Archive for Earth friendly garden tips

My Favorite Picks – 2019’s Best Hardy Plants

What a crazy year this has been! Extremes of all kinds, but through it all there were some clear winners. In this year’s picks I want to talk about some of the hardiest plants in the garden.

Boxwoods have gotten some bad press of late, due to the blight that has been going around, but by following some simple, clean gardening practices, they are one of the best and most beautiful of all the plants in my garden.

I’m going to start with one of my all time favorites, the boxwood. The boxwoods in the photo above are about 45-50 years old and are the true stars of the garden. I prune them in early December each year and use the trimmings for Christmas decorating. Beyond that annual pruning, I hardly need to do anything to them. They have weathered every kind of extreme in their lives and continue to look amazing!

For several years, there has been a disease affecting boxwood plants called boxwood blight. The boxwood blight is passed by using infected tools. Just by cleaning your tools thoroughly before pruning or trimming, you will protect the plants from getting the disease. I clean my pruners with rubbing alcohol prior to using them. Another tip would be to have a pair of pruners dedicated strictly for use on these beauties, but I would still recommend swabbing them between cuts with alcohol to be ultra safe.

Here’s another surprise entry in this year’s top plants — grass. In the early season, when this photo was taken, we had just gone through the wettest spring ever! Everything was green beyond measure, and then by the end of June, we entered a severe drought. For four months we didn’t really have any measurable rain. I did not water, except for the trees, and let the grass go dormant all through the summer months. It turned completely brown, and the dirt was like dust. I was truly worried that I’d taken the no–watering thing too far. In September, I started watering, although we were still having 95-100 degree days and no rain, my hopes were to at least save the roots. Nothing greened up at all. Then finally as October started, we had 5 beautiful soft rains, and like a miracle, the grass came back into health again, like nothing ever happened!

Which brings me to the point of this story: there’s nothing like real rain! What comes out of a sprinkler just doesn’t compare. When you water in the triple digit heat of the summer, it encourages weeds. Grass doesn’t grow in extreme heat. I will stand by allowing the grass to go dormant in that kind of condition. It’s much kinder to the roots, than to stress grass into trying to grow — which can kill it. Another giant help to the health of this year’s grass was dethatching the lawn and applying a root stimulating turf builder last fall, which gave us a thicker and virtually weed free yard this year. I highly recommend working your way around your yard using a dethatching rake. It’s very hard work, but pays off in a beautiful way, allowing water and nutrients to easily get to the root system.

Here’s the same area again just last week. You would never know how harsh a summer the grass weathered! It’s hard to not water and to watch it go dormant, but it’s the best thing you can do for the health of the root system. Have faith in Mother Nature, she will bring it back in the fall.

I also want to point out one of my all time tried-and-true flowers: my pansies! After the summer of gorgeous color from the vincas, I wanted to continue with some hardy winter flowers. With any luck they will provide color until the end of April.

This year the pansies in the ground were joined by the pansies I planted in this wreath that my sister gave me! It really brings the whole Fall theme together! Thank you, Tracy!

The beautiful mums have some competition this year. I was so happy when the weather finally cooled down some, I put in 125 pansies across the front. A fresh start to celebrate the season. And gives the frontage some great fall curb appeal. I was thinking ahead to Christmas when I chose the colors — gold, burgundy red, purple, and white — to complement the traditional fruit wreath I’ll be hanging in December.

I know I’ve given props to the knock out roses in the past, but they were really beautiful again this year. We had a swarm of June bugs that came in with the 100 degree heat in the summer, and they did interfere a bit, but I use a granular three in one formula that kept their dirty work to a minimum. It fertilizes, prevents diseases, and for the most part deters bugs- Bio Advanced- worth a try next year, if you have these issues. (I am not paid to endorse, but this is really great stuff in my opinion.)
Another stunner this year were these emerald euonymus. They are incredibly easy to grow and maintain, really no special treatment other than to shape them after the spring growth. This is only two plants! They provide privacy to our back yard from the cul du sac and make a gorgeous living fence, don’t you think? They are beautiful year round, too, and are a favorite nesting place for our flock of cardinals and bluejays.

