Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category
Flowering landscape trees are the crown jewels of the yard. Perhaps no other plants, individually, can have as great an impact on how a yard looks in spring. Browse the articles to which I’ve linked below for information on particular varieties of flowering landscape trees. Pictures are included.
Crape Myrtles: Landscape Trees of the South
A popular choice in flowering landscape trees for Southerners, crape myrtles have a long blooming period (mid-summer to fall). The blooming clusters of these flowering landscape trees come in pink, white, red and lavender. The clusters appear on the tips of new wood. Northerners can sometimes get away with treating these flowering landscape trees as perennials that die back in winter but come back in spring.
Not all specimens with a weeping habit are flowering landscape trees, but this article looks at several weeping
varieties that do bloom, headed by four types of cherry.
The size and shape of the blooms are what suggested the common name for these flowering landscape trees. Want a
specimen with a brilliant bloom as big as a saucer? Access information on these beauties here.
Rose of Sharon
Although some people think of it as a landscape “tree” (because it gets tall and can be pruned so as to have a single
trunk), rose of sharon is, in fact, a flowering shrub. The fact that it blooms relatively late and for a long time makes it a valuable plant for those looking to distribute their yard’s color display throughout the growing season.
Top 10 List of Flowering Landscape Trees and Shrubs for Spring |
This article features information on ten flowering landscape trees and shrubs that brighten our spring seasons. Included are redbud, callery pear and crabapple.
Hawthorn: Late-Blooming Landscape Trees
This article offers information on Washington hawthorn trees, which are perhaps most valued for the time at which they bloom (late spring to early summer). Many of the popular flowering specimens bloom earlier in the spring, and while their blossoms are pleasant sights for eyes sore from winter’s barrenness, they desert us too quickly!
Any reliable seed house can be depended upon for good seeds; but even so, there is a great risk in seeds. A seed may to all appearances be all right and yet not have within it vitality enough, or power, to produce a hardy plant.
If you save seed from your own plants you are able to choose carefully. Suppose you are saving seed of aster plants. What blossoms shall you decide upon? Now it is not the blossom only which you must consider, but the entire plant. Why? Because a weak, straggly plant may produce one fine blossom. Looking at that one blossom so really beautiful you think of the numberless equally lovely plants you are going to have from the seeds. But just as likely as not the seeds will produce plants like the parent plant.
So in seed selection the entire plant is to be considered. Is it sturdy, strong, well shaped and symmetrical; does it have a goodly number of fine blossoms? These are questions to ask in seed selection.
If you should happen to have the opportunity to visit a seedsman’s garden, you will see here and there a blossom with a string tied around it. These are blossoms chosen for seed. If you look at the whole plant with care you will be able to see the points which the gardener held in mind when he did his work of selection.
In seed selection size is another point to hold in mind. Now we know no way of telling anything about the plants from which this special collection of seeds came. So we must give our entire thought to the seeds themselves. It is quite evident that there is some choice; some are much larger than the others; some far plumper, too. By all means choose the largest and fullest seed. The reason is this: When you break open a bean and this is very evident, too, in the peanut you see what appears to be a little plant. So it is. Under just the right conditions for development this ‘little chap’ grows into the bean plant you know so well.
This little plant must depend for its early growth on the nourishment stored up in the two halves of the bean seed. For this purpose the food is stored. Beans are not full of food and goodness for you and me to eat, but for the little baby bean plant to feed upon. And so if we choose a large seed, we have chosen a greater amount of food for the plantlet. This little plantlet feeds upon this stored food until its roots are prepared to do their work. So if the seed is small and thin, the first food supply insufficient, there is a possibility of losing the little plant.
You may care to know the name of this pantry of food. It is called a cotyledon if there is but one portion, cotyledons if two. Thus we are aided in the classification of plants. A few plants that bear cones like the pines have several cotyledons. But most plants have either one or two cotyledons.
From large seeds come the strongest plantlets. That is the reason why it is better and safer to choose the large seed. It is the same case exactly as that of weak children.
There is often another trouble in seeds that we buy. The trouble is impurity. Seeds are sometimes mixed with other seeds so like them in appearance that it is impossible to detect the fraud. Pretty poor business, is it not? The seeds may be unclean. Bits of foreign matter in with large seed are very easy to discover. One can merely pick the seed over and make it clean. By clean is meant freedom from foreign matter. But if small seed are unclean, it is very difficult, well nigh impossible, to make them clean.
The third thing to look out for in seed is viability. We know from our testings that seeds which look to the eye to be all right may not develop at all. There are reasons. Seeds may have been picked before they were ripe or mature; they may have been frozen; and they may be too old. Seeds retain their viability or germ developing power, a given number of years and are then useless. There is a viability limit in years which differs for different seeds.
From the test of seeds we find out the germination percentage of seeds. Now if this percentage is low, don’t waste time planting such seed unless it be small seed. Immediately you question that statement. Why does the size of the seed make a difference? This is the reason. When small seed is planted it is usually sown in drills. Most amateurs sprinkle the seed in very thickly. So a great quantity of seed is planted. And enough seed germinates and comes up from such close planting. So quantity makes up for quality.
But take the case of large seed, like corn for example. Corn is planted just so far apart and a few seeds in a place. With such a method of planting the matter of per cent, of germination is most important indeed.
Small seeds that germinate at fifty per cent. may be used but this is too low a per cent. for the large seed. Suppose we test beans. The percentage is seventy. If low-vitality seeds were planted, we could not be absolutely certain of the seventy per cent coming up. But if the seeds are lettuce go ahead with the planting.
