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?





Garden Plants Gardening Tips

Plant Iris in the Garden

Plant Iris in the gardenPlant Iris in the garden for spring time blooms that stand tall in the perennial bed. Iris make a great back drop with their leaves during the summer months as your other perennials such as daylilies, coneflowers, and salvia bloom.

Iris are not like other perennials when it comes to planting them. Iris have rhizomes that do not like to be buried deep. As a matter of fact, they love to have the tops of the rhizomes exposed to the sun. You can divide and move Iris spring through fall and require no special fertilizers or soil. I have red clay soil and my Iris thrive. Iris are susceptible to aphids and Iris borer. Iris do not like wet conditions and this past spring several of my Iris clumps started to rot. (You can save rhizomes many times from Iris borer and rot by cutting away bad part which I will write about soon)

Plant Iris in the gardenI have over 15 colors and varieties of Iris. It is my favorite flower. My absolute favorite is an almost black- a very dark purple that I was given over 23 years ago! That is when I realized I have to have Iris in all my gardens.


Right now my Iris are sitting waiting for their new garden beds. I am selling my current home and dug up all my Iris. It is hard to be without my gardens but knowing that one day next spring I will see this beauties blooming once again.


Plant Iris in the gardenThank you for stopping by and soon I will write more about the care and cure for anything that ails the Iris. There are so many choices to love. Here’s a short video on how to plant Iris on my Youtube channel.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2016-17 copyrighted material C Renee Plant Iris in the garden, gardening quote by me


Design your flower garden through the window

Design your flower garden through the windowDesign your flower garden through the window. Why? Simple-your garden should look good from all angles and not just for the street view. Any garden can look good on one side but how does your garden look from a second story window? I want to enjoy my gardens from all angles, don’t you?

Every spring as the flowers emerge I can really see what is coming up and decide what needs to be left alone, divided, and/or moved. I am always taking pictures of my yard too so as I look back I can see what it looks like from year to year and even month to month. I love to look out the window in the morning when the birds are singing and see what my garden looks like. Below is my backyard which I have taken 8 years to make private. Design your flower garden through the window, landscaping design

Looking from the window also lets you see if there are any holes or plants that are not filling in or even taking over the garden bed. The view from your windows should reflect the beauty that the outside world sees too. Any time of the year take a picture and when you find time to garden you can fill in the spots or divide the perennials that have crowded other plants. Design your flower garden through the window, landscaping,

So make sure you look out the window to see what your garden looks like from the inside out. Curb appeal is importan but so is your view! My garden dramatically changed this year as I dug up most of my flowers. I am downsizing soon and I shared a bit about this on my post over at my other blog- Digging up my garden.Thanks for stopping by and if you ever have a question, feel free to contact me. Design your flower garden or landscape through the window, landscaping

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2016-17  copyrighted material C Renee Cumberworth



Here’s my tips for growing a Parlor Palm houseplant

Here's my tips for growing a Parlor Palm houseplantParlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)(Neanthe bella) is an easy to care for house plant that will grow in low light conditions in your home or office and in the shade and humidity of summer. I was given a scrawny Parlor Palm that my girl friend had about a year and a half ago that she had been growing in the same pot for years. The Palm was not happy and so I agreed to take it home.

I have a lot of windows but not a lot of sunlight. I live under 13 Oak trees so in the summer the plants all go outside on the deck under a gazebo or in my potting area in the dappled shade. If you want to see a plant grow, put them outside in the right conditions and they will grow-fast. I had never grown a Palm before because I thought they required a lot of humidity (which they prefer) and they just never really appealed to me. However, I cannot pass up a free plant especially one that comes from a friend.Here's my tips for growing a Parlor Palm houseplant, Parlor Palm blooms

Last summer the Palm sat in the shade back by my potting area from March-November. All my house plants stay outside until the temps dip to 40s consistently at night because many plants need the chill for winter time blooms. The Palm tripled in size from October 2014 through November 2015. In December (2015) I noticed funny stems emerging from the fronds and panicked that something was wrong (like a weed growing in the pot). I had no idea Palm trees bloomed.

Now I have been growing house plants for as long as I can remember and I have found that the experts are not always 100%. I discovered this winter through experimentation with fertilizing that my Parlor Palms developed 2 stems filled with blooms. One stem started to bloom in January and in February the 2nd stem ‘bloomed’. These are very insignificant blooms but they are blooms! There are seeds and the experts say they are not fertile (I think I will try to germinate them and see).Parlor Palm blooms and seeds

How did I get it to bloom? Fertilizing with diluted fertilizer once a week, put in an East Window, and watered every couple days with rain water and made sure it never dried out (but stayed moist).  In the winter my home is at 65 degrees and my houseplants seem to thrive at this temperature. I also think growing outside during the peak hours of spring, summer, and early fall triggered the fern to grow and bloom.

