Have You Ever Had a Garden Consultation?

I hear a lot of different questions when I receive a call of email about a consultatio0n appointment.

“I don’t know where to start”

            “We just bought a new house and have dogs”

                        “Is there such a thing as low maintenance gardens”

What kind of information should you expect from a consultation with a garden professional?

An experienced garden professional can provide great information on the proper meaintenance of your existing landscaping. One of the most common questions I hear is ‘When do I prune my insert tree/shrub/perennial here?’ Knowing the proper times to prune evergreens and blooming plants will promote healthy growth and blooms.

 

Rise and Shine!

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Spring is here and the gardens are beginning to awaken from their winter sleep. The early bulbs are blooming, snowdrops and crocus, the daffodils have appeared, and the forsythia is blooming. We are all anxious to get out there and do our spring cleaning in the lawns and gardens. But patience is a virtue this time of year!

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We are getting lots of spring rains, so if the gardens and lawns are wet, do not go there! Treading on wet gardens and lawns will compact the soil making it harder for plants to flourish. Roots are just waking up and need the soft spring soil to grow and develop. Give them room to grow and they will thank you the rest of the growing season.

Hold off on pruning your spring and early summer blooming shrubs. This includes lilacs, azaleas, rhododendron and hydrangea macrophylla. Enjoy their blooms and then do your pruning when they are done showing off.

Desperate for some early spring color after the greys of winter? There are shrubs and perennials that will give you what you seek!  Look around for shrubs Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) and Hamamelis (Witch Hazel). I have seen hamamelis blooming as early as February!

Very early perennials to consider are Helleborus (Lenten Rose) and Epimedium (known as Fairy Wings).

For an early boost to your garden’s mood after a long winter, consider adding one to your gardens!

The Proper Feeding of a Garden

I love to cook and bake. Making wonderful food from scratch is how I share my love with my family. I do not use pre-packaged and prepared foods. It is all about being natural in my kitchen. I am the same way in the garden.  I like to keep things natural. But the soil gets tired, it runs out of nutrients, and to keep the plants healthy and thriving, they need a good meal. But FIRST get a soil test! Just like going in for your physical, get the soil tested so you know what nutrients it actually needs. You can easily have your soil tested by Michigan State University’s Extension Service for a very reasonable fee. And the mail the results right to you! Now that you know how to test the soil, here are some of my favorite natural supplements to condition the soil.

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MANURE! Yes, that is what I said…good old-fashioned manure. Especially dehydrated cow manure (no smell!). A very inexpensive source of nutrients for the garden, it can be used all throughout the garden. It provides nitrogen, lightens up clay soil and enhances moisture in sandy soils. You can find dehydrated cow manure at many garden center, home center and hardware store.

 I also feed the garden with compost, and while you can by compost at many retail home centers, I make my own (save money!). A mixture of green (lawn clippings, veggie trimmings, coffee grounds and egg shells) and brown (shredded leaves or newspaper) with a shovel full of your existing soil and some water and the compost will start cooking. You can find more details on making your own compost at Michigan State University Extension Service. Compost provides organic matter, laden with beneficial microbes that releases slowly into the soil. Like manure, it also helps break down clay soils and provides moisture retention in sandy soils.

Have you heard of Chop & Drop? You chop up your leftover winter perennials and grasses (see my post of February 8th!) into small pieces and simply leave them in the garden to break down into fresh nutrients. Do the same thing in the fall; rake up your leaves and shred them right back into the garden. This method keeps materials out of landfills and conditions and supplements your garden’s soil naturally.

 

The Right Stuff (Tools!)

It is early March and there are hundreds of garden tools making appearances at your local garden and home centers. And I really mean HUNDREDS! You do not need a garage full of tools, so what does a home gardener really need to make caring for their roses and vegetables efficient…without breaking the bank?

First on the list is the Hori Hori or garden knife. This is a multi-purpose tool that fits comfortably in your hand. The slim serrated edged blade digs well, even into cracks, but can also cut tree and shrub roots when needed.

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Bypass pruners are essential for the gardener. These pruners cut like a pair of scissors, giving a clean precise cut. They are available for different hand sizes and are even made for lefties!

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Bypass loppers are made for the trimming and pruning of larger shrubs and even small trees. Like the bypass pruners, they function like scissors leaving a clean cut.

