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The Garden Mix




Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.


Reduce Stress - Visit a Conservatory

The holidays are a wonderful time for family, friends and neighbors to gather, feast and exchange gifts. It can also be a stressful time overfilled with festivities. So take a break and visit a nearby conservatory this winter.

Research has shown, and gardeners know, that plants and gardening are good for the mind, body and spirit. Just being surrounded by greenery can lower your blood pressure and elevate your mood.

Conservatories are glass buildings that were constructed in colder climates to overwinter citrus and other tender or rare plants. You often can find birds and occasionally small animals along with plants in these heated glass buildings.

But conservatories are not just glass houses filled with pretty plants. They serve as a space for relaxation, a site to conserve endangered species and educate the public about the environment.

A bit more information: Conservatories originated in the 16th century, but experienced great growth and increased popularity during the late 19th century. If there isn't a conservatory in your neighborhood, plan a visit to your local florist or garden center.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)


Brighten your winter gardens and containers with winterberry. This deciduous holly produces an abundance of red berries you and the birds will enjoy.

This plant combines nicely with ornamental grasses, evergreens, and perennials to create an attractive winter garden.

The species grows 6 to 10 feet tall and is hardy in zones 3 to 9. Though it prefers moist organic and slightly acidic soil, it also tolerates wet and less than ideal soils.

Grow winterberry in full sun or partial shade. You'll need at least one male for every 5 female plants for fruit to develop. Jim Dandy is a good pollinator for northern varieties, while Southern Gentleman is a popular pollinator for southern varieties.

Winter Red is a large variety with glossy leaves that produces an abundance of red berries. Berry Nice has brilliant red berries and Red Sprite produces lots of fruit on smaller plants.

A bit more information: You may also know this plant as Michigan holly (Ilex verticillata). Winter Gold is a cultivar prized for its yellow fruit. Christmas Cheer produces lots of red berries on smaller plants and Christmas Gem is great for cutting, though it is not as adaptable as many other varieties. As always, check to see if the cultivar you select is suited to your area.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Saving Leftover Seeds for Next Season

Take a break and prepare for next season by organizing your left over and partially filled seed packets.

Saving left over seeds can save you money each year in the garden, but so many of us like to try something new or misplace our collections of old seeds and end up with a surplus. Take a few minutes to gather all of your left over seeds and organize them for the upcoming season.

Properly stored seeds can last from one to five years or more. Once they pass their average life expectancy you may see a reduction in germination. Start by checking the expiration date on the packet. Onions, parsley and parsnip seeds usually last one year. Corn, okra and peppers two years; beans and peas for three years; tomatoes, turnips, beets, chard and watermelon four years; and Brussels sprouts, cabbage, muskmelons, radishes and spinach last for five years.

A bit more information: And don't throw the old seeds in the compost pile. You can test their viability by wrapping a few in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. Wait a week to see what sprouts and determine the percent germination. For more information, listen to my audio tip by clicking here. Or turn expired seeds into artwork to frame or give as gifts.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Snowberry

What a great time of year to talk about an old time favorite shrub, the snowberry. You may recognize this plant by its white snowball like fruit.

The snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is experiencing a renewal in popularity due to its shade tolerance and attractive fruit. It tolerates a wide range of soils and full sun as well as shade. It is native to North America and hardy in zones 3 to 7.

Though it may lack a refined growth habit, snowberry is deer resistant and suited to natural plantings, bird gardens and hillside plantings for erosion control.

Many of the new introductions are hybrids developed for better growth habit and fruiting. Amethyst has hot pink berries for a brighter display. Hancock is a cultivar of the closely related coralberry and produces pink flowers in summer and coral pink fruit in fall on a compact plant.

A bit more information: Snowberry grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. The leaves are bluish green and flowers are small, pinkish in color and form at the ends of the stems.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Blood Lilies

Looking for something different to grow? Try a blood lily.

This member of the amaryllis family produces softball size red flowers. The flowers appear in late spring or early summer and are followed by orange-scarlet berries.

Blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus ) is reliably hardy in zones 8 to 10 and has been known to survive in zone 7 gardens with well-drained soil and winter mulch. Gardeners in colder climates need to bring this bulb indoors for winter.

Outdoors grow this plant in full sun or partial shade and organically rich well-drained soils. Make sure the soil stays evenly moist throughout the growing season.

Those gardening in colder climates should grow bulbs in containers, since these plants do not like their roots disturbed. Gradually reduce watering in late summer and move the containers indoors before the first fall frost. Store the dormant bulbs in a cool dry location.

