Garden Tip 42:
April 7, 2021

Garden Tip 42:   SPRING TRANSPLANTING I find April to be the best month to transplant house plants just as they are waking from their winter rest. It can be a messy chore so it is one that I do on a warm day either outside or in the garage. Shifting plants up to a larger pot one needs to be careful not to “over pot”, using a pot that is too large. Plants should be repotted into pots that are just two or three inches larger in diameter than the original pot. Using a good potting soil is [...]


Garden Tip 41:
March 24, 2021

Garden Tip 41:   EDGE THE LAWN Edging the lawn is one of the most rewarding and effective chores of spring garden clean up. The danger here is that cutting into the lawn every year can reduce your lawn area significantly over time. I avoid this problem by edging with a two step approach. I first cut a new edge with an edger just inside the garden bed so that the cut is in the bed and not in the lawn. Secondly, I use a hand cultivator to loosen the soil and pull it slightly into the bed exposing [...]


Garden Tip 40:
March 10, 2021

Garden Tip 40:   LET'S PLAY "PICK UP STICKS" One of my constant garden projects this past winter was picking up sticks. Many weeks had windy days with gusts that would continually do some deadwood cleaning in the oaks. It is surprising now to see how many of those twigs and sticks ended up in shrubs and smaller trees below. This is a good time to clean out winter debris that has collected in the understory plantings before new growth and foliage appear. Evergreens also have a tendency to collect leaves over the winter so a quick brushing with [...]


Garden Tip 39:
February 24, 2021

Garden Tip 39:   TIME TO "LIMB UP" February and March are good months for pruning evergreen and shade trees in the garden. Trees planted five, ten, fifteen years ago have branches now that extend far beyond their original space. These branches bring shade to previously sunny areas and can affect the growth of lawns, perennials, and vegetables growing nearby. One way to to increase sunlight in the garden is to “limb up” evergreen and shade trees removing the lower branches to allow sunlight to filter in below. Pole pruners and pole saws are the best tools and safest [...]


Garden Tip 38:
February 10, 2021

Garden Tip 38:   SNOW IN THE GARDEN The snowstorm this past week dropped about five inches of heavy wet snow on the garden and many ornamental trees and shrubs were laid flat or splayed open. The following day temperatures remained in the twenties and the snow was like cement. The best way to handle trees and shrubs in this situation is to simply walk away. Plants are extremely brittle under these conditions and any attempt of snow and ice removal can cause cracking and breaking of branches. I have a yew hedge, azaleas, rhododendrons, arborvitaes, cedars and many [...]


Week 37:
January 27, 2021

Week 37:   BIRDS IN THE GARDEN Feeding wild birds in the winter garden adds activity and interest to the landscape. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly rings true when it comes to buying wild bird food. Some commercial mixes contain a high percentage of fillers such as milo and wheat which are not appealing to most bird species and will result in a lot of wasted seed. A quality food mix leaves behind mostly empty shells. Many folk use straight sunflower seed for feeding and this can work very well. I prefer a mix [...]


Week 36:
January 13, 2021

Week 36:   BONES OF THE GARDEN January and February are good months to check out your garden bones. Trees and shrubs are the larger components of the landscape and serve to anchor, frame, and define the garden. They are the bones of the garden. Their function in the winter garden is even more pronounced in the absence of annuals, perennials, and seasonal foliage. Winter bones add interest to the otherwise barren landscape. A good garden design incorporates both deciduous and evergreen material for added interest. I have found that gardens with at least thirty percent evergreen plantings work [...]


Week 35:
November 17, 2020

Week 35: PREPPING FOR NEXT SPRING Fall is a busy season in the garden-- digging, dividing and moving perennials, planting new perennials and digging in spring flowering bulbs. There can be a lot of changes and additions to the garden this time of year. Sometimes it's hard to remember all that has been done! It is a good idea to identify the location of these changes so that they are not disturbed by early spring gardening. Plant labels, stick labels, or even stones, can be used. I usually place these identifiers on the north side of the plantings so [...]


Week 34
November 10, 2020

Week 34: LEAF LITTER Lawn growth slows and eventually stops with the onset of shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall. It is said that we should leave the leaves, but a heavy mat of leaves should never be allowed to accumulate on the lawn. I continue to mow my lawn weekly at this time of year for leaf maintenance. Leaf litter in early November is light, so I mow the leaves (without bagging) and the shredded leaves are left to improve the lawn soil. Later in the season, when leaf accumulation is heavy, I mow and bag the [...]


Week 33:
November 3, 2020

Week 33: EVERGREEN FOLIAGE Every year, at this time, I get a lot of questions regarding dead and dying foliage in evergreens. There is dead and dying foliage, but it is a completely normal and natural occurrence in the fall as evergreens shed last year's growth from the interior of the plant. The end of the branch, the growing tip, should be green and budded and is the sign of a healthy plant. Some folks are concerned that there is more dead foliage this year than last and that is simply due to the fact that the plant has grown [...]


