Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Hope for Our Hero:

Josh Continues To Grow Stronger...


Many members of our community have been following the story of Sgt. Joshua Eckhoff since he was injured by an improvised explosive device during his second tour in Iraq with the Army. He recently was back in St. Louis for a wedding. Here is an email update from his mom, Jan:


Josh returned to Minneapolis this evening after thoroughly enjoying 5 perfectly splendid days here with friends and family. He was home specifically for the wedding of his buddy Theo. From the rehearsal and dinner on Friday through the ceremony and reception on Saturday, Josh was exhilarated. He seemed to draw energy from each encounter. It was wonderful to see the smiles come so easily and be so lasting. Though he was overjoyed with being part of Theo and Emily's celebration, he was also excited about seeing some of his buddies he'd not seen since Baghdad including the guys that commandeered the vehicle that got Josh back to the base. This two day event was chock full of emotions and probably the best all around therapy ever! The photos attached are especially for you.

Medically he is progressing well. He now wears the Bioness electrical stimulation for his foot all day. There is new strength in his left leg. He surprised me while I was helping him don the apparatus on his calf by extending his leg and pushing my chair back. I'd not seen him display that sort of strength on command away from the exercise weights in the fitness room at the hospital so this was a great smile maker for me. "It's coming back," he said with a sparkle in his eyes. There is also definite improvement on stairs. The arm is a bit slower. Another Bioness system works his hand and is worn for 30 minutes three times daily. That routine is new and he has just recently assumed full responsibility. He insures both systems are charged properly and must don and doff them himself. All this takes considerable time and patience when only one hand works. Josh perseveres and just gets it done.

Your prayers and caring ways bring inspiration and hope. Please continue to share and He will continue to bless.

Love,
Jan


May God continue to heal Josh and protect the men and women in our armed forces.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Art In The Garden: Featuring Handblown Glass
Glass artist, Michael Wyatt, displayed his creations all weekend as part of Art In The Garden at Greenscape. He practices this artform at Third Degree Glass in University City. His specialties include glass flowers, ornaments, and fountains. For contact information, call Greenscape at 314-821-2440.

Phase 1 of Habitat for Humanity Landscapes Now Complete!

Greenscape Gardens was proud to design and coordinate the landscapes for the Habitat for Humanity St. Louis houses on September 27th. The landscapes of ten of the twenty-seven houses were completed on Saturday, Phases 2 and 3 will be completed in the end of Oct. Contact Jennifer at Greenscape (jennifer@greenscapegardens.com) if you are interested in lending a hand!

A Special Thanks To Our Community For Your Support & Friendship


The last two weeks have been a rush to get cleaned up after Hurricane Ike ("remnants") rolled through on September 14th. The 6" inches of rain in the gauge amounted to 2-4' of water. We truly appreciated the help from our team, friends, and community to get us back on our feet. Through hard work and determination, within 24 hours, we were able to ring out our first sale.


This was a test of our strength and resiliency, and through it all, we passed the test! Thank you to our community for supporting us, we are truly blessed that you are a part of our lives. We'd also like to thank the members of our industry that lent a hand to pull us back on our feet! Special thanks to Sandi and Scott of Hillerman Nursery whose help (& expertise!) was much appreciated. We value their friendship and kind spirits!


The fall rush is now upon us and we are fully stocked with loads of fresh color. We are looking forward to beautiful weather all week long!




Monday, August 18, 2008

We're Obsessed With Homegrown Tomatoes:
Tomato Crumble Recipe
I'll be the first to admit that I am an addict... But I guess if one is going to be addicted to something, it may as well be to something that is wholesome and nutritious, such as homegrown tomatoes! In my travels, I've made it a point to try out tomatoes from every place I've visited, and to tell you the truth, no place can beat the tomatoes that we can grow right here in the Midwest. We are in the peak season for tomatoes and this has been a fabulous year for this fantastic fruit. Don't fret if your attempt to grow them this year wasn't successful (we're happy to give you some tips on how to have a better harvest), you'll be happy to know that we are still offering farm-fresh tomatoes from Farmer Pete's veggie patch in Arnold, Missouri. Stop by and try some out, or maybe serve up this recipe that was submitted by Sara Stobbs. Look out Rachel Rae! Sara knows a thing or two about how to serve up the season's best fruits and veggies! Thanks for the recipe, Sara!
Tomato Crumble
Yield: 4 to 6 side servings
Ingredients:
2.5-3 lbs fresh tomatoes (approx. 6 medium-large)
Olive Oil
3 T. Chopped, fresh basil (plus sprigs for garnish)
1 T. Chopped, fresh rosemary (plus sprigs for garnish)
1 tsp. salt
Several grindings fresh, black pepper
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs from day-old peasant bread
(dried Italian bread crumbs work just fine as a substitute)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1/2 cup pine nuts (whole, not roasted)
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Stem tomatoes, then halve them horizontally. Squeeze halves gently to extract juice, then scoop out seeds. Discard juice or use in another recipe.
Cut tomatoes into 1" chunks, drain chunks in a colander for 20 minutes.
Lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with olive oil (spray with Pam first if desired).
Spread tomato chunks into baking dish. Add chopped basil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
Mix together bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Add butter- mix well with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Spread over tomatoes.
Bake on center oven rack until topping is crisp and slightly browned, and juices are bubbling, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven. If there is liquid in the pan, spoon it out if you want the crumble drier, or leave as is.
The crumble can be prepared 3 hours ahead and held at room temperature. Reheat in a preheated oven 350 degree oven until warm, about 15 minutes.
Just before serving, garnish with basil and rosemary sprigs.
Bon appetit! Stay tuned for the next blog when Sara shares with us a great recipe for zucchini!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Harvest The Heavens: Rain Barrels
A couple years ago, my family and I were exploring a small town on a Carribean island when we came across a tiki hut with a sign out front that said "Sky Juice". We were both thirsty and curious, so we bellied up to the bar and ordered our first Sky Juices. The smiley islander behind the bar quickly juggled a few coconuts, grabbed a battery-powered drill, made a hole in the coconut and inserted a straw, "One Sky Juice, five dollars, mon." Whoa! Five dollars for a coconut! We knew we were being ripped off, but the thought of drinking Sky Juice made us laugh and we had a great experience visiting with a local, small business owner. This little lesson from the tiki bar man made me appreciate everyday things more than before, especially when it came to one of most valuable natural resources... Water! Water is the lifeline of our gardens, and on rainy days in July (like today!) you can see how a nice, slow rainfall revives our summer gardens in a very short period of time. Plants love natural rainwater, so why not try to collect more of it? Rain barrels make it easy to collect water and anyone can install them! Sky Juice is free and your plants will appreciate your easy efforts! Need more information? Feel free to contact me at info@greenscapegardens.com and of course, rain barrels are available at Greenscape Gardens!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sustainable
Home Landscaping
Development & Maintenance Guide

Developed For:
Habitat For Humanity St. Louis' New Landscape Designs
Introduction

Developing and maintaining a sustainable home landscape will not only increase the value of the property, it will also have a positive impact on the surrounding environment. Urbanization has decreased the natural habitat of our native flora and fauna, by re-introducing some of these species to our home landscapes, we will increase the bio-diversity of our community. Bio-diversity is important for the overall health of our local eco-systems. Other critical components to a sustainable home landscape include: soil management, water conservation, use of native plant species and reduced use of lawn and garden chemicals.

This landscape development and maintenance guide will increase the effectiveness of the home landscape. It also addresses the goal of earning LEED certification points for the project.

Three Main Components for Successful Landscaping
1. Creating a Good Soil Foundation
2. Planting the Right Plant for the Right Spot
3. Addressing the Water Needs of the Plants

All of these components will be incorporated into the plan which will help to earn LEED certification points.

Outline

1. Soil management & composting
-retain as much of the original topsoil as possible
-incorporate organic matter & soil amendments
-install a compost bin

2. Water management
-water-efficient plants (xeriscaping)
- efficient irrigation (soaker hoses, drip irrigation, timers)
-rain barrels
-water guide (morning watering, low frequency)
-rain gardens
-bioswales

3. Use of native plants
-turf
-trees
-shrubs
-perennials

4. Other potential elements for consideration

Soil Management & Composting

A critical component in the development of a sustainable landscape plan is the soil foundation. During the construction process, it is critical for the top layers of soil (known as the O and A horizons) to be protected from damage and compaction. The use of heavy equipment and machinery will increase the bulk density of the soil, making it more difficult for plants to thrive. Protecting the structure of the soil will increase the survivability of the plant material and help decrease water needs.