A bit more information: This South African native attracts bees, butterflies and birds to the garden. Handle with care as all parts of this plant can cause a mild stomach upset if eaten and the sap can irritate the skin.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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​Keeping Your Christmas Tree Watered


Keep the Christmas tree stand filled with water and your tree will stay fresh throughout the holidays. This is easier said than done.

Try assigning someone looking to get on Santa's Good List to this task. They'll need to check stands with smaller reservoirs and freshly installed trees several times a day. Once a day should be enough for most stands after that.

Reduce your workload and increase your success by investing in a tree stand with a larger reservoir. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends using a tree stand that holds one quart of water for every inch of trunk.

Or purchase or make a Christmas tree watering system. Use a bucket or tin as an additional water reservoir. Employ tubing to move the water from this container to the tree stand as needed. Test the system before abandoning your daily watering schedule or leaving town for the weekend.

A bit more information: Put any spare branches to work in holiday centerpieces and decorations. Protect woodwork and furniture from sap that can drip from cut branches. Place paper or fabric beneath the branches for added color and protection.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Celebrate National Pear Month

Celebrate National Pear Month by adding a few of your favorite pear dishes to your family meals.

Pears have been cultivated for thousands of years. They arrived in North America with the early colonists. They flourished until most of the plantings were wiped out by a blight. Fortunately the pears introduced to the great growing conditions of the Pacific Northwest were spared and these varieties still thrive there.

Pears are one of the few fruit that is harvested when mature, but not ripe. Leave freshly picked or purchased pears out at room temperature so they can slowly ripen to that sweet flavor you desire.

Gently press on the neck of the pear with your thumb when you think it's ripe. If it gives to the pressure, it's ready to eat. Once the pear is fully ripened you can move it to the fridge to maintain its flavor. It will last for about five days.

A bit more information: Pears are members of the rose family that includes apples, quince, plums and cherries. They are high in fiber, Vitamin C and only about 100 calories per serving. For recipes and more, click here.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Add a Small Scale Evergreen, Lemon Cypress, this Holiday Season



Add a small scale living evergreen to your holiday celebrations. The Lemon Cypress makes a great alternative to larger Christmas trees, especially when space is limited. Or use them to decorate your home, as a centerpiece for the holiday table or gift for a friend.

The fragrant chartreuse foliage of this dwarf evergreen can help brighten your winter décor. You can find them as topiaries or in their more natural form.

Grow them in a sunny window and turn the plants occasionally to insure all parts receive equal sunlight and grow evenly. You'll have the best results if you keep your plant in a cool location free of cold and hot air drafts.

Water your mini holiday tree whenever the top few inches of soil are dry. The warmer your house the more often you'll need to water.

Wait until spring when plants begin to actively grow and need a nutrient boost before applying fertilizer.

A bit more information: Avoid overwatering and do not allow your plants to sit in excess water that collects in the saucer that can lead to root rot. Reduce maintenance by placing pebbles in the saucer to elevate the plants above any excess water.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Grow a Topiary Wreath for the Holidays

Grow your own holiday decorations using the ancient art of topiary.

All you need are a couple small trailing plants, a metal frame, potting mix, and a container with drainage holes. Wreaths are a traditional favorite form and small leaved English ivies are the most commonly used plants for indoor topiaries. But wire vine, Asian star jasmine, and other trailing indoor plants will also work.

Purchase or make a wire frame into the desired shape. Wreaths, holiday trees, stockings, your imagination, and wire bending abilities are your only limitations.

Securely anchor the form into the container. Then plant several small plants with long trailing stems in the pot alongside the form. Wind the vines up and through the form to get the living sculpture started.

Grow your topiary in a bright location and water as needed. Continue to train the plants to grow throughout the form and clip stray branches as needed.

