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The Garden Mix



Make plans now to join Melinda on her famous Garden Walks at Boerner Botanical Gardens in 2014!

Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.
Posts from May 2013


Herbs for Grilling
Make it fun and convenient to add some homegrown flavor to your cookouts.  Grow a few herbs in a pot or garden right next to the grill. 

Include some rosemary.  Better yet try the variety Barbeque.  The foliage is known for its especially good flavor and aroma suited to cooking.  Plus, the strong stems on these plants make the perfect skewer, something your guests are sure to remember.
 
The fine texture of dill combines nicely with colorful flowers and the flavor combines nicely with fish.  Grow in a container and harvest regularly to keep the plant looking its best.  And watch for seedlings in next year’s garden.
 
Add a bit of lemon flavor to chicken or fish with lemon verbena.  It’s suited to containers and grows to 6 feet tall in zones 9 and 10.  Harvest a few sprigs, gently crush to release the flavor and place on chicken or fish.
 
A bit more information:  Use herbs when grilling your favorite vegetables.  Basil, marjoram, oregano and thyme are a few that add a bit of extra flavor to your favorite grilled veggies.  And don’t forget the chives.  The leaves and flowers are edible and great on potatoes and much more.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Cankers (Sunken discolored areas) on Trees
The answer to your tree problem may lie just below the surface, of the bark that is. 
 
Sunken discolored areas, called cankers, are outward symptoms of problems inside the tree.  These cankers can be caused by physical damage from weed whips and mowers, diseases such as fireblight or stress such as extreme heat, flooding and drought.
 
Reduce these risks and increase your tree’s health and beauty with proper planting and care.  Select the most disease-resistant tree suited to your climate, growing conditions and available space.
 
Plant so the root flare is at or slightly above the soil surface.  Mulch the soil with a 2 to 3 inch layer of shredded bark or woodchips.  Be sure to keep the mulch a couple inches away from the trunk of the tree.
 
Water plants thoroughly when needed.  Keep the soil of new plantings slightly moist.  Water established trees when the top 4 to 6 inches is crumbly and starting to dry.
 
A bit more information:  Find the cause before managing cankers.  In general, you will prune these out at least 6 sometimes 12 inches below the sunken discolored area.  Destroy the cankered prunings and disinfect tools with a 10% bleach solution or alcohol between cuts.  This helps reduce the spread of disease.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Edible Ornamental Container Gardens
Make it beautiful and edible by adding a few flowers to your vegetable container plantings. 

For sunny locations try one of these colorful combinations.  Use an orange fruited pepper, like Yummy, as your focal point in a 20-inch pot.  Dress it up with the orange flowered Dreamsicle calibrachoa and add some texture with the dark green foliage of curled parsley.
 
Or use Gretel eggplant as your vertical interest.  Add the light airy Diamond Frost euphorbia for contrasting texture and white flowers that echo Gretel’s white fruit. Then allow some tricolor sage with its cream, purplish-pink and green leaves to spill over the edge of the pot.
 
Shady combinations work as well.  Use greens as your edibles and more shade tolerant flowers for these combinations.  Bright Lights Swiss Chard makes a nice vertical accent.  Then add some golden moneywort and wishbone flower, also known as Torenia.
 
A bit more information: When selecting edibles for containers look for dwarf or compact varieties and those with colorful foliage, flowers, and fruit.  And consider increasing the beauty and your harvest by including edible flowers like calendula, daylilies and roses.  And avoid using pesticides on flowers you plan to eat. 

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Low Maintenance – Big Impact Perennials
Don’t let a lack of time, energy or space stop you from growing perennials.  Instead select and grow low maintenance plants with big impact. 
 
Start with your design.  Once you develop your plan, cut the number of different perennials in half and double the number of each.  You will have fewer perennials to identify as they emerge in spring, less maintenance to learn and bigger impact.
 
Edge your beds to keep unwanted grass out of the bed and make managing the surrounding lawn much easier. I dig a small trench around the edge of my gardens and fill with woodchips.
 
Always select plants suited to your climate, soil and natural rainfall.  You’ll have healthier and more beautiful plants with much less work.
 
