Tag Archives: Garden

I’m Only Humid

A gardener’s zest for yard work can wilt in August. We’re only “humid” and I understand. Yet in August some of the best entertaining days in the garden are for us to enjoy. From Rudbeckia to Sedums to Buddleia the landscape continues to entertain. With a little TLC and the willingness to wet our “plants” the landscape can reward our senses like an ornamental grass and its wispy dance in the warm summer breezes.

Echinacea provides long lasting summer color

Echinacea provides long lasting summer color

I love the month of August and it’s the gateway to some of the best gardening months of the year. This is no time to throw in the “trowel” on the yard and garden. Besides, now is the time we are rewarded with the fruits of our labors harvesting the tomatoes and peppers we lovingly planted months ago.
August is a great time to rejuvenate our flowering landscape annuals and give them a kick in the plants! Chopping back stretched, tired or leggy annuals and then feeding with a water soluble fertilizer will give them new life.

Begonias put on a show in the shade of the summer heat

Begonias put on a show in the shade of the summer heat

They’ll kick back into gear and produce a new flush of growth and color well into October. Mums and Asters become available starting in August to supplement your rejuvenated annuals for continuous color. In addition ornamental grasses take center stage in August and September as drought and heat tolerant extroverts in your yard. This is also the month for panicle Hydrangeas like PG, ‘Limelight’ or ‘Little Lamb’ to take center stage in the landscape with their stunning cone shaped blooms. Easy to grow and reliable they put on a show in August and September.

Annabelle Hydrangeas nod in the summer breeze

Annabelle Hydrangeas nod in the summer breeze

August is also a month to think about having that lawn you’ve always wanted. The best time to seed or over seed or establish a new lawn is mid August to October 1. The soil is nice and warm and if you kill unwanted vegetation grass seed will establish nicely as we head into fall. I still believe August 15 to October 1 is the best time of year in Michigan to establish a little “lawn” and order. Remember also that newly hatched grubs do most of their damage to a lawn in August and September, especially if the lawn is thirsty. If you did not apply a grub control in July you still have time this month while the young grubs are feeding near the surface. If you apply now you shouldn’t have to apply next spring.

Establish some "lawn" and order in August

Establish some “lawn” and order in August

Keep vegetable plants like tomatoes well watered so they keep producing and be watching for those miserable tomato hornworms on the plants. Head outside in the evening hours with a bucket of soapy water and pick them off the plants to drown their sorrows in your bucket of soapy water. Plenty of water at the base of your tomatoes and the calcium supplements you added earlier in the season will avoid the unsightly blemishes and “zippering” of the fruit you long to pick.
Unfortunately this also the month to be vigilant in inspecting under decks, patio furniture, mailboxes and other hiding areas for European Paper Wasps. These unwelcome guests pack a wallop of a sting when disturbed and have become much too common in our late summer landscapes. Look for the “paper”-like nests attached to railings or under patio furniture and spray from a distance with a knock down stream of wasp control spray.

The color of blue in these Hostas under the deck add to the cooling effect of shade

The color of blue in these Hostas under the deck add to the cooling effect of shade

Don’t let your enthusiasm wilt in the heat of August. We’re only “humid” and the garden party has just begun. See you in September.
Rick Vuyst

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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!

Hoe Hoe Hoe

November is no month to throw in the “trowel” on your yard and landscape. While you string some holiday “electric ivy” on the homestead and bushes there are yard and garden projects to consider even though Thanksgiving day is looming on the horizon. Read my latest story in Women’s Lifestyle magazine (see link below) and Hoe Hoe Hoe!

http://womenslifestyle.com/hoe-hoe-hoe-for-the-holidays/

November issue of Women’s Lifestyle Magazine…..look for my article!