Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blossom End Rot!

Here is a picture of a tomato with blossom end rot. (although since peppers are in the same family as tomatoes they can get it as well and just as easy)

Symptoms can occur at any stage of development in the tomato. But it seems most common, when the tomato is one-third or half of its full size. The name sorta says it all, it starts only at the blossom end of the tomato. Starting with small water-soaked spots, which get bigger then turns dark quickly as the fruits develop. The spot may get big enough to cover one third or half of the entire tomato's surface! Basically at that point the fight is over, and that tomato is a goner. I usually pick them and toss them away.

If you have seen this tomato sickness, if you have it or had it last year. You know that it usually does not just effect 1 tomato on a plant. It was probably in the majority of your entire crop, and up to 90% of the tomatoes on each plant. The severity can vary, from very bad to maybe just a few bad tomatoes.

I personally have seen them both. I started out several years ago with just a small problem, but over the years it grew to almost taking my entire crop. That is when I decided to learn all about this disease. And I found a simple solution.

Now I could go over the long drawn out reasons of why, and all of that jazz. But it is just a lot of long words and yada yada. Simply said here is "easy" explanation, which probably wont do the disease justice. Basically the tomato plant is having a hard time getting adequate water and nutrition to the plant. Part of that could be due to clay soil. Soil can always be the culprit. Sandy soils will have the same effect. Could be periods of drought, then lots of water. Could be to much water, or inconsistent watering. But for some reason your plant isn't able to grow a good root system, thus making the plants susteptiable to disease.


If you have clay soil can I suggest you add lots of organic material? Clay soil is a common problem in vegy gardens. Clay soil just isn't great for growing, even weeds sometimes. The same can be said of Sandy soil. So add lots and Lots of organic material. Every Year. But that may only just start to solve this problem of Blossom end rot. Although I would hope it would end the problem.

Next make sure that you are consistent in watering. Make a schedule and stick to it. Now, I am not suggesting that you become a Nazi. Just water every other day on a drip system for 15 minutes, simple. In the real heat of the summer, I water every day. But I know lots of people that don't. Just watch your plants, don't let them wilt. (If they are wilting, re-evauate your watering entirely) Other watering suggestions for tomatoes and most all garden plants is, don't water over head. Meaning turn off the rain bird. I will explain more on that in my next post.

If you have taken care of everything else, meaning. Your soil is in good shape, watering is handled and you are taking the opportunity to possibly fertilize with a simple 4-12-4 or 5-20-5 fertilizer, every other week but still have a problem. Add lime. Simple powder lime from the garden department should end this problem entirely. Lime isn't bad for the body (through tomatoes) is organic and just promotes healthy tomatoes. Every year I add 1 tablespoon to the hole that I put my new tomato starts into. I would rather not bother worrying about whether blossom end rot will happen at all.

Several years ago, when I had blossom end rot for the last time. I added lime to the top of the soil next to the tomato, (because I didn't at the beginning of the year) then worked it in around the tomato. Watered as usual. I also plucked all the effected tomatoes off and chucked them. I ended up with a substantially smaller crop because of what I had lost. But everything started to grow 100% rot free after that. I cant promise that will be your experience, but if you remember: Soil, Water, Fertilizer, Lime I think you will have amazing tomatoes every year!

Happy Planting!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I am determined to explain

This will be a short post, but very important. I am putting the SMACK down on my kids with the house today, so I need to put my attention there. But at the same time, this is THEE MOST asked question I get at the greenhouse or at home from anyone about tomatoes!

What is the difference between Determinate & In-Determinate Tomatoes? The answer is simple, and I am going to give you a "cheat" so you wont forget.Both of the terms are simply how the tomato will grow and produce. So first ask yourself, "What am I buying this tomato for?" Are you canning, or just eating? This is important when purchasing one of the two different kinds of tomatoes. Here is the reason...
Determinate tomatoes will all grow and ripen close to the same time, within a few weeks. Meaning the plant grows to a certain size, then grows the tomatoes, then they ripen. Pretty much that is the end of that tomato plant. These are the best tomatoes to use if you are canning.
Indeterminate tomatoes grow and fruit and grow and fruit. The plant continues to grow throughout the growing season and produce tomatoes. Never finishing growing, never finishing fruiting. Pretty much that will continue to frost.. These tomatoes will often ripen earlier than Determinate varieties. These are the tomatoes you want if you are just eat'n, mak'n a little fresh salsa & not canning.

