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

        First things first!                                  

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

For additional Information, visit  http://www.etsu.edu/arboretum/trees.html


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 ncessary.
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. Subirrigation 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:

Carnations What they Mean
Carnations in general Fascination, Woman's Love
Pink Carnations Mother's Love
Light red Carnations Admiration
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 Capriciousness
Yellow Carnation Disappointment, Dejection


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

Are a 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 bloomin 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.


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 prove 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 tubersaccording 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 leafs out later than some shrubs, the glossy leaves and dainty pink blossoms stay for most of the summer.

Clethra, also called summersweet, 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 the 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 garder with petunias, impatients 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 insure 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 waterings. 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 some 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 soiless 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 waterings. 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 stuffings 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 rosemarys 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 ) allergenic pollen. ...

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 it's 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 it's shade tolerance, although it does not do well in poorly drained soils. Bentgrass is generally not used for home lawns because of it's maintenance requirements, mainly it is usually used on golf coarse 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 plants 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 hit 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.

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 anytime 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


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 effect 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

Symptom 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 more healthy, 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 mowed 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 that 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 first hand 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, Nectqrine, 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 are 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 it’s 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 grabgrass 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 herbicides, 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 treatments 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 areates 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 ones 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 upfacing, 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 returns. 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 fourish 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.

Pest Plant Repellent
Ant mint, tansy, pennyroyal
Aphids 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
Mice onion
Root Knot Nematodes French marigolds
Slugs prostrate rosemary, wormwood
Spider Mites onion, garlic, cloves, chives
Squash Bug radish, marigolds, tansy, nasturtium
Stink Bug radish
Thrips marigolds
Tomato Hornworm marigolds, sage, borage
Whitefly 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.


Backyard Conservation Tip Sheet

Backyard Pond

A pond or water garden will likely become the focal point for all your backyard conservation.

In Your Backyard

Backyard ponds and water gardens are for birds, butterflies, frogs, fish, and you and your family. These ponds are typically small, sometimes no larger than 3 to 4 feet in diameter. They may be built in barrels or other patio containers. Water is effective in drawing wildlife to your backyard. It is also a natural, relaxing, and scenic addition that can provide interest and enjoyment.

Where to Put a Backyard Pond

Consider locating your backyard pond where you can see it from a deck or patio. Have it blend in with its natural surroundings. Elevate the soil around the pond slightly so that excess water will flow away from the pond, not into it. Make sure that any drainage from the pond is away from your house. Plan to landscape around the pond to provide habitat for frogs and birds that need land and water. If you plan to use a pump to re-circulate water, use a filter, or light the area, be sure electrical service is available. There will be less maintenance if your pond is not under trees. Most aquatic plants will grow better in full sun.

If you do not have space in your yard for a built-in earthen pond, consider a "tub" pond or large water bowls. These can be placed on the patio and provide many of the same benefits as a built-in pond. There are numerous tub kits available that can be as simple as adding water, a pump, and some plants. They can also be moved inside in the winter as long as good lighting is provided for plants.

Pond Liners

Pond liners keep water from seeping into the soil. Even in heavy clay soils, a liner is necessary. You can buy rigid pond liners in a variety of shapes. These are durable and may include built-in waterfalls. Many are quite small. If you want a larger pool or would like to design your own shape, consider using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) liner. Use a liner specifically designed for pools. While other plastics initially may be cheaper, many are not resistant to ultraviolet light and will break down quickly. Some plastics may also be toxic to fish. Liners also come in different thicknesses. A thicker liner tends to be more resistant to punctures. While expensive and requiring more expertise to install, cement is also an option as a pool liner.

If you use PVC, you will need to get a liner large enough for your pool. To determine how large a piece you will need, determine the maximum width, length, and depth of your pond. Multiply the maximum depth by 3. Then add this number to both the length and width. This will allow enough plastic to be securely held down around all pond edges.

Installing the Pond

You can put in a backyard pond anytime the ground is not frozen or overly wet. If using a pre-formed liner, dig a hole to the correct depth and slightly wider. Insert the liner, making sure it is level and sits securely in the ground. Backfill around the sides. Add water, pump, and plants. Complete landscaping around the pool.

If you use a PVC liner, plan on at least a weekend to install and landscape. Steps to install a pond with a PVC liner:

  1. Decide on your pond's location.
  2. Using a hose or rope, lay out the shape of your pond on the ground.
  3. Once you are happy with the shape, start digging. Stockpile your topsoil so you can use it to landscape around your pond.
  4. Plan for part of your pond being at least 18 to 24 inches deep; 24 to 36 inches is even better. This will allow for a greater diversity of plants and fish to live in the pond. You may want to make tiers around the inside of the pond at various depths on which to place pots of different aquatic plants. Make tiers about 12 inches wide to accommodate the pots.
  5. Remove any rocks from the excavated area.
  6. To help prevent punctures in the plastic, put a one-inch layer of damp sand on the bottom of the excavated area.
  7. Spread the plastic liner over the hole. Let it sag gently in the hole. Place a few rocks or bricks around the edge to hold in place.
  8. Slowly start filling your pond. The weight of the water will help smooth out the liner. Remove rocks holding the edges to allow liner to conform to the edges of the hole. Smooth out wrinkles but do not pull too tightly. You can walk on the liner if you remove your shoes.
  9. Finish off the pond by placing rocks around the edge to securely hold the liner in place.
  10. Install pump and filter, if desired. Many smaller pumps have a built-in filter. For larger pools, a separate pump and filter may be necessary. Make sure the filter and pump are adequate for the volume of water in your pond. Pumps not only add interest, but are important in adding oxygen to the water. If you want a fountain or waterfall in your pond, you will need a pump to circulate the water.
  11. Let the pond sit for a few days before adding fish and plants. This allows chlorine to evaporate from the water. Chemicals are also available that will quickly neutralize chlorine and other harmful compounds.
  12. Place plants at various depths and add fish.

Establishing Plants

For ponds, consider a mix of emergent, submergent, and floating species. Emergent plants, those that have their roots in the water but their shoots above water, can be added to the margins of pools. These include cattails (Typha spp.), arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.), and water lilies (Nymphaea spp.). Submergent species, or those that remain under water such as elodea, are often used as oxygenators. These are plants that remove carbon dioxide from the water and add oxygen. These plants are essential in most ponds to keep the water clear. Floating species or those that are not anchored at all in the pond include plants such as duckweed (Lemna minor), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). While attractive, water hyacinth and water lettuce can be serious weed problems in the south; however, since they are not winter hardy, there is no problem with them spreading in northern climates. While not as effective as oxygenators, these plants help keep the water clear by limiting the amount of sunlight that algae receive. In tiny ponds created in barrels and similar containers, these plants may be adequate to maintain clear water.

Choosing and Establishing Plants for Ponds
  1. Consider the following when selecting plants:
    • How deep is the water? This will be a factor in establishing plants and their survival over winter if you live in colder regions. Some species need a minimum depth of 2 to 3 feet to grow well.
    • Is your pond permanently installed in the ground or is it a small tub that will be moved inside in the winter? In this case, even tropical plants may be an option.
    • Will you drain your pond in the winter? If you intend to drain your pond, you should consider plants that can spend the winter in a basement in a dormant state.
    • How much sunlight does your pond receive?
    • How large is your pond? If your pond is small, consider dwarf species.
  2. Purchase plants from a reliable vendor. Remember to include some oxygenator plants such as elodea.
  3. Emergent and submergent plants should be planted into pots. A wide assortment of pots is available, from plastic baskets to pulp planters. Choose pots that are large enough for your plants.
  4. If using baskets with numerous perforations, line the basket with burlap or 2 layers of newspaper to keep the soil from falling out of the holes.
  5. Fill the container about half full with a mixture of good garden topsoil. Do not use potting mixes or peat moss. These are too light and will float out of the pot. Adding aquatic plant fertilizer to this bottom layer of soil is recommended for some species. Follow directions on the label for amount.
  6. Place the plant on top of the soil and fill the container with topsoil within one inch of the top.\
  7. When planting water lily rhizomes, make a mound of soil in the middle of the pot. Place the rhizome at a 45 degree angle. The crown of the rhizome should be toward the center of the pot. Cover the roots with soil, but not the crown.
  8. In all cases, add a layer of gravel to the top of the pot. This will help keep the soil from floating out and prevent fish from digging in the soil.
  9. Slowly place the pots in the pool to keep soil from floating out. Place pots on bricks to get the desired height.
  10. Floating species can be placed directly into the pond with no other care needed.

Plants should cover 50 to 70 percent of the water surface. Native plants usually do not need fertilizer. For some exotic water lilies, limited fertilizing once yearly may be required. Check with your nursery on care of plants and how deep to place potted plants. Be aware that overfertilizing may cause unwanted algae blooms which can rob the water of oxygen.

Add Fish and Scavengers

Consider stocking your backyard pond with native fish. They are fun to watch and help keep the pond free of unwanted insects. Most small ponds will warm up quickly in the summer, so make sure you stock with fish that can tolerate elevated temperatures.

