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Posts from February 2014

Garden Conservancy Open Days Private Garden Tour

Get your tickets now for a peek into some of the most amazing private gardens in America. This one-of-a-kind private garden tour provides a great opportunity to gather ideas, exchange gardening secrets, and get inspired.

Known as Open Days, this private garden tour was started in 1995 by the Garden Conservancy.
Gardens are located in 21 states including the District of Columbia. There are more than 300 gardens featured and each region offers its own special variety of gardens.
 
All you need is a little time and a ticket to participate in the self-guided garden tours. A listing of the Open Days gardens and dates for each garden will be listed in the Open Days Directory, posted on the Garden Conservancy’s website or you can call 1-888-842-2442.
 
A bit more information: This program was started by the Garden Conservancy to create awareness and help support their mission of preserving America’s gardens. For more information on Open Days and the Garden Conservancy visit https://www.gardenconservancy.org
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Attractive Year Round Screening

How many evergreens do I need to screen the view of my neighbor’s house? This is a common question raised by gardeners across the country.

And even though arborvitae, junipers, and other evergreens provide great year round screening, consider creating something with more variety and seasonal interest. 
 
Start by determining exactly what views need to be screened. Evaluate the views from inside your house looking out. Then move outdoors and try standing and sitting in areas you want to create some privacy. Then consider your neighbors’ view looking into your home and garden. Several smaller strategically placed gardens can provide the needed screening or privacy.
 
Consider using ornamental grasses, perennials, and flowering shrubs along with the upright evergreens. Mixed borders are more interesting and much easier to maintain if a plant or two dies.
 
A bit more information:  Consider annual and perennial vines on decorative trellises and artwork for narrow spaces. These can provide quick screening as a short-term or long-term solution.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Topics : Human Interest




 

Pine Needle Scale

White flecks on your mugo pine does not mean the house painter was careless. It’s more likely that your evergreen is infested with pine needle scale.

The white flecks you see are hard shells produced by the adult pine needle scale.
 
Timing is critical for successful control. Their hard shell protects the adults and overwintering eggs from predators, the environment and pesticides. Apply insecticidal soap, Neem, light weight horticulture oil or another eco-friendly insecticide labeled for controlling this pest when the immature shell-less scales are active. This coincides with the bloom time of vanhouette spirea, often called bridal wreath, or as the flower buds on common lilac begin to swell in the spring. Repeat when the Annabelle hydrangeas bloom in the summer.  As always read and follow label directions.
 
A bit more information: A healthy plant can tolerate small populations, but continued attacks by this insect can weaken and ruin the appearance of your pine. If you decide to treat, make two applications of an eco-friendly insecticide 7 to 10 days apart for both the spring and summer treatment. Or kill the overwintering eggs by applying lime sulphur in late winter when the plants are still dormant. Be careful as the lime sulfur can damage some plants and stain nearby surfaces.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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2014 Perennial Plant of the Year – Northwind Switchgrass

Make room in your landscape for Northwind Switchgrass the 2014 perennial plant of the year.
 
Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm selected this cultivar from seed he collected along railroad tracks in South Elgin, IL. He noticed the unique growth habit of one particular plant and began trialing, propagating and finally introducing Northwind Switchgrass in 1992.
 
It was the upright growth habit and wide steel blue leaves that caught his attention. The 5 feet tall switchgrass is a clump forming grass perfect as a screen, vertical accent or filler in mixed beds.
 
The plant is topped by fine-textured flowers that remind me of fireworks in late summer. The yellow flowers turn into beige seedheads and the plant has an attractive golden yellow fall color. This sturdy plant remains upright throughout the winter, providing great winter interest.
 
A bit more information: Northwind Switchgrass is hardy in zones 4 to 10. This fine textured beauty is a nice addition to natural, informal, and formal landscapes. It is seldom bothered by deer.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Locations : IllinoisSouth Elgin
People : Roy Diblik




 

Apple Tree Fails to Produce

No fruit and all leaves is a common complaint of gardeners new to growing apples.  Fortunately, with a little time and adjustments in care you will soon be rewarded with fruit.

Patience is the first step. The first few years after planting, your apple tree spends its energy on developing a healthy root system. This is good for the longevity and productivity of the plant.
 
You will need to start pruning young trees to develop a strong and productive structure.  Consider using the central or modified central leader system. You will have a single trunk with several large branches spiraling up the trunk.
 
Train 5 to 7 main branches for dwarf trees and 7 to 9 for standard size apple trees. Dwarf trees should start blooming and be allowed to develop fruit about 4 or 5 years, while standard trees take a bit longer, 6 or 7 years, after planting.
 
A bit more information:  Avoid excess pruning and over fertilization that promotes leaf and stem growth and discourages flowering and fruiting.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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A Perennial Valentine - Valentine Bleeding Heart

Looking for a unique Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone? Give a gift that brings joy and beauty year after year.

