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Summer Blooming Trees

When choosing flowering trees for the landscape, we often tend to make our selections from the long list of ostentatious spring blooming trees that are all so common and familiar in every yard. At the same time, we tend to overlook the more reserved, yet exceptionally elegant, summer blooming trees that can add so much drama and beauty to every space. Check out this selection and consider one or two to round out the seasons when considering your next landscape addition.

  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
    Delicate crepe paper like flowers flourish in mid- to late summer in an assortment of colors like pink, fuchsia, coral, lavender, violet and red.
  • Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
    This small, multi-stemmed, native tree features fragrant, showy, fringe-like white flowers in early summer just as many spring bloomers are fading.
  • Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
    This medium tree is a showstopper with small, yellow flowers borne in large, upright panicles in July, just in time for summer parties.
  • Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica)
    A medium-large tree with creamy-white, slightly fragrant flowers borne in hanging drapes 6-12” long, this beauty offers late summer elegance from August through early September.
  • Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)
    Pure white, camellia-like flowers with orange anthers bloom solitary in succession from June to August, giving plenty of drama and beauty through the season.
  • Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulate)
    This small tree offers fragrant, off-white, tiny flowers borne in showy, large, terminal panicles in early summer.
  • Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
    Dramatic flowers with four large, showy, white bracts that age to a delicate pink sit atop tree foliage for up to six weeks in early summer.
  • Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum)
    Fragrant, lily-of-the-valley-like flowers drip from branch tips in summer with excellent scarlet fall color, making this tree both a summer and autumn favorite.
  • Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
    Flowers, borne singly, have large, 6-8 inches wide, pure white petals. These trees bloom sporadically through the summer months.
  • Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
    Fragrant, showy, white flowers appear throughout the summer, similar to but smaller than those of the Southern Magnolia.
  • Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)
    A native tree with fragrant, white flowers borne in summer on pendulous, wisteria-like panicles. This tree often flowers on alternate years but is stunning when it does.

Any of these beauties can be a dramatic and welcome addition to summer landscaping, reaching their peak just at the time when spring blooms are fading and autumn flowers and foliage are weeks away from brilliance.

Yellowjackets: Good Guys or Bad?

When you hear “yellowjacket,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A buzzing, stinging insect ruining your outdoor meal or a treasured pollinator of many plants? A yellowjacket is both!

About Yellowjackets

The most commonly found yellowjacket is the Eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons). The Eastern yellowjacket is a wasp that is 1/2 to 5/8 inch long and is black and yellow striped. The body is curved under and is wider than the head. Yellowjackets do not have any “hairs” such as are found on honeybees and bumblebees.

Yellowjackets are generally ground nesters, however, in some situations, especially in urban areas, they will make their nest above ground such as in hollow walls and attics.

During the spring and summer, the colony population increases from the fertilized solitary queen, who survived the winter, to several thousand. Adult yellowjackets feed protein to the young wasps and larvae while they subsist on sugars. Foraging for food, the wasps cross-pollinate plants while seeking small insects and nectar. Yellowjackets provide a valuable service to humans by consuming numerous insects that eat ornamental and cultivated plants.

On the other hand, yellowjackets are drawn to cookouts, picnic areas and garbage cans. Their sting, unfortunately, is especially painful. Unlike honeybees, which only sting once, wasps can sting numerous times. Some people react severely to the venom and may have problems breathing or other dangerous reactions.

To Minimize Yellowjacket Interactions

Despite their good characteristics, many people prefer to keep yellowjackets away from picnics, play areas and yards. To reduce the possibility of inviting yellowjackets to your outdoor party…

  • Don’t leave moist pet food outside during the summer. Bird seed is fine, but not suet.
  • Keep garbage cans washed. Securely cover all garbage cans and recycling containers. Rinse beer, wine, soft drink and ice cream containers before disposing of them.
  • Keep garbage cans away from entertainment areas, play areas and pathways.
  • If eating outdoors, cover all serving plates and drinking glasses/bottles to prevent yellowjackets from getting into food or drink. When yellowjackets are in the area, be sure to check your food and drink before consuming.
  • Yellowjackets feed on aphids and scale on trees and shrubs. Therefore, spray for these pests in July and August, if needed, to remove that food source.
  • Repair dripping hoses and faucets as the puddles can attract wasps.
  • Wasps enjoy rotting fruit. Harvest tree and cane fruits when ripe. Carefully pick up all fallen fruit (gloves are a good idea!) and dispose of it in a covered container.
  • Wasps create a flight-path from the nest to food sources. Avoid this area. If this is not possible, consider removing the nest.

