Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Beauty of Double Tulips

Melinda Meyers published a lovely article for the National Garden Bureau, Boost the Beauty of Your Spring Garden with Double Tulips. She writes:

Double tulips look completely different from regular tulips. Instead of upright, egg-shaped blossoms, their flowers look more like roses or peonies, with layers of silky petals. I love how they look in the garden, and they are also beautiful cut flowers. In fact, their growing popularity with floral designers is making them easier to find in flower shops.
You can both start and end the spring bulb season with double tulips. The early-blooming varieties open at the same time as daffodils, while the late ones finish up right before the peonies open. Double tulips change day by day as the flowers mature. They begin as romantic, softly cupped blossoms and go out as flashy extroverts. Watching this transformation is part of the fun of growing them. As an added surprise, you’ll find that most double tulips are also fragrant, especially the late-blooming varieties.

So true! If you're looking for something really special for you spring garden, you simply must plant Double Tulips this fall. Check out our great selection of Early Double Tulips and Late Double Tulips at goGardenNow.com. We're offering now them at 25% off, too! Make sure you read Melinda's article!

Have you planted Double Tulips before? What did you think about them? Did you use them as cut flowers? Let us know. We'd love to hear from you in our Comments section!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What's eating my liriope?

Q. Hi John! I was watering the liriope plants yesterday that I purchased from you this past April, and while the plants were in great shape, I feel it has been an embattled operation trying to get these plants to thrive. I've spent a small fortune on chemicals, devices, animal sprays, slug killer, etc. and an enormous amount of time, but I still have not figured out what is eating my plants down to the ground. Of the 50 that I planted, at least half of them have been eaten completely down to the ground. Another friend suggested that I throw moth balls around each plant to keep animals away, and I think that was a very bad idea, because I saw a lot of dead leaves on the plants after the fact.

So I am hoping that next year they will all come up and grow beautifully. I saved 5 or 6 of the plants which I will keep in my house over the winter. I'll use these in places where plants didn't make it through the winter. 

The only animals I see regularly in my front yard (and I Iive in a suburban development) are squirrels. I still have not determined what is eating these plants to the ground, and I am sooooooo disappointed because they are beautiful when thriving.

A. I think slugs are the culprits, for the following reasons:

Looks like there are plenty of places for them to hide, e.g. under mulch, the edging, etc. Such hiding places also provide a moist environment for them.

You don't see them during the day. Slugs like to feed at night.

Slugs usually attack the middle of broad leaves, and sometimes the edges. But liriope doesn't have broad leaves, so it stands to reason that the edges are being eaten.

Liriope grows close to the ground, easily accessible to slugs.

If the damage is limited to these plants within the mulch bed, not evident on shrubs or trees, it points to slugs. Insects capable of flight would eat some tree and shrub leaves, too.

I don't believe deer or rabbits are eating them. They wouldn't just eat the leaf margins, but the entire leaves.

Yes. It looks like slugs.

R. Well I initially treated them for slugs at your suggestion, but I guess it wasn’t long enough.

A. Yes. It takes a bit of sleuthing to finger the culprits. Since they didn't leave calling cards, we have to deduce. I could be wrong, so I appreciate you allowing me to share your photos to see if someone has a better idea.

Thankfully, liriope is a tough plant. As long as the roots are viable, it can regrow. Eventually, of course, if a plant is deprived of food via photosynthesis due to leaf loss, it can succumb. But one of your photos seems to show young foliage emerging.

Dear Reader, take a look at the photos provided. What do you think is eating the liriope? Does it look like slugs to you? We'd love to hear from you. Tell us what you think in the comment section.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fascinating Fern Facts

Azolla filiculoides. Image: Public domain

This just in from Quartz.

Fifty million years ago, a tiny fern called Azolla filiculoides grew in mats over open water in the Arctic Ocean, flourishing like that for 800,000 years. (It now turns up in Arctic ice cores in vast quantities.)

This was a significant event not just for fern domination but for the globe: Paleobotanists call it the “Azolla event,” because the Azolla mats sucked up 10 trillion tons of carbon dioxide during that period—well over 200 times the total amount of carbon dioxide humans currently release into the atmosphere every year. The event played a role in the abrupt shift from a very warm planet to the cool one we now inhabit.


Scientists have wondered for years if Azolla could be harnessed to cool the planet again.

Sure. Why not? I'm all for it if the research is privately funded. 

This and other fascinating fern facts are for learning in today's email from QuartzIt's a great resource for thought-provoking info on a lot of topics. Check it out. I believe you'll enjoy it.

It occurs to me, though, that according to the USDA, Azolla filiculoides - aka Mosquito fern - is already native to Florida, the Pacific coastal states, and even New York. (I'm assuming we're referencing the same Azolla filiculoides.) Are they noticing any benefit?

Return to Ferns at goGardenNow.com.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

FAQ: Do you know a particular kind of bug spray that I should use on these plants that won't harm them?

