“Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same.” That song by Patty Loveless has been playing in my head all morning. My baby girl started her senior year of high school today and it really doesn’t seem all that long since she started her first day of kindergarten. I seem to be going through one of those seasons of change with my oldest moving out, the twins turning 20 next month, and the half-century mark looming ahead. I have responded to all the changes by going on a massive cleaning spree. From closets to yard, anything that I don’t love or that isn’t doing well is being moved, donated or thrown away.
I think many of you may be at a point in your life when it is time for a few changes. Even if your life isn’t sloshing like the spin cycle of a washing machine, it is good to periodically re-evaluate. Today let’s talk about taking a good, hard look at your yard.
* The first step is going outside and walking around. This summer has been hard on some plants. Take a look at what did well and what didn’t. Do you have plants that need to be trimmed, moved, or replaced? Do you have an area that is crying for attention? Take notes, take pictures, and take time to finally do those things that have been in the back of your mind for months or years.
*Do you need shade, accent plants or perhaps a living fence? Fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs, as well as some perennials. Plants work on establishing their roots first, so by planting them in the fall they have all winter to get those roots down.
*Fall is also a good time to clean up, divide and transplant perennials. The recommendation is to divide spring bloomers in the fall and summer/autumn bloomers in the spring. Fleshy rooted plants such as Peonies and Iris should be done now.
*Start your fall clean-up. As plants start to lose their leaves and die back, disease free debris can be tossed on to the compost pile. Diseased leaves should not be composted.
*Your flower pots and hanging baskets are most likely in need of some attention. Trim, fertilize and replace as necessary. Pansies and mums will soon be here to replace ragged annuals, so try to keep them hanging on a little longer.
*Since I mentioned pansies and mums, let me give you a little information about them. Pansies can be planted from late August until the ground freezes and will last all winter. They will then put on a show for you next spring.
As for mums, you need to get them in the ground by the middle of September if you want them to come back. Remember that the hybrid mums you see everywhere this time of year are only cousins of the perennial mums and may or may not come back, or may even come back a different color.
*Keep harvesting the remnants of your vegetable garden and get it ready for next year by cleaning out debris. You may want to make note of where things were planted this year, and plant them in a different location next year. This helps to prevent diseases.
* Some plants may need one last treatment with an insecticide to help keep bugs from setting up winter homes. You will also want to treat houseplants that have been outside for the summer before you bring them back in. This will prevent unwanted houseguests like aphids, whiteflies and ants.
*Fall is a great time to amend your garden. Add compost, manure, etc. to your flower and vegetable gardens. These will break down over the winter and add nutrients to the soil.
*You may need to do a little pruning now to remove dead or diseased branches, or to tame unruly plants. Save the severe pruning for later, however. Hard pruning encourages new growth, and that new growth will be in danger if we get an early frost or freeze.
*Mulch does more than just make your yard look pretty. It also helps keep the moisture levels and temperature stable and acts as somewhat of a weed deterrent. If you piled it on in the spring, you may just want to fluff it up with a rake. If you didn’t put any on this spring, a couple of inches will help plants get through the winter.
*Keep checking our website and Facebook for updates because we have several sales, workshops and events coming up. Our rescheduled “Pink Days” will be September 7-9. Thompson Cancer Survival Center has agreed to help us raise money for mammograms, and several local businesses are donating door prizes and auction items.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012 | ETMV | No Comments
How are things going in your garden? This has certainly been an interesting year with record heat and a dry beginning, and then lots of rain. My yard has come alive again since the rain came back. A few things that I had just about written off have started to perk up and grow again, so that makes me happy. My tomatoes, however, have split and rotted. When we get a lot of rain in a short amount of time, the tomato grows too fast for its skin to keep up. Since I have given birth to twins, I have lots of sympathy for them!
What are you seeing as you MBWA (manage by walking around)? Do you need to move some things around? Have some plants overgrown their space? Do some of your perennials need to be divided? Even if it is still too hot or wet to do a lot of work, you can get a good idea of what needs to be done when you get the time, energy, and a dry spell in which to do it. Don’t forget to clean up messy areas and deadhead spent blooms! Think about putting a layer of mulch on this fall, too. It helps insulate against the cold and protect against water loss. It also protects trees from lawn mowers and prevents death-by-weed-whacker (a common killer of dogwoods).
Many of our customers don’t realize that fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and some perennials. If planted now, they have all winter to get their root systems established so that when spring arrives they are ready to grow. The soil is also still warm, and that helps the roots get a head start.