Yellowjacket Traps

To help make your outdoor gatherings more pleasant and safer, yellowjacket traps can be effective. Hang these around the perimeter of your yard if you plan to eat outside, but never hang traps near the food area, as you will only increase the attraction to that area. Some traps are disposable and have the benefit of reducing the sting possibility. Others are “reusable” and must be emptied and refilled with bait. These increase the probability of being stung but can be more affordable in the long term.

Eliminating Yellowjacket Nests

When absolutely necessary, the elimination of a yellowjacket nest should not be undertaken lightly. If it’s early in the season and the nest is visible, a forceful water blast will break it apart. To reduce the chances of being stung, do this during the day while the workers are not home. Wasps return to the colony as dusk. Sometimes the workers will begin rebuilding in the same place. Pesticide sprays can kill wasps, and after the nest is destroyed, spraying the area can discourage rebuilding. If it’s later in the season, the aerial nest may be too large to eliminate safely.

Underground nests are a much bigger challenge to destroy. Because the entrance may be at an angle to the nest, flooding seldom works. Never try to burn a yellowjacket ground nest by pouring kerosene or other flammable liquid into the entrance and lighting it. In addition to many stings, more serious injuries may occur. This also pollutes the soil and a fire can quickly get out of control. If the flight pattern to the entrance creates a serious hardship or is close to a building, it is best to consult with an expert for safe nest elimination.

If the yellowjackets have built their colonies within your house walls or attic, it may also be necessary to contact a professional. Note: if yellowjackets are nesting in your home, do not plug the entrance/exit hole or they may chew the rest of the way into your house! Our experts can offer a professional referral for local wasp removal services or search “Pest Control” for your city on the Internet or in the yellow pages.

Yellowjackets do have their uses, but if you have no use for these stinging insects, there are many ways to eliminate them safely. Using several techniques will be most effective and will minimize the risk of being troubled by wasps again.

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Rain Barrels

You’ve heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” In gardening terms, this could easily refer to the amount of rain on the roof going through the gutters and downspouts, and then out to the storm drains and pouring away from your garden. With the unpredictability of rain and the cost of water, don’t you wish you could keep some of that rain and put it to better use? You can, by installing a rain barrel, or two, or three or more. Rain barrels don’t have to be expensive or an eyesore.

The Best Rain Barrels

By diverting the gutter downspout to the rain barrel, rainwater is collected during a storm and stored. A fine mesh screen across the top prevents rocks and debris from entering the barrel and mosquitoes from laying their eggs. It’s a good idea to use a small amount of algaecide to prevent algae from building up in the barrel as well. Some barrels even have a solid cover with an opening to fit the downspout into, and the darkness inside the barrel helps inhibit algae growth.

Most rain barrels have two spigots, one at the top and one by the bottom. Attaching a hose to the top spigot redirects excess water when the barrel is full. You may use this to connect to another rain barrel that stores the overflow from the first, or you may position the overflow hose to direct excess rain to a nearby flowerbed, tree, garden or other plantings that can benefit from a good soaking.

A hose attached to the bottom spigot allows the stored water to flow for use. Incidentally, the water pressure increases if the rain barrel is elevated even just a few inches, allowing gravity to assist getting every drop of precious water out of the barrel so it can be put to use.

Value of a Rain Barrel

Is it worth it? According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a rainstorm measured at 1/10th of an inch, over a 20’x30′ roof, would more than fill a 32-gallon rain barrel if all the water is properly directed. Multiply this amount by your water charge per gallon and you’ll see it won’t take long to pay back the small investment made in a few barrels.

