Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cool season grasses are starting to wake up and now is the time to start caring for your lawn care needs! The first application of crabgrass control should be applied between now and the second week of April.

If your lawn is in serious need of seeding---DO NOT APPLY CRABGRASS CONTROL--until the new seedlings are at least 1-2 inches of height. The crabgrass control agent will reduce, if not eliminate seed germination.

Greenscape Gardens highly recommends a second application of crabgrass control six weeks after the first application. We highly recommend applying (a crabgrass only product) if a serious crabgrass infestation occurred last year. The areas which should be reapplied include any sunny areas especially along sidewalks and driveway areas where the sun will warm up the area more.

We don't recommend applying pre-emergent control to zoysia and bermuda grass.
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Native plants are species that existed in an area prior to European settlement. They’ve developed over millennia and are adapted to local conditions. The big advantage for the green gardener is that native plants tend to be lower maintenance, requiring little in the way of supplementary watering and no synthetic chemicals.

Learn about the native plants that grow in your area, and learn about what type of habitat they prefer in the wild (for example, woodland, meadow, prairie, wetland).

Visit a specialty native plant nursery to find out what native plants are commercially available in your area. (Never dig plants from the wild.) Compare the conditions found in your garden (shade or sun, dry or moist, etc.) to the conditions required by a variety of native plants that you’re interested in growing and that are commercially available in your area.

The native plants will thrive in your garden when you match the plants to the conditions-woodland plants for shade, sun-loving plants for meadows and prairies, wetland plants for moist areas. Water young transplants for the first six weeks after planting, but after that, they should thrive without supplementary watering.

Design your native plant garden in whatever style appeals to you. Consider the placement of your native plants, to reduce any infractions from local ordinances.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Miscanthus grass in the winter Posted by Picasa

“Forty percent of U.S. energy is used as electricity,” doctoral students Emily A. Heaton and Frank G. Dohleman, “And the easiest way to get electricity is using a solid fuel such as coal. However, dry, leafless Miscanthus stems can be used as a solid fuel.” The cool-weather-friendly perennial grass, sometimes referred to as elephant grass or E-grass, grows from an underground stem-like organ called a rhizome.

Burning Miscanthus produces only as much carbon dioxide as it removes from the air as it grows, said Heaton, who is seeking a doctorate in crop sciences. That balance means there is no net effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which is not the case with fossil fuels, she said. Miscanthus also is a very efficient fuel, because the energy ratio of input to output is less than 0.2. In contrast, the ratios exceed 0.8 for ethanol and biodiesel from canola, which are other plant-derived energy sources.

Besides being a clean, efficient and renewable fuel source, Miscanthus also is remarkably easy to grow. Other varieties of Miscanthus have been grown successfully in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. However, the giant Miscanthus being grown by the Illinois researchers has the greatest potential as a fuel source because of its high yields and because it is sterile and cannot become a weed. “Miscanthus sacchariflorus and some of the other fertile Miscanthus species can be quite invasive.” The next step is to demonstrate how Miscanthus goes from a plant to a power source. Existing U.S. power plants could be modified to use Miscanthus for fuel as in Europe, he said. Long collaborates with researchers at the Institute of Genomic Biology to study whether Miscanthus could be converted to alcohol, which could be used as fuel. Source: Science Daily.

(ST. LOUIS): Gardeners choosing plants for their gardens this year should first consider the Missouri Botanical Garden's dependable, recommended "Plants of Merit." Fifty-five selections have been named for 2006, including several first-time additions. Each has proven to be outstanding and reliable in the lower Midwest growing region, USDA zones five and six.

Established in 1999, the Plants of Merit program has quickly become an industry model among comprehensive plant recognition programs, focused on regionally promoting ecologically responsible diversity. The program, established by the Missouri Botanical Garden's William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening in partnership with Powell Gardens and the University of Missouri Extension, shares expert industry knowledge of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and vines with home gardeners. Plant selections are dependable performers yet often underutilized by home gardeners because limited information about them is available.

"With Plants of Merit, a homeowner can save both money and time," said Mary Ann Fink, program coordinator. "The program assists gardeners in creating a pretty garden or landscape that can be easily managed without chemicals and extra work."

