Some thoughts on landscape design, materials, gardening in general and the work I'm doing just now.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can't Keep 'em Straight?

      Now is the time to catalogue your Daylilies (or any other plants that are blooming). Take photos of each and place a marker with a letter or number at the base of each plant. You might also note in your catalogue the general area of the landscape where a particular cultivar is located. In the spring, when it's time to move or divide and share your treasures, you'll know what's where.
     I do this for Hostas and Irises, too. I keep the list and pictures on my computer. When buds begin to emerge in spring I print out a page and know just where that Francis Williams Hosta is. I'm ready to dig pieces to share with friends.
     Be sure to renew your garden tags each fall before winter threatens to erase your id.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Deer Eating your Landscape?

Try MILK as a deer repellent! So says George W. Longenecker in an article in the Jan/Feb Horticulture magazine. The Executive Director of the West Virginia Botanic Garden claims that a spray of diluted milk (one part milk to three parts water) will effectively keep the deer at bay through a number of rains! I never heard of this one but I'm ready to try it. Sounds really interesting

For more of his explanation and lots more intriguing gardening tips, go to and sign up for their weekly Smart Gardening eNewsletter. You'll find this tip and many others in the free download entitiled The Garden Whisperers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Start Now for New or Revised Garden Beds

Need to enlarge the mulch area around a favorite tree? (Trees in your yard will appreciate a mulch bed, the larger the better.) Or perhaps you've hankering for a new bed to show off an expanding perennial collection. Now is the time to start.
Choose the spot, lay out the bed outline. A garden hose, softened in the sun, is a good way to check out your curves before making them permanent. Be sure the curves are large and sweeping as these are generally more attractive.
Now for the work . . . The organic (that is non-chemical) way to remove grass for a new bed is to smother it. You can use black plastic or 1-12 layers of newspaper as shown above to widen a tree pit. This takes some time. Leave the paper or plastic on until the grass is dead and brown. The non-organic way is to treat the grass within your bed area with a general herbicide like Roundup. Again, wait until the grass is brown and dry.
If you are widening a tree's mulch bed loosen the soil gently with a pitch fork, using a rocking motion to move but not dig up the soil. You don't want to tear the tree's feeder roots, located within the top 8" of the soil.
For a new garden bed, till the soil and incorporate soil amendments as appropriate for your soil. Most soil will benefit from the addition of compost, leaf mold or peat moss. For tilling and existing bed or creating a new one, my favorite tool is my Mantis light-weight tiller. It's a tough but light-weight tool I wouldn't be without!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Don't overlook this beauty!

The Shadbush are blooming here in North East, MD. So the shad must be running in the river (hence the plant name). Amelanchier canadensis, also known as Juneberry is native to many of the mid-Atlantic states. It's usually found at the edges of wooded areas. In addition to lovely white flowers, borne prior to leaf opening, it produces delicious blue berries. See if you can grab them before the birds take them!
This large shrub starts off a bit slowly. But persistence is rewarded with a combination of spring flowers, edible berries, delicate shade from summer foliage, brilliant red/orange fall color and a a decorative winter silhouette. I particularly like the cultivar 'Autumn Brilliance'.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Hardiness Zone Map!

The new USDA Hardiness Zone Map is available now. Updated for the first time since it was developed in 1990 it includes revised zones and some great interactive features. You can input your zip code and see your Hardiness Zone. Pick your state and see the average annual extreme and minimum temperatures. The map even shows roads, water bodies and terrain. No more squinting at that tiny map in the back of the plant catalogue. Now you know for sure!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Great Winter Color

Looking for color in winter? You can't do much better than the various varieties of Redtwig Dogwood. The native Cornus stolonifera, shown on the left, has beautiful winter color. Spring brings white flowers. Summer is green or variegated leaves.
Several recent cultivars offer additional color choices. Midwinter Fire, below left and Flaviramea, right, will banish winter blahs.
The colorful branches are new growth. To keep the shrub colorful older, duller branches should be removed to the ground to encourage new shoots. All these prefer moist soil.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Great Use for a Native Grass

This is native Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)used to fill those difficult narrow beds around parking areas. It looks beautiful here at Lewes Canalfront Park and Marina in Lewes, DE. The entire park is planted in natives and very hansomely done. I recommend a visit.