Tina talks about the best plants to use for shady ground cover.
Tina discusses what plants could be used to soak up the water in the wet areas of your garden.
Tina talks about how much taller asters grow when they are in your garden as opposed to the ones in the garden center.
Native Asters put on quite a show this time of year. Seen along roadsides across the northeastern part of the country asters provide a bold pop of color When other plants and perennials begin to fade into the landscape. They are a staple in many perennial gardens and borders, with clusters of star daisy like flowers. Colors range from white, pink to hues of lavender purple and are at the forefront of fall gardens right along side mums, cabbage and winter pansies.
Aster novae-angliae also known as New England aster and novae-belgii, New York asters are North American natives hardy to zones 4-8 and commonly found in your local garden center typically beginning in late August through the fall. They are a key food source for pollinators and wildlife alike. Late blooming flowers, like asters provide a viable food source necessary to supply much needed energy for pollinators like the monarch butterfly and hummingbirds as they migrate southward. They are also a pollen source for bees as well, especially honey bees.
In their natural habitat they look different than what you see in local garden centers. When grown commercially they are typically pruned twice during the summer months to encourage branching to maintain a certain height ranging from six to twelve inches to fourteen inches at the most. Wild asters can grow up to six feet in height without pruning. They flower effortlessly with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight and are right at home in container gardens as they are growing in garden beds. Caring for asters are simple and similar to garden mums. The key is to plant asters in early fall to establish a healthy root system. They prefer full sun to partial shade. If grown in shady area of the garden plants tend to be leggy and will need to be staked. Asters are also drought tolerant and do best in well drained soil and can be susceptible to root rot if planted in heavy wet soil. First year plants don’t need to be fertilized heavily, once they are established begin fertilizing in early spring. Add organic compost around the base of the plants and use a balanced fertilizer monthly. Overall plants are relatively maintenance free and are seldom bothered by pests. Powdery mildew can occur but is no real threat to the plant. Spraying an organic fungicide early in the season can help prevent it.
Shade Gardens can be as bright and colorful as a sunny garden even with 5 or less hours of direct sunlight. For many people the frustration results from not planting the right plants in the right location. Another common misconception is that shade gardens don’t have color or flowers, not true. With a little creativity a shady garden can be as colorful as a sunny garden, starting with the right plants. But before you can plant get to know your yard.
Take a look around your outdoor space. Become aware of where the sun rises and sets. See how the sun plays upon certain areas of the garden at different times of the day. You may find areas that are shaded but have dappled sunlight in the morning or indirect light in the late afternoon. This can make the difference between plants that need partial sun to full shade. If you have bare spots under trees where grass no longer thrives consider adding a perennial border, they are easy to grow and require little maintenance.
The next step is to assess the condition of the soil. I recommend testing your soil to determine whether it is acid or alkaline. You can purchase an at home testing kit or send a sample off to your local government extension office to get an in-depth analysis of your soil. Knowing what nutrients your soil needs is a big part of how successful plants will grow in a specific area. Soil in shaded areas can tell two different stories. It can be extremely dry, especially underneath mature trees and too moist in locations where drainage is poor. Adding compost helps to condition and break down soil and improve drainage.
A shade garden is a great way to experiment with colors, tones and textures. When designing the garden keep colors light, avoid plants with dark foliage, bright colors like lime green, and variegated leaves can brighten up dark areas. Dark foliage plants are usually offset by white flowers and work when planted against bright green foliage or flowering Astilbe.
Hosta is one of the most popular shade plants and for good reason. It looks best when planted in full shade. It’s stalks of fragrant lavender or white trumpet flowers are the perfect accent to the large heart shaped leaves. Planting Hosta in the sun does not capture its beauty. Leaves become burned and color looses intensity. When Choosing Hosta go for large leaf varieties like Sum and Substance. It’s large display of lime green leaves is show stopper. Colors range from blue and lime greens as well as variegated. Perennial varieties of Heuchera, offer a wide range colors to add depth and texture, with their scalloped and ruffled leaves. Fern varieties are great texture and Astible can provide both flowering color and texture.
Hydrangea arborescens, ‘Annabelle’ , Hygrangea quercifolia, ‘Oakleaf ‘ provide big white blooms and thrive in full shade. These are some of the plants and shrubs for shade, just to name a few. I suggest you do your research before you head out to the garden center to buy plants. Other design tips to consider are planting flowering perennials that bloom in succession. You want to have a colorful blooming garden from spring to fall.
Remember it’s your garden in the shade, follow your inner designer and don’t forget to add a bench or garden to seat so you can stop, sit and admire your hard work.
Fall is a season of new beginnings, the days are shorter and the temperatures cooler. The landscape becomes bursting with rich colors of burgundy red, gold, purple and yellow. Hardy mums are front and center of the fall garden along with pumpkins and gourds. Whether you grow them as seasonal annuals or perennials that come back in the garden every year mums give your landscape a pop of color from September to November. If you find them to be a bit fussy and a challenge look no further we have the answers.