A bit more information: English ivies are susceptible to spider mites. Proper care and an occasional shower of clear water is often enough to prevent problems. If populations build, try weekly applications of insecticidal soap. It's an organic control that is effective against mites, aphids and many other insects but safe for you, your children and pets.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Light up the Landscape with Holiday Lights

So you decided to brighten the winter landscape with a few lights.
Always use lights made for the outdoors. Test and detangle the strands before you start placing the lights. It's easier to replace a burnt out bulb on the ground than when you are on a ladder or the lights are in the plant.
Carefully drape the lights over the branches of your shrubs. Loosely attach if needed. The new lighted netting makes decorating shrubs much easier on you and the plants.
Lighting trees can be a bit more challenging. Many gardeners simply wrap the trunks as high as they can reach – keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Extend your reach using a pole pruner, fruit harvester, or broom handle to gently place the lights over the branches of smaller trees.
Larger trees may require a ladder. Use a sound ladder placed on level ground and consider enlisting a friend or relative to keep it steady as you work.
Make sure you remove the lights at the end of the season.
A bit more information: Always be careful not injure yourself or your plants when installing holiday lights. Try wrapping the strands of lights around your hand and bent elbow. This keeps them tangle-free and easy to move as you negotiate ladders and the plants. And, be sure to remove the lights at the end of the season. Undetected strands of lights can accidently be cut when pruning in the spring. This can be dangerous and dulls your pruning saw. Plus, tightly wrapped lights can girdle fast growing trees in just one year.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Poinsettia Care

