Top 8 Trees For Best Fall Color

After a long hot summer, it all begins to change. September reveals cooler weather. The air develops a crisp note. Leaves on the trees are just starting with their hibernation process, which will leave us with their magnificent fall foliage.

Here are my picks for the top 8 trees for the best fall color:

Kousa Dogwood
• Sugar Maple
Sourwood
Tulip Poplar
Japanese Red Maple
Birch
Pin Oak
Red Maple

 

Planting one or more of these trees in your landscape will provide you with great splashes of fall color.

The leaves on the Kousa Dogwood change from a glossy green to a purple/red shade. With its more compact growth, it is an easy tree to add to any garden or landscape.

When we think of fall foliage, many of us think of the orange and golden colors of New England. This is mainly due to the amount of maple trees in that region especially the Sugar Maple. Another U.S. native tree with gorgeous red to orange fall color is the Sourwood.

Need to add some yellow into your fall landscape? A poplar or birch will be the perfect addition.

For foliage in variations of red, plant Japanese red maples, scarlet red maples or a pin oak for the deepest red fall leaf color.

Share your favorite plants for fall color with your comments then visit Greenwood Nursery to purchase your fall color trees.

How to Make the Garden Safe for Pets and Children

When designing a new landscape or re-evaluating an older landscape, don’t forget to work in spaces especially for children such as: a sandbox, jungle gym, and/or open grassy areas for football or net games like volleyball and badminton (not just for children). A sandbox or jungle gym can be tucked into a corner or other small area. For jungle gym or other physical activities a thick layer of shredded bark mulch on the ground will help to reduce the impact of falls.

Introduce children to gardening and yard maintenance early on so that as they develop, they gain an appreciation and respect for plants and the landscape. These learning sessions are the perfect opportunity for teaching them about plants and how they grow. This reduces the chances of children ingesting any poisonous parts of plants.

For those with pets, work into your garden or landscape an area for them to run and play. Gravel can be irritating to their paws and hot in summer, so use shredded bark mulch for this area which also works great for their potty areas as well. Place dog houses in protected areas such as nearer the house/garage or tucked into corners (great where there is a fence for additional protection). Sun and wind protection are other points to keep in mind.

Be flexible. Some dogs just like to dig and no matter what, you can’t keep some plants. I’ve experienced this with my dogs. I replaced a couple of small trees damaged by a freeze a few years ago with dynamite crape myrtles. The next day, I came home to the plants dug up and dried out. I had to replace with 2 more new plants. The following day, I came home to them dug up and dried out, again. The dogs were scolded, of course, but we didn’t want to waste, yet, 2 more plants. So, I planted the newest crape myrtles in large containers with a few annuals. It isn’t what I really wanted for the landscape, but, this is a spot on the outside of my garden gate, so the container thing works fine. Planting in containers and raised beds can be a good solution for keeping plants off the ground so that they aren’t dug up, time and time again.

Both young and small plants are at risk of having dogs urinate on them, which if allowed to continue, will eventually kill the plants. Sprinkle cayenne pepper over the area and around the base of the plants.

Neighborhood cats can be a big problem. Two successful ways of keeping them out of landscapes and gardens is to lay pine cones around the area or lay sections of chicken wire, secure to ground and cover ever so lightly with mulch. The pine cones, chicken wire or anything prickly will help to keep them at bay.

Here is a short listing of plants that are generally safe to use around pets and children:

  • Bamboo
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Forsythia
  • Cat Mint
  • Chives
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Heucheras
  • Sage
  • Herbs (many other varieties including annual varieties)
  • Sedum
  • Tulip poplar

This is just a short list of plants that can be planted safely in the garden. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has a great site with information on a listing of the 17 top toxic plants to pets, great articles on pet care (dogs, cats and horses), and animal poison control hotlines.

Poisonous Plants

Pawprints and Purrs, Inc is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating pet owners, preventing animal cruelty and pet abuse. Check out their website and you will find articles on everything from pet ownership to traveling with your pet to alternative medicines for pets.

If you have a question about whether or not a specific plant is toxic or safe, always ask your pet’s veterinarian.

