September 12th, 2017

Building an Arboretum

I read with pleasure the comment from Dan Murgor that he is building an Arboretum to help our planet.

What is an Arboretum? According to the definition in the Merrium-Webster dictionary it is “a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes “though many definitions say it is just “a botanical garden devoted to trees.” This GardenLady prefers the inclusive definition.

I wish Mr. Murgor would write more about his dreams and plans for his Arboretum and also give us readers some more information about the temperature zone location of this Arboretum and the size of the property, so that we could know a little more and give more educated suggestions.

Also, part of the definition of an Arboretum is that it is for scientific and educational purposes. Does Mr. Murgor intend to use his Arboretum for these purposes? This GardenLady gets many people who walk though her garden and ask questions about gardening and the names of the plants. These people often go home with free plants for their gardens as well as answers to their questions. TheGardenLady always encourages plantings over hard topping the property or having large expanses of just grass.

I find what Mr. Murgor is planning to be very exciting. He may join the ranks of people like Mr. and Mrs. Lacy who started what Mr. Lacy calls “the smallest arboretum in the world” in Linwood, NJ. Linwood Arboretum has 200 shrubs and trees on only 1 acre of land. I recommend that Mr. Murgor as well as other readers of this column visit this delightful arboretum to see what can be done even on a small parcel of land. And I am sure that when you visit, the people in charge of the Linwood Arboretum would give advice to those starting their own arboretum. Read this article about it.

Mr. Murgor, you made this GardenLady‘s day when you sent the email that you are starting an Arboretum. I hope you will write to to give more details of your plan.

For the rest of you, visit your nearest Arboretum or google up Arboretum images. And maybe more people will decide to do what Mr. and Mrs. Lacy did and what Mr. Dan Murgor is planning to create.

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July 25th, 2017

The blackening and dying of an avocado


TheGardenLady received this question from Manuel:

My [avocado] fruit is falling off the vine. The avocado is turning black. My tree is ten years old sits on a hill. I always get a lot of fruit. What can I do?

Like most plants, avocados have their problems. Some problems can be treated and other problems, science has not found the cure. Avocados have a number of problems that growers know about. See here.

But as an online garden blog that tries to answer plant questions, some of these questions are difficult to figure out with such a brief description and so few photos. Also, the best place to ask certain questions is the area where these plants are grown in quantity.

TheGardenLady recommends that the person or anyone who has a serious avocado problem, call the California Master Gardeners – not to email them – and then you can talk directly to someone about your problem, giving all the details you think are pertinent and also to answer their questions about the plant. The people who answer the calls are horticulturists who have studied the plants in their area. If they tell you they cannot answer your problem about the blackness of the tree and its subsequent death, ask them to give you the telephone number of the agricultural extension where you could get answers. Here are some numbers to connect you to a qualified person to help you.

You can also buy a kit to test your soil to see if there is a soil problem for growing avocados or other plants.

And if you want to spend the money to find out what your specific problem is, if Master Gardeners cannot identify it from your phone call, there is a fairly expensive kit you can purchase to be filled with samples from your dead avocado tree or any other diseased plant that you cannot identify, that can be mailed to a research lab for scientists to determine the problem. If you want this kit, ask the Master Gardener you are speaking to about it and how to buy it. Usually people get the answers to their questions from the Master Gardener horticulturalists before having to resort to this last test.

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July 6th, 2017

What to do about creases in gladiola leaves?

TheGardenLady received this question from Jim.

The leaves on a number of my gladiolas have developed a bend or a crease, often when they are nearing blooming, from which they never recover. This is so maddening! Yep, at about the halfway point in the long leaves, they just droop over, usually developing a crease, and the plant never blooms. ‘I’ve actually tried to “splint” these plants, to no avail. This usually occurs when the leaves are forming that “fan” shape from the bottom upward, when the plant is about to form buds.It’s like “so close, yet so far”. Would appreciate some input.

Though I hate planting bulbs each year, I love gladiolas and am willing to do the extra work finding spaces to put them in my garden.

But like all plants glads can have diseases. Since TheGardenLady has not seen your plants, from your description it sounds like the corms of your plants are infected with what is referred to as Fusarium rot and yellows.

Here is what the University of Minnesota Extension has to say about the disease:

Corms infected with the fungus  oxysporum f.sp gladioli may produce symptomatic plants or develop dry rot in storage. Plants growing from infected corms may develop arching young stalks or premature yellowing of leaves and faded flower colors. Often plants are stunted and fail to bloom. The corm rot, not always visible externally, is often restricted to the corm base. When the corm is split in half, there may be dark-colored streaks that extend from the corm base through the flesh. In storage, corms may develop dark spots on the surface or in severe cases the entire center may be black and decayed. Management includes removal of infected plants and corms with obvious decay. Follow good harvesting and storage procedures. Fungicides may be used to dust corms before planting. The use of high nitrogen fertilizers tends to increase corm rot development.

If this description fits what you are observing with your plants, dig them up and discard. Do not compost. If this description does not fit what is happening to your plants, take the entire sick plant, include the corm, to your local Master Gardener office for them to ID the disease.

Next year if you decide to plant more gladiolas, this GardenLady would buy new corms from a reliable source and plant these new corms in different locations than were planted this year.

One source for Gladiola bulbs* that looks interesting that this GardenLady wants to try is Heirloom Gladiolus Bulbs.

*corms are referred to as bulbs by most people

June 18th, 2017

More Flowers in TheGardenLady’s Garden

Here are some more images of flowers from TheGardenLady’s garden. They were taken by Cindy, who has a great eye for beauty. Don’t forget to click on the images to enlarge them.

June 18th, 2017

Flowers in TheGardenLady’s Garden

Enjoy the beautiful pictures of flowers in TheGardenLady’s garden taken by Cindy. Click on the image to enlarge it and take in the beauty.

