Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for March 15, 2014

OKC Beautiful’s Gardening Tip of the Month: Azaleas

Article source:

Garden Plot

By Mike McGrath

More Reports

string(31) “/emedia/wtop/33/3300/330098.jpg”
string(14) “lawn_VT_AP.jpg”
string(3) “375”
string(3) “227”
string(0) “”
string(0) “”
string(368) “This undated photo courtesy of Mike Goatley shows the Virginia Tech logo on his lawn at his home in Blacksburg, Va. The logo is warm season zoysiagrass, which goes dormant in winter and stands out in a contrasting carpet of cool season fescue. Regardless of the type, spring is the time to feed your lawn. Wait until August to plant grass seed. (AP Photo/Mike Goatley)”

Meet Mike this month!

Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23: The Home Garden Show at the Fredericksburg, Virginia Expo Conference Center. For more information, visit

Saturday, March 29: Severna Park Home Show at the Severna Park Community Center. For more details visit

Sunday, March 30: Harford County Home Show at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md. For more information visit

Forget spring seeding; just get your gluten down

Joe in Hagerstown speaks for many listeners when he writes, “Now that we can actually see the grass again can you give us a time frame for when to seed bare spots, and when it’s okay afterwards to apply corn gluten to prevent crabgrass. Am I right in assuming that once the grass seeds have germinated they can’t be harmed by the gluten?”

Yes, Joe. But crabgrass germinates at a soil temperature of 55 degrees, while actual grass seed needs much warmer temps (closer to a toasty 70 degrees measured four inches down). So your crabgrass would be up and growing long before you got to the gluten.

Spring soil is just too cold for successful seeding. So stop the crabgrass instead by spreading corn gluten meal – the only natural pre-emergent weed and feed – next month. Hold off on any reseeding until August.

Soil temp countdown; still way too cold for crabgrass

It’s time for your weekly update on soil temperature! As we have hammered at you for untold millennia, crab grass plants die over the winter, but they drop a lot of seed before they expire. Those seeds lie dormant until soil temperatures reach 55 degrees as measured four inches deep and then sprout to become the dominant weed in area lawns.

This invasion of the fescue snatchers typically occurs in April, just as forsythia and redbuds begin to bloom and when the water temperature in the Chesapeake Bay also approaches that magic number of 55. (Right now those temps are hovering around 40 degrees; here’s the link if you want to keep tabs on the waters.)

Applying corn gluten meal just as we approach that magic 55 will prevent crabgrass germination, feed your lawn, and do it all well within the new lawn care laws in our area.

But don’t jump the gun. The pre-emergent action of corn gluten only lasts for about a month, so you want to get your timing right. Once that crabgrass germinates, it’s almost impossible to stop.

Why can’t I sow grass seed now?

Michael in Herndon is one of a legion who writes: “My grass is a disaster. I want to tear it out and replace it. I’ve heard that the fall is an ideal time to do this, but would it be suicide to spread seed in the spring?  I don’t think I can afford the instant gratification of sod.”

Sorry Michael, but your real-life choices are to be instantly and somewhat expensively gratified by that sod or to prepare to sow seed around Aug 15. By the time spring-sown, cool-season grass seed like bluegrass or fescue can (finally) germinate, the temps are getting too hot for the already-stressed, young and very weak new plants, which always wither and die.

Ah, but sow the same seed mid-August and the warm soil and steadily cooling temps virtually ensure a great stand of grass. The smart money says to just mow what you have at three inches high for now and plan for August. It’ll be here sooner than you think.

Viable new lawn options for spring

In our last thrilling episode, Michael in Herndon wants a new lawn, doesn’t want to pay the premium for sod and asks, “Do you really have to wait until August to sow grass seed?”

No Michael, you can spread bluegrass or fescue seed in the cold soil of spring where it will rot, lose vigor and feed voles until the soil warms up enough for germination (typically a month or so later), at which point it will be getting too hot for any frail survivors to … well, survive.

Spring is a perfect time to lay sod, however. It’s also the right time to install warm-season grasses like zoysia and Bermuda, which go tan dormant over the winter but otherwise do well here, especially zoysia, which is very low maintenance.
Plant zoysia plugs in the spring and you’ll have a full green lawn by August. Yes, it will go dormant in cold weather, but it won’t allow any weeds to elbow their way in, will need very little mowing and will even fill in its own bare spots. It just won’t be green for Christmas.

