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Archives for February 19, 2016

Takeo Uesugi dies at 75; landscape architect restored Huntington Library’s Japanese Garden

Takeo Uesugi, a landscape architect who melded the principles of traditional Japanese gardens to the modernism of postwar California, where he carried on his ancestral legacy as a 14th-generation Japanese gardener, died Jan. 26 at his West Covina home after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

His son, Keiji Uesugi, a 15th-generation gardener who worked with his father at the family’s West Covina landscape architecture firm, confirmed his father’s death.

As a designer, Uesugi created serene landscapes that adapted the elements of a Japanese garden — rock, plants and water — to the climate and lifestyle of Southern California.

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Among his most significant projects are the restoration of the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Pine Wind Garden at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center and the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Study looks at garden design for care homes

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What to do when: Monthly checklist for enthusiastic gardeners

Our region’s gardening schedule stretches year round. No matter the month, there’s always something to do.

Need suggestions? Here are many ideas, contributed by local UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners. These tasks are broken down by month – starting now – plus some timely tips:


Tip of the month: It’s time to start planting seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are small potatoes or cut mature potatoes containing at least one or two eyes or buds. (You can use sprouted potatoes from the supermarket as seed potatoes, although those may not have the same disease resistance as new certified seed potatoes available at nurseries or via mail order.) Potatoes are easy to grow. They need full sun and do best in well-drained, loamy soil.

Don’t plant in soggy or waterlogged soil; the potatoes will rot before sprouting. To give your potatoes a head start, expose the seed potatoes for a week or two to warmth (60 to 70 degrees) and lots of light, such as inside a sunny window. This will trigger quick sprouting. Potatoes may be planted through early June.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot.

▪ Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

▪ Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

▪ Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

▪ Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

▪ During rainy weather, turn off the sprinklers. After a (hopefully) good soaking from winter storms, lawns can go at least a week without sprinklers, according to irrigation experts. For an average California home, that week off from watering can save 800 gallons.

Plant and propagate:

▪ February serves as a wake-up call to gardeners. This month, you can transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stock, bleeding heart and coral bells.

▪ In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers and strawberry and rhubarb roots. Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

▪ Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

▪ Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions. Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

▪ From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

▪ Annuals are showing up in nurseries, but wait until the weather warms up a bit before planting. Instead, set out flowering perennials such as columbine and delphinium.

▪ Plant summer-flowering bulbs, including cannas, calla lilies and gladiolus.


Tip of the month: Watch for signs of powdery mildew on roses, grapes and ornamentals, particularly on new leaves. A small outbreak can explode into a big problem. The spores can go through their entire life cycle in 72 hours. Powdery mildew hates water but loves new growth and warm weather – 68 to 77 degrees is ideal. Watering plants in the morning – including a spray on new leaves – can thwart the spores, but may not be enough if an outbreak already has occurred.

Sulfur and potassium bicarbonate sprays are both effective in protecting young shoots. Garlic is naturally high in sulfur. To make your own spray, process a few cloves of garlic with 1 quart of water in a blender or food processor, then spray leaves and shoots. Or try this formula: Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon liquid soap and 1 quart water in a spray container. Shake well. Make sure to spray the underside of leaves as well as the tops.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

▪ If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use 2 tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use.

▪ Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

▪ Start preparing vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

▪ Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

▪ Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

▪ Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit. To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

▪ Feed roses with a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10, the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available in that product).

▪ Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs and trees after they bloom. Try using well-composted manure, spread 1 inch thick under the tree. This serves as both fertilizer and mulch, retaining moisture while cutting down on weeds.

▪ Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

▪ In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and cole family plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, collards and kale.

▪ Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

▪ Before the mercury starts inching upward, this is your last chance to plant such annuals as pansies, violas and primroses.

▪ Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

▪ Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.


