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Archives for November 2, 2016

Evasco Garden tours on Nov. 3

On Thursday Kim Todd and Terri James will be leading a brown bag lunch event through the Backyard Farmer and Evasco Gardens on East Campus. This event will be a tour of the gardens explaining their short history, growth and transformation.

While most gardens are usually planted for an earlier blooming, these garden still have much to see, Todd said.

“There are some great plants for late season beauty, and perennials and grasses are in their full glory,” Todd said in a University of Nebraska-Lincoln press release.

Todd, the host of the NET television show “Backyard Farmer,” is currently an extension horticulture specialist at UNL and served as an associate professor for the past 14 years, according to UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.

James is an assistant extension educator at UNL with specialties in community environment and urban gardening.

The Backyard Farmer Gardens are located near the Plant Sciences Hall along Center and North 39th streets. The gardens hold an impressive array of plants, specializing in trees.

On the website for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources for UNL, the Evasco Gardens are said to allow people to learn about the diversity of the plant kingdom in a helpful and inspiring environment.

In the spring of 2008, Todd taught her landscape management students about how to cut back perennials using the Evasco Gardens as an example. Both gardens house a combination of shrubs, perennials and grasses that can withstand a variety of weather, from rainy conditions to full sun exposure. The garden tour aims to help aspiring gardeners on the methods of planning a garden.

The Nebraska State Arboretum has hosted such events on the first Thursday of every month, except June and July, for a number of years. These informational events range from topics such as landscaping, gardening, prairie plants, birds, trees and shrubs.

This presentation is part of a series hosted by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, IANR, the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and the UNL Garden Friends and the Friends of Maxwell Arboretum. The series, titled “All Things Green,” has discussed topics such as what not to do to a landscape, gardening tips for kids, how to care for and be water-wise concerning western Nebraskan landscapes, fall plants and fall plants’ colors. These events have occurred throughout the year, spanning every season and their changing sceneries.

Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch and any questions they might have concerning the Backyard Farmer and Evasco Gardens. Parking will be available around East Campus at meter parking and near the UNL Dairy Store.

While the event only happens once in person, there will be a PDF version for those who were not able to attend. That link is available on the website for the Nebraska State Arboretum.

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Calistoga’s demonstration garden to be tended by Master Gardeners …

The city’s demonstration drought-tolerant garden located in front of the police department will be maintained by Napa Valley Master Gardeners, the city council agreed Tuesday.

“If you’ll recall last year the Master Gardeners offered to assist with the installation of the demonstration garden at the police station, taking out the grass and putting in drought-tolerant landscaping,” said Mike Kirn, director of public works and city engineer. “It was a very successful project, however…things are not taken care of as well as they should be and the Master Gardeners have offered to assist the city” in maintenance “and we’re very appreciative of that.”

The Master Gardeners have offered to provide increased maintenance to the drought-tolerant demonstration garden and ongoing public education in partnership with the city to increase the use of drought-tolerant landscaping.

Community volunteers will be recruited and trained to maintain the garden by pulling weeds, adjusting irrigation as needed, and maintaining the overall appearance of the garden.

They will also conduct some educational workshops in the garden regarding relevant topics utilizing trained speakers who will inspire the community to adopt low-water plantings in their own yards.

The city decided to remove the grassy lawn in front of the Calistoga Police Station last year and replace it with a drought-tolerant demonstration garden to provide an example of attractive water-wise landscaping.

It was a joint effort with labor and materials provided by the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County, DEXTER estate landscapes, Noble Gardens, Calistoga Garden Club, SBI Materials and Landscape Supplies, Central Valley Builders Supply, and Pacific Tree Care.

Last August, one half of the garden was comprised of non-native drought-tolerant plants, and the other half was planted with California natives. Collectively, it was designed to illustrate that there are water-wise plants — native or non-native — easily available to purchase, that need little water while providing ornamentation that can provide food and habitat to beneficial insects. Planting native plants also can reverse the trend of losing essential native species, slow down the spread of wildfire by staying green longer, and help hold soil in place, thereby controlling soil erosion and water quality.

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UD landscape architecture students design rain gardens

I have been talking with Delawareans about landscaping for many years now and have seen a number of changes in the way we think about landscapes.

But one of the most significant paradigm shifts in the past 30 years has been our concept of water management.

In the past, we engineered systems to move water as quickly and efficiently from where it fell to storm drains and storm sewers. Water was collected, sent to treatment plants and eventually discharged back to a body of surface water.

