Posts Tagged ‘Shrubs’

Hazelnuts for the Home Garden

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on July 1, 2007 – 7:34 pm

The Corrals or hazelnut, a member of the Birch family, unlike it’s cousins is a very under used tree in the home garden. This shade tolerant deciduous shrub or small tree deserves much better. Many of this species have large rich purple leaves and colorful catkins. One variety, Corrals avellana or more commonly known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick is particularly worth planting. With it’s curled and twisted stems and leaves, it makes a fine specimen plant. 

Hazelnuts or filberts are large, deciduous shrub from 3 to 15 feet tall. It has a straight trunk with spreading, ascending branches, and can form dense thickets. The leaves are 3 to 5 inches long, broadly ovate, accumulate, slightly lobed with doubly serrate margins. Their foliage is particularly beautiful with the sun shining through the leaves. 

In nature the hazelnut grows along streams, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, woodlands, and forest margins. It likes rich, moist, well-drained soils and is shade tolerant. It usually grows as an understory tree often competing with the alders and witchhazels for dominance. 

The roots typically grow in the upper six inches of soil. Some of the smaller roots run vertically toward the surface and branch profusely into very fine laterals. The large, woody rhizomes give rise to new shoots 1 to 2 feet from the parent plant. 

The leaves, twigs, and catkins of hazelnut are browsed by deer and moose. The nuts are eaten by small mammals, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse and other large birds, and beaver eat the bark. Seed dispersal is chiefly by mammals or birds although the most important mode of reproduction of American hazel is from it’s rhizomes. 

The flowers of Corrals are formed in the summer and open the following spring, before the leaves emerge. The male catkins are 8 inches long, straight, slender, and regularly spaced along the upper stem. The female flowers are tiny, almost completely enclosed by bracts near the end of the twigs. 

By late summer or early fall, the fertilized flowers develop into clusters of 1-12 round to oval nuts, resembling an acorn . The pericarp is hard, loosely covering the smooth to shriveled kernel. Nuts are surrounded by a green, leafy husk , and abscise from the base of the husk in late august. However, the husk does not release the nut until 6 weeks later when it dries and opens. It begins producing nuts after the first year, and produces good crops every two to three years. 

Commercially, hazelnuts are allowed to fall naturally to the ground as they mature, then mechanically swept into windrows, where large vacuums sweep them up. Nuts are gathered two or three times during the season. Once the nuts are collected from the orchard, they are washed and then dropped into large bins where forced-air heaters begin the drying process. Once dried they are separated into various sizes for bagging and distribution. Hazelnuts have been cultivated commercially for nut production since 1798. 

The sweet nuts may be eaten raw or ground and made into a cake like bread. We often use filberts in place of walnuts or pecans in our Christmas cookies. The nuts were used by Native Americans to flavor soups. American hazel has a fairly high protein and energy value. 

Historically, nuts were associated with the occult, and said to possess mystic powers. Nuts were burned by priests to enhance clairvoyance, used by herbalists for various remedies, and used in marriage ceremonies as a symbol of fertility. 

The wood of the hazelnut has little commercial value, although it is often used by the home hobbyist in making country crafts. Once filbert wood was used for “divining rods” and “witching rods” which helped locate water and underground minerals. 

In Europe, the hazelnut has been used for centuries as a garden shrub, mostly as hedges or in background screening. With the exception of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and for commercial cultivation, America has shown little interest in this fine shrub. Fortunately, this is changing and other filberts are finding their way in the home garden around the country.

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The Best of the Best in On-Line Nurseries

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on March 1, 2005 – 6:25 pm

There are thousands of online nurseries out there today. The number is growing by leaps and bounds as companies discover the profit from web site sales. Unfortunately, this does not mean all of these sites are good or even close to it. In fact, many are just down right poor, offering little service and misnamed inferior plants. 

In this month’s Yard Talk we are going to discuss online nurseries which we feel are not just good but excellent, thus they are the Best of the Best. To make our list they must consistently supply plants which are strong, vigorous growers as represented. Their plants should be healthy, strong, and above average in size, truly specimens of their species. We expect plants to be protected during shipment, while bare root plants are acceptable, potted plants should be the norm. Shipments should be made on time and in the manner specified. All orders should be acknowledge and any back orders brought to our attention promptly. 

The following nurseries are ones which have met or exceeded our expectations: 

Edmunds’ Roses – (http://www.edmundsroses.com/
A site is about modern roses with excellent graphics and a wealth of information. An essential place to visit for those of us into new roses. 

The Antique Rose Emporium – (http://www.weareroses.com/
Is an excellent source for old garden and antique roses. This is their 22nd year of offering our vigorous, easy to grow, fragrant and long-lived roses. Their site has loads of useful information on growing roses. 