Here is the plan for soil management:

1. If topsoil must be removed, it shall be relocated until construction is complete
2. Limit the usage of heavy equipment on the soil and do not allow equipment on wet soil. Saturated soils are more likely to be damaged than drier soils.
3. If heavy equipment must be used, protect the soil with plywood to help decrease the impact of tires.
4. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of the soil and to detect any nutrient deficiencies. Many problems can be solved by simply adjusting the pH of the soil (adding lime to raise the pH or sulphur to lower it).
4. Incorporate organic matter (i.e. compost) into the soil. Leaf and stick mold compost is a native material that will increase the effectiveness of the soil.
5. Incorporate AXIS into the soil. This soil amendment will decrease water usage and help control run-off water (see detail sheet for more information).
6. Begin usage of a simple composting system. This will enable the homeowner to reduce yard waste and save money by producing compost for their garden.


Water Management

A goal for the development of a sustainable landscape is to limit or eliminate the use of potable water for landscape irrigation. There are several ways to achieve this goal:

-Plant selection
-Rain water collection
-Efficient irrigation methods (for initial watering to establish plants)
-Watering Schedule

Plant Selection:
The plant materials chosen for this project are mostly indigenous to the lower Midwest. These plants can tolerate our climate and soil types (more information in the native plants section). After the plants are established, water usage will be reduced by over 50% because of the incorporation of drought-tolerant species.

Rain Water Collection:
To further decrease the usage of potable water in the landscape, a minimum of one rain barrel will be placed in a strategic location. The design of the roof gutters will play a role in the placement of the rain barrels because the downspouts must be located in a area somewhat close to the garden. Ideal placement of the rain barrels would be: one towards the front of the house off to the side, and one on the opposite backside of the house (for potential usage for a vegetable/herb garden). Rain barrels are the most simple method of rain water collection, other methods are possible, but more intensive to construct, such as cisterns and rain gardens.

Efficient Irrigation Methods:
No permanent irrigation system is being installed on the property because after the initial establishment period, supplemental watering will not be necessary. During the plant establishment period, however, efficient irrigation methods can be implemented. One such method is the usage of soaker hoses under the mulch in the landscape bed. The soaker hose can be attached to the rain barrel so that the rainwater will slowly be dispersed throughout the landscape, rather than simply pouring out of the gutter. The intention of rain barrels and soaker hoses is to help limit the amount of run-off and allow the water to percolate into the soil, rather than wash away. Water is to be treated as a valuable resource, not as a waste product. Other options for aiding in the establishment of the plant material include: using timers, development of a drip-method of irrigation, using “Tree Gators” to efficiently water new trees, and decreasing the area of turf grass (more information in the native plant section).

Watering Schedule:
The time of the day greatly impacts the effectiveness of irrigation. The most productive time to water both turf and plants is early morning for several reasons. First, due to cooler morning temperatures, less water evaporates, giving the water more time to soak into the soil. Second, less stress is incurred by the plant if it receives morning water because it will not face a water shortage later in the day. Third, watering in the morning decreases the potential for fungal spore activity, therefore, requiring less usage of fungicides on turf and plants.

Use of Native Plant Species
“Habitat Gardening”

Biodiversity is a critical element in the development of a sustainable landscape. Introduction of native plant species will increase the food supply for beneficial animals and insects, like birds and butterflies. Proper plant selection is, above all else, the most important aspect to consider when using native plants. Just because a plant is indigenous to our area, doesn’t mean it will grow anywhere, so sun, soil and water limitations have been taken into consideration in the landscape plan.

(A potential program within Habitat for Humanity could be a Habitat Gardening initiative. This would raise awareness of the importance of our native animals and insects and give them a place of refuge. The community garden could incorporate a butterfly or bird garden to help fulfill the needs of these species.)

Other considerations include: xeriscaping (low water-usage plants), eradication of invasive species (i.e. honeysuckle, wintercreeper), and plant procurement. The current supply of many native plant species is relatively low because, until recently, the demand for these plants was low. Increased interest in this market has encouraged growers to start putting these plants into production, so supply should increase tremendously in 2009 (especially in the production of native Buffalo Grass- a native turf grass). After researching the supply from local growers, the plants used in the designs should be relatively easy to procure and will hopefully be available from local sources. The design is made so that each property can vary somewhat (which will help create more diversity in the landscapes. Use of cultivars is acceptable because oftentimes the cultivar may be better suited for usage in an urban setting because it will have characteristics that will make it more desirable (‘Brandywine’ Maple is a cultivar of Red Maple that is much smaller than the native species, making it a more suitable selection for a street tree). Here is a listing of plants that can potentially be used in the design, keeping in mind that this is a guideline.

Native Plants for Home Landscaping

Turf- decrease lawn area, install native grasses
-2008 Fescue turf installed, deeper rooted than bluegrass
-2009 Possibly install a Buffalo grass lawn (install before Aug. 1)

Trees
-Red maple (Acer rubrum)*
-Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)*
-Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
-Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)*,
-American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
-Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
-White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
-Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)
-Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
-White Dogwood (Cornus florida)
-Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioidus)
-American Holly (Ilex opaca)
-Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)*
-Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)*
-Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Shrubs for Sun
-Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
-Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)
-Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis)
-Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)
-Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
-Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)*
-Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)* Drought tolerant

Shrubs for Shade
-Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
-Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
-Viburnum prunifolium (Black Haw Viburnum)

Perennials for Sun
-Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
-Aromatic Aster (Aster oblongifolius)
-Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)
-Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
-Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
-Missouri Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia missouriensis)
-Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
-Sedum (Sedum ternatum)
-Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis)
-Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

Perennials for Shade
-Lady Fern (Athyrium felix-femina)
-Ostrich Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris)
-Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
-Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Other Potential Design Elements:

-Usage of native boulders

-Habitat gardening components (bird feeds, bird baths)

-Recycled “Yard Art” (old wheelbarrow, half whiskey barrel, obilesk)

-Family Heirlooms (Grandma’s watering can, statuary, fountain)

-Something that is unique to the family

-Green/vegetative roofs
-Decreases temperatures in summer, helps insulate in winter (sedum)

-Placement of shade trees
-Site trees in areas that shade pavement in the afternoon

-Pervious pavers

-Erosion/sedimentation control

-Organic/Natural landscape maintenance practices
-Usage of natural gardening solutions, holistic approach to land care
-Guidelines for lawn care (not bagging clippings, composting)

-Recycling of Horticultural plastics

-Encourage vegetable/herb gardening- community garden

In conclusion, an earth-friendly landscape will benefit the homeowners, the Earth, and the animals that call your yard home.
For more information, you can contact me by email at jennifer@greenscapegardens.com
Posted By:
Jennifer Schamber
Greenscape Gardens