You'll also need scavengers, such as aquatic snails and tadpoles, to help control algae. In cold climates, a heater may be necessary for fish to survive the winter. However, this uses a significant amount of electricity and, in most cases, probably is not justified. A better option may be to set up an indoor aquarium in which to overwinter fish and plants.


Algae is a common problem in many newly established ponds. The water often becomes an unsightly green after a few days. While your first instinct is to drain the pond and start over, this only prolongs the problem. Once a pond is "balanced," algae usually are kept at an acceptable level. A balanced pond is one in which the nutrients are at the appropriate level for the plants present. Excess nutrients and light are needed for algae. Reducing the nutrients and decreasing the amount of light entering the water will help reduce algae. Floating plants or those with broad leaves such as water lilies will help reduce the amount of light available for algae and compete for available nutrients. Scavengers such as snails will help clean up wastes from the bottom of the pond.

Pond filters can help reduce algae, but require maintenance. Filters need to be cleaned frequently if algae is a problem. Chemicals can also be used to control algae. Use cautiously as they can be toxic to other plants and aquatic life. The need for algaecides should decrease as plants become established.

Excessive plant growth, especially of free-floating plants, may be a problem. Periodically skim off excess growth of duckweed, water lettuce, and other floating plants. Monthly, prune dying plant material. Clean out some of the decaying plant material that has accumulated in the bottom of the pond in the spring. Remember: a natural pond is not a swimming pool and too much cleaning can do more harm than good.


Locate the backyard pond where it is unlikely to attract unattended children. Check local safety ordinances to determine if a fence is required for the specific depth and size of your pond. Check local building ordinances for depth and safety restrictions and permits. Equip outdoor outlets with a ground-fault circuit interrupter. Unplug the pump before cleaning the filter.


Appearance in the landscape is essential to a plants usefulness. For most landscapes, a plants natural form is best. Avoid shearing shrubs into tight geometrical forms that can adversely affect flowering. Alter a plants natural form only if it needs to be confined or trained for a specific purpose. When plants are pruned well, it is difficult to see that they have been pruned

Fruit Trees

Without training and pruning, however, fruit trees will not develop proper shape and form. Properly trained and pruned trees will yield high quality fruit much earlier in their lives and live significantly longer.

A primary objective of training and pruning is to develop a strong tree framework that will support fruit production. Improperly trained fruit trees generally have very upright branch angles, which result in serious limb breakage under a heavy fruit load. This significantly reduces the productivity of the tree and may greatly reduce tree life. Another goal of annual training and pruning is to remove dead, diseased, or broken limbs.
Proper tree training also opens up the tree canopy to maximize light penetration. For most deciduous tree fruit, flower buds for the current season's crop are formed the previous summer. Light penetration is essential for flower bud development and optimal fruit set, flavor, and quality. Although a mature tree may be growing in full sun, a very dense canopy may not allow enough light to reach 12 to 18 inches inside the canopy. Opening the tree canopy also permits adequate air movement through the tree, which promotes rapid drying to minimize disease infection and allows thorough pesticide penetration. Additionally, a well shaped fruit tree is aesthetically pleasing, whether in a landscaped yard, garden, or commercial orchard.

Dormant Pruning vs. Summer Pruning

Trees respond very differently to dormant and summer pruning. Dormant pruning is an invigorating process. During the fall, energy is stored primarily in the trunk and root system to support the top portion of the tree. If a large portion of the tree is removed during the winter, while the tree is dormant, the tree's energy reserve is unchanged. In the spring, the tree responds by producing many new vigorous, upright shoots, called water sprouts, which shade the tree and inhibit proper development. Heavy dormant pruning also promotes excessive vegetative vigor, which uses much of the tree's energy, leaving little for fruit growth and development.

Historically, much of the vigorous, upright vegetative growth has been removed during the dormant season; heavy dormant pruning results in a yearly cycle with excessive vegetative growth and little or no fruit production.

Timing of dormant pruning is critical. Pruning should begin as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. Apple and pecan trees should be pruned first, followed by cherry, peach, and plum trees. A good rule to follow is to prune the latest blooming trees first and the earliest blooming last. Another factor to consider is tree age. Within a particular fruit type, the oldest trees should be pruned first. Younger trees are more prone to winter injury from early pruning.

Summer pruning eliminates an energy or food producing portion of the tree and results in reduced tree growth. Pruning can begin as soon as the buds start to grow, but it is generally started after vegetative growth is several inches long. For most purposes, summer pruning should be limited to removing the upright and vigorous current season's growth; only thinning cuts should be used. To minimize the potential for winter injury, summer pruning should not be done after the end of July.


A well shaped hedge is no accident. It must be trained from the beginning. The establishment of a deciduous hedge begins with the selection of nursery stock. Choose young trees or shrubs 1 to 2 feet high, preferably multiple stemmed. When planting, cut the plants back to 6 or 8 inches. This will induce low branching. Late in the first season or before bud-break in the next, prune off half of the new growth. In the following year, again trim off half the new growth to encourage branching.
In the third year, start shaping. Hedges are often shaped with flat tops and vertical sides. This unnatural shaping is seldom successful. The best shape, as far as the plant is concerned, is a natural form — rounded or slightly pointed top with sides slanting to a wide base. After plants have been pruned initially to induce low branching, the low branching will be maintained by trimming the top narrower than the bottom, so that sunlight can reach all of the leaves on the plant.


Pruning is selecting and cutting specific branches or twigs. Larger pieces are removed at specific locations on the plant.


Shearing removes one to two inches of growth from the entire plant by indiscriminately clipping all twig ends.

"Before pruning, consider the properties of the plant, Look at its natural form, growth habits, growth rate, height, spread and flowering time."

Prune if:

* There are dead, diseased, damaged or insect-injured parts.

* There is a need to make the plant less dense, or open the center for light and airflow.

* The plant needs rejuvenation.


These pruning cuts are done by removing entire twigs or branches where they attach to the main stem. It is the least conspicuous pruning plan. "By cutting the inward growing twigs, the remaining growth will fill in the outside of the plant, best used on very dense plants.

Shrubs that flower in the spring should be pruned after they bloom. Plants that flower in mid and late summer should be pruned in the spring before growth starts. fall pruning should be done after the plant is dormant.

- Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus): Prune branches to control spreading, cut back to or near the ground.

- Honeysuckle (Lonicera): Thin stems and branches to encourage new growth.

-Silverfleece Vine (Polygonum): Can be cut back to the ground each year.

- Trumpet Creeper (Campsis): Each year cut stems back three to four buds to promote new growth. Cut tops back to encourage the vine to branch.

- Wintercreeper (Euonymus): A useful vine and ground cover. Prune the branches back to control spreading or stems growing out from a well or support.

-Wisteria: Prune back stems to 3 or 4 buds each year to promote new growth and flowers. The tops can be cut back to induce branching.

Ground covers may require pruning to keep them within bounds, to remove old or dead growth, or to rejuvenate the planting. Evergreen ground covers, such as English Ivy, Vinca or Euonymus Wintercreeper, benefit from periodic cutting back or shearing to promote vigorous new growth and to keep the beds neat and more disease free.

Some established ground cover plantings become overgrown with long or straggling branches and stems. Grounds maintenance workers sometimes use hedge shears and rotary mowers with high wheels to mow off accumulated stems and branches. The debris can be removed with leaf rakes or industrial vacuums.

Evergreen and deciduous ground covers that show winter injury to foliage and branches can be cut back or sheared. Prune out individual damaged branches. Ground covers may be pruned at planting time to encourage more branches and new stems to grow from the base or along the main stem.

The right tools make pruning easier and help you do a good job. Keeping tools well maintained and sharp will improve their performance. There are many tools for pruning, but the following will probably suffice for most applications:

  • A good pair of pruning shears is probably one of the most important tools. Cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter may be made with them.

  • Lopping shears are similar to pruning shears, but their long handles provide greater leverage needed to cut branches up to 11/2 inches in diameter.

  • Hedge shears are meant only for pruning hedges, nothing else. They usually cut succulent or small stems best.

  • Hand saws are very important for cutting branches over 1 inch in diameter. Many types of hand saws are available. Special tri-cut or razor tooth pruning saws cut through larger branches — up to 4 inches in diameter — with ease.

  • Pole saws allow for extended reach with a long handle, but they must be used carefully as its difficult to achieve clean cuts with them.

  • Small chain saws are available for use on larger branches. Operators must wear protective clothing and exercise caution when using them. Never use chain saws to reach above your shoulders, or when you are on a ladder.

When does a gardener buy bulk soil? When no other options exist. Lets say you just moved, it is already early spring, and the only good garden spot on your property is rock hard clay or gravel. In this case it makes sense to order a few dump truck loads of good soil.

Expensive? Not really. Depending on your location, the average price for top quality soil should not exceed $30-$35 a cubic yard, with an average price of about $15 to $22 a cubic yard. If you have a 50 x 20 foot garden, the cost to cover this area with 9 inches of soil would be roughly $550 at $20 a yard. No rototilling and you can start planting right away!

So how do you know where to buy and what to buy? You would be best to use a soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 (good for most plants, but you should have an idea of what you want to plant and the optimal pH) with lots of organic matter. The best way to locate a good source is other gardeners and nurseries in your community. Good soil producers are usually well known in any given community, so you are best to start by asking the people who know best - fellow gardeners and professionals.

