Monday, December 24, 2012

Must Have Plants: Goldenstar (aka Green and Gold)

Chrysogonum virginianum - Goldenstar
Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Chrysogonum virginianum, Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum, Chrysogonum australe, Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe, Goldenstar, Green and Gold

Flower Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: Spring through summer.

Foliage: Herbaceous, medium green.

Height/Spread: 4 inches to 6 inches x 4 inches to 6 inches.

Climate Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil Condition: Well-drained, loamy, pH 6.1 to 7.8

Features: Colorful flowers, deer resistant, no known pests and diseases, tolerates little foot traffic.

Uses: Massed planting, ground cover, shade gardens, woodland gardens, native plant collections, perennial gardens, perennial borders.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Southern Shield Fern - Graceful and Adaptable

Thelypteris kunthii - Southern Shield Fern

Southern Shield Fern is one of the most graceful ferns in the woods. Its deciduous, soft-looking fronds make it one of the most appealing of our native ferns, and its very adaptable to the southern garden.

The botanical name is Thelypteris kunthii (pronounced the-LIP-ter-iss KUN-thee-eye). Thelypteris means "female fern." The species was named to honor the life and work of Karl Sigismund Kunth (1788-1950), a noted German botanist. Kunth classified plants that had been collected by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland when they traveled through America.

According to the USDA PLANTS database, its range is from North Carolina southward to Florida and westward to Texas. It is also present in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, perhaps because it arrived and found the islands to its liking. It's usually found growing near the coast or streams.

Southern Shield Fern is also known as Dryopteris normalis, Dryopteris saxatilis, Thelypteris macrorhizoma, Thelypteris normalis, Thelypteris unca, Southern Shield Fern, Southern Wood Fern, Southern Maiden Fern, River Fern and Widespread Maiden Fern.

You don't need to live near the coast to grow Southern Shield Fern successfully. It tolerates short-term dry spells, and performs well in USDA climate zones 7 to 10.

Choose a planting site in partial shade with moist soil, high in organic matter and well-drained with pH between 6.1 to 7.8. Take a soil sample to your nearby Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. Follow the recommendations. Tilling won't be necessary.

Southern Shield Fern grows to 36 inches high and 36 inches across. Dig planting holes about 24 inches to 30 inches apart. The holes should be no deeper than that of the root balls. Water the plants in their pots, then plant them, watering more as you go. When planted, the tops of the root balls should be visible; do not bury them under soil.

Southern Shield Fern Fern is deer resistant. Like most other ferns, it's great in massed plantings and for naturalizing as a ground cover. Include it in fern collections, native plant collections, bog gardens, shade gardens and woodland gardens.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have these holes in the yard. Let me know what you think.

I recently put some sand down and now I have these holes in the yard. They may have been there all along, but I have never noticed them until I put the sand in.  There was several holes in the yard where the previous owner had a large homemade swing set and play area and when they were removed it left holes, so I filled them and had lots of sand left over so I spread it around the yard. Please review and let me know what you think.

With holes that size (larger than a quarter), I'm thinking you could have voles. They're like tiny moles, but they don't make visible tunnels under the grass like moles do. There are products available made of castor oil that repel voles. Voles don't like castor oil any better than children do, so they run away. The oil mixture is usually mixed with water and sprayed on the affected area. The oil doesn't persist in the soil. It's usually washed away after rain or irrigation. But the castor oil mix is safe for children and pets that might play in the yard.

There are other products available that contain Warfarin. Warfarin is an anti-coagulant and very toxic. Added to some sort of bait, the voles ingest it and hemorrhage. Not only will it kill voles, but moles, gophers, woodchucks, rats, mice and squirrels. Obviously, it's also toxic to children and pets, so you should use extreme caution.

If neither of the options I've mentioned appeals to you, purchase a classic spring-loaded mouse trap. Bait it with apple bits or peanut butter. Set it near the vole holes. Go away for awhile and wait.

Always follow label instructions for repellants and poisons. Watch your fingers around the trap. Wear latex gloves to dispose of dead voles.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What is eating my angel's trumpet leaves?

Something has been eating the leaves of my angel's trumpet plant, but I don't know what. Do you have any idea what it might be? How can I treat it?

More than likely your Brugmansia is being eaten by cabbage worms of some sort. They can be hard to find because they are green like the leaves they eat. Furthermore, they often go into hiding during the day. Wait until after sundown, then look for them with a flashlight on the undersides of leaves. There are three ways you can deal with them. If you can find them, pick them off by hand and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. If you can't find them, apply Bacillus thuringiensis (aka BT) to the entire plant, especially to the undersides of leaves. You'll have to re-apply after rain or overhead irrigation. If all else fails, treat with pyrethroid insecticide. Always follow label instructions when applying pesticides.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Behind A Garden Wall: The Jekyll Island Club

Jekyll Island Gatehouse
An old postcard shows a banner hanging between a pair of gatehouses over Jekyll Island Road advertising the island as a year round beach resort. So it was and is.

Before we common citizens gained access to it by state fiat, Jekyll Island was an exclusive, hidden paradise for a select few of very wealthy 19th century respite-seekers. They called their hide-away "The Jekyl Island Club." (The spelling was later corrected to "Jekyll".) Visiting gardeners won't find original gardens. But Jekyll Island is blessed with wonderful vistas, well-maintained parterres, vibrant colors, container gardens, citrus trees and the magnificent Plantation Oak which is estimated to be over 350 years old. Follow me to see what remains of it behind those garden walls.

Before the Georgia Sea Islands drew vacationers, Sir Robert Montgomery (1680-1731) planned a colony there to be named The Margravate Of Azilia. He assured prospective investors,

"That nature has not blessed the world with any tract which can be preferable to it; that Paradise, with all her virgin beauties, may be modestly supposed at most but equal to its native excellencies. lt lies in the same latitude with Palestine herself, that promised Canaan, which was pointed out by God's own choice, to bless the labors of a favorite people. It abounds with rivers, woods and meadows. Its iron, and even gentle hills are full of mines, lead, copper, some of silver.`Tis beautiful with odoriferous plants, green all the year. Pine, cedar, cypress, oak, elm, ash or walnut with innumerable other sorts, both fruit or timber trees, grow every where so pleasantly, that though they meet at top, and shade the traveller, they are, at the same time, so distant in their bodies, and so free from underwood or bushes, that the deer and other game, which feed in droves along these forests, may be often seen near half a mile between them."