Tip of the month: After the holiday, Easter lilies can find new life in the garden. When the plant has finished blooming, move it outdoors. These lilies do well replanted in the ground. Choose a sunny, well-drained location. Remove the plant from the container and loosen the bulb’s root system. Plant the bulb 2 to 3 inches deeper than it was in the container and cover with soil. Water thoroughly and feed with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. Soon after transplanting, the old top will wither and die, but don’t worry. The bulb should send up new shoots. It may even flower again in July or August. You may lift the bulb in late fall and replant in a pot for indoor Easter bloom next spring, or leave it permanently in the garden. Left outside, these lilies typically bloom in May or June. But keep cats away from lilies. According to UC Davis veterinarians, members of the plant genus Lilium produce a chemical that can cause a cat to suffer fatal kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours of contact. Present in both flowers and leaves, that chemical causes extreme reactions in even tiny amounts, so cats can get a lethal dose from biting into a lily leaf or petal, by licking lily pollen from their paws or by drinking water from a vase containing cut lilies. Easter lilies, stargazer lilies and Asiatic lilies seem to be the most hazardous of this group of plants.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

▪ Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

▪ Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

▪ Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

▪ Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

▪ Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

▪ Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year’s flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

▪ Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

▪ Feed citrus with a low dose of balanced fertilizer during this month’s bloom and fruit set. If leaves look yellow, your tree may need an iron boost. Feed with a chelated iron fertilizer.

▪ Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Get ready to swing into action in the vegetable garden. As nights warm up to more than 50 degrees, start setting out tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants.

▪ From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

▪ In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

▪ Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. Late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

▪ Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.


Tip of the month: Lawn mower won’t start? It could be stale gas. According to lawn mower engine maker Briggs Stratton, gasoline goes stale in about 30 days. Stale gas results in hard starting of equipment. To avoid this problem, use only fresh, lead-free gasoline with an ethanol content that does not exceed 10 percent. Fill the fuel tank only three-quarters full, allowing room for expansion without overflowing.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

▪ Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

▪ For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

▪ Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

▪ Put your veggie garden on a regular diet. Set up a monthly feeding program, and keep track on your calendar. Make sure to water your garden before applying any fertilizer to prevent “burning” your plants.

▪ Are birds picking your fruit off trees before they’re ripe? Try hanging strips of aluminum foil on tree branches. The shiny, dangling strips help deter birds from making themselves at home.

▪ As spring-flowering shrubs finish blooming, give them a little pruning to shape them, removing old and dead wood. Lightly trim azaleas, fuchsias and marguerites for bushier plants.

▪ Run the sprinklers early in the day – before 8 a.m. if possible – to conserve water and minimize plant diseases.

▪ Add mulch to the garden to help keep precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. Time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

▪ Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

▪ Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

▪ In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters. (You also can transplant seedlings for many of the same flowers.)

▪ Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

▪ Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.


Tip of the month: Feed the roses. After their initial big burst of spring bloom, they’re really hungry. Trim off the spent flowers (this is called “deadheading”), then fertilize with a balanced mix (10-10-10 or 12-12-12). Make sure to water the bushes well before adding any fertilizer (that prevents chemical burns of the foliage). The application rate for most granular fertilizers is  1/2 cup per bush, worked into the soil lightly in a circle within 18 inches of the trunk.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

▪ Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

▪ Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

▪ Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

▪ Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

▪ Avoid pot “hot feet.” Place a 1-inch-thick board under container plants sitting on pavement. This little cushion helps insulate them from radiated heat.

▪ Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

▪ Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

▪ Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

▪ Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don’t let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

▪ Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.

▪ Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.

▪ Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

▪ Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

Plant and propagate:

▪ From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

▪ Plant basil. There’s still time to plant melons, pumpkins and squash from seed.

▪ Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias. It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.


Tip of the month: Blackberries and other berries bear fruit on second-year growth, so the canes sprouting now will yield next year’s crop. To avoid creating a thicket, older canes are removed after fruiting. (For most varieties, they will not bear again.) After harvesting berries, cut those spent canes as close to the ground as possible. Tie up new green canes to a trellis or other support, then feed the plant with a mulch of compost. When new canes reach 5 feet long, pinch off the growing tip. That spurs lateral growth.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

▪ Water, then fertilize vegetables and blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs to give them a boost. Feeding flowering plants every other week will extend their bloom.

▪ Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

▪ If your melons and squash aren’t setting fruit, give the bees a hand. With a small, soft paintbrush, gather some pollen from male flowers, then brush it inside the female flowers, which have a tiny swelling at the base of their petals. (That’s the embryo melon or squash.) Within days, that little swelling should start growing.

▪ Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

▪ Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

▪ Remove spent flowers from roses, day lilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

▪ Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

▪ Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

▪ Feed vegetable plants bone meal or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting.

▪ One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

Plant and propagate:

▪ It’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

▪ From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Here’s a tip from champion pumpkin growers: The biggest Halloween pumpkins get their start on the Fourth of July. Plant your future giants in early July.