Spring Valley – (http://www.springvalleyroses.com/inthegarden/index.html
Specializes in winter hardy Old Garden, Climbing and Shrub roses. They offer roses in the following classes: Centifolia, Climbers, Gallica, Hybrid Rugosa, Shrub and Species. These include many of the newer Shrubs and Hybrid Rugosas developed in Germany and Canada. 

Aesthetic Gardens – (http://www.springvalleyroses.com/inthegarden/index.html
Offer rare and unusual trees and shrubs. They have no catalog nor physical gardens to visit. The material has been collected and grown in the Northwest in Oregon and Washington. If you are looking for that special, hard to find specimen, this is the place. 

Roslyn Nursery – (http://www.roslynnursery.com/
Is a unique nursery specializing in rare and exotic varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, trees, ground cover and other ornamental plants. A very good source for Japanese Maples and Ferns. Also for those in the warmer zones they offer a selection of Camellias. 

Clematis Speciality Nursery – (http://www.clematisnursery.com/
Is a small nursery specializing in all types of clematis. Clematis Speciality Nursery is particularly interested in small-flowered species and hybrids that are so easy and rewarding to grow. Their aim is also to introduce new but proven varieties of both small and large-flowered clematis 

Franklin Hill Garden – (http://www.nb.net/~franklin/index.html
Offers enticing selections of annual and perennial flower varieties, natives, exotics, heirlooms, cottage garden favorites, and a few modern hybrids. Franklin Hills goal is to help us rediscover forgotten old favorites as well as find a few new treasures. 

Wildseed Farms – (http://www.wildseedfarms.com/
Offers for sale over 70 species of wildflower seed, and wildflower seed mixes. Their catalog is an invaluable resource for anyone who would like to join the growing community of enthusiasts who support Mother Nature by planting wildflowers. They offer useful information on such diverse subjects as starting a no mow lawn to plants for clay soils. 

Seeds of Change – (http://www.seedsofchange.com/
Is an all organic, 100 % Certified source for over 1500 different varieties of heirloom seeds. Their mission is to seek out traditional varieties, many of which are in danger of being lost. The site offers a lot of information for the organic gardener 

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs – (http://www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com/
Are third generation bulb growers, developing many unusual and speciality bulbs on their farm in Virginia. We cannot say enough about this nursery, we have never had a problem with them and all bulbs have outperformed our expectations. 

Plant Delights Nursery – (http://www.plantdelights.com/
Is a nursery specializing in unusual perennials. They feature a wide variety of native perennials, as well as their Asian counterparts. Genera of special focus include amorphophallus, arisaema, asarum, ferns, hardy palms, helleborus, heuchera, hosta, lobelia, ornamental grasses, pulmonaria, tiarella, and verbena…to mention but a few. 

Naylor Creek Nursery – (http://www.naylorcreek.com
Offer a wonderful selection of unique or hard to find perennials. We were impressed with their wide selection of hostas, pulmonarias, and epimediums, some only recently offered. We have acquired some of our best hostas from these people. 

Heronswood – (http://www.heronswood.com/
Is a speciality nursery located in Washington State. A site to visit if you can find it no where else, a very wide selection of hard to find or specimen plants.

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To Stake or Not to Stake

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on August 1, 2003 – 5:41 pm

As a matter of practice, Martin’s Yard & Garden does not stake trees or shrubs that we plant. We are often asked by our customers why we do not recommend staking. The answer is quite simple: staking, in most cases, is unnecessary and downright harmful! 

Staking produces a tree that is unnaturally tall and slender, like the spindly trees one sees growing under a mature forest canopy. Unlike their forest cousins, the landscape tree does not have the advantage of having other plants to protect it from Mother Nature. Trees unsupported in the landscape are forced to withstand nature’s winds, they develop a stronger, thicker trunks and a denser growth habit. 

Studies of unstaked trees also show that they have a better developed root system. Even after a year’s growth, you can pull a staked tree out of the ground without much effort. Unless you are planning to move your trees around like chess pieces, this is not a desirable feature in the urban landscape. 

Another danger of staking is the potential damage which can be caused by the ties. Ties which are not removed or loosened as the trunk grows will restrict the growth and cause girdling. Even stretch ties can cause damage. We constantly replace dead trees because of this cruel and senseless oversight. 

The tie or stake may also damage the trunk by rubbing against the bark. While this may not kill the tree outright, the open wound leaves the tree defenseless against an invasion of diseases, insects, and fungus. 

Also, the installed price of trees may increase from 15 to 30 percent because of staking. We always explain to our customers the cost of the procedure weighed against the benefits is very marginal. 

While staking or guying every tree is unnecessary and often times terminal there are a few times newly transplanted trees need additional support. For instance, in open areas, exposed to high prolonged winds. Another good use is when planting in shallow loose soils, over hardpan or bedrock. Stakes also act as barriers protecting trees from mowers and other equipment that could cause trunk injury. 

