We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.

                                                                                  --Author unknown

Squirrels and other local wildlife aren’t respecters of planted items, so they may see your beautiful pot of soil as a great place to stash their nuts and spare food. To protect your seedlings from squirrels and birds in your garden, purchase inexpensive wastebaskets from the local dollar store with holes to protect the seeds as they grow.

Another option is to add ingredients to your soil that squirrels dislike. Here are some items that homeowners have had varying success using to deter squirrels from digging in their potted plants:

  • Human hair
  • Pet hair
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic
  • Peppermint oil
  • Vinegar


  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Epson Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ammonia
Mix together and use once a month on all plants.


Click below for



        First things first!                                  

Gardening Zones & Map


Angiosperm  -Broad Leaved-   ( Hardwoods)  Deciduous: Ash, Aspen, Basswood, Birch, Cherry, Coffee Tree, Cottonwood, Elm, Hickory, Honeylocust, Maple(s), Mulberry, Oak, Poplar, Walnut.

Gymnosperm     -Needled-    ( Softwoods)  Conifers Family: Cedar, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Tamarack (Larch).

Willow                                                Salix Species




Birches are deciduous trees in the family Betulacea. The word "birch" originates from ancient Sanskrit language meaning "tree bark used for writing on". It is believed that the bark of these trees was once used for paper similar to papyrus.

There are many varieties of birches, but the more common ones you see native to this area are called river birch (Betula nigra). They love acidic, wet or even flooded areas, but can survive dry, alkaline soils, although, in these soils their leaves may turn yellow and drop. They seem to tolerate extreme heat, but need plenty of water to keep their leaves from burning and dropping. If you plant a birch, be ready for it to be a fast grower and reach up to approximately 40 feet wide and 70 feet tall by the time it’s 30 years old. So, in other words, give birches plenty of room to grow.

River birch, Betula nigra, a native tree to river and creek banks, and has interesting bark as well. This tree has a cinnamon colored peeling bark that has excitement in all four seasons. The leaves on this tree are small, and the canopy is not dense, allowing the bark to be visible in and out of leaf. This tree will reach 50', and is considered a medium grower. This tree will thrive in moist soils, but lucky for us, it is very versatile, adapting to drier locations as well. In a grouping of three or five, this selection is outstanding. Use it as a plant grouping in the yard, or as a single tree in a foundation planting. Grown in clumps or single stemmed allows for a variety of design styles, from a more natural look to a formal appearance.

The leaves of river birches are usually glossy and dark green on their upper side, lighter green on the underside. The leaves tend to be shaped like diamonds; hence they look as though they are flickering in a breeze. Birches produce male catkins up to 3 inches long and female flowers up to an inch long, but the flowers are not significant or showy. While birches tend to lose their leaves a little earlier in autumn, if they are not deprived of moisture, they will display beautiful golden, yellow and brown leaves with cinnamon-colored twigs and branches.

While all of the birches have their unique elegance, some are more adaptable and disease and pest resistant than others for this area. Since the river birch is a native of this area, that makes it more adaptable than some of its cousins like paper birch or European white birch. Heritage or "Cully" cultivar tends to be resistant to the Bronze Birch Borer and in general considered the most trouble free. Heritage is also known for being more resistant to leaf spot and its bark is a rich creamy color, as it peels away from an almost orange colored trunk. River birches tend to be susceptible to aphids and caterpillars under less than ideal conditions.

As mentioned earlier, birches come in single trunks and multi-trunks (called clumps). They tend to send up new shoots from the ground, so you may want to cut these off for a cleaner look and to reveal more of the interesting bark. I often trim the branches of my birches up to about 3 feet from the ground so I can enjoy that intriguing bark revealed beneath a wispy canopy.

Birches are beautiful whether they are planted in landscape gardens or alone as a specimen tree. While white birches are popular because of their beautiful stark white bark, the river birch has more subtle, rich, creamy colors and adds its own beauty to just about any landscape. They are easy to transplant and do well when transplanted in the spring or fall when rainfall is heavier. They need little or no maintenance once they become established, and under ideal conditions will even naturalize. The scaly bark so characteristic of birches, makes them ideal providers of year-round interest for your garden. After the leaves fall in autumn, you will continue to enjoy the richly textured hues of cream, brown and cinnamon bark throughout winter.


National Garden Association

Tip: Make sure that your garden slopes away from the house.




Planting a window box provides for a little bit of color, just about anywhere, the balcony, the patio, a window box or just about anywhere. Will become a breeze. The perfect soil, the right flowers, and a great selected location can lead to a beautiful floral addition.

When planting your box planters or window box, always remember healthy young plants transplant the easiest. Plants and flowers of with colorings that complement one another will create the best visual scene.  trailing plants, such as vines, are the best borders at the sides. Place the taller plants at the back, unless it is in a open space and one can walk around it, enjoying it from various angles. Do not plant too many in the box, as they will grow to large and lose their visual uniqueness, but do pant them closely together. If you are going to place your box outside a window, then avoid the tall plants.

A variety of flowers and plants will do well in a window box, including many typical houseplants. Annuals do great in a window box. Many houseplants can be brought in at fall and they become your visual display inside.

Window boxes require a soil-less mix that will encourage the plants to grow. A soil-less mix provides better aeration for the roots of the plants, as well as better drainage ( make certain that you do have drainage holes in the bottoms, so you do not drown your plants) Soil-less mix with added fertilizer provides the plants need for continuous blooming and sturdy root growth.


Quick Tip: Prevent mosquitoes from breeding in rain barrels by floating 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the water's surface (It is lighter than water)


"Dianthus" from two Greek Words - "dios", referring to the god Zeus, and "anthos", meaning flower. Carnations are thus "The Flowers of God".

Carnations have become the most popular florist flowers because they are the symbols of expressing many feelings as above. Hence, it is recommended that one should check the meaning of the color of carnations when you gift them.

Carnation cultivars are mainly of three types:

  • Large flowered Carnations - one large flower per stem.
  • Spray Carnations (Mini Carnations) - with lots of smaller flowers.
  • Dwarf flowered Carnations - several small flowers on one stem.

In Your Garden

The three most common are annual Carnations, border carnations and perpetual-flowering carnations.

  • Carnations grow readily from cuttings made of the suckers that form around the base of the stem, the side shoots of the flowering stem, or the main shoots before they show flower-buds.
  • The cuttings from the base make the best plants in most cases.
  • These cuttings may be taken from a plant at any time through the fall or winter, rooted in sand and potted up.
  • They may be put in pots until the planting out time in the spring, which is usually in April, or any time when the ground is ready to handle.
  • The soil should be deep sandy loam.

      Start your carnations off by sowing seed or buy ready-made baby plants from your garden center. 


  • They don't like acid soil so add a little lime before planting if necessary.

The use of watering mat or soil sheet helps to distribute the water better and restricts rooting through. To ensure good branching and growth, plants should be pinched as soon as the main bud appears. Spacing. It is recommended that the crop be started pot tight and spaced to 7 to 8 plants per square foot once the plants start to "touch" once another.

Carnations require constant moisture levels for best results. Sub-irrigation is the preferred method of irrigation, keeping the foliage dry and not damaging the flower heads. Excess moisture will result in a stretched plant habit.

To obtain the best quality, it is recommended that these carnations be grown at a day temperature ranging from 50 - 59°F and a night temperature of 41- 46°F.

The Symbolic meaning of the Carnation:


What they Mean

Carnations in general

Fascination, Woman's Love

Pink Carnations

Mother's Love

Light red Carnations


Dark red Carnations

Deep Love and Woman's Affection

White Carnations

Pure Love and Good Luck

Striped Carnations

Regret, Refusal

Green Carnations

St. Patrick's Day

Purple Carnations


Yellow Carnation

Disappointment, Dejection



 ( Greek
words chrysos, meaning gold with anthemon, meaning flower (family of daisies)  

Is an entire genus within Asteraceae, are the next largest group of flowers many people think of as daisies? Many Chrysanthemums appear very similar to the English daisy, with white petals and a yellow center. Others come in decorative colors, ranging from vibrant pinks and blues to deep purples and reds. The most common Chrysanthemum, grown in parts of Asia as a food crop, is Chrysanthemum coronarium; this flower, also known as the crown daisy, appears very similar to the English daisy, but with yellow petals as well as a yellow center.

Each Chrysanthemum flower head is actually a cluster of many flowers, composed of a central group of short disk flowers surrounded by rings of longer ray flowers. Chrysanthemums are classified into nine categories according to the type and arrangement of disk and ray flowers - Incurved, Reflexed, Intermediate, Late Flowering Anemones, Singles, Pompons, Sprays, Spiders/Spoons/Quills, Charms and Cascades. For example, the 'reflexed' Chrysanthemum consists of ray flowers that curve downward into an umbrella shape; the 'quill' has tubular ray flowers that radiate from the center of the head.

Petals on chrysanthemums are actually florets (a small flower, usually part of a dense cluster, especially, one of the disk or ray flowers of a composite plant such as a daisy) since both sexual parts (male/female) exist in each one. The chrysanthemum flower has two types of florets
- ray florets that would be called petals on a daisy, and disc florets that are the center florets in a daisy type of bloom. Only the disc florets can reproduce. All classes of chrysanthemums have both types of florets, but in many of the classes, the disc florets are not apparent. In those plants, the plant breeder uses a pair of scissors to uncover the disc florets for pollination and the development of new cultivars.

The chrysanthemum is the largest commercially produced flower due to its ease of cultivation, capability to bloom on schedule, diversity of bloom forms and colors, and holding quality of the blooms.

As a landscaping plant, the chrysanthemum makes a beautiful Fall display for the home garden. With skill and artistry, many varied effects can be achieved, even when only a small growing area is available. Chrysanthemums can accentuate an entrance way; provide the Fall colors to a season-long growing bed; or dominate a growing area with the many varied shapes, sizes, and colors.

  • Fertilizing the plant is an important step in caring for chrysanthemums. Do fertilize when the plants are ready for blooming and discontinue fertilizing after flower buds are formed.Order your fertilizer now and enhance the blooming of your chrysanthemums.
  • A careful check should be made of diseases and insect pests and prompt control measures adopted to control them.
  • The faded Chrysanthemum blooms should be regularly removed as it helps to prolong flowering.
  • Chrysanthemums are susceptible to aphids and plant bugs, leafspot and stunt, and foliar nematodes. However, Chrysanthemums benefit from winter protection.


Tail pipes

Aphids are small, 1/16- to 1/8-inch-long (2-4 mm), pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects. They can range in color from green, black, red, yellow, brown or gray.

  • Mature aphids can be wingless or can have wings.

  • Winged aphids are similar in color but are a little darker.

  • Immature aphids (nymphs) look like adults  but are smaller.

The best way to identify aphids is to check for two tail pipes (cornicles) found at the end of the abdomen. All aphids have cornicles, but some are smaller and less obvious.

Check plants for aphids regularly throughout the growing season. Because aphid populations can explode, it is important to monitor plants as often as possible. Carefully check leaves and stems for the presence of aphids.
All aphids have tailpipes

Aphids shed their exoskeletons (skins) as they grow. These white cast skins can be found on leaves or stuck in honeydew secretions of the aphid.

Home made APHIDS trap. Just use an upside down 'yellow solo cup' pinned to the woods stake and cover the cup with thin layer of VASELINE. Aphids are drawn to the yellow thinking its food, stick to the cup and die. This will save your plants from aphids.



