Out, Out Darn Weeds!

Weeding tool aresenal

Weeding tool aresenal

The key to keeping the weeds under control and actually being able to relax and enjoy your garden space is really very simple: Work early and relax later!

If you get into your gardens now, while the plants are still relatively small and you have room to work, you will be able to enjoy the gardens with little upkeep during the hot summer months. With a couple simple spring tasks, the gardens will be looking sharp all season long.

  1. Don’t Just Cut Off Their Heads: Dig in there, get to the ROOT of your weeds. Most native weeds are smart, their stems break of easily, but the roots are still in the soil ready to pop right up again. Dig down into the soil, cultivate, get as much of the root system out as possible.
  2. Lift Up Your Skirts (of your plants, that is!): Weeds like to settle in under broader leaf plants, hiding away until they are big, strong and well rooted. Look under those hostas, pull back the lower branches of your ornamental shrubs. Find out who is lurking under there and dig them out.
  3. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch: Finally, after cleaning things up, apply a nice thick layer of mulch to the garden (3” minimum) to smother any new weeds that may still try to come through. As an added benefit to the garden, mulch helps with water conservation!

This is the time to get into the garden and cleanup for spring. The weather is cooler, the plants are easy to work around and the soil is soft and easy to work in. A weekend of work now will give you an entire summer to...

Relax!

Pruning Roses – You Can Do It!

Border of Flower Carpet Roses

Border of Flower Carpet Roses

The Queen of Flowers, also known as the Rose, is a staple in many of our gardens. Some may have one or two shrubs as a focal point, and others have large collections of various types and sizes. Roses are actually quite hardy and only need a few regular maintenance tasks to continue to bring their beauty year after year. One of the most important tasks that our roses need is a regular spring pruning.

“Removal of old wood and damaged or diseased parts can allow a recuperative process to take place for increased growth… and then redirected to produce that first magnificent spring bloom.” (All About Pruning by Dr. Tommy Cairns).

A rose pruner's toolkit

A rose pruner's toolkit

Before your rose shrubs fully leaf out this spring, it is time to prune them for a wonderful season of bloom and scent. Pruning roses is actually quite easy if you simply follow three basic steps:

  1. Cut back the deadwood and down slightly into the green wood of the cane.
  2. Remove any canes crossing one another or growing into the center of the shrub.
  3. When selecting the spot to prune, select a point just above a bud growing outward.

If you wish to know more, or would like to see some great pruning examples, I urge you to visit the American Rose Society’s many great articles on pruning, such as the article referenced above, which has great illustrative examples. You can find Dr. Cairns’ article on the web.

Or, read Ten Principles of Rose Pruning by  Robert B. Martin.

Pruning...And Then There Are The Hydrangeas

It is time for early spring pruning of our ornamental trees and shrubs. There are some cultivars that can be pruned now and some that are pruned after they bloom. Here is a quick reference list of some of the most popular inhabitants of our landscapes. Go ahead and prune these great hardy shrubs now:

  • Roses
  • Red Twig Dogwood
  • Spirea japonica
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

Remember, though, pruning means getting in there and pruning out the center, opening up for good air flow, and maintaining a pleasing natural shape. Not just cutting across the top and sides!

Other ornamentals should not be pruned until after their bloom, or you won't enjoy their beautiful spring display. Be patient and prune the following later in the spring:

  • Rhododendron and azalea
  • Dogwood
  • Crabapple
  • Magnolia
  • Lilac

AND THEN THERE ARE THE HYDRANGEAS!

Just to make things fun in the gardens, some hydrangeas are pruned early in the spring, before they bloom, and others you wait until after the bloom.

You can go ahead and prune hydrangea arborescens, like Annabelle and Invicibelle, and hydrangea paniculata, LimeLight and Pinky Winky, right now.

But wait on pruning varieties such as Hy. macrophylla (Nikko Blue), Hy. macrophylla x.H. serrata (Lacecap) and Hy. quercifolia (Oakleaf) until August so you can enjoy their full bloom throughout the growing season.

If you are not sure just which hydrangeas you have in your landscape, just give a call or drop me and email. You can even post your question to me on my Contact Page!

The Weather Oustside is Frightful!

But an indoor garden can be delightful!

Perk up your spirits and chase the winter blues by forcing some spring bulbs this winter.