Now we understand the best way to treat water is to let it infiltrate into the ground where it falls and allow the soil system to clean that water, which will eventually make its way to ground water or surface water for reuse.

Rain gardens or bioswales are designed to naturally dose water into the soil system. A typical rain garden is a sunken garden, slightly lower than the surrounding land to allow rainwater to collect.

When building a rain garden, select an area with good drainage and dig out about 4-6 inches of soil. The rain garden should be about one-third of the area (roofs, paved surface and poorly draining lawns) that is draining into the garden.

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A rain garden should include plants that tolerate both wet and dry conditions. As we know, Delaware summers and falls can be dry, with little rain, and plants must survive drought conditions. But, in the spring, they must also survive inundation as water flows into the garden before it filters in through the soil.

Many woody plants do not tolerate standing water. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a notable and useful exception.

It is often better to build rain gardens with primarily perennial herbaceous plants that will tolerate a few days of standing water. You can reserve the woody shrubs and small trees for the slopes of the garden that will remain dryer.

Communities in Delaware are now being built with many small bioswales instead of one large stormwater pond. These bioswales are planted with primarily native species.

In most cases these areas are designed to become naturalized and are not intended as weeded and maintained gardens. But, you can treat a rain garden as a regular landscape bed, weeding it regularly to keep it looking more neat and tidy, if that is your preference.

Students in the University of Delaware’s new Bachelor of Landscape Architecture major housed in the plant and soil sciences department are working on several rain garden projects in their coursework this fall.

Stormwater management provides a great opportunity for collaboration between landscape architects and engineers. Students in UD’s BLA are participating in the EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge, which involves creating better stormwater management on campus.

Another group of BLA students are doing a project at the New Castle County Extension office where parking lot changes created a stormwater management problem. When these challenges can be solved by “soft engineering” adding strategic plantings rather than hardscape changes involving road and parking lot adjustments, everyone wins.

If you’d like to learn more about UD’s new Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program and the students’ rain garden projects, contact Jules Bruck (

Delaware Gardener is written by Susan Barton, associate professor with the New Castle County Extension Service. Email questions to Personal replies are not possible.

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Don Davis: How to manage leaves falling on lawns, and other late fall gardening tips

Although gardening activity begins to wind down at this time of year, there is still plenty to be done. The chores range from pruning and fertilizing to mulching and managing the tree leaves now falling on lawns.

The best thing to do with tree leaves is let them stay where they fall. This is true where they fall on gardens and in natural areas but not necessarily on lawns.

Leaves on gardens may be dug into the soil and allowed to rot over the winter. You can dig in a layer of leaves up to a foot deep and they will rot before spring planting time comes.

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Another way to handle leaves is to collect them and make compost. When placed in a pile several feet tall, tree leaves will rot and produce a granular brown compost over the course of a year or two.

Collecting tree leaves or chopping them up with a lawn mower are the only options to consider when they fall on your lawn. Grass does not survive when covered in a thick blanket of leaves.

Another reason for getting the leaves off your lawn is to reduce the habitat for ticks. Tree leaves allowed to sit on the ground and accumulate around your yard will begin to decay and turn into leaf litter, a material favored by ticks.

Leaf litter is not something to be avoided completely however. It is home to many desirable creatures such as moths, butterflies, ladybugs and earthworms along with the ticks.

Running a lawn mower equipped with a bagging device over tree leaves will chop them into fine particles that make excellent mulch for spreading on the surface of your garden to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter to soil. When added to a compost pile these finely chopped leaves will rot faster than whole leaves.

Pruning is another need as winter approaches. Many shrubs that grew too vigorously last summer can be brought down to size this month.

November is one of the best times to prune abelia, arborvitae, boxwood, butterfly bush, cherrylaurel, cotoneaster, euonymus, holly, juniper, osmanthus, photinia, privet, rose of Sharon and yew. It is not the best time to prune lilac, azalea and other spring bloomers because their flower buds are now fully formed.

Planting season continues this month for shrubbery, trees, perennials and bulbs like tulip and crocus. Stores still have pansies for sale and you could plant some of them if you expect continued mild weather.

The third and final dose of lawn fertilizer is applied this month according to the guidelines for cool season grasses generated by studies done at Virginia Tech’s Turfgrass Research Center. Fertilizing your lawn now does more good for the roots of fescues and bluegrasses than it does in spring.

Tomato vines may still have a few edible fruits to harvest. Other than that it is time to pull them up and mix leaves and compost into their soil to prepare for next year.

