Rose Care

I have a great idea for you rose growers. Offer to host thanksgiving dinner this year! Oh I know you’re thinking “great, more work”…the house prep, the cooking, the mess. However, there is a method behind my madness that will have a very positive garden & sanity benefit. When you’re tired of turkey, the in-laws & football, excuse yourself & go tend to the roses.

Your roses should be going dormant, so waiting till now to winterize them is best. In zone 5, we winterize for two important reasons. First to keep the crowns protected (adding a heaping mound of extra mulch or straight compost), second to keep the soil temperature fairly consistent. If you start this process too soon (before temps get cold & stay cold), the plant might get so cozy that it will think that it should keep pushing new growth.

Be sure that before you add your heaping mound of mulch or compost to practice good sanitation. Remove ALL leaf debris from under the plant & throw it away….NEVER compost diseased material as it will infect your compost pile. You could also do a “soil drench” with a fungicide at this time to help prevent/cut down disease issues for next year.

As far a pruning goes, I don’t recommend cutting them back hard now. Wait till spring for that. For shrub type roses, just even up the tops or shape them so they’re tidy for the winter. For climbers, cut off any super long canes so they’re not whipping around with the winter wind. Once spring arrives & new growth starts, prune out any dead canes, then trim & re-shape.

 

Talk To ME!

Sorry for the looooong delay in writing, but I’ve been VERY busy trying to wrap up the season, & kinda discouraged from posting. This being my 7th post, I thought it the perfect time, (7 is a perfect number after all), to ask something of YOU my readers. When sending me a comment regarding a “favored” post, BE SPECIFIC about the topic & talk back to ME THE WRITER!! To help you do this, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, T. E. D. What he stands for is very simple.

T….TELL me about how the post helped with a problem or concern YOU were having.

E….EXPLAIN to me your gardening dilemma & how you were able to solve it using the info you learned from the post.

D…. DESCRIBE what the post meant to you & why you would recommend it & the Earthenjoy website to others.

I sincerely appreciate & value YOUR taking the time to do this. Perhaps then we may be able to begin/maintain a good dialog that could be beneficial to MANY others! I DO pay attention to, & welcome your comments. (As a matter of fact, the 2 articles with the most posts are “Mulch Much” (my personal favorite) followed by “Weed of the Year…2011″ SEEEEE….I DO pay attention)! So, when you send me comments about new posts, please choose to accept T. E. D. as your friend too. Otherwise I’ll have no choice but to consider your response a form of SPAM & delete it.

 

I Spy…A Dragonfly

This was indeed the largest dragonfly that I’d ever seen! There it was, perched on my red mum perfectly still…so, I ran to grab my camera. I slowly approached, expecting it to fly away any second, but no. It stayed perfectly still. I snapped several shots & the creature never flinched. Just what was this amazing 4 winged flyer? I finally got my answer after comparing my photo to many others. The common name for this dragonfly is a “Green Darner”, in Latin…(Anax junius). They’re the largest (in size) & most abundant dragonfly in North America.

Description: They’re built for speed & endurance. With a wingspan of 5” & body of 3” this insect is a force to be reckoned with. The wings are clear with a noticeable, veined “net-like” pattern. While that may appear delicate & wimpy, they are VERY strong fliers. They have to be as darners are one of the migrating species of dragonflies. Where do they go….Florida of course! Flight speeds can range from as fast as 50 mph, providing they catch a good wind to ride on. On a good day, darners can fly for up to 85 miles. Males are territorial, especially after mating & can chase an intruder flying at 35 mph. Not only that, but darners can hover like a helicopter & carry prey larger than they are (wasps, butterflies other dragonflies). Another striking feature of the green darner is their large, brown, bulging eyes. With the shape & size of these eyes this creature is able to have almost 360 degree vision.

Life Cycle: Breeding takes place in swamps & ponds. Eggs are laid individually in or on aquatic vegetation. Because not ALL green darners migrate (similar to the Robins here in Michigan) once hatched, nymph development varies. Nymphs of non-migrating darners develop slowly spending a year or more underwater. They can survive under ice in winter to emerge as dragonflies in early summer. While nymphs of those that do migrate, develop in 3 months. These will emerge as fully grown dragonfiles in late summer. Then, they too will fly south & start the breeding cycle all over. Green darners spend most of their time in the larval/nymph stage & only 4 to 7 weeks in adult form. After migration & mating, they die.

 

Weed of the year…2011

Every year the good folks at the Perennial Plant Association get together & select a “Perennial Plant of the year”. Well, I’m going to start selecting a “Weed of the Year”. This years winner goes to Persicaria maculosa. This darn thing is in ALL of my gardens! Even gardens that have NEVER had it before…what’s up with that? Well to find out, I did some research on this pesky menace so I could better “know” my enemy. This is what I found…it’s a perennial, from the Knotweed family, native to Europe, & since its arrival here, it’s an invasive species to our Great Lakes region. This weed reproduces entirely by seed & can produce a MULTITUDE of seeds per plant in one season. The seeds require a cold, moist period before they can germinate in spring. Considering the type of “so called” spring we had, very cold & very wet, these were the perfect conditions for an outbreak of great proportions! It adapts to a broad range of habitats, from moderate shade to full sun, wet or dry areas & as far as soil type this weed is NOT picky at all. So how can I best defend against this awful weed?