I am about to admit that my Parlor Palm also sat on a chair on top of my heat vent too which is for most plant people is a no no. However, it never bothered my Palm tree as long as I kept it watered and fertilized. I will keep the Palm in the same pot until it is too top heavy for the pot because I found out these palms have a weak root system and love to be pot (root) bound.Here's my tips for growing a Parlor Palm houseplant, bloom stem

Parlor Palm might also be sold under the names Chamaedorea elegans or Neanthe bella. I have searched for the differences and have found none. It is a commonly sold house plant and is one plant that you do not prune. The only time you take scissors or pruners to the Parlor Palm is when a leaf turns brown or yellows and when the blooms are spent. The Parlor Palm grows from the terminal bud or the main stem of the plant which can cause the plant to stop growing. No worries because the Parlor Palm is not a house plant that will take over the house any time soon with heights reaching anywhere from 2-4′ depending upon the variety.

Bugs. We have to talk about bugs on your Parlor Palm (or any other house plant). Palms are notorious for attracting spider mites which can lay and hatch within days. Believe me when I say that you have to keep vigilant about bugs on your plants because even experienced plant lovers can get bugs. Many times a gentle shower with Dawn (or Ivory) to kill the bugs and a gentle rinse to wash away the remains will work. I also now use more natural and organic methods like Neem Oil. Here's my tips for growing a Parlor Palm houseplant

Thanks for stopping by. If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2016 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @The Garden Frog Boutique



Life In The Garden

The Hummingbird Moth in the Garden

Hummingbird Moth in the garden, Hemaris thysbeThe Hummingbird Moth in the garden

The Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) is one of the coolest insects that will visit your garden. The Hummingbird Moth resembles the hummingbird and is sometimes mistaken because it hovers over and  feeds on nectar of tubal plants such as Honeysuckle, Phlox, and BeeBalm just as a hummingbird does. The long proboscis unfolds to reach deep inside the flower and curls up when the moth is in flight. Unlike the hummingbird, the Hummingbird Moth does not have feathers and is not a bird even though the tail of the Hummingbird Moth looks like it has small delicate tail feathers.

Hummingbird Moth in the garden, Hemaris thysbeI get so overjoyed when I see a Hummingbird Moth in my garden

I have watched the steady decline in the past 5 years since my neighbors hire one of those companies to spray for mosquitoes onto their yard, bushes, and even 30′ up into the mighty Oaks. The Hummingbird Moth lays it eggs on the host plants (for the caterpillars) such as Honeysuckle (including the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle), Viburnum, Hawthornes, Black Cherry, and Plum trees. After the eggs hatch and the caterpillars feed and grow into green horned worms, they inch along to the soil where they spin their cocoon, become a pupa and rest until it is time to emerge as the Hummingbird Moth. Here in zone 7, the Hummingbird Moth can lay 2 sets of eggs- first set anywhere from March- June and the 2nd set from August- October. In colder climates the Hummingbird Moth will lay its eggs anywhere from April- August. If it gets too late in the season, the pupa will not emerge into the beautiful Hummingbird Moth until the following spring.

Hummingbird Moth in the garden, Hemaris thysbeThe Hummingbird Moth sips the nectar from many native bushes and flowers too. Wild blueberries, phlox, wild roses, wild blackberries, BlackEyed Susans, and the red clover found in outlying wooded areas and open areas are important food sources for many insects, wildlife, and birds. Even the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle is a food source for the Hummingbird Moth. If you want to attract these cool and interesting insects into your garden, then I would plant some  garden phlox (paniculata), BlackEyed Susans, and even plant a Japanese Honeysuckle if you can take the time to keep it contained and not become too invasive in your yard. Note: in the pictures this is David’s phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’) which is a cultivar.

Gardening is not always about attracting human eyes and compliments. Attracting insects, birds, and furry creatures keeps your garden and our great planet alive. Do not panic just because a spider has created a web on your flowers or you find a weird looking caterpillar crawling on your petunias. Not everything in the garden is bad and most of it is good.

Let’s talk gardening

I hope I have inspired you to think outside the box and work more with nature to attract all kinds of creatures great and small. Thanks for stopping by!

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2016 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @The Garden Frog Boutique