Thursday, May 03, 2007
Three weeks after the great Spring Freeze of 2007, we’re seeing encouraging signs of recovery throughout our gardens, reaffirming our faith in the remarkable resiliency of plants and nature.
The question on everyone’s mind is “What can I do to help my trees and shrubs recover?” Like a broken record, the answer remains that the best option for now is to continue to exercise patience and restraint where pruning and fertilizing are concerned until the full extent of dieback has been determined. Provide water if rainfall is lacking. The growing season is in full swing and most plants respond best to one good soaking per week, with the classic 1-1½ inch as a standard benchmark. To maintain even moisture levels and regulate soil temperatures, cover root zones with a shallow 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch if this has not yet been done.
Only in recent days has new growth begun to push out from Japanese maples, magnolias, oaks, ginkgos, and other trees suffering extensive damage. Fast-growing trees such as hard maples are recovering more quickly than slower-growing species such as oaks. In many cases, well-established younger trees are recovering faster than older specimens of the same species. This is normal, given the circumstances. Older trees that were healthy prior to the freeze still have an excellent prognosis and should show marked improvement by the end of May.
Some Saucer and related hybrid magnolias suffered damage to stem tips that has caused variable dieback that will require corrective pruning once we fully ascertain what’s alive and what’s dead in the weeks ahead. Loebneri hybrids, including the popular ‘Leonard Messel’ and ‘Merrill’ fared surprisingly well with only minimal damage.
While new growth is a welcome sight, I am concerned about some Japanese maples. The first growth of many varieties froze and has dried up; if not pruned off, it will eventually fall off. There may also be hidden damage to the vascular tissue beneath the bark that could result in additional dieback when summer stresses arrive in full force. I expect pruning to remove dead wood and restore aesthetic balance will be necessary later this summer and possibly for years afterward. This freeze event was one that will weed out marginally hardy plants, and there could be some casualties.
Many callers are also concerned about azaleas, crape myrtles, and Bigleaf hydrangeas. Damage to azaleas has been highly variable, with some varieties showing minimal injury, near-normal flowering, and vigorous new growth. Flowers and buds that froze on the more tender varieties should be left to fall off naturally rather than pulling or pruning it off and risking inadvertent damage to live tissue present at the base of frosted growth.
Crape myrtles were at such a vulnerable stage of growth that many were killed to the ground when their sap froze and expanded, damaging vital cambium tissue. This will be a shock to gardeners who have become used to large specimens, courtesy of the string of unusually mild winters in recent years. All dead wood should be removed as soon as new growth appears. Though crape myrtles bloom on new growth and we look forward to their showy displays, the most severely damaged varieties may not sprout before June and could show poor flowering this summer.
Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are marginal shrubs whose popularity has also benefited from recent mild winters. I have yet to see a specimen this spring that has not suffered extensive damage to their old growth and anticipate few, if any flowers on most cultivars this summer. New growth has already occurred from the base of most varieties, so dead stems can be pruned back any time now. This summer should be a good test for the new generation of remontant (repeat-blooming) cultivars said to be capable of producing flowers on new wood. We’ll find out if they stand up to all of their advance media billing and prove productive under this most challenging of weather circumstances.
Roses present unique challenges also, especially to inexperienced growers. Most of the popular new landscape shrubs will recover nicely, provided they were well-established before the freeze. Many roses that bloom on old growth, including most climbers, have suffered loss of flowering wood and will have few, if any, blooms this year. Considerable pruning of dead growth and training of new shoots this summer will be necessary to re-establish a sturdy framework of stems to support future growth. For roses that flower on new growth, especially hybrid teas, the issue of survival may come down to whether gardeners left mulch in place or succumbed to the temptation to remove it prematurely before the traditional average last frost date of April 15. With blackened stems all the way to the mulch and soil lines, there may still be live dormant buds below grade mustering the energy to answer the call to active growth. The only way to find out is to wait and see and only experienced growers may have the patience to do so. When pruning is done, look for the tell-tale ring of live green cambium tissue and absence of darkened and discolored interior wood when examining cut stems. Otherwise, it may be necessary to cut further down on stems until unblemished tissue is revealed. Begin to fertilize roses once pruning is completed.
