Thursday, July 29, 2021

Ooops! They did it again.

 

Clemson News, published by the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture announced “South Carolina will become only the second state in the United States to ban the nursery sale of Bradford pear trees and any other pear trees grown on the commonly used Pyrus calleryana rootstock.” This does not mean that it will be illegal to own them, but the authorities would be thrilled if you would destroy any in your landscape.

Why? 

“It has all the characteristics of a noxious weed,” said David Coyle, assistant professor of Forest Health and Invasive Species at Clemson.

“Bradford pears were once touted as sterile, but it turns out that if pollen from any other Pyrus species gets into Bradford pear flowers, the trees can make viable seeds. Those seeds are then eaten by birds and other animals and spread across the Southeastern landscape, contributing directly to one of the worst invasive plant species in the region — the Callery pear.”

It’s about time. I’ve never liked them anyway. The angles at which the limbs grow upward make them prone to splitting, and the flowers stink. None of the other Callery varieties promoted for their improvements over the ‘Bradford’ have been any better. Though its usefulness is short-lived, 'Bradford' is a curse that keeps on giving. So, yes, it’s time for them to go. Past time, in fact.

But, wait. There’s something else you should know. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, The New York Times, and even Lady Bird Johnson promoted 'Bradford' pear. It was released for commercial use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January 1960 and distributed to nurseries from New York to California. Think about that when you’re driving through the countryside and seeing them dominating the landscape.

The USDA duly noted, “The Bradford will not, under most conditions, fruit when planted—

  • More than 200 feet from pear trees of any kind.
  • Next to other Bradfords, the common pear (Pyrus communis), or the Hansen pear {P. sp. Hansen).

“The tree will fruit, however, when planted within 200 feet of other selections of the Callery pear tree or such rarely used minor species as the Manchurian pear {P. sp. Manchurian) or the Forostovsky pear.”

Did anyone consider that pollination vectors such as wind and insects can travel farther than 200 feet, and that thousands of homeowners and landscapers would line their driveways and streets with them?

Should we be surprised? This is the government agency that promoted Kudzu as a “wonder plant” for erosion control and even for shade, and Bahia grass for pastures and lawns. Then 'Bradford' was touted. Ooops! They did it again.

Has the USDA benefited agriculture? Sure it has, but it’s difficult for me to remember any particular instance when I see ‘Bradford’ et al, Kudzu vines and Bahia grass infesting the country.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Make Your Garden A Learning Place


Schooling in home and garden

A recent finding, Homeschooling on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic, published by the United States Census Bureau, shows that homeschooling has surged in the wake of the crisis du jour“The global COVID-19 pandemic has sparked new interest in homeschooling and the appeal of alternative school arrangements has suddenly exploded.” 

From 1999 to 2012 the rate of homeschooling remained steady at about 3.3%. That changed significantly in 2020. In spring of 2020, "5.4% of U.S. households with school-aged children reported homeschooling."

"By fall, 11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12).” That represented “true homeschooling rather than virtual learning through a public or private school.”

Even with many school districts resuming in-class learning, many more parents are not sending their children back, electing instead to continue homeschooling. Reasons might include health, safety, transparency in education, philosophical and theological differences, quality of learning. They are now free to explore the many resources available to them. Some can be found in the garden, even if confined to a patio or balcony.

What courses can be found there? Well, I count botany, biology, zoology, horticulture, chemistry, meteorology, geology, food science, math, history, economy, art and design, music, reading, writing and journaling, religion, social and technical skills, to name a few. I bet that an entire garden-centered curriculum could be developed that integrates all of those disciplines. My recent blog post, Take Your Kids On Nature Walks, touched on this. Classes can be indoors or out, casual or structured, but always mindful. Inquisitive parents and students can delve deeper into any of them. The various disciplines can be easily adapted to any age or competency level, and students can advance based upon their mastery of the subjects. No child need be left behind.

Where to begin

If you’ve never homeschooled before, beginning can be a real challenge. Break it down into manageable tasks. 

