Good Gardening in 2018 

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January '19 opens with a typical horticultural hangover from ups, downs, sky high, underground of '18 gardening season. Benefit was it kept everyone on their landscape toes during most of this past year then December's rainfall / cloud cover helped all hardy plant material root systems to prepare for Mother Nature's unknown weather patterns on winter ‘19 horizon. December did bring strong winds which help knock down dead wood hanging on trees and made for interesting bird flight patterns

Holiday Season Left Overs-cleaning your plate options include: after removing any artificial materials from ‘real trees / wreaths / boughs / branches' you can then place greenery near bird feeding areas for resting / landing sites, or under on top of acid loving landscape plants (conifers, broadleaf evergreens, dogwood...) or contact local parks to see if they can use X-mas debris in ponds / lakes which offer fish nesting locations, or check internet for drop-off locations for chipping into mulch ala St. Louis Composting    

Eye / Mind Openers-take a walk through local parks and Missouri Botanical Garden to observe extensive variety of landscape scenarios from ground to tree tops, screening to open areas, looking up and down hills...if these filled you with curiosity try attending lectures / classes / plant society meeting, paging through catalogs or searching internet to discover your options     

Facing Dirty Truth(s)-have soil(s) tested to gain knowledge about where / what your plants are growing in, best to have each major component of landscape tested i.e. lawn, annual bed space, shade garden, herb garden...private companies and university agriculture departments offer soil testing-check on line to decide which will work best for you

Visually Tastings at Home-enliven your interior with plants ranging, from dwarf lemon or orange trees or peace, kaffir or calla lily, weeping or fiddle leaf fig, pothos or philodendron, night blooming cereus, X-mas or Thanksgiving cacti, jasmine or Mandevilla vine, gardenia or hibiscus, air plant or sedum, potted herbs, amaryllis, colorful orchids, African violets or poinsettias, durable sansevieria are possibilities some requiring more care and maintenance than others but each bringing an emotional sigh of relief during these winter days-cautionary thoughts-keep growing mediums on dry side-droopy plant could mean overwatering-check, don't over feed even plants under grow lights or in front of sunny windows want to be on a diet (fertilize @ 1/2 label rate), watch for insects attached to plant or flying around-determine type then take action to control, give plant a bath or wipe foliage to remove dust for not only aesthetics but plant wellbeing-minimize pruning and no transplanting or upsizing pots, if making new purchase protect plants from weather during trip home 

Caring for 2 Year Olds or Younger-any woodie plants installed during past two years, routinely check to see if root ball has been pushed upward exposing crown (intersection of trunk / stem and root ball) cause is temperature fluctuations, can result in damage to plant, if this occurred cover crown use 3-4" mulch and re-install late February to mid-March 

Rhizomes, Corms, Tubers, Bulbs-Oh My-summer gang (cannas, elephant ears, caladiums, etc.) dug up and stored in basement-give a peek / sniff monthly and discard any soft, smelly members to minimize contamination to others-Surprise Discovery in garage-unplanted spring bloomers installation may be wasted effort because cold ground temperature will prevent below surface acclimation / sprouting-meaning no flowers but could have foliage and that is all that bad after wintertime

Getting into Shape-remove any / all storm damage ASAP, pruning to reduce size, tighten silhouette, eliminate overhang, create a cleaner look-most deciduous woodies are good to go-remember spring flowering varieties will have reduced flowering, also maple, beech and birch best pruned in summer because of high wintertime sap flow, don't prune needled or broadleaf evergreens newly exposed twigs / branches could experience winter kill during severe low temperatures / wind chills

Layers of Problems-collections, piles of fallen (un-mulched) leaves on either lawn, ground cover or bed area can create a high humidity triggering damaging fungus, impacting landscape appearance  

Aerating and Feeding Soil-particularly under trees (ornamental, shade, evergreen) called deep root feeding but in reality it improves soil quality which is responsible for providing nutrients and moisture to tree feeder roots-process involves auguring holes in circular (1-2' apart, 6-8" deep) pattern starting half way from trunk to dripline upon completion of full circle move out 2' and circle / fill continue process to a few feet beyond tree drip line, repeat ‘core aeration' ever 3 years for best results

Gourmet Meals-treat your neighbors to good food whether juncos, cardinals, finches (gold and purple), doves, chickadees, blue jays, grackles, wrens, sparrows, titmouse, mocking birds, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, each have ‘personal' preference seed, equally important cheap seed contains fillers (not edible seed) that add weight to bag and birds will rake fillers onto ground also good meals include liquids which birds need to help withstand harsh cold temperatures 

Dangerous Liquid-unfrozen (temperature above 32) water is tiny molecules in motion, if colder movement stops and molecules stick together forming ice, colder temperature speeds bonding process-Reduce Slick Hardscape Problems-traction sand, even cheap bird seed, wood ash but most effective chemical de-icer (multiple types available-with varied effectiveness, don't use rock salt chemically can damage hardscape and plant material where run-off occurs) that raise ‘ices' temperatures breaking bonds and causes melting, most effective type will also break bond formed by ice and hardscape allowing for easier physical removal vs. trying to melt ice require large volumes of product and is environmentally and financially to costly

Animal Planet-local mole, vole, chipmunk, squirrel, mice, skunk, deer...need food and moisture to survive winter, each animal has different approach to obtaining necessities with damage to roots, crowns, bulbs, twigs, buds, foliage, bark / veins causing plant de-hydration, opening wounds, up to total consumption resulting impact from minor to deadly-protection ranges from physical barrier, chemical repellent, distraction / diversions with sound / lighting and traps

Green Grass of Home-lawn (all types are fragile) can be damaged by so many things ranging from foot traffic to dogs running to cold season fungus to cool season weeds honestly not much can be done but do keep leaf debris from building up when possible and don't bother buying / spreading lawn seed whether snow is on ground or not it won't germinate until ground temperature is above 50 and will likely wash away or rot 


Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

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