Monday, October 27, 2008

Dakota County Technical College Field Trip to the MN Landscape Arboretum

Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring.  Tulips for the most part should be treated as annuals and replaced every year, or at least supplemented for best show.  Daffodils are reliably perennial.  

The easiest way to plant bulbs is to loosen soil, and plant according to bulb planting instructions, usually about 5" deep, and about 4-5" apart. Cover, add compost if necessary, water, and add some mulch for the top. 

Voila!  In spring you have a beautiful display of colorful bulbs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My favorite plant of the week

I love this plant.  It is right for a specimen plant in the garden, or as a landscape perennial en masse.  Agastache foeniculum 'Blue Fortune' (commonly known as Anise Hyssop) is beautiful, care-free, and attracts many insects including the beneficial ones that eat aphids and other nasty creatures.  The leaves when bruised have an anise scent.  The North American native Agastache foeniculum is appropriate for the wild garden.  The native plant is not as bushy, and re-seeds quite a lot, which is not a problem in the proper place.  For the more 'well-tended' garden, the cultivar works very nicely.  I find that cutting this plant down by 1/3 to 1/2 in June (in zone 4) keeps the plant more compact and not prone to flopping.  I have often seen this plant listed as zone 5 hardy, but it seems to work in zone 4.  

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sassafras Propagation???

My vacation is winding down. Three weeks on the shores of Lake Michigan. Perfect.

We have been working on erosion control during this vacation. We put down straw blankets over a fairly steep slope that needs stablization. I will throw down some rye seed before we go, and there is already some Sassafras coming in. My goal is to stabilize the soil enough so that the native plants will seed in. I may want to help that along, however.

Does anyone know how to propagate Sassafras? I am from Zone 4 world where we don't have the beautiful Sassafras, but would love to help it along on our sloped area.

Thanks to all (or anyone) who read this blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's soil, not oil

Black Gold. Or commonly known as compost. After just one good application in my clients' gardens, she forever refers to compost as Black Gold.

When you are working with the crappiest soil you can think of, the best magic bullet is to add copious amounts of compost.

Gardeners that are worth their snuff know this, but landscapers don't always know this. Imagine you are to design a new home where all you have is the sub-soil and you are expected to make a fabulous landscape. You can, of course, make a fabulous landscape, but it will be fabulous for a very short period of time. So send out that bill quick.

When all you have is sub-soil, the simplest remedy is to amend what you have with lots and lots of compost. Sort of like turning it into topsoil. Compost should be applied yearly at least until your soil shows signs of biological life.

PS - Does anyone know what kind of spider this is up at the top of the post? It was probably about the size of a nickel, found near Hudson, WI.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fouling our own nests

Kicking things off with a little email back and forth with an old friend as the outdoor season revs up like a panzer tank:

MM: Something I was pondering during my 700 miles of driving was, in the convergent and dull "green lawn" mentality of white bread amerika, there's an inordinate prejudice against any plant in the yard that's not grass, which then all get lumped into a category labeled WEEDS, which then further merit whatever draconian methods of chemical warfare are necessary to eliminate them ... and the end result is a toxic micro-environment of our own doing. The off-the-shelf poisons that are marketed freely are as ample as they are scary. How do we curb this mindless predisposition toward toxic lawns?

DG: Your view of the mentality of white bread amerika is right on. One of the (many) villains is the lawn care company. They hoodwink folks into these "programs" which include unnecessary spraying on a regular basis of insecticide, way too much fertilizer, grub "control," and so on. After leaving a couple job sites when the sprayers came in and started their work, I decided that I would not, or have my employees, crawling around in the gardens that have been sprayed by chemicals. Although when enlightened, most people understand the needlessness (and expense) of these chemical applications, not to mention the hazards to our health and the health of the ecosystem, they want to end these programs.   HOWEVER, there is a mentality out there....just go to Home Depot on a weekend in the spring and see all the people buying grub control, chemical fertilizers, etc.  ... as if they'd been HYPNOTIZED.  Zombie Grub Killers.  

MM: Lawn care companies ... the name says it all: CHEMLAWN! Whatever. The word WEED is an emotionally (irrationally) charged word .

Anyhow, welcome to my world. Time to go kills some grubs. Or maybe give them some love instead? Huh?