I would personally recommend talking to at least 5 nurseries and 4 or 5 gardeners before deciding on who to buy from. If 7 out 10 recommend one particular supplier, it is probably a good bet the soil will be good.

Select Your Mix: Once you have sourced out a good supplier. It is just a matter of deciding exactly how you want your soil mixed. Yes mixed. Most soil suppliers can mix sand, peat or other components into your soil at specified percentages. Check with your supplier to find out what options they offer and the costs. Do make sure you buy screened soil, which has roots, rocks, and other naturally occurring debris removed.

Delivery: After deciding on the mix and settled on a price (make sure delivery cost are included), it is time to arrange a delivery date. This is critical! Check your local weather forecast and try to arrange delivery when weather is expected to be good and it has not been raining for at least a few days prior. Why? Chances are your garden will be in the backyard and if the delivery truck must cross your lawn, you do not want the ground wet or moist - a fully loaded dump truck is very heavy and may leave deep tracks in your yard (expect some compression even in dry weather). If you can avoid travel over your lawn - even better. You will also want to distribute your soil as soon as you can in dry weather. A pile of topsoil left for even a few days will begin to compact under its own weight. If it rains, you will need to have tarps on hand as well - if the weather looks bad on delivery day, it may not hurt to buy a few cheap tarps to cover up.

Word of Caution: Two important things to be aware of, power lines near the dump zone and under ground drainage or sewage pipes. Keep in mind that the dump truck will have to raise its box completely to empty the load of soil. Be sure to select a dumping area where power lines are not a hazard. If the dump truck must cross your property, you will want to avoid travel over buried sewage or drainage lines - soil compression could crush these (it is not likely - just possible).

If any of the above are a serious concern, ask your supplier if they have smaller delivery trucks. You may pay more for the extra delivery trips, but you reduce the chance of damage to your property or equipment. Alternately, Soil can be dumped on a driveway and hauled over with a garden tractor or wheel barrow - this is heavy work and may not be an option if you are building a large garden.

Now is the time to get shovels, hoes and pruners sharpened to a fine edge. While your are at it, buy a second mower blade so you'll have a new, sharp blade on the mower while the second is being sharpened. Turf mowed with a dull blade injures the grass and opens the door to disease and costly corrective action

There are more than 700 species throughout the world, which have given rise to thousands of varieties. Many botanists classify azaleas and rhododendrons together thus giving us more choices.

Some appealing aspects of rhododendrons are their great diversity in size, their beautiful evergreen foliage, their staggered flowering periods from early spring through early summer, and their wide range of colors. Rhododendrons are hardy; they tolerate shade, poor climate and city pollution. They are easy to grow and do not require annual pruning.

Rhododendrons do, however, require a humus-rich soil and sufficient moisture because of their shallow roots. Don't allow them to dry out and protect them with a generous bed of leaves or mulch. Rhododendrons like acidic soil from 4.5 to 6.0 pH.

Sun requirements vary for rhododendrons. For the most part rhododendrons require partial shade. If their area is too shady, the plants will not bloom.

Rhododendrons are susceptible to various diseases. The number one cause of diseased plants is the wrong plant growing in the wrong place. If you keep this rule in mind, you will have fewer problems with pests and diseases. Rhododendron diseases include chlorosis, leaf spot, borer damage, salt burn, die back, and root rot. A few common pests that rhododendrons attract are spider mites, lacebugs and black vine weevil.

Spider mites are a major pest of many garden plants. They cause damage by sucking sap from buds and the undersides of leaves. As a result, the green leaf pigment disappears, producing a yellow or bronze stippled appearance. There may be silken webbing on the lower surfaces of the leaves. To diagnose this problem, hold a sheet of white paper underneath an affected leaf or branch and tap sharply. Minute green, red, or yellow specks the size of pepper grains will drop to the paper and begin to crawl around. The pests are easily seen against the white background.

A second major pest is lacebug. The upper sides of the leaves are mottled or speckled yellow and green. The mottling may be confused with mite or leafhopper damage. It can be distinguished from other insect damage by the hard, black, shiny droplets that are found on the undersides of damaged leaves. The lacebug is a very small (1/8"), spiny insect with clear lacy wings. Damage occurs in spring and summer. Populations of lacebugs are highest when rhododendrons are grown in a sunny rather than a shady location. The wingless, immature insects and the lacy-winged adults suck sap from the undersides of leaves. As they feed, droplets of black excrement accumulate around them. If the infestation is heavy, the lacebugs can be controlled with a number of insecticides.

Another damaging insect is the black vine weevil. The adult weevil feeds on the leaves producing a C-shaped notching around the leaf margin. To determine if the plant is infested with the vine weevil, inspect the foliage after dark. Using a flashlight, look for a black or grayish insect about 1/5 to 2/5 inches long. It has an elephant like snout and rows of tiny round depressions on its back. It is present from May or June to September. The notched leaves are unsightly, but the damage caused by the weevil is usually not severe.

A fairly common ailment of rhododendrons is chlorosis. It is really an iron deficiency of the plant. The leaves turn pale green to yellow. The newest leaves may be completely yellow with only the veins and the tissue right next to the veins, remaining green.

Rhododendrons are acid-loving plants. They prefer soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6.0. The yellowing is due to a deficiency of iron in the plant. The soil is seldom deficient in iron. If the pH of the soil is 7 or higher, the iron is in an insoluble form so the plant is unable to absorb the iron from the ground. A high soil pH can come from overliming, or from lime leached from cement or brick. Plants use iron in the formation of the green pigment in the leaves. When the iron is lacking, the new leaves are yellow.

For treating chlorosis, spray the foliage with a chelated iron fertilizer and apply it to the soil around the plant to correct the iron deficiency. Correct the pH of the soil by amending it with sulfur, iron sulfate or ammonium sulfate. Work the amendment into the root area to lower the pH. To help maintain an acid pH, use fertilizer that is specially formulated for acid-loving plants.

Rhododendrons can be susceptible to winter burn. Leaf drying and browning can occur as a result of winter exposure. When the leaves on the rhododendrons roll up, the plant is trying to protect itself from the dry winter air that causes the leaves to lose their moisture more rapidly than it can be replaced. The leaf edges dry out and die. If the soil is frozen, then the plant can't absorb any water either. You can help protect your plants by planting them behind buildings or other plants that can serve as windscreens. Mulching is so important in helping to prevent this winter injury. Make sure your plants are well watered before winter sets in.

Another prevalent disease is dieback. The leaves and the terminal portion of a branch wilt and die. The leaves may turn reddish brown and remain attached to the plant. The leaves may also be rolled and have spots that look water soaked. At the base of the wilted branch may be a sunken, brownish, dead area. Several different fungi cause dieback. Infected soil and tools, rain, and splashing water spread the fungi. The fungi enter the plant through a weakened area. You may see a sunken dead area or a canker on the twigs which cuts off the flow of nutrients and water to that side.

To manage this disease, cut out the affected branches a few inches below the affected area and then destroy the branches. You can then spray with a basic copper sulfate fungicide after blooming. Repeat 2 or more times at intervals of 14 days.


It was once the custom to suspend a Rose over the dinner-table as a sign that all confidences were to be held sacred. Even now the plaster ornament in the centre of a ceiling is known as 'the rose'.

Roses love sunshine. In the garden that is full sun areas only, you will have great success in growing roses.

When first planting or transplanting a rose bush, watering is very important. Water your roses at least once a week as your rose establishes itself. The soil that you plant your rose in does need to drain well, this is important. The rose bush will not thrive in the area moist all of the time. Do not plant your roses in an low area that holds water.

As your roses grow and change every year, you will need to pick off the dead head flowers. Picking off the flowers that are dead will bring new life to your bush. If you find black spots on the leaves of your rose bush, this will keep your plant from suffering and from any disease from spreading over the entire plant. Treating your plants at the first sign of Japanese beetles is going to save their luscious green leaves from these tiny creatures.

Shrub roses encompass a wide range of rose types which makes them a very diverse group. It seems that any rose that does not fit another category becomes a shrub rose and in turn their winter hardiness varies. Many shrub roses result from crossing old-rose types with modern roses and therefore combine the best traits of each: repeat flowering rose bushes and a great range of colors from the Modern Roses, and the fragrance, wide range of flower styles, growth habits, and also the delicate color from the Old Garden Roses. There are some very useful roses in this 'Shrub Roses' group.

Many Shrub Roses are good for screens, hedges, and mass planting. Shrub Roses also make great single specimen plantings. Virtually all shrub rose bushes are repeat blooming. Hardy zones 5 to 10 with some hardier, and some less hardy.

In the spring of the year, you will need to prune your rose bush. The blackened portions of your rose bush need pruned away to promote additional new growth over the entire plant. While pruning your plant in the spring season, pull weed starts so that your plant is not in competition for water or soil nutrients over the growing seasons.

As you plan your rose garden and begin placement, planting roses of the same color next to each other will enhance the over all look of the rose garden. Using too many flowers in one area though, can make the entire rose garden look more jumbled than a wave of color.