A quick DuckDuckGo search revealed the following resources:

This article, of course, is not exhaustive, nor is it meant to be. But the surge in homeschooling is a welcome sign that the educational status quo is not cast in stone. Better education is possible. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, other relative or concerned friend, I encourage you to explore the possibilities, join and be a part of the movement.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Dress Your Landscape In Blue With Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii'

Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii'

If you want to dress your garden in a carpet of light blue-gray, ‘Blue Rug’ juniper (aka Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’) is the ground cover you need.

This very low-growing mat is native to North America from Alaska, through Canada, to New York. But, surprisingly, it also thrives in the Deep South. The very short evergreen foliage sometimes displays a purplish hue in winter. ‘Blue Rug’ juniper grows about 6 inches in height and spreads to around 60 inches.

Juniperus horizontalis can be grown anywhere in USDA Climate Zones 3 through 10, provided that it’s exposed to full sun and planted in well-drained soil. Average garden soil with pH ranging from 5.1 to 6.0 is best.

Like many other junipers, ‘Blue Rug’ juniper is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and salt-tolerant. So, it’s ideal for xeriscaping, ground cover, and because it spreads so far, it’s a fine choice for erosion control in large areas.

Prepare the planting bed for Juniperus horizontalis by cultivating at least 14" deep, removing all traces of weeds. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil, but it may not be necessary. Or, incorporate 5-10-15 fertilizer at a rate of no more 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Plant this juniper up to 6 feet apart, at most. Much closer if you want quicker coverage, and budget allows. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Place the plants 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 only slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1" deep.

Because it likes well-drained soil, plant ‘Wiltonii’ juniper with other plants having similar cultural requirements. As the plants mature, fertilize sparingly and allow soil to dry between watering.

Besides its many other attributes – drought-resistance, deer resistance, pest resistance and soft blue-gray color – it never needs mowing!

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper - For The Landscape Or Bonsai

 Japanese Garden Juniper


Beneath the low canopy of Dwarf Japanese Garden juniper, one often finds twisted branches reminiscent of an old, windswept tree. It’s a living sculpture. For that reason, Dwarf Japanese Garden juniper (aka Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’) is a perennial favorite for bonsai and garden enthusiasts. Whether potted or established in the landscape, it evokes a sense of mystery.

This shrubby ground cover, native to Japan, grows about 8 inches tall and spreads slowly to form a dense mat. The very short evergreen foliage is deep blue-green during warm months, and displays a purplish hue in winter. Dwarf Japanese Garden juniper grows 8 inches to 12 inches in height and spreads to 36 inches.

Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ can be grown anywhere in USDA Climate Zones 4 through 9, provided that it’s exposed to full sun and planted in well-drained soil. Average garden soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.5 is best.

Dwarf Japanese Garden juniper is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and salt-tolerant. So, it’s ideal for xeriscaping, ground cover, and erosion control in small areas. And, of course, it’s a favorite subject for bonsai and Japanese garden themes. Even beginning bonsai hobbyists will find it to be easy to train for its natural shape lends itself well to the art.

Prepare the planting bed for Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ by cultivating at least 14" deep, removing all traces of weeds. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil, but it may not be necessary. Or, incorporate 5-10-15 fertilizer at a rate of no more 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Plant this juniper 6 feet apart, at most. Closer if you want quicker coverage, and budget allows. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Place the plants 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 only slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1" deep.

Because it likes well-drained soil, plant Dwarf Japanese Garden juniper with other plants having similar cultural requirements. As the plants mature, fertilize sparingly and allow soil to dry between watering.

Gardeners wishing to try their hand at growing bonsai can click on this link for search results at abebooks.com.


Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

'Blue Pacific' Juniper - A Coastal Beauty

Rocky coast

 

ON some rude fragment of the rocky shore,

Where on the fractured cliff the billows break,

Musing, my solitary seat I take,

And listen to the deep and solemn roar.

 

O'er the dark waves the winds tempestuous howl;

The screaming sea-bird quits the troubled sea:

But the wild gloomy scene has charms for me,

And suits the mournful temper of my soul…

- Charlotte Smith, ‘XII. Written on the Sea Shore’, Elegiac Sonnets.

No matter where it’s planted, ‘Blue Pacific’Juniper evokes the feeling of the seashore. It’s native to the seacoasts of Japan. ‘Blue Pacific’ is an improved variety of Juniperus conferta (pronounced “jew-NIP-er-us KON-fer-tuh”) also known as Shore Juniper. It’s height is shorter and the foliage color is richer.

