Garden Tip 82:
May 12, 2022

Garden Tip 82: PRUNING FLOWERING SHRUBS We are well into spring and it is time to talk a bit about pruning spring flowering shrubs (those that bloom before June). My advice is to “follow the flower” by pruning spring flowering shrubs right after they have finished blooming. Spring bloomers will develop next years flower buds on this season’s growth, so it is important to prune them early in the season to give them plenty of time to grow and set bud for next year. Save the hedge shears for pruning just that– hedges– such as yew and privet. Prune [...]


Garden Tip 81:
May 5, 2022

Garden Tip 81:RABBIT PROOFING YOUR GARDENSLonger days, warmer temperatures and rabbits in the garden are sure signs of spring. The rabbits in my garden have expensive taste. Bypassing swaths of bittercress, chickweed and clover they go right for the good stuff like children in a candy store. They must be watching me as well for when I plant a new specimen in my garden! Among the thousands of plants that are there, they seek it out and are in for the taste test within twenty four hours. Rabbits are more than welcome to eat my clover and chomp on my lawn [...]


Garden Tip 80:
April 28, 2022

Garden Tip 80: EDGE MULCHING A while ago, I spoke of the benefits of adding woodchips to garden beds. They act as a buffet feeding all the living microorganisms in the soil. For a more finished look, I still use bark mulch on the edge of the beds. This time of year we often see landscapers raking or blowing yards and yards of bark mulch into the garden. I realized many years ago that it is really only necessary to mulch the front ten or twelve inches of beds that are densely planted for that is all that is [...]


Garden Tip 79:
April 14, 2022

Garden Tip 79: CARING FOR DAFFODILS The yellows, whites and pinks of daffodils are brightening April gardens everywhere you look. Daffodil bulbs are tough, dependable and they multiply. Over the years one bulb will grow into a cluster of bulbs. In the garden you may notice some of the clumps have a lot of foliage with few and small flowers. This is a good indication that these clumps have become overcrowded. Mark these clumps now with a flag or label, and be prepared to dig, divide and transplant these clumps when the plants go dormant in early summer. Clumps [...]


Garden Tip 78:
April 7, 2022

Garden Tip 78: THE IMPORTANCE OF EDGING In these busy times and this busy season if you were to do but one thing in your garden, it should be to edge your lawn. We visited this topic at the same time last year, but it is important enough to mention again. I don’t think there is any other chore that will have a more visual impact in the landscape than edging. Lawn edging tools are thin half-moon shaped metal blades on a handle. Most come with a long handle. The handle on my edger is only three feet long [...]


Garden Tip 77:
March 31, 2022

Garden Tip 77: SPRING RAKING TIPS Along with the flowering of minor bulbs, the greening of the lawn announces the coming of spring. Some people thatch their lawn, some aerate their lawn and others do both. Here on my 37-year-old property, I simply rake the lawn. When done in late March or early April it seems like to rake it is to wake it! Several days after a spring raking the lawn greening begins. A soft raking with a leaf rake cleans out twig debris, some old lawn clippings and leaves that have fallen over the winter. This is [...]


Garden Tip 76:
March 24, 2022

Garden Tip 76: SPRING BULB TIPS Crocus, snowdrops, grape hyacinth and scilla announce the awakening of the spring garden. These are some of the minor bulbs, small early flowering bulbs that tolerate cold and are easy to grow. The time to enjoy minor bulbs is now, the time to plant them is in the fall. Make a notation on your garden calendar for October and November if you want to add them to your landscape or plant some more. Minor bulbs can make a major statement when planted in groups or drifts and left to spread and naturalize on their own. [...]


Garden Tip 75:
March 17, 2022

Garden Tip 75: SPRING REFLECTION The longer and warmer days of early March bring welcoming signs of spring in the garden. Snowdrops are in flower, hellebore buds are up and daffodil foliage is showing. The great spring awakening has begun! Tropical house plants that have spent the winter months on the sun porch awake as well. New growth on the ivies, buds on the geraniums and flowers on the abutilon all herald the coming of spring. Overwintering insects that have been in a winter slumber on these plants are also waking up and getting active as the days get [...]


Garden Tip 74:
March 3, 2022

Garden Tip 74: SPRING REFLECTION Spring brings another season of gardening and another series of Garden Tips. It is important to note that my garden tips are just that, they are a reflection of what I am doing in my own garden and are not necessarily the only way or only right way to perform a garden task. Over time we gain new knowledge and insight into the natural world, and this knowledge sometimes suggests changes in how we do things in the garden. Each of us will reflect on these changes and create our own path to the [...]


Garden Tip 73:
December 9, 2021

Garden Tip 73: HYBRID HOLLIES A big part of the holiday season is decorating with fresh cut greens. Cut berried holly is one of the more popular greens used this time of year. I have found the Meserveae Hollies to be the best hybrid hollies for this use because of their color, berry count and longevity. Meserveae Hollies are a cross between Ilex aquifolium (for winter hardiness) and Ilex Rugosa (an English style holly). Ilex meserveae “Blue Princess” is my favorite. Like other hollies in this group, the shrub has dark purple stems, extremely dark, blue green shiny foliage [...]