Furthermore, rainwater is often better for watering garden plots, containers, flowerbeds and new plantings, and is even better for many houseplants. Rainwater does not contain the same chemical treatments or compounds found in tap water, so collecting rainwater is a healthier alternative for keeping all your plants well hydrated.

Not sure which rain barrels will suit your style or how to set them up effectively? Stop in to see our collection and consult with our experts to choose exactly the barrel that will help meet all your watering needs.

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Shade Gardening: A Natural Opportunity

Although developing a garden for a shady area may require a little extra planning, some more thought and a bit more effort than sunny spaces, there are many opportunities to grow remarkable, unusual plants in the shade garden. Shade-loving plants are often noted for their foliage and can be combined to produce appealing contrasts in form, texture and color. From the glossy, dark greens of camellias and rhododendrons to the soft, silvery lamiums and the bold-textured, brownish-purple leaves of bergenia, the diversity of foliage available is positively breathtaking!

Defining Shade

The term “shade” encompasses many light conditions. Shade can range from dense darkness to the light-dappled shade under a birch tree. Most plants require at least a few hours of direct light each day (light shade) to look their best, especially if they feature bright colors in foliage or blooms. Some plants, however, do best in an abundance of filtered light (medium shade), especially if the shade is provided in the afternoon to cut the strongest rays of the sun. In the meantime, a few plants can thrive in the darkness of a forest (dense shade), without ever being exposed to bright, direct sunlight.

Other factors you will need to consider when planting your shade garden are the amount of moisture your shady spot receives and the soil conditions. The soil under large trees is usually dry because of the “umbrella” affect created. Other locations may have soggy soil that will only allow bog-type plants to grow. The soil’s drainage, pH and texture will all have to be taken into account to create the best shade-loving garden.

Not sure where to start for finding plants for a shade garden? Top shade-loving perennials and their requirements include…

Perennials for Dry Shade:

  • Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley)**
  • Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’ (Bleeding Heart)*
  • Epimedium perralchicum, pinnatum, pubigerum (Bishop’s Hat)*
  • Geranium maculatum, endressii, nodosum (Cranesbill)*
  • Helleborus foetidus*
  • Lamium maculaturm (Deadnettle)*
  • Polygonatum multiflorum (Soloman’s Seal)*

Perennials for Cool, Moist Soils in Shade:

  • Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)**
  • Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese Painted Fern)**
  • Cyrtomium (Japanese Holly Fern)**
  • Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)**
  • Dryopteris marginalis (Marginal Shield Fern)**
  • Epimedium grandiflorum, warleyense*
  • Helleborus viridus, orientalis (Lenten Rose)*
  • Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebell)**
  • Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)**
  • Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum’ (Soft-Shield Fern)**
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)*
  • Tricyrtis formosana (Toad Lily)*
  • Trillium sessile, grandiflorum**
  • Trollius europaeus*

Perennial Groundcovers in Shade:

  • Acanthus mollis (Bear’s Breech)*
  • Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ (Goutweed)*
  • Asarum europaeum (European Wild Ginger)*
  • Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)*
  • Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Florentinum’ (Variegated Archangel)*
  • Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ (Dead Nettle)*
  • Luzula sylvatica ‘Marginata’*
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)*
  • Vinca minor*
  • Waldsteinia ternata (Barren Strawberry)*

Climbers for Shady Walls & Fences:

  • Akebia quinata, trifoliata
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloradus’
  • Hedera helix (English Ivy)
  • Humulus lupulus (Golden Hops)
  • Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ (Japanese Honeysuckle)
  • Parthenosis henryana, quinquefolia, tricuspidata

*Does best in light shade
**Does best in medium to dense shade

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Heavenly Hosta

Hostas are amazing plants, truly glorious with heavenly foliage that is stunning as a specimen or in mass plantings. The thin spikes of purple or white, trumpet shaped flowers appear for several weeks in the summer and are an added benefit to this divine perennial. But how much do you know about hostas, and which can you add to your landscape?