The evergreen foliage of this low-growing beauty is blue-green and needle-like. ‘Blue Pacific’ grows 6 inches to 18 inches in height and spreads 36 inches to 48 inches.

Shore juniper can be grown anywhere in USDA Climate Zones 4 through 9, provided that it’s exposed to full sun and planted in well-drained to dry soil. Soil can be average to poor with pH ranging from 5.1 to 7.8. Sandy soil is just fine.

As you might expect from a plant that’s native to coastal regions, ‘Blue Pacific’ juniper is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and salt-tolerant. So, it’s ideal for xeriscaping, ground cover, and erosion control, especially in coastal gardens.

Prepare the planting bed for Shore juniper by cultivating at least 14" deep, removing all traces of weeds. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil, but it may not be necessary. ‘Blue Pacific’ does well in poor soil. Nevertheless, incorporate 5-10-15 fertilizer at a rate of no more 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Plant this juniper approximately 36” apart. Closer if you want quicker coverage, and budget allows. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Place the plants 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" deep.

Because it likes well-drained soil, plant ‘Blue Pacific’ juniper with other plants having similar cultural requirements. As the plants mature, fertilize sparingly and allow soil to dry between watering.

'Blue Pacific' juniper will undoubtedly become one of your favorite ground cover solutions for your coastal garden, or any other difficult site with dry, sandy soil.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

The Happiness of Siberian Iris

 

Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'

I have had more than half a century of such happiness. A great deal of worry and sorrow, too, but never a worry or a sorrow that was not offset by a purple iris, a lark, a bluebird, or a dewy morning glory. 

- Mary McLeod Bethune

Any fresh iris can elicit such happiness, but ‘Caesar’s Brother’ seems to capture all those qualities in one fabulous flock of flowers.

It’s a variety of Siberian iris – aka Iris sibirica, pronounced EYE-ris sy-BEER-ah-kuh– that’s native from Europe to Central Asia. It grows in perennial clumps with long, herbaceous, grassy leaves up to 48” height, and tall flower stems. Flowers of other varieties may be of white, pale yellow, light blue, purple, and pink shades.

Siberian iris thrives best in rich, moist, loamy soil with pH ranging from 5.6 to 7.5. It needs full sun exposure. It’s hardy from USDA climate zones 4 to 9. Flowers appear mid-season.

Before planting, take a soil sample to your local Cooperative Extension Service office. For a small fee, they can run a lab test and tell you what your soil may need.

Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 10" deep, removing all traces of weeds. Compacted soil should be cultivated to 14" deep. Composted manure may be incorporated into the soil. If you choose to use synthetic fertilizer, incorporate 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of no more 3 lbs. per 100 square feet into the top 8" of soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Plant Siberian iris 18" to 24" apart. If purchased in pots, dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Water the plants in their pots. Place the plants into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. 

If planting bare roots, cover them just to the top of the root mass. Do not allow the roots to dry before and when planting.

Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 3" deep. The mulch helps retain soil moisture, so you can water less frequently. It also helps suppress weeds. Irrigate when necessary, remembering that Siberian iris prefers moist soil. That said, though, Siberian iris can tolerate brief periods of drought.

You should know that Siberian iris, though very beautiful, is toxic if ingested. Perhaps for that reason, the plants are pest resistant.

Siberian iris is marvelous in the perennial border. Since it’s native to marshy grasslands, it’ll do well in wildflower meadows with moist soil. Gardeners love them in bog gardens, beside streams and ponds, and other water features. Keep in mind, though, that Siberian iris does not like to be submerged for long. 

Considering the attractive flowers, stately bearing, and their few requirements, it stands to reason that you should consider Siberian iris for your garden.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Vertical Gardening In Used Shipping Containers

 


Vegetable and Specialty Crop News published recently an article by Clint Thompson, Vertical Farming: Auburn Using Shipping Containers to Provide Produce. 

"The Auburn University College of Agriculture is using vertical farming to provide certain produce for its students year-round. Auburn students are helping to grow food for Auburn students.