Tip of the month: It’s time to divide and transplant bearded iris rhizomes. Iris need to be dug up and divided about every three years for continued bloom. Once a branch of an iris rhizome blooms, it won’t flower again. But the new branches will bloom. Keep that in mind while dividing. Before putting them back in the ground, replenish their soil with compost. Iris can be stored in a dry location until ready to plant. Before planting, soak the rhizomes overnight in water to tell them it is time to start growing. When planted, they need to be kept damp until rooted. The sooner you plant them, the sooner they can grow deep roots to anchor the plant.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Feed citrus trees their last round of fertilizer for the year. This will give a boost to the fruit that’s now forming.

▪ Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing. Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if planted in containers. Also, give them a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. (Always water before feeding.)

▪ Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden. They can strip a plant bare in one day. Pick them off plants by hand in early morning or late afternoon.

▪ Mulch can be your garden’s best friend – it conserves moisture while blocking out weeds. But don’t let mulch mound around stalks, stems or trunks. That can promote rot.

▪ Camellia leaves looking a little yellow? Feed them some chelated iron. That goes for azaleas and gardenias, too.

▪ Pinch off dead flowers from perennials and annuals to lengthen their summer bloom.

▪ Pick up after your fruit trees. Clean up debris and dropped fruit; this cuts down on insects and prevents the spread of brown rot. Then feed fruit trees with slow-release fertilizer for better production for next year.

▪ To prolong bloom into fall, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants. Always water before fertilizing.

▪ Fertilize fall-blooming perennials, too. Chrysanthemums can be fed until the buds start to open.

▪ Prepare for a fall full of flowers by paying a little extra attention to your garden. Cut off spent blooms from roses, annuals and perennials, then give them a boost of fertilizer. Make sure to water plants before feeding. Roses will rebloom about six to eight weeks after deadheading.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Indoors, start seedlings for fall vegetable planting, including bunching onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radicchio and lettuce.

▪ Sow seeds of perennials in pots for fall planting, including yarrow, coneflower and salvia.

▪ In the garden, direct-seed beets, carrots, leaf lettuce and turnips. Plant potatoes.


Tip of the month: Here’s a penny-pinching idea: Many popular annuals in your garden now can furnish next spring’s replacements. Take cuttings of geraniums, coleus, wax begonias and impatiens and root them in water or moist sand. Winter them on a protected patio or sunny indoor window in pots as they develop roots. Keep them moist, pinched back and bushy. Then, in spring, transplant them outside.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ September starts another season in the vegetable garden. Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get the veggies off to a fast start.

▪ Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant.

▪ Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

▪ Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

▪ Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

▪ Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

▪ Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies. Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, clarkia, stocks and snapdragons.

▪ Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

▪ Dig up and divide day lilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

▪ Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

▪ Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or reseeding bare spots.


Tip of the month: Rain brings out slugs and snails. With a flashlight, check out your garden between 7:30 and 8 p.m. and you’ll see these mollusks come out of hiding. That’s prime time to catch these hungry critters. Brown snails are capable of eating 30 to 40 times their body weight in a single night. Pick them off plants and destroy them. (Dropping them in a jar of water with a little vinegar or salt will do the trick.) Also, try erecting barriers for plants that particularly attract these voracious pests. A copper band around the top of a pot or other container works as a snail roadblock, protecting the plant inside. Copper strips work well around the trunks of citrus trees. Or circle your plants with natural snail repellants. Snails and slugs hate wood ashes, crushed oyster shells (available from feed stores), crushed eggshells, crushed rock, oak leaf mulch, seaweed mulch, diatomaceous earth, sawdust, lime, short hair clippings, powdered ginger, bran and ammonium sulfate. For the best protection, make your barrier strip 3 inches wide. Powder barriers such as ash need to be replenished after a rain. Snails and slugs also are attracted to stale beer, set out in a shallow container or snail trap. (The alcohol will kill them.) If using commercial snail bait, carefully read the directions. Many baits are particularly dangerous for dogs, who may be attracted to them. The bait causes severe seizures and possible death.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Make the most of a warm weekend with damp soil.

▪ Dig up corms and tubers of gladiolus, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

▪ Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

▪ Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

▪ Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

Plant and propagate:

▪ October is the best month to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

▪ Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

▪ Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas. Plant garlic and onions.

▪ Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

▪ Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.