Peas on St. Pat’s? Sure, if you cheat

Monday is St. Patrick’s Day, the traditionally “lucky” day to plant your peas. However, the forecast suggests bad luck for traditionalists as highs will only be in the 30s, nighttime temps will be well below freezing and there’s a chance of snow.

The best way to seize the proposed good luck involved and not grow pre-frozen peas is to cheat. (And remember, cheaters always win!)

Gather up your snow, snap or English shelling pea seeds, wrap them in moist (not sopping wet) paper towels, put the towels into a plastic bag, fold the bag over loosely (don’t seal it) and check the seeds every day. When they show signs of sprouts, plant them outside if the weather has improved enough, stall for a few days more, or plant them a few inches deep in containers (that will give you another week before they need to go outside for sunshine).

Pea seeds won’t sprout in cold soil, but pea plants will grow just fine in that same soil; the cold-weather loving plants can even take a couple of light frosts.

Follow @WTOPLiving and @WTOP on Twitter.

© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Article source:

Milwaukee/NARI Members Provide Spring Lawn and Garden Tips

As the cold of winter comes to an end and we transition to the warmer temperatures of spring, now is the perfect time to begin your annual spring lawn and garden maintenance according to members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 52 years. Members share advice for inspecting your property for wind and snow damage and provide tips for making necessary repairs and proper upkeep.

“The heavy snow cover and extremely high winds have caused a great deal of breakage of limbs on existing trees and they will need to be pruned out along with any other normal pruning that one might want to do in the late winter or early spring,” said Tom Auer of The Ground Crafter, LLC in Milwaukee. “Remember that many flowering shrubs and trees bloom on last year’s growth, so pruning will sharply reduce the number of buds. The flowering crabs, magnolia, and forsythia are a few species that will suffer a reduction in bloom.

“There will likely be a great deal of heaving of stone patios and some other garden structures this spring,” Auer said. “Homeowners should be patient, as the thaw of ground frost can take quite a long time, especially a northern exposure or other areas that might be shaded by trees or buildings. Wait until at least May 1 to make any adjustments to base layers, edging, and surface elements.”

“Once the snow begins to recede, you can begin to make an assessment of your lawn, trees, and bushes,” said Gary Urban of Hawks Landscaping Co. Inc., a Division of the Hawks Nursery Co., Inc. in Wauwatosa. “Check for mole and vole damage by looking for the signs of burrowing into the ground and eating at the roots of trees and bushes. You would also notice narrow dead tracks in the lawn.

“The landscaping cure for damage to your lawn is to rake out dead grass and later in the spring to add soil and seed,” said Urban. “The soil needs to warm up, because if the ground is too hard, the seeds can’t grow. We usually wait until early May to do seeding.

“Rabbits can cause damage to tree trunks and even lower branches due to high snow fall levels,” Urban said. “For burning bush, a type of shrub, rabbits eat at the bark searching for food during the winter. If more than three quarters of a branch is damaged, you need to prune out the remainder.”

“Inspect perennials to make sure the cycle of freezing and thawing has not caused these plants to heave,” said Auer. “If you discover a plant that appears to be pushing up out of the ground, gently step down around plant to keep it rooted until growing conditions improve.

“Evergreens, such as spruce and boxwood, will undoubtedly show signs of wind damage from the winter,” said Auer. “The dehydration resulting from the wind will cause needles and leaves to brown. A very light shearing can remove some of this damage and allow recovery and new growth.

“Patience will be key this spring, so give existing plantings time to recover before deciding to take them to the compost pile,” said Auer. “Many species will die down to the ground during such a harsh winter, but often the crown and roots have survived and will flourish if left undisturbed while Mother Nature works her magic.”

As winter comes to a close, we have a few more minutes of daylight each day and the temperatures become more bearable. Consider the following additional tips from Milwaukee NARI that you can add to your spring maintenance to do list:

• Make sure gutters, downspouts, or inlet basins for sub-surface drainage systems are clear of debris before the normal heavy rains in spring. Not only is this critical to protect your home, but standing water and flash flood-like conditions can also harm plants and cause ruts in your yard, washing away valuable topsoil in the process.

• As the snow melts and reveals all the elements of your landscape, don’t forget to get outside and inspect the “hardscaping” features on your property too, such as trellises and decks. Make repairs now while waiting for more ideal gardening weather.