The following link is to a short article on backyard safety for kids. It offers some good advice to keeping children safe and happy at play.

Backyard Safety for Kids

 

Tips for the Perfect Fall Garden Party

Fall has to be the most perfect time for an outdoor get together. Invite a few friends over and celebrate. Just like when you entertain indoors, entertaining outdoors requires some sprucing up as well. Take an objective walk through your garden area and decide where you want everyone to gather.

Pick a focal point as your backdrop and you’re ready to begin.

  • Pull out the tallest or widest spreading weeds
  • Clip out dead branches (be sure to save any larger dead shrub or tree branches and “plant” them in a bucket with sand or gravel, spray paint it and add fun lights – voila! a decoration)
  • Remove any dead plants
  • Prune and dead head those plants with spent blooms
  • Add a few well placed splashes of color (such as newly planted containers, mums that you just found at the farmer’s market or sunflowers in tall containers or baskets will make a huge difference and they can cover up any imperfections)
  • If you can’t find fresh cut sunflowers, pick up some silk ones from your local craft store. They work great in a pinch. The newer silk ones look amazingly real now and it’s the color and atmosphere that you’re going for anyway
  • Remember, after the sun sets, add some candlelight and the atmosphere becomes magical
  • Sweep or hose off any stone, wood or concrete walkways, patios or decks the day of the gathering
  • Put down a new layer of mulch, or if you haven’t the time pick up a large bag of aged compost from the hardware store a day or two before the event and put a scoop of it here and there in spaces where the ground is visible. This limited effort will still give your garden a fresh, well kept appearance and really makes the plants pop.

A folding table or two will be perfect. No tablecloth? Use an old sheet or burlap and tie off the corners at the table legs or use hair bands to secure it by bunching the fabric immediately underneath the table at the corners and tying it off with the band. Quilts work nicely too and have better weight. Some potted herbs on the table make for interesting and wonderfully fragrant mini-centerpiece.

What to serve. Keep it simple and quick. Fall is a great time for singe pot dishes such as chili, hardy soups, coq au vin, lasagne or beef daube. Most of these dishes are perfect for the slow cooker, leaving you more time for other projects or just looking good. A few garnishes, bakery bread, bowls and spoons will allow the guests to help themselves. And, what better way to end a hardy fall meal than with brownies, apple pie, pumpkin rolls or spice cake? And though, it’s optional, a good (not necessarily expensive) red wine. Yummmmmm……

Here are a few suggestions for bringing to life some of those empty flower pots. All you need to do is select one plant from the first group, one to two plants from the second group and one to two from the third group. Do be mindful of your selected colors when pairing though. Try to select plants with contrasting colors and textures for best results.

Group 1 (Spotlight Plant):

Group 2 (Filler Plants):

  • Hellebore Ivory Prince
  • Heuchera Plum Pudding
  • Heuchera Mystic Angel
  • Autumn Brilliance Fern
  • Japanese Painted Fern
  • Sungold Cypress
  • Dianthus
  • Liriope
  • Ogon Grass

 

Group 3 (Draping Groundcover):

Especially in Group 1, these suggestions are based on younger plants. After a couple of years in the container, they will be ready to be transplanted into a permanent location.

Add twinkle lights to trees, fence or frame. The clear ones with a golden tint are almost like candlelight and a few well placed candles are a great touch. Put some tiny gravel or sand in the bottom of old glass jars and then steady some chunky candles in them. If becomes a little breezy, they won’t blow out. The jars make excellent hurricanes and can safely double as walkway lights.

I hope this gives you a few ideas on making your garden and fall evening a special one. Why not share your favorite fall entertaining tips and ideas? I look forward to hearing from you.

Drift Roses

New from the Knockout Rose Family, are the Drift Roses. Drift Roses are gorgeous compact growing groundcover-like roses with miniature roses that will bloom continually from early spring to frost. Like their Knockout Relatives, the Drift Roses are tough, disease resistant and cold hardy as far north as zone 5.

They are sure to become a favorite for any type border. Prune back to 4″ in early spring (after the last hard frost) for best performance. Regular deadheading encourages re-blooming and helps maintain a tidy appearance.

