~ January 27, 2010 ~
It sure has been nice to see the sun! Sam Parker and I took an extra long walk yesterday
and we both enjoyed being outside. I was dressed for our excursion in layers, protecting
myself from the biting, northerly wind. Sam on the other hand didn't seem to care about
the cold. Actually he prefers it. It seems to invigorate him. Since the snow has melted
our walks have turned into a daily adventure. If you own a beagle you know what I mean.
So many smells, so little time and on top of that, stuck on a leash. Poor guy :-) If you
see us out and about, I'm the one being walked by the dog.
So, got any daffodils coming up? Sounds crazy doesn't it? Keep your eyes open. When out
walking yesterday I saw many beds with bulbs starting to peak their heads out of the ground.
How could that be you ask? Well, snow is a great insulator and since it was on the ground
for so long it was helping to protect many plants. Now that the big thaw has hit, mixed
with a few sunny days, the stirring has begun. It is way too early for daffodils and other
bulbs but Mother Nature has her own agenda. Make sure that all of your beds are protected
with some type of mulch. Mulch will help keep the ground at a constant temperature protecting
the plants buried beneath. So if you notice your plants coming alive give them some extra
protection. It should help to slow them down.
Savvy Seed Starting...
It's getting to be seed starting time around here. Depending on how
adventurous you are there are seeds to start indoors now and many,
many more to start in the weeks to come. Need some help getting started?
We've got two very handy (and popular) articles that you might enjoy:
Valentine's Day Looks Rosey...
Valentine's Day is fast approaching. If you are giving or getting potted
miniature roses we have some tips to keep them looking great.
Start by providing the plant with as much sun as you possibly can.
- Keep it cool. Avoid temperatures above 75°F and never place your rose near a heat
- Keep the humidity high by placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water.
- Remove faded blossoms and turn the plant frequently to counteract its
tendency to reach for sunlight.
- Monitor it carefully for spider mites and discourage mite infestation by
giving your rose a shower in the bathtub every two weeks.
- When warmer weather arrives in April, you can plant your valentine gift
in a sunny position in your garden or move it to a larger container to add color
to a corner of your deck or patio.
Thank Heaven For Houseplants...
This time of year many Savvygardeners turn their attention to houseplants.
It's not the same as gardening outside during the other three seasons but
it's gardening nonetheless. Repeated requests for information on houseplant
care (cleaning, fertilizing, containers, and light requirements) have prompted
us to post an informative article on
Houseplant Care. Find it in our
With the rise of deer populations, damage to landscapes has increased because of
browsing. However, deer have preferences and will avoid some plant species if more
desirable food is available. K-State Extension has given us this short list of plants
deer normally do not bother. Remember that feeding habits can shift due to changes
in food supply. Also, some deer may have different preferences than most of the group.
- Trees: Blue Spruce and Russian Olive
- Shrubs: Barberry, Boxwood, Redosier Dogwood, Yew, Russian
Olive, Rose of Sharon, European Privet
- Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs: Yarrow, Ageratum, Columbine,
Snapdragon, Lily of the Valley, Purple Cornflower, Daylily,
Lavender, Sweet Alyssum, Daffodil, Russian Sage, Marigold,
Lamb's Ears, Thyme, and Yucca.
Groundhog Day Explained...
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is
also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time
with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. It is on this day
that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his
shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather
and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy (and, therefore, shadowless) he takes
it as a sign of spring and stays above ground. The groundhog tradition stems from
similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in
Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute
them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that
day was important. According to an old English song:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
Forcing The Issue...
One of the great winter pleasures is forcing the stems of certain woody plants into
bloom for indoor display. Three of the easiest are forsythia, pussywillow and
flowering quince. These plants have now gone through enough cold weather to satisfy
their chilling requirement and should bloom if given the right conditions.
Choose a day that is above freezing for collecting branches for blooming. Cut the stems,
keeping the stem length to 3 feet or less and place them in a bucket of water. Once you
have all the branches you want, bring them into the house and soak them in warm water
for several hours to ensure that the stems and buds are fully hydrated (a bathtub works
well for this). Next, place them in a container that has a warm preservative solution and
place them in an environment with high humidity and plenty of light. Floral preservatives
accomplish two functions; they prevent bacterial growth in your water and provide nutrients
and energy for the life processes of the plants.
Normally, forsythia will take about 9 days to flower, quince will require between 12 to 20,
and pussywillow needs from 5 to 15 days. The time required will vary depending on your indoor
conditions and how late in the winter the branches were collected with less time being required
for later collections. Most woody plants will remain in flower for about a week before the blooms
start to fade.
Bag Those Worms!
Winter is a great time to reduce the bagworm population, decreasing damage next summer. Eggs of the
bagworm moth survive the winter in bags left on the tree. These bags, which are 1 to 3 inches long
and hang from the branches, are easy to spot, especially on deciduous trees including bald cypress.
Check your evergreen conifers as well. Pick off the bags and throw them away. Each bag contains 500
to 1000 eggs, so removing even a few can significantly lessen the injury next year.
"All the year round she kept racks full of plants in pots
standing on green-painted wooden steps. There were rare
geraniums, dwarf rose bushes, spireas with misty white and
pink plumes, a few "succulents," hairy and squat as crabs,
and murderous cacti. "