• If you are reusing certain supplies from previous years (like pots to grow seeds in), make sure to disinfect them. Pruning tools should also be disinfected. The UW-Extension recommends using a 10% bleach solution to disinfect your tools and supplies.

• Clean, sharpen, and lubricate your garden tools such a digging shovels and pruning tools. Well-maintained equipment will last longer, make your work a lot easier, and is better for your plants and soils.

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 740 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

Article source:

Garden Tips: Try some new veggie varieties

Advertisers often use the words “new,” “improved” or “better” to tempt consumers. Plant marketers are no different. They want us to buy new varieties developed by plant breeders and seed companies. It is a good approach because most of the gardeners I know like to try something different in their gardens each year. It is part of what makes gardening so much fun. Here are some new veggie and herb varieties you might want to know about.

Burpee ( has an exclusive basil introduction that has me excited. Basil is my favorite herb but by the middle of the season it starts to flower. I then work endlessly to keep the flowers pinched off. “Bam” is touted as a basil that reaches a height of 18 to 20 inches and is very productive, flavorful and fragrant. The great thing about “Bam” is that it never flowers and it keeps producing in hot weather.

Mascotte (www.parkseed) is a new bush bean variety that is so good it has been honored with the All America Selection award for 2014 — the first bean since 1991 to receive that honor. What makes this bush bean so great? First, it is a compact variety, which makes it ideal for the trend toward gardening with less space in raised beds and containers. The plants also produce plenty of long slender pods above the leaves, making harvesting easy. The beans are crunchy with a great taste.

Fans of beets (I’m not) will want to know that there are two new varieties to pique their interest. One is a red “Baby Beat” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds ( The National Garden Bureau says “Baby Beat” is a true baby or mini beet that’s nicely rounded with smooth skin. The beet tops are small and attractive, which could make them a nice addition to an edible landscape or a container garden. The other new beet is “Boldor” ( with sweet, mild, 2-inch round fruit. The flesh is a bright yellow and the skin is a dark golden color. The young tops are tender and sweet.

I do not eat a lot of eggplant, but after eating some spicy baba ganoush (sort of like humus made from grilled eggplant) last year, I’ll probably eat more this year. A new All American Selection is “Eggplant Patio Baby F1” ( As its name implies, it is a compact eggplant that will work well in containers. The plants are highly productive and yields 2- to 3-inch, deep purple, egg-shaped fruit. Plus, it is a “friendly” eggplant that does not have thorns on its leaves or at the top of the fruit.

I grow most of my veggies in containers, so I am always watching for space-saving bush varieties of squash, melons and cukes. While not brand new, here are a few varieties that space conscious gardeners might want to know about. From Renee’s Garden Seeds ( comes “Bush Slicer”, a dwarf bush cucumber with 6- to 8-inch fruit, “Astia”, a compact zucchini, and two bush winter squash. “Pic-N-Pic”, a bush yellow crookneck squash, comes from Burpee.

You might find some of the varieties I have mentioned on seed racks at your local garden stores, along with other interesting varieties that may entice you, or you can order them online from the companies noted. The weather is warming, so get your seed as soon as possible and don’t forget to try something new.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source:

Chelsea Flower Show 2014: introducing the Telegraph garden

A sophisticated garden

It was fellow Italian Arabella Lennox-Boyd, one of the UK’s leading garden
designers, who offered him his next job. “I was a bit snobbish at first
about the idea of working on private gardens, but in fact with Arabella I
found my vocation. I worked for her for 10 years on many different projects
in many different countries, and it was brilliant. She taught me a great
deal, especially about plants.”

Watch Paul and Tommaso discuss their plans for the Telegraph garden

By contrast, Paul, 49, was an enthusiastic horticulturist from a young age. “I
was very precocious, telling everyone when I was 10 that I was going to be
an orchidologist.” A German-speaking American, with a grandmother who was a
passionate vegetable grower, he was brought up in Brooklyn and Long Island,
where he entered all the local produce shows “And won!”

Torn between studying art or horticulture, he decided to combine the two and
read landscape architecture. “For part of the course I came to Europe, which
was a second home to me, studying in Denmark, and coming over to England to
look at the gardens.”

After working for a spell in Manhattan, he moved to London, where he was also
employed on big commercial schemes first by Clouston and then Gillespies. He
knew Tommaso socially, and a chance encounter with him on Portobello Road
while he was job-hunting resulted in an offer to join Lennox-Boyd’s
practice. Two years later, in 2000, he and Tommaso decided to set up their
own studio.