Each of the rose classifications has different characteristics and a short summary of each is listed below:

The HYBRID TEA is the latest development in the history of roses and is considered to be the most popular rose class in the United States. The flowers from this variety are upright, rather angular and their flowers and buds grow on a long stem. The hybrid tea rose is considered ever-blooming, which means it blooms all summer - off and on every 6 weeks or so starting in late spring thru fall. Most varieties require special attention to keep the plant vigorous where winters are severe. They are a good specimen shrub and can be mixed in a flower bed or grouped in a special rose bed/garden. The plant ranges in height from 2 ½" to 5 ft. Examples of hybrid tea roses are 'Mister Lincoln' which is dark red and deeply scented and 'Peace' - Ivory with a pink blush and has a light fragrance.

FLORIBUNDA roses are a cross between the polyantha rose, which is a cluster-flowering variety rose and the hybrid tea rose. They were developed in an attempt to bring about larger flowers and 'repeat' blooms. This means they bloom early in the season, stop, and then bloom again closer to winter.. Roses in the floribunda class have blossoms shaped like those of hybrid roses but the flowers are usually smaller and often grouped in clusters. They make a good specimen shrub or hedge and are around 3 ft. in height. Two strongly fragrant varieties are 'Angel Face' which is lavender and 'Scentimental' - burgundy-red with creamy white swirls.

GRANDIFLORA roses came about as a cross between the pink hybrid tea and the red floribunda. The flowers have the size and form of hybrid teas but are more freely produced, singly or in clusters, on taller exceptionally vigorous canes. They make a good shrub or hedge plant which can surpass 6 feet. Examples of this rose are 'Petals' which is bright red on top with silver on the underside of the bloom and 'Gold Medal' a colossal yellow rose.

CLIMBING roses have long, stiff canes that are ever-blooming: they can be hybrids or variants of hybrids. This type of rose can be tied onto or woven into a support structure such as a wall, trellis, arch or lattice. Also, this variety is somewhat disease resistant. To mention a few good climbers you might try 'Fourth of July' which has red, white and pink stripes or 'America' which is bright pink.

MINIATURE roses have small leaves, flowers and stems and are considered hardy ever-blooming. They can be grown outdoors as well as in containers and make a great edging plant because they usually grow less than 2 feet tall. 'Rise'N'Shine' is a lovely little continuous yellow rose and 'Renny' is a thornless pink flowering plant..

Do make your rose purchase make sure the variety you are considering can be grows successfully in your area. Also, a soil test is essential. Roses require good soil drainage. Regardless of the rose classification you are considering when making your plant selection, check to see if the roots are firm, moist, and that the soil hasn't dried out. Also, check the canes which should be ½" to ¾" thick with blooming flowers or some flower buds. Leaves should have a deep green color and free of pests - don't forget to look on the underside of the leaf.  Soil testers are widely available and relatively inexpensive. When testing your soil, your pH level is going to be most important for success with roses. A pH level of 5.5 to 6.6 is the ultimate situation for raising a rose
garden of your own.

For The History of the "Rose"  Visit              

Few places in your yard take the place of a tranquil, quiet corner of the yard with sweet scents, incredible colors, accented with flowers and greens, and best of all, cool shade

After designating your shade area, your next and most important task is to provide it with enough water to grow and flower. Water with a garden hose, an eaves trough bucket, but water your plants. You should apply at least one and a half inches of water a week to keep the shady perennial garden looking good. In dry years, you might go as much as two inches or more. .

The trees shading your area will absorb half of the water you supply, the other half is made available to the perennials. Remember that, trees have a hundry root system and will beat out the perennials in your garden, just as they do in nature.

Allow the outlines of your bed to follow the shadow lines cast by the trees or structures in your shade garden.
This is one more job to get your shade plants off to a good start and keep them going, especially if they're growing under trees .shade gardens are a breeze to take care of because the lower light levels and the mulch layer you provides a weed barrier.

To let more light into your shade garden, consider limbing trees up by cutting off some of the bottom branches. Your light limbing can cast unusual light into your shade garden. This is unique in that, you can direct it where you wish, to enhance a specific area.

-Areas of  Full Shade provides an area where as the sun moves across the sky, the areas of shade move along with it.  These areas get a lot of light in intervals during the day.
Plants that do well in this environment to name a few are lily-of-the-valley, bleeding heart, shooting star, dwarf forget-me-not, bluebell, and various ferns. Also common shrubs such as azaleas, flowering dogwood, burning bush, weeping forsythia, mountain laurel, honeysuckle, bayberry, and rhododendrons.

-Partial shade annuals that do well are
sweet alyssum, snapdragon, basket flower, coleus, Chinese forget-me-not, and flowering tobacco. Some partial shade perennials suggested are periwinkle, columbine, cyclamen, day lily, false spirea, dropmore, foxglove, and butterfly lily.
-The Medium shade is found under decks with lattice type floors, allowing for unusual access to Sun light, but adequate for most plants, such as
many annuals, perennials, and shrubs that will grow beautifully in varying levels of light.

-Areas of deep/heavly shade get little or no light, due to obstructions from the sun light. Your choice of plants is quite limited when faced with deep shade, it provides for a limited selection of plants, but still is an inviting space for living. Two plants that do particularly well in deep shade. Liriope muscari can be grown in zones six through ten. It has lavender or white blooms surrounded by beautiful grassy foliage, and it can reach a height of twelve inches. Liriope muscari blooms typically from summer to fall. Convallaria majalis also does well in deep shade. This lovely, fragrant flower can be grown in zones two through seven. It blooms in the spring and also reaches the height of approximately twelve inches.


Knowing when to start seeds indoors takes some backward thinking. Find out the average date of the last frost in your area and the number of weeks before that date you should start a particular seed (the number of weeks varies and is listed on the seed package). Then count backwards on the calendar from the average last frost date. Most seeds should be started six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Some seeds can be started a few weeks before it, while others may need a lead-time of 12 to 14 weeks. Information on the seed packet is your best guide in knowing when to sow. As a general rule, sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Some smaller-seeded annuals -- such as petunias, snapdragons, and begonias -- need more time to reach transplant size. Time indoor plantings so that your seedlings do not outgrow their containers before it is time to plant them out in the garden. Seedlings kept indoors too long will be weak; they will grow slowly and bloom poorly.

For successful seed starting, it is vital to start with healthy seed. Buy packets of fresh seed from a catalog or your local garden center. Look for the phrase, "Packed for . . …" somewhere on the packet; for best results the date should be the current year. Packets from mail order catalogs may not be dated. Be sure to write the year of the purchase on these packets for future reference. Easy seeds for beginners include marigolds, zinnias, sunflowers, coleus, nasturtiums and cosmos.

Buy a commercial seed starting mix, or make your own with equal parts of vermiculite, milled sphagnum moss, and perlite. Put the mix in a plastic bucket or basin, add a bit of warm water and stir. Keep adding water until the mix is evenly moist. Squeeze a handful lightly-only a few drops of water should ooze out. If the mix is too wet, add more dry mix.

Containers for seed starting should be 2 ½ - 3 inches tall. Use commercial seed starting containers or recycled household items like milk cartons, yogurt cups, or aluminum pans. Whatever you choose be sure to punch holes in the bottom for drainage.

To plant your seeds, fill your containers to the top with the moist mix. Tap on a hard service to settle it a bit. Scatter small seeds evenly over the surface. If the seed should be covered (according to the seed packet), gently press seeds into the mix and scatter a little mix over the seed. Use the flat of your fingertips to lightly press the mix down and level it. For larger seeds use a pencil eraser to push the seed down to the desired depth. Many seedlings look alike, so be sure to label. Frozen dessert sticks are ideal.

Watering: Keep the moisture level moist during germination, as well as after germination and during the growing phase. Never soak your seeds or seedlings. Seeds that are kept too wet or too dry may fail to grow.

Temperature: The recommended soil temperature range for most seeds started indoors is 75 degrees F to 90 degrees F. If room temperature is about 70 degrees F, you may need to place containers in a warm spot, such as near a kitchen stove, heat vent, or on top of the refrigerator. A seedling heat mat is ideal. Seedling heat mats are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from garden centers or catalogs. After germination, slightly cooler temperatures will slow down growth and result in stockier plants. Seedlings kept too warm will grow too fast and get weak and leggy.

Light: Light levels are critical. Most seed do not need light to germinate, but as soon as they sprout, they need to be in a south facing window. Most seedlings need 12-14 hours of direct light.

As seedlings develop their first set of true leaves (after the initial seed leaves), the containers will become crowded and you will need to thin them. Keep the largest healthiest plants and pull out the unwanted plants or cut off their stems at soil level, leaving at least an inch of space between the remaining seedlings.

Since soilless mixes may contain no nutrients start feeding seedlings with half strength liquid fertilizer. You may need to transplant your seedlings into larger pots if they start to get crowded and it is still too early to plant them outdoors. At least one week before planting in the garden, place the plants outdoors for an hour or two each day in a protected spot to "harden/acclimate" the plants. Gradually increase the time that they spend outdoors, but be sure to protect the plants from too much wind and hot sun. Check the moisture level of the plants at least once daily to make sure they do not dry out too quickly while adjusting to the outdoors. Finally, try to transplant the new plants to the garden on a cloudy day to minimize transplant shock.