Look for perennials that require no staking and little or no deadheading.  Avoid those that reseed, are aggressive and do not plant perennials that tend to escape the garden and invade our natural spaces.
 
A bit more information:  Use color to help increase the impact without increasing the number of plants.  Warm colors of red, orange and yellow grab your attention. Repeat colors, known as color echoing, from one plant to another to provide unity and balance.  Use complementary colors, those across from each other on the artist color wheel, like red and green and blue and yellow to create a focal point.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Grow Your Own Pickles & Celebrate National Pickle Week
Celebrate National Pickle Week by growing a few of your own cucumbers for pickling.

All you need are a few seeds, a sunny location and a bit of garden space or a large container.  Train these large vining plants up a fence, trellis or decorative obelisk to save space.
 
Consider planting National Pickling Cucumber Seeds developed by the National Pickle Packers Association and Michigan Agriculture Experiment station.  These were bred for their versatility and perfect pickle shape.  You’ll be harvesting cucumbers in about 52 days after planting.
 
Or save some space with Bush pickle.  This cucumber forms a 3 to 4 foot wide mound and produces an abundance of 4-inch fruit.  It’s a perfect size for containers.  And save even more space and grow straighter fruit by training these smaller plants up a cage or trellis.  Cucumbers are ready to pick in about 45 days.
 
A bit more information:  Cucumbers are generally ready to harvest in 45 to 60 days after planting.  This makes them a great option for mid and late season plantings.  Just calculate the number of frost-free days left in the growing season to see how late you can plant.  And further extend the season by using floating row covers like ReeMay, Harvest Guard, and Frost Covers to protect plants from frosty weather.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Celebrate Clean Air Month – Grow Some Air-Purifying Houseplants
Celebrate National Clean Air Month by growing a few houseplants to improve your indoor air quality. 

NASA teamed up with PLANET (Professional Landcare Network, formerly ALCA) and found adding 15 to 18, 6 to 8 inch diameter container houseplants will improve the air quality in an 1800 square foot house.  Keeping them healthy will increase their beauty and ability to cleanse the air.
Consider adding a bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii).  Use this large houseplant to create a warm welcome for guests, dress up a blank wall or mix in with other houseplants for an impressive indoor garden.

This palm is an understory plant in Central America.  It is hardy in zones 10 to 11 and adapted to the lower light conditions indoors.  Grow it in a brightly lit location and keep the soil slightly moist.
Cut off fronds as they die, leaving the leafy stem covering intact.  Once it is fully dried, remove to expose the attractive stems.

A bit more information:  Start new plants by division.  Remove suckers and offshoots that form at the base of the plant.  Slide the bamboo palm out of its pot.  Use a sharp knife or drywall saw to separate the offshoots from the main plant.  Repot the parent plant and offshoots in a container slightly larger than the remaining root ball.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Perennial Garden Renovations
Give your tired perennial garden a boost without a total renovation. Topdressing your garden with compost every year or two provides most if not all the nutrients your perennials need.

Pull back the mulch if needed.  Then spread an inch of compost over the soil surface.  You can buy a quality compost or make your own.
 
Leave the compost on the surface or lightly mix it into the soil.  The earthworms, ground beetles, and other organisms will take it from there – moving the compost into the soil and around the plant roots where it is needed.
 
Or, do a bit of vertical mulching.  Use an auger bit on your cordless drill.  Simply drill holes into the soil between plants.   Then fill the holes with compost.  This gets the compost closer to the plant roots and soil organisms that will help mix it into and improve the soil.
 
Soil preparation and repair will help transform your garden.
 
A bit more information:  Apply a plant strengthener such as JAZ spray to increase plant vigor and their natural ability to tolerate environmental stresses, insect attacks, and disease problems.  These natural products aren’t fertilizers or pesticides.  They can be applied to established plants at the beginning of the season to boost their ability to deal with stress or as soon as problems arise.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Growing Banana Plants Indoors or Out
Add a bit of the tropics indoors or out with a banana plant. 
 