Something is still attacking my liriope plants, and a friend said it definitely looks like some kind of bug is eating them. But I can't see any bugs with my eyes. I put the slug bait around twice, and that has not stopped the problem. Do you know a particular kind of bug spray that I should use on these plants that won't harm them? I'm going to try bug spray once the rains stop. We've had a solid week or more of rain and thunderstorms. I have worked so hard on these plants to keep them alive and doing well. They look beautiful in my front yard. Please let me know what bug spray you would recommend. Many thanks!

As a rule, insecticides don't harm plants. There are exceptions. Oil-based formulations might, depending upon the plant. Since you can't identify the beast, you'd do best with a broad-spectrum insecticide. SaferGro PestOut, Ferti-Lome Broad Spectrum Insecticide RTS, Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes might work. They all come in ready-to-use form. There are several high-power broad-spectrum, systemic insecticides that should work without fail. Their disadvantages include cost and higher toxicity.

As with all chemicals, follow label instructions.

I hope this helps.

If you, dear reader, have had particular success with any broad-spectrum insecticide, please let us know in the Comment section. We'd love to hear from you!

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Any chance Boston ivy plants will recover from heat stress?

Q. Hi, I bought some of your [Boston] ivy a couple weeks ago, the weather was hot here at the time and the postal carrier left the box of ivy on our blacktop driveway in the sun when the temps were near 100. Any chance these plants will recover?

A. I'm sorry to hear that the plants were subjected to such stress. If the roots remained viable, there should be good hope for recovery.

Any damaged foliage and stems - blackened, dried and brown - should be removed. They won't recover.

I assume you planted the vines soon after receipt, watered them in properly, etc. At this point, take care not to water too much. Fewer or no leaves means less  or no water take-up, so too much moisture in the soil could contribute to root or stem rot. Let soil dry slightly between watering events. Watch for bud enlargement at the leaf axils. I hope this helps. Keep me posted.


Have any of you readers had an experience such as this? Were you successful in reviving your plants? If so, let us know in the comment section what you did to bring them around.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

A Question of Color-Matching

I have phlox that I want to add to. It was sold as 'Crimson Beauty' but your ['Purple Beauty'] plants look like they might be the same color. Do you think they are?

I don't think 'Purple Beauty' will be close enough. 'Red Wings', which I also sell, would be closest. Nevertheless, 'Red Wings' and 'Crimson Beauty' will not be exactly alike in color. Petals of 'Crimson Beauty' are also a bit narrower. If you're willing to live with a slight difference, 'Red Wings' might work for you. I don't want to give you the impression that they're the same. I don't want you to be disappointed. Keep in mind that photographs on the web don't always represent their subjects accurately. The only way you can be sure of a match is to purchase more 'Crimson Beauty'.

Okay, readers. Have you had experiences with color-matching similar varieties in your garden? Couldn't get the variety you bought before, so you tried to match with another? Let us know how you tried to solve the problem. Did it work?

We'd love to hear from you in the comment section.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Karen Chapman Reports on Floral Watercolors

Chameleon calibrachoa. Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau
Karen Chapman, author of Gardening With Foliage First, recently visited the California Spring Trials (CAST) as a guest of National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections. She was greatly impressed by emerging trends in flower colors soon to be available to gardeners. What especially caught her eye were "the large number of introductions with a softer yet luscious color palette of vanilla, apricot, coral, and cinnamon, often a harmonious blend of two or more of those shades in a single bloom."
You should read Karens's report on her visit to CAST. See what's in store for you!
Floral Watercolors: discovered at CAST 2018.

What color combinations are you working with in your garden? Anything new? Let us know what you're thinking, what you've tried, what worked and what didn't. We'd love to hear from you in the comment section.
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Monday, July 9, 2018

What is the best season for planting liriope?

Q. Howdy. Have you had customers successfully plant these in summer? What is the best season for planting? - Carl from TX

Liriope is a very tough critter. Though I could tell you amazing stories, I don't want to give you the impression that it's indestructible. So, I'll simply say that you can plant in summer if you are able to irrigate sufficiently until it has taken root in the soil. Irrigate, then allow the soil to dry briefly between waterings. No soggy soil, nor bone dry. If that's not possible due to travel plans, wait until fall when temperatures have moderated and rainfall is more frequent.

Return to Liriope at goGardenNow.com.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Behind A Garden Wall: The Ave Maria Grotto - Cullman, Alabama

I love amiable spaces indoors and out. The Ave Maria Grotto is a new discovery for me. It is described as follows:

Known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.

Though new to me, it is well-known. So much has been written about the history of Ave Maria Grotto, as well as having been featured on videos, that it makes no sense for me to reprise what others have said so well. I will simply post photos I captured during my recent visit.