It’s apparent that some herbaceous perennials fared better than others. For plants with only minimal injury it’s best to leave the partially green leaves for now and remove only dead growth. Perennials will benefit from a light fertilization at this time to speed their recovery.
Many gardeners have expressed concern about iris, peonies and daylilies. It’s apparent that the Garden benefited from the “heat island” effect, as our iris and peony collections fared remarkably well and we look forward to showy displays to greet our Mother’s Day visitors. Likewise, we’re expecting normal displays from our daylilies later in summer—weather provided, of course!
It’s important not to let down your guard, so scout your garden regularly for new signs of trouble and take corrective action promptly. Insect and disease pests may take advantage of the weakened condition of recovering plants to gain the upper hand. Injured plants can ill afford additional setbacks. Proper identification of symptoms is the first step in remedying problems. Take advantage of our walk-in Plant Doctor diagnostic services, staffed by trained Master Gardeners. This service is available daily except Sunday between 10 am and 3 pm in our Kemper Center for Home Gardening. If treatment is necessary, consider hiring a certified consulting arborist to provide professional services. Seek out qualified arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Some can be found in the Yellow Pages under Tree Service or they can be located through the society web site http://www.isa-arbor.com/findArborist/findarborist.aspx.Be sure to select an arborist employed by a private tree care firm rather than a utility or municipality.
Chip Tynan Missouri Botanical Garden “Answer Man” William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening
P.S. For specific inquiries, call the Garden’s Horticultural Answer Service, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, at (314) 577-5143, or visit the Gardening Help section of the website at www.mobot.org.
P.S. Patience, Patience, Patience. This is the most important aspect of the entire situation. Most of the plants will come back (maybe not as lush) but most will eventually resprout. Please, don't remove a perfectly live tree or shrub now. Chances are, it will soon revive.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Botanical Garden Collections on Weekends from May 19 through Jun. 24
WHAT: Plastic Pot Recycling
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends only, May 19-20, 26-27; June 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24 WHERE: Monsanto Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4500 Shaw Blvd. at Vandeventer; visit Web site for satellite collection locations
SPONSORS: Missouri Botanical Garden; St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management; Missouri Department of Natural Resources; Environmental Improvement and Energy Resource Authority; and Monrovia Growers, Inc.
INFO: (314) 577-9440; www.mobot.org/hort/activ/plasticpots.shtml
(ST. LOUIS): Area gardeners planting flowers to beautify a landscape have somewhere to turn to ensure their leftover plastic pots don’t do the opposite. Help reduce the amount of horticultural waste in landfills by recycling your plastic garden pots, polystyrene cell packs and trays at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plastic Pot Recycling will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 19 through June 24.
The Garden’s effort is now in its ninth year. “The horticultural waste stream represents over 350 million pounds pitched into our landfills annually,” said program founder Dr. Steven Cline, manager of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. “The Garden is pleased to offer this service again to area gardeners, closing the recycling loop by turning collected waste into new plastic landscape timbers for building retaining walls or replacing deteriorated railroad ties.”
Program organizers hope to expand upon the successful collection of 70,000 pounds in 2006 by amassing 100,000 pounds of horticultural plastic this year. The Garden’s collection capacity doubled last year due to the purchase of a larger granulator, used for processing plastic into chips. This year, organizers will also separate the plastics by type so they can be more easily marketed for recycling into other products. Proceeds from the sale of plastic regrind will be used to sustain the annual collection. The St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and Monrovia Growers, Inc. have also contributed a combined $65,000 in grants and a donation to fund this year’s program.
Horticultural plastic will be accepted at the Garden’s main collection facility located at the west parking lot of the Monsanto Center, 4500 Shaw Blvd. at the corner of Vandeventer. The collection is open weekends only, May 19-20, 26-27, June 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 and 23-24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. One complimentary Garden admission pass for two will be issued per individual recycling at this location.
Six area garden centers and one municipal recycling center will also serve as satellite collection centers in 2007. Greenscape Gardens, For the Garden by Haefners, Crabapple Cove Nursery, Summerwinds at Timber Creek, Schmittels Nursery, Garden Heights Nursery and the City of Kirkwood Recycling Center will each collect horticultural plastic during their normal business hours in May and June. Visit the Garden’s Web site for location information.