“We knew we would work well together,” Paul tells me. “It wasn’t so much that
our strengths dovetailed, but that we had a mutual love of the same things –
a similar aesthetic.”

A modern town garden in Blackheath designed by the pair

“There is a bit of the German-Italian thing going on,” adds Tommaso. “Paul is
very methodical and thorough. I am more bish, bash, bosh – less interested
in the engineering and fine detail.”

They don’t impose a particular style on all their gardens, they told me, but
there are certain motifs. “We like a strong, simple, logical structure with
clean lines,” explains Tommaso. “Nothing too fussy. And with plants
softening the lines.” Layouts are often formal, and their planting veers
more to the traditional than the new-wave naturalistic. “What we love is to
take historic elements, like pleached trees and woven basket beds, and put
them into a contemporary context.”

I wondered how the work was divided. “In the early days, when we were building
things up, we shared all the jobs and talked through everything together,”
says Tommaso. “We still show each other our work and are always aware of
what the other is doing, but mostly we do our own separate projects.” A team
of six works in the office with them.

They have worked on an impressive array of gardens, ranging from Mick Jagger’s
former home in Berkshire and Ronnie Barker’s former home in the Cotswolds –
which sported a red telephone kiosk and much other quirky architectural
salvage assembled by Barker – to a massive chateau in the south of France
with a maze of formal compartments. The Bamford family, owners of JCB and
Daylesford Organic, have been clients for a number of years, and Tommaso has
been advising on the landscape around their home in Barbados, originally set
out by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, which boasts pleached tropical fig trees and a
pergola cloaked in jade vine.

It was Lady Bamford who invited Tommaso and Paul to create their first and
only previous Chelsea garden in 2008 – though Tommaso had worked with
Lennox-Boyd on some of her Chelsea designs. The garden featured a modern
kitchen, wheat fields, and vegetables grown in wicker baskets, and earned a
Silver-Gilt medal.

A quirky backyard space, typical of del Buono Gazerwitz

For the Telegraph this year, they are creating what they describe as a
“contemporary Italian garden”. It will be a green garden, “reinterpreting
traditional Italian elements” says Tommaso, “with a strong axis line,
controlled shapes, pots, roof-trained trees, and a modern version of a
grotto in the form of a water wall.”

At their own homes in London, Paul has a small garden and Tommaso has a
terrace, but for the past five years they have been time-sharing a cottage
in Suffolk together, alternating weekends and surprising each other with new
plants. It is an unusual but rather appealing way to run a garden – given
two people with such similar tastes. However, Paul is reluctant to show me
any photos. “It is a work in progress,” he laughs. Like Chelsea.

A preview of the Telegraph garden 2014

The 2014 Telegraph garden combines some of the guiding principles of Italy’s
great horticultural tradition but reinterpreted for a 21st-century design.
Inspiration for the garden has come from revisiting the components
traditionally found in celebrated historical Italian gardens, to create a
bold and uncompromising modern garden.

All the plants in the garden are both appropriate and suitable for the
conditions typically found in the north of Italy, a climate very similar to
Britain. The garden will be enclosed on two sides by a bay hedge (Laurus
nobilis) and shaded at both ends by the canopy of 12 roof-trained lime
trees. The sunken lawn at the heart of the garden will be punctuated by domes
of clipped box and Osmanthus x burkwoodii. The formality is softened by a
range of herbaceous plants in deep blues and lime green with a touch of deep
pink. Modernist touches include stylish outdoor furniture and a dramatic,
glittering wall of water at one end of the garden, to calm the hubbub of the

Article source:

After harsh winter, gear up for spring projects

Sunny skies and moderate temperatures make it easy to spruce up the yard or garden in early spring, but how do you stay enthused when conditions aren’t so perfect?

“This year it’s going to be easy because we had such an awful winter,” said Teena Allen, manager at PC’s Nursery and Landscaping, one of the vendors at this weekend’s Wiregrass Home Garden Expo.

“It’s hard to be enthused when it’s 100 degrees outside, and it’s important they go ahead now and get things like shrubs and trees, that kind of stuff, established before it gets hot,” Allen said. By doing things early “you’re going to work less,” she said. “You don’t struggle as much keeping things alive.”

Allen said fertilizing is going to be key this year because plants were stressed this winter. They need to be fed a good slow-release fertilizer, and Allen said she sells one used at the nursery.

