joe gardener Goes Live! by Susan Harris

For months I’d been dying to set my eyes on Joe Lamp’ls new website joegardener.com, hoping for a lot. It launched last week and at the risk of gushing, it includes everything a how-to-garden site should have and some stuff I didn’t think of. In Joe’s words to me on the phone recently, it’s a “hub for accurate information in the formats people want.” Like all of us, Joe laments the loss of “gardening on TV – there’s nothing out there.” After Scripps Howard bought HGTV it concluded that advertising won’t support a real gardening show, so it offers backyard make-overs with lots of furniture and at least one fire pit. In Joe’s words, “This lack of consistent, reliable sources for accurate, trusted and professionally produced garden-related media is a big problem…And people are turning to the Internet for that.” Yet even on the web, Dave’s Garden, now owned by Internet Brands, is nothing more than customer reviews, with no editorial judgment in sight. Joe sums up the problem: Unfortun..
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Which Small Trees will Work for your Yard?

Landscape Design Which Small Trees will Work for your Yard? By Sheereen Othman | June 28, 2017 Trees are great landscaping tools to beautifying your yard, creating privacy, and adding color. Numerous factors go into deciding what tree is suitable for your yard. Planting the right tree in the right place is crucial for the health of your trees, and for the safety of nearby structures. There are trees suitable for every landscape, including those with limited space. Check out these small landscape trees that are perfect for adding color in smaller yards. Sargent Crabapple Malus sargentii This compact landscape tree is a spring star, with abundant clusters of fragrant white flowers making their appearance in May. Its dense, spreading crown and zigzagging branches add to the appeal, often making the tree wider than it is tall. Because of its size, the Sargent crabapple is useful for planting under utility lines, in confined yards, as privacy screens and hedges and on slopi..
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Perfect Prairie Meadow? More like Field of Broken Dreams by Bob Hill

Queen of the Prairie My lust for the perfect prairie meadow show – aided and abated, of course, with the need for a new septic system – began with the lacy-pink flowers of Queen-of-the-Prairie, or Filipendula rubra. I had not seen The Native Queen in all her glory until purchasing our history-worn Hoosier farmhouse and six acres of weeds. I’m not even sure now if that American native was already presiding out back in our long-neglected field, or was an early purchase by a would-be nursery owner who had no idea what the hell he was doing. I just remember Her crown of cotton-candy flowers, deep pink and fragrant, gracefully floating above five-foot stems that one normally non-salacious garden site described as “naked.” Any way you phrase it, it was love at first sight. Laugh, if you must, but much of the same literature also mentions that Native Americans used Queen-of-the-Prairie as a treatment for various heart problems and as an herbal aphrodisiac. I also vaguely remember readin..
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Hackberry: One Tough Tree

Tree of the Week Hackberry: One Tough Tree By James R. Fazio | June 27, 2017 Celtis occidentalis The hackberry has appropriately been called, “one tough tree.” Colonists had enough other trees to choose from that they didn’t pay much attention to the hackberry trees. They found them scattered throughout forests rather than in solid stands. The quality of the wood relegated its use mostly to barrel hoops. On the drier plains, it was used along with any other wood that could be obtained for flooring and other parts of the homestead. The first colonists paid it the indignity of calling it ‘hagberry.’ This was either mistaken identity or because they found it similar to the wild cherry species by that name in Scotland. The tree eventually became the ‘hackberry.’ This tree has some unique characteristics. The bark resembles warts on young trees and changes into ridges as the tree matures. Witches’ brooms are also common among hackberry trees. Witches’ broom is a disease where..
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Keep the cats inside by Elizabeth Licata

Not a good mix This was to be a post touting the glorious weekend I had exploring the DC area with fellow garden bloggers. But, while I was away, I received news that a nest of birds we’d been hosting has possibly fallen prey to one of the many free-roaming/feral cats that plague our neighborhood. There are several of them—some obviously pets and some from the feral population—that regularly treat our courtyard garden as part of their territory. They’d like to get at the pond fish, but don’t want to risk immersion, and they are definitely after any and all birds. And, of course, they love to treat our garden as a great big litter box. I have friends/neighbors who insist on letting their cats out, asserting that they deserve this freedom and that bird casualties are part of the cycle of life. Many scientists disagree with this stance, including ornithologist Peter Marra, who states in a National Geographic interview, “Domestic cats are as much a part of the natural order as a cow, pig..
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Testing Pollinator Plants at Penn State by Susan Harris