Now for the "cheat" I use. I say, the Determinate tomatoes are DETERMINED to all be ripe at the same time. Left over is the Indeterminate and they just don't care. How easy is that?
Next time you head to the Greenhouse to pick a tomato plant, I hope this will help with your selection. I will spent the next few post talking more about tomatoes. I will add my favorite varieties in the coming posts. I get so many questions about Tomatoes, seems like I should spend some time on them. For right now, I think I will head out to my garden, grab a nice juicy tomato and get back to the house.
Happy Planting...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ferns, I just cant get enough

Why do ferns scare so many people? I LOVE them, . Inside and outside. Often I think that many are afraid that ferns just don't belong in area's of the country that get hot. Or that ferns cant survive the harsh winters. Oh how I hope this post, of any other post I have ever posted will change you mind. I absolutely love ferns.Ferns are the most under used perennial out there. That to me is very sad. (they are actually on the endangered species list) People who come into my yard always say "I Love Ferns!" I always wonder why if they love them, they don't grow them. There are honestly over 1000 different varieties of ferns that live in temperate climates all around the world. (to bad that they have limited availability) Spread the word. Ferns are good, not bad! Then maybe we will all have better availability on new varieties.

Ferns do need Shade. Some of the information I have read indicates that Ferns can be grown in Full Sun. But I must say that none of the ferns that I have had would grow in Utah's hot sun. And that is the only place I have had them. I am going to say, stick to shade. My Shade isn't incredibly dense, but it stays shady all of the day. The parts of my ferns that hang into the sun actually get sun scalded. But thinking that Ferns MUST be in the deepest darkest shade just isn't correct. My shade is all along the front of my house.
Ferns emerge from their winter sleep all coiled up. They are called Fiddleheads! (great name) I love all of the stages of fern growth, but this one is my favorite. Leaves are called Fronds. If you purchase a Fern from a catalog to be mailed to you. It will most likely come in the form of a rhizomatous root. (really just a bulb of sorts) I had to throw out all of those names, because I think they sound pretty cool...

Growing Ferns-

Easy! Very little work! Part to heavy shade. Humus-rich, slightly acid, moist but well-drained soil. Mulch your ferns to hold in the moisture, it can also help with the early frost in the fall. Then again with the over wintering. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch! No real need to fertilize, as long as you keep organic mater in your garden and mulch. Although slow release fertilizer wont hurt. My Ferns get some every year because the rest of my perennial get some.

Propagation- Division, although I will admit I have never tried this.

If you plant rhizomatous roots, the crown should be just below the soil level. Dig the soil down 15 inches deep, then back fill. Add lots of organic material in the back fill if you can. Planting the crown to deep will cause the fern to rot. After planting make sure for the first year that your fern is well watered. If you plant a fern that is already started at the nursery, use the same instructions as above. You just have a little jump start.
I wouldn't plant any fern in your garden that you have just purchased until after the threat of frost is gone. Yes next year your ferns will survive the frost, but this year they are not hardened off. Don't take the chance. Also some of the fronds and stems may turn brown over the summer. No worries, cut them off. Let the fern keep growing. This is common.

I was going to post a list of Ferns to run out and get. But I decided that because the varieties are so varied, you better choose from things you see and like. Check the tag, make sure that the variety you like will survive in your zone. My honest favorite is the Japanese Painted Fern. (2004 Perennial plant of the year, just to throw that in) I just love it. And I have had mine now for 5 years, along with several other varieties. With really no other maintenance than watering. Yes, some of the ferns I have tried have died. But most, over 90% have lived! And they are doing great!
If you have shade, GO GET A FERN! Happy "Fern" Planting!

Russian Sage

I am a little late on my drought tolerant plants post. So I will do my best to post 2times today.

Russian Sage seems to be rather popular at the nursery I work at. Most people really like it, and know about it. We have all scene it. Personally, it is not one of my favorite plants. I have seen this plant get a little out of control. And I kinda think it looks like a large sage brush. (hey, all I can say about this blog is you will get my honesty right?) I have watched it grow in some yards, and have truly thought that no other plant would fit better. It just looked great. But for me, at least at this moment. I have not planted a Russian Sage in my landscape.