"This unique way of farming doesn’t involve a field or a greenhouse but a shipping container. The same container used on tractor-trailer trucks uses LED lights to provide the necessary light energy for the crops to grow. There are no windows. Scientists also control the water and nutrient supply, so the plants receive just enough but not too much.

"The result is a quicker and more sustainable way to grow produce." Read more here.

It makes sense. The shipping container allows gardeners/farmers/scientists to create a controlled growing  environment. The vagaries of weather are avoided. It's not unlike growing in a greenhouse, but without sunlight. 

It got me started thinking about how some home gardeners could start such a project of their own. The one at Auburn University is relatively well-funded, so an imaginative home gardener would have to adapt the "vertical farm" to their own situation and budget. For example, used shipping containers are readily available online. Basic, well-used containers in 20' and 40' lengths cost about the same. The vertical structures inside could be made of shipping pallets suspended with chains, lined with plastic sheeting and filled with soil. Water could be supplied with drip irrigation, and recycled through catch basins beneath.

It's an idea that an enterprising gardener might want to pursue.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Celebrate July 4 – The Beginning of Freedom in the USA

Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay

Independence Day – July 4 – celebrates the spark that marked the beginning of freedom for millions. Human history, for all its accomplishments, is also scarred with oppression. Slavery was about as common as any other institution. Not until the 18th century did a large enough groundswell of enlightenment and moral indignation even begin to put an end to it.

The freedom-loving patriots of yesteryear were no strangers to hardship. Compared to today, they had to do everything the hard way. We should appreciate them more if we explore a bit of their lives and times during the Independence Day weekend. So, gather your children, family and friends. Turn off your cell phones and other electronic devices. Here are some activities that we can do together.

Do colonial crafts

Crafts today are what most of us do for pleasure in our spare time. In those days, craft works were more often for utility or survival. Here are a few ideas gathered from around the internet for things to do that’ll give an idea of what it was like in the olden days.

Plant an herb garden

Growing herbs at home needn’t be a big deal. A few herbs in pots, planters or window boxes will do.

Make soap

Cleanliness is next to godliness, it’s said. Better still, include some herbs in the mix. Find out what it was like to make your own soap and use it.

Make paper

You could start from scratch using wood, but don’t go to that much trouble if you don’t want to. Learn how to make paper at home. Making our own paper would prevent us from wasting so much of it.

Make a quill pen

If you can’t find a large enough feather, run over to Hobby Lobby before Sunday for a package of white craft feathers. Here's a video on how to make a feather quill pen.

Brew herb tea

American Patriots turned against drinking imported Camellia sinensis tea in the mid-18th century, for obvious reasons. So they turned toward herbal teas. If you have some herbs like mint, chamomile, bergamot or hibiscus in your garden, brew a pot of sober beverage. Here's how to make herbal tea.

Cook a meal using colonial recipes

The precisely descriptive recipes of today were hardly known before the Fannie Farmer Cookbook was published in 1896. Most recipes simply named the ingredients, and measurements were figured in pinches, dollops or hands-full. But some have been modernized. These Colonial Recipes sound delicious!

Play old-fashioned games

Marbles, jackstraws, horseshoes or leapfrog, anyone?

Go on a nature walk

I just published a blog article on the topic. Take your kids on nature walks. Check it out.

Read a story about colonists or Revolutionary events.

Stories about children are especially interesting to young people. Liberty's Children: Stories of Eleven Revolutionary War Children, Johnny Tremain, Stories of Colonial Children and Boys and Girls of Colonial Days should be on your reading list. The last three can be found at archive.org. (You’ll have to turn your electronic device back on for that.)

Gather with family members to reminisce.

Before there were books, lessons were taught orally. Telling family stories and tales of past experiences help to bind us together with mutual understanding.

Enjoy a patriotic concert

How I’ve loved those summer evenings picnicking near the bandstand and listening to patriotic music. A quick internet search will probably display several venues in your area.

So, with a little inspiration in mind and love of liberty in your heart, go celebrate our great nation's independence this weekend.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Take Your Kids On Nature Walks

 

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay


Do you want your kids to grow up to be happy, healthy adults? Sure you do. So, take them on nature walks. Little rambles in the woods, in the garden, or even around the neighborhood will go a long way toward helping them get on the right track to wellness.

