How to stay Healthy in a Dark Garden!

 

    I was speaking to one of our sales reps today and he and I got on a rant about weight gain and the holidays and cookies and jeans not fitting……and it brings me to this.  How in the &)^%$^& are we to stay fit when the garden is dark at 5pm or sooner!  You can’t rush home this time of year and plant, or weed, or mow or for that matter….anything outside!  When it does start snowing and you know it will the news will be full of the “dangers” of shoveling the driveway!  Honestly…..with 11 more days till the days begin to get longer, what are we supposed to do with ourselves!?

  Get to the gym!  Get on your treadmill! Go for a walk (albeit with a flashlight!) Walk up and down your stairs! Go to the mall! Go to the Library! (great seed catalogs!) My point is do something!  All summer long we go every night until the sun starts to fade, being outside, doing whatever it is we love and we all know we’re not just lying around in the hammock!  So why, in the winter do we rush home to sit on the couch and start our primetime at 6pm?       

     STOP!  Get yourself moving now and believe you me we will all feel better for it when spring gets here and we can still see and touch our toes!  Fight the darkness!  I promise you, it will head off depression, keep you more focused and thinner! (or at the very least, less fatter!)  Keep dinners light and easy (you know we can all survive on a salad in the summer!)  Let me know what you do to stay busy in the winter! Maybe we can all make a plan for a fitter winter!

Share the Magic of the Holidays with the Gift of Fairies!

A fairy offering wishes, illustration by John ...

Image via Wikipedia

   That’s it, the woman has finally lost it….I know what you’re thinking!  But, NO, truly I haven’t!  This time of year when I just don’t know if I can tolerate one more day of drab skies and rain and the threat of snow, my mind wanders to all that is green…

 You still don’t know where I’m going with this….that’s ok….I’ll share…..

FAIRIES!

     Yup….that’s it!  I’m sure you’ve seen the fairy gardens in the gardening magazines or even in your local garden centers. Some stores have everything for our winged friends, including furniture!  But close your eyes….bear with me here…close em!

     Picture a small, picturesque garden, filled with everything minature….teensy weensy ferns, and succulents and lil’ flowers that only a fairy could pick! Picture sitting in a lil’ bench, waiting for your fairy friends to show up….you can hear them….a distant giggle….off in the greenery, right behind that lil’ plant, hidden from view….a place you would imagine Tinkerbell and her friends….

English: A Fairy Tale by Dorothy M.Wheeler

Image via Wikipedia

       These fairy gardens are so very popular! Great for gifts, great as a project with your kids….imagine their joy while they gaze at the lil’ garden and wait for the elusive lil’ friends to appear…..use your imagination! What items from your own home can you use?  Bottlecaps, pinecones, pebbles, marbles (make great gazing balls for fairy gardens!) the possibilities are endless!  You can use just about anythin for a container as well!

     Fairy gardens can be started inside by a window and then moved to your porch or deck when the weather warms and you and your children can watch it grow and thicken creating so many more hiding places for the fairies!

   You can inspire dreams and stories for generations to come with one little fairy garden, for you, for your children, for your friends and family…..and the love of a garden…..

I can hear Santa….he’s on his way!

       I love this time of year! Christmas lights are popping up in all the dark neighborhoods, people are going around in a “I’ve gotta shop” coma, songs of the holiday are everywhere (literally!) and you can’t help but be sucked in!  This year seems the “sucking” is so much stronger!  Holiday promotions started so early and the push to get it all done was just stacking up! I mean the red kettles are everywhere and I’m going broke!  So…..I succumbed to the coma, shopped till I couldn’t get any more in the car and my credit cards were pretty much on fire (you’re welcome for my share of economic stimulation!)  My house is decorated, my presents are hidden and then….I flip the calendar and it’s only November 30!  What the hell?  How did that happen?  It’s not even December and I’m ready for the holiday to get here already!