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November gardening tips

If you were lucky enough to have a gardening season, it’s time to start preparing the garden for next year. By planning and learning from what happened this year, next year will likely be more successful. Design outdoor areas and facilities to be modified easily with your changing desires.

A November application of fertilizer can be beneficial to a lawn of cool season grasses. However, if your lawn is drought stressed, you might want to wait until a rain to apply fertilizer. It promotes root development without excessive top growth. With a strong root system, your lawn will be better able to withstand drought conditions next summer.

Small low spots in the lawn can be raised by carefully removing the turf and filling in the low spot with good topsoil. Remove the turf by cutting two inches deep into the lawn with a flat-bladed spade, then angle the blade under the sod to cut it free, keeping at least two inches deep to get most of the roots. After filling the low spot, replace the sod, and keep it well watered until it is reestablished.

After several killing frosts have occurred this fall, cut back dormant perennials to about three inches above ground.

After the ground is frozen, plants can be mulched to guard against displacement due to soil heaving. These steps ensure a successful show of plant foliage and color next season.

Tulips and Dutch iris need to be planted in cold soil so they do not send up shoots before roots are established. If tulips are planted deeply, they will produce large, uniform flowers for many years. Deep planting also makes the bulbs less susceptible to mouse and squirrel damage.

Peonies can be planted now in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Set the tubers so the buds are one to two inches below the soil surface. Backfill, firm the soil and water thoroughly.

Peonies do not grow well after being moved and will not bloom for several years.

Check newly planted trees to be sure supporting wires or ropes are still covered by hose so they will not damage the trunks in windy weather. Cut away suckers from the base of lilacs, forsythia and crape myrtle.

Erect wind breaks to protect newly planted evergreens, especially tender, broad-leaved types, such as Japanese holly and camellia. The best way to prevent winter damage to shrubs is to select hardy species before buying and planting. It is better to select hardy species in the first place than to attempt to protect tender plants later.

If there is any evidence of scale on trees and shrubs, spray with dormant oil in late fall and again in early spring. Avoid transplanting shrubs and trees on sunny or windy days. On these days, the roots are exposed to too much light or drying winds, putting undue stress on the plant.

If you use manure as a soil conditioner, apply it now and till it under. Manure can be a source of weed seed but composting before application can reduce the number of viable seeds.

Rough plow or spade garden plots containing heavy, clay soil. Add organic matter and lime if indicated by a soil test. Leave the soil rough — winter’s thawing and freezing will break up the clods and kill some of the insects and slugs overwintering in the soil. A rough soil surface also catches more moisture and reduces erosion.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Brenda Jackson at Murray County Extension, (706) 695-3031, or email

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Monthly garden tips for November

Leave your garden clean. Removing plant debris reduces overwintering pests and plant diseases. Don’t compost diseased plant parts unless you can create a hot compost. If you would like to receive a composting info packet, contact us — we will need your name and mailing address.

If you are composting, stockpile some leaves to use as your carbon source over the winter. An old pool cover makes a great tarp to keep them dry. You can also pile leaves in an out of the way spot where they will break down and turn into a great soil amendment.

Drain and store garden hoses, clean leaves from gutters and clean up garden tools. Apply a light coat of oil to metal tools before storing them for the winter.

Harvest fall beets, carrots and winter radish before the first moderate freeze or apply mulch to protect them for winter harvest. Wait to harvest parsnips until there have been several moderate freezes or mulch for winter harvest. If leaving in the ground for spring harvest, dig before tops begin to grow.

Harvest Chinese cabbage before a moderate frost and Brussels sprouts before the first hard freeze. Harvest kale after frost for improved flavor. Fall spinach should only be harvested lightly to allow for spring regrowth.

Turnips can be harvested after they grow to a 1-inch diameter, they can withstand several light freezes and frost improves flavor. Don’t leave garden soil bare. If you didn’t plant a cover crop, consider applying some chopped leaves or other mulch over vacant vegetable beds. Pull any mulch that’s left in the spring aside so beds can warm.

Clean up fallen leaves and add to your compost pile. Removing leaves from around shrubs decreases cover for voles and overwintering pests. Wrap upright junipers and arborvitaes with twine to prevent branch splitting from heavy snow and ice. Remove any diseased, rubbing or broken branches as they occur.

On high wind sites, considering installing a burlap screen to help protect broadleaf and other evergreens from wind damage. Mark short woody shrubs with a tall stake or circle with peony hoops so you know where they are once the snow piles up. This helps keep people and pets from inadvertently stepping on and breaking them. When placing markers, be careful not to injure roots.

