Archive for July, 2009

Shakespeare Garden Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Courtesy photo: The Shakespeare Garden in Wessington Springs

Courtesy photo: The Shakespeare Garden in Wessington Springs

In Wessington Springs, SD there is a sweet spot of garden. It’s the Shakespeare Garden.

Last year, when coming home from a trip West River we decided to pull off and decompress a bit. We headed to the Shakespeare Garden. It was by mere coincidence that we stumbled upon a Maypole dance.  The garden grounds were lovely. Herbs, wildflowers, native species and koi pond.  We were quite charmed that day to just, by chance, find ourselves in the middle of a brief fairytale.

According to a press release: “The South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum is taking groups to Wessington Springs for a Shakespeare Garden Tour and Tea on Friday, Aug. 7, and Wednesday, Aug. 12.”

Veronica Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Purple veronica with native grass, pot marigolds and coral bells.

Purple veronica with native grass, pot marigolds and coral bells.

Veronica, or speedwell, is a lovely perennial flower. There are two types. The one I have shoots up spikes of tightly-packed ‘blue’ flowers, not unlike a bottle-brush. Mine is fairly short, about 12″ but some varieties will grow a few feet tall. The other type is a lovely groundcover. The mat of foliage becomes dappled with flat-petaled flowers of blue or white.

My veronica does well in its micro climate with larger shading plants surrounding it. I’ve grown it in dryer, hotter spots and it doesn’t do too well.

These flowers look great in woodland or wild flower beds. They form nice non-invasive clumps.

10KLF composts Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
  • The recycle program We Be Green was a great presence at 10KLF. I didn’t have to walk but 20 feet to find the GARBAGE, RECYCLES, COMPOST bins. Yes, folks, COMPOST! What gets better is that meals were served on 100% plant-made plates and silverware. AND the Summit (sponsor) cups were also corn-based cellulose so they went into the COMPOST as well. And where does all of that compost go? Well, to fertilize the grass on the huge concert bowl. I had actually taken note of how good the condition of the grass was even with all of the foot and frolicking traffic. There was even curbside campsite pickup. We received bags for trash, general recycling and aluminum. I added a compost bag using one of the paper grocery bags we’d brought.
Lily of the day Monday, July 27th, 2009

daylilyfuschia7-2009 Daylilies have stood the test of time with gardeners – dating back to more than 4,000 years. daylilyorange7-2009

No wonder, they are very easy, prolific, attention-grabbing and low maintenance.

Daylilies are pretty drought tolerant. They are heavy feeders and like many perennials, they benefit from the occasional thinning. Either spread out the thinnings  and replant or offer some to friends.

Daylilies come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They can give a more tropical feel to a traditional garden bed.

One arrangement I have is a small island bed of orange daylily and hostas with lavender flowers – what’s really cool is that they start blooming at the same time of year. The long wide grassy foliage goes great with the fatter oval leaves of the hosta. Even without flowers they look lovely together.

If your soil is lean add a little extra fertilizer that is heavy on the nitrogen. During very dry times an 1″ of supplemental water a week will work.

Firewood restrictions Monday, July 27th, 2009

This past week the fam and I trucked over to Detroit Lakes for the 10,000 Lakes Festival. Loads of good times. Anyway, they were not allowing any firewood brought into the campsites because of the emeral ash borer. It’s slowing moving it’s way closer to us and the spread can often be tied to humans. Transporting and plant matter can lead to a myriad of problems like the introduction of new invasive species, fauna or flora. That’s why in garden catalogs you will see state exemptions. This can be because of their invasiveness in that particular region or the difficulty of shipping.

Sugarbowl Monday, July 20th, 2009

My Sugarbowl clematis, or Scottii wasn’t looking so hot. When I received it in the mail I planted it immediately in May. It kept getting more and more pale. It looks like a scraggly tough little plant but I may have been too late trying to save it. I stuck it in an all-day-sun spot with minimal mulch. Bad idea.