Tip of the month: Unsure if your garden still needs watering after a rain? If 1 inch or more of rain falls, turn off the automatic sprinklers or irrigation system for five days. If another half-inch falls during that period, keep the sprinklers off until there are another five days without rain. Or try this test: Use a probe or long screwdriver and push it into the ground. If it goes in easily, the soil is still moist. If the ground is hard, it’s time to water. Still not sure? Take a trowel, dig down about 4 to 6 inches and actually look at the soil. If soil holds together when balled in you hand, it’s moist and you can wait before irrigating. If it feels dry and refuses to clump, then turn on the sprinklers.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Save dry stalks and seedpods from poppies and coneflowers for fall bouquets and holiday decorating.

▪ For holiday blooms indoors, plant paperwhite narcissus bulbs now. Fill a shallow bowl or dish with 2 inches of rocks or pebbles. Place bulbs in the dish with the root end nestled in the rocks. Add water until it just touches the bottom of the bulbs. Place the dish in a sunny window. Add water as needed.

▪ Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

▪ If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

▪ Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

▪ For larger blooms, pinch off some camellia buds.

▪ After they bloom, chrysanthemums should be trimmed to 6 to 8 inches above the ground. If in pots, keep the mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

▪ Prune nonflowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

▪ If you haven’t already, it’s time to clean up the remains of summer. Pull faded annuals and vegetables. Prune dead or broken branches from trees.

▪ To help prevent leaf curl, apply a copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees after they lose their leaves this month. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Keep planting bulbs to spread out your spring bloom. Some possible suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, anemones and scillas.

▪ This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

▪ Now is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

▪ Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

▪ Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now. Plant garlic and onions.


Tip of the month: Save time and money through mulch, a way to keep plants’ roots cozy, moist and weed free. Newsprint (such as the paper used in The Bee) makes effective, low-cost mulch. Use several pages (at least six) to get enough thickness to block out weeds while retaining moisture. You can top the newsprint with bark to make it more attractive. Eventually, the newsprint will break down, adding fiber and a little nitrogen to the soil. Topping with soil will just give the weeds a place to grow; cover with bark or wood chips. But putting compost underneath the newsprint will benefit the plants. Some color inks contain metals that may harm foliage, so choose the black and white sections over the colorful inserts. The Bee’s primary inks are biodegradable and safe for plants.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Prune nonflowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant.

▪ Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for winter.

▪ Mulch, water and cover tender plants to protect them during threat of frost. Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

▪ Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

▪ Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

▪ Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

▪ Just because it rained doesn’t mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn’t reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

Plant and propagate:

▪ The first day of winter is the shortest day of the year – a great time to plant garlic and onions for harvest in summer.

▪ Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.


Tip of the month: Give your houseplants a nice, warm shower. Place dusty plants in the tub or shower and rinse them gently with tepid water, using the shower head or a hand-held sprayer. Let pots drain before returning plants to their usual spots. Keep them out of drafts.

This month’s garden tasks:

▪ Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

▪ Now is the time to prune fruit trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

▪ Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

▪ Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

▪ Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

▪ Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

▪ This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.

▪ When forced bulbs sprout, move them to a cool, bright window. Give them a quarter turn each day so the stems will grow straight.

▪ Browse through seed catalogs and start making plans for spring and summer.

Plant and propagate:

▪ Divide day lilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

▪ Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

▪ Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs. If the weather is wet and your ground seems saturated, consider planting your garden additions in large black plastic pots. The black plastic will warm up faster than the ground soil and give roots a healthy start. Then, transplant the new addition (rootball and all) into the ground in April as the weather warms.

▪ Enjoy sunny winter days by planting for spring. Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

▪ In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

▪ Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

▪ In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranuculous and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

▪ Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

Here are extra tips to use as needed:

Make a tonic for your plants – Try feeding your roses, shrubs and vegetables with compost tea. Here’s how to brew your own nutrition-packed plant tonic: Put a shovel-full of compost into a burlap bag. Put 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Dip the bag into the water like a giant tea bag and let it steep for 1 to 2 hours. Remove the bag (you can use that compost in the garden) and bottle your “tea” in a sealed gallon container for use all spring and summer. Mix 1 cup compost tea with 1 gallon water to feed a mature rose bush or shrub. This tonic also works great on tomatoes; use the same dosage.

Let kids be bug catchers – In spring and summer, watch out for stink bugs on tomatoes and squash. Also be on the lookout for snails and slugs on just about anything edible. An effective way to control these pests is to pick them off by hand and dispose of them. (This is a chore kids love. Offer to pay them a bounty of 25 cents a bug.) Or catch snails and slugs with this trick: Put boards (such as two 2-by-4s or 1-by-6s) flat in the garden and leave them overnight. In the morning, you’ll find the critters hiding under the boards. Scrape the pests into the trash and dispose of them. Stink bugs tend to gravitate to sunflowers, one of their favorite plants for procreating. Look on the underside of leaves for their telltale eggs.