Sir Robert didn't live to see the margravate established, but two years after his death, General James Edward Oglethorpe, funded by rich investors (some named as "Trustees"), led a group of freed debtors to establish the colony of Georgia. It was better for the debtors to work for themselves than languish in prison. The investors, of course, aimed to see a substantial return on their money. The Trustees funded all kinds of horticultural experiments. They supported whatever they thought would succeed in "Palestine herself", including vineyards, silkworms, and exotic fruits. Cotton prospered.

The Trustee's Garden is now mostly a parking lot partly owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. The Episcopal Church is failing.

General Oglethorpe understood the dangers of Spanish in La Florida to England's colonial interests, so he established a system of forts and towns as a buffer for protection of Savannah. This island was known to the Spanish as Isla de Ballenas or "Island of Whales". Why was it named Isla de Ballenas? I don't know. There must have been a lot of migratory whales nearby at the time. The Spanish may have marked it as a good place for hunting, but whaling never became an industry along the coast. Anyway, the Spanish lost. (Whales are occasionally spotted offshore.) Oglethorpe renamed the island in honor of Sir Joseph Jekyll, a financial supporter.

Sir Joseph Jekyll, a man of compassion and conviction, may be best known for his war on poverty. As a member of the British Parliament, he introduced a heavy tax on gin. The proceeds were to fund programs to aid the poor. But, like those of most politicians, his schemes ended up hurting most those he intended to help. The wealthy preferred wine and beer. The poor drank gin. The poor lost. Riots resulted and Sir Joseph had to be protected from the mobs. Sir Joseph lost.

Since colonial times, the Georgia Sea Islands have attracted planters, industrialists, bankers, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs and vacationers in droves. In 1886, a group of rich industrialists purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugene DuBignon, a descendent of an earlier planter. You can read more about DuBignon fortunes and losses at the New Georgia Encyclopedia. John DuBignon's brother-in-law, Newton Finney, had connections in New York and had great plans for development. Finney contacted his friends. They bought the island and established a hunting retreat, so the Jekyll Island Club was born. One hundred shares in the Club were sold to only 50 selected members to preserve its exclusivity.

Early on, memberships were by invitation only. The founding group determined to whom it would sell shares, mostly within their circles. Later on, memberships were approved by a board. During the Great Depression, the directors decided they should open the Club to more members, so they designed Associate memberships at more affordable rates to accommodate just about anyone who had enough.

Over the years, share owners included such notables as George F. Baker, M.C.D. Borden, Charles R. Crane, Charles Deering, Frank Goodyear, Edwin and George J. Gould Sr., Henry Hyde, Marshall Field, John Pierpont Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William Rockefeller, Theodore N. Vail and William H. Vanderbilt. An imposing Clubhouse was constructed, and officially opened in 1888. Several families had cottages built for themselves. Some lived in the Sans Souci apartment complex. Recreational facilities included a golf course and a tennis court.

Faith Chapel
From Jekyll Island Club
The Jekyll Island Club was not without a Christian chapel. Faith Chapel, though not the largest building, says something about those Jekyll Island Club members. It's a simple wood building adorned with a few gargoyles (gargoyles?) and two important windows. One was created by Maitland Armstrong and his daughter, Helen. The other was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Worshiping in Faith Chapel lit by the colors of Armstrong and Tiffany must be comfortable, indeed. Why did they establish this chapel? To the glory of God, I expect. Whether they could recite the catholic creeds with faith without lying, I can't judge. I can only conclude that, at least, they acknowledged the Triune God with appropriate nods and tithes, or maybe much more.

With such a group of American "movers and shakers", the Jekyll Island Club became a site of historical significance. Following the banking panic of 1907, a super-secret "duck hunt" meeting of Sen. Nelson Aldrich (RI), Dr. A. Piatt Andrew, Henry P. Davison, Frank A. Vanderlip and Paul M. Warburg occurred at the Club in 1910. Accounts of the meeting are fascinating. They bagged no ducks, but, for better or worse, they hatched what is now the Federal Reserve System.

On January 25, 1915 Theodore N. Vail, the first president of AT&T, participated from Jekyll Island in the opening of the first transcontinental phone call across the U.S. The party-line call included Vail, Welles Bosworth, S. B. P. Trowbridge, J. P. Morgan, Jr., and William Rockefeller on Jekyll Island, Alexander Graham Bell in New York, Thomas A. Watson in San Francisco, and President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, D.C.

The Great Depression of 1929, heavy taxation on the wealthy, and World War II made it difficult to maintain interest in the Jekyll Island Club. Members were not allowed to visit during World War II due to security concerns. Membership dropped off and the Club was nearly abandoned. In 1946, the State of Georgia decided it wanted to establish a state park on one of its barrier islands, so Jekyll Island was purchased through a condemnation order for $675,000. Surprise! Club members lost.

The Jekyll Island Club was turned into a public resort, but the state of Georgia couldn't manage to turn a profit. Not surprisingly, the government's scheme was a financial disaster, so the resort was closed in 1971. Georgia taxpayers lost.

Radisson Hotels bought, refurbished and re-opened Jekyll Island Club in 1985. After a few years, Radisson sold it. Jekyll Island Club Hotel is now owned and operated by Historic Hotels of America, a Preferred Hotel Group brand, which is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Rambles through The Jekyll Island Club will allow visitors enticing glimpses into America's Gilded Age. The interesting cottages often had the most modern conveniences of the time. Though the cottages were simple compared to their owners' homes up North, Club members weren't really roughing it.

Moss Cottage
From Jekyll Island Club
Moss Cottage was built in "shingle-style" for William Struthers Jr. (1848-1911) in 1896, later owned by George Henry Macy (1858-1918) and family. Struthers was co-owner of one of the nation's most important marble firms. Geo. H. Macy and Co. imported tea from China and Japan. The company was later expanded to become The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, the parent company of A & P Stores. An interesting feature of Moss Cottage is the folk art in a dormer displaying the year of its construction.