Do you have some plants that have done really well this year? I have several that I am calling my summer superheroes: Crape myrtle, angelonia, lantana, and flowering vinca have certainly done well in the sun. My roses are also perking up now that the nights are cooler and the rains have become more regular. Rudbeckia, Shasta daisies, butterfly weed and Verbena bonaris have also been standouts in my yard. I have one verbena that is over 6’ tall, but I think it is planted on a cat grave.
Almost all of my shade lovers are doing well. My hydrangeas were gorgeous, my hostas are huge and the coral bells kept great color. My Lenten roses have had so many babies that I may have to start moving them. My spiderwort went dormant as soon as the temperature went into triple digits, but I have confidence that it will come back. The ferns almost keeled over on me, but even they are perking back up.
While it has been a fairly good late summer for plants (with some notable exceptions), it has unfortunately also been a banner year for insects and disease. We have several customers each week come in with baggies of sick leaves. I have never seen such a quantity of mealy bugs, aphids and spider mites in my life! Fungal diseases are also a big problem right now. Don’t worry; there is still time to do a final treatment. It is especially important to treat perennials, trees and shrubs so that the insects and fungus don’t overwinter. Consider using a systemic product so that you won’t need to treat them again this season. Bag worms will need to be picked off, unfortunately. For fungal infections, remove as much of the affected area as possible and then spray or treat. Be sure to remove infected leaves from the area to prevent reinfection.
Fall flowers are starting to arrive at the garden center, so think about what you want to do in your yard as you are walking around. Chrysanthemums, asters and pansies are ready to be planted as soon as the nights are cool. Every year more colors and varieties become available, so you can really put on a show. Remember that Asters and Chrysanthemums need to be planted by the end of September if you want them to come back next year. Pansies can be planted throughout the fall and winter, but do best if put in by the middle of November.
Let me give you a quick lesson on Mums, since I brought the subject up. Mums have a 3-5 week bloom time. This means that there is no such thing as a mum that blooms from August until November! There are early, mid and late season bloomers. If you want continuous color, you will need to replace them as they bloom out. You also need to be aware that most of the mums you buy in the fall have been hybridized to the point that they don’t even know what they are anymore. They may not come back, they may come back a different color, or you may have lots of little mums instead of one big one. If you want a perennial mum, look for a true perennial like Ryan’s White, Ryan’s Pink, or Clara Curtis.
That’s it for this month. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or come by. We have several workshops, sales and events planned, so check out our website at Meadowviewgreenhouse.com, or look us up on Facebook. Happy fall, ya’ll!
Is there an enthusiastic gardener left in the state? Spring started out with such optimism, and then Mother Nature had a major hot flash and all that optimism evaporated like water in a desert. There is nothing like a few days in the triple digits to suck the energy right out of you. When the rain finally came, it brought wind that took our greenhouse plastic off for the second time this year. For 15 years we never lost plastic, and now we lose it twice? Sheesh!
So, how are things in your yard? I can tell you what is happening in mine. I lost 4 azaleas and a gardenia that I had transplanted in the spring. Some annuals and perennials look great, some look scruffy, and some are dead and need to be replaced. I have watered roses and hydrangeas until I hate to even think about my water bill. I lost a couple of tomatoes to blossom end rot, and a few peppers are scorched.
Why am I telling you this? Because the first thing on your August to do list is to go outside! Yes, leave your air conditioned house and go see what is going on. I know full well that some of you have not walked around your yard since June, so head on out. If I can do it, so can you.
*Take a good look at what is going on out there. What survived? What thrived? What died? If temperatures continue to climb and our weather gets more erratic, what will you nurture and what are you sick of babying? If the rain stops again, what are you willing to spend time and money watering?
*Speaking of watering, that is item number two on your list. This is not a chore that can be ignored folks. It also isn’t enough to just assume things are going ok until you see signs of stress. Some plants will tell you when they are thirsty. Some just die. The only way to see if your plants are getting enough water is to check every single area. Sprinkler heads get blocked or stuck, dirt gets compacted so that water doesn’t absorb, and not everything needs the same amount of water. Some plants are thirsty. A hydrangea, for example, can drink 10 gallons a day! Other plants are much more drought tolerant. Know your plants and what they need.
*The extreme heat killed some fungus, but we are still seeing it on vulnerable plants. such as Roses. Watch for brown spot, rust and powdery mildew. There are many fungicides available in organic, ready to use and systemic formulas.
*There is a large insect population this year. Mealy bugs and scale seem to be especially plentiful. Keep your eyes open for trouble, but remember that not all insects are bad. Try the least toxic treatment first before progressing up the ladder of chemicals.