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Minnesota Home & Patio Show underway at St. Paul’s Rivercentre

Home and Patio Show underway

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Welcome Mat: Home news, events around Metro Detroit

‘Flower House Detroit’ book available for pre-order

When Hamtramck florist Lisa Waud put together a team of florists last fall to transform the unlikeliest of canvases – an abandoned house – with flowers, the world took notice. The New York Times and Washington Post wrote about the house. Now, Flower House photographer Heather Saunders has written a book about the experience. Available for pre-order, “Flower House Detroit” is a 9-by-12 hard cover book filled with photos of the flower installation and reflections on the experience. The foreword is written by Waud, owner of pot + box. The 200-page book is $55; pre-ordered copies will be signed by both Saunders, a Royal Oak-based photographer, and Waud. Go to

Win cleaning supplies, tips from Leon Lulu

The first day of spring is just over a month away and if you’ve got spring cleaning on the brain, Clawson retailer Leon Lulu can help. Leon Lulu, which hosted a spring cleaning event this week with tips and cool products, is giving away a gift bag of cleaning supplies to one lucky reader. Send me an email and one reader will be randomly selected. Leon Lulu is at 96 W. 14 Mile in Clawson.

Palmer Woods’ Black History Month concert honors trailblazers

Palmer Woods’ Music in Homes series celebrates Black History Month on Saturday with a special jazz concert at 8 p.m. that pays tribute to pre-eminent 20th century African-American composers, musicians and trailblazers including Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. The Black History Month Jazz Tribute, to be held in one of the beautiful homes in Palmer Woods, will feature drummer Sean Dobbins (pictured), bassist Kurt Krahnke, pianist Tad Weed and guitarist A. Spencer Barefield. Tickets start at $40 and include a special dinner. Go to or call (313) 891-2514.

Orchid Festival includes free seminars, workshop

English Gardens’ 14th annual Orchid Festival kicks off Saturday with free seminars at all of its stores. The seminars, lead by various members of the Michigan Orchid Society, start at 11 a.m. with “Orchids 101,” followed by “Orchids 201” at 1 p.m. There also will be a Make It Take It workshop for an orchid garden at 2:30 p.m.; the cost is $24.99. Go for store locations and hours.

Ladies Night Out at Art Van full of fun activities

It’s all about the ladies at Art Van Furniture on Sunday in Taylor and Warren. From 6-9 p.m., both locations will host Ladies Night Out. In Taylor, there will be free food, music and a fun Etsy avenue featuring the work of some local artisans. There also will complimentary makeup, nail art and massage; radio personality Rachael Hunter will host. In Warren, former “Access Hollywood” host and Detroit native Shaun Robinson (pictured) will MC the festivities. There also will be music and food, along with more than 25 local Mom-entreprenuers who will share their tips on starting your own business. Reservations are required; go to for the Warren or for Taylor.

Cottage Lakefront Living Show offers ideas, inspiration

Clint Parker is a Royal Oak-based furniture designer who makes beautifully handcrafted tables, chairs and plant stands from wood. He’ll be one of several artisans selling his work at the upcoming Cottage Lakefront Living Show, which runs from Thursday through Feb. 28 at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace. This year’s show features the Log and Timber Frame Showcase with floor plans, profiles, roof options, log species, and cedar siding. There also will be landscaping ideas and a list of cottages for sale or rent at the Cottage Living Center, sponsored by Michigan Blue magazine. Parker (whose work is pictured) of the Woodland Studio Fine Furniture will be part of the Cottage Fine Art Show. Tickets are $10 for adults, $4 for children 6-14 and kids 5 and under are free. For hours and more information, go to

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Box gardens promote saving water

To learn more or buy kits


Boxes go on sale to the general public March 3.

As February melts away and home owners begin to think of their gardens, a local nonprofit is encouraging residents to remember to conserve water.

In the next few weeks the Center for ReSource Conservation, based in Boulder, will launch it’s Garden in a Box program.

Boxes, which go on sale to the general public the first week of March, are distributed May through June.