Indian Mound College
From Jekyll Island Club
Indian Mound Cottage (originally known as the McKay Cottage) was built in 1891 for Gordon McKay (1821-1903) of Pittsfield, MA. McKay began his fortune by capitalizing on an invention he had observed that manufactured shoes for Union soldiers. McKay's estate sold the cottage to William A Rockefeller, Jr. (1841-1922) of Standard Oil fame in 1905. During Rockefeller's time, the cottage was expanded. Rockefeller also maintained an apartment at the Sans Souci, nearby.

Following William's death, Indian Mound Cottage was purchased by Helen Hartley Jenkins (1860-1934), widow of George Walker Jenkins (1847-?). Her husband had been the president of American Deposit and Loan Company. Mrs. Jenkins, a leading philanthropist of the time, founded the School of Nursing at Teacher's College of Columbia University. Even a few peeks through the windows give hints at the gracious living that the residents must have enjoyed. On display outdoors is a Red Bug, an open-air vehicle of the type used by many Jekyll Island Club members to whizz around the island. (If you visit Jekyll Island, you can rent new-fashioned electric Red Bugs to scoot about.)

Mistletoe Cottage
Mistletoe Cottage was built in 1900 by Henry K. Porter (1840-1921) of Pittsburgh. Porter was a manufacturer of light locomotives, elected to be a member of Jekyll Island Club in 1891. He served as a U.S. Congressman from 1903 to 1905. His company is now H.K. Porter Company, Inc., manufacturer of various industrial products. Mistletoe Cottage is a Dutch Colonial cottage with elements of shingle and classical styles. Though called a cottage, it includes 15 rooms and 5 bathrooms. This is one of my favorite rooms.

John Claflin (1850-1938), an original member of the Club, rented and later purchased Mistletoe Cottage from Porter's estate. At one point, Claflin was the leading dry goods merchant in the United States. The cottage is minimally landscaped today with Cherokee roses, aspidistra, sword ferns and camellias.

John Eugene DuBignon, the former owner of Jekyll Island, was also a member of the Jekyll Island Club. His farmhouse, built in 1884 before the island was purchased by the Club, was less ostentatious than most others. Early on it housed the Club's Superintendent and guests. It's not located at its original site, but was moved in 1896 to make room for the Sans Souci Apartments. Landscaping is simple, not unlike what you'd find around some homes today.

Goodyear Cottage
From Jekyll Island Club
The Goodyear Cottage, built in 1906 in Italian style, was constructed for Frank Henry Goodyear (1849-1907) of Buffalo, New York. Goodyear started work as a bookkeeper for Robert Looney, who owned large tracts of timberland in Pennsylvania. Eventually he married Looney's daughter, Josephine, and saw to it that her inheritance would include her father's timber interest. When Looney died, Goodyear began a partnership in a lumber company. It was a very lucrative enterprise, and Goodyear amassed a fortune. Unfortunately, Goodyear died a year after his Jekyll Island cottage was completed. His family, however, used it for many years. It now serves as a gift shop, art gallery and museum. Landscaping is minimal and unremarkable.

Cherokee Cottage
Cherokee Cottage, also known as the Shrady-James Cottage, was built in 1915 by Edwin Gould (1866-1933), the son of notorious financier Jay Gould (1836-1892), for his mother-in-law, Mrs. Hester E. Cantine Shrady (1842-?). Mrs. Shrady was the widow of Dr. George F. Shrady (1827-1907) of New York. Dr. Shrady was Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A, during the War Between the States. Cherokee Cottage, built in Italian Renaissance style, has 20 rooms and 8 bathrooms. These include 12 bedrooms and 2 kitchens (one for the servants).

It was last owned by Dr. Walter Belknap James of New York (1858-1927). Dr. James was consulting physician at Bellevue Hospital, New York, and president of the national committee for Mental Hygiene.

Hollybourne Cottage
From Jekyll Island Club
Hollybourne, designed by William Day, is one of the most architecturally unique buildings at Jekyll Island Club. The style is known as pseudo-Jacobean with Flemish gables, paired chimneys and patterned stone work. Built in 1890, Day utilized tabby, a native material made of oyster shells. The owner, Charles Stewart Maurice (1886-1924), was a bridge engineer and partner in the Union Bridge Company of Athens, PA. Maurice included some elements using bridge engineering techniques which included a steel support system, brick piers in the basement, and trusses designed to distribute the weight of the living and dining room ceilings without the use of support beams.

On the first floor there was a parlor, 2 dining rooms (one for the servants), kitchen, pantry and storage rooms, and lavatory. There were 9 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms upstairs. The Maurice family visited the house every year, except for 1894 and 1895 due to yellow fever epidemic.

When the state tried to condemn the island for a state park, the Maurice sisters, heirs to the property, were outraged. They had sojourned at Hollybourne for over 50 years. They sued the state, but lost. Though they received payment for more than the property was initially assessed, the Maurice sisters were so livid that they never returned to Georgia. Even when en route to Florida, they would intentionally detour through Alabama to avoid setting foot on Georgia soil.

Incidentally, local lore has it that Hollybourne is haunted by the Maurice sisters. Each time attempts are made at renovation, workers return to find their work mysteriously dismantled and thrown in the yard.

Villa Ospo
From Jekyll Island Club
Villa Ospo was built in 1928 by Walter Jennings (1858-1933), director of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Jennings was the brother Mrs. Gordon Auchinclose, Mrs. Walter Belknap James, and Miss Annie Jennings, who were also Club members. Villa Ospo has twenty rooms, including ten bedrooms and five bathrooms. Gardeners today will be attracted to the large patio with a lily pool and fountain, and the fruitful kumquat trees.

Villa Marianna
From Jekyll Island Club
Villa Marianna, completed in 1929, was the home of Frank Miller Gould (1895-1945). Frank was the son of Edwin Gould, Sr., owner of Cherokee Cottage. Villa Marianna is more modest than some of the other cottages. Nevertheless, attractive landscape features include an extended water garden with fountains and an enclosed courtyard.

Intracoastal Waterway
From Jekyll Island Club
Many of the Jekyll Island Club cottages are within view of the Intracoastal Waterway. The river, of course, afforded residents and guests delightful vistas and breezes. Today's visitors are no less fortunate in that regard than the Club members of the 19th century. To slightly re-state Superintendent Grob's comment in 1914, "I think if visitors could see Jekyll as it is today, they would say that they can find no spot on earth any better."

