Gardening Q&A

What are the squiggly lines on my Aquilegia leaves?

What are the squiggly lines on my Aquilegia leaves?

They are made from an insect larvae called a leaf miner. This larvae which can be from a sawfly, moth, or other insect is a general term for insect larvae that eats the tissue of leaves. Pesticides usually kill insects and not larvae so spraying is not going to solve the issue.

What are the squiggly lines on my Aquilegia leaves?Is the leaf miner a threat to my Aquilegia plant?

No. I have had leaf miner on almost my Aquilegia plants each year and the plants still grow and thrive. However, if you experience this on plants, shrubs, or vegetable plants, I would removed the infected leaves and dispose of them in the garbage NOT compost. In my experience I have never had a plant die that was infected with leaf miners but on crops you may not want the unsightly larvae eating edibles.

If you ever have a question

Feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer or find the answer! Happy gardening.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2017 copyrighted material C Renee Cumberworth

Gardening Projects

Create a Rustic Picket Garden Planter Box

$58.78 is the cost of this store bought planter box! So create your own for under $15!


Have you seen how much planter boxes are for the garden?

I have and just the other day I was walking the aisle of The Home Depot where I saw a price tag of $58! So I decided to create a rustic picket garden planter box and share my gardening project with you.Create a rustic garden plantr box

For this project you will need:

  • 4- 5/8″ x 5 1/2″ x 6′ Pressure treated Pine Dog Ear Fence Picket ($1.50+ each)
  • 3- 1″ x 2″ x 8″ Pressured treated strips ($1.89+ each)
  • 1 1/4″ SPAX screws (or pre-drill holes and use outdoor screws to avoid splitting)
  • Saw, measuring tape, miter box/saw, screw driver, pencil, and a couple hours or more depending upon skill level

I am lucky to have a (power electric) compound miter saw so cutting the 45 degree angles is a bit faster but you can simply buy a miter box and saw for around $20-25 dollars which will come in handy for future DIY projects in the home and garden. I also have a Ridgid cordless impact driver which makes DIY jobs so much easier. I love Ridgid because they have a lifetime warranty and are powerful enough to do my DIY home and garden projects. Impact driver (what you can put the screw driver bit in) are a must have if you plan on doing more DIY projects so invest once in a great set of tools. (THIS IS JUST MY OPINION BECAUSE I HAVE HAD MANY DIFFERENT BRANDS AND PREFER RIDGID NOW)create-a-rustic-picket-garden-planter-box-tip

Create the rustic picket garden planter box

I ended up making the box roughly 31″H x 10″W x 12″ D and this could easily be made up to 36″wide with the wood purchase above. I had an oops so my box ended up being 31″ which worked out well because the box is easier to pick up and move (empty). I have built square planter boxes and created concrete baskets throughout my garden.

This rustic picket fence garden planter box (boy that was a mouthful) will age and the wood will become browner with age. I have built garden arbor, garden trellis, garden bridge, and tables out of these pine treated fence pickets and I love the way these pickets age (darker). create-a-rustic-picket-garden-planter-box-1

Here are the directions for the basic planter box

The directions are simple for this and measurements could vary if you want to build it to your size. I do have to add one important tip- make sure to check the thickness of each picket because the sides need to be approximately the same thickness or the trim will not sit flush and hold the sides together (as shown in picture). Here’s the cuts you will make:

  • (14) 12″ fence pickets for the sides -precut these pieces
  • (6)  10″ fence pickets for the bottom- precut these pieces
  • (6) 1″ x 2″ strips cut approximately at 13″ -cut after you assemble the sides/bottom
  • (6) 1″ x 2″ strips cut approximately at 31″
    • These cuts are approximate because pickets can vary in size and older pickets dry and shrink as much as a 1/4″
    • You can make this planter box as wide as you want and I measure in increments of 5 1/2″ or the width of the pickets if they vary in your area.
    • Using the width of the pickets as a guide for the size eliminates the need to cut the pickets (ie 6 pickets @ 5 1/2″ = 33″)
Pictured here are 6 board sides but I had to eliminate 1 picket that was thicker than the rest using only 5 pickets per side to make this planter box 31″


Do not cut trim 1″x 2″ pieces until sides and bottom are assembled (note 5 pickets= 27.5″) since these pickets can vary as much as 1/4″

Create a rustic garden planter box
Attach the trim pieces bottom and top using the screws
Create a rustic garden planter box
After you attach the trim pieces move on to the trim pieces that are cut 45 degrees flat for the trim around the top.


This is without the 1″x2″ trim around the top edge.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my big box store garden planter hack. If you ever have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me. This is an easy to moderate project if you can saw a board, have a miter box, tape measure, and my favorite SPAX screws from The Home Depot which eliminates the need to pre-drill any holes.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2017  copyrighted material C Renee



Gardening Q&A

Will my spring blooming tree bloom again in the spring if it bloomed in the fall?

Will my spring blooming tree bloom again in the spring if it bloomed in the fallWill my spring blooming tree bloom again in the spring if it bloomed in the fall? 

Short answer is yes.

Nature is resilient and many times the weather plays tricks on the flowers, shrubs, and trees when the weather turns like spring with above average temps both during the day and at night. The dramatic temperature changes from fall weather of frosty nights and chillier days to warm nights and even warmer days sends the signal to the plant that spring is here (when it’s not) all because the leaves had fallen off and the plant was dormant (resting) for the season.

I know from my experience that the trees will bloom again

Many times the fall blooming is sporadic and only a few branches. However, I tried to get pictures of this beautiful cherry tree in full FALL bloom. It is probably 20 years old and gorgeous with its white blooms filling each branch and stem. It has been blooming for a couple weeks now. Why? Because back in early fall we had a light frost and a few nights of below average temps (and the leaves fell off and it went dormant) and then we had a week of above average 80 degree days and 60 degree nights. Will my spring blooming tree bloom again in the spring if it bloomed in the fall?

