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Archives for December 5, 2016

A bounty of books for the gardener


— Pam Peirce

“Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change,” Larry Weaner, Thomas Christopher; Timber Press, 2016.

Larry Weaner is a landscape designer known for combining fine garden design with ecological restoration. This book shows how he evaluates the natural habitat, chooses plants, and watches them grow and reseed, then edits if necessary. He prefers native species, but sometimes includes nonnatives “that have proven noninvasive and adapted to the region,” he writes. He finds that such a garden, one that “cooperates with the local ecology,” needs less tilling, weeding, irrigation or fertilizer than a conventional one. The examples shown are primarily from the eastern U.S., but the philosophy is universal, and the illustrations will suggest possible regional adaptations. This is a book that will guide a designer through a planning process, including a demonstration of the use of themed maps to show microclimates and other features of a site.

More Gardening

“Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants,” Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis, Ten Speed Press, on sale Feb. 7, 2017.

Say you’ve got some rhubarb; of course, you think of rhubarb pie. Here is a book that suggests rhubarb pickles. Or you grow roses, which you use in bouquets. The authors of “Harvest,” co-founders of Bay Area landscape company Homestead Design Collective, suggest making rosewater for use as a facial toner or to flavor recipes. Native plant gardeners will be delighted to find a recipe for huckleberry shrub, a beverage concentrate made with fruit, sugar and vinegar. There are 47 plants, with notes on growing them and a project for each, including salves, salads, mixed drinks, herb-infused oils and casual bouquets. The book’s organization into Early, Mid and Late Season projects implies a climate with a cold winter, however many of the plants featured, such as artichoke or pineapple guava, are more at home here in our mild winter region.

“Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces,” Michelle Slatalla, with the editors of Gardenista; Artisan Books, 2016.

This book arose from the website Gardenista.com, a sister site to the interior design site Remodelista.com. In its introduction, Mill Valley author Michelle Slatalla calls the book “a version of Gardenista you can dog-ear.”

The book, like the website, seeks to identify and influence garden trends through an eclectic selection of plants, tools, hardscape details, garden furniture, color schemes and various uncategorizable objects. Photographs show many of the editors’ favorite gardens, both their overall design and close-up shots of details. Also shown (with Web sources) are 100 stylish and useful objects you might want for your garden. A section called “Expert Advice” tackles topics such as “Ten Things Worth Spending On”; “Ten Ways to Save”; how to be environmentally friendly; and how to work with a garden designer. There is also a 10-point Gardenista Manifesto, in which point No. 10 is: “A little wildness in a garden is a good thing.”

“Foraged Flora,” Louesa Roebuck and Sarah Lonsdale; Ten Speed Press, 2016.

One of my favorite vacation pleasures is making weed bouquets for our vacation lodging, created with flowers or seed stalks of weeds from nearby neglected land. Louesa Roebuck does something akin to this, though on a grander scale. She makes casual arrangements from plant material she finds nearby, in or out of gardens. The dramatic photographs are accompanied by text describing collecting and arranging plant material and setting up the photo shoots. Many of the photos show flowers and foliage used with glorious abandon as garlands or arranged in vases. Some, while appealing as images, are intended more to move you toward an aesthetic rather than tell you how to make the arrangements. Because the floral artist and co-author live in the Bay Area, the plants and their seasonal availability will be familiar to those who live here.

Article source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/homeandgarden/article/A-bounty-of-books-for-the-gardener-10687961.php

In landscape design, consider function as well as beauty

When choosing plants for your home garden, pick ones that do some work along with being good-looking. Not form over function, in other words, but form and function.

That was my major takeaway from a two-day session I attended as part of landscape design school last month. Regular readers of this column may recall that last year I began a landscape-design program sponsored by the Garden Club Federation of Maine; in order to graduate, I’ll attend two days of classes a year for four consecutive years.

Double duty

YOUR GARDEN can look lovely and do real work at the same time. Here are ways that plants – flowers, trees and shrubs – can work for you:

Offer protection from the wind

 Provide animal habitat

Feed pollinators and other wildlife

 Prevent erosion of riverbanks and stream banks

 Screen noise and neighbors

 Frame beautiful views

“A landscape can be beautiful as well as highly functional,” said Lois Berg Stack, an ornamental horticulture specialist with the University of Maine Extension in Orono.

As an example, she described a line of red pines along one edge of her home that is attractive and serves to define the border.

Beyond its ornamental attributes, “Those pines provide wind protection on our property over an area that is eight times their height,” she said.