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All-America Selections Announces Four More 2013 Winners

Geranium ‘Pinto™ Premium White to Rose’ F1 - Photo courtesy All-America Selections
On chilly and rainy days like this, gardeners like to sit at the kitchen table and dream about their future spring plantings. That's exactly what I'm doing. Next year's seed catalogs have't arrived yet, but I'm checking out the newest All-America Selections (AAS) winners for 2013. Each winner was trialed beside a few other similar varieties on the market, then analyzed with regard to taste, growth habit, disease resistance, and similar considerations to determine if they are actually better than those already available. Only superior plants are granted the AAS Award. After the 2012 trialing season, two melons, a tomato and a geranium are the latest to receive official AAS recognition.

Melon 'Melemon' F1 - Photo courtesy All-America Selections

Melon ‘Melemon’ F1 received the AAS 2013 Vegetable Award. It yields early and heavily on strong plants. Each fruit is just enough for one person to enjoy. The taste, judged to be superior, is comparable to a honeydew, but with delightful tanginess. The flesh is crisp and sweet. The uniform shape makes it ideal for commercial growers and home gardeners.

Watermelon 'Harvest Moon' F1 - Photo courtesy All-America Selections

Watermelon ‘Harvest Moon’ F1 also received the AAS 2013 Vegetable Award. It's a hybrid, triploid seedless melon similar to the popular heirloom variety, 'Moon and Stars', but the healthy vines are shorter. I ripens early with a higher yield. Fruits are medium-sized with sweet, pinkish-red flesh. The rind is dark green with yellow dots.

Tomato 'Jasper' F1 - Photo courtesy All-America Selections

Tomato, Cherry ‘Jasper’ F1 is the third AAS 2013 Vegetable Award Winner. High yields of sweet fruits of uniform size are produced on vigorous plants. In fact, the vines are so strong they require little or no fertilization. Add to that Jasper's high disease resistance to Late Blight, Fusarium 1 and 2, and Early Blight, and its resistance to weather-related stresses. The fruits stay on the vine well after ripening, and last longer after they've been picked.
Geranium ‘Pinto™ Premium White to Rose’ F1 (see photo above) is a AAS 2013 Bedding Plant Award Winner. Loads of early, long-lasting 5" blooms change color from white to rose. The plants are full and dense with well-branched stems and dark green foliage. Even in the extreme heat of last year's summer, 'Pinto Premium White to Rose' performed extremely well. Gardeners who want a care-free, colorful garden next summer should definitely plant this one.

When your seed catalogs arrive in the next few months, look for Melon 'Melemon' F1, Watermelon 'Harvest Mood' F1, Tomato 'Jasper' F1 and Geranium 'Pinto Premium White to Rose' F1. If you prefer to buy your plants already started at retail, request your favorite garden center to carry them.

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White stuff on the leaves of my sago palm.


I am having lots of problems with the trees in my yard with white stuff on the leaves of my sago palms.  They are not healthy anymore and I am losing them one by one.  Could you please look at the attached photograph and tell me what is wrong?

Your sago is infested with sago scale, also known as cycad scale. Forget about insecticidal soaps, topical insecticides and such; they won't do any good. You need to use a systemic insecticide as a soil drench AND foliar spray. Systemic insecticides get into the plant and toxify it, killing or suppressing whatever tries to feed on it. I've used Cygon with good results on various difficult scale insects. I'm including a link to a page, White Malady Strikes!, by Doug Caldwell with the Collier County Commercial Landscape Horticulture Extension in Florida. It has great information on this very issue.

You must know, however, that Cygon is a restricted use pesticide. It's not available to homeowners. You'll need to have a certified commercial pesticide applicator treat your cycads for you. I'm a certified commercial pesticide applicator in GA.

When you're shopping around for a commercial pesticide applicator, ask to see their credentials. I've known a few who advertised that they were "licensed and insured", when I knew for a fact the only license they had was a driver's permit, and their only insurance was liability on their pickup truck.

There are systemic insecticides on the market approved for use by homeowners. Look for those formulated for trees and ornamental shrubs. I don't know how effective they'd be. Always follow label instructions.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

What is insecticidal soap? Can I make it myself?

What is insecticidal soap? How does it work? Can I make it myself?

Insecticidal soaps are environmentally friendly formulations made from mineral or vegetable oils that kill soft-bodied insects either by suffocation or destroying their cells. Insecticidal soaps do not leave toxic residues. They must contact the insects to be effective.

Here's a quick and easy way to make insecticidal soap. Mix one cup of cheap vegetable oil with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Do NOT use soaps formulated for automatic dishwashers because they may contain chemicals that can harm plants. Do NOT use soaps with bleach added. Add two teaspoons of the soap mixture per cup of warm water in a plastic spray bottle. Stir thoroughly. Test a bit of the mixture on a small part of the plant to assure that the mixture won't do damage to the plant. Spray only on cloudy days or before dusk. Hot sunlight combined with insecticidal soap can damage plants.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Results of Community Poll Ending Oct. 30, 2012

Our community poll ending October 30, 2012 had to do with gardeners' plans to plant fall bulbs.

30% of respondents indicated "I intend to plant more fall bulbs this year."
20% answered "I intend to plant the same as last year."
30% replied "I won't plant any fall bulbs this year."
20% indicated "I won't plant any fall bulbs this year."

If you haven't planted your fall bulbs yet, you'd better get with it. The season is getting late and supply is getting low!

Tell us what you think in our newest Community Poll at goGardenNow.com. You'll find it in the right-hand side bar.

Must Have Plants: Antennaria pulcherrima 'Rubrum'

Name(s): Antennaria pulcherrima ssp. pulcherrima 'Rubrum', Antennaria carpatica, Antennaria pulcherrima var. angustisquama, Antennaria pulcherrima var. sordida, Carpathian Cat's-foot, Pink Pussy-toes, Handsome Pussy-toes.

Flower Color: Pink

Bloom Time: Spring to mid-summer.

Foliage: Herbaceous, gray-green.

Height/Spread: 2 inches x 12 inches.