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

HOW TO DESIGN AND CARE FOR PERENNIAL GARDENS

For many gardeners, there's nothing like a full perennial border with a crisp edge of lawn.
Perennial plants are the backbone of nearly every flower garden. Unlike annual plants, which must be replanted each spring, herbaceous perennials die to the ground at the end of the season, and then regrow from the same roots the following year. People grow perennial flowers because they are such easy-care, dependable performers, and because they offer an enormous variety of color, texture and form. Here are the basics of garden design, plant selection and care.
The lifespan, bloom time, culture and form of perennial plants varies greatly. Some species, such as lupines and delphinium, are so called "short-lived" perennials, with a lifespan of just three or four years. Others may live as long as fifteen years, or even, in the case of peonies, a lifetime. Bloom time may last for only two weeks each year, or may extend over two or three months.
Some perennials, such as primroses, require deep humusy soil and plenty of shade, while others such as threadleaf coreopsis and cushion spurge wither away unless they grow in well-drained soil and full sun. Some perennials contain themselves in a nice, neat mound, while others, such as gooseneck loosestrife, will take over your entire garden. Some species should be cut back in midsummer, while others, such as hybrid lilies, may die if you remove their foliage.
There are so many different species and cultivars of perennial flowers to choose from that few people ever become completely familiar with all the options. For the perennial gardener, books are an invaluable resource. They provide photographs for identification (and inspiration!), cultural information, a description of growth habits, bloom time, color and characteristics of special cultivars. Invest in a good how-to book that has cultural information, and a color encyclopedia to help you identify plants and plan your selections.
What's in a Name?
It may be hard to believe, but botanical plant names are used to avoid confusion, not create it. They are developed by taxonomists to ensure that the same plant is called the same name throughout the world, regardless of language. Botanical plant names are usually a combination of Latin and Greek.
Common names, such as "bleeding heart," are often used to refer to all the plants in a genus and are useful unless you want to ensure you are purchasing a 24-inch high, spring-blooming bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) rather than the ever-blooming species known as the fringed bleeding heart, which is only 12 inches high (Dicentra eximia).
Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba': (old-fashioned white bleeding heart) Dicentra: The first name is the genus. It is always capitalized. spectabilis: The second name is the species. It is not capitalized. 'Alba': The third name, which appears in single quotes, is the cultivar (cultivated variety).
Fellow gardeners are another great source of information about perennials. They can give you firsthand details about bloom time, height, hardiness and cultural requirements, and, if you visit their gardens, you can also see for yourself what the plants really look like up close. Nothing beats seeing a plant in a garden setting, where you can observe how it is being used. You may even go home with some pass-along plants for your own garden.
There's just no way to know how a plant will do for you unless you give it a try. If it turns out to be too tall, the color is wrong, or the plant doesn't thrive, you can always move it and try something different. Perennial Planting Styles Few if any "perennial gardens" contain only herbaceous perennials. Woody plants, such as shrubs, roses, and trees, are often incorporated to provide a backdrop for the perennial plants, or are used to fill in and give mass to the bed or border. Many gardeners include annuals or biennials in their perennial gardens to provide splashes of dependable color throughout the season. Bulbs are added for early spring color and ornamental grasses for their interesting textures and late-season beauty.
Traditionally, perennial gardens have been laid out in one of two ways: a border or an island bed. A border is typically a long, rectangular flower bed that is about two to four feet deep. The classic English perennial border, which was so popular in the first half of the 20th century, was often as much as eight feet deep and 200-feet long. But for most home gardeners, a better size is about three feet deep and about 12 to 15 feet long.
Borders are usually viewed from only one side, and are located in front of a backdrop. This backdrop may be created with shrubs, a hedge, a fence or a stone wall. A well-defined front edge is important. You may design a solo border, or a matched pair. When selecting plants, keep in mind that borders usually look best when there is a repeating theme of plants and colors.
An island bed is a garden that floats in a "sea" of lawn. The shape is irregular, with gentle curves and no sharp corners. It is usually designed to be viewed from all sides, with the tallest plants positioned along the center line of the bed, and the shortest plants around the edges. Island beds look best when they are generous in size. A good size for an island bed is 8-by-15 feet, with the tallest plants reaching a height of about five feet.
Of course perennial flower gardens sometimes look nothing like a traditional border or island bed. Rock gardens break all the rules, for the objective is usually to create an irregular, natural-looking rock outcropping where tiny alpine plants can be featured.
Shade gardens are often irregularly-shaped, because they follow the natural shade patterns of the trees above. Another emerging style for perennial gardens is the large, free-form garden. In this case, the garden is defined by a series of meandering paths that lead the viewer right into and then through the plantings. Perennial flowers can also be mixed in among shrubs, planted around your mailbox, used in woodland or streamside plantings, or even planted in containers. Arranging Your Plants
The appearance of a perennial garden depends as much upon the shapes of your plants and how they are arranged, as upon their colors.
Height: You'll want to place the tallest plants in the back of the border, or in the center of an island bed, then work down in height, ending with the shortest plants around the edges of an island bed or the front of a border. Books and labels usually list the average mature height for a plant in bloom. Remember that many plants hold their flowers well above the foliage. This means that when the plant is out of bloom, it may be much shorter than the specified height.
Heights are also an average. When grown in poor, dry soil, a plant may be only half as tall as the same plant grown in rich, moist soil. Be prepared to move your plants around once you see how tall (or short) they really grow. Even the most experienced gardeners rearrange their plants (usually more than once!).
Width: A plant's width, or spread, is just as important as its height. Width figures given in books or on labels are also an average. The actual width of a plant will vary depending on soils, geographical location and the age of the plant. Be careful about locating slow-growers very close to rapid spreaders. The former may all but disappear by the end of the first growing season.
Spacing: Patience is a virtue, but when most people plant a perennial garden, their goal is to create a full effect as soon as possible. The challenge is to plant thickly, but not break the bank, or create a crowded, unhealthy situation two or three years down the line. When planting a grouping or "drift" of the same kind of plants, you can put them closer together to create a
massed look more quickly.
Another trick is to place short-lived plants between slower-growing, long-lived plants. Most peonies, for example, have an ultimate spread of three feet, but it may take seven years for them to reach this size. While you're waiting, you could interplant with Shasta daisies, a fast-growing, short-lived plant that will provide a full look and plenty of flowers while the peonies get themselves established.
Drifts versus specimens: A garden planted with groupings of five or more plants of the same variety will display drifts of repeating colors and textures. In this type of garden, plants are used primarily as design elements that add up to a pleasing and integrated visual effect.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the collector's garden, filled with onezies and twozies of all different kinds of plants. These are the gardens of people who simply love plants and want to have one of everything. The look of this type of garden may be a jumble of colors and textures, and maintenance is usually more challenging, but these gardens are about plants first, and design second.
How to Select Plants
When it comes to deciding which perennials to plant, most of us are not very deliberate about our choices. We succumb to a luscious photo in a catalog, stumble upon an irresistible beauty at the nursery, or a neighbor sends us home with a bag full of cast-offs. If you ever do set out to make an informed and deliberate choice, here are some of the things that you should think about.
Your site: Perennials, like all plants, will live longer and be healthier and more floriferous if they are planted in a location that suits them. Does your garden have sandy soil or is it heavy clay? Is it in the sun or shade? Is the soil moist or droughty? Is the pH high, low, or neutral? Is the site flat, gently sloped, or steep? A good reference book can help you figure out which plants will probably be happy in the growing conditions that you can provide.
Hardiness: If a plant is not hardy in your growing zone, it will not survive the winter. If you don't know which zone you live in, check a USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Though knowing your zone is very important, altitude, wind exposure, soils and snow cover can have a dramatic impact on plant hardiness, effectively shifting the hardiness rating for your garden by as much as a full zone.
For best results, choose plants that are well within your zone. You will probably be tempted by those that are at or even just beyond your growing zone. If you can afford to take the gamble (financially and emotionally), it can be very rewarding to discover that you can grow a couple of Zone 5 plants in your Zone 4 garden. Where snow cover is not dependable, a winter mulch of leaves or straw can help marginally hardy plants survive a cold winter. Well-drained soil is also a benefit. Heavy, wet soils will often heave and damage plant roots.
Northern gardeners concern themselves with the minimum temperatures that a plant will tolerate, but Southern gardeners must also pay attention to zone ratings. Many popular perennials, including lupines, peonies, and garden phlox, must be exposed to a period of subfreezing temperatures to produce a good display of flowers. Other perennials will simply not tolerate long periods of heat and humidity.
Color: In working with color, aim for a balance of integration and contrast. Too much of the same color can be monotonous, yet a cacophony of different colors can be jarring rather than pleasing to the eye. You may want to organize your garden around one color; or choose a theme such as pastels, cool colors, or hot colors. You can also experiment with different color themes in different parts of your garden—hot colors by the front door and cool colors in a quieter part of the yard.
Remember that few perennials are in bloom for more than a couple of weeks each year. Most of the time, plants are green, and it is their leaf form and foliage texture that are the "color" in your garden.
Bloom time: A perennial may be in bloom for two weeks a year or for as long as three months. If your objective is all-season color, choose several plants from each bloom season. When selecting plants for a spring garden, concentrate on those that bloom during April and May. After that peak, the garden may lack color for the rest of the season, but you will have achieved a spectacular spring display. For best effect, group at least two or three different varieties of plants together that will bloom at the same time.