Discoloration is one sign of winter stress, and Allen said all of the damage won’t be known until you see what new growth comes out. Fertilizing will help plants, especially shrubs, get back on the road to recovery.

Some chores need to be performed at certain times of the year. Allen said azaleas should be trimmed no later than July. “As soon as they bloom, that’s really the best time,” she said. “After they get through, right then, is perfect.”

One way to promote interest in the outdoor space is to have a landscape that has an entertaining aspect year-round.

Jake Bearden, owner of Alabama Landscape Creations, said a fire pit, hot tub, some sort of structure like a pavilion with ceiling fans, and an all-weather outdoor flat screen TV with a swivel mount for sporting events are options.

“Have all the entertaining aspects outside that you have inside,” he said.

Bearden’s business sells equipment and furnishings for outdoor kitchens, such as grills, refrigerators, and sinks. From natural stonework, paver patios and landscaping to aquatic gardens, spas, lighting and nice furnishings, Bearden said the yard can become “an extension of their home.”

The more time homeowners spend outside, the more they’re going to want to improve it.

Vendors at the ninth annual event provide information for homeowners looking for ideas to renovate, remodel or redecorate their home or garden. Some of the services include home security, flooring, carpet, outdoor equipment, pest control, windows, screens, roofing, gutters and landscaping.

Article source:

‘Gardening Day’: new season, fresh ideas



Chef Tyler Sailsbery of The Black Sheep Restaurant in Whitewater dishes up a luncheon entree during a service. Sailsbery will be one of the presenters for the Smart Gardening Day, demonstrating recipes for Italian flavors with an abundance of tomatoes. Terry Mayer file photo

Learn what’s new in perennial hosta growing during Allen Ritchey’s presentation during the Smart Gardening Day. File photo


•What: Smart Gardening Day

•When: March 22

•Where: Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.

•Register: (262) 741-4951,

Gardeners as well as non-gardeners will find something of interest at Walworth County’s eighth annual Smart Gardening Day held Saturday, March 22. The event will be held at the Walworth County Government Center in Elkhorn.

Those attending can choose up to four classes from the 12 planned for the day. The cost is $7 per class or $25 for four classes. Registrations will be accepted until March 20, or when the classes are full. Registration forms are available from the Walworth County UW-Extension office at (262) 741-4951 or online at

Classes include: “New Plants for Your Landscape” and “Butterfly Friendly Landscaping,” both taught by Walworth County UW-Extension horticulture educator Chrissy Wen. Learn all about “Saving Seeds in the Home Garden” presented by Rock County UW-Extension horticulture educator Christy Marsden, and “Food Dehydrating Basics” with Walworth County master food preserver Jenny Wehmeier.

Chef Tyler Sailsbery of The Black Sheep Restaurant in Whitewater will demonstrate recipes for “Italian Flavors With an Abundance of Tomatoes.” Chef Mike Lavin of Gooseberries Fresh Food Market in Burlington will share “New Favorites From Old Foods.”

With all that food, make sure to check out “Tai Chi — A New Twist on an Old Exercise,” presented by Tai Chi instructor Mike Wisniewski.

If flower arranging is more your style, come check out “Simple, Smart Flower Arranging for the Table” with Joanne Wright, owner of Lilypots Fresh Flowers in Lake Geneva. Or “Design a Fresh Floral Arrangement” with Jerry Rahn, the owner of Wishing Well Florist in Elkhorn.

If you are looking to update your outdoor garden space, make sure to attend “Tool Time” with Walt Uebele, owner of Burlington Garden Center.

Do you have plenty of shade? Find out “What’s New in the Perennial Hosta” with Allen Ritchey, owner of Al’s Auto Body and Arboretum in Walworth.

Feel a bit whimsical? Learn about the new trend of “Miniature Gardens Fairy Gardens” with Brenda Williams of Pesche’s Greenhouse in Lake Geneva.

Smart Gardening Day is sponsored by Walworth County Home Community Education, Master Gardeners and UW-Extension. A raffle of garden-related items will be held to benefit the HCE Wisconsin Bookworms program. Lunch and beverages will be available for purchase.

Register at (262) 741-4951.






Article source:

Door opens to spring at Outdoor Living & Landscape Show

Fake grass has come to the Outdoor Living Landscape Show.

No longer do you need to worry about choosing between fescue, Bermuda, zoysia or buffalo.

