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Category Archives: Garden

Mass Planting

Do you have a sunny garden space where you might want to see a blast of shading? A mob – a blast of shading? So frequently we see a gathering of annuals and perennials of various hues that look pleasant yet there is simply something lacking. Punch. It’s deficient with regards to punch!

Frequently the quantity of plants in the garden are sufficiently not and it looks meager. It’s constantly all the more intriguing and satisfying to the eye to plant in groupings instead of columns. A “gathering” can comprise of twelve tulips in an unpredictable planting design genuinely near one another with some diminutive person hyacinth underneath.

On the off chance that you plant three dozen tulips, three dozen daffodils, three dozen hyacinths and some crocus in a Spring garden space of 5 feet by 6 feet, it might appear like a ton. Be that as it may, when Spring comes you are going to have a great deal of exposed space. On the off chance that you are a genuine “line” grower, your blossoms will be unstable everywhere throughout the garden and you will in any case be demonstrating a considerable measure of ground.

If you “group” plant, the same thing will happen because you will have lots of space around your groupings. However, if you were to mass plant the entire garden with yellow or peach or red tulips or just daffodils or a combination of dwarf grape hyacinth in front of taller yellow tulips, WOW, what a show! A solid mass of the brightest, most cheerful, most waited-for show of the season pops out when we are craving color! Try mass planting! It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and when blooming, fairly shouts with liveliness! Here are some ideas for mass planting in sunny gardens (we’ll talk about shady gardens next week).

If you want to try mass planting in a small way and have a lamp-post in your front yard with 6-8 hours of sun per day, cut out a circular garden with the lamp post in the center and make the total space about 5-6′ in diameter. Add some good soil and soil amendments to build the space back up and mass plant the entire bed with one color of sun-loving annual – salvia, petunia, snapdragon, geranium, zinnia, cosmos, English daisy, sun coleus, plumed cockscomb, Dahlberg daisy, globe amaranth, portulaca, lantana, verbena, etc. Any of these annuals will show well in the sun. Begin in the center of the circle and plant less than half the recommended distance apart.

If your garden space gets some shade you will need to add white to your planting to set off the darker colors or those darker colors will absolutely disappear into the shade. When using two colors, begin at the center of your circle and plant with white, close together, for three or four circular rows and finish with the darker color to the outside of the circle. Water thoroughly. I tried this last year with white salvia in the center and purple salvia on the outside.

It really did look great! You can also use yellow in the center if you’re using snapdragon or zinnia, for example, with purple on the outside, that’s always a striking combination. For your first effort, stick with the same species – use all salvia, or all marigold, or all snapdragons, etc., use two colors if you wish, but don’t mix things up too much the first time. Experiment more next year if you like this year’s results.

A larger square, circular, rectangular, diamond or crescent shaped garden would be gorgeous if fully planted and brimming with color – for example, plant the entire space with mixed colors of sun coleus, planted close together. If your space is really large, add several of the fabulous striped-leaved cannas (canna “Tropicana”) in the back of the planting. Or try planting the taller variety of dusty miller above a mass planting of deep red sun coleus. Pinch back the coleus to keep it shorter than the dusty miller!

Another idea would be to plant a curved garden using the perennial, artemisia, then add a short annual in front of it, like “Escapade Red” verbena (a new color this year). This new color of verbena has wonderful dark green foliage which will mix well with the artemisia. You do have to be careful when mass planting with deep reds that have very little foliage. For some reason, a lot of red is actually hard on the eye (or maybe it’s hard on the senses) and you need to use some rich greenery or plant some white, silver or pink to make the dark reds appear more pleasing.

You could also try planting a “green garden”. Using one of the light variegated-leaved yucca (one with some gold tones) mixed with a light variegated coleus, like “Pineapple Queen” will produce a light colored, yet striking foliage mixture. The “Pineapple Queen” variety of coleus has a very light green leaf with a touch of red veining. Adding some perennial wormwood would further lighten up the space and some licorice plant would add some low-growing texture. Choose how many you wish to use.

If you like ornamental grasses, plant something smaller either in front of them or in between them. One combination I like using is “Autumn Joy” sedum with feather reed grass or maiden grass. Both the grass and the sedum will take you into the Fall and also provide winter interest – how can you lose? A totally different look would be to plant hibiscus as a companion to ornamental grasses. Check the nurseries, there are hibiscus that are now perennials in our area and in many bloom colors.

