Garden Tip 133
September 14, 2023

Garden Tip 133: CARYOPTERIS ~ A FRAGRANT FLOWERING SHRUB Caryopteris is a fragrant shrub that bursts into color in the late summer garden while many other plants and shrubs are fading into fall. It is not a huge shrub, growing to only about three feet tall and wide. It sometimes behaves more like an herbaceous perennial than a woody shrub, sending up new shoots from the ground each spring. Many gardeners prefer this and will cut it back hard early in the growing season. Flower buds develop on new wood so this type of spring pruning is recommended. The [...]


Garden Tip 132
September 7, 2023

Garden Tip 132: DECORATING WITH HYDRANGEA FLOWERS I enjoy using hydrangea flowers when decorating for the holidays. It is the perfect way of bringing the garden indoors for the holiday season. Hydrangea flowers can be used to accent an evergreen swag, add dimension and color to a balsam wreath, as a garland for a mantle or rail, or simply arranged in a holiday vase. I work mainly with paniculata-type flowers. They are at their peak of color now, so it is time to harvest these garden treasures. I cut flowers now and for the next few weeks. Each week [...]


Garden Tip 131
August 30, 2023

Garden Tip 131: PRUNING FLOWERING SHRUBS I once heard a landscape professor say the best time to prune is when the pruners are in your hand. Following this rule will certainly get the job done, but there are a couple of things to consider to really get it right. We all know that timing is important when it comes to the pruning and shaping of flowering shrubs. The general rule is to prune just after flowering is complete so that new growth will have time to grow and initiate flower buds for next seasons bloom–following the flower. Secondly, most [...]


Garden Tip 130
August 23, 2023

Garden Tip 130: CONTROLLING CRABGRASS Crabgrass is usually a subject talked about in the spring. Pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide controls, mowing techniques, and seeding are all subjects talked about when forsythia shrubs are coming into bloom. It is important to remember at this time of year that crabgrass is a summer annual that has been growing in the landscape all season long. Large, healthy, and potentially troublesome plants are lurking in planting beds, under shrubs, along foundations and almost anywhere where an open spot of soil existed. With the onset of cooler, shorter days these plants enter their reproductive stage [...]


Garden Tip 129
August 17, 2023

Garden Tip 129: JAPANESE FOREST GRASS It is a good gardening practice to incorporate plants that have vibrant, colorful foliage into the garden to help maintain late summer color in the landscape. Annuals and perennials can fade away in the August garden, but foliage can be a season long attraction. One of the winning plants in this category is Hakonechloa, Japanese Forest Grass. These perennial clump-forming grasses grow to be two feet tall and three feet wide. Varieties include shades of golds and greens and variegated forms come with white, green or gold stripes. Most varieties acquire orange and red [...]


Garden Tip 128
August 10, 2023

Garden Tip 128: CUTTING BACK CATMINT “Follow the flower” is our general rule of thumb when it comes to the summer editing of flowering perennials. Now is the time to be turning our attention to one of my favorites, Nepeta (catmint). I noticed this week the absence of bees on these plants and that is a sure sign that the flowers have passed. Cutting off the old flowers will ensure a reblooming before the end of summer. Stems can be pruned individually with hand pruners or hedge shears can actually be used for a quick cut just above the [...]


Garden Tip 127
August 3, 2023

Garden Tip 127: EDITING HOSTAS Timely editing of hosta flowers can save a whole lot of work. Most gardeners select hosta varieties because of their foliage, choosing from a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and color. Hosta flowers are an added benefit, with some being quite showy and fragrant and all attracting bees and butterflies. The trick to the summer maintenance of hosta flowers is in the timing–removing the flower stem (scape) just as the flowers begin to fade. Flowers left too long on the plant wilt and drop to the foliage below. When this happens, the old petals [...]


Garden Tip 126
July 27, 2023

Garden Tip 126: CARING FOR DAYLILIES I recently spoke of the importance of garden editing during the summer months to maintain the health and beauty of the landscape. One little project that can make a big difference, and one that is not always done, is the removal of old daylily flowers. Daylilies are perennial plants whose flowers typically last just one day. These perennials add great color and interest to the summer garden and should be kept clean and fresh with the attention they deserve. Flowers of the day can be removed in the cool of the evening before [...]


Garden Tip 124
July 20, 2023

Garden Tip 125: USING COLOR IN YOUR GARDEN Color in the garden very often reaches its peak in mid-July to early August. Now is the time to observe your garden to see how well your color palette lends to the appeal and interest of your landscape. Photos and notes are a great way to record what is working and what can be improved. Repetition of color can draw attention and add cohesion to garden plantings. The bright colors of yellow, orange and red catch the eye and are good to use to create a focal point. Layering of color [...]


Garden Tip 124
July 13, 2023

Garden Tip 124: HYDRANGEAS AS POLLINATOR PLANTS There are two popular garden subjects that come up frequently in the summer months– hydrangeas and pollinator plants. The two are not usually talked about together; however, some hydrangeas (those with lacecap-like flowers) make great pollinator plants. Lacecap hydrangeas are not a type of hydrangea, rather they are hydrangeas with a particular style of flower. Lacecap hydrangea flowers produce fertile florets loaded with pollen and nectar. One of my favorites in this category is Hydrangea ‘Little Quickfire.’ This shrub produces white flowers that turn to pinkish red as the season progresses. They [...]