Remove leaves so they don’t smother lawns. If leaves aren’t too numerous, you can mulch or chop leaves until the particles are fine and leave them on the lawn to increase organic matter. Your last mowing should be a half-inch to 1-inch shorter than the normal mowing height of 3 to 3-1/2 inches.

Fertilize low maintenance lawns. Never apply fertilizer to frozen soil within 20 feet of a water body or within two days of expected heavy rain.

Frank Rossi, of Cornell University, said that a significant shift in late-season turfgrass fertilization recommendations has occurred over the last several years. In the past we recommended a large application of slow and fast release nitrogen after growth ceased. However, recent research concluded that a significant amount of nitrogen leaching occurs when the plant is not actively growing, temperatures are below 50 degree Fahrenheit and evapotranspiration is reduced. As air temperature falls, plant growth drops resulting in a decrease in plant demand for nitrogen. In addition to temperature effect, ET is important because mass flow is involved with nitrogen uptake. Mass flow is partially driven by plant transpiration, therefore when transpiration decreases the rate of mass flow is expected to decrease, resulting in less delivery of nitrogen to the root surface and lower plant uptake and more nitrogen leaching, at least 30 percent more based on a recent Cornell study. Therefore, on sand-based systems light applications of soluble nitrogen that match growth and then stop when growth ceases enhances nitrogen use efficiency. On high performance soil-based systems at this time of year, applications of mostly soluble nitrogen are preferred to maximize nitrogen uptake while some ET and warm temperatures are possible and to effectively minimize leaching of nitrogen through the turf rootzone.

Prepare empty plant containers and seed trays for next spring by cleaning with a 10 percent bleach solution before storing. Rinse well. Don’t leave clay containers outside as they can crack and chip apart.

This is a good time to add finished compost to vegetable and flower gardens. When applying in perennial beds, spread compost around the plant and not on the crown.

Move houseplants away from heat sources when possible, decrease fertilizer applications and watch for pests, especially if you have a new plant or if plants have been outside over the summer. If you find pests, contact us for pest identification and control options.

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Weekly garden tips

Things are finally slowing down in our gardens, but there’s still some work to do. Here are some tips to help you out.

  • Prepare for cold weather by draining irrigation lines and preparing protective frames and covers for cold sensitive plants.
  • If frost is in the forecast, water all of your plants well, if we haven’t had rain in a few days. Don’t water your succulents, however. The cold weather can make the water stored in their leaves and fronds freeze and damage plant tissue.
  • If you still have a lawn, mow it and then add a thin layer of compost.
  • If you’re thinking about getting rid of the lawn, now would be the perfect time to do some sheet mulching and plant with natives.
  • It wouldn’t be fall if the leaves weren’t dropping everywhere. You have two choices with what to do with them. Your can rake them up and compost the leaves, or if you don’t mind the untidy look, you can leave them where they fall to compost in place. They will serve as a nice mulch as well.
  • If you have open compost piles, cover them to keep the heat in and protect the piles from getting too wet during our winter rains.
  • If you hate pulling weeds in the spring, get rid of them now when they’re easier to pull. Mulch the area to prevent them coming back up.
  • Clean up your summer vegetable garden by removing all the spent plant material and chopping into bits for your compost pile.
  • Plant cover crops to improve your soil for spring crops and protect your beds from wind and rain erosion.
  • Plant bulbs, trees, shrubs and regionally appropriate natives.

The Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

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Variety of plants, landscapes on view at new nursery in Clinton …

Facing extensive competition, nurseries on the South End have to bring something different to the table to succeed.

Venture Out Nursery in Clinton aims to do just that.

A stroll through Venture Out Nursery feels like a walk in the park. The plant store, located just south of the Highway 525 and Maxwelton Road intersection, is chock-full of ornate paths, rockeries and landscaping rather than rows of plants in a greenhouse. And according to Nursery Manager Eric Studebaker, the nursery’s look and approach is unique.

“It’s not like any nursery I’ve ever worked at over my 30-year-plus career,” Studebaker said. “The owner is a landscape designer, and the nursery gives customers an idea of what he can do to their yards.”

Studebaker previously worked at Bayview Farm and Garden for 14 years.

The space wasn’t always ornamental like it is now. Previously Kirk’s Nursery and Garden, the location had a facelift after the new owners acquired the property and opened the shop last month.

“It had a lot of good bones, but we’ve been fixing the space up,” Studebaker said.

