We Rose to the Occasion

We “Rose” to the occasion!
Invite some royalty to your garden party this summer. The rose has long been the queen of the summer time garden. Roses have been symbols of love, fame, beauty, war, and celebration and have quite a history. From use as confetti at celebrations to a source for perfume, they “rose” to the occasion in good times and bad.

Own Root Roses

Own Root Roses

A lady with expensive taste and a love for gardening and roses, Napoleon’s wife Josephine established an extensive collection of roses at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris in the 1800s. While Napoleon was out fighting his battles and making his conquests, Josephine was busy spending his money on the chateau and extensive gardens with a particular interest in roses. He was none too pleased with her floriferous spending habits but you can’t tell me he didn’t appreciate a stroll through the rose garden.
No one ever promised you a rose garden, and if some of your previous attempts met their Waterloo you might be hesitant to try them. Maintain your “composture” because help is on the way!
We Rose to the Occasion

We Rose to the Occasion

Roses today are enjoying a resurgence in popularity specifically shrub, landscape or what we call “own root” roses. Today’s time pressed homeowners are demanding of their landscape plants and roses are no exception. Landscape or shrub roses provide a long season of blooms and color from June to November. Very resistant to disease and problems and loaded with flowers June to November, they have excellent winter hardiness. Own-root roses are not grafted so it’s the same plant below the ground as above. They can do what a rose has always wanted to do and that is growing new canes from the root system. Therefore you get many more canes and lots more flowers on a hardy easy to grow plant. Simply put today’s varieties “rose” to the occasion.
There are many “own root” or shrub roses available to today’s homeowner from the “Drift” series
Drift Roses

Drift Roses

of groundcover roses to “Easy Elegance” roses they are a workhorse in the landscape. Varieties like “Knockout” and “Carefree Delight” or “Nearly Wild” and “Home Run” or “Yabba Dabba Doo”. I have some Proven Winners “Home Run” roses in my yard and they have continuous blooms and great disease resistance to both black spot and powdery mildew. They are heat tolerant, cold hardy with no winter covering and require no deadheading. I give them a general pruning back a couple times a year and that’s it!
For true success I recommend you plant them in a good sunny spot. Roses are sun worshippers. A minimum of 6 hours of sun a day or more will work. Shrub roses like any rose bush appreciate morning sun to help dry the foliage. Some attention to the soil will certainly help. Roses are heavy feeders so stay grounded my friend. I like to feed them with a dry feed around the base a few times a year. Rose Tone works well for feeding supplemented with a water soluble feeding now and then. Incorporating organic material into the existing soil at the time of planting is important to improve the structure of your soil and top it off with a one to two inch layer of mulch at the base. When the weather gets hot and sunny this summer they’ll appreciate a soil that has some moisture retention capability and yet well drained.
I very “mulch” encourage you to add own root or shrub roses to your landscape. They are not the work laden examples we’ve seen years ago of a few leafless stems with a bloom at the top. They go “Ka-bloom” in the garden and will impress your neighbors and friends. I know you can do it you “rose” to the occasion.

May Day

Here are four pictures I took with my phone on a “May Day”

Pansies waking up in the morning sunlight

Pansies waking up in the morning sunlight


Sweet Woodruff is an herbal groundcover used to float or "steep" in white wine (thank our German friends) to make a great tasting white wine for a sunny May day!

Sweet Woodruff is an herbal groundcover used to float or “steep” in white wine (thank our German friends) to make a great tasting white wine for a sunny May day!


What would May be without the aroma of Lilacs?

What would May be without the aroma of Lilacs?


Had a talk with my tree swallow friend as the day ended....it was a real bird "tale"

Had a talk with my tree swallow friend as the day ended….it was a real bird “tale”

Plant One on Me

Plant One on Me
May is time for a good swift kick in the “plants” because it’s a month where we can plant just about anything. In most years our last frost occurs in early to mid-May giving us an opportunity to plant both tender and hardy plants. Adding flowering annuals, foliage, herbs and vegetables to our hardy landscapes makes the yard come alive. From vegetables and herbs backyard to table to stunning flowering annuals in colorful containers, the selection of plant material today is fabulous with new varieties added to the mix every year…. so plant one on me!
The current trend in the gardening world is for high impact low care plants. Flowering annual varieties today provide opportunity to plant vigorous blooming heat tolerant plants with little or no deadheading needed. One of my favorites is Gomphrena globosa.

