Monday, May 31, 2010

Deer, love 'em or leave my garden alone!!!!!

How can something so beautiful incited such anger and rage when you come out to smell the roses one fine spring morning and the roses that were about to pop have since been popped into the mouth of some passing Bambi. I don't know about anywhere else but here in the Northeast and especially Connecticut, we are being over run by the "dears". So since I am not a member of the NRA, I have chosen to fight by outsmarting CAN be done and trust me, this is warfare. I also refuse to give up my roses, my hostas, my tulips...among other plants that deer consider part of their buffet.

My means of attack is spraying. I have tried them all and there are pros and cons to most of them but I have found the spray of choice for my garden...Deer Stopper by Messina.

Deer Stopper is a pleasant-to-use systemic works by both smell and taste and lasts for 30 days and is not affected by the weather. The key to success is forming the habit of spraying...once a month and the deer will be dining on your neighbors flowers and not yours.

Deer are creatures of habit, if they show up and don't like what they smell and taste they will leave but WILL be back, however if after several visits they continue to be put off by the smell and taste, they will move on. Now that doesn't mean you're home free because after a period of time they'll be back to check up on you and your plants. When you spray, you only need to spray those plants they like so it's really not that hard a job.

Deer will be put off by dogs but they don't intimidate easily and a dog will only be effective when they are on the outside...a barking dog on the inside won't phase them and they will gladly continue to chew on your plants with your dog barking at the window. I once saw my border collie take out after a deer and once the deer crossed the electronic fence line, it stopped. I swear that deer was thumbing it's nose at my dog who had stopped at the fence line and was spinning wildly out of frustration... meanwhile the deer blissfully chowed down on the yew five feet over the fence line.

Another great product I've found is Melorganite...a brand of organic nitrogen fertilizer produced by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. It consists of processed sludge and the fertilizer is made of treated bio solids that have nutrients from the sewage stream along with added iron, used to strip phosphorus from the waste water flowing into Lake Michigan. The name Milorganite is a contraction of the phrase Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen.
 There is both university research and anecdotal evidence that applying Melorganite on lawns and near plants will deter deer due to its musky odor.  I, personally believe it's true though no legal claim has been made. I warn you, it does smell nasty for a day or so but then dissipates to the human nose. Before I ever leave on vacation, I broadcast Melorganite and spray with Deer Stopper just as a precaution....and I have never been gardens have always been intact upon my return.

The following link will give a list of landscape plants rated according to their resistance to deer damage. The list was compiled with input from nursery and landscape professionals, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension personnel, and Master Gardeners in Northern N.J.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mellow Yellow

How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun. -Vincent Van Gogh

Yellow is a delight in the adds spark, it adds contrast, it adds a focal point, it brightens up a dark area...the eye will always be drawn to yellow.

Yellow is cheerful, especially to anyone who has gone through a severe winter...a bunch of golden daffodils are as good as a pot of gold at the end of a signifies spring.

Yellow is a perfect foil for so many the yellow sweet potato vine contrasts beautifully with the Colocasia "Black Magic" elephant ears and the "Sedona" coleus. 

Abutilon (Flowering Maple) comes in various varieties but this is my favorite, "Gold Dust" brightens up any shady area and is constantly in bloom.

One of my very favorite plants for contrast is Hakonechloa, Japanese Forest Grass (in back). It's unusual because it's one of the few grasses that actually loves a shady area and it really shines. Moneywort, better known as "Creeping Jenny" spreads like crazy and looks great cascading down a container but beware, it is a thug, and can take over a garden if not watched.

 Heuchera (Coral Bells) comes in a wide variety of beautiful colors...this is "Lime Rickey" and I think it looks great paired with some black Mondo grass and some bright Impatiens.

 Alchemilla mollis or Lady's Mantle brightens up the front of any garden and the little yellow flowers look great in a cut bouquet too.

Is there anything as beautiful as a yellow rose...this rose has moved with me for the past 30 years, it's name lost long ago. It was one of the first plants I ever bought for a garden and at the time I knew nothing of gardening and nothing about soil...and having clay soil at the time, it promptly died, or so I thought. When I dug it up to toss I noticed about an inch of green at the bottom and not being one to toss anything that still had life in it, I stuck it in the back of the garden, in the shade, figuring it couldn't be saved but if it survived there it was meant to be. It not only survived but gave me a rose the next year and I rewarded it by moving it to the sun and improving it's soil. It has moved with me to three houses and last spring I lost count at 100 blooms at one time. There's a lesson in there somewhere I think.

I have dozens of daylilies in my gardens...and they never fail to impress...I especially love this one.

I won this Spirea a couple years ago at a local nursery which has a wheel they let their customers spin and where it lands you get whats there...that could mean giving them an hour of your time to weed, so it's a gamble...this time I won. It pairs beautifully with this Japanese Maple.

Not all Hostas are solid, there is a solid yellow Hosta called Sum and Substance that is a knock out but I love the variegated ones and I think this one is a charmer. And I've heard that deer won't touch a variegated Hosta...I wouldn't count on it, they think most Hostas are candy.