Most clematis species are vines, and the most widely-grown vines are the so-called "large-flowered clematis" like Nelly Moser (pink), Duchess of Edinburgh (double white), and Jackmanii (dark purple). There are hundreds of varieties, and most require the same basic, if somewhat confusing, cultural conditions: partial to full sun exposure with protection for the roots, regular watering without waterlogging, heavy feeding, and soil that ranges from pH neutral to slightly acidic.

The most important of these requirements is "good light, protected roots." You can provide this by mulching the base of the plant heavily, or by placing low-growing companion plantings at the base of the plant, or by growing the plant through an upturned terra-cotta pot with its bottom knocked out. (This is more confusing to describe than it is to do. You just have to start with a small plant.)

Vining clematis also need a support: they're not wall-crawlers like ivies, but their tendrils will wrap around just about anything, including other parts of the plant. There are creeping and shrub-like clematis as well. Although my own experience with the coarse C. heracleifolia "Wyevale" has been less than stellar, I have seen clematis species used as effective ground covers and borders.

Many of the spring-blooming varieties provide restrained repeat bloom throughout the season.

Clematis usually take several years to become established, so it's important not to become discouraged too quickly. They are also fragile when handled: treat the plant gently until it is settled in. Once they're happy, the plants can become extremely vigorous, easily growing 8 to 10 feet tall. The fall-blooming clematis like the native Virgins Bower (C. virginiana), C. terniflora, and C. vitalba can cover small sheds and slow-moving animals with a mass of tiny, fragrant white flowers - in fact, they can become invasive (but still beautiful) weeds.

Most, however, are well-behaved, providing that they are properly pruned. When, how, and if you prune your clematis are critical but confusing questions. Some flower on the previous year's wood, some on current growth only. You must learn the pruning recommendations for the variety you are growing. Many specialty growers are happy to provide this information when they sell you the plant, and there are several excellent references available



DAFFODILS    (genus Narcissus)

Daffodils grow perennially from bulbs.                        

In temperate climates they flower among the earliest blooms in spring. Daffodils often grow in large clusters, covering lawns and even entire hillsides with yellow.

Depth, as a general rule, needs to be thrice the height. This means large bulbs should have depth of 6 to 8 inches, medium size 3-6 inches and smaller size 2-3 inches. Always remember that the load of soil proves helpful to protect the bulbs from breaking too easily and keep them upright for a longer duration. If this fact is ignored and enough depth is not given then the Daffodil will bend down very soon. Though Daffodil blooms will come in bigger clumps, the bulbs and flowers will be scant. Here are the steps to grow Daffodils.

Daffodils are one of the easiest flowers to grow. Daffodils are famous for the bright yellows of cultivars like the King Alfred, the Dutch Master, and the Marieke, daffodils come in thousands of colors that range from the demure whites of paper-whites to lemon yellow, peach and on to bold orange.

Daffodils come in all sizes from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems. Along with the early harbingers of spring, there are also daffodil cultivars in mid and late season varieties. Growing daffodils in an assortment of sizes, colors, and bloom-times gives you an irresistible display that carries through spring into summer.

Plant outdoor bulbs deep-six to eight inches down from the top (pointy end) of the bulb- in a location where they will get plenty of sun. Remember, they're going to make their appearance when sunshine is at a premium! Also important for growing garden daffodils is a location with good drainage.

Less is more when growing daffodils. Space your daffodil bulbs according to the package directions. Although you may be tempted to plant them close together for a great looking first-year group, it's important to be mindful of the fact that they are prolific in bulb propagation. Planting daffodils too closely together results in a crowd of bulbs that fight each other for growing room!

  • Choose a well-drained, sunny place, with slightly acidic soil.
  • Plant your Daffodils so that their top (pointed end) is at least two times as deep as the bulb is high (top of a 2" bulb is 4" deep).
  • Plant bulbs deeper in sandy soil than in clay.
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer should be avoided.
  • Daffodils need lots of water while they are growing.
  • After blooming, never cut the foliage until it begins to yellow (usually late May or June).
  • Then is the time to dig them. Wash the bulbs thoroughly and let them dry completely (at least a week).
  • Put them in onion sacks and hang them in the coolest place you can find until ready to plant. Good air circulation will keep storage rot at a minimum.
  • Like most perennials, Daffodil will do well with about 1 inch of water per week while they are actively growing and blooming - from March to May.
  • Mulch can be tremendously helpful for Daffodils in conserving moisture.
  • The best thing you can do for your Daffodil bulbs is to provide them rich, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter in it.
  • Most organic bulb fertilizers can be placed right into the planting hole because they're very gentle and nonburning.
  • Since Daffodil is a perennial, every 5 to 10 years, divide the clumps of bulbs in early summer.



Dahlias are the national flower of Mexico, where they are thought to have originated. In Mexico, frost is not an issue. However, in frost-prone zones, the tubers must be dug up each year and wintered in a safe place.


The first step is to dig them up. You can dig the clumps before the frost, in which case you need to hang or lay the entire plant in a protected ventilated area to dry slightly, allowing the nutrients to return to the roots. Or you can wait until a frost or two has 'killed the tops, but before the ground has frozen. That way the nutrients have returned to the roots naturally and you save a step. However, knowing you may dig clumps either before or after frost allows you "a wider time range to get the job done.


Once the tops are dried, cut the stems from a few inches to a foot above the bulbs and place them in your storage medium. Storage media can be vermiculite, perlite, dry sand, peat moss or layers of dry leaves. The tricky part of storage is that the bulbs must "never become wet enough to rot or be allowed to completely dry out. Trial and error will ' be your best instructors. Try ' different options to see which works best for your situation. It could be your garage or basement or a shed close to ' the house that stays between 35 and 45 degrees, the ideal temperature.

Be sure to label your plants clearly; so, you will know 'which colors and varieties are which in the spring when you go to plant.

Winter pests

Mice find Dahlia tubers to be quite a convenient winter snack; so, make sure your containers are rodent proof. A layer of hardware cloth secured over top an otherwise sound container works well to allow ventilation and keep out the critters.


The clumps are easiest to divide if you wait until spring when the buds (also called eyes) are more apparent. Divide your tubers into the number of plants you want for the season. If you want many smaller plants divide them into small pieces. If you want larger but fewer plants, plant clumps without dividing intensely. Make sure each piece contains at least one eye since that is where the new growth will emerge. If you Want a jump on the season, plant the tubers in pots a few weeks before the last frost date but pots must he large enough to hold the roots and shoots comfortably.


After all danger of frost has passed, replant your tubers according to size. Large dahlias should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep; shorter varieties, 2 to 3 inches plant the tubers in pots a few deep. At the bottom of the hole, sprinkle a little bulb fertilizer or compost, then set the tuber with bud or sprouts facing upward and cover with soil. Space plants apart accordingly: large ones 3 to 4 feet apart, smaller ones 8 to 12 inches apart.

Tall dahlias should be staked, and now is the best time to insert stakes so you will not damage the tubers later.



Deciduous shrubs lose their foliage in the fall; evergreen ones do not. They come in a wide variety of heights, shapes, foliage colors, textures and forms. Taking these factors into consideration when selecting shrubs can result in a landscape that is both aesthetic and functional. Shrubs can serve as border plants, accent plants with seasonal color or as screening for privacy.

Determining which shrubs to include in your garden can be a difficult decision. Depending on choices made, shrubs may come to take up a majority of the space available on an average size lot. The best way to make wise choices is to find a good resource and check out plant material available at local nurseries. Many shrubs are currently available in smaller sizes. Note that plants native to the area where you live will be easier to grow and maintain. Here are a few of my favorites:

Glossy abelia is a delightful shrub. It is exceptionally easy to grow. If necessary, it can be cut back to emerge again just as beautiful. Although it leaves out later than some shrubs, the glossy leaves and dainty pink blossoms stay for most of the summer.

Clethra, also called summer sweet, is another delightful plant. The fragrant white flowers come mid to late summer. The blossoms are small but form on 3 to 6-inch spikes. This shrub is very adaptable to a variety of light conditions. It prefers acid soil, and the leaves turn yellow to golden brown in autumn.

Callicarpa or beauty berry bush is a plant that may seem very plain for most of the year. The flowers in mid-summer are a non-descript white or pink and almost hidden by the foliage. But it shows off in the fall when clusters of lilac colored berries form all along the stems. These last long after the leaves fall. This is a shrub that can easily be kept at 4 to 6 feet in height and width. If necessary, it can be cut to within 6 inches of the ground in the spring before growth starts.

Calycanthus or Carolina Allspice grow well in some areas. The blossom, which comes in late spring, is a dark reddish brown. It has the lovely fragrance of strawberries. This plant can grow 6 to 9 feet high and just as wide but can be cut back and kept to a manageable size. For the best flower production, remove 1/3 of the stems each spring.

Deutzia has tiny white 5-petaled flowers in mid to late spring, but there are so many blossoms that the bush appears totally white. Deutzia usually grows 3 or 4 feet in height and width. It can be used as a hedge. It adapts to almost any soil type and thrives in sun or partial shade. Prune after it blooms.

Lilacs come in many varieties. There are doubles or single blossoms. You will find white, pink and all shades of purple. There are dwarf varieties. They grow under almost any condition, although they flower best in full sun. And best of all the fragrance really spells spring for many gardeners.

Viburnums are another great choice. This large group of plants numbers about 120 species and contains numerous cultivars. They range in size from 2-3 feet to 30 feet, in odor from the sweetest perfume to the most unpleasant smell, in flower from white to pink (rose) and in fruit color from yellow, orange, red, pink, blue and black.



Flower Tips: Scatter color throughout blanket your flower garden with petunias, inpatients and other small annuals that will flower throughout the current growing season.

Wildflower and prairie grass seed by Prairie Frontier



Many beautiful drought tolerant plants are available in local nurseries and garden stores. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes.

Perennial Bachelors Button (Centaurea montana). This lovely rounded plant grows about 12 inches high and 12 inches wide. Its leaves are long and a silvery green. Flowers are blue and about 2 inches in diameter. With deadheading (removal of spent flower heads before they go to seed) Centaurea will bloom from May through September. The one downfall of this plant is that it spreads by underground runners and may also reseeds itself throughout the garden. You can take care of this problem by pulling up unwanted seedlings in the spring.

Daylily: There are more than 20,000 registered hybrids, in colors ranging from yellow, to red to deep purple. They range in height from 6 inches to over 30 inches. Most bloom only once per summer, but every year more repeat or continuous bloomers are being developed. The most famous and earliest repeat bloomer is 'Stella d'Oro'. The foliage of daylilies stays attractive all summer, although the appearance of the plant does benefit from removal of spent flower heads and browning leaves. Daylilies generally need to be divided every 4 or 5 years.

Candytuft:  Is a great spring-blooming low-growing plant for the front of the border. The flowers last for about 10 weeks. Its evergreen foliage is dark green and the flowers are pure white. The plants have a woody base and should be cut back severely every other year to ensure that they do not get leggy.

Black Eyed Susan and Coneflower (Echinacea) are well-known summer blooming, daisy-like flowers of similar habit. They come in yellow, pink and white. Plants typically grow 3 to 4 feet high, although some dwarf varieties have been developed. These are low maintenance plants, but deadheading is recommended to improve plant appearance and prevent reseeding.