They make her home warmer in winter, in turn allowing her to grow plants that otherwise might not be able to survive Maine’s cold climate, and they offer warmth and shelter to animals, amphibians for one.

Another place plants have important functions beyond their good looks? On riverbanks. The biggest threat to rivers in Maine is not chemicals, Stack said, but silt, which gets washed into rivers from places where plants have been removed. Plants protect rivers from silt in several ways, she said: Leaves from trees and shrubs slow the falling rain so it splashes up less soil when it hits the ground. Natural grasses, perennials and groundcovers further protect the soil. And roots from all these plants bind the soil together, so that flowing river water won’t erode the riverbanks.

Don Leighton, a Falmouth native now working as a landscape architect in Rhode Island, talked to the class about how he uses plants to protect his own garden. It’s set on the Narrows River in Narragansett and is threatened by tides that are rising because of global warming.

When he bought the property seven years ago, the riverfront ground was entirely phragmites, he said, an invasive reed that can be seen along Interstate 95 in many marshy areas. Leighton developed a plan to eliminate the phragmites and to encourage the native marsh grasses to return.

It involved first, installing coconut- fiber coir logs to prevent erosion and next, mowing the phragmites; the idea is to keep them from getting enough green to feed the roots. (When I wrote a column earlier this year on alternatives to the herbicide glysophate, Eric Sideman of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association touted regular mowing as the best chemical-free way to get rid of invasives.) Leighton has had some success: so far, native marsh grasses have replaced the phragmites closest to the water.

My landscape design classmates and I also heard from Todd Richardson, of Richardson and Associates Landscape Architects in Saco. He began by talking to us about how plants create space in a garden. Since they also occupy space, this concept was difficult to grasp at first.

“We move in the space that plants create,” Richardson explained, “in between the plants.”

Think of it this way: whether you create a garden “room” or a path lined by trees or a gap in a hedge that serves as a gate to a neighboring garden, you are creating distinct spaces. The placement of your plants, in other words, creates gardening negative space.

Richardson also discussed how plants can play dual roles when it comes to shade, offering it both to the gardener – who appreciates shade when she sits outside on hot summer afternoons – and to shade-loving plants like rhododendrons and hosta. Tall deciduous trees such as native oaks, maples, hickories and ashes are good for creating shade, he said.

How a piece of property relates to distant and adjacent landscapes is another aspect plants control, Richardson said. Say you have a view worth emphasizing? Frame it with tall plants on each side of it. Conversely, if you want to block a view – or the sound coming from the street – a screen of plants can help do both.

Work with the natural landscapes that surround your home, Richardson and Stack suggested, citing the example of homeowners with hay fields or meadows. By mowing a path through such fields rather than mowing the fields in their entirety, the garden works for both people and animals. People can walk through the mown areas without picking up ticks. Pollinators and other wildlife have a good food source in the wildflowers that grow among the unmown grasses.

Where does this leave you? Over the winter, spend some time thinking about the space around your house. Come spring, see if any of the ideas I’ve outlined are useful for making your landscape work better for you.

TOM ATWELL is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: [email protected]


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Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/04/maine-gardenerin-landscape-design-consider-function-as-well-as-beauty/

Gift ideas for the gardener on your list

I asked members of the Laramie County Master Gardeners for their top picks for gardening magazines and books to give you ideas for gifts for the gardeners you know.

Gardening conditions in Cheyenne are somewhat unique so advice from these publications must be taken with a bit of local knowledge:

1) We have alkaline soils so ignore advice to add lime and wood ash;

2) We are officially in USDA plant hardiness zone 5 but microclimates can be harsher or milder;

3) Our average annual precipitation is 15 inches. Even if you run your well dry, you can’t reproduce a wetter, more humid location which some plants require, like somewhere else in Zone 5—say southern Iowa.

Magazines

Most of the magazines recommended are available at local bookstores. Discounted multi-year subscriptions and back issues are available online.

We are lucky that Colorado’s gardening climate is close to Cheyenne’s, making our local choice The Colorado Gardener (www.coloradogardener.com, free at outlets, including the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, and online, or $18/5 issues/year delivered). It is a full-color, tabloid-style, 16-page newsmagazine. In addition to articles and a calendar of Front Range garden-related events, even the advertising is informative.

Another option is Rocky Mountain Gardening (www.RockyMountainGardening.com, $24/4 issues/year). Previously known as “Zone 4,” they cover Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. It was recommended by Catherine Wissner, horticulturist at the Laramie County Cooperative Extension office and several other respondents. Topics in a recent issue included hellstrip gardening (the hot, dry strip along the curb) and frost blankets. Wyoming is well-represented in the news section.