“We’re not going to be getting any more water in the years to come, but we’re going to have more people,” Natalie Sullivan, CRC’s water program manager for landscape programs, said. “We need to be extremely aware of how we use the resources we have. Especially with the threat of drought always present.”

CRC offers a $25 discount to partnering communities and water utility districts.

Cities that surround Broomfield participate in the program, Sullivan said, but anyone can buy a garden.

This year the nonprofit added Thornton and Louisville to partnering communities that already include Boulder, Westminster, Lafayette, Arvada, Longmont and Erie.

Given the right amount of attention, the boxes can use 60 percent less water than a traditional turf lawn, Sullivan said. They take no little to no irrigation after two to three years. Roots can grow up to six inches, which Sullivan said is enough to battle drought.

Last year the center estimated it helped gardeners and communities save nearly 2 million gallons water through the 2,300 gardens sold that replaced turf, Sullivan said.

Yarrow and other water-conserving flowers and plants grow in Boulder yards through Garden in a Box, a product offered by the Center for Resource

Since 2012, Broomfield has participated in the CRC’s “Slow the Flow” program where the city covers the cost of irrigation audits for Broomfield residents and businesses, which include home owner associations, hotels and restaurants.

The service, which is upon request, includes sending an auditor to asses how much water a family or business is using and make suggestions on how to conserve, said Kathy Schnoor, environmental services superintendent with the City and County of Broomfield.

“It’s up to the owner to implement changes,” Schnoor said, adding that an auditor “can come back next year and see if it made a difference.”

Schnooer said

Broomfield also participates in one of the nonprofit’s programs that offers water-saving pre-rinse spray valves for kitchens for businesses.

Each Garden in a Box kit comes with between 14 and 32 starter plants, a plant care guide, maps, and educational resources about water conservation practices and Xeriscape principals.

So far this year 1,300 people have signed up to be on a pre-sale list, which ensures they get emailed March 1 — two days before the regular sale.

Eight of the people on the list live in Broomfield, Sullivan said. Approximately 20 Broomfield residents bought boxes last year.

Only 20 percent of Rocky Mountain runoff flows down the eastern slope, Sullivan said, but the Front Range comprises about 80 percent of the population.

Colorado’s population has grown from 1 million in 1930 to more than 5 million, which could nearly double by 2050, according to the Colorado Water plan.

In summer months, more than 50 percent of water is used on landscaping, Sullivan said.

“It’s just a no-brainer in a sense,” she said. “If I’m using this much water on my landscaping, maybe I can think of other things I can do with landscaping.

Rocky Mountain Columbine, the white and lavender state flower, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, purple bell-shaped flowers, and Red Birds in a Tree are among those offered in gardens.

Not all plants and flowers come from Colorado, but from places with similar climates. Boxes are designed by landscape professionals with clear instructions for each box, which come in various dimensions and styles.

Detailed instructions are included so people “can feel empowered” by planting themselves and save the cost of having a landscaper, Sullivan said.

Boxes, which come with perianal plants, also include vegetable gardens.

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, or

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Northport eyes rain gardens to clean stormwater runoff

Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. Herb gardens. Rain gardens?

Northport plans to launch a project to put rain gardens — natural landscaping that cleans storm-water runoff — around the village’s Main Street.

Officials said they are in early stages of the initiative that will be part of the next push to improve water quality in Northport harbor.

“We don’t see any downside,” village trustee Ian Milligan said. “It seems effective, it seems easy to pay for, and we think it’s going to be well-received.”

The gardens are 6- to 12-inch-deep depressions in the ground’s surface that catch stormwater and filter out nitrogen, phosphorous and other harmful pollutants through the soil. The garden basins are filled with compost and plants to aid the cleaning process.

TownsHistoric Northport

Rain gardens are strategically placed to catch water where it collects, or surrounding land can be regraded to better direct water into the basin. They absorb the water within a day, and it is considered clean enough to drink as little as 2 feet below ground, officials said.

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“What we’re doing is mimicking nature,” landscaping ecologist Rusty Schmidt said. “Instead of having it [runoff] go straight to the bay, we have it go through the ground so it’s clean when it gets to the bay.”

Schmidt, a Northport resident, brought the concept to the Feb. 2 meeting of village trustees, who later said they were interested in pursuing the idea. Northport has struggled with harbor water quality issues for years and has spent $5.5 million on major renovations to its sewer treatment plant to reduce nitrogen pollution. But the sewer treatment plant is only part of the solution, Milligan said.