Remember that specified bloom time is only an average.
Seedling, potted or field-grown: When purchasing perennials, try to get the largest, most mature plant that you can afford. The bigger the plant, the more quickly it will fill out and the sooner it will begin blooming. Typically plants are available in pot sizes ranging from 3-inch diameter to 12-inch diameter. Pot-grown perennials can be planted from spring through fall, and will suffer minimal transplant shock.

Vigor: Vigor can be good, but it can also create problems. Plants that are too vigorous can invade neighboring plants and gradually take over your entire garden. Determining a plant's propensity for invasiveness can be difficult, because poor growing conditions can render a normally invasive plant relatively tame, whereas in fertile soil, a normally restrained plant may exhibit invasive tendencies.
Look closely at plant descriptions and be wary of those described as "vigorous." This may be a euphemism for an invasive plant that you'll wish you never set eyes on. Perennials with a reputation for invasiveness include: bamboo, Macleaya cordata (plume poppy), Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant), Monarda (bee balm), Artemisia ludoviciana (Silver King artemisia), Lysimachia clethroides (gooseneck loosestrife), Tanacetum vulgare (tansy), Aegopodium (goutweed), and Boltonia asteroides.
Maintaining a Perennial Garden
Though most flowering perennials are dependable, easy-care performers, all perennial gardens require some maintenance. Here are the eight most important steps to ensure a healthy and floriferous garden:
1.Fertilizing: Most perennials are not heavy feeders and they will be happy with one spring application of a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer (5-10-5). For established plantings, scratch in a good handful of fertilizer around each plant. Annual or biennial applications of aged manure or finished compost will restore trace elements and improve soil texture and water retention.
2. Watering: A perennial garden does not require as much water as a vegetable garden. Depending on where you live, if you select plants suited to your site, and mulch them well, you may not need to water at all. If you live where summers are very dry and you do need to water, try to water deeply and avoid getting water on the foliage (soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are great for perennial gardens).
3. Mulching: By early summer, a densely planted perennial garden will shade out most weeds. But a new garden, a spring garden or a garden that is more sparsely planted, will benefit from some kind of mulch. The mulch will keep weeds to a minimum and help retain moisture in the soil.
The aesthetics of the mulch are as important as the function. Your garden will look best with a finely textured material such as shredded leaves, dry grass clippings, peanut shells, cocoa hulls or shredded bark. Big chunks of bark, newspaper or straw will overpower your plants.
4. Neat Edges: A neat, cleanly defined edge between your lawn and flower bed will give your garden a professional look. You can achieve this in one of two ways: get a nice sharp edging tool and recut the edge several times during the growing season; or install some permanent edging. A defined edge will also help keep grass and weeds from growing into the bed.
5. Pinching: Some kinds of perennials, including asters, chrysanthemums, phlox and salvias, benefit from being pinched back. Pinching creates a bushier plant that produces more blooms and is less likely to flop over. Pinch back the growing tips--using thumb and forefinger--once or twice during late spring. Not all kinds of perennials should be pinched. If in doubt, pinch a little here and there, and see what happens.
6. Deadheading: Some plants drop their spent flowers and seed heads. Others hold onto them for months, or even right through the winter. Removing spent flowers will keep your plants looking their best, and it often stimulates reblooming. It also prevents plants from expending their energy on seed production. After bloom, some plants should be shorn rather than deadheaded. This is true for creeping phlox, nepeta, hardy geraniums, daisies, pinks and lavender.
7. Staking: Many tall or weak-stemmed plants need support when they reach blooming size. Delphiniums and hybrid lilies are two prime candidates. But other, shorter plants can also benefit from some kind of support. Supports should be as invisible as possible. For individual stems, you can use bamboo canes. For entire plants you can use wire support rings. For loose and airy plants, try using a few thin branches. For best results, put the supports into position in early spring. That way the plants will hide the supports as they grow.
8. Dividing: If your perennials are happy, most of them will need to be divided every few years. They may become too large for the space; the center or oldest part of the plant may die out leaving a bare middle; or the growth may become so dense that the plant is no longer blooming well.
Use a shovel to remove the entire plant from the garden and place the root ball on a tarp. Then you can either pry the plant into pieces using two forks, tease the pieces of the plant apart into different sections, or use a shovel or knife to cut the plant into several pieces. Plants should not be divided when they are in bloom or in full growth. In all but a few cases, this is a job for early spring or late fall. Perennial Tips for the Ages
When planting a new perennial garden, prepare the soil well at the outset. That may be your only opportunity to loosen the soil, remove rocks, and add organic matter.
If you start plants by seed, put your first-year seedlings in a "nursery bed" rather than directly into your flower garden. They will not bloom or have much of a presence until their second year anyway, and a nursery bed will allow you to keep a better eye on their performance.
Most perennials should be divided in early spring when new growth is only a few inches high. If you miss your chance in the spring, wait until fall. Irises are the one major exception to this rule: they should be transplanted in early summer, right after they have bloomed.
Keep newly transplanted perennials well watered for the first few weeks. Water deeply to saturate the entire root ball and establish good contact between the roots and the surrounding soil.
Most perennials prefer a pH of about 6.5, although, some prefer more alkaline or acidic soil. If you have trouble with a particular plant, check its pH requirements and the pH level of the soil in your flower garden.
If your plants look stressed during the growing season, or if you see disease or insect damage, feed your plants with a quick-release organic fertilizer (try a blend of seaweed and fish emulsion).
All plants die eventually, and some will die sooner than others, no matter what you do about it. If a plant performs poorly, try moving it to a different location. If it still is not happy, give it away or send it to the compost pile.
When designing a perennial garden, think about how you'll get access to your plants to stake, deadhead, or divide them. Flat rocks can be used as stepping stones within the garden. A walkway created at the back of a border will be hidden during the growing season, but will make the bed accessible for spring and fall chores.
Greenscape Gardens has grown over 500 varieties of perennials for the 2008 gardening season. We have grown over 30,000 perennials. For the largest selection of perennials in St. Louis, no one can match our perennial selections and numbers. We're open 8 days a week for your shopping convenience. Even with all the rain this spring, we've got you covered with over a 1/2 acre of greenhouses. So weather or not, we hope to see you soon.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

SOMETIMES I SIT AND THINKS
SOMETIMES I JUST SIT

SILENCE IS GOLDEN......WHEN YOU CAN'T THINK OF A GOOD ANSWER

Thursday, April 03, 2008

HOW TO ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES, HUMMINGBIRDS & BEES

Creating Habitat for Backyard Pollinators

How many times have you seen a bee in your garden, buzzing from one snapdragon or squash blossom to another? At each visit the bee almost disappears into the flower as it uses its long tongue to lap nectar hidden deep within the flower. When it backs out, tiny bits of pollen are stuck to its hairy body.
Gardening for pollinators allows us to understand and appreciate a part of nature we usually don't notice: the insects. Once you start paying attention, you will find a whole world that is even more complex, fascinating and important than any of us realize.
Through simply looking for food, thousands of species of bees and other insects and animals help plants to reproduce. Of the estimated 240,000 flowering plants worldwide, 91 percent require an insect or animal to distribute their pollen in order to set fruit and seed. That includes one-third of all crops grown for people, including citrus fruits, almonds, berries, squash and cotton.
Most people recognize that bees are important pollinators. But that’s not all. Many species of butterflies, bats, birds, moths, flies and even mammals are also pollinators. They are so essential to reproduction that most of the world's plant life could not exist without them.
Despite the critically important service they provide, pollinators have been taken for granted and they are in jeopardy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are facing an "impending pollination crisis," in which both wild and managed pollinators are disappearing at alarming rates.
In the U.S. the number of honeybees has decreased by 25 percent in the past decade due to a parasitic mite. Meanwhile, wild pollinators are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide use and disease—just as researchers are learning how valuable and efficient many of these pollinators are.
You can help improve the plight of pollinators, starting in your own backyard. Imagine a patchwork of pollinator gardens all across the country—building diverse communities of beneficial insects.
Flowers inspire people. From the tulipmania of 17th century Europe and obsessive orchid collecting two centuries later to the millions of avid gardeners around the world who now spend every moment of spare time tending their flowers.
But while some of us live for flowers, they certainly don't exist for us. They exist to lure pollinators—the bees, butterflies, flies, bats, birds and many other animals that facilitate sexual reproduction.
Flowers are the reproductive organs of a plant. When the insect lands on the flower and searches for nectar and pollen to eat, tiny pollen pieces on the anther—the male part of a flower - stick to the body of the insect. When the insect goes to another flower, some of that pollen sticks to that flower's stigma—the female part of the flower. That pollen then fertilizes the ovules which leads to seed production.