Unfortunately, we sometimes stake trees just because the customer likes the braced-tree appearance. In these cases we always make it a point to set up a time to comeback and remove all staking materials. 

If in doubt, do not stake or guy a tree. If you feel you absolutely must stake by all means do it correctly. Also, make it a point to remove the staking completely as soon as possible. Remember more trees are harmed by staking than not.

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Forcing Branches for an Early Spring

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on February 1, 2003 – 7:03 pm

We really like Winter, to snowshoe and ski through the cleansing blankets of snow. How different our woodlot appears in the stark glow of a Winters moon. I like to run through the powder, falling down once and again to make snow angels on the hillsides. Being an outdoor person Winter is just another time for me to enjoy the wonders of nature. 

Unfortunately, last year I had to have surgery which meant no snowshoeing, skiing, and definitely no snow angels. I suddenly learned why so many people found Winter to be depressing. That was until I rediscovered the refreshing beauty of forcing branches for early Spring bloom. 

I had forgotten just how easy and how much fun forcing can be. Almost any Spring flowering shrub’s branches can be forced to bloom by February. Just grab those pruning sheers and whack off a few healthy branches just loaded with buds. Actually since we are talking about cutting shrubs which normally you baby the rest of the year you should take a little care with the whacking bit. You want to follow normal sound pruning techniques and cut off 16 – 24 inch branches although size does not really matter. 

Bring the branches inside, cut each branch at a slant, and place in a suitable container. Place the container in a cool dark area away from drafts. Change the water every 2-3 days, maintaining the original level. Bloom times will vary with the type of shrub, when the cuttings were taken, and storage conditions but usually is no longer than 3-6 weeks. 

When the flower buds are just opening move the container to your display location. Bright indirect lighting is best. Keep watering to maintain the original level. To prolong blooming move to a cool area at night. You now have a little bit of Spring to chase away the gloom.

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Diagnosing Shrub and Tree Problems

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on January 1, 2003 – 7:30 pm

We often receive calls asking for advice or help with a sick tree or shrub. Usually the questions are hard to answer over the telephone, without seeing the tree, but not always. Two of the most common questions are; “Why did the leaves on my Amur Maple turn bright red and fall off when it is only Summer?” or “My White Pine’s needles turned brown this Winter when does it turn green again?”. 

The answer to both these questions are, unfortunately, never as these trees are dead. Nothing can be done to save them and costly replacements will be required. If only the homeowner had taken the time to inspect his trees and shrubs in time correct to the problem, these trees may have been alive today. 

Of course, not all tree problems can be solved easily, just ask the American Elm or Chestnut, if you can find one. Catching a plant problem in the early stage, at least gives you a chance. It also gives you an opportunity not to make the same mistake twice, such as planting too deep or in the wrong location. Who knows, you might even be able to save a tree or two by your quick action. 

If you are like me, you overlook your trees and shrubs in the Spring and Summer, when everything else is in bloom. I have to make it a point to inspect each tree and shrub. You need to do the same, it only takes a few minutes. 

The Colorado State University has but together a list of the most common symptoms and theircauses which you can use as a quick reference. 