Phenomenal Foliage

Hostas are praised by many for their magnificent variety of leaf sizes, colors and textures. These angels will grace your garden with heart-shaped, lance-shaped, oval or nearly round leaves, and leaf sizes vary as well. Smooth, quilted or puckered textures, with either a matte or glossy sheen, add to the glory and hostas’ radiant glow.

The leaf margins can be either smooth or wavy and range in color from light to dark green. Foliage colors also include chartreuse, gray and blue, depending on the cultivar. Variegated hostas with cream, white or yellow margins will radiate in a dark area of your garden.

Where to Plant Hostas

While most hostas are shade worshippers, some types will tolerate sun, depending on the overall climate and moisture levels. Hostas remain attractive from spring until frost and can withstand a wide range of growing conditions.

As choice groundcovers or single specimens in the landscape, hostas are certainly divine. Some hostas are quite unusual and rare and may increase in value each year, especially as the plants thrive and can be divided and transplanted with ease.

Best Hosta Care

Little maintenance is required to care for hostas. Cut off old flower stalks after flowers have faded. Divide plants occasionally to increase their quantity. Keep an eye out for pests, especially slugs and snails that munch on the foliage.

Types of Hostas

With so many selections and varieties, you can find a hosta the will fit into almost any garden situation. The most popular options include…

  • Dwarf & Small Hostas: In addition to being planted in secret little pockets throughout your garden or next to paths, dwarf and small hostas can be used in difficult places. Plant them among tree roots, on a slope or terrace or in rocky places containing little soil.
  • Edger Hostas: These hostas are 12” or less in height and have more horizontal growth. They are able to control weeds as they leave no light, when well established, or room for weeds to grow.
  • Groundcover Hostas: This group of hostas grows to 18” or less in height. They do a great job in areas difficult to weed or maintain. If you are in need of a hosta for use as a groundcover, keep in mind it works great to plant spring-flowering bulbs among them. The hosta comes up after the show of flowers and covers the fading foliage of the bulbs.
  • Background Hostas: Selections from this group grow to 24” or taller at maturity. They can be used to increase privacy where you sit and relax or to provide definition to your property line as a unique hedge.
  • Specimen Hostas: Specimens may be any size. Choose a site close to where the plant will be viewed so that every detail (texture, color pattern, buds, flowers and fragrance) may be enjoyed.

Not sure which hosta is right for you? Come in today and let our landscape and garden experts help you choose the right heavenly hosta to add a bit of the divine to your yard!

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Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can reduce your watering costs, lessen your mowing time and increase the interest level of your garden. No matter what your garden’s needs, there’s a grass to solve it. From short ground covers to tall bamboo, there’s something for every site.

About Ornamental Grasses

Generally defined as “a plant with narrow upright leaves growing from the base,” ornamental grasses come in different sizes, shapes, colors and with differing growing requirements. While they may be cut to the ground each year, they are not mowed regularly, and work well as borders, specimen plants or part of coordinated beds. When choosing an ornamental grass for your site, consider the following:

  • Size
    Some beautiful grasses are just inches tall. Others, such as bamboo, grow to 20 feet or even taller. A shorter grass is a perfect edge for a walkway or to border a flowerbed, while a taller grass provides screening or background height.
  • Deciduous or Evergreen
    The winter form of a grass can be very different from its summer form. Evergreen grasses do not die back in the winter, their form remains the same. Winter colors may change and provide interest. Deciduous grasses die back or lean over. Consider the plant’s use when choosing between deciduous and evergreen. If using a grass as a screen, deciduous may not be a good idea.
  • Running or Clumping
    Clumping grasses stay where they planted, and as they grow, the overall plant width increases. However, a running grass sends runners through the ground to grow another grass plant. Sometimes this can be up to 6 feet away. This is advantageous when using the grass as a groundcover or trying to fill in a larger area. Clumping grasses can be divided if they become too large for the site.
  • Color
    Ornamental grasses are available in many colors, including variegated shades with contrasting edges. Additionally, many grass colors change throughout the year. Blues, reds, greens, yellow and variegated shades work well in different situations. A gold or white-hued grass can brighten a dark corner, whereas a dark green grass may be a perfect backdrop for smaller colorful plants.
  • Growing Requirements
    Sun, water, wind and soil requirements vary among grasses. Some require full sun; others grow best in the shade. Some grasses are ideal in rain gardens or wet soils, while others thrive best in drought conditions. Some don’t mind a breezy location, while others need to be more protected. Some prefer a rich, organic soil, while others will look great even in poor soils. And, of course, there are grasses for every range in between.

