Monthly Archives: August 2022

Protecting Our Pollinators

Every garden requires pollinators, and bees are among the finest. Without them there would be limited flowers and far fewer fruits and vegetables. Did you know that about 30 percent of the food we eat depends on the pollination of bees, including onions, cashews, coffee, carrots, chocolate and vanilla? If we don’t protect these prolific pollinators, our landscapes, gardens and diets will be irrevocably changed.

About Bees

Although there are many bees that are great pollinators, like carpenter, mining, sweat and cellophane bees, some of the most well known and easily identified bees are the honeybee and bumblebee. Both of these bees live in social colonies and are cavity nesters. Because these bees are active all summer long, they require a constant supply of floral nectar close to their hive and they thrive in flower gardens, orchards and other areas with abundant blooms.

Unfortunately, both these types of bees – along with many others – are disappearing rapidly, and two key threats are to blame.

  • Habitat Loss: As more natural habitat is lost to development, there are fewer nesting locations and inadequate food supplies for bees. While meadows developed into resorts and parks disappearing for strip malls are obvious examples of development, other less visible developments that can hurt bees include widespread use of flower cultivars that do not produce adequate nectar, eliminating critical bee food sources.
  • Pesticide Drift: Widespread, abundant spraying of pesticides to protect crops, lawns and parks can inadvertently hurt bees. Stronger pesticides can kill bees directly, while less potent toxins can contaminate nectar and will gradually build up to fatal levels in bees’ systems. Even if pesticides are not sprayed in areas where bees are abundant, high level spraying can easily be spread by wind patterns into critical bee habitats.

Inviting Bees to Your Garden

Fortunately, it is easy to bring more bees to your garden and encourage healthy bee populations. To support local bees…

  • Planting a variety of flowers that will bloom throughout the entire summer to provide ongoing food supplies.
  • Opt for native flower varieties that will be more easily recognized and used by bees, instead of introduced flowers that are less familiar.
  • Eliminate chemical use in your yard, as much as possible, including on your lawn, garden and trees, especially while plants are in flower.
  • Provide bees a safe place for shelter and to lay their eggs. A wood pile is suitable, or you can invest in a specialized bee house.
  • Make sure that there is an available water source for your bees. A bird bath or any simple water basin works just fine.

Want to bring bees to your yard and help them feel at home? Start with this list of native plants bees love, and ask our experts for more tips about keeping your lawn and garden bee-friendly!

Native Plants That Attract Bees

  • Apple (Malus)
  • Aster (Aster)
  • Blackberry & Raspberry (Rubis)
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Blueberries (Vaccinium)
  • Currant (Ribes)
  • Elder (Sambucus)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum)
  • Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium)
  • Penstemon (Penstemon)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
  • Redbud (Cercis)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
  • Sage (Salvia)
  • Stonecrop (Sedum)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus)
  • Willow (Salix)



Perennial Power

Perennials may not be the best showstoppers in a garden full of annuals, but they make great foundation plantings to serve as a reliable backdrop or trusty fillers among other plants. There’s no reason you can’t select perennials that are just as beautiful as your favorite annuals, however, it’s just a matter of choosing the flowers that pack the most punch and using them appropriately.

Best Perennials to Choose

When choosing a perennial to fill an empty space in your garden, make sure to get the most bang from your buck by selecting one, or several, long-blooming perennials. These flowers will be worthwhile additions to your landscape for their ongoing staying power, giving you a reliable backdrop and structure to build from.

