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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pruning Hydrangeas

The key to knowing when and how to prune hydrangeas is knowing what type of hydrangea you have.

(Pee Gee hydrangea)

Pee Gees - can be pruned as early as January here in the south, but can also be pruned into March. Pee Gees bloom on "new" wood, meaning they haven't set their buds yet and won't be affected by a late frost.

Annabelles (Hydrangea Arborescens or Smooth Hydrangeas) - any time in February - March.


Both of the above can be pruned severely if you wish to keep them on the smaller side. Otherwise, they can all become quite big. Pruning severely = taking them down to 12 inches.

(mophead hydrangea)
Mopheads and Lacecaps - AFTER the LAST frost.(See special pruning instructions below.) I've pruned mine too early before and ended up doing the same job twice. Boo to late frosts!

(lacecap hydrangea)
In the south you are usually safe to prune around Mother's Day weekend.
Northeasterners should wait closer to Memorial Day weekend to prune.

Pruning Instructions for Mopheads & Lacecaps :
DO NOT prune severely. These hydrangeas bloom on "old" wood. Meaning their buds were setting back in September. The buds form on branches which were formed last summer. If you pruned them after September, you may be low on blooms this year.

If they have a bud or new growth at the tip of the branch, DO NOT cut it off.

(Unless it has been hit by frost and is brown. Like below)

If the new growth is a few inches down the branch, cut it about an inch above the bud or new growth. See below.
(Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Pruning Oakleafs:
Cut off spent flowers and do any pruning to shape the shrub or to control its size AFTER the flowers have bloomed. (July) If you live in a hot climate, the flowers will age and then brown out from the heat - so cutting them at this time improves the look of the plant anyway. Oakleafs also bloom on old wood and waiting too long to prune can decrease the blooms you get the following year.

General Pruning Tips:

When pruning, remove any dead wood from your shrub. Often these branches appear white, brittle and do not have any green in the branch even if you were to break it and look inside like I've done here. Cut these as close to the base of the plant as you can.You can remove up to one-third of a hydrangea, so if there are any branches that "bother" you, cut away!

Use sharp bypass shears when cutting hydrangeas. Thicker branches may require the larger, lopping shears.

('Endless Summer' Hydrangea)

If you are lucky enough to have an 'Endless Summer' mophead hydrangea, you can cut the blooms off by July 4th and should get a second bloom out of your shrub.

Well, if you're still reading, you're either my Ma-Ma or really into hydrangeas. Feel free to ask any hydrangea related questions in the comment area and if I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out.

Hope you have a bloom filled summer!
Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Subtle Valentine Decorating

Something a little different for Valentine's Day.
A combination of silver, candles, miniature dry rosebuds, pepperberries and a Valentine card given to my hubby's mother and passed on to me by my wonderful SIL. Thanks, Nancy!

Be sure to check out the other
wonderful mosaics over
at Mary's!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweetness Through the Year

This idea came to me via my good friend, Amanda. She's so smart and thoughtful sometimes I forget what a sassypants she is. But sassy or not, this is a wonderful idea! And it is very simple.
Get a notebook for each of your kiddos and start a love journal. These are my kids' journals and I got them at Wal-Mart. Each night or every other night, you write something positive, funny or memorable from the day which specifically involves them. My kids like to read their notes at the breakfast table.

You decide how much you want to write and how often. Even on a rough day, you can find one positive thing...and no, it shouldn't say "Finally, you went to bed."

After on particularly rough day with our son, I reminded him in his notebook how his daddy and I had prayed to God for a child of our own and He ended up giving us him. I told him I say a thank you prayer to God every day for making him our son - even on tough days! This is important because Jack knows his story (of adoption) and he is as precious now as he was then. And it helped me put a whole new perspective on the day to come.

I especially like this idea because their notes are organized in one area, it's a fabulous way to spread the love daily or often, they read back and laugh at some of the early notes and they have your handwriting.

My mother recently found and gave to me a recipe of my grandmother's written in her handwriting. I can't even begin to tell you what a treasure it is. And it's perfect for a Valentine's treat!

Traci's No Cook Fudge

1 box 10x sugar
1 egg
2 TBSP. milk
Vanilla as desired
1 stick of butter
1/2 c. Hershey's cocoa

Mix sugar, egg, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl with a mixer.
Melt butter and cocoa together.
Add to bowl with first set of ingredients and stir together.
Pour into a buttered or Pam sprayed pan.

Keep in fridge and cut when cool.

If you prefer peanut butter fudge, simply substitute 1/2 c. peanut butter for the cocoa.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stimulating the Senses

You're thinking, "What in the world is she talking about?" Well, I took a look at my winter/February mantel from last year and thought it felt a little "cold". So I went back to what I like best when decorating: nature and feeling cozy.

This mantel from last year, was missing something - warmth. And goodness knows we can all use some warmth!

This is much better. Not a huge change, but definitely an improvement. All it took were some mason jars, filled with Epsom salts to mimic the look of snow, (those of you in the midwest and along the east coast may want to skip the salts) and a tea light nestled in the top. And no, you don't see any amaryllis blooms this year - all I got are big green wonky leaves that look like green antlers. Don't look.

On to the olfactory sense...and this is one of my favorite things to do on a chilly day. Fill a large pot with water, slice up an orange/tangerine, toss in a couple of bay leaves, a few cloves, sprinkle in these spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and ground allspice. Bring to a soft boil and then reduce to simmering. Now...DON'T forget about this on your stove!! I add more water when I notice it getting low. You can reheat with the same ingredients 2 or 3 times. This homemade simmering potpourri smells divine!

Last but not least, lets cover the ole' taste buds. Because who couldn't use a warm you to the bones stew after being out in the brutal cold? This is a delicious and very easy recipe to boot.

French Vegetable Beef Stew
2 lbs. beef stew meat and olive oil to brown meat
1 can condensed onion soup
1 - 6oz. can tomato paste

1 TBSP. basil
1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper
5-8 carrots, sliced

2 c. sliced celery
1 can or frozen wax beans - if canned, do not drain
1 can or frozen green beans - again, do not drain if canned
1 can kidney beans (don't drain)
optional: potatoes are fine if you don't plan on freezing the stew and Parmesan cheese if you want to top it off.

In a large pot over medium/high heat, brown meat well in olive oil. Reduce heat to medium, stir in undiluted onion soup, 5 soup cans water, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer covered, 1 and 1/2 hours.

Add all vegetables; reheat to boiling, then simmer covered 30 minutes or until meat and veggies are fork tender. Top with Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

The beauty of this recipe is that it has such a good base that you can vary or add vegetables to you liking. I try to healthy it up a bit, by skipping the canned veggies as much as possible and use fresh or frozen. Yum!

Thanks for visiting and come back for a Valentine's gift (for kiddos) that keeps giving through out the year!