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Finally, get yourself a good quality perennial shovel or border spade. This is used for cutting and maintaining garden bed lines. Be sure you select one that fits your frame, not too long or too short. It will be more comfortable to handle, reducing exertion and making for more efficient work in the garden.

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These tools will need to be properly cared for and one of the most important things you can do is keep them sharpened. A sharp pruner or knife will reduce wear and tear on your hands and arms, making the chores in the garden easier to complete. You can maintain these on your own with a good sharpening tool, or many hardware stores and garden centers offer sharpening services.

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These, and other tools and supplies, are available at most home and garden centers, or you can shop online suppliers, such as Gardener’s Supply Company or A.M. Leonard.

With these basic tools, your foray into caring for your flower, herb, vegetable and container gardens will be off to a great start!






How a Gardener Survives the Winter

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Here it is, the middle of February and it seems like spring, and the return to my favorite gardens, is months and months away. But this is the perfect time to find out what is new for the coming growing season. Blogs are one of my favorite ways to learn about new plants, disease and insect treatments, or to shop for everything garden related! I love turning to other professionals, and these are a few of my favorite people and places to go to. So, grab a mug of hot tea or coffee, settle down in a comfy chair with an afghan and your cat and/or dog, grab your phone/tablet/laptop and explore the wealth of knowledge and ideas from other devoted gardeners!

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Margaret Roach is a garden professional with over 30 years of experience. A Way to Garden is her latest horticultural incarnation; her own wisdom mingled with ideas shared in weekly expert interviews. Those conversations are from the companion A Way to Garden public-radio show and podcast, which entered its ninth year in March 2018, and has won praise from “The Guardian” newspaper and multiple medals from Garden Writers of America. In my opinion, you should subscribe (free!) to both her blog and podcast right now.

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Next on my list is Gardenista. I love their self-description: ‘We’re a team of garden obsessives with a mission to demystify outdoor design. When it comes to a well-loved and well lived-in landscape, the best advice comes from like-minded friends.’ This site is full of great ideas for making gardens into outdoor living space, full of gorgeous photography that will inspire any gardener. They even provide shopping tips to bring it all together.

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For more of a scientific approach, I like to turn to Lee Reich, PhD. He calls himself an avid farmdener (his term: more than a gardener, less than a farmer) with graduate degrees in soil science and horticulture. He is a prolific author, with published titles like A Northeast Gardener’s Year, The Pruning Book, Weedless Gardening, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, Landscaping With Fruit, and Grow Fruit Naturally. He contributes to numerous magazines, such as ‘Fine Gardening’ and ‘Horticulture’. But I just go to Lee’s website and can spend hours reading his articles, past lectures and blogs (nine years’ worth!).

There are an endless number of additional resources on the web, those above are just a couple suggestions. Take a look at Floret Flowers or Monrovia’s own website. For more inspiration, check out Garden Design. And many garden publications have great websites, too, like Fine Gardening and Horticulture. Surf the web and dream of spring!

Winter Interest...Chapter Two!

Yes, your summer perennials can still have a role in your winter garden! A good fall clean up of the garden is always healthy for the garden, but there are perennials that can be left standing to provide interest and detail all through the winter.

The genus ‘Allium’ has developed into dozens and dozens of varieties; tall and short, compact and loose. The allium ‘Millenium’ was the Perennial Plant Association selection as the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year! The herbaceous perennial is a relative of the lowly onion and is often called the ‘butterfly magnet’. Once the flowers go by, leave the stalks to dry in place. The plant will hold its blooms throughout the winter, leaving a striking stalk with the dried bloom head at the top.

Another perennial favorite that keeps giving in the garden is the echinacea, or coneflower. One of the hardiest of perennials, growers have developed a multitude of colors beyond the original purple we all know. But, did you also know it’s seed heads are a favorite of native songbirds? I know the goldfinches can be heard chattering like hens in my garden while they dine in the late summer. Even into winter, the echinacea stems and seedheads provide a striking vertical element in the snow.

Don’t discount sedum, either. Another perennial that growers have had fun with, two of my current favorites are ‘Matrona’ and ‘Maestro’. With their deep purple bronze leaves, they are striking in the summer and autumn garden. In the winter, the stems and flowers become a beautiful winter bouquet after a light snow.

If you keep you plants, perennials and shrubs, happy and healthy during their growing season, they will continue to add to the beauty of you garden, even during their winter dormancy.

