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In This Issue
~ The Great Divide ~ Here Come The Hummers ~ Zoysia Zzz's
~ Keep Strawberries Covered ~ Scat Cat ~ This Week's Photos
~ Proper Pruning ~ Stopping The Topping ~ Inspiration
 
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~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
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This Week's Photos

~ March 26, 2008 ~

My Time Of Year...
Spring is here and the sights and sounds are everywhere. Daffodils are in bloom. Forsythia shrubs are about to burst open, greeting us with there bright yellow blooms. The grass is the color of Kelly green. The air smells springier. Can you hear it in my words? I want to tell everyone I know that I could not be happier that my time of year is here. My hibernation period is over. Out to the garden my friends, that is where you will find me.

We spent spring break in Phoenix enjoying the warm, dry temperatures. It was wonderful. There were roses, snapdragons and geraniums in full bloom. The color was magnificent. We took in a Royals game, a Phoenix Suns basketball game and played a little tennis and golf. We also lazed around the pool and sneaked in an occasional nap. It was exactly what we needed. Kevin and I had both been sick and to feel the sun on our faces made us feel somewhat better. It didn't rid us of our illness but it did help our attitude. It is amazing how the sun can do that to a person. A little Vitamin D was just what the doctor ordered. We are slowly regaining our strength and just in time. After all there is work to be done!

~ Shelly   

The Great Divide...
Dividing perennials is important for the garden and the soul.  The garden benefits because many perennials become overcrowded and need to be thinned out once in a while.  The gardener's soul benefits because it provides an opportunity to share our garden treasures with other gardeners who will go on to expand their beauty.  

Don't divide the wrong plants!  Before you start take a look at our handy guide When to Divide Perennials in our Features section.

Keep 'Em Covered...
Gardeners anxious to get their yard and garden chores done in spring may be tempted to remove the mulch from their strawberry beds in March or early April.  A portion of the strawberry crop may be lost however if the mulch is removed too early in the spring.  Removal of the mulch plus several days of warm weather may encourage the plants to bloom before the danger of frost or freezing temperatures is past.  Temperatures of 32F or lower may severely damage or destroy open flowers.  Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a late spring frost can drastically reduce yields. 

To reduce the chances of frost or freeze damage leave the mulch on until the plants show signs of growth.  Periodically examine the plants under the mulch during periods of warm weather in the spring.  Remove the mulch from the strawberry plants when about 25% of the plants are showing new growth (it will be white or yellow in color).  Rake the mulch to the center aisles between rows.  If there is a threat of a frost later in the season during bloom, the mulch can be lightly raked back over the plants.

Proper Pruning...
Part of your spring clean-up may include some tree pruning.  Take your time and do it right.  In particular don't leave stubs behind when pruning.  Stubs usually die and become entry points for decay fungus.  Instead cut just outside the branch collar, the slightly thickened area at the base of the branch.  As an extra precaution remember that pruning should never be done in damp or wet weather when the fungal spores and bacteria that infect plants through fresh wounds spread easily.

Here Come The Hummers...
Hummingbirds will be in our area from mid-April through October.  Invite these wonderful birds into your garden with a hummingbird feeder and the plants they love:

Trumpet Vine Catalpa Coralberry
Weigela Nicotiana Petunia
Salvia Hollyhock Columbine
Delphinium Foxglove Gladiolus
Daylily Hibiscus Liatris
Tiger Lily Penstemon Phlox
Sweet William Snap Dragon Larkspur

Scat Cat...
So, your neighbor's cat has decided that your garden is its designated litter box?  Here are some tips that might actually work to keep that feline from soiling your garden:

  • Try planting rue.  This attractive blue-green herb has a scent that most cats find disagreeable.
  • Modify the cat's behavior.  Spray water at the cat when it comes into the garden.  If the cat associates an unpleasant shower with your garden it will likely find another place to hang out.
  • Plant a garden just for the cat.  By creating a small space that the cat enjoys you may be able to keep it away from the rest of your plantings.  Try catnip, catmint, cat thyme, and valerian.

Stopping The Topping...
Has that tree in the front yard gotten a little too big?  If so you need to resist the urge to "top it".  Topping, also known as heading or stubbing, is a damaging pruning practice that seriously damages the long-term health of a tree.  According to the National Arboretum many homeowners top their trees because of a misconception that large trees are hazardous and that storm debris will be reduced with a reduction in size.  In fact, topped trees produce large quantities of water sprouts - shoots that are weakly attached and are easily broken off during storms - to replace the leaves and branches that were lost, thereby increasing storm debris.

Zoysia Zzz's...
If you have a zoysia lawn it is still dormant and you should not be applying any fertilizer to it.  Any fertilizer added now will just feed the weeds and they're overfed as it is.  Be patient.  You should be able to fertilize your zoysia lawn in about six weeks.

Finally...
"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."

~ John Muir

 

 


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