26 May 2010

Edmonton Horticultural Society Gardening Notes

Tips for pruning:


Summer Arrives!!!

June To Do List

  • Prune spring blooming shrubs, after they have bloomed, as necessary.
  • Weed regularly
  • Tender vegetables and annuals may be planted after June 1
  • Top up mulch on flower beds, around trees and shrubs.
  • Water gardens and lawns.  Lawns require 1 inch per week of rain/watering.
  • Allow leaves on expired tulips and daffodils to remain.  As they fade, they help provide nutrients to the bulb for next year's blooms.  Feed after blooming.
  • Train vines to follow trellises by tucking in shoots; tie branches of climbing roses to supports.
  • The first week of June, snap off candles (new growth on mugho pines) in half or more to control growth and shape.
  • Trim hedges, keeping top of hedge narrower than the bottom.
  • Stake tall perrenials and cage tomatoes and similar plants now before they get floppy.  Apply peony rings to peonies if you have not already done so.
  • Deadhead flowers as they become spent to promote new flowers.

20 May 2010

Weed B Gon - Nature Friendly Herbicides

In a previous blog entry I made mention of the local ban on Weed 'N Feed and the move towards organic controls. There is good news on the horizon!  Scott's has come out with a new product called Scott's EcoSense Weed B Gon Ready to Use Weed Control.  It is a natural organic product with iron. Our lawns love iron but broadleaf weeds don't.  Over time the herbicide slowly withers the weed and kills it.  Repeated applications may be necessary but it is good to note that this product is child and pet friendly once the application has dried. Exciting news for the environment conscious gardener!

"Scotts EcoSense Weed B Gon is made from familiar ingredients, so moms and pet-lovers can be completely comfortable controlling weeds on the lawn which is, after all, a soft, safe place for kids and pets to play," says Glenn Martin, director of marketing, Scotts Canada Ltd. "Recent restrictions on the use of synthetic weed control products made it very difficult for people to eliminate widespread weed problems that will choke out healthy turf grass over time. Scotts EcoSense Weed B Gon provides an easy to use solution." http://www.sootoday.com/content/green/details.asp?c=31057

Another new product by Scott's is Ortho Weed B Gon Max Plus Crabgrass Control. It comes as a concentrate and, with an applicator, can be sprayed to control broadleaf weeds and crabgrass.  The label does not recommend spraying the entire lawn and cautions not to apply in vegetable gardens or near desirable plants.    Both products are available at your local garden centre this May.  Always read and follow directions on the label.


15 May 2010

"Plant Killer!!"

I hate the thought of ending the life of anything, plants included (unless they are weeds, of course) but yesterday I entered the world of a killer!  My victims were two plants, an Alberta Spruce and a Russian Cypress.  Both were in terrible shape, mind you, and destined for the landfill.  The poor Alberta Spruce had gotten windburn two years ago, before I decided to prepare a burlap screen for it, and never really recovered.  My son decided it was a good opportunity to topiary it and well, it just didn't look right.  Really it's my fault, I encouraged him!  So, I dug it out yesterday. 

My other victim of horticulture homicide was the Russian Cypress.  A beautiful plant, a groundcover similar to a juniper but with lacier foliage, it took root at the edge of a bed in the back yard.  Sadly, my daughter's dog Stitch, thought it made for a good urinal!  Over the years he has killed a little more and a little more until this year, with the plant half-dead, I did the humane thing and removed it!  (When a male dog uses an evergreen to relieve himself, the plant turns black and that portion will never recover.  Thus only half the plant, the portion facing away towards the fence, survived his repeated visits!)

Those bare spots provided me the opportunity to move some things around.  So, shovel in hand, I did just that.  The bed in question is now better spaced and appears more appealing to the human eye.  But I shall miss those two.  They were beautiful before me, the sun and wind, and the dog.  Alas, 'twas not to be.

12 May 2010

Planting by Moon Phases - Theory or Madness

At the greenhouse, most recommendations for setting out your annuals or planting new perennials, trees and shrubs are dictated by the long weekend, namely Victoria Day.  Generally any time including and after the May long weekend is considered "safe" to plant.  However, there is another school of thought on the matter.  I once heard a customer, who incidentally is a farmer, suggest planting after the full moon.  Why, you might ask. 