Mums are an easy to grow low-maintenance plant that grows equally well in garden beds and mixed containers. They are drought resistant and relatively pest free. Planting mums in the garden is a great way to add late season color to your landscape. They continually bloom for weeks at a time and prefer at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Preparing the soil for mums requires adding quality compost to the existing garden beds. Improving the condition of heavy dense soil improves growing conditions for the plants. Mums prefer well-drained soil.
Watering mums can be a challenge. The most common problem is overwatering. As mentioned above garden Mums are drought tolerant. Overwatering can lead to leaves wilting, which can be mistaken for being too dry. This is common problem for those who have outdoor irrigation in place. If this has happened to you take a hands off approach, meaning ‘back off’ of regularly or daily watering. As the daylight decreases and nights turn cooler plants are not drying out as quickly as they do in a garden during the summer months. If you are growing Mums in containers allow the soil to dry thoroughly. Physically checking the soil daily with your hand is helpful. If the pot or container feels light in weight and the soil feels dry then proceed with watering. Avoid the mums drying and wilting. Letting them go too dry too long will diminish the blooms and color.
Fertilize mums in mixed container gardens using Jack’s Classic blossom booster 10-30-20 or All -Purpose 20-20-20. Plants in the garden should be planted using Espoma Bio-Tone Starter Fertilizer the first year. Then fertilize monthly the second year of growth from May to August.
Hardy mums can tolerate the frosty cool nights in the fall and can easily be overwintered for the next season. The key to successfully overwintering mums is to plant early. Planting in early fall allows the plants to become established before winter. Once a hard frost occurs stems and leaves will turn black. Cut plant back leaving an inch to one and a half inches above the ground and cover with mulch. Garden Mums can grow naturally to heights of 12-48 inches. To keep plants compact and encourage more branching pinch back plant tips twice during the summer months. First pinching occurs in June. When plant has grown 6-8 inches pinch tops off each branch about 2 inches. Pinch again in July, 2 inches off each branch from the new growth. This will strengthen plants and encourage blooming.
Falls rich display of colorful garden mums are unmistakable and a welcome sight after a long hot summer.
Tina discusses how to plant oak trees at the Camden Children’s Garden.
Tina visits the outdoor butterfly space at the Camden Children’s Garden.
You may think it is too late to plant flowers to attract butterflies to your garden, but not true.
Adding flowers in the garden now will bring butterflies to your garden for many seasons to come. Late summer and fall is the perfect time to add plants to your garden. Plants have plenty of time to settle in before winter. Typically fall can turn rainy, which is ideal for newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials to establish. Another perk of planting now is that there is still a good selection of plants to choose from at your local garden center. Late flowering perennials are ideal to add now to extend your garden blooms to the first frost.
To start building your butterfly garden you want to do research and find out what flowers butterflies are attracted to. Typically butterflies like sun loving plants. Find a location that receives an adequate amount of direct sunlight, 6 to 8 hours is ideal. Once that is established you can make your plant list. Butterflies not only love sunny plants but they are attracted to sweetly scented flowers in red, yellow, pink and purple. Flowers are usually flat topped or have clusters of tubular shaped flowers.
You want to have a good mix of host and nectar plants both annual and perennial. Host plants are important to include in the garden providing a place for butterflies to lay their eggs and caterpillars to feed on. Naturally different host plants attract different butterflies.
I recommend doing a little extra research if you are looking to attract a certain type of butterfly to your garden. Host plants like Asclepias tuberosa, Parsley, Queen Anne’s Lace, Fennel, Hollyhocks and Shasta Daises are a good place to start.
Nectar plants are equally important to provide food for the adult butterflies. Planting a wide variety of nectar plants will invite a wide range of butterflies. Native plants like Joe Pye Weed and Aster can serve as both host and nectar plant. Other popular native perennials are Coneflower, Phlox, Salvia, and Heliopsis False Sunflower. Butterfly Bush is a popular choice for butterfly gardens because of its sweet fragrance and abundant nectar, but is not native to North America. It originates from Asia and has been labeled by some to be an invasive weed.
A few design tips to consider when planting.
Create large masses of colors and flowers together in large areas. Butterflies tend to linger longer when there is a wide range of flowers and colors. Combine Ornamental grasses with flowering perennials and annuals. Varieties of Panicum virgatum, Switchgrass provide structure as well being a host plant for Skipper caterpillars. Add a water source and resting place in the garden. A shallow saucer filled with water and a few flat stones make inviting resting places for visiting butterflies. Refrain from using any pesticides in the garden and don’t worry about weeds. If you do not mind a wild looking garden keep weeds like thistle and clover around both are considered host plants as well.