Over the course of a year, co-owner Garth Heggenes and his team from his landscaping business have cleaned the 3-acre property of blackberry patches and dead plants. They removed a collapsed greenhouse and built new features such as a new office, a shaded area for “shade plants,” a rain garden for runoff, a small decorative cabin and pathways that meander through the nursery. The idea behind Venture Out is to give customers a glimpse of what their yards could look like.

The business strategy is unorthodox for the industry but it seems to be working, or at least it’s impressing customers.

“It’s day and night from what it was before,” Freeland resident Gail DaPont said. “I’ve seen it get overgrown over the years, but what they’ve done here is fabulous. It’s just wonderful to walk through.”

For Heggenes, the goal is to build more than a nursery. He wants to create a space for the community to come, take a stroll and find inspiration for their garden’s design. Venture Out is essentially Heggenes’ way to advertise his two businesses in a single location.

“Our plan was to develop a place that wasn’t necessarily a parking lot nursery, but a display garden where we could show the landscaping projects we did in the past,” Heggenes said. “The setting alone sets us apart from what I’ve seen on the island.”

Studebaker says that prices at Venture Out Nursery are cheaper than elsewhere on South Whidbey. He said Heggenes is able to keep transportation costs low by utilizing his landscaping business and by shipping the materials along with plants for the nursery. The larger loads and fewer trips is cost efficient. Heggenes added he no longer goes through a middleman flower vendor in the Everett area, so the business is able to bring plants directly from growers.

Studebaker says he prioritizes a selection of native plants. And being native could be crucial for the plants’ well being, since all of the vegetation is out in the open.

“It’s like a park, but one where you can pick out which plants you like and take them home,” Studebaker said.

Venture Out Nursery is currently open on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Heggenes plans to open the nursery doors seven days a week once spring rolls around and his team adds some finishing touches, such as a greenhouse.

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Flower show winners announced

Submitted by Rosemary Maulden

The Glynn County Garden Club Council’s clubs, Blythe Island Garden Club, Magnolia Garden Club, and Urbana Garden Club members of Oleander District of The Garden Club of Georgia Inc. and National Garden Clubs Inc., opened its Standard Flower Show Oct. 26, in conjunction with the Exchange Club of Brunswick Fair.

Serving as flower show chairman was Sherle Beck, and co-chairmen were LuAnn Whalen and Carol Smith, for the show titled “Seashore Fantasy.” It featured 24 designs, 204 horticulture entries, and two educational exhibits. The youth section was exceptional with 12 designs, 17 collages and 25 horticulture entries.

In the Design Division, Brenda Griner, Blythe Island Garden Club, captured the Award of Design Excellence and Designer’s Choice Award for her creative design titled “Hurricane.” Rosemary Maulden, Urbana Garden Club, was awarded the Design Petite Award with her petite design “Ocean Phosphorus.” The Educational Award was presented to GuyNel Johnson, Magnolia Garden Club, for her informative exhibit on “The Barbers of Brunswick” featuring houses built in Old Town Brunswick by George F. Barber, one of America’s most well-known architects of the 19th century. The city of Brunswick is honored to have more than 10 of these houses in the district.

In the Horticulture Division, John Glendenning received the Award of Horticultural Excellence with his Ming Asparagus fern. Susan Oglesby, Blythe Island Garden Club, received the Arboreal Award for her Cassia Senna. Priscilla Jordahl, Magnolia Garden Club, received Award of Merit – Flowering Annuals for her variegated marigolds and tagetes, and the Grower’s Choice Award for her flowering container of Mandeville apocynaceae. Pat Ingram, Magnolia Garden Club, received Award of Merit – Flowering Perennials, for her pothschildiana and the Award of Merit – Flowering Bulbs, corns and tubers for red pine cone ginger, Zingiber. Jan Carpenter, Magnolia Garden Club, received Grower’s Choice Award in foliage section for her aloe, Aloe arborescens.

The Youth Design Award in Preschool through Age 7 was won by Hayden Stanfield’s plaque “End of the Rainbow.” The age 8 through 12 years prize was awarded to Braylon Guffey for her small design “Sand Toys. Annalee Love won the 13-18 years design award for her small design “Submarine Race.”

Youth Horticulture Awards – Anna Mae Golden’s asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus received the Preschool through 7 years Youth Horticulture Award. Ben Aquirre captured the 8-12 years Horticulture Award for his umbrella plant, strizlemo corarium. Annalee Love won the 13-18 years Horticulture Award for her bottle brush, callistemon.

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