*How are your containers looking? Most are in one of two categories right now; either they look good or they look horrible. If yours fall into the latter group, yank them up and replace them with new plants. We still have pretty annuals that will last until frost, and who wants to be greeted by ugly plants every day? If they still look good, keep them that way with regular water, deadheading and fertilizer.
*The end of August is a good time to do a final shot of fertilizer on shrubs. This gives them a little more to go on as the weather cools, but also gives them time to harden off before we have a frost. If it still hotter than Hades in August, wait until September.
*If you have a hydrangea that blooms on old wood and you want to prune it, you need to do it now before it sets bud for next year. Call us if you have questions.
*Late summer and fall blooming perennials will continue to come in. Plant some in your yard for late season color.
*Weeds, weeds, weeds. Do they ever stop? The short answer to that is no. Keep weeding.
*Pull up vegetables that are finished and plant cool season vegetables by the end of August. Broccoli and cauliflower will need to be protected from the heat.
*Don’t forget the birds! Keep feeders and baths clean and full. This can be the busiest time of the year for your feeders as young birds are learning to care for themselves and hummingbirds are moving south.
If you have questions on anything else, just give us a call or send an email. We want to help you make your landscape beautiful.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012 | ETMV | No Comments
Surviving the Dog Days
This summer has certainly been unpredictable! Just when I thought Mother Nature was going to cook us to a crackly crunch, the rains came. I am so glad we avoided the drought that much of the country is under. The Farmers’ Almanac says we will have more of the same for the rest of the summer (it also said today was a good day to cut firewood, dig holes, get married, paint, host a party and travel), and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says to expect more extremes. What is a gardener to do? I have some suggestions:
Tree and Shrub TLC
The storms have caused many trees to lose branches this summer. Take a walk around and look for dead branches that need to be cut out before they fall. If they have already fallen off, use pruners or loppers to smooth out jagged breaks on smaller trees and shrubs to reduce the chance of disease and insects moving in. Dead branches on shrubs should also be removed, but don’t prune them unless you are sure they are dead! If the branches are still flexible, there is hope.
Look for signs of disease or insect damage, water problems or animal damage. If a tree or shrub is struggling, do not wait until it is dead to try to figure out what went wrong! Is it dying all over or just in places? Are the leaves spotty, wilted or an unusual color? If the leaves are brown, are they crunchy or flexible? Check the soil around the plant. Is it dry and hard? Is it soggy? We will be happy to help you identify the problem if you would like to call or stop by. It will help tremendously if you will bring in a branch or a picture.
If the rain stops again, remember to water. Many customers underestimate the amount of water a plant needs to get established, and the amount of time that they will need to continue to water. Remember that sprinkler systems are not adequate for new trees and shrubs, and by new I mean planted in the last two years. You will need to supplement with a drip system or hand watering. The average garden hose puts out 5-7 gallons per minute, so you need to stand there for at least a minute. An alternative is to turn the hose on to a trickle, lay it at the base of the plant, and leave it for 15 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the plant. If your brain is as scattered as mine, I recommend setting a timer so that you don’t forget about it and leave it running all night!
If the temperature has moderated by the end of August, you can fertilize your trees and shrubs. If it is still blazing hot, wait until mid-September. You don’t want to wait too long because you want them to “harden off,” or not have new growth, when the first frost arrives
If some of your perennials look terrible, go to work with the scissors. Deadhead them and cut them back to stimulate new growth. Take off dead or diseased leaves. If new growth is emerging at the base of the plant, you can cut it all the way back. Replace plants that did not survive, but remember that some plants such as spiderwort and bleeding heart go dormant in the heat. Don’t pull/dig them up!
Check for disease and insects on your perennials. Cleaning them up will help with those problems, since both fungus and bugs love sick plants and dense foliage. If you think you have a problem that must be treated, give us a call.
Plant fall blooming perennials, such as anemones, asters and Joe Pye weed now to add color to your yard. Mums will be arriving soon, but don’t count on them to be perennial. Remember to make sure your plants are getting enough water!
Annuals, Tropicals and Vegetables, Oh My!
Some annuals did great this year, and some did not. Some simply could not take the triple digit heat. Annuals and tropical are cheap right now, so it is a good time to replace those that didn’t make it or that look horrible. You can also wait a few weeks for pansies to arrive. If you decide to stick it out with what you have, many annuals will benefit from a good haircut and a dose of fertilizer.
Vegetables are a mixed bag. Some are still bearing wonderfully, and some are over and done with. Keep harvesting, even if you are leaving squash on your neighbors doorstep in the middle of the night. Once your plants die back, remove the debris from the garden so that bugs and disease don’t invade.
