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April 26, 2006

Close Call?
It was a close call last night. They called for temperatures to drop to 38
˚ but that did not keep the e-mails and calls from coming in. Oddly enough, last year at this very same time we did have a frost and we did not send out a frost alert. I was wrong last year but not this year. So for now I am batting .500. It seems that there always has to be one last scare. Just enough to make you wonder whether or not you should cover the annuals you have already planted. I have purchased many annuals but have not had an opportunity to get them planted. Left them out last night and everything looks fine. The extended lows look safe so maybe that was it. No more wondering whether Jack Frost will make one last appearance. My suggestion - plant on!

Well you are not going to believe it. After 11 years we are selling our house. I am excited about our new house and am sad about the fond memories we are leaving behind. We have so enjoyed this house. Kevin, Morgan and I were the first three to live here. Then Noah and Jake were born and oddly enough this once big house is starting to seem small. Another chapter in our lives. I am looking forward to planning where my next great gardening spaces are going to be. This move is our last (I think) so for the next 20 or so years I have quite a bit of time to create. I really am looking forward to working and creating something as beautiful as I have created here.

~ Shelly  

Oh Say Can You Sow...
Savvygardeners all across the metro will be out this weekend buying bedding plants, vegetable seedlings, and all manner of transplants for the garden.  Keep in mind that some plants actually prefer to have their seeds sown directly in the garden.

  • Among vegetables these include: beans, beets, carrots, celery, peas, squash, and turnips.
  • Among flowers: alyssum, aster, bachelor's button, cosmos, marigold, morning glory, sunflower, sweet pea, and zinnia.

Buy the seeds, read the directions, watch them grow!

The Division Decision...
Division is a necessary chore in maintaining most perennials.  A few plants never like to be disturbed, and should not be moved or divided; Aconitum, Baptisia, Dictamnus, Eryngium, Helleborus, Limonium, and Papaver are good examples.  Most others will need division every three to four years or so.  You'll know it's time to divide when a dead center forms in the crown area with a ring of plants around it; blooms are fewer and smaller; or growth simply appears crowded. 

A general rule is to divide the plant in the non-bloom season.  Midsummer bloomers should be divided in spring when plant growth is two to three inches in height.  Fall bloomers are divided in late August or early September when plants are semi-dormant and temperatures are showing a cooling trend. 

Use a spade to dig the clump and cut off divisions.  If you don't want to divide an entire clump, divisions can be cut from the edge of a clump using a spade and trowel.  Some plants have tough, thick root systems that are a challenge to divide.  Hosta, Hemerocallis, and Astilbe fall in this category so don't be discouraged if you find the going a little tough.

Source

Hydrangea Helper...
Hydrangeas are wonderful.  Especially when they bloom.  You're not alone if you are sometimes (or often) frustrated by otherwise beautiful and healthy-looking hydrangeas that just won't bloom.  There are reasons for this of course.  Here are the likely ones:

  • Improper Pruning
    Some bloom on old wood, some on new season's growth.  For example, the popular 'Annabelle' varieties bloom on new growth and are consequently best cut back hard in the early spring.  By contrast, the Bigleaf hydrangea will grow in Kansas City but will not usually flower because the flowers develop on old (last season's growth) wood.  Since flower buds lack the cold hardiness of the foliage buds, they are often killed by our cold winters.
  • Too Much Shade
    While they will do all right in partial shade or full sunlight, too much shade could keep them from flowering
  • Too Much Nitrogen
    Fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers will limit blooms.  Try using a fertilizer with less nitrogen "N" and more Phosphorous "P".    

Source

 


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Showers For Flowers...
April took a long time to live up to it's traditional billing and has finally graced us with much needed showers.  Hopefully we will continue to get the inch of rain per week that our gardens need.  Unfortunately most years bring us long periods of dry, hot weather requiring diligent watering to keep our flowers looking their best.

If staying on top of watering isn't your idea of a good time you can always choose your flowers accordingly.  A drought-tolerant flower garden should include the following:

Annuals

Burning Bush, Kochia Gazania, Gazania
Creeping Zinnia, Sanvitalia Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia
Dusty Miller, Senecio Rose Moss, Portulaca
Four O'Clock, Mirabilis Salvia, Salvia farinacea

Perennials

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia Iris, Iris
Blanket Flower, Gaillardia Sage, Salvia
Butterfly Flower, Asclepias Sedum
Gayfeather, Liatris Tickseed, Coreopsis

For a more complete list of drought-tolerant flowers that grow well in the Kansas City area click here.

 

It's Raining Worms!
If you've been outside and noticed small worms falling from the sky you're not alone. All over the metro, worms are falling from oak trees. These worms are actually the larvae of a gall midge. The larvae came from eggs that adult midges laid on the flower clusters of pin oak in early spring. Newly hatched larvae feed on the flower clusters and then move to the leaves as they unfurl. Eventually, the larvae drop to the ground in order to pupate. Adults emerge early the next spring to start the cycle all over again. The midges apparently cause no damage.

Source

National Arbor Day...
Looking for a good excuse to plant a tree? How about in celebration of Arbor Day?  That's right, April 28th is National Arbor Day.
Visit the National Arbor Day website for more information about this holiday and planting trees.

More Growin', More Mowin'...
Most of us have fallen into the habit of mowing the lawn every week.  This time of year however the grass is growing so fast that you probably need to mow it a bit more often.  Remember that you don't want to cut off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass in any single mowing.  In our yard that means mowing twice per week.  It won't last long and the extra investment in time will yield a healthier more durable lawn when the summer heat sets in.

Finally...
"Scents bring memories, and man memories bring nostalgic pleasure. We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden."

~ Thalassa Cruso

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