» Archive for August, 2011

Silk Trees

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Japanese maples may be pruned now in order to shape them.
    • Mottled leaves are often a sign of spider mites. Check for them with a hand lens or bring a leaf into your nursery for identification and treatment options.
    • First-year fruit trees need to be well-watered through the dry weather. If they are neglected the first year, they may never be strong, productive trees.

Silk Trees for Summer Beauty

One of the prettiest summer-flowering trees is the silk tree or mimosa. A native of many parts of Asia, this tree goes by the botanical name Albizia julibrissin. It is known as mimosa because its leaves resemble those of the sensitive plant which is the true Mimosa. It is called the silk tree because it comes from that part of the world where silk is made.

This tree has very dainty foliage. The leaves are made up of many leaflets and they do curl up on cool evenings, like the leaves of a sensitive plant do when you touch them. The flowers are very showy and look like pink powder-puffs resting on top of the fern-like foliage.

The silk tree is used in parking lots, in lawns and parks and can be grown in large containers. It is popular for use as a patio or terrace tree for the filtered shade that it provides and the tropical effect. The flowers are most attractive when viewed from above, so it is nice when planted on a slope below the house.

This fast-growing, deciduous tree has a low-branching, open, spreading habit. It is often grown with multiple trunks which make a nice pattern when the lower branches are removed.

Albizia are generally tough trees. They take a wide range of soils including wet soils and poor, dry, gravelly soils. They can withstand summer drought, once established. They are fast-growing to 25 feet or more, spreading to 35 feet wide, but are easily kept to 15 feet tall with annual pruning.

Silk trees are considered to be messy trees. After they bloom they shed their flowers and then produce numerous seed pods that resemble wisteria pods. These will also fall in time. In autumn, the leaves fall at the first frost, having no fall color.

Each winter, Albizia trees should be pruned to remove dead branches, which always occur, and to thin out the tree, removing poorly attached branches. Other than that, they require little care.

The summer beauty and versatility in size of the silk tree makes it a good choice for many landscape situations.

Choosing Bamboo

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • After the June crop of raspberries is finished, remove canes that produced fruit leaving new green canes, which can then be trained on trellises.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrins to control heavy infestations.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding.
    • Penstemon are bushy, evergreen perennials that attract hummingbirds with their red, pink, lavender or purple trumpet-shaped flowers all summer and fall.
    • Shade-loving begonias will add color and beauty in both planters and flower beds. Choose from large flowered Non-Stop begonias or smaller flowered bedding or fibrous begonias.

Choosing Bamboo for your Landscape

Bamboos are evergreen members of the grass family and they range from petite miniatures to massive giants with heights ranging from 2 to 100 feet tall. The beautiful canes can be a slender 1/8-inch or as large as 12 inches across. There are over 100 species of bamboo, found from the tropics to the mountaintops. While most bamboos are tropical or subtropical, there are hardy bamboos that can survive temperatures of –10° to –20°F.

When used properly, few plants are more effective in creating a subtropical mood in the landscape. All species of bamboo are superb soil stabilizers, and the medium or large-sized species can make a durable, fast-growing hedge in places where few other plants would thrive.

Bamboo “canes,” known as culms, grow from a branching underground root structure called a rhizome. The branching habit of the rhizome determines the growth habit of the bamboo.

There are two main types of bamboos: running and clumping. Running types send out spreading rhizomes and can colonize large areas. Clumping types stay in tight clumps that slowly increase in size. Running bamboos are hardy to frost while clumping types are not as hardy.

As they grow, bamboos store food and energy in their roots and rhizomes. When growth begins in the spring, the canes shoot out of the ground and reach their maximum height within a month. Young bamboos are usually slow to establish, but established plants grow very quickly.

Bamboos like full sun or partial shade. They tolerate a wide range of soil conditions as long as moisture is present. They will grow faster and taller with frequent watering and fertilizing. To control their growth, water and feed less.

