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Gardening Blog

Winter Gardening Tips and Enhancements

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The winter landscape provides beautiful color in warm and cool tones, fascinating texture, and architectural interest. You can enhance the aesthetics of your winter garden with a clean-up. Prune away dead or unsightly branches, rake any remaining fall leaves away, and install a light mulch cover to retain moisture, prevent weeds, and insulate soil around tender perennials and evergreens. Save those clippings for a winter arrangement! Use pine boughs, holly branches laden with berries, interesting bare branches and other clippings in summer’s leftover hanging baskets or artfully arranged in a festive vase.

Enhance with lights. The bare branches of deciduous shrubs and trees will glow beautifully with the addition of fairy lights, seasonal-themed string lights or other decorative lighting. Swathes of golden and bronze-toned ornamental grasses, with their beautiful plumes and seed heads that provide winter food and cover for songbirds, look outstanding lit from below. Try solar LED landscape lights, or low voltage selections like well or bullet landscape lights. Evergreen foundation or statement plants will look beautiful enhanced by net or string lighting. Solar lanterns are very popular and come in a wide variety to suit your unique taste and space.

Planters make a wonderful statement year-round but can really enhance the winter landscape. You can find interesting planters at antique and consignment shops, online, or at your local garden center. Make sure containers have good drainage so plants don’t drown in soggy soil. Go bold! Arrange a series of planters on your patio filled with evergreen shrubs, tiny arborvitaes, small trees, and perennials. Shrub and tree selections include camellia, Gold Cone juniper, Fairy Lights arborvitae, Sky Pencil holly, Gulfstream nandina, and Don Egolf redbud. Ornamental grasses and perennials like heuchera and verbena work well too. A pair of festively lit holly or dwarf Alberta spruce planters at your door will welcome guests with the holiday spirit.

Add some unique outdoor décor! Garden décor trends include whimsical figurines in all shapes and sizes, decorative stones and cairns, and bold statuary. Water features, fountains, and benches are other great choices.  And don’t forget the birds! By using a selection of native trees, shrubs and perennials you can transform your yard into a bird habitat and enjoy sightings year-round! Keep birds coming all winter long by providing fresh water and seed or suet.

Finally, use the gift of winter’s peace, quiet and dormancy to plan for the garden of your dreams! Peruse seed catalogs and read up on the newest perennial and shrub selections coming to your local garden center in 2019! See you soon!

Help Your Garden Flourish with these Summer Gardening Tips

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The heat of summer time is great for beach trips and barbecues with family but can be a real stressor on plants. This season, the combination of torrential rain followed by periods of intense heat and drought has had a negative impact on many plants, even those that are well established.

Review the tips below for efficient watering and plant care to help your garden flourish through the summer!

When watering, use the correct technique. You can reduce your water consumption up to 60% by using proper watering techniques. Slow-drip and deep-root watering and properly installed irrigation systems will help to conserve water.

Water early in the morning, usually before 9:00 AM. This helps keep the water from evaporating too quickly, and the plants won’t stress because of a lack of essential water. Watering less often but for a longer time will promote deep root growth. If you have an irrigation system, check it frequently to make sure it works properly. Make sure you water just your plant material and avoid spraying sidewalks, driveways and patios; this is a waste of water.

Make sure you cut your lawn to a proper height and let it grow to 3-4 inches between cuttings. Longer blades of grass means going three to four days longer between watering and promotes a healthier and stronger root system.

Weed control in your lawn and in your gardens will help reduce competition for water, so even though it’s hot, try to get out early in the morning to pull weeds and check for any pests or fungus.

Place container gardens and baskets in partial shade to keep them from drying out too quickly on very hot days and in windy areas.

Once you have the watering down, the next step is feeding! All plants require fertilizer to prolong their lifespan and ensure the biggest blooms and best performance. However, summer is not the best time for feeding lawns or nursery stock. Wait for the cooler weather of fall for that.

For annuals and perennials, feed once a month throughout the growing season to keep them healthy and blooming for the spring, summer and into the fall.

Of course, the plants depend on healthy soil for optimum growth. Summer is a good time to amend beds with a layer of leafgro or other organic compost. A thin layer of mulch is recommended to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Apply to shrubs, trees, annual and perennial beds and borders, and even vegetable gardens.

Proper watering, feeding and mulching will keep your landscape healthy and attractive year-round.

As always, please feel free to call or, even better, come by the shop with your questions, comments, or just to visit! I’ll see you soon.

 – Dotti

Hydrangea Care

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Hydrangeas like moist, rich soil, but can not live in standing water. They are big drinkers. On hot days, the fleshy leaves and stems call for lots of water. Make sure they get it! The best place to grow hydrangeas is where they get morning sun and afternoon shade. This will keep the heat stress to a minimum and ensure the best blooms.

Hydrangeas are acid-loving plants. Feed hydrangeas in spring or fall with Holly Tone. Mophead hydrangeas have large lush blooms that change color depending on the soil ph. If you like blue flowers, use soil acidifier; if you prefer pink use garden lime.

Pruning is required to keep your hydrangeas performing to the best of their ability. All hydrangeas can be pruned for cut flowers, and they like to be pruned during bloom time to promote healthy growth. Outside of bloom time, seasonal pruning will ensure a longer life span and beautiful plant architecture. The process for seasonal pruning depends on the variety.

Hydrangea macrophylla (mophead) – Nikko Blue, Forever Pink, and other mophead hydrangeas bloom off last year’s wood (old wood). Pruning should be done only when necessary to improve shape. When new growth begins in spring, prune away dead branches, fertilize with Holly Tone, and enjoy the beautiful blooms to come.

Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea) – Pee Gee, Limelight, and other panicle hydrangea varieties bloom on new wood. This means old wood can be pruned off late fall or very early spring. Prune them aggressively so that new growth will be clean and compact and the plant will be lush with blooms.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea) – Snow Queen, Queen of Hearts and other oakleaf hydrangeas bloom from old wood and look best left untrimmed. If you must, prune late winter and remove the entire stem. Do not prune tips in the spring time; this stunts growth and prevents future flowering.

Hydrangea anomala (climbing hydrangea) – This gorgeous, slow growing variety has woody vines that cling to structures with air roots. Blooms grow off old wood, so prune in late fall or winter to control shape and promote spring growth. Blooms are a wide, lacecap type of flower.

Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth hydrangea) – Annabelle, White Dome and other smooth hydrangea varieties bloom on new wood. Severely prune in late fall or winter and enjoy the flush of new growth and blooms in the spring and summer.

As always, please feel free to call or, even better, come by the shop with your questions, comments, or just to visit! I’ll see you soon.

 – Dotti