Monthly Archives: September 2014

Garden Statuary

Garden statuary doesn’t just mean a formal classic garden statue! Decorating your outdoor living area using garden statuary today means using any type of garden embellishment from an antique collectible table to a piece of driftwood to express your own personal style just as you would inside your home.

Whatever springs to mind when you think of garden statues, using outdoor art objects to decorate and embellish your garden is a delightful way to personalize your outdoor living area as well as charm visitors to your yard.

You may choose an eclectic collection of old china plates that can be displayed on a fence, or an old rusted metal child’s toy like a wagon, featured in a special spot. There are no rules for choosing your own personal garden statuary. Whimsical objects of iron, tin, wood and stone are all delightful expressions of your own personal style when you tuck them into secret areas of your garden.

Visitors love to discover

One of my favorite pieces of garden statuary is a hidden mirror that my visitors discover when they enter my grape arbor. Mounted on the side of the arbor, I wait for the surprised exclamation when they disappear into the leaves only to discover their own reflection!

You can search yard sales and flea markets for all kinds of interesting garden decor objects. Even something you might never consider allowing inside your house becomes a fascinating outdoor focal point when you place it into your backyard! Unique stepping stones, gazing globes, armillarys, weather vanes, flags or windchimes, whatever strikes you as a interesting object is the right object when adding garden statuary to your backyard.

Roses: Diseases & Pests

Gardeners aren’t the only ones that love roses. Rose bushes can be the favorite of insects and certain plant diseases too. But with proper maintenance and care, the rose is still one of the easiest and most rewarding flowers to grow.

Rose Pests

There are many insects that love roses. Aphids, white flies, mealy bugs, Japanese beetles, rose borers, to name a few. Don’t be dismayed by this though as they are generally easy to get rid of once you have discovered them.

Many of these rose pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or even removed by hand or by a jet of water. There are a number of effective products, many of them environmentally friendly, available for rose pests. Some cover a variety of insects while others are specific to a particular type. So although many insects would love to make a meal of your roses, you will find that a weekly inspection and quick treatment of your rose bush will prevent any widespread infestation.

Rose Diseases

Depending on the area in which you live, you may encounter different rose diseases, but there are three main afflictions that are universal to roses everywhere.

  • Black Spot – This looks just like the name. Black spots appear on leaves and stems of the rose bush. The leaves eventually fall off and the whole plant can become denuded. The most effective treatment is an application of dormant oil and lime sulfur before the new growth appears in the spring. All the infected leaves and branches need to be removed along with any laying on the ground in order to prevent re-infection.
  • Powdery Mildew – A powdery light colored fuzz appears on the rose leaves and even new buds. Left untreated, it will spread throughout the entire bush eventually killing the foliage. It can be treated with a commercial spray or you can try making your own by combining three teaspoons of baking soda and two tablespoons of vegetable oil with one gallon of water. Spray the mixture on in the mornings on the top and underside of all the leaves. This won’t remove the damage to infected leaves, but will prevent the spread to new foliage and rose buds.
  • Rust – Again, just like the name, rust colored spots appear mainly on the undersides of the rose leaves. Rust can be treated like black spot with an application of dormant oil and lime sulphur.

Neem oil is a new product that promises to get rid black spot, mildew, rust as well as many rose insects too. It is derived from the Neem tree.

Roses: Care and Pruning

Pruning and caring for roses isn’t tricky or difficult whether you are a seasoned rose gardener or even just a beginner. Roses are one of the easiest and most rewarding flowering shrubs to grow. With proper pruning and some basic rose care, you will be able to produce some spectacular roses that will be the envy of your neighborhood!

Rose Pruning Basics

Roses should be pruned by late winter or very early spring. The new buds will begin to swell early so keep watch and don’t start too late. Make sure that you start with good quality sharp, clean pruners. Most important of all: when pruning roses make sure you have a good pair of gardening gloves and wear a long sleeved shirt!

Cut just above an outward facing bud

All pruning cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle. Make each cut about one quarter to one half inch above an outward facing bud. Cutting above an outward facing bud means that the new growth will be outward, away from the center of the plant which improves air circulation and gives the rose bush an attractive overall shape. If possible, dab on a bit of pruning seal after each cut. If you don’t have that, some gardeners substitute white glue!

Prune back the rose bush until you have anywhere from four to eight healthy looking canes. How tall you leave the bush will depend on the type of rose that you are growing. In general you want to encourage a bowl shape shrub with new growth facing outward.

Make sure you also remove any diseased or blighted leaves from the bush itself and from the ground surrounding it.

Cut right to the live tissue

When you are cutting back, make sure that you prune right to where there is live or green tissue. It should look light colored and healthy, not dark and porous. Dead branches need to be removed completely. Saw them off right to the base of the rose bush. Remove all the thin and spindly growth as well. Generally anything that is thinner than a pencil should be cut out. Take off all the suckers too. Suckers are healthy looking canes than grow from below the grafted section on the main stem of the rose bush.

Fertilizing

Roses will benefit from feeding about three times a year. Feed them in the early spring, right after you prune, then again when the first blooms appear and once more in late summer or early fall. When you first plant your new rose bush add a handful of bonemeal to get the roots off to a good start.

Watering

Roses need regular watering in order to produce the biggest and most beautiful blooms. Make sure that when you water, the moisture reaches down to the bottom of the roots, which is generally about eighteen inches. It is better to give a good watering once a week or so rather than a light sprinkle every other day. Good deep watering will develop a healthy root system resulting in a vigorous healthy rose bush. As well, try to water with a hose or drip system from underneath the leaves as leaving water on the rose leaves themselves can encourage disease.