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Alcea (Hollyhock)
  • Anemone (Wind Flower)
  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
  • Campanula (clips series)
  • Clematis ‘Jackmani’
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  • Corydalis lutea (Yellow Bleeding Heart)
  • Delosperma (Ice Plant)
  • Dicentra exima (Bleeding Heart)
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Gallardia (Blanket Flower)
  • Gaura (Wand Flower)
  • Geranium ‘Johnson Blue’
  • Heliopsis (Sunflower)
  • Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’ (Daylily)
  • Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’ (Daylily)
  • Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
  • Lavender
  • Liatris spicata (Gayfeather)
  • Ligularia (Ragwort)
  • Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
  • Lythrum (Loosestrife)
  • Malva (Mallow)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Nepeta (Catnip or Catmint)
  • Oneothra ‘Siskiyou’ (Evening Primrose)
  • Perovskia (Russian Sage)
  • Rudbeckia (Coneflower)
  • Salvia (most verticillata)
  • Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)
  • Shasta Daisy ‘Becky’ or ‘Snow Queen’
  • Stokesia (Stoke’s Aster)
  • Veronica (Speedwell)

Using Your Blooming Perennials

To make your perennials truly pop, it’s important to position them in your landscape where they will show to their best advantage. Popular options include…

  • Filling in between showstopping annuals with perennials that will grow and bloom to cover fading blooms after the annuals are finished.
  • Adding blooming perennials in front of a hedge, fence or privacy screen for extra coverage with a dash of color.
  • Using perennial flowers as a backdrop for lower annual plantings along a house foundation or in other flowerbeds.
  • Creating a naturalized lawn or meadow-like area full of different perennials for a low-maintenance option that still stuns.
  • Planting perennials in hard-to-tend areas, such as alongside a water feature, in tight corners or on terraces so they can be gorgeous with less maintenance.

With so many options for lovely perennials that can be used in many different ways in the landscape, there’s no excuse not to enjoy these easy-care flowers for many years!


Clematis

Beautiful, showy clematis are not as difficult to grow as you might think. Learning when to prune your clematis and giving a little attention to their few requirements will reward you with a magnificent show of colorful blooms.

Planting Clematis

A beautiful clematis starts with proper planting. Clematis prefer to have their roots in the shade and their tops in the sun. Keep the roots cool with a well-drained rich soil with added compost, peat moss or composted manure and a good layer of mulch. Planting ground cover or other low growing perennials around the base of your clematis will also help to keep the soil cool and minimize weed growth. Organic amendments will help to retain moisture when added to the soil. Feed monthly with a liquid fertilizer or use a slow release fertilizer which can last for up to six months.

A Note About Bloom Rates

For the first few years, clematis may be slow to grow. Just keep in mind that it is establishing its root system, which is essential to a healthy, vibrant plant. In its first year, your clematis may produce very few flowers or even none at all. By the second year there will be more growth and a few flowers. By the third year you should see substantial growth and many lovely blooms.

Planting Clematis

For the best chance of success if you are new to gardening with clematis, buy plants in larger containers. While smaller starts will be less expensive to buy, they will take a little more work to establish and can be more delicate and prone to failure. If you purchase a pot of any size and are not planting it in the ground immediately, be sure not to allow the soil in the container to dry out or the plant may be overly stressed and vulnerable.

Keep the climbing habit of clematis in mind when selecting your planting site. Allow your plants to grow up into large shrubs and trees, or on a trellis against a sunny wall. Select varieties with growth that will not exceed your shrub or trellis; a 20-foot vine may overwhelm a smaller shrub or a weak trellis and will look overgrown and out of place.

Proper Pruning

Clematis are divided into three distinctive groups. Knowing what group your clematis falls under will guide you on when and how to prune.

These pruning suggestions are for established vines that have been in the ground for at least three years. Young vines should all be pruned to 12 inches the second spring and to 18 inches the third spring. This helps to develop more shoots, a fuller vine and a better root system.

  • Group 1
    This group includes certain species clematis and their cultivars which bloom early in the year. Some of the more familiar representatives of this group include the Montanas, varieties of C. alpina and C. macropetala. All of the Group 1 clematis bloom on growth made the previous year. They can be pruned to keep them within their allotted space or to remove dead and unsightly foliage. If they are pruned late in the season or before they flower, however, the cuts may remove potential flower buds and reduce that year’s flowering. To prevent this, prune Group 1 clematis right after flowering.
  • Group 2
    These are the large flowered hybrids. They are often divided again into two subgroups – 2a and 2b. All of the clematis in Group 2 bloom on ‘old wood’ (actually on short shoots from old wood) and should not be pruned except for deadwood pruning in early spring after the leaf buds open slightly.
  • Group 3
    These are the summer-blooming varieties such as the viticellas and Jackmanii types that bloom on new wood and the late bloomers such as Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. terniflora) and orientalis types. Clematis in Group 3 mainly flower on new wood produced in the current year and should be pruned back severely every year in late winter, when they are completely dormant, to about 12-14 inches. Leave at least two pairs of buds on each stem of the plant. Most clematis in this group are very fast growing and will reach their full height before blooming every summer.