The Boring information here-

Russian Sage or Perovskia atriplicifolia the fancy planty name, isn't a Sage and isn't Russian. No kidding. It is actually native from Afghanistan to Tibet. It was named after a Russian Military Officer. I have no idea why. (and that concludes your history lesson for today) This plant was actually selected as the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1995! Not bad...
Will you like it?

This perennial has an upright habit, and resembles a shrub. It is a little woody in texture. I think it almost has a "greyish" color, with Purple flowers. The leaves are small (the flowers two), but some say they are lacy and delicate looking. Russian Sage is fragrant, and that is a main stay for many who grow this plant. For me I would think its best feature would be that it attracts butterflies, and does not attract deer!!! Oh my, maybe I better re-think this. I NEED stuff that does not attract deer! hee hee

I see this plant in a lot of xeriscape plantings. My sister is a xeriscaper, and she loves this plant. They are EXTREMELY drought tolerant, and heat tolerant. I have heard it does not do as well in the humid hot. Some say it is "floppy" in humidity and shade.
This perennial is a great "late" season bloomer. It can and often will bloom all the way to September. Wow! That is a great feature. I think if you put this flower with ornamental grasses it looks pretty cool actually. Sort of walking through a path in the woods.

Choose your variety carefully, make sure to check the tag. You want to be careful to pick the size you want. There are smaller versions that I could really see myself trying in the future. The most popular version I see in landscapes about 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. That seems to be the "norm" or at least the most widely used variety.
Taking Care of-

When you purchase your Russian Sage make sure you DO water it until it is established. I would say for the first year. Then you shouldn't need to water it at all, or at least very little after that. Make sure to plant in FULL sun. This is NOT a shade plant. And I want to add, No Need to Fertilize.

In the spring I would cut your Russian Sage back, after you see a little new growth beginning. You could cut it all the way back to about a foot tall. That will encourage nice thick growth. Buggies don't seem to really even bother Russian Sage. DON'T divide Russian Sage if you want to propagate this plant. You can propagate by cuttings, but even that may be a little difficult. Cuttings don't take very easily, in my experience. You may have a different result than me. At the greenhouse the ratio of cuttings were 50/50. I have a good friend who has Russian Sage in her front yard in a rock wall. They look amazing. She has told me that they spread.

If you are looking for a dry hot plant, purple in color, that you don't have to water much... Run don't walk to your nearest garden center and pick up a Russian Sage! & as always, Happy Planting...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dead Heading or Cutting Back...

You gotta do it. You will be happy if you do. But man what a chore!
At the greenhouse after we plant the special order pots. We spend the next several weeks dead heading. All of us would rather, plant, water, fertilize, move. Anything other than deadhead. Oh man it is tedious. The task never ends. And it is back breaking! Honestly a killer. Leaned over those pots like that. Man, I have a back ache thinking about it.

O.K. What is it?
Deadheading or cutting back are pruning methods gardeners use on perennials, annuals & shrubs. I also cut back vines, especially if they flower.

Yea, but Why?
Deadheading stops a plant from going to seed or producing fruit, and in many cases encourages the plant to produce more flowers. Yup! You want lots of flowers all summer? Deadhead. A flowering plants sole purpose is to re-produce itself. All of a plants energy is used to produce flowers. After the flowers are done, the dead flower really isn't dead. It is now spending all of its time & more importantly energy making seeds. You want to divert that energy back to making flowers and looking pretty. At the Greenhouse we actually cut flowers back in the spring to produce bushier, healthier plants. Also deadheading makes plants look tidier or more the shape you like. I like having all the dead flowers, or almost dead flowers removed. Brown spent blossoms don't look that great to me. I also think that some plants get leggy, or gaingly looking. Some of my shade beds have over grown, and this year my ferns have been a little sun
damaged. So I try to visit each bed once a week. And pots even a little more often. Just tidy up the place a little.

Alright, I am catching on. Now How?
Honestly the most straightforward way I can explain deadheading is, "to remove only the faded flowers." When all the flowers on a single stem have been taken off, I cut the stem back to a floret, leaf or even to its base. Example of cutting to the base would be a daylily, or tulips. I cut those to the base. But I like to leave the grassy part.