Climate Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Soil Condition: Average to sandy, well-drained to dry, pH 5.6 to 7.8

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, tolerates foot traffic.

Uses: Xeriscaping, massed planting, naturalizing, ground cover, lawn substitute, green roof, container gardens, hanging baskets, rock gardens, edging.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to prevent weeds in a vegetable garden

Do you have any ideas for preventing weeds in a vegetable garden?

Indeed, I do. First, make sure you pull weeds before they go to seed. This requires diligence. If weeds go to seed, the problem is perpetuated.

When you pull weeds, don't drop them on the ground. They may take root again. Instead, put them in your compost pile.

Mulch your garden generously. Mulch not only prevents weeds from germinating, it also conserves moisture and moderates soil temperature. When organic mulch decomposes, it improves the quality of your soil. Good organic mulch material includes straw from harvested grains, chopped leaves, grass clippings, shredded paper (don't use paper printed with colored ink), and peanut hulls. You can also mulch with finished compost.

Lay strips of used carpeting between your raised beds. It allows water to permeate through it, smothers weeds and provides a cleaner surface for walking. Old vinyl floor covering works well, too, but it doesn't allow water to soak through.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Southern Wood Fern (aka Florida Shield Fern) For The Southern Garden

Dryopteris ludoviciana
Take a stroll in southern forests draped with Spanish Moss and you'll likely come upon Southern Wood Fern. Its glossy, dark, evergreen fronds make it one of the most beautiful of our native ferns. Its moderate height and adaptability make it one the most useful for the southern garden.

The botanical name is Dryopteris ludoviciana (pronounced dry-OP-ter-iss loo-dough-vik-ee-AH-nuh) which literally means "oak fern from Louisiana." According to the USDA PLANTS database, its range is from North Carolina and Kentucky southward to Florida and westward to Texas. It's usually found growing near the coast or in the coastal plain.

Southern Wood Fern is also known as Aspidium ludovicianum, Dryopteris floridana and Nephrodium floridanum. Guess why? It's found in more places in Florida than in Louisiana. So another common name is Florida Shield Fern.

You don't need to live near the coast to grow Florida Shield Fern. It performs well in USDA zones 6 to 10.
Choose a planting site in full sun to partial shade. Florida Shield Fern prefers moist soil, particularly if planted in full sun. It will tolerate dry soil periodically if planted in partial shade. (Take care not to over-water.) Soil should be high in organic matter and well-drained with pH between 6.1 to 7.5. Take a soil sample to your nearby Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. Follow the recommendations. Such a site as described probably won't require tilling.

Florida Shield Fern grows to 48 inches high and up to 24 inches across. Dig planting holes about 18 inches to 24 inches apart. The holes should be no deeper than that of the root balls. Water the plants in their pots, then plant them, watering more as you go. When planted, the tops of the root balls should be visible; do not bury them under soil.
Florida Shield Fern Fern is deer resistant. It's great in massed plantings and for naturalizing as a ground cover. Include it in fern collections, native plant collections, shade gardens and woodland gardens.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

About the Eastern Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)

Eastern Hay-scented fern, is a marvelous native plant for the shade garden. The fragrant, lacy green fronds turn yellow in fall and may linger through winter. Fronds are triangular to oval shaped and deeply divided, giving it a lacy appearance. Yes, the aroma is reminiscent of hay.

Its botanical name is Dennstaedtia punctilobula (pronounced "den-STET-ee-uh punk-tih-LOH-bew-luh"). Punctilobula refers to the dotted lobes. The genus was named by Andre Michaux in honor of August Wilhelm Dennstedt (1776–1826), German botanist, physician, and director of the Belvedere Garden. His works include Weimar's Flora: Pflanzen Mit Deutlichen Geschlechtern (1800), Schlussel Zum Hortus Indicus Malabaricus (1818), and Hortus Belvedereanus (1821).

Michaux, who explored extensively in North America, would have found Eastern hay-scented fern practically anywhere he traveled. The USDA PLANTS database shows Dennstaedtia punctilobula thrives from Quebec to Georgia, and westward to Missouri and Arkansas. Another species, Dennstaedtia bipinnata, is native to Florida, the West Indies, Central America, and south to Bolivia.

Hay-scented fern normally grows in loose clumps 15 to 30 inches tall and spreading to 24 inches. However it spreads via underground rhizomes and may colonize an area. It prefers partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter with pH ranging from 5.1 to 6.5. Once established, hay-scented fern is rather drought tolerant. It is hardy from USDA climate zones 3 into 8.

Little soil preparation is needed before planting. Moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter shouldn't need tilling, especially if in a woodland setting. If the soil requires amendment to increase the level of organic matter, some tilling might be required. Remove all traces of weeds. Collect a soil sample and take it to the nearest Cooperative Extension Service office for analysis. Follow the instructions provided.

Dennstaedtia is easily and economically established by planting rhizome cuttings. My Youtube video on Planting Hay-scented Ferns demonstrates how to do it. After planting, apply a thin layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and discourage weeds.

Gardeners troubled by deer and rabbits will be glad to know that this fern is critter resistant. Similarly, hay-scented fern is insect and disease resistant.

Hay-scented fern is ideal as a ground cover for xeriscaping, naturalizing, shade gardens and woodland walks, fragrant gardens, fern collections, and native plant collections. Suitable companion plants include Astilbe, Chrysogonum, Galium, Hosta, Heuchera, Hyacinthoides, Sanguinaria, Scilla, Selaginella, and ferns with similar requirements.

Return to Ferns at goGardenNow.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Must Have Plants: Autumn Fern

Autumn Fern - Dryopteris erythrosora

Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Dryopteris erythrosora, Aspidium erythrosorum, Dryopteris bulligera, Dryopteris distantipinna, Dryopteris linyingensis, Dryopteris oblongipinnula, Autumn Fern, Japanese Shield Fern

Flower Color: None

Bloom Time: None

Foliage: Evergreen, burgundy to green.

Height/Spread: 18 inches to 24 inches x 18 inches to 24 inches.

Climate Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8

Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

Soil Condition: Well-drained, pH 6.1 to 7.5

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, colorful foliage.

Uses: Massed planting, naturalizing, fern collections, Asian gardens, shade gardens, woodland gardens.