Horticultural plastic accepted includes cell packs, trays, pots of all sizes and hanging baskets. Please shake soil and rocks out of containers and remove all metal hangers, rings or other foreign materials. Garden edging, plastic sheeting materials and food plastic will not be accepted.
Recycled landscape timbers made from the collected plastic will be available for purchase from the Kemper Center at (314) 577-9441. Each seven-by-nine-inch, slate-colored timber is eight-and-one-half-foot long, weighs 280 pounds and requires load-bearing transportation. The plastic timbers last up to 50 years and are suitable for any projects where wood and water meet, including retaining walls and elevated gardening beds. Each timber sells at cost for $40.
For more information on Plastic Pot Recycling, call (314) 577-9440 during regular business hours or visit www.mobot.org/hort/activ/plasticpots.shtml.
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Friday, April 13, 2007
BLANK................DUE TO CENSORSHIP.......HO HO HO
THIS IS IN REGARDS TO THE SIGN WHICH WAS UP EARLIER IN THE DAY THAT STATED "SANTA FIRED FOR SAYING HO HO HO!" SOMEBODY CALLED THE GARDEN CENTER UPSET AT THE SIGNAGE AND SAID IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE. I'M ACTUALLY SURPRISED THAT THE PERSON WITH SUCH LOW MENTALITY COULD EVEN READ THE SIGN! I NOW KNOW HOW DON IMUS (WHOM I NEVER HEARD ON THE RADIO) MUST HAVE FELT AFTER APOLOGIZING FOR A STATEMENT AND STILL GOT FIRED. WAKE UP AMERICA.....GET A BACKBONE! AND TO THE PERSON COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SIGN......GET A LIFE, WE DON'T NEED CUSTOMERS LIKE YOU.
The freezing temperatures which occurred this past weekend has wreaked havoc on the plants in the St. Louis area. It's impossible to predict how much damage has occurred in your particular neighborhood. Some areas were hit harder than others because of micro-climates and wind breaks. Areas that had sustained freezing periods for longer times will suffer more than short periods of freeze. Not all damage will be obvious as soon as the temperatures warm up; it may take several days before the full extent of the damage to the plants become obvious.
Many plants had lush, new growth and this growth will be the most heavily damaged. All damaged plant tissue should be removed because diseases can start in the damaged tissue and move into the new growth as it emerges. Most freeze-damaged plants would benefit from a light amount of fertilizer and proper watering to help feed the plants and speed the recovery process. The best way to treat the plants will depend on the variety; here are some recommendations for the most common plants.
Shade and Ornamental Trees
The best treatment for all trees is to strip (by hand) the damaged leaves and young twigs off the plants. All trees have secondary buds and these will begin flushing out once the damaged leaves and twigs are removed.
Most fruit trees bloom in the spring. If the trees haven't bloomed yet, then the blooms are probably damaged. For trees that have already bloomed, then the flowers were probably pollinated, but the young fruit was probably damaged and will most likely fall off the trees. All of the damaged leaves, twigs, flower buds and fruit should be stripped for the trees.
Slow growing shrub varieties such as althea, lilacs, and viburnum should have the damaged new growth stripped off. Try not to cut these plants back because it will take too long for the plant to recover from being cut back before new growth will begin again.
Fast growing shrub varieties such as Crapemyrtle, hydrangea, spirea and weigelia should have the damaged new growth cut off to speed up the recovery process. These plants will respond quickly to shearing and begin new growth rapidly.
Besides the lush, emerging new growth, the next part of the plants that is most susceptible to freeze damage are the flower buds.
Spring blooming shrubs that had flower buds present will probably lose the flower buds and won't bloom later this spring (or at least, very weakly). If the flower buds are black, then they are dead and need to be removed. If the flower buds are still green, then they should be left on the plants because they could still bloom. Even if the flower buds open the petals should show some discoloration from the freezing weather.