Nature walks 

  • Build relationships
  • Teach children about the natural world
  • Stimulate inquisitiveness
  • Promote physical fitness

Here’s how it works.

Building relationships

In today’s world, most of us are way too caught up in our own interests. Most of them are perfectly legitimate and necessary, but we too often become wrapped up in our pursuits and lose touch with others – especially our children. Reflective strolls with little ones – the more the merrier – help to bind our hearts together. Quiet rambles give us time to talk and share. Walk hand-in-hand with your kids while they’ll still let you. 

Teaching children about the natural world

The world is full of delights and dangers. Children need to know how to enjoy the world, and how to avoid harm. The reflection of a buttercup on the chin, the softness of a lamb’s ear leaf, the caress of a soft breeze, the fragrance of flowers, the aroma of crushed herbs, the textures of tree bark, the songs of birds, the scampering of squirrels, the burrowing of earthworms, and the trepidation of deer are among the fascinations. On the other hand, there are those important warnings – stay away from the edge, “leaves of three, let them be”, be careful stepping over fallen logs – that must be heeded. Better to teach them ourselves than to let them learn alone unsupervised.

Stimulating inquisitiveness

Why are things as they are? What makes that work? What might happen if…? How many more are there? These are the kinds of questions that children should be learning to ask in their formative years. We adults might think that kids, in their naivete, aren’t paying attention or that they won’t remember. Ah! But they are like little sponges, watching and listening. I’m constantly amazed at the little details of times past that my adult children recall. 

Promoting physical fitness

It should go without saying that walking, running, climbing, hopping, kneeling and stooping strengthen the body and mind. Even children with limited talents and physical abilities can participate at some level. Most can, at least. Will they be active or sedentary? The behavior that they adopt today will stick with them for the rest of their lives – for better or for worse.

Toward the end of our lives, we adults won’t wish we’d spent more time at work or watching TV. They won’t wish they’d played more video games. We’ll all remember precious times we spent together on nature walks outdoors.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Ferns As Groundcovers



Strolling pathways and lanes among magnificent homes on Kiawah Island, I was impressed by the effective use of ornamental groundcovers in the landscapes.

Paths there were many,
Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny,
And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly
To a wide lawn, whence one could only see
Stems thronging all around between the swell
Of turf and slanting branches: who could tell
The freshness of the space of heaven above,
Edg'd round with dark tree tops?...
- John Keats - From Endymion: Book I

The ferns were among the loveliest. What makes them so are their rich textures, lush beauty, and low maintenance requirements. Ferns, in fact, could be an elegant answer to your own groundcover needs.

Before delving into the subject of ferns as groundcovers, let's consider the reasons for using groundcovers.

Groundcovers (or ground covers) are going to occur in most climates quite naturally. Just above the soil layer and below native shrubs and trees, herbaceous plants sprout and spread. They are important in the ecosystem for erosion control, providing and balancing plant diversity, conserving soil moisture, and healing the land after some sort of disturbance.

Many natural groundcover species are not all that attractive. Some are harmful; poison ivy comes to mind. Creative gardeners, however, have learned to substitute more desirable plant species to achieve those worthy ends that nature would otherwise accomplish.

So, that brings us back to the subject of ferns as groundcovers. Ferns will not serve as lawn substitutes for they grow too tall and don't survive frequent foot traffic, but it you want plants that do whatever else that groundcovers should do, require minimal maintenance, and are deer-proof, ferns could be your plants of choice.  Choosing the right fern is as simple as identifying the area you want to cover and selecting a suitable species to do it.

Once established, fern groundcovers are very impressive. Here are a few to consider.

Southern Sword Fern


Nephrolepis cordifolia

Nephrolepis cordifolia - aka Southern Sword Fern - is among the most widely used ferns in southeastern U.S. landscapes. They're tough as nails and very easy to grow.  This evergreen species presents upright sword-shaped fronds with closely spaced leaflets. They spread by runners, and tolerate drier, poorer soil than most ferns, especially in shaded areas. They'll also thrive in full sun with sufficient irrigation.

But first, take note. Southern Sword Fern is not native to the U.S., but to Australia and Asia. Therefore, it is sometimes considered to be an invasive species because it competes with native groundcover species - i.e. weeds. But given that it does suppress weeds, it seems like an ideal solution to the weed problem if used judiciously. I'll leave it to you to decide. 