Many popular annuals are also quite tolerant of dry conditions. Marigold, Zinnia, Geranium (Pelargonium), Spider Flower (Cleome), Cosmos, Portulaca, Nasturtium are just a few. Most herbs are also happy in low water conditions, as are ornamental grasses.

Even drought tolerant plants will not grow completely without water. Their needs are about 50 percent of the water needs of non-drought tolerant plants. What should you do to insure their survival? First of all, now is the time to buy and plant them! We are getting some rain and weather conditions are somewhat cooler than they will be in June, July and August. Buying and planting them now, and hand watering them when rain is insufficient will give them the start, they need to survive a hot, dry summer. Water your plants infrequently as deeply as your soil drainage situation permits, rather than doing light, frequent watering. Deep watering encourages deep root development, which will stand your plants in good stead when dry, hot summer conditions arrive.

There are many more draught tolerant perennials, as well as trees and shrubs. So, seek our your nursery supplier for more.


Tip: Design your border in curves for better visual balance, avoid straight lines or perfect circles



Many factors such as soil conditions, weather, and genetics all contribute to the equation.

The whole process is a slow one and begins as the length of the nights increase. This change in the light causes the plant to produce phytochrome. Phytochrome is the chemical that starts the process of dormancy. A layer of cells is produced between the branch of the tree and the leaf stalk. This layer is called the abscission layer and it blocks the passage of water and nutrients (carbohydrates) to and from the leaf. The production of the green pigment, chlorophyll, which is the predominant pigment, begins to break down.

Without the chlorophyll to color the leaves green we begin to see the other pigments, carotenoids, give the leaf its yellow, orange and brown color. Now here is where the genetics fits in. Some trees also have the ability to form another pigment known as anthocyanin, which gives leaves a red or purple color. For anthocyanins to form there must be sugar present so any weather condition that enhances the production and accumulation of sugars in the leaf helps with the intensity of the red color.

Sunny days result in a high production of carbohydrates in the leaf and cool nights help to break those carbohydrates down into sugars. The cool nights also help to keep those sugars in the leaf instead of going to other parts of the plant. When the skies are cloudy and the nights warm, less sugars are produced and more are moved from the leaf, leaving us with less intense color.

As the abscission layer gets bigger it divides into two layers. One layer is protective and forms on the branch. The other is a separation layer and forms on the leaf stalk (petiole). Once both layers form there is not much left to hold the leaf in place and down it comes. A popular myth about fall color is that we need a frost to produce good fall colors

The colorful trees for Fall:

The size and character of your own landscape will determine which woody plants can give you the best chance for fall color. In the native Northeast landscape, maples are the great color artists, especially red maples (Acer rubrum). Almost any red maple will give you some fall color, but there are a number of varieties available that promise spectacular results (and we all know how accurate those plant catalogs are!) Try "Red Sunset " or "Autumn Flame".

The genus Fothergilla, another northeastern native, provides spectacular fall color on a much smaller scale - red maples can reach well over 50', but Fothergilla is a spring-flowering shrub that rarely reaches 10', depending on species and variety. There are a number of cultivars on the market, but "Mt. Airy" is one of the best, and is widely available. Delicious flower fragrance is another benefit of this desirable shrub. Itea virginica, known as Virginia sweetspire, is also a native. The glossy leaves of cultivar "Henry's Garnet" turn a rich mahogany in fall, and are reason enough to grow the plant even if it didn't produce drooping 6" spires of tiny white flowers in early summer.

The witch hazels are another multi-season treat, with early flowering, fragrant blooms and good fall color that seems to be very moisture dependent (this is not a good year for witch hazel leaf color). Hamamelis x intermedia, a hybrid between H. japonica and H. mollis, is most commonly found in nurseries in a number of varieties. "Jelena," "Arnold Promise," and "Diane" provide orange, yellow, and red flowers respectively. Viburnums, usually grown for their flowers, often reveal strong muted fall colors as well, in tones of red, burgundy, and faded orange. The list could go on, but it's fun to make your own discoveries.


Tip: Choose climbing or vining flowers to grow near a trellis or garden arbor.



There are five basic families of scented geraniums determined by fragrance: rose, citrus, mint, fruit/nut/spice, and pungent. The first three are the most commonly used for their fragrance, especially in cooking. The variety name is not always indicative of the plant’s real scent; it is best to rely on your own nose before adding leaves or flowers to food or potpourri. Be certain to use only organically grown pelargoniums in food.

Pelargoniums are tender perennials, hardy only in zones 9-10. They can be grown in the ground or in pots; in either case, they must come indoors when outdoor temperatures go below 45 degrees. Outdoors they thrive in full sun, except for the peppermint varieties, which will grow in the sun but are happier in shade or semi-shade. The flowers of all pelargoniums tend to be small, but the textures and colors of the leaves are a beautiful addition to any garden. They can be planted in borders, as ground covers, in rock gardens, or in mass plantings. Planted in the ground, the same plants will grow so large that they can be difficult to bring in before the frost. In this case, take cuttings in late summer to grow smaller plants for bringing indoors for winter. To take a cutting from a healthy stem, cut just below a node and strip off most of the leaves. The use of rooting hormones is not necessary, but if they contain a fungicide, they may be helpful when used at their mildest strength. Cuttings will root in a variety of well-drained media, but not in water (unlike your grandmother’s red geraniums). Sterile sand, perlite, or a commercial starting mix is satisfactory. Don’t place the new cuttings in direct sun or use bottom heat for the first 24 hours, after which bottom heat of 68-76 degrees helps speed root formation. Keep moist but not wet. The smaller-leaved, short-stemmed varieties such as ‘Apple,’ ‘Coconut,’ etc. are best propagated by seed in a sterile medium.

Indoors in pots with a soilless mix and good drainage, give pelargoniums all the sunlight you can, regular watering, and relative coolness. Daytime temperatures of 65-70 degrees with an evening drop of about 10 degrees are ideal. They will also need good air circulation. Water early in the morning when the top of the soil feels dry. During the growing season, fertilize at half-strength every other watering; the rest of the year, fertilize at the same dosage once every eight watering’s. A teaspoon of Epsom salts added to the fertilizer solution every fourth watering will give your plants the extra magnesium they need. When ready to transplant out, be sure to harden off first and cut the bottom half inch of roots and soil off to encourage new root growth. Pelargoniums prefer a slightly acid soil, pH of 6.0 to 6.5, and soil that is well drained. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 15-15-15; switching to 10-15-10 when plants show signs of budding. Pinch growing tips until desired shape is achieved.

Outdoor pelargoniums do not usually have many pests. Indoors, they are subject to mealybugs, whitefly, aphids, and, sometimes spider mites. Strong sprays of water will dislodge the insects; follow up with insecticidal soap every few days until pests are gone. To prevent diseases, provide your plants good ventilation, careful watering (avoid watering the leaves as much as possible), sterile pots and potting soil, and prompt removal of dead leaves.


QT: Inexpensive killer of snails & slugs: Beer placed in shallow pans with the top edges flush with the ground.



Herbs should not be fertilized. Fertilizing them produces lush growth of the foliage at the expense of taste. If you are growing herbs for their leaves, you should prevent them from flowering as long as possible by cutting off the flower buds. The taste of the herbs is at its best just before they flower. If you are harvesting herbs for daily use in the summer, just cut what you need. If you are harvesting stems or leaves of herbs, try to harvest them in the morning before the sun becomes strong and draws out the essential oils. Put the herbs in a glass of ice water and refrigerate until you are going to use them. Or you may wrap the stems in a damp paper towel and refrigerate them.

If you are harvesting herb seeds, like dill or coriander, harvest the seeds on a warm day, when they are fully ripe but have not started to fall. Usually the seeds are hard and the pods are paper dry.

Some easy-to-grow herbs are:

  • Parsley - A biennial. The plant produces only leaves first year and you may harvest as many as you want. The second year the plant flowers early in the season and then dies. Use leaves only before the plant flowers.
  • Thyme - There are many kinds of thyme, ranging from very flavorful to mostly ornamental. Rub your fingers on the leaves and smell them in order to pick an aromatic thyme that you like. Thyme is a perennial. In addition to being a fine culinary herb, it makes a great ground cover.
  • Oregano - There are many kinds of oregano. Some more flavorful than others. Some are only about 6 inches tall and others can grow up to 18 inches. The classic culinary oregano is Greek oregano. Some of the taller oreganos, while not as flavorful, make great ornamental plants because of their beautiful flowers. Oregano is a perennial.
  • Basil - Basil is an annual. The most common basil is about 18 inches tall with large green leaves. There are also short globe basils, purple basils and a wonderful lemon basil. Make sure you cut your basil back regularly in the summer keep it from flowering. You have not lived until you have eaten fresh home-grown tomatoes and basil, with a little pasta or cheese.
  • Chives - a perennial. There are onion flavored and garlic flavored chives. The leaves and flowers are edible. They are great in scrambled eggs, cheese dips and salads.
  • Cilantro or coriander -The leaves are called cilantro and the seeds are called coriander. Cilantro is a very trendy herb right now, used extensively in Mexican and Thai cooking. It is what is called a cool season annual. That means it does great here in the spring in fall, but is hard to keep going in the summer, when it goes to seed very quickly. The trick is to plant a few plants in the spring and let them go to seed in the garden. Then you should have plenty of seedlings coming up all summer and enough cilantro leaves to harvest.
  • Dill - another annual that does best in the spring and fall. There are two kinds. The old-fashioned kind of dill grows to about 3 feet and is grown mostly for seeds used in pickling. There is also a short dill that produces more leaves. The leaves are great in salads, cheese spreads, and with fish or chicken.
  • Sage - is a perennial that is sometimes hard to keep going. If they do survive longer than three years, they become woody shrubs. You must keep pruning the shrub in order to get fresh tender grown of edible shoots and leaves. Sages come in a variety of leaf colors, from solid green, variegated white and green, and variegated purple and green. I find the all taste pretty much the same. Of course they are wonderful in bread stuffing’s and with pork and chicken.
  • Tarragon - is a perennial and easy to grow. Make sure you buy French tarragon, as that is the only truly aromatic one. Also purchase it as a plant. True French tarragon is propagated only by cuttings; so tarragon seeds will not be the true culinary French tarragon. Tarragon is the herb that gives Béarnaise Sauce its distinctive flavor. It is also wonderful with fish and chicken, and in potato salad


Unfortunately, not all herbs will grow well indoors, but don’t let that dishearten you. There are many herbs that can be fooled into thinking that the summer months are still upon us. For the faint at heart, start out with my tried and true list of indoor friendly herbs. Some of my favorites are scented geranium, mint, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, chives, garlic and oregano. Basil, dill and coriander should be started from seeds and mint, rosemary and bay leaf can be rooted from cuttings.

Basil is fairly difficult to grow indoors because it is a lover of sun and heat. It can be done though if you can provide the plants with 16 hours of artificial light and daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees F and nighttime temperatures that do not drop below 50 degrees F.

If you are starting with seedlings purchased at a nursery, it is important to acclimate them to the lower light conditions. New leaves that are accustomed to the lower light conditions must be produced for the plant to survive. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete this process. This adjustment period can mean the difference between a healthy herb and one that loses it leaves, becomes leggy or even dries up and dies.