Other Useful Tidbits of Information
Weeds make me want to beat my head against a wall. I was out of town for 5 days and the crabgrass, spurge and poke weeds have taken over! Oh well. Weeding is a gardening fact of life, so just do it.
Fall is a great time to plant, so think about what you would like to see in your yard. If you have trouble visualizing, call Lindsay for a consultation.
That’s it for this month. Please stop by and let us help you make your yard beautiful!
T.S. Elliot may say that April is the cruelest month, but February gets my vote. It is grey and cold and damp, and the only redeeming factor is that it is short. On the other hand, January has been such a nasty month that I am hoping Mother Nature will give us a break and send some sunny skies and warm weather so I can finally go outside and work in my garden. It has been a rough winter and I want to prune something doggone it!
Can you tell I have a little bit of cabin fever?
I decided that since I did a Gardening 101 article last month, I should follow that with a basic guide for selecting plants. Many a beginning (or experienced) gardener has been done in by poor plant selection. They find a flower or shrub in the garden center or box store that they like and take it home and install it, only to have it die in record time. Beginners tend to think that they have a black thumb and should never plant anything else, while experienced gardeners tend to blame the flower itself. In both instances, they may have just bought a plant that is picky and temperamental, or one that was never supposed to be planted in our area anyway. How many of you saw those tropicals in a local store that had a big sign on them saying “cold hardy”? How many of you read the fine print that said “good to 35 degrees”? That may be cold hardy in Florida, but it isn’t going to make it here.
So how do you go about making good plant buying decisions? It’s like everything else in life: educate yourself. Just as you read labels on other things you buy, read the labels on your plants, if they have one. If they don’t, ask someone that knows what they are talking about. Before you plant a $200 tree, you really should learn what it needs.
Speaking of trees, let’s start there first. The number one rule for tree selection is know how big that sucker is gonna get. Many an uninformed gardener has bought a cute little 3 gallon tree that looked really nice planted right beside their house; until it got to be 30 feet tall! Then they come to us asking about replacing it. Decide how big the tree needs to be before you shop.
You will also need to ask yourself what you want the tree to do. Is it supposed to act as a border or fence? Provide shade? Provide blooms in the spring? Do you want deciduous or evergreen? The more information you can provide, the higher the likelihood of us helping you select a plant that you will enjoy. Please keep an open mind however. If we try to steer you in a different direction, there is usually a good reason. If you want to plant a dogwood in the middle of your lawn, we will try to discourage you because a dogwood is happiest as an understory tree. If you want a Southern magnolia and you live on a small lot, we will try to steer you toward a smaller version that won’t get 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide. If you want a mimosa, we will tell you that you are going to have to dig one out of a neighbor’s yard because those are considered invasive non-native trees and we are not allowed to sell them!
How about shrubs? This is where people really make mistakes because they buy plants with little regard for the needs of the shrub itself. They buy rhodys or azaleas because their neighbor has them, even though the neighbor has eastern exposure while theirs is full western sun. Or they will buy a nice little shrub to go under their window, only to find themselves peeking through the branches in a few years. Read and ask folks, read and ask! Again, know what you want the shrub to do, know how much sun an area gets, and be flexible in your choices. This ensures that will have the best results.
Perennials selection can sometimes cause a few problems also. The main problem we see is people being, um, uninformed about what perennial means. There are some very long lived perennials (such as peonys), but perennial doesn’t mean permanent. Some will need to be divided or replanted after two or three years. Some customers also expect perennials to have the same bloom time as annuals, and for the most part, that doesn’t happen either. Some have a long bloom time, but most bloom for 3-6 weeks.
The key with perennials is to stage them. By this I mean plant perennials with different heights and with different bloom times. I have found the easiest way to do this is to visit the garden center at different times of the year to find out what is pretty, and then add them so that something is always blooming. Again, educate yourself or ask questions. Some perennials are very picky on what type of conditions they prefer. Others may need to be carefully controlled so that they don’t take over your yard!
Annuals and tropicals are my last subjects for the day. The main problem we find with customers choosing them is that they don’t know the sun situation for their yard. Let’s face it, how many people really track how much sun an area gets? They plant impatiens in what they think is a shady area, only to find that it gets sun at just the right time of the day to guarantee that the plants are swooning by late afternoon. Or they plant hibiscus in an area that only gets morning sun. What am I going to say? That’s right: educate yourself. Learn about your yard and learn about your plants, so that you can make the right decisions.