Judy Kowrach was one of two people who endorsed Garden Gate (www.gardengatemagazine.com, $20/6 issues/year). With no ads, it is full of tips, plant profiles and design ideas. Despite its Iowa origins, much of the information is applicable to Cheyenne. Even without a subscription, you can sign up online for its free eNotes.

Kim Parker and several others listed Fine Gardening (www.finegardening.com, $29.95/6 issues/year). It does a splendid job of inciting people to commit acts of gardening. I like their warnings on which featured plants are officially classified as invasive in which state and their scientific plant name pronunciation guide. And their deep website full of free garden and plant information.

I couldn’t come up with an issue of Garden Design (www.gardendesign.com, $45/4 issues/year), but looking at a preview copy online, it also is sumptuously photographed. Its price reflects the 148 ad-free pages per issue. And its website is also full of free information, even for non-subscribers.

Finally, Rodale’s Organic Life (www.rodalesorganiclife.com, $15/6 issues/year) is the latest incarnation of Rodale’s Organic Gardening and Farming. In 1978, that publication printed my interview of a man who built a better bluebird house. These days, think of it as the organic version of Better Homes and Gardens—mostly lifestyle, little gardening.

Books

My primary garden book, recommended to me several years ago by Shane Smith, director of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, is “The Garden Primer” by Barbara Damrosch (2008, Workman Publishing, 820 pages). Written by a gardener from the cold climate of Maine, it covers every aspect of organic home gardening in well-organized chapters, but with an index for quick consultation.

Another option is the earlier editions of “Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening” (2009, www.rodaleinc.com, 720 pages) which have been on my shelf for years. It’s a tad more technical, but both this and The Garden Primer are good how-to guides and problem solvers.

Tava Collins recommended “National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders” (1980, Alfred A. Knopf, $20) for help identifying garden friends and foes. Similar guides are available in the Kaufman and Peterson field guide series.

Collins also recommended “Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Handbook” and “Rocky Mountain Getting Started Garden Guide” by John Cretti (2012 and 2015, Cool Springs Press) as well as “Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West” by Marcia Tatroe (2007, Big Earth Publishing).

For special gardening techniques that will work in our area, these next two were recommended.

Marie Madison cited “The Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits and Edible Flowers” by Maggie Stuckey and Rose Marie Nicholas McGee (2002, Workman Publishing).

Susan Carlson, who I interviewed a few months ago about straw bale gardening, apprised me of a new edition of her favorite book: “Straw Bale Gardens Complete: All-New Information on Urban Small Spaces, Organics, Saving Water – Make Your Own Bales With or Without Straw” by Joel Karsten (2015, Cool Springs Press, $24.99).

If your giftee’s interest is in growing native plants that attract pollinators or in identifying plants on the prairie, try these. Keep in mind the definition of “weeds” depends on the situation.

Carlson listed “Rangeland Plants: Wyoming Tough” by Smith and Smith et. al. (2015, publication B-1265). It is a free download at www.wyoextension.org/publications or $8 at the Laramie County Extension office.

Richard Steele found “Weeds of the West” (Western Society of Weed Science, 2012, $34 at www.wsweedscience.org) to be particularly useful while manning the “Ask a Master Gardener” table at the farmers market this fall.

Collins mentioned the classic “Meet the Natives: A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Trees and Shrubs: Bridging the Gap between Trail and Garden” by M. Walter Pesman. It was revised by Denver Botanic Gardens staff in 2012 and republished by Big Earth Publishing.

The author of one of my favorites, “The Undaunted Garden: Planting for Weather-Resilient Beauty” (2010, Fulcrum Publishing), Lauren Springer Ogden, is a firm believer in “the right plant in the right place” and is the originator of “hellstrip” gardening. Her photography is inspiring. She speaks often at garden events on the Front Range.

Her book would be a good accompaniment to the next two books, helping you to pick appropriate local plants to interpret their lessons. These books are about planet-friendly landscape gardening.

The first is “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes” by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (2015, Timber Press). This may be intended to introduce landscape designers to more natural, sustainable plantings. But you can apply the advice to your own yard, such as using groundcover plants instead of shredded bark mulch everywhere.