Vegetable seeds do well being started indoors. You can do head lettuce as well as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, canteloupe, squash, watermelon, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower & pumpkin. Anything that has a long growing season does well with a jump start by seeding it indoors first. You need to have an indoor temperature of 60 to 75 degrees for most seeds to germinate.germination test. A germination test is a simple gardening technique that involves nothing more than the seeds, some absorbent paper towels, a spray bottle, water, a zip lock bag and a warm spot.

Seed Germination Test

Gardeners to find themselves with half-used and undated packets of favorite flower and vegetable varieties. How to know if these seeds are still viable when they are planted in the garden?

Viability is the seed’s capability to grow and develop. One way to test a seed’s viability, and thus to avoid wasting time and garden space (if the seeds prove to be no good), is to run a germination test. A germination test is a simple gardening technique that involves nothing more than the seeds, some absorbent paper towels, a spray bottle, water, a zip lock bag and a warm spot.

To begin testing for germination, spread a paper towel on a water proof surface and wet down with warm water, using a spray bottle or some similar spraying device. Don’t make the towel too wet. If water beads up around your fingertip when you press on the towel, it is too wet.

As few as ten seeds are usually sufficient to accurately test for germination, although you can use more if you have them. Evenly space the seeds on the paper towel keeping them about two inches from the edges. Carefully roll or fold them up in the towel so they are encased in a long, narrow strip of wet paper and slip the whole thing into the zip lock bag. Seal the bag and mark it carefully, especially if more than one kind of seed or variety is being tested at the same time.

Place the bag in a warm spot. The most rapid seed germination occurs when temperatures remain consistently between 70 and 80 degrees. Suitable places for seed germination in the average home include the top of a hot-water heater or refrigerator, near a wood stove or on a high shelf near a hot-air vent. Make sure the paper towel inside the plastic bag remains damp during the entire testing period, moistening it if it shows signs of drying out.

Make the first germination check after two or three days. Keep checking at regular intervals to note the rate of seed germination. Most viable seeds will germinate within two to three weeks, and some will sprout much sooner. For example, seeds of the cabbage family will often sprout in two days while carrot seeds can take up to three weeks. It has also been my observation that the seeds of cold weather plants like broccoli and cauliflower will sprout earlier than the seeds of more heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers if seed-tested in March or April.

The test is completed when the majority of the seeds have germinated and several days have passed since the last sprouting. A germination rate of 7% or more indicates that the seeds are viable and can be planted normally in the garden.

Any number below that should throw up a caution flag. This doesn’t mean that the seeds cannot be planted, only that they need to be given some extra considerations.

For one thing, these seeds should be given high priority for planting in this year’s garden as they will only be less viable next year. Some experts say that seeds lose 30% of their viability each year. Another way these seeds can still be used successfully is to over plant them. Using this technique, more seeds are planted in a given space increasing the germination rate significantly.

Seeds with germination rates of 3% or lower should probably be discarded. Not only will the germination rate be low, but even the seeds that do manage to sprout will probably be less vigorous and more prone to pests and diseases.

In deciding whether to use older seeds, it is also a good idea to know the various longevity rates of different seeds. For example, seeds of the cabbage family, cucumber, eggplant, spinach, squash and watermelon can be used up to five years from packaging, while corn is best used within one or two years. Seeds of larkspur, Sweet William, and aster are relatively short-lived, too, and not usually viable after two years. Marigold seeds can last for three years, and zinnia and nasturtium seeds for up to seven years.


  • Start winter cleanup of the lawn when the grass is no longer saturated and planting beds saturated mud. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, encouraging the grass to grow.

  • This is the period to re-seed the bare patches of turf. Professionals recommend your first scratching up the soil with a rake. Mix a shovel of soil witha couple of scoops of grass seedand spread in the patch you're fixing. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes.
  • Remove tree guards or burlap winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. Try not to leave tree guards in place over the summer. They keep rabbits and mice from nibbling on tender bark over the winter, but trees don't need them in summer. They don't allow enough air movement around the base of the trunk and that can promote rot of the bark.

  • Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out.
  • Weeds, Weeds, & more Weeds!  Weeds start to grow early.  Much earlier than your plants.  But pull them while they’re young.  This makes it easier since their roots have yet to grow deep.  Also, staying on top of weeding early means less work when planting time arrives.
  • Don’t forget to service your lawn mower. Change the oil and sharpen the blades if you didn’t before winter.
  • Have roses?? Prune roses before they begin to leaf out. Also, remove any winter protectors, like mounded soil.
  • .Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees, magnolias, crabapples and shrubs such as euonymus to control scale insects and other overwintering pests. Use this organic pest control method when the buds are swelling but the leaves haven't opened yet. Apply when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees 
  • Don’t forget to service your lawn mower. Change the oil and the blades if you didn’t before winter.
  • Have roses?? Prune roses before they begin to leaf out. Also, remove any winter protectors, like mounded soil.
Lastly, design your gardens now.  Order your flowers, bulbs, and seeds.  Remember that some will require germination now (4-6 weeks before the last frost!).  These seeds will require indoor germination.  I suggest using peat pots and peat soil along with a greenhouse container.  Keep the soil moist and out of direct sunlight until they sprout.  Don’t forget to pay attention to Hardiness, Light, Soil, and Moisture requirements.

Spring is a prime planting season because soil and air temperatures are above freezing. In addition, the spring sun is not as harsh as the summer sun, giving seedlings time to adjust to the stress of sunlight.

Bedding plants, also known as annual flowering plants, are often planted in the spring. The bedding plant sector of the floriculture industry has increased in popularity over the past few years as more people realize how indispensable these plants are in landscaping homes and public buildings. Bedding plants provide plentiful and colorful blooms that are sure to add to the beauty of any landscape.

Shopping for the right variety of bedding plants can be a thrilling adventure for experienced gardeners and novices alike if they know what to look for. Living in Michigan is beneficial for floriculture shoppers because it is the second highest producer of bedding plants in the nation. Therefore, finding quality annuals should not be a challenge! The plants can be purchased at a professional greenhouse or at your local farmers market or grocery store. With the proper care, inexpensive plants can thrive just as well as expensive greenhouse varieties!

Choosing the Right Plants

There are a number of issues to consider when choosing plants. First, be sure to pick the healthiest plants possible. Check to make sure that the roots of each plant are not tangled or overcrowded. Shriveled leaves or visible insect damage can also indicate signs of a sick plant. An additional point to consider is whether or not the plant is in bloom or not. Normally, annuals are sold before the flowers bloom, so do not be disenchanted with plants that have not yet bloomed. Be sure to plan enough room between plants for the flowers to bloom when you plant them.

One of the most important considerations for planting in the spring season is to ensure the plants you purchase are compatible with the climate zone in Michigan. Most of Michigan falls into the Zone 5 category according to the United States Department of Agriculture Growing Zones.

Planting Tips

Once you have finally chosen the perfect bedding plants for your garden, it is now time to plant! Choose a day that is not too sunny, hot, or windy to do your planting. This helps protect the young plants from harsh environmental conditions that may affect their growth. Gardening company Blooms of Bressingham offers the following tips for planting:

  • Dig a hole as deep and about twice as wide as the clump of dirt surrounding the roots of the plant.
  • Remove the plant from the bed or pot. Using a gardening trowel to make gentle cuts into the dirt ball to loosen the roots.
  • Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil. Fill the hole halfway with dirt before filling the rest with water.
  • Once the water has drained into the soil, fill the rest of the hole with dirt. Add a small amount of additional water and pat the soil down. If you would like, add a few inches of mulch around the new plants to discourage weed growth and to increase moisture retention.

Sudden Oak Death is a tree and plant disease which mostly affects Oaks. It began to appear in California and in Europe in 1995. SOD has spread through 16 counties in California, even infecting redwood trees. SOD was first discovered in Oregon in 2001. Oregon recently reported the good news that the disease has been contained on 88 acres of land. Currently there are around 39 states affected by this disease. Its origins are not known. SOD is made up of three parts: the first is a fungus pathogen called Phytophthora ramorum; it destroys the vascular system of the tree. The second part is actually three beetles: two different types of Oak ambrosia beetles and one Oak bark beetle. They weaken the health of the tree. And the third is another fungus called Hypoxylon thouarsianum; this decays the tree.

It can spread from mud on peoples' shoes, bike tires, cars, and forest animals. Even from irrigation water from infected streams. The most common way it is spread though, is through rain splashes from other infected trees.

Why should we worry about SOD here in Maryland? Some of the nurseries from California that are importing plants to Maryland may have been infected by SOD. There are over 60 different species of plants that are affected by SOD. Maryland has many possible hosts, including Douglas fir, oak, western starflower, rhododendron, lilac, mountain laurel, camellia, and viburnum. Because Maryland has so many hosts for this disease, SOD could kill thousands of our trees and plants, devastating our forests, and changing the landscape. However, only plants bought and planted within the last two years could be hosts.

For trees, symptoms of bleeding or oozing can occur on the outer bark-usually on the lower 6 feet of the trunk. Cankers in the inner bark could occur as well, surrounded by a black line. For other plants, there could be leaf spots, leaf drop, tip dieback and stem lesions. These are symptoms of many other diseases, so unless you have bought and planted one of the host plants within the last two years, it is unlikely that your plant has SOD.