    So now…I can sit back and enjoy all the craziness without actually losing my mind in the process.  I thank technology every day for my DVR so I don’t have to watch all those commercials that make me believe if I buy this or that that my life will be the “happily ever after” they are promoting! My answer to the darkness this year is to be at the gym after work so that I’m not in my pajamas watching TV two hours before primetime!  Mental health is a fine line people!  Keep the whole thing in perspective! Holidays are for friends and families (yes, families!) and showing others kindness!

Fall Planting is GOOD for your Plants!

  Remember the old adage…Fall is for Planting“?  That has been the truth for  many, many years! Not only is this the time for planting bulbs like daffodils or tulips for spring but almost anything else you want to plant!  The secret?  Mulch!

As long as you mulch your plantings, you are almost guaranteed that your fall plantings will break forth in the spring with new growth and be as happy as ever! 

Shrubs, perennials, ground covers, grasses, vines, etc. actually love this time of year. Planting now, you get the benefit of fall rains, soil temperatures that aren’t headed to  “too hot” and cool air temperatures mean the stress level is low.  Plants get a chance to get settled in before winter which is what you want!

We do not recommend planting rooted cuttings this time of year. We do not suggest you divide your hostas now but most anything else is fair game! Most perennials are on their way to dormancy so they won’t have much on top anyways. You are planting the roots, giving them a nice home for the winter where they will settle into the soil and be ready for take-off come spring!

Don’t fear the fall and the good news is most garden centers are running specials and sales to avoid storing them in containers over the winter.  You get rock bottom prices and happy plants!  You won’t be sorry!  Just follow the planting instructions on the labels!  Have fun and PLANT!

2012 Perennial Plant of the Year! Amsonia hubrechtii

Amsonia hubrichtii – This is from the Ohio Gardener E-newsletter
by Russell Studebaker – posted 07/15/11

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen for the 2011 perennial of the year the Arkansas amsonia, also known as Arkansas bluestar and threadleaf bluestar. Leslie Hubricht first discovered it in Arkansas in 1942 and his name was bestowed to this species, Amsonia hubrichtii.

Light blue flowers appear in late April to early May in domed panicles at the ends of the stems. The flowers are attractive to swallowtail butterflies and especially zebra swallowtails.

The grassy foliage ranges from over an inch to 3 inches long and the plants produce clumps about 2 to 3 feet tall. In October the foliage is second to none with a golden to clear yellow color, making it one of the few herbaceous perennials with good fall color that lasts for weeks.

The Arkansas amsonia is definitely a star in the garden.

QUICK FACTS AND KEYS TO SUCCESS

Common Name: Arkansas bluestar, Hubricht’s bluestar, threadleaf bluestar, Arkansas amsonia

Color: Sky-blue, 1-inch trumpet-like flowers on nodding racemes on stem terminals

Height: 12 to 14 inches

Bloom Period: Late April-early May

Type of Plant: Native herbaceous perennial

Exposure to Sun: Full sun best, but tolerates light shade.

When to Plant: Anytime from containers

Soil: Well drained, average to rich

Watering: Normal applications, drought resistant after well established.

Maintenance: Plant 18 to 20 inches apart; pest and maintenance free, forms a woody tap-like root system.

In Your Landscape: Use as a specimen or back of the border planting. Naturalize it in clearings or at the edge of woods. Combine with butterfly weed, sundrops (Oenothera), black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and Baptisia. Contrast it with Siberian iris, golden barberry, Black Lace elderberry or ‘Dart’s Gold‘ ninebark.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9
 


The Arkansas amsonia is a star among native perennials in the garden for its blue flowers,
fine-textured foliage and its striking golden fall color. (Photo by Melanie Blandford.)


 

(Amsonia flower photography courtesy of Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association.)


Russell Studebaker is a professional horticulturist, book author and garden columnist for the Tulsa World. He is a frequent lecturer at garden events in the Southern region.


Fall Bloomers in the Garden

This was sent to me in an email and it has good information for fall bloomers in the garden! Enjoy!

 

Final Flourish
by Gene Bush – posted 08/15/11

Think about adding some of these underused fall-blooming beauties to your shade garden later this season. After the heat lets up a bit, you will want to get back out there and expand your season and plant palette.