A windowsill with southern exposure is often all you need to grow herbs indoors. Most herbs require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and it doesn't hurt to put them under a grow light. The exceptions to this rule are mint, parsley and rosemary, which can take a little less light. With this mind, place the sun lovers in the center of the windowsill and those that need less light on the outside edges. If you use a grow light, be sure the lights are about six to nine inches above the tops of the plants. Your herbs will prefer temperatures between 55- and 70-degrees F.

It is important that your potted herbs have proper drainage. Use a mixture of 1-part good quality potting soil, 1-part sand and 1-part humus. Towards the end of winter, you may find that the soil in the containers has become compacted. Simply rake the surface with a fork to loosen it up. During the winter, plant growth slows so they don't require as much water. The rule of thumb is to only water when the soil surface is dry. Herbs such as bay leaf, thyme, oregano and sage should dry out completely between watering while mint, rosemary and scented geranium prefer a little more moisture.

Unlike herbs that grow in the garden, potted herbs need regular feedings. Fertilize with a fish emulsion at half strength about once a month. To help herbs survive the stuffy air typical in our homes during winter mist the plants, especially rosemary, on occasion and increase air circulation around them with a small fan. Keep in mind a fan may cause the soil to dry out faster, requiring you to water more frequently.

Pest are usually much easier to contend with indoors. If you have a problem with pests, use an insecticidal soap. Saturate the tops and undersides of leaves. Insecticidal soap is effective and safe. And this is something to keep in mind if you're planning on using these to spice up some of your favorite recipes.


Some herbs do quite well outdoors in the early part of winter. If you have savory, thyme, or sage in your garden, you can harvest from these plants until late January. Keeping rosemary over the winter can be a trial. Most Rosemary’s are hardy to about 20 degrees; there are a few varieties that are said to be hardy to below zero. However, they seem to do best when planted against a south-facing wall in a protected area. Rosemary plants in pots do sometime survive the winter when brought indoors, although they are likely to find it too hot and dry in the house (misting helps, but don't over water).

Chive plants need six weeks of dormancy every winter. They can be dug up now, potted up, and left outside until January. They will start to grow in about three days after being brought inside.

Many herbs can be grown in windowsill gardens, preferably in separate pots, in a south-facing window. If you don't have the right place or the right light, herbs can still be grown under a hanging fluorescent light just inches above the plants. It's best to have the light on a timer, for it needs to be on 16 hours a day, to duplicate natural sunlight. Misting once a week helps compensate for dry air in the house. Water when dry; plastic pots tend to hold soil moisture longer than clay pots. Some of the best plants for indoor culture are thyme, mint, and marjoram; there is also now a tender perennial basil (called 'Greek Columnar' or 'Aussie Sweetie') that doesn't flower and doesn't require the warm soil temperature that the annual varieties need.


QT:  To water individual plants or plants in containers, rather than a hose end sprayer nozzle, the better tool is a watering can, or a hose-end watering wand.  A watering wand has a water breaker with many tiny holes to release water in a soft shower rather than a high-pressure stream.



Tip: Mimic the special colors of the sunset and sunrise. Use colorful plants accordingly.


LAWNS (Turfgrass)

Your Lawn is the cheapest thing to plant, yet it becomes the most expensive in the garden to maintain.

One thing to consider when putting in a lawn is that "some grasses" can be large producers of (hay fever-the itchy eyes, runny nose and other allergy miseries.

In the southern U.S. "warm-season" grasses are generally grown. These types of lawn grasses grow actively from mid-April to mid-October. As their name implies, they like the warm weather. Bermuda grass is an a warm-season type of grass.

In the central and northern U.S., you are more likely to see people growing "cool-season" grasses. These types of grasses often grow the most in the moderately cool temperatures of late spring and early fall -- the heat of summer slows them down. Kentucky bluegrass is an example of a cool-season type of grass.

There are thousands of species of grass, yet only about 50 of those are suitable for use in home lawns. When seeding a lawn, it is important to choose the species, or mix of species that will grow best in that particular location and climate tolerance. Kentucky bluegrass is best used in full sun areas. This grass color is beautiful and it thrives in the sun, but does poorly in shade areas, it also germinates quite slowly. Perennial Ryegrass creates beautiful lawns, also its quick germination makes lawn establishment quickly. Tall Fescue (Tall Fescue is often confused with Crabgrass, as fescue shares a lot of Crabgrass traits) isn't a grass species that normally recommended for home use primarily a bunch type grass, so it tends to grow in clumps. This grass also does poorly in cold climates. Fine Fescue is an excellent species for shady backyards due to its shade tolerance, although it does not do well in poorly drained soils. Bentgrass is generally not used for home lawns because of its maintenance requirements, mainly it is usually used on golf course putting greens. Also, it is a crawler that overtakes walks and driveways, so constant care is necessary. Ornamental grass has only one purpose, to be pretty, Ornamental grass is used in landscape design the way one uses flowers, shrubs and trees. This is not a grass to be mowed, and is not meant to be uniform.

Most grasses in the United States are not native, most of them came from Europe and are now hybrid grasses.

An excellent source of information pertaining to lawn grasses in your particular seasonal zone is Landscape-America's web site.

Seeding Tip: Once the ground temperature warms to about 52 degrees, seeds will grow. Good seed-to-soil contact will get the seeds germinating.


Tip: Make sure to keep in mind the mature size of young trees and shrubs you plant. Otherwise it will be easy to plant them too close together.

Tip: Plant shrubs and individual ornamental grasses in groups of odd numbers. Planting odd numbers of these plants will balance out the visual aspects of your flower garden.





Every garden has at least one spot where you can effectively use a hanging basket.

If you have kept a hanging basket over from last year, you should clean it up before reusing it again this year. One way to do this is to brush the container with a stiff brush. If moss or algae has formed on the surface of the container you can use a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water to clean the basket.

Planting tips for you Basket:

Coconut fiber and moss are the two most popular liners today, both are fine for our purposes.

A lightweight potting mix is needed. Soil-less planting mixes are great drainage providers.

Be sure that your basket has drainage holes. It is is essential, you do not want your plants to drown by becoming water-logged. It is not necessary to place pebbles or other material at the bottom of the container.

Plastic or wire baskets are available. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Plastic is inexpensive, easy to plant and is slower to dry out. Wire baskets allow more choices in size and planting arrangements. Many people find them more attractive. 

Liners are used in wire hanging baskets to hold the soil and plants in position.

Choose plants carefully, you can change the plantings to suit every season, and the colors will give your home and garden a shot of life, year-round.

Choose small, healthy young plants for planting. They will adapt to new surroundings much faster than older plants.

Plant much closer in a basket than you would in a flower bed. Include plants with a variety of colors, shapes and textures. Trailing plants should be planted at the edges and bushy or upright plants will go at the center or back. Be sure that the taller plants will not block your windows or interfere with hanging the basket.

Site selection is as important for baskets as with any other plant. Remember that most of the time the hanging basket will be viewed from below. Hang the basket so that it will be close to eye level so that it can be admired and watered easily.

Plastic pots can do a better job of retaining moisture, but sometimes work too well, again leading to root rot. Because they restrict air movement, however, they also can operate like an oven when continually exposed to the sun. The plant roots they hold can quickly and quite literally cook.

“If you're going to buy a hanging basket, ask questions about its construction. Also, about the likelihood that the plants will soon get overcrowded. Some stores really pack the plants in, so their baskets will look lush and sell quickly, unfortunately, that can quickly lead to the plant’s quick death, unless they're soon moved into a much larger container.

There are many selections for use in your basket, simply your imagination in selecting plants that are eye appealing. There are the annuals, vines, tropical plants, herbs and even some vegetables. Herbs do well in containers and require little care. Thyme, oregano and rosemary are good for containers because they like the soil to dry out between watering. Many plants normally grown as houseplants will be great for foliage in outdoor containers also.


The root system in a basket-grown plant is more exposed to wind, so it dries out faster than if it were growing in the ground or even in pots at ground level. Also, gardeners typically use a lightweight (and often soilless) potting medium that loses moisture quickly. One answer is to mix topsoil one-third to one-half by volume with your favorite potting soil, making it heavier and better able to retain water and nutrients. Use sterilized topsoil to avoid the risk of introducing weed seeds, pathogens and even insects.

A better answer may be to use one of the new water-absorbing gels. These materials absorb water and release it gradually as the soil dries. When dry, they are white and granular to dusty (depending on the formulation), but as soon as they contact water they become gelatinous. As you might expect, mixing these products with dry soil is the recommended technique

For the ambitious planter, plant alstroemeria, chrysanthemums and roses in a round wicker basket, it is a knock out.

Hang your baskets where they will get maximum air-flow around them.

Even with a soil mix that holds water better, hanging basket plants will need watering daily or every few days in dry, hot weather. A low-volume irrigation system hooked up to a timer, relieves the daily chore and guarantees that your baskets will be watered even if you take off for the weekend or on vacation.




Your first step in planning the material for an all-season, mixed perennial border is selecting the right plants, mass, color, line and dependability. Line is the silhouette or outline of a plant, mass is its shape, and dependability means, their beauty, but with a minimum of problems. Many books and free catalogues are useful for ideas.

Tip: Planting large groups of contrasting flowers next to each other can create a spectacular effect.

Preparing the soil is extremely important to perennials. Many annuals can grow and flower in poorly prepared soil, but very few perennials survive beyond one year, if the soil is not properly prepared. Perennials should be mulched during the winter months to protect them from the heaving that results from repeated freezing, heaving and thawing of the soil.

Borders situated in front of a suitable background such as a fence, shrubbery, or a building are the most appealing. In some cases, tall flowers such as hollyhocks serve a dual purpose as flowers in the border and as background plants. Annual or perennial flowers of medium height may serve as background plants for a short border planting.

After you have selected your plants, set them out in a pattern that is appealing to you. Stand back occasionally seeing how they appear. After you have moved them around, finding yourself satisfied, then begin the task of planting them in the soil. If necessary, leave them there a day or so, until you are ready.

The most attractive flower borders are those which are located in front of a suitable background such as a fence, shrubbery, or a building. In some cases, tall flowers such as hollyhocks or sunflower may serve a dual purpose as flowers in the border and as background plants. Annual or perennial flowers of medium height may serve as background plants for a short border planting.

Place your plants in groups, so as to form color and texture, as well as mass. On average 6 plants create an ideal mass. Masses of color and texture should blend into a refreshing pattern of color harmony, each complementing each other. Consider the size of the plants when spacing. You want each to stand out, no clumps. Normally a the minimum space your (Mass) plants at least 24 inches from the next grouping apart, or more, you do not want them running together.

Strategically place your plants, first by location, second by period of bloom, then by height and width, and finally, by color. Obviously, consider the location, as the amount of shade and available sun are very important, as well as vicinity to water.

As you are experimenting with your grouping, consider that flowers are easy to move, change, or take out altogether. Avoid being conservative. Flowers are fast growers and can be transplanted at almost any time to help create the effect you desire.

Annual flowers live only one growing season, during which they grow, flower, and produce seed, thereby completing their life cycle. Annuals must be set out or seeded every year since they only last one season.

Most perennial plants are "herbaceous", which means that the tops of the plants -- its leaves, stems, and flowers will die back to the ground each fall with the first frost or freeze. The roots persist through the winter and every spring, new plant tops arise. A plant that lives through the winter is said to be hardy.