June 7th, 2017

J’acuse the squirrels

There is something in TheGardenLady’s garden that does not like the garden decorations.

As my garden is being filled with plants, this garden lady has turned to putting decorations in the garden where no plants will grow. I try to get decorations that serve a dual purpose. By that I mean I have been buying birdhouses to decorate tree branches and to serve as places for the birds to nest. I bought a mechanical owl to make a natural looking environment as well as to, hopefully, deter some creatures who want to eat my plants. And I have two wind spinners that are decorative that I hope will work like the old fashioned scarecrow. (Though I think wild animals are too sophisticated to be scared by these whirling decorations)

But, as I said in my title – there is something living in my garden-rent and tax free, I might add, that does not like my decorations.This critter is ungrateful enough to even destroy the decorations that I place in my garden.

Let me explain.

I bought a mechanical owl for my garden and placed it in various locations on the ground or on the ladder where I grow my Major Wheeler honeysuckle vine. Wherever I place this owl, I come out the next day and discover that the owl has been knocked over.

Keep reading →

May 27th, 2017

More Photos of TheGardenLady’s Garden

Keep reading →

May 8th, 2017

TheGardenLady’s Garden: 2017

Paeonia Japonica – woodland peony

Laura’s Photography

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” from Ode
on a Grecian Urn by poet John Keats

Though the poet, Keats, wrote these lines about the paintings on a Grecian Urn, this GardenLady likes to think they could be said about a garden. And this spring the garden flowers have seemed especially beautiful. Or does TheGardenLady say that each and every spring when the flowers seem to take one’s breath away with their beauty?

This year, in my garden, it seems that flowers have been opening a month earlier than I remember. I always thought lilacs opened at the end of May on my sister’s birthday. This year mine gave me the most lavish display but are now already fading in the first week of May.

Other flowers that have put on a spectacular show for me this year: I have a wisteria that is trained to grow as a tree and this year it has a head full of the flowers; my dogwoods, all wild or self seeded are having an incredible show with amazingly large flowers and my bulbs seemed to outshine themselves: from the crocuses, to the hyacinths and grape hyacinths, the tulips to the Hyacinthoides (bluebells) and camassia. It is breathtaking. I feel like my garden will soon look as beautiful as the artist Monet’s garden since I have most of the same flowering plants.

And because this year, after many years of sitting supposedly still in the small clumps where I planted them, this year the flower plants have spread tremendously either by underground rhizomes like my Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley ) brought from my parents’ farm over 30 years ago or by sending out seeds like my hellebores have done – hellebores that a friend gave me about ten years ago. I have always been impressed when I visited people’s splendid gardens and they told me that certain of their beautiful flowers were “self-seeded” – they had not planted them. I never had this happen to me until recently, after years of amending my soil with top soil and mulch. Now my garden is a garden where plants want to move in. Also this year with the weather so warm, so many of my plants have multiplied. So this spring when there was a request for plants for a plant sale, I had many plants to donate. I also have many plants that I want to put in other locations on my property.

Interesting to this GardenLady is that because the property my house was built on had been a woodland property before my house was built, the first ever built on this site, the plants that seem to be happily expanding have been the woodland flowers that I planted or that planted themselves. I have a large patch of trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) that have come into my garden from their woodland location, a flower I had never seen until I moved here; I have a very large area in the shade where woodland poppies grow with their bright yellow flowers taking over after the daffodils die (Stylophorum diphyllum); Jack-in-the pulpits have come to the front of my house and are happily living under some yew bushes; woodland or snowdrop spring anemones (Anemone sylvestris) this year have had more flowers than ever before and also sent out a number of baby plants: and primulas now seem happy in my garden including primula vulgaris that has made a large clump. I do not know what it is about woodland flowers that make them among the most charming of flowering plants so that I delight in their filling my garden.

TheGardenLady wonders how your spring garden has been looking. If you take photos, could you share them with TheGardenLady readers? Send them and TheGardenLady will try to post them to show the beauty of your gardens.

April 28th, 2017

Laura’s Photography of TheGardenLady’s Garden

Enjoy some beautiful photos of TheGardenLady’s garden, courtesy of Laura’s Photography.

April 5th, 2017

Gardening with toxic materials

Someone left a comment on this site say in which they say they use old C and D batteries in their garden to make the soil more acidic. TheGardenLady would NEVER recommend gardening with toxic materials. And old C and D batteries are toxic according to the US government (see here).  In fact the DC govt site writes “Batteries pose a special issue since they may contain harmful metals that can be dangerous to the
environment and toxic to humans and animals.”

Dogs could be poisoned if they found those batteries and chewed them. The Pet Poison Helpline writes “Batteries can be very dangerous when
ingested by dogs. When a battery is punctured or swallowed, there is risk for the alkaline or acidic material to leak out, resulting in severe corrosive injury.” Read more on their website about the danger of pets chewing batteries

Why would someone want to put something so toxic in their garden when one can buy products that are safe for the plants and for the environment? Flower gardens especially are supposed to be beautiful. What kind of an aesthetic is it to put non-biodegradable junk in a
garden? It sounds more like a trash site than a garden site. And I am surprised that this person’s town wouldn’t this person for putting batteries in their yard.

The first thing a gardener should do before adding anything to the soil is to have it tested to see if the pH needs altering. If you have your soil tested through your Master Gardener organization or through your agricultural extension office, they will tell you exactly what is needed or not needed to grow your acid loving plants. And they certainly won’t tell you to use old batteries.

If you need to add acid to your soil, there are many products on the market that are safe for the environment and for the home gardener to use. A favorite of this GardenLady and her friends is the Espoma brand. But check out your local or favorite garden store to see what they sell
and read the labels carefully before using.