The large leaves are great for screening views and creating a bit of privacy on a balcony, patio or in the yard.  Add a wicker planter or chair and you have your own tropical get-away.

The fiber banana (Musa basjoo) is hardy in zones 5 to 11.  It grows in full sun.  It will die back to the ground and benefit from winter mulch in northern areas of its hardiness zone.
 
Less hardy and smaller, the blood banana (Musa acuminata ‘Zebrina’), has large leaves with red markings on 6 to 8 foot plants.  It’s only hardy in zones 10 to 11, but can be overwintered as a houseplant or allowed to go dormant in other areas. 
 
Combine these tropical beauties with palms, ginger and bird-of-paradise.  Or add some hardy tropical look-alikes such as Japanese forest grass, large leaf hostas and trumpet vines.

A bit more information:  Push the limits of your growing region with special wintering techniques developed by Dr. David Francko, author of Palms Won’t Grow Here and Other Myths: Warm-Climate Plants for Cooler Areas. And for those in warmer regions check out Creating the Tropical Look.
 

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Preserving the Asparagus Harvest
Preserve the flavor and nutrition of asparagus to enjoy year round.
 
This flavorful vegetable is low in calories and high in Vitamins A and C as well as fiber.  Unfortunately, it is most readily available and at the best price in the spring.
 
Insure the best flavor with proper harvesting.  Select young tender spears 8 to 10 inches tall.  Wash, remove the ends, and then cut to fit the freezer bag or container.
 
Blanch the asparagus before freezing to lock in flavor, color and texture.  Dip the asparagus into boiling water.  You’ll need a large pan with a lid.  Blanch small spears for 2 minutes, medium spears for 3 minutes and large spears for 4 minutes.
 
Remove and immediately set the blanched spears in ice water for 5 minutes to cool. Drain and freeze.
 
And, if you don’t have an asparagus patch, you may want to consider planting one this year. 
 
A bit more information:  May is National Asparagus Month.  For tips on planting and harvesting asparagus listen to my audio tip.  And check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for helpful tips and guidelines for preserving your harvest.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida)
Add a little color and flavor to your garden and salads with Mexican tarragon.


This subtle beauty is really a type of marigold, but the leaves and flowers have a tarragon fragrance and flavor. 
 
Wait until after the danger of frost has passed to plant this zone 8 to 10 hardy plant.  Grow it in full sun to part shade and well-drained soils. It is somewhat drought tolerant.  Northern gardeners can treat it like an annual and those in the northern range of its hardiness zone may see it die back to the ground in a hard freeze.  But don’t worry its root hardy.
 
The yellow flowers appear in late summer and persist through fall.  The 14 to 20 inch tall plants make a nice addition to herb gardens and flowerbeds.
 
Harvest the new growth to use fresh.  Preserve the flavor by freezing the leaves or storing in vinegar.  They tend to lose their flavor when dried. 
 
A bit more information: You can find this plant listed under several common names including Mexican tarragon, Texas tarragon, pericon, and sweet mace.  No matter the common name you can use the leaves and blossoms in soups, sauces and chicken dishes as well as salads.  Some gardeners even seep it for tea. Visit Bonnie Plants for more information and gardeners ideas for growing and using this plant in the garden.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Year of the Watermelon
Year of the Watermelon
 
The National Garden Bureau has declared 2013 the Year of the Watermelon.  Be part of the celebration and consider planting watermelon in this year’s garden.
 

Don’t let the sweet flavor deceive you – these are nutritious as well as delicious.  High in Vitamin C, low in fat and calories - it is a great way to boost your energy.  Plus, all parts are edible.
 
You can pickle the rind, eat the fleshy portion fresh or roast or grind the seeds for flavoring.  In china they stir fry watermelon while the Russians often pickle it before eating.  You may want to try some new ways of enjoying this tasty summer treat.
 
Grow watermelon in full sun and well-drained soils.  Save space by growing these plants on a trellis or decorative obelisk.  Just secure the heavy fruit to the support with a cloth or macramé sling.  Or plant a few seeds in a container and let the vines wander over your balcony or trellis.
 