Winter Interest in the Garden

Arctic Sun Dogwood

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Your garden can be beautiful, even in the depths of winter! By adding unique ornamental shrubs to your landscape design, you can add color, shape and texture.

For winter color, two of my personal favorites are dogwood, both red twig and yellow twig, and kerria japonica. Red twig dogwood (cornus alba) is a favorite of mine, with the variegated variety (Elegantissima) offering four seasons of interest in the garden.

A recent addition to my winter color palette is the cornus sericea, the Yellow Twig dogwood. A beautiful example of the is the Arctic Fire cultivar. These shrubs can grow to 6-8 feet tall and wide, so give them plenty of room in a nice sunny spot in the garden and they will give you a striking statement in the winter snow.

Another great choice for a strong vertical statement is the Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’). It is a showstopper in during the growing season with its profuse blooms. But even in the winter it provides a strong statement with its bright yellow green stems, even in the snow!

For fun in the garden, I love the ‘Whipcord’ arborvitae. Whipcord is a slow growing shrub with loose, pendulous whipcord-like needles. It has a very relaxed habit and will tolerate some shade. It is very unusual for an evergreen, and is sometimes mistaken for an ornamental grass! No matter the season, this unusual evergreen will always draw the eye.

Hands down, my favorite four-season shrub is the hydrangea quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea. This is a shade tolerant flowering shrub that can also take moderate sun, if it gets adequate watering. The oakleaf comes in over 30 varieties, from large 10’-12’ cultivars such as ‘Alice’ and ‘Harmony’, to medium sized ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Snow Queen’ to the newest dwarf varieties like ‘Ruby Slippers’ and ‘Munchkin’. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom in early summer with white panicled flowers that age through the summer to pink and then beige. In autumn their large leaves turn to a beautiful bronze red. After the foliage is shed, they reveal cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark that adds texture to the winter garden. Leave the spent blooms on the irregular, quirky stems for a winter bouquet in the garden!

Take a look around your garden in the next couple weeks, take a few photos if you can. Think about what you would like to see in your winter landscape, because it can always be a four season landscape!

Halt! Wait!! DON"T!!!

I know, I know...it seems like it took forever for spring arrive. And now the garden centers are full of begonia, geraniums, coleus, and so many other wonderful colorful annuals. Let's buy flats of marigolds and zinnias...pick up our tomato and zucchini plants...

...ooh, wouldn't those unique scented geraniums look fantastic with those colorful calibrachoa in the porch container gardens...

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It is just to early to plant your annuals. Yes, the weather has warmed up (well, not today) a bit. But, the GROUND has not warmed up enough; the ground needs to be 60 degrees or warmer! That is the secret to a successful planting of blooming annuals and many vegetable plants. Hold off on planting you tender summer annuals until Memorial Day weekend. They will do much better their roots snuggled into nice warm soil!

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It is Time to Prune!

Spring may seem a bit late, but it will get here, and soon. There is still time to prune some of your ornamental blooming trees and shrubs before they leaf out fully. The question everyone asks me is: What do I prune now and what do I wait on?

This is the easiest time of year to prune your crab apples, before they leaf out. You want to remove any small growth along the trunk and branches. Remove suckers and 'water spouts'; those are those odd looking 'straight' branches that can  look so out of place on an ornamental tree. Removing these branches will allow the tree to devote its full energy on growth and fruit production. And fruit means blooms!

This is also the time of year to prune hydrangea arborescens (Annabelle, Incredible, White Dome, and many others) and hydrangea paniculata (Limelight, Pinky Winky, Quick Fire, and many others) because these shrubs bloom on 'new wood', or this season's new growth.

You definitely want to wait to prune the macrophylla (Endless Summer, a favorite, and Nikko Blue) or quercifola ( oakleaf hydrangeas such as Pee Wee and Ruby Slippers) varieties of hydrangea, though. These varieties bloom on 'old wood', branches that have been on the plant through the winter. Wait to prune these ornametal beauties until after you have enjoyed their spring bloom.

As always, if you need a little help, I am available!

Want Your Winter Evergreens to Stay EVER-green?

WATER! WATER! WATER!

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Fall is the prime time to keep root growth hydrated. And evergreen trees and shrubs, especially those planted within the last couple of years, are particularly vulnerable to winter stresses— drying, burning and possible loss. Since we’ve had a pretty dry September and October, I’d recommend adding adequate amounts of water to your garden beds until the ground freezes.

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What’s considered adequate amounts water?