What treatments are there for SOD? One way is to use chemicals on trees and plants, which is helping slow down the disease; California uses this method. Oregon's method is to cut and burn around the perimeter where plants and trees are affected, stopping the disease from spreading elsewhere. Since, (in Maryland) very few infected plants have been reported, Maryland is using prevention as a control. To prevent the disease from spreading throughout the country, all nursery plants known to harbor the disease in California and Oregon are inspected before being shipped to other states. Some nurseries have been quarantined. Any plants that are found infected will be destroyed.

 Much like the river birch, this tree is also native and seen along creek banks. This tree is a large shade tree, adapting well to wet soils as well as well drained soils. It too has a peeling bark, white and gray in color, making a very interesting addition to your winter landscape. Its heavy branching structure makes it an exciting tree in the yard.

The sycamore will reach to 100' if kept healthy. However, this particular tree does have some issues. It readily gets a disease called anthracnose. This will cause early defoliation of the tree as early as August. The best defense against this disease it to keep the leaves and twigs that fall to the ground cleaned up. This will reduce the likelihood of re-infestation. Anthracnose typically does not kill the sycamore, but with yearly attacks of this disease, will cause the tree to become weak, and other insects, disease or cultural damage like drought may take this tree out. It is a relatively fast growing tree, and may be a selection for quick shade.

TETANUS (In your Garden)

Gardening, perhaps could be considered one of the safest hobbies one could pursue. After all just how risky is potting a plant, tossing some compost with a pitchfork or even pruning the berry bushes be? It sure isn't skydiving or hang gliding by any means. So we're almost perfectly safe aren't we? 


There is a bacteria that may enter the body through a puncture wound or scratch. Just the type wounds we receive every day while working garden or eventually will. It's the tetanus bacteria and it thrives only in the absence of oxygen. Tetanus bacteria are found everywhere in the environment - - the soil, street dust, and in animal intestines and feces - natural immunity to the disease is rare.

Any puncture wound, especially one that is deep, can be infected with tetanus. Animal scratches and bites, animal feces and saliva and the soil are all potential breeding grounds for tetanus. Infection can develop in wounds in which the flesh is torn or burned or wounds or as trivial as thorns or splinters.

Since adults 50 years or older account for 70 percent of tetanus infections, mature people should make certain they have received boosters within the last 10 years. If they don't know whether they were immunized as children, the primary series of shots should be completed.

Some individuals may be protected for life against tetanus after a properly administered primary series of vaccinations, but in most people antitoxin levels fall with time. This is the purpose of the buster shot every 10 years. "We are now recommending an adult immunization visit at age 50 years" says Roland W. Sutter, M.D. medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "when people can check their records to see if they are actually up-to-date with vaccinations, particularly for Td." he continues, "Quite a number of older persons haven't received the primary series. If they haven't been immunized, this visit serves as an opportunity to initiate the series."

In some individuals, antibody levels may fall too low to provide protection before 10 years have passed. That's why people who sustain a deep or contaminated wound should receive a booster does if it has been more than five years since last dose.

Immunization is especially recommended for:

  • Adults, especially those 50 years and older, because most of the tetanus cases in recent years have occurred in this age group

  • persons who are not sure whether they have received the initial series of tetanus shots or boosters

  • travelers, especially to countries with hot, damp climates and soil rich in organic matter

  • agricultural workers and others who work with dirt or manure

  • persons whose jobs or recreational activities expose them to cuts and scrapes

The most frequent symptom is stiff jaw, caused by spasm of the muscle that closes the mouth, accounting for the disease's familiar name "lockjaw." Muscle stiffness all over the body may follow. An infected person may also have other symptoms: difficulty swallowing, restlessness and irritability, stiff neck, arms or legs, fever, headache, and sore throat. As the disease progresses, the victim may develop a fixed smile and raised eyebrows due to facial muscle spasms.

These are serious symptoms and require immediate medical attention. So if you are about to start your yard work make sure you are current on your immunization schedule. Please consult with your family doctor right away in the event of an injury. If you want to get up to date visit the Adult Immunization Clinic for your booster.

Source:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tetanus.html

Hands-on gardening starts when the soil contains no ice crystals and a handful crumbles easily
. No cheating here. Walking on or working in soil that is too wet causes compaction, driving the air out of the soil and bonding particles together.

When opening a new garden bed, dig it to about eight inches, removing clods and stones as you go. Add no more than 1-1/4 inches of organic matter (compost and/or aged barnyard manure) plus any other fertilizers or supplements that the soil analysis recommends, and dig in evenly.


Early spring is a great time for transplanting trees and shrubs, but you must do so before they come out of dormancy. Transplanting is a shock experience for the plant if it is not in dormant. Remember that young healthy plants transplant the easiest

Dormancy starts in the fall as soon as you experience a good hard freeze, and your plants remain dormant until the weather warms up in the spring. This is when one should so any transplant, while the plants are asleep. You can transplant in the spring up until the plants leaf out. When the buds are green and swollen you are usually safe to still transplant, but once the leaf develops, you should wait until fall.

Shrubs can be dug up and transplanted bare root, but, keep them out of the ground for as short a time as possible, making sure to keep the roots damp while out of the ground. Make sure there are no air pockets around the roots when you replant them. When possible, it is always better to dig a ball of earth with the plants when you transplant them.

When transplanting, Don’t be afraid of cutting a few roots, this is called root pruning, and when
the roots are severed, the plant then develops lateral roots to make up for what is lost. These lateral roots are more fibrous in nature, and have more ability to pick up water and nutrients.

Occasionally when a tree transplant is not taking, some have been known to take a stick and hit the side of the trunk, though not bashing it and destroying the bark, you are just attempting to stimulate it, this apparently helps to get the sap moving.


Myth #1 Before planting a tree, prune living branches so the crown size is in balance with the root ball.

Truth: It is not recommended to remove any live branches when planting trees. Live twigs, branches, and trunks contain reserve stored energy in the form of starch or oil. Removing them reduces energy reserves. Remove only dead and injured branches before planting.

Myth #2 Planting trees deep encourages strong, deep roots.

Truth: Never plant any plant, tree or otherwise, deeper than the top of its root ball. Improper planting is the number one cause for tree and shrub death.

Myth #3 Always stake trees after planting.

Truth: Trees will be stronger if not staked. The movement of young trees by wind strengthens them. If the planting site is constantly windy, stake after planting but be sure to remove stakes in 6 - 12 months.

Myth #4 Thick mulch layer is good for trees.

Truth: Roots will begin to grow into mulch that is too deep. During hot days the mulch will dry out before the soil below it, and since those roots cannot obtain water, the tree suffers. Mulch should be only 2 - 3 inches deep.

Myth #5 Trees continuously grow forming wood from bud break to leaf drop.

Truth: 90% of annual tree growth occurs 6 - 8 weeks after leaves are formed. Early spring defoliation by disease or insects usually will not kill a tree but will have a major impact on that years growth.

Myth #6 Ants contribute to tree decay.

Truth: Ants make nests in trees but do not feed on them, termites do not nest in trees but do feed on them. Ants actually help slow decay in trees as they keep the galleries in their nests clean.

Myth #7 Tree wounds can heal.

Truth: Healing is the repair of damaged tissue, trees cannot heal damaged tissue. Instead they wall off damaged areas from healthy areas through a process known as compartmentalization, this is their defense mechanism. The damaged tissue (decay) will remain isolated within the tree for life. Evidence of this is seen when a felled tree is examined.

Myth #8 Topping is good for trees.

Truth: After planting too deep, topping is the next major cause for tree decline and death. Topping creates weaken, stressed trees that are unsafe. NEVER top trees.

Myth #9 Wounds & pruning cuts should be have tree wound paint applied to aid healing.

Truth: Tree wound paint does not prevent rot and in some cases promotes it by sealing in moisture. Do not paint wounds or pruning cuts.

Myth #10 Make pruning cuts flush with remaining branch or trunk.

Truth: Flush cuts destroy the tree cells that seal off the wound from the healthy part of the tree. Pruning cuts should be made on the outside of the branch collar. The branch collar is identified by a raised ring of bark that is formed when trunk and branch bark meet and push up slightly.

A cultivar is simply an artificially contrived species not found naturally in nature. The voluminous varieties of roses we now encounter are good examples, as are lilies and daisies.


 You will have to check out the area you are attempting to grow your vegetable garden in, so you time and effort is not wasted.. Some areas simply are not conducive to some vegetable types. pick up an  inexpensive book at your local nursery, it will provide you with a wealth of information.

You don’t need a large area to have a vegetable garden, but you do need Sun, since vegetables need a good 6 or more hours of sun light each day
. Vegetables require regular watering. Without regular water, vegetables will not fill out and grow normally. The Soil is the  final consideration and it is essential. Vegetables need a soil rich in organic matter. Soil is important to the growth of all plants, but more so with vegetables, because even taste is affected by the quality of the soil. Also, remove rocks in your garden. The vegetables will grown in odd shapes or be dwarf, it they come in contact with them.