Brother Joseph's creche

Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum

View into the valley

Intricate column built of found objects

Hosta variety

Shrine to Pope Pius XI

St. Peter window and cockle shells

Montserrat Monastery, Spain

Elevated bird house

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Native American saint

Fanciful pipe organ

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. Rev. 20:1,2

St. Peter's Basilica

Hillside clusteer

Ave Maria Grotto

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Have you visited the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama? What did you think? Are you planning to visit? We'd love to hear from you. Let us know in the comment section.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What is "xeriscaping?"

I posted a blog article several years ago answering this question, but the question is asked frequently, so I'll answer again.

"Xeriscaping" is a blend of two words to combine their meanings into one concept.  "Xeri" is derived from the Greek word, xeros, meaning dry.  "Scaping" is derived from the word "landscaping."  So the blended word describes a manner of gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental watering.  Xeriscaping is appropriate for regions that are naturally dry, for areas under water-use restrictions, and for those gardeners who simply want to reduce the expense or environmental impact of additional water use.

"Xeriscaping" is often associated with the accompanying logo, which, ironically, features a drop of water. The intent, I believe, is to emphasize that only a little water is needed for successful xeriscaping.

I recently journeyed through parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona where arid conditions prevail. Xeriscapes were in the majority. Grassy lawns were few. My eyes were opened to the many landscape designs that minimize the expense of irrigation and landscape maintenance, and to the vast array of plants that are suitable for xeriscaping. Far more are available than are used in other parts of the United States. These are things that desert-dwellers already know. They are relatively new to folks like me who are natives to humid, water-rich environments.

I have and will continue to feature plant species and designs that could save you a lot of time and money normally spent on conventional, high-maintenance landscapes. For past articles, check out this search link on xeriscaping.

What do you think about this concept? Does xeriscaping sound interesting to you? Are there particular types of plants or landscape design applications that you'd like to learn more about? Let me know in the comment section.

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Quick Tip: Grape Jam Recipe for Orioles

Birds Choice SNOF Recycled Poly Oriole Feeder

Here's a simple, effective recipe from a good customer for feeding orioles. Her birds love it!

I use a whole cup of Welch's grape jam and 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Mix thoroughly and put into a squeeze bottle.

...Remember (to use) jam and not jelly. I think the jam has more grape taste and is thicker.

This year must be a record. I'm going through 4 jars a week.

The mixture is put into any one of our great oriole feeders from Birds Choice, such as:

Birds Choice CDC-ORANGE Copper Double Cup Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice CDCDF-ORANGE Copper Double Cup Double Fruit Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice NP1009 12 Oz. Oriolefest Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice NP1012 12 Oz. Oriolefest Oriole Feeder With Weather Guard
Birds Choice SNJF Recycled Pole-Mounted Jelly Feeder w/ Roof
Birds Choice SNOF Recycled Poly Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice WCOF Natural Cedar Oriole Feeder

Many thanks to Marie B. from Michigan!

Do you have any favorite recipes for attracting orioles? Any other thoughts on the subject? If so, let me know in the comment section.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Century Plant - Formidable Native of the Americas

American Century Plant is one of those that catches the eyes of passers-by, especially when in bloom. After what seems like a life-time, it shoots up one massive flower spike up to 30' high. As buds unfold, the century plant attracts attention, sometimes even of local news reporters. Eventually the flower dies, as does the mother plant. In the meantime, though, it has produced dozens of basal shoots that can be separated and planted elsewhere.

American Century Plant is believed by many to only bloom once per hundred years, thus the name. But that simply isn't the case. The span may only be ten or twenty years.

Not only does the century plant catch the eye, it also can catch your britches or flesh. Nasty teeth line the leaf margins. This feature is what makes it so useful as a privacy barrier, providing real "homeland security."

People have used it for other purposes such as drink and fiber. I haven't tried any of them. I like it best as a bold specimen plant. For those whose water use is restricted by choice or necessity, the American Century Plant is an excellent addition to the garden.

Name(s): American Century Plant, American Aloe, Maguey, Agave americana, Agave altissima, A. communis, A. complicata, A cordillerensis, A. felina.

Flower Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: Whenever it gets around to it.

Foliage: Blue-gray/green

Height/Spread: 4' to 6'; 25' to 30' in bloom.

Climate Zones: 8, 9, 10, 11

Sun Exposure: Full sun.

Soil Condition: Average to dry, pH 6.1 - 7.8

Features: Bold, spiny, fire-retardant foliage. Tall, impressive flower stalks. Blooms once during its life-span, but produces multiple adventitious sprouts at the base to propagate. Drought-tolerant.

Uses: Landscape specimens. Xeriscaping. Formidable borders. Leaves used for fiber, and juice distilled for alcoholic beverage by native peoples.

Have you seen one of these in bloom? Where? Do you have one of these in your yard? If so, why did you plant it?  Let me know in the comment section. If you have any other thoughts on the subject, share those, too.

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