Since a couple of my neighbors asked me if something was wrong with the trees and other shrubs blooming around our subdivision, I realized that writing about on the blog would help answer the question to anyone afraid to ask. Nature has a way of adapting and overcoming so do not worry and never be afraid to ask questions.

I am going to do more of these question and answer posts

I know there are many people out there who are beginner gardeners or homeowners who may be afraid to ask questions. I know there are those out there who already know the scientific explanation and may cringe at my simplistic answers- but hey this is not for you. I am writing for anyone who just wants a simple answer for their gardening questions.

Thanks for stopping by and contact me with any questions so we can garden together learning and making mistakes one season at a time. I welcome any gardening questions so that I can we learn together and I will most likely post it here on the Q & A site.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!



2017 copyrighted material C Renee

Gardening Q&A

Why are the inner leaves of my Arborvitae turning brown?

Why are the inner leaves of my Arborvitae turning brown?Why are the inner leaves (foliage) of my Arborvitae turning brown? 

Simply put, and in my experience, it is just a shedding process that helps the plant shed its old leaves just as any deciduous tree loses its leaves in the fall. Unless the whole bush is turning brown, this inside browning and shedding is very common in the late summer and fall months.

In my pictures here you can see the process of this shedding and this is normal. However, if the whole Arborvitae is browning and losing its leaves, then you have a bigger problem which I will address in other posts.

Arborvitae are very hardy shrubs and once established can be drought tolerant. However, browning leaves on the outside and inside of the shrub can indicate the plant is dying from a lack of water. If the leaves are turning a darker brown or even black, this can be a blight or fungal disease problem and needs further investigation. You also have to watch for bagworms and insect infestations but most plants in any landscape or garden can attract diseases and insects. Either way, you may be able to save the plant in the early stages of decline. Why are the inner leaves of my Arborvitae turning brown?

In my years of experience growing Arborvitae, I have found them to grow in the red clay soil of Virginia and grow during the bouts of drought and unrelentless downpours of springtime rains. I grow them in pots too and find them to give winter interest in the landscape with minimal care and watering.

Let’s talk gardening

Thank you for stopping by and if you have a question, contact me and I will try to help you!

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2017 copyrighted material C ReneeWhy are the inner leaves of my Arborvitae turning brown?





Life In The Garden

Dreaming of my new garden

Dreaming of a new garden

I have not written much on The Garden Frog

I realized that I need to fill you all in on what has been happening in my life and garden. This year (2016) will go down in my memories as one of the toughest times in my life. Why? Because my youngest son graduated from high school last June, my husband and I separated, and I had to dig up my flower beds to create a simple mulched landscape for a new family.

Dreaming of a new garden
2016 view from the 2nd story window after I dug up the flower bed

I am dreaming of my new garden because it is the one thing I can do to keep me from crying. For anyone who is a gardener, you know that feeling of happy- the happy when you walk out to the garden and see a new bloom beckoning you to wander over to admire its color, the aroma, and the beauty…Dreaming of my new garden

Gardening is not just about blooms- it is the circus of bees, birds, and butterflies that flitter and buzz around chirping and tweeting the songs of nature. The beauty unfolds as the flowers open in the morning to unveil a smorgasboard of yellow pollen for hoards of pollinators to visit and devour.

I am a gardener without a garden right now

Dreaming of a new garden
Sea of Black eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, and Gaillardia

I am dreaming of my new garden

Garden beds filled with the blooms of my favorite flower- Iris and the sea of Black eyed Susans, Salvia, Confeflowers, and Daylilies that color my world in the heat of summer. I fill with the excitement of watching the finches land on the seed heads and swaying to and fro as they enjoy the bounty of their find and spilling and sowing the seeds for next years blooms.

Dreaming of a new garden
Finches love Black Eyed Susans

I have not sold the house yet and continue to scour the internet sites morning, noon, and night for a new home with lots of space for flowers. I am staying in Virginia, zone 7, where the seasons change and where I do not need a winter coat very often. I will be buying a fixer upper on my very small budget and I have to have room for 2 dogs, 3 cats, and the hundred plus perennials I have stashed in the back yard hidden from a buyer’s view.

Dreaming of a new garden
as of November 2016

Dreaming of my new garden after digging up my flower beds has kept me going at times when I wanted to cry. Cry? Yes because as a gardener I am lost without digging in dirt and cultivating my green thumb. I am lost without my blooms, without the birds, and without all the bees flitting about my garden. I cannot buy plants. I cannot plant. I can only check on my stash of Iris, hosta, ferns, and hydrangeas that fill an area under the canopies of the mighty

I am a gardener without a garden. I am a woman lost without the color of nature. I am worried that I will not be able to find a new home where I belong and where I can grow along with my garden. I cannot put in to words the feeling of euphoria when a plant fourishes in the soil that I tended with my hands.

Dreaming of a new garden
Attracting the birds

How many of you have purchased a wilted plant that struggled to survive on the racks of the garden center?

Then you know the feeling that wells up inside when it blooms for the first time. The excitement that makes you explode and tell everyone and anyone who will listen how you saved a plant from the dumpster.That is the feeling that I have experienced over and over for many years. As I post the pictures here, I could tell you a story about how it came to be (and one day I should share?) That is what gardening is about- the memories of working with nature to create your own slice of heaven in this chaotic world.

Want to talk about gardening or have a question?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my story. And do not forget to visit my other blog- The Garden Frog Boutique. 

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2017 copyrighted material C Renee