One thing that we can be sure of other than death and taxes is that things always change. This is so true of our yards and gardens. When we buy our first house, it may be in a new development with no trees, or in an old area with large shade trees. In the first case, most people plant trees and shrubs that create shade over time. In the latter instance, a storm may knock down the trees or disease and age require their removal, and suddenly there is bright sunlight.
Throughout February, I enjoyed the sight of flowering trees, since I was in California. Beautiful pink or white blossoms adorned trees in yards, along streets, in parking lots and of course, orchards.
After studying the seed catalogues and perhaps a few garden books or magazines many gardeners get the itch to start some plants indoors. It can be a fun project to take your mind off winter if you have the space and time.
The seed catalogues began to arrive before Christmas and I love to peruse them in January. All gardeners can do this month is dream as we look out the window at almost four feet of snow. This is the time to study those catalogues, garden magazines and books or go online to gardening sites. This is the time to make plans!
One of the biggest trends in gardening today is the use of succulents.
I have a new favorite Christmas plant. It is a Bromeliad, which is a member of the plant family Bromeliaceae. Probably the most well known member of this family is the pineapple.RELATED CONTENT
Now that freezing temperatures have killed everything in our outdoor containers, it is time to fill them with holiday greenery.RELATED CONTENT
October has been beautiful, but we must face the fact that the growing season is ending.RELATED CONTENT
For the past month, I have been in California, spending most of my time in Lodi.RELATED CONTENT
While walking my dog through one of West Fargo’s alleys, I discovered a backyard that had numerous raised garden beds.RELATED CONTENT
Wherever you go, it is important to slow down and allow yourself to notice what is around you. Although walking is the best way, road trips are also good, but whizzing by in a car makes it difficult to focus on interesting things.
July to mid-August is a good time to visit friend’s gardens and to go on garden tours. I also like to walk around the test gardens at NDSU, which is just off of 12th Avenue North on 18th Street. You can get many ideas for your own garden and see what plants do well in our area. Be sure to take along a notepad and pencil to write down names and varieties of your favorites.RELATED CONTENT
Early in the gardening year we were plagued with rabbits, squirrels, birds and other animals munching on our plants. Now when everything is lush and beautiful, other gardening problems begin to show up.
Local gardens continue to show an abundant display of flowers. The iris and peonies were first and now the roses and lilies are stars. I believe that continued cooler than average temperatures have been a large factor. In addition, the blooms last longer when they aren’t subjected to 90-degree days and high winds.
The cool spring weather, while not appreciated by most of us, seemed to be very beneficial to the spring bulbs and the flowering shrubs and trees. I can’t remember when the lilacs and other shrubs were so full of flowers and lasted for such a long time. Other plants did not fare so well when the temperatures dropped into the 40’s and even high 30’s. Growth was held up and some leaves appeared damaged. With the recent rain, humidity and warmer temperatures, especially at night, plant growth is exploding. The weeds, of course, are multiplying too.
Spring and summer shrubs are a mainstay of our gardens, and Spireas are among the easiest and toughest plants to grow. This member of the rose family has over 80 species with dozens of varieties and it is made up of two distinct types. All spirea have small leaves and fine, twiggy branches. The bridal wreath type has arching branches covered with clusters of white flowers in spring, around the time the apple blossoms are blooming. The smaller, lower growing type has pink, red or white flowers at the ends of upright branches and blooms from late spring through fall.RELATED CONTENT
Sweet, hot or simply decorative, peppers are a popular vegetable in our gardens. Peppers (Capsicum annum) are truly a vegetable of the New World. Sweet peppers are my favorite and although I don’t grow them, I eat a good many of them. Bell peppers are blocky-shaped with three or four lobes. The best ones have a thick crisp flesh that is good for stuffing and baking, not to mention salads. Modern varieties of bell peppers can mature to red, yellow, orange, lavender, purple and chocolate colors.RELATED CONTENT
Rain or shine, this is my favorite time of the year. The trees and shrubs with leaves just forming seem more beautiful than when they are fully open. I love to check what is coming up in the garden beds every day. Some, like peonies, are old friends and some are newly emerging flowers that were planted last year. Of course, after the long, hard winter there are a few missing perennials. This is disappointing, but I often regard it as an opportunity to try something new in that spot.
You may have heard that Michelle Obama and a group of fifth graders have broken ground on the South Lawn of the White House to begin a ‘kitchen garden.’ The White House chefs put in their order, and 55 different vegetables will be grown. The garden was the result of a campaign by a group called ‘Kitchen Gardeners International.’ What is a kitchen garden? It is not the typical vegetable garden with long straight rows of carrots, peas, beans and lettuce. The best description of a kitchen garden is a place to grow the things you bring in for your table, including herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries and even cutting flowers.
When the snow quickly begins to melt and we can see patches of grass, it is hard not to think of getting in the garden again. Although it is too early for most garden projects there are some things that we can do, such as prune trees and shrubs and go to garden seminars.