Bleeding Heart was originally brought to America as a Valentine’s Day gift. The new variety, Valentine, provides a twist on this long time favorite. The bright red flowers have white tips and dangle from deep red arching stems in late spring.
 
Keep the plants blooming into early summer with ample moisture and moderate temperatures. And don’t forget to cut a few flowers to enjoy indoors. These last for several weeks.
 
Give this plant room to grow. It forms a 24 to 36 inch mound. And don’t be surprised when the plant begins to fade in mid-summer. It’s normal and will return next spring. You may need to give your Valentine an IOU and deliver this present once the plants arrive at your favorite garden center.
 
A bit more information: The leaves on Valentine bleeding heart emerge with a tinge of purple and then turn green, providing a nice contrast to the blooms.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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I'm Over It

I'm so over it. #wiwx -Kidd O'Shea
Photo: I'm so over it. #wiwx -Kidd O'Shea
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Abe Lincoln Heirloom Tomato

Add a little fun and history to this year’s vegetable garden and grow some Abe Lincoln tomatoes.
 
This heirloom tomato was introduced in Illinois back in 1923 by the Buckbee Seed Company. Abe Lincoln is an indeterminate type tomato, meaning it continues to grow throughout the season until frost kills the plant or a gardener prunes off the growing tip.
 
This slicing tomato can be found on plant recommendation lists of Universities across the country. Abe Lincoln tomatoes have good disease resistance and produce medium size bright red tomatoes with a rich slightly acid flavor.
 
You may need to start your own plants from seed or find a local grower or hobbyist that specializes in heirloom vegetables. Start these and other tomato seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the outdoor night temperatures are hovering at 50 to 55 degrees.
 
A bit more information: With proper care you will be harvesting Abe Lincoln tomatoes in less than 80 days. Speed up the process by keeping the plants warm on chilly days and nights. Cover plantings with floating row covers like ReeMay, frost blanket or garden fabric. Try cloches or wall-o-waters to cover individual plants.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Tree and Shrub Growth Rates

Now is a great time to plan for additions to your landscape. And as you scour the catalogues and read plant tags you will often see trees rated as fast, medium or slow growers.
 
These are average growth rates, but just like a plant’s mature size it can vary with local climate, growing conditions and the care you provide.  A slow growth rate means the plant usually grows 12 inches or less each year.  Medium growers add 13 to 24 inches each year, while fast growing trees grow 25 inches or more in one year. 
 
The American Conifer Society (ACS) has classified cone bearing plants by their size in any direction (height or spread) and growth rate.  They range from Miniature (M) conifers that grow less than 1 inch a year and reach less than 1 foot size at 10 years of age to large (L) conifers that grow more than 12 inches a year and are greater than 15 feet tall at ten years of age.
 
A bit more information: The other ACS growth rates and classifications include dwarf (D) conifers that grow more than 1 inch but less than 6 inches a year and reach sizes of 1 to 6 feet by 10 years of age.  Intermediate (I) conifers grow more than 6 and less than 12 inches a year and are more than 6 feet but less than 15 feet in size.  
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Birth Tree March 1 through 10 - Weeping Willow

The lovely and graceful weeping willow has long been a part of our landscapes. And, although it is the birth tree for those born between March 1st and 10th, think twice before planting this beauty in your backyard.
 
As birth trees go, the weeping willow represents beauty filled with a bit of melancholy. Individuals with this birth tree are also said to be tasteful, dreamers, restless and have good intuition.
 
Today the golden weeping willow is considered the standard and the one most of us know as weeping willow. This fast growing tree is hardy in zones 2 through 9, develops a stout trunk and is covered with long pendulous branches.  It is tolerant of moist to wet soils and is often found growing along ponds and streams.
 
This large tree is perfect for wet areas where other trees fail and where the leaf, stem and fluffy seedpod litter and aggressive roots are not a problem.
 
