05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.

 

04/27/16

The Bully of All Toads

Currently in Madagascar there is a bully. But, this is not your typical bully. This bully is the Asian toad, also known as Duttaphrynus melanostictus. The toads are threatening rare wildlife and frightening locals.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org - Amphibian Survival Alliance.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org – Amphibian Survival Alliance.

The theory on how they got to Madagascar is that they hitched a ride in some shipping containers from Asia between 2007 -2010. While Madagascar doesn’t have native toads, people who saw these bullies roaming knew something was wrong. And still no one knows why they have decided to make Madagascar their new home.

These toads are endangering locals, harming snakes, lemurs and exotic animals that are unique to the island. If they feed off these toads they will be poisoned, since these toads are known to be very poisonous. Smaller animals can shrink in size and as species, become extinct.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Scientists are still trying to come up with ideas on how to get rid of these toads and such measures wouldn’t be horribly expensive. It would cost about $2 million to $10 million (the effort would need only a wealthy backer from the West) — but that’s really just a guess. No one knows exactly where the toads are or precisely how many are in Madagascar. There’s no easy way to find them, and there’s no quick method of dispatching them, at least not in the numbers necessary for eradication.

And then there’s the fact that no one has tried to remove invasive toads on such a scale before. There have been three successful removal projects, but they were all in much smaller areas.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up.

So it looks like eradication won’t be possible, the scientists conclude, at least without a lot more research that would let managers and the government overcome many hurdles. And by that time, the toads will probably have become so numerous that, like in Australia, any such efforts would be impossible.

 
Leight-Ann BradyGuest post by Leigh-Ann Brady, who resides in NJ with her 8 year son. She is an artist and writer who is also concerned about the environment.

03/19/16

The Perfect Pond for You and the Environment

Garden’s say a lot about their owners. You can see a reflection of the owner’s personality in how their garden is presented. If you see a garden that is frequently maintained and full of life and colour it’s more likely that the owner is a keen gardener, or maybe just has the time to dedicate towards the garden’s maintenance. If you see a garden that is lost and overgrown, then a sense of organisation may spring to mind. The overall look of a garden can also determine the way people look at a house as a whole. The garden is a key element in the overall image and it’s vital to make sure your garden gives viewers the message you wish them to receive. There are so many ways in which you can make your garden stand out amongst the rest, and a perfect way is to add features that are different and exciting. Ponds are a traditional feature that have been around for years. Many people look at ponds and instantly say no to the idea simply because they think that they are more trouble than they’re worth. What people don’t realise is that ponds are actually very useful for pest management, wildlife sanctuaries and also just look great in your garden. They’re easy to maintain and cost efficient, too. There are many different types of ponds you can choose from to ensure you get the perfect pond for your garden.

garden pond lush green and beautiful

When deciding on the type of pond you wish to go for, think about whether you want your pond to be in ground, above ground or partly in ground. Your decision should depend entirely on your garden and what will suit it best. If you have children you may also wish to consider an above ground pond, as this eliminates the risk of anybody falling in or going for a quick swim with the fish. Having an above ground pond also enables you to create your own display, you can use coloured tiles to surround the pond bed and grow plants around the area. Alternatively, if you wanted to go for an in ground or partly in ground pond you can consider the way in which you wish to display this, consider how you wish to contain, surround and line the pond. You can always make the decision that suits your garden type. There is no specific choice when it comes to the details of your pond design, which is another reason why they are so great.

Once you’ve decided on the type of pond you wish to go for, how you will line and contain it, and determined the size of the area, this will determine the wildlife that appears. Ponds are vital when it comes to wildlife, and you can guarantee that your pond will become the centre of attention for beautiful creatures like dragonflies, house martens, ducklings, frogs and more. You could have a range of beautiful fish living in your pond, to add a little excitement but also to encourage other wildlife to visit. Ensuring you feed them and maintain the water, keeping fish is a perfect way to make the most out of your pond, plus they’re like extra pets that you can keep checking on and watch, as they grow in your own garden.

When it comes to the maintenance of the pond there is little you need to do. You must ensure you keep on top of the weeds and algae; you will find most animals living in the pond will use these for hiding so be extra careful when weeding or cleaning these plants. You can use a net to remove excessive, such as leaves, dirt and dead flies. Removing the dead flies will however be done for you by certain animals living in or around the pond. For example, dragonflies and house martens will spend their time swooping down and removing the flies from the ponds surface, along with frogs and toads that will clear the water surface of any tasty little flies they can get hold of.

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, you can consider the overall presentation of your pond. The design of a pond is important for both appearance as well as wildlife. Designing your pond to suit your home is key. You can surround your pond with shrubbery and plants to create your own little sanctuary. Growing plants around the pond may also encourage animals to create a new habitat in the plants or water surrounding. Lighting is another great feature to consider, whether you opt for in-water lighting or lights to surround the pond, they will be a huge benefit to both your gardens aesthetic as well as the nature surrounding the pond. When fitting the lights, remember to use a weatherproof junction box to ensure that you have safe fittings and the lights are protected from any weather. Lighting will add a glamorous effect and highlight your new garden feature, making it stand out and look great. Why not add other little items such as gnomes, fairy figures or magical fantasy items. These are a little bit of fun but also add character and excitement to the pond and its surroundings.

Guest blog by Jasmine Smith.

