Category Archives: Home Improvement

Rare And Exotic Garden Perennials For Landscape Planting

The term, ‘perennial plant’, means simply that the plant returns following severe freezes, to grow again the next year. Trees are cold hardy tested perennials by nature, some trees that are evergreens and do not go dormant, but merely slow down during various seasons, and other shade trees enter dormancy and shed the leaves. Tree growth of shade trees may stop altogether in extremely cold climates, but in the spring, will surge with buds that open to flower and leaf out.

Great difficulties arise in assigning a plant, ‘perennial’, mainly because the primary determining factor, temperature range varies from year to year; and every century extreme cold temperatures may erase certain plant populations that have survived in areas before for decades or sometimes even centuries. A perennial plant may be a survivor, thus a perennial for a given growing area, then suddenly may become extinct in that growing area. The USDA has constructed a zone map that reveals averages of temperatures reached by the location in your State. This map is a nursery tool used to predict whether a perennial will live (cold hardy) in your area.

Agaves are a diverse genus of over 200 species of rosette, spear-like, leafed evergreen perennials. Agave typically grows as low shrub-like plants in dry or well-drained soils of the Southern part of the U.S. from New Jersey down to Florida, and then West to California. Many Agave species, such as Agave americana or Agave tequilana, have sharp recurved, protective teeth running along both sides of the blade of its semi-curved, lance-shaped leaves, with a sharp needle-tip lance at the end. There are Agave species, like Agave attenuata, and Agave stricta, that do not have sharp-teeth at all, but are smooth. The color variations of Agave plants range from shades of green, to silvery-grey, bluish-green, top yellow or white stripes, such is the case with Agave americana ‘media-picta’. The bloom of mother Agave plants are a beautiful array of pendulent bell-shaped, creamy-white flowers soaring high above the mother plant on a flower stem that may reach 20 feet or more for some agave species. The bloom period of a mother Agave plant is during the summer and the flower stalk is magnificent to behold, however, this event means the cycle of life ends for mother Agave and begins again for her Agave offspring. Agave plants are an excellent choice for rock gardens or well drained soils that lend themselves well to terracotta or cement planters. Agaves are fairly slow glowers so expect higher prices on these sunloving garden jewels at retail garden centers. Huge specimen agaves can be quickly delivered by semi-trucks. Recommended Agave cultivar plants are: Agave ‘Victoria-Reginae’; Agave americana; Agave americana ‘Marginata’; Agave americana ‘Media-Picta’; Agave angustifolia ‘Marginata’; Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’; Agave bovicomuta; Agave celsii ‘Nova’; Agave colorata; Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’; Agave desmettiana ‘Zebra Stripe’; Agave ‘Felipe Otero’; Agave franzosini; Agave geminiflora; Agave lechguilla; Agave parryii; Agave parryii ‘Compacta Variegata’; Agave potatorum ‘Verschaffeltii’; Agave pygmaea; Agave salmiana; Agave stricta ‘Pueblensis’; Agave ‘Shark Skin’; Agave sisalana ‘Variegata’; Agave toumeyana; and Agave tequilana ‘Weberi Blue.’

The ancient Egyptians in 1500 BC grew the Aloe for healing, and while the Pharaoh held all the Jews in captivity, aloes were used as cosmetics and for the sacred healing power of this mysterious perennial. The Book of John, in the New Testament Bible, John 19-39, records that Jesus’ body was wrapped in linen cloths and aloes after the corpse was removed from the crucifiction cross before burial. Aloes are evergreen perennial plants that grow as shub-like, climbing or tree-like plants. The aloe plant leaves are fleshly, succulent, long tongue-shaped groups of rosettes, or as star-patterned limbs. Most forms of the aloe, 300 species genus, have toothed leaf blades with soft to piercing hard teeth. Aloe saponaria and Aloe vera are the two most commonly found containerized aloes in homes and gardens. Aloe vera plant extracts have long been used by mothers on their children for fast relief for minor cuts and burns. Aloe saponaria is cold hardy down to freezing temperatures and is widely grown in Southern gardens for the beautiful, coral-colored, tubular blossoms and for the making of medicated soap. Most aloe plants are small, 1-3 foot tall and width, however, a few tropical aloe species, such as Aloe marlothii grow into large, 120 foot succulent trees. Aloe plant varieties may vary enormously in color from yellow, red to blue-greens, or to spotted or striped with random variegation. Recommended cultivars of Aloes are: Orange Aloe.(Aloe acutissima ‘antaramorensis’) ,Blue Aloe (Aloe acutissima) ,Aloe aristata ‘Montana’ Tree Aloe (Aloe bainsii) Aloe brevifolia Red Aloe (Aloe camronii) Climbing Aloe (Aloe ciliaris) Kokoerbom(Aloe dichotoma) Aloe distans ‘Yellow Teeth’Aloe ‘Dorian Black’ Aloe ellenbeckii White Aloe (Aloe glauca) Aloe kedongensis Bergaalwyn (Aloe marlothii) Gold Tooth Aloe (Aloe nobilis) Tiger Aloe (Aloe nobilis ‘Variegata’) Aloe petricola Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla) Coral Aloe (Aloe strata) SoapAloe (Aloe saponaria) Aloe traskii Medicinal Aloe (Aloe vera) Partridge Breast (Aloe ‘Variegata’) Aloe verdoorniae Aloe ‘White Teeth’.