Instead, there’s the fresh-cut olive-green grass, the fresh-cut bright-green grass, the long-and-lush olive-green grass, or the long-and-lush bright-green grass. Or you can opt for one that’s knit and stapled down on the edges, for yards with dogs.

You can probably guess when Derek Miller, who used to own Lawns of Glory lawn-care company in Wichita, decided to seek out artificial turf for lawns. If you guessed the second year of the drought, 2012, you were right.

“I got tired of seeing dead grass in all my yards,” Miller said as he debuted his new company, ForeverLawn Wichita, at the outdoor-living show Friday at Century II.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday in Expo Hall, full of – don’t worry! – mainly living plants, along with some of the artificial variety (which do, after all, look more and more real all the time).

The third year for the garden-type show arrived a bit later in March than it usually does – just a few days before the official start of spring – and gardeners were talking about how they’d already been out working in their yards in the recent nice weather.

Pat Deniau of Derby found bareroot plants at Hong’s Nursery Landscaping booth, and bought a bleeding heart that she planned to plant in her sister’s shady yard Friday afternoon.

The show gives people a chance to get ideas, inspiration, information – and always the unexpected item they hadn’t come expecting to buy.

Kerry Sull and Nina West of Emporia each carted off Infinity Lights – swirly indoor-outdoor fixtures made of vinyl that look sort of like gigantic gift bows. They’re able to be customized according to color and size, in prices of $25, $35 and $45. West said she comes to the show every year knowing one thing: She will buy pottery from Carol Long. This year it was a mug. And along with it was going a large white Infinity Light for her screened-in front porch.

One unexpected sight was Betty Nollan of Tulsa pulling a garden cart behind her, full of her purchases. A close look showed that the cart had come from her yard, not from the show, though that would have been a good advertisement for a cart. I probably would have bought it.

Dave Long was at the show looking for understory trees to go in his new yard in Garden Plain, after he and his wife moved there from Cimarron last fall.

“He’s grown trees that shouldn’t grow in southwest Kansas, so now he’s trying his hand in south-central Kansas,” said his wife, Maribeth.

Nathan Polson of Hong’s was telling Dave about the unusual Japanese maples in Hong’s garden display that could work under the Longs’ sun-filtering oak leaves.

“Dave’s got a hunch for doing this stuff,” Maribeth Long said. “He can visualize it.”

While one Wichita woman was seen leaving the show 20 minutes after it started, saying she’d seen it all and was happily satisfied with it, out-of-towners continue to attend not knowing it’s not the same Wichita Garden Show of yore and expressing some disappointment at the new show’s condensed size and scope.

The old show, which closed in 2011, used to cover all three halls, and this one, sponsored by Entercom Communications, is in Expo Hall only.

The show had its debut in 2012 with 14 greenhouses and nurseries; this year, half as many are represented. You will not see Tree Top Nursery or Johnson’s Garden Center, the two biggest absences.

But there are more companies under the lawnmowers/tractors/ATVs category, the garden art/pottery/crafts category, and the lawn and tree category.

Among the services you might not know you can get is Aqua Clean Mobile Wash – which not only power-washes your exteriors but can remove rust caused by, say, well water on your sidewalk.

Sharon McCallie had coaxed her sister and brother-in-law down from Atchison, telling them to expect to spend the whole day at the show. Now they weren’t so sure it would take that long. The spirited garden lovers were swapping stories and getting ideas nonetheless.

McCallie pointed to tree trunks forming the outline of Jayhawk Landscapes’ garden display, describing how she’d used 25-foot logs, 2 feet in diameter, to make a huge garden bed back home at her farm.

“It feels a little like a KOA Campground, but I love it,” she said. “I saw it here seven years ago,” she said, referring to the old garden show.

And still, she said, “I need ideas.”

Article source:

Most Viewed Stories

It seems to be a never-ending desire to add interest to the landscape, but choosing plants for the High Desert is not without its challenges — cold winters, hot summers, intense sunlight, drying wind, alkaline soil, limited water and so forth. Using succulents, which include but are not limited to cactus, can be a way to address these issues on a grand scale, in small containers or anywhere in between. Considerations for growing succulents include sun exposure, soil, water and irrigation, and design. Succulents make great gardening enhancements for front yards, pathways, side gardens, slopes and terraces. Succulents tend to grow toward the direction of the greatest sun exposure. Applying this knowledge

can help keep the plants from encroaching into areas they don’t belong.

