» Archive for September, 2015

Growing Great Daffodils

Friday, September 25th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Replace tired petunias with bright pansies, snapdragons, calendulas and stock for garden color this fall and winter.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • It’s time to divide overgrown perennials that bloomed in the spring or early summer. It’s also a good time to choose and plant some new varieties.
    • Apples, pears and other fruit trees can be planted in the fall from containers to get a head start on next spring.
    • Mums are the beauties of the fall garden. Choose plants now in a wide variety of colors.

Growing 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, Narcissi, Jonquils and Paperwhites are all essentially variants of the same flower: they are all members of the genus Narcissus. Here we will talk about the most popular Daffodils: the trumpet Daffodils and the long cup Daffodils.

Trumpet Daffodils have the “traditional” daffodil form: there is one large blossom per stem and the trumpet is exceptionally long. They have a long blooming season and very large flowers. They are excellent for naturalizing.

The well-known ‘King Alfreds’ with their bright yellow, trumpet flowers have largely been replaced by better varieties such as ‘Dutch Master.’ Now the standard of yellow trumpet daffodils, it is an heirloom variety introduced in 1938.

Long cup Daffodils have the full color range: white, and every possible shade of yellow, pink, orange, and red. They come in a wide variety of cup shapes: ruffled, trumpet-like or flat. They are good for beds, borders, as cut flowers, and for indoor forcing.

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. Creek-sides, shrub borders, woodland gardens and raised beds are ideal, but drainage is the key. Spade at least twelve inches deep adding a little 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 beautiful bouquets in the home.

Knot Gardens for Creativity

Saturday, September 12th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • If you have dogwood, walnut, birches and maple trees, these should be pruned in late summer or fall because these will bleed sap when pruned in early spring or late winter.
    • Choose chrysanthemums in a variety of colors now. They are hardy perennials which will brighten your garden each fall.
    • Cool season vegetables should be planted right away to insure good crops this fall.
    • Fall is for planting! Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now will grow twice as much next year as those planted next spring.

Knot Gardens for Creativity

Landscaping a new garden area gives you an opportunity to be creative and add some unique features to your landscape. One type of formal garden comes down to us from Elizabethan England, and is known as a knot garden.

A knot garden is a formal garden designed to resemble the threads of ancient Celtic knot work. Knot gardens were commonly designed to display royal coats of arms, figures of plants or animals, or stitches of embroidery. They can be designed either as open knots, with open spaces between the hedges, or as a closed knot where the open spaces are planted with flowers.

While knot gardens are traditionally composed of flat hedges, they can also be shorn and sculpted into three-dimensional under- and overlapping woven strands, creating a beautiful, intricate, undulating effect.

This design has been incorporated into the landscape at our new Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital. Using a shield knot design, it will be a prominent feature of the new landscape. The shield knot is an ancient Celtic symbol of protection. It is also believed to ward off illness.

Many knot gardens use herb plants. The scents, color and textures are displayed at their best advantage to make a small kitchen knot garden, which is both useful to the cook and makes a beautiful display.

Colorful knots can be made using a variety of plants like germander, rosemary and lavender. Or add red-leaved Japanese barberry to a traditional boxwood hedge. Different types or colors of plants can be used to differentiate the threads of the knot. The main requirement is to use plants with fine-textured foliage.

Designs are easy to find, or you can make up your own. Most knot gardens have a symmetrical design, which is pleasing to the eye. Once you have prepared the soil, use flower or lime to draw the design or spray paint your design on the ground. Then place the plants on the ground and rearrange them until you have the design you want. Place them fairly close together, about 18 inches apart.

Let the garden grow naturally or keep the herbs trimmed evenly. Let them bush out and grow into one another to form the knot.The effect can be circles, diamonds and concentric curves that are attractive to look at.

Use long-lived perennial herbs for your knot garden so that it will be there for a long time. Use lavenders and Santolina for grey foliage, rosemary and germander for dark green. Most herbs work well together because they have similar sun and watering needs.

The fully fledged knot garden won’t appear for 2–3 years. During this time, keep trimming it and fertilizing it so it stays lush and healthy. Once established, the knot garden will take good care of itself with minor intervention needed from you.