Connie Schmotzer is Principal Investigator for pollinator research. Just in time for National Pollinator Week, my Garden Writers region planned a fabulous outing for members – to see the Penn State Trial Gardens near York, PA, especially their trials for pollinator plants. The goal is “to evaluate native species and their cultivars for attractiveness to pollinators and suitability for homeowner and agricultural use,” which is so great, exactly the information pollinator-friendly gardeners need. The large Pollinator Trials Garden (above) was installed in 2011 by Master Gardeners, who planted 4,500 plugs of 86 species and cultivars – all natives to this region. We were told that’s because “a UC Davis study showed them to be four times more attractive to pollinators than nonnatives.” Plants were chosen to provide a long season of flowering, with asters and goldenrods fueling the Monarch butterfly’s flight south. Early bloomers Packera aurea (Golden groundsell) and Zizia aurea (Golden A..
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Community Tree Recovery Renews Hope in 2017

Community Tree Recovery Community Tree Recovery Renews Hope in 2017 By Abbie Eisenhart | June 21, 2017 Jerry and Charlotte lived in their house for 39 years and watched as all but one of the trees they had planted and nurtured were destroyed. “I felt sick to my stomach to see no trees. That’s what this town was built on, and that’s what I miss—the trees,” Charlotte told Arbor Day Foundation staff at a tree distribution event. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August of 2005, our members asked how the Arbor Day Foundation was planning to help. So many trees were needed to replace those lost in the hurricane, and we worked diligently to help get tens of thousands of those replaced. Those trees led to what the Community Tree Recovery program would become years later, when devastating tornados hit Alabama and Missouri in 2011. Six years later, the Community Tree Recovery program continues to grow and expand. As of today, the program has planted or distributed more tha..
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Yellow Buckeye: A Rugged Beauty

Tree of the Week Yellow Buckeye: A Rugged Beauty By James R. Fazio | June 20, 2017 Aesculus flava (octandra) In 1784 while traveling near the Cheat River — in what is now West Virginia — sharp-eyed George Washington spotted a yellow buckeye with flowers that were purple instead of yellow. He planted seeds of that tree at Mount Vernon where the last one died not long ago. There is something compelling about this tree. It is not graceful like an American elm or a weeping willow, nor charming like a dogwood or redbud. Instead, it has a sort of rugged beauty —massive, a bit unkempt and standing tall and bold in both forest and park. Botanists call its crown “coarse” or “irregular” and its bark thick and “curious.” But they also comment on the bright glow of its showy blooms and the warmth of its fall colors. The yellow buckeye is a delightful sight in the Appalachian Mountains. The striking compound leaves of the buckeye trees provide an accent in both forest and urban sett..
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Wildlife Encounters by Thomas Christopher

I’ve posted before on this blog about the attraction of wildlife tracking in the garden. Garden wildlife, I noted then, reminds me of teenagers – the critters eat distressingly huge meals then typically leave without communicating about what they have been up to or what their plans are. Reading the tracks is the only way to learn what the animals are doing (would that this worked with teenagers). I had a notable encounter of this kind this past month. Something was stomping the plants in my garden. And for a change it wasn’t careless human visitors. Over my many years as a horticulturist, I’ve grown accustomed to wildlife attacking my plants, though more often in the form of slugs, beetles and caterpillars nibbling holes in the leaves or even, as in the case of cutworms, decapitating whole seedlings. On the whole, I find myself better able to tolerate mammalian invaders because, although their individual appetites are far greater, they are also easier to exclude. A welded wire fence ..
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Flingers, First Trip to DC? by Susan Harris

Martin Luther King Memorial along the Tidal Basin Gardening get-togethers like the Garden Blogger Fling and Garden Writer events are the best possible ways to see great private gardens, and the Fling attendees coming to the Washington, D.C. area next weekend will see lots of them. But like Elizabeth, when I visit a city that’s new to me for a gardening event, I often take time off from the private gardens to see the city. Be a tourist! For her it’s making time to see art museums and in D.C., maybe some of the other fabulous and free Smithsonian museums. My own touristy adventures include taking a citywide tour in Seattle, being driven to some crazy-interesting places in Pittsburgh by a locally raised garden writer, and skipping a few gardens to watch the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, just after marriage equality was declared by the Supreme Court. Lincoln Memorial at dusk. So for any Flingers visiting DC next week who’ve never seen seen DC’s amazing sights, here’s what I and t..
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