The other is “Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change” by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher (2016, Timber Press). Proponents of the “right plant in the right place” too, the authors have designed this book to help you understand their premise: that with knowledge of your eco region and local habitat, you can plant a garden that will evolve over time with a minimal amount of assistance like chemicals and labor.

Lectures and classes

Other options: give your favorite gardener tuition for the 10-week Master Gardener class beginning in January. For more information about that, call 307-633-4383. Or give them tickets to the spring gardening lecture series Laramie County Master Gardeners is offering in conjunction with the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. For more information about that call 307-637-6458.

Barb Gorges writes a monthly column about the joys and challenges of gardening on the High Plains. Find her past columns at http://CheyenneGardenGossip.wordpress.com. Readers are always welcome to contact her with questions and story ideas at bgorges4@msn.com. 

Article source: http://www.wyomingnews.com/gift-ideas-for-the-gardener-on-your-list/article_1edea4b2-b8ce-11e6-adbc-a7ff1d1314e6.html

Willow Gates Landscaping of Mohnton, PA offers a Patio and …

Join the Patio and Outdoor Living Tour

Join the Patio and Outdoor Living Tour

(PRLEAP.COM) August 31, 2016 – How about a day of fresh patio and outdoor living ideas for creating your own backyard space for a small fee? How about combining that with food from local Pennsylvania businesses while supporting a good cause? You can do that on September 10, 2016 from 9:30am to 8:30pm with Willow Gates Landscaping of Mohnton, PA. The Patio and Outdoor Living Ideas tour in Lancaster and Chester County, PA will feature outdoor living spaces to inspire your ideas for creating an outdoor living area in your backyard.

For only fifteen dollars a couple or twenty five dollars per car load, interested parties can enjoy a long relaxing September day visiting the backyards of people who love their outdoor spaces and have created hardscape patios that provide a great place to relax day after day. Features of the homes visited will include an outdoor kitchen with a smoker grill, a smokeless wood burning fire pit, poolside patios, a gas burning fire pit, special inlays and some extensive lighting features of patios and outdoor living spaces of the homes visited.

Not only will tour participants get fresh patio and outdoor living ideas from the homes they visit, some locations on the tour will include fresh cider, donuts and cheeses from local small businesses such as September Farm Cheese, Village Farm and Weavers Orchards. Local food, combined with fresh local ideas should make for an enjoyable and inspirational day.

Jeremy from Willow Gates Landscaping is organizing the tour to benefit The Jeff Musser Foundation, a nonprofit supporting families of children who are battling cancer. All proceeds from the tickets will go to support the foundation.

Join the tour by purchasing your tickets at http://patiotour.bpt.me or by calling 717-341-0540.

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Article source: http://satprnews.com/2016/12/04/willow-gates-landscaping-of-mohnton-pa-offers-a-patio-and-outdoor-living-ideas-tour-to-benefit-the-jeff-musser-foundation/

Garden book review: ‘The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth …

Sally and George Peterson are DIY gardeners who have transformed a rough hillside with a lake view into a tree-laden landscape with organic vegetables and herbs growing in raised planter beds and a greenhouse.

On their Ashland property, 225 trees, mostly native and drought tolerant, provide shade, fall color and berries for birds. They have also planted 200 shrubs and 3,000 bulbs, and installed a filter system to catch rainwater.

We gave Sally Peterson garden-related books and asked her if the information would help other DIYers in the Pacific Northwest. Here is one of her reviews:

“The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden” by Johanna Silver with photographs by Marion Brenner ($34.95, Timber Press): This is a stunning coffee-table book filled with lessons from Ruth Bancroft, a dry gardening pioneer who started creating her fabled garden in Walnut Creek, California, in the 1970s.

The book covers the intriguing story of this unstoppable woman’s life, her three-acre Ruth Bancroft Garden that is so cherished today and the benefits of water-saving plants.

Silver’s fetching prose describes Bancroft’s life and how landscaping and gardening became an integral part, an “obsession,” in fact. It continues with an explanation of how Bancroft’s focus moved from irises to succulents, and how that interest developed into a true love.

At over 100 years of age, “Ruth has not stopped learning. She fills her days with reading, opera, classical music, and arranging seashells into thoughtful miniature compositions, which she likens to small landscape designs,” writes Silver, who is the garden editor at Sunset and winner of a James Beard Award in 2009 for her contributions to the One-Block Diet blog.

The 236-page hardcover book includes the story of three men inspired by Bancroft — Brian Kemble, Walker Young and Ryan Penn — who each “found their way to Ruth’s garden.” Since the 1980s, these garden specialists have taken the passion further, ushering in the newest generation of plant enthusiasts.