As a general rule for:

• garden beds: 1” of water or rain per week. Water can be easily measured by placing an empty tuna can, or rain gauge in your garden where your sprinkler hits. 

• evergreen shrubs: add two gallons of water for each shrub, one time per week.

• evergreen trees: add five gallons of water, one time per week.

Also, pay special attention to broad leaf evergreens, such as rhododendron, holly, and pieris japonica. As well as arborvitaes, which are notorious driers, and evergreens planted close to the house can dry out quickly too. 

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As tempting as it to think the gardening season is put to bed, remind yourself— mark your calendar or put it in your phone, to keep on watering thru Thanksgiving, think— put the turkey in oven, then go and water the evergreens!

Tiny Bulbs Give BIG Impact!

October is the perfect time to plant lots of tiny flowering bulbs. You’ll thank yourself come February, when the winter doldrums hit and these cheery little bursts of color pop up thru the snow— alerting you that, yes, spring truly is on the way! I suggest planting where you can easily enjoy them— along the front walk, by the garage, or near your back door. Fast spreaders, each year they’ll keep thickening up, forming a luscious, overflowing, flowering carpet. For an extra punch of color, add some among your perennials. One of the best things about tiny bulbs, is that they are so easy to plant— just dig a hole 4” deep by 6” wide and place 10 to 12 bulbs less than 1” apart. Then cover up. 

So much reward for so little work! 

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Eranthis hyemalis (Winter aconite)
Like little bits of sunshine, these bright yellow bloomers shoot up early, happily welcoming us to spring!


 

 

 

 

 

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Muscari (Grape hyacinth)
Best known for sweet, long-lasting blooms, in vibrant shades of blue. No garden should be without these winter hardy, no-care bulbs. Emerging in late spring they are spectacular when planted in thick borders.

 

 

 

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Anemone blanda (Anemone bulb)
Easy breezy— refreshing mounds of delightful daisy-shaped flowers come in blues, pinks, whites and mixed colors. Allow to naturalize— just plant and forget for captivating paths of color.

Autumn Pizzaz!

Keep the colors coming with these five fantastic fall-blooming, cold tolerant, varieties.

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Chrysanthemum- This fall favorite perennial bloomer always wows! Plant in groups for gorgeous masses of autumn colors- yellow, bronze, red, white, orange, burgundy and pink.

 

 

Hardy Hibiscus- A perennial show-stopper, these huge flowers come in a dazzling array of bright colors and bicolors, and continues to bloom even into October.

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Aster- The delightful colors of these beautiful, daisy-like blooms will flower vigorously until a hard frost. These perennials are also a reliable, rich source of nectar for Monarch butterflies fueling up for their fall migration.

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Ornamental Cabbage and Kale- Add these captivating annuals for wonderful textures in your garden and containers. Their curly thick leaves range in colors from whites to shades of pinks and purples.

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Pansy-These sweet, cheery, little annuals are surprisingly very hardy and can withstand cool weather while providing pops of color.

Beneficial Bugs- Your New Besties!

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Good bugs are beneficial in the garden and you’ll want to create an environment so inviting they’ll never want to leave. Let’s make our garden floor a cozy welcome mat of organic mulch while offering up a little food and drink to entice our new little friends to stay. Good bugs even like to dine on tiny, easy to reach, flower nectars on occaison. Plant a variety of tiny blooms that will continuously flower throughout the season for them to feed on, and you’ll have a garden filled with multitudes of BBFF’s (best beneficial friends forever!) 

Love the Ladybugs (Lady Beetles) This cute, red spotted bug can eat their fair share of aphids, mealybugs, and mites. However, it’s their baby larvae that are the real voracious eaters. But unlike their mothers, the babies are pretty scary looking, so don’t be tempted to destroy these very beneficial alligator-like little monsters. Ladybugs are attracted to: carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, yarrow, angelica, and coreopsis.

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Praying MantisThese amazing insects are fun to watch and are even thought of as garden pets. They are beneficial because of their enormous appetites, constantly chowing down, night and day, on a wide range of pests, including caterpillars, mosquitoes, aphids, mites, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and crickets. Praying Mantis are attracted to: tall grasses, shrubs, cosmos, marigolds, and dills.