The obvious advantages to perennials being that they do not have to be set out, like annuals, every year. Although some perennials, do have be replaced every few years. Another advantage is that with careful planning, a perennial flower bed will change colors, as one type of plant finishes and another variety begins to bloom. Also, since perennials have a limited blooming period of about 2 to 3 weeks, frequent removal of old blooms is not necessary to keep them blooming. However, they do require pruning and maintenance to keep them attractive. Their relatively short bloom period is a disadvantage, but by combining them with annuals, a continuous color show is provided. Consider that you will have to transplant them in about 3 years, due to their growth.

A light program of fertilizing provides for a continuous supply of nutrients to produce healthy plants. Use 5-10-5 fertilizer. Place fertilizer in small circles around each plant in March. Repeat twice at 6-week intervals. This will feed the plants through the summer, apply another treatment of fertilizer to late-blooming plants in late summer.

Always water the bed after applying fertilizer. This will wash the fertilizer off the foliage and prevent burn. It will also make fertilizer available to the plants immediately.

In the fall, after the foliage of perennials has died down, remove dead leaves, stems, and spent flowers. These materials often harbor insects and disease-causing organisms. Apply winter mulch after the soil temperature has dropped.


Visual QT: A well cared for and attention-grabbing yard usually incorporates the use of flowers for color. Some people use flowering bushes or shrubs with varied foliage. Other people use containers of flowers on their steps or along a walk way. Other people will choose hanging flower baskets to bring color to the front of their home

  • Aerate: Describes the presence of organisms that rely on oxygen to survive. Usually used to describe organisms in compost.
  • Alkalinity: A pH level that is higher than 7 (alkaline). Readings lower than 7 are acidic.


  • Amendment: Organic matter such as compost or manure added to soil to improve its fertility


  • Anaerobic: Describes the presence of organisms that indicate there is no oxygen in the environment (usually used to describe a compost heap).
  • Annual: A plant whose entire life cycle takes place in one year.
  • Bare Root; plants, typically roses, trees and shrubs, that are dog out of the ground and sold without soil or containers.
  • Biennials: Plants whose life cycle takes place in two years. The first year consists mostly of foliage, while in the second year they flower or produce fruit. See annual
  • Bolting: In vegetables, producing flowers and going to seed too soon, making the fruit less tasty.
  • Botanical Bt: Stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that kills insects that consume it. Spray in the early evening, as it degrades fast in the sun
  • Broadcast: Spreading seeds over large area, either by hand or machine, instead of planting in rows.
  • Caliche: Calcium carbonate (lime) occurring beneath the surface of the soil in an almost impossibly hard layer. Occurs naturally in parts of the southwestern United States or as a result of using synthetic fertilizers.
  • Chlorosis: A condition where the foliage of a plant becomes yellow due to nutritional deficiencies, too much water, not enough chlorophyll, or disease.
  • Cold Frame: A four-sided frame with a clear top that is placed on the ground. Functions like a miniature greenhouse to grow young plants or protect an edible crop. Companion Planting: The practice of choosing where to place plants depending on what type of plant their neighbors, or companions, will be. Group together plants that help one another and avoid placing plants that will be detrimental near one another. For example, you might grow a plant known for attracting butterflies and bees next to one that needs pollination.

  • Cover Crop: Planting a fast-growing crop that will enhance the soil. Cover crops are usually grains, legumes, or grasses, and they are normally incorporated into the soil before they have a chance to set seed. Deadheading: Trimming flowers off a plant when their bloom has faded. Deadheading promotes more blossoming and a longer blooming period.
  • Determinate: Determinate, or bush tomatoes, have one harvest period and grow on small, compact bushes. Indeterminate, or vine tomatoes, continue to produce tomatoes after the initial harvest.
  • Deciduous: lants, trees or scrubs that lose their leaves in autumn or winter.
  • Dioecious: Plants capable of producing either male or female flowers.
  • Direct Sow: Planting seeds in the location where they will grow permanently (in their final container or directly into the soil).
  • Dormancy: A plant’s resting period when there is no new growth. Leaves may drop from the plant, which will stop producing flowers and fruit. Most plants that go dormant do so in the winter.
  • Dwarf: A plant that matures to a shorter height than usual for its species. There is no one guideline as to maximum height for dwarf plants.
  • Ephemeral: A plant that emerges and fades relatively quickly, often in spring.
  • Etiolation: Weak, pale, “leggy,” or tall growth caused by insufficient sunlight.
  • Everblooming: Flowers that bloom all season.
  • Evergreen: Evergreen plants do not drop their foliage, instead maintaining their leaves all year long.
  • F1 Hybrid: The first-generation offspring of two purebred plants.
  • F2 Hybrid: A second generation hybrid, or the offspring of two F1 hybrid plants.
  • Folair Feeding: Applying liquid fertilizer directly to leaves rather than to the soil.
  • Frost Hardy: Used to describe plants that can survive a winter frost without sustaining damage to leaves, dormant stems, or roots. As the severity of winter frosts varies by region, so does the use of this term.
  • Frost Tender: Plants that cannot survive a winter frost.
  • Full Sun: Six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
  • Germination: The initial growth of a sprout from a seed.

         Groundcover: A plant that spreads over the surface of the soil, usually with a maximum height of 18 inches. Growing Season: The growing season extends from the last spr
  • frost to the first frost in autumn. The number of days in the growing season differs by region.
  • Half Hardy: Indoor plants that need a minimum temperature between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 55 degrees Fahrenheit to perform well.
  • Hardening Off: Getting plants grown indoors or in a greenhouse used to outdoor conditions by gradually exposing them to longer and longer periods of time outdoors. After hardening off is done, you can situate the plants directly in their permanent locations in the soil.
  • Hardy: A plant that can stand being exposed to temperatures at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heirloom: Any open pollinated variety of plant that has remained the same for 50 or more years.
  • Hill Up: Pulling the soil up around the stem of a plant to support it; creates small hills around each plant.
  • Humus: Dark organic material made of plant debris that has decomposed in the soil.
  • Hybrid: Crossing two genetically different plants from the same family. Parent plants may be from different genera, cultivars, species, or varieties as long as they come from the same family.
  • Indeterminate: “Vine” tomatoes that will continue producing from their first harvest until the first frost of the season. Sometimes called “pole” tomatoes since some of the larger plants require supports to grow healthy and strong
  • Loam: Fertile soil made up of a balanced mixture of clay, silt and sand.
  • Naturalize: The practice of scattering seeds or bulbs in such a way they either appear to have spread naturally or, in areas such as the lawn, where they are allowed to spread without boundaries,
  • Organic matter: non-synthetic material, such as decomposed plants and animals, manure, compost and leaf, used to improve the fertility, structure and other attributes of soil. Ornamental: Plants grown for their looks instead of as a source of food or medicine.
  • Part Sun/Part Shade: 3 to 6 daily hours of sunshine.
  • Peat Moss: Made up of sedge or sphagnum moss that is partially rotted; used in making potting soil or compost.
  • Perennials: Plant varieties that survive longer than two years. These plants are normally hardy enough to make it through winter.

  • pH: A score between 0 and 14 measuring the acidity (0 to 7), neutrality (7) or alkalinity (higher than 7).
  • Pinching: In gardening, the pH scale determines the acidity or alkalinity of soil, compost and water. The lower the reading, the more acidic the soil; the higher the reading the higher the alkalinity, 7.0 is considered normal.
  • Scarification: Any of several techniques you can use to compromise a seed’s hard outer shell so moisture can reach the center, allowing the seed to germinate. Get the details in our article
  • Self-seeding: A term used to describe plants that spread by dropping seeds onto the soil around them. Th seeds germinate, root and grow into more plants, also called “Self-sowing.”:
  • Self-Pollinating: Describes plants that can produce fruit without getting pollen from other plants.
  • Side Dressing: Working fertilizer into the soil near a mature plant.
  • Silt: A component of soil; medium mineral pieces that are smaller than particles of sand and larger than particles of clay.
  • Stratification: Exposing seeds to moisture or cold to replicate winter conditions, causing the seed to break its dormancy and germinate.
  • Tender: An indoor plant that needs a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit to stay healthy.
  • Tilth: Soil “in good tilth” is healthy with a good balance of nutrients, moisture level, aeration, and pH level.
  • Vermiculite: Also called mica, vermiculite is a light, spongy substance made by superheating materials until they expand; capable of holding both air and water.
  • Vernalization: Similar to stratification but causes flowering of a plant instead of germination of a seed, vernalization exposes the plant to cold temperatures to replicate winter and induce flowering.
  • Wet feet: Wet roots, usually resulting from poorly draining or oversaturated soil.
  • Zeriscaping: The use of drought-tolerant plants in the landscape for water conversation purposes. Also, called “water-wise gardening.”.


House plants can be classified according to their light needs, such as Low, Medium and high, light requirements

When selecting house plants, it is best to first check the foliage. You are looking for plants that appear to be insect and disease free. Check the undersides of the foliage and the axils of leaves for signs of insects or disease. Select plants that look sturdy, clean, well potted, shapely, and well-covered with leaves.

Choose plants with healthy foliage. Avoid plants which have yellow or chlorotic leaves, brown leaf margins, wilted or water-soaked foliage, spots or blotches and spindly growth. In addition, avoid leaves with mechanical damage, and those which have been treated with "leaf shines" which add an unnatural polish to the leaves. Plants which have new flowers and leaf buds along with young growth are usually of superior quality.

Light, is likely the most essential factor for house plant growth, be extra careful where you plant your indoor plant, taking the time to read the plants specifics. many specifics are available on the web, which will provide you with that necessary information. The next comes water. House plant roots are usually in the bottom two-thirds of the pot, so do not water until the bottom two-thirds starts to dry out slightly. You can't tell this by looking. You have to feel the soil. For a 6-inch pot, stick your index finger about 2 inches into the soil (approximately to the second joint of your finger). If the soil feels damp, don't water. Keep repeating the test until the soil is barely moist at the 2-inch depth. For smaller pots, 1 inch into the soil is the proper depth to measure. temperature: foliage house plants grow best between 70o and 80o F. during the day and from 60o to 68o F. at night. Most flowering house plants prefer the same daytime range but grow best at nighttime temperatures from 55o to 60o F., humidity, ventilation, fertilization, and soil are chief factors affecting plant growth, and any one of these factors in incorrect proportions will prevent proper plant growth indoors.

House plants, specifically  flowering varieties, are sensitive to drafts or heat from registers. Forced air dries the plants rapidly, overtaxes their limited root systems, and may cause damage or plant loss. House plants are sensitive to natural or blended gas. Some plants refuse to flower, while others drop flower buds and foliage when exposed to gases. Blended gases are more toxic to house plants than natural gases. Also take into consideration that these heating factors will affect the water content in your house plants. Watering your indoor plants in-house is just as critical as outside.

When the time comes for repotting due to root-bound plants, it should be done without delay. The pot selected for re-potting should be no more than 2 inches larger in diameter than the pot the plant is currently growing in; should have at least one drainage hole; may be either clay, ceramic or plastic, and must be clean. Wash soluble salts from clay pots with water and a scrub brush and wash all pots in a solution of 1-part liquid bleach to 9 parts water.

Plant Health: 101

Improper watering, sudden changes in environment, cold drafts, lack of fertilizer, insect or disease attack may cause problems for houseplants.