I will discuss that later when I talk about tulips in the Fall.

Some people do "disbudding," which is removing smaller flower buds. Then the plant’s energy will go to the remaining flowers. There may not be as many flowers, but those left over will be larger. I personally don't do this. I have precious little time in the garden as it is.

I use several methods to prune, cut back & dead head.

Pinch- this is basically me pinching a plant off with my fingers. Simple, no tools required.
Snapping- I use this method with my potted geraniums, especially. When a blossom is spent, I follow the stem back to the base and snap it in the opposite direction. The stem will make the "snap" noise and then I remove the entire spent blossom.
Snipping- I have a little pair of nippers I use for snipping. I use this method when the plant is just a little thicker in the stem, and I might damage it by pinching. (because I end up pulling) Or if I might be damaged. Not a lot of people Pinch roses.
Shearing- I use this with grasses and some shrubs like Honeysuckle. (the shrub not vine) A lot of stems at once takes so much less time than one at a time. Shear them off.

Pasque Flower
I don't dead-head when I "want" to produce seed (or fruit) Some plants can remain as winter interest if you like the look of the spent flower. My example would be the pasque flower. I like the little fluffy leftovers. I also leave my Echinacea, I like those brown bally things. The birds munch them, and sit on them. I don't grow roses in my yard but often I see people leave the hips. In the late fall things left are often eaten by birds and small critters. That adds interest to the yard... I will admit that most of my dead heading and cutting back is in the spring. With a few exceptions.
Here is the spent Pasque Flower.

A few red flags. Be careful especially when cutting back shrubs. Most flowers grow on "new wood." Basically branches that have just grown in the past year. I would use the example of Lilacs. If you cut back stems this year. Next years flowers will be sparse, or non existent. But the year after that, watch out. You will be bombed again. Just don't plan on having your sister's wedding reception in your back yard in the spring the year after you hacked away at all of the Lilacs. But do hack the lilacs. They will stay thicker, less woody and keep growing beautiful flowers if you cut back on alternating branches. There are few shrubs I hate more than out of control Lilacs.

When "Cutting Back" you will remove part of a plant’s (usually shrubs or vines) top growth. The amount removed depends on what type of plant and what time of year. But I want to send another red flag here. Try never to take more that 1/3 of any shrub, anytime. I think it is to hard on them. Often the results are disastrous. If you need to really work over a shrub, consult your local nursery. You can also e-mail me with questions, because there are some exceptions to that rule. Butterfly Bush (Budlea) being one. You can mow that puppy to the ground in most cases, even if it is 6 feet tall.

My suggestions for each season-

In the spring

I cut back to remove the dead growth from last year. Usually, perennials are cut back to a few inches above the ground. Wow, that much? YES! For the most part Perennials will love you for letting them "start over again". I cut my Shrubs by about 1/3, but only if they have summer blooms. I don't cut back any Spring blooming shrubs, wait until they have finished the show...

In the summer

Most perennials & annuals should be cut back to encourage thicker plants and more blossoms. It is also good if you want less height in the plant. Chrysanthemums (mums and granny called them) in greenhouses have tons of flowers because they have been cut back. But look at the ones you plant, they are pretty but don't have nearly the same amount of flowers as the ones that are cut back. I myself MUST cut back the "blue" variety of perennial geraniums. If I don't, they get so tall and leggy. They take over the garden. And I like them, but not that much! Red Flag again, I wouldn't hit any huge perennial or shrub small or large in the heat of the summer. It is so hard for them to come back from. Deadhead yes, cut back? Not so much...

In the fall

I cut back perennials to prep them for winter. Unless I get lazy, because some I just wait for cutting back until next spring. I figure if a plant has "interesting to me" or strong stems that can make it through the weight of snow, leave them until next spring. If the plant has thin, small stems, I whack it.

Most all plants (perennials, annuals, shrubs) will benefit from some pruning. Don’t be afraid to venture out with your garden nippers or scissors or something. I have learned so much from just trying. There are some things I will never trim again, still others I straighten up weekly.

Happy Gardening...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm back! Do you have Squash Bugs?