Gorgeous photographs by Brenner help to tell this story through a beautiful and richly visual presentation.

Reading Silver’s touching tribute to Bancroft truly makes me hope that my life will have impact even one person in such a positive and powerful way.

— Sally Peterson

Stay in the loop. Sign up to receive a free weekly Homes Gardens of the Northwest newsletter and join the conversation at the Homes Gardens of the Northwest on Facebook page.

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2016/11/the_bold_dry_garden_johanna_si.html

Gardening column: Tips to ensure indoor plants survive winter

Q: Could you give me some tips on things I should be doing to make sure my indoor plants make it through the winter?

A: The following list of things will hopefully help you keep your indoor plants happy through the winter months and I am also adding a few tips about homemade holiday decorations and feeding the critters that visit your garden in winter:

• Plants go dormant so don’t automatically go for the watering can or fertilizer when they seem a bit droopy. Look for other reasons like not enough light, too close to a heat vent, maybe too warm or too close to a very cold window. Sometimes pests like aphids or spider mites go for the weaker plants so investigate all these things before adding water.

• Also for most indoor plants, wait to add fertilizer till you see new growth and that will probably be in late February or early March.

• Some plants such as your Christmas cactus that is blooming right now will benefit from fertilizer. So add a small amount of high phosphorous fertilizer with each watering until you see the bloom diminishing or no buds developing. (Look for fertilizer that has the largest number in the middle for example 10-52-10.)

• If you have a fresh water aquarium, never toss the water when you clean or refresh the tank. Save the water you remove and use it on your plants.

• Also reserve the water from your cooked vegetables or pasta and save it in a plastic liter bottle to use when you need to water.

• Finally, check before watering by using a water meter or the less expensive method of poking a finger down in the soil deep enough to reach the root level and if it is dry, water the plant with lukewarm water — not cold tap water — and only a cup full instead of soaking it. If you make a mistake and overdo it, always make sure the container drains well.

• This is the time to purchase poinsettias and other plants for gifts or decorations. Always be very careful to protect the plant against the cold when bringing it home.

• Your poinsettias will last longer if given a few hours of bright light every day.

• They also respond best in cooler locations in the home.

• Never leave the decorative sleeve on any plant for long. As pretty as that is, it doesn’t allow the plant to breath or the water to drain away.

• Raid the garden for vines and greenery to make holiday wreaths and other decorations. Also readymade pots of greenery are available in shops everywhere right now and can be used indoors or out. Also spray the finished product with hairspray which I am told is a good preservative.

• Now is a good time to begin keeping the bird feeder topped up. Also rather than fight with the squirrels, provide some dried corn and other goodies and place them far away from the bird feeder. It won’t keep them from eyeing the feeder, but it might slow them down a bit.

• Try to purchase bird seed that the birds will actually eat. Otherwise they scratch most of it onto the ground and it piles up over the winter. Finally mold and fungal problems begin to infect the pile and this can be very bad for the surrounding plants in the spring.

• It is important to keep the bird feeder clean – a dirty bird feeder is a danger to our feathered friends.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to bloominthing@gmail.com. She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on “The Plant Medic,” a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.

Article source: http://www.news-sentinel.com/living/Gardening-column--Tips-to-ensure-indoor-plants-survive-winter

Reeves: Tips for winter gardening – Longview News-Journal … – Longview News

The busy holiday season often allows some vacation time and time for relaxation and gardening. Even after the tree is decorated, the gifts are bought and parties are over, there remain many timely gardening chores to accomplish. Should the gardener find some free time, consider the following:

1. Complete the planting of spring flowering bulbs. Tulips may be planted as late as early January and still do well if properly refrigerated and chilled 45 to 60 days before planting.

2. Select and plant needed woody landscape plants. Winter planting allows the new plantings to become well established before spring growth and summer heat. Delay planting plants such as azaleas, which may be damaged by severe cold.

3. Protect tender outdoor plants from the winter cold with 4-6 inches of mulch. Be certain that soils are moist prior to a hard freeze.

4. Shape hollies, and use the prunings for Christmas color. Remember, hollies produce berries on old or second-year growth. Avoid cutting back too much of the season’s growth as this is where next year’s berries will be formed.

5. Be sure to supply supplemental moisture for newly planted landscape materials during dry winter periods. Adequate soil moisture will help prevent freeze damage.

6. Composted fallen leaves make an excellent organic soil for spring and summer gardening. Don’t allow fallen leaves to collect on lawns to block off light and air.

