Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gardening Trivia Question
We’ve started a new contest for the Countryside staff that I thought I’d also share with you. I will periodically pose a garden trivia question in our weekly staff meetings and then post the answer on the blog, so at least I know someone is reading this. So this week’s question is "How did tea roses get the name tea rose?" The answer is below.

News From The Nursery

K.C., the nursery manager, reports numerous calls of late regarding the freezing weather we had a few weeks ago and its impact on our trees, shrubs and perennials. The answer to your questions is we won’t really know until everything leafs out. For your trees and shrubs, K.C. recommends patience and some fertilizer. Use the plant fertilizer stakes or the Shultz granular fertilizer. The amount of fertilizer to use is based on the caliper, or diameter, of the tree trunk or the diameter of the drip zone. Our nurserymen (and woman) can help you figure out how many stakes or fertilizer you will need if you have those measurements.
As the trees and shrubs leaf out you may notice a brown edge on the leaves. This is leaf margin burn and is a result of the freeze. Other than being somewhat unattractive it will not hurt the plant. When the plant leafs out next year (barring another freeze), the leaves will look normal. K.C. recommends not pruning just yet, but once things have leafed out and you can tell what has died back, then you can do some light pruning.

As for your perennials and bulbs, again, patience is the key. If your daffodils are at half mast, resist the urge to cut them back. As long as the leaves are still green, the plant is sending energy to the bulb to prepare for next year’s blooms. The later blooming daffodils and tulips should not have been affected. In fact, my tulips just started opening yesterday. If your early perennials got a little nipped by the freeze, they may yet send up new stems from the root, though the blooms may not be as large or as plentiful. This is nature’s way of preserving the plant. It is keeping the energy in the root to get it through until next year.

K.C. has also done a little research on the 17-year locusts or cicadas. She says they should be emerging sometime in the next ten days. As I am a relative new comer to the Midwest, this will be my first experience with them, so I am actually looking forward to it. While noisy, they are not harmful to plants. You can cover your trees with netting, such as tulle or frost blankets, to keep the adults from laying eggs in them, and therefore preventing the invasion the next time. If you live in a new development you will not be affected since the excavating work that was done would have killed any larvae in the ground. Older neighborhoods, like Lakewood, will be the most affected.
Spring Gardening Seminars

We had a good turnout last weekend for our series of seminars. Our Aquascape representative gave a presentation on putting in a pond, using the Aquascape kits. Michael wowed people with his innovative container designs. Leslie (that’s me) talked about "out of the box" vegetable garden designs and planting, and Kim showed customers the latest and greatest perennial plants. I promised to put some of the pictures I used on the blog as they didn’t show up very well on the screen. I can also e-mail my presentation to anyone who wants it as can Kim Hartmann. If you would like either of these presentations, e-mail me at and I would be happy send them to you. The pictures below are from Villandry, a chateau in the Loire Valley in France that is renowned for its "parterre" style gardens. Another chateau in the same area with a unique garden design competition that is on display all summer is Chaumont sur Loire. Even my dad, Fred, enjoyed this garden, which is saying a lot for a guy who is busy these days turning his bit of paradise into an oasis of green (shrubs) and brown (mulch), heavy on the brown.

New Perennials

Two of the plants Kim spoke about at her seminar, and that have caught the attention of most of the green house staff, are Heuchera "Peach Flambe"and Euphorbia "Bonfire."
Heuchera "Peach Flambe"– Just when we thought we couldn’t stand another heuchera, Peach Flambe is introduced. This heuchera performs best with at least 6 hours of full sun but morning and afternoon shade. The peach foliage of spring will turn burgundy during the summer, eventually deepening to a deep plum for the fall. It is hardy in zones 4-8 and grows 7 inches tall and 14 inches wide. The small flowers are white.

Euphorbia "Bonfire"– While most euphorbias have green foliage that turns mahogany in the fall this magnificent plant has soft, velvety mahogany foliage all summer long. Like all euphorbias, it has bracts rather than flowers and the flower bracts of Bonfire are chartreuse. It has a mounding habit, getting 8-10 inches tall with an 18 inch spread. It is hardy in zones 5-9 (we are zone 5) and it is deer and rabbit resistant. Just as a side note, euphorbias are some of Michael’s favorite plants. He especially likes the Polychroma. I only mention this because if I ever get desperate for gardening trivia questions, this might be one.

Gardening Trivia Answer
Many of the plants we know today came to our shores from other countries. Roses are no different and many came to us from China via England. The English shipped them on the same ships that carried the tea they also imported, hence the name tea roses. After they had been hybridized, they became known as hybrid tea roses.

Michael in the Garden
For those of you who missed the seminars last weekend, you can catch Michael every Saturday morning in May at 8 am for a hands-on container gardening seminar. Michael will show you the premium annuals and perennials that make great container plantings and how to transition your containers from season to season. Bring your container and leave with a completed project. If 8am is too early, Countryside staff are always available to help you plan all of your gardening projects.

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