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Clematis SECRETS TO BOUNTIFUL BLOOMS

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Page 12

PLUS:

BEFORE & AFTER

A WATER GARDEN OASIS Page 8

GARDEN GATE’S

TOP 10 PLANTS THAT LOVE CLAY Page 20

NO-FEAR ROSE PRUNING Page 26

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The Illustrated Guide to Home Gardening and Design EDITORIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR

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from the editor

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Garden Gate® (ISSN 1083-8295) is published bimonthly (Feb., April, June, Aug., Oct., Dec.) by August Home Publishing Co., 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312. Garden Gate® is a registered trademark of August Home Publishing Co. © Copyright 2004, August Home Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: Single copy $4.99. One-year subscription (6 issues) $24.00 (Canada/Foreign add $10 per year, U.S. funds). Postmaster: Send change of address to Garden Gate, P.O. Box 37115, Boone, IA 50037-2115. Canadian Subscriptions: Canada Post Agreement No. 40038201. Send change of address information to P.O. Box 881 Station Main, Markham, ON L3P 8M6. Subscription questions? Call 800-341-4769, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Standard Time, weekdays. Garden Gate® does not accept and is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts. PRINTED IN U.S.A.

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elcome to Garden Gate! Who among us hasn’t coveted a neighbor’s arbor bejeweled with clematis blooms or dreamed about having our own rose garden? If this sounds familiar, you’ll want to check out two stories in this issue. Clematis, on p. 12, will show you everything you need to know to have gorgeous clematis in your own garden. It all starts with knowing which pruning group your clematis falls into. Sound complicated? It won’t be after you read our story. Then on p. 26 you’ll find out that pruning roses isn’t as “thorny” an issue as you may think! Another common problem gardeners face is clay soil. If you’re thinking of tackling a clay area, you won’t want to miss this issue’s Top Picks article on p. 20. In it we share our list of 10 plants guaranteed to thrive in even the stickiest soil. Have you ever noticed how the best advice comes from fellow gardeners? We think so, too. That’s why we like to pass along our readers’ great ideas to one another. Be sure to read on p. 32 how one reader designed several garden rooms even within the confines of an averagesized city lot. And on our Reader Tips pages, look for ways to save time, money and energy straight from the backyards of fellow gardeners. Finally, here at Garden Gate, we’re all gardeners, just like you are. And we’d like to think that we can share our experiences and problems with you, just as you can with us. I hope you’ll find many pages of inspiration and ideas in this issue. Happy gardening!

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contents in every issue

features

AT HOME GARDENER

ON THE COVER

adrian bloom on conifers..........................6 BEFORE & AFTER

a water garden oasis ..........8 GARDEN GATE’S TOP PICKS

10 clay-loving plants ........20 GARDEN GATE’S DESIGN CHALLENGE

new home front yard..........38 FROM THE DRAWING BOARD

a sunny entry garden ........40 CONTAINER RECIPE ............43 FROM THE TEST GARDEN

Clematis ....................12 Learn how to prune the “queen of the vines,” as well as other secrets to growing perfect clematis. ONLINE

Rose Pruning ............26 Think pruning roses is complex? It doesn’t have to be! Let us show you some simple techniques. ONLINE

EDITOR’S CHOICE

prairie smoke....................50

32 ONLINE

Sand-Cast a Birdbath ................30 You bring the leaf and concrete and we’ll give you the know-how to create your own birdbath in 5 simple steps. ONLINE

ONLINE

dividing grape hyacinths ....48

12

Garden Rooms ........32 Find out how one gardener created a haven in a surprisingly small backyard.

To find more tips, plans and step-bystep instructions, look for these symbols on our Web site. • More Clematis Cultivars • Sharpening Pruners VIDEO • Sand-Cast a Birdbath VIDEO • Dividing Grape Hyacinths VIDEO

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departments reader tips ..........................4 pest watch ......................5

Click on “Subscriber Services” in the list on the left side of our home page. Menus and forms will take you through any of the account-maintenance services you need.

what’s new........................44 did you know? ..............45 ask Garden Gate ..............46 resources ......................47

HOW TO REACH US: FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS, ADDRESS CHANGES OR QUESTIONS, WRITE OR CALL: Customer Service 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312 800-341-4769 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT

weed watch ......................49 finishing touches ..............52 ON THE COVER: ‘Ville de Lyon’ clematis Photo: Deborah Gruca

OR VISIT OUR WEB SITE: www.GardenGateMagazine.com FOR A COMPLETE LIBRARY OR VOLUMES AND BACK ISSUES CALL: 800-978-9631 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT

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readertips “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” The same is true Thomas Edison

of gardening, but a moment of inspiration can save hours of perspiration! Tell us about your inspirations that save you time, effort or money. Mail your tip to Garden Gate Tips, 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312, or e-mail gardengate@gardengatemag. com. We’ll consider publishing your tip in one or more of our works, and we’ll pay you $25 if we use your tip. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.