Common Causes of Unhealthy Plants


Possible Cause

General defoliation

• Sudden change in temperature
• Transplanting shock
• Sudden change in light intensity
• Over-watering
• Lack of light

Browning of leaf tips

• Improper watering
• Exposure to cold drafts
• Insect attack
• Excess fertilizer

Loss of normal foliage color

• Over-watering
• Lack of fertilizer
• Insect attack
• Improper light

Spotted foliage

• Over-watering
• Burning from direct sunlight
• Disease

Nutrient Tip: Leave the grass clippings to decompose on the lawn. Annually, this will provide nutrients equivalent to one or two fertilizer applications



Different grass types require a height range that it is best suited with, if you will cut the grass at that height the grass will be look better, be healthier, and more importantly last through the season without dying out from lack of water. The depth of the root system is in direct correlation to the height you mow at. So, the higher you mow the deeper the roots, the more water the grass can get and the less you have to water.

In general, two types of grasses are what we deal with. Cool Season grasses: Fescue, Bluegrass, Ryegrass. These are the most common in the Southeast. These grasses like to be mowed at a range of 2.5 to 3.5 inches high. Fescue should be about 3" high; it looks healthier and fuller. Bluegrass is tolerant to lower mowing, but, anything less than 2 1/2" inches is to short and takes away from the turf fullness.

The other type of grass is Warm Season grasses: Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede. These grasses will tolerate very low cutting. Golf courses use a lot of Bermuda, and Zoysia and they routinely cut it as low as .5" A typical home lawn will look nice at 1" providing you have a smooth grade.

Proper mowing practices are critical to the appearance of your lawn. If you follow these general guidelines, you can increase the health, appearance and life of your lawn:

- Make sure your mower blade is sharp. A lawn mower with a dull blade appears gray shortly after mowing. The tips of grass blades also will turn brown within 48 hours.
- The Rule of One-Third says cut the lawn often enough to remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade. This helps avoid scalping, which puts the grass under stress, and reduces its vigor.

Sharp mower blades = Clean cut lawn
Dull mower blades = Jagged cut lawn

Mowing at the correct height also shades the soil, keeping temperatures lower for optimum growth. Check the recommended mowing height for your lawn. A common mistake with tall fescue lawns is mowing too short--

Sod Lawns:
 Sodding in spring or early summer while grasses are growing rapidly allows rapid rooting. This provides warm season grasses adequate time to develop an extensive root system before cold weather arrives. It also enhances the turfs ability to resist injury in the winter. Also, planting during May and June coincides with the time when the chances of rainfall are greatest thus reducing dependence on irrigation. Sodding Bermuda anytime there are three to four weeks of good growing weather remaining is generally successful.

QT: Lawns are much easier to mow if they aren't broken up with a few flowers here and a few flowers there.

Quick Tip: Cut a flower when it is about half open; it will continue to open in the arrangement. The petal color should show on the bud before cutting. Pick roses and tulips just as they are opening



  • African Daisy
  • Alternanthera
  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Baby Blue-Eyes
  • Baby's Breath
  • Bachelor's Button
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Browallia
  • California Poppy
  • Candytuft
  • Canterbury Bells
  • Celosia
  • Clarkia
  • Clock Vine
  • Coleus
  • Cosmos
  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus
  • Dusty Miller
  • Floss Flower
  • Flowering Flax
  • Iceland Poppy
  • Impatiens
  • Larkspur
  • Lavatera
  • Love-In-A-Mist
  • Lobelia
  • Marigold
  • Meadow Foam
  • Morning Glory
  • Musk Mallow
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Sanvitalia
  • Shirley Poppy
  • Snapdragon
  • Sweet Pea
  • Sweet William
  • Tidy Tips
  • Torenia
  • Verbena
  • Wax Begonia
  • Zinnia


  • Astilbe
  • Azaleas
  • Balloon Flowers
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Blanket Flower
  • Caladium
  • Clematis
  • Celandine Poppy
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cinquefoil
  • Columbine
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Daylily
  • Epimedium
  • Foxglove
  • Forsythia
  • Geranium
  • Gloriosa
  • Helenium
  • Hibiscus
  • Hollyhock
  • Honeysuckle
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Japanese Aucuba
  • Lavender
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Peony
  • Phlox
  • Primrose
  • Rhododendrons
  • Scabiosa
  • Sedum
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Solomon's Seal
  • Snow Trillium
  • Verbascum
  • Wand Flower
  • Yarrow


  • Acidanthera
  • Allium
  • Amaryllis
  • Calla Lily
  • Camassia
  • Cannas
  • Chinese Ground Orchid
  • Chionodoxa
  • Crocus
  • Daffodil
  • Dahlia
  • Foxtail Lily
  • Freesia
  • Gladiolus
  • Guernsey Lily
  • Hyacinth
  • Lily
  • Madonna Lily
  • Miniature Iris
  • Peruvian Daffodil
  • Rain Lily
  • Squill
  • Summer Hyacinth
  • Tulip
  • Winter Aconite


Tips about the Benefits From Coffee Grinds?

Roasted coffee is fairly acidic, it appears that almost all of the acid is water soluble and is extracted during brewing. Used grounds have essentially neutral pH, although the coffee beverage produced is rather acidic.

It is thought that the best way to be sure is to take your used coffee grounds on Acid loving plants, such as Azaleas is to use a home soil test kit and see what the pH is. That way you know from your own coffee and water samples exactly what the pH is. If it registers a high pH like around 5.0, then you know you will have to dilute them till they reach a less acidic level.



Based on the soil test recommendations, choose a fertilizer with the appropriate amounts of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash for your lawn. If a soil test indicates high levels of phosphorus and potassium availability, then a fertilizer supplying only nitrogen is necessary. Fertilizer analysis is described using three numbers (i.e., 12-4-8 or 46-0-0) indicating, respectively, the percent by weight of nitrogen (N), phosphate (P205), and potash (K20). For example, a 12-4-8 fertilizer would contain 12% nitrogen, 4% phosphate, and 8% potash by weight.

Mature lawns generally require more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium; therefore, ratios of 41-2 or 4-1-3 are commonly recommended. The nitrogen content in turf maintenance fertilizers is derived from either a quickly available or slowly available source. Quickly available sources are water soluble and can be readily utilized by the plant. They include ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium sulfate, and calcium nitrate. Slowly available sources contain water insoluble nitrogen (WIN) from urea formaldehyde (UF), UF based products (methylene ureas), sulfur coated urea, natural organic (bone meal, fish meal, dried blood, and animal manure), and activated sewage sludge. Slowly available nitrogen sources release nitrogen over extended periods of time and are applied less frequently and at somewhat higher rates than the quickly available nitrogen sources. It is less susceptible to leaching and is preferred on sandy soil types which tend to leach.

Warm-season Grasses. Warm season grasses, including bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass, perform best when fertilized between April 1 and August 15 in Virginia. Centipedegrass and mature zoysiagrass perform best at 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year.

Cool-season Grasses. The best time to fertilize cool-season grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue is mid- August through November. Excessive spring application of nitrogen to cool season grasses leads to excessive leaf growth at the expense of stored food reserves and root growth, increasing injury to lawns.

It is important to apply all fertilizers uniformly. This will eliminate streaks of different shades of green turf in the lawn caused by uneven application. 

Drop-type or rotary fertilizer spreaders are most effective. Rotary spreaders usually give better distribution where sharp turns are encountered because they tend to cover a broader swath and fan the fertilizer out at the edges of the swath.

Caution, when applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer in April, as it may cause grass to grow too fast, before the roots can grow to support the lawn. This makes a lawn less tolerant of summer heat.


Indoor/Outdoor Fountain Tip: You get what you pay for. Typically, the usual fountain you buy at a discount store will start out as a relatively quiet pump, but will usually won't take long to become irritatingly loud. You will also have problems with splash and splatter finding its way onto furniture, or other issues involving fountains that became clogged, covered with a buildup of residue, or required frequent cleaning. Do yourself a favor and buy from a dealer, who has firsthand knowledge of them, and he will point you in the direction that fits your needs and be long lasting.



Blackberry, Blueberry, Chestnuts, Fig, Grape, Loquat, Nectarine, Peach, Pecan, Persimmon, Plum, Pomegranate.



To some who like beautiful colors the whole summer long,  plant a low flowery hedge of yellow or white potentilla, deep pink spirea, and golden-leafed privet

Hedges can be used to guide traffic, to delineate, to screen an undesirable view. The number of plants necessary is figured on the basis of the size the shrubs attain when they mature, remember that you do not need the biggest, most shapely, and most expensive.

Deciduous hedges generally provide screening only during the growing season. However some types, if pruned severely over a period of time, will form a dense tangle of twigs which provide a fair winter screen.

Evergreens, both broad and narrow leaf types, are effective year-round hedges since they remain beautiful even in winter.

Correct pruning of hedges during establishment is critical if you wish to have a functional and attractive hedge.  Immediately after planting, cut back deciduous hedges to 6 to 8 inches above the soil line. This is done to develop branching, density, near the base of the hedge. While a variety of hedge shapes or forms are possible, it is necessary to have the base wider than the top. This allows the lower portion of the hedge to receive adequate light for the hedge to remain healthy. Proper cutting of the hedge can help develop the desired form and density.

Each time the hedge branches grows 12 inches, cut back the new growth 6 inches. Continue with this pruning until the hedge reaches the height you want. This will be a slow process and can take many years. If you live in an area with heavy snow, consider that evergreen hedges can cause snow to accumulate on the driveways or paths, as well as they can receive severe structural damage, especially if you have a heavy snow and then a big freeze. Also, heed caution, when attempting to plant a hedge on a hill, for they are at the mercy of hillside creep, as the hill slowly moves downward, it will warp your hedge. Excessive watering on the hill can also speed up the process. You want your hedge to have very strong and healthy deep roots.



Humus is made up of humic substances composed of Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen. These include humic acids, fulvic acids, and humins in the soil that have fully broken down and is thus stable. Some Nitrogen may be present but not in any significant quantity. It Is used in organic gardening or just to improve the soil for flower gardens, humus or compost is composted of leaves, organic kitchen scraps, except "NO MEAT WASTE". These are added to a composter which should be placed in a sunny location, and water added from time to time. Humus appears at the bottom of the composter, it is black in color and is your organic gold for your gardens yield.

Your composter, which is constantly processing (cooking) and producing this composted 'Humus" matter. Adding raked up leaves and sometimes small twigs to keep the composted matter aerated. Adding a little nitrogen from time to time is also beneficial, as nitrogen is a key ingredient to the composting process. You can purchase it at your local nursery.

Humus is important because it retains moisture in the soil, loosens the soil permitting better aeration and drainage, and encourages the increase of soil organisms which help make nutrients available to plants. It adds body to light soil and loosens heavy, sticky soils. Humus also has a high exchange capacity, which means it acts as a veritable storehouse for plant nutrients, something that can be especially important when working with sandy soils."

Nearly every garden has room for a compost bin hidden by shrubbery or even a compost pile hidden somewhere in the yard. If you are using a pile, it can reach a height of 4 or 5 feet, but keep the top flat or indented so that it catches rainwater and stays moist enough to continue breaking down. If the season is dry, you should wet the pile occasionally with the hose. The steam escaping from your compost pile is an indication that it is "cooking" working.

