Tag Archives: flowers

I DARE YOU!

This month I want to dare you to push yourself to be a unique gardener.  What do I mean by this?  I want each of you to make the most of your garden.  It could be adding a new vegetable that you haven’t grown before or adding a tree to your yard that you’ve always admired into your own yard!  Maybe it’s a new ground cover where you’ve always put mulch.  It’s up to you!

We all have an area in the yard, no matter the size where we could add a garden area to enjoy.  Butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds can all be attracted to your private spaces with just a simple addition of a few flowering perennials or shrubs.  Maybe you want to mow a little less grass and add some more square feet to an existing bed!  The possibilities are endless!

I could list all the plants that I love in the garden but what makes your garden yours is YOUR plant selections and combinations!  There are endless possibilities out there for you to choose from!  You can narrow down your selections by researching them online, you could join a garden club, you could read a gardening book or magazine but my favorite way to pick out the plants that go in my garden are at the garden center!  I like to see for myself what a plant is going to look like!

You are lucky to live in an area that has many garden centers!  Of course you have Gilson Gardens but there is also, Martin’s Nursery, Springlake Nursery, Havel’s, Bluestone, Middle Ridge Gardens, Secor Nursery, Sabo’s Woodside Nursery, Wyatt’s Nursery, Petitti, Gales Garden Center, Woodworth’s and many more!  Look them up and patronize them!  Spend an afternoon and hit several!  Although Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Lowe’s all offer gardening supplies and plants, I highly recommend that you shop your local small business for all your plant needs!  Keep our county alive by shopping where the experts are!  Your local garden centers are employed by some of the most knowledgeable people there are!

Share your love of plants with people that know how to help you!  They will help you find that perfect addition to your garden!  You may find a new passion for plants that you didn’t know you had!  Plants at your local garden centers are most likely grown right here in Lake County!  Can it get any better than that?  You’ll find the right plant for the right place from the best place in America….Lake County Ohio!

Let me know what you are shopping for!  Which spot are you going to add something new?  What color bloom are you looking for?  Go ahead!  Share!

I found this from P.Allen Smith and since Easter is coming I thought I’d share! Don’t throw them away this year. If you can’t plant them, share them and this with someone that can.

 It’s interesting how certain plants have become associated with certain holidays—poinsettias for Christmas, roses for Valentine’s Day and lilies for Easter. Now, my poinsettias usually go out with my Christmas decorations, but I always try to find a place for my Easter lilies in my garden. Seems like such a shame to throw them away.

Lilium longiforum is the botanical name for Easter lilies and they don’t actually bloom during Easter. Greenhouse growers pot up the bulbs in fall and force them into bloom for the holiday. In the garden they flower in summer.

You can plant your Easter lilies outdoors after the holiday. Pinch off the faded flowers but don’t cut the foliage. You want to keep it as green and healthy for as long as possible. It’s this foliage that helps re-invigorate the bulb for next year’s flower.Easter Lily After the danger of frost has passed, plant the lily outside. A spot with full to half day sun is ideal, and make sure the soil is very well drained.

Plant the bulbs about 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart. Since my soil is heavy clay, I always add some extra sand for drainage. And then work in some compost before I tuck them in. Water well. Once the original foliage begins to yellow you can cut it back. New growth will emerge and you just might get a bloom too.

Next year you’ll have beautiful, fragrant white lilies to enjoy in the garden and as cut flowers indoors.

Veronica in the Garden

Veronica_spicata

Image via Wikipedia

This article was in the latest issue of Nursery Management Magazine.  I wanted to share it with you.  Although I am not personally familiar with some of the varieties listed, I have grown Veronica in my yard and have had pretty good luck with it.

    The newer variety, “Royal Candles” is one of my favorites! It blooms forever and if you cut it back when the flowers fade, it will do it all over again for you!   My soil is dry and it never gets extra water and doesn’t seem to mind!  The flower color is striking! What I love about this one is the foliage does not get all burned up at the bottom like some of the older varieties and overall seems to stay pretty clean! (maybe because I don’t water it!) I am also a fan of Giles Van Hees because it stays so short and the color is great!  Enjoy!