Now I’ve transferred it to the West side of the house among some much taller, therefore shady, perennials. Hopefully this unusually cool and wet July will help it along. The scottii is a non-vining clematis. Its nodding little blue-cupped flowers is what seduced me. Some day maybe I’ll have my own pictures to post here.

Clematis need, in general:

  • Some sun. Some can take more than others – the late-summer blooming varieties for sure. Seem most adaptable to this.
  • The bottoms and roots like to be cool so plant a groundcover or other plant by the base to offer shade.
  • Most are vining varieties. Some will do this readily others may need a little tying. Almost all will need extra support once matured.
  • All can use a good trim. Generally the early the bloomer, the later the pruning. Late fall to early spring is a good time. The later-blooming varieties do well with leaving little above ground. Earlier bloomers do ok with leaving 8-12″ above ground.
More for black thumbs. Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Coneflowers – Native species, hybridized varieties available. Prairie wildflower, get a couple feet tall. Deadhead if you want to keep seedlings at bay.
Asters: Great for the late summer, early fall accent. Purples, whites. Well-behaved with a proliferation of small blue, purple, yellow varieties.
Monarda – can be a bit invasive. Take care to deadhead. Downy mildew can be a problem – leave extra spacing for air flow.

Butterfly Weed: Asclepias tuberosa Monday, July 13th, 2009

I’d admired my mother’s butterfly weed for years (not to be confused with butterfly bush). She has her’s located at the base of her driveway where it’s long-blooming bright orange flowers welcome you warmly into late summer. asclepiastuberosa7-2009

Last year I picked up my own. Can’t remember where, and nearly pulled it early this season when I was on a weed rampage – Note to self: mark the spot of late-coming perennials. Too often I’ve either dug into a spot where one was late to break surface or I’ve pulled one after the weeds hid it from me.

Anyway. I’ve seen few pests and it’s perky sunshine orange flowers sit atop waxy multi-leaved sturdy stems 18″ high. It’s a great, low-maintenance perennial that will come back year after year, filling out into a nice non-invasive clump.

Geranium – crane’s bill Monday, July 13th, 2009

Hardy geraniums are a great perennial to try. Good to zone 4. cranesbill 5-2009This is my first year I’ve tried the Hardy version of the more common annual or houseplante.

I picked it up at the Prairie Partners garden sale in May. Plunked it in the ground, kind of forgot about it after the first couple weeks and now it’s blooming nicely. Unfortunately I seem to have a minor rust problem. They are susceptible to humidity-related issues so I’ll just blame the wet, cooler weather we’ve been having.

The bright pink flowers are quite dainty and lovely and have just started showing themselves. It’s lower growing with attractive grass-green foliage. I have it in my South perennial bed where it takes the sun all day long at it seems to be doing just fine. I’d recommend it for edging or and ground cover. So far it’s tripled in size but still staying in a manageable clump.cranesbill7-2009

I’ll have to do some more research as to just what my plant’s issue is, rust, blight or black spot. Here’s an online site to start with. I do wish it had more pictures but I will also consult my giant Master Gardener manual at home. So far I think removal of the leaves would be least invasive and slow down the spread of the spotting.

Newspaper – not just a great read Friday, July 10th, 2009

In past years I’d come to the conclusion that oil-based, black print newspapers were not to be used in the garden. Well, I was dead wrong.

I just came upon a past issue (May 2009) of ‘Organic Gardening’. There was a letter to the editor written asking about newsprint, is it safer, and the writer, like me, assumed carbon black ink was not good for the garden. The editor responded, quoting an Ohio State University study that covered using newsprint as bedding. The study came to the conclusion that “Carbon black is stabel and will not cause any problem in the garden or in the foods grown using newspaper as mulch” The study even went so far as saying you could eat black-inked newspaper without any effects.

So, there you have it – Newsprint/Newspapers – NON-TOXIC (read or eaten!) for garden use.