Gardeners in this region tend to give up on gardening come mid to late July and into August. Still fewer gardeners are aware September, October and into November can be filled with flowers. The fact that fall-blooming flowers are not found more frequently is due more from an absence of information than a lack of performing plants.


Aster divaricatus‘Woods Purple’  
Aster divaricatus ‘Woods Blue’


Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’
Aster photos Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Gardening myths about lack of blooms in shade gardens during summer and fall are just that. Myths. Gardening references tend to switch over to evergreens, bark textures and various colors of berries with the mention of blooms sadly missing after September. Bark and berries are important for the backbone of a garden—to basic design—but blooms are what we gardeners truly desire.

Fall-blooming perennials are no more difficult to grow than plants blooming in spring or summer. If you have been successful with a bed, border or garden containing bulbs and perennials you can grow fall-blooming plants to perfection. The exact requirements concerning soil, moisture and sun or shade varies from plant to plant. In general, I begin with the classic “well-drained soil with plenty of humus and adequate moisture.” My next step is a good gardening encyclopedia or nursery catalog that gives tips and hints for success with each family of flowers and special needs for individuals within a family.

Since some of the fall bloomers are not as well known as spring bloomers, you might have to shop a bit to locate specific species or cultivars. A local nursery or catalog specializing in a full inventory of perennials is my first choice.

 

Asters (Aster species and hybrids)

Asters are well known, but to the best of my knowledge, sadly underused in local gardens for fall bloom. Since they are such a widely adaptable and easily grown plant, it is hard for me to understand why they are not used more often in gardens. Perhaps it is a case of familiarity breeds contempt for numerous species of asters decorate our fields, fence rows and woods during September and October. Asters are a must-have for middle to back of a border with its stately foliage and wide range of bloom color from all the new hybrids.

There are numerous species, hybrids and cultivars to choose from with a range in height from 18 inches to well over 6 feet. In decent garden soil, give them room—for they will form clumps rather quickly making for a large show. The taller species benefit from shearing or pinching back around June to make them more compact and fuller in foliage.

One of the features that makes an aster an aster is the yellow disk in the center of each ray of petals. Flower petal colors include blue, lavender, white, pink and red. Great drama in color combinations can be easily achieved by using goldenrods as companions with all their different shades of yellow.

 

 


Monkshood Aconitum napellus
Photo: iStock-© Anna Yu

Monkshood (Aconitum species and hybrids)

Monkshoods or aconitum are masters of the open shade garden in fall and early winter. Depending on the species or hybrid, you can have blooms from June through December.

Aconitum are easily grown to perfection in the Midwest when given three basic needs. Provide a good compost-rich soil dug relatively deep. Place them in all the light you can provide without full sun. Mulch around (but never over) the crown to retain moisture.

Almost all aconitum are tall and stately with a range in height from 2 ½ feet to more than 6 feet. The blooms have their top two petals fused together, which forms a helmet or hood shape that gives it the common names of helmet flower or monkshood. Blooms are numerous toward the upper third of the plant with most en masse at the top of the main stem. Colors can be white, rose, yellow and bi-color, but blue and lavender are the most common.

All aconitum are toxic to mammals and caution should be exercised. Use gloves when handling or planting.

 

 


Gentian saponaria 
Photo: Gene Bush

Gentian (Gentian species and hybrids)

My favorite fall-blooming flowers are gentians. Imagine, if you will, the red, brown and gold of falling leaves. Then picture rich green foliage decorated with masses of the most beautiful blue blooms. There are some 200 to 350 species of gentians around the world plus numerous hybrids. Among the fall bloomers are species growing wild in local woodland edges, fields and roadsides. Bloom shape can range from a bottle to crested trumpets. Size can begin at less than 1 foot to more than 3 feet in height. There are numerous gentians that begin blooming in September and October lasting into November.

The two most common species in the Midwest are the bottle gentians (G. andrewsii and G. saponaria). The common name comes from the resemblance in shape of the blooms to small bottles. I think they look like the old-fashioned Christmas tree lights with the rounded tips. The blooms do not fully open on these two species. Other easily grown gentians I enjoy are summer and fall blooming species and hybrids from Asia. Two species on the smaller size in foliage with large trumpet-shaped blooms are the G. paradoxa and G. septemfida or everyman’s gentian.