Garden Tip 72:
November 18, 2021

Garden Tip 72: LEAVE THE LEAVES! The hard frosts have come and the leaves have fallen. We are all familiar now with the idea of leaving the leaves. Leaves break down in the soil adding nutrients and organic matter and over a short time become gardeners gold. I mow my lawn frequently this time of year not to cut the grass but to mulch, bag and harvest the leaves that have fallen on the lawn.  I spread these mulched leaves on garden beds near walkways and outdoor living areas. In larger garden beds and shrub borders I simply rake the [...]


Garden Tip 71:
November 11, 2021

Garden Tip 71: HARVESTING TUBERS November is here and we have had our first frost of the season. This is a signal to plants in the garden that it is indeed time to stop growing and shut down for the winter. Plants grown from tubers that are not winter hardy such as canna lily and dahlia can be dug now and stored for planting again next season. I harvest the tubers when the weather is predicted to be sunny for a couple of days. After digging the tubers I remove the stems and any excess soil. It is important [...]


Garden Tip 70:
November 4, 2021

Garden Tip 70: FALL PERENNIAL CARE November is here, and many of us will be cutting back perennials and getting garden beds ready for winter. As we go about this task, it is important to remember that some perennials with woody stems should be cut back in the spring instead of the fall to avoid winter damage and to enhance their performance in the summer garden. Perennials in this category include buddleia, caryopteris, hypericum and perovskia. During fall cleanup it is also important to watch for plants that have been plagued with any insect or disease problems during the [...]


Garden Tip 69:
October 28, 2021

Garden Tip 69: CUTTING BACK MONTAUK DAISIES Recently I was asked by a Highfield Gardener how to keep the fall blooming Montauk Daisy from flopping over. It has been my experience that when left on their own they do indeed tend to collapse when in full bloom. This can be controlled by a bit of timely pruning to keep the plants shorter and encourage stronger stem growth. In late fall, when the plants have shut down and turned yellow, I cut them down to three or four inches above soil line. The more significant cut happens in mid- to-late [...]


Garden Tip 68:
October 14, 2021

Garden Tip 68: OVERWINTERING ANNUALS! Last week I spoke of preparing houseplants for the move indoors for winter. I move a few annuals in for the winter months as well. Garden centers cannot possibly carry all the varieties of annuals available to grow each season and they tend to switch things up year after year. For this reason, I dig and overwinter some of my favorite annuals to ensure that I will have them again for the garden next spring. These plants require a sunny spot indoors and will need a bit of pruning and shaping to keep them in [...]


Garden Tip 67:
October 6, 2021

Garden Tip 67: DROPPING TEMPERATURES! Night temperatures dipping into the forties is a sure sign that it is time to move houseplants indoors. At this time of year I start collecting houseplants from out in the garden and gather them on the driveway next to the sunporch where they will spend the winter months. Once I have a group collected I wipe and rinse down the pots to remove any clinging garden soil. If time allows I also give pot saucers a quick dish soap wash. Most plants will require a bit of trimming and shaping after a summer [...]


Garden Tip 66:
September 29, 2021

Garden Tip 66: REPAIR & REJUVENATE! Late September into early August is probably the best time of year to repair and rejuvenate the lawn. I do not irrigate my lawn so I have a few areas that are showing the stress of a hot, dry summer. There is a practice in the trade called overseeding that works great in restoring areas such as these and as it turns out it doesn’t  require that much work. Overseeding in the fall simply requires a light raking of affected areas, applying grass seed, and watering in. This time of year I lightly water [...]


Garden Tip 65:
September 22, 2021

Garden Tip 65: FALL CLEANUP! While doing some fall cleanup in my garden this weekend I noticed some bare and barren areas under oak trees and hollies in one corner of the garden. The soil under these plants can be compact and extremely dry and the areas are in deep shade as well. One perennial that grows well under these conditions is the mighty Epimedium. It being the perfect time of year for digging, dividing and transplanting Epimedium I spent a couple of hours improving this part of the garden. Though small and fragile looking, Epimedium perform well in [...]


Garden Tip 64:
September 15, 2021

Garden Tip 64: TIME TO DIG & DIVIDE! Garden editing seems to peak in September. Shorter days and cooler nights are signals to perennials that it is time to slow down growth and prepare for colder weather. Many plants will be ready for a cut back soon. Fall is a great time to dig and divide spring and summer flowering perennials. Dividing perennials promotes heavier bloom and creates space between plants in the garden by controlling their size. Perennials that benefit from being divided every two to three years include astilbe, heuchera, shasta daisy and tall phlox. Daylily, echinacea [...]


Garden Tip 63:
September 8, 2021

Garden Tip 63: GARDEN TO DO LIST! A while back I mentioned keeping a to do list for the garden to keep things organized. I have divided my list into three sections. The first being things to do right away, like cutting the deadwood out of rhododendrons and removing old flowers from hosta plants. The second section are things that I will do a bit in the future, like planting bulbs and digging and dividing peonies. The third section is for noting long range ideas and plans, such as expanding a garden bed or adding a special garden feature. [...]

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