The Real Purpose of Flowers
Over the last 100 million years, flowers have evolved an extraordinary range of strategies to facilitate the work of pollinators, from color and scent to petal design and bloom time.
Lilies have ridged petals to guide bees to the nectar-rich center; concentric rings on blanket flowers create a target focused on the nectar; zinnias and butterfly weeds have flat topped clusters of flowers to attract butterflies; delphiniums have a special petal that serves as a landing platform for bees.
Let's look more closely at one example of an insect and flower partnership: monkshoods (Aconitum spp.) and bumblebees. Monkshoods are entirely dependent upon bumblebees for pollination. They are also beautifully adapted to a bumblebee's needs.

Monkshoods have petal-like sepals on each blossom which form a hood-like cover concealing two long spurs with huge nectar-filled nectaries at the end. These nectar loads can only be reached by the long tongues of bumblebees. And when the bumblebee enters the blossom, it must walk over the male (pollen covered anther) and female (sticky stigma) parts of the flower. Without a visit from a bumblee, monkshood would be unable to set seed and reproduce.
Look closely at some of the flowers in your yard and see if you can see the specialized ways in which the flower attracts pollinators.

Meet the Pollinators

Thousands of different species helps plants pollinate, from bees, butterflies and ants to bats and birds. Listed here are some of the most important pollinators in the U.S. and the ones you are most likely to see in your backyard.

Honeybee
Bees are the world's workhorse pollinators, with over 40,000 different species worldwide and 4,000 in the U.S. alone. They carry and deliver pollen grains to more flowering plants than any other group. And bees are well adapted to this task. Their hind legs are hairy to hold pollen. Some species also have special sacs on their legs which hold pollen.
Bees are able to visit dozens or hundreds of flowers in one day searching for nectar and pollen. They are especially attracted to brightly colored yellow and blue flowers with a sweet fragrance. Bees will land on tube shaped flowers and crawl inside.
While honeybees are the best-known bee, most pollination is actually done by wild solitary bees, like mason bees, that do not live in hives.
Honeybee (Apis mellifera) The honeybee is a European species of bee that was introduced to North America in colonial times. Today, U.S. beekeepers tend over 3 million colonies of honeybees. Those honeybees are generalists, which means they visit many different kinds of flowers, from fruit trees to clover.
Bumblebee (Bombus spp.)The large bumblebees you see flying in the early spring are queens just out from hibernation. They have emerged from their long underground hibernation and are feeding and looking for an underground cavity to nest in. Later in the summer, you will see the worker bumblebees out foraging.
Unlike honeybees, bumblebees are capable of something called buzz pollination. This is when the bee lands on a flower and vibrates very quickly, stimulating the anther to release even more pollen.
Mason bee
Mason Bee (Osmia spp.)Mason bees can be found throughout most of the United States. They are solitary and nest in hollow stems, woodpecker drillings and insect holes in trees. They are common near woodlands, in towns and suburbs and are excellent pollinators of many plants.
Squash Bee (Peponapis spp.)Squash bees are well-adapted specialists. For example, the hoary squash bee depends entirely on squash and pumpkin. These bees are solitary and nest in burrows in the ground that approximately 10 inches deep and about the diameter of a pencil.
Butterflies are some of the world's most beautiful pollinators. In the U.S. there are about 700 different species. Butterflies love brightly colored yellow and pink flowers and those with flat-topped clusters of flowers that they can land on. They have a long proboscis which they will use to probe deep into flowers searching for nectar.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Perhaps the best known butterfly is the monarch. The larval sate (a green and yellow striped caterpillar) feed almost exclusively on milkweed, although the adult butterflies visit many different kinds of flowers. Monarchs migrate each year between the U.S. and Mexico and so there are many vital pockets of habitat along their migration route.
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly (Eurytides marcellus)Unlike most butterflies, zebra swallowtails feed not only on nectar, but are also able to collect and consume pollen with their proboscis. They digest the pollen, and absorb its proteins. This extra nutrition allows the adult swallowtail to mate, lay eggs and survive for as long as 6 months.

Syrphid fly
Syrphid Fly (Syrphidae spp.) In order to avoid predation by birds, many species in this family have evolved to look and even behave like bees. These flies are present throughout the growing season but are particularly common in the spring and fall.
Moth are less showy than butterflies, but even more numerous with 10,000 different species in the U.S. Unlike most other pollinating insects, moths are active primarily at night. They are attracted to white or light colored flowers with a strong, sweet scent, such as nicotiana, datura, moonflowers and various yellow evening primroses.
Hawkmoth (Manduca spp.)Large hawkmoths the size of hummingbirds pollinate jimsonweed—the largest native flower in the U.S.—at night.
Hummingbirds are the most spectacular of the common pollinators, with their often irridescent plumage and spectacular flight displays. Hummingbirds are most attracted to nectar-rich red tubular flowers.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)The tiny ruby-throated hummingbird weighs only a tenth of an ounce, but can consume 50 percent of its weight in nectar a day.
Bats are the world's most important pollinating mammal. While most bats in the U.S. feed on insects, there are several species in the southwestern U.S. that feed on fruit and nectar and are vital pollinators of desert plants, especially cacti.
Lesser Long-Nosed Bat (Leptonycteris curasoae)This bat is one of the primary pollinators of the magnificant saguaro cactus. The migrating bats pollinate the cactus flowers as they feast on nectar. Later in the summer, they eat the fruit of those same palnts and help disperse the seeds. This bat is only about three inches long, but its tongue can be as long as its body.

Five Ways Backyard Gardeners Can Help
1. Plant nectar and pollen rich flowers.The most important step you can take is to plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Choose nectar and pollen-rich plants like wildflowers and old-fashioned varieties of flowers. A succession of blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs is best so nectar and pollen will be available throughout the growing season. Also, include plants like dill, fennel and milkweed that butterfly larvae feed on.
Any size garden can attract and support pollinators - from a wildflower meadow to a windowbox with a few well-chosen species. Researchers in Tuscon, Ariz. have found that communities of bees can sustain themselves for long periods of time in small vacant city lots.
A patchwork of pollinator gardens in neighborhoods, cities and rural areas around the country could provide enough habitat to restore healthy communities of beneficial insects and pollinators.
2. Go organic.Many pesticides - even organic ones - are toxic to bees and other beneficial organisms. There's no need to use powerful poisons to protect your garden from insects and diseases. In the short term they may provide a quick knock-down to the attackers, but they also kill beneficial organisms. In the long term, you expose yourself, family, pets and wildlife to toxic chemicals, and risk disrupting the natural ecosystem that you and your garden inhabit.
All things considered, an organic approach is both safer and more effective. By applying the simple principles of ecological plant protection, you can work with nature to control pests and diseases, enjoy a healthier garden and harvest and protect pollinators and other beneficial insects.
If you do apply pesticides make sure you apply them carefully and selectively. To protect pollinators, do not use pesticides on open blossoms or when bees or other pollinators are present.
3. Provide shelter.Butterflies, bees and other pollinators need shelter to hide from predators, get out of the elements and rear their young. Let a hedgerow or part of your lawn grow wild for ground-nesting bees. Let a pile of grass cuttings or a log decompose in a sunny place on the ground. Or, allow a dead tree to stand to create nooks for butterflies and solitary bees.
Artificial nesting boxes can also help increase the population of pollinators in your area. Wooden blocks with the proper-sized holes drilled into them will attract mason bees. Bat boxes provide a place for bats to raise their young.
4. Provide food and waterA pollinator garden will provide pollen and nectar. Consider adding special feeders to help attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Bees, birds and butterflies also all need water. Install a water garden, a birdbath or a catch basin for rain. Butterflies are attracted to muddy puddles which they will flock to for salts and nutrients as well as water.
5. Backyard beekeepingYou don't have to live in the country to keep bees. All you need is a little space, a water source, plenty of nearby flowers for them to visit, and a willingness to learn. Keeping a beehive or two in the backyard used to be a common practice. Maybe it's time to bring back this old-fashioned hobby. It does require equipment and some specific knowledge. But it's nothing an interested hobbyist can't handle. See the resources section to learn how to get started.
THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

