September 26, 2007
Once again we got lucky and it rained yesterday. We were
awakened early Tuesday morning by the deep roars of thunder and
the pounding of rain. After all was said and done, some areas in
and around Kansas City received as much as 2 inches. Gotta'
love a good old fashion rain. It gives the plants that something
extra that plan ole water from the tap does not. I think rain is
magical. It transforms plants, trees, flowers and anything that
is lucky enough to get a taste. The low fall sun looks beautiful
shining on everything it touches. Such a lovely time of the
year. The deep hues of fall are coming to life.
We are presently
harvesting acorns by the millions. I am not joking.
Those of you with oak
trees know that I speak the truth. They are going to be the
death of me. Being the fussy gardener
that I am, I feel as if each
acorn needs to be picked up.
Seriously. My neighbor stopped by the other day and asked, "What
are you doing? Are you picking up
acorns?" I looked up a bit sheepishly and replied, "Yep, can't
stand them and I have to get rid of them." She was kind and we
both laughed about my obsessive compulsive disorder. I tend to
view it as therapy which is good when you think about it. It
saves me a trip to the doctor's
Totally Tulips (Part 4)...
It's a sad and sometimes frustrating fact that hybridized tulips
"burn-out" every few years or so. You might be surprised to know
that species tulips are not prone to burn-out and will
return to the garden every spring for many years. Now don't be
mistaken, species tulips are different than hybrids. They
perform best in rock garden-like locations, require full sun, and
well-drained, almost gravelly soils that drain quickly between
tulips are smaller in size than their hybrid relatives. Most
grow just 4 to 12 inches in height and do not like the
competition of other plants around them. Species tulips spread
by self sown seeds or stolons. Many have foliage which is
mottled or gray to blue green in color. They also offer more in
the way of bloom. Many have multiple blooms per stem, some have
up to seven!
Interested? Some species to try include:
Tulipa batalinii has soft yellow, fragrant flowers
appearing in early spring. It grows just 5 inches tall.
Tulipa clusiana grows 10 to 12 inches tall and blooms in
early spring. The flowers have a white interior with a crimson
central star and a pink exterior. It naturalizes very well.
Tulipa greigii comes in pink, yellow, orange, red, buff,
cream, and apricot. It grows 8 to 12 inches tall and blooms in
mid-spring. The blossoms are large - 4 to 5 inches when fully
Tulipa kaufmanniana grows 6 to 8 inches tall and is
available in a wide variety of colors. It blooms in early
Tulipa linifolia grows 4 to 6 inches tall with brilliant
Tulipa pulchella is a tiny plant growing 3 to 5 inches
tall. It has violet purple fragrant flowers in early spring.
Tulipa saxatillis naturalizes readily. The flowers,
lavender-pink with a yellow base, appear mid-spring. Plants
grow 6 to 8 inches tall.
Tulipa sylvestris grows 10 to 12 inches tall with fragrant
yellow flowers. Flowers occur 3 to 7 per stem.
Tulipa tarda flowers are yellow with white tips. Plants
grow 4 to 6 inches tall. This tulip is easy to grow!
Tulipa turkestanica has cream colored flowers occurring 3
to 5 per stem. Flowers appear in early spring. Plants grow 5
to 8 inches tall.
species tulips listed above are hardy in zones 4 through 7 with
the exception of Tulipa pulchella and Tulipa turkestanica which
are hardy in zones 5 to 8. All should do fine in the greater
Kansas City area.
preparing the site, amend the area several inches wider and
deeper than the bulbs will occupy with sand or gravel. Planting
on a gentle slope or in a raised bed assures good drainage.
Plant the bulbs 5 to 8 inches deep. Species tulips are also
suitable for planting in containers.
One problem with fall is that it makes us
forgetful. Even Savvygardeners sometimes cut back on watering
too much this time of year. Your perennials, trees, shrubs, and
lawn need that moisture - not like they did in mid-summer but
about an inch a week or so. Watering now and through November
helps ensure your plants have a healthy root structure going into
our often harsh winters.
That Came In From The Cold...
Once chilly overnight temperatures
become the norm you will need to bring your
winter houseplants back inside. When
you do, make sure to check them for pests. Simply rinsing
the plants' leaves, and soaking the pots in water for 15 to 20
minutes will drown most soil-dwelling pests. Also, clean the
windows where plants will be placed. It can dramatically
increase available sunlight and make for a much healthier plant!
Tidy Up Around
No one likes worms and other pests in their fruit trees. A
simple clean up now can dramatically reduce the number of pests
that return next year. Just pick up and destroy any fallen
fruit, branches, and leaves. Worms and other pests feed on this
fruit and debris, overwinter in the soil, and emerge in the
spring to lay eggs and start the cycle all over again.
Garlic Lovers Get Ready!
Garlic needs to be in the ground at least one month before
the soil freezes so now through mid-October is the ideal time for
planting. Start by planting the small cloves that are divisions
of the large bulb. The larger the clove, the larger the size of
the mature bulb at harvest. Do not divide the bulb until
immediately before planting. Although some people have had good
luck planting the garlic from the grocery store, seedstock from a
nursery or via mail-order is recommended.
needs a full-sun site with loose soil rich in organic matter.
Adding compost to the bed is usually a good idea. Plant the
cloves (with their pointy sides up) three to five inches apart at
a depth of two to three inches. Add a light layer of mulch.
Allow 18 to 30 inches between rows or plant five inches apart in
all directions if you're using raised beds. Next spring the
garlic will push through the soil and mulch. We'll wait until
then to complete the directions through harvest.
Chilly Change In The Air...
This time of year it's not unusual for overnight temperatures to
dip into the 40's. Brrr! There's no frost on the horizon yet
but keep in mind that our first frost is due in
mid-October. Remember that Mother Nature has her own agenda and
doesn't have much time for statistics and averages. Surprise
early frosts can be a problem if you're not prepared.
of you new to Savvygardener.com we hope you will enjoy our
timely frost alerts. We send these e-mail alerts to all
subscribers when we believe an untimely frost is likely.
Hopefully we are still several weeks from our first frosty
scare. Cross your fingers!
Oh Say Can You
It's not too late to overseed your lawn -
but it's getting close. You should be able to successfully
overseed for the next week to 10 days. After that your success
will depend on how quickly winter arrives. Two quick tips to
increase your success:
your new turf well watered through the rest of fall.
Read our very popular
Overseeding A Lawn.
thing about seeding and overseeding is the low cost and high
return. Grass seed is cheap. If your seeding is successful you
wind up with a priceless lawn next spring. If it's not 100%
successful you haven't lost much.
"The first stop of
my morning inspection tour is the spider who lives in the
cucumber cage. His web is in the center, among the climbing
vines, supported by long, stout silken threads like guy wires.
The web would be almost invisible among the leaves were it not
for pinpoints of dew that glisten in the morning sun. I have to
be careful when gathering cucumbers not to disturb the spider or
damage his web."