Golden bamboo, black bamboo and giant timber bamboo are all running types. Golden bamboo makes a good screen or hedge and does well in containers. The canes of black bamboo turn black their second year and are very attractive against the green leaves. Give them some afternoon shade. Timber bamboo makes huge canes 6 inches in diameter. They make beautiful groves if the lowest branches are trimmed off.

Golden Goddess bamboo is a clumping type with graceful, arching growth. It makes a good container or screening plant. Dwarf white pinstripe bamboo makes a fine groundcover, growing 1-3 feet tall. Is is a running bamboo that is a fast spreader. The light colored leaves are attractive in light shade.

‘Giant Leaf’ bamboo has the largest leaves of any bamboo, up to 24 inches by 4 inches. It adapts easily to growing in pots and does best in a shady location out of the wind.

Choose bamboo carefully and you will find that it can be a beautiful addition to any garden.

Hot-Summer Garden

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Remove suckers on rose bushes. These vigorous canes emerge from below the bud union and should be cut off as far down as possible.
    • Hydrangeas are full of giant pink or blue flowers all summer, filling the shade garden with color.
    • Fountains create the sound of moving water that is restful and cooling on the patio or in the garden.
    • Dig and divide crowded spring-flowering bulbs and tubers including daffodils, scillas, muscari, and bearded iris.
    • Sow seeds of perennials like columbine, coreopsis, delphiniums and cone-flowers now for planting in the fall and beautiful blooms next year.

Hot-Summer Garden

Give your garden some pizzazz this summer with a flower bed of hot-colored flowers. These are the warm colors found in glowing sunsets, crackling fires and brilliant fall foliage. From clear yellows to gold, orange and red, these flowers will brighten any garden bed.

Plan your flower bed with the taller plants to the rear and the low spreaders in front. In between you can plant a menagerie of medium-sized flowers. A mix of annuals and perennials will give you the most color all summer long.

For the back row, choose from tall yellow yarrow, brilliant colored zinnias and canna lilies. Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ is a yarrow that grows to 3 feet tall with gray-green fernlike foliage on plants that thrive in a hot, dry, sunny spot. Golden yellow flowers bloom in summer on flat, upward facing flower clusters.

Bold-colored canna lilies add a tropical accent to the flower bed. Their large leaves resemble banana leaves and the lily-like flowers come in bright red, yellow and orange.

Zinnias are a gift from Mexico. Tall zinnias come in all the bright colors of red, orange, yellow and purple. A planting of mixed colors or bold ‘Big Red’ make a color statement.

In the middle of your bed, the showy banded flowers of Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ will add a big splash of color with their large orange-red blossoms tipped by a ring of yellow.

Penstemon come in many bright colors from dark purple ‘Midnight’ to cheerful ‘Huntington Pink’ to bright red ‘Firebird’. The maroon foliage of ‘Husker’s Red’ has tall stems of white flowers.

Rudbeckias, also known as Black-eyed Susans and Gloriosa Daisies, are beautiful daisy flowers for the border. The petals are golden yellow, sometimes with splashes of red and all have black centers.

Potentilla is a large genus of plants that includes shrubs as well as perennials. The shrubby form, ‘Goldfinger,’ is a neat little plant with butter-yellow flowers that bloom over a long season. ‘Monarch’s Velvet’ makes a low mound with strawberry-like foliage and raspberry-red flowers with crimson centers that rise on tall stems.

For the front of the border, look to colorful spillers like calibrachoa or Million Bells. This tough, ever-bloomer loves the sun and the heat. Look for it in yellow, rose, orange or purple.

Gazanias are a must-have for the hot summer garden. Their boldly striped blooms provides a carpet of color throughout summer.

Fill in the bare spots with marigolds and zinnias of different heights and the bright flowers of petunias and you’ll have amazing color from now till frost.

Fire up your garden with the hot colors of Summer.