Garden Tip 110
March 9, 2023

Garden Tip 110: PREPARING FOR SPRING IN THE GARDEN Spring in the garden means exciting times. My mind races forward with so many ideas that I must carry a garden notebook to jot things down! A shrub that needs pruning here, a space that needs planting there, and ideas for new combinations pop up everywhere. In addition to my spring notes, I have written a winter long collection of new garden ideas. Taking all of this into consideration, it is time to prioritize the list into what must be done, what should be done, what could be done and [...]


Garden Tip 109
November 17, 2022

Garden Tip 109: PREPARING THE GARDEN FOR WINTER With the shorter days and falling leaves I begin to think about making preparations for the winter months ahead. One of my projects this time of year is to reorganize the garage. During the growing season, the garage becomes more of a garden shed rather than a place to park the car. Last week, I gathered and sorted empty pots, hung up tools in their proper place and even dragged out a couple of dead plants to the compost pile. By this time of year there are always five or six [...]


Garden Tip 108
November 10, 2022

Garden Tip 108: REMOVING FOLIAGE FROM ANNUALS Every summer I plant a few annuals in the garden to create an accent or focal point in the landscape. A few impatiens here, a group of super petunias there; it doesn’t take much to create that extra interest. By this time of year any extra interest value is long gone, and it is time for them to go. Years ago, I would pull them all up and lug them off to the compost pile. One year, in an enlightened moment, I realized that I was pulling up a rootball of some pretty [...]


Garden Tip 107
November 3, 2022

Garden Tip 107: MOWING LEAVES IN FALL I mow my lawn weekly from mid-October through late October, not to maintain grass height but to shred the fallen leaves. Mowing frequently in early fall keeps the accumulation of leaves on the lawn light enough so that I am able to mow and mulch them in place. Leaving the shredded clippings on the lawn adds fertilizer and organic matter to the soil. When leaves accumulate more heavily, I mow, mulch and bag the leaves and spread the collected clippings on the nearest perennial bed or shrub border. When there are a [...]


Garden Tip 106
October 27, 2022

Garden Tip 106: THE BENEFITS OF CLOVER! Recent rains are doing much to help improve lawns that were decimated by drought and water restrictions this past summer. Last week I over-seeded some bare spots that had truly suffered with white clover seed. For years seed companies and fertilizer companies have tried to convince us that clover is a lawn weed but it can actually benefit the lawn by its presence. Clover is a legume, in the pea family and these plants have the ability to convert nitrogen in the air to a form that is available in the soil [...]


Garden Tip 105
October 20, 2022

Garden Tip 105: IT'S MONTAUK DAISY TIME! We are all familiar with the white flowering shrub-like perennial that brightens Cape Cod gardens this time of year-- the Montauk or Nippon Daisy, Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Although a perennial, this plant can grow to be three feet tall and three feet wide in a single season, and its bright green glossy foliage is covered with three-inch daisy like flowers this time of year. Interestingly enough, there is another perennial that flowers at the same time with a strikingly similar flower. It is a perennial that I know as Chrysanthemum ‘White Bomb,' but [...]


Garden Tip 104
October 13, 2022

Garden Tip 104: SUMMER CAMP IS OVER FOR HOUSEPLANTS! Summer camp is over, and it is time to bring tropical house plants back inside. My collection of plants includes a camellia, olive tree, citrus, bay, rosemary and a wonderful accumulation of begonias, ferns, and tender treasures. All of these have one thing in common this time of year, they have grown huge over the summer months and are in need of a fall pruning. Cutting back and shaping these plants now allows them to stay in the pots they are in for the winter months and any repotting and [...]


Garden Tip 103
October 6, 2022

Garden Tip 103: PRUNING HYDRANGEAS Each spring and fall when the subject of pruning hydrangeas comes up, eyes start spinning and minds start racing concerning the how, what, when and where of correct pruning of these popular flowering shrubs. Some of the different types of hydrangeas have similar fall pruning requirement, so I group them together to keep things simple. The first group includes hydrangea macrophylla (the mopheads) and hydrangea serrata (the lacecap). Fall pruning here involves removing the spent blooms and any broken or obvious dead stems. The second group includes hydrangea paniculata (panicle cone shape flower) and [...]


Garden Tip 102
September 29, 2022

Garden Tip 102: HARDY AGERATUM Balance and scale are two subjects often referred to when speaking of landscape design. Scale refers to the size and visual weight or volume of landscape elements and their relationship to their surroundings. The principle of scale can be applied to trees, shrubs, plants and garden accents such as boulders, statuary and buildings. I came across a good example of scale while working in the front perennial garden this week. The garden is many years old and is a mixed planting of iris, geranium, daylily, phlox, salvia, agapanthus and more. Over the years most [...]


Garden Tip 101:
September 22, 2022

Garden Tip 101: BRINGING SCALE TO YOUR GARDEN Balance and scale are two subjects often referred to when speaking of landscape design. Scale refers to the size and visual weight or volume of landscape elements and their relationship to their surroundings. The principle of scale can be applied to trees, shrubs, plants and garden accents such as boulders, statuary and buildings. I came across a good example of scale while working in the front perennial garden this week. The garden is many years old and is a mixed planting of iris, geranium, daylily, phlox, salvia, agapanthus and more. Over [...]


