Tag Archives: Garden

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!

Aside

The Hostas are starting to pop here in NE Ohio and I am definately a collector….here’s the word from Doug Green’s Garden that I wanted to share with you!  Although many think of Hosta and think of the variegated forms, … Continue reading

Help in the Garden through Apps! The Down and Dirty!

iPad mini

iPad mini (Photo credit: patrick-allen)

This was written by Jane Milliman and I felt it was worth sharing! By all means if you find an app that you have found to be helpful, I’d be glad to hear about it!  We’re always looking for ways to make our customer’s gardening experience a positive one!

Fortunately, a few apps for both Android and Apple users have generated positive reviews and the even better news is that two of the better ones are free.

The Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News (free onApple and on Android, as Garden Guide), Gardening How-To (free on iPad and Android) and Landscaper’s Companion — Gardening Reference Guide ($6 on iPad andiPhone, $5 on Android) are all worth downloading.

The Landscaper’s Companion wasn’t created by a gardener, but the app’s developer, Dave Stevenson, and his researchers have landscaping and gardening experience with botanical gardens and the United States Department of Agriculture, among others.

The companion is an encyclopedia of sorts, with more than 20,000 plants and vegetables listed. You can browse an alphabetized index that is separated into 16 categories, including houseplants and vegetables, for instance, or you can search by name.

The search feature is nicely designed. You can enter “cucurbita pepo” or “zucchini” or “summer squash” and the software will find the same vegetable.

Each plant page includes a profile with the plant’s zone, growth rate, water and sun requirements, color and typical height and width. The descriptions are basic but include important elements — like whether the plant has thorns, for instance — that would help a gardener prepare for a planting.

You can also narrow the search criteria if you specify the zone, height or color of a plant, among other features. If you live in an area with deer, you can also filter results to show only plants that are deer-resistant.

On each plant page you can leave notes for yourself, e-mail the description or add photos of your own. In another section of the app, you can review only those plants that you marked as favorites, or review every note you have recorded.

Not every feature of the app is built with this same attention to detail.

You could spend hours perusing the 14,000 photos in the “Plant Images” section, for instance. Unfortunately, some of that time would be wasted, since you can sort the images to include only plants in your particular zone, but you can’t sort in other meaningful ways.

If you could filter out all but the plants that needed full sun, for instance, or those with red flowers, the images would be more useful.

While the Landscaper’s Companion is encyclopedic, it’s not highly useful as a how-to guide. On that front, the Mother Earth News Gardening Guide is considerably more helpful, at least for vegetable gardeners.

The app makes good use of archival materials from Mother Earth News, an environmental conservation magazine that publishes organic gardening tips, among other pieces.

The guide includes tutorials on growing about 20 different types of crops, like carrots and tomatoes, and the advice is excellent.

The carrot tutorial, for instance, offers overviews on the different varieties, how to plant them, when to harvest and how to generate and collect seeds. The “Growing Tips” section includes a range of information that will appeal to serious and more casual vegetable gardeners alike. (Carrots grow best in soil with a pH balance of 5.8 to 7.0, it says, then adds: “Before pulling carrots, use a digging fork to loosen the soil just outside the row.”)

The techniques section is equally helpful, with 23 in-depth tips on disease prevention and planting self-seeding crops, among others.

The app is free, which is great, but it wastes valuable space with advertisements for Mother Earth News. No ad-free option exists for current subscribers or those who would rather pay for the app.

Flower gardeners who own iPads have a solid option with Gardening How-To, which is built on content from the magazine of the same name, published by the National Home Gardening Club.

Users receive four free issues of the magazine in iPad format, which yields dozens of features and smaller stories on flower gardening and information for vegetable and fruit growers.

Unlike many other apps, Gardening How-To isn’t strictly confined to biology or design. Articles on new plant varieties and building flower beds sit alongside more conventional growing tips.

You can take the iPad into the yard for guidance, as long as the device is in a zippered plastic food storage bag. That way the screen is protected yet still reacts to your touch.

Graphically, Gardening How-To is far more polished than Mother Earth, with beautiful photography and interactive elements like animated graphics, audio and video. (All those interactive elements and glossy photos add up to a slow download, so start the download at bedtime.)

Unfortunately, I found nothing as good as this for iPhone or Android users, who must pick through a thicket of poorly rated choices — often for $1 or $2 — to get what they need.

Given that we are still in the early days of apps, this looks like a case of the software engineers grabbing some quick bucks before being crowded out by more established gardening publishers.

So until those publishers get serious about mobile technology, gardeners will have to pull lots of weeds to find something good.

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!

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.