There are a couple ways: A. Hand Pulling. Best because it gets the weed at it’s ROOT! It will also help to eliminate seed spreading/germinating (get rid of the plant/get rid of the seeds). B. Apply PREEN, a granular product sold at Lowe’s/Home Depot/Meijer etc. that inhibits seed germination. This product is best applied in MAY! C. PRAY, that we don’t have another cold wet spring like this past one (2011) that caused this incredible outbreak!

Persicaria maculosa

I’ve Got ‘Villosa’…What Does That Mean?

This question was asked from an attendee at my latest public speaking event. “Tell me please, what is it, & I hope you have good news”. The person asking was quite anxious & a bit worried. Yes, ‘villosa’ is a good thing. ‘Villosa’ simply refers to the plant having tiny hairs that will retain moisture, & use it at the plant’s discretion. How cool is that? Literally, the plant will be heat & humidity resistant. Boy, don’t we need that here in Michigan, some summers! There’s another benefit to ‘villosa’. It means that critters won’t munch on it….they don’t like the texture of the hairs. Now, this is not to say that in desperate times they won’t try…but generally they will leave those plants alone & browse elsewhere. The photo below is one of my favorite ‘villosas’, this one’s called ‘Georgia Peach’. Man she’s a beauty!

Mulch Much??

Un..beee…leeeeive…able!! This is the WORST mulch job I have ever seen in my 15 year career! It was sooooo bad…. that I noticed it as I drove by at 40 mph! Being the curious gardener that I am, I had to turn around, check this out & get some photos. I surely hope that the company who did this, just doesn’t know any better. As far as my standards go, this is COMPETELY unacceptable. Was the shredder/grinder broken or were the blades in need of changing? Did anyone check to see if the shredder/grinder even had blades?! I was just wondering because DAMN! Some of these pieces are so incredibly HUGE! I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not even sure what kind of wood was used, but to the credit of the company who spread it, at least it’s NOT chipped/shredded/dyed pallets! Thank God for that! Homeowners BEWARE! If a company shows up at your house with mulch like this, don’t even let them drop it in your driveway! Please know that as a customer, you have the right to request a SAMPLE of the type of mulch that will be used in your landscape. You also have the right to refuse junk like this!

       

Over-wintered “Oh-For-Sure”

Here’s an awesome tropical “over-wintering” success story. In the June 2010 issue of my Earthly Elements newsletter I wrote about how to over-winter ornamental banana plants. Well, one of my clients did just that. He did take some in as winter “houseplants” then HEAVILY mulched the ones he left outside. Come spring 2011, (which for us in zone 5 was one of the coldest, wettest, worst springs since the 1800’s) & this is what he got! Check this photo out! What we learned from this experience is that when a tropical like this comes back in spring, it’s NOT from the main “mother plant”, but from the OUTSIDE edges where the “babies” are. Very interesting & a good “heads up” lesson for anyone wanting to give this a go! GOOD LUCK!

 

Masterpieces of Mitchell

I’m a big fan of art glass in the garden. I‘ve had the pleasure of meeting a Michigan glass artist named Craig Mitchell Smith. The first time I saw his work was at the Dow Gardens in Midland Michigan in the winter of 2010. I was curious & excited to see his work. Winter was a great time as the colorful glass & polished steel sculptures reflected beautifully against the snow. That same summer he showcased newer pieces at the Michigan State University display gardens in June. I just love the gardens at that time as almost everything is in bloom. Again his works were the stars amongst the plantings. It was then that I was able meet & talk with him a bit about how he got started & what inspired him. You can go to his website, www.craigmitchellsmith.com to learn more about this talented artist. He was very gracious to spend some time with me talking about his stunning creations. My latest opportunity to view his works was again at Dow Gardens this month. His pieces are much bolder in scale as well as with more incorporation of the various metals he uses. It was just an awesome show. It was wonderful too that we could see the various gardens this time that had been covered in snow our last visit. Here are some photos of my favorite pieces from each show.

Clockwise from upper right: "Wavecrest", "Blue Star Rising", "Big Fish 1", and Untitled.

What it means to garden HOT!

When I’m asked to describe my gardening style, I could use a traditional term like ‘contemporary’. Usually I don’t. The term I most often use is HOT….so what exactly does that mean?  It simply means that I like bold & wild colors like reds, hot pink, fuschias, yellow, orange & so on. I also like to use bold plants that make a statement. Then there’s also the addition of art. I am an artist & try to incorporate some type of art in my gardens, a client’s choosing or mine. It adds interest (sometimes year round) as well as color & whimsy. C’mon people, gardening is supposed to be fun & expressive! Don’t be shy…..let your personality shine through in your garden spaces.

Examples of hot garden colors.

Porch pot featuring 'Dipped in Wine' Coleus, Hot pink New Guinea Impatiens, 'Gold Coins' Creeping Jenny.
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