Return to Ferns at goGardenNow.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Must Have Plants: Aster 'Wood's Blue', 'Wood's Purple', 'Wood's Pink'


Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.
 
Name(s): Aster dumosus 'Wood's Blue', Symphyotrichum dumosum, Aster dumosus var. dodgei, Aster dumosus var. strictior, Symphyotrichum dumosum var. dodgei, Aster novi-belgii

Flower Color:Blue

Bloom Time: Mid-summer to early fall

Foliage: Herbaceous.

Height/Spread: 24 inches to 30 inches x 24 inches to 36 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Soil Condition: Average, well-drained, pH 5.1 to 6.5

Features: Deer resistant, attracts butterflies.

Uses: Massed planting, butterfly gardens, perennial borders.

Return to Aster at goGardenNow.com.

Behind A Garden Wall: Aldridge Botanical Gardens

Aldridge Gardens lake vista

Aldridge Gardens is described as a "hidden jewel in the middle of Hoover, Alabama's fifth largest city." Formerly the home of Eddie and Kay Aldridge, it was donated by them to the city as a public garden. Set among woodland, the 30-acre garden provides a place of rest, reflection and recreation for its visitors.

Eddie Aldridge is a retired nurseryman. He and his father, Loren, operated Aldridge Nursery in Birmingham for about 40 years. Among their plant interests was the Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), now the State Wildflower of Alabama. Their crowning achievement was the discovery and marketing of the 'Snowflake' Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'), a chance seedling with doubled flowers. Naturally, Aldridge Gardens has a large hydrangea collection.

Sadly, Aldridge Garden Shop and Nursery no longer exists. The property was sold in 2000, and, to Eddie's chagrin, became the site of a Walgreens store. He had hoped for something better like a Class A office building.

I expect that Eddie is consoled in seeing his estate developed as a fine botanical garden. Follow me to see what grows beyond the Aldridge Garden wall.

Just beyond the gatehouse, you'll stroll across the entrance plaza with benches dominated by a sculpture, "On The Nature Of Building" by Ted Metz. If you're waiting for someone to join you, this is the place to do it.

From the beginning of your visit you'll see hydrangeas aplenty. Oakleaf Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs native to woodlands in the Southeastern United States. They can grow to be quite large, up to 25 feet tall and twice as wide. Bark is cinnamon-colored and flaky. Enormous white flower panicles, up to 12 inches long, appear in summer and turn pink as they age. Oakleaf Hydrangeas have large, rough leaves that resemble Red Oak foliage. Fall color is spectacular. I visited in early October, so the color was only beginning to develop.

Aldridge's camellia collection featuring over 40 varieties will delight enthusiasts. Sasanquas begin the show in September. Several re-blooming azaleas enhanced the display.

The Metz work is not the only piece of outdoor sculpture in the garden. Several by Frank Fleming, like "Along for the Ride", amuse visitors (especially children).

A half-mile walking trail meanders around the 5 acre lake, and offers pleasant vistas and tasteful seating to enjoy them. Tropical plants like this Ginger Lily (Hedycium gardneri) flank a small stream that feeds the lake. Dozens of bird species may be spotted in the area, especially during their seasonal migrations. The stocked lake is also home to other aquatic species. A boat house overlooking the water is a popular spot for resting, snacking and watching wildlife.

The Shade Garden and Arbor Garden with its evergreen clematis, also feature hydrangeas, ferns, Japanese maples, and surprises around every turn. One little boy surprised us several times coming around turns, his mother in pursuit.

Which reminds me that Aldridge Gardens is a fine place to bring children for outings. Classes and workshops are often held in a large pavilion. The day we visited children were invited to a hands-on experience with bugs and worms, and a plant sale was in progress. Near the Wildflower Meadow an eerie scaffold remained, probably from a recent program on A Native American Experience.

The Aldridge home, overlooking the lake, now houses the Eddie and Kay Aldridge Art and Historical Collection Museum. The landscaping includes many other species of native plants such as a magnificent Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), Hearts-A-Burstin' (Euonymus americanus), and a White Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) among other species in the bog garden.

Residents in the Birmingham area should visit Aldridge Gardens often. Those who don't live nearby should know it's well worth the drive. Mine was over 12 hours round-trip, and I'll do it again! Aldridge Gardens has a lot to offer. Every season brings new pleasures, so visit often and see what grows behind that garden wall.

Return to goGardenNow.com.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rumex sanguineus: Stalking The Bloody Dock

(An article about how to grow Rumex sanguineus, aka Bloody Dock, Red-veined Dock, Ornamental Dock and Bloodwort.)

One summer during college, I was short on cash and food, but adventurous. Euell Gibbons books on stalking wild edible plants inspired me to forage. The first greens on my hunt list included sorrel (Rumex spp.) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). They were delicious when boiled like spinach. I never imagined that one day I'd promote a Rumex as an ornamental plant.

It's called Rumex sanguineus (pronounced ROO-mex san-GWIN-ee-us). Common names include Bloody Dock, Red-veined Dock, Bloodwort because blood-red veins accentuate the wavy, rich green leaves. The specific name, sanguineus, obviously refers to the blood-red veins. Always curious, I'd like to know the derivation of the name, Rumex. I've found no authority for that. But I wouldn't be surprised if some species of sorrel was known to be a favorite of ruminates.

Bloody Dock is grown primarily for the foliage, though tall flower spikes bear small blooms and fruit. Flowers bloom spring to mid-summer. Mature height is 8 inches to 12 inches.

Rumex sanguineus is a perennial plant native to Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia. It prefers full sun in USDA climate zones 4 to 9. Plant in average, well-drained soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.5.

Before planting, take a soil sample to your local Cooperative Extension Service office for testing. The results will specify any necessary soil amendments.

Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 10 inches deep, removing all traces of weeds. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil. If your soil sample report indicates the need for fertilizer, avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Space the plants 12 inches to 18 inches apart. Small plants may be planted closer together. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Water the plants in the pots, then drain. Place the plants into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. Press soil around the root balls. Do not cover the root balls with soil. The tops should be slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1 inch deep.

Bloody Dock is marvelous in perennial borders and container gardens. It self-sows readily. In addition to its ornamental value, Bloody Dock is also edible. The young leaves are best. Use them as cooked greens or for extra color in salads. Rumex sanguineus should have a place in your vegetable garden, too. You'll soon enjoy stalking the Bloody Dock for dinner.

