Garden Tip 57:
July 28, 2021

Garden Tip 57: ADDING AUXILIARY PATHS! Over the past few years I have added new garden paths to the beds in my garden. These paths are not part of the overall garden design but are auxiliary paths that are simpler and smaller and serve two purposes. Number one they provide access to the garden bed so one can enjoy being “in” the garden, and number two they make garden maintenance a whole lot easier. Tools, garden totes, and hoses can all be brought into the garden without the danger of damaging the plants. These paths are simple and in [...]


Garden Tip 56:
July 21, 2021

Garden Tip 56: HYDRANGEA HIGH SEASON! It is high season for hydrangeas and there are more flowers this season than any year I can remember. Pinks, whites, blues, mopheads, lacecaps, hydrangea flowers are everywhere. With this plethora of bloom there are even enough flowers to cut and enjoy inside. I have heard of many ways to treat the cut stem to increase the longevity of the flower. Some folk smash the stem, others peel them. Some soak the flowers in cold water, others stick the stem in hot water. I use a slightly different procedure. Hydrangea flowers should never [...]


Garden Tip 55:
July 14, 2021

Garden Tip 55: GARDEN VIGNETTES! This time of year I like to keep several large potted containers ready for use in and around the garden. These are not containers that have to be grown but are simply large clay or ceramic pots with an equally large annual, perennial or tropical plants in them that are at the ready to use as garden accents, as fill in for cut back perennials or to add interest to a summer sitting area. Placing these containers in groups of three to five can create a very attractive garden vignette! Email George [...]


Garden Tip 54:
July 7, 2021

Garden Tip 54: HYDRANGEA FLOWERS THIS SEASON ARE SPECTACULAR! Lacking the extreme cold snaps in February and March the mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ) are putting on their best display in years. Maintenance pruning of mophead hydrangeas is done in the spring after spring growth has emerged, removing dead stems and old stems from the interior of the plant. Hoping not to confuse the pruning issue there is an early July pruning for mophead hydrangeas as well. Non flowering stems tend to grow taller than those in flower and these stems can be cut back to just below the [...]


Garden Tip 53:

June 30, 2021

Garden Tip 53: DON’T FORGET TO DEADHEAD! Gardens are in high season now and plant maintenance can be a daily chore to keep the gardens in prime condition. Deadheading is a big part of the work during this time of year. Removing old flowers improves the appearance of the garden and in some cases has the added benefit of keeping the plant in flower production. Annuals such as zinnia, dahlia, and marigold and perennials such as echinacea, tall phlox, and shasta daisy respond well to deadheading. Cutting the flowers for arrangements will have the same result with the added [...]


Garden Tip 52:
June 23, 2021

Garden Tip 52: TRADE THE TROWEL FOR A SHOVEL! For most of my fifty years in the nursery and garden center business the sale of a plant, shrub or tree meant the additional sale of peat moss and cow manure for they were the recommended soil additives when planting. It was the thirty dollar hole for the twenty dollar plant! Research has shown that these additives discourage root growth beyond the improved soil area so current thinking recommends adding nothing to the soil at all. It is best to dig a whole deeper and two to three times larger [...]


Garden Tip 51:
June 16, 2021

Garden Tip 51: HOSTA IN THE GARDEN! I have planted quite a few hosta in my landscape over the years. Not only can they be big, bold and beautiful in the garden, their dense growing habit prevents weeds from growing in the garden as well. An additional feature I discovered last year is that they exhibited very little stress during the prolonged summer drought. There are over ten thousand named varieties of hosta and their mature size can range from two inches to eight feet across. Be sure to check the label for size when you are picking hosta [...]


Garden Tip 50:
June 9, 2021

Garden Tip 50: Rhododendrons put on a great flower display this season. Many varieties are past peak now and new growth is starting to appear! Every week we talk of things that need to be done in the garden so it is nice every once in awhile to talk of things that do not have to be done. Old rhododendron flowers do not have to be removed. Some gardeners painstakingly peel off the old flowers and while aesthetically pleasing this is not necessary for the health or growth of the plant. The old flowers will dry and new growth [...]


Garden Tip 49:
June 2, 2021

Garden Tip 49: SPRING FLOWERING SHRUBS! Spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia, weigela, and lilac can be pruned just after their flowering is complete. Flowering shrubs do not have to be pruned but sometimes it is necessary to control their size in the landscape. Pruning is best accomplished using hand pruners cutting one stem at a time creating a natural looking shrub while avoiding that sheared and trimmed look. Older shrubs may need a more extreme pruning to bring them back to the proper scale in the garden. We had this situation in the Highfield Gardens with weigela, spirea [...]


Garden Tip 48:
May 26, 2021

Garden Tip 48: FORGET ME NOT! Every spring garden should include a planting of the flowering Forget Me Not, Myosotis, a biennial. Forget Me Not flower for weeks and weeks in the garden. Starting out at just a few inches tall they burst out into puffy blue clouds of color that can become almost two feet tall. Adaptable to sun or shade they are a great complement plant to spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils and mix well with perennials such as hosta and hellebore. After weeks of flowering the clouds of blue become crispy and brown and [...]


Garden Tip 47:
May 19, 2021

Garden Tip 47: “FROST FREE” ZONE! Every year at this time I watch the calendar and the long range weather forecast to decide when we are in that “frost free” zone and temperatures are right for full on gardening. Some gardeners wait for May 15th, some the 21st, and some even until Memorial day. Every year is different and fortunately for us this year appears to be May15. The ten day forecast has day temperatures in the sixties and seventies and the all important night temperature of above fifty degrees. Vegetables, annuals, tubers and bulbs are good to go! This [...]


Garden Tip 46:
May 12, 2021

Garden Tip 46: ONIONS RUNNING WILD IN THE GARDEN! The warm spring rains have resulted in an abundance of wild onion in the garden. It is not a large weed but it can be a distraction when present in large quantities and it is a tough one to eradicate. I have found lifting the bulbs with a trowel to be quite effective. The bulbs often have small bublets attached to them and one needs to be careful not to shake them loose when cleaning soil from the bulb. Often the onions are growing too close to plants making the [...]


Garden Tip 45:
May 5, 2021

Garden Tip 45: DAFFODILS IN THE GARDEN! It seemed to be a great year for daffodils in the gardens this spring. There a couple of things I do to keep them strong and flowering year after year. I cut off the flower and it's stem as they go by leaving the foliage to feed and strengthen the bulb. I fertilize the bulbs at this time as well. I mix organic Bulb-Tone with leaf compost and topdress this mix around the foliage. Daffodil foliage should be left in the garden until it turns yellow and collapses to the ground. I [...]


Garden Tip 44
April 28, 2021

Garden Tip 44: NOW IS THE TIME TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER PERENNIALS! Perennials are now showing new growth in the garden. Plants such as hosta, daylilies and even ornamental grasses can appear as rings of new growth with an empty center. This is a sure sign that it is time to divide these plants. Overtime the center of the plant crowds out and dies and new growth is concentrated to the outside creating a ring like appearance. It is no easy job to split some of these plants but the upside is that one ends up with three or [...]


Garden Tip 43:
April 21, 2021

Garden Tip 43: Everywhere you look this time of year folks can be seen spreading bark mulch onto garden beds. It makes for a great fresh look in the garden as we await the flush of new growth soon to follow. I have found that many of my garden beds are quite full of plants in high season with little or no ground to be seen. Because of this I mulch these beds only on the front edge, going ten or twelve inches into the garden. This preserves moisture in the bed, discourages weeds, and eliminates yards of mulch [...]


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 [...]

Go to Top