Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day December 2011

Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) berries
The temperatures are plummeting in the Northeast and the garden goes into sleep mode for the winter months.  Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens I take my trusty camera and venture out into the garden to appreciate what it has to offer.  The focus now is on structure.   Evergreens with interesting foliage in shades of deep green, gold and blue grace the landscape on this December day.  Shades of purple and gold contrast against the background of evergreens and berries develop on branches of Nandina and Holly.   Seed pods can be seen throughout the garden in preparation for when spring emerges.   I have come to appreciate the December garden.

Picea pungens 'Montgomery' Globe Spruce
Globe Blue Spruce Picea pungens 'Montgomery' offers handsome brush-like blue-green foliage all year round that is especially appreciated in winter. This evergreen grows to two to three feet and possesses a compact form that is excellent for small spaces. The rich silvery-blue color remains vibrant all year long. 

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Gold Mop'
Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Gold Mop' displays weeping golden foliage.  More compact than 'Gold Thread' Cypress this species grows to two to three feet.   Chamaecyparis along with Montgomery Spruce offer varying color and texture in the garden.
Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow' (Left) and Golden Sedge (Right)
Seen here is the 'Burgundy Glow' Ajuga that I just planted this year next to Golden Sedge.  Ajuga has been stubborn in my gardens in the past but this year it has really taken off.  I finally found the perfect spot for it in dappled shade and with northeastern exposure. 
Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar with Barberry (Right) and Gold Mop Cypress (Left)
Here is the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar that has had much growth this summer.  In the backdrop is Cryptomeria japonica 'Angelica' along with 'Gold Mop' Cypress  (left) and Barberry 'Rosy Glow' (right).  The Barberry is starting to form some of its vibrant red berries that look beautiful throughout winter.
Berries on Upright Japanese Holly 'Chesapeake'
At this time of year the 'Chesapeake' hollies produce clusters of plump black berries.  I really enjoy this added December interest in the much fun!  The vibrant red berries of Nandina domestica (photo above) are also a sight to behold!
Crape Myrtle Seed  Heads
This Crape Myrtle is one of my favorite trees in the garden. It even draws interest in winter with its spent blooms and interesting seed heads. When the blossoms fade clusters of greenish berries darken as they dry out. These seed heads attract birds to the winter landscape and provide a welcomed food source for our feathered friends. 

Stachys (Lamb's Ear)
The Lambs Ear is still looking good even in December.This plant is just amazing in that its foliage really adds interest for many months throughout the year. 

Dwarf Mugo Pine Against Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and Moss Rock
These are the moss rock boulders that I added for some impact last summer. I am really enjoying the dimension that they add to the garden. Soon the winter snow will cover them to add some additional interest.

Blue Atlas Cedar
Here is a photo of my Blue Atlas Cedar that I drove home in the front to back seat of a Ford Probe about eight years ago.  It started off as a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree and this is what is has become!

December Sky
I took this photo of the beautiful blue December sky against the still and dormant landscape.  December days can be so peaceful.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my December garden.  Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for more December blooms around the world.

"Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them." ~Vincent A. Simeone ("Wonders of the Winter Landscape")

"The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31."
- Marie Huston

 As Always... Happy Gardening and a Happy GBBD!

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gifts For Gardeners- A Suggested List!

The holidays are around the corner and if you know anyone who is an avid gardener they would surely appreciate a thoughtful gardening gift.  

Friends ask me all the time "What can I get for someone who is a gardener?"  I always have so much fun helping them out that I figured I'd share some ideas.  Here is a list of gifts a gardener could love! 

If you can think of any others please add them along!   Let's see how many we can come up with!

Also check out the wonderful poem that I just ran across.  Written by MARIANNE BINETTI it is every gardener's dream!  Thank you Marianne!