Summer blooming shrubs probably have not begun forming the flower buds yet, so their blooming should not be affected. Some shrubs bloom in the spring and re-bloom throughout the season, such as the Endless Summer Hydrangea, Blushing Bride Hydrangea, Abelia and Weigela. These varieties may lose their flower buds this spring, but form more buds and bloom later this spring and early summer.
Most conifer should have minimal damage, if any. Conifer that had new growth just emerging, such as spruce and yews, will probably drop the needles and begin re-growth in several weeks. If this happens, then any twigs that are left after the needles have dropped, should be cut back to the healthy green part of the branches.
Most shrub roses held up well through the freezing weather, but new growth may have been damaged. If so, cut off the damaged tissue and the plants will regrow very quickly.
The new flush of most ornamental grasses will probably need to be cut off. The growing point for ornamental grasses is down in the crown (at or below the soil surface) and probably wasn't damaged, so once the damaged tissue is removed, the plants will begin new growth very quickly.
Like ornamental grasses, the growing point for most of the perennials is in the crown of the plant, so once the damaged tissue is removed the plants should recover quickly.
Annuals and Tropicals
All annuals and tropical should have been moved inside heated areas. If not, then the plants are probably dead or have severe dieback.
Compounding the problems from last weekend, the weather man is once again predicting freezing weather for the St. Louis area this coming weekend. Hopefully, they are wrong and additional plant damage will not occur.
IT REALLY IS SPRING ........ WEATHER OR NOT
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! I stiel supurt puplec edekaten.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Every year, All-America Selections tests new, unsold cultivars in various trials and informs gardeners about the winners. The newest winners were announced recently and will be available May 1, 2007. There are three 2008 winners:
Bedding plant award winner. Bred by Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy, Calif., ‘Asti White’ is the first F1 hybrid white osteospermum propagated from seed. From plug to flowering, plants require 14-16 weeks in 4-inch pots or larger. ‘Asti White’ is bred for production during several seasons and should exhibit heat and drought tolerance during summer months.
Cool-season bedding plant award winner. Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ was tested in southern locations during the winter. Judges found it to be cold and heat tolerant. Propagated from seed, ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ needs about 10 weeks from sow to bloom. It is recommended for 3- to 4-inch flowering pots or combinations planters with bulbs or annuals. This viola was bred by Kieft Seeds Holland.
Vegetable award winner. ‘Hansel’ is a miniature eggplant; its plant size is less than 3 ft. tall. Seminis Vegetable Seeds in Oxnard, Calif., bred it. During trials, ‘Hansel’ was productive under a wide range of growing conditions. Like all eggplants, ‘Hansel’ needs warm temperatures to thrive and blossom. The glossy, dark-purple fruit are borne in finger-like clusters of 3-6 fruit.
To learn more about All-America Selections, visit www.all-americaselections.org.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
- Butterflies and songbirds benefit from the diversity of food, cover, and space in a natural planting, and add to the pleasure your home provides.
- Native landscaping saves precious time and expense and lessens our dependence on chemicals and non-renewable resources. It is unnecessary to resort to artificial methods of maintenance such as adding fertilizers and pesticides, mowing and irrigating.
- Native plants are well adapted and can survive bitter, cold winters and hot, dry summers.
- Native landscaping soaks up rainfall and consequently reduces runoff of nutrients and chemicals into our lakes.
- A native landscape is dynamic. Interesting flowers, shapes, colors, and textures vary from week to week, season to season, year to year. The splendid diversity favorably contracts to a traditional landscape.
- Discovering the wonders of nature is an exciting reward.
Ecological and environmental considerations:
- In the United States, lawns occupy more land than any single crop, including wheat, corn or tobacco. (Newsweek June 21, 1993)
- Ten times more chemical pesticides are applied to lawns than farm crops. (Newsweek June 21, 1993)
- Of the 34 major lawn care pesticides, 32 have not been tested for their long-term effects on humans and the environment.
Native plants and design choices.
A well planned landscape that includes native plants to accent each season is a valuable asset to your property. Your site characteristics will determine the type of planting for successful results.
You can employ different degrees of native plantings on your property.
- Incorporate native trees and shrubs into a traditional landscape.
- Replace a high maintenance annual garden with a butterfly or prairie garden.
- Design small islands of plant communities.