7. Select and plant pansies now. They make excellent color in the bulb beds. Feed established pansy plantings. “Crystal Bowl,” “Imperial” and “Majestic” series or types of pansy hold well in late spring and early summer heat.

8. Transplant woody plants during the cold, dormant season. Prune one-third of top growth to compensate for root loss, Plant at the plant’s normal growing depth in well-prepared soil.

9. Make dormant oil spray to control scale. Follow instructions on label to avoid damage to plants. Scale insects may be found on fruit trees, camellia, gardenia, euonymus, etc.

10. Mistletoe will remain fresh and hold its decorative berries if the end of the stem is dipped in wax to seal off possible moisture loss. Mistletoe berries are poisonous.

11. Keep soil in potted poinsettias and other holiday plants moist, but never extremely wet or overly dry. Protect the plants from heat vents. All potted holiday plants need natural light and do best when not exposed to direct sun.

12. Consider using a living Christmas tree this year so it can be recycled to the landscape. Upright junipers, cherry laurel, Japanese black pine, deodora cedar, cleyera and Virginia pine are good choices.

13. Sow annual ryegrass to hold the soil in the new yard. Sow 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn area.

14. Clean vegetable gardens and annual beds of weeds and old plants to prevent a carry-over of insects, diseases and weed seed.

15. Last-minute shopping suggestions for that gardening friend include a new gardening book, a subscription to a Texas garden magazine, a plant, a nice container, good labor-saving tools, or even a promise of a rooted cutting from the plant in your yard.

16. Control camellia petal blight. Clear off old mulch and other debris under the plant. Spray ground beneath and around the plant with PCNB (Terraclor). Replace the old mulch with a clean new material. Pick all flowers as they fade or any that look diseased. Do not allow spent flowers to fall to the ground.

17. Order seeds now so you will be ready next month to start spring annuals and vegetables.

18. Begin to select fruit and nut plants for a winter planting. Choose only varieties adaptable to East Texas.

19. Prepare soils and beds for planting bare-rooted roses in January and February. Roses prefer a raised bed in well-prepared soils that contain generous amounts of organic materials. Locate the rose planting to receive at least a half-day’s sun and good air circulation.

20. Provide fresh water and feed for garden birds. Consider planting ornamental plants which attract birds.

21. Expect yellowing and leaf drop on tropical plants such as bougainvillea and Chinese hibiscus, etc. when over-wintering. Maintain healthy stems and roots. Plan to prune back when taken out-of-doors again in the spring to encourage new growth and blooms. Keep plants a little on the dry side and provide as much natural light as possible.

22. Hang the Christmas greens. Many landscape plants are available for Christmas delight. Consider the greens of holly, nandina, magnolia, cherry laurel, pine, Chinese photinia and others. For lasting arrangements, crush the stems of branches and allow them to soak overnight before displaying to assure lasting freshness and beauty.

— Randy Reeves is a Texas AM AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County. Join him on his horticultural blog site with the Longview News-Journal, “Talk Across the Fence” at www.news-journal.com/blogs/reader/2015/may/14/talk-across-the-fence.

Article source: https://www.news-journal.com/news/2016/dec/03/reeves-tips-for-winter-gardening/

Garden tips: Botanical dwarfs can surprise with their beauty


Dwarf peppermint willow ground cover under eucalyptus tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Dwarf peppermint willow ground cover under eucalyptus tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)






TIP OF THE WEEK

Jan Urban sent an email query wondering why she has split oranges. Split citrus most often is symptomatic of irregular soil moisture. The scorching temperatures we had this summer, combined with a warm fall, have necessitated keen attention to watering over the last six months. Where such attention lapsed, split fruit could have developed.

Typically, split citrus is the result of over-watering or of sudden heavy watering or rain after a long period of dryness. When citrus is over-watered, the inside of the orange or lemon will grow faster than the surrounding rind. The fruit doesn’t split so much as the pulp simply grows so fast that there is not enough rind to contain it. Still, if water is withheld from citrus for too long, a sudden soaking may cause the inside volume to suddenly expand, causing the rind to split. Fluctuating humidity and fertilizer levels may also bring about split fruit, and thin-skinned citrus varieties are most susceptible to splitting. Tomatoes, by the way, split quite often for the same reasons that citrus does.