I have one more area to cover and it is very important. It is simply this: gardener, know thyself. Be honest about what and how much work you are going to be able to do in your yard. Will you be able to spend hours a day, or will you be lucky to get in an hour a week? We have a customer who moved from Long Island and planted a huge vegetable garden the first year. He had no idea of the amount of work that would be required. Needless to say, he now has a much smaller raised garden. Don’t do that. Don’t buy hybrid tea roses if you think your fake plants are high maintenance. Don’t plant an English style garden if you like the manicured look. Let us help you make plant decisions based on who you are, not the farmer you think you might possibly be if the planets are in correct alignment. That way, if you discover you have a real knack and love for gardening, you can move up. Far better than discovering you hate it because it takes all your time.
That’s it for this month. We are going to develop our spring calendar today, so keep your eyes open for upcoming workshops.
Hang in there, it is almost spring!
It is difficult to think about gardening topics when there is 5 inches of snow on the ground. I will be the first to confess that the only attention my yard has gotten this winter is the occasional glance out the window. I know that there are several things that need to be done out there, but I’ll be darned if I am going out to prune in the snow!
Some of you have concerns about your plants, and I am sorry to say that those concerns are legitimate. I can almost guarantee that you will have some winter damage, and some of us will have losses. The odds on my gardenias making it through are 50/50 at best. There are some things that can be done to up the odds on your plants, however, and the forecast calls for temperatures in the 40’s next week, so bundle up and head on out for some fresh air!
If you haven’t pruned your summer flowering shrubs, it is time. This includes Roses, Butterfly Bushes and Crepe Myrtles. We do workshops on pruning a couple of times each spring, so if you missed the one on January 22nd, keep an eye on our calendar for the next class. Pruning gets many people in trouble because they just go out and whack away. Would you let someone that didn’t know what they were doing cut your hair? Don’t let them cut your shrubbery either!
Don’t prune spring bloomers now or you will lose the blooms. I say this every year because every year somebody comes in late in the spring and wants to know why their azaleas didn’t bloom, and we find out it is because they pruned them in February. If evergreens like Azaleas and Rhodys have winter damage, wait until after they bloom to prune it off.
This is a great time to get rid of those sneaky plants that try to hide in your shrubs. Wild honeysuckle, grape vines and Hackberry trees are easier to identify and remove this time of year.
Weeds are still out there and need to be gotten rid of. Yep, that means you have to pull them. Weeding tools and trowels will prevent the weed from breaking off at the soil level and reappearing later.
If some of your perennials have “heaved”, or pushed themselves out of the ground, push them back in. You can still spread mulch to protect them from the spring freeze/thaw cycle.
You can plant pansies and violas if the ground isn’t frozen.
If you are planning a vegetable garden, you can start getting it ready now. Till in compost or rotted manure when the ground isn’t soggy or frozen.
You can start cold weather vegetables like broccoli and cabbage in cold frames and direct sow seeds like lettuce, spinach, early peas, and onion sets late in the month. You can also start perennial herbs and slow growing annuals indoors. Wait on the warm weather plants like tomatoes and basil. Be patient!
Check your houseplants for signs of bugs, disease or stress. If you don’t have a humidifier, try placing your plants on a tray of water filled with pebbles to add moisture to the air (or get a humidifier). When they start showing signs of growth, begin fertilizing.
This is still a great time to plan your garden. Walk around and check it out and see what you want to do this year. This is also the best time to have a landscape consultation because the structure is visible.
While you are working in the yard, don’t forget about the birds. The cold weather has been very hard on them too. Many of their natural food sources have been depleted, and insects are not exactly in plentiful supply right now. You may be making lots of trips to fill up the birdfeeder! Please use a high quality mix with lots of black oil sunflower seeds, safflower, nuts, and some millet for the ground feeders. Nyjer seed is the favorite of finches. Birds need fatty seeds and suet to keep their weight up over the winter and to give them energy.
If you have a metal or plastic birdbath out, try to get the ice out of it, clean it and fill it up as soon as you can or invest in a heater. Water is very hard to come by when it is all frozen, so a heated bath is the birdie equivalent of a trip to the spa!
Before I finish for the month, I will tell you that I just got back from my buying trip to Atlanta and I am very excited about some of the things we are getting in for the spring. We were able to get some fantastic deals on pottery this year, so we have some beautiful pots coming in at great prices. We have some terrific new things coming along with some old favorites, so visit us soon to see what is new.
That’s all I have to talk about for this month. Hang in there, spring is coming!
I have never been so ready for Fall in my whole entire life! I am usually a summer person, but this summer has been way too hot. Gardens have struggled and so have the gardeners. I know that there are some of you who just gave up and decided to try again in the fall. Well, fall is approaching. Here are some of the things you need to do when the heat index is not in the triple digits.