For succulents to thrive rather than merely survive, they need soil with adequate drainage and infrequent watering (once or twice a week during the growing season, and every two or three weeks when they are dormant). I tend to let “Mother Nature” take care of the watering during the winter, which allows them to dehydrate slightly, helping them to withstand freezing temperatures a little better. I have a container with a variety of succulents in it. I tend to water it once a week or so, and I bring it inside when the temperatures dip into the 20s, since I don’t know that all of them will take the cold.

Succulents offer a rainbow of colors provided by the leaves and flowers. Sizzling leaf colors can be bronze, blue, silver, crimson, chartreuse, lavender, green and variegated, and the flowers can be even brighter. And, many of them change their colors in response to season, climate and growing conditions.

Succulents are an easy plant to include in themed and specialty gardens. Whether you are landscaping for fire safety, desert and cactus gardens, labyrinths, geometric patterns and more, succulents can offer the shapes, colors and textures to create a number of dazzling effects. If your gardening space is limited, they even work well in potted arrangements, wreaths and topiaries.

An important thing to consider for those of us wanting to grow succulents in colder climates (remember winter) is to remember to check the labels for cold hardiness when you purchase succulents or any other plant. Just because you can buy them here, doesn’t mean they will grow here. Succulents that are appropriate for cold climates include many cacti, yuccas, agaves, ice plants, Lewisias, sedums and sempervivums. An author I especially enjoy, Debra Lee Baldwin, has written three books that offer a plethora of possibilities for lending more visual appeal to the landscape

— “Designing with Succulents,” “Succulent Container Gardens” and Succulents Simplified.” The author does a great job of describing, and illustrating with photographs, the many characteristics of succulents, and the books even include sections about plants that will survive the USDA zones 8 and below (the High Desert is, for the most part, USDA zone 8b or Sunset zone 10/11), something that is often ignored in other books. Happy gardening!

High Desert resident Micki Brown is a drought-tolerant plant specialist with a master’s degree in Plant Science. Send questions to be answered in the column to

Article source:

Pretty garden need not be hard – Tribune

Ornamental plants are the core of most gardens, and they are often where we find the greatest pleasure. The trees and shrubs, annuals and perennials we plant help create a unique space, all our own. They can provide a respite from our hectic lives and lift our spirits. Though we appreciate them mostly for their beauty, ornamentals also can raise property values, reduce cooling costs and offer us endless free therapy as we putter in the garden.

We all want our landscapes to be lush, thriving and low-maintenance, and while there is no such thing as a no-maintenance garden, there are some things we can do to reduce the amount of work it takes to care for our ornamental plants. The trick comes in the ability to create a beautiful garden that does not become a chore.

First and foremost, it’s important to choose appropriate plants, ones that are bred for disease-resistance, do not require a ton of pruning and are not susceptible to common pests. Don’t be afraid to ask nursery employees questions; tell them the traits you’re looking for in a plant and have them explain several options so you can make an educated choice.

Avoid trees and shrubs with a projected maturation height or width beyond what the area can bear. Be honest with yourself, because contrary to popular belief, pruning is not a good way to keep a plant’s growth in check. Plants are always going to want to grow to their genetically predetermined height. If size restrictions are an issue in your garden, you are much better off seeking out dwarf or smaller-statured varieties of plants. Pruning should be done judiciously, not viciously.

Secondly, design your garden intelligently. Give plants plenty of room to grow; space them appropriately. This improves air circulation and cuts down on fungal issues. Put the right plant in the right place. It sounds like a no-brainer, but shade plants go in the shade, and sun-lovers go in the sun. It’s important to understand the cultural needs of the ornamentals you want in your garden. Putting them in conditions where they will thrive leads to healthier plants that require far less maintenance than stressed-out ones.

And, thirdly, pay attention to cultural practices. This is all the stuff you do in the garden. From fertilizing and watering, to pruning and deadheading, proper cultural practices right from the start lead to decreased maintenance needs as the garden matures. Divide perennials when they need to be divided (often every four to five years) rather than allowing them to grow into overgrown giants, stake taller flowering plants before they flop over, regularly remove weeds to avoid future infestations, prune lightly every year to keep shrub growth dense and in check. All these cultural practices can mean the difference between healthy, flourishing plants and a disease-ridden, overgrown, high-maintenance garden.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control� and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

Article source: