1. Tall Garden Phlox, Round Two

    There has been a lot of breeding going on with the old-fashioned garden Phlox, so there is a multitude of new selections to hit the market.  Many of the newer varieties have incredible colors (and bicolor) flowers, many different sizes, mildew resistance on the foliage and the ability to rebloom is incredible. 

    Remember that once your first round of flowers finish and wither, cut just below the flower heads that are finishing and in a short time you will have a whole new round of flowers in your perennial border or to cut and enjoy.  Tall Garden Phlox are staples in the perennial border, and look great in mixed borders too.  Be sure to include your favorites… and don’t forget to dead head the plants after the first round of flowers finish. 

    We drew some red lines on the picture below showing where to deadhead the flowers when they are finished so you can enjoy another fresh display of new flowers a bit later in summer.

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  2. What Are Suckers?

    Sometimes trees send up additional shoots from the rootstock at the base of the trunk of especially newer trees.  Many trees are actually clones where a part of the desirable tree is grafted onto a rootstock that is a different tree.  In some cases, like a crabapple the rootstock may be more aggressive than the selection that was grafted onto it.  The rootstock may send up shoots.  Those shoots are called suckers. 

    It is best to cut off those suckers by pulling back some of the soil and with a sharp shears, cut the sucker growth under the soil surface and then pull the soil and mulch back up the tree.

    In the pic, you can see where a male selection of a Gingko was grafted onto a Ginkgo seedling.  The main trunk is between the two green suckers and the bamboo stake is to the left of the main trunk of this young tree.  Cut off those two green shoots as far below the soil surface as you can to force all of the energy into the grafted portion of the tree for best results. 

    It is not a good idea to spray the suckers with chemicals to kill them off as you do not want to kill off the rootstock.  Your persistence in removing those suckers when young and small will be a simple and easy task and will benefit your tree greatly. 

    Removing those suckers on trees it the opposite thing to do for your shrubs where you should cut out the largest stems and allow those suckers to remain and renew the shrub with new young shoots.

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  3. Put Away Your Lawn Rake

    Here comes our new fall season and with it may come a lot of leaves. 

    There is no reason to bag or rake all of those leaves.  Just use your lawn mower to shred them right up on your grass.  The leaves may have moisture in them when they first fall, but a day or two later they are much drier.  Once they are dry, run your lawnmower over your lawn and you can shred those leaves. 

    You do not need to use a mulching mower, or even put the mulching shied on the mower shoot, but just let the shredded leaves blow right over the top of your grass.  Continue to mulch those leaves until they are done falling. 

    Then, apply a good quality commercial or organic lawn fertilizer at this time of the year.  If you only fertilize your lawn one time of the year, now is that time.  The fertilizer will break down the shredded leaves and add fertility to your grass as well as improve your soil.  Brilliant!

    Fall is also the very best time to eliminate weeds in your lawn too.  Whether you use a commercial weed and feed, or perhaps use your favorite organic method of spot treating your lawn for weeds – be sure to do that now!  Next spring you will not see any dandelions or other broadleaved weeds or the seeds they bring with them.

    Save time by eliminating raking and removing leaves, improve your soil, while adding some nutrients to your grass at the same time. 

    Shredding your leaves this fall is a win-win for sure.  Keep on shredding!

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  4. Harvest Time for your Super Berries from the Aronia Plants

    Black Chokeberry plants are native to the upper Midwest and northeast states and into Canada.  There has been a lot of research and breeding going on with the Aronia plants commonly known as Black Chokeberry.  Maybe Chokeberry doesn’t sound so attractive, so some like to call them Black Appleberries. 

    See, the thing about these deep dark berries is that they help to eliminate inflammation in the body and the antioxidant levels are more than 340% higher than blueberries!  Holy cow!

    These deep dark fruits are so easy to grow on super hardy bushes that produce many pounds of fruit each year.  They beauty of Aronia berries is they all ripen at the same time so they can all be harvested now before they begin to shrivel.  They must be pulled from the bushes.  They look like Blueberries in size and similar in color. 

    Aronia berries are somewhat astringent and taste somewhat like a dry red wine.  They are more palatable when you know the health benefits because you know they are great for you… but you may want to use the fruits in smoothies, for baking or for juice or juice blends. 

    Pick and freeze the fruits and use as you like throughout the year.

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  5. Fall Planting … Do It Now, Do It Right!

    Finally, … a bit of relief from the sweltering summer days perhaps.  We are ready to usher in the new fall season, how about you?  Cooler nights are welcome and give your ac bill a break too.  The shorter days reduce the amount of heat generated during the daytime. 

    Maybe it hasn’t cooled much where you live just yet, but soon it will be noticed.  Shorter days, cooler nights, and in many areas more frequent rainfall is a great benefit for your plants.  The fall season is a welcome season not only established plants, but for new plants that you can install right now!

    There is a whole underutilized season that you can all be taking advantage of.  It is the fall planting season.

    Fall planting works so well because the warm soils make new roots very quickly.  In the spring, the soils in the more northern areas where they have frost and snow remain cold for a long time are cold to start out.  The sun eventually warms them up.  Now think about the soil temperatures in the fall.  Just the opposite happens.  The sun has been warming the soils all summer long so when fall rolls around they could not be more suitable for planting. 

    Warm soils encourage new roots to form very quickly.  When new plants go in the ground, the faster they make new roots into your soil, the sooner your plant will re-establish in its new home.  Warm soils initiate new roots whether you are planting bare root plants, or container grown plants.  Even though bare root plants are going dormant, they still make new roots in the fall.

    The beauty of planting new plants in the fall, your plants will get a jump start on the spring.  Lilacs can produce new roots this fall, over winter, and then in spring – the plants think they have been in the ground for a full year already. 

    Both bare root and container grown trees and shrubs, perennials, roses, vines, evergreens and anything else that we offer in fall can get a jump start with fall planting.  Get your fall wish list together.

    Warm fall soils, cooler night temperatures, good moisture, and a bit slower time of the year in the garden are all outstanding reasons to utilize the fall planting season.  Take advantage of everything mother nature is providing to aid in the establishment of new plants.

    This time of the year is outstanding for establishing new seeded lawns and sod too.  Again, warm soils, cooler air, and better moisture all will benefit from fall planting.  

    Always be sure to plant your bare root plants at the same depth they were grown at the nursery, and at the same depth that our container plants were grown in the pots.  Please pay special attention to the planting depth as so many tend to plant those plant too deep. 

    Planting your plants too deep in the ground is probably the biggest mistake that people make.  Trees, even when young, still have a wider trunk right as the trunk goes into the ground.  If you are unsure, be sure to pull the soil away from the trunk of the tree in the pots and find the first set of roots and plant the tree so those roots are just under the soil surface.

    The other super important thing to remember is that using shredded hardwood mulch around your plants is so beneficial in maintaining even moisture, controlling weeds, and increased root development.  Using mulch over the tops of the root zone is where it should go.  The mulch should not be piled up against the stems or trunks of the plants.  Piling up excess mulch against the stems of plants and trunks of trees can be very detrimental to the health of your plants or even kill them. 

    The fall planting season in upon us.  Take advantage of this incredible time of year where mother nature is on our side.


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  6. Fresh Greens, Radishes, Cilantro, and Garlic

    Cool fresh weather, and additional moisture is more common at this time of the year makes it a great time for one more crop.  It is also a great time to assess your garden to see which tomato, squash, bean or radish performed best for you this year.  Make a few notes for spring so you don’t forget which ones you would prefer growing. 

    Most people think gardening comes to an end now…but actually there is still some time to use up some of that left over seed from spring planting.  

    It is probably too late for beans or onions, but is a GREAT time to sow some salad greens like lettuces, mustard greens, beets for greens and radishes will all appreciate the nice warm soils and cooler temperatures of fall. 

    Something we have found works very well is Cilantro.  Direct seed some Cilantro and it will produce some of the nicest and most productive plants that keep on growing way into early winter.  Fall planted Cilantro does not bolt but just keeps making excellent foliage.  If you have a glass bell jar, you can put that over the top of the plants and keep on picking up until Christmas.

    Don’t forget FALL IS THE TIME TO PLANT GARLIC CLOVES IN YOUR GARDEN!  Buy your garlic from a farmer’s market, and not the store (as many times the garlic from the store has been treated to prevent it from sprouting).  Separate the garlic into individual cloves and plant them in a sunny location about 4” apart and 2-3” deep (larger cloves a bit deeper).  They will make new roots this fall and freeze up until next spring when they will be one of the first things to begin to grow.

    A great time to use up those empty spaces in your garden from early harvested plants.

    Warm soils and cool air makes fall is a great time for also planting bulbs, trees & shrubs to get a jump on spring, and watch for our great pricing and shipping specials throughout the fall season.

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  7. Pine Needles Make Great Mulch

    Every year about this time we start getting phone calls from people who are concerned about their pine trees losing needles.  Pine trees are evergreens which means they do hold needles all year round  but that does not mean they hold the same needles year after year. 

