This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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April 18, 2007


After The Freeze...
Patience, a virtue for some but not for me. In the 44 years I have been on this earth patience has never been one of my strong suits. I hate waiting. Just like I hate waiting now. But what else is there to do? We have to wait and be patient to see what is going to happen to all of our plants that were burnt by the freeze. I have cut most of the dead foliage (it is black) away from my hostas. I am hoping (never having been through something like this before) that Mother Nature will surprise me with new fresh shoots from the original stem. So for now waiting it is, much to my dismay.
Check out our video on this subject.

We are getting ready to do a major landscape renovation. Cole Welch with Tectonic, Kevin and myself have worked and re-worked some plans and I think we've got it! We will be showing before, during and after pictures. We will dedicate a section on our website which will show you every step we take to put together what we hope is an amazing garden. You will be able to view our plans, see plant choices made and I why we made those particular choices. I am really looking forward to the project and I hope that you are too. Keep reading so once we begin the project you will be one of the first to know. Stay tuned!

~ Shelly  

Bulb Boosters...
This last round of warm weather seems to have accelerated most of the area's flowering spring bulbs. Our daffodils and tulips took a bow over the weekend and, like most others in Kansas City, won't be seen again until next spring.  If you want to get the most out of them next spring you need to help them a little right now.

Bulbs use their foliage to acquire and transport nutrients necessary for future growth.  If you cut or remove the foliage too early you will starve the bulb and consequently reduce its chances for strong growth next spring.  Cut the stems back as you would if you were cutting them for a vase.  Leave the foliage alone until it has withered on its own.  Only then should you clear it from the garden.

Growing Groundcovers...
You can trim pachysandra and other low groundcovers by mowing them with your lawnmower (video).  Set the mowing height at around three to four inches. This will thicken the groundcover and help prevent weeds. Be sure to remove the clippings by gently raking. Boston ivy, English ivy, purple winter creeper, and cranberry cotoneaster all benefit from springtime trimming.


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A Clean Break...
When transplanting flowers and veggies to the garden make sure you break off the rims of your peat pots just below ground level.  Any portion of the peat pot sticking up above the soil surface will wick away moisture and deprive your plants of much needed water.  That would be a shame considering how hard you worked getting them this far!

Clematis Wilt...
The most serious disease of clematis is commonly called clematis wilt - a stem rot/leaf spot disease caused by the fungus, Ascochyta clematidina, which mainly affects large‑flowered clematis hybrids. The symptoms are very defining and include sudden stem collapse, often just as the flower buds are about to open. Within just a few days the stems and its leaves turn black. Leaf veins often develop a purple coloration. One or more stems of the diseased plant may be affected or all aboveground parts of the plant can be killed down to just below the soil level.

Often, an affected plant will recover after a year or two.  Of course, prevention is the best medicine.  Here's how:

  1. Choose a favorable planting site with 6 or more hours of sun daily, rich, well‑drained soil with pH about 7.0, and be relatively open to ensure good air circulation.
  2. Select the most resistant plants. Species clematis and/or small‑flowered hybrids seem to be more resistant than large-flowered forms.
  3. Keep the clematis area free of plant debris on a year‑round basis. Take special care to avoid injury to stem and roots since the wilt fungus requires a wound to begin its deadly work.
  4. Avoid damaging the roots. Do not cultivate the soil around clematis plants and maintain good mulch.
  5. Give good culture. Maintain good growing conditions to keep all clematis plants as stress‑free as possible.
  6. In the event that plants become infected, cut diseased stems just below ground level and destroy them. Spray any remaining, healthy parts of the plant and surrounding soil with a protective fungicide such as myclobutanil.


Just Like Starting Over...
This time of year we are asked by many gardeners why their forsythia or lilacs look so bad.  Many claim that some of their flowering branches look great while other branches of the same plant have virtually no flowers at all.  This is actually a very common problem with forsythia, lilacs and other flowering shrubs.  Basically they have become too "woody" and need rejuvenation.  Simply cut the tired branches to a point just above ground level.  Next year's growth will include many more flowers.

To stay on top of this process Savvygardeners will rejuvenate one-third of the flowering shrub every year.  That way none of the branches are ever any older than three years.


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Lawn Mowing Safety...
Gas-powered lawn mowers may be the most dangerous tool regularly used around the home. They create hot exhaust fumes. Their blades spin 2,000 to 4,000 times per minute and can turn small toys and garden debris into deadly missiles. According to Kansas State University Research and Extension, U.S. safety experts estimate lawn mower accidents severely injure 75,000 people every year. The minor accidents could easily number in the millions.

Here are two very good safety tips to follow:

  • Before mowing, search the yard - every time. Look for small objects that may be hidden from obvious view. Most lawn mower blades run at 100 to 200 miles per hour. So, if one hits a rock, wire, acorn or stick, that object can become deadly: both airborne and fast as the wink of an eye.
  • Do not mow when anyone else is in the vicinity of the mower itself and any projectiles it may create.

More lawn mower safety tips can be found here...

Dealing With Dandelions...
We're getting lots of e-mail asking about weeds (especially dandelions) in lawns. Keep in mind two things:

  1. Dense healthy turf is the most effective weed control. Proper mowing, fertilization, and irrigation will go a long way in controlling weeds.
  2. Fall is the best time to control weeds.

That being said, you can spot-apply broad spectrum herbicides to lawn weeds. Just be careful where you spray. Drifting herbicides are going to damage or kill the plants they touch.


"April's rare capricious loveliness."

~ Julia Dorr

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