A bit more information: The golden weeping willow can grow 50 to 80 feet tall with a broad canopy. If your yard is too small or you don’t want the litter issue, visit this graceful beauty in a nearby park or natural setting.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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We're FOOTBALL parents now!
I'm a bit bias, but my son Anthony is a GREAT BASEBALL player. I think he's a great athlete in general. Now though, for the first time EVER, he's a HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER! (GO GREENDALE PANTHERS) Anthony's been asking my wife and I to play football for the last 2+ years and our answer has always been "nah, you're a baseball player buddy, focus on that" LOL! Well, I admit that MOST of the reason for our answer was b/c he REALLY TRULY is a great baseball player and we didn't want him getting HURT playing football…I also explained to him that playing high school football wasn't anything like just getting together in the backyard with friends and throwing the ball around and that it's ALOT of work, practice, sweat etc… Well, he's not backed down AT ALL and we just figured hey, he wants to do it, let him find out all of the hard work involved and see what happens! The result: HE'S RAN WITH IT and is excited to be doing it! He's already gotten hurt in camp, got whiplash, was out for a week and came back WITH MORE FIRE to do it! We didn't DOUBT he'd have the passion and drive to do it…we just worried he thought it was something that it's not. He's showed us he's ready for the challenge! It's been FUN to watch him learn something new…and he'll get better and better as the practices and games begin! My wife and I look forward to being a FOOTBALL Mom & Dad for the first time and just enjoying the ride! In the end, it's ALL about the experiences Anthony will have and the memories he'll start making in high school that TRULY matter! Thanks for reading! Thanks for listening! Just…THANKS! -Mark Summers
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You Can Plant Cucumbers Next to Pumpkins
The old adage "don't plant your cucumbers next to your pumpkins" is not true. You can plant pumpkins next to other squash, melons and cucumbers. When we purchase and plant a seed of one of these tasty vegetables; that seed grows into fruit we desire. If the bees carry pollen from one plant to another, cross-pollination can occur. This affects the seeds, not the fruit you'll eat. If you save the seed from these plants and use them in next year's garden, you may be in for a surprise. The offspring might be a yellow and green acorn squash, yellow spotted zucchini or pumpkin with green warts. And even if you didn't save and plant seeds, you may find a few surprises in the compost pile or garden. Cross-pollinated fruit added to the compost pile or allowed to decompose in the garden leaves a few cross-pollinated seeds behind. A bit more information: Cross pollination occurs within close members of this family. The female flower of the plant will only accept pollen from closely-related members. So a squash and cucumber cannot cross pollinate. But an acorn squash can cross with the more closely related zucchini or gourd. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Disease Resistant Major Wheeler Red Honeysuckle Vine
Add a spot of red to the garden and help bring in the hummingbirds. Major Wheeler honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler') is a cultivar of the North American native honeysuckle vine. It has been called the best red by many growers and is resistant to powdery mildew. Gardeners and growers report clean, mildew-free leaves even when plants are overcrowded or growing in droughty conditions. The red flowers appear in late spring and repeat throughout the summer. Remove the first set of blooms as they fade to increase the intensity of summer blooms. Grow this twining vine up a trellis, over an arbor, on a fence or climbing over a rock wall. The stems grow 3 to 8 feet long. And the plant is hardy in zones 4 to 8. You'll have the best results growing this plant in full sun and moist well-drained soil. It is heat and drought tolerant once established and will tolerate a bit of light shade. A bit more information: Try growing this and other vines in a container. It is a great way to add vertical interest to your container garden or a colorful accent on a patio or deck. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Build a Bee House
Convert scrap lumber into homes for native bees to raise their young. Native bees are important pollinators needed for plants to produce fruits, seeds and berries. Planting native flowers such as asters and beebalm and trees like lindens will provide food to help attract bees to your landscape and keep them healthy. Providing housing will also help attract these visitors to your garden. Drill holes into, but not through, any size block of untreated wood. The holes should be about 3 to 5 inches deep and 5/16th an inch in diameter for Mason bees. Insert straws into each hole to make cleaning easier. Paper straws are good for nesting but glass or plastic reduce the risk of mold formation. Mount the bee house on the south side of a fence or building. Keep your bees safe by eliminating the use of pesticides on or near the bee house. Better yet, use bee-safe insect control methods in your garden and landscape. A bit more information: No construction skills? Don't worry - you can use hollow stemmed grasses and reeds as the nesting cavities. Place these in a bucket or bundle them together to create a bee house. Click here for more information on building bee houses. . For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Blossom Drop and Fruit Rot on Vegetables
Don't let blossom drop and fruit rot reduce this season's harvest. A few adjustments in your garden care can help reduce the risk. Many vegetables will drop their blossoms when temperatures and soil moisture fluctuate. Extreme heat and cold nights can cause peppers to drop their blossoms and tomatoes to stop producing. Use floating row covers to keep things warm on cool nights or during heat waves wait for cooler temperatures for the fruit to form. Be sure to water thoroughly to encourage deep drought-tolerant roots. Mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keeps roots cool and evenly moist. Even soil moisture also insures the uptake of critical nutrients. A lack of calcium can cause blossom end rot on tomatoes and other fruit. Adjust your watering and mulching before reaching for the fertilizer. A bit more information: Products like Blossom Set will help with tomatoes, but not peppers. The fruit will be smaller, but at least you'll have some. This will not work with peppers since they drop their blossoms during extremely hot or cold temperatures. A few diseases can also cause fruit rot. Remove the squash blossoms as they wilt to reduce the risk of damage caused by these diseases. And be sure to mulch the soil to reduce the risk of soil born diseases from infecting blossoms and developing fruit. Melon and Squash Cradles from Gardener's Supply Company help elevate your fruit off the soil further reducing disease problems. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Controlling Ragweed, the Allergy Sufferers Nemesis
