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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pick Native Trees Tips

There are 77 types of local woodland trees in Frederick County nonetheless, not every one of them would be appropriate or alluring for a home scene. Locals are not really more impervious to illness than different plants yet they are appropriate to the atmosphere and soil furthermore give nourishment and safe house to neighborhood natural life. When all is said in done the more quickly developing trees are all the more fleeting and inclined to a bigger number of issues at development than slower developing species. For an uncovered parcel you may wish to plant a couple quickly developing trees to acknowledge now and to give some prompt security, however remember to plant some slower developing trees for you or your great children to compose lyrics about. Great soil, (not compacted by development trucks) and great seepage is valued by generally assortments.

Of the native evergreens the White pine (Pinus strobus) is fast growing but intolerant of air pollution and salt so don’t plant them close to busy roads. Also, remember that it will eventually get 50-80’ high and 20-40’ wide! Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) (40-70’)can handle a shaded location but are susceptible to many diseases and insects. They also can not handle wind, drought, or bad drainage so be sure to use this native only under ideal conditions. The Scrub Pine (Pinus virginiana) will grow where nothing else can and can even handle salt spray but its ornamental value is debatable. The Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is also tolerant of adverse conditions, particularly limestone based soils but I would recommend one of the cultivars that has better color and form than the species.

In this area we see a lot of Bradford Pears, Norway Maples, Pin Oaks and Cherries but, there are many native deciduous trees that are used less often that I would recommend. White Oak is king of the oaks but it prefers undisturbed forest soil, so try the Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)or the Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata) as an alternative if you’re looking for a long lived, stately tree. The Swamp White Oak grows 50-60’in swampy locations but also has good drought resistance and is easier to transplant than the White Oak. The Overcup Oak also can withstand considerable flooding and is easier to transplant. It grows 40-60’ high and wide and has yellow-brown fall color.

The Chestnut once made up 50% of the forest in Frederick County but was wiped out by blight in the 1920’s. The American Chestnut Foundation is working on developing a resistant chestnut and it would be an excellent addition to your landscape as soon as they are available

The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) grows 40-60’ high but not all will get good red fall color in this area. Be sure to pick a cultivar that is cold hardy since some southern cultivars are not hardy here. The cultivars “Brandywine”, “Somerset”, and “Sun Valley” are males (no helicopter seeds to sweep up), have red fall color and are tolerant of leaf hopper (a common pest).The White Elm (Ulmus americana) (60-80’) was once used extensively as a street and lawn tree for it’s classic vase shape but many have been killed by Dutch Elm disease. The National Arboretum has developed a few disease resistant cultivars. “Valley Forge” shows the most resistance and should be available now.

If you’re looking for another large tree (60-75’ high and 40-50’ wide) with medium to fast growth the Sweet Gum (Liquidambar stryraciflua) might be your choice. Fall color can be excellent but is variable and the tree may take awhile to become established. The seed balls are attractive on the tree but can become a nuisance on the ground (especially in bare feet) so choose the cultivar “Rotundiloba” which is seedless and has good fall color.

If you are looking for fall color the Sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica), also known as Black Tupelo (30-50’), is one of the prettiest native trees. Growth can be slow but plant this tree when small to avoid transplant problems. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum, 30-60’) also has excellent fall color and while it may be scrubbier looking than many specimen trees it’s fruit makes great bird food. The same can be said of another native, the Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) which is shrubby with white flowers in spring.

If you are looking for a smaller tree (up to 30’ high) two common but beautiful, spring flowering natives are the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Dogwood (Cornus florida) which both enjoy some shade. But more uncommon is the Hop Hornbeam (Ostyra virginiana) which likes dry, or well-drained soil and is an attractive tree for a smaller area. The Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) also known as Blue Beech is another under used species that will tolerate heavy shade, periodic flooding, and pruning. It can be used as a tall hedge or in a naturalized setting. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is also small and flowers in late fall or winter when nothing else is in flower.

Last, but not least is a tree to plant for posterity, the Beech (Fagus grandifolia). It doesn’t like wet or compacted soil and grows slowly but is worth it. Golden leaves often persist into winter and the nuts are food for many types of wildlife. Don’t forget, it will eventually get 70’ tall!