In general, citrus trees should be watered infrequently, but deeply. Garn Wallace, a soil and plant scientist in Torrance, recommends the following regime: once a month, put a barely trickling hose under your tree and leave it for 48 hours. Citrus trees develop tap roots when irrigated in this manner and become accustomed to going without water for 30 days at a time. A 4-inch layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture at a constant level.

To make sure your water goes where you want it to go, and then stays there, build a berm (a circular hill of earth) several inches out from the trunk, and build another berm around the drip line — the place where water drips off the tree during rain — beneath the canopy perimeter. In between these two berms is the area that will be filled with water once a month.

By the way, those incredibly hot days we experienced this summer are not bad for citrus, as long as watering is properly done. Thousands of acres of lemons, for example, yield heavy crops in the Arizona desert.

“Small is Beautful” was a best-selling collection of essays on economics written in 1973.

The lifestyle encouraged by the author, E.F. Schumacher, would lead to “the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption.”

These words are most apt when introducing the phenomenon of botanical dwarfs. Their diminutive and delicate charms impart a sense of well-being while their consumption of resources dwarfs that found among larger specimens.

And so, on any occasion when I happen to cross paths with a dwarf or compact plant cultivar, I can’t help thinking “small is beautiful.” Maybe it’s just the surprise that stimulates my aesthetic appreciation. Or maybe it’s the laziness in me that appreciates a small plant since it will not require as much maintenance as larger versions of the same species.

It’s always a revelation the first time you set eyes on a small or dwarfed version of a familiar plant, be it a miniature rose bush, a dwarf ‘Mugo’ pine tree (Pinus mugo mugo), a ‘Pix Zee’ peach tree, ‘Pixie’ snapdragons, or a dwarf dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Miss Grace’), which stays under 10 feet tall, a diminutive stature indeed if you’re a redwood.

You see such wonders and your horticultural horizons broaden to where you think just about anything is possible with plants. Certainly, if your gardening horizon stops at the edge of a patio or a balcony, plants of small stature are worth a second look.

Sometimes, though, I think that shrinking a plant’s stature goes too far. Such is the case, for example, with sunflowers. Thanks to advances in genetics, it is becoming much easier to insert dwarfing genes into the DNA of plants.

I am not sure exactly how dwarf sunflowers came about, but I cannot look at them without trembling slightly. It’s as though they were the product of some mad botanist’s imagination and they were created solely for the sake of exclaiming, “See! Even sunflowers can be shrunk!”

There is an undeniable attraction to exotic plants and people will wait in long lines just to take a look at something strange. In truth, a plant does not have to be beautiful, necessarily, to grab our attention. Just different. It’s a phenomenon that made P.T. Barnum and his circus side shows and Robert Ripley (Believe It or Not!) rich, and reached its ultimate botanical expression in “Little Shop of Horrors,” a comedy featuring Audrey, a carnivorous plant that is nourished from human blood.

Not long ago, in the Australian section of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, I came upon a dwarf peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa ‘Nana’). It was planted as ground cover under a eucalyptus tree and was flourishing there. I thought this was an important discovery.

The list of plants that grow well under eucalyptus trees is short. The only other plant that I have seen thriving under eucalyptus was Australian rosemary (Westringia spp.), a relative of true rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Australian rosmary, which has no fragrance, resembles true rosemary in having tiny leaves, a minimal water requirement, and a mature height of around 6 feet.

The beauty of dwarf peppermint willow, an evergreen for full to partial sun, is in its foliage since older leaves are a lush green, while emergent leaves and stems are red. In Australia, it is commonly used as an informal hedge. While it will eventually reach 6 feet in height, it can easily be kept lower with occasional pruning.

Its leaves emit a strong peppermint fragrance when crushed. Dwarf peppermint willow survives a frost but may suffer damage when temperatures dip into the mid-20s.

To the best of my knowledge, the only local nursery growing dwarf peppermint willow is San Marcos Growers in Carpinteria. To find it among your neigborhood nurseries, go to smgrowers.com and click on “Retail Locator” on the left side of the home page.

Speaking of Australian plants with red new growth, there is a honey myrtle (Melaleuca linariifolia) cultivar known as ‘Claret Tops’ that deserves wider recognition. It is a shrub that stays less than 5 feet tall and bears fragrant flowers in the summer. It may also be grown as a hedge, whether formal and regularly clipped, or informal and free to develop unfettered.

The advantage of letting it just grow is that new red growth will always be present.

For more information about area plants and gardens, go to Joshua Siskin’s website at www.thesmartergardener.com. Send questions and photos to Joshua@perfectplants.com.