One can speed up the process of composting by turning your compost pile, or tumbling your compost bin. When the compost is loose and crumbly and the materials that went into it have lost their identity, then the compost is ready to go in your soil.

Mature compost is still organic matter and can be used when your planting instructions request it. Organic matter that hasn't decayed as far as compost shouldn't normally be used directly on plants because the nutrient balance and pH can get excessive change as it decays (too much nitrogen in fresh manure, or nitrogen depletion as wood chips decompose) and because it may still contain toxic substances, such as weed seeds, fungal diseases and toxic bacteria.


QT Add 2 ounces of Listerine to 1 gallon of water to extend the life of cut flowers, including roses.
(you can also simply put in a teaspoon of sugar in the water, for a single vase)



Lady beetles are beneficial insects, predators of the insect world. Their larva is insatiable as they grow into adult beetles. They love to feed on a common landscape pest, the aphid. The larva looks nothing like the adult beetle, it has an alligator like appearance, and lacks wings. A single lady beetle will eat about 5000 aphids during its lifetime. They kill far more pest insects than the more widely known ‘praying’ mantid. There are over 350 species of lady beetles in North America.

Both the lady beetle larva and adult cause no harm to humans or pets. They do not bite or sting, cause structural problems to our homes, infest food and clothing, or carry diseases. Lady beetles have no natural enemies which is due to a liquid substance they emit from their bodies that smells bad, which in turn makes them taste bad to any other insect, bird, or animal. Try picking one up and see if you can smell the odor it secretes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released Asian lady beetles a few times from 1978 to 1981 in an attempt to introduce them to the eastern United States.

They were intended to be a biological control for aphids, scale insects and the hemlock wooly adelgid.

Mostly the Asian species is the one which becomes a nuisance every fall when they look for places to hibernate. Normally they live in trees and shrubs, but as winter approaches, they fly above the trees in search of sheltered places to over winter together. Homes and buildings that are surrounded by trees and woods have more problems with large masses of beetles than those in more urban areas. The beetles are attracted to light colored buildings and even more to bright light and that is why they tend to congregate on the sunny side of structures. To attract each other to an ideal site they secrete a chemical known as "aggregating pheromone". The pheromone is like a chemical map leading them in and building up their numbers.

Once the group forms the beetles begin to look for shelter and that is why they enter buildings. They will go to any side of a building now, not only the sunny side. They can be found in the cracks of foundations, under roof shingles, around window and door frames, in wood piles, under siding or soffits, in attics or light fixtures, fan vents and other safe places. As winter ends the beetles slowly emerge on warm days and congregate once again to mate, then fly off to trees and shrubs to lays eggs and resume feeding. This mating period is usually interrupted at night when temperatures drop. After a week or two most of the beetles have emerged, mated and moved back to the trees and shrubs.



Weeds detract from the beauty of lawns due to the contrast in color and texture between the desired grass plants and the weeds. In addition, weeds compete with the desired grass plants for available water and nutrients, usually resulting in thinning of desirable plant cover.

Weedy grasses and broadleaf weeds are further divided into groups according to the plants' length of life. Perennial weeds have a life of more than two years, though new seeds may be produced every year. Biennial weeds have a life of two years, generally storing up food reserves in the leaves and roots the first year and producing seed in the second year. The biennial weeds often are grouped with perennial weeds since control is similar. Annual weeds germinate from seed, grow, flower, and produce seed in less than one year. Summer annuals germinate in the spring and mature in the fall, whereas winter annuals germinate in fall or late winter and mature in late spring.

Effective control of weeds in turf is based on correct identification. Many books and charts are available to help in identifying common lawn weeds. Grassy weeds, like crabgrass, can quickly overtake bare spots and make turf establishment difficult. While there are several pre-emergence (before the weeds appear) herbicides on the market that prevent grab grass germination, these chemicals can also severely damage or kill the germinating turfgrass.

A totally weed-free lawn is rarely attainable, even with herbicides. It is better to maintain a healthy lawn and tolerate a few weeds rather than to make many applications of herbicides in an attempt to eliminate all weeds. Indiscriminate use of herbicides can cause problems for trees and other landscape plants, it is also expensive in terms of money and your time.

Post emergent herbicides (either Granular or liquid) can control existing broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, clover, thistle and bindweed. Post emergent herbicides do not prevent weed seeds from germinating and reinvesting a lawn

For effective control, do not apply if rain is expected within 24 hours of application. For best results, do not mow the turf or water for at least 24 hours following application of either granular or liquid products, otherwise you are simply wasting your money and time as the product will simply end up in the soil and not on the weed. Also, the warmer the day the better, ideally over 60 degrees. If you are using a Granular herbicide, you want to apply the product while the turf has dew on it, (preferably in the morning, application of granular products to dry turf generally controls few weeds) so it will adhere to the grass. Weeds must be actively growing when the herbicides are applied. Applications should take place in the spring from mid-April through early June, and fall applications in September and October.

Do not apply either if rain is expected within 24 hours of application. For best results, do not mow the turf or water for at least 24 hours following application of either granular or liquid products.

There are numerous good liquid and granular herbicides available, simply follow the directions closely and you will have few weed to deal with.





Weed Mat
One good way to prevent weeds from popping up in your garden it to install weed mat when the bed is first prepared for planting. Weed mat is sold at most garden centers, in gardening catalogs, and on the internet. Simply spread the mat over your flower bed or garden, tack it down (the tacks usually come with the matting), and cover with mulch, wood chips, or rock. When you want to plant a flower, shrub, or vegetable plant, simply remove covering from an area and cut a hole in the mat. This is easiest when planting potted plants and shrubs. It can be a pain to plant seeds in a garden/bed with weed matting. Another negative of weed mat is that it can be very expensive.

Preventing weed growth.
Only one pre-emergence chemical is available for use by homeowners in "landscape beds ". Trifluralin (e.g., Preen) is a granular product that may be applied to beds, including a wide array of annuals, once soil is firmly settled around the plants. Thoroughly water in the granules immediately after applying. Failing this, most of the chemical will vaporize and weed control will not be achieved. Weed control from the product is fairly short-lived, approximately 6 weeks. Trifluralin is particularly useful in annual plantings that will cover bare soil within a six-week period, eliminating the need for reapplication. If the customer wishes to use mulch with this product, it is preferable to apply the mulch over the herbicide layer.

Non selective weed control. Glyphosate (e.g., Roundup, Kleeraway) is the best-known chemical for non-selective weed control. It is the safest, and most effective product for perennial weed control because it is translocated, which means it moves into the plant and down to roots. Do not allow the glyphosate solution to drip onto ornamentals.

Products containing Triclopyr (Ortho Brush-B-Gone) are more effective than Roundup on woody perennials and vines like poison ivy; however, they must be used even more cautiously near ornamentals as a spot treatment only. Other non-selective products are available that are excellent for controlling annual weeds. Products containing diquat or glufosinate-ammonium (Finale) are useful for spot weed control along beds and patios. An advantage to these products is that they kill weeds more quickly than glyphosate, but are less effective on perennials. With the exception of triclopyr, the above-mentioned non-selective products may be used for site preparation. After weeds are thoroughly killed there is no concern with soil residual from those products.

Total vegetation control. A few soil sterilants are available that kill all vegetation present and prevent re-growth for relatively long periods of time (e.g., sodium chlorate). These products are very hazardous to ornamentals and are intended for use under fences, gravel paths or similar situations. They should not be used where roots of trees grow into the treated area.

Row Gardens
Typically, it is best to pull your garden into rows if you wish to plant vegetables. Although mulch and weed mat can be used, a good potato or garden rake is most effective in controlling weeds in your vegetable garden. All you have to do is rake the weeds down once a week. For the sides of the rows, use an up and down stroke with the rake. This not only pulls up the weeds, but aerates the soil, promoting healthier plants. You can also use selective herbicides that will kill weeds, but not your vegetable plants. Make sure to always read the labels to see how long you have to wait to harvest vegetables after application.


In the 17th century and earlier, when plants were widely used as medicine, getting a name wrong could have fairly serious consequences. For this and other reasons, a Swedish botanist named Carl Linné (Carolus Linnaeus) invented a comprehensive scheme for naming all living creatures, at the same time grouping them according to natural relationships. This system, which is still in use, is called binomial


Cut Flower Tip: Make greenery last longer, cut fresh greenery in the early morning or evening while it is moist and immediately submerge greenery in water after cutting. If you are not using greens (fresh picked or bought) immediately, smash the end of each branch with a hammer and return to water until needed: this keeps the veins open to absorb water.



Toxic Plants by Degree of Toxicity


Source: Purdue University


Extremely Toxic
White Snakeroot
Senecio, Ragwort
Water Hemlock
Poison Hemlock
Red Maple
Easter Lily  (Very dangerous for Cats)
Rosary Pea

Moderately Toxic
Dumbcane (Aroid Family)
Azalea, Rhododendron
Yellow, White Sweetclover
Green False Hellebore
Buckeye, Horsechestnut
Black Walnut
Red Oak
Black Locust

Minimally Toxic
Foxtail Barley
Common Burdock
English Ivy
Poinsettia, Christmas Plant
Alsike Clover
Dutchman's Breeches
Stinging Nettle
St. Johnswort
Star of Bethlehem
Bouncing Bet



When you are in the planning stages of your landscaping, make sure you're providing something of interest in each of the four seasons. Your landscaping begins with a well-researched plant and tree selection plan. Your goal is to have lawns, flowering trees (such as Japanese maple, which will provide for shade in the summer and beautiful colors in the fall) and/or shrubs throughout spring and summer, fall foliage in autumn and good structure in winter. Consider using different accessories, arbors, bird feeders, ornaments, yard benches and chairs, artificial or real fountains (normally in the back yard). Vases as well as plants that can help add to the landscaping, complementing each other. They create a good balance with and contrast against the natural elements of a garden such as shrubs and trees. This applies to both the front and rear landscaping of your home.

Before planting, arrange plants while still in nursery pots to map out an interesting arrangement. You are looking for a natural and eye pleasing feel. Consider parings, using a blue spruce and red cedar.  Planting your Japanese maple and other fall peaking plants get a boost when planted against evergreens. Utilizing pigmy type trees at the back of your yard helps to establish vistas.

Site your plants with bright fall colors where they will get direct sun, at least part of the day. Placing colorful plants in the shade will cause them to appear washed out.

In your back yard you want to create a calm and serene look, this is obtained by using green as your primary foliage. You want the greens and added dashed colors to creep on to your walks and borders. A manicured look is not conducive to a relaxed atmosphere, as well as it keeps maintenance to a minimum. Plant your annuals and perennials in borders at the front and (against your home) back of your home, great backdrop. Do not plant any bush or tree up against your home, that will later become a nuisance due to it size and darkening effect. Keep trees and large bushes, a respectable distance from your home.



The genus lavendula comes in many different shapes, sizes, and degrees of hardiness. Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soils with a pH of 7.0 to 7.3. The hardiest varieties have no trouble surviving in zone 4 while many of the tender species will not withstand a frost.

There are hundreds of lavender varieties around the world with perhaps 50 regularly found in commerce. They vary in many ways. Colors range from deep purple to blue, pink and white. They can be as small as 12 inches high to as large as 3 feet in diameter. The earliest one’s bloom in late May in our region while the latest don’t show their flowers until the second week of July. Leaves can be quite green or almost silver.

