Who Needs Victoria when you have Vicki's Secrets...for Incredible Gardens!

Vicki's Secrets


The Birds and The Bees...and the bats and the squirrels and the frogs...

Attracting Wildlife to your Garden.

Inviting wildlife into your garden turns your space into a living ecosystem.  Whether you own a 50 acre farm or an apartment with a balcony, there is always a way to give back to wildlife and restore habitats in residential areas.  All it takes is food, water, shelter, and a little planning and you can cultivate a sanctuary for everyone to enjoy.

Providing Food:  Native species are well adapted to survive off of food supplies provided by  indigenous plants in their ecosystem.  However when food gets scarce, it's important to add supplemental food in bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and squirrel feeders. The secret to getting wildlife to make your yard a home is to be consistent.  If animals can rely upon bird feeders and suet to be filled, they will be much more likely to make their homes nearby.

Providing Water: Wildlife need clean water for drinking, bathing, and reproducing.  If you aren't lucky enough to have a lake or stream in your backyard, consider adding a birdbath, puddling area or pond.  The larger your water source, the more wildlife will be able to use it.  Bees and butterflies can get all they need from a puddle of water and a birdbath will work for birds squirrels, but if you want to enjoy seeing deer, fox, and frogs, then a pond is the way to go.   If you have standing water, be sure to change the water 2-3 times a week during summer to prevent mosquitos from breeding in it.   Consider buying a small heater to keep the water from freezing in the winter. 

Providing Shelter:  Animals of every size need shelter to feel protected from people, predators, and the weather.   Mammals will use native vegetation such as shrubs, thickets and brush as hiding places.   Dead trees provide an excellent abode for many different kinds of animals.  Birds will use the tree cavities and bare branches for nesting and perching.  If these are not options, birdhouses and bat boxes are easy, instant alternatives.  During nesting season, we put out an assortment of soft, organic material for the birds to fill their nests with.  Oddly enough, the material they love the most is dog fur we pulled out of our pets brush (they just love it).  


Natural Bug-Be-Gones

When most of us see insects eating away at our plants, the first instinct is to reach for a bottle of insecticide and spray away. With the organics movement on the rise, many gardeners (myself included) have begun to ask ourselves how to cut back on the chemicals and find alternatives methods for dealing with the inevitable pest problem.  So far these are some of my most successful methods.  

- Aphids can be killed by mixing a equal parts antiseptic mouthwash and water.    

- Prefer an all natural route? Brew a strong tea using the peels from either oranges or lemons.  Let the mixture cool and spray it on the plants.  Don't forget to spray the underside of the leaves.  This won't harm the plants but will burn the aphids  

-Having trouble with powdery mildew?  Mix a couple drops of Dawn dish soap (the blue kind) into a spray bottle.  Shake and apply to entire plant.  If the affected plant is in a pot, consider mixing the soapy water in a 5 gallon bucket then dipping the entire plant into it.    

-If ants are getting into your humming bird feeder you can coat the chain or post in petroleum jelly.  The ants won't even try to travel across it.  

-If you struggle with slugs, sprinkle crushed eggshells, crab shells or even sea shells around the base of whatever is being eaten.  Slugs won't travel across the sharp surfaces.  This may look a little gross but once the slugs are gone, mix the shells in with the soil.  The calcium is good for many types of plants, especially tomatoes.  


No Bambi, No!

How to grow a deer-resistant garden in the Pacific Northwest

As a gardener and nature enthusiast, I find that there are few joys like seeing a herd of deer from my back porch.  Yet I am surprised by how quickly that joy turns to horror when I walk outside to find the plants I have been tending eaten down to the nub!  In truth there is no way to really keep the deer out short of a tall fence but there are ways to compromise. I believe that the best way is through deer conscious planting;   there are several ways in which to do this.  The simplest is by choosing plants that deer simply don't like.   This way you can have a beautiful worry free garden and still enjoy the presence of our hoofed friends in it.

I have listed below some of my recommendations for deer resistant plants 

Astilbe-Perennial: Add a splash of color to your shade garden. Astilbe produces fluffy flowering plumes above dark foliage  

Bee Balm- Perennial: One of my favorites, it comes in a wide variety of colors and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Bigroot Geranium- Perennial: Flowering non invasive groundcover that thrives even with little care.

Catmint -Perennial: Low and fast growing, it produces blue-lavender flowers and grey green foliage.  Looks great with just about anything!

Foxglove- Biannual: Very poisonous. Tall cream, pink or purple flowers in early spring.  Will reseed itself.

Phlox (Creeping)- Perennial: A thick groundcover with masses of flowers in spring and early summer.  Great for walls or rock gardens.  

Siberian Iris- Perennial: Produces a large purple flower. It's great for borders and fence lines. 

Lupine- Perennial: Flowers in early spring and is a favorite of "cottage" gardeners.

Lungwort - Perennial : Lung gorgeous spring bloomer has variegated foliage with coarse hairs  

Meadow Rue- Perennial: Great in the shade. Has delicate, fluffy flowers that seem to float above the plant.

Sweet Woodruff- Perennial: Charming shady groundcover with small, lightly scented flowers in early summer.  

Wiegela My Monet- Perennial: This compact shrub has variegated leaves with bright pink flowers.