Veronica ‘Giles Van Hees’, Veronica gentianoides ‘Pallida’, V. pinnata ‘Blue Eyes’. Speedwells (Veronica spp.) are notable for their graceful and bountiful flowers, as well as their reliable nature. These long-blooming, easy-care perennials offer a range of plant types with a distinct verticality prized by gardeners. Whether at the front, middle, or back of the border, their slender wands enliven the garden with color and the busyness of butterflies and bees throughout spring and summer. Their popularity has only increased in recent years due to the introduction of many hybrid cultivars with new flower colors and improved plant forms. Many colors, foliage There are approximately 250 herbaceous species of Veronica native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, found in such diverse habitats as alpine meadows, grasslands, oak forests, and riverbanks. The taxonomy of Veronica is currently under revision. Although speedwell flowers may be white, pink, violet or purple, the sumptuous shades of blue are particularly coveted by gardeners. Foliar characteristics are variable among Veronica species — from lanceolate to almost round, glossy to pubescent, with smooth, lobed or toothed margins. Basal leaves are often opposite, while leaves on flowering stems are alternately arranged. For comparison and distinction, speedwells are usually grouped by habit, either prostrate spreading or upright clump-forming. Among the prostrate species familiar to gardeners are alpine speedwell (V. alpina), harebell speedwell (V. prostrata), creeping speedwell (V. repens), comb speedwell (V. pectinata), and gentian speedwell (V. gentianoides). Popular upright species include long-leaved speedwell (V. longifolia), spiked speedwell (V. spicata), and Hungarian speedwell (V. austriaca). In the landscape Speedwells are generally easy to grow and prefer sunny locations in moist, well-drained soils. Plants grown in less light will not bloom as profusely and may become lax or open in habit. Speedwells can be long-lived provided that garden soils drain freely, which is especially important during winter months. Many speedwells drop their lower leaves in summer, resulting in bare stems and a spindly habit. A midsummer shearing after the first bloom promotes healthy new basal foliage and encourages late summer flowering. Deadheading throughout the bloom cycle produces many new, albeit shorter, floriferous spikes later in the season. Taller speedwells may require staking, especially in overly moist or fertile soils. Dividing crowns in early spring is beneficial for plants that have lost vigor with age. A number of foliar diseases may affect plant health, including powdery mildew, downy mildew, leaf spots and foliar rust. Prostrate speedwells are suitable for the front of the border, as edging along walkways, as ground covers, in rock gardens or on low walls. These low-growing species begin to bloom in mid-April, making them delightful companions to spring bulbs. In borders and wildflower gardens, upright speedwells mix nicely with many summer perennials such as yarrows (Achillea spp.), coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), cranesbills (Geranium spp.) and catmints (Nepeta spp.). Their telltale spikes are frantically alight with butterflies and abuzz with bees from mid-June onward.

The evaluation study The Chicago Botanic Garden (USDA Hardiness Zone 5b) evaluated 64 taxa of Veronica in full-sun trials between 1999 and 2009. The goal of the comparative trial was to recommend outstanding speedwells for northern gardens. Sixty-one taxa completed a minimum four-year trial, with more than half of the taxa evaluated for six years. The evaluation garden was openly exposed to wind in all directions and received approximately 10 hours of full sun daily during the growing season, an average of 165 days per year. The clay-loam soil was amended with composted leaves and had a pH of 7.4 throughout the evaluation term. The site was normally well drained, but at times the soil retained moisture for short periods in summer and winter. Maintenance practices were kept to a minimum to simulate home-garden culture, thereby allowing plants to thrive or fail under natural conditions. Water was provided as needed and mulch consisting of shredded leaves and wood chips helped with water conservation and weed suppression. Moreover, plants were not fertilized, winter mulched or chemically treated for insect or disease problems. Performance report Plants were regularly monitored during the evaluation period for ornamental traits such as flower color, bloom period, plant size and plant habit. In addition, data were collected on disease and pest problems, winter injury and habit quality and plant health issues related to and/or affected by cultural and environmental conditions. Final performance ratings are based on flower production, plant health, habit quality and winter hardiness. Seven speedwells received good-excellent ratings for their overall performance, including Veronica ‘Fairytale,’ V. ‘Giles Van Hees,’ V. austriaca ‘Ionian Skies,’ V. longifolia ‘Blue John,’ V. spicata ‘Baby Doll,’ V. spicata ‘Ulster Blue Dwarf’ and V. wormskjoldii. These top-rated speedwells exhibited strong habits and excellent flower production throughout the evaluation period. The lack of any serious pest or disease problems, along with good winter survivability, contributed to their high ratings. Flower production evaluation Many of the speedwells received four-star good ratings or higher for heavy flower production, robust plant habits, disease and pest resistance, and winter hardiness. Among the top-rated plants were outstanding ground-hugging speedwells such as: Veronica ‘Blue Reflection,’ V. gentianoides ‘Pallida,’ and V. prostrata ‘Mrs. Holt’; as well as exceptional upright clumpers such as V. austriaca ‘Ionian Skies,’ V. longifolia ‘Blue John’ and V. spicata ‘Baby Doll.’ Regardless of their stature or habit, they all featured spiky inflorescences rising from several inches to a foot or more above the foliage. Speedwells were generally long-blooming plants, often flowering from June into September, although not continually during that time. Some drawbacks Seasonal stem decline was a prevalent condition that affected the upright speedwells each summer. Despite leaf drop and/or stem death, most plants recovered quickly after being sheared to the ground at the end of the first bloom period. Cold hardiness was not an issue, but crown loss or plant death due to wet soil conditions in winter was a fairly significant problem for the speedwell trial. Powdery mildew and leaf spot were observed in multiple years but were neither widespread nor severe in most cases. A complete report of all varieties trialed is available at http://www.chicagobotanic.org/downloads/planteval_notes/no33_veronica.pdf. Richard G. Hawke is plant evaluation manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden, http://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantevaluation.