It will be to your benefit to work in a good fertilizer or use your own compost. Sowing into routine soil will usually not have the necessary minerals to create hearty delicious vegetables.
A healthy  vegetable garden can provide an abundance of nutritious, delicious food, and can also be wonderfully decorative and ornamental addition to your yard.

Furrow Planting: You will use a hoe to create a straight furrow in the soil, placing a couple of seeds every couple of inches along the furrow and then use the hoe to re-cover the furrow with soil. Plants are easier to weed and to thin out when they're in a straight line.

Random Sowing: With leafy vegetables like lettuce, you can simply sprinkle the seeds over the soil and then sprinkle enough soil over the seeds to cover them up. Water careful with you watering, it is best to water with a sprayer or small watering can, as too much moisture will flush them out of the bed.

Seed Strips: These are small tiny seeds of certain vegetables like radishes and carrots on paper seed strips. You simply stretch the tape out, lay it in the furrow and cover it up. Much faster than dealing with the tiny seeds. No need to worry about the seed strip as it will decompose as the seeds sprout.

Transplants, Starts, Seedlings These are vegetables started from seed indoors, separated into small containers and then brought outside for planting in the garden. They're most commonly used in colder climates with shorter growing seasons, and they're planted by removing them from their containers, setting them in a small hole and covering their footballs with soil.

Do read the directions on your seed packages.

In some
certain fast-growing vegetables, such as like lettuce, radishes and broccoli, you can possibly get two or more crops out of the same part of your vegetable garden. Once your first crop has matured, remove the debris after harvesting and then re-plant in the same area.

Assuming your garden gets enough sun, then you only need to do is make sure your vegetables get about an inch of water every week. Your yield depends on your soil, water and sunlight and your weeding.

Very few events in gardening are as rewarding as your own crop.

No real vegetable garden is complete without lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, corn, onions, zucchini and so, the list goes on.

Easy garden fruits to improve your gardening and create great harvest results, in addition to your vegetables..

Garden Blackberries
Garden Blueberries
Garden Grapes
Garden Muskmelon, Melon and Cantaloupe
Garden Raspberries
Garden Strawberries
Garden Tomatoes
Garden Watermelon

Invasive Plants: This term sounds threatening, and it can be. Such trees, shrubs, and vines tend to spread quickly by roots, seeds, shoots, or all three. Left unchecked, they can literally take over an area, choking out other desirable plantings. Honeysuckle, Norway maple trees (because of prolific seed distribution), and many ivies are problematic, invasive plants.

Tip for Children:
  • Children love extremes - from tiny vegetables like grape or cherry tomatoes and dwarf sunflowers, like giant Russian sunflowers, or giant pumpkins (if you have space - one pumpkin plants needs an area at least six feet square)
  • Interesting shapes and unusual colors appeal to childen; Try  unusual shaped vegetables. Children love carrots, due to their shape.

Tips for Floating Row Covers in your vegetable garden.

Floating row covers are made of a breathable white cloth that lets light and water through (not just plain clear plastic) and they literally "float" over the plants as the wind and air move them about. You can get them at most garden supply catalogs or nurseries.

They shield plants from frost and pests while letting in sunlight, water and air Soft
polypropylene fibers are less abrasive to tender plants than polyester covers. They last about 20 weeks. They also aid in germination and protect from insects.

Cut to fit over your plants  by using pvc pipe that is bent over the plants to form "hoops", or use wooden stakes set into the ground at spaced intervals. Basically you can use anything you want, just as long as it keeps the material up and off the plants. Remove the cover when daytime temps are consistently above 80° F (27° C).


ASH.—There are three or four native species of ash which may usually be collected from the woods or bought from the nurseries. All are good. They are excellent for large masses, and will bear comparatively thick planting.

BEECH.—The common American beech is a fine tree where it will succeed. It is not practicable to mass it except in waste places, on hillsides, and the like. An occasional single tree in rich soil makes a specimen to be proud of. The Purple-leaved beech is a good tree of its color; but one or two will be enough for a very large place.

BIRCH.—Pyramidal and weeping birches have found many buyers during recent years. However, they partake more of the nature of curiosities than of indigenous trees, and are not to be recommended. Nearly all the native forms and species are good in their place, however, in garden planting, though any of them must be sparingly used. The White birch, Canoe birch and Yellow birch deserve special mention.

CATALPA.—Catalpa speciosa is the species most planted. It makes a small or moderate sized tree, with large foliage, which is quite ornamental; and the species is further desirable for its fine display of flowers. Catalpa bignonioides and Tea's Japan Hybrid are good sorts less frequently planted.

CEDAR.—The Red cedar, Juniperus Virginiana, is a fine ornamental evergreen much used in the western states, but scarcely known in some parts of the east. It is suitable for almost every situation where evergreens may be used; it can be massed with fine effect; it has a very attractive color; and other qualities recommend it for more general notice.

COFFEE TREE.—This beautiful ornamental tree, Gymnocladus Canadensis, makes a good specimen on almost any lawn. Not more than two or three are usually desirable, but they should not be omitted.

ELM.—The American elm was the typical American tree, and the one indispensable street tree. It was, perhaps, the most generally useful ornamental tree we had. No other elm was so good as the common species, though the following were used for special purposes: Slippery elm, Ulmus fulva, English elm, U. campestris, Huntingdon elm, U. Huntingdoni, Wych elm, U. Montana.

GINKGO.—Sometimes called the Maidenhair tree, makes an odd and pretty specimen, but is not suited to grouping. It makes a very good street tree when well grown.

HACKBERRY.—Sometimes called Nettle tree, Celtis occidentalis. This is a good, hardy tree, especially desirable in the western prairie states.

HONEY LOCUST.—This is one of our very best shade and ornamental trees. Its very large thorns, which sometimes prove annoying, may be avoided by securing thornless trees. These thornless trees may be found in almost any nursery.

HORSE-CHESTNUT.—This is a fine tree for small groups. It is not useful in masses, and not at its best in street planting. For grouping, the Ohio Buckeye or Western horse-chestnut is a good tree of small size.

MAGNOLIAS.—The magnolias seem most in keeping with southern landscapes, but many of them are useful as far north as New York city. Among the best species are Magnolia conspicua, M. glauca, M. Soulangeana, M. macrophylla, M. stellata, and M. Lennei.

MAPLES.—This is one of our noblest genera of trees. The common Sugar maple is a typical American tree and one of the most valuable for planting anywhere where it will thrive. In the western states it does not succeed, but is there replaced by the Silver or Soft maple, Acer dasycarpum. A fine, semi-weeping variety of this latter species is Wier's Cut-leaved maple, which is especially suitable for specimen planting in grounds of moderate extent. Schwerdler's maple is another fine ornamental variety. The Japanese maples are not hardy in the northern states.

MULBERRY.—The native American mulberry, Morus rubra, makes a good tree, and should be oftener chosen for general planting. The Russian mulberry and the Multicaulis mulberry are useful treated as shrubs. They may be worked into thickets and cut back from year to year.

OAK.—Oaks are slow to grow, but they are worth waiting for. Almost every species is desirable for planting in parks and private grounds. And some grow very, very old.                         

PINE.—The genus Pinus contains the best of the evergreen trees, though for general park planting spruces are more easily managed. The best park pines are the Austrian, the Scotch, the White, Pinus Strobus, and the Dwarf Mugho. The latter makes a small, round-topped tree six to ten feet high, which is very attractive in certain situations.

PLUMS.—Pissard's plum is the one most commonly chosen for ornamental planting. This makes a clean, pretty, small tree, with bright, red foliage. It cannot be used in quantity. Several of the native plums, particularly Prunus Americana, are suitable for more frequent use in general composition.

POPLAR.—Several of the poplars are useful, particularly on account of their easy and rapid growth. They are, however, short-lived, and sometimes objectionable on account of their cottony seeds, which they sow broadcast. The Lombardy poplar has its own peculiar and obvious role in gardening practice.

SPRUCE.—Next to the pines, the spruces are our finest evergreens, and are, perhaps, even more useful than the former in general ornamental planting. The best are the Norway, White, Black and Colorado.

SWEET GUM.—This tree is especially suitable to the southern states, where, in artistic effect, it takes the place of the Sugar maple in the north. Where it succeeds well it may be planted in masses of almost any size.

SYCAMORE, Plane tree or Buttonwood.—The America sycamore is one of the very finest street trees we have, as one will readily believe after seeing it on the Capitol grounds at Washington. It is also useful in general park composition, the striking color and texture of its foliage marking it for special notice. It is not hardy north of Vermont, and not at its best north of Pennsylvania.

THORN TREES.—The various species of the genus Cratægus make fine additions to lawn plantings, their effect being usually somewhat picturesque. Their small size adapts them to certain positions. Among the best native species may be named Cratægus crusgalli, .C. tomentosa, and C. coccinea. The English hawthorn, C, oxyacantha, is sometimes planted in this country with fair success.

TULIP TREE, Liriodendron tulipifera.—This is a good tree for situations where something large is required. It may be massed in any quantity. Prefers good soil.

WALNUT.—The common Black walnut makes a fine tree, though it is slow of growth. The Japanese walnuts may sometimes be planted to advantage. The common butternut seldom makes a good tree, but it has characteristic foliage which makes it useful for planting with other trees.