Rain gardens can stop 75 percent to 100 percent of nitrogen, phosphorous and E. coli from entering the waterways, Schmidt said, adding that Long Island’s highly porous soil is ideal for the gardens because water soaks into the ground faster than it does in denser soils or clay, which means the gardens can handle more stormwater in less time.

The village won a $500,000 state Department of Environmental Conservation grant for storm-water runoff management several years ago, but that project never got underway, village administrator Tim Brojer said. The grant money would be “more than enough” for the new initiative, Brojer said, but it expired in December and village officials will seek an extension to use the funding.

Long IslandSearch Northport’s 2014 payroll

“The cost is really the plants. Everything else is digging,” Brojer said.

Main Street in Northport runs downhill from Route 25A to the harbor. Schmidt is to identify areas along Main Street and surrounding roads where rain gardens would be most effective.

“A tremendous amount of water runs down Main Street every time it rains,” Milligan said. “It’s where we’re going to start because it’s our biggest problem and it’s also our most visible,” Milligan said. Property owners along Main Street and surrounding roads will be asked to participate, at no cost.

Northport resident Rob Crafa, 45, said he is trying to persuade his neighbors on Crestfield Place to install gardens of their own. The water quality advocate believes wide adoption will mean a cleaner harbor.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Crafa said.

TownsHistory of Northport

“Getting the first volunteers will be difficult,” Milligan said. “But I think once people can see them, more will follow.”

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Installing the gardens can cost $250 to $750 for homeowners who want to build their own, or $1,500 to $5,000 for a contractor installation, Schmidt said.

“From here on out it’s not going to be the big sewer plant project, it’s going to be little things and getting more people to do their part” to improve water quality,” he said.

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Your gardening and landscaping questions answered

Laura Heath with Town and Country Landscaping was live at the Garden and Home Show answering your questions.

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Gardening tips: It’s mid-winter and getting later

Mother Nature’s winter does not have a three-month calendar. Nature’s calendar consists of soil and air temperatures that control exactly how long our trees and shrubs stay asleep during January and February. Last year’s very cold winter kept all trees and shrubs asleep into March.

This year, if experts are close to being accurate, we could see some early, early signs of spring in mid-February and into early March. All it takes is 10-14 days of mild, above-normal temperatures to turn on the alarm, and alarmed we will be. Some leaf and flower buds of some of our trees, especially flowering Pears and Red Maples, may start to show early signs of sprouting. Same with shrubs like Tulip Magnolia and Forsythia.

Perennials might start pushing some green up from the soil and spring bulbs, Tulips, Daffodils and others will start doing the same. What to do? The same thing I’ve personally done for years, nothing. Nature knows what it’s doing and is in full control.

This early phenomenon has happened more often in the winter than not. Your attempt to assist Mom Nature by covering affected plants with soil, mulch, plastic or other covering material will only bring on more new growth. Please, just leave it all alone. That exposed new growth will harden off very quickly and adjust to future very cold weather that we could experience.

Need to winter seed?

Late February into early March is the best time of the year for winter seeding also called “dormant seeding.” This is the easiest time of the year to fill your thin or bare areas in your lawn. Simply remove any leaves or any other debris that would keep the seed from contacting the soil. Then, simply spread the seed on the soil, preferably a variety of Turf Type Tall Fescue. The freezing and thawing temperatures will help the soil draw the seed in. The seed will be in the soil where it will stay until the soil temperature warms enough for the seed to germinate.

Important: If you are dormant seeding, don’t apply your weed seed killer until the new seed germinates and the new grass blades are 2 inches tall. The Prodiamine from Fertilome has a half feeding of lawn food that is all your new and existing grass needs this spring. This three-step approach is much better than any four-step program that overfeeds your lawn in the spring, weakening it as summer approaches and a lot of your work and money can be wasted. The three-step approach puts two fall applications of high, quick release Nitrogen to your lawn in September and again in November.

Anything else?

Yes, let’s get that lawnmower blade sharpened professionally. Any mower repair shop or tool rental can do it for you quite reasonably. And don’t forget, when the lawn starts to grow, you have to mow. Maintain a cutting height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches all growing season and you’ll be on your way to the best-looking lawn on your street.