STUPID IS FOREVER, IGNORANCE CAN BE FIXED

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW.....APRIL FOOL

WARMER CLIMATE MEANS MORE FROST DAMAGE

Earlier warming in the spring followed by cold snaps could increase frost damage across the world as the planet experiences climate warming in the coming decades, scientists from the University of Missouri report this month.
Widespread damage to plants from a sudden freeze in April 2007 was worse because it was preceded by two weeks of unusual warmth, according to a report in the March issue of BioScience. The study suggests that global warming, surprisingly, could make annual frost damage worse.
The authors of the report, Lianhong Gu and his colleagues at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and collaborators at NASA, the University of Missouri, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that the freeze killed new leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruit of natural vegetation, caused crown dieback of trees, and led to severe damage to crops in an area encompassing Nebraska, Maryland, South Carolina, and Texas. Subsequent drought limited regrowth.
Multiple Warming Effects
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are believed to reduce the ability of some plants to withstand freezing, and the authors of the BioScience study suggest that global warming could lead to more freeze and thaw fluctuations in future winters. This pattern is potentially dangerous for plants because many species must acclimate to cold over a sustained period. Acclimation enables them to better withstand freezes, but unusual warmth early in the year prevents the process. A cold spring in 1996, in contrast to the 2007 event, caused little enduring damage because it was not preceded by unusual warmth.
Other Ecosystem Effects
The 2007 freeze is likely to have lasting effects on carbon balance in the region. Plants cannot re-absorb nutrients from dead tissue that would normally be remobilized within the plants during autumnal senescence, so many nutrients became less available for plants in 2008. Wildlife is expected to have suffered harm from lack of food, and changes to plant architecture could have long-term implications.
Gu and his colleagues propose that the 2007 spring freeze should not be viewed as an isolated event, but as a realistic climate-change scenario. Further study of its long-term consequences could help refine scenarios for ecosystem changes as carbon dioxide levels increase and the climate warms.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The following is an e-mail article from "Green Talks & Green Profit Magazine". I thought that our loyal Greenscape Gardens Blog readers would enjoy this recent article.

Last time, I asked you about what you're doing at retail garden centers in regards to sustainability. Here's a response from Greenscape Gardens ' Jennifer Schamber, who won Green Profit's 2007 Young Retailer Award.
Here's a couple of our educational programs for this year regarding sustainability...
One program for this spring is called "Be A Greenscaper!" We will focus on Water Conservation and the seminar will include how to water, when to water, and how to collect/manage water. The customers will get a chance to see several examples of rain barrels, and hopefully find one that will work for them. They will also be introduced to rain gardening and what native plants can be used in moist areas. The second part of this program will be about gardening for wildlife with a focus on butterflies. We'll demonstrate how even customers with small patios or decks can provide host plants and nectar sources for butterflies (with container gardening).
Another program is on native plants. We're seeing a much greater interest in the topic and expect to draw a good group for this event. Our native area is painted all purple to match the logo of our state's "GrowNative!" program—so the seminar will take place in that area and our local natives expert will highlight her top picks. I haven't picked a title for this seminar but it may be something like "Bring Out Our Natural Beauty" or something like that.
A program later in the year will be on healing gardens ... this could mean a lot of different things to many people. Some may connect with the idea of how gardens can help in the healing process of cancer patients, or others may consider a healing garden as a way to help restore our environment. In all, I think healing gardens should be an essential element to hospitals and assisted-living facilities.
I think all of these programs tie to a central idea that we need to put the focus back on the basics of good living; we need to get that connection to nature back before we lose it entirely. Lucky for us, it can all begin in the garden center!
Go Green,
Jennifer Schamber

P.S. The first part of the article was presented this past weekend. June Hutson from Missouri Botantical Gardens gave a great educational session concerning "water conservation". Mary Ann Fink followed with a fine talk about gardening with Natives. Both subjects were well received and the group was ready for the spring gardening season.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY?

IF YOU'RE NOT HANDSOME....YOU BETTER BE HANDY
THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT OF THE DAY!

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY.....COME BACK IN LATE MAY

I always say that the nursery/garden center is recession proof but we definitely are not weather proof. The month of March has been nonstop rain. The Meramec River flood of 2008 will be remembered for a long time. Just like the webs growing between my toes since we feel like ducks with all this rain. Once the rain does stop, it'll probably stay turned off until October. Somewhere in this miserable weather there must be a silver lining. Yes, we are out of drought conditions in the St. Louis area. Hooray!

Monday, March 24, 2008

FREE SEMINARS SATURDAY

10 AM WATER MANAGEMENT BY JUNE HUTSON
Discuss the hot topics of water management. Incorporating the vital use of this important aspect of gardening. How to make your garden less dependent by not overwatering. Bringing back the old practices (ae. rain barrels and soaker hoses).

11 AM HABITAT GARDENING BY MARY ANN FINK
How to attract butterflies in your gardening. Including the art of container gardening and attracting butterflies in constricted spaces. Great for the gardener with limited space. Apartment and condominium residents will like this presentation.
THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

OFFICIALLY SPRING.....TROPICAL SHIRTS ARE BACK

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY!

THE REASON OF LIFE.....TO BEAT MATURITY

PARACHUTE FOR SALE.......USED ONCE, LARGE RED STAIN.....ASK FOR CHUBBY'S WIFE

Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

DIET PLAN FOR SALE.....LOSE WEEKS NOT POUND.....ASK FOR CHUBBY

MOST PROFOUND STATEMENTS.....ARE MADE IN SILENCE

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TURF SCIENCE: MORE GREEN FOR LESS DOUGH

New turfgrass varieties and maintenance practices produce durable green with less water and fertilizer. Read on, because it doesn't take a turf scientist to understand that this can save you and your business time and money.
Golf course managers don't see turfgrass the way landscape contractors do. On a golf course, never-ending green is the highest priority. Limits aren't placed on water, fertilizer, pesticidesor on a work crew's sweat and toil.
It's different for the contractor who plants turf and irrigation in residential and commercial settings. With most sites connected to municipal water supplies, property owners face fines if they go over irrigation limits. What's more, increasing numbers of property owners are leery about pesticides and fertilizer. Whether their concerns are justified or not, many homeowners would be pleased if you told them that you're keeping their lawn green organically that is, without artificial fertilizer or pesticides.

Conservation Means Money
Each one of these rectangular turf plots is divided lengthwise into halves receiving fertilizer and halves receiving no fertilizer. The name of this ongoing University of California study is Winter Color Enhancement for New Warm Season Grasses. (Tall fescue, of course, is classed as a cool-season turf.)
At first glance, it might seem that forgoing traditional pesticides might mean more work for you and your crew. In fact, recent findings suggest that cutting back on water and fertilizer means that you can spend less time mowing, which can translate into reduced labor costs for you and your business.
Some of these results come from the University of California's agricultural test facility near Irvine, Calif. Over the past decade or so, turf scientists have found that warm season turf varieties like hybrid Bermudagrass and zoysia do well with less fertilizer and water than is generally recommended. What's more, new types like buffalograss perform well with limited water in arid areas across the South and West.
Another key finding is that Bermudagrass and zoysia despite their warm-season reputation will stay green long into the winter if temperatures generally stay above freezing. Adding a little fertilizer in fall and winter can go a long way to maintaining what the researchers call acceptable turf quality far into the winter months.
A lot of people ignore their turf in the fall and winter, because they think it's supposed to turn brown and go dormant. But if you continue your fertilization, you can enhance and maintain that good green color throughout the winter. In the warmer-winter regions, there are a lot of turfgrass types that hold pretty good winter color if they're maintained and fertilized.

Choose Your Turf

As with other kinds of turf, a bit of knowledge about buffalograss can help save you money. If you give buffalograss lots of water and, say, four pounds of active nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year, you're going to be mowing a lot, and you're going to have lots of clippings maybe as much as tall fescue. But what buffalograss lets you do is to drastically cut back on irrigation and not die. It will do quite well on 40 percent of the water fescue needs and still look green even at the height of summer.
Ryegrass variety is critical to successful overseeding. Be sure to choose an annual ryegrass strain Annual rye will die off and let underlying warm-season turf resume growth in the spring. Perennial rye, on the other hand, would continue to compete with the primary turf.
Zoysiagrass is another type that offers distinct advantages over more-used turf. Zoysia offers landscape professionals the chance to keep turf green with much-reduced amounts of fertilizer. With zoysiagrass, turf stays nicely green with as little as two pounds of nitrogen (pure fertilizer) per 1,000 square feet per year. To keep tall fescue green, you'd need close to six pounds applied at the same rate.
Another zoysiagrass advantage is a slow-growth rate. Compared to buffalograss, with the same amount of fertilizer and water, zoysia produces half the amount of clippingsand needs half the time to keep it trimmed. That cuts down on labor tremendously. Old-fashioned cow manure is an economical way to get nitrogen and other nutrients to turfgrass. The pungent substance is especially useful for overseeding because it promotes good seed-soil contact. Note that overseeding is also a beneficial practice in spring, where it can help fill-in gaps. Growing from seed, of course, is easier in cooler, moister climates.

Barriers to Use
With those advantages, why don't we see zoysiagrass carpeting lawns across the South and West? The answer has something to do with tradition, and something to do with growth patterns. The slow-growth rate that limits mowing for zoysia lawns is a disadvantage when it comes to planting them. Even so, the variety can be established in warmer weather with success rates that compare favorably to Bermudagrass.
With buffalograss' exceptional drought-tolerance, why isn't it much more common? The answer is that the American native is a better choice in some areas than in others.

When buffalograss is planted in high rainfall areas or when it is irrigated and fertilized, bermudagrass and other weedy grasses invade a stand of buffalograss. Buffalograss is best adapted to low rainfall areas (15 to 30 inches annually) or areas that receive thorough, but infrequent irrigation.
Also keep in mind that buffalograss does poorly in shaded sites or in sites that get heavy use. You won't see it on football or soccer fields anytime soon. Also, given artificial irrigation and nitrogen, bermudagrass and other more aggressive grasses will outgrow buffalograss.
Remember Two Things
There are two things to remember when it comes to turf. One, it pays to do a little research before you choose your turf type for a project. You may do better (for you and your clients) with one of the newer kinds. (If you aren't sure, ask a horticulturist or a turf expert at a local university extension program.)
Second, you can reduce your fertilizer and irrigation totals significantly. If you know when and how much to apply, you can keep the grass green much longer into the winter season. And that's a win-win for you and your grass.
Pre-emergent herbicides can keep crab grass in check for an entire season, but the substance must be applied before seeds sprout in winter or early springdepending on climate zone.
Fertilizer Application: How Much and When.
The amount of fertilizer to apply depends on the fertilizer product (percent nitrogen and release rate), the square footage (area) of lawn, and the purpose the lawn serves (athletic field or low-traffic lawn).
Existing Lawns: Most mature lawns benefit from about 4 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year. Grasses suited to low nitrogen and water applications (e.g., zoysiagrass and buffalograss) found that they could perform adequately with only 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet of actual nitrogen per year. Grass growing in light shade requires less fertilizer than grass growing in full sun. Turfgrasses under a grasscycling program need slightly less nitrogen; turfgrasses under heavy wear from foot traffic or sports require more nitrogen to encourage faster growth to repair damage.
Generally, a maximum of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet should be applied at one time when using a soluble chemical fertilizer. Nitrogen is the major element, so it is the element that the application rate is based on. Also, nitrogen is the most soluble element and has the most potential for burning the grass if applied too heavily. Often, less than 1 pound of actual nitrogen can be applied, but 1/2 to 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at a time is the usual recommendation. Slow-release fertilizers can be safely applied at higher rates. See the product label for specific recommendations on rates an frequency of application; the frequency can range from every 6 to 8 weeks to as long as every 6 months.
A variety of aeration equipment is available and should be used regularly as part of an integrated turfgrass-management program. A properly aerated lawn will make the most of every fertilizer application. Aeration also promotes positive root growth and helps grass resist thatch build-up. Most lawn mowers come with attachments.

Calculating application rates. To find out how much of a particular fertilizer is needed to supply 1 pound of actual nitrogen, simply divide 100 by the first number of the analysis shown on the bag. This will give you the number of pounds of the fertilizer you need to apply to 1,000 square feet of lawn area to supply 1 pound of actual nitrogen to the turf. For example, if the fertilizer analysis is 21-0-0, 100 divided by 21 = 4.76 pounds of fertilizer needed to apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen. (A similar calculation is performed for metric measurements.)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

GREENSCAPE GARDENS EVENTS CALENDAR

This year we are offering more gardening events every month to help you get the most out of your gardening season year round.
March 15th, 2008 Meet “Grady O’Greenscape”, our resident Irish leprechaun at our St. Patrick’s Day Party (12 pm-2 pm)
March 22nd-23rd, 2008 “Ring In Spring!”- First Weekend of Spring Color Event
March 29th, 2008-10 a.m. Horticulture Co-Op of GreaterSt. Louis Gardeners’ Village Presents “Be A Greenscaper”Featuring June Hutson (10 a.m.) & Mary Ann Fink (11 a.m.)- Learn about the importance of water conservation and “Build A Better Butterfly Garden”
April 12th Barbara Lawton- Garden Writer & Plant ExpertContainer Gardening with Herbs & More11 a.m.
April 12th-13th, 2008 Featuring…”The Best of Container Gardening”
April 26th, 2008-10 a.m. Earth Day Party- featuring Cindy Gilberg 10 a.m. “Native Plants For Our Gardens”
May 10th-11th, 2008 Mother’s Day Celebration-Get Mom the “Official Plant of Mother’s Day”- the Endless Summer Hydrangea
May 24th-26th, 2008 15th Annual Memorial Day Weekend BBQ- free hotdogs and soda. A St. Louis tradition which can't be missed.
June 7th, 2008 Future Gardeners of America Event-Bring the kids for a “Let’s Go Green” rally! 10 a.m.
June 21st, 2008 “The Healing Garden”- Featuring Cindy Gilberg, take part in a discussion on the healing power of plants. Join us after the Race for the Cure, free pink lemonade for all and free pink flower for all race participants (wear your race t-shirt!) 2 p.m.
June 28th, 2008 “June is Perennial Plant Month” Event
July 5th-6th, 2008 Featuring… Ornamental Grasses
August 2nd-3rd, 2008 Featuring… Drought Tolerant Plants
September, 2008 Art In Our Garden Event
October, 2008 Fall Festival
October 4th, 2008 Habitat For Humanity- Join Greenscape and KMOV Channel 4 in landscaping this year’s Home4Hope!
November 2008 Festival of Trees Event
December 6th-7th, 2008 “I’m Dreaming of a Greenscape Christmas…” Holiday Open House


Other potential events will be listed later. Enjoy the garden.-



HOW TO HANDLE LATE BREAKING PERENNIALS

Four simple guidelines to follow when dealing with perennials that tend to break dormancy late.
To get your late-breaking plants started off right, remember these four simple but important guidelines:
1) DO monitor your watering.While plants are dormant, be careful to avoid both over and under-watering them during this vulnerable time, as both extremes will cause stress and could result in many losses. Over-watering can lead to root and crown rot, while under-watering can dehydrate and kill the plants. The key is to make sure there is just enough moisture in the pot to keep the roots hydrated and to give the plants the little amount of water they need as they begin to break dormancy.
2) DO "starve" the plants.Fertilizing your plants before they are actively growing often results in the build up of salts in the soil which leads to stress and may causes losses due to dehydration or disease. Instead, begin fertilizing within a couple weeks after the plants begin to break dormancy.
3) DO check on your plants even when they are dormant. Continue to check on your plants weekly even when they appear to be dormant. Watch for the first signs of any root and crown rot. Also, keep the soil surface clear of moss and other weeds that will rob your plants of the proper water and nutrition once they break dormancy. At the first signs of new growth, watch for insects such as aphids which are attracted to tender new growth.
4) DO expect something wonderful!Even though some perennials may wait to make their grand entrance in the spring, with a little patience and care, you will reap the rewards with vigorously growing, beautiful plants!
The following perennials are typically slow to break dormancy in the spring. However, most compensate for their tardiness with vigorous growth once they begin.
Asclepias
Buddleia
Echinacea
Hibiscus (very late)
Hosta tokudama and fortunei types
Houttuynia
Lathyrus latifolius
Perovskia
Platycodon
Tricyrtis
Warm season grasses such as Miscanthus, Erianthus, and Panicum
PERENNIAL PICK OF THE WEEK
DIANTHUS 'FIREWITCH

This week, we are highlighting 'Firewitch', the 2006 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. 'Firewitch' has been problem-free. It has required few inputs to produce a great crop. Very little fertilizer and water is required, which resulted in strong, hardened-off plants that are compact, healthy, and more readily resistant to pathogens. 'Firewitch' thrived in our greenhouses during a very warm and dry summer under light shade (about 30%).
Quick Growing Tips: Dianthus thrives when grown consistently somewhat dry or watered sufficiently and then allowed to dry down thoroughly. We provide the plants with just enough water to sustain good growth, but do not keep the soil too wet at any point. Soil that stays wet for too long will significantly slow down the root growth of 'Firewitch'.
FertilizingTo keep the foliage from stretching, which requires more trimming than desired, we fertilize our Dianthus very little. While we grow them lean, occasional applications of liquid feed may be applied to encourage the foliage to bulk up a little quicker.
Pests and Diseases'Firewitch' is a strong grower that is generally not as prone to disease as some Dianthus cultivars. This characteristic, combined with judicious water and fertilizer management, will keep the crop healthy. You can be confident in purchasing 'Firewitch' from Greenscape Gardens.
NEW DAYLILY

Hot New Daylily‘Mean Mister Mustard,’ a new daylily, features a 6-inch mustard yellow flower with a wine-red eye and picotee edge. It also offers an amazing bud count and 70-plus days of color. Hardy to Zone 4, ‘Mean Mister Mustard’ has its own point-of-purchase system, a coordinating color pot and proprietary die-cut labels the shape of a mustard jar. The name – ‘Mean Mister Mustard’ – is the name of a popular Beatles song from the Abbey Road album about a grouchy, colorful man.
AAS ANNOUNCES WINNING VARIETIES
All-America Selections has announced four winning varieties for 2009, including three vegetables and a viola.
Eggplant ‘Gretel’ is the earliest white eggplant. The glossy pure white fruits are produced in clusters and can be harvested in 55 days when 3 to 4 inches long. Bred by Seminis Vegetable Seeds, the mature plant reaches three feet tall and wide, perfectly adapted to the trend of growing vegetables in containers.
‘Honey Bear’ squash is a compact, bushy plant that is powdery mildew-tolerant, allowing the delicious winter acorn squash to be grown in smaller space gardens. Bred by the University Of New Hampshire, plants produce 3 to 5 dark green acorn squash weighing about a pound. ‘Honey Bear’ mature plants are 2 to 3 feet tall and spread 4 to 5 feet.
‘Lambkin’ melon was bred by Known-You Seed Company Ltd. as a gourmet breakfast or dessert for people who love melon. Its distinctive visual feature is its smooth, yellow skin with green mottling. The oval-shaped melon matures early, about 67 to 75 days from transplanting. The thin rind surrounds sweet, aromatic white juicy melon. ‘Lambkin’ melons store better than other melons, enabling gardeners to enjoy the unique flavor longer. Available to growers from their favorite seed company.
‘Rain Blue And Purple’ viola changes from purple and white to purple and blue as it matures. This results in a spreading pool of cool blue shades. ‘Rain Blue And Purple’ plants will spread 10 to 14 inches, making them perfect for container plantings or spaces between stepping stones. Bred by Tokita Seed Co. Ltd., it exhibits heat and cold tolerance. Find out more at www.all-americaselections.org
THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

WHEN FACTS ARE FEW....EXPERTS ARE MANY

CANOE FOR SALE......KEEPS SINKING.....ASK FOR CHUBBY

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER....THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY

SNOW MAKES EVERYONE'S LAWN GREAT

EXCERCISE BIKE FOR SALE.....USED ONCE, TOO MUCH WORK.....ASK FOR CHUBBY

Saturday, March 01, 2008

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COLOR TRENDS FOR 2008: SHADES OF NATURE

Colors inspired by nature are very popular this year.
According to the Cone Environmental Report, 88% of consumers are as or more interested in the environment today than they were just one year ago. Everywhere you look, people are talking about environmental issues like global warming, biofuels, and organic food. Celebrities and politicians have joined the awareness campaign, showing younger generations that it's cool to be environmentally responsible. Is this just a trend? Research confirms that concern and heightened awareness for the environment has become mainstream; it's here to stay.
What does environmentalism have to do with the color trends for 2008? Everything. Designers of everything from celebrity evening gowns to patio furniture are picking up on the eco-trends and responding by producing textiles in tones pulled straight from nature: earthy green, ocean blue, yellow-green, deep iris blue, natural linen, and chocolate brown.
The Pantone Color Institute® has chosen Blue Iris for the 2008 color of the year. "It brings together the dependable aspect of blue underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast," according to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of PCI. However, the Director of The Color Association, Margret Walsh, has other ideas. She says their color of the year is Bamboo, "a strong green hinted with yellow which represents the changing social desire to be more environmentally clean." Fashion designers are favoring shades of blue as well as natural rock and soil colors this year. In short, the trend for 2008 is to look "green", no matter what colors you're using. Pulling colors straight from nature is the way to do it.
How will these 2008 color trends play out in the home landscape? Imagine an intimate, serene shade garden filled with green Hostas and ferns, yellow-green Heucheras, and deep blue Siberian Irises. Lounge chairs with fluffy ivory linen cushions beckon you over for a nap on your cool slate patio. A bubbling water feature lulls you into dreamland.
This is how today's gardener connects with their landscape. One half of all consumers use their garden for relaxation or as a spiritual retreat according to the Garden Media Group. They want a safe, private space to enjoy the outdoors and reconnect with the earth on their own time. Can we, the original "Green Industry", help them accomplish this? Be ready to meet their demands this spring with a full stock of earthy green, ocean blue, deep iris blue, natural linen, and chocolate brown perennials.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY!

SPEAK SOFT & SWEET.....SOMEDAY YOU MAY HAVE TO EAT THOSE WORDS

EXERCISE BIKE FOR SALE........INCLUDES OVERSIZED BEER HOLDER.......ASK FOR CHUBBY

Monday, February 25, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

WINTER BLAA CURE......PANSIES & SHAMROCKS
THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

THE FUTURE AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE

Friday, February 22, 2008

THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

TODAY IS CANCELLED....DUE TO ICE

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THE OLD PHILOSOPHER THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

THE CANDIDATES SAY WE WANT CHANGE........I WANT MORE MONEY & LESS TAXES

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A BOUQUET OF GLASS FLOWERS
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A SIMPLE WHITE GLASS FLOWER BUT VERY UNIQUE
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THIS GLASS FLOWER HAS EVERY COLOR OF THE RAINBOW. ON A DREARY WINTER DAY IT WILL PUT COLOR IN EVERY ROOM OF YOUR HOUSE
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A BEAUTIFUL WHITE GLASS FLOWER NEXT TO A BIRD OF PARADISE
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A GREAT VALENTINE GIFT FOR THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE! PLUS THIS FLOWER IS GREAT EVERYDAY OF THE YEAR.
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THESE GLASS FLOWERS ARE EXTREMELY COLORFUL AS BACKGROUNDED BY THIS MATURE PONY TAIL PALM
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UNIQUE AND ONLY AT GREENSCAPE GARDENS
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EVERY SHAPE AND EVERY COLOR OF GLASS FLOWERS
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