Gomphrena with Prince Pennisetum in background

Gomphrena with Prince Pennisetum in background

Heat and drought tolerant, deer resistant, this flowering annual performs all summer long even when neglected. I enjoy the purple Gomphrena with cute little “globes” as flowers that look great in combination with a yellow blooming plant like Melampodium. The red Gomphrena known as ‘Strawberry Fields’ performed great for me last summer in the heat with its blooms that look like strawberries on a stem. Tough continual bloomers like Diamond Frost Euphorbia, or Supertunias and Calibrachoa also known as “Million Bells” will bloom reliably until a hard frost in October. Flowering Vinca is a great substitute for impatiens in sunny areas especially where downy mildew is a concern. With glossy foliage and continuous “impatien-like” blooms it is a slow starter in spring but when the heat gets turned on in summer it blooms prolifically tolerating hot weather. For those of you keeping score this is not the invasive groundcover Vinca but rather a flowering annual with a botanical name of Catharanthus roseus.
Flowering Vinca

Flowering Vinca


Don’t forget the role that interesting or colored foliage can play in the landscape. Coleus today is available in a multitude of colors and not just for the shade anymore. The sun and shade tolerant kaleidoscope of foliage will be a show stopper all season long.
Captivating Coleus

Captivating Coleus

Annual ornamental grasses like Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ even thought they last just a season are well worth the money and known as a goof proof plant. It will reward you with fountains of plumes in summer and fall. Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ will do the same with variegated foliage. Other suggested foliage plants sure to please are the new varieties of Ipomoea, commonly known as sweet potato vine, available in black/purple, chartreuse, bronze or lime green to gold colors. The foliage can be heart shaped or palmate which means it looks like a hand with fingers. Finally in the area of foliage I suggest trying the unique look of Cyperus ‘King Tut’ for something interesting. It looked both prehistoric and modern at the same time in my landscape. If you’re one of those people who tend to overwater, this might be the plant for you. I’ve experienced it working well in both damp and normal soils.
The trend of high impact and low care plants extends well beyond flowering annuals. Own root landscape or shrub roses or dwarf buddleia like the Proven Winners Lo and Behold will provide lots of color. Succulents are trendy right now and are definitely high impact low care plants to add interest in your garden. New introductions of perennials have also continued to enhance our landscape experience. I have been amazed by new introductions of Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, with shades of pink, white or vanilla, orange, purple, or gold, in single or “mophead” double flowers with great names like ‘Sunrise’, ‘Harvest Moon’ or ‘Sundown’ as examples.

Regardless of what you plant, you need to be well grounded. Proper soil preparation of beds or use of good quality “soil-less” container planting mixes will help ensure success. Use of mycorrhizae and soil supplements or “soil replenishment” makes plants better “rooted and suited” to weather trends. A smart investment to zip up your “plants” considering heat, drought and weather extremes. Mycorrhizae can be added to the soil as beneficial root fungi that develop a mutual symbiotic loving relationship with your plants sending adventitious roots deep into the soil. The result is stress tolerant plants. For container plantings I love to use Osmocote. This smart release plant food can slowly release nutrients into the soil for 3 to 4 months. With the popularity of container gardening the key is a good choice of container with a drainage hole and room to grow and using a quality soil container mix and fertilizer. After that the sky is the limit with plant material! Everything from foliage plants to grasses to flowering annuals, herbs, vegetables, perennials and woody plants like roses are fair game in containers. So many great plants, so little time. I’m so ready to plant I can’t “contain” myself……plant one on me!

More “Flower” to you

It’s planting time and we’re excited about the flowering annuals we selected on our shopping trip. They’re going to look great and visions of blooming colors are dancing in our head.

More “Flower” to you!

But what if they don’t meet up to our expectations? Plants like people have basic nutritional needs. And plants just like people can’t live on just energy drinks or water, you need a meal now and then. Water alone is not enough. Well more “flower” to you. If your annuals need to go “potty” and are in a hanging basket or pot every time you water nutrients are carried out the drainage holes with it. The nutrients need to be replaced.

I recommend a combination of water soluble and time release or granular fertilizer.

Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa

One is the energy drink and the other is meat and potatoes. The great thing about water soluble fertilizer is that is quickly available to the plants and can be taken in through the foliage or roots.

Slow release “dry” on the left and water soluble fertilizer on the right

Most water soluble fertilizers recommend use every 7 to 14 days. It depends on how often you’re watering the plant. You may want to consider using it more frequently than 14 days and going to half strength. Remember that even though many of today’s annuals are sold as “self cleaning” a good pinching or pruning now and then with a dose of water soluble fertilizer will rejuvenate blooming. A dry granular feed in combination with the water soluble in tandem will get you best results. The “dry” or slow release feed is the meat and potatoes. My favorites are Osmocote and Flower Tone. Osmocote because it’s easy to scoop into a pot and provides feeding for 3 months or more. Flower Tone because in addition to the Macro Nutrients it has essential Micro Nutrients and is affordable. More “Flower” to you!