Brighten the indoors and get into the holiday spirit by adding a few poinsettias to your indoor décor.
Select poinsettia plants with deep green leaves and colorful bracts, the leaf-like structures we call flowers. Always wrap the plants when moving them in cold weather. Remove the protective sleeves as soon as they arrive to a warm location.
Next bend foil edges down so light can reach all of the leaves. Punch holes in the foil for proper drainage or place a few pebbles in the bottom of the foil wrapper to elevate the pot above any standing water.
Keep the soil moist not wet and place the plants in a cool, bright location free from drafts of hot or cold air.
If yellow leaves develop, do a bit of detective work. Make sure there is not standing water in the foil, basket or saucer. Dump any excess water that has collected. Adjust your watering schedule to avoid overly wet or dry soil. And, move the plants to a brighter location.
A bit more information: Once the holidays have passed, move your poinsettia to a sunny window. Continue to water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of potting mix are slightly moist. You can move the plant outdoors for the warm summer months and bring it back in before cold weather returns. Staring October 1st grow your plant in a sunny window, allow the soil to go slightly dry and each night give the plant 14 hours of total darkness. With luck, you will have colorful bracts for Christmas.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Here's Something You Won't See Every Day
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So This is a Christmas Tree?
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Now You Can Stay Home & Watch "The Interview"
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Will You Spend Your Christmas with "The Interview"?
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The History of Tracking Santa
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Reporter Gets a Little Too Close to His Story
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Happy Holidays: Oakland Raider Comes Up Huge for Little Girl
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Amy Adams Hacked from Today Show
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Maybe Meryl's Invisible on Instagram
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Happy Holidays: Hells Angels to the Top of the Nice List
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Bang the Drum, Craig Ferguson
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Hey, Cardinals, Let's Talk "Spiritual Alzheimer's"
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Peace on Earth - But Not in the Geekdom
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Rest Well, Joe Cocker
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Legit, or Stunt?
Here's a chance for you to be the judge. The scenario: The Oxygen Network was in Houston recently auditioning for its show, Bad Girls Club. While women waited in line to be seen, another woman was in a conversation with a police officer who had just put a traffic boot on the driver-side rear tire of her new BMW X5. It's not really clear why the boot was put in place, or if the woman was there auditioning. What is clear is that she didn't want to be booted. So she drove off with the boot in place. Clearly, it's not the proper size boot for that car, as the wheel is able to rotate almost freely. And as she drove off to the cheers of the folks in line, the boot actually fell off. Watch the video - the wind sounds on it can't be avoided. Then weigh in. What do you think? Legitimate circumstances, or a stunt staged by the producers of the show so they've got something to show for their time in Houston?  
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And the Newest Kardashian is...
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Happy Holidays: All I Want for Christmas Done Right
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Good to Have Support on the Home Front
Gisele Bunchen - aka Mrs. Tom Brady - posted another cute picture to Instagram yesterday, moments after her husband's team clinched a day off in the first-round of the NFL playoffs by beating the New York Jets. It wasn't a pretty victory, or an easy one either, with the Patriots limping out of the Meadowlands with a 17-16 win. Still, it was a win, and good enough for Gisele to hoist her daughter to her shoulder and post a picture of it to Instagram. File this one under #godaddy! And be sure to check out the look on the face of the dog - almost like he's saying, "Again?"     Yeeeeaaaaahh! #godaddy #gopats ❤️❤️❤️❤️ A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) on Dec 12, 2014 at 1:07pm PST
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Cold Open, Cold Shoulder
If this weekend's cold open of Saturday Night Live is any indication, there could be some life left in the old dog afterwards. It started with a spoof of Sam Smith, the automaton with the fantastic voice, promoting his new special, A Very Somber Christmas. Suddenly, the "broadcast" was hijacked by none other than Doctor Evil - that would be one of Mike Myers' characters from the Austin Powers films. Doctor Evil took issue with North Korea and Sony Pictures for giving "evil organizations a bad name." Funny stuff - and biting satire as well.  
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Fare Thee Well, Colbert! See You in May!
On Friday night, Stephen Colbert was one of two late night comics to say farewell to the shows and audiences who'd grown to love them. (The other was Craig Ferguson on CBS's Late Late Show. More on him tomorrow.) But first, Colbert wrapped up The Colbert Report on Comedy Central in an interesting way. By turning it into a musical, sort of, with an amazing hodgepodge of singers. Starting with Jon Stewart from CC's The Daily Show, the seemingly endless list of guests included Big Bird and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former president Bill Clinton, an astronaut from the International Space Station, Barry Manilow (who was misidentified initially by another reporter as Rod Stewart) and more. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of folks, all singing "We'll Meet Again." Check it out - and be sure to keep watching when it appears to be over. Stephen will be back in May, when he jumps into David Letterman's seat on CBS's Late Show.  
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Most Ridiculous Man of the Year
Here's a late-comer for the Most Ridiculous Man of the Year award. A professional makeup artist in Manchester, England has reportedly spent about $150,000 for plastic surgery and more to look like his favorite reality TV star. The star? Kim Kardashian. He's had lip fillers, laser hair removal and eyebrows tatooed on. Take a look at the picture to see the results. And no, it is NOT Halloween. Sooo, someone actually dropped $150,000 on plastic surgery to look like Kim Kardashian! See for yourself: http://t.co/6eSkniAajM — Us Weekly (@usweekly) December 18, 2014 And he doesn't care what he looks like, according to The Sun, London's daily newspaper. "My look is all about the shock factor. I love all the attention and stares I get in the street. I welcome the hate — it just means more attention. And if anything, it just spurs me on to get more work done." Good money chasing bad, folks. Especially since the guy looks more like the Octomom than the NorthWestmom.
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Please Define "Top"
Scratching my head just a little. US Magazine put out a list yesterday of the Top 14 Celebrity Instagram Photos of 2014.   Six of the 14 involve the Kardashians in some way - by that calculation, they're taking up 43% of the internet, which sounds right and wrong all at the same time. The rest of the list: Jessica Simpson in a bathing suit holding a golf club Macauley Culkin wearing a T-shirt with Ryan Gosling on it Jessa Duggar's wedding kiss Taylor Swift's 4th of July party Nick & Vanessa Lachey's pregnancy announcement Lauren Conrad's haircut Bethenny Frankel wearing her 4-year-old's Hello Kitty PJs The only one that really belongs - or at least makes some sense in being relevant - is the post Diem Brown's boyfriend put up after her passing, expressing his grief.     You have always been My Angel. And now you have your wings. We've been thru so much over the years. Thru the ups and downs we somehow managed to keep our promise. We never gave up on each other. Our plan to be together forever hasn't changed... it's just going to take a little longer now. And I'm going to hold onto this ring for you till we are together again. So don't worry mama, I'm not afraid. I know you will always be with me to give me your strength. You are The Love of My Life. My reason to be a better man. I Love You Always and Forever A photo posted by CT (@theofficial_ct) on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:50am PST  
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It's the Most Wonderful Prank of the Year
Jimmy Kimmel and his wife have a holiday tradition - well, sort of a tradition - with acting couple John Krasinski (from The Office) and Emily Blunt (most recently from Into The Woods). They live across the street from one another, and for Christmas, they play pranks on each other. This has been going on for a couple of years, and each year, the pranks get bigger and more out of control. Watch the clip to see what Jimmy did to them last year - the thing he thought would bring the prank-feud to a conclusion. And then watch to see watch Emily and John did to raise the bar considerably higher this year. Nice to have that kind of money to throw away, but it is sort of fun to watch.  
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"Governor, This Is Barack Obama..."
What a fun moment. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made his final appearance on Boston Public Radio yesterday, and got a very interesting phone call as part of his farewell. President Barack Obama called in, identifying himself as a former resident of Somerville, a suburb of Boston. The president spent some time in the state while a student at Harvard, and he's got a good relationship with the outgoing governor. So why not call in? Watch the video of the call. Seems legit to me.  
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