Return to Rumex at goGardenNow.com.

Must Have Plants: Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'

Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.
  
Name(s): Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow', 'Burgundy Lace', Bugleweed, Creeping Bugleweed, Carpet Bugleweed, Carpenter's Herb, Sicklewort, Middle Comfrey

Flower Color:Blue

Bloom Time: Early spring

Foliage: Herbaceous, green/burgundy/white variegated.

Height/Spread: 4 inches to 6 inches x indefinitely.

Climate Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade.

Soil Condition: Rich, well-drained to dry, pH 6.1 to 7.5

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, low maintenance, tolerates mild foot traffic.

Uses: Xeriscaping, massed planting, ground cover, lawn substitute.

Return to Ajuga at goGardenNow.com.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How To Dig A Root Ball For Transplanting.

I wanted to transplant already established Juniper.  It has overgrown the sidewalk and needs to be removed.  I wanted to transplant that to a completely different area.  Do you have any hints on digging out the roots from a plant that is already established?

Mature shrubs can be difficult to transplant. The biggest problem is weight. A large root ball can weigh several hundred pounds. Another problem is trying to retain soil around the roots. Wrapping the root ball with burlap is the most popular method of keeping the roots and soil intact. If your shrub is very large, you should contact a local B&B (ball and burlap) nursery for assistance.

If you plan to move it yourself, you'll need:
  • A sharp garden spade,
  • A large square of burlap cloth (never plastic!),
  • A small box of 12 gauge 2-1/4 inch nails.
It's best to dig shrubs and trees during winter dormancy. Junipers, being evergreen, don't go fully dormant, but it's still better to dig from late fall to early spring.

To transplant your shrub, you'll need to dig the roots with soil intact in the form of a ball. Then you'll need to wrap the ball in burlap. Secure the burlap tightly around the ball by pinning the fabric with nails. It's kind of like wrapping the soil ball in a big diaper.

Begin by determining the necessary size of the root ball. Keep in mind that most feeder roots will be near the outer circumference of the leafy portion of the shrub. If the shrub is very large, the root ball will be very large. In order to keep the root ball to a manageable size, some of the feeder roots must be sacrificed. As a rule of thumb, the radius of the root ball should be 11 inches for every 1 inch of the diameter of the trunk. Measure the trunk about 6 inches above the soil line.

Begin by removing any weeds, grass, fallen leaves, mulch, etc. from around the shrub.  Mark a circle in the soil to designate the size of the root ball, as determined above. Scrape the soil clean inside the circle.

If the soil is loose, stomp on it all the way around the shrub to compact it. During the entire process of stomping and digging, take care not to damage the bark of the trunk.

Following the circle, dig a shallow trench around the shrub with the corner of a spade. Then from the trunk of the shrub, begin forming the ball inside the circular trench. The ball will slope outward and downward from the trunk. It's like gently carving a ball out of soil. You will probably contact roots as you work. You'll have to cut through them, but be careful not to crack the ball. Shape it little by little. Don't be impatient.

When you've shaped the top half of the ball, begin gently digging under the ball as you shape the underside. When you've shaped about three-fourths of the ball, begin forcing the spade under it at an angle. You'll cut some roots. Always be careful not to destroy the ball. Again, be patient. Work slowly and carefully.

Once the ball is separated from the rest of the soil, gently tip the plant to one side and work the burlap under the ball. If the soil is holding together well enough, you may be able to lift it and have someone slide the burlap under the ball. Or you may have to use the spade to lift the ball onto the burlap.

Return to goGardenNow.com.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Must Have Plants: Golden Variegated Japanese Sweet Flag

Golden Variegated Japanese Sweet Flag

Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants. 

Name(s): Acorus gramineus 'Ogon', Japanese Sweet Flag, Japanese Rush, Grassy-leaved Sweet Flag, Golden Variegated Sweet Flag

Flower Color: Yellow, not showy

Bloom Time: May to June

Foliage: Herbaceous, golden, variegated.

Height/Spread: 6 inches to 12 inches x 6 inches to 18 inches.

Climate Zones: 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

Soil Condition: Moist to wet, pH 6.1 to 7.8

Features: Grassy, golden, fragrant foliage.

Uses: Bog gardens, water gardens, fragrance gardens, and as a ground cover in wet soils.

Return to buy Acorus at goGardenNow.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Can you give me some tips about how to plant tulips?

Can you give me some tips about how to plant tulips?

Tulips prefer full sun, and well-drained, organic soil in USDA climate zones 3 - 8. If your preferred site is not well-drained and high in organic content, you might choose another, plant your tulips in containers or raised beds, or amend the site.

If you're not sure whether your soil is high in organic matter, you should take a sample to your nearest Cooperative Extension Service office for analysis. You will be charged a nominal fee. Follow their instructions. You can raise the soil's organic content by adding finished compost or a good grade of sphagnum-based potting soil.

Raised beds are not difficult to construct. A simple 8' x 4' box, open at the top and bottom, can be made of three boards of  2"x 8" x 8' untreated pine. Painting the wood with exterior latex paint can extend the bed's longevity. Fill the box with compost or potting soil

If you prefer a large free-form design, forget about the constructing the box. Outline the contour of the bed, cultivate the soil within, add your organic material, mound the soil and level it to a height of 6 inches.

The bulbs should be planted at a depth that is 2-1/2 times the height of the bulb, 4 inches to 6 inches apart, or 4 to 5 per square foot. Planting depth is measured to the base of the bulb.

Return to goGardenNow.com to buy tulips.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Japanese Holly Fern Is Tough And Dependable


 
Japanese Holly Fern - Cyrtomium falcatum
Ferns might seem lacy and delicate, but few are. Given the proper environment, most are tough and dependable. Japanese Holly Fern, also known as Japanese Netvein Holly Fern, is a good example. It even looks tough.

Its botanical name is Cyrtomium falcatum (pronounced sir-TOH-mee-um fal-KAY-tum) which means “arched” and “sickle-shaped.” The coarse, evergreen fronds arch and the large, glossy pinnae (leaflets) are sickle-shaped. Japanese Holly Fern forms bold clumps from 18 inches to 30 inches tall, and as wide. There’s nothing delicate about it. Cyrtomium falcatum is the ferny equivalent of Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant). Many southern gardeners rely on it.