Fern plants are a beautiful landscape choice or a container perennial, because of the delicate graceful foliage. Fern plants are native to the U.S., and found growing on every continent on the Earth. Some ferns grow well as cold hardy plarts in some areas bordering arctic conditions. A gardener can find a fern perennial to buy in practically any nursery or mail order operation.

Florida tropical perennials are restricted for growing in many States, because of the lack of cold hardy resistance. Some gardeners prefer to plant Florida perennials in greenhouses, or to grow as an annual. Many recommended plants are: Desert Rose, Adenium obesum; Allamanda cathartica; Giant Yellow Shrimp, Barleria micans; Hallmark, Bulbine fruiticasa; Clerodendrum ugandense; Bleeding Hearts, Clerodendrum thomsoniae; Bat Faced Heather, Cupha ilvea; Sapphire Showers, Duranta erecta; Euryops; Bolivian Sunset, Gloxina sylvatica; Iochroma cyaneum; Jatropha integerrima; Ixora; Lantana camara; Orthosiphon stamineus; Pentas; Russelia equisetiformis; Russelia equisetiformis aureus; Stachytarpheta urticifolia; Stachytarpheta mutabilis.

Flowering Vine perennials grow fast to cover fences, lattices, walls, and not only offer rewards of flowers, but many interesting flowers in colors of red, blue, white, pink, and yellow. If planted and grown in the sun, the flowering vines require little care of vine maintenance. Recommended flowering vines to plant are Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus; White Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus ‘Alba’; Jekyll Island Vine, Bignonia capreolata; Tangering Beauty, Bignonia capreolata; Night Blooming Jasmine, Cestrum Nocturnum; Bleeding Hearts, Clerodendron thomsoniae; Lavender Trumpet Vine, Clytostoma callistegoides; Carolina Jasmine, Gelsemium sempervirens; Heart Vine, Ipomoea batatas; Chinese Jasmine, Jasminum polyanthum; Brazilian Firecracker Vine, Manettia inflata; Mailbox Plant, Mandevilla x Amblilis; Red Mandevilla, Mandevilla sanderi; Peaches and Cream, Mandevilla ‘Peaches and Cream’; Pink Mandevilla, Mandevilla splendens; White Passion Vine, Passiflora; Blue Passion Vine, Passiflora x Alato-Caerulea; Red Passion Flower, Passiflora coccinea; Lady Banks Rose, Rosa banksiae; Blue Glory Vine, Thunbergia battiscombei; White Sky Vine; Thunbergia grandiflora; Confederate Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides; Blue Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis; White Wisteria, Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’;

Groundcover perennial plants are beautifully colored and fast growing, to keep soil erosion under control. Recommended groundcover plants are: Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’, Burgundy Glow; Allium tuberosum, Society Garlic; Arachis glabrata, Perennial Peanut; Ardisia japonica ‘Variegata’, Ardisia japonica ‘Variegata’; Aspidistra elatior, Cast Iron Plant; Aspidistra elatior ‘Variegata’, Aspidistra elatior ‘Variegata’; Apsidistra lurida ‘Milky Way’, Apsidistra lurida ‘Milky Way’; Asystasia gangetica, Ganges Primrose; Curculigo capitulata, Palm Grass; Ficus repens ‘Variegata’, Creeping Fig Vine; Ficus repens ‘Variegata’, Ficus repens ‘Variegata’; Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’, Chameleon; Liriope; Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’, Border Grass; Liriope muscari ‘Royal Purple’, Liriope muscari ‘Royal Purple’; Liriope muscari ‘Super Green Giant’; Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’; Liriope muscari ‘Silver Dragon’; Lysimachia congestiflora ‘Eco Dark Satin’, Golden Globes; Ophiopogon intermedius ‘Aztec’; Ophiopogon japonicus nana, Dwarf Mondo Grass; Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Ebony Knight’, Black Mondo; Persicaria capitatum, Jump Seed; Persicaria microcephala, Red Dragon; Setcreasea pallida, Purple Heart; Setcreasea pallida, Pale Puma; Pseuderanthemum alatum, Chocolate Soldiers; Rubus calycinoides, Emerald Carpet; Scuttelaria longifolia, Red Fountain Sage; Spilanthese oleracea, Eyeball Plant / Toothpaste Plant; Trachelospermum asiaticum, Asiatic Jasmine; Tulbaghia fragrans, White Fragrant Garlic; Tulbaghia violacea, Society Garlic; Tulbaghia violacea ‘Tricolor’, Tricolor, Society Garlic; Vinca major ‘Maculata’, Periwinkle; Vinca major ‘Variegata’, Periwinkle; Vinca major ‘Wojo’s Gem’.