Southern Sword Ferns grows to 18" tall. Recommended soil pH from 5.6 to 7.8. They're cold-hardy only in USDA climate zones 9b - 11, so they're of limited use.

Hay-scented Fern


Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Dennstaedtia punctilobula, also known as Hay-scented fern is a North American native found from Quebec to Georgia, and westward to Missouri and Arkansas. That's USDA climate zones 3 - 8. 

It is deciduous, but the fall foliage turns to a beautiful golden yellow or chartreuse (hay-colored) in fall. Grow it in full shade - not deep shade - to partial shade in soil with average moisture. 

The secret to success with any plant is to approximate it's native habitat in your own landscape. Dennstaedtia thrives in rich, deep, loamy soil with average moisture in deciduous hardwood forests.

Hay-scented fern is best propagated by planting rhizomes in well-prepared soil. It's reasonably drought-tolerant, and, of course, deer won't eat them.

Christmas Fern


Polystichum acrosticoides

This evergreen beauty is one of our most useful native ferns. Polystichum acrosticoides really stands out in winter. Also known as Christmas fern, the glossy foliage has been gathered since colonial times for Christmas greenery. I never fail to point out to my grandchildren that the leaflets are shaped like elves' shoes. 

It can be found growing naturally in shady hardwood forests from Quebec to Florida, and westward to Texas (USDA climate zones 3 - 9). Rich, loamy, slightly moist soil is ideal. Nevertheless, Christmas fern is reasonably drought tolerant. They are often available in 3-1/2 inch pots and as bare root crowns.

Autumn Fern


Autumn Fern - aka Dryopteris erythrosora - is an Asian beauty that is becoming very popular. Evergreen fronds grow 18" to 24", and newly emerging foliage has a burgundy tone. Stunning! It's cold hardy, too, thriving from USDA climate zones 5 - 8. The delicate appearance belies its toughness - so tough, in fact, that it is often used in public gardens, squares and avenue median strips, so long as the site is in partial shade to full shade.

Southern Shield Fern


Dryopteris ludoviciana

So, what if you need a fern for a sunny location? Look no further than Southern Shield fern or Southern Wood fern - aka Dryopteris ludoviciana. This gorgeous North American native is found from Kentucky to Florida, and westward to Texas. That's USDA climate zones 6 - 10. Foliage is evergreen, too. It's a big one, growing up to 48" in height! Average, slightly moist soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.5 will be ideal.

There are, of course, many more ferns that could be mentioned. Some are, in my opinion, a bit too small to serve as effective ground covers. Others are gigantic. Many prefer habitats too specific to be of general interest.

I hope that these ferns I've mentioned will provide you with some inspiring choices for your own ground cover needs.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

FAQ: On Planting Hay-scented Ferns - Dennstaedtia puntilobula

Hay-scented ferns

How does one plant Hay-scented ferns? Inquiring minds want to know. I posted an instructional video on the topic, but it doesn't cover all the bases. Here are a couple of good questions:

Q. The video shows green fronds however the picture that accompanies the web page does not. How can I tell which is "up" if there are no fronds emerging? Thanks!

A. The rhizomes are laid horizontally into a shallow trench. There may be some new shoots emerging from the rhizomes when you receive them, which will help you determine which side is up. Even if you get it "wrong", they'll come out alright. But the correct side should be self-evident.

Hay-scented fern rhizome


Q. In your video you cover the rhizomes with potting soil.  I have a good quantity of well composted cow manure. Could I cover the rhizomes with the compost and then a layer of shredded bark to discourage weeds?

A. High quality potting soil should not have weed seeds in it, so the only weed seeds would be in your native soil surrounding the area. If you decide to use compost, I suggest you mix it with native soil, but that presents the potential weed problem. If you cover the rhizomes too deeply with soil/compost/bark, they might have difficulty emerging, if at all. So, care must be taken for that reason. Depending on  your situation, you will probably have to pull some weeds either way, but probably fewer if you use a very high quality potting soil to cover the rhizomes.

Return to Hay-scented ferns at GoGardenNow.com.