Japanese Holly Fern is reliably cold hardy in USDA climate zones 7 to 11, but is known to survive in zone 6. A quick look at the USDA PLANTS Database shows that where it has escaped cultivation, it tends to do be distributed in areas where winter temperature is moderate or moderated by bodies of water.

Japanese Holly Fern performs best in partial shade to full shade. Slightly moist soil is preferred, though care must be taken to avoid over-watering. Once established, Japanese Holly Fern is reasonably drought tolerant. Recommended soil pH is 6.1 to 7.8.

You'll be pleased to know that Japanese Holly Fern has no serious insect or disease problems, and it's deer resistant. Having said that, I wish I knew how many times I’ve been contacted by desperate gardeners wanting to know what all those bugs or diseases are on the undersides of the pinnae. Those are not bugs or diseases, but are spore-producing organs called sori. Not to worry.

Before planting, take a soil sample to your local Cooperative Extension Service office for testing. The results will specify any necessary soil amendments.

Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 10 inches deep, removing all traces of weeds. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil. If your soil sample report indicates the need for fertilizer, avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Space the plants 18 inches to 24 inches apart. Small plants may be planted closer together. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Water the plants in the pots, then drain. Place the ferns into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. Press soil around the root balls. Do not cover entirely the root balls with soil. The tops should be slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1 inch deep.

Shade gardeners will love Japanese Holly Fern. Its beauty is irresistible. Use if for ground cover, borders, accents. Gardeners in colder climates can grow it as a house plant. If you need a tough, dependable fern, you need Japanese Holly Fern.

Return to Ferns at goGardenNow.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Must Have Plants: East Indian Holly Fern

East Indian Holly Fern

Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Arachniodes simplicior 'Variegata', East Indian Holly Fern, Indian Holly Fern, Simplicior Fern, Shield Fern

Flower Color: None

Bloom Time: N/A

Foliage: Glossy evergreen foliage, creamy variegation down the center.

Height/Spread: 12 inches to 24 inches x 12 inches to 24 inches.

Climate Zones: 7, 8, 9, 10

Sun Exposure: Partial shade

Soil Condition: Well-drained, consistently moist, pH 6.5 to 7.5

Features: Deer resistant, attractive foliage, slow-growing, good for small areas.

Uses: Massed planting, naturalizing, woodland gardens, houseplant in cool climates.

Return to Ferns at goGardenNow.com.

Results of Community Poll Ending 18 September, 2012

Our Community Poll ending 18 September asked the question, "Where do you garden?"

22% polled said "On my own property in the city."
33% said "On my own property in the suburbs."
45% said "On my own property in the country."
None replied "In a community garden shared with others."

I should have included the answer, "I don't garden." I don't know whether any visitors didn't answer for that reason.

For those who would like to garden but don't because they don't think they have the space for it, community gardens can solve the problem. The American Community Garden Association provides lots of help for those who'd like to find a community garden nearby or start one. Even if you already have a garden, you might want to get involved helping with a community garden so you can share the pleasure of gardening with others.

Return to Community Poll at goGardenNow.com.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What should I use to mulch my creeping phlox?

I received my order of creeping phlox and am very pleased.  Never having planted something I wanted to spread quickly I have no idea what type mulch to use.  John, the bed borders the driveway, slopes downhill and also drops a little toward the drive. I appreciate your time and look forward to your suggestions.

Mulches are applied to inhibit weeds, moderate soil temperature, preserve soil moisture, prevent erosion, and make the bed more attractive.

There are two issues for you to consider: the growth habit of the plant and the slope of the bed.

As Phlox subulata spreads, the stems root where they touch the ground. Coarse mulches and inorganic mulches such as recycled rubber might prevent the stems from rooting.

Rainfall on a sloping bed can wash some mulches away. If the bed slopes to the degree that that might happen, you should use a mulch that will allow rain to percolate rapidly through it. In that case, I recommend pine straw mulch. However, a thick application of pine straw might inhibit the stems from rooting as they should. The solution would be for you to pull the pine straw mulch away from the phlox as the plants spread so the stems can contact the soil and take root. The pine straw will eventually decompose.

If the slope of the bed is minimal, and there's no danger of mulch washing away, I recommend pulverized pine bark, wood chips or finished compost.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Must-Have Plants: Narcissus Tete a' Tete


Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Narcissus Tete a' Tete.

Division: 12 - Miscellaneous

Flower Color: Yellow.

Bloom Time: Mid-season.

Foliage: Herbaceous, green, smooth.

Height/Spread: 6 inches to 12 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches.

Climate Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil Condition: Well-drained, average, pH 6.1 to 7.8.

Planting Depth: 2-1/2 times the height of the bulb.*

Features: Deer resistant, fragrant.

Uses: Massed planting, cutting gardens, container gardens, bulb gardens, naturalizing, borders.

Comments: Narcissus Tete a' Tete was raised in 1949 by A. Gray, and is an heirloom variety.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Must-Have Plants: Flowering Onion


Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Allium aflatunense, Allium hollandicum, Flowering Onion.
Flower Color: Purple.

Bloom Time: Late spring.

Foliage: Herbaceous, blue-green, smooth, fragrant.

Height/Spread: 36 inches x 12 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil Condition: Well-drained, average, pH 6.6 to 7.8.

Planting Depth: 8 inches.

Features: Deer resistant, fragrant.

Uses: Massed planting, cutting gardens, container gardens, bulb gardens, butterfly gardens, herb gardens, borders.

Return to Allium at goGardenNow.com.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Must-Have Plants: Japanese Painted Fern


Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Japanese Painted Fern

Flower Color: None

Bloom Time: None

Foliage: Herbaceous, metallic gray, reddish/bluish blush

Height/Spread: 12 inches to 18 inches x 12 inches to 18 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

Soil Condition: Moist to well-drained, loamy, pH 6.1 to 7.5

Features: Colorful foliage, deer resistant, insect resistant, disease resistant.

Uses: Massed planting, naturalizing, fern collections, woodland gardens, shade gardens and borders.

Return to Ferns @ goGardenNow.com.