A bit more information: Try planting one of the large picnic-type watermelons that can weigh 15 to 50 pounds.  These are sure to get everyone in the family excited about growing and eating this, the largest edible fruit in the United States.  Or perhaps you want to try one of the icebox melons that is much smaller at 5 to 15 pounds and easier to squeeze into the fridge. And don’t forget about those with unique colored rinds and flesh and of course those that lack seeds.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Clematis Stem Wilt
Clematis Stem Wilt
 
Your clematis looks beautiful until suddenly the stems and leaves start turning black.  Though it looks bad your clematis will survive. 
 
The fungus that causes this disease enters your plant through wounds and cracks in the stem near ground level.  Fortunately new growth arising below this point will be disease free.
 
Reduce future problems by pruning out and destroying infested stems.  Disinfect tools between cuts to reduce the risk of spreading this disease.
 
As new growth emerges from the soil carefully secure it to the support to reduce the risk of cracking and damage.  Eliminating the entryways for the fungus will reduce the risk of disease.
 
In the future consider planting the crown of the clematis below the soil surface.  This allows the plant to produce new shoots below the point of infection.
 
Try growing small flowered clematis that tend to resist this disease.  Alpina, macropetala and the viticella types are a few to consider.
 
A bit more information: For a disease to occur you must have the causal organism (fungus, bacteria, virus) present, disease-promoting weather and susceptible plants.  Remove one of these factors and you eliminate the disease.  Keep this in mind when managing clematis stem wilt and other plant diseases in your garden.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Watch for and Prevent Borers on Trees and Shrubs
 
Extreme heat and cold, droughts and floods can leave our plants stressed and more susceptible to damaging borers.
 
These insects are the immature stage of moths and beetles that feed under the bark and inside the stems of plants. Their feeding weakens and in some cases kills the plant.
 
Many borers are opportunists, attacking already stressed trees.  We can’t control the weather but we can help reduce stress on our plants.  Start by growing plants suited to the climate and growing conditions in your landscape.
 
Mulch the area under and around the base of trees and shrubs. Organic mulches like wood chips keep the roots cool and moist and reduce competition from grass and weeds.
 
Be sure to water new plantings thoroughly and as needed the first few years.  And do the same for established trees and shrubs during extended drought.  This will keep them healthy and help ward off borers.
 
A bit more information:  Incorporate trees and shrubs into perennial planting beds.  You will create an attractive garden and better environment for the plants.  Plus, planting beds as well as mulching will reduce the need for hand trimming and will keep weed whips and mowers away from the trunks of the trees. And don’t pile soil or mulch over the stems of shrubs and the trunks of trees.  These practices create entryways for pests and encourage disease problems.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Lawn Revival
 
If sparse, bare spots or lots of weeds describe your lawn, it is time for a little lawn revival. 

Start by evaluating the current state of your lawn.  If more than 60% is bare or filled with weeds, it is time to start over.  Look at this as an opportunity to properly prepare the soil, select a more drought tolerant lawn or convert it into a no mow or low maintenance lawn or planting bed.
 
Overseed thin sparse lawns.  Core aerate first or use a slit seeder to insure good seed-to-soil contact.  For small bare spots use a lawn patch kit or make your own.  Mix a handful of quality grass seed into a bucket of topsoil.  Remove any dead grass and roughen the soil surface.  Then sprinkle the commercial or homemade lawn patch over the prepared bare spot.
 
Keep the soil moist until the grass seed begins to grow.
 
