grow and even those with brown thumbs can plant and enjoy lilies. I have some in soil, in beds and tucked here and there, and I have some in pots.

I find Asiatics to be a lovely addition for my garden. And these wonderful Strawberry Cream are gorgeous.


Cost varies by when and where purchase is made

Sturdy Plant Trays from Perma-Nest

Large Perma-Nest Plant Trays


Pros: durable hard plastic material, large size, easy to use and clean, stackable

Cons: no drainage holes (if that is important to you)

I enjoy jumping into gardening season even when it is too chilly outside to plant.  To gain a head-start on our New England weather, I start my vegetable and flower seeds indoors.  Since I plant a lot of seeds, I need plant trays.  My father introduced me to these Perma-Nest Plant Trays, and I have been using them for years.


Perma-Nest trays are constructed from a light green very durable hard plastic.  There are no drainage holes, but they are designed to stack (nesting inside one another for storage).  The trays are easy to wash.  They also come in several sizes.  This is the larger size tray measuring 22” x 11” x 2 1/2”.

My Experiences

When I start my seeds indoors, I pull out these Perma-Nest Plant Trays and fill them with yogurt cups.  I punch holes in the bottoms of the yogurt cups and fill the cups with a mixture of soil and perlite.  The trays are the ideal size for holding the yogurt cups.  I have also used the trays to hold Jiffy Pots, which are composed of peat pressed into circular or square biodegradable plant pots.  I have been able to fit up to 24 cups in a tray, depending upon size.

Every year I plant tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers in the trays indoors.  I have also started pumpkins, eggplant, winter squash and a variety of flowers inside.

When the seeds are first germinating, I cover the Perma-Nest trays with clear plastic domes (sold separately).  If you don’t have the domes, clear plastic wrap works.  The object is to keep some of the moisture and warmth trapped in the tray … but not so much moisture that the soil begins to mildew.  Leave the lid or plastic wrap loose so that it doesn’t completely incase the tray.  Once the seeds begin to germinate, I remove the covers (or plastic wrap) and move the plant trays to my basement.  The trays sit under fluorescent lights.

These trays are deep enough so that they hold a good amount of water.  I have even gone on vacation for long weekends, filling the trays with water before I leave.  The plants are always healthy when I return.

The Perma-Nest tray is sturdy and quite durable.  They hold up to repeated use.  I have trays that are over fifteen years old and still look almost like new.  If left in the sun for a prolonged time, the light green color of the trays will fade and begin to look bleached.

The trays might stain if you leave leaves or dirt in them.  To wash the trays, just rinse them with water from the garden hose.  A sponge will loosen stubborn dirt.  When not in use, I stack and store the trays on a metal shelving unit.


 I have been buying Perma-Nest Plant Trays for years.  My garden started small and kept growing!  I will continue to buy these trays as needed.

I hope you found this review useful.

Enjoy the day,


Copyright 2014 Dawn L. Stewart


Two-in-One Gardening Tool — The Trake

Trake Gardening Tool


Pros: doesn’t rust, lightweight, trowel and claw/rake in one tool, comfort grip

Cons: the tool is longer than most garden hand tools (if that matters)

With the plentiful garden beds on my property, I own a variety of gardening tools.  One of the hand tools I consistently rely upon is the handy Trake Gardening Tool.  This nifty gadget is both a trowel and a rake in one.


The length of this garden tool is 17”, and it has a trowel at one end and a small hand-held claw/rake at the other.  The pointed trowel is 5” long with four 1” grooved markings to gauge depth.  The rake section has three curved claws about 2 1/4″ long.  The center handle is covered with a non-slip vinyl.  It is constructed from cast aluminum.

My Experiences

This lightweight all-in-one tool is one of my garden favorites.  I’ve owned it a long time, and it has aged remarkably well.  It has never rusted, and the central handgrip only has some minor dust ground into it.  Other than a few scuffs, no doubt obtained from encounters with rocks in the soil, it looks in great condition.

My most often used garden hand tools are the trowel and claw/rake.  Having both of these in one implement is time saving.  I can use the trowel, flip the tool, and have the metal claw end ready to dig in the garden.  When done, just flip the Trake again so that the trowel is ready to use.  I also appreciate that considering the size and sturdy construction of this tool, it is lightweight.

The trowel end is not a deep scoop; it has a shallow curve.  The tip is rounded a bit so that the trowel forms a V-shaped digging implement.  Since the trowel has engraved horizontal markings spaced an inch apart, I can use the trowel to mark distances and depth.  This definitely helps when I am planting my vegetable garden.  I start the seed indoors and transplant everything outside once the soil is warm enough.

The claw/rake is well made.  The three tines are constructed from thick metal.  The width is great for maneuvering between plants.  I can use the rake as a cultivator to disturb the ground and any weeds growing in it.  It also does well at working dry fertilizer into the soil.

When I am finished my gardening session, I clean the Trake by either rubbing it in the grass to remove any excess dirt, or I grab some leaves on the ground to rub against the trowel and rake parts.  This works well at keeping the tool clean.


I enjoy using the Trake Garden Tool so much that I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one for a gardening friend or relative.  This is the perfect tool for me!

I hope you found this review useful.

Enjoy the day,


Copyright 2014 Dawn L. Stewart

Don’t substitute quality for $.15 crummy cents

Lowe’s 8x8x16 Concrete blocks



Pros: This is a Lowe’s block – crisp – clean – well-defined

Cons: None whatever

I like to decorate with concrete blocks, enjoying the variety of things I can do with them – making borders, displaying small objects in the cut-outs, stacking them, painting them, and I don’t have to worry about the wind blowing them away, rain drowning them, or snow freezing them.

We’ve finally had some nice days recently after a very long, cold winter. It was time to think about what I wanted to do to pretty up the deck. I like niche’s, so I had some thoughts percolating. I needed about ten blocks to make a niche for (either) a Mexican chimney ( you know, one of those pot-bellied fire pits) or a small (electric) faux wood-burning stove I have in the shop.

I Googled Lowe’s, checking the price – $1.32.  Great, I’d stop the next time I went by ( which is usually two to four times a week.) A couple of days ago I had to stop at Wal-Mart, and noticed their Garden Center had opened, and they had several racks of blocks right there. I did my shopping and checked out in the Garden Center so it would be easier to load the blocks into the back of my SUV. I liked Lowe’s price, but ‘assumed’ Wal-Mart might even be a few cents cheaper. Not. $1.47 – fifteen cents more per block. Well, what the heck –  I was there, let’s just get it done.

Yesterday I was fiddling around with the blocks and noticed they weren’t near as nice as the ones I had previously purchased at Lowe’s.  The corners are rough, not sharp and distinct, and a few of them even look and (sort of) felt crumbly. I’m not happy, but frankly, I don’t want to load ten blocks back in my truck and return them. I’ve decided to use them on anothernot quite so noticeable  project.  Several lessons learned :

  • The big box stores are not always the cheapest
  • You don’t always get what you pay for – even at a higher price
  • Even simple things, like concrete blocks, have quality grades

When it comes to decoration – it has to be pretty and perfect. Isn’t that the whole point.

I won’t make this mistake again. No matter where I get blocks in the future, I’ll check them before I haul them home.