Paperwhites (below) and Soleil d'Or (above) can be grown without soil. Plant them in pebble-filled containers with the base of the bulbs in contact with water at the bottom of the container. These bulbs don't need chilling, but will benefit from a cool temperature (50 degrees F.) until the top shoot is a couple of inches long. At that point, you can move the plant into a warm, brightly lit area.

Another fun indoor winter bulb is the amaryllis, and while we all remember the traditional red blooms, today's amaryllis comes in a brilliant variety of colors!

Amaryllis, which can be purchased as bulbs in the fall or as blooming plants in December, has become a popular year-end gift. Prized for its willingness to produce large lily-like trumpet blooms, which generally last indoors for several weeks, amaryllis is a fabulous choice for holiday centerpieces. Potted bulbs, whether in bloom or on their way, make wonderful gifts that are simple to put together.

Started in a dish of pebbles and water or potted in a shallow pot of soil, it is hard to believe such an unassuming bulb will become such a striking statement in your home!

New Fall Fashions!

Fall means it is time to change out the summer annuals in my container gardens and window boxes, and while pansies and mums are classic choices, I always like to add something new and fresh. I have found some new ‘fashion accessories’ for my fall containers. For profuse blooms on slender stems 6-10” tall, I have found Diasciahybrid, also known as Twinspur. In shades of pink, purple, red and orange, it is a colorful addition to any container. And best of all, no dead heading required!

Just some of the many colors of Diascia
Just some of the many colors of Diascia
Twinspur is a prolific bloomer all fall
Twinspur is a prolific bloomer all fall

You can’t miss when you add annual or perennial grasses to your containers; they can bring immediate drama and structure to arrangements of any size. Some of my favorites for fall are 'Cheyenne Sky' Panicum virgatum, a perennial grass with a mature height of 30-36”. After a fall in your container, plant it in your landscape for a striking addition to you garden.

The drama of Cheyenne Sky is the brilliant red of the mature growth
The drama of Cheyenne Sky is the brilliant red of the mature growth
Tofee Twist Sedge
Tofee Twist Sedge

For smaller containers, Toffee Twist Sedge Carexflagellifera has slender, iridescent leaves and an elegant sweeping, trailing habit.

Hybrids of Heuchera, or Coral Bells, come in a wide range of colors these days, from the deep purple/black of ‘Licorice’ to the bright green of ‘Key Lime Pie’! Grown more for their variety of foliage colors and patterns, Heuchera add a striking accent to beds or containers.

Heuchera 'Licorice', a deep, dramatic addition to the garden
Heuchera 'Licorice', a deep, dramatic addition to the garden

It will be a beautiful weekend coming up. Make a trip to your favorite garden center and pick up some new plants for your containers. Dress them up and put them out - you will have all fall to enjoy them!

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face....
~John Donne

Shade Annuals for 2014

Yes, our go-to annual for the shady spots in our gardens, the trusty impatiens, is still not available thanks to the downy mildew that attacks it. While that is sad news for many area gardeners, it give us a wonderful opportunity to try some different annuals. Here are just a few for your consideration.

For a brilliant blue purple that blooms throughout the season consider the Browallia. Heat tolerant, successful in light to medium shade, and never needing deadheading, this lovely plant will bloom from the time you plant it until the first hard frost of fall.

Browallia
Browallia

Another option to consider is Torenia. It is a profuse blooming annual that starts flowering early in the season and keeps up the show through fall, also with minimal deadheading. Torenia's bright and quirky upturned flowers give rise to many common names. If you've ever seen one looking at you, you'll understand the name 'Clown Flower'. The name 'Wishbone Flower' comes from the way the anthers arch and join at the tip, when the flowers fist open. Visiting bees break the wishbone while pollinating.

Some of the brilliant colors of Torenia
Some of the brilliant colors of Torenia

You don't need a flowering plant to get brilliant color in your shady garden spots. Those who have yet to discover Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs., USDA Hardiness Zone 11) are missing out on the stupefying number of possibilities they offer. Whether grown in containers or in the ground, used as specimen plants or as partners in a combination, these multicolored beauties perform like nothing else in the garden. Don’t let their beguiling colors prevent you from taking advantage of their other design attributes: Coleus come in different shapes and sizes from trailing varieties to big bushy mounds. From vibrant splashes of color to flowing curves of texture, look no further for the secret ingredient to complete your garden masterpiece.