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Groovin' in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Springtime is a groovy time to visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Though we’d never been there before, I felt like I had for this hit tune from younger days kept playing in my head.


Mendocino, Mendocino
Where life's such a groove
You'll blow your mind in the mornin'
We used to walk through the park
Make love along the way in Mendocino

The album, Mendocino, by the Sir Douglas Quintet, came out in 1969. Lyrics were by Doug Sahm.

In fact, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a child of the ‘60s. It was founded in 1961 by Ernest Schoefer – a retired nurseryman – and his wife, Betty. Ernest's experience in horticulture enabled him to discover just the right combination of water, mild coastal climate and ideal soil conditions for his dream garden. The Gardens on 47 acres opened to the public in 1966. The Schoefers maintained the Gardens until 1978.

The garden is more or less divided into sections featuring particular plant groupings. The best known and most popular is the Rhododendron garden. Though we visited in May, most of the fragrant blossoms were still in bloom. These delightful shrubs are native to Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. Schoefer realized that the foggy northern California coast would be an ideal environment for them. 

Many of the older Rhododendron hybrids are no longer available to the nursery trade. The Gardens may be the only place where they can still be enjoyed.

The Perennial Garden was delightful with its mix of lilies, herbs, and annuals. The cacti and succulents were among my favorites. 

Other lovely collections include old-fashioned roses, Heaths and Heathers, camellias, and a natural area in which various endangered species thrive. Those who have the time and energy to walk a bit further will enjoy a path through a pine forest to a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to your camera, be sure to bring binoculars. Bird watchers will be amply rewarded for their patience.

Here are some more photographs from our "walk through the park."

Geranium spp.

If anyone can tell me what this is, I'd appreciate it.

Garden scene

Helianthemum 'Fire Dragon'

Aquilegia spp.

Fuschia spp.

Acer palmatum 'Holland Special'

Persicaria capitata

Bergenia cordifolia

Rhododendron 'The Honorable Jean Marie de Montague'

Limnanthes douglasii

Sempervivum

Sedum dendroideum

Aeonium undulatum

Grevillea 'Fanfare'

Leucospermum cordifolium

Heath and Heather collection

Campanula poscharskyana

Garden scene

No matter the time of year, you'll feel like groovin' in the Gardens. There's always something to tempt you. 

Return to GoGardenNow.com.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Charming Plants for Wedding Favors and Table Decorations


Wedding table


Shouldn't thoughtful hostesses give a little something to their wedding guests to remember the occasion? But, of course! Living plants can grow in their gardens, reminding them of you for years to come. What's more, the meaning behind them taken from "the language of flowers" will lend them special significance. Here are a few selections from our offering that will be very memorable and long-lasting.

Candytuft


Candytuft (Iberis) whispers joy, sweetness, and beauty even in the face of adversity.

Catmint speaks of intoxicating love, fertility, and future happiness.

Coreopsis

Coreopsis promises wealth and cheerfulness.

Chrysanthemum/Dendranthema assure friendship, love, and all the best wishes.


Dianthus

Dianthus tells of love, affection, gratitude, admiration, and hints of a little bit of whimsy thrown in for good measure.

Japanese Painted Fern

Ferns wish for good luck, riches, happiness, strong family bonds, and hope for future generations.

Goldenstar bets on good luck and healthy ambition.


Ivy

Ivy (Hedera) declares eternal fidelity.

Moneywort hopes for wealth and life-long happiness.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox symbolizes harmony, unity in marriage.

Rudbeckia is full of bright encouragement.

St. John’s Wort declares God’s design for marriage and home.

Thyme

Thyme is a symbol of healing, young love, romance and courage.

Verbena signifies romance, pleasant memories, happiness, personal creativity, and protection.

Veronica

Veronica/Speedwell hopes for healing, recovery from broken hearts, and joyfulness.

Vinca expresses nostalgia, benevolence, and purity of heart.

Yarrow

Yarrow (Achillea) speaks of love, healing a broken heart, courage and inspiration.

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel prays for wisdom, courage, and protection in the years ahead.

These can be treasured reminders of that festive day in the life of your adorable bride and groom.

Visit GoGardenNow.com for current availability. For pre-orders, contact us for details. We'll do our best to make your special day unforgettable.