Ideas for the Perfect Shade Garden

Many of the most avid gardeners get frustrated when planning a new garden for a shady location!  Just when you fall in love with something, you flip over the tag or google it and BAM…it’s for SUN!  Don’t fret!  There are many beautiful plants that thrive in shady locations!  Take the Aquilegias (see left) that will bloom in early spring in all shades of pink, blues,  purple, whites and many shades in between! What constitues a “shade” garden you ask?  “Shady” locations are deemed as such due to the lack of direct sunshine throughout the day.  If your area receives just filtered daylight or morning sun only or less than 6 hours of direct sun, chances are that is a shady area! Hostas are a great plant for shade!   There are thousands of varieties to choose from sporting golden leaves, blue leaves, variegated and green leaves!  ‘Paul’s Glory’ is absolutely one of my favorites!  There are small varieties like ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ and Big Varieties like ‘Sagae‘ and varieties that will make a very nice groundcover like ‘Golden Tiara’ so do your research and determine your “must-haves”! Ligularia is an excellent choice for damp shade as this plant tolerates wet areas (actually prefers it!) and has bold foliage  that will give you distinct foliage contrast in you shade garden.   This variety, “Othello” has yellow flowers and dark colored undersides to the leaves. 

You can include a variety of ferns which all love the shade and give a variety of shapes and form in the garden. Try Hypericum or Asarum or hardy geraniums for ground covers.  When planning your area, remember that most plants will take more space as they become established so be sure to give everything room to spread their wings!   For shrubs, try Viburnum,  Clethra or Microbiotas and Rhododendrons.  Other perennials that enjoy a shady spot include Polygonatum, Tiarella, Heuchera, Epimedium, Astilbe or Hecherellas.    I have found that with filtered daylight you can add Shasta Daisy and Rudbeckias and other sun-loving perennials as well.  If you do try a sun-lover and they don’t bloom well…then you probably will have to move them to a sunnier spot but it’s worth a try!   If you have room for a trellis….add Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ for spring color!  Shade tolerant!!  Oh the possibilities are endless!  If you have the room, plant at least three of a variety….that will give you a more full garden in  less time. Make sure you keep your new plantings watered until they can get established!  Once they do, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy and just pick the occasional weed!  You’ll see that after a couple of years, the garden will all come together! You’ll be adding this here, moving that there, dividing this to share with a friend….adding a birdbath for your feathered friends! You will have become the gardener you never thought or always hoped you’d be!  Enjoy!

Perennial Armeria

Perennial Common thrift

Spring is Here!

Armeria splendens is an early riser! The foliage on this perennial is fresh and clean right out of the gate in the spring followed by these brilliant hot-pink clusters of flowers atop strong stems beginning in May and continuing into June! Prefers not to have wet-feet so provide well-drained soils.  Use in the front of your garden as it only gets up to 8″ tall! Provide full sun for these beauties and you won’t be disappointed!  This plant is great as a specimen or in masses in your garden…it’s up to you!  Zone 3 for this one!  Gilson Gardens offers this in both a one gallon container or a 3.5″ pot to meet anyone’s budget!

Perennial Stokesia Blue Danube

Stokesia 'Blue Danube'
Stokes Aster Stokesia ‘Blue Danube’

This is Stokesia ‘Blue Danube’. Very hardy perennial for zone 5.  Large dark blue flowers that bloom July through frost if deadheaded!  Full sun for best performance. An ONLA recommended plant!  One of my favorites in the garden!