» Archive for November, 2010

Winterize your Garden

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Spray citrus and other tender plants with Cloud Cover to give them some protection from frosts.
    • Enjoy birds in your garden by hanging bird feeders around the yard. You’ll see many different kinds as they migrate through this fall.
    • Mulch asparagus beds with three inches of well-rotted manure.
    • Empty birdbaths and fountains and cover them for the winter, to prevent water freezing and cracking the bowls.
    • Cover vegetable plants with bird netting to keep quail and other birds away.

Winterize your Garden
Put your yard and garden to bed for a long winter’s nap.

Chilly mornings, football Friday nights, and falling leaves signal autumn’s arrival. This time of year also calls for end-of-the-season yard work. Wrap up your growing season by tending to tasks such as leaf raking, composting and bulb planting.

Begin your cleanup by clearing leaves from gutters, grass, driveways, and shrubs. To remove freshly fallen leaves, take action with your tool of choice: rake, blower/vac, or mower. You can run over leaves with your lawn mower, and let the chopped leaves lie to give your lawn a free dose of nitrogen. Or use a bag attachment to collect shredded leaves for mulch or composting. Time your leaf work before a rain; wet leaves clump and clog tools.

Start a compost pile with the chopped leaves. Begin by blending a few shovelfuls of topsoil into your leaf pile. Cover the pile with a tarp and let it sit. By spring, you’ll have a nice batch of compost.

Clip stalks on perennials to 3 inches after a hard freeze. Leave stalks with attractive seed heads for winter interest.

Autumn is a great time to dig up plants you know aren’t going to make it through the winter, like geraniums, and plant them in pots. Then bring them indoors for the winter.

This is not the time for pruning or fertilizing, which can stimulate new growth. Plants which are not particularly hardy may be damaged or die during the winter months if pruned now.

Lavenders, sages and other woody herbs will be much happier if you wait until spring. In spring, plants are actively growing and have the strength to readily replace what you trim. You can cut off dead or diseased branches now, as long as it’s not to the point of pruning.

Cover garden beds with several inches of compost before winter to help nutrients absorb into the soil. This will ready your beds for spring planting.

Fragile tubers such as dahlias and begonias should be dug up and put in a plastic bag with vermiculite or peat moss in a dark, cool, dry place. Check the bulbs monthly and if the environment around them is moist, cut slits in the bag to let air in. They’ll be ready and waiting for you to plant next spring.

Autumn is the time when spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths should be planted. They need to be in the cool ground for several months, to develop roots and prepare for their spring appearance.

This is also a good time to plant trees and evergreens so they can establish their roots over the winter and be ready to take off and grow next spring.

Don’t let the nice days of fall go buy without getting some of these gardening jobs done.

Fall Color in the Garden

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Tulips can paint the spring garden with almost any color you choose. Plant them now to enjoy their bright flowers next April.
    • Compost your leaves as they fall, don’t burn them! Leaves make wonderful compost that breaks down into rich humus by next summer.
    • Chrysanthemums can be planted in pots or flower beds for bright and cheerful flowers to enjoy this fall.
    • Seed slopes with annual ryegrass to prevent erosion and improve the soil for later plantings.
    • Don’t let dahlia bulbs stay in the ground during the winter.  Lift them when the tops have dried.

Fall Color in the Garden

Though many plants pass into winter rather quietly, there are a number of shrubs that end their growing season with a flash of bright colors. Reds, yellows and oranges usher out the last warm days with a cheery farewell.

Japanese barberry is an attractive, red-leaved shrub whose foliage displays a festival of colors before dropping. The leaves turn to yellow, orange and red all on the same plant. It also has bright red berries.

Burning bush is a real eye-catcher. Also known as winged Euonymus, it is a dense, green background shrub that suddenly turns bright red in the fall.

Japanese rose, Kerria japonica, is a graceful large shrub with flowers like small yellow roses in the spring and summer. In autumn, the bright green leaves turn to golden yellow before they fall.

Crape myrtle is well-known for its papery pink, purple or red flowers in the summer. It is also pretty in the fall when the leaves change to yellow, orange and red before they drop.

Heavenly bamboo, Nandina, is a good-looking shrub year-round. In the spring it puts on a lovely display of white flowers that produce berries which turn bright red in the fall. The leaves also take on a reddish hue and both berries and leaves hang on through the winter.