Location

Finally, make sure that your rose bush gets enough sun. Roses need a minimum of six hours of sunshine each day, but more is even better. Your roses also need space so allow enough distance between plants to provide good air circulation between plants.

When you purchase a new rose bush it will come with specific comments and instructions about proper care and maintenance specific for its type.

Roses: Types of roses

Why are some gardeners afraid to grow roses when they are among the easiest and most delightful type of flower to grow? Roses are unequalled in beauty, fragrance and incredible variety. The rose is the perfect flower for the beginner gardener as well as the favorite of the seasoned expert. Knowing the different characteristics of each type of rose is important so that you don’t end up with a hybrid tea when you really wanted a shrub style! So whether you are new to growing roses or just looking for the latest variety, there is a beautiful rose bush with your name on it!

Hybrid tea roses

Hybrid tea roses are the tall, long-stemmed variety of roses. They are specifically for cutting. In fact this is the type of rose that you find for sale at the florist. There is usually one bloom on each long stem rather than a cluster of flowers. The hybrid tea rose was first introduced in 1867 and today thousands of cultivars or varieties exist. They are not generally the most attractive type of rose bush in your garden as they grow long and leggy. As well, they are a favorite for insects and diseases. If you are looking for a rose bouquet however, this is the type you’ll want to try.

Floribunda Roses

Floribunda roses are a cross between a hybrid tea and polyantha rose. (Polyantha roses are a hardier, low growing, low maintenance, shrub style rose.) Floribunda roses have large, showy blossoms much like the hybrid teas but bloom more freely in clusters of blossoms rather than a single bloom on each stem. Floribundas generally make a more attractive shrub as they are not as prone to becoming so long and gangly. They are generally more disease resistant than the hybrid teas and will grow to two or three feet tall.

Grandiflora Roses

Grandiflora roses are a result of the crossing of hybrid teas with floribundas. These are relatively new roses, introduced in the 1950’s. They have many of the characteristics of the floribunda, including the large showy blossoms in clusters, but grow to be much larger, reaching from anywhere from five feet right up to eight.

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses are perfect for the beginning rose gardener. Shrub roses, especially when compared with traditional varieties, are an excellent choice for many reasons. They are naturally disease-resistant, hardy in colder climates and have a very compact growth habit which means that little pruning is required. Best of all, they look beautiful in your garden and produce attractive roses which bloom from early summer right up until the first frost.

Ground cover Roses

Ground cover roses are exactly that. They are very low growing roses which will either cascade over walls or spread out as a beautiful ground cover. Although they do not grow high, only one or two feet at most, they have a wide spreading habit and will eventually cover up to four or five feet. They are hardy and require virtually no pruning or maintenance, making them perfect for containers or near the edge of a flower bed. Ground cover roses will start blooming in early summer and continue right up to the frosts in the fall.

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses can be really tiny and will make the perfect balcony or container rose. They are very much like a shrub rose but the entire plant will only reach six to eight inches. No pruning is required unless yours needs some simple shaping.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses don’t really climb the way vines do. Climbers are just roses that grow very tall, long canes which require tying up on a support of some sort. They can be trained to grow around a trellis, arbor, or even sideways along a fence. They usually have big showy blossoms and will blossom for several months.

Flower Bulbs: After bloom care

After your spring flower bulbs have bloomed do you leave them in the ground or is it best to dig them up? There is always some debate amongst gardener as to what to do with your flower bulbs after they have bloomed. Here are some tips on after bloom care for your spring flowering bulbs.

What should be done after the flower bulbs have bloomed?

After the blooms from the flower bulbs have faded, “dead-head” them by clipping off the spent blooms so that they won’t go to seed. Some gardeners say this isn’t necessary for daffodils, but your garden will look neater by cutting off each bloom when it is finished.

Don’t touch those leaves!

The main requirement for bulb flowers after they have bloomed is to keep their leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next spring’s blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves! This energy or food is stored in the white fleshy part of the bulb for use next spring.

Since each leaf needs to be exposed to the sun, it is important not to bunch, tie, braid or cut the bulb’s leaves during this six to eight week period. The bulb’s leaves can be unsightly but it is vital to your bulb’s health to leave them until they are completely brown and dead at which time they can be trimmed off.

Try planting other annuals or perennials in amongst your bulbs so that these will grow up and hide the yellowing leaves of your bulbs.

Fertilizing

If you feel you want to fertilize your bulbs, this should only be done about six weeks before they bloom. A fast release nitrogen fertilizer is the best thing to feed the bulbs with. Some gardeners like to throw in a handful of bonemeal when they first plant their bulbs as this can help the roots get off to a good start.

Lifting Bulbs

Some gardeners go through the bother of lifting the flower bulbs out of the ground every year, storing them for summer and then replanting again in the fall. For all the bother it really doesn’t improve the bulbs performance at all. As well, leaving your bulbs in the ground will cause most varieties to naturalize, that is, multiply giving you even more bulbs next spring.

Does size matter?

Generally within the same species of bulb, a bigger bulb will produce a bigger flower. However you can’t compare one species of tulip with another as their sizes may differ greatly according to its variety. Once properly planted and cared for, your bulbs can increase in size every season bringing a better display every spring.

Most bulb merchants will stop shipping bulbs when the planting season for them has ended. Gardeners can still order however and the bulbs are shipped as soon as planting time is optimal.