Each year Plants of Merit sponsors - including industry professionals and associates, institutional representatives and the gardening community - present a consulting committee with a variety of plants for possible inclusion in the list. The committee compiles the final Plants of Merit selections by focusing on what makes a quality plant. Selections are considered "good neighbor plants" for being attractive, disease and pest resistant, and non-invasive, therefore promoting responsible diversity. Plants' performances are observed for two to five years, depending on category, in order to determine their reliability. Pictures, descriptions and information on growing conditions are including in the Plants of Merit resource guide. Once plants have gained mainstream recognition and appeal, they are graduated to emeritus standing.

Among several new additions to the 2006 Plants of Merit guide is Elephant ear (Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger'), an annual with large tropical green foliage, providing a perfect contrast with ferns and hostas. It thrives in partial shade, with leaves that grow up to 30 inches in length on plants that grow between three and four feet tall.

The 2006 guide also notes several habitat plants or selections that are attractive to wildlife. Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), for example, is an annual from the morning glory family that makes a superb cover for fences and trellises, growing between four to six feet long and potentially reaching up to 10 feet long. Its tubular scarlet flowers are magnets for hummingbirds. The Seven-son flower tree, (Heptacodium miconiodies) is a small ornamental increasing in popularity for its fragrant clusters of white flowers that bloom from late August to late September. By flowering at a young age, the tree offers butterflies a reliable nectar source year after year. Flowers are followed by a showy display of purplish-red fruits, offering multiple seasons of interest.

Today, the Plants of Merit program is financially sponsored by 60 green community members, including retail nursery and garden centers. The 2006 guide can be purchased for $2 from the Kemper Center or the Garden Gate Shop of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, or from any program sponsor. View the guide free of charge online at

For more information on the Plants of Merit program, including how a community or group can earn a Merit Garden Recognition, call Mary Ann Fink at (314) 577-9443.



Thursday, March 09, 2006

One of the three tractor trailer loads of nursery stock to land at the garden center on Thursday. Greenscape Gardens has the most unique trees and shrubs in the St. Louis area. One truck was from Oregon with plants from three different growers. Another truck was from southern Illinois and the third truck was from Oklahoma. We are talking the finest quality of plant stock and the most unusual in the midwest.  Posted by Picasa

Satellite data shows that in terms of surface area, turfgrass is the largest irrigated crop in the United States. There are three times more acres of lawn in the U.S. than irrigated corn.

The study used satellite data on impervious surfaces to estimate how much of the country is covered by bermuda-
grass, St. Augustine, fescue and other turfgrass. The study defined lawns as residential and commercial landscapes, golf courses and other turf-covered areas. Cristina Milesi of the NASA Ames Research Center’s ecological forecasting group led the study. “Even conservatively,” Milesi says, “I estimate there are three times more acres of lawns in the U.S. than irrigated corn.”

This means lawns—including residential and commercial lawns, golf courses, etc—can be considered the single largest irrigated crop in America in terms of surface area, covering about 128,000 square kilometers in all. Her next task was to figure out some of the ecological impacts of this crop of lawns Americans are cultivating.

Ecological Impact of Lawns

Recognizing that different people and businesses treat their lawns differently, she had a computer simulate the effect on the water cycle and carbon cycle of different lawn manage-
ment techniques. The variables the models tested included watering a fixed amount (including rainfall) versus watering according to weather and evaporation rates, adding different amounts of fertilizer, and leaving the clippings on the lawn after mowing or bagging them up.

Some of the results weren’t surprising, explains Milesi. The model confirmed that if people watered according to a fixed amount, about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) per week minus rainfall, then lawns in rainier places, such as Lincoln Park, Michigan, wouldn’t need any irrigation at all, while Yuma, Arizona, would need the full 2.5 centimeters of irrigation each week.

“If people watered according to what the meteorology indicated, factoring in temperature and humidity, for example, then it would improve irrigation efficiency—use less water—in the Southeast, where humidity is high. But in the West, there is so much sun and humidity is so low that plants can evaporate a lot more than 1 inch of water a week.” In the West, if people watered according to evaporation rates, the model predicts they would need to water nearly 200 centimeters per year.