* If you haven’t done a “walk around” yet, now is a good time. Take a look at what did well and what didn’t. Take pictures, make notes, and cut out magazine articles to get ideas. If it is too hot to do the work, you can at least make notes on what to do when it gets cooler.
*If you have no idea what you would like to do, schedule a landscape consultation with Shalena Durkot, our landscape designer. She can come out and make suggestions or provide you with a detailed design.
*Fall is the best time to plant most perennials, trees, and shrubs. Plants work on establishing their roots first, so if you plant them in the fall they have all winter to get those roots down.
*Fall is also a good time to divide and transplant perennials. The old recommendation is to divide spring bloomers in the fall and summer/autumn bloomers in the spring. Fleshy rooted plants such as Peonies and Iris should be done now.
*Clean up those beds! As plants start to lose their leaves and die back, disease free debris can be tossed on to the compost pile. Diseased leaves should not be composted.
*Perennials can be trimmed or cut back as needed. You may even be rewarded for your hard work with a second round of blooms!
*If your containers look terrible, dump them out and start over with plants that will take you through the fall. If you are sick of them, at least dump them out and store the container in a protected location.
*Keep harvesting the remnants of your vegetable garden, and get it ready for next year by cleaning out debris. You may want to make note of where things were planted this year, and plant them in a different location next year. This helps to prevent disease.
* Some plants may need one last treatment with an insecticide to help keep bugs from setting up winter homes.
*Treat diseased evergreen shrubs to prevent fungus from overwintering. Some will need to have sick areas pruned out. Call us if you have questions.
*This is a good time to add compost, manure, etc. to your beds. This will make the plants you put in next spring very happy
*Get ready to move houseplants back inside before the first frost. Check them for insects before you bring them in, and treat if necessary. You don’t want bugs to set up housekeeping in your house.
*Don’t do any severe pruning now. You can remove dead or diseased branches and do minor trimming, but nothing major.
*Many beds will need their mulch refreshed. If you piled it on in the spring, you may just want to fluff it up. It can become very hard and compacted. If you didn’t put any on this spring, a couple of inches will help plants get through the winter.
*Plant Mums and Pansies at the end of this month for fall color. The Mums will stop blooming after 4-6 weeks, but the Pansies will take you through next spring! Pansies are one of my favorite flowers, because are such cheerful little things and provide so much bang for the buck.
*Since I mentioned mums, let me give you a little more information about them. If you want them to come back next year, you need to get them in the ground by no later than the end of September. Also, there are early, mid and late season bloomers, and if you want continuous color you will need to swap them out.
*When you are ready to do Fall displays, come and see us. We will have straw, scarecrows, and pumpkins in addition to the Mums and Pansies.
*Keep checking our website and Facebook for updates, and let us know if you have any questions.
I am officially sick of 90 degree days. I don’t mind a few, like we had last year, but over 60 days in the 90s is about 50 days too many! I am tired of being soaked in sweat, I am tired of not being able to enjoy the outdoors, and I am tired of trying to keep my poor plants alive! Can I hear an “Amen”?
Now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk about fall. I know that many of you have simply given up on having pretty yards right now and are waiting on cooler weather before trying again. That’s OK, because fall is a great time to work in your yard. It is also a good time to evaluate the plants that you have now. Do you have some plants that have struggled this summer and need to be moved to a shadier location? On the other hand, do you have trees that have grown to the point that they are shading plants that need to be in the sun? Or do you have a landscape that is only geared toward warm weather and is dull and boring in the winter? That last problem is what I will address today.
What we often see in landscapes is that the homeowner has chosen plants that look terrific for part of the year, and not so great the rest of the time. If all the plants you chose for your landscape are deciduous, for example, you may have great blooms and color in the spring and summer, but in the winter you have a bunch of stuff that looks dead. On the other hand, if you only have evergreens, you are missing out on the great colors of the deciduous plants. In this article I am going to talk about some plants that you can bring in to add fall and winter interest to your yard.
Cool Season Annuals
These are the guys that add that “pop” of color to your yard and make your neighbors jealous. My favorite plants in this category are Pansies and Violas. These hardy little troopers can be planted in September and will chug along nicely until next May. They come in a wide variety of colors, and are very tough. They will succumb to overwatering, however, so they should be planted somewhere that they will have good drainage and at least 6 hours of sun. They will also need the occasional boost of fertilizer.