I am back after a long break. My Dad passed away, and it has taken me a while to re-group. But I am jumping in with both feet.Every year I am bombarded with questions about Squash bugs. This year has been no different. I myself am fighting my own battle. These dirty bounders have killed one half of my crook neck squash, and they are working hard to kill my straight neck yellow squash, zucchini and pumpkin.
First let me explain the life cycle of the beast-
Here is the adult. Pretty hu? These are really hard to kill. Lots of people mistake them for stink bugs. They look similar, and also have a nasty small when you disturb them or squish them. (don't squish them, that smell attracts other squash bugs) They are grow-dy. Adults have a hard shell, and often pesticides don't work on them. They are hardy. The only way I have found to kill these are to pluck them from the plant and stick them in a jar of bleach. (be careful not to spill any on the plant) I have heard that many people use soapy water, or vinegar. Those are probably better. I use Bleach because it kills them FAST!
The adults get together and create these little eggs. They seem pretty well organized. I have never scene a plant that the eggs aren't right in neat rows. These eggs will take about 10 days to hatch. You MUST scrap these little creeps off into the bleach as well.
If you do not get the eggs. Or if you miss some. This is the cute baby (or babies) that hatch! Ohhhhhhh. Any bug mother would be proud. The good news is, these are easy to kill. Squish them. They die. But I would try NOT to get to this stage. You'll be happier if you get them in egg form. Then you don't have 10 or 15 bugs crawling around killing you squash.
What do they do?

These nasty bugs have a piercing mouth that they will use to suck the sap out of leaves. When they eat they cause yellow spots that then turn brown. The feeding also screws up the flow of water and nutrients. So your plant will start to wilt. (Even after it has been watered.) I mention this because when I see something wilting, I run and water it. In this case, you should continue to water like normal. But the plant will continue to wilt and eventually die if you don't kill the squash bugs. I always notice that their are dead leaves, and the actual squash fruit looks yellowed and shriveled. Pick them off, they are not going to snap out of it. By picking it you will actually help the plant to work on new more healthy fruit.

Points to Ponder-

Try to control squash bugs when the plant is young. It is easier to find them, and eliminate the problem before your plants start fruiting. (Besides the plant is smaller then. It will be easier to find them) Don't get a false sense of security. Squash Bugs may rear their ugly heads again. (educate the neighbors about cleaning up debris) So keep vigilant watch. I go out and check the plants at least once a week. And right now, more often.

Squash bugs love to hide on the bottom leaves or at the base of the plants. That is where is it nice and cool in the heat of the summer. They come out in the morning and evening. They hate water, so I set my watering wand to a light spray and wet down the plant. The adults will climb for higher ground. We plucked 15 off of one plant, one evening. It gives me a sick sense of happiness to pull the jerks off of my plant and toss them into their bleachy death. But the very easiest way to tell if you have squash bugs is to check the lower leaves for eggs. If you have eggs, you have adults. Don't make me explain the birds and the bee's. Or in this case the bugs and the bee's.

Idea's on killing the beasts-

I am going to give to so practical tips on how to control these nasty little buggers. But I warn you, it does not happen overnight. In the end, if you love your summer squash. You will want to take the time to get rid of these nasty bugs.

To start- you must clean up all of your garden debris. It is easier to start with no bugs, than to begin with the adults that survived the winter. These bugs love to hid under old boards, tarps, piles of leaves and garbage. Anything that they can crawl under and enjoy a sheltered winter. So clean your yard at the end of the season.

For me, this is a bit impossible. I have a huge field behind my property and there are just to many hiding spots. So I pretty much can ensure that I will spend the spring, summer and fall fighting squashies. That is what my daughter un-affectionately calls them. And I call her the Squash-bug-anator!

Maintain healthy plants. Water regularly. Make sure to fertilize. Squash bugs may injure a healthy plant, but healthy plants will bounce back.

Remove your plant debris. Any dead leaves and fruit. Pluck them off and trash them.

When you know you gott'em-

Try putting a board next to each plant. I have heard that the bugs crawl under the board during the night. Then rise early, lift your board and place each nasty bug into your bleach. I have not tried this, but I know several who have. They swear by it.