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Lovely Lacewings  This delicate, green, fairylike insect with its huge transparent wings is one of the most effective beneficial bugs for your garden. They consume pollen and nectar exclusively, so keeping that diverse supply of flowering plants throughout the season will help keep Lacewings thriving. Their babies are very similar in appearance to Ladybug larvae, but are even more ravenous, consuming up to 100 aphids per day– earning them the nickname “aphid lions.” They also dine on whitefly, leafhopper, mealybugs, and caterpillars. Lacewings are attracted to: angelica, caraway, coreopsis, goldenrod, yarrow, tansy.

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Remember, it’s a bug-eat-bug world out there!

Gardening Glory

August is beautiful in Grosse Pointe this year. With the delightful temperatures, adequate rain, and loads of sunshine, the Pointes are peaking in all their gardening glory- and it’s evident everywhere you turn. Now is the time when all the work, and pleasure, in your garden comes to its beautiful fruition. Annuals are bursting with showy waves of color.

The hydrangeas are breathtaking with their beautiful blooms. Hibiscus is boldly shouting for your attention and roses are showing off why they are worth the extra effort. Mounds of daisies are spilling over, laughing in the sunshine. Now is the time for all humans, and pollinators alike, to sit back in your favorite garden spot and drink it all in. ahhhh!

This is some very tasty nectar...and I am loaded down with pollen!

This is some very tasty nectar...and I am loaded down with pollen!

June Is Busting Out All Over!

This is a wonderful time of year to relax and enjoy the gardens. But, as you look around, use a critical eye and consider the plants that make up the landscape around you. Is everything the same shape of leaf or flower? Are there blank spots just begging for something pretty? Consider mixing things up in shape, structure or color. Contrast will draw the eye!

When adding something new to the garden, keep in mind the human eye is drawn to odd number groupings; three or five plants grouped together will create a cohesive look, adding more impact than a dot of color here, there and yonder.

Save room in the gardens for summer and fall bloomers, perennials and annuals, too! Don’t just shop your favorite nurseries in June. Visiting later in the summer you find wonderful new plants to lengthen the bloom time in your gardens. Fortunately, there are many perennials that bloom in late summer, including ornamental grasses, lobelia (the perennial variety!), asters, Russian sage, cimicifuga and sedum. And there are plenty of sun-loving, heat tolerant annuals to complement them, such as ageratum, alyssum, nicotiana, salvia and verbena.

With a little planning you can create annual-perennial partnerships that will keep your flower gardens looking terrific for a full 5 or 6 months.

WEEKEND of FUN PLAY or FUN WORK?

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Don’t put off enjoying a walk or bike ride, BUT – don’t put off weeding either! 

Weeding in spring helps you and the garden in summer.  It keeps them “at bay” and helps your desirable plants grow without too much competition.  Even aggressive perennials can become unwelcome intruders if not checked early on, such as the obedient plant, monarda and chelone.

Try a new restaurant in the neighborhood, and treat your weaker, struggling plants to some extra TLC by adding some compost to their world.

Use your own or buy some and apply a 1-2” ring at the base of your perennials, shrubs and trees.  Be sure to start a few inches from the crown (where the plant stem meets the soil).  Compost is much better for the soil than chemicals - it adds a nutrition boost but also enhances the texture of the soil which encourages good drainage, air circulation and overall soil health.

Planning some time for liquid refreshments during your holiday weekend? 

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Be sure to include a watering schedule appropriate for your garden.

Clay soils need deep watering less frequently, so let those beds dry out between soaks.  Sandy soils need deep watering too, but drain much faster, so be aware of plants wilting to tell you when to water.

 

 

It’s officially growing season - happy Memorial Day!

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Button Up Your Overcoat!

It's too cold AT NIGHT to put those annuals outside right now. 

You have been to the nurseries and seen them, couldn't help yourself, and bought a bunch.

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Well the nights are going to be in the 30s and 40s for the next 10 days and quite a few annuals will not make it with that cold.

And if you planted them in our cold soil, it could be the kiss of death.

If they are in containers or flats, still keep them in a protected area (garage, enclosed porch, etc) and if they are in the ground, well, you could dig them up and hold them with the other plants in a protected spot till the soil is over 50°. 

You can buy a soil thermometer at our local nurseries to be sure when your garden has warmed up.  Or keep following us for up to date safe gardening alerts!

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"Button up your overcoat, when the wind is breezy" and your plants too!

What do April Showers and May Flowers Have in Common with You?

