Winter Holidays are Coming!

The holidays are coming and this Garden Lady’s thoughts are of the garden and the plants that I want to add to my garden. There are many great gifts online that gardeners may want. But as for this Garden Lady, I cannot wait for plant catalogs to arrive in my mailbox. Instead of sugarplums dancing in my head, I have thoughts and dreams of flowers. So I am eager to see what is new in the seed and plant business that I can buy for my garden.

Now that I have limited space in my garden, I have to be much more selective of the flowers I add. I would love it if readers of TheGardenLady blog would tell me about their favorite flowers. The garden lady has a wooded property so that the sunniest area is the front of the garden on the eastern side of the property- this is where most of my plants are planted. This is the area nearest the street, so that this garden is for everyone who passes by- and people love to walk or drive by just to see what is in bloom. So could my readers suggest their favorite big showy flowers so that drivers and walkers can enjoy them, too? Tiny flowers just get overlooked in this garden. I also would like readers to recommend favorite plants that are low maintenance, low care plants that have flowers for a long blooming season. This garden is in temp zone 6b.

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Having problems with your avocado tree?

A list of common avocado tree diseases were listed in a previous post.  If you do not see the problems on this list, here are some suggestions.

If you bought your avocado tree just a few months ago from a nursery, take it back to the nursery. If they are a reliable nursery, they will give you a replacement tree or refund your money. Or perhaps the nursery people will tell you the problem your tree is having and if their avocado trees had suffered from the same problems, they will tell you their solution.

If this avocado tree was a gift from someone, ask that person if they are having similar problems with their trees- you may have planted an unhealthy tree that is not worth saving. If their trees are not having problems, see if they will give you a replacement. Plant this replacement in another location to be sure there are no diseases in the soil that may have been in the tree’s present location. Planting instructions are presented in the video above.

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A person by the name of Jay made a comment on the post 35 Acid Loving Plants (with Photos) about Sedum. I wonder if it’s the same Jay who made the nice video above.  TheGardenLady will respond briefly to his comment, which is this:

Most varieties of sedum, a 3 to 5 inch high ground cover that bloom in shades of white, pink, red, purple, yellow, or orange, as well as one everblooming red named “Dragon’s Blood”. These are shade loving plants, low maintenance, drought tolerant, traffic resilient easily grown plants. They will also grow very well in full to partial sun…very versatile plants. They do well by themselves or mixed with other shade lovers such as Hostas, which come in so many leaf colors now and which love acidic soil. So Hosta would be happy with your conifer tree which is also acid loving.. happy gardening.

Sedum are low maintenance, drought tolerant, easily grown plants. And many are hardy in Temperature Zones 4 to 9.

Jay says that sedum are shade loving plants that grow well with hostas. This is not quite accurate. Some will do well in the shade. But the majority of Sedum prefer sun or at least partial sun. So if you do buy Sedum for your garden, please be sure that you read the label or ask the seller which kind you have bought- whether it is for the sun or can take the shade.

Jay also says that Sedum are traffic resilient. Some are, some are not. See here.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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