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01 Feb 2022
How Can Your Love of Roses Complement Your Landscape?

How Can Your Love of Roses Complement Your Landscape?

February is undoubtedly the month of love, and the beautiful rose has come to symbolize and strengthen this representation for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the high demand for this coveted flower during Valentine’s Day can easily triple in cost compared to the summer months. People across the country can be seen rushing around last minute on February 14th, spending a lot just to pick these beauties in an array of colors for their loved ones. Then in a week, they will wither, die, and find their way into the garbage. Not a good investment if you ask me!

So, if you’re an admirer of this flower, then why not include rose bushes within your landscape to enjoy throughout the entire season? Many varieties are readily available at local garden centers which require little maintenance, have extended bloom cycles, and grow different sizes to fit any space.

Wild (Species) Roses

These are the untouched ancestors of the roses most identified with today. They have remained unaltered without any cross-breeding or genetic modification. The Species Rose’s is exceptionally hardy to temperature fluctuations and requires little to no maintenance. Though they produce smaller flowers than their modern-day counterparts, and only once a season, they have many other valuable attributes. Vibrant hips (fruit) appear in fall, providing added seasonal color, not to mention attracting wildlife to the garden. Their tall arching branches make them an excellent selection for perimeter buffer plantings and screens. The thorns along their branches are also very profuse, making an excellent deterrent for unwanted company or deer.

Climbing Roses

Self-described, climbing roses develop very long canes (branches), which are flexible and easily trained through an arbor or trellis. Unlike actual vines, they do not possess clinging or climbing properties themselves and must be positioned intentionally. Some can even grow to lengths of 25’+, making them an excellent choice for a pergola or other large overhead structure. Walking by a grouping of roses in full bloom can be breathtaking but strolling under a mass of climbing roses is amazing. “Eden,” “New Dawn,” and “Joseph’s Coat” are some of the best climbers in the landscape.

Shrub Roses

Also known as landscape roses for their continued growing use in residential and commercial landscape projects, they’ve been cross-bred to create ultimate bloomers. Color variation, repeating bloom cycle, scent, and growth habits have been emphasized in these biogenetically engineered masters of the flower world. “Knock-Out” roses are most commonly known for their extended bloom from May through October, in addition to a high pest and disease tolerance. Carpet and Drift roses offer similar attributes but in a very low mounding and spreading variety, usually only growing 2’-4′ in height. Finally, miniature roses are well suited for container gardening, with most types only getting 1’-2′ tall. With so many choices available, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.

The most requested item, hands down, in creating an aesthetically pleasing landscape is COLOR. Including rose varieties of different hues in your landscape is a guaranteed way to provide that WOW factor. Plant in masses with complementing colors, and you too will find yourself enjoying beautiful roses over multiple seasons throughout the year.

And wouldn’t that be so much better than only a week every mid-February?

 

 

 

 

01 Oct 2021
Fall is for Planting

Fall is for Planting

The dog days of summer are now behind us, days are shorter, and temperatures much more comfortable. This time of year, the fall, is the most ideal for adding vegetation to your landscape.  Plants are beginning to prepare for winter and going into a dormancy stage to conserve energy for the long, harsh cold. This reduced growth activity is precisely what allows their installation or transplantation with little or no stress to the plant itself. Also, now’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the array of vibrant colors the fall has to offer in making your selections. The following are my three fall favorites which capture both bold leaf and berry colors:

GRO-LOW FRAGRANT SUMAC:

Rhus aromatic ‘Gro-Low’ (Latin) is underutilized in the landscape primarily due to its name.  Sumac is not at all poisonous, and the actual species, which is, has no relation.  This fast-growing, low shrub gets about 2-3’ tall and 6-8’ wide.  They have a great scarlet fall color and create a stunning effect when planted in large sweeping masses. Gro-Low, like most sumacs, will tolerate poor soil conditions and prefer full sun to part shade. The leaves, when brushed against, emit a lemon-like fragrance.  It is also an excellent choice for attracting birds and wildlife.