New life for an old hose Jim Allen, California

When Jim replaced his garden hose, he thought he ought to be able to use the old one somehow in the garden, even though it had a few cracks in it. He attached a cap to seal the end of the hose (available at garden centers or hard-

ware stores), then he used a fine nail to poke small holes down the length of the hose. Now he’s got a handy (and free!) soaker hose.

Cleaner birdbaths Margaret Juler, California

Margaret has a technique her English grandmother taught her years ago to keep slimy green algae from growing in her birdbath. She starts with a clean birdbath and fills it with fresh water. Then Margaret binds six to eight stems of lavender flowers together with a daylily leaf and lays the bundle in the water. One bundle of lavender will keep the water algae-free for two or three weeks. During hot weather, she replaces the bundles more frequently. The

QUICK TIP Leave your clogs at the door Elaine Cooper, Iowa

Garden clogs are wonderful outside, but it’s amazing the way they carry mud inside. Elaine came up with a way to keep her clogs handy and ready to use, without having to find a place to stash them indoors. She pounded 1-in.-diameter dowel rods into the ground beside her steps. When she’s ready to go in, she slips off her clogs and hangs them toes-up on the dowels to keep them dry inside. And when she wants to do a little gardening, she steps out on the porch and her clogs are right there waiting for her.

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Divide hosta with a bulb planter.

chemical released by the lavender won’t kill algae already growing, but it does prevent new growth from starting.

Slide the division into a precut hole.

Cut to fit Judy Stahley, South Dakota

Judy has come up with a great way to save time and energy when she’s dividing her hostas in the fall. First she uses a small bulb planter to dig holes where she wants her transplants. Then she removes a small amount of soil around a mature hosta to expose the root. She selects a section that has some sprouting “eyes,” or leaf buds, removes the fading foliage and slices the root with a twist of the bulb planter. Because Judy cuts them with the same tool, the root core fits perfectly into its planting hole. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds per plant. With the divisions safely in place, she simply repacks the soil around them and around the mother plant’s exposed roots. Judy says this division technique can be used any time of

year for hostas, but it’s best done in fall when the plants are going dormant. You do lose some of the foliage when you make the cuts in the root. But whenever you decide to divide them, both mother and baby plants do well because they’re not exposed to the stress of being dug up and manhandled into their new homes.

Disinfect pruners with no drips Earl Simmons, Maryland

Sterilizing your pruners between cuts is an important way to keep your plants healthy and disease-free. Most people use a jar of bleach and water, but Earl found an easier way. He uses Clorox® disinfectant wipes to clean his pruners between cuts — no more messy jars or drips on his clothing.


pest watch Japanese beetle Popillia japonica

Kitchen recycling

Finger tip

Hazel Benwel, Idaho

Ruchelle Gee, South Carolina

Hazel was looking for an easy way to label the plants in her Idaho garden so she wouldn’t forget a variety name or a color when it wasn’t in bloom. She discovered that disposable plastic knives make good plant labels when she uses a permanent marker to write on the handle. They’re weatherproof and last for several years, and the serration on the blades makes them easy to stick into the ground by each plant.

Much as we love gardening, there’s no denying it’s hard on the hands. Here’s one way to keep your manicure looking as nice as your garden does. Ruchelle tucks half a cotton ball into the tips of her glove fingers before she puts them on, which adds a little extra protection for nails and cuticles. The cotton can stay in the gloves for several work sessions before it needs to be replaced.

