Posts tagged perennial

Daylily Fever

 

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

  I’ve been receiving calls and emails about Zora Ronan’s upcoming open gardens this weekend and hearing from people who plan to make the trip to see her daylilies. For those of you who cannot attend, Zora sent some tips on dividing daylilies and other general advice:

    When or if to divide a daylily is a decision to be made based on the plant’s health.  If it is not looking unhealthy, is still blooming freely and has not outgrown its space, there is no reason to disturb it.  I only divide when one or more of those problems occurs.  Daylilies vary greatly in how fast they become crowded.  I have some that get divided every 4 years or so and some that have been fine for more than that time.  The biggest problem in waiting to divide until the plant is very overgrown is that it can become very large and hard to handle.  When I do divide, I replenish the soil with lots of compost and a bit of peat. 

   Daylilies are considered the perfect perennial because they survive and thrive with very little care.  However, good nutrition and adequate water is always going to improve daylily performance.  I do fertilize lightly every year with lawn fertilizer (no herbicide).  Daylilies can use a bit more nitrogen than other perennials to keep the foliage a nice healthy green.  I apply a 3-month time released fertilizer in the early spring–never any fertilizer after August 1.  If you have a good supply of compost, top-dressing with that every year is also beneficial and can probably take the place of artificial fertilizer. 

   Any dividing is best done in spring or after bloom has ended.  I would not divide any later than early to mid-September – daylilies need about 6 weeks to settle in before winter arrives.  We never know when that is going to happen.

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Frightful weather?

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

           

It’s a debatable issue:  is the weather outside really frightful today?  Or, is it all in your perspective?  I was out and about this morning but arrived home in time to sit here at my computer plunking away for this week’s blog and watch the beautiful huge flakes of snow wafting to the ground. There’s just something mesmerizing about an Iowa snowfall.   Right now, right outside a kitchen window, a Cardinal is perched in a lilac bush sheltered in a blanket of white. What a sight!

            Speaking of birds, what will you do with your live tree after the Holidays?   How about, after removing the ornaments (especially the tinsel) propping the tree in your perennial garden?  It will add winter interest as well as shelter for birds that enjoy feeding on the seeds of coneflower, rudbeckia and liatris.  Or use it as mulch by pruning the branches and covering perennial and bulb gardens.  I’ll bet your neighbors would volunteer to let you take their trees, too. 

            Have you observed what wildlife visits your garden?  Their antics can be quite entertaining.  Note which plants helped bring them into the landscape. 

            Brush snow off shrubs and evergreens as the heavy wet stuff will cause breakage and damage. Prune only broken/damaged branches now.  

            Most importantly, investigate environmentally friendly methods of removing snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways.  Calcium Chloride is more expensive, but it is easier on your plants. Watch for new plant-friendly products entering the market. 

            And, if you haven’t found the perfect gift for a gardener friend, think about a journal, plant labels, hand pruners, flower scissors, a harvest basket (my second favorite choice), a gift certificate to a favorite garden center, or (my first choice!), a load of well seasoned manure, delivered. Yes! You read correctly!  It will be an inexpensive gift and certain to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. 

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“Few enemies”

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

The critters sense that the weather outside will be—already is—frightful.  I almost need traffic signals and turn lanes in my yard and driveway where the squirrels are frantically harvesting nuts from the walnut trees.  Canadian geese have noisily moved in mass overhead traveling south.    I’ve not had feedback from the deer, but they must have felt the hosta in my xeriscape was especially tasty as they have, again, totally decimated all of them as they prepare for winter snow cover. 

 You see, we live in the country and our road ditch is steep, difficult to weed whip and impossible to mow.  We created an attractive xeriscape using mulch to cover grass and weeds and rock to stop an area of erosion, then added a few perennials for interest.  Maintenance has been minimal.  This spring we plan to xeriscape a smaller area on the other side of the lane.  An article in a recent Master Gardener’s newsletter sparked my interest in perennial ornamental grasses. Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch says ornamental grasses have few enemies. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, even insects seem to not be interested in them.   Becki describes the grasses as “beautiful, regal, feather topped, silver sheened, golden stemmed, ten feet tall, back-lit by the sun and swaying in gentle breezes.”  After established, ornamental grasses are drought resistant.  You can fertilize them—or not.  They do like mulch.  And, ornamental grasses come in a multitude of heights, shapes and textures. Ornamental grasses sound like a plan to me. What do you think?  Oh, when, oh when will seed catalogs start to arrive?