Herbacious perennial plants freeze during the winter, but return in the following spring to produce flowers of many colors and rare forms. Recommended cultivars are: Bee Balm, Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’; Blue Butterfly Flower, Clerodendrum ugandense; Blue Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata; Brunfelsia Pauciflora; Buckeye, Red, Aesculus pavia; Butterfly Bush, Buddleia lindleyana; Cestrum aurantiacum; Cigarette Plant, Cuphea micropetala; Clerodendrum bungeii; Cone Flower, Echinacea paradoxa; Cuphea ‘Allyson’; Devil Star Lily, Clerodendrum puniculatum; Echinacea ‘White Swan’; Echinacea purpurea; Firebush, Hamelia patens; Flowering Maple, Abutilion x hybridrum; Gaillardia ‘Pin Wheel’; Lestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’; Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Stars’; Liatris spicata ‘Floristan’; Lions Head, Leonitus leonarus; Obediant Plant, Physostegia virginiana; Orange Shrimp Plant, Justicia ovata; Orange Tongue Plant, Justicia leonardii; Phlox maculata ‘Alpha’; Pink Tongues, Justicia carnea; Platycodon grandiflora; Plumbago auriculata ‘Monott’ PP7822; Princess Flower, Tibouchina urvillenana; Purple Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii ‘Lochinch’; Red Cigar Plant, Sinningia sellovii;Red Prince, Weigela florida; Red Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandegeana ‘Red’; Mouth of Hollywood, Rehmannia Elata; Rudbeckia hirta ‘Becky Mix’; Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’; Ruellia elegans; Scarlet Butterfly Lily, Odontonema cuspidatum; Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Alaska’; Shower of Gold Shrub, Galphimia glauca; Tecoma stans ‘Yellow Bells’; Turks Cap, Malvaviscus drummondi; White Tongues, Justicia carnea; Yellow Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’; Yellow Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandegeana ‘Yellow’; Yellow Tongue Plant, Justicia aura.

Yucca is a genus of evergreen plants, with approximately 40 species that grow in dry, desert-like areas. However, this is a common misconception, because members of the Yucca family can be found growing in 30 of the States in America, from New Jersey, down to Florida, and west to California. Yuccas can be grown as small shrubs or yucca trees, up to 30 feet tall, depending upon the yucca species. Yucca has lance-shaped leaves growing in a rosette pattern, on a woody stem or trunk-like frame. Yucca plants may vary dramatically in color from shades of green, to white or yellow stripes, to blue-green hues, as with Yucca rostrata, a jewel for any garden. Most yucca plants are stiff and sharp pointed, like the Spanish Bayonet (Yucca aloifolia), while some yuccas have flexable soft leaves, such as Golden Garland Yucca (Yucca flaccida). The flower blooms of yucca grow in summer, and develop into a beautiful, creamy-white pendulum of bell-shaped flowers that tower 8 feet above the mother plant. Yuccas are very adaptable and are among the oldest living trees in the world. The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), Yucca filimentosa (Bear Grass or Adam’s Needle) is among the most cold-hardy and widely grown varieties. The strong, stringy filament (fiber), that run a course from the needle tip, down the margin of the leaf, was used by native Americans for making into garments and possibly the treating of war wounds. The roots of Yucca were also used to make soap. The primary use for yucca plants in todays landscapes are for their ornamental beauty, like we find in Yucca flaccida ‘Golden Sword’, in terracotta pots or in ground landscape plantings. Some people use Yucca aloifolia ‘Spanish Bayonet’, Yucca treculeana ‘Spanish Dagger’, or even Yucca brevifolia ‘Joshua Tree’, as security hedges for their beautiful and exotically bazaar, stiff leaves, hence the nickname, Burlars’ Nightmare. Yucca plants are typicall sunlovers, growing in well drained soils, but are adaptive and often grow faster in moderately moist areas, such as the Southeastern U.S.. Recommended yucca cultivar plants are: Yucca aloifolia; Yucca brevifolia; Bear Grass, Yucca filamentos; Bright Edge, Yucca filamentosa; Golden Garland, Yucca flaccida; Golden Sword, Yucca flaccida; Ivory Tower, Yucca flaccida; Variegata, Yucca flaccida; Silverstar, Yucca elephantippes; Soft Leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia; Spanish Dagger, Yucca treculeana; Rigida, Yucca rostrata; Linearis, Yucca rostrata; HesperYucca paviflora; Cordyline ‘Baueri.’