IDENTIFICATION Metallic green bodies with white tufts of hair and bronze outer wings Adult beetle 1/ in. long 2 make ½-in.-long Japanese beetles hard to miss. But if you don’t notice the insect, you’ll notice the damage. Japanese beetles skeletonize leaves, eating the tissue between the veins, on a wide range of ornamental plants. Roses, birch, plum, apricot, cherry, apple, crabapple and peach trees are favorite snacks. Damaged leaves often look almost lacy, and soon wilt and die. Adult beetles are most common in spring and early summer as they feed. During this time, the females burrow into the ground where they lay eggs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae do a different kind of damage. The 1-in.-long white grubs often live under turfgrass, feeding on the roots. A heavy infestation can kill sections of lawn, which you can pull back like carpet to see the grubs underneath. Moles, raccoons and birds like to feed on the grubs. The larvae overwinter several inches underground. They pupate in the spring and emerge as adults in spring or early summer. Japanese beetles do their damage in the Northeast and Midwest, as far west as Iowa and as far south as Alabama, and in southeastern Canada. They show up occasionally in plant shipments to the West Coast. CONTROL You can buy traps at most garden centers, but they’re not the best way to deal with this pest. They often attract more beetles than they actually catch, making the problem worse. Insecticides, including imidacloprid and carbaryl, can control the larvae in lawns. But there are more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of the grubs: Insect-eating nematodes (Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) control Japanese beetles in turfgrass. Milky spore, applied any time the ground isn’t frozen, controls the larvae, too. To get rid of the adults, keep plants healthy. Stressed plants are more susceptible to pests. If you only have a few Grub 1 in. long beetles, handpick them off plants and drown them in a pail of soapy water.

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at home gardener

adrian bloom

on conifers A

drian Bloom started out working with perennials in the family business, Blooms of Bressingham. After trying different areas of horticulture, he felt it was time to branch out and find his own garden niche. He chose conifers. Why? They create excitement even during the coldest, dreariest weather, especially with all their sizes, textures and colors. THE EVER-CHANGING GARDEN

Transforming a flat meadow in Norfolk, England, into a structured garden was Adrian’s first challenge. It’s taken many years, but he’s learned a lot in the process. For example, planting small starts of conifers leaves a garden looking pretty sparse. To get a fuller look more quickly, interplant the conifers with perennials and purposely set the conifers close together. When you plan a new garden, Adrian says, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that the garden will evolve over time. As the conifers grow, pull out some of the perennials to make room. And some of the conifers will need to be dug up and moved to roomier digs. Pruning will corral others. TAKING CONTROL “Years ago, I thought it was wrong to prune conifers,” Adrian says. But in working with them, he’s discovered that it’s a necessity. Not all of them age gracefully — some grow thin, lopsided or simply too big. Pruning is the best way to keep plants looking their best and in scale with their surroundings. It’s a skill that anyone can learn. A little time and practice is all it takes. Adrian prefers “rea-

“You need to prune to keep conifers under control — especially in a small garden.” 6

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PHOTOS: © Richard Bloom

(1) The first step in pruning this spreading ‘Prostrata’ spruce (Picea pungens) is cutting back the branches that are forming leaders.

sonably natural” pruning to a formal style. To get an idea of what he means, take a look at photo 1. This is a conifer that has begun to outgrow its place in the garden. Rather than removing it, Adrian is cutting it back. As you can see, this is not a light pruning — just look at the piles of branches left on the ground in photo 2. And the shrub still has a natural-looking form, but now it fits better in its surroundings. Just when the new growth begins to stretch is a good time to do a dramatic pruning like this. The new growth that’s left on the plant will grow and cover up the pruning cuts. Timing is important when pruning conifers. Spring is a good time to prune many of them. But within that, some recover best if you prune before new growth starts, and others do best if you prune just as the new growth is starting: With many of the junipers, falsecypresses, yews and hemlocks, pruning in early spring,

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(2) Next, shorten the longest side branches. The spruce looks “reasonably natural” and new growth will quickly cover the cuts.

most recent book, “Gardening before new growth stretches, is a with Conifers,” or take a good time. That way the new virtual tour of his garden, foliage will cover up where Foggy Bottom, at www. you’ve cut so you’re not left all bressinghamgardens.com. To season with a plant that looks as learn about conifers that grow if it just had a haircut. best in your region, visit the Pine, spruce and fir are best American Conifer Society at pruned just as new tips, the www.conifersociety.org or call candles, begin to stretch in 410-721-6611. spring. All you need to do is nip Adrian hopes that more back the shoots before the new Americans will find ways to add needles form. these colorful and easy-to-careWhen you prune a conifer, for “missing ingredients” into never cut it back to a point on their gardens. ® the stem where there’s no foliage — Jim Childs left. If you do, some, such as yew and hemlock, will leaf out again. But most won’t, and you’ll be left with lots of bare stubs. There’s a conifer for Adrian Bloom’s latest book, almost any landscaping sit“Gardening with Conifers” uation. They can be mixed is full of information he’s into perennial gardens or gathered from more foundation plantings. than 35 years of Some make wonderful growing them. It’s hedges, shrub borders and available from even specimen plants. online book sellers or local Want to learn even book stores, selling for $39.95 more about how Adrian hardcover or $24.95 paperback. uses conifers in his garden? Check out his

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WANT MORE?

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before&after a water garden oasis

One pond in this backyard just wasn’t enough (inset). Five years later, the garden boasts six ponds and a host of water plants.

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his gardener’s dream was a backyard aquatic paradise — a place to relax, surrounded by ponds filled with swaying reeds and cattails. A sparkling waterfall would fill the air with the sound of splashing water, and fish would play beneath the fragrant, floating water lilies. Step into this garden and find out how the dream became a reality.


who are bitten by the “water bug,” this gardener discovered the fabulous forms, sizes and colors that water plants could bring to her garden. She realized that one pond just wasn’t going to be enough. Over a period of several years, she installed five more ponds. As you can see, the garden has really taken shape. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

PHOTO: Shirley Jung (inset)

STARTING SMALL This gorgeous backyard garden started five years ago as a featureless expanse of lawn that sloped away from the house. The first year, there was only one pond, in the inset, installed at the yard’s lowest point. It showed off a patch of surface-floating water lilies you could see from the house. But then, like so many folks

The ponds are made from highstrength commercial stockwatering tanks in various shapes and diameters. Each one is 2 feet deep. They run along a line that snakes down the slope of the yard like a waterfall. A curved-edge gravel bed creates a well-defined line between the pond area and the surrounding lawn. Discshaped stepping stones echo the bed’s bubbling, flowing water theme. And while this garden’s soil drains well, if it didn’t, the gravel would keep any rain and irrigation water from running into the ponds. In addition to floating water lilies, cattails, rushes and elephant’s ear grow in the ponds. Their forms — straplike, stiffly vertical and heartshaped — echo those of the daylilies, grasses and hostas that line the back of the garden. To the left of the pond in the foreground, hen and chicks mimic the floating water lilies. Goldfish live in the largest pond near the bench arbor. Here they’re protected from the hot summer sun by the fence and water lilies, which cover about 50 percent of the pond’s surface. A half-barrel fountain spills into the pond, oxygenating the water and creating a focal point of sparkling reflections and soothing tones. Along with colorful containers, the refreshing sound invites visitors to relax on the bench and just watch the water flow. Building and maintaining a water garden has its challenges. But the rewards are worth the time and effort. On the next pages we’ll take a look at the design points and plant materials used in this special garden.

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Botanical Names Cattail Typha angustifolia Daylily Hemerocallis spp. Elephant’s ear Colocasia esculenta Hen and chicks Sempervivum spp. Hosta Hosta spp. Spike rush Eleocharis dulcis Water lily Nymphaea spp.


3-sq.-ft. barrel

64-sq.-ft. fish pond

Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes

Hardy water lily Nymphaea ‘Virginalis’ N. ‘Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora’ N. ‘Fire Crest’ Japanese dwarf cattail Typha minima

before&after continued onds are dynamic systems and must be kept balPcomplex anced to stay healthy. There have to be enough plants to use up nutrients in the water or simple algae will run rampant. It’s the same for sunlight. About 50 percent of a pond’s surface should be covered with floating foliage of some kind to block out light and keep algae in check. If you’re supporting fish, floating plants will give them shelter from the sun and a place to hide from predators. In the plan at right, floating water lilies grow mostly in the large, round ponds with lots of surface area. The tall spike rushes and cattails are vertical punctuations popping up from the smaller ponds. Marginal plants, such as iris, arrowhead and sweet flag, nestle along pond edges. Ponds have to hold up under some tough conditions — direct sun, water pressure and a few inevitable kicks and dings. So use high-density molded-resin stock-watering tanks, available from farm and ranch supply stores. They’re practically indestructible. The tanks come in different shapes and sizes, but make sure they’re at least 24 inches deep so they can accommodate the needs of various water plants. See the Quick Tip below for which plants to use and how deeply to plant them. ® — Glen O. Seibert

QUICK TIP

Arrowhead

DEPTH AND DIVERSITY A pond needs several kinds of plants to stay healthy:

• Submerged oxygenators, such as parrot’s feather, help keep the water clear. • Free floaters, such as water hyacinth, have large, complex root systems that support bacteria, which clean and filter the water. • Surface floaters, such as water lilies, prevent algae growth by blocking sunlight. • Marginal plants, such as arrowhead, provide shelter for aquatic insects, frogs and toads at the pond’s edges.