All of these trees can be planted in the fall but still need regular watering until they become established. Look for trees without any trunk damage, that are labeled correctly, and that are not left over from spring inventory. Also, while a bare landscape may be hard to live with, remember younger trees become established more quickly than more mature specimens and have a better survivability rate. Also be sure to consider the mature size of a tree when determining it’s location and the number of trees to plant.

Saving Waters and Plants

It is another singing today and our garden is cooking under the red hot sun. At the beginning of today, I strolled our scene, seeing what was hanging and what was most certainly not. In this manner, cultivate by garden, species by species, plant by plant, we pick what to water, for water is a valuable asset in the hot Maryland summers.

Rather than costly annuals, this year, I planted a lasting local gaura in the holder on our front stride; profound established in a vast pot, it requires minimal additional water, however bi-month to month preparing, to flourish. Its pink-bloomed stems, fragile against dull foliage, are coming to readily toward the sun.

Last spring, we ripped out the tough, invasive vinca on our front hill because of the damage that it can cause when seeds are carried to our woods and streams. The Mediterranean herbs—basil, thyme, rosemary and lavender–with which I replaced it have not flourished as I expected. I guess they are used to more water in their native Italy and southern France.

Under the trees beside our house, most of the plants are doing well, particularly the delicate native columbines and tough, imported hostas. Shade plants are used to moisture, though. Some of the natives were planted new this year and have not yet developed deep root systems, so I check to see if they are drooping and water those that need it. We are installing a rain barrel, a large terrra cotta-like jar, connected to the downspout there; a soaker hose attached to it can be turned on, as needed, to keep the area moist.

In our edible garden, the herbs, like the weeds, are coping on their own but I had to rescue the potted mints that died back from drought. Mint is so aggressive that I never plant it in the ground but anything in a container is more vulnerable to drought, so I placed them on the back steps, where I can check them daily. We water our vegetables every few days if it has not rained–early in the morning or, when our schedules demand it, after sundown. The cucumber vine is languishing but I could not bear to lose the peppers and tomatoes.

Throughout our garden, many of the native plants are in flower—golden black-eyed susans, coneflowers purple and yellow, red cardinal flower, pink geraniums climbing the holly, sun-colored coreopsis, tall pink phlox and deep red trumpet vine are flourishing in this climate where they evolved.

Our grass, of course, is dying back. Like most cultivated turf in this region, it is a cool weather plant that goes dormant in the summer. We trim the plants high (2.5-3.5 inches), leave their clippings in place to become fertilizer, and let them live out their natural life cycle. They will green again when the weather cools down.

Thus goes the summer–monitoring the drought and rain, and watering the plants that need more than the Maryland climate provides. And, since we also value our landscape as habitat, we keep the birdbaths and ground-level water dish filled.

Healthy Organic Garden Technique

postiralki-infoNot just will you develop scrumptious, crisp, solid nourishments; you will likewise add to the soundness of nature and group by not utilizing hurtful chemicals. Be that as it may, natural cultivating doesn’t simply mean not utilizing chemicals. It is a technique that energizes life and differing qualities in the dirt, plants, and creepy crawlies that live in the garden.

The part that puts the “natural” in natural planting is organic material (OM). This is the stuff that was once alive and, with the assistance of helpful microbes, is currently breaking down in your garden. For an awesome garden, you need however much of this decayed matter as could be expected.

Addition of OM. If you are ambitious this time of year you can start putting OM into your garden now. Put a thin layer of dead leaves, straw, hay, or grass clipping on your garden right away. It will break down, and when it is time to start planting you will have already incorporated some ever-so-important OM into your soil.

Compost. A key component to organic gardening is compost. Incorporate a fair amount (up to a 1 inch layer) of compost to your beds before planting. Leafgro™ is available at local garden centers, as well as other brands. Free compost is available from the county recycling centers in both Frederick and Carroll Counties. Learn about composting techniques and make your own pile and by this time next year you may not have to buy any.

Organic Seeds. If you usually start your own plants, you can buy organically grown seeds (sources below). This seed has been grown in compliance with the USDA organic program. With this seed you can be sure that you are supporting non-genetically engineered, sustainable production techniques.

Heirloom varieties are often chosen in organic gardens. Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties that have been preserved for many generations. These plants will produce seed that will grow a plant genetically identical to the parent. This way you can save your seed from year to year and know what will result and at the same time preserve the diversity of unique varieties.