    Here is a picture of an Eastern White Pine with classic fall needle color change.  White Pine is a good example because it may only hold the current year's new needles and shed two or three year old noodles as shown in the pictures. The newest needles are the ones that the tips of the branches and the oldest needles are the ones that were produced behind this year's growth.  Depending on the year pine trees may lose two and three year old needles all in a very short period of time.  It's a very normal shedding process and really no reason for concern as long as the tips of the branches retain their new, young, green and healthy needles.

    Remember that pine needles can make excellent mulch around plants in your yard and garden.

    Pines are not the only Evergreen that will lose needles. Pine, Spruce, Fir, and even Arborvitae will all lose the oldest leaves at some point.  Arborvitae foliage also turns yellow and falls off also creates a flurry of phone calls.  Many times newly planted Arborvitae may lose a lot of foliage and create concern but as long as the tips retain greens your plants are fine.

    Watering your evergreens in the fall (right up until the ground freezes if you're in cold areas) makes a huge difference for keeping your Evergreens healthy and can help prevent winter burn.

    As a matter of fact, all trees and shrubs planted this year should be watered sufficiently enough right up until they go dormant this fall to ensure the best transplanting success.

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  8. My Rhododendrons Are Losing Leaves This Fall - Is This Normal?

    Rhododendrons and Azaleas, what is the difference anyway? 

    All Rhododendrons are evergreen which means that they will hold leaves all winter long.  Most Azaleas on the other hand (under the same Genus of Rhododendron) will lose their leaves at the end of the season.  The other difference is that true Rhododendrons have ten or more stamens, 2 per lobe and Azaleas have only five stamens – one per lobe and 5 lobes in a flower.  

    The above picture of a Rhododendron showing its nice red-purple fall color.  Notice the older leaves will color and drop even though it is an evergreen.  The newer leaves are at the tips of the branches and will be retained all winter long. 

    Azaleas typically have nice fall as well and many will lose their leaves later in the season.  Sometimes Azaleas in warmer climates hold their leaves.

    Rhododendrons appreciate good fall moisture and love to have a nice 3” layer of mulch over their roots.  The older, more interior red-purple leaves will drop from the plant and it is a very normal occurrence. 

    In colder climates and where your plants are exposed to winter winds you may want to consider some wind protection or maybe a spray on anti-transpirant later in the season to prevent the leaves from drying out.

    Both Rhododendrons and Azaleas are best pruned right after they bloom in spring only so hold off pruning this fall.

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  9. Caring For Rose Bushes

    Rose bushes produce some of the best formed flowers of the season as the temperatures cool.  Keep deadheading your roses to encourage more flowers right up until the end of the season.

    Some roses (like the hardy rugosa types) do produce attractive rose seeds called rose "hips".  These seeds form after the flower finishes and start out green, and turn orange and red and remain showy all winter long.  The hips can be cut and used for holiday and winter decoration later in the season.

    Do not fertilize your roses after July as you do not want to push new growth too late in the season.  No more fertilizer until spring.

    Also important to remember do not trim your rose bushes in the fall, but wait until spring for best results. 

    Winter protection for all roses in colder regions should not be done until Thanksgiving time or after you have seen a few hard frosts.  Skip the rose cones, but do pile up a nice 8-12 inch mound of mulch around your canes remembering not to prune in fall, but wait until spring.

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  10. Water Your Evergreens This Fall

    So many areas are experiencing hot and dry weather.  If you are in one of those dry areas, an excellent thing to do is give your new & established evergreen plants a good drink of water as we begin our fall season. 

    Evergreens (including broadleaved evergreens like Boxwood, Rhododendrons and Holly) will greatly appreciate good soaking if you have not had sufficient rains in your area as well. 

    All evergreens in areas where it gets cold and the ground will freeze, it is even more important for them to go into winter with good soil moisture!  Evergreen plants will use water well into the cold season, and once the ground freezes, they are not able to replenish the moisture needed in the leaves to prevent winter burn.

    Get your evergreens juiced up now, and right up until the ground freezes to prevent them from winter burn this year. 

    When you do water your plants, water the soil and not the foliage.  Junipers especially like to have dry foliage.  Use your hose without any nozzles, just run the water at the roots to moisten the soil only.

    FALL WATERING IS SO VERY IMPORTANT FOR ALL NEW PLANTINGS TOO.  Remember to keep on watering the plants you planted this year.  Most newly planted plants need additional watering until they have had a chance to make new roots at your home.  Help them out, they will appreciate it!

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