- Naturalize an entire yard, include a border, (lawn, shrub,fence, between your yard and your neighbor's property.
- Cooperate with your neighbors to integrate native landscapes or to create a natural corridor through your yards.
Whatever option you choose, a native landscape will benefit or land, restore a home for wildlife, and provide a satisfying experience for all.
Take a walk on the wild side! If you enjoy gardening with native plants or simply like spending time in beautiful and peaceful gardens, you will enjoy this native plant garden tour. Eight native landscapes at private homes were selected to provide a variety of landscape styles. Each garden is brimming with Missouri native plants and will have experts on hand to answer your questions. They will be happy to talk to you about the many benefits and joys of native plant gardening.
THE GROW WILD GARDEN TOUR WILL BE IN AND AROUND KIRKWOOD ON SUNDAY JUNE 24 FROM 9 A.M. TO 3 P.M.
ADVANCE TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED FOR $10 PER PERSON BY CONTACTING
THE GREEN CENTER
8025 BLACKBERRY AVE.
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO 63130
BY CALLING (314) 725-8314
OR VISIT WEBSITE AT www.thegreencenter.org
GROW WILD GARDEN SITES INCLUDE:
June Hutson's Garden (Former garden of Edgar Denison) in Kirkwood
Bill & Linda Bennet's Native Bird Garden in Kirkwood
Ann McCormics Native Bird Garden in Kirkwood
Nathan & Julie Jacobs "2006 Grow Native Garden" in Kirkwood
June Walker's Native Prarie and Woodland Garden in Kirkwood
Elaine Fortner & Linda Virga's Wildlife Friendly Garden in Crestwood
Connie & Jordan Heimen's Rain Garden in Olivette
The Green Center's Prarie in University City
Advance ticket price is $10.00. On the day of the tour, tickets are $15 and will be available only at the Green Center in University City.
Other interesting sites to check out: www.shawnature.org and www.for-wild.org
1. Trees conserve energy in the summer, and thereby save you money. Properly planted trees can cut your air-conditioning costs by 15-35%
2. Trees help clean the air. Trees produce the oxygen we breathe, and remove air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.
3. Trees bring songbirds close by. Birdsong will fill the air as trees provide nesting sites, food, and cover for countless species.
4. Trees around your home can increase its value by up to 15% or more. Studies of comparable houses with and without trees place a markedly higher value on those whose yards are sheltered by trees.
5. Trees help clean our rivers and streams. Trees hold the soil in place and reduce polluted runoff into our waterways.
6. Trees conserve energy in the winter. Trees can slow cold winter winds, and can cut your heating costs 10-20%.
7. Trees fight global warming. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the major contributor to the threat of global warming. Trees planted near our homes and in our communities moderate temperatures and reduce the need for air conditioning and heating produced by burning fossil fuesl, a major souce of excess atmospehric carbon dioxide.
8. Trees make your home and your neighborhood, more beautiful. Trees mark the changing of the seasons, and add grace and seasonal color. Trees make a house feel like a home.
9. Trees are fun! Planting and caring for trees can be a great family and community building activity.
10. The most important reason is: We have one of the greatest selections of outstanding trees in the St. Louis area. Come in now for the best selections.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Beautiful white blooms mature to a light pink blush - Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’ (PPAF)
Hydrangea lovers across the country have a new reason to celebrate this garden season with the introduction of Endless Summer Blushing Bride. But don’t wait for June to get a look at this bride. Endless Summer Blushing Bride will be available in limited quantities. The name of this new Hydrangea macrophylla says it all. Pure white blooms with semi-double florets gradually mature to a sweet, pink blush. The disease-resistant foliage is an attractive dark green, providing a striking background for Blushing Bride’s mophead blooms. Strong stems and branches keep the plant sturdy and upright in the garden, and make it a perfect flower for cutting.
The full white blossoms reflect light, making shade and semi-shaded gardens seem brighter. Blushing Bride’s full yet compact habit makes it an ideal plant for decorative containers, elegant as a stand-alone shrub or combined with other garden plants.