Currently, we are booking our Drift Roses for shipping this spring. Click here to book your Red Drift Roses and Apricot Drift Roses.

P. Allen Smith talks about Drift Roses in a recent newsletter. It’s a good short article on these new landscape plants. For more information visit P. Allen Smith on Drift Roses

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Thuja Green Giants – Are they really fast growing trees?

The Thuja Green Giants are touted as one of the fastest growing evergreen trees on the commercial market. Will they really live up to this adoration?

Here at the nursery, we have grown and sold the Thuja Green Giants for almost 10 years. The plants are hybrids so they are propagated by cuttings as they will not come back true from seed. Some years we field transplanted some of the cuttings to grow on for larger projects. When field transplanting, we typically used Thuja Green Giant liners that were 6 to 8 inches tall. At the end of the first growing season, the field plants varied from 10 inches to 30 inches tall. By the end of the second summer, their heights often reached 22 to 40 inches.

Arborvitaes are a slow growing plant variety (generally less than 12 inches per year of new growth), which is why I believe when this crossed hybrid was found to be a more rapid grower, it become the “spokestree” for the variety. I do not know from where the studies about the extreme growth rate came, but in my own experience, I haven’t seen the extreme of 5 feet of new growth per year on this plant.

About 4 years ago, I lined the entrance of my drive with over 100 green giants (18 inches tall). Being far away from the house, I was not able to regularly water them as they needed and, to make the situation worse, the soil was extremely compacted. After the stress of their first year planted having to survive through drought, they pulled through amazingly and I only lost 2, which is pretty impressive. Today the green giants that line my drive are now about 6 feet tall.

Green Giants, as my drive way example describes, will grow in the poorest of soil. However, compacted soil seems to stunt their growth considerably. If you have compacted soil, till the area mixing in bags of aged compost or aged manure mix and coarse sand. Till the area going down as deep as possible (at least 12 inches deep). This will work to help with drainage and instantly put nutrients back into the soil. Then, plant the green giants. Giving them the best possible start for growing is always the best encouragement.

For the first year, apply supplemental water as necessary to keep the soil cool and moist. Apply shredded bark mulch around each plant going out at least 20 inches from the base of the plant leaving a welled area of about 3 to 4 inches at the base of the plant so that the bark does not touch the trunk of the plant. This welled area is for watering and air circulation.

Their first year in the ground the plants will work to develop a stronger and deeper root system. Fertilizing is not recommended during this time as it encourages more top growth rather than root expansion. Any top growth during this time is a plus, but don’t expect it as this will not happen to any extent until the following year.

The green giant grows a little differently. Where most arborvitae grow as a whole, this one sends up a vine looking leader from the top. This leader hardens off and over the next few years it begins to build the tree around itself sending up the leader again each year. A little odd, but you will see what I mean.

While I am not a fan of seeing the Thuja Green Giants. advertised as one that puts on amazing growth each year, these are plants that be used for hedges, privacy screens and even as specimen trees. Having real expectations that it will not grow as quickly as some of the faster growing deciduous trees do, but appreciate its uniqueness and you will not be disappointed.

Visit with us at Greenwood Nursery. We’re here. Just let us know if you need any help.

Foundation Plants – Adding Curb Appeal to Your Home

Drummond Castle and gardens.
Image via Wikipedia

Foundation plants are shrubs used for planting along homes and building to soften their look, enhance curb appeal and tie it to the surrounding landscape.

Some considerations to keep in mind when choosing these shrubs are:

– Style/Color

– Size

– Scale

– Seasons

The style of your house should be one of the biggest factors in selection foundation shrubs. For example, a colonial house should have different plants compared to a house that is of southwest style or modern style. The colonial would have more traditional, tight growing greenery such as boxwood whereas the southwest style home would have spiky type plants to give a desert feeling and the modern house having open, more free growing plants. Choose shrubs with colors that compliment the color of the house and don’t blend into it. A red brick would absorb shrubs such as the Cistena Plum Shrubs with deep red leaves, yet those same plants would appear striking along side a white frame house. The gorgeous blooms of the Nikko Blue Hydrangea would be wasted planted in front of a blue vinyl sided house.

