Fall Planting by Thomas Christopher

Many of us are already putting away our spades, but if you do, you’ll miss the best planting season of the year. Spring – the classic planting season – may be superior for most vegetables and annuals, but for woody plants – trees and shrubs – and container-grown perennials, fall is superior. That’s not just my opinion. It’s the considered judgment of two expert growers I consulted last week (both produce plants for NatureHills.com, the nation’s largest online nursery). Tim Flood of McKay Nursery is based in southwestern Wisconsin in USDA Zone 5A-4B. He explained that fall is such a good planting time because, although the air may be cool, the soil is warm. The cooler air reduces the stress on the above-ground portion of the plant and slows its growth, while the warm soil encourages vigorous root growth. Root growth continues, he adds, until the soil freezes. This root growth gives fall plantings a head-start the following spring. In fact, fall-planted trees and shrubs typically behav..
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Lawn-Less Solutions in my Townhouse Garden by Susan Harris

You’ve seen Part 1 of the Garden Clips videos of my garden and now Part 2 is up! In this tour of my back garden I opined a bit about lawn reduction, and of course the plants I use instead. Scroll down for a bit more about the plants mentioned. (Isn’t the cover photo hilarious?) Click here to view the embedded video. I’ll be sending these additional plant notes to Garden Clips for inclusion in the description of the video on Youtube. Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’) isn’t just evergreen and gorgeous – it’s also native to the Eastern U.S. The vigorous groundcover Sedum shown is S. takeseminense. The red annual in pots is Iresine ‘Blazin’ Rose.’ The groundcover Carex ‘Ice Dance’ is evergreen. The smokebush I planted is Cotinus x Grace. Plants in the mostly-foliage border shown are an Oakleaf Hydrangea, ‘Ogon’ Spirea, Fothergilla, Nandina, Abelia and Pulmonaria. Plants in the sunny border include Purple Coneflower, Amsonia hubrichtii, assorted Asters, and Tradescantia..
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Bug Blast at the Burke Museum!

The Bug Chicks - A site for parents, teachers and bugdorks. Last Sunday I woke up at 5AM and packed up my trusty car with my arthropod zoo and some bug costumes. I made the three hour drive up to Seattle (after stopping to get coffee- I’m not a robot) to headline Bug Blast at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. I was hoping Jess would come with me but girl got the flu!!! So I had to Bug Chick alone. But this sunrise I caught outside Kalama was worth the early morning. Bug Blast is an annual event for families held at the Burke Museum in Seattle. Lots of different organizations come together to make this event a success. Just a few: The Pacific Science Center, the Woodland Park Zoo, Puget Sound Beekeepers, Seattle’s Child, League of Scientific Illustrators, and the Scarabs: The Bug Society of Seattle. They brought displays and live animals and educated the public about animals with exoskeletons. I found my people!!! I taught three lives shows throughout the day but mana..
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Bulb mistakes I have known and now avoid by Elizabeth Licata

Greigii tulip Mary Ann In a world gone crazy, I am relieved to turn part of my focus to my favorite fall activity: bulb planting and forcing. I’m no horticultural expert (though I do play one on the radio sometimes), but bulbs are my thing, and here’s what I got: Don’t plant too few. A drift of hybrid tulips or daffs needs 30 minimum, and my default would be twice that, even on my small property. Go for quality. There really is a difference in size and performance between the big box offerings and those obtained from good mail order places and some garden centers. The Dave’s Garden ratings are still reliable for mail order. species tulip humilis Persian Pearl Don’t ignore the species tulips and other smaller types, like erythronium, miniature daffs, eranthis, small allium, and others. I have anecdotal evidence that the species tulips tend to be ignored by deer and I have hard evidence that they perennialize, unlike their hybrid brethren. I have some that have been coming up for ov..
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Leaf Morphology is Surprisingly Marvelous by Susan Harris