Tip of the week

Jan Urban sent an email query wondering why she has split oranges. Split citrus most often is symptomatic of irregular soil moisture. The scorching temperatures we had this summer, combined with a warm fall, have necessitated keen attention to watering over the last six months. Where such attention lapsed, split fruit could have developed.

Typically, split citrus is the result of over-watering or of sudden heavy watering or rain after a long period of dryness. When citrus is over-watered, the inside of the orange or lemon will grow faster than the surrounding rind. The fruit doesn’t split so much as the pulp simply grows so fast that there is not enough rind to contain it. Still, if water is withheld from citrus for too long, a sudden soaking may cause the inside volume to suddenly expand, causing the rind to split. Fluctuating humidity and fertilizer levels may also bring about split fruit, and thin-skinned citrus varieties are most susceptible to splitting. Tomatoes, by the way, split quite often for the same reasons that citrus does.

In general, citrus trees should be watered infrequently, but deeply. Garn Wallace, a soil and plant scientist in Torrance, recommends the following regime: once a month, put a barely trickling hose under your tree and leave it for 48 hours. Citrus trees develop tap roots when irrigated in this manner and become accustomed to going without water for 30 days at a time. A 4-inch layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture at a constant level.

To make sure your water goes where you want it to go, and then stays there, build a berm (a circular hill of earth) several inches out from the trunk, and build another berm around the drip line — the place where water drips off the tree during rain — beneath the canopy perimeter. In between these two berms is the area that will be filled with water once a month.

By the way, those incredibly hot days we experienced this summer are not bad for citrus, as long as watering is properly done. Thousands of acres of lemons, for example, yield heavy crops in the Arizona desert.

Article source: http://www.dailynews.com/lifestyle/20161127/garden-tips-botanical-dwarfs-can-surprise-with-their-beauty

December chores in the garden – The Mercury News

It’s a busy time of year, but we can’t completely neglect our gardens and landscape. Here are some chores to do between baking cookies and wrapping presents.

  • This summer, we created water basins around trees and shrubs as a way to keep them better hydrated, but now, we need to remove them so that water drains away from the plants. Allowing water to pool around trees and bushes can cause root or crown rot.
  • We’ve already had some pretty nippy nights and it’s not even officially winter yet. When frost is predicted, protect tender plants by wrapping outdoor lights around them, moving them closer to a building, if possible, or by devising a cover for them.
  • You know how we’re always harping about walking on garden beds? Well, we’re even more insistent upon keeping off the soil during wet weather. Wet soil compacts even more than dry soil, but either way, you don’t want it.
  • At the same time, avoid walking on frosted grass, which causes the cells in the grass to rupture and turn brown.
  • Clean up all garden beds and compost spent garden plants. If you have diseased waste, however, put it in your green garbage bin.
  • Now would be a good time to do chores that don’t take you out into the cold and wet, such as sharpening and lubricating your garden tools, then putting them in a dry area. You’ll thank us in the spring.
  • Check plants under eaves and protected areas to make sure they are getting enough water.
  • After you’ve made your list for Santa, make another one for what seeds you’ll want to order and what plants you’ll be growing this summer.

— Contra Costa Master Gardeners contributed to this report.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/30/garden-tips-dec-4-11-2016/

Vegetables to plant, fallen leaves, freezes, garden tool storage: This week’s gardening tips

Vegetables to plant in December and through the winter include beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collard, endive, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onion, peas (English and snow), radish, rape, rutabaga, shallot, Swiss chard and turnip. Herbs to plant now include thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, French tarragon, lavender, chives, cilantro, dill, mints and parsley.

Varieties of certain shrubs, such as azaleas, nandinas and junipers, will develop a purplish or burgundy tint to their foliage during cold weather. This is natural and no cause for worry. They will turn green again in the spring.

As freezes occur, prune off any damage caused to gingers, philodendrons, cannas and other herbaceous tropicals. Place a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch, such as pine straw, around the base of the plants now to protect the roots and rhizomes.

If you don’t garden as much in the winter and won’t be using tools until spring, it’s important to store them properly. Clean tools thoroughly and coat the metal with a light film of oil to prevent rust. Drain the lawnmower gas tank and clean.

Do not allow a layer of fallen leaves to accumulate over the lawn for more than a few days or a week. The leaves block light from reaching the grass and can weaken it. Rake or otherwise remove the leaves weekly. Use the leaves for mulch or put them in your compost pile.

Article source: http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2016/12/vegetables_to_plant_fallen_lea.html