WILLOW.—Many of the willows are useful, especially on low, moist land. The best are Royal willow, Salix regalis, the Shining willow, S. lucida, the Laurel-leaved willow, S. laurifolia, and the Golden willow, S. vittelina aurea. The Babylon willow is good in spite of its weeping habit.



Lawns are best watered by sprinklers. The deeper the wetting, the deeper the roots will grow. Deep-rooted grass plants are much healthier and better able to withstand drought stress. Grass should be watered when the soil begins to dry out, but before it actually begins to wilt. Grass should be irrigated when it begins to be less resilient and springy and does not bounce back up after being walked on.

Ideal Overhead sprinklers for Lawns:

Rotary, Pulse, whirling-head sprinklers.

  • Frequent, shallow waterings lead to shallow roots. Shallow roots lead to more rapid stress under drought or hot conditions.
  • Outside watering can be accomplished at any time of the day. It is more efficient to water at night because evaporation is less.
  • Too much water is as bad as, or worse than, too little. Rate of water application should be no more rapid than the rate at which the soil can absorb it.
  • Fertilizer spread around plants (including lawns) does absolutely no good at all unless it is dissolved in water. Therefore, fertilizers have to be watered in, and soils have to be moist to get the full effect of the fertilizer application.
  • Conserve water where possible.

Irrigation schedules should be kept flexible and associated with identification of lawn wilting. Choose a sprinkler that best fits your lawn size and shape. The amount of water a sprinkler applies should be determined to accurately water lawns

Watering Flower beds:

Trickle or drip irrigation
systems allow slow water penetration into the root zone with minimum surface wetting.
Spraying. Newly planted plants will benefit by occasionally spraying the foliage during the day, and by shading.


  • The best time to water a lawn is from 6 to 8 a.m. During this time the water pressure is highest, disruption of the water pattern from wind is low, and water lost to the atmosphere by evaporation is negligible. Watering early in the morning also has the advantage of reducing the chance of turf diseases that require extended periods of leaf moisture. Avoid irrigation during mid-day and windy conditions.
  • Move sprinklers frequently enough to avoid puddles and runoff. Difficult-to-wet areas such as slopes, thatched turf and hard soils may benefit from application of a wetting agent to improve surface penetration of water.
  • One deep watering is much better than watering several times lightly.
  • Lawns need about 1 inch of water each week. If the weather is very hot, apply an inch of water about every 3 days.
  • Watering to a depth of 4-6 inches encourages deeper, healthier root development. It allows longer periods between watering.
  • To measure the water, put an empty pet food or tuna can on the lawn while watering. Stop watering when the can is full or if you notice water running off the lawn.
Avoid watering on windy days.

There's no such thing, of course, as a "normal" season, but excess moisture may account for some of the problems you're seeing.

Plants wilt when they don't get enough water. This can happen if the soil is too dry for too long, or it can happen when something interferes with the plant's ability to absorb and transport water. When most plants become waterlogged, their roots can no longer function properly, and even though the plant may be standing in water, it dies of thirst. 

Roots may also be damaged by fungal or bacterial infections, which tend to flourish with high humidity. Some diseases actually clog the tubes that transport water from the roots to the rest of the plant. Fungal diseases also spread more easily when splashed from soil to plant by water, or when disease spores move along wet surfaces. 

The same types of disease organisms are often responsible for spotted or discolored foliage. It's not just flowers and vegetables that are vulnerable, either – turf, shrubs, and even trees can suffer from the effects of too much water. Weeds, of course, invariably thrive on the extra moisture, and actually add to the gardener's problems by interfering with air circulation.

Make certain that your planting sites have good drainage. This usually involves not just the layout of your garden, but the condition of the soil. Soil containing lots of organic matter drains better under wet conditions, and retains water during drought.

 If you have problem landscape areas that simply will not drain, consider planting water-loving or at least water-tolerant plants – many native varieties do well under these conditions. If you are growing vegetables or cut flowers, consider using raised beds. Second, make sure your plants have adequate sunshine and air circulation, both of which help plants dry out more quickly. 

Move plants away from walls and other plants that may block light or air movement. Keep weed growth down. Along the same lines, keep lawns mowed to the correct height, to prevent the growth of fungal diseases. Above all, remember that given the past few years, a little extra rainfall is preferable to not enough.

HEMLOCK "Wolley Adelgid"
Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae (Annand)) is a serious exotic insect pest of Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana). It has no natural enemies within this country. Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) was introduced here about 40 years ago from its native country, Japan, where it is not considered a pest. The adelgid is found in the Eastern United States from North Carolina to Southern New England. It feeds by sucking sap from the branches. If controls are not applied to pest infested trees most will die in 3 - 4 years. The insect hitches a ride on birds, animals, humans and the wind to spread out to new host trees. Working as a landscape contractor on Long Island, N.Y. I watched hundreds of hemlock trees, most used for privacy hedges, succumb to the slow death associated with this pest.

Identification- Look for small white cottony puffs at the base of the hemlock needles, particularly on the younger growth. They prefer maturing trees on stressful sites, and often attack lower branches first. The pest is named for the "woolly' appearance it has due to the fluffy wax coating covering its body for most of its life. I have received numerous phone calls from people who mistakenly think the white cottony balls are some type of fungal disease. They often spray chemical fungicides (disease control) which will not control this or any insect. Please read pesticide labels before you apply them. If you cannot identify the pest, do not spray, call our helpline number provided at the end of this article for help.

Life cycle- Adult adelgids lay eggs in March and April. There are two generations per year. In Maryland, eggs are present from mid-April to mid-June. Newly hatched young are called crawlers because they move around the plant as they look for a place to feed. This stage does not last long, crawlers mature quickly into nymphs which remain stationary attaching themselves to twigs to feed. Nymphs develop their wax overcoat slowly as they mature into the final adult stage. The adults survive the winter to lay the next generation's eggs the following spring and the cycle continues.

Control- The secret to effective control is coverage. Sprays must be applied so that the entire tree is thoroughly soaked, you should see the spray dripping off the trees. Both the upper and lower sides of the needles and twigs must be covered. Do not spray between mid-April to mid-June because the eggs have not all hatched until after that.

Non-chemical controls are harmless to humans, pets, wildlife and beneficial insects like ladybird beetles, these products are not poisons. Horticultural oil and insecticidial soap are both non-chemical and will control HWA if thorough coverage is achieved. Use horticultural oil as a dormant spray from November through early March. This will kill the adults before they have a chance to lay eggs. The oil kills by encapsulating the insect and suffocating it, you can now understand why thorough spray coverage is required.

Immature adelgids should be controlled after they have all hatched in mid-June. Horticultural oil when used at half rate is called summer oil, if used during humid weather conditions it will burn foliage. Insecticidial soap is a better choice for summer sprays because there is less chance to burn foliage. Soap kills by desiccation (drying), it draws out the insect's body fluids. Again the insect needs to be immersed in soap to be effective. Both of these control products have no residual effect and will only kill what they contact when applied properly. A ladybird beetle landing on a tree that was sprayed with oil or soap in the morning would not be harmed later in the day when the spray is dry.

There are chemical controls available. Unfortunately these are professional products that require a license to apply and are unavailable to homeowners. If you cannot reach the top of your infested trees with your spray equipment or consistently get poor control consider contacting a professional for the job. The best insecticide for controlling HWA is Imidacloprid, sold as 'Merit'. Merit is a systemic insecticide, which means it is absorbed by the tree and then moves internally to other parts of the tree. It has a very long residual effect providing season long control. Merit can be applied using either of three methods, foliar spray, injection, or as a soil drench.

For most situations I prefer soil drenching because it is less expensive than injection and more effective than sprays. This is why, Merit is absorbed slowly and then moves up from the point where it was applied. Drenching tree roots with Merit will ensure the entire tree is protected from bottom to top. Soil drenches should be applied underneath the ends of the branches (drip line) and then watered in to move the product down to the root zone (about 8 - 12").

It takes 30 - 60 days (more for tall trees) for Merit to reach all parts of the tree. Soil drenches should be applied in April for season long protection. Foliar sprays of Merit are applied in mid-June after all eggs have hatched. Spray coverage is not as critical as with oil and soap because the product will be absorbed. Re-application of Merit is usually not required that season.

The use of Merit is thought to stimulate high populations of another insect pest of hemlock, the spruce spider mite. It is thought that Merit triggers a reproductive hormone in the mite or possibly kills a predator of the mite which sometimes feeds by sucking plant juices if prey are absent, researchers are currently investigating these theories. If Merit is applied monitor trees for mite damage.

Future controls may include nature itself. A three-year biological control study has just ended which tested a natural predator of HWA. This beneficial insect is a coccinellid beetle, another native of Japan. Results were promising and now other predators of HWA are being evaluated. It has also been found that hemlock trees planted in shade with north or northeast exposure and protection from high winds are more resistant to attack. Before you install any plant find out what environment it prefers. Plants out of place are stressed and attract pests. Finally do not fertilize trees infested with Hemlock woolly adelgid because that further compounds the pest problem by increasing the amount of soft new tissue available to feed on.

                                              Happy Gardening!

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