For those of you anxious to get started on early spring landscape chores, relax. We still have lots of winter ahead. I just wanted to calm many of you who will get alarmed. Maybe now you will relax more knowing that Mom Nature won’t let you or your plants down.

A couple of winter chores that you could do on a mild winter day concerns both ornamental grass and your lawn. If you have any ornamental grass in your landscape, take advantage of the milder weather to cut it back. Make the job short and easy by first tying up each clump of grass with twine. Tie into a tight clump of grass. Then, take a grass trimmer, chainsaw, or pruning saw and cut the clump off as close to the ground as possible. The clump will fall to the ground like a log leaving all the individual blades tied together. This method sure saves a lot of raking.

Denny McKeown is owner of Bloomin Garden Centre in Blue Ash. Contact him at

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Ruth Correll: Gardening tips for late winter

Late February and March are good times to trim trees and shrubs. If the limb is larger than 2 inches in diameter, or heavily weighted, use the three-step method for removing the branches. Make the first cut on the underside of the limb about 6 inches away from the trunk, cutting about one-third of the way through the limb. On the top side, cut through the limb 3 to 6 inches beyond the first cut. Finally, make the third cut close to the trunk while not disturbing the branch collar. This cut should be at 45 degrees to the trunk. Remember when pruning to remove dead or diseased branches first and then take out any rubbing or crossed branches. Prune to maintain a natural form unless formality is appropriate for the design.

This is important… don’t prune spring-flowering and early summer-flowering shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, spirea, and mophead hydrangea until just after they flower.

Apply dormant horticulture oil, such as Ultra-Fine, to fruit and nut trees to eliminate scale and other pests. It must be applied before spring growth appears. These oils also can control scale insects on hollies, euonymus and camellias. For best results, be sure to completely spray the entire plant including the underside of the leaves.

It’s time to spot-control weeds in a dormant warm-season lawn by pulling them or by applying a broadleaf weed control. Cut back monkey grass before new growth appears. Use a string trimmer for larger areas.

Lenten rose and its hybrids are among the first plants to flower early in the year. A little cleanup makes a big difference when these winter beauties blossom, so cut back last year’s foliage before the flower stalks appear. Follow the old leaves down to the crown and remove the entire leaf stalk near the soil. In mild winters, the foliage often still looks good in February, but as the flowers and new foliage appear, the old leaves will become unsightly. The old foliage will be much more difficult to remove once the new growth has appeared.

If your ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Mexican feather, switchgrass and muhly grass are looking tattered and blowing about the garden, cut them back 3 to 6 inches above the ground. You can also wait until March to perform this task

Green/English and sugar snap peas can be direct sown in the garden in February. In colder parts of the state wait until the end of the month. If sown too late, they will not have time to flower and fruit before it gets too hot. Sow broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seed indoors now or buy transplants in March. Harden them off before planting out in March.

For indoor forcing of blooms, cut branches of pussy willow, forsythia, flowering quince, redbud, and star and saucer magnolia. Choose stems with flower buds that have begun to swell. Cut them at an angle and place in water in a cool location in your home with indirect light.

Don’t forget that indoor house plants can get quite dusty. Remove dust from your house plants by rinsing them in the shower.

Don’t forget about the importance of soil testing. Have your soil tested to see if and how much lime is needed. It takes months for lime to react with the soil, so the sooner the better. Your local UT Extension office can provide you with instructions on how to collect a soil sample.

Agricultural Market Summary

Cattle Market Trends

Just when think things are on the upswing, the cattle market does in the other direction. Feeder steers, $2 to $7 lower. $125-$240; Feeder heifers, $2 to $3 lower, $105-$189; Slaughter cows, $1 to $2 lower, $62-$79; Slaughter bulls, steady to $2 lower, $82-$105.50.

Grain Market Trends

Corn and wheat were down and soybeans were up for the week.

Corn: Cash price, $3.48-$4.00. March futures closed at $3.58 a bushel, down 7 cents.

Soybeans: Cash price, $8.61-$8.90. March futures closed at $8.72 a bushel, up 5 cents.

Wheat: Cash price, $4.52-$4.61. March futures closed at $4.57 a bushel, down 9 cents.

For more information, contact the UT-TSU Extension Office in Wilson County at 615-444-9584. You can also find us on Facebook or visit our website at

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

Ruth Correll is a UT Extension-TSU Cooperative Extension in Wilson County. Call her at 615-444-9584 or email

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