Spiraeas are a large family of shrubs with tiny flowers in clusters. The spring-blooming varieties, like ‘Bridal Wreath’, have long arching branches covered with delicate white flowers. In the fall they are again colorful as the dark green leaves turn to a rich red.

Snowball bush also has lovely fall foliage. This handsome bush is covered with clusters of white flowers that look like snowballs in the spring. In the fall, its leaves become flushed with rosy red before they drop.

Probably the most brilliant red, besides poison oak, comes from Virginia creeper and Boston ivy. These deciduous vines turn a brilliant scarlet when the weather starts to cool. Clinging to a fence, they make a spectacular backdrop to any garden.

Don’t let your garden have the fall blues. Dress it up with the bright reds and yellows of these shrubs and vines.

A Host of Golden Daffodils

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Japanese maples and dogwoods are some of the most colorful trees in the fall. Plant them now and give them a head start on spring.
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue and white and can be planted now.
    • Naked lady amaryllis have lovely, fragrant pink flowers that bloom in late summer with little or no care. Plant the bulbs, available at local nurseries, now.
    • Check houseplants for insects. Spray leaves with insecticidal soap and wipe them off to leave them clean and insect-free.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables. Set out plants now.

Grow great daffodils

Daffodils are some of the easiest bulbs to grow. Under good growing conditions, they will live for many years and probably outlast any of us. While some kinds of bulbs tend to dwindle and die out, daffodils increase.

Daffodils come in all sizes from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems. They also come in a variety of color combinations.

The well-known ‘King Alfreds’ with their bright yellow, trumpet flowers are always a welcome sight. ‘Dutch Master’, the standard of yellow trumpet daffodils, introduced in 1938, is an heirloom variety. And ‘Carlton’ is a two-tone yellow daffodil whose soft yellow petals encircle a large, frilly, golden yellow cup.

‘Ice Follies” daffodils are large-flowering with creamy white petals and a butter yellow ruffled cup inside. The unique ‘Salome‘daffodil is quite showy with its ivory-white petals surrounding a magnificent salmon trumpet.

‘Sempre Avanti’ is a charming variety of large-cupped daffodil having rich creamy petals with striking orange cups that appear very early in the season. With its large yellow flowers and soft orange cups, the blossoms of the ‘Fortune’ daffodils last up to 4 weeks in mid spring.

Mixed daffodils are excellent bulbs for naturalizing. They will return year after year and are great for areas with high deer population. Plant a deer-resistant blend with Chionodoxa, (Glory-of-the-snow), to add some little blue stars to the landscape.

To grow great daffodils you should choose a well-drained, sunny place. Hillsides are excellent spots to place drifts of bulbs where they will make an eye-catching display for passersby. Hillsides and raised beds are ideal, but drainage is the key. Spade at least twelve inches deep adding well-rotted compost to heavy soils.

If planted properly, naturalized bulbs can live and bloom for many years with a minimum of care. When planting bulbs in a natural area to be left undisturbed for years, plant them deeply, so that their tops are at least eight inches deep.

Daffodils will grow in the shade of deciduous trees because they finish flowering by the time deciduous trees leaf out. However, it is better to grow them outside the drip line of deciduous trees rather than under them. Daffodils will not survive for a long time under evergreen trees and shrubs.

One reason for the longevity of daffodils is that squirrels, gophers and other rodents will not eat them. Deer also tend to leave them alone.

Daffodils bloom for almost six weeks in the spring garden. After blooming, leave the bulbs alone while the foliage is still green. The green leaves are rebuilding the bulb for the next year, and this is a good time to fertilize your bulbs. When the leaves begin to yellow, then you can cut the leaves off but not before.

Daffodils multiply, and after a few years you may need to thin them out, if they become crowded and are not blooming well. Dig them up in midsummer and replant them six inches apart.

In some cases, daffodils can be grown with ground covers. They do well planted with shallow-rooted, trailing plants, such as potentilla, creeping thyme and blue star creeper, but vigorous and deeply rooting plants, such as rosemary and ivy are likely to discourage daffodils.

“A host of golden daffodils” is certainly one of the glories of spring, and now is the time to plant daffodil bulbs. Plant a variety of daffodils for a wonderful display in the garden and a beautiful bouquet in the house.