The major reason for all of this variation is that lavender hybridizes very easily. If you want a true copy of an existing plant, you’ll need one that has been propagated by a cutting. With lavender grown from seed, there is a very real chance that you will get a plant that is close to, but not the same as, the parent plant. This may not matter a great deal if you are only planting one or two lavenders in your garden; however, if you are putting in a hedge and want all of your plants to have the same color and be in bloom at the same time, it may make a great deal of difference.

Hardy varieties

The hardiest lavenders are the L. angustifolia family, sometimes called English lavender. These plants have small smooth leaves; they usually grow 18 to 24 inches high and 15 to 20 inches in diameter. There are several hundred angustifolia varieties available commercially including the old standbys Hidcote and Munstead. These plants tend to bloom in June on 6 to 8-inch stems; some, including Madeline Marie, Rebecca Kay, and Two Amys, have excellent second blooms from late August until frost. They survive our winters very nicely.

A second group of hardy lavenders are the L. X intermedia varieties which are also called lavindins. These hybrids tend to be larger than the angustifolas with some, Grappenhall and Dutch, for example, averaging two feet high and three feet in diameter.The intermedias are somewhat less winter hardy than the angustifolias.



Genus Lilium

Many different plants carry the common name "lily" in their descriptions, such as "lily-of-the-valley" and "day lily." The true lily is in the genus Lilium, and has many separate species such as the elegant regal lily, Lilium regale. True lilies have bulbs with a basal plate that roots emerge from, and the bulbs are fragile and easily bruised.

True lilies don't ever quite go dormant. They must be packed in protective material like sawdust or peat moss for handling and shipping. Plant them as soon after buying as possible. Do not unpack them and leave them to dry out in open air. If they must be stored, place them in the packing materials in the vegetable compartment of a refrigerator, never allowing them to freeze. Once a lily bulb dries out, or freezes, it will not grow properly.

The asiatic hybrids are among the earliest to bloom, and also the easiest of lilies to grow! You can plant these lilies almost anywhere…especially in brightest sunshine with lots of gay garden plants for company. They have the broadest color range of any division, including whites, pinks, plums, yellows, oranges, and reds. Their flowers can be up facing, outfacing, or pendant, and generally are not scented.

Planting lilies successfully isn't difficult. The one key point is to settle them in well-drained spots in the garden, in soil thoroughly amended with compost. Lily bulbs are vulnerable to rotting in wet spots, so choose a place with perfect drainage. (If a hole full of water drains out at the rate of about 1/2-1 inch an hour, that's good.) If the drainage is poor and the area you have in mind for lilies stays soggy day after day, plant the lilies in large containers, allowing at least 2 gallons of soil for each lily.

Dig at least 12 inches down, loosening the soil. Plant lily bulbs 6 to 10 inches deep, depending on the size of the bulb, putting loose fertile soil above the bulb as well as below it. In the spring, when shoots appear, apply a balanced fertilizer such as a 5-10-10. Mark the planting location careful, because lily shoots emerge late in the spring and it's easy to forget the planting spot. It's dismaying to plunge a shovel into an apparently empty spot and come up with half a destroyed lily bulb.

Lilies will bloom from early June through August. The earliest to open are the asiatics, brightly colorful and intriguing, from about 1 foot to 4 feet in height. Asiatic lilies lack fragrance but have great garden presence in a full range of sunset colors. They grow beautifully in containers, and would develop for June bloom if planted in containers now.

In July and August, Trumpet, Aurelian, and Oriental hybrids produce great showy flowers. These plants grow from 2 to 8 feet, or even taller depending on the variety. They shine in many different colors (primarily rose, pink, yellow, cream, and whites). Fragrance makes these later lilies stand out from nearly all other garden flowers: they accompany their beauty with sublime perfume.

One of the most popular Orientals is 'Casablanca,' a pure white with petal quality like slubbed silk shantung, and a deep penetrating scent. Another striking group of Oriental lilies includes 'Imperial Gold Strain' and 'Imperial Silver Strain.' The Imperials have distinct freckled spots on pure white petals and a spicy fragrance.

Plant between February and about the end of March. With care these plants will settle in and return yearly, growing into larger clumps as they become perennial garden residents. These glorious flowers repay their small initial investment with wonderful returns to the gardeners.


Paperbark maple, Acer griseum, is one of my favorite trees. This slow-growing tree offers a cinnamon colored, peeling bark on the trunk and branches. It is a slow grower, but certainly worth the wait. It likes part shade to full sun and reaches about 20-25'. It's not fussy about soil, but don't place it in a really dry location. Well drained soils are best. This is a great selection for a specimen tree or focal point in the garden where the tree bark and color will be visited on a more personal level.



Mulch is any material placed over soil in the garden

Mulching basics 101:

  • In order to reap maximum benefits, a layer of mulch should be two to four inches thick.
  • A coarse mulch will help to keep weeds from erupting in your garden.
  • A fine mulch will decompose quickly, leading to more frequent mulching.
  • Before mulching, remove all weeds and give the soil a good, thorough soaking.
  • Mulch should never be incorporated into the soil as this can hinder a plant's growth. Instead, place mulch only on top of the soil.


Mulch retains moisture, and can reduce water use by as much as 50 percent, retards weeds, provides (organic mulches break down to add organic matter to the soil) nutrients, controls erosion and insulates the soil protecting plants from extreme temperature changes and used decoratively, can showcase your garden plants.

The most common Organic mulches in the United States are cedar, hardwood bark and pine and cypress. Hardwood and pine mulches will break down and release nutrients into your soil. Cypress and cedar mulches break down extremely slow. so, the benefits are primarily for decorative use, holding moisture, controlling erosion and retarding weed growth. Pine bark mulch holds up the longest and is best for your plants and soil.

Most common are shredded bark and bark chunks. Bark mulches resist compaction, will not blow away, are very attractive, and are readily available. Some shredded barks, such as cypress, decompose slowly. Bark chunks (also called nuggets or decorative bark) decompose most slowly but do tend to wash away.

Mulch that has not been aged can be toxic to plants due to the formation of organic acids during the decomposition process, and, if placed too close to tender stems, will harm or kill plants. Aged product will do a lot to ensure that your valuable plants will not be harmed.

Sawdust is low in nitrogen, so it robs nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Therefore, more nitrogen fertilizer may be needed. It is useful in acidifying the soil around rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants.

Straw makes a great winter mulch for the vegetable garden. It is inexpensive, suppresses weeds, conserves moisture, and insulates well. Although it is not very attractive, usually containing crop seeds, and is extremely flammable. It is important to purchase "straw" rather than "hay," as hay contains many weed seeds. Mulch 6 to 8 inches deep.

Inorganic mulches, often of stone or plastics, tend to stay in place, do not rob the soil of nitrogen, and do not harbor weed seeds. However, they have numerous disadvantages when used in the garden. Stone mulches can migrate down into the soil in time, making future digging difficult. Light-colored stones can reflect heat onto plants, scorching sensitive plants. Stones also tend to work free of beds and can be thrown by lawn mowers, potentially causing injury. Perhaps the greatest disadvantage, however, is that these mulches do not contribute organic matter to your soil.

Another option is the synthetic rubber mulches (shredded tires/ metal removed) now available. they last 4 times longer than wood mulches and they will not rot or compact. They do not attract ants termites and other insects. These products come in colors that match all of the organic mulches. They are 4-5 times heavier than wood mulches and inhibit growth of molds and fungi, therefore, reducing "most" allergy risk.

For maximum effectiveness with only a thin mulch layer, look for fine textured mulches such as twice shredded bark, compost, or cocoa hulls. For an airy mulch, try thicker layers of coarse-textured mulches such as straw or bark chunks.




Contrary to appearance, mushrooms don't damage your lawn, as it is a sign of soil fertility. They are a type of fungus and usually highly increased moisture levels invite them into your lawn areas. Mushrooms feed on decaying organic material. Only thatch or soil is attacked by most fungus types. Mushrooms do not attack live grass. If you have shallow dead roots, construction debris or lots of thatch then these will become hosts for mushrooms and other types of fungi to feed upon.

In most cases mushrooms will disappear when the moisture content is decreased and a normal moisture level return. Regular mowing is usually all that is needed to control this type of fungus. Use natural ways to rid your lawn of mushrooms and any other type of fungus you may encounter in your home lawn areas. Mushrooms are annoying and a nuisance, and it is rare that they are poisonous. BUT, DON'T EAT any mushroom that you find on your property, it is better to be safe than sorry.

It is difficult to get rid of fungi, fairy rings or other types of mushrooms in home lawns.  The main reason for the fungus, is lack of water penetration. To avoid this problem, thatching can be helpful, so to allow good water penetration and let moisture disperse throughout the root system. Aeration helps keep mushrooms to a minimum also. Fertilize and water regularly but do not over water. Over watering will increase the moisture levels to attract the fungi and mushrooms. When you fertilize your lawn use lower amounts of nitrogen. Stop fertilizing in mid to late summer. When possible, keep overhead branches form causing lack of sunlight, mushrooms and fungus thrive in the shaded environment.

Tip: If you want to plant flowers under a tree, make sure the flowers are going to flourish in the shade.


Tips for Alternatives to Pesticides and Chemicals

When used incorrectly, pesticides can pollute water. They also kill beneficial as well as harmful insects. Natural alternatives prevent both of these events from occurring and save you money. Consider using natural alternatives for chemical pesticides: Non-detergent insecticidal soaps, garlic, hot pepper sprays, 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water, used dishwater, or forceful stream of water to dislodge insects.

Also consider using plants that naturally repel insects. These plants have their own chemical defense systems, and when planted among flowers and vegetables, they help keep unwanted insects away. The table below contains a partial list of nature's alternatives.


Plant Repellent


mint, tansy, pennyroyal


mint, garlic, chives, coriander, anise

Bean Leaf Beetle

potato, onion, turnip

Codling Moth

common oleander

Colorado Potato Bug

green beans, coriander, nasturtium

Cucumber Beetle

radish, tansy

Flea Beetle

garlic, onion, mint

Imported Cabbage Worm

mint, sage, rosemary, hyssop

Japanese Beetle

garlic, larkspur, tansy, rue, geranium

Leaf Hopper

geranium, petunia

Mexican Bean Beetle

potato, onion, garlic, radish, petunia, marigolds



Root Knot Nematodes

French marigolds


prostrate rosemary, wormwood

Spider Mites

onion, garlic, cloves, chives

Squash Bug

radish, marigolds, tansy, nasturtium

Stink Bug




Tomato Hornworm

marigolds, sage, borage


marigolds, nasturtium


Instead of using Roundup/
(Which has serious Environmental & Health consequences)

Application Directions

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1-gallon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of dish soap or 1 oz. olive oil (helps it adhere to weeds).

Combine the ingredients in a bucket. Stir to blend. Pour or spot spray over weeds. This mixture is non selective, so do not apply it to ornamental plants. The vinegar can also bleach out asphalt or brick when exposed to sun light, so be careful when you apply it. Best to apply it in the evening, to avoid discoloration, if your circumstances require it.

Another treatment that works on some weeds is simply to cover them with baking soda. Do not combine this with water/rain or it will not be effective. If it's working, you should see black weeds within 24-48 hours.






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