A bit more information:  Larger areas will benefit from the addition of organic matter into the top 6 inches of soil before sowing the grass seed or laying sod.  Keep the soil moist until the sod has rooted into the soil below and the grass seed begins to grow. Consider overseeding the lawn to help create a more uniform appearance in the lawn.   For more information, click here.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Cutest Sibling Video EVER!
I can't even handle how cute this video is!!
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Great visit from Mom-Mom!
My Mother-In-Law’s been in town for the last 10 days, visiting from Phoenix.   There are 2 reasons that Mom-Mom came to visit:  to see her Grandchildren  and …to see her grandchildren!  Seriously!  That’s perfectly fine, we KNOW she loves us too!  Wait, make that 3 reasons…our house is spotless now too…THANKS MOM! I think we’ve shown Mom a great time during her visit.  Sarah and the kids took her to the Milwaukee County Zoo, then a pool day at Cool Waters and the last thing we did was Festa Italiana!  THAT was her favorite! Festa Italiana was AMAZING!  We went on Friday night and HOLY RICEBALLS!  And lasagna sticks!  And zucchini sticks!  And eggplant sticks!  And calamari!  And CHOCOLATE CANNOLIS!  SOOOO many great foods to eat, music to hear, things and people to see…was a great experience!  Can’t wait for next year! As always, THANK YOU for reading and for listening to 99.1 The Mix!  Hope you have a GREAT week!   -Mark Summers
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4th Of July Weekend 2014...AWESOME!
4th Of July Weekend 2014 was one for the ages!  LOVED having my daughter and our adopted son Cameron (not really, but kinda) here for the fun!  Here’s how it went down: Friday:  First Summerfest experience for the family and I and it didn’t disappoint!  Food, FUN, laughs, music and just a great time enjoying a MILWAUKEE SUMMER DAY…it FINALLY showed up! Saturday:  Used bumpers and STILL got beat by a 3-year old, two 14-year olds, a 15-year old and my wife Sarah.  I’m NOT GOOD at bowling! Sunday:  Spent the day in Lake Geneva and ya’ know…NO BIG DEAL… just drove a speedboat for the FIRST TIME EVER!   WHAT A RUSH!  Can’t wait to do it again!  Kids jumped off the boat and swam around for a bit and we just relaxed for a couple of hours…was PEACEFUL & AMAZING!   I hope you and yours had a GREAT holiday weekend as well!  As always, thanks so much for reading and THANK YOU for listening to 99.1 The Mix!   Have a great week! -Mark Summers
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4th Of July Weekend 2014...AWESOME!
4th Of July Weekend 2014 was one for the ages!  LOVED having my daughter Alyssa and our adopted son Cameron (not really, but kinda) here for the fun!  Here’s how it went down: Friday:  First Summerfest experience for the family and I and it didn’t disappoint!  Food, FUN, laughs, music and just a great time enjoying a MILWAUKEE SUMMER DAY…it FINALLY showed up! Saturday:  Used bumpers and STILL got beat by a 3-year old, two 14-year olds, a 15-year old and my wife Sarah.  I’m NOT GOOD at bowling! Sunday:  Spent the day in Lake Geneva and ya’ know…NO BIG DEAL… just drove a speedboat for the FIRST TIME EVER!   WHAT A RUSH!  Can’t wait to do it again!  Kids jumped off the boat and swam around for a bit and we just relaxed for a couple of hours…was PEACEFUL & AMAZING!   I hope you and yours had a GREAT holiday weekend as well!  As always, thanks so much for reading and THANK YOU for listening to 99.1 The Mix!   Have a great week! -Mark Summers
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Wine Bottles – Out of the Recycling Bin and Into the Garden
Stop! Don’t recycle those wine bottles, instead give them a second life in your garden. Use wine bottles to create a colorful edge along a path or around a planting bed. Set the bottle, top-side down in the ground.  Individual bottles make great hose guides.   Or create colorful outdoor lighting. Remove the bottom of the bottle with a glasscutter. Place over LED bulbs. Strategically place individual wine bottle lights throughout the garden or use multiple bottles over a string of lights.   Put your glasscutter to work creating a planter. Remove a section from one side of the bottle. Lay the bottle on its side, secure in place, fill with soil and plant.   Or remove the top of the bottle. Invert and place in the bottom of the bottle. The original opening is now your drain hole and the bottom of the bottle is your saucer.   And of course you can always place them on a bottle tree.   A bit more information: Convert wine bottles into watering devices. Punch a small hole into the soil of your container garden. Fill the bottle with water, invert and place into the soil. Plant Nannies are hollow terra cotta spikes that can be set into the soil to hold the wine bottle in place.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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Leaf Spot on Rudbeckia