I am not a fan of chemicals like seven. I worry about something that me or my family may ingest. But I have used seven in desperate times. So no judgement here. I do use insecticidal soap. It is organic and safe. It will kill nymphs and young squash bugs, if it touches them. But it does nothing to the adults. Whatever you use, you will need to get it on the underside of the leaves. You wont do much good only treating the tops of the leaves. The bugs don't hang out much there.

My sister swears by chickens. Yup Chickens. If you got the space, she claims that her chickens wander the garden. Chewing up the wandering bugs. This is her first year with chickens, and first year of no squash bugs.

I apologize for jumping around a bit. This is a difficult subject to blog about. It makes my skin crawl. But I love all of the benefits that my family gets from a bumper crop of summer squash. If you have any other questions feel free to comment me. I would love to hear your idea's and what has worked for you. Also, tell me if you actually have squash bugs. Happy squash bug hunting.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spirea, you gotta have some.

Its been a week! Did you miss me? I'm not sure anyone is listening to me ramble on about gardening. (or reading as it were) Today I am blogging about Spirea. Over the last week I have designed 3 yards and at least one bed. I still have one to do! Overwhelmingly I have found that everyone is in love with Spirea. Here are some reason's why...

Most Spirea are easy to grow. Enough said? Well, there is more. Spireas are adaptable, fast-growing, and easy to maintain. Hold on, there is even more... Spireas even have a huge range of foliage and bloom colors. Read on-

Plant the spring-blooming bridal wreath type Spirea in partial shade. Summer-blooming spireas produce the most flowers and best color in full sun. But they do well in part shade as well. All spireas prefer moist, but well-drained soil.
The summer-blooming spireas bloom on new growth. I would prune them in late winter or early spring before the shrub gets leaves. If you deadhead spent flowers during the summer it will not only prevents the formation of seed, but will encourage repeat bloom later in the season. These summer spireas are drought tolerant after established.

Here are my favorite varieties-

Anthony Waterer- This Spireas leaves emerge as bronze/red and mature to deep blue-green as, pink flowers appear in early summer. It typically grows 3–4 feet tall and 4–6 feet wide. Blue Mist-This is a very fast growing shrub that has blue to purple flowers during the last half of the summer & in the early fall. Promote more flowering, by cutting the shrub almost to the ground in late February or early March. Blue Mist Spirea needs full sun and lots of heat. It gets 4' high & 4 feet wide. This is a great picture, but I think it over emphsizes the blue color. Dont base your purchase on that...Goldflame- I love this spirea for its distinctive gold leaves. The new leaves of this Spirea emerge a copper red before maturing to chartreuse, & it gets dark pink flowers. (bonus) In fall, the leaves become a warm bronze color. This spirea is a fun way to add color to your miserable hot sun garden, without having a flower... Little Princess- has pale pink flowers on 2- to 3-foot tall plants. Small but striking, I think Little Princess holds its shape very well.. Magic Carpet- A fairly low growing spirea. Has an intense lime green color to the foliage in the spring. Love the orange/red new growth, & very nice bright pink flowers during bloom. generally under 3 feet Snowmound- grows 3–5 feet tall Showy flowering shrub with dark blue/green leaves. Then it is contrasted by masses of white flowers in late May. This Spirea is one of the more prolific bloomers of all spireas. Vanhoutee or Bridal Wreath- This is probably my most favorite Spirea of the bunch. No picture can do it justice. If you have a shady spot, this Spirea is for you. The white flowers are almost overwhelming in the spring. I love the leaf & look of the shrub when it is not in bloom to. But this is also the biggest Spirea. It can get 6 to 10 feet tall, and just as wide! So you may want to plan for a big shrub, or pull out your nippers... Bridal wreath blooms on old wood (that really is cool I must say) only prune this shrub to keep a good shape and size. Prune soon after all the plants’ flowers fade. There are few maintenance requirements for spirea. Fertilizing in early November will help encourage growth and pruning dead and broken branches in early spring keeps the shrub neat. Lastly, Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

I am sure you can find a Spirea for your garden. Happy Planting!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Indiana State Tree, my favorite!