I recently attended this tour at the U.S. Botanic Garden, despite my doubts that the topic of leaf structures – leaf morphology – would be marvelous, as promised, but darned if it wasn’t! I maintain my skepticism that a talk by another expert could put me to sleep but coming from Dr. Susan Pell, it was fascinating. So much so that I’m going back for her talk and tour about flowers. (Scroll down for the info. Like the leaf tour, it’ll be free.) In the top photo Susan shows off examples of varying leaves from the planters in front of the Conservancy. In this view you see the Capitol dome, recently freed of its renovation scaffolding. Inside the Conservatory were dozens more examples – of exactly what I’d love to report but I didn’t take notes. Have a banana! On the right is info about Susan’s flower talk. It’s just one of dozens of events at the U.S. Botanic Garden, many of them also free. If you don’t live nearby I hope there’s a public garden near you with great talks like this ..
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Evidence of Animals (Frass Happens)

The Bug Chicks - A site for parents, teachers and bugdorks. Sometimes finding the evidence of an animal is just as exciting and interesting as finding the animal itself. Unfurling a leaf I uncovered a mass of silk and excrement from what I’m assuming was a leaf roller moth in the Family Tortricidae. The moth had pupated and left this behind. This gorgeous clump is frass. Frans is insect poop. Frass happens, people. And I will photograph it. The color is strangely beautiful and the slight striations on the surface remind me of the microstructure of a seashell. Whoa– too much waxing poetic on poo. This is one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken with the Flipview digital scope. When I was looking at it on the tree, this tiny, clear gossamer strand initially looked like spider silk to me. But when I blew the picture up, Jess and I determined that it was a small, thin sheet of dried snail slime. It is so delicate and so ephemeral. It likely dissolved with the rain that fell later that a..
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On Video: Bulb-Planting in the Fall by Susan Harris

New from Good Gardening Videos is our juicy selection of 14 videos about spring-blooming bulbs – general how-to, specific types, how to naturalize and two cool ways to pot them up. If you’re already an experienced bulb-gardener, maybe you know someone who could be coaxed into planting something if it’s as fool-proof as, say, daffodils. So please share the Guide to Planting Bulbs in the Fall. On Video: Bulb-Planting in the Fall originally appeared on Garden Rant on September 22, 2016.
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Gardening via Groupon by Elizabeth Licata

Drinks are not included. For the past few years, I’ve been seeing Groupon offers for Paint Nites, where (usually) a bunch of people get together and make a painting with an instructor. At first, they seemed to be singles events, often held in bars, but more recently I have seen them as a “girls night out,” still with drinks, but often at private or nonbar locations. I wanted my magazine’s art critic to attend one to report on it, but he (understandably) refused. They seem harmless enough, though there is a Stepford quality to the end result, as all the paintings are almost exactly the same, at least in the ones I’ve seen on Facebook. And now there is Plant Nite, which is capitalizing on the terrarium craze. Its slogan: Create a tabletop garden with friends at your favorite local bar. Your nite will bloom. (Not sure what they have against the word night.) From the looks of it, you get a container, some soil, gravel, sand, plants—generally succulents, a trowel, and various items of what..
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My Townhouse Garden on Video! by Susan Harris

Readers may remember my post about a guy who grew up blocks from my home and is now a videographer in New Haven, CT. For fun, this son of a landscape architect and gardener himself makes videos about plants and gardens, usually featuring the director of the botanic garden at Yale. But not this time. On a recent trip back home he paid me and my townhouse garden a visit and the result is this video of my tiny front yard. Coming soon, the back garden with more commentary by yours truly. My chance to expound! Click here to view the embedded video. My Townhouse Garden on Video! originally appeared on Garden Rant on September 16, 2016.
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Oh, how sweet—they’re getting married! by Elizabeth Licata

Protesters won’t have Monsanto to kick around any more, if this goes through. In case you hadn’t heard, two of the biggest Big Ag and Big Chem firms—St. Louis-based Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer (pronounced buyer)—are merging, with Bayer making the acquisition. It’s gigantic news for farmers, but these companies are big players at garden centers as well. Here’s the PR for the deal (which was included in Garden Center’s bland enewsletter report): “the merger would create access to better solutions for growers so that they can help contribute to closing the gap between supply and demand with the increasingly growing population in the world.” Other reporting has focused on the less aspirational implications of the deal, which aren’t all that hard to figure out. Such as: -Less competition will likely mean higher prices for already expensive bags of GMO seeds. -This will make research on new GMOs, with pesticide-resistance and other properties, easier, but not everyone loves GMO crops. Th..
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