Dr. Michael Dirr at the University of Georgia bred Endless Summer Blushing Bride in 2001. Dr. Dirr calls this Hydrangea macrophylla his most significant introduction to date. “Blushing Bride has the same reblooming qualities as its parent, Endless Summer The Original, only faster,” says Dirr. Like Endless Summer The Original, Blushing Bride reliably blooms on both old and new growth. With Blushing Bride you’ll have more blooms, more quickly, all season long.
Look for Endless Summer Blushing Bride and Endless Summer The Original in their distinctive blue pots.
Endless Summer Blushing Bride at a glance:
- For the next two years this plant is being rated as USDA Zone 5 hardy, test in Zone 4. - Partial shade- Keep soil moist- White blooms mature to blush pink- Height and width: 3-6 feet/Upright habit- Wonderful gifts for weddings, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and house warming celebrations. Visit endlesssummerblooms.com for more information and beautiful, high-resolution images.
Gardenias have a well-earned reputation for being difficult specimens for even the experienced indoor gardener. Gardenias thrive on bright light, high humidity, and an even supply of moisture and nutrients. When gardenias are freshly delivered from a greenhouse grower, their glossy leaves and heavenly-scented blooms just about cause the plant to leap into your arms, whether a gift for yourself or for a loved-one.But, then, the plant enters the home environment where hot, dry air and gloomy winter days send the gardenia in a downward spiral. Those delicate flower buds, so filled with promise of good things to come, begin dropping from the plant in droves. The glossy leaves turn dull, yellow, and they, too, begin to drop like tree leaves in autumn. If the plant survives this cruel change in environment, mealy bugs, spider mites, scale insects and stem cankers provide further challenges to overcome.
Now for the good news. Gardenias can be successfully grown in the home, but they won’t tolerate neglect like many other houseplants. Gardenias are native to China and Japan but also grow well as an evergreen shrub in the south and west coastal areas of the United States. There, the plant reaches up to 6 feet tall!
Gardenias thrive in bright light, cool temperatures and moderately humid air.Your challenge in growing the gardenia as a houseplant is to match the plant’s native environment as closely as possible. First, make sure you give the plant plenty of bright light, preferably direct sunshine for at least half a day. Winter will likely be the most difficult time to keep high light intensity due to shorter, gloomy days. Moving plants closer to southern-exposure windows and/or supplementing with plant-grow lights will help. Cooler room temperatures are best for the gardenia, around 55 F at night and about 10 degrees warmer by day.
Maintaining proper relative humidity is a challenge, particularly during the winter heating season. There are several ways to help increase humidity, including running a humidifier and grouping plants together on trays of wet pebbles. Misting by hand with a spray bottle offers only momentary relief and so does not really increase humidity in a meaningful way.A healthy, blooming gardenia will need to be nurtured with a steady supply of water and nutrients, but don’t overdo. The goal is to provide the proper balance of water, air and nutrients. If soil is kept constantly wet, the roots will be starved for air. Too much fertilizer can lead to damaging salt accumulation. Monitor the soil frequently for moisture content, and water thoroughly as the top inch of soil dries. Use a fertilizer that is formulated for acid-loving, blooming plants, such as an azalea-type product, according to rates listed on the label.
Don’t be afraid to prune the gardenia; in fact, blooming will be more prolific on younger growth. Remember that the gardenia is a woody shrub in its native environment and so may need to have older, woody stems removed to encourage new branches.Though the responsibilities of gardenia care are daunting, if you persevere, you’ll be rewarded with elegant white blossoms and sweet fragrance that simply cannot be matched by other plants.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Shade gardening problems usually occurs when sun-loving plants are planted in shady locations. But when the proper plants are selected for shady areas the results can be beautiful and enduring.
Shady areas often are created by trees as they grow larger over the years. At some point, the original landscape will have to be modified to deal with the reduced light conditions. For inspiration, take a drive around older neighborhoods with mature trees. You’ll see how beautifully areas under and around large trees can be landscaped using a variety of ground covers, annuals, perennials, shrubs and even small trees.
The most important thing to remember when creating a landscaped area under a tree is to respect the root system of the tree itself. Avoid severing any roots two fingers in diameter or larger. Use a gardening fork to loosen the soil under the tree rather than a shovel or spade since the fork will damage fewer roots. Then work in a few inches of organic matter such as compost into the soil.