I am also going to include Mums in this category, and I have a logical explanation. There are some mums that are perennial. Most of the mums that you buy in the fall, however, are hybrids that may not even remember what they are supposed to be. If you want a perennial mum, buy one that is labeled as a perennial. If you buy one of the hybrids and you want it to come back next year, you need to get it in the ground by the middle to end of September. Any later and it may not have time to get its roots down. With the hybrids, don’t be surprised if what comes up next year is not the same color as what you planted, or if you get lots of little “mumlets” instead of one big plant.
Let me also explain about the bloom time of a mum. Mums have 3-6 weeks of bloom from the time they first start showing color until they are done. This time period is lengthened by cool weather and shortened by hot weather. There is no such thing as a mum that blooms from Labor Day until Thanksgiving. If you want color that long, you are going to have to replace them.
Flowering cabbage and kale are also pretty additions to landscapes and containers, and come in a variety of colors now. One warning, however, if you have rabbits and you plant cabbage or kale and pansies, they will think you have set out a buffet line!
There are several perennials that wait until the weather is cooler before putting on a show. Anemones and asters are classic fall bloomers, and look great with pansies. Autumn ferns and several of the sedums are also known for fall color. Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ is gorgeous but hard to find, and can be used as a climber or even as a ground cover. Good basic perennials like coneflower and coreopsis are known to put on a second flush of blooms as the weather moderates. Don’t forget about the wildflowers! Golden Rod, Iron Weed and Joe Pye Weed can look just as pretty in your yard as they do in the meadows.
Grasses and Shrubs
Many of the grasses are attractive well into the winter. With their wavy plumes and foliage, they add interest even after the foliage has turned brown. They should be planted as soon as possible so that they can get their roots down. Grasses that are planted late in the season tend to sit and rot.
Dwarf Burning Bush is one of the most sought after shrubs in the fall as it turns a magnificent shade of burgundy. Many people are not prepared for the size it gets however. The name says “dwarf”, but it can still reach up to 8′ tall and wide. It does best in a well drained spot and will have the best color if planted in the sun.
Callicarpa ‘Beautyberry’ is one of my very favorite plants. It has a graceful, arching shape and pretty purple flowers in the spring. In the fall, it grows clusters of bright purple berries all along the stem. It is attractive and provides food for the birds, but needs some room to spread out. It is a great choice for someone with a large spot to fill.
Camellias just might have even the Beautyberry beat. They are one of those nice evergreen shrubs that also blooms. The blooms are beautiful and come in a wide range of colors from white to red, and can be single, semi-double, double, anemone or peony shaped. The foliage of the Camellia is also attractive, and the shape can be low and sprawling or tall and vertical. Camellias must have afternoon shade. We will be having a workshop on this terrific shrub on October 16th if you are interested in adding one to your landscape
This is just a short list of some of the things you can add to your yard to keep things interesting. Come on in and look around and let us help you pick out some things to update your landscape “fall wardrobe”.
Don’t forget to check our website or Facebook for upcoming events, and call us if you have any questions.
I woke up this morning at 3 AM to the sound of something wonderful: rain! Nice, steady, nourishing rain. It had been 34 days since we had measurable precipitation, and it was desperately needed. My yard had cracks in it an inch wide and even some established trees and shrubs were starting to suffer. I fervently hope that what was shaping up to be a drought has been headed off.
How are things in your yard? If you are like most people, your yard is showing serious signs of stress. My lawn has dried to a crackly crunch, and some of my shrubs and trees are dropping leaves. The stress from lack of water also increases the damage caused by insects and disease, because plants that are stressed are less able to fight off the damage. In other words, there are lots of things that need to be done this August, so let me get started on your to do list:
*Water is the key issue. The rainfall this year has been erratic at best, so your garden must be watched closely. I know it is no fun standing outside for hours being swarmed by mosquitoes while you water, but it is truly necessary. As I have told you so many times, sprinklers are great for grass and annuals, but they are not sufficient for trees and shrubs. They must be hand-watered or watered with a drip irrigation system in order to get water down to the roots.
*If a plant seems to be struggling in spite of what you think is sufficient water, you may need to dig down beside it and see what is going on around the roots. Sometimes the water is not penetrating down to the roots at all, but is instead going through the mulch, hitting the soil and running off. In some rare instances, the plant may actually be getting too much water because of a lack of drainage. In either case, you need to know so that you can take corrective action.
*If you are having problems with fungus, take a look at your watering schedule. Plants should be watered in the morning so that the water will evaporate from the leaves during the day. There are also some plants such as Roses and Hydrangeas that prefer to be watered at ground level so that no water hits the leaves. Fungicides can treat and prevent disease on vulnerable plants.
*Insects are doing a lot of damage right now. Remember that a good blast from a water hose once a week on non-blooming plants is a good way to get rid of some things like spider mites. If that doesn’t work, move to an insecticidal soap used after 6 PM when the bees have gone back to the hive. If you still have problems, move on to something stronger.
*The end of August is a good time to do a final fertilize on shrubs. Roses and the acid lovers such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias really appreciate this, and like it very much if the fertilizer has iron in it. If not, you can add Ironite at the same time.
*Now is also a good time to give annuals and containers one final dose of fertilizer. If they look really bad, pull them up and compost them. We have lots of pretty plants here to replace them with.
*If you have a hydrangea that blooms on old woods, you need to prune them now, before they set bud for next year. This includes the H. macrophylla and H. quercifolia. Call us if you don’t know what type you have.
*If there are some bulbs that you would like to plant this fall, contact us as soon as possible so that we can include them with our bulb order.
*Don’t forget to deadhead! I know it was too hot on those days that were constantly in the 90’s, so you may have gotten behind. If you deadhead, you may get another round of blooms when it cools off some. Many plants were too heat stressed to do much blooming.
*If you have vegetables, keep harvesting. I know you may have used zucchini in every possible way, but keep on going. I have a good recipe for zucchini bread you can use.
*Don’t forget the birds! Keep feeders and baths clean and full. This can be the busiest time of the year for your feeders as young birds are learning to care for themselves and hummingbirds are moving south. Your perennials are also a great food source.
*This is a great time to schedule a consultation with Shalena. Her schedule has more openings this time of year.
If you have questions on anything else, just give us a call or send an email.
There are some things that just come with being Southern. Whether you have lived in the South all your life or are a recent transplant, there are things that are expected of you. You have to drink iced tea, you have to at least know someone that can make really good fried chicken, and you have to have a Crape Myrtle in your yard. Few things bring thoughts of the beautiful old cities of the South to mind more than the sight of a Crape Myrtle covered in blooms.
There are several good reasons for the popularity of this tree/shrub, which is really a native of China. The blooms are, of course, one reason. But even without the blooms, the tree is handsome. The exfoliating bark shows colors from cinnamon to gray, and the foliage turns a pretty shade of orange or red in the fall. Even in the winter a Crape Myrtle is attractive, and a properly shaped tree will look like a living sculpture.
So how do you grow this Southern tradition? The first thing to remember is that Crape Myrtles like sun and moist, well-drained soil. They will tolerate some shade, but will not bloom as prolifically. One unusual trait of the Crapes is that they prefer to be planted in the summer, because they thrive on heat. If you are waiting until fall to plant, you may want to rethink your plans. You will, however, need to make sure it gets plenty of water because it is only drought tolerant after it is established.
The main key to happiness is knowing the mature size of your plant before you plant it. Crape Myrtles can range in size from 24 inches to 30 feet. A beautiful white ‘Natchez’ or a dark coral ‘Tuscarora’ can be a focal point for a large yard, but at 25-30 feet, they can overpower a small courtyard. ‘Muskogee’ with lavender-pink flowers, will also get fairly large, at about 20 feet. ‘Sioux’, a bright pink at 12-15 feet, is a better selection for small areas. ‘Tonto’ is another favorite, and is a dark red/pink that gets about 8′ tall. As for the reds, ‘Red Rocket’ is my favorite. It gets to be 20 feet tall or more, so it does need some room to grow! If you have limited space, there are miniature selections that are the size of small shrubs. Pocomoke and Chickasaw, for example, only get 2-3′ tall. These can be container grown on a deck or patio. With all the varieties to choose from, there is sure to be at least one that is perfect for your yard.
There are two types of pruning that need to be done to a Crepe Myrtle. One is simply deadheading to remove spent blooms. After the blooms have shed, the tree will set seed. These seedpods can be removed with sharp clippers, and you will get a second round of blooms. This can be repeated as long as the weather is warm. This pruning is not mandatory, so don’t worry if yours is too large to handle.
The second round of pruning is done in late winter or early spring. This should be done with a gentle hand so as not to commit “Crape Murder”! People think that Crape Myrtles are supposed to be butchered just because other people do it, but that really isn’t the case. They haven’t always been available in a variety of sizes, so people cut them to make them fit. In other words, just because your neighbor does it doesn’t mean you have to. With that said, there are some things you can do. Remove sprigs that are coming up from the ground and the lower sprigs on the trunk if you want to encourage a tree form. You don’t have to keep it tree form, since by nature it is a bush, but you will cut down on disease and insects if you thin it out. You can also cut off those dead branches that are left over from last winter.