Week 32:
October 27, 2020

Week 32: PRUNING HYDRANGEAS The mild temperatures of this past winter and the absence of a late February early March cold snap resulted in the best mophead hydrangea (macrophylla) flowering in many years. The mild winter was unfortunately followed by one of the driest summers that we can remember and those beautiful hydrangea flowers went from blue to brown. It is common knowledge that macrophylla hydrangeas should never be pruned for fear of removing next years flower buds. They can, however , be cleaned. The dry, brown flowers can be removed by carefully cutting them from the stem at [...]


Week 31
October 21, 2020

Week 31: FAVORITE GARDEN TOOLS Like most gardeners that I know, I have my favorite pair of pruners. Pruners are probably the most important tool a gardener can have and finding the right pair becomes a very personal choice. The weight, grip and cut all come in to play in deciding on the right pair of pruners. I am not sure if we all develop the same affinity when it comes to choosing a trowel. For years I would grab the first trowel that came into sight and go about my work. I discovered the Hori Hori garden knife [...]


Week 30
October 14, 2020

Week 30: FALL CLEAN-UP IN YOUR GARDEN! The storm this past week brought more of the same, constant wind and little rain. One of my first tasks after storms like this is to walk the garden and pick up sticks. I walk the garden twice. I pick up sticks on the ground the first time through and pull sticks and branches from shrubs and perennials on my second. It is surprising how many twigs and branches can be found. We have talked in the past of leaving the leaves for the organic matter and fertilizer that they contribute. I [...]


Week 29
October 7, 2020

Week 29: IT'S COOLING OFF! Cooler temperatures and shorter days cause our garden plants and ornamentals to shut down growth and prepare for winter dormancy. Things seem slower in the fall garden but it is important to remember that garden weeds continue to grow at this time of year. A little diligence in weed control now will pay off big time in the spring. Check perennial beds, vegetable gardens and shrub borders for weeds such as crabgrass and oxalis that seem to appear overnight. Pull weeds when the soil is moist after a rain to have better success in [...]


Week 28:
September 30, 2020

Week 28: CONSIDER OVERWINTERING Last week I spoke of getting tropical foliage plants ready to move back indoors for the winter. There are a few annuals such as coleus, geranium and fuchsia that you might want to consider for overwintering inside as well! Garden centers have to choose yearly from hundreds of varieties of annuals and selections can vary from year to year. I have a few varieties of coleus and geranium that I want to be sure to have next year, so some of these plants will spend the winter on the porch. I select a couple of [...]


Week 27:
September 23, 2020

Week 27: MOVING YOUR TROPICALS PLANTS INDOORS Waking to morning temperatures of fifty degrees reminds me that it is time to start rounding up the tropical plants scattered throughout the garden and get them ready for their winter home indoors! I gather a few plants each day and move them to the driveway where they are close to the door just in case a surprise freeze warning should come upon us. Gathered plants are cleaned, pruned and shaped. Some pots will require a light topdressing of soil. Plants ready for a larger pot will wait until spring. Once gathered [...]


Week 26
September 16, 2020

Week 26: CARING FOR YOUR IRISES! Cutting back perennials last week I came across a beautiful clump of bearded iris foliage hidden in the garden. I had forgotten that this plant was here because I have not seen it flower in years! While the rhizomes of Japanese and Siberian Iris can be planted 3 to 4 inches deep, rhizomes of the bearded iris need to be at the surface to have optimum flower performance. Flowering of these rhizomes is diminished over time due to the added depth of seasonal applications of bark mulch, compost and shredded leaves. This is [...]


Week 25:
September 9, 2020

Week 25: TIME TO DIG & DIVIDE! Recently I mentioned that fall is a great time to dig, divide and move perennials. We are all guilty at some point of not giving plants enough room to grow. Those shrubs and perennials that we planted years ago may now be competing for space and sunlight! Check your gardens this fall for perennials such as astilbe, hosta, daylilies and peonies that may be overgrown by adjacent shrubs. Deciduous shrubs like forsythia and viburnum can sometimes be cut back to accommodate these perennials. Evergreens such as arborvitae and holly are better left [...]


Week 24:
September 2, 2020

Week 24: GARDEN TO-DO LIST Sometimes it is just too darn hot or I am a bit too tired to work in the garden. Occasionally, at times like this, I will work on my list-- my garden to-do list. My garden to-do list is divided into two parts to keep things manageable and not overwhelming. The first part of the list include tasks that need immediate attention like deadheading the rose bushes and weeding the porch bed. The second part of the list is the wish list, larger projects to be done when time, energy, and budget will allow. [...]


Week 23:
August 27, 2020

Week 23: SEDUM Much time is spent this time of year cutting back summer flowering perennials such as tall phlox, day lilies and echinacea. Over time these summer perennials grow to be two to three times larger than when originally planted. Splitting or dividing these larger clumps becomes necessary to leave room for garden diversity. Dividing these large clumps now lends space to the addition of fall color in the garden. Local garden centers carry the traditional mums, cabbage, and kale for fall planting, but they also have a full selection of fall annuals that will flower until frost. [...]

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