Garden Tip 100:
September 15, 2022

Garden Tip 100: AUTUMN COLORS IN THE GARDEN Take a walk in the garden. The blending of seasonal colors in the autumn garden is magical. The September Equinox, the sun crosses the Celestial Equator and the hot summer colors of the garden cool to subtle hues and blend with the warm colors of fall, a most enchanting show that only mother nature can create. Take the time to take it in, no weeding, no deadheading just enjoy. Walk with a morning coffee, afternoon tea or evening wine and absorb the beauty of nature’s creation on this cusp of a [...]


Garden Tip 99:
September 8, 2022

Garden Tip 99: CARING FOR PERENNIAL HIBISCUS Many summer flowering perennials are well past their peak performance in the late summer garden. The vibrant colors of summer are waning. A great plant to have in the landscape this time of year to add a bit of razzle dazzle is the hardy, perennial hibiscus. Depending upon the variety chosen, plants grow from two to three foot tall to larger growing ones growing to a height five to six feet. The flowers of this plant are tropical-looking, growing up to ten inches wide and come in colors of pink, red, white [...]


Garden Tip 98:
September 1, 2022

Garden Tip 98: CULTIVATING THE SOIL After weeks and weeks of hot, dry weather, the topsoil and mulch in the garden becomes baked to a crust. This is why we often see summer rains running atop and off the garden. It is a good practice to cultivate the top few inches of any open areas in the summer garden to lesson runoff and aid in the absorption of the much needed rain. I find the long-handled four-pronged cultivator or the u-shaped hula hoe to be the perfect tools for this type of work. There are many enriching mulches available [...]


Garden Tip 97:
August 25, 2022

Garden Tip 97: DEALING WITH THE DROUGHT The extreme drought continues and that calls for some extreme action in the garden. Normally I start cutting back perennials mid to late September. This year I have already started cutting back those perennials that are so adversely affected by the dry conditions that no amount of watering or rain will bring them back. Phlox, salvia, peony, and comfrey are just some of the varieties that have been cut to the ground with the hope that any available water will strengthen the roots for next season’s growth. I have even started removing [...]


Garden Tip 96:
August 18, 2022

Garden Tip 96: A WONDERFUL DROUGHT-TOLERANT PERENNIAL The hot dry weather has taken its toll on garden perennials. Some have weathered the drought better than others, and it is interesting to take note of those that have come through in good condition. One in particular, in my garden, is Persicaria ‘Firetail.’ It stands today as it did in June, strong, clean, and still in flower, seemingly oblivious to the lack of rain over the past eight weeks. This plant is a clumping perennial that grows to three feet tall and can spread over time to six feet wide. Red [...]


Garden Tip 95:
August 11, 2022

Garden Tip 95: EDITING YOUR SUMMER GARDEN We have a term at our house that we use to describe an important garden activity that we do during this time of year– garden editing. Starting in March we do all that we can to promote and encourage vigorous growth in the garden and landscape. Come July and August, that effort is reversed and our work is focused on controlling, containing or removing what we have grown. Garden editing is just that– changing or removing that which does not add to the picture. An important bit of garden editing involves daylilies. [...]


Garden Tip 94:
August 4, 2022

Garden Tip 94: FERTILIZING YOUR CONTAINER GARDENS The lush, colorful hanging baskets, window boxes and planters of May often become drab and tired-looking come July and August. Many believe it is the heat that causes this decline of plant quality when, in actuality, it is caused by lack of food. With constant watering in the heat of summer any slow-release fertilizer that we, or the grower, added to the soil at planting time will be depleted. A quick remedy to this situation, and a means of keeping these plantings looking great into October, is a regimen of feeding using [...]


Garden Tip 93:
July 28, 2022

Garden Tip 93: HAND WATERING YOUR SUMMER GARDEN July and August are typically very dry months here on the Cape, making watering one of the more important garden chores to be done this time of year. Plantings of this season, last year, and even the year, before should be watered two to three times a week if they are not watered by a drip irrigation system. Hand watering is most effective when one waters using a water breaker. Water breakers are water nozzles with three to four hundred holes that break up and spread out the water coming out [...]


Garden Tip 92:
July 21, 2022

Garden Tip 92: SEDUMS ARE A GREAT ADDITION TO YOUR SUMMER GARDEN The latter part of July and the month of August are typically dry months here on the Cape. This year, to date, we are already running a deficit of nearly five inches of rain, making gardening a bit challenging during these summer months! Sedums are a group of plants to consider using for these dry times. They are dependable, versatile, drought tolerant, showy and attractive to pollinators. I have established a sedum garden in our front bed that is in poor soil, full sun and right next to [...]


Garden Tip 91:
July 14, 2022

Garden Tip 91: TIP PRUNING HYDRANGEAS Most discussions about pruning hydrangeas are about cutting them back before or after they bloom, or when they are dormant. There is a bit of pruning that can be done now, when they are in flower to help improve their appearance and encourage branching and flower production for the following season. This pruning is called tip pruning and should be done during the first two weeks of July. Tip pruning applies mainly to the macrophylla (ball shaped flowers) and lace cap (flat flowers) varieties of hydrangeas. Growing tips of these plants that do [...]

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