If you need to bring in extra soil to create the bed, select a high quality topsoil or garden soil, and use no more than 2 to 4 inches. Do not pile several inches of soil up around the base of the trunk, because this can lead to decay. That means you need to pull it back slightly. In addition, if you intend to fill over an area that will cover a large part of the tree’s root system (which extends out well beyond the reach of the branches), do not apply more than 2 inches of soil.
Ground covers suitable for larger areas include perennial ferns and lirope. Ground covers provide variation in plant height, texture and color in the landscape. You don’t just have to stick with ground covers, however. Indeed, gardening in a shady area provides a chance to grow a wide variety of beautiful plants. Gardens in shady areas also are often easier to maintain since there generally are fewer weed problems, and the beds may not dry out as fast as sunny ones.
For colorful bedding plants in beds that receive a few hours of morning sun, try impatiens, coleus, wax begonia, browallia, pentas, salvias, caladium and torenia in summer.
Shade-loving perennials include ferns, hostas, ligularia, ajuga, and heuchera.
Shrubs to consider include hollies, azaleas, and hydrangea, Most of these prefer a partly shaded area that receives a few hours of morning sun.
There are even small trees that like partial shade, such as hawthorn, silver bell, dogwood, Japanese maple, red bud, and white fringe tree, Many hardy ferns can be planted into the shady areas of your landscape. The different species range in size from under a foot to as much as 3 feet. The leaves of ferns are called fronds and provide the primary ornamental feature of the plants. The fronds generally are finely divided and delicate in appearance and contrast beautifully with coarser textured shade plants such as hostas.
Some excellent ferns for use in the landscape include maidenhair fern, Christmas fern, wood fern, autumn fern, lady fern, and Japanese painted fern.
If you have a shady area, consider turning it into a beautiful garden with shade-loving plants. The ground covers, perennials, shrubs, trees and ferns are all available at Greenscape Gardens.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Apple trees that are not pruned for several years will often produce so many branches that little energy is left for fruit production. Overgrown apple trees are also difficult to harvest and spray. Gardeners who who such a tree are often at a loss as how to get it back in shape.
Often the best recommendation for such a tree is to make one pruning cut at ground level and start over with a new tree. But that is a rather drastic measure. However, trees may have sentimental value that will make revitalization worth the time and effort. Realize that this will be a multi-year process because no more than 30 percent of the tree should be removed in one year. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Remove all dead wood. This does not count toward the 30 percent.
2. Remove suckers from the base of the tree.
3. Choose approximately six of the best branches to keep as scaffold branches. Remove all others. Branches should be cut flush to the branch collar. The collar is the natural swelling that occurs where a branch connects to the trunk or to a larger branch. Removing the collar would leave a larger wound that would take additional time to heal. Do not paint wounds. Wounds heal more quickly if left open.
Candidates for removal include branches with narrow crotch angles, which are more likely to break in wind and ice storms, and those that cross branches you will save. This may be all that is possible the first year if the 30 percent threshold has been reached.
4. Thin the branches on each scaffold branch. Remove crowed branches to open up the tree to light and allow moisture to escape. Shorten each scaffold branch by cutting back to a side branch. When you are through, the tree should have enough wood removed so a softball can be thrown through the tree.
Severe pruning often will cause an apple tree to produce vigorous side shoots from the trunk called water sprouts. These should be removed throughout the growing season so the center of the tree stays open.
At last springtime is quickly approaching. The prime gardening season is about a month away and many St. Louis gardeners are licking their lips over the time of year when plants and flowers begin to grow like mad. Some may have already purchased seeds and potted plants in preparation for their landscape masterpieces.
But what about the anti-gardener? For the people who can't even get weeds to grow, there are ways to make a yard look great without getting down in the dirt. All it takes is a little creativity and sense of style.
The first step to giving a yard a chlorophyll-free makeover is to figure out the reason for doing so. In general, more baby boomers are retiring and spending more time at home. People aren't moving as much as before.
Types of exterior accents for a home should depend on whether or not the yard will be for looks or for play. For anyone who wants to do nothing more than dress (their yard) to impress, one way to start is with H2O.