Another good choice for a sunny location is mass planting with vinca (not vinca vine, vinca plant). This is a versatile plant with dark green shiny leaves with blooms of rose, red, pink, purple, white and now in apricot, too, and several varieties have an eye of a contrasting color. They range in height up to 1-1/2′ and make a wonderful display. Plant less than half the recommended distance apart for a mass planting.

For an incomparable display of summer’s “hot colors”, mass plant a garden using “French Mixed” marigolds. This mixture contains a medium-to-dark solid rust color, a yellow with the rust color at the center of the flower and stopping halfway up the bloom, and a solid yellow color. If you want to add another texture to this mix, add calendula “Double Lemon Coronet” which is a solid yellow-gold pot marigold with a double bloom in a swirl pattern. Or add some zinnia in a compatible color.

You can choose to mix your colors randomly or in the case of planting with two colors, you could choose to use the darker color in the middle of two white or light colors. Think about it. Plan it. Have fun with it. Enjoy it! Experiment!

Plan a Garden from Scratch, Here Its Tips

Possibly you have quite recently moved into a house surprisingly, or into another home that has positively no arranging. Really you are exceptionally blessed in light of the fact that you can do what you need! Not exactly genuine – on the off chance that you simply begin purchasing and planting without an arrangement you will in the end be extremely sad.

So- – begin with an arrangement – perhaps draw your home impression and what you need to see around it. Watch out your windows and consider the view you have (or what you might want it to be). On the off chance that there are existing trees/substantial bushes, would you like to keep them? On the off chance that your neighbors have an especially alluring yard, would you like to arrange your finishing to incorporate that view? On the off chance that you have a perspective of a road or back road or somebody’s carport, might you want to shroud it? At the end of the day, look past your own particular yard. It will have any kind of effect when your own particular arranging starts to develop. Since it is currently fall, this is a decent time to arrange another garden. Start considering what you need, paying consideration on different yards or plants, and paying consideration on what you don’t need in your garden.

Only after you make a plan should you move on to the next step. This would be to amend your soil if necessary. Most newly built houses don’t have good topsoil so you may have to buy some, along with soil amendments (maybe some compost). Also be sure to get a soil test (Penn State Extension offices all sell the kits for approximately $10). The directions will tell you to send your sample to Penn State. The test results will tell you what fertilizer to use for flowers or vegetables, or shrubs and trees. If you really have no landscaping you probably should plant shrubs and trees first since they take the longest to mature. At least mark the space where you want those major plantings and plant next spring. There are lots of dos and don’ts. A tree, or trees, should be far enough from your house that the tree has room to grow. Also consider the type of tree. Knowing that there will be some pitfalls, you may want to consider native plants in all the categories. Whatever you choose, consider its mature size and whether it is susceptible to wind damage.

Moving on to shrubs that you might like around your house, keep in mind that shrubs often get a lot larger than the tag says. Even ‘dwarf’ shrubs continue to grow beyond the boundaries you may have set. Be sure the shrub you choose will like its location. If the front of your house gets the afternoon sun, you may be limited. Morning sun is the best for most plants–not so hot, and the soil doesn’t dry out as much. Whatever you buy, check the plant tags, ask the clerk and shop at a reliable garden store. And be sure you follow the directions for planting and watering.

After you get some of these permanent parts of your garden planned you can move on to perennials and/ or annuals. Again it’s important to place perennials in their permanent location. Annuals can be changed every year since the actual plant won’t come back the second year. Keep in mind that many annuals will reseed. This may suit you very well in terms of saving money, but if you don’t want the same annuals next year, be sure to pull out seedlings as they appear in spring. By now you can understand that this will be an ongoing project—not completed in just one season!

Another factor in this equation of what to plant is the entire category of bulbs. Lucky you—it’s fall—just the time to plant those spring-blooming bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, and crocus are the most popular and very easy to grow. Daffodils are perennial bulbs—they will return every year and usually multiply. Tulips can be perennial if you look for that label, or buy Darwin or Darwin hybrid tulips. Maybe you just want to experiment with different tulips but keep in mind that many tulip bulbs only bloom well the first year. After that they are likely to be much smaller and finally disappear altogether. There is also the concern of small animals eating your bulbs. Squirrels love tulips; daffodils are generally poisonous to all small animals so try planting tulips and daffodils together—this tactic will help protect the tulip bulbs. Here is another chance to change your mind in the spring. After the leaves of tulips and daffodils die back, you can dig them up and either replant immediately or mark them to plant again in the fall in a different place. Having bulbs come up in the early spring will satisfy your urge to see the results of all your careful planning.

