Staking Newly Planted Trees

Confusion surrounds the healthiest way to stake newly-planted trees to stand up to fierce winds while fostering good root growth. The old method, seen much too often still, of snaking wire through a section of garden hose to wrap around trunks and branches is highly injurious to trees. This ill-advised technique digs into tree conductive…

Spring Tree Assessment and Care

Spring’s re-birth of all that is green is a good time to assess how trees and other landscape plants made it through winter. Many evergreen trees, such as spruce, are exhibiting signs of winter burn, with browning and bronzing of needles.  Winter’s deep cold and strong winds dried out plant tissues, resulting in loss of…

Thinking Ahead: Annual and Perennial Flowers

Growing a vegetable garden versus growing a flower garden can be hotly debated. Vegetable gardeners ask, “What good is it if you can’t eat it?” Flower growers think if it is not pretty, what’s the point? For me, growing both vegetables and flowers are necessary—vegetables nourish my body while flowers feed my soul. As the…

The Oak Twig Girdler

Flagging branches on oak trees can indicate the presence of the oak twig girdler.

Cucumber Bitterness

The compound that imparts the bitter taste in cucumbers is cucurbitacin. Wild cucumbers have a large amount of cucurbitacin, which discourages feeding by wild animals and insects. Today’s hybrids have been bred to have lower amounts of cucurbitacin in the fruit and what cucurbitacin is in the plant is concentrated in the roots, leaves, and…

Yellow Nutsedge

“What is this grass growing in my flower bed?” is a question I hear quite often now.  Rolling the stem between my fingers quickly determines this isn’t grass at all but the infamous yellow nutsedge.  Sedges are grass-like perennials that have triangular shaped stems.   If they grew at the same rate as turfgrass, many lawn…

Freeze Damage to Spruce

Many spruce trees in the area are looking rough. Beyond the usual injury from spruce spider mites and Rhizosphaera needle cast, spruce trees have serious dieback, not only individual branches but in some cases, the top has died. Drooping clusters of brown needles and streaks of white sap on branches and trunk indicate freeze injury….

The Rain Barrel

A recent brief rain burst, depositing just .2 of an inch in my rain gauge, put 12 gallons of water in my rain barrel. That’s the beauty of collecting rainwater from a roof—a small amount adds up quickly. If you’ve been considering installing a rain barrel, here is a push to get you started. While…

Moles and Grubs

It’s been a good year for moles.  A nice amount of rain keeps soils moist and workable—the perfect environment to enable mole movement as they “swim” through the soil. Many people approach the problem of moles by focusing on grubs—that if the grubs are gone, then moles won’t be in the lawn. Though not accurate,…

Straw Foxglove

Unlike foxglove that are biennial, straw foxglove (Digitalis lutea) is a true perennial. The light yellow bell-shaped downward-facing flowers are smaller than their biennial relatives, but what is lost in flower size, straw foxglove makes up for in reliability and ease of growth.   Straw foxglove does best in average garden soil in a site…