  1. Symptoms: Poor foliage color, stunted weak growth, gradual decline.
    1. Planting too deeply or too shallow.
    2. Poor drainage; plants located near down spouts, in low areas, in non-drained planter boxes, and in beds over very compacted soil.
    3. Damage to stem or trunk
      1. Freeze damage.
      2. Bark splitting caused by sudden freeze following periods of mild weather. Symptoms may not show until summer time.
      3. Mechanical damage such as, lawn mower or other equipment can skin or girdle bark or borer damage occurring when these insects gain entrance into the stem and destroy tissue just under the bark.
    4. Poor soil preparation, heavy soils that are easily packed and very sandy soils produce poor growth.
    5. Soils too acid or too alkaline.
    6. Drought damage, usually occurs on plants in light sandy soils, under overhanging roofs, or in planter boxes.
    7. Nematode damage, microscopic work-like organisms attack root system and interfere with ability of roots to take up water and nutrients.
    8. Needs proper fertilizer.
    9. Competition from other trees, trees and shrubs often compete with other plants for water, light, and nutrients.
    10. Pot bound root system, roots were not altered as needed at planting.
  2. Symptoms: Shrubs die suddenly.
    1. Too much fertilizer kills roots and top cannot get needed water. Damage more likely to occur during dry periods.
    2. Root rots caused by fungi or bacteria.
    3. Insects, borers and beetles that attack trunk can cause sudden damage.
    4. Severe drought with new plants and shallow-rooted plants most susceptible.
    5. Leakage from underground gas lines.
    6. Weed killer damage when applied incorrectly.
  3. Symptoms: Yellowing foliage.
    1. Insects small sucking insects.
    2. Poorly drained soil.
    3. Too much fertilizer.
    4. Needs proper fertilizer.
    5. Soils too acid or too alkaline.
    6. Nematode damage.
    7. Damage to stem or trunk.
    8. Poor soil preparation.
    9. Roots disturbed by cultivation, roots of shallow-rooted plants are easily damaged by cultivation.
    10. Construction, damage from nearby grading or construction often result in damage to roots or soil filled over roots.
    11. Pot bound root system.
  4. Symptoms: Leaf drop in spring.
    1. Natural occurrence, older leaves fall as new leaves develop.
    2. Unusually wet or dry conditions, trees shed leaves to deal with stress.
  5. Symptoms: Failure to flower.
    1. Shrubs or trees are too young, age and a slowdown in growth rate will increase flowering.
    2. Too much vegetative growth because of overfeeding.
    3. Pruned at the wrong time, prune spring flowering shrubs after blooming and summer flowering shrubs in fall and winter.
    4. Too much shade.
  6. Symptoms: Failure to produce berries.
    1. Cold or frost during flowering; kills developing fruit.
    2. Female plant with no male friend around or only male plants
    3. Improper pruning, often berries are produced on older growth.
  7. Symptoms: Occasional branches die.
    1. Stem breakage, shrubs such as dwarf holly have brittle limbs, easily broken by animals or children.
    2. Disease.
    3. Insects.
  8. Symptoms: Browning of leaf tips and edges and leaf spotting.
    1. Drought.
    2. Cold damage, exposure to bright light and strong winds during low temperatures. Spots develop when ice accumulated on foliage in sun. Injury also occurs during prolonged periods of freezing temperatures.
    3. Poor drainage.
    4. Root loss due to recent transplanting.
    5. Too much fertilizer.
    6. Root rot diseases.
    7. Damage to stem or trunk.

Many problems found can be corrected by the homeowner. While not easy, trees can be moved, drainage improved, and Winter protection can be provided. The homeowner can also learn proper pruning techniques, fertilization methods, and to be more careful mowing and trimming. We recommend, for large tree damage, insect, or disease problems, the owner call in a professional arborist. One can quickly be located by going to the National Arborists Association’s web site and typing in your zip code. For example, in our area, when you type in 49120 it tells youWatson’s Tree Service is the one to call.

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The Pruning of Shrubs

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on March 1, 2001 – 5:36 pm

The most neglected maintenance task for most homeowner is taking care of our shrubs. Just like our homes, shrubs take a certain amount of maintenance to keep them attractive and healthy. One of the most important ways we can protect our investment is through regular pruning. Pruning is often misunderstood and improperly practiced. Proper pruning is not difficult if done regularly. A plant that has been neglected is difficult or impossible to prune. When a plant has become too large for normal pruning, it should be replaced. The use of dwarf plants reduces but does not eliminate pruning. 

The best time for pruning most shrubs is in the early spring while the plants are still dormant. Avoid major pruning in late summer and early fall, as this may force late growth that will be damaged by freezing. 

Since Spring flowering shrubs bloom on wood that matured during the previous growing season, if those branches are pruned in the fall, you eliminate the flowers that will bear next season. Therefore, always prune immediately after they have flowered. This will give your shrub the entire summer to develop flower buds for the next season. Renew main branches by cutting off old, shaggy branches that will not produce the best foliage or flowers. Cut the old branches right to the ground. Younger branches should be cut back to a bud, or to new green growth that has started during the current year. As you trim, open the center of the shrub to light and air which will encourage the plant to grow flowers on the inner branches. Some Spring flowering shrubs (March, April, May and early June blooming) are:

  1. Shadebush
  2. Common lilac
  3. Viburnum
  4. Fringetree
  5. Cranberry Bush
  6. Forsythia
  7. Weigela
  8. Mockorange
  9. Deutzia
  10. Bittersweet
  11. Flowering Almond
  12. Spirea

Summer flowering shrubs remain dormant through early spring and should be pruned at this time. They are among the last plants in the garden to recover from winter.These shrubs bloom on growth from the current year, and need to be pruned before new growth begins. Generally, prune back new growth once every spring. The best blooms will come from buds on branches that started during the previous season. By pruning young growth every year, the older branches will have newer growth at their tips. This will help it keep its shape from year to year. You should encourage some newer base branches every season so you can cut off the older, less productive branches. Most older branches will not produce vigorously beyond four years. Late-flowering shrubs (late June, July or August blooming) are:

  1. Abelia
  2. Beautyberry
  3. Vitex
  4. Barberry
  5. Rose of Sharon
  6. Butterfly bush
  7. Hydrangea
  8. Crape Myrtle
  9. Privet
  10. Summersweet
  11. Clethra
  12. Winged Euonymus