Gardening Book-Dirr's or American Horticultual Society are Excellent!
Gardening Tool Kit
Gardening T-Shirt/Sweatshirt
Holiday Plant (Christmas Cactus, Paperwhites, Amaryllis)
Gardening Gloves
Gardening Clogs or Boots
Basket of Gardening Supplies
A Garden Doll
Garden Art
Table Top or Outdoor Fountain
Gardening Related Jewelry
Loppers! (different types)

More Loppers...can't have enough!
Prunning Shears
Garden Statue
Hummingbird Feeder
Subscription to a Gardening Magazine  
Plant of the Month (Plant Delivered Each Month of Year)  
Porcupine Boot Brush
Kneeling Pad
Plant Markers
Chia Pet!
Gardening Ornament for gardeners can be fun and easy!  I am sure there are other items out there that I don't have on the list.  If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear from you. Also check out this great poem.

Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Columnist
December 13, 2010 · 12:21 PM

(After writing this column for more than 25 years, this is still the most requested reprint, so as a gift each year I repeat this tradition and offer the column so it can be used and shared copyright-free).

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the yard,
not a gift was given, not even a card.
The tools were all hung, in the carport with care,
with hopes that St. Nicholas soon would repair,

The shovel with blade all rusty and cracked,
the pitchfork still shiny, but handle it lacked.
When out on my lawn, (it’s brown and abused)
I could see poor old Santa, looking confused.

No list had been left for Santa to see,
no gardening gifts were under the tree.
But wait there’s still time, it’s not Christmas yet,
and gardening gifts are the quickest to get.

You can forget the silk tie, the fluffy new sweater,
give something to make the garden grow better.
If she wants a gift shiny, then don’t be a fool,
it’s not a dumb diamond, but a sparkling new tool.

If fragrance is listed you can forget French perfume,
it’s a pile of manure that’ll make gardeners swoon.
Give night crawlers, not nightgowns, the type of hose that gives water.
(Anything for the kitchen is not worth the bother.)

Give a great gift that digs in the dirt,
it’s better than any designer-brand shirt.
Now look quick at Santa, this guy’s not so dumb,
under his glove, he hides a green thumb.

His knees are so dirty, his back how it aches,
his boots stomp on slugs (he gives them no breaks).
Santa only works winter,
you can surely see why,
The rest of the year
it’s a gardening high.

Elves plant in the spring,
pull weeds merrily all summer,
in fall they all harvest,
but winter’s a bummer.

And so Christmas gives Santa a part-time employment,
Till spring when the blooms are his real life enjoyment.
So ask the big guy for garden gifts this year,
Seeds, plants and tools, Santa holds them all dear.

You see malls may be crowded,
vendors hawking their ware,               
but visit a nursery,
stress-free shopping is there.

Now Santa’s flown off,
to the nursery he goes,
and his voice fills the night
with loud Hoe! Hoe! Hoes!


As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When to Prune Flowering Trees & Shrubs

Crape Myrtle 'Muskogee'
When is the proper time of pruning for flowering trees and shrubs? Part of the answer depends on whether the time of flowering is in the early spring or later in the season. As a general rule of thumb, prune flowering trees and shrubs immediately after flowering. 

Pruning correctly is important in maintaining the health and vigor of your landscape plants. Proper pruning helps to maintain the shape and form of your plants, helps to remove any unwanted growth, allows for the removal of any diseased or broken branches and helps to stimulate new growth and better flowering.   Not all trees and shrubs require regular pruning but if implemented it should be done correctly and at the right time of year (See Listing Below).

Pink Flowering Dogwood
Early spring bloomers formed their buds in early fall the season before on old wood. Pruning these plants before flowering in spring will result in cutting off the buds and decreased bloom.  Varieties of trees and shrubs that bloom earlier in the season (prior to the end of June) should be pruned immediately after flowering in late spring/summer. These plants include:  Flowering Dogwood, Forthysia, Flowering Crabapple, Flowering Cherry, Flowering Plum, Vibernum, Weigela, Magnolia, Wisteria, Mock Orange, Lilac, Rhododendron, Azalea and Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla).

Trees and shrubs that flower after the end of June develop their buds on the new wood of the season and should be pruned in late winter to early spring (late March-early April). During this time the trees are dormant and it is easier to see before new growth starts.  Since these varieties form buds on the new wood of the season they can be pruned before buds set.   Examples of flowering shrubs that should be pruned while still dormant include:  Crape Myrtle, Bradford Pear, Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), Knock Out Roses, Stewartia  Abelia, Spirea (except Bridal Wreath) and some varieties of Hydrangea such as Peegee (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) and Endless Summer Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer').  'Annabelle' also blooms on new wood and can be pruned in early spring.

Often hardwood trees will sprout straight vertical branches from the base of the plant or roots called "suckers" or "water sprouts" that can interfere with the growth of other parts of the tree.  I often find it to be much easier to prune off these shoots while the tree is still dormant and the framework of the tree is visible.  This procedure is best done in late winter/early spring (late March).   If done later than November or December, pruning could spark the  tree to develop new growth that would not have enough time to "harden off" before winter.   Crape Myrtles and Magnolias are two trees that do not require much routine pruning but frequently send up "water sprouts".  Even though you may be tempted to prune these growths in late fall, resist the temptation and wait until late winter/early spring when it is healthier for the tree.


Flowering Dogwood
Flowering Crabapple
Flowering Cherry
Thundercloud Flowering Plum
Mock Orange

PRUNE IN SUMMER (After Bloom):

Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue'

Bigleaf Hydrangea 'Nikko Blue'
Miniature Hydrangea 'Pia'

Hydrangea 'Peegee'

Crape Myrtle
Bradford or Cleveland Select Pear
Butterfly Bush
Knock Out Roses
Spirea (except 'Bridal Wreath')
'Peegee' Hydrangea
'Endless Summer ' Hydrangea
'Annabelle' Hydrangea

Flowering trees and shrubs are a wonderful asset to have in your garden and with proper maintenance they will continue to add years of bloom and color to your landscape.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day November 2011: The Colors Of A Fall Garden

Acer 'Sango Kaku'
The colors of fall grace the landscape on this November Garden Blogger's Bloom Day. For this Bloom day I started with my trusty camera strolling through my own gardens then ventured down the street to the local pond for some more fall beauty.  Come stroll with me through my gardens and beyond.

The colors of fall are an infusion of reds, yellows, oranges and browns and the view is amazing this year. Here the 'Sango Kaku' or Coral Bark Maple displays an array of golden to orange foliage.

It is absolutely amazing how something as simple as a hosta leaf going into dormancy can be so beautiful. 
Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'
Or a glimpse of the colors of Ajuga and fallen leaves ...
Miniature Fountain Grass 'Little Bunny'

The grasses are lovely in the fall.  The delicate plumes of the 'Little Bunny' fountain grass are even more vibrant now against the deep color of the 'Blue Star' Juniper.
Stachys (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys (Lamb's Ear) is what I refer to as "old reliable" in the garden.  Some plants have the unbelievable ability to come around full circle.  Once the spent flowers of Lamb's Ear are removed it sparks new soft growth that makes a wonderful contrast with the fall colors behind it.

Sedum 'Brilliant'

Sedum 'Brilliant' is another candidate for putting on a show for several months.  The large vibrant deep pink flowers fade to a rich autumn orange as seen here. 

'Rosy Glow' Barberry, Weeping 'Blue Atlas' Cedar, 'Gold Mop'

The Barberry 'Rosy Glow' is starting its fall show as its foliage turns to a fiery orange-red.  In the forefront is one of my newest additions to the garden this year, Buddleia 'Lo and Behold', still displaying its lovely purple fragrant blooms.

Barberry 'Rosy Glow'

Wow is the only word that can describe this...I am at a loss for words.
Knock Out Rose

Another new addition this year is the Double Knock Out Rose.  This beauty just keeps on blooming and blooming and adds so much new excitement to the garden.

Hydrangea 'Tardivia'

Hydrangea 'Tardivia' is still displaying its beautiful blooms.

Maiden Grass 'Yaku Jima' and Sedum

Fall is busting out all over with the whimsical plumes of the 'Yaku Jima' Maiden Grass against the lemon-lime foliage and deep orange blooms of Sedum. 

and the colorful display of the 'Star' Magnolia...

It was been such a wonderful day for a walk in the garden that I decided to venture down to the local pond to take in some more fall color.

So peaceful and serene...

Moss really does grow on the north side of the tree.

Fall blooms by the lake...nature at its best...                 

More fall color and the end of the tour...

I hope you have enjoyed the tour of the fall garden. I like to think of fall as a time of renewal as well as transition.  As the trees lose their leaves and go into dormancy they are also preparing for spring and a new rush of growth to start the cycle over again. I also like to think that the part of the beauty of a garden is that it is "forever changing". 

For more gardens from around the world please visit our hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens who has made every month of the year a wonder.   Embrace the beauty of November. 

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."- Albert Camus

Happy GGBD and Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall and Winter Gardening: Some Helpful Tips

As winter approaches there are some basic gardening tips that can be followed to ensure the health and vitality of your landscape plants.  I have discussed each of these separately in past articles and have decided to put them all into one list for easier reference. 

Watering During Fall & Winter: It is important that prior to winter that there is significant moisture around your plants. Once the ground freezes it is difficult for water to percolate down to the roots.  Deciduous trees go dormant but evergreens remain somewhat active and need moisture to the roots.  Water as much as possible before the ground freezes, especially if you have new plantings.  A well watered tree will over winter far better than a thirsty one and will not be as susceptible to winter frost damage and drying.

Pruning Ornamental Grasses: Here's a helpful tip for pruning your ornamental grasses such as 'Miscanthus sinensis' Maiden Grass or Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln'. Winter cold can harm the center of grasses causing them to "hollow out". It is best to cut your grasses back in late March to early April in order to protect the roots. If your grasses become a bit unruly by the end of the fall then just cut back the plumes and leave the rest for early spring. Another trick is to wrap a bungee cord about half way up around the center and let the grasses drape over keeping them upright and in place. Ornamental grasses can add much interest to the winter landscape and be enjoyed all winter long. For more information visit: Fall-Garden-Maintenance-Pruning-&-Dividing-Ornamental-Grasses-and-Perennials

Anti-Desiccant Spray:  When the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees it is time to apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broad leaf evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood. These plants can be subject to severe winter burn due to water loss from the leaves by transpiration. Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad leaf evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way. For more detailed information go to: Winterizing-Evergreens-Anti-Desiccant-Spray

Frost Heaving:  In freezing temperatures soil around your plants may be subject to frost heaving. This is when ice forms underneath the soil and expands upwards from the ground causing plants such as perennials to push upwards exposing the crown. Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply mulch finishing to your garden beds. To remedy, slightly tap the soil back down, and brush the mulch back around the exposed crown of the plant.

Ice Damage to Branches:  As winter progresses there is an increased threat of snow and ice build up on the branches of trees and shrubs in the landscape. If snow piles up on your evergreens try to carefully brush it away removing the excess weight from the branches. If the snow does not remove easily do not shake the branches. This can cause breakage and damage. If the tree or shrub is covered with ice permit nature to take its course and allow the ice to melt naturally. If your landscape does suffer any damage from winter storms it is recommended to remove any broken limbs to avoid stress and disease to the plant. This can be done when the weather allows.

I am hoping that you find these tips to be helpful. Gardening does continue throughout fall and winter and some simple preparation can go a long way especially in areas where winters are harsh.  I for one have found these techniques to be very worthwhile and productive over the years. For further reading you can also visit Winter Gardening:  12 Helpful Tips.
                                               As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved