Mar 30

Vining Plants in the Landscape

Planting vines in the landscape is an excellent way to enhance an area that’s in desperate need of vertical appeal, especially if there are space constraints. As long as you provide a support system, vines can turn an outdoor area into a wonderful living space. I often hear customers say they like their neighbors but are in need of more privacy, what are their options? One option is to plant one or more vines, definitely a great way to add privacy and in some situations block unsightly views. As a matter of fact, we took a call from someone last week who was trying to cover a wall covered with graffiti.

The most important thing necessary when planting vines is providing proper support. Wisteria will need a structure that’s able to support and hold weight once it reaches its full growth potential. Procter & Gamble’s courtyard downtown is a great example of how large wisteria can become and the type of support system needed to accommodate it at maturity.

One of my favorites especially when it’s in bloom is the clematis. Some consider the clematis to be the Queen of all vining plants. So if you have a spot in the garden that calls for a prolific bloomer capable of going vertical, then a clematis may be a perfect match. Clematis are often seen climbing their way up a trellis, meandering around a lamp post or weaving its way up and around and archway or arbor.

Another vining plant which I think deserves merit is the climbing hydrangea. In order to get the bloom production that’s she capable of providing, it will need some sun, at least 4 to 6 hours daily and preferably the morning sun up until around 1 or 2

o’clock then some afternoon shade. Its deep green foliage is very attractive and will be highlighted even more with its attractive white blooms. In addition, the climbing hydrangea’s exfoliating bark provides seasonal interest as well.

For vibrant color, consider the trumpet honeysuckle. One that I highly recommend is Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’. It prefers average, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. For this plant, more sun means more flowers. Once established, it’s extremely tolerant of drought and dry soils. Not only will you enjoy the blooms, hummingbirds love them too!

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House as we talk more about vining plants and the value they bring to the landscape.

Mar 24

Japanese Maple Trees

Who doesn’t love and respect the beauty of the Japanese maple. They are cherished by many homeowners because of their ever changing beauty throughout the growing season. From their brilliant crimson growth in the spring until they put on their autumn show with golden-oranges and reds, you will love this maple.

There are basically two types of Japanese maples. The first type is referred to as Dissectum, also known as weeping or lace leaf. The other type is called Palmatum, also known to be an upright type of tree.

The lace leaf varieties prefer less direct sun and wind as palmatum types. The leaves are a little more delicate do to the thickness of the leaf and the width of the leaf.

The following Japanese maples are worth considering and will definitely be a wonderful addition to your landscape.

This maple is a true weeping Japanese maple and definitely merits attention. Its weeping habit is extremely unique and attractive showing off its beautiful coat of green layered foliage. But the real show starts in the fall as its foliage turns brilliant shades of golden- orange and stunning reds. Ryusen will certainly add a wonderful look to your landscape.

Height 15-20 feet Spread 6-8 feet Hardiness Zone 5-8.

Autumn Moon
This specimen is truly unique and will surely be a hit for the true admirer of Japanese maples. Autumn Moon is well behaved in the terms of overall height and width. You can expect it to reach 6′ tall and spread about 3′ wide. ‘Autumn Moon’ isn’t a fast grower but you’ll fall in love with its foliage. In the spring it’s leaves emerge light green and some a pale yellow. Watch as the season progresses you’ll witness the yellow hues of the foliage turning to a glowing orange color that lasts throughout the season. Autumn Moon puts on a great show in the fall displaying shades of yellow, orange, and red. The more sun exposure, the longer its orange color will stay. Zone 5-9

Height 6 feet Spread 3-4 feet Hardiness Zone 5-8

A very unique Japanese maple because it’s a dissectum that grows upright whereas the other dissectums take on more of a weeping or cascading growth habit. In my opinion, ‘Seiryu’ is one of the best looking Japanese maples available. Its structure and shape are beautiful and that has a lot to do with its multi branched laterals. Seiryu’s fall colors are incredible and you will not be disappointed!

Height 15-20 feet Spread 12-15 feet Hardiness Zone 5-8

Twombleys Red Sentinal
Talk about a beauty, in early spring Twombley Red’s foliage flushes out a stunning crimson red which gradually turns to a burgundy shade. This tree holds its color extremely well throughout the year and its upright narrow growth habit makes it a must have for areas in the landscape where there are space constraints.

Height 10-12 feet Spread 4-5 Feet Hardiness Zone 5-8

Where to Plant a Japanese Maple Tree

Being successful with Japanese maples depends on location in respect to how much sun it gets daily. Protection from late afternoon and evening sun will reduce leaf scorch, sun scald and control the amount of watering necessary to keep the soil cool and moist.

Most Japanese Maples prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. Planting on the north or east side of your home will provide the best environment for Japanese Maples. Try to avoid locations that are nothing but full sun all day. Japanese Maples can live in that environment, but usually leaf scorch will occur when temperatures rise above 90 degrees and the sun is shining directly on them.

Mar 16

Drift Roses

Brrrr! What happened to the weather we had in February, isn’t that what we should be experiencing now? All I can say is I’m thankful we aren’t shoveling snow like they are in the Northeast. However, I am concerned about potential problems that some of our blooming plants may have as a result of the freezing temperatures this past week. We’ll talk more about that Saturday.

Right now I would like to talk about a very noteworthy ground cover rose called Drift. Drift roses have been hybridized by crossing miniature roses with traditional ground cover roses giving us a beautiful low growing shrub. Their toughness and disease resistance make them a must have in the landscape.

Drift roses are so versatile, because of their low spreading growth habit, they are ideal for small gardens where there are space constraints. They’re excellent for borders, containers or planted in a grouping where they serve as a wonderful ground cover providing endless color all season long.

You may ask what kind of maintenance is required for Drift roses, very little. Prune them back every year (late winter early spring). Plant them in areas where they receive at least 6 hours of sun, good drainage and plenty of air movement. Fertilize monthly throughout the growing season and protect them against insect damage by applying a systemic insecticide that contains imidacloprid. With a little deadheading you’re going to enjoy beautiful color throughout the summer months.

Last but not least, Drift roses are available in a variety of colors such as pink, apricot, coral and red new just to name a few. If you’re considering Drift roses for your landscape, you’re going to find the best selections at your local year round garden centers and nurseries. Visit more information about Drift roses.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House as we talk more about Drift roses and things you can be doing to get ready for the upcoming spring season.

Mar 03

Pruning Roses Bushes

Now is an ideal time to give your roses a major pruning. Just as growth buds show signs of swelling, indicates now is the time to prune rose bushes back to around 10 – 12 inches. At this point the energy flow within the plant will work quickly to heal cuts, and it’s easy to see where fat buds are located on the canes.

Make pruning cuts one quarter inch above a bud that points outward, away from the center of the bush. Cut at a 45-degree angle, the high point above the bud and the slant downward towards the plant’s center.


As for climbing rose bushes, remember the 3d’s of pruning. Only prune out the dead, damaged, and diseased branches on your climbers. Established climbers generally do fine with just a light pruning.

Trim main canes only if they overgrow their space, then cut back the side shoots from the main canes to about 2-3 inches.

After pruning, I highly suggest using a systemic insect drench and apply around the base of your roses. Ferti-lome’s Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench is what I recommend using. One application kills insects, and prevents new infestations for an entire year. No spraying, just mix and pour at the base of your plants. The term systemic refers to how the product works.

The systemic insecticide is absorbed through the roots and taken up throughout the plant including new growth. Remember to read labels and follow directions accordingly with any product you choose to use. This is for your protection and for the benefit of your plants.
For shrubs, mix 3 oz with 1 gallon of water per foot height of plant. Since you just pruned your roses back, factor in the height they are capable of growing in one season. The drench will prevent the holes you see in the leaves of rose bushes caused by the pesky rose slug.


In addition to protecting your rose bushes, the systemic drenches are also recommended for other plants as well. You can protect your Azaleas from lace bug damage, and you can protect your boxwoods from lace bug and psyllid damage as well.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House as we talk more about pruning roses bushes and getting things ready for the spring season.

Feb 24

Lilac Syringa Vulgaris

She is an attention getter when she showers the air with her alluring fragrance. She has been a favorite amongst gardeners for years and will continue I’m sure. Her fragrance will relax and comfort you while bringing a smile at the same time.

I’m talking about the all too familiar lilac Syringa vulgaris (lilac or common lilac). You will find the lilac comes in many sizes and colors and you can find the best selection at your local garden centers and nurseries.

However, I will tell you that they all do not possess the same fragrance. Some are stronger than others and you will find that the old fashioned varieties produce the strongest fragrance.