Typical anchoring bushes are generally smaller growing (under 6 feet) and planted on the corners with somewhat larger growing plants. The length of the windows will usually dictate their height. If the windows on the house start at 3 feet above the ground, then select low growing shrubs that grow no taller than 3 1/2 feet. Placing taller greenery in front of windows is not good for security.

Scale is a consideration most forgotten. Small houses should have smaller growing plants to keep in its scale and not overwhelm the house as these plants mature. Large scale houses can comfortably accommodate larger growing shrubs and trees without the house seeming to disappear.

Anchor plants should offer color and texture for at least 3 seasons if not all 4. This is the reason that evergreen shrubs, both conifer and broadleaf, are often used for this purpose. Try to plant at least 50% of the foundation plants in evergreens to keep greenery around the house year around. Planting all deciduous anchor plants creates a bare house over the winter months. Select a few choice flowering shrubs or small trees, perennials and ornamental grasses to further extent color and texture in the other seasons.

The 4 Most Used Ground Cover Plants for Problem Areas

Groundcover plants are often forgotten in garden or landscape design until a problem occurs such as erosion. Here you will learn about ground cover plant varieties that are most commonly used to solve problems in the garden and landscape.

Vinca, both vinca major and vinca minor, is one of the most versatile groundcovers. It grows in both full sun and shade. An evergreen, vinca forms a mat securely attaching to the soil. The sprouts grow, fall over and form a new root system where they touch the ground. Vinca major grows taller, in the 12 inch and up range, before falling to the ground, whereas, vinca minor is a shorter tighter grower. While either plant variety can become invasive when left to grow without any control measures, they can generally be grown within confined spaces with some maintenance.

The English Ivy and Baltic Ivy, also, grow in both sun and shaded spaces, but do require more attention when planted near foundations, as they are dedicated climbers. Their climbing causes long-term damage, whether on larger plants or buildings, so preventative measures should be taken, such as pruning some of the taller growing sprouts. With that said, ivy is a beautiful groundcover and a great choice for shaded landscape settings.

With the many varieties of pachysandra available, there is sure to be one that will work in most any situation. Pachysandra terminalis is most commonly used but the variegated and Green Sheen varieties are now becoming more widely available to offer more choices. Growing mostly in areas of partially sunny to filtered shade, pachysandra will get off to a slower start compared to vinca or ivy.

Truly underused is ground cover euonymus. Often called wintercreeper, there are many different varieties with as many different looks. Purple wintercreeper is the most common variety. The Euonymus Woolong Ghost is really interesting with its dark green leaves spiked with white veins. The Woolong Ghost is mat forming and can climb if given the opportunity. The Euonymus Kewensis offers tiny green leaves and is an excellent creeper. The Kewensis really shows its talents when planted in spaces where it can drape over such as retaining walls or rock gardens. Creeping euonymus varieties grow in full sun to partially shaded areas.

Typical spacing for ground cover plants is 12 to 18 inches apart. Bare root plants can be planted 6 to 8 inches apart for a quicker fill in.

When planting on sloped areas, use an independent sprinkler, the type that attaches to a hose. The sprinkler will need to be run until water soaks down several inches. The time for this will vary so it is best to check the soil each time it is run. How often to water will depend on local factors, but in many cases should be done every 3 to 5 days after planting for the first 6 to 8 weeks for the plants to fully establish a newer root system and begin growing. Checking the soil allows you to monitor and make the proper adjustments. If the soil is extremely dry after 3 days, you may need to water every 2 days instead. Rainfall isn’t dependable and often just runs down the surface of the ground without being absorbed into the soil.

Mulching around groundcovers can be difficult, especially on sloped areas. For sloped areas, I recommend putting down a thin layer of straw. The straw will protect the young new plants from the sun’s heat, heavy rainfall, which can wash bare root plants out of their holes and down the hill, as well as keep the soil cool and moist. Straw decomposes and helps to build up the soil. Once the plants have fully established and are beginning to grow any remaining straw can be removed and mixed into other areas of the garden or landscape.