If we could garden without any interference from the pests which attack plants, then indeed gardening would be a simple matter. But all the time we must watch out for these little foes little in size, but tremendous in the havoc they make.
As human illness may often be prevented by healthful conditions, so pests may be kept away by strict garden cleanliness. Heaps of waste are lodging places for the breeding of insects. I do not think a compost pile will do the harm, but unkempt, uncared-for spots seem to invite trouble.
There are certain helps to keeping pests down. The constant stirring up of the soil by earthworms is an aid in keeping the soil open to air and water. Many of our common birds feed upon insects. The sparrows, robins, chickadees, meadow larks and orioles are all examples of birds who help in this way. Some insects feed on other and harmful insects. Some kinds of ladybugs do this good deed. The ichneumon-fly helps too. And toads are wonders in the number of insects they can consume at one meal. The toad deserves very kind treatment from all of us.
Each gardener should try to make her or his garden into a place attractive to birds and toads. A good birdhouse, grain sprinkled about in early spring, a water-place, are invitations for birds to stay a while in your garden. If you wish toads, fix things up for them too. During a hot summer day a toad likes to rest in the shade. By night he is ready to go forth to eat but not to kill, since toads prefer live food. How can one “fix up” for toads? Well, one thing to do is to prepare a retreat, quiet, dark and damp. A few stones of some size underneath the shade of a shrub with perhaps a carpeting of damp leaves, would appear very fine to a toad.
There are two general classes of insects known by the way they do their work. One kind gnaws at the plant really taking pieces of it into its system. This kind of insect has a mouth fitted to do this work. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are of this sort. The other kind sucks the juices from a plant. This, in some ways, is the worst sort. Plant lice belong here, as do mosquitoes, which prey on us. All the scale insects fasten themselves on plants, and suck out the life of the plants.
Now can we fight these chaps? The gnawing fellows may be caught with poison sprayed upon plants, which they take into their bodies with the plant. The Bordeaux mixture which is a poison sprayed upon plants for this purpose.
In the other case the only thing is to attack the insect direct. So certain insecticides, as they are called, are sprayed on the plant to fall upon the insect. They do a deadly work of attacking, in one way or another, the body of the insect.
Sometimes we are much troubled with underground insects at work. You have seen a garden covered with ant hills. Here is a remedy, but one of which you must be careful.
This question is constantly being asked, ‘How can I tell what insect is doing the destructive work?’ Well, you can tell partly by the work done, and partly by seeing the insect itself. This latter thing is not always so easy to accomplish. I had cutworms one season and never saw one. I saw only the work done. If stalks of tender plants are cut clean off be pretty sure the cutworm is abroad. What does he look like? Well, that is a hard question because his family is a large one. Should you see sometime a grayish striped caterpillar, you may know it is a cutworm. But because of its habit of resting in the ground during the day and working by night, it is difficult to catch sight of one. The cutworm is around early in the season ready to cut the flower stalks of the hyacinths. When the peas come on a bit later, he is ready for them. A very good way to block him off is to put paper collars, or tin ones, about the plants. These collars should be about an inch away from the plant.
Of course, plant lice are more common. Those we see are often green in colour. But they may be red, yellow or brown. Lice are easy enough to find since they are always clinging to their host. As sucking insects they have to cling close to a plant for food, and one is pretty sure to find them. But the biting insects do their work, and then go hide. That makes them much more difficult to deal with.
Rose slugs do great damage to the rose bushes. They eat out the body of the leaves, so that just the veining is left. They are soft-bodied, green above and yellow below.
A beetle, the striped beetle, attacks young melons and squash leaves. It eats the leaf by riddling out holes in it. This beetle, as its name implies, is striped. The back is black with yellow stripes running lengthwise.
Then there are the slugs, which are garden pests. The slug will devour almost any garden plant, whether it be a flower or a vegetable. They lay lots of eggs in old rubbish heaps. Do you see the good of cleaning up rubbish? The slugs do more harm in the garden than almost any other single insect pest. You can discover them in the following way. There is a trick for bringing them to the surface of the ground in the day time. You see they rest during the day below ground. So just water the soil in which the slugs are supposed to be. How are you to know where they are? They are quite likely to hide near the plants they are feeding on. So water the ground with some nice clean lime water. This will disturb them, and up they’ll poke to see what the matter is.
Beside these most common of pests, pests which attack many kinds of plants, there are special pests for special plants. Discouraging, is it not? Beans have pests of their own; so have potatoes and cabbages. In fact, the vegetable garden has many inhabitants. In the flower garden lice are very bothersome, the cutworm and the slug have a good time there, too, and ants often get very numerous as the season advances. But for real discouraging insect troubles the vegetable garden takes the prize. If we were going into fruit to any extent, perhaps the vegetable garden would have to resign in favour of the fruit garden.
A common pest in the vegetable garden is the tomato worm. This is a large yellowish or greenish striped worm. Its work is to eat into the young fruit.
A great, light green caterpillar is found on celery. This caterpillar may be told by the black bands, one on each ring or segment of its body.
The squash bug may be told by its brown body, which is long and slender, and by the disagreeable odour from it when killed. The potato bug is another fellow to look out for. It is a beetle with yellow and black stripes down its crusty back. The little green cabbage worm is a perfect nuisance. It is a small caterpillar and smaller than the tomato worm. These are perhaps the most common of garden pests by name.