So the winter damage has been fixed and spring cleanups are about finished. Which means that many homeowners, and landscape companies, are now turning their attention to pruning.
I understand the importance of pruning but one of my pet peeves is pruning shrubs into shapes that are contrary to their natural form. This is especially true of forsythia.
Too many people trim them into “meatballs” figuring, I guess, that a round shape is good.
Forsythia is a naturally graceful arching shrub and training it into a ball, in my opinion, is like asking a ballerina to dance in clogs.
The best time to prune forsythia is in the spring, right after blooming and then I like to remove ¼ to 1/3 of the largest stems to the ground. If you have a very old forsythia you can cut it drastically to within 4” of the ground and it will come back. This type of pruning is referred to as renovation or rejuvenation pruning.
Pruning forsythia later in the summer will likely result in fewer flowers as you will undoubtedly remove buds that have already set. Check out Garden Seeker for a great guide for pruning shrubs .
If you have not yet pruned your forsythia consider skipping this year. Just let the ballerina dance.
And if you must have meatballs, make spaghetti.
Years ago, a very wonderful friend of mine was espousing the virtues of hostas. Conjuring up an image in my mind of the cemetery variety, I replied that they were nothing but slug bait.
Thankfully my friend did not slug me! As a former president of the New England Hosta Society, she must have looked at me as a challenge and over the years kept pointing out unusual varieties. Her persistence paid off, and now I’m hooked. Having already mentioned that my favorite color is green, hostas already have one thing going for them. And the more I use them the more I love them.
There are really only three problems when growing hostas:
Bambi. Thumper. Slugs.
If the deer and rabbits in your area treat your hosta like a salad bar, be vigilant.
You need to interrupt their dinner and train them to look elsewhere. As soon as the hostas start to emerge in spring, spray with a repellent. There are many on the market and your local garden center can suggest one. There are also numerous homemade remedies on the internet – everything from Irish Spring soap to red pepper spray. I have had tremendous success with Deer Defeat. I purchase it online and apply according to package directions…more often in the spring as plants are actively growing. It’s all natural, does not have to be re-applied after rain and only smells really bad for a few hours.
If slugs are more your problem taking action NOW will prevent the chewed leaves that show up in July.
As soon as the hostas start pushing up through the earth, sprinkle a little bit of slug bait around. (Iron phosphate is my preferred method as it does not rely on chemicals that can be hazardous to people and pets.) Not too much – no need to go crazy.
Since slugs can have many litters (is that what you call them?) it’s important to get them under control before they start producing.
You can choose to set beer traps – basically a small tin filled with beer will attract the slugs and they fall in and drown. To me, that just seems like a waste of good beer!
I also read that using leftover coffee, sprinkled around the plants, will deter the slimy creatures. Apparently the caffeine tastes bitter and the slugs don’t like it. I have not ever had a real problem with these shell-less terrestrial gastropods in my garden and now I wonder if it is because I sprinkle my used coffee grounds in the garden to improve the soil. Of course you can limit slug damage by growing your hostas in containers. Many of you know I am a huge fan of using unusual foliage plants in containers and hostas are one of my favorites.
So let me just apologize to Mary right now. I was wrong and you were right. Hostas are beautiful. And you have recommended some great ones. ‘Winter Snow’, ‘Fat Cat’, ‘Grand Marquis’, ‘Sharp Dressed Man’. These are no cemetery varieties. For more information, and some great pictures, visit the Hosta Library.
Imagine my delight to have had this lovely testimonial forwarded to me straight from the president of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.
“I am a Philadelphia Horticultural Society member and always look forward to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s show was truly outstanding. I like to preview the Gardener’s Studio presentations online to decide the best day for me to attend the show. A container garden seminar by Deborah Trickett was scheduled for Thursday at 11:00 AM so I made my plans.
I felt compelled to send my first review ever about The Flower Show.
I design garden containers and have attended many container seminars near and far for the past eight years. I am always looking to expand my horizons. Deborah Trickett from Westwood, MA gave the best container presentation I have ever attended. It was a text book perfect Five Star event. Every seat in the Gardener’s Studio was taken and an overflow crowd stood and watched from the outside aisles. More than just prepared and informative, Deborah was witty, engaging and remarkably creative. She started with an out-of-the-ordinary shallow square metal container and steadily filled it with a variety of unusual plants. Everyone payed close attention while Deborah composed a striking garden container. She offered real-world tips with each addition and generously answered many questions along the way. Deborah’s theme of “Jaw Dropping, Traffic Stopping, Get Your Neighbors Talking Containers” was not at all overstated. I highly recommend PHS have Deborah back next year.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt.
True words. Especially nowadays with all the opportunities social media provides to make you feel inadequate.
Anyone besides me compare your life, marriage, kids to all those trumpeting their successes on Facebook?
Another interesting quote from Steven Furtick, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
Wouldn’t life be so much better if we stopped comparing and just focused on doing our best? Give each day, each opportunity, 100% without worrying about what everyone else is doing? I find that when I do that I end the day feeling profoundly grateful for what I have.
The same can be said of our gardens. Instead of lamenting a small city lot, be grateful and incorporate dwarf plants that will be beautiful in your space. Instead of complaining that your green thumb is being thwarted in your small apartment, use containers on your balcony to grow everything from perennials to veggies. If you are overwhelmed by a large garden, create “pollinator habitats” and leave some areas alone.
Your garden should bring you joy.
If it’s not, spring is the perfect time for an adjustment.
I have seen many gorgeous gardens fall off the radar at night. Beautiful and breathtaking by day once the sun sets they become black holes. Which is why, when I design gardens, I always recommend landscape lighting – it allows your garden to be a source of enjoyment even after the sun has gone down.
Imagine sitting in your living room looking out at a beautiful specimen tree which is uplit so the branches seem to shimmer. Now imagine looking out that same window and seeing only darkness. Picture a romantic dinner on the patio with soft mood lighting versus having to turn on the outdoor floodlights.Read More»
Any of you who know me know that I LOVE sharing my passion for gardening with others. Whether I am talking about container gardening or designing for pollinators or creating a rooftop garden it is always a thrill to share what I have learned.
I have also been blessed to speak at some great Flower Shows over the years and this year I will be returning to one of my favorites – The Philadelphia International Flower Show.
The theme for 2017 is “Holland: Flowering the World.”
I am very excited to walk through the entrance which will feature an overhead floral canopy created with over 6,000 blooms! Talk about a grand entrance!
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the world’s oldest and largest indoor event of its kind and attracts over 250,000 people from around the world. I will be speaking on container gardening on March 16. I have also been asked to be a part of the container garden challenge on the same day.
According to the Flower Show the container challenge is a friendly competition where three designers will be on stage at the same time, creating a container planting using a myriad of plants. Upon completion, the audience will be able to “vote” for their favorite. Sounds a bit like “Chopped” to me!
If you are in the neighborhood please stop by and say hi! It would be wonderful to see some familiar faces. For more on the show visit The Philadelphia Flower Show website.
This spring my hands may be holding a microphone as often as a trowel as the lecture schedule is filling up!
There is one very important thing you should do before starting any garden design project.
Stare out the windows. I mean it.
Really stare, or at least look very closely.
Too many designers start outside the home with no thought given to how the garden will look from inside. For many of us in colder climates a good deal of time is spent enjoying the gardens from inside so designing from the inside out just makes sense.Read More»
It’s Valentine’s Day and love stories abound.
The one between me and my garden is one of my favorites.
And like love, it has its seasons.
The spring garden is ripe with promise.
Yet, like new love, it is fragile. A time of emptiness surrenders as an opportunity for hope springs up, like the snowdrop bravely pushing itself through the snow. Or the crocus straining towards the sun. Still, the spring garden can be full of worry and concern.
Will that late cold snap kill ripening flower buds? Will the deer munch the tulips? Will the snow load prove too much for the small snowdrops? Anything too weighty, at this point in the development, could prove disastrous. So much promise, yet so much risk.Read More»
This has been, according to the meteorologists here in Boston, a pretty warm winter.
Despite a few cold days and a bit of snow, it hasn’t been horrible. And while this may be good news for us, it’s not necessarily good for our winter containers. Driving around town I notice that many greens have “browned” with the warm temps and sun.
Many beautiful containers, once the pride of the neighborhood, have given up the ghost.Read More»
Kerry Ann Mendez is in the house
As many of you know I lecture extensively on gardening. One of my favorite fellow lecturers is Kerry Ann Mendez of Perennially Yours. You may have even heard her speak on the “Right-Sized Flower Garden”.” Kerry is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker who is able to convey lots of information in a fun and informative way.
Now, you can enjoy Kerry Ann’s latest lecture while still in your pj’s! Kerry Ann is offering a webinar where she will discuss “Radical Perennials” – the plants all of us want – beautiful, long-lasting, low-maintenance.Read More»