Monthly Archives: November 2015
Hydrangeas! Everybody loves them. They are at home in almost any garden, and gardeners know it. Their lush greenery and long-lived flowers make them a favorite among landscapers and amateur gardeners alike. Hydrangeas bloom year after year, stay in bloom from early spring to late autumn, and some of them have the ability to change floral color like magic. Because hydrangeas are such a favorite, they tend to be a big seller. Retailers offer a range of different types of hydrangeas. It's important to know what you are getting, because there's a lot of variety. Some are different species, some are merely different cultivars. Cultivars are different looking plants of the same species (think: dog breeds.) Gets a little confusing, right? Well, here's a quick guide to the most common types of hydrangeas you can buy for your garden.
Macrophylla is by far the most widely distributed kind of hydrangea, with many cultivars available. It has triangular leaves and bursts of floral color arranged in either 'mopheads,' which are groups of flowers shaped like pompoms, or 'lacecap hydrangeas,' which are flat-topped groups of flowers.
These are the iconic color-changing hydrangea. They can grow in pink, red, purple, or blue. The color of the flower depends on the acidity of the soil, which the gardener can control with fertilizers.
Arborescens is native to the eastern United States, and can be seen growing wild in forested areas. It's commonly known by wilderness enthusiasts as smooth hydrangea or sevenbark. Unlike its foreign relatives, arborescens is on the home team. As such, it's hardy and cold-resistant and it doesn't deter native wildlife.
If you're looking for something a little different, paniculata may be for you. Its flowers are a little more spread out, grouped in cone shapes instead of balls. Paniculata's flowers are small and white, or sometimes light pinkish.
Also known as oakleaf hydrangea, quercifolia has gorgeous lobed leaves that look like that of an oak tree. Like paniculata, its flowers are arranged on long cone-shaped structures. Oakleaf hydrangeas makes a nice accent to a woodland-style garden, but anyone looking for the color-changing effect would be disappointed. Oakleaf's flowers are white as snow no matter what soil they are planted in.
So, there you have it. If you are thinking of getting some hydrangeas for your garden, have at it! Just make sure you know what you're getting. For more information, please check out the United States National Arboretum *Pictures taken from Wikipedia
6 Terrific Trees for Wildlife
If youre anything like me, watching a graceful deer stroll across my yard brings a special sense of awe and tranquility to my home. Theres nothing quite like the feeling of welcoming some of natures most spectacular creatures to share a part of my life, and having the right trees can be essential to issuing that invitation directly to them.One of my favorite choices for wildlife-friendly trees is the Quaking Aspen. Not only is this tree lovely (with its white bark and gently dancing leaves), but its also a versatile gift for wildlife. Deer, Elk and Moose enjoy its shade, and love to nibble its leaves and twigs for the nutritional boost it gives them throughout the year. Many animals venture into the Aspens stately presence to enjoy its protective shade, and Ruffed Grouse particularly enjoy it for the nesting opportunities it presents.
How to Tap a Maple Tree for Syrup:
Learn how to use a "Spile" to tap into your maple tree to harvest syrup from the tree and make your very own delicious home made syrup.
1. Get a syrup spile, drill, and the correct size of drill bit.
2. Drill at an upward angle into the tree, deep enough for the spile.
3. Hammer in the spile and attach the bucket.
4. Cover the bucket to protect from the elements.
5. It is best to do this early winter when daytimes are above freezing, and nighttime is freezing.
Transcript: Here I am, I'm about to install some maple spiles, which here is one of them right here. I'm going to install this into one of my silver maple trees which is on my property.
I'm going to use a drill with a 3/8" bit. You want to take the drill bit, and drill into an angle that is facing upward, and drill into the tree. Put the drill down.
There is the hole and we are going to hammer the maple spiles. So most of them have a hook on them at the bottom, to hang the bucket. And aluminum foil to make a makeshift cover, since I don't have a proper cover for the bucket, to keep the rain, water, and snow from coming into the bucket.
I'm going to use a leatherhead hammer to hammer the spile in. Nice and secure. Take the bucket and hang it from there. Put some Reynolds wrap over it (excuse my filming while I do this). Its wrapped around the edges pretty well and has a decent seal.
And hopefully we will start getting some maple syrup. From my understanding, the best time to start tapping your maple trees is when the daytimes are warm, above freezing. And the night times are freezing. And that causes some sort of pumping action inside the tree, and allows the sap to flow up and to flow down through the maple spile and into the bucket.
In order to make maple syrup from this, you have to boil the maple syrup down for a very long period of time. Its about a 40 to 1 ratio in terms of sugar content. I'll do some filming of when we actually start boiling over a fire outside.