We’ve made it through the rainy weather of April and the earth is bursting forth around us with it’s stunning spring show.  It’s a terrific demonstration that just like you and me, the plants around us need food, oxygen and water to live - and live well! 

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It’s amazing how much change happens in just 24 hours when the temps are moderate and water is plentiful.  The drama is never more obvious than during Spring – that is until the scorching heat of summer arrives.  Then we worry if our gardens and lawns will survive.  

 

Well don’t worry - now is the time for us to plan ahead! 

A well thought out irrigation strategy is not only critical to enjoying your landscape all year, it’s also the most cost efficient way to manage your watering needs. 

Sprinklers are great for your lawn but a very costly way to water much of your garden, because the extreme heat of summer causes water to evaporate much faster; think how quickly the streets and sidewalks dry up after a summer rain.  That means you need even more water to ensure a good, deep soak.  But how much, in which areas, and how can you tell when enough is enough? 

You probably have areas that would benefit from a drip system which targets water delivery directly to the soil.   Installation can be done professionally or as your next DIY project.  No more wasting a drop on paved areas, walls that enclose your green space or hoping enough water drips through the canopies to reach those thirsty roots in the soil.  This means a huge increase in plant health and a substantial savings on your water bill.

Downspoutsare another great resource of supplemental water.  There are great ways to capture and redirect that flow to benefit your landscape as it filters through your soil - before it flows into our water table through sewers, ditches, streams and rivers to the beautiful lakes around us.

Toxins and infrastructure are just a part of our Clean Water equation.  Our population has long outgrown the capacity of our aging drainage systems, so it’s never been more important to understand our individual part with a smart watering strategy. 

A little planning goes a long way!

If you need help in this or other areas of your garden management, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a consultation at 313. 881.2223 or Mil@asoutherngardener.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't Throw Away Your Pollinators!

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Leaving the beds with winter cover right now is hard to do.  We want to “neaten up” the garden beds, especially if we have early bulbs like snow drops, winter aconite, iris reticulata or perennials such as hellebores blooming. 

It’s so exciting to watch the plants green up - but how can you if you have leaves, broken stems and flat grasses filling the beds? 

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Leave up those asters and golden rods because “good insects” lay their eggs inside.  Butterflies at the chrysalid stage could be attached to sticks and stems on your butterfly plants.  Hollow stemmed plants and the bases of tall grasses are also places where native bees may hibernate through the winter.

Cleaning away leaves might mean you also take away Fritillary butterflies.  They are wintering in the leaf litter, near violets which they use as their food source.

Maybe for this year, remove some of the debris and put it in your compost pile or an inconspicuous area where the native pollinators can still emerge.  Leave some material in the beds, pulled away from the early spring display, and watch to see if new creatures appear in your garden this Spring.

Follow this link to find a wonderful, concise download “Invite Pollinators to Your Garden” by two of MSU’s experts for additional information, and scroll down their page for additional photos and links on this most important topic.

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/invite_pollinators_to_your_garden_by_creating_a_smart_habitat

A special thanks to our friend Rosann Kovalcik of Wild Birds Unlimited in Grosse Pointe Woods for also sharing her knowledge and information on this topic at http://www.wildbirdsgpw.com/dont-clean-your-yard/

Extremes are Stressful!

What a crazy winter and ‘almost spring’ we have had.  Warm weather is coaxing trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs to wake up.  And then deep, bitter cold to slam the door on your yearnings for an early spring.

Well, don’t panic ‘cause there isn’t anything you can do at this point!  We will just have to wait and see if the forsythia will bloom, the fruit trees develop flowers, and our magnolias blossom in April. 

Usually the bulbs such as daffodils, grape hyacinth and scilla can take the teasing.

Once the woody plants start to leaf out, check for any dead branches and prune them off.  Be careful not to get too early on your pruning; some buds may take longer to open than in previous years. 

Pay attention to spring rainfall.  If we aren’t getting our usual generous amounts you may need to supplement water to the stressed plants - they will need extra attention this year to get them strong and healthy for another summer. 

Setting up a rain gauge will help you know how much additional water you may need to provide.  The general guideline is 1” per week to sustain gardens and lawns. 

Adding a rain sensor to your irrigation system and ensuring you have the right distribution system will significantly reduce your water bill (20-40%).  Consider having your landscape and irrigation plan evaluated now to optimize your water usage and retention throughout the growing season.  Who doesn't like to save money?  Contact mil@asoutherngardener.com to arrange a consultation.