Most evergreens may be pruned in winter and early spring. Evergreens are often pruned twice: heavy cuts in early spring and a light cutting of the soft new growth in June. Evergreens should never be pruned in the summer and early fall. Prune broadleaf evergreens just before growth starts in the spring or immediately after flowering. As a general rule:

  1. Needle-leaf evergreens such as pines which produce candle-like growth in the spring, may be cut back at about half their length before it completely hardens. Shear young Mugho and Swiss Stone pines for a few years, then selectively pinch back new growth to keep the plants compact .
  2. Yews may be pruned at any time, but best results are obtained when they are pruned in the early spring before new growth emerges. The ensuing new growth will hide the pruning cuts.
  3. Arborvitaes and chamaecyparis can be pruned any time during the summer; but, care should be taken to be sure that where cuts are made, some foliage remains. Never cut back to bare wood, since the result will be unsightly.
  4. Rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies and other broad-leafed evergreensshould be pruned right after flowering as their flowers form during the summer months. Pruning that is carried out too late in the summer, will remove next seasons flowers.

A hedge must be pruned regularly to remain attractive. Most hedges need trimming at least twice a year, in the Spring and again in late summer, as soon as the new growth is complete. Some hedges may need as many as three and four trimmings a year. A dense hedge must be developed slowly. Plants such as privet or barberry need severe pruning immediately after planting and at the beginning of the second year to make them bushy. To develop a hedge that is well filled at the base, always trim so that the base is wider than the top. If the top is allowed to become wider than the base, the base will become thin and open as the top will shade out the bottom. 

Roses such as the hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, hybrid perpetuals and polyanthas should be pruned in early spring as the buds are swelling but before growth has started. Remove all dead wood by cutting at least an inch below the dead area. Vigorous plants that have not been killed back should be pruned to between 18 and 24 inches. Remove all weak, thin wood at the base. Shrub roses that flower only in spring should be pruned after they have flowered. This consists of removing old canes and dead wood. Pruning of hybrid tea roses should consist of removing some of the top growth. Climbing roses should occasionally have the old canes removed. Ramblers that flower in the spring only may be pruned after flowering. Remove old, woody canes that have finished flowering at ground level. Allow new canes to remain and head back those that become too large. 

We should prune to:

  1. Improve survival chances at planting time.
  2. Control size and shape.
  3. Remove dead, diseased, weak or broken branches.
  4. Maintain natural beauty.
  5. Control flowering, fruiting or colored twig effect in certain plants.

We begin training the shrub when we first plant it with the removal of any diseased, damaged, or crossing branches. As the shrub grows, we will continue to remove such growth while trying to maintain the plant’s natural shape. You always want to maintain this natural shape unless you are trying to achieve a special effect such as with hedges, topiaries, cordons, or an espaliers. 

To maintain a plant’s health and vigor, you must regularly remove any diseased, dying, or dead wood. Unsound wood is a sure entry point for insects and diseases. Therefore, you want to make sure you cut back to sound heathy growth, preferably with a sterile blade, when pruning. Thinning out the shrub will also improve the penetration of light and air resulting in a more uniform, vigorous foliage growth. Many shrubs, such as lilacs, benefit from the regular removal of old limbs. 

Pruning will also improve the quality of flowering. When we remove some of the plants woody growth, it then can divert more energy into the production of larger, though possibly less, flowers. Since most shrubs bloom off new or one year old growth, timely pruning will increase the production of flower bearing limbs. 

Sometimes we need just to prune shrubs to keep them under control. While we should always select shrubs suitable for the space limitations sometimes, situations change. We must also keep shrubs off walks, doorways, and drives for safety considerations. Damage to the home can quickly happen if shrubs are allowed to contact siding, electrical wires, or roofing. Security is another factor we must consider when pruning. 

Some suggestions for pruning shrubs is offered by Jay Windsor Agricultural Agent,University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

  1. Barberry – Cut all 3-year-old wood back to the ground.
  2. Butterfly Bush – Prune 1-year-old wood back to a few buds. Remove all 2-year-old wood
  3. Cotoneaster – Remove only dead wood. Some tips may need to be removed to control growth.
  4. Deutzia – Remove 3-year-old wood to the ground. Remove weak growths.
  5. Forsythia – Remove 4-year-old wood to the ground. Do not remove pendulous branches until they become old and woody.
  6. Hydrangea – Prune after flowering to remove old canes. Cut flowering stems back to unflowered laterals.
  7. Honeysuckle – Prune lightly before and after blooming. Remove 2-year-old wood.
  8. Lilac – Remove seed pods, dead and diseased wood. If plants are grafted, suckers should be removed.
  9. Magnolia – Remove seed pods and practice only corrective pruning.
  10. Mockorange – Remove all 3-year-old wood to the ground. Remove spent flowering wood to a lateral.
  11. Privet – Remove 4-year-old wood to the ground.
  12. Rose of Sharon – Remove seed pods and all deadwood. Plant tends to become leggy if not trained well.
  13. Spirea – Remove all 3-year-old wood and 1-year-old wood cut back to a few buds.
  14. Viburnum – Remove dead wood to the ground.
  15. Weigela – Remove dead wood to the ground. Remove flowering wood back to unflowered laterals
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Mail-Order Nurseries

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on February 1, 2001 – 6:20 pm

For the past month we have all been receiving gardening catalogs through the mail. Most of these are like old friends to us. What would the Winter be without the Seeds of Change or Jung Seed Catalogs? For the gardener, this is the time of year when we can sit back browse the pages and plan this year’s garden.