 

Additional posts from Frogs Are Green on Ponds:

https://frogsaregreen.org/keeping-your-pond-alive/

https://frogsaregreen.org/attracting-newts-to-your-pond/

https://frogsaregreen.org/pond-maintenance-tips-for-keeping-wildlife-at-your-pond/

 

 

02/16/16

Caring For Stray Frogs in the Winter

Every winter, frog lovers around the world write to us about stray frogs that wander inside. Last week a man from Maryland wrote about finding a grey tree frog.

Dear Susan,
“I found a gray tree frog hopping around inside our gym here in Maryland. I guess he was drawn inside by the heat. Well, I took him home and have him in a fish tank with water, crickets and artificial leaves for shelter. I’ve got a heating pad that sticks to the back of the tank. I was wondering how cold I could keep my home and still have the frog be ok?” – Gianni

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with grey tree frogs, here’s some information and to read more, a page on Wikipedia:

The gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) is a species of small arboreal frog native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.[2]

As the scientific name implies, gray tree frogs are variable in color owing to their ability to camouflage themselves from gray to green, depending on the substrate where they are sitting. The degree of mottling varies.[3] They can change from nearly black to nearly white. They change color at a slower rate than a chameleon. The female does not croak and has a white throat; however, the male does croak and has a black/gray throat. The female is usually larger than the male.

The gray tree frog is capable of surviving freezing of their internal body fluids to temperatures as low as -8 °C.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_tree_frog

 

When we find stray frogs who haven’t found a place to hibernate, it’s usually because we continue to build within the areas of their habitat, and they may get lost or confused. Going inside where the heat is on shows that this frog is trying to survive through the winter. It’s wonderful when people care enough to help them.

Rescued Grey Tree Frog in Winter

We’ve found a great site with tips on how to care for frogs and get them through the colder months, so they’ll be healthy and ready to go back outside come spring.

How to Take Care of a Pet Frog

 

Here are two of our previous posts that help explain what happens to frogs in the winter:

Winter is Coming: How Do Frogs Avoid Freezing

and

How Frogs and Toads Adapt To Winter’s Chill

 

01/19/16

Protect and Save Liberty State Park

When you live in a city like Jersey City, you yearn for some open space. We’re fortunate to have Liberty State Park nearby. A beautiful park where you can ride your bicycle for miles, and see nature all around, as well as majestic views of the Statue of Liberty, skyline of Manhattan, ships coming up and down the Hudson River, and breathe some fresh air.

The park is just behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and as you ride your bicycle the views continually change, each more breathtaking than the next.

I would hate to see development that doesn’t belong there, ruin such a pristine place.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park which will tell Governor Christie that we want our park to stay just as is, so we can continue to enjoy it freely.

Susan Newman in Liberty State Park Bicycle riding

More Details via NY/NJ Baykeeper about Liberty State Park:

The governor’s recent proposals to lease public parkland to private developers for large-scale commercial projects would destroy the beloved park behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

With public open space already so scarce in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions, we can’t let that happen. For forty years, overwhelming public consensus has consistently rejected exactly these kinds of commercialization and privatization efforts.

There’s a reason LSP is known as “The People’s Park” – we’ve won these battles before, and we can win again. But only with your help.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park

#SaveLSP Liberty State park aerial view with Miss Liberty

#SaveLSP – Liberty State Park aerial view with Miss Liberty courtesy of Liberty State Park.

 

12/13/15

Reptile Kingdom Resides in Painting Workshop

Dec.6, 2015
Text by LAN Lianchao
Video by LAN Lianchao & CHANG Zhuojin & SHI Xinyue & LIU Yuting

Hundreds of transparent boxes are piled up against the wall, with simulated wild environments. The residents of those cubical rooms have watched the day and night of the painting workshop, ARTTRA, for seven years.

The vivarium belongs to a painter, Herman Chan, 41, who has over 100 reptiles from about 50 species.

“Maybe you can not find a second painting workshop with so many reptiles in Hong Kong,” he says.

Chan’s pets attract people who learn painting in a way of improving their ability of observation. Reptile knowledge is a bonus for curious students.

Chan says he collects and breeds various species of reptiles on purpose. “I enjoy taking care of them technically,” he says.

The first reptile owned by Chan was a salamander when he was in the primary school. Since then he has never stopped.

Chan used to raise his reptiles at home, afraid of customers’ resistance against them. He says he hopes to stay with them more, not only the time after work.

Not until he took a chameleon to the studio did he find the charisma of his pets. Children are really into it and inspired to watch the detailed of the animal, Chan says.

Meanwhile Chan tells them chameleons change color due to the temperature, humidity or light, not the background colors thought by many people.

“The studio is a perfect combination of my hobby and job,” Chan adds. “It is an incubator for my reptiles and my painting.”

Chan Tsz Yin Andrea, 5 yrs old, Hong Kong, Arttra.

Chan Tsz Yin Andrea, 5 yrs old, Hong Kong, Arttra.

With the Frogs Are Green annual children’s art contest deadline approaching, you can see how engaged the young students are by learning about amphibians and reptiles, seeing them up close, and then expressing themselves through art. I’m thrilled that Herman’s students entered our annual contest!

This blog was originally posted on https://lanlianchao.wordpress.com Frogs Are Green has permission to repost it.