Before going to the garden center to purchase an ornamental grass, make a list of your requirements. You may want a short grass to line a walkway in full sun with sandy soil. Alternatively, you may need a grass to fill a dry and shady corner. Perhaps you would like to watch a grass clump emerge in the spring, grow to 6′ tall, change colors through the summer and harvest dry seed heads for an autumn arrangement. Choosing the correct grass ensures the beauty of your garden for years to come.

Protect Your Japanese Maples

Beautiful additions to any landscape, Japanese Maples will look their best when given some protection during hot, dry summers. As the weather becomes hotter and drier, your these trees may show signs of heat stress with the development of crispy leaf edges or, as conditions get even more extreme, leaf drop. This diminishes their stunning beauty and shrivels their leaves, but fortunately, there are several ways you can minimize this problem no matter what the weather. From planting these trees in the right spot to mulching the roots appropriately to using anti-transpirants, you can shield Japanese Maples from drought-like conditions.

Protective Planting

When planting a Japanese Maple, choose a location that receives morning sun only and has some protection from strong winds. Full afternoon sun and windy conditions will quickly stress plants and reduce leaf color. Planting a Japanese Maple in front of a western or southwestern windbreak of conifers or other evergreens will provide good shielding, or plant these trees on the eastern side of the house, garage or other structure to provide that essential barrier.

Save Moisture With Mulch

Mulching will help to retain moisture and cool root zones to protect these trees. Apply 2-4 inches of mulch under your Japanese Maples, extending out to the drip line for complete protection. Be sure to keep the mulch several inches away from the tree’s trunk to avoid fungus problems and crown rot. Ideally, install a drip watering system or other slow-release watering under the mulch to retain the most moisture with less water lost to evaporation.

Anti-Transpirant Sprays

Another way to keep your Japanese Maples looking their best is to use an anti-transpirant to helps minimize moisture loss from leaves. The best time to apply an anti-transpirant is in early summer when Japanese Maples are in peak condition, before they start showing signs of suffering from heat stress. Make your applications early in the day or on a cooler, overcast day to avoid leaf burn. Apply monthly through the hottest part of the year and your beautiful trees will look gorgeous heading into the fall season.

Japanese Maples are popular landscaping trees and make stunning specimen plants in any yard, but they can be subject to heat stress that will reduce their beauty and vitality. By taking several steps to protect them, however, you can enjoy the beauty of these trees even when summers are hot and dry, and properly protected, your Japanese Maple will look brilliant throughout the summer.

Succulent Container Garden

Have you noticed how a container garden can really jazz up a front entryway, back deck or porch? Perhaps you’ve thought twice about including this addition to your plantscaping because you just don’t have time every day to water. 

Cheer up! You can plant a container with succulents (plants with fleshy or thickened leaves, stems or roots) and you will not have to worry about watering frequently. Succulent container gardens are relatively carefree, and they’re so easy that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. If one container makes a statement, several will create a conversation! 

Succulent Container Garden Tips and Tricks

To have the greatest success with your new succulent container garden, consider… 

  • Exposure
    Full sun is a must for all succulents and will help show off their subtle colors and textures. If your viewing location has less than adequate sun, place your succulent garden in a full sun area for the majority of the day and move to your desired location when you have company or time to enjoy it yourself. Remember to move it back out into the sun when company leaves.
  • Containers
    Because succulents do not have extensive root systems, your chosen containers may be shallow. Too much soil can hold excessive water causing the succulent’s roots to rot. Perhaps a strawberry pot would make the perfect focal point at your front door, and many front doors look great with a single shallow round planter sitting on the stoop. If you have several steps to the door, try a pot on each step. How do you want your front entrance to say “hello”?
  • Height
    Think about varying the heights of your containers. Perhaps your containers will require a pedestal or something else for elevation. This could be an inverted pot, a table, shelf or even pot feet. You may even consider hanging your container for elevated elegance. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember succulents require excellent drainage. Therefore, the containers must have holes.
  • Soil
    All succulents need fast draining soil. Pre-mixed soil is available that is specifically blended for succulent container plantings. You may also use a general all-purpose potting mix and add perlite, coir or sand to increase the drainage sufficiently.