The last few seasons we have seen some major changes in the mail-order plant and seed industry. The trend is toward consolidation of some major players. White Flower Farms is a good example of a company who has made some major purchases starting with the Daffodil Mart and ending who knows where. We see from our recent catalog from Shepherd’s Seeds is now in the White Flower family.

Is this trend good or bad for the home gardener? We are still trying to decide how we feel on this one. Surely we are going to miss some old friends, businesses we have learned to trust and depend on over the years. We will treat these mergers as we would any new company and give them a try with a few smaller orders to see just how they will measure up.

Our concern is that we will see the personal service we have all learned to respect when some of these tried and proven nurseries go by the wayside. We all know what to expect if we go to a major discount center such as K-Mart, Target, Wal-Mart, or Lowes with a question or seeking that “Special Plant” we read about in Green Scenes. These places are excellent for sources for the more common plants and they do offer good pricing, just do not ask a question or expect much service. Also, we have always questioned just how much training in plant care these “Sales Associates” have received. We cannot help but carry these feelings over to the consolidated mail order companies.

We could be wrong about our uneasy feeling of this new trend in the gardening industries. You have all seen this trend in other industries such as banking, drugs, and even medical communities. We liked it when we knew Bill the bank president or Fred the druggist was looking out for our welfare. Gardening to us is a very personal recreation and requiring a personal touch. Part of the fun of gardening is discussing our plants with others of a like interest. This is why, even if the price is a little higher, we always patronize our local garden center first. Life would be just a little less fun without them.

While we will continue to give the “Wal-Marts” of the gardening industry an opportunity to prove themselves, the proven nurseries will receive our patronage. Old friends like Niche Gardens, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and Plants Delight are hard to beat.

All change is not for the worse. We have seen some fine new nurseries such as Naylor Creek come on the seen. We just need to keep out eyes open so we do not miss them. Every day more gardening sites appear on the Internet, most good sites will soon have a loyal following only too willing to expound on their virtues. Good references on sites can be found in periodicals such as Green Scene, Horticulture, or the Advent Gardener. Another good resource can be found by joining a gardening email list such as Perennial List at perennials @mallorn.com. This “List” is made up of gardeners, for gardeners, and by gardeners. Each day’s postings are full of useful information and conversation. To subscribe simply send an Email to Majordomo@mallorn.com with this message in the body of your Email subscribe perennial (your Email address).

The Garden Gate is a site with references to almost any topic you could think of in gardening. The Garden Gate’s Gardening Lists (http://www.prairienet.org/garden-gate/maillist.htm) provides a quick source for those interested in subscribing.

We are always looking for new nurseries that fit out needs. Personally, we like to order over the Internet. It is quick, accurate, efficient, and safe. Also, we have found that we get better and quicker responses to our questions by email. Most of the newer companies coming on board have very good user friendly sites with loads of information for the gardener.

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Specialty Nurseries On-Line

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on March 1, 2000 – 6:24 pm

In February we talked about ordering plants on-line. We told you about our favorite perennial web sites and offered some tips on selecting an on-line nursery to order from. Time did not permit us to look at all the other sites available. In this month’s issue of Yard Talk we would like to review some of the other web sites we have found to be above average. 

For us to consider an on-line source to be above average they must consistently supply plants which are strong vigorous growers as presented on their site. The plants should be healthy, strong, and above average in size. We expect plants to be protected during shipment, while bare root plants are acceptable, potted plants should be the norm. Shipments should be made on time and in the manner specified. All orders should be acknowledge and any back orders brought to our attention promptly. 