Before I say good night, I hope that next year’s growing season is not as harsh as this one has been, but just in case it is, here’s hoping that we can all adjust to our changing climate by seeking out the most hardy plants. Let me know what changes you are planning; I’d love to hear!

Happy Fall, everyone!

Spring 2018: I’m back – thank you for waiting!

Welcome Spring!

Welcome Spring!

Hi all! It’s been a looong while since I’ve written a blog, and I have lots of catching up to do and some explaining as well. It seems that this entire last year has been a mess of frustration with construction and neighbors. Every one of the homes on my street has had multiple pieces of huge equipment visit for weeks on end, causing all kinds of mayhem and thoughtless behavior, making it impossible to get a worthy photo for my blog. So thank you all for putting up with my absence for so long. I will do my best to show you what I’ve been up to lately…

I wasn't kidding when I said that there has been HUGE equipment parked all around my property! definitely doesn't make for a pretty photo.

HUGE equipment parked all around my property 7 days a week, all year, definitely doesn’t make for a pretty photo.

And then there were 4 chemical spills by thoughtless neighbors, very illegal.

Thoughtless contractors and neighbors dumped illegal chemicals and detritus. Storm water management officials to the rescue. They explain to the offenders the right way to dispose chemicals, so that they don’t impose a health risk to the environment. Thank you beyond measure!

 

 

Even our feral kitty Stomper was greatly upset-

Even feral kitty Stomper was greatly upset…

Since I couldn't work outside, I got of projects completed inside. The flooring on the main level was all refinished, 2 bathrooms re tiled, and kitchen was updated quite a bit. How I missed the garden!

Since I couldn’t work outside, I  completed projects inside. I refinished the flooring on the main level. This is actually a deck finish! The nice thing about it is that it has UV blockers, and very little odor. We also re-tiled two bathrooms and updated the kitchen appliances.

Last fall I worked on repairing some of the damage to what used to be a beautiful view. 17 very large bushes were carefully transplanted by me, and when spring came, I was thrilled to see that they all survived the transplant and are looking healthy.

Last fall I worked on repairing some of the damage to what used to be a beautiful view. I carefully transplanted 17 large bushes, and when spring came I was thrilled to see that they all survived the winter and are looking healthy.

It was also touch and go for the last couple of years with this pyracantha. It had one after another issue- fungus killed half of it, then scale, whitefly, powdery mildew all took a great toll. After radically pruning and treating it with horticultural oil, and then spraying it with  a mixture of milk and water, it is now a picture of health! So glad for small miracles!

It was touch and go for the last couple of years with this pyracantha. It had one issue after another  — fungus killed half of it, then scale, whitefly, and powdery mildew all took a great toll. After radically pruning and treating it with horticultural oil, and then spraying it with a mixture of milk and water, it is now a picture of health! These are all earth friendly remedies. So glad for small miracles!

There were some beautiful moments last week when the sun popped out. The flowers all opened up on the same day! After such a nasty winter, I can even begin to say how much I appreciated it!

There were some beautiful moments last week when the sun popped out. The flowers all opened up on the same day! After such a nasty winter, I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated it! Each morning I add the coffee grounds to the base of a different plant to provide some natural feeding. By the end of the year, I’ve made it all around the garden. The plants love it!

And another couple of beautiful old faithfuls that never disappoint!

And another couple of beautiful old faithfuls that never disappoint!

Growing so fast you can literally watch the new foliage burst open to welcome warmer weather.

Growing so fast you can literally watch the new foliage burst open to welcome warmer weather.

The violas and pansies are having their last hurrah during this needed rain. I'm ready to be back out in the garden and have some more projects underway to show you next time. Here's hoping for some return to civility around this neighborhood, and for some lovely time outside-

The violas and pansies are having their last hurrah during this needed rain. I’m ready to be back out in the garden and already have some more projects underway to show you next time. Here’s hoping for some peace and quiet to return to this neighborhood and for some lovely time outside.

 

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