If you suffer from a runny nose, stuffed up sinuses and itchy or watery eyes, the culprit may be hiding under your shrubs, next to your flowers or along a nearby roadway. Ragweed is the main cause of allergy and pollen asthma in North America and Central Europe. Common ragweed is an annual with ferny leaves that flowers in August and September. Giant ragweed has larger less dissected leaves and can reach heights of 8 feet. Mowing and removal not only eliminates the pollen, but also the 30,000 to 62,000 seeds that each plant can produce. Removing one plant means thousands less to weed next season. Keep your lawn mown, gardens weeded and replant ragweed infested areas with native and ornamental plants suited to the growing conditions. Proper selection and soil preparation will help your desirable plants crowd out this weed. A bit more information: A single plant can release as much as one billion grains of pollen throughout one season. And that pollen can travel more than 400 miles. Enlist friends, families and neighbors in the cause. The more we control this pesky weed the better for us all. For more information, click here. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Leaf Browning, Scorch, on Hostas and Other Shade Plants
Brown leaf edges are common on hostas and other shade lovers when the temperatures rise or the sun is too intense. Brown leaf edges, known as scorch, occur when the plant loses more water than is available or faster than the plant is able to absorb. Reduce the risk of this problem by growing shade lovers like hostas in shady areas free of hot mid-day and afternoon sun. Add organic matter to the soil to improve the water-holding ability of fast draining sandy soils. Water the plants thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Mulch the soil with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keep the soil cool and evenly moist. Yes, I know, this also creates the perfect environment for slugs. If a slug problem develops, capture these slimy pests with beer in a shallow can. A bit more information: If slugs are a problem considering planting more slug-resistant hostas. These tend to have thicker leaves like the 2014 Hosta of the Year "Abiqua Drinking Gourd." For more information, listen to my audio tip on Eco-friendly Slug and Snail Control. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Night
Once again it's time to celebrate Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Night. August 8th, National Zucchini Day, inspired Pennsylvania gardeners Tom and Ruth Roy to encourage gardeners to share their excess zucchini with neighbors. If you've grown zucchini you know it can create an abundance of fruit. Harvesting when the fruit is 6 to 8 inches long gives the best flavor and keeps the plants producing. So after you've enjoyed those first dozen or so zucchini on relish trays, stir-fried or in baked goods you may be looking for ways to "share" the harvest. After friends and family refuse your offering of this tasty veggie you may decide to join the fun and leave a few zucchinis on your neighbor's front porch. Just include a few recipes if you want to keep them as friends. Or better yet, take your surplus vegetables, zucchini and all, to a nearby food pantry. A bit more information: Many seniors and children benefit from the flavorful and nutritious surplus vegetables donated by generous gardeners. Visit Plant-a-Row for the Hungry's web site at or call 1-877-492-2727 to find a food pantry near you. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Love-in-a-Mist Flower Growing Tips
Add a little love and beauty to your garden with Love-in-a-mist. The fine foliage, white, pink, blue or lavender flowers and attractive seedpods provide season-long beauty. This annual grows best in full sun and moist well-drained fertile soil. The flowers float above the dill-like leaves on plants 15 to 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Harvest a few of the long-lasting flowers to enjoy in a vase. Remove the foliage as it tends to wilt much more quickly than the blossoms. And harvest a few of the seedpods to use in crafts and dried arrangements. Pick when the purple or bronze stripes are visible on the balloon shaped pods. Hang in a warm shaded location to dry. Love-in-a-mist is self-seeding. So once you have a plant growing and flowering in the garden, just leave a few seedpods on the plants, don't disturb the soil and you'll be rewarded with lots of new plants each year. A bit more information: This plant is known botanically as Nigella damascena. It does not transplant well. So buy new seeds or collect seeds from existing plants when you want to start this plant in a new location in the landscape. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Joe-Pye Weed for you and the Butterflies to Enjoy
Add some bold beauty and butterfly appeal to your garden with Joe-Pye Weed. This summer through fall blooming perennial is hardy in zones 3 to 9. It grows best in full sun to part shade and moist fertile soil. The leaves will scorch - form brown edges - if the soil is allowed to dry. So be sure to mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keep the soil consistently moist throughout the season. Joe Pye weed grows 5 to 7 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. The leaves give off a hint of vanilla when crushed. The small purple or white flowers form large clusters known as panicles 12 to 18 inches across. If this sounds too big for your landscape, don't fret. Shorter varieties like Gateway at 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide and Little Joe at 3 to 4 feet tall and wide may work for you. A bit more information: The Chicago Botanic Garden recently evaluated the various Joe-Pye weeds and their relatives. They looked at plants as short as 17 inches and as tall as 90. See the results of their comparative study by clicking 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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