A border of torenia brightens and softens a shady rock garden
A border of torenia brightens and softens a shady rock garden
A variety of coleus brightens a garden walkway
A variety of coleus brightens a garden walkway
Caladium framing a tree adds an unexpected ring of color
Caladium framing a tree adds an unexpected ring of color

Another annual that is know for its brilliant foliage is Caladium. Tropical plants that originated in the Amazon basin in South America, Caladium leaves can be shaped like hearts, arrows, or lances in color combinations of red, pink, rose, white, chartreuse, and green. The brilliant foliage of this classic plant is often translucent, which makes them light up your garden. For a big show of color, pick your favorite selection and plant a bunch. They’ve brightened shady spots for generations, but now you have the option of newer selections that can take some direct sun.

Yes, we miss the trusty impatients, but growers have developed some beautiful options for the shady spots in our gardens. Wander through your local garden center and let your imagination have fun with these alternatives!

Unwanted Local Inhabitants

Have you heard of Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)? Edwin Rollin Spencer, in All About Weeds, describes it as “one of the meanest of weeds. A whispering little hussy that creeps in and spoils everything.” Or how about Euphorbia maculata or Chamaesyce maculata, depending who you ask; aka Spotted Spurge? These are two expamples of native species that have become unwelcome residents in local gardens.

Like most weeds, Hedge Bindweed is challenging to eradicate. Small stands of bindweed can be managed through hand removal, although complete eradication is difficult. Plants should be dug, taking care to remove as much as the root system as possible. As the plant will resprout from any root fragments left in the soil, the area must be monitored for new growth, which should be removed as soon as possible.

While hedge bindweed will grow up and over, Spotted Spurge is a low growing invasive weed. It appears when the weather really warms up, sprouting from the seeds left behind last year. Pull it out, roots and all, as soon as it arrives. But, be careful if you have a sensitivity to latex; this plant has a latex sap, so wear gloves. The seeds need light to germinate, so a good layer of mulch will help control its spread and minimize the need to weed.

For more information, talk to your local garden center, research online (for instance, http://awaytogarden.com/eliminate-spotted-spurge-and-hedge-bindweed/) or get in touch with your local Master Gardener!

The Edible Container Garden

Many of us enjoy container gardens as creative focal points in our landscape. But, have you considered going a step further and having your container garden contribute to your kitchen? There are many great edible garden ideas for your containers!

A popular idea is a container herb garden. Whether a collection of your favorite herbs go together into one large container (like below), or you create a collection individual pots, this is an easy kitchen garden, even for the novice gardener.

Ready to plant a tasty kitchen herb garden
Ready to plant a tasty kitchen herb garden

Remember, herbs need full sun for best performance. Place your containers in locations that receive at least eight hours of direct sun. Also, don't give your herbs too much love. Avoid the fertilizer; most herbs will give you the strongest fragrance and flavor if they're grown in lean soil. Likewise, water wisely; while most herbs prefer dry conditions, some need more moisture to thrive. Use a soil-less potting mix to provide excellent drainage and space for roots to grow.

Another fun edible idea is a salad container garden. Often several brightly colored lettuce varieties come as a mix in one seed packet. Or, if you are not interested is starting from seed, many garden centers now have a salad mix in 4- or 6-cell packs, for easy planting. “Mesclun” means mix and can include arugula, lettuce, endive and chervil. Many salad mixes include greens, like arugula, that have a tangy taste and add unique flavor. Red and dark green types generally are higher in nutrients and antioxidants. Some varieties are identified as heat tolerant and these may be good choices for container gardening. Lettuce can be picked leaf by leaf almost from the time the first one emerges.

A tasty salad garden
A tasty salad garden
Patio tomato, ready to harvest
Patio tomato, ready to harvest

If the lettuce starts to “bolt” (sends up a stalk and goes to seed) the leaves tend to be bitter, so remove any plants that start to bolt to enjoy the best flavors that your garden can provide. Pairing your lettuce container with a potted patio tomato (Tiny Tim is ready to harvest in only 45 days!) gives an instant fresh salad all summer long!

Finally, keep vegetable and herb plants in mind to add interest to your floral container gardens. Here, the beautiful colors of Rainbow Swiss Chard add depth to a container of annuals.