In recent years some of the most sought after lilacs are the tree form varieties. Tree varieties are actually shrubs grafted onto another root stock that resembles a small tree. Tree form lilacs typically grow to be around 6’-8’ in height and will spread to around 4’-5’ in width thus making it an ideal choice in the landscape where there are space constraints.

Lilacs do not like wet feet. As a matter of fact, they do best on hillsides, slightly elevated areas, or level ground where there is good drainage. Lilac roots run deep. If you have an extended dry period or drought, water infrequently but thoroughly.

Lilacs do not grow well in lowlands, where water tends to collect for prolonged periods of time.

As with any shrub, its important to weed around your lilac shrub or tree to help maintain a clean and aesthetic look. Nothing bothers me more than to see weed riddled landscape beds. In addition to weeding, provide 2”-3” of mulch around your lilac shrub to help with moisture retention, and to keep weeds down. A little tip, refrain from mulching to heavy and thick, doing so will hamper new shoots from sprouting and developing.

Another key feature about the lilac that I like is, it will tolerate almost any kind of soil, from clay to sand, with a pH of 6 to 7. Unlike some plants, lilacs aren’t too fussy, but always add compost and other soil amendments to the existing soil when planting. Also the lilac is it doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer. However, I suggest giving them a little fertilization and treat them with a fertilizer that is higher Phosphorous during the early part of spring to promote blooming. Too much nitrogen in the soil, will result in poor blooms.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House as we talk more about lilacs and we’re going to fill you in on what’s new and trending at the upcoming Home & Garden show.

Feb 17

Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs

Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs Fruit trees have been extremely popular the past few years and that has a lot to do with people wanting to enjoy a freshly picked apple or juicy peach straight from their own backyard.
In addition to the fruit trees, many homeowners also are also gravitating towards small fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Besides their great flavors, the advantages of having small berry producing plants are numerous. They require less space, generally bear sooner, bloom reliably and require less maintenance against insect issues. However, the same cannot be said for grapes. Grapes require more attention and need to be on a rigorous spray schedule and can take up to three years to bear fruit.

Look for disease resistant varieties when selecting a fruit tree. In addition, look for a healthy tree with good structure. Avoid trees that are one sided. A few apple trees worth considering that do very well in our area and are disease resistant are Pristine, Goldrush, and Sundance.

As for peach trees, brown rot and bacterial leaf spot are fairly common. Brown rot infects blossoms and developing fruit, while bacterial leaf spot causes lesions on foliage, fruit and stems. Reliance is an excellent cultivar along with Elberta and Starfire. Reliance and Elberta have been popular amongst homeowners for sometime. Starfire is a new variety from the Stellar Series. It is very strong and spreading tree with excellent resistance to bacterial leaf spot and canker. Starfire is an excellent producer and has a wonderful flavor. When it comes to pruning, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are attractive to most homeowners because they are easy to spray, prune and harvest. Pruning at planting is very important. Once this is done correctly, prune young trees only enough to shape them until they come into bearing. As trees get older, pruning should be increased. Prune and thin larger trees to improve foliage drying and to allow for better spray coverage for all parts of the tree. In addition, all sprouts or suckers at the base of trees should be removed.

Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune. Fruit trees should be pruned in the following order to avoid injury from late spring freezes: apples, pears, cherries, plums and peaches. On trees subject to frequent frost loss, pruning may follow bloom and or fruit set.

David Koester the Agricultural Agent at the Boone County Extension Office will be joining us this Saturday to discuss selecting and pruning fruit trees.

Feb 10

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday and I can’t think of a better way to express your feelings for someone other than doing it with flowers. In Victorian times is wasn’t appropriate to let someone know, verbally, how you felt about them. We can thank Queen Victoria for emphasizing the importance of the meaning of flowers.

Since more roses are sold this time of year than any other time, it’s only right that we cover the meaning of roses.

The beauty of roses is they always have a wonderful story to tell. Roses are rich in history, color meaning, and have been used for hundreds of years to convey messages to those that we admire without saying a word. Roses symbolize confidentiality, and the Latin expression sub-rosa (“under the rose”) means something told in secret.

If you truly want to make someone’s day, send them flowers to their home or workplace. I can tell you first hand, when I deliver flowers to someone they’re so surprised and put on the biggest smile!If you’re going to send flowers, and want to add a little extra sentiment to your silent message, listed below are the meanings associated with different colors of roses.

We all know the red rose symbolizes love and enduring passion. The red rose is known universally as the lover’s rose.

During Victorian times, the yellow rose symbolized jealousy, today it represents friendship, joy and caring. A bouquet of yellow roses conveys warmth, gladness and affection.

The pink rose Symbolizes gentility, femininity, elegance and refinement. In addition, the pink rose also carries additional meanings depending on its hue. A deep pink conveys gratitude and appreciation, while pale shades connote grace and gentleness, admiration and happiness.

The vibrant warm tones of the orange rose symbolize enthusiasm and desire. If you’re looking for a way to express admiration and attraction with an underlying message of passion and excitement, make sure you send a bouquet of orange roses.

Lavender and purple possess mystique and symbolize enchantment, desire and even proceeding cautiously. It’s not surprising that lavender and purple roses send a message of love at first sight, a great Valentine flower.

If you haven’t contacted your local florist and placed your order yet, what are you waiting for? By supporting your local florist, an average of sixty-eight cents of every dollar you spend remains in the local economy.

Most importantly, when ordering flowers from your local florist, you will always receive a quality product, friendly advice and guaranteed satisfaction from a very professional group of people.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, not only are we going to talk about the meaning of roses but also the meaning of other flowers as well.

Jan 27


Asclepias tuberosa commonly called butterflyweed or milkweed, has been named the 2017 perennial plant of the year by the Perennial Plant Association. Some of you may already be familiar with this wonderful perennial and some of you may be hearing about it for the very first time. The butterflyweed is our plant of the week and we’re going to share with you its importance to the existence of the Monarch butterfly.

A conscientious effort is being made to do everything we can to protect and increase the population of the Monarch. This is the main reason why the butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) has taken center stage in recent years. Without it, the Monarch would not exist. The butterflyweed is the only plant on which the Monarch will lay its eggs.

Over the years there has been a considerable decline in the existence of the common butterflyweed thus leading to the decline of the Monarch. This decline has lead to the development of the Monarch Waystation Program.

A huge effort is being made to encourage homeowners to develop ‘Waystations’ in hope to increase the Monarch population and continue their existence for many years to come.

The following criteria is whats required to establish a Monarch Way Station;

Size. “A suitable Monarch Waystation habitat can be easily integrated with an existing garden. There is no minimum area requirement in order to certify your habitat; however, a truly effective Monarch Waystation will be at least 100 square feet. The total area may be split among several sites at your location and there is no upper limit for the size of a Monarch Waystation habitat.” 1

Exposure. “Butterflies and butterfly plants need lots of sun; therefore, Monarch Waystations need to be located in an area that receives at least six hours of sun a day.” 2

Drainage and Soil Type. “Milkweeds and nectar plants will do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils. Good drainage is needed to avoid root rot and provide good aeration of the roots.” 3

Shelter. “To assure that the maximum number of monarchs survive in your habitat, the plants should be relatively close together. However, they should not be crowded – be sure to follow the planting guides specific to each plant. All monarch life stages need shelter from predators and the elements. Planting milkweeds and nectar plants close together contributes to this shelter for monarchs and other wildlife.” 4

Milkweed Plants. “To maximize the utilization of your habitat by monarchs, it is desirable to include a number of milkweed species. It is best to have at least 10 plants, made up of two or more species; however, a large number of plants (more than 10) of one species is sufficient. Milkweeds of different species mature and flower at different times during the season. By increasing the number of milkweed species in your habitat you will increase the likelihood that monarchs will utilize your property for a longer period during the breeding season.” 5

Nectar Plants. “Monarchs, other butterflies, and numerous pollinators need nectar. By providing nectar sources that bloom sequentially or continuously during the season (as many butterfly plants do) your Monarch Waystation can provide resources for monarchs throughout the breeding season and the migration in the fall. A Monarch Waystation should contain at least 4 annual, biennial, or perennial plants that provide nectar for butterflies.” 6

Management. “You should have a plan to sustain a Monarch Waystation. Specific actions you take will depend on the features of your habitat; however, some general examples include mulching, thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, eliminating insecticide use, removing invasive plant species, and incorporating additional features.” 7

All stats were pulled from

What’s bugging you?

Fungus gnats are a constant problem for homeowners, especially after bringing outside plants in for the winter.

Fungus gnats are more of a nuisance than anything. They do not bite nor carry any diseases, however, a heavy infestation can wreak havoc on plants. The adults are short lived. It’s the larvae that causes the most damage, especially when they rely on root systems for their main food source.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, as we talk more about the butterflyweed and things you can do to control fungus gnat issues.

Jan 19


Bromeliads are one of the most striking plants that you can have in the home, and to this day, I cannot figure why they are so overlooked. Thousands of varieties have been identified and more are being discovered daily. If you’ve never had a bromeliad, you are in for a treat,especially if you appreciate colorful foliage and unique blooms.

Although the bromeliad is somewhat tropical, it doesn’t like wet feet. As a matter of fact, overwatering is the best way to kill a bromeliad, especially if they are planted and growing in soil. In their natural habitat, they are epiphytic. Meaning they live (host) on another plant such as a tree and receive moisture and nutrients from air and rain. Water uptake is not the primary function of their root systems. Because of this, refrain from keeping them too wet. Their main source of water is from rainfall that becomes trapped in their rosettes where the leaves meet the stem of the plant. In addition to the rain water, leaf debris also collects and serves as a valuable source of nutrients.

It was once thought bromeliads were difficult to grow and only meant for the experienced gardener. Not so, they are easy to grow and extremely adaptable to growing in pots therefore making them suitable houseplants.

Tips for growing Bromeliads

When it come to light, there are some varieties that will tolerate sun and there are those that will easily scorch. To be on the safe side, provide bright indirect light. If placing next to a window, monitor closely to make sure the amount of light isn’t too much and the glass isn’t magnifying the sun’s rays.

As for temperature, bromeliads aren’t too fussy. They prefer temperatures between 50oF and 80oF.

An interesting fact about the bromeliad is; most, but not all, are monocarpic. Which means after blooming, the parent plant will never bloom again and will eventually die. Fortunately, you will get new offspring, one or more smaller pups at the base of the plant. Carefully remove the pups and plant them individually in whatever spare containers you have. Hopefully, you may carry out future generations for many years.

I have found bromeliads to be somewhat drought tolerant. So when it comes to watering (As I always say) error on the dry side not the wet. I like to water bromeliads in the center where the leaves meet the central stem. But only water centrally if there is plenty of light available, temperatures are warm and there is plenty of humidity. You may also water soil around the base, however do not water using both methods simultaneously and make sure there is quick drainage. If you keep a saucer under your pot, never allow your bromeliad to sit in water.

When it comes to fertilizing, bromeliads are not heavy feeders and never use fertilizers that are high in salts. I like using organic fertilizers such as Neptune’s Harvest Seaweed or Neptune’s Fish Emulsion with Seaweed.

Last but not least, what should you do if insects take residence on your bromeliad? Early detection is the best approach for any plant inside or out. First line of defense, I suggest using tepid water and gently spray/rinse the plant free of insects. If situation persists, try using an Insecticidal Soap. If the infestation is severe, discard the plant all together, especially if you have other plants close by.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, as we talk more about bromeliads and things you could be doing to get yourself ready for the upcoming spring season.

Jan 06

Champion Trees

We all like a champion, especially when it comes to sports. However, there is another type of champion that I would like to bring to your attention and that would be champion trees. There are national champion trees and there are state champion trees.

Champion trees have endured the test of time. Some have experienced severe droughts, cold winters and countless storms. Most importantly, they have escaped man’s quest to develop and build.

So what constitutes a tree to be identified as a champion. Must it win a fight, no? Must it win a race, no? Champion trees are measured and assigned points. The tree with the most points of each species is considered the largest or champion. The formula for points is: Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + 1/4 Average Crown Spread (feet) = Total Points This Champion Tree Measurement Formula was developed by Fred Besley, Maryland’s first State Forester. With some modifications, it was later adopted nationwide and is still used today. Mr. Besley began keeping records of “notable trees” in Maryland in 1925.

We are very fortunate to have quite a few champion trees right in our own backyard in Spring Grove Cemetery. In addition to being state champions, some are Centenarians, north of being a hundred years old.


Imagine some of the stories our champion trees could tell. I always wonder how many rounds of golf some of the old oak trees at Twin Oaks have seen in their lifetime. Even better, the golfer who is looking for their ball, pulls one out of their pocket, drops it and yells…… “I found it”.

We owe a great deal of thanks to all trees and especially champion trees. If it weren’t for trees, our forests would be non existent, our communities would be barren and our environment would be harsh.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, we’ll be discussing champion trees and things that you can be doing to prepare for the upcoming spring season.

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