What can I say, not everything yellow in my garden is a plant...this is my new planting shovel...light as a feather and designed to cut through any type of soil...I'll be putting that to the test.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garden Gates and Entries

What is it about a garden gate that is so intriguing?
Perhaps it's the concept of the secret garden and that mystery that lies beyond. I would love to have a garden gate but my property just isn't laid out so it would make sense. 
 The closest I come is my back stairs where by early summer the hydrangeas have grown to such a degree, one must duck to get through them and into the backyard.

The following are various garden gates and entrances I found on my trips to England...well I can still dream.

 Goodnestone Gardens, Canterbury, Kent, England

Great Comp Gardens, Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Hole Park, Cranbrook, Kent, England

Iden Croft Herbs, Staplehurst, Kent, England

Iden Croft Herbs, Staplehurst, Kent, England

Iden Croft Herbs, Staplehurst, Kent, England

Idiridge, a private garden, Peasmarsh, East Sussex, England

Mount Ephraim, Faversham, Kent, England

Penshurst Place, Tonbridge, Kent, England

Penshurst Place, Tonbridge, Kent, England

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Color Purple

I LOVE the color purple, especially in the garden. It goes with any color...ANY, yellow, orange, blue, even red, though you won't find red in my garden...don't ask me why, it's just one of my quirks. I especially love purple with chartreuse or orange. Don't be afraid of color, you'll find it makes your garden all the more exciting.

Once the orange, chartreuse, white and purple of the annuals start to cascade over the urn, this Rex Begonia will even look more spectacular in this
purple Victorian urn.

  Giant Allium, which comes from the onion family, always make a statement.

 The mix of lavender and pink Clematis makes the darker purple all the more noticeable. 

Heliotrope goes especially well in containers, here along with purple fountain grass, hot orange impatiens, coleus and sage. And if you place Heliotrope near where you pass or sit, you will catch it's delightful scent.

It's always great to have different textures in the garden and
Liatris is perfect for adding a spikey height.

Hardy Geranium comes in several colors but the purple is almost
neon in the garden.

Speaking of neon, the combination of Helichrysum (Licorice plant), Heliotrope, orange impatiens and the purple Strobilanthes (Persian Shield) are perfect companions to a Foxtail Asparagus Fern.

I'm a sucker for a bright chartreuse yellow and purple combination and this is one of my very favorite plants, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

You can change the color of your Hydrangea to some degree by changing the pH of your soil. 

Purple Salvia makes a great accent plant with it's purple spikes.

The flowers don't have to be the only purple in your garden...
even the post for a birdhouse can make a statement.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's not to love about an Iris?

The word Iris means a rainbow. Iris is the flower of the Greek Goddess Iris who is the messenger of Love. In the language of flowers, Iris symbolizes eloquence.

There are over 200 species of Iris in many colors, shapes and sizes, all of which are adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. The three principal types of Iris include bearded, beardless and crested.

Bearded Iris are characterized by their bearded petals and are the easiest type to grow. They have three petals that stand upright, known as standards. The three petals that hang down below the standards are known as falls. The "beard" is the fuzzy strip that runs down the center of the fall.

Beardless Iris are similar in appearance to their bearded cousins but they have smooth fall petals and thinner, more grass-like leaves. Of all the varieties in this group, I grow both the Siberian and the Japanese Iris. The difference between the two can be identified by the leaves...Japanese Iris have a rib going down the center of the leaves, the Siberian does not.

Crested Iris have a raised serrated ridge, or crest, running along the length of their falls, in the same place the beard is located on the bearded varieties. Crested varieties can tolerate more shade than the bearded types. Flowers are typically blue, lavender or white. There are no Crested Iris pictured here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Roses love bananas

Actually roses love both bananas and
Epsom salts.

Are your bananas turning spotty and black? Don't throw them away; give them to your roses. Bananas are a natural source of potassium that help roses to thrive. You can feed them to your roses in several different ways.

Banana peels contain many useful nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates and sodium. The peels rot quickly, which means these nutrients are readily available to the plant.

You can use both the banana and the peels...mostly I use the peels, keeping them in a sealed container until I have several...I cut them up roughly and put a handful into the soil next to each rose bush. I have also emulsify old bananas and peels in my blender with water. I pour this on the base of the rose bush.  I warn you it looks nasty but roses love it.

In addition to planting the peels, if you have aphids, try tossing a peel or two on the bush...chases the aphids away...after they are gone, plant them next to the bush.

Epsom salts are a naturally occurring mineral. This inexpensive household product is magnesium sulfate which may increase chlorophyll production and help plants use phosphorus and nitrogen better. Epsom salts makes the foliage greener and more lush, it produces more canes and more roses.  I use 1/4 cup sprinkled into the soil around the rose, and watered in well, both in the spring and the fall.

For ongoing rose care, mix 1 T. of Epsom salts per gallon of water and apply as a foliar spray.

Don’t worry about being exact as to when you apply the Epsom salts. This is a home gardening remedy and there are as many formulas as there are home gardens.  Some gardeners only add Epsom salts at planting time. Others like to water or foliar feed with Epsom salts every other week. And some gardeners simply use the Epsom salts when they remember.  It’s all good.

And of course don't forget to toss some Epsom Salts into your bath after a day in the garden...great for soothing those aching muscles.