Weed Control. During the year, to discourage weeds, use mulch. Thick layers of the organic materials that I mentioned before will prohibit weed seed germination, as well as break down and add organic matter to the soil. You may also use synthetic mulches such as weed barrier fabric or black plastic (but make sure you remove plastic at the season’s end). Lay these over your garden beds and secure with soil at the edges. Cut holes and plant into them; this will greatly reduce weed pressure.

Pest Management. This can be challenging in organic gardening. It is said that when your soil is of high quality (containing lots of organic matter and nutrients), your plants will resist pests naturally. It takes a long time for soil to achieve this status. In the mean time, plant lots of flowering plants to encourage beneficial insects, which prey on pests. A few examples of these plants are yarrow, sea holly, allysum, dill and tansy. Another great weapon against pests is row cover. This thin, water and light permeable synthetic fabric provides a physical barrier between your plants and pests.

Cover Crops. One additional method that you may want to experiment with is cover crops. A good rule is to always keep your soil covered. If you grow a nice spring crop of lettuce and don’t have anything to put in when it is finished producing in July, grow some soil nourishing crops like buckwheat rather than leaving your soil bare. You can mow or cut it down before it produces seed and let the plant matter decompose into the soil, adding organic matter along the way.

How to Attracting Hummingbirds?

I can’t envision a garden without the winged diamonds. Drawing in them is simple with the right plants and feeders.

Here, in the eastern United States, the ruby-throated hummingbird rules. Incidentally, moving hummingbirds from the West go through, however our ruby companions are sufficiently noteworthy with their red neck scarves and small size. Did you know they weigh just as much as a dime?

Hummingbirds are little yet powerful. Disregarding their size, they require a lot of fuel for their powerhouse digestion system. On the off chance that you beat your wings 90 times each second, you would require real fuel, as well! Hummingbirds require nectar from up to 1,000 blooms a day. Furthermore, they devour an unbelievable number of small bugs for protein.

To create your own hummingbird garden, start with a sunny location. Plan a continuous display of blooms from April to October so hummingbirds have a steady food source. Look for bright, tubular flowers, custom-made for a long, thin bill. Favor red and orange flowers, but include other blooms heavy with nectar.

Some of the hummingbird’s favorite perennials are bee balm (Monarda didyma), coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), bleeding heart (Dicentra) and hollyhock (Alcea). Preferred annuals include fuchsia, petunia, Lantana, morning glory (Ipomoea), larkspur (Consolida ajacis/ ambigua), nasturtium (Tropaeolum) and four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa). Both annual and perennial salvia and phlox are good choices as are canna lily and gladiouse grown for bulbs.

Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) vines are irresistible to hummingbirds. They are fond of the flowering shrubs weigela, butterfly bush (Buddlei davidii), rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) and catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense.) The nectar-rich flowers of mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) trees are impossible for hummingbirds to ignore.

Several native plants entice hummingbirds. Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) blooms in concert with their arrival in mid-April. In the summer spy hummingbirds among the perennials beard-tongue (Penstemon digitalis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and jaunty orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis.)

Layering — planting low, medium and tall plants in a bed from front to back or edge to middle — makes garden beds more appealing to humming-birds and to the human eye. By creating an easily accessible smorgasbord of sizes, shapes, fragrances and colors, entice hummingbirds to linger over a flower feast. It also makes them easier for you to see and enjoy.

Commercial feeders supplement natural nectar sources and give you a chance to observe hummingbirds more closely. The best feeders are sturdy, have multiple ports and perches, and are easy to clean and hang. To make nectar, mix one part white sugar with four parts water, boil for one or two minutes and cool. Do not add dye. Fill your feeder and place it in a shady spot you can see easily. Clean and refill the feeder every few days.

Hummingbirds prefer a shower to the bird bath. Put a mister or drip fountain near your hummingbird garden, and they will fly through the mist, catching water on their feathers to bathe and cool their tiny bodies. I spent a happy hour last summer watching two hummingbirds dance in the fine spray created by a loose hose connection.

By creating a garden habitat with hummingbirds in mind, you will bring beauty on the wing to your back yard and give life-saving sustenance to these petite wonders.