The moon is known to directly affect the tides of the ocean.  Is it so far-fetched to suggest the moon also dictates the best time to plant root crops and above ground crops?  Check out this website for an interesting article on just that:  http://earthyfamily.com/A-planting.htm

Increasing Light -- New moon to full moon

Accordingly, during this period one might sow seed for plants that grow above ground ie. peas, tomatoes, lettuce. ( See a guide specific to this topic such as Ed Hume's Planting Guide or The Farmer's Almanac for specifics.)  The waning phases are those when the moon goes from full moon to new moon.  During the 3rd and 4th quarters, it is suggested this is a good time to prune plants.  The water table diminishes and less sap will flow from cut ends.  This is a favorable time for planting, transplanting and harvesting root vegetables.  The most dormant period is during the 4th quarter and is ideal for weeding.

Decreasing Light -- Full moon to dark of the moon

During this time it is suggested to be ideal for planting of bulbs; root crops such as beets, potatoes, carrots; perennials, biennials and bulbs.  It is also a good time to prune shrubs.  (Keep in mind the rule of thumb - prune as necessary once the shrubs have finished flowering.)
Again, I recommend referring to a source specific to this topic such as Ed Hume's Planting Guide or The Farmer's Almanac.  I have not experimented with this method so I cannot guarantee results but it is an interesting approach.  Afterall, farmers have been doing it for years.  That must say something as to its validity.

11 May 2010

Spring Blossoms and Magnolias


Have you ever seen the magnificence of a magnolia in full bloom?  It is a sight you will not soon forget!  Typically one associates magnolias with the deep south of the United States (Gone With the Wind) but they are not limited to that specific area.  There are varieties hardy enough for zone 4!  I like to push the boundaries in my garden so two years ago I purchased my first magnolia. 

Lois Hole writes about Star Magnolia in her book Favorite Trees and Shrubs.  I just had to try it.  So here we are, the second year in and my Royal Star Magnolia has flower buds!  Hopefully I will be rewarded with blooms this year provided the buds, which look like pussy willows, didn't freeze.  The above links to a photo of a magnolia in bud.  Magnolias need a sheltered area, preferably with morning sun.  As Jim Hole (Hole's Greenhouse in St. Albert) said just today on Breakfast Television, he considers areas with morning sun as shady and areas with afternoon sun, at least 6 hours, as sunny. 

Note:  at the request of a reader, I further researched the probable size of the Magnolia Stellata (Royal Star Magnolia).  There is some conflicting information with sizes of 12-15 feet according to one source and another citing 8-10 feet  high and wide.  Typically this bush grows as high as it does wide.  Royal Star Magnolia is rated a zone 4 and since I reside in a zone 3 area I prefer to be on the conservative side.  I suggest this bush may grow only 6-8 feet high and wide.  A slow grower, the Star Magnolia grows only a couple inches or so per year.  A particularly harsh winter may cause tip death and thus limit its size so I tend to lean towards a conservative measurement.  Should anyone have information regarding a large well-established specimen in the Edmonton area I would love to hear about it.

Signs of Spring:

The neighborhood is an array of spring blossoms including tulips and double-flowering plums, and plum  trees.  These photos courtesy of Anne Mooney.

08 May 2010

Rhododendron in Bloom

My rhododendron is blooming for the first time!  We got it a couple years ago and it is at last rewarding me with some lovely blooms.  Just in time for Mother's Day!! 

Happy Mother's Day!

Rhododendrons like an acidic soil, mulched with a shredded bark and partially shaded, especially from harsh afternoon sun and strong winter sun.  They are shallow rooted plants thus it is necessary to mulch them, and avoid planting in a high traffic area. Though rhododendrons like a moist well-drained soil, they dislike a wet soil which can lead to root rot. Plant with peat moss, mulch after planting and water as needed.  When digging to plant rhodendrons, dig up the area, not just the hole, and amend with moistened peat moss.  This will provide the best environment for root development. It will reward you with stunning blossoms and shiny full green foliage.


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