To learn more about the turfgrass study visit


Monday, March 06, 2006

Another two more truckloads of the finest nursery stock has arrived at Greenscape Gardens. A truckload of decidious trees including 4 different varieties of maples, 2 varieties of ash, magnolias, river birches and some of the nicest dogwoods you've ever seen were unloaded today. At the end of the day, a truck arrived with some unusual plants from Oregon. We still have three full tractor trailer loads of nursery stock from Oregon slated for the next couple of weeks.

The plants are really rolling in now. Let's just hope that "Mother Nature" cooperates.
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Alcohol and Lawn Mowers Don’t Mix

Drinking alcoholic beverages while operating power equipment is not recommended. In 2005, a Vermont man was convicted of a DUI after driving a mower to the liquor store with a .16 blood-alcohol level.

Workplace alcohol use and impairment affects an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. workforce (19.2 million workers) according to a study published by the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions.

Grounds maintenance occupations, it turns out, have among the highest rates of workplace alcohol use. The findings were reported in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (Frone, M.R. “Prevalence and Distribution of Alcohol Use and Impairment in the Workplace: A U.S. National Survey.”)

The results were obtained by telephone interviews from 2,805 employed adults.
The paper says that this is the first study of workplace alcohol use to survey a representative sample of the U.S. workforce. The broad occupation groups showing the highest rates of workplace alcohol use and impairment were the management occupations, sales occupations, arts/entertainment/sports/media occupations, food preparation and serving occupations, and building and grounds maintenance occupations. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol.
The Suburban Turf Ecosystem

The carefully-manicured suburban lawn is falling under a more rigorous scientific microscope.

Suburbia may be familiar turf, but it’s one of the last frontiers for scientists trying to understand how ecosystems work and how people are changing the natural world. Researchers are starting to probe the role of lawns in global warming, how garden fertilizers and pesticides affect wildlife and how storm water running from roofs, roads and driveways undermines the health of streams.

“The suburban landscape is large, and it’s growing,” said Jennifer Jenkins of the University of Vermont, one of the scientists who reported her findings in December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. “There’s this enormous land surface that’s falling through the cracks.”

Jenkins is involved in a study of 40 suburban yards near Baltimore. Researchers will clip plots of lawn by hand, weigh the clippings, measure the grass stubble and thatch and even rake up leaves for analysis.

We'll keep you updated on the results of this ongoing study.

WHAT: Gateway Honeysuckle Summit

WHEN: Thursday, March 16, 2006, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

WHERE: Powder Valley Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood, MO

AUDIENCE: Landscape, botanical and conservation professionals, educators, community service organizations and master gardeners
COST: $ 10.00 - Pre-registration requested ON OR PRIOR TO March 3, 2006
(NOTE: A portion of the registration fee will be utilized to cover the cost of producing an informational brochure describing the honeysuckle issue.)
BY: Gateway Honeysuckle Consortium in cooperation with representatives from St. Louis communities, botanical institutions, conservation organizations and the horticulture green industry.

(ST LOUIS, MO): A Honeysuckle Summit for sharing information about methods, practices, and strategies for controlling Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii; Lonicera maackii) and other regional invasive plants will be held on Thursday, March 16, 2006, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon at Powder Valley Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood, MO. The event will include panel presentations and group discussions regarding: 1) control strategies (timing of removal, organic and inorganic applications, human and environmental safety, contractor options, volunteer opportunities); 2) advocacy (weed ordinances, public education methods, media strategies); 3) landscape replacements (alternative plant materials). Knowledgeable input from the audience will also be solicited. Information collected during the Summit will support the ultimate creation of an educational brochure targeted toward the general public. A future education program for the general public will also be offered.

Pre-registration cost is $10.00 (on or prior to March 3, 2006).
Make checks payable to: The Green Center
Mail registration form/payment to: The Green Center; 8025 Blackberry Avenue; University City, MO 63130
For more information contact: Maureen Helfers, or visit:

The Gateway Honeysuckle Consortium provides a forum for community and professional organizations and interested individuals, located throughout the St. Louis region, to share experiences and information relating to the control of Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii; Lonicera maackii) and other invasive plants affecting the region’s natural and built landscapes. Consortium participants commit to sharing their proven methods of honeysuckle control to benefit and advance the strategic efforts of all concerned groups. The Consortium is also committed to developing an outreach effort to educate the general public about the nature of invasive plants, safe control methods, and recommended alternative landscape plant materials.