Once you know how to properly care for clematis, you will find it to be a welcome addition to your landscape. If you aren’t sure just what your clematis needs to thrive, our expert staff will be glad to help be sure you and your plants have a great relationship!




Naturescaping With Regional Perennial Wildflowers

There’s no need to sacrifice beauty when designing or redesigning your yard or garden to be more nature-friendly. Naturescaping is an approach to garden and landscape design that will help save time, money and energy while providing an attractive and healthy habitat for wildlife and people. Readily available native wildflowers can add remarkable beauty to your environment, and since they are adapted to our climate and soils, they require little, if any, supplemental watering, fertilizing or care and are less susceptible to pests and disease. Native plants also attract a variety of native birds, butterflies, moths and bees essential for pollination. As an added bonus, native wildflowers are often less expensive to purchase, and you may even be able to get some varieties free by sharing with neighbors, botanical gardens, wildlife centers or extension services that are encouraging more native planting.

Choosing Native Flowers

There are many beautiful native flowers to choose from, but they won’t all thrive in every yard. When selecting, be certain to match the plant’s moisture requirements and exposure preferences to your site, taking into consideration growth patterns, available space and mature sizes. Also consider choosing flowers with different bloom times so your yard puts on a native show all season long, and tier different plant heights to create layers of natural color and beauty. Then plant, sit back, relax and enjoy!

Our perennial inventory changes daily, so please call or stop by for the most accurate offerings.




Protecting Trees From Drought Stress

Summer can be the most stressful time of year for landscape plants with heat and drought being the main offenders. When not receiving sufficient moisture, plants are much more susceptible to insect and disease damage. Trees are the most valuable landscape plants and can be the most difficult to replace, so it is sensible that they should be given priority during periods of drought.

Identify Drought Trouble

Lack of water is not a clear indication of a drought when it comes to trees. Many trees have deep, active roots that can easily survive short periods without rain or moisture, but it is important to notice when they are starting to become drought-stressed. Wilting and curling leaves will appear on drought-stressed deciduous trees. Leaf edges will eventually turn brown and crispy and may drop prematurely. Evergreen needles will begin to turn brown at the tips. As the drought continues, the entire needle will turn brown.

Prioritize Which Trees to Help

Generally, the trees most at risk are those that are newly planted or transplanted, as well as any younger trees. The root system of these plants is underdeveloped or has been damaged by the planting. Trees that are growing in a restricted area should also be of greater concern. This includes trees planted in containers, the narrow grass strip between the street and sidewalk and trees grown adjacent to your house or driveway where they suffer more from reflected heat and have less underground space to spread their roots to collect sufficient moisture. Drought-sensitive plants like birches, beeches, dogwoods, Japanese maples and magnolias should also be given priority during drought conditions.

Watering During a Drought

It is best to begin good watering practices before the tree succumbs to drought stress. Trees need approximately one inch of water per week. If Mother Nature is not supplying it then you should.

It is best for the tree if the required water is applied all at one time to the soil, slowly and deeply. This can be accomplished by using irrigation bags on newly planted or small trees. Trees in a restricted area are best watered with a slow dripping hose placed at the base of the tree and moved frequently for even distribution. For larger trees, a soaker hose laid in a spiral pattern, radiating from the tree trunk out to the drip line, works well.

Take care that if your community has watering restrictions during drought conditions, you follow approved practices to maintain your trees without risking fines or fees from illegal watering.