Swiss Chard & Annuals
Swiss Chard & Annuals
Annuals with green and red sweet peppers
Annuals with green and red sweet peppers

For some height and structure, add chives to the garden. Or, how about peppers? Choose from an amazing array of colors, shapes, and heat levels, from mildly spicy 'Anaheim' to searing hot 'Thai Dragon'. Among sweet peppers, try 'Ariane', an orange bell, or 'Giant Marconi', a long, red one that's great for grilling.

So, when planning your container gardens over the next couple weeks, consider an "Edible Garden" this summer!

Take a Picture!

Don't let your display (or lack thereof) of spring bulbs fade without taking some pictures of the garden now.

Tulips peaking out
Tulips peaking out

It's so hard to remember what the beds look like when fall comes and they are full of plants, flowers and  foliage.

Daffodils in bloom
Daffodils in bloom
Spring daffodils
Spring daffodils

If you get out there and take these shots of your garden, you can use the pictures in the fall when you get the itch to plant bulbs.

The best photographs are taken in early morning or late afternoon on a partly cloudy day. It's always better to take lots of pictures so you capture all angles of your garden.

Get out there this weekend!

It's Not Too Late

Spring pruning season isn't quite over yet. Even though some of your shrubs have begun to leaf out, there are still SOME varieties that can be pruned. If it isn't a 'spring blooming' shrub, you have some time.

Three varieties that can still take a good pruning are burning bush, spirea and red twig dogwood. For example, if your burning bush has overtaken the spot it lives in, maybe covering up a window or walkway, you can still prune it back hard.

Burning Bush
Burning Bush

We found the large burning bushes shown above covering up a large trellis, so we actually cut it back to a height of two feet. The plants will send out new growth over the next few weeks, filling in nicely, but back in scale with the rest of the plants in the bed.

Spirea is another ornamental shrub that can take a good pruning and shaping. Don't hesitate to clean up this hardy specimen if it is looking a little ragged in the garden.

Spirea
Spirea

And red twig dogwood is always good to prune back in the spring as that will encourage the brilliant red new growth that makes this shrub so beautiful in the garden. The shrubs in the photo below have been thinned out and cut back to encourage those desired new branches.

Red Twig Dogwood
Red Twig Dogwood

REMEMBER, though, this is NOT the time to prune spring and summer blooming shrubs. Leave those lilac, viburnum, rhododendron shrubs, and summer blooming hydrangeas, alone until AFTER they have bloomed!

Lilac
Lilac
Viburnum
Viburnum
Rhododendron
Rhododendron
Hydrangea
Hydrangea

We Need a Snack!

Imagine your self as a spring bulb, planted last fall, given some food, covered up and told to go to sleep for four to five months. Now you have finally woken up after a long winter's nap and started growing. Wouldn't you be very, very hungry right about now? Of course you would!

This is the time to get some good quality bulb food and feed your daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and other spring blooming bulbs. There are several good options on the market, such as BulbTone, or even just good old bone meal; just follow the package directions.

BulbTone is only one of many options for bulb food
BulbTone is only one of many options for bulb food

Depending on the species, you will reap future benefits of this early spring feeding as the plants grow and bloom. Your bulbs will remain healthy and strong year after year. Many will even divide and create new bulbs as a result of good healthy feedings. Daffodils, in particular, will thrive and spread for many years with regular feedings.

So get out there and feed your bulbs!

Dow Gardens Know & Grow Seminar

It has been a long, cold, snowy winter here in Michigan, and we could all use a little reminder that spring WILL actually arrive! I encourage anyone interested in gardening, whether a novice or an advanced gardener, to treat themselves to the Dow Gardens Know & Grow Seminar, being held Saturday, February 22nd in Midland, Michigan.

The Dow Gardens were started in 1899 by Herbert Dow, founder of The Dow Chemical Company. The Gardens, originally developed on eight acres of flat, sandy land, provided a creative outlet for Herbert Dow’ and his interest in agriculture and design. He created gardens, ponds and hills according to a simple philosophy that the Gardens still follow to this day: “never reveal the gardens’ whole beauty at first glance.” Thanks to the dedicated guidance of the Dow family, the Gardens have grown to 110 acres. Today, the creativity of Herbert Dow is still revealed to all those who visit Dow Gardens.