 

 


Tricyrtis ‘White Towers’
Photo: Gene Bush

Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis species and hybrids)

Toad lilies have been gaining popularity in the last few years. They originate from Japan, Asia and the Himalayas with about 18 species and many hybrids to choose from. There is a toad lily for every shade garden, since growth can range from 6 inches to more than 4 feet. Blooms can be upright cups to hanging bells and exotics resembling orchids in shape. Colors run most of the spectrum with rich buttery yellows to spotted bi-colors of lavender and pink. The individual species and hybrids chosen determines the period of bloom. It is possible to have a toad lily in bloom from June through the first hard frost. The blooms are frost sensitive so you will need to cover the plants if an early frost is forecast. One of my favorites for fall blooms in the shade garden is T. hirta x miazaka. This hybrid toad lily is one of the most graceful with its arching habit and height of about 2 feet. Be sure to place it on a raised bed near a path where you can see the blooms up close.

 


Hymenocallis occidentalis 
Photo: Gene Bush

Bulbs

There is a wealth of bulbs to choose from that will provide blooms from September into November. There are fall-blooming crocus and colchicum, which are often confused with the crocus. Several species and hybrids of flowering onion (Allium sp.) make gorgeous displays. The native spider lily (Hymenocallis occidentalis) is seldom seen and blooms about the same time as our resurrection lilies, or naked ladies. Hardy cyclamen are seldom seen in gardens and there are at least three species and their hybrids with some performing into December.

There are far too many flowers blooming during fall and into early winter to give up on gardening now.

 


Japanese anemone 
Photo: © justdahl – FOTOLIA


Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua speciosa)
Photo: Don Kurz

Fall-Blooming Perennials

•  Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis)

•  Hardy begonia (Begonia grandis)

•  Bluebeard (Caryopteris sp.)

•  Turtlehead (Chelone sp.)

•  Bugbane or Fairy candles (Actaea aka Cimicifuga)

•  Hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)

•  Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium sp.)

•  Lobelia (L. cardinalis, L. siphilitica)

  •  Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

 

 


Gene Bush is a nationally known garden writer, photographer, lecturer and nursery owner. Contact Gene at munchkinnursery.com.


I received this from a friend that read it online at opennhort.com.  It’s fantastic and should make all independent garden centers think about their customers. Also…to those that shop at the big box stores…remember the lil’ guys out there where you will receive the personal assistance and someone WILL remember your name when you walk in but may not have that big parking lot!

 

You know Her: she’s a great customer. She ADORES plants, devours every issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and spends Her winters pining away for the first signs of spring thaw so she can eagerly attack Her garden plans. She drives the nice-but-not-too-nice car, knows your staff by name, and wouldn’t dream of shopping for Her garden anywhere else.

Um, yeah. There aren’t 10% of Her out there anymore.

NewsFlash: She’s already cheating on you. And if she isn’t, she will.

Honestly? She likes you well enough, but she’s gotten bored with you, the spark just isn’t there anymore. She used to be surprised by something new each time she came in, she was inspired by your lush and lavish displays.

The recession-era you: with paint from two seasons ago, staff reductions, and merchandise constriction, well, you’re a little less alluring.

You’ve become predictable, and not in a good way.

She’s already shopping at Nordstrom for Her shoes but Costco for Her paper towels. She’s smart enough to see the grower’s truck when it stops at the Big Box store on Tuesdays with fresh product, which, golly – looks fairly much the same to Her eye.

She’s using more coupons these days, because austerity is ‘in.’ She’s savvy enough to price shop the essentials online. And even if you’re closer… well, your staff are more harried and distracted than ever, your parking lot is tight, she can’t get to your store after work…

Can you make Her feel special again? Can you give Her the thing she values most – Her TIME – back? Can you delight Her? Make Her life easier? If not, then you’re just 5% better than the other guys – and they’re 20% cheaper.

And she’s smart enough to do the math.