Tips for Helping Drought-Stressed Trees

  • Always water the soil and not the leaves or needles of the tree.
  • 2-4 inches of mulch placed over the soil, under the tree, from the trunk to just beyond the drip line, will help conserve soil moisture. Do not mound mulch against the tree trunk, which can encourage insects.
  • Water on overcast days, early in the morning or in the evening. Evaporation is slower during these times and more water will soak down to the roots.
  • Fertilizer can injure tree roots during times of limited soil moisture. Avoid using fertilizer during drought conditions. If amendments are necessary, choose compost or other gentle options instead of harsher fertilizers.

You can help your trees resist drought conditions with a little thoughtful care, and they will continue to thrive to help provide shade and beauty in your landscape.



Butterfly Bush

What could be more enjoyable than relaxing in your favorite lawn chair or hammock, your sunglasses on and a cool beverage in hand, staring at an enchanting array of colorful butterflies milling around their favorite plant? What could possibly be an easier way to accomplish this vision than by planting a simple butterfly bush?

About Butterfly Bush

Buddleia davidii, the butterfly bush, is a flowering maniac. It pushes its proliferation of perfumed blooms straight through summer and well into fall, providing nourishment to butterflies all season long. Available in a multitude of colors ranging from white to pink to red to purple, there are colorful butterfly bushes to match any garden or landscape color scheme. The fragrant, long, spiked panicles are borne in profusion on long, gracefully arching branches that add drama and elegance to the yard. And it really is a butterfly magnet!

Growing Butterfly Bush

This quick growing, deciduous, woody shrub is winter hardy in zones 5-10. In the northernmost areas of its hardiness range, Buddleia behaves like a herbaceous perennial, dying back to the ground in very cold winters. In the southernmost areas, Buddleia is grown as large shrub and can flourish all year. In either location, however, you should treat this plant as a cut back shrub. Because butterfly bush blooms on new wood, it benefits the plant to be cut back to the ground each spring. This judicious pruning will stimulate lavish new growth and an abundance of flowers. It will also keep some of the larger varieties at a manageable size, particularly in smaller yards, corners or other confined spaces.

Plant your butterfly bush in full sun in just about any type of soil and it will thrive. Don’t worry about fertilizing as over-fertilization can encourage too much leaf growth over flower formation. Deadheading will encourage additional growth and new flower buds to extend the blooming season. Buddleia has a good tolerance for drought once established, but should be carefully watered when young. A good, thick layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture and keep weeds down to keep the shrub healthy. Just be sure not to use insecticides or pesticides on your butterfly bush or you may be harming the very fluttering fliers you hope to attract.



Sedum: A Sunny Ground Cover Solution

Is your landscape afflicted with poor, low-quality soil? Areas of scorching sun? A problematic bank or steep drop? Sedums can be the answer!

Why You Will Love Sedums

There is no reason any area of your landscape should go bare when there are so many spreading sedums that thrive under what would otherwise be adverse conditions. Easy-to-grow, sedums are available in a wide variety of leaf textures and heights to fit even awkward corners, narrow terraces or thin alleyways. Low-growing sedums not only act as a great ground cover for problem areas but also work well in unusual landscape designs such as rock gardens or on green roofs. Taller sedums look great when planted with ornamental grasses and easy perennials such as cone flowers and black-eyed-susans.

The thick, lush succulent can have any shade of green, gold, purple, red and even blue leaves, adding stunning color to your yard. Variegated foliage varieties add visual interest even when the plant is not blooming, ensuring a beautiful plant for a much longer season. Once planted, sedum varieties require very little care and do well even if neglected.

Our Favorite Sedums

Because sedums come in a variety of sizes, be sure to choose a plant with a mature size that will match your landscaping space. In addition to considering the plant’s horizontal spread, also consider its height to get the full visual impact of these great landscape additions.

So come in and see us, and we will be glad to show you sedum and help you with your selection.  No matter what your landscaping needs and preferences – filling an awkward area, opting for an easy-care plant, adding drama and color to your garden plan – sedums can be the perfect solution.