Weekend Warriors Top 5 Home Improvement Projects

home improvement photoIf youre like most of us you love to watch those home improvement shows on TV, they make it look so easy to change the appearance of your home by doing some simple home improvements. And if youre like most of us and have to work Monday thru Friday any home improvement projects have to be done on the weekend. So for all you weekend warriors here are my top 5 weekend projects:

Bathroom or Kitchen facelift- Im not talking about a major remodel here just a simple facelift can totally change the look of a kitchen or bathroom. Refinishing the kitchen cabinets, new paint and wallpaper, replacing a toilet, or maybe even replacing that old bathroom or kitchen facet can greatly improve and update the look of any home.

Install new lighting- Installing new lighting can not only brighten your home but give a room a totally different look. Whether installing a light kit on a ceiling fan or replacing that old outdated fluorescent light in the kitchen with some of the new kitchen lighting on the market, installing new lighting is a weekend project thats relatively easy and comes with a big return.

Install tile- whether a kitchen floor or backsplash or new tile in the bathroom, installing ceramic tile is easier than you think and is a great weekend project for weekend warriors. Most home improvement stores have everything you need for professional looking results, one tip: Be sure to rent a tile saw, it will save you a lot of time and is well worth the cost.

Changing the color of a room- Color is in! You will be surprised how a splash of color can totally change the look of any room. Many homes have either white or off-white walls but many homeowners have found adding color to a room can brighten and warm up a room and is a great weekend home improvement project for anyone. As with any painting project the time you spend in preparing before actually painting will speak volumes as to the results.

Staining Garage Floor or Patio- This is a great project for weekend warriors. Perhaps you have a garage with oil spots, old paint, and other unidentifiable stains on the floor. Staining your garage floor can bring new life to any garage and look great! Some of the new epoxy products on the market offer numerous color choices and colored flakes that you wont find in most home improvement superstores and will give your garage a unique and customized look.

Being a weekend warrior when it comes to home improvement projects can be fun and rewarding. Be sure to do your research about the best products and techniques before starting any home improvement project, but dont be scared to try something you have never done before. There is an abundance of information and how-to books on just about any project you decide to tackle, so go ahead and conquer that weekend project.

What is the difference between a conservatory and a Loggia

To provide a fair comparison between conservatories and Loggia Conservatories, it is worth looking at what defines each type of extension. /p>

A conservatory is best defined as a property extension with glass walls and roof, available in many different styles and glazing options and usually supported by dwarf walls. It was originally used to grow and protect citrus fruit trees during the winter months in the 16th century and was gradually developed over the proceeding centuries from a greenhouse to the modern variety we know today.

A loggia on the other hand is a property extension with glass walls and a glass roof, occasionally supported on dwarf walls, but with specially designed pillars set at regular intervals around the structure that provide a greater degree of structural integrity, greater thermal efficiency and a more aesthetically pleasing overall finish, both inside and outside the structure. In fact, the name “Loggia” is derived from a roofed gallery or recessed room open at one side and supported by ornate columns that was developed by Filippo Bruneschi during the Italian Renaissance period.

So the key difference between the two is the use of specially engineered columns that replace the need for awkward to build brick piers, greatly reducing build times, and are far more thermally efficient than using standard UPVC frames. These pillars even make the Loggia up to four times stiffer than a regular conservatory, which greatly reduces the “racking” effect of wind that could lead to cracking and other signs of distress.

Add to this the ease of internal plastering and you gain the solid, more luxurious feeling of a true extension with the low cost implications, permitted development rights removing the need for planning applications and all the extra natural light associated with modern conservatories. In fact, the Loggia even removes the need for building regulations, so the build itself can occur much faster without have to wait for approval from local authorities.