This is honestly my very most favoritest plant, it just happens to be a tree. I am wild about tree's anyway, but this one "tops" my list. Why? Easy to grow! Gets really big! Grows fast! Has a flower! Has the coolest leaf ever of any tree! It just has a cool name! (note that the exclamation points are supposed to make each point sound really Cool!)
liriodendron tulipifera- another big long word that means something to someone. In the real world this tree is called Tulip Tree! No wonder I love it, my second favorite plant is a bulb. The Tulip. I can be bought with pink starburst and tulips! Just for future reference.
The Tulip tree is also called, Tulip Magnolia, Tulip Poplar, Yellow Poplar, & Whitewood Tree. The large deciduous tree can easily reach 70 to 90 feet tall. Full grown tree's of 150 feet are common! How is that for a shade tree? The shape of this tree is ovate to pyramidal when young but they can get irregular when they get older. Adding to the charm. The trunks are massive when full grown, and can be branch less for decent distance up. This tree is bright green and has a flower in the spring. The flower has a pleasant scent, but isn't really anything special. Tulip Tree it gets its name from the tulip shaped leaves. Now that is really cool!
This tree likes moist, well drained soil. But tulip trees will do great in most soil types. It can grow fast if given the room to grow, plenty of water and has all the soil requirements it likes. But like most tree's it hates to be left in standing water. It likes slightly acidic soil, but that isn't required. This tree likes to be watered, and hates dry never watered area's. I wouldn't consider this an extremely drought tolerant tree. I would give it a Medium rating for drought. But like most tree's after it is established it does not need nearly as much water. Tulip tree will search for ground water, if you water deeply. And guess what, surface roots usually are not a problem. Bonus!

If you have a big spot, and you need some shade. I think you will really like the Tulip Tree.


Grow some herbs! You will love it. And most herbs are perennials! How can you go wrong?
Here are the Top Ten Culinary Herbs used in America-









Here are just a few "need to knows" about these top 10 herbs.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)- There are dozens of types of basil to choose from. But bummer, this herb is an annual! If you start this indoors, do not transplant until you know there will be NO FROST. Pinch off the growing flower buds to prolong a plants life.
Dill (Anethum graveolens)- This herb is also considered an annual. But whenever I plant it, it always grows back. (just let it get big, it will re-seed itselfs) Many consider this a weed, so don't waist your money purchasing transplants. Buy the seeds. Honestly Dill does not do well being transplanting anyway. Dill grows fast, and some varieties can get 3 feet tall.
Chives (Allium scheonoprasum)- can you say that? This plant will need to be divided every 2 to 3 year to thrive. I give a delicate onion flavor often put over baked potatoes. This herb will transplant well and grow well from seed.
Mint (Mentha spp. & cultivars)- This is an INCREDIBLY vigorous herb. It comes in tons of different flavors, some with even a fruity flavor! My suggestion is to grow this in a pot, honestly this little monster will take over a flower bed quickly. If you cut back the plant after flowering it will stimulate more growth.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)- This herb is a woody, ever green shrub! It can cascade or be upright. It is extremely hardy, if you grow it in a pot you can bring it indoors for Rosemary all year. You can easily transplant Rosemary, grow from seed or from cuttings.
Oregano (Origanum)- Can you have Italian food without Oregano? This is a very dependable perennial. Bushing & spreading this plant could get up to 2 feet tall. Cut this Herb back to almost the ground in early summer to promote new healthy growth.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)- Use this herb dried for a much more mellow flavor, than if you use it fresh. This can be a evergreen in mild winters. I say only plant this herb from a transplant you purchase from the nursery.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)- Cilantro leaves are best tasting when they are young. Cilantro does not transplant well, I say sew from seed. This herb will take a little shade, and grows best in cool weather.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)- You can grow parsley with either curly or flat leaves. Parsley is a Bi-Annual. If you plant from seed, I would soak the seeds overnight in warm water. Easier still, just purchase the transplants from the Nursery.
Thyme (Thyme spp.)- Lots of options with Thyme. This fun and full of flavor herb is very adaptable. Grown in the ground or in a pot, you will be pleased. Whether its the flavor or the flower you will love Thyme.
Whether all you plant is one herb, or you start an entire herb garden. I hope that you will get excited about the fun prospects herbs have. Not just in a herb garden, but in pots or intermingled with your flower beds. The possibilities are endless. And for those fighting Bambi in their gardens. It has been said that herbs make Bambi run. Hasn't worked for me, but I just may have very hungry deer! Go figure.
Happy Planting