Thursday, April 23, 2009

Working Color Into the Garden

A customer asked me this question yesterday,"Do I have to plant the same flowers everwhere? I feel like my garden is all green, green, green right now, and someone told me to plant flower but that I had to plant a lot of them everywhere for it to look right? Do I have to do that?"

"Absolutely not," I said, "You're talking to a nurseryperson and we're the Original Plant One of Everything type of gardener. The thing is there is an element of truth there about planting more than one of something, and it's that weaving a color throughout the garden will make the effect more cohesive and will pull it all together. Now, do you have to plant 20 of the same thing to achieve that effect? No! Take me, for example, I like plants with burgundy foliage. Do I plant 50 of the same burgundy-leafed heuchera around the garden. Nope. But, I look for other plants with the same color in them: loropetalum, purple wood spurge, coleus, alternanthera, etc. in order to bring that color through the garden without having to plant the same thing. So, just think of it that way and you can have variety without ending up with a complete hodge-podge in your garden."

-Tina Mast , Communications Director

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why the Phrase "Excavate the Root Collar" is Important if You're Planting

Sounds technical but it really isn't. The "root collar" is the part of a wood tree or shrub where the trunk meets the beginning of the roots. It's an important area because if it's planted too deep or a lot of mulch or debris rests against it, the plant can get stem rot and actually die from it. Death by mulch. That can kill a tree?? Sounds implausible but it's true!

So, if you don't plant the plant too deep, no problem, right? NOT necessarily. If the plant was grown in a container, it may have had soil or mulch added over the roots. The roots may have responded by growing up PAST the root collar into this area. Then, when you plant and make the soil from the pot even with the surrounding soil, something that you are always told to do, guess what? You planted it too deep! Unless, that is the root collar was already exposed when you planted it.

What to do? Check before you plant. You may have to actually excavate the area around the root collar. This may involve merely brushing away excess soil and/or mulch. Or, this may mean you actually cut away portions of the rootball. This actually seems more brutal than it is and the plant will be fine. The plant will be very happy you did that, in fact. A pruning saw works well for this or a very sharp knife.

So, now you know. Go forth and plant thy trees and shrubs...and don't forget the pine bark soil conditioner in your clay soils!