Plants for Your Succulent Container Garden

When making your plant selection, it is fun to let your imagination go wild and embrace the full range of amazing succulents available. As a good container gardening rule of thumb, Use a thriller (something stunning to catch the eye), a filler (a sturdy, reliable choice to fill in bare spots) and a spiller (a trailing plant to blur the container edges) and you’ll never go wrong. 

Succulents come in an extensive variety of colors, striking shapes and varying sizes. As when planting any container, evaluate plant color, texture and shape when making your selections. You may feel overwhelmed when choosing your plants. If you can’t decide, here is a simple “recipe” for planting one 16″ container to be seen from all sides. Maybe it will give you some ideas: 

  • 1-thriller (Euphorbia tirucalliSticks on Fire‘) planted in the middle.
  • 3-fillers (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) to surround the thriller and provide texture or color contrast
  • 5-spillers (Sempervivum arachnoideum) to drape over the container’s edge.

As an extra bonus, many succulents bloom, adding extra unexpected beauty. Blooms can be few and far between, however, but they will be exciting and rewarding when they are spotted. 

The Importance of Topdressing 

After planting, gently brush off any residual soil from the succulents’ leaves. Add more interest by topdressing the container. This is a layer of material will give your container garden a finished appearance. Desert type plants look great with a thin layer of light tan-colored gravel or red lava rocks. Create sparkle with sea-glass toppings or add a clean, contemporary look to Zen-like or Asian inspired plantings with smooth black river stones. Other popular top dressings include glass marbles, colored aquarium gravel or tiny seashells. You might even add a fairy garden surprise in the container, such as a miniature hut, hidden gnome or other quaint character who will call your succulent garden home.

Most importantly, have fun!

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Rose Care Basics

Beginners often become confused with the many recommendations and suggestions for growing roses. However, it is important to start with the basic guidelines for successful rose growing. Roses can thrive under many conditions, but they are sure to grow better, with more luxurious blooms and fewer problems, when you follow the basics. 

Prepare the Soil 

The proper soil is essential to nourish roses so they can grow to their full potential. To make the soil ideal for roses… 

  1. Take a soil sample to test the pH, either with a home testing kit or through your local extension service. Roses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. You may need to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it to the optimum rose range.
  2. Incorporate composted cow manure or other healthy compost into the soil. This will provide superior drainage and excellent organic material for roses to absorb.

Planting Roses

If they aren’t planted properly, roses won’t thrive as well as they could. Improper planting could even damage roots and destroy a rose bush. 

  1. Select a sunny spot with good soil drainage – roses require at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Early morning sun is preferred because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent disease.
  2. Dig a wide, shallow hole that is 2-3 times as wide but not quite as deep as the root ball (about 1 inch shallower). The plant should sit on solid ground so it doesn’t sink when the soil settles.
  3. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen any circling roots. If you can’t pull the roots apart, use a knife to make 4-5 vertical cuts in the root ball. This will allow new roots to grow out into the surrounding soil as the plant becomes established.
  4. Place the plant in the hole slightly elevated above ground level. Backfill with soil until the hole is half full.
  5. Soak the root ball with a mixture of a Root Stimulator & Transplanting Solution.
  6. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and water thoroughly. Apply mulch to a depth of 2 inches, being careful not to mound mulch against the trunk of the plant, which could encourage rotting or insect damage.

Pruning Roses 

To look their best, roses must be properly pruned. This can be intimidating for rose-growing novices, but once the basics are mastered, the techniques for pruning roses are not difficult. 

