Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

One of my favorite little spring flowers is Bloodroot or (Sanquinaria canadensis). It comes up early in my woodland garden with beautiful white flowers that just shine in the sunlight. Bloodroot grows from a thick reddish-brown rhizome. If this rhizome is broken or damaged it secretes a red liquid. Now you know how the plant got it's name "Bloodroot".

Bloodroot grows when the temperatures are cool in the garden, then it goes dormant until next spring. The plant grows in moist soil that is well drained and it prefers dabbled shade. It will spread in your garden by rhizomes or by seed. I started out with one small plant and between seeding and spreading, I now have lots of it growing in my woodland garden. You can propagate this plant by seed or division. If you are learning to identify native wildflowers, this one is easy to identify because of the unusual shaped leaf.
There is a double-flowered  Bloodroot that is in the nursery trade that is spectacular. I plan to add that one to my garden in the future. If you are looking for the double flowered Bloodroot look for Sanquinaria canadensis 'Multiplex'. 
Have a great spring and "Happy Gardening"!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter Woes

My Weeping Cherry was beautiful in the spring of 2013.
It was a tough winter for my garden and every day that something leafs out and shows signs of life, I consider myself lucky. My Weeping Cherry that was beautiful last year and full of bees, has only a few flowers this year.

Lots of flowers and bees.

The spring of 2014 with few flowers and no bees.
I have walked the gardens and observed lots of winter cold damage. I never bury the canes of my climbing roses and this year I will need to cut them to the ground and start over. My Spireas have some new growth, but they will need to have a major pruning this year to clean out the dead. I have several Blue Atlas Cedars that are brown from the cold. It was a long cold winter and I can tell that I will have lots of gardening jobs ahead of me.

My Spirea with some new growth and lots of dead limbs.
What do you do when you have winter cold damage to your plants? The best thing you can do is remember that there was not much that you could have done to protect your plants from such extreme temperatures. The cold temperatures were more than many plants could take. Give your trees and shrubs time to grow, then you can see what needs to be done with each plant. Clean up, prune and cut back dead limbs as they leaf out or after flowering. I have given some shrubs and trees fertilizer to help with new growth. I figure that with many shrubs and trees, I will have limited flowers this year but it is more important to get that tree or shrub off to a good start for future growth.

My Leyland Cypress has lots of brown in it caused by the cold.

For those trees or shrubs that were damaged, do not be in a hurry to remove them from your garden. Fertilize them and wait to see if you get some new growth and be prepared to wait for several months for that growth. Then give the plant time to fill in. Prune or remove dead as needed. If your tree or shrub does not show growth after several months then consider it a winter loss. I plan to fertilize, water, wait and hope for the best!

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recycling Pallets for the Garden

Pallets come in all size and shapes. Most are made from wood or plastic.
We have all seen pictures of old wood pallets being used in gardens. I have seen pallets turned into planters, benches, tool holders and composters, just to name a few. I will say that they are great to use, a wonderful way to recycle and save money. Building with pallets is very easy and it does not take a lot of skill. Just use your imagination and you can create many different items that can be used in and about the garden.
A compost bin made from two pallets.

The compost bin in the picture (above) was made from two pallets that held house siding on them. We had some work done on our house last fall and all of the cement board was delivered and stacked on the pallets. Each pallet was 8 feet long. I used one pallet for the back and I cut the slats of the second pallet into 3 pieces with 2 pieces being the sides and the larger piece as a removal front. I used deck screws to attach the sides to the back pallet. The front piece is hinged and allows me to open and close the composter. All I needed in tools was a saw to cut the pallet into three pieces and a battery operated drill with bit to screw everything together. The total project took about 30 minutes to complete. I added some stepping stones under my compost tumbler and a few hooks to hold gardening equipment. Now I have a place to hold all of that yard waste and a place to keep my gardening equipment organized.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Virginia Bluebells

I was working in the garden when I spotted my Virginia Bluebells were breaking ground. Virginia Bluebells are one of my favorite perennial plants in the garden for spring bloom and after this winter, they are a welcome sight in the woodland garden. 

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) grow in zones 3-9 and are native to the United States. They grow about 12-20 inches tall and will spread by self-sowing. The flowers start out in a pink color then slowly change to a beautiful blue. I have mine planted in the woodland garden where they are mixed in with ferns, Celandine Poppy, Hosta and daffodils.

They prefer a humus-rich soil that is well drained and is neutral to slightly acidic. Virginia Bluebells are "ephemerals" and will go dormant after spring blooming. When the bluebells are done blooming, the foliage will slowly turn yellow, drop and fan out on the ground. You do not need to clean up the leaves because the leaves will disappear quickly after they die back.

If you want to propagate your bluebells, you can let the plant drop it's seed in the garden or you can take divisions of the plant. When replanting divisions, cover the eyes with 2-3 inches of soil. Virginia Bluebells will slowly form a colony in your garden that will come back year after year.

Happy Gardening!

'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood

Years ago, I purchased a very small tree that was only 6 to 8 inches tall. It was a 'Golden Shadows' Pagoda Dogwood. It had beau...