A lot of people are purchasing more fountains and starting to enjoy more water features. Waterfalls are very popular. Some people build them themselves with stones. Adding statuary is also an easy and traditional way to liven up yard or garden. The nautical theme is pretty popular with sea turtles, frogs and pelicans selling pretty well.
Another option for cosmetic renovation outdoors is a decorative arbor acting as a gateway from one area of a yard to another. When you walk through it, it creates an ambience.
Another way to brighten things up is with pottery. Talavera is very eye-catching pottery. With the onslaught of container gardening, we now carry an incredible assortment of pottery at Greenscape Gardens. We have all sorts of colorful pots. Of course, the pots don't necessarily need plants inside them to serve as décor.
Purchasing statues or pottery as quick fixes may not be the best option if your home has exterior "blemishes" that could be corrected. Look at your mailbox and address plaque to add some additional ambiance. You can replace those with decorative ones, and really dress up your curb appeal.
Even a personalized doormat can make a big improvement to a drab exterior. Rocks, although dull by themselves, can serve as practical ornamentation for a front or back yard. Curb appeal can be achieved by selecting larger stones and small rocks to dress up the beds and it's really low-maintenance."
A well-placed boulder here and there is a good idea. They also make nice benches. Some minor "eyesores," can be disguised with large stones.
Another way to spice things up outside is to make a back yard guest-friendly. Home entertaining isn't limited to the living room any longer, especially when there's a decent climate involved. As people spend more time outside, they want more things to do.
A huge trend is outdoor living. You can turn your backyard into an extension of your house.
Outdoor living trends are extending to outdoor living and kitchen areas. To create an outdoor room, all you really need is power. The kitchens can be very weather-proof. Outdoor TVs are becoming more common in modern homes and are perfect for the football fan who loves to grill out.
There are less-expensive ways to entertain outside, too. In recent years, fire pits have become a popular item for families and friends to gather around. Fire pit that converts into a cooler for use during the hotter months are another new possibility.
Fire is the most noticeable change that can be made to outdoor ambience. Instead of spending $3,000 to $4,000 on patio furniture, buy a fire pit and tiki torches for ambience. People won't notice your furniture, but it's amazing what fire can do.
Whether placing a few garden gnomes here and there or completely redoing the backyard, making everything come together depends on one's personal preference. Anything overdone doesn't appear pleasing to the eye, but everyone has their own individual taste.
Combining your taste with the practicality of outdoor accessories can lead to the perfect exterior design. It's about image vs. functionality. If you can mix the two, you can really go somewhere.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a major worldwide tree planting campaign. Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organizations and governments are encouraged to enter a tree planting pledges online with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide during 2007.
For additional information check out the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign site.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Butterfly gardening is becoming more popular in St. Louis. Barrett Elementary School in the Parkway School District has a fine example of butterfly gardening thanks to Greg Miles. Providing the basic needs of butterflies, such as food, shelter and liquids, will encourage butterflies to visit during the summer.
There are a number of plants that attract butterflies. However, different species of butterflies prefer different plants. Using a variety of plant material that vary in blooming times of day and year helps attract a diverse group of visitors. Plant groups of the same plant together; a single plant is difficult for a butterfly to detect. If trying to attract a certain species of butterfly, learn which plant(s) that a particular butterfly prefers, and then emphasize that plant in your garden.
Annuals that attract butterflies include ageratum, cosmos, French marigold, petunia, verbena and zinnia. Perennials and shrubs can be split into those that bloom early, mid-season and late. Good choices for those that bloom early include allium, chives, forget-me-not and lilac. Bee Balm, butterfly bush, black-eyed Susan, buttonbush, butterfly weed, daisy, daylily, gailardia, lavender, lily, mintphlox, privet, sunflower and veronica are fitting picks for mid-season bloom. Late bloomers include aster, glossy abelia and sedum. There are other encouragements for attracting butterflies. Butterflies are cold-blooded and like open areas where they can sun themselves on cool days and shade to cool them off when the sun is too intense.
Butterflies also need water. A simple way to make a butterfly pool is to take a bucket, fill it with gravel, and bury it to the rim. Now add water, sugar water or sweet drinks so that the butterflies can land on the gravel but still reach the liquid.