Design Herb Landscape Garden

Herbs in the garden scene offer magnificence, scent, shading, surface, taste and great wellbeing. Herbs are entirely assorted as they add an abundance and profundity to a bunch of nourishments and drinks, are helpful as bundles, sachets, superb in teas, balms, oils, vinegars, and a huge number of meds. Herbs have a beautiful history, with people and creatures utilizing herbs for nourishment, pharmaceutical and excellence since the get-go. The advanced garden would be neglectful without the expansion of no less than a couple of herbs. Numerous herbs have the additional advantage of being dry season tolerant, the same number of began in the dry, hot, sunny Mediterranean area.

You can design and create herb gardens with plants chosen for specific themes or any combination thereof; some to consider include fragrance gardens, choosing herbs for their alluring aroma; tea gardens, growing herbs that are tasty and healthy as herbal teas; relaxation gardens, opting for herbs that soothe by sight, smell, taste, or their direct effects on the body; moon gardens, picking herbs with colors that reflect the moon light, like those with white flowers and silver/gray leaves; kitchen gardens, choosing herbs to be used in cooking and baking, to name a few. You can also grow herb gardens in a variety of containers on your porch or deck, interspersed in your existing beds, planted between stepping stones (so that when you step on the plants, they release some of their lovely scent). You are only limited by your creativity and imagination. Read some books on growing herbs (see below for some suggestions) to provide insight on what would grow best for you, based on your needs, location (sun, shade, wind, moisture), soil, traffic, etc.

When planning an herb garden, add structure and interest with benches to sit and enjoy your garden, enclosures to add dimension and sense of a secret garden (a stone wall, small fence, herbal hedge, trellis), walkways and walk-throughs (stepping stones, archway, trellis, arbor) and whimsical focal points (statuette, birdbath, glass reflection ball, sundial, urn).

Think about seasonal growth and interest, height, color, texture, shape, aroma. For year-round interest and depth, you’ll want to add anchor plants that offer color, texture, and other gifts in the winter months. Plants to consider for year-round color are compact conifers (no higher than 6 feet), plants that produce colorful berries, small trees, shrubs, and plants with interesting bark, and various grasses. To add height to your landscape, in addition to small trees and shrubs, consider adding a vine climbing over a trellis or arbor. Adding neutral colored plants help unify the various colors of the herbal landscape. Plants with grayish foliage have a cooling effect on the garden, and silvery plants help to illuminate neighboring plants, making other colors more vibrant.

The following are some suggestions on what to grow over, under, and through your various structures and anchor plants. Many herbs have multiple qualities and are both colorful and fragrant, for example. All of these plants do well in our planting zone and hopefully will provide many years of gardening pleasure and bounty. Herbs are versatile, beautiful and give us so much that they are worth any gardeners’ consideration in the garden.

Grey/Silver herbs

  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) – silvery undersided, lanceolate leaves
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) – silvery-gray, finely indented leaves
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ) – luminous finely-cut, gray foliage with lavender flowers
  • Gray Santolina (Santolina spp.) – aromatic silver-gray foliage with yellow flowers
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) – greenish gray, oval, rough textured leaves
  • Pinks (Dianthus spp.) – foliage is lance-shaped and blue-gray with pink, fragrant, edible flowers

Colorful herbs

  • Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) – showy bright red flowers with purplish bracts that attract butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Lavender (Lavendula spp.) – fragrant beautiful little purple flowers and leaves, color varies by species
  • Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea spp.) – pretty purple petals with bright yellow centers in a cone shape
  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) – 3 lobed leaves with pinkish flowers in whorls in axils
  • Borage (Borago officinalis) -pretty starry blue flowers
  • Marigold (Calendula officinalis) – bright yellow and orange flowers that also repel insects
  • St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum) – bright yellow flowers

White herbs

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – small, creamy white umbels with finely feathered leaves
  • Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) – white, star-shaped flowers
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – small, white daisy-like flowers
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – white to pale pink flowers in tight clusters on pinnate leaves
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) – serrated leaflets with white/light yellow sweetly aromatic flowers in dense clusters

Fragrant and tasty herbs

  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – lovely lemony scent to leaves, prolific grower
  • Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) – strong, delicious lemony scent to leaves Geraniums spp. – many varieties with interesting scents
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – fast grower and prolific – strong scent and taste of mint
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache spp.) – fragrant foliage with spiked purple flowers and scent of anise
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – different varieties ranging in different colored foliage
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – narrow, fragrant needle-like leaves with tiny pale blue/lavender flowers