Weld and Arts- metal work and fabrication

Founded in 2010, Weld and Arts Inc is a company that provides services for all your needs in custom metal fabrication. Situated in Houston, we are able to provide these services to clients in the area, as well as reach out with the same nation wide and indeed the world over. The founder of the company, Mr. Adrian Martinez has profound knowledge in the metal working field, and you can be sure that the quality of work that you get is excellent. Whether you would like a personalized design, or would like your gates and railings custom made for you prior to installation, we have all the materials to meet your needs. There are various services that we offer in order to meet a clients needs, often incorporating the use of custom metal.

Starting off with metal fabrication, it is important to recognize that unlike the beginning of the metal age; today metal work has gained popularity and is getting advanced by the day. One of the core activities at the metal shop in the company is the combination of two or more metals which undergo metal fabrication and whose use can be found in just about any industry. Generally speaking, metal fabrication makes a reference to the process through which machines are made from their raw materials. Closely linked to metal fabricating are procedures that involve welding, metal working as well as assembly.

Some of the work that we do at the companys facilities includes the construction of various metals, structural frames in addition to pieces intended for aesthetic value. Such activities will involve the use of structural steel, galvanized steel as well as different forms of sheet metal. This is on a small scale of metal working. When we embark on using custom metal for larger projects, we go through a bidding process, just like anyone else, and when we get the contract then work can commence. For such a large project, there are six essential steps that must be observed.

The six steps of metal fabrication include: engineering, cutting of the metal, burning (sometimes referred to as the molten stage), forming, machining (ideally an automated procedure, but which calls for undivided attention by the engineers), welding and finally, assembly. Of special mention is aluminum welding, a common procedure especially because aluminum is commonly used in projects of this nature. Galvanized steel and structural steel may also be used, but this is dependent on the clients specifications. As part of the team, we have engineers who will handle the different equipment required for the successful completion of the job.

Also on board are highly skilled individuals who handle the welding process. This is a fundamental procedure, especially when one is working with sensitive metals. Once this is complete, assembly is finalized and usually involves inspection to see to it that the quality of work is unrivalled. This is what you are in for once we get to work on your projects. We have the capacity to fabricate custom metal to just about any needs a client may have.

Various Applications Of Roller Shutters For Domestic Users

Security and protection are two of the most parameters that figure topmost in our minds when we make selection of doors for commercial or residential establishments with door openings in sizes much above the standard. In this context, of all the types of doors that are available, the roller shutters Melbourne are the obvious choice. The reason being that these made to order roller shutters can be made to fit any size of door opening and being are highly durable and strong can withstand the strains of extended and constant use. These doors are mostly manufactured from steel, the most versatile metal that assures longevity and beauty. Moreover, the design of the roller shutters does not have multiple panels, thereby increasing its sturdiness. Therefore, home security is considerably enhanced with these doors that are available in a wide range of colours. Here are some ideas about the places where these doors can be installed.

The best of both worlds

Besides security, these doors can be designed differently that would allow flow of outside air within the room while the door can be kept closed. This is achieved by fabricating the shutters with open work grills or spaced bars that can be installed on patios or verandas. While the space remains secured and safe when you down the shutters and lock it from inside, at the same time you are also able to enjoy the outside environs without compromising your privacy. Rarely will you find such a great security door that is a better substitute for folding doors used in residences.

Vacation homes

Only during holidays people visit their vacation homes which remain closed for most of the time. Therefore there is need for special security for these homes. The need of added security of such homes is addressed by installing roller shutters Melbourne at the vulnerable openings which are susceptible to intruders and burglars. The vacation homes are rendered much more safe as the roller shutters are almost impossible to break. In addition, in the event of any fire hazard like bush fire, the roller shutters could act a fire deterrent for quite some time.

Greenhouses

These exclusive houses for plants are specially designed and engineered and constructed of plastic or glass to create the appropriate living conditions for specific plant species. In order to make the structure stronger, the walls and doors of greenhouses may be replaced with roller shutters. Technically, steel has good insulation properties that contribute favourably to the greenhouse environment. The steel doors and walls are capable of trapping heat that is required to maintain the environment inside the house.

These are some of the places where you can install roller shutters. There could be many more places that you may find suitable for its application. But no matter where it is installed the benefits are evident.

To add more life, the steel roller shutters Melbourne are coated with a corrosion resistant material that prevents rusting.

The versatility of steel is utilised to manufacture made to order roller shutters to match any size of door opening.

Homes are made much safer due to the ability of the steel shutters to resist fire from spreading.

Energy consumption is reduced due to the enhanced insulation of steel as less energy is consumed in maintaining the ambient temperature inside the house, thereby saving cost.

About Author – Timothy Browne is an architect who has used roller shutters Melbourne for many of his projects. He has extensive knowledge about made to order roller shutters and shares it with people who may benefit from his wide experience.