SPICEBUSH:

Lindera Benzoin (Latin) grows 5-8’ in the landscape and prefers a location that offers part shade and moist soils.  As fall sets in, the leaves turn buttery yellow, accompanied by crimson red berries. The yellow then turns papery tan toward the end of fall and persists on the branches throughout the winter. The berries attract wildlife and are quickly eaten due to their high-fat content in preparation for winter. In addition, the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly larvae feed on the leaves and use them for protection before their chrysalis stage.

COMMON WITCH HAZEL:

Hamamelis virginiana (Latin) is another North American Native found in woodlands throughout the northeast. A fall-blooming deciduous shrub with twisted, ribbon-like yellow petals emerging along the entire length of branches. The leaves also display a vibrant golden hue which really will brighten up an understory planting.  Witch Hazel is a large growing shrub sometimes getting 15-20’ tall. It prefers full sun to part shade and moist, acidic soils high in organic matter.  It’s most notably known for its medicinal properties as a natural anti-inflammatory and antiviral astringent.

Fall is an encore performance of color display and the final bow for a great year in the growth cycle of many plants. Introducing them to your property at this perfect time of year ensures their survivability to thrive and flourish for many seasons to come. Visit a local garden center nursery on a brisk weekend morning and stroll the rows to see the colors that pique your interest!

01 Jul 2021
weeds

Got Weeds? Best Solutions to Winning the Battle Over These Unwanted Guests

By definition, “a weed is a plant held to have no value, especially one growing plentifully and detrimentally in a garden, lawn, etc.” The sole purpose of their life cycle is to grow, produce seed, and spread as quickly as possible.  Weeds have mastered this art by setting up residence anywhere and ensuring the continuation of their species.  The solution to keeping them at bay is not such a daunting task as typically believed.  Even a novice gardener can keep their landscape virtually weed-free if the following steps are continuously followed.

Mulch

The first and most crucial step is to ensure proper mulch coverage throughout the landscape beds.  A minimum of 2-3″ should be maintained to block out any sunlight to the soil and weed seeds below.  Mulch is an organic material and will decay over time, creating soil and an ideal medium for weed growth.

Each year (typically in early spring), assess mulch depth to ensure a 2-3″ coverage.  Excessive mulch build-up may occur over the years, causing adverse reactions to landscape plants. It should be reduced accordingly.  A ½-1″ addition of fresh mulch yearly should be all that is needed to prevent weeds and maintain a clean, fresh appearance.

Pre-emergent spray

The use of pre-emergents in combination with the mulching practices mentioned above will deliver an even more effective deterrent to weed growth.  A pre-emergent targets the actual seed before it has had a chance to germinate by blocking a key enzyme necessary to the process.  The pre-emergent does not kill established weeds, so you must remove them prior.

It is best to apply pre-emergents before yearly mulching as it will create a distinct barrier between soil below and mulch above.  If used correctly, it can be effective for three months, so an additional summer application may be necessary.  It can be spread directly over the mulch as it will break down with watering and make its way to the soil layer below.

Inevitably, some weeds will still get past and overcome these defenses, so post-emergent solutions will need to be used.  If the good old-fashioned ‘on your hands and knees pulling’ is not appealing, then there are many herbicides and organic options to eradicate them.

Post-emergent spray

Whether your weapon of choice is Roundup or an organic alternative composed of acidic and oils, be sure to avoid any adjacent ornamental plants.  Many of these applications are systemic and absorbed in the leaves, and transported throughout the plant and root.  The only disadvantage of the post-emergent solution is the abundance of weed carcasses left behind.  A weed graveyard almost looks as bad as they do alive.

Landscape fabric

Landscape fabric is another viable option but has its limitations.  It should only be used under inorganic landscape coverings such as stone or rubber mulch.  The reason for not using fabric under organic wood mulch was already mentioned- wood decays.  This decomposition will eventually create a soil layer on top of the fabric, providing weeds a place to set up shop. The roots will also attach to the fabric, making them difficult to remove.  As long as the inorganics are free from any silts or soil, the landscape fabric will work great and last for many years.

Weeds will always find their way into our landscapes and prove to be a formidable opponent in this never-ending battle.  Developing a consistent regimen will limit their presence and allow you to enjoy your landscape without so much rigorous work.