Water hyacinth

Water lily •

4 in. of 3/4-in. gravel •

Parrot’s feather

24 in.

QUICK TIP

BUILD IT ON SAND Dig a hole 3 to 4 in. larger than the

tank and fill the bottom of the hole with play sand. The soft sand makes adjustments easy. When the tank is placed correctly, use more sand as backfill to cushion the tank and help support the weight of the water.

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3 to 4 in. of sand


8-sq.-ft. oblong pond

28-sq.-ft. round pond

Cattail Typha angustifolia

Tropical water lily Nymphaea ‘James Brydon’

Spike rush Eleocharis dulcis

Hardy water lily Nymphaea ‘Vesuve’, N. odorata, N. ‘Fire Crest’

Arrowhead Sagittaria australis ‘Silk Stockings’ Variegated sweet flag Acorus calamus ‘Argenteostriatus’

Arbor/seat

Fence

27-sq.-ft. kidney pond Parrot’s feather Myriophyllum aquaticum Water pennywort Hydrocotyle verticillata Blue flag iris Iris versicolor Spike rush Eleocharis dulcis Cattail Typha angustifolia

19.5-sq.-ft. round pond Hardy water lily Nymphaea ‘Virginalis’ N. ‘Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora’ N. ‘Attraction’ Cattail Typha angustifolia Elephant’s ear Colocasia esculenta

QUICK TIP

DRAW THE LINE Plastic edging makes a crisp, clean definition between gravel and turfgrass. It keeps the stones in place and helps prevent grass from spreading. Install the edging so only about an inch is above ground level. To mow, raise the mower’s blades to 2 or 3 in. and run the machine right over the edging to keep the borders neat.

8-sq.-ft. oblong pond Hardy water lily Nymphaea alba N. ‘Pink Sensation’

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7 secrets to beautiful blossoms

Clematis

PHOTO LOCATION: Chicago Botanic Garden

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here’s nothing more spectacular than a clematis in full bloom. Who doesn’t dream of trellises covered with vibrant-red or rich-purple flowers in late spring? Even as the blooms fade, they leave spidery seedheads. And fall just wouldn’t be perfect without sweet autumn clematis’ intoxicating fragrance. But how do you get your clematis to grow as lush and beautiful as those you’ll see on the next few pages? If you’ve grown clematis, you know that pruning can be puzzling. Should you cut the stems to the ground each year or just clean the plant up a bit? The fact is, your clematis will survive, and even bloom, with no pruning. But with the right pruning, it’ll grow and bloom more vigorously. And let’s face it: We grow clematis mostly for colorful flowers. Why else would you grow ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ at left? PRUNING POINTERS So, how do you prune a clematis? Timing is important: Don’t prune in the fall. I learned this the hard way when I cut a sweet autumn clematis down in fall, thinking I’d save time in spring. However, I only encouraged the plant to emerge from dormancy at the first sign of warm weather. The problem was, this (1) ’Madame Julia Correvon’ is a group C

clematis. To get the most flowers, prune it to the ground each spring.

was still in January, so the new growth couldn’t take the return to winter, and the plant died. No matter where you live, it’s best to let your clematis stay unpruned and dormant until spring. Before you start cutting, you’ll need to know which pruning group your clematis is in: A, B or C (sometimes called 1, 2 or 3). When you buy a plant, the tag will often tell you which group it’s in. But if it doesn’t or you can’t remember, just watch it for a year. First pay attention to when it blooms. Second, notice whether it blooms on woody stems that grew last year and then survived the winter (old wood) or green, flexible stems that came from a main stem this year (new wood). Once you know this information, you can usually put your clematis into group A, B or C. On the pages that follow, I’ll help you do that and then show you how to prune each group.

