As we’re preparing for winter around the farm, it’s tempting to “clean-up” the perennial borders by cutting all the weedy stalks and seed heads off. But, by doing less and leaving medium to tall perennials in place, we can provide winter food for the birds and observe them more too.
Leave perennials like asters, black-eyed Susans, butterfly weed, coneflowers, Joe-Pye weed, oat grass, and goldenrod standing in the fall garden after they finish blooming. Cardinals, finches, and sparrows will harvest seed while clinging to the stalks; and juncos or towhees will harvest seed from the ground.
Even after the seeds have all been harvested, the spent perennials still provide nourishment for the birds. Chickadees, [...]
Continue reading Keep Stalky Perennials to Feed Birds
I really admire beautiful mixed flower and foliage borders like the photo here (confession - none of mine look like this), but have difficulty creating borders like this around our home. As the seasons progress; there’s either too little foliage, too few flowers, the colors don’t mix, or the textures don’t work together. To combat the problem, last year I started examining the borders I was trying to improve at the beginning of each month; isolating the areas seeming to need the most help at that time, and determining what the missing or wrong element was (flower, foliage, color, or texture).
Once I’ve figured out the biggest problem, I review all the perennials in our other [...]
Continue reading Building Beautiful Garden Borders
I’m not sure my container plantings are always gorgeous, but they usually turn out pretty nice due to one trick I learned years ago – use at least one “thriller”, “filler”, and “spiller” when planting the container. And if you’ve got room, throw in a “chiller” to make it exciting. I read about the concept long ago, but every year as I’m picking out plants for containers, it seems someone asks how I go about planning a beautiful container planting.
This photo shows a container that was planted a couple of days ago, but demonstrates the concept. The “thriller” in this case is a Spike Dracena [...]
Continue reading Creating Beautiful Container Plantings (thrillers, fillers, & spillers)
Here in Ohio, it’s been a long winter, and we’re more than ready for some spring color. So, it’s a good time to start pruning spring-blooming trees and shrubs; and force the branches to bloom indoors. The benefits are color and scent inside, and the pruning gets done while plants are dormant and their form can clearly be seen. Anyone living where trees and shrubs go through a dormant winter chill can force indoor blooms.
Trees and Shrubs for Forcing
Almost anything that blooms in spring can be forced. Varieties to consider include crab apple, flowering cherry, flowering pear, eastern redbud, willow, pussy willow, cornelian [...]
Continue reading Forcing Spring Flowers
Easter lilies are really hardy perennials, so don’t throw them out after the holiday, replant them in your garden instead.
Prolonging Indoor Bloom
To prolong bloom time indoors, be sure to pinch off the yellow anthers as soon as the flowers open. This prevents pollination (un-pollinated flowers last longer), and keeps the flowers white. Daytime temperatures in the 70’s and nighttime temperatures in the 40’s will also prolong bloom time. Warmer temperatures negatively impact bloom time.
Preparing for Outdoor Bloom
If grown indoors as a houseplant, it’s difficult to get an Easter lily to re-bloom, but if planted outdoors, they readily re-bloom each year. [...]
Continue reading Don’t Throw Those Easter Lilies Out!