Mid-Atlantic

June, 2011
Regional Report

Rain Water Often Isn't Enough

A summer shower doesn't ensure that your garden plants are well-watered. Scratching the soil or mulch surface after rainfall often reveals dry soil. Yes, we wish Mother Nature would do the work for us by moistening the soil generously and deeply. Don't count on it though. It's up to us to keep our plants alive and healthy. Look or feel the soil to determine if rain has penetrated deeply enough to wet plant roots. If not, water deeply and long so plant roots benefit.

Prune Off Branches in Your Way

Sometimes it's the little things we ignore that can become hugely annoying. With plants, we're in charge. We can change what we don't want -- if we "see" the problem. For example, that low-hanging branch beside the porch. The prickly, overgrown holly next to the deck steps. The thorny bayberry near the kids' swing set. Get out the pruners and cut back offending branches. You'll be surprised at the relief of not ducking and dodging when walking 'round your property.

Keep the Labels from This Season's Favorites

So many lovely, new cultivars of annuals, perennials, shrubs, veggies, trees! Which coleus paired so beautifully with which vinca? What was the name of that tall, blue salvia? The crispy, firm radishes that didn't split? How about the blue clematis trailing through the perennial bed? Saving the labels is an easy memory enhancer. For me, putting plant labels in a small clay pot for the season is helpful.

Remove Trip Hazards

About two months ago, I tripped over a large, schist stone decorating a garden's edge. The fall was bad. I am still recovering from knee, foot, ankle, and wrist injuries. I'd walked around that stone without a care for six years. Turns out the garden owner, who's about my age, had recently been stubbing her toe on the same stone. We've both become less nimble with the years. It's time we think garden safety as as well as beauty.

Handle Your Hostas

This spring's rains were the best thing for this summer's hostas. They're astonishingly huge now. In some of our gardens, those large leaves are covering emerging Begonia grandis, epimedium, tiarella, heucherella. It's fine to thoughtfully snip off leaves blocking sunlight to less vigorous neighbors. Strategically removed foliage won't spoil the hosta's look and allow room for other favorites survive.

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