Garden Tip 123
July 6, 2023

Garden Tip 123: IT'S TIME FOR GARDEN EDITING With the onset of summer it is amazing how fast our garden chores turn from planting, cajoling and fretting about our spring plantings to the need for summer maintenance. This summertime gardening I call garden editing, removing anything that doesn’t add to the picture. Deadheading rose bushes and perennials, removing those hosta leaves damaged by snails and slugs, pulling the yellowed daylily foliage, garden editing will be an unceasing chore from now through fall. Like many things in life, it is the little things that count. Email George [...]


Garden Tip 122
June 29, 2023

Garden Tip 122: PERENNIAL PLANT OF THE YEAR 2023 The Perennial Plant Association is a group composed of growers, retailers, landscape designers and others who are professionally involved in the perennial plant industry. Their mission is to provide information on, and promote sales of, perennial plants. Every year they select and promote ‘The Perennial Plant of the Year.’ The 2023 selection is Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush.’  This Black Eye Susan flowers mid-summer to frost with bright golden yellow flowers with a chocolate center. Its bright green foliage is covered in small hairs which makes it resistant to Septoria leaf [...]


Garden Tip 121
June 22, 2023

Garden Tip 121: CARING FOR HOSTAS Hostas are herbaceous perennials grown from rhizomes. They are very versatile plants with some varieties suitable for shade and others for sun. Depending on variety, clumps can range in size from three inches by three inches (the miniatures) to giant plants six feet across and four feet tall. Colors include blue, green, yellow, white and a countless number of combinations of these colors in variegated varieties. Some hosta varieties have stiff stems and hold their foliage erect, but many have a growth habit that is low and spreading. As these plants grow and [...]


Garden Tip 120
June 15, 2023

Garden Tip 120: CREATING MIXED PLANTERS Every year around this time I suggest that it is a good idea to put together a few mixed planters to have on hand to add color to the garden and patio or to use as accents during special occasions. The general recipe for a mixed planter is to use a thriller, a filler, and a spiller meaning an upright component, a spreading plant and a trailing plant. One of the biggest problems with putting together a mixed planter is selecting the plants. The offerings are so vast in variety and color that [...]


Garden Tip 119
June 8, 2023

Garden Tip 119: THE CHELSEA CHOP – IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! We have talked about this before but it is a garden chore with a short window of opportunity, so it is good to have a reminder to get the job done. It is time for the Chelsea Chop. This is a pruning technique for late summer and fall blooming perennials that encourages them to produce more blooms over a longer period of time. The term Chelsea Chop originated in England because its timing coincides with the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London. The technique simply involves [...]


Garden Tip 118
June 1, 2023

Garden Tip 118: TOP DRESSING YOUR GARDEN Over the past few years I have found that top dressing really does make a difference. Now, I am not talking about donning a shirt or a blouse here, I am talking about adding beneficial compost to the garden and around the root zones of plants. Compost is decaying organic matter and comes in many different forms, from leaf compost gathered at the local municipal leaf dump to bags that can be purchased at your nearby garden center. Bagged selections can include chicken or cow manure, crustacean shells blended with peat and manure, [...]


Garden Tip 117
May 25, 2023

Garden Tip 117: WINTER HYDRANGEA DAMAGE I was at a Hydrangea Society meeting the other night, and the speaker did not beat around the bush when he spoke of the winter damage to the big leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla. To quote the speaker, “dead is dead, the brown stems have to go." Some gardeners have left the stems because of the presence of one or two small green buds. These buds will begin to open in May but will dry out in June. The sooner the brown stems are removed, the faster these plants will recover. Most of these [...]


Garden Tip 116
May 18, 2023

Garden Tip 116: ATTRACTING BIRDS TO YOUR PROPERTY Part of the fun of gardening is watching, listening and observing as nature unfolds. From time to time, I will have an “aha!” moment or make an observation in the garden that I like to share in this space. A discovery I had this spring has to do with cocoa fiber. In the past I have talked about different ways to attract birds to your property and how well evergreens serve this purpose.  This season, through observation, I discovered another great attraction and that is cocoa fiber. There is a cocoa fiber [...]


Garden Tip 114
April 27, 2023

Garden Tip 114: FOLLOW-UP CARE FOR NEW PLANTINGS Gardeners create, cultivate and care for gardens. Planting of trees, shrubs and plants is a big part of gardening and the follow up care of planted material is one of the most important duties a gardener can perform. Watering newly planted material twice a week by hand is important for a plant’s success. A deep, soaking watering is required.  Watering twice a week not only guarantees that the plant receives the water that it needs but it also means that we are actually looking at the plant and can closely monitor it [...]


Garden Tip 112
April 6, 2023

Garden Tip 112: SPRING SHRUBS Temperatures in March and early April can be a roller coaster. A typical day can run from 30 degrees in the morning to 50 degrees in the afternoon. On other days it can be a struggle to reach 40 degrees and we wonder if spring is actually here! I have a couple of early bloomers in my garden that assure me that spring is in the air even on a cold and blustery day. Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’, witch hazel, has been in bloom since mid-February and will last into early April. This multi stem [...]

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