The following nurseries are ones which have met or exceeded our expectations: 

Rose On-Line Nurseries

Edmunds’ Roses –
This site is about modern roses with excellent graphics and a wealth of information. An essential place to visit for those of us into new roses.
Hortico Nurseries –
If you are looking for roses, look no further. Old Roses, New Roses, you name it and Hortico Nurseries has it.
Yesterday’s Roses –
As the name implies this is the site for Old Roses. They specialize in old time tea, damask, etc.
Nor’East Miniature Roses –
If you are into miniature roses this site offers a good selection of some of the best.
Regan Rose’s –
While not the easiest catalog to browse or order from, its quality and wide variety well make up for this sites short comings. The descriptions are limited, geared more for the experienced grower. All rose varieties are well represented at this site.
Petaluma Roses –
Petaluma Rose has a number of fine roses which are not usually offered by many of the other growers. While their selection is somewhat limited the varieties offered are a welcome addition to anyone’s garden. We particularly like their patented Hybrid Teas.
Spring Valley –
Spring Valley Roses specializes in winter hardy Old Garden, Climbing and Shrub roses. These roses have to be tough to handle their colder climates. They do their best to grow healthy, large roses. The roses they offer are: winter hardy, own-root plants, disease tolerant, large two-year old plants, and historically significant. They offer roses in the following classes: Centifolia, Climbers, Gallica, Hybrid Rugosa, Shrub and Species. These include many of the newer Shrubs and Hybrid Rugosas developed in Germany and Canada.
White Rabbit –
White Rabbit Roses offer a wide selection of Old Garden Roses as well as older Hybrid Teas. We were pleasantly surprised to see that White Rabbit also offers Custom Rooting Services and even a Rose Finding Service for Old Roses, those over 40 years. If Old Roses are your interest by all means check these people out.

Woody Plant Nurseries

Aesthetic Gardens –
An excellent site for rare and unusual trees and shrubs. If you are looking for that special, hard to find specimen, this is the place.
Roslyn Nursery –
A unique nursery specializing in rare and exotic varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, trees, ground cover and other ornamental plants. A very good source for Japanese Maples and Ferns. Also for those in the warmer zones they offer a selection of Camellias. You can also find information about plant hardiness zones and directions to their nursery.
Forest Farms Nursery –
They offer a good selection of ornamental shrubs, trees, grasses, and perennials. They are well known throughout the plant community although they just started offering their catalog on-line.
Clematis Specialty Nursery –
They are a small nursery specializing in all types of clematis. They have been in business since 1983 as a retail establishment and started doing mail-order in 1993. Clematis Specialty Nursery is particularly interested in small-flowered species and hybrids that are so easy and rewarding to grow. Their aim is also to introduce new but proven varieties of both small and large-flowered clematis

On-Line Seed Catalogs

Burpee –
Serving Home Gardeners since 1876. The on-line spot for the seed gardener, feel free to explore this site as if it were your own garden. Everywhere you turn, we’re sure you’ll find something special to look at.
Territorial Seed Company –
Territorial has been serving the seed gardener for over twenty years, offering a wide selection of seeds. We were particularly impressed with its large selection of garlic sets, over ten varieties.
Franklin Hill Garden –
Franklin Hill Garden Seeds web site offers enticing selections of annual and perennial flower varieties, natives, exotics, heirlooms, cottage garden favorites, and a few modern hybrids. Franklin Hills goal is to help us rediscover forgotten old favorites as well as find a few new treasures. We are sure you will find their site interesting.
Wildseed Farms –
Wildseed Farms offers for sale over 70 species of wildflower seed, and wildflower seed mixes. Their catalog is an invaluable resource for anyone who would like to join the growing community of enthusiasts who support Mother Nature by planting wildflowers. They offer useful information on such diverse subjects as starting a no mow lawn to plants for clay soils.
Prairie Nursery –
Prairie Nursery is dedicated to bringing their customers quality plants and seeds, and sharing our knowledge of cultural and landscape uses of native plants. Since 1972 Prairie Nursery has been devoted to improving and rebuilding the environment by encouraging ecological gardening using native plants for soil, water, and habitat conservation. Their mission is to preserve native plants and animals by helping people to create attractive, non-polluting natural landscapes that can support a diversity of wildlife.
Seeds of Change –
Seeds of Change is an all organic, 100 % Certified source for over 1500 different varieties of heirloom seeds. The site offers a lot of information for the organic gardener

On-Line Bulb, Corm, Rhizome, and Tuber Companies

Brent and Beckys Bulbs –
Brent and Beckys Bulbs are a hybridizers of daffodils . They are third generation bulb growers, trialing many unusual and specialty bulbs on our 10 acre farm and gardens in Gloucester, Virginia.
Oakes Daylilies –
For three generations Oakes Daylilies has been in the business of growing and selling daylilies. In that time, they have seen incredible advancement in the diversity, beauty and popularity of the daylily. Whether you have grown daylilies for years or are new to them, Oakes invite you to add some of these wonderful flowers to your garden.
McClure and Zimmerman –
McClure Zimmerman offers multitude of quality bulbs, corms, tubers and rootstocks. We have used them in the past and have always found them to be reliable.
Swan Island Dahlias –
Swan Island Dahlias are the largest grower of Dahlias in the United States. Their catalog offers a wide range of tubers.
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Nurseries On-Line

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on February 1, 2000 – 6:22 pm

We have all started to receive numerous gardening catalogs in the mail and what better time to receive them? For most of us, this is the slow time of year, a time when we can sit back, relax, and think of warmer seasons. Each day we wait expectantly for the mailman to deliver the newest batch of gardening treasures we call catalogs. 

Those of us lucky to have access to the Internet do not even have to wait for the mailman as we have the world at our fingertips. Most of the better nurseries have their own web sites containing vast amounts of information on plants and gardening. With a little searching, you can easily find nurseries geared to your particular interest. There are sites out there for the young and old, from the herb gardener and the arborist, to shade gardener and rosarian. 

Being an avid shade gardener use to be hard, as plant selections were limited but, now we have access to plants we could only dream of at one time. The wide range of selections offered is almost limitless. We have yet to be unable to find a plant we wanted. On-line ordering is not only easy and quick but, also safe. The information available is usually more extensive than found in catalogs and the pictures are definitely bigger and better. 

Everyday more gardening sites appear on the Internet, like anything, more is not necessarily better and some caution needs to be observed in choosing a sight to order from. Most good sites will soon have a loyal following only too willing to expound on their virtues. Good references on sites can be found in periodicals such as Green Scene, Horticulture, or the Advent Gardener. Another good resource can be found by joining a gardening email list. 

There are many excellent lists out there on almost any gardening subject. Some are quite specific while others cover a broad range of topics. A good list to start with is Perennial List at perennials@mallorn.com. This list is dedicated to the discussion of all perennials in a garden context and information is freely exchanged. This “List” is made up of gardeners, for gardeners, and by gardeners. Each day’s postings are full of useful information and conversation. To subscribe simply send an Email to Majordomo@mallorn.com with this message in the body of your Email “subscribe perennial (your Email address)” (Make sure to drop the ” and () from the message). We encourage you to subscribe to a list, most are made up of friendly people with only gardening’s best interest at heart. 

We have found most sites to be very good in handling your orders. Often times the communication is better then mail order. The better ones not only acknowledge your order but email you at shipping time so you can prepare for their arrival. Also, we have found that while a nursery during the busy season may not have time to answer your gardening questions over the telephone, most freely answer your email.

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Pruning of Ornamental Shrubs

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on April 1, 1999 – 5:33 pm

Most homeowners have a sizable investment in the shrubs around their yard and gardens. While we my spend untold hours taking care of our home and gardens, shrubs often get lost in the shuffle. Just like our homes, shrubs take a certain amount of maintenance to keep them attractive and healthy. One of the most important ways we can protect our investment is through regular pruning. The reason for pruning may be broken down into the following groups, training the plant, maintaining the shrub’s health, improving the quality of flowers, fruit, and foliage, and restricting it’s growth. 

We begin training the shrub when we first plant it with the removal of any diseased, damaged, or crossing branches. As the shrub grows, we will continue to remove such growth while trying to maintain the plant’s natural shape. You always want to maintain this natural shape unless you are trying to achieve a special effect such as with hedges, topiaries, cordons, or an espaliers. 

To maintain a plant’s health and vigor, you must regularly remove any diseased, dying, or dead wood. Unsound wood is a sure entry point for insects and diseases. Therefore, you want to make sure you cut back to sound heathy growth, preferably with a sterile blade, when pruning. Thinning out the shrub will also improve the penetration of light and air resulting in a more uniform, vigorous foliage growth. Many shrubs, such as lilacs, benefit from the regular removal of old limbs. 

Pruning will also improve the quality of flowering. When we remove some of the plants woody growth it, then can divert more energy into the production of larger, though possibly less, flowers. Since most shrubs bloom off new or one year old growth, timely pruning will increase the production of flower bearing limbs. 

Sometimes we need just to prune shrubs to keep them under control. While we should always select shrubs suitable for the space limitations sometimes, situations change. We must also keep shrubs off walks, doorways, and drives for safety considerations. Damage to the home can quickly happen if shrubs are allowed to contact siding, electrical wires, or roofing. Security is another factor we must consider when pruning. 

January through early April is the best time to prune shrubs in our location, zone 5, in Southwestern Lower Michigan. With the leaves off the deciduous shrubs, you can better see into the plant’s structure. Pruning at this time also allows you to remove any winter damage. Healing occurs more quickly in the Spring, with less chance for disease. One time you want to avoid pruning is in late summer or early fall as this does not give any new growth time to harden off before winter. 

We generally prune our shrubs two or three times a year depending on the location and growing conditions. You do not want to put off pruning as it is much easier and better for the plant when done regularly. Anyone can do a good job pruning with some common sense and a little practice. If necessary, you can always hire an arborist, these usually can be found in the telephone book under Tree Services. The National Arborist Association at http://www.natlarb.com/locate.htm also maintains a current member listing of trained professionals. To find one in your area, simply go to their site and enter your zip code. The important point to remember in pruning is to do it regularly.

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