Tall or climbing herbs

  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) – soft, downy leaves and pale pink flowers in summer
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – vine with haunting, large purple flowers pollinated by bats
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus) – rough-prickly, twining vine with interesting fruit of strobiles
  • Rose (Rosa spp) – climbing variety, showy, aromatic flowers with a variety of colors and varying scents
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – feathery leaves with flat umbels of yellow flowers.
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens) – shiny green, feathery leaves with yellow flowers in umbrella-shaped clusters

Short or creeping herbs

  • Thyme (Thymus spp.) – fragrant small leaves and flowers, variety of scents and sizes, nice to plant creeping thyme between walking stones
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) – glossy leaves with red berries
  • Violet (Viola odorata) – toothed, heart-shaped leaves with drooping, purple or white flowers


  • Growing 101 Herbs that Heal by Tammi Hartung (2000)
  • Practical Herb Garden by Jessica Houdret (2003)
  • Herbal Tea Gardens by Marietta Marcin (1999)
  • Landscaping with Herbs by James Adams (1987)
  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James Duke (2000)


Daylilies Perennial

The daylily offers a wide range of decisions for the finishing or garden at your home. The logical name of this enduring plant is hemerocallis. A cultivar is an enrolled named daylily. There are more than 75,000 diverse enlisted cultivars. This extensive number spreads cultivars enrolled from the earliest starting point of record keeping to the present, so a hefty portion of these cultivars are old and some even lost. Consistently hybridizers present new cultivars. In the most recent ten years there have been around 2,200 new daylilies enlisted every year. The adjustments in daylilies in the course of the most recent quite a while have been emotional in plant sizes, bloom sizes, blossom hues, and blossom shapes. Consistently new cultivars add to the enthusiasm for daylilies. This assortment gives purchasers numerous alternatives to look over for their patio nurseries.

In the Gettysburg area, daylilies will bloom from June through September, but the peak bloom time is the end of June until the third week in July. There are also early daylilies that bloom in June and many late bloomers that extend the season through August and September. Planting all three types of blooming time daylilies will provide blooms all summer long. Take a visit during peak season to a display garden and get familiar with the cultivars in which you are interested. By visiting a display garden in your region, you can see how well cultivars perform in your area, what they look like in clumps, and how many buds the plants produce. The bud count can vary considerably among the different cultivars. Observing daylilies in your growing area will assure you the cultivars you choose are hardy and will perform well in your garden compared to buying from a catalog or buying shipped-in plants from other regions.

Daylilies have many unique characteristics. The daylily bloom comes in all colors except solid white and blue. However, many newer complex cultivars do have white and blue within the bloom. Various ranges of color in yellow, red, pink, purple, and melon are found in the daylily. The bloom can be a solid color or a combination of colors, and many are complex with patterns and ragged edges called teeth. Some daylilies have tiny crystals on their cells that reflect light giving them a sparkling or glistening appearance and a gold, silver or diamond dusting. The part of the plant the holds the blooms is called the scape and sizes can vary from a few inches to over five feet. Different hydridizers have been working on these visual effects that really add to the interest of the cultivar types.

Flower form is another interesting feature of the daylily, and there is great diversity from one cultivar to another. Most are single blooms with three petals and three sepals, but they can also be double blooms. The bloom can open flat, recurved, circular, spider, or trumpet like a true lily. Bloom size is another feature to consider with the different cultivars. Blooms are broken into three size ranges: miniature under 3 inches, small 3 to 4 ½ inches, and large over 4 ½ inches. There are many large bloom sizes that are over 10 inches. These size variations add to the many choices you have within the various cultivars. Foliage can also vary considerably from grass-like leaves to thick corn-like leaves. The length of the leaves also can vary from as little as 6 inches to over 36 inches. Daylilies should be planted where they get at least six hours of sun daily. Keep them watered for the best bloom.

The American Hemerocallis Society ( is the governing body for the perennial daylily. From its web site you can gain information about the different cultivars. There is also a database with all registered daylilies, giving details and pictures of the blooms. Unfortunately, in most cases, a picture cannot capture the real details of the flower. You can also see what are the most popular daylilies in your region. The Gettysburg area is located in Region 3.

Perhaps the best way to determine which type of daylily you like is to visit an American Hemerocallis Society Display Garden. By looking on the web site, you will find many within a reasonable distance from where you live. Display gardens are both public and privately-owned collections. All display gardens welcome visitors and offer them the chance to see several hundred wonderful newer cultivars that are not available at commercial nurseries and other retail markets. You might even want to join the American Hemerocallis Society; it is inexpensive and you will receive its magazine with lots of current research and information to make growing daylilies all the more fun and successful. There are daylily clubs within each region, and all of them have daylily sales giving you a chance to purchase modern daylilies at reasonable prices. Fellowship in these clubs promotes knowledge and expands gardening skills with daylilies.