The Dow Gardens offer many services and activities to support the joys of gardening, and their seminars are wonderful. This year's Know & Grow seminar will feature presentations from Rick Darke, author and photographer, Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc., and Janet Macunovich, professional gardener and author. For more information on the seminar,includinghowto register, just go to:

http://media.wix.com/ugd/a6644a_813a73b611d74331a99e3e7512baa553.pdf

So call some friends, get in touch with your garden club or just give yourself a present; plan to attend the Dow Gardens Know & Grow Seminar and begin your garden planning!

An Early Spring - Indoors!

Are you itching for some color from your garden in your home? Does it feel like spring will never arrive? You might be surprised what plants in your garden can provide an early bloom of spring in your home right now.

Many spring blooming shrubs can be forced with a little help from you. While forsythia is a classic example of a flowering shrub that can be forced during the winter, there are many other choices available. Consider your flowering crab and cherry trees, dogwoods, bridal veil spirea, even quince and witch hazel. It is easier than you might think.

For the how-to's, I encourage you to read this article posted on Better Homes &  Gardens website:

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/trees-shrubs-vines/care/forcing-branches-into-bloom/

Then, grab a coat and some pruners and bring some spring into your home!

Plant Those Bulbs, Ho Ho Ho!

There may snow on the ground, but if the ground isn't frozen where you are, you can still get some spring blooming bulbs planted! It is a simple process:

A little work now creates a wonderful surprise in the spring!
A little work now creates a wonderful surprise in the spring!
  1. Dig a 6-8" deep hole
  2. Place your bulbs
  3. Sprinkle with bone meal
  4. Cover firmly with soil
  5. Get a cup of hot chocolate!

Planting in a big hole provides the opportunity to create a bouquet of flowers (here I have a dozen daffodils).  The bulbs are placed about 2-4" apart, at least 6” below ground.

Twelve little daffodils tucked warm in their bed.
Twelve little daffodils tucked warm in their bed.

It is a big hole to dig when it is so cold, but having help (like my husband, Matt) speeds the process along and makes the chore easier. Sprinkling some bone meal around your planted bulbs will give them a little food in the spring when they awaken from their long winter nap. Then cover completely with soil and tamp down.

A little help makes the job go faster!
A little help makes the job go faster!

It can be fun to find new places to plant your spring bulbs.  Spots in the garden behind other perennials or shrubs gives daffodils and tulips the opportunity to shine before the other plants fill out and helps mask the bulb foliage while it ripens.

It's fun to squeeze in more bulbs in early winter. Next spring they will raise their pretty heads and fill the garden with color.

Maybe we can call them LATE presents from Santa!

A Time for Thanks

As I gather with family a friends this Thanksgiving weekend, I want to share some of the things I am grateful for as 2013 comes to a close.

I am grateful for the wonderful people who worked for and with A Southern Gardener this year, many whom I have worked with for years, and some who were new blessings this year.

I am grateful for our clients who gave us the opportunity to turn their dreams of their gardens into the realities they now enjoy.

But mostly, I am truly grateful for the beauty of the nature that surrounds us, in all its varied forms, throughout the seasons of the year.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season,

Containers for Winter

Just because later fall and early winter have arrived, don't put your garden containers away for the year! If they are weather safe, use the gifts of your garden to create beautiful, long lasting outdoor arrangements for you front door, patio or window box. Of course, any of the evergreens in your gardens can be pruned to make a beautiful arrangement. Yew, arborvitae, juniper, any pines, can all be used to create a beautiful seasonal arrangement. Add some pinecones and you are ready for the season. But, don't stop there, look around your garden. you will find many other seasonal  plants to add to your containers.

Look for holly and cotoneaster for their red berries. Do you have red twig dogwood, Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or curly willow in your garden? They can all add drama to any arrangement!

Finally, look to your winter interest perennials for floral touches to add to your arrangements. Hydrangea blooms when dried are particularly dramatic (spray paint the silver or gold for a little bling!). The seed heads from perennial grasses, clematis and even sedum are all wonderful elements to add structure to your seasonal outdoor arrangements. Look to the gardens for your holiday inspiration!

Reflections on Fall

I can’t help but love fall. It wasn’t always this way, though. There was a time fall made me sad; it meant summer was over and so was happy outside play time. Fall meant shorter days and being cooped up inside.

Now, I love all the changes that fall brings. Tree leaves changing into golds, oranges, reds and purples create a kaleidoscope for us as we drive around town. And perennials have their own assortment of colors as well.

If you can be patient and wait for hostas to change their color before cutting them back, their foliage becomes a wonderful gold hue. If you have some of the large leaf variety, there is even more to enjoy with their dynamic splash of color in the garden.

Hydrangea macrophylla flowers slowly fade from the bright blues and pinks of summer into warmer reds and beiges as fall progresses. It is a soft, subtle shift, delightful to watch.

I even have to admire the roses for giving one last push of blooms before the killing frost. If you don’t pay attention because the cold keeps you inside, you could miss this final show your roses provide.

The show is almost finished for this year but don’t let that stop you from going outside and looking around to see who is still delighting your eyes and spirit. Even though you might not like the change of seasons forcing you indoors against the cold, wrap up in a coat and walk among your gardens, your neighborhood.  Even in fall, all that Mother Nature offers can bring joy and contentment.

Fall is falling, but it has a favorite spot in my heart.

The Fruits of Fall

The fall fruit of the kousa dogwood provides color and texture!
The fall fruit of the kousa dogwood provides color and texture!

When you look around, enjoying all the leaf color that fall brings, check out the fruit that glows this time of year.

You may remember this unusual photo from my post last week. Kousa Dogwoods have an interesting fruit, and this tree produced some of the largest fruit I have ever seen. To me, the  berry looks like a cross between a cherry and a raspberry!

Viburnums are a large family of shrubs. This mature shrub is a cranberry Viburnum and it was planted for its fall fruit interest.

Pyracantha is a thorny shrub that loves the sun and what a display this one is giving this year! The berries glow with their orange color and the glossy green leaves provide a clean contrast to the fruit.

Hawthorne trees also have thorns and colorful fruit. Some are planted along sidewalks in urban settings because they only grow 12-15’ and they won’t grow into power lines. Their fruit is a favorite to the birds and is a hardy tree, well suitedfor city living.

Another tree we all know and love (sometimes) is Crabapple. This time of year the crabapples are showing their stuff! I like the wide range of berry color, from deep reds to bright yellows, and tree size. There are newer varieties available that are disease resistant and hold their fruit later in the season. It is definitely a tree to explore if you are in the market for fall fruit interest.

The Beauty of Fall

The fall glory of a maple
The fall glory of a maple

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

Dark red leaves of itea play off the dark foliage and snowy white autumn flowering eupatoriam. The rose is 'Betty Boop', making a final showing herself!
Dark red leaves of itea play off the dark foliage and snowy white autumn flowering eupatoriam. The rose is 'Betty Boop', making a final showing herself!
The fall fruit of the kousa dogwood provides color and texture!
The fall fruit of the kousa dogwood provides color and texture!
Fall blooming anemone
Fall blooming anemone
Autumn blooming sedum provides a frame for the garden behind.
Autumn blooming sedum provides a frame for the garden behind.
Fall tolerant annuals like petunia, pansy, ornamental kale and even Swiss chard make their own fall display.
Fall tolerant annuals like petunia, pansy, ornamental kale and even Swiss chard make their own fall display.

Before this season ends, take a walk, a bike ride, even a drive, to enjoy the gift of the colors of autumn!

The fall displays of fothergilla (forefront) and amelanchier Canadensis (background) are muted beauty.
The fall displays of fothergilla (forefront) and amelanchier Canadensis (background) are muted beauty.

Storing Summer Bulbs

For may summer gardens, bulbs, tubers and similar tenders plants provide a stunning exotic touch to our landscape. As nurseries develop unique varieties of Rex begonia, caladium, colosia (also known as elephant ear) and canna, they have found their way into beds and containers.

Did you know you can save those tubers and bulbs? With a little elbow grease, some careful preparation, and a cool dry place, you can return those exotic plants to your gardens year after year.

I recently found an article by Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota titled "Storing Tender Bulbs and Bulblike Structures".

Ms. Meyer provides detailed instruction on all that is needed to safely store your summer bulbs. You can read (and even print and save!) the article at http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1117.html.

What better way to stretch your garden dollars and build a collection of beautiful summer bulbs that you can enjoy year after year!