Saturday, November 15, 2008

August in the Garden

It may be hard to think of gardening in this heat and humidity. But as the cooler weather promises to roll in here are some things to keep your garden growing beautifully through August.

Deadhead perennials and Annuals to encourage re-blooming. By pinching off the forming seed heads and seed pods you trick the plant into thinking it has not done its job yet (reproduction) and the plant will channel its energy into putting out more blooms.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra) and Oriental poppies (Papaver) – now is a good time to dig up and divide these plant roots while they are dormant. Cut the root into sections about 2” long, and then plant each section as if it were a new plant, or pot some up to give to friends.

‘Good Bugs’ – I seem to mention a multitude of insects that are attacking your garden plants. But remember there are insects, which we want in our gardens, they act as pollinators, soil builders and predators of the ‘bad bugs’. When you consider using pesticides and insecticides in your yard, keep in mind these beneficial bugs and ask for products, which specifically target your problem bugs or consider ‘green solutions’. Beneficial Bugs include: Bees which help pollinate and make our flowers beautiful; Lady Bugs which eat aphids, scale and mites; Praying Mantis which eat a multitude of ‘bad bugs; and Lacewing which eat caterpillars and leaf hoppers.  

Reseeding your lawn, the middle of August through September is best time of year, whether you are repairing bare patches or creating a new lawn. And remember that seed needs a little bit of water every day to germinate effectively, just enough water to moisten not down the seeds.

Consider keeping your lawns longer, mow at 2 1/2” to 3”. The UMass Turf department states that longer blades of grass correlate to deeper roots (and deeper roots need less frequent watering).

Q. Do Mulberry trees start out like the infamous Mulberry bush as in the ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ rhyme or planted as a regular tree? 

A. I think there are a couple questions in here, not the least of which is when is a large Shrub/ Bush considered a small tree? However, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to get on my soapbox and illustrate the importance of Botanical Taxonomy (or Latin Names). Mulberry is a common name or nic-name, and like a nic name they are sometimes easy to trace back to the real name (Bob is usually short for Robert); but sometimes they are whimsical like ‘Cookie’ or ‘Bunny’ or describe a characteristic like ‘Spike’ or ‘Red’. In the case of ‘Mulberry’ I found three separate Genuses, which claim Mulberry as their common name, some of which are shrubs and some of which are trees. Genus is a group of plants with common characteristics, which probably evolved from a common ancestor (so correlating back to human equivalent: everyone in Dedham with the last name Jones). Another way of looking at this is that 3 different Genus can be as varied as: Acer or Maple tree, Iris (a perennial) and Rhododendron. So what is the answer to Margot’s question? Buyer beware – know what kind of plant you are buying, if you want a shrub don’t buy a tree. I tried to do a bit of research to find out which plant is referred to in the rhyme, but there is a lot of conflicting data out there. I suspect Morus nigra (Black Mulberry) is the plant of rhyme but I can’t be certain. In any case check the name in italics – that is your Botanical nomenclature and it will give you more specific and reliable information than a common name.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

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