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This is my second Summer in my new house and the garden and container plantings are making me so happy. It really is coming in! They say it takes 3 years for a perennial garden to look great. I can't imagine what it will look like next year!
Originally planted in urban areas, honeysuckle is spreading to the Missouri countryside and strangling native plants and trees. Once it becomes established, it is virtually impossible to eradicate. This plant kills all other plants and wildflowers and limits physical access to properties.
Please become familiar with this threat to our Missouri countryside and take action to stop it.
This morning I went for a morning walk on the new Litzsinger sidewalk in Ladue that goes by my house that ends at the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center and Tilles Park at the other end. This has been a nice additional to my area. Walking or running on Litzsinger has always been treacherous. I took a quick peek at the restored prairie at the Ecology Center which is peaking right now. Please note that this Center is not open to the public and requires a reservation.....Oops, I did not make one...though you should! Click HERE for more information.
If you have followed my blog over the years, you know I was more into gardening posts. Since moving into my new house, I am still working on the gardens here....so not as much to show. My planters are looking lovely....I especially have become a big fan of Dragon Leaf Begonias.
I know everyone in St. Louis is worrying about the affects of this harsh winter on our beloved bamboo groves....well at least some of us are!
Our local bamboo expert, Alan Lorence, provided me with this information. Check out Alan's blog HERE
Rough winter for bamboo for sure. In general, there are a few levels of damage that occur to the arboreal (tree-like) bamboos:
1) Leaf burn. This is when parts of leaves get that dried, light green/gray look, or possibly brown, but parts of the leaf stay green and healthy.
2) Leaf kill. Entire leaves get dried, crispy, curly. Interior parts of larger bamboo plantings may still have leaves that are undamaged or only slightly burned. All of my bamboos show this kind of damage this year (Yellow Groove is in this category)
3) Culm kill. Not only do all of the leaves on a culm die, but the dormant leaf buds are killed too. I suspect that all of my plantings have some culms that have been killed and will need to be removed after it warms up. (Yellow Groove is probably in this category too.) Note that some bamboo growers have observed that dead culms take on a darker color, and will start to smell like alcohol once it warms up a little -- the sugars in the dead culm have started to ferment.
4) "Top kill". Everything above ground has died, no culms survived. The rhizomes will still produce new shoots, but they probably will be smaller than the previous years'. I suspect that I have a few species that are in this category. The black bamboo is a good example of this. This could happen to a small or young planting of Yellow Groove, if it's not dense enough to self-shelter some of the innermost culms.
5) Rhizome death. If it get brutally cold and there is no snow cover, all of the rhizome buds can be killed too. This results in a dead plant that won't come back. This will never happen in St. Louis, or if it does, we have more things to worry about than how our bamboo is doing.
For the shrubby bamboos (like the big-leaved varieties you got from me last year) you've definitely got leaf kill, but will have to wait until spring to see if they'll leaf back out. I'll probably shear all of the leaves off but leave the culms standing. If they don't start releafing I'll cut them down to the ground before they start shooting.
For groundcover species (which typically topkill every year anyway) I just mow them to the ground before they start shooting.
It is that time of year to harvest your basil and make pesto before its frosts. Last night, after a busy few days of socializing, I stayed in and made pesto. Some I am keeping fresh in the refrigerator (top the container with a layer of olive oil so it does not darken) and the rest I will freeze. I think I was a little heavy on the garlic....I still reeked of garlic in the morning....glad I stayed home after eating my pesto pasta!
Yesterday I finally tore out the mint patch in my patio. (Don't worry...I still have plenty of mint tucked here and there in the garden.) It looked okay in the Spring, though it gets a little ratty looking later in the season. I created a little seasonal square using miniture boxwoods.
Today I finally was able to carve out a little time to visit garden blogger, Alan Lorence. He specializes in bamboo, though has so much more! I used to have bamboo at my old house, though I have not planted any new bamboo at my new home. I picked out a few new varieties from Alan's garden and brought them home. Now bamboo gardening is not for the passive gardener. It requires hard work and management or else the bamboo can become a problem for you and your neighbors. You should first start by building some sort of barrier around the bamboo....and it should go down 18". I used roof flashing in the past. Alan has lots of energy and mostly practices root pruning to keep his bamboo in check.
The pictures below are not of bamboo, though of some of Alan's plants that are currently in bloom. I have never seen so many birds and bees frolicking around a yard. It is a happy place. Check out Alan's blog HERE.