Even if we can’t work outside in Iowa’s winters, we can still enjoy gardening by listening to someone from the Master Gardener’s Speaker’s Bureau.  A colorful and educational presentation on any number of gardening topics is available for your group or organization.  Contact the Linn County Extension Office at 319-377-9839 for a brochure reflecting the range of speakers’ experience.

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Turtles ‘n toads

As much as I enjoy viewing the red, orange and yellow landscapes of an Iowa autumn, there are fall colors that I enjoy even more.

Turtlehead

Turtlehead

Turtlehead and Japanese anemone are autumn perennials that are pretty in pink. Turtlehead, also known as chelone, is a North American wildflower that grows in  moist shade gardens. They bloom in late summer, but mine is still blooming, now, in October. Japanese anemone also comes in other shades, such as white, but my favorite is the fall-blooming pink variety.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Japanese anemone with bee

Japanese anemone with bee

 

 

Toad lily, a plant with both an awesome name and flowers, is in the orchid/purple color scheme. Also known as tricyrtis, toad lily also grows in moist shade gardens. I’m seeing more varieties offered in garden catalogs. Mine came from the Linn County master gardeners sale a few years ago and is always fun to see blooming when most other perennials have finished for the season.

Toad lily

Toad lily

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exposed roots

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

Ouch!  Ouch, again!   Oh! The sound is definitely not music to my ears.  How much damage did I do to the blades that I didn’t want to replace until season’s end?  Have you ever inadvertently mowed over a tree’s exposed roots?  Those are the surface roots growing just a little above the soil.  They are important to the support and health of a tree.  Continual wounds from a lawn mower blade or weed whip create entryways for insects and diseases. 

Here are some hints for easily eliminating a stressful situation:

§  Do not try to correct the situation with an ax!

§  Use mulch (one of my favorite items).  A two or three inch layer is attractive and provides a good environment for the roots.  Prevent smothering the tree trunk by keeping the mulch two or three inches away from the trunk.

§  Plant a shade loving perennial ground cover around the base of the tree.  The plants will insulate the roots but won’t out-compete the tree for water and nutrients.   Try some of the hundreds of varieties of Hosta that are just waiting to be chosen.

§  If you like some grass under the tree(s), strategically space plantings. 

§  Plan for a bit of elbow grease as weed control is critical. 

§  As a last resort, you could eliminate all of the grass by covering it with layers of newspaper.           

§  Do not build a raised bed around the tree.  Burying the tree roots will kill many species of trees.  And, the roots that don’t die will eventually reach the surface again.

§  Do not rototill or add soil to the planting area.

§  Amending the soil with organic materials such as peat or compost is very acceptable. 

There is still time to plant this summer. Change the landscape under the tree and save that mower blade and weed whip string for necessary areas. 

 

 

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July gardening events

   The Johnson County Master Gardeners are holding their 13th annual Taste of the Heirloom Garden on Wednesday, July 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove State Historic Site, 1030 Carroll street, Iowa City.

   This unique project funds the Plum Grove gardens (there are three:  vegetable, flower and wildflower}; a Horticultural scholarship at Kirkwood Community College, 4H prizes at the fair, and garden mainenance.

   The gardens have received two awards:  first Iowa State Service Award and National Garden designation by National Garden Clubs of America and the Smithsonian.

   Each year,  a committee scours 19th century cookbooks to plan a menu of three soups,  vegetable dishes, salads, breads, and desserts based on produce planted in the vegetable garden. There is a different food selection each year and a recipe pamphlet is available. Senior Center Post Office Brass entertains with old tunes,  door prizes are awarded, guided tours to gardens and 1840 Robert Lucas home, free parking and this year a visit from the ghost of Robert Lucas.

    Despite the late spring and continued rain, the garden is growing with new varieties.  More than  45 different heirloom tomatoes have been tested since its inception. Strawberry and Malabar spinach are some of the new varieties. The wildflower garden has new acquisitions and a new resting stump is from a tree under which the Mormons camp on their trek across Iowa.  This project will be featured at the Farm Progress show.

   For more information contact Betty Kelly blk106@earthlink.net

 

    Seed Savers 28th Annual Convention will be  July 18-20 at Heritage Farm north of Decorah, Iowa.
    Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.

   This year’s keynote speaker is Lynne Rossetto Kasper from NPR’s The Splendid Table. Other speakers include Rich Pirog from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and SSE Advisor John Swenson.
    The Annual Convention kicks off Friday evening with an informal reception at the Visitors Center. There will be a wine tasting by Winneshiek Wildberry Winery and turkey summer sausage and jerky from Jenkins Industries in Decorah.
   Saturday there is a full schedule of events – with walks and tours, a seed swap, flower arranging by Willowglen Perennial Nursery, and open houses in many of SSE’s facilities in the morning, and speakers in the afternoon. After a locally grown dinner is the keynote speech and a barn dance.
   Sunday morning there is a bird walk and a wide selection of tours and workshops to choose from.
   For more information call SSE’s office at 563-382-5990 or visit:
www.seedsavers.org

 

   Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse will have a free seminar, focusing on the benefits and beauty of gardening with native plants.

   Native Iowa Plants will be Saturday, July 19, from 10-11 a.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Road (Highway 151 East), in Marion. The seminar is being held as part of Culver’s Customer Appreciation Weekend, July 19 and 20, and will cover different types of plants native to Iowa and the benefits of using them.

  Native plants in the garden and landscape require less maintenance and water, cause less harmful runoff, are more likely to thrive, maintain or improve soil condition, and provide natural sources of food and shelter for native wildlife.

  RSVP by calling (319) 377-4195.

  Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse was established in April of 1998, an extension of Culver’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, Inc.   More information is available at: www.culverslandscape.com

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Sour soil

The following information is from Claire Smith, Linn County Master Gardener:

 

My granddaughter was reading to me the other day and asked me to define “etc.” and eucalyptus”.  That got me to thinking that there have been several occasions where I’ve been a bit embarrassed because I didn’t know the definitions of some gardening words.  Following are a very few of the multitudes of terms.  Acid Soil:  soil with a pH less than 7.0.  Acid soil is sometimes called “sour soil” by gardeners.  Most plants refer a slightly acid soil between 6-7 where most essential nutrients are available.

  • Alkaline Soil:  soil with a pH greater than 7.0, usually formed from limestone bedrock.  Akaline soil is often referred to as “sweet soil”. 
  • Bare Roots:  trees, shrubs, and perennials that have been grown in soil, dug and have had he soil removed prior to sales or shipping.  Mail order plants are often shipped bare root with the roots packed in peat moss, sawdust or similar material and wrapped In plastic 
  • Berm:  a low, artificial hill created in a landscape to elevate a portion of the landscape for functional and aesthetic reasons such as to add interest, screen areas, or improve drainage.
  • Canopy:  the total overhead area of a tree including the branches and leaves.
  • Cold Hardiness:  the ability of a perennial plant (including trees, shrubs and vines) to survive the minimum winter temperature in a particular area.
  • Complete fertilizer:  powdered, liquid or granular fertilizer with a balanced proportion of the three key nutrients-nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
  • Compost:  decomposed organic matter added to the soil to improve its drainage and ability to retain moisture.
  • Corm:  a modified bulb-like stem.  It is swollen, short, solid and located underground. Crocus and glads are two plants that grow from corms.
  • Cultivar:  a CULTIvated VARiety.  A unique form of a plant that has been identified as special or superior and has been selected for propagation and sale.
  • Deadhead:  to remove faded flowers from plants to improve their appearance, prevent seed production, and stimulate further flowering.
  • Deciduous Plants:  trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the fall.
  • pH: a measurement of the relative acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of soil or water based on a scale of 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  Individual plants require soil to be within a certain range so that nutrients can dissolve in moisture and be available to them. 
  • Rootbound (or potbound):  the condition of a plant that has been confined in a container too long.  Its roots are forced to wrap around themselves and even swell out of the container.  Successful transplanting or repotting required untangling and trimming away some of the matted roots.
  • Self-seeding:  the tendency of some plants to sow their seeds freely around the yard.  It creates many seedlings the following season that may or may not be welcome.
  • Slow-acting (slow release) fertilizer:  fertilizer that is water soluble and releases its nutrients when acted on by soil temperature, moisture and/or related microbial activity.  Typically granular, it may be organic or synthetic.
  • Variegated:  having various colors or color patterns.  The term usually refers to plant foliage that is streaked, edged, blotched, or mottled with a contrasting color, often green with yellow, cream or white.

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