Once thought to be the answer to low maintenance perennial gardens, Goldstrum Rudbeckia’s reputation has been tarnished by several leaf spot diseases.   A bacterial and several fungal leaf spot diseases cause purplish-black spots on the leaves of rudbeckia. Severe infestation can totally blacken the leaves and cause the plants to dieback a bit earlier in fall.  Fortunately most of the diseases are cosmetic and the plants will continue to flower and return each year.   Reduce the risk of this disease by providing adequate light and air circulation around the plants.  Use a soaker hose or watering wand to apply water directly to the soil when needed.    In fall, remove and destroy all diseased plant parts.   If disease is a yearly problem, plant more resistant cultivars like Becky, Cherokee Sunset, Irish eyes, or Prairie Sun.   A bit more information:  Or keep the plants and hide the diseased leaves. Plant something slightly shorter in front of the Goldstrum Rudbeckia plants to mask the discolored leaves, but allow the flowers to show through.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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Crown Rot Causing Sudden Wilting and Death on Ajuga (Bugleweed)
Sudden wilting, yellowing and death of ajuga, also known as bugleweed, means crown rot may have invaded the planting. This fungal disease is most common in warm wet or humid weather. It first appears as sudden wilting and dieback in colder climates and yellowing and death of plants in warmer areas. The stems of infected plants turn brown or black and rot.    This disease can be introduced into the garden on infected plants or soil or spread by tools and water. Since the disease is in the soil it is difficult to eradicate.   Remove and destroy infected plants and the surrounding soil immediately. Be sure to disinfect your tools with a one-part bleach and nine-part water solution during and after the process.   If the disease continues to spread or has destroyed much of the planting, it is time to start over in a new location with disease-free plants.   A bit more information:  Reduce the risk of crown rot to healthy plantings by thinning groundcover plantings every few years or before they become overcrowded. And avoid planting crown rot susceptible plants in the bed where the Ajuga died.  Consider amending the soil with compost, peatmoss or coir to improve drainage before planting.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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Cool Splash Diervilla Shrub for Shady Gardens
Brighten up the shade with a Cool Splash Diervilla.   This cultivar of the southern bush honeysuckle was selected for its creamy to yellow leaf margins. The variegated leaves are topped by fragrant yellow flowers in midsummer. They help attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.   Cool Splash is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and grows equally well in full sun or partial shade with moist well-drained soil. Once established, it is heat and drought tolerant.   This small-scale shrub suckers, forming a dense mass of cascading branches. It eventually reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, making it suitable for small space gardens as well as mixed borders and shrub beds.  Use it to mask leggy stems or visually anchor taller trees and shrubs to the ground.   And don’t let the common name honeysuckle fool you. Though a member of the same family, this is not the invasive honeysuckle taking over our woodlands.   A bit more information: Combine Cool Splash with shade tolerant perennials. Hosta, astilbe, Brunnera, coral bells and ginger are just a few. For more shade tolerant shrubs watch my Shrubs Made for the Shade video.   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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Smart Irrigation Month – Planning a Watersense Irrigation System
Watering our landscapes properly can save water and improve our plants’ health. And if you decide to invest in an irrigation system make sure to get the best value and water savings by doing your homework first.   Look for systems that include EPA approved WaterSense irrigation controllers. These are like thermostats only they’re for your irrigation system, adjusting watering schedules based on weather and soil moisture instead of the calendar.   Select a system zoned to water plants at different rates. Established trees require less frequent watering than annuals. Use drip irrigation or low volume sprinklers in gardens to apply water slowly and right where it is needed.   And consult a certified Irrigation specialist that understands how irrigation works, the local environment and will help you comply with any building codes.   A bit more information: Your time invested in research before investing in an irrigation system can reduce water use, repair costs and plant replacement. Experts estimate we could reduce water use by 50% just by eliminating improper watering. If you already have a system, inspect it regularly. Check for and repair any leaks, clear clogs, adjust direction and repair damaged sprinkler heads. For more information visit these web sites: http://www.irrigation.org/Certification/Certification_Splash.aspx   http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/products/controltech.html   For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com  
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