Whether you choose vinca, ivy, pachysandra or groundcover euonymus, these groundcover plants are going to be the best choices for the job. With limited amount of care and maintenance, they are quick to establish a newer root system and begin new top growth on their way to solving your landscaping problem.

Visit with us at Greenwood Nursery. We’re here. Just let us know if you need any help.

How to Add Curb Appeal with Foundation Plants

Foundation plants are shrubs used for planting along homes and building to soften their look, enhance curb appeal and tie it to the surrounding landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

Some considerations to keep in mind when choosing these shrubs are:
– Size- Style/Color

– Scale

– Seasons

The style of your house should be one of the biggest factors in selection foundation shrubs. For example, a colonial house should have different plants compared to a house that is of southwest style or modern style. The colonial would have more traditional, tight growing greenery such as boxwood whereas the southwest style home would have spiky type plants to give a desert feeling and the modern house having open, more free growing plants. Choose shrubs with colors that compliment the color of the house and don’t blend into it. A red brick would absorb shrubs such as the Cistena Plum Shrubs with deep red leaves, yet those same plants would appear striking along side a white frame house. The gorgeous blooms of the Nikko Blue Hydrangea would be wasted planted in front of a blue vinyl sided house.

Typical anchoring bushes are generally smaller growing (under 6) and planted on the corners with somewhat larger growing plants. The length of the windows will usually dictate their height. If the windows on the house start at 3 feet above the ground, then select low growing shrubs that grow no taller than 3 1/2 feet. Placing taller greenery in front of windows is not good for security.

Scale is a consideration most forgotten. Small houses should have smaller growing plants to keep in its scale and not overwhelm the house as these plants mature. Large scale houses can comfortably accommodate larger growing shrubs and trees without the house seeming to disappear.

Anchor plants should offer color and texture for at least 3 seasons if not all 4. This is the reason that evergreens, both conifers and broadleafs, are often used for this purpose. Try to plant at least 50% of the foundation plants in evergreens to keep greenery around the house year around. Planting all deciduous anchor plants creates a bare house over the winter months. Select a few choice flowering shrubs or small trees, perennials and ornamental grasses to further extent color and texture in the other seasons.

Visit with us at Greenwood Nursery. We’re here. Just let us know if you need any help.

 

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Planting Strawberry Plants

Here are a few tips that will get your strawberry plants off to the best possible start.

Strawberry plants grow best in well drained soil that has been amended with organic matter. Strawberries should not be planted in or near soil where eggplants, peppers, potatoes, raspberries, or tomatoes have grown over the past 3 to 5 years because strawberries are susceptible to verticillium wilt. It is also advisable to move strawberry beds whenever verticillium wilt appears. Soils with high lime content may be unsuitable for this plant. Strawberries need to be protected from freezing during the winter months. In addition to mulching them, planting strawberry plants at the top of a gentle slope helps minimize winter kill and frost damage to blossoms.

Plant strawberry plants in rows or hills in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Plant the plants 15 to 18 inches apart in rows spaced about 2 feet apart. When planting bare root strawberries, be sure to trim the roots to six inches long. Dig holes deep enough to accommodate the roots. Inside the hole, mound enough dirt to be able to have the plant sit on the mound with the roots spread evenly around. The base of the crown should sit at the soil level. If the crown is set too high above the ground, the plant will dry out. Smooth and water to settle the soil. If the plants experience a drought immediately after planting, it may stunt the growth of the plants. Inspect after frost to see if any plants were lifted out of the soil. If they were, gently push them back into the soil and cover.

Once plants have begun to leaf out, fertilize can be applied. A balanced 10-10-10 blend can be added according to directions on the label. When the plant begins to form blooms until harvest is complete, is the time period that the plants will need the most water. One to two inches of supplemental watering a week may be necessary to keep the plants hydrated. Check the soil for dampness if in doubt.

Their first growing year in the ground, pinch off any blooms. This will force more growth into the plants size, creating larger plants with the potential for more blooms producing more fruit the next growing season.

Check out what we have available this season: Strawberry Plants. We’re here. Just let us know if you need any help.