This Spring I redid a bed in my yard to feature a Canna lily surrounded by Persian Shield. I really like how the combination is coming along and it will only look better and better as the summer progresses!
I went out to our farm in Pike County today to sign up a fabulous new listing. Very important/ historic property! While there I checked on my apple trees and found them alive with honey bees! I am hoping for a load of apples this Fall. If you remember, last Spring I planted 3 new Stark Bros apple trees to help pollinate the one that has been there 15 years alone.
Bradford Pears were supposed to be sterile. Well they are breeding and becoming invasive. All of those pretty white flowering trees along the highway are offspring. The Forestry Department is seeing them pop up in our State Forest. This is not good news.
I have winterberry envy. There is a nice cluster of bushes right on Litzsinger Rd. I have to do everything in my power not to stop and cut some branches for my house. Instead I am going to scour nurseries to see if I can find some in full berry that I can put in planters for the Holiday Season....then I will plant them in the yard. Make sure that you get at least one male bush or you will not have berries!
Sweet Gum trees are one of the least favorite trees that people have in their yards. They were popular in the 50's so you see them often in the yards of ranch homes. The "gum balls" are a real annoyance. I have one in my yard that I really love. The branches are low and stretch out. They are also covered with moss and turn bright green after a rain. Here is my tree on this foggy morning.
Last month I had the treat of visiting Alan Lorence at his garden in West County. Alan must have 50+ varieties of bamboo and hundreds of other plants. Early this year you may remember he came to my old house to help me contain my bamboo. I went to his home garden to see what varieties I want for my new house. I think with the Asian feeling of my property, bamboo will be at home. I just need a plan to contain and maintain it. Warning! You just can not plant running bamboo and not tend to it.
Just yesterday I began to notice trees and evergreens throughout town that are dying from the heat and lack of rain. Smaller trees like dogwoods and japanese maples could be lost if you do not water them. Many evergreens hate to be over watered, though also can not take extended heat....you may not be able to save these. Remember last summer when an alarming number of arborvitae died from last summer's heat wave. I am focusing on making sure my hydrangeas are checked daily and watered as soon as they look unhappy. I have given up on my grass.....it will come back as soon as it rains. My pots are getting daily waterings and sometimes.....twice a day. I found the secret to successful container plantings that survive the heat and lack of water is.....plant in large pots. Small pots just dry up too quickly. Hopefully rain and cooler weather will come!
This has been one of the prettiest Springs I can remember. We not only were treated to warm weather early...we also were spared of any late frosts. This is the best that my hydrangeas have ever looked since there branches were not killed back over the winter.
It has been a wonderful year for azaleas! Our mild winters have allowed these beauties to grow to new heights! We look like Atlanta or Houston now in the Springtime! I hear we are officially in a new gardening zone. These azaleas were snapped in Clayton.
Spring is going much too fast. The Red Buds are almost over....daffodils gone...we will be done with Spring flowers by the middle of April!
Today I saw a lovely garden in Clayton and so envious of their wisteria. Covered and buzzing with bumble bees!
When I was growing up we had a wisteria vine that never bloomed. I have been told that the best bet when buying wisteria is to buy a vine that is in bloom already. Someday I want to try wisteria again....though it is like bamboo.....you have to have nerves and be ready to maintain it! The tendrils can grow 12 feet a year.
I used to have the best dwarf apple tree out at our farm that produced a bounty! My sons were younger and had so much fun picking them each Fall. Well a bull got loose in the yard and knocked it down. :( I bought another apple tree and planted it about 8 years ago. It is very large now, though does not produce apples. I finally realized that it is not a self-pollinating apple tree. Now that Spring is in full blast and knowing that my apple tree was ready to bloom....I scurried up to Stark Brothers in Louisiana, MO to pick up some mates for my tree. I have no idea what kind of apple tree I planted 8 years ago, so I bought one self-pollinating tree that will mate with any tree and then two other varieties. Granny Smith, Golden Crisp and a Candy Crisp. Now I just need bees!
Stark Brother's Nursery
Here is a lovely peach tree at our farm....I planted it a while ago....now I have been told it is just an ornamental peach tree....it is pretty!
I am forecasting a big year for hydrangeas....as long as we do not get a frost. Normally my blue hydrangeas die back a little each year and this cuts down on their big first bloom. You can wrap them in burlap over the winter, though I don't want to look at burlap bags in my front yard all winter. Check back in June and see what happens! My front yard may look like Nantucket!