  1. In spring, remove winter mulch when new grow appears. Prune out all dead wood and twiggy growth and cut back to sound wood with a clean slanting cut, just above a good bud eye.
  2. During the growing season, remove fading roses promptly, cutting just above a five-leaflet leaf. This will help encourage reblooming on many cultivars, and will help prevent rot or disease infestation.
  3. To winterize, remove all fallen leaves and debris from the base of the plant, cut back to 10-12 inches after the ground freezes, then apply a mound of mulch over the canes to protect them from temperature shock. 

Food and Water 

Roses need the proper nutrition – water and fertilizer – to bloom well and develop stunning colors and fragrances. 

  1. Roses thrive best when given 1 inch of water weekly. A thorough soaking from rain or hose will keep roses blooming all season. Try not to overhead water unless it is early in the day, as the damp leaves can promote disease.
  2. Fertilize monthly with Espoma Rose-tone or similar products specially formulated for the nutritional needs of roses.

Treat for Disease and Pests 

There are times when roses will succumb to diseases and pests. Quickly recognizing these problems and treating them properly will help minimize outbreaks that can damage several rose plants at once. 

  1. Fungus diseases cannot be cured, so a regular spraying schedule is very important. Keep an eye on plants that were infected last year and spray with a fungicide to prevent outbreaks this year.
  2. You may also need to use an insecticide for severe insect problems. Minor problems can be handled with less harsh methods, but diligence will be necessary to keep pests from taking over the rose bushes.
  3. Many rose lovers find it convenient to use an all-purpose insect and disease spray once a week or a systemic control every 6 weeks.

It may seem like a lot of work to cultivate roses, but when you wander through your rose garden or see your favorite rose bush in full bloom, that effort will be well rewarded.

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Green Gardening

Planting a vegetable or flower garden seems like the perfect thing to do when you are looking for ways to adopt a greener, more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Some traditional gardening practices, however, may not be quite as “green” as you might think. Planning your gardens with the environment in mind and choosing some practices that maintain healthy ecosystems can help you create a truly “green” garden. 

Tips for a Green Garden 

There are easy, effective steps you can take in your garden to go green, including… 

  • Plant local and native species of trees and shrubs which are naturally adapted to the conditions in your area, thus requiring less watering and having natural defenses for local insect pests and plant diseases.
  • Collect rainwater for watering your container gardens and new transplants, and adjust your irrigation schedule to compensate for whenever Mother Nature does the watering for you.
  • Use organic compost and mulch to improve soil health and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Better yet, make your own compost so you can adjust it to exactly what your plants need while keeping more waste out of landfills.
  • Opt for disease-resistant and pest-resistant plants rather than trying to force plants into an unfriendly area where they will need chemical assistance and extra maintenance to thrive.
  • Try to use natural products instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Use traps, parasites and natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings. Plants that repel insects – basil, chives, mint, marigolds or mums – mixed in with other plants can help keep pests away.
  • Choose wildlife-friendly plants such as flowerbeds that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators, and don’t be upset to share some of your garden space with other critters.

These are just a few of the simple changes you can make in your gardening practices that will benefit the environment.

Green Products 

More and more “green” products are readily available to help you maintain the natural health of your garden. Before using a product, however, be sure it is suitable for your situation, and follow all application and use instructions. Even organic or eco-friendly products can become toxic contaminants if they are improperly used.

Popular options for green gardening products include… 

  • Dr. Earth contains probiotic beneficial soil microbes, plus ecto- and endo- mycorrhizae which feed the fiber of the living soil by releasing natural organic matter. People and pet safe.
  • Dr. Earth pest controls are organic controls for all of your pest problems, including all types of unwanted or troublesome insects. People and pet safe.
  • Espoma Organic Traditions line of products includes bone meal, kelp meal, garden sulphur, potash and garden lime for helping to improve your soil without artificial chemical compounds.
  • Bonide offers organic fertilizers as well as organic formulas for pest and plant disease control, such as fruit tree sprays.
  • Scotts Organic Choice lawn care products provide more environmentally friendly choices for your yard.

Developing “green” gardening practices benefits you and your family, your garden, your native plants and animals, your water supply – our world, all of us.

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