Know What makes a Flower Fragrant

Have you ever asked why a few blossoms, for example, out-dated roses have a dazzling aroma and others, particularly a portion of the more current mixtures, have no scent? Actually I think all roses ought to have that awesome scent. It took a touch of burrowing, yet in perusing a vintage bloom cultivator’s handbook, I found a basic clarification that reveals some insight into exactly what makes the scent in blossoms – it is a part of a blossom alluded to as nectaries.

Not all flower fragrances are pleasant. The corpse lily emits a fragrance likened to rotting flesh. Skunk cabbages emit a fragrance indicative of their name. But flowering plants do not release fragrances for the benefit of our human noses. Flowers use their scents to attract pollinators and communicate with other plants. Many flowers emit scents to aid reproduction. Flowers use their ability to create fragrance to lure pollinators and provide them with nectar as a food reward. Nectar-feeding creatures include many species such as bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and even mosquitoes, bats and hummingbirds. For carnivorous plants such as the Venus Fly trap and Pitcher plant, fragrance lures in insects to be captured and digested within the flower cavity for food.

Some flowering plants are non-discriminating using their fragrances to attract a host of insects and birds to fertilize their flowers. Others specialize in releasing scents that only appeal to a particular insect. An example is a specific yucca that relies on a single “yucca” moth for its pollination. In pollination, an insect comes into contact with pollen bearing flower parts and takes some pollen with it before it leaves. It then unknowingly deposits that pollen on another flower of the same species, pollinating the plant and satisfying its need for production of a future generation through seed.

Until the past few decades, the biochemical process of fragrance production remained unknown. In 1953, chemists identified some 20 chemicals in a rose’s fragrance. By 2006, that number was roughly 400. The nectaries that create these chemical fragrances usually are found at the base of the male stamen inside the flower. To date, scientists have catalogued 1,700 different fragrance compounds produced by flowers, with some single plants having a mix of more than 100 compounds.

Nectaries secrete sugars and amino acids to form both nectar and fragrance molecules that are complex mixtures of low molecular weight compounds. Each fragrance compound is an organic molecule known as a volatile that vaporizes into a gas when released by the plant. These molecules are so small that if the average person had the same body size as the moon, the largest fragrance molecule would have the size of a marshmallow. Although flowers may appear identical in color or shape, no similar flowers have fragrances that are exactly the same because of the large diversity of volatile compounds that make up fragrance.

Fragrance is a signal that directs pollinators to a particular flower whose nectar or pollen is the food reward. Species pollinated by bees and flies have sweet fragrances, while those pollinated by beetles, for example, have strong musty, spicy, or fruity aromas. Little is known about exactly how insects respond to these compounds within floral scents, but it is clear that they are capable of distinguishing among the complex fragrance mixtures. Since much of our food production relies on insect-based pollination, think honeybees, we as humans therefore rely on a flower’s ability to produce fragrance for our food. Think about it.


Soil Secret Life

I trust at this point I’ve made you eager to go the Farm Show, keeping in mind you are there you will see the Master Gardener Exhibit. This year, Master Gardeners have endeavored to be an unmistakable nearness at the Farm Show.

As a major aspect of the Penn State show in the Main Exhibition Building, Master Gardeners from a few districts have cooperated to create a magnificent show, entitled “The Secret Life of the Soil.” You will see (and have the capacity to slither through) a 5-foot high worm burrow enriched with all the living life forms that live in the dirt. Make sure to take the children or grandkids!

What about some live frightening little animals? There will be vermicomposting takes care of set (also called worm treating the soil). On the off chance that you experience difficulty disposing of table scraps (leafy foods), this is the arrangement. Simply keep a container of redworms under the counter and sustain them your scraps—in a while, you will have compost—enough to nourish your houseplants and other little plants a relentless eating routine of improved soil.

A regular composting display will also be set up to give you examples of the various types of bins and containers that can be used for composting.

Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions (remember we have been involved for 2 years with the Backyard Composting program). Speaking of questions, Master Gardeners can answer all sorts of questions, and if we can’t answer on the spot we can get the answer for you.

Computers will be set up to print out instant information on a variety of topics. Do you know?

  • One teaspoon of forest soil contains these beneficial organisms:
    – between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria
    – several hundred yards of fungi
    – several hundred thousand protozoans
    – several hundred nematodes.
  • One cup of soil may hold as many bacteria as there are people on earth
  • It takes from 1,000 to 10,000 years to form 1 inch of topsoil.

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.