A “Root” awakening

If April showers bring May flowers then you my friend are in for a “root” awakening. Every April is different which adds to the adventure. I’ve seen 80-degree temperatures and I’ve seen frosts that would freeze the hardiest of plants. I’ve see sunshine and I’ve seen snow. Sounds like a James Taylor song doesn’t it?

Frozen tulips from last April

Frozen tulips from last April

Last year we had an early March warm up waking the entire landscape only to freeze in the great Arbor day frost of 2012. So what should we expect from our landscape dreams during the month of April? You my friend are in for a “root” awakening.

April first of all is a big month for lawn care in Michigan. The lawn greens and begins to grow and we welcome the sound of lawnmowers awakening in our neighborhoods.

Remember the drought damage from last year?

Remember the drought damage from last year?

A great month to get a deal on a 4 step lawn plan applying the first step now and storing the remaining 3 steps in the garage or shed for applications later in the year. The first feeding generally includes a crabgrass control which is important after the hot year we had in 2012. Crabgrass seed from last year over winters in the soil of your lawn and will wake and germinate when soil (not air) temperatures get to be around 60 degrees or warmer.

Soil thermometer

Soil thermometer

If you don’t have a soil thermometer, which most people don’t, you can listen to me on my radio show or you can use the old fashioned less scientific way of gauging spring’s wake up call.

That would be to act when the forsythias are in bloom or apply sometime around tax day. Certainly much easier for you than having to understand the methods of “growing degree days” that us horticultural people like to track at this time of year. Applying a crabgrass control in spring, especially in the hottest areas of the lawn like driveway or sidewalk edges or non-shaded areas will create a barrier to germination so you don’t have an infestation of unsightly crabgrass come the heat of summer.

Pansies

Cold and frost tolerant Pansies

April includes Arbor Day which here in Michigan falls on the last Friday of the month. April is a great time to plant a tree or landscape shrub. We see many trees show off in April with Crabapples, Redbuds, Juneberry, Magnolia and Cherry trees to name a few. This month is perfect for planting evergreens and woody landscape plants, saving the more tender plants for May when frost is less of a threat. Remember that when it comes to “tender” plants a great frost tolerant plant for some early April flowers in the landscape would Pansies. In regards to tender foliage, keep some deer repellant handy and make sure to apply to susceptible plants during the month. Hungry deer after winter are anxious for a buffet of tender green growth including delicious Tulips and Hosta. Not tonight “deer.”

Understanding the weather can be a variable and tricky issue in April, it is a good month to work on soil preparation, planting bed preparation and some mulching. You don’t have to protect dirt and mulch from overnight frosts. Raised planting beds soil warm quicker in spring. If you’re itching to plant some herbs, pot up some containers and move them in and out contingent on weather conditions.

Thank you very "mulch"

Thank you very “mulch”

In regards to mulch, many will apply because it looks nice. True, but there is a functional use for mulch too. I saw a study that described the impact an appropriate layer of 2 inches of mulch can have for your landscape when the heat of summer does arrive. In this study on a San Antonio Texas day where the air temperature was 105 degrees and in the sun felt like 130 degrees, the bare soil was 102 degrees, the soil under the grass was 92 degrees and soil under 3 inches of mulch was 76 degrees. That gives you an idea of the soil temperature regulating benefit of mulch as well as its ability to hold moisture in the soil.

Let’s get out there and get “growing” now that winter is finally over. You my friend are in for a “root” awakening.

Lawn and Order

These pictures look familiar? Snow is the great equalizer….everyone’s lawn looks the same. When the snow clears that’s when things get entertaining. Lots of snowplow damage, mole damage, vole damage, snow mold and drought damage from last summer in our neighborhoods. We need a little “lawn and order”…….

Damage from "Snowplowus winteritus"

Damage from “Snowplowus winteritus”

The lawn edge snow stake carefully snapped off and left to lay between the street and sidewalk

The lawn edge snow stake carefully snapped off and left to lay between the street and sidewalk

Signs of spring...trash, melting snow, and apparent damage from crabgrass and drought from last summer

Signs of spring…trash, melting snow, and apparent damage from crabgrass and drought from last summer

Some Lawn and Order is needed this spring

Some Lawn and Order is needed this spring

Sign up now for Garden Seminars

Spring is coming! Winter weather has become “cucumber”-some so let’s get growing! I have a great series of educational (or as I call them “Hedge” or “Veg”-ucational) seminars lined up for a weekend in late April. My friends who are experts in Lawn Care, Vegetable gardening, Herbs, Container planting, Birding and Perennials are coming to town to help me give you a kick in the plants! Class sizes are limited so order your tickets now. Please click on this link to sign up for the classes you’re interested in. See you there! http://myflowerland.com/upcoming-events/

Crocus in bloom

Spring is coming!