CLEMATIS SPP. Clematis 6- to 20-foot-tall vine, 3 feet or more wide White, pink, red, blue, purple and yellow flowers Blooms early spring to fall Full sun to part shade Moist, well-drained soil Sometimes bothered by clematis wilt Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 Heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 3

‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’

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GROUP C CLEMATIS

(3) Sweet autumn’s fragrant blooms open in fall. Train it

onto a large structure or let it ramble as a ground cover.

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think group C cultivars are the easiest ones to prune, and that’s why the three pictured here, ‘Ville de Lyon’, sweet autumn and ‘Jackmanii’, are so popular. Group C has cultivars that bloom in spring or summer, as well as fall. The range of colors in group C goes from white sweet autumn to the lantern-shaped yellow species tangutica and on to large, star-shaped, velvety purple ‘Gipsy Queen’. Many of these in-between sized cultivars, such as 7-foot-tall ‘Betty Corning’, are great for growing on obelisks or trellises or training into small trees or shrubs like lilacs or Koreanspice viburnum. These clematis are large enough to show up, but not so big that they’ll smother the shrub. They’ll give the illusion that the woody plant blooms twice a year, with completely different flowers. This is a large group of clematis with lots of different heights to choose from. Sweet autumn

(2) ‘Ville de Lyon’ grows 6 to 10 ft. tall, and the summer

blooms are 4 in. in diameter. 14

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(4) ‘Jackmanii’ is one of the oldest cultivars and arguably the most popular

PHOTO: Deborah Gruca (2) GARDEN DESIGN: Sandra H. Branam (3)

clematis because of its lush crop of flowers and rich color.

is is one of the tallest, at around 20 feet. You’ll need to give this plant a large structure to climb on. Otherwise, you may find it twining its way into surrounding plants. However, photo 3 shows this vine in another use — as a ground cover. If you leave it on the ground, you might find that some of the stems take root where they touch the ground and you end up with a few extra plants to share. Any group C cultivar can be used as a ground cover. Careful selection of smaller vines is the answer if you want to grow clematis in a container. Try late-flowering violet-blue xdurandii. It only grows about 6 feet tall. Since it doesn’t climb on its own, you’ll need to fasten it to a support. Other compact, early, large-flowering cultivars, such as ‘Blue Boy’ or dark-red ‘Niobe’, will climb on their own. Have a shady spot where you want to grow clematis? ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ and ‘Hagley Hybrid’ are two pink cultivars that perform great in the shade. They’ll even tolerate a northfacing wall. However, you’ll probably find that

the flowers are smaller and sparser than those of plants growing in more sun. Flower sizes in group C vary greatly. ‘Betty Corning’s’ nodding pale-blue flowers are about 1 inch across. ‘Jackmanii’ in photo 4 falls in the middle with 4-inch blooms. ‘Crimson Star’ and purple ‘Lady Betty Balfour’ are at the other end of the range with 6- to 7-inch-diameter flowers. WHAT DO YOU HAVE? If you’re not sure, leave it unpruned for a year. If it dies to the ground over winter or if the flowers are only at the top with Cut near the lots of last year’s dead foliage and bare stems ground each showing at the base, it’s probably a C. spring. You have to be ruthless to grow group C cultivars to their best. Since they only bloom on new wood (stems that have grown on the plant since • winter), cut the entire plant down each spring as you see in the illustration. If you don’t, the plant will be Pruning group C thin at the base and full of To keep plants full and lush, cut all of the stems to dead stems from the pre- within a foot of the ground, leaving just two to four sets vious year. And you’ll get of buds per stem. Train the new vines onto your trellis, smaller and fewer flowers. spacing them apart so the flowers will show better. www.GardenGateMagazine.com 15 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


(5) ’Multi Blue’ is a

newer group B clematis that blooms double on both old and new wood. 16

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GROUP B CLEMATIS

(6) ‘Bee’s Jubilee’ grows great in full sun or part shade. As with most clematis,

(7) ‘Henryi’, a large-flowered, 8- to 10-ft.-tall clematis,

part shade will keep the vibrant colors from fading as quickly.

is the perfect size for a sturdy trellis.

L

arge-flowered doubles and rebloomers usually fall into group B. New double hybrids, such as ‘Multi Blue’ in photo 5 or white Arctic Queen , bloom double in late spring and again in summer. However, that’s a relatively new development. Most doubles, such as silvery mauve ‘Belle of Woking’ and purple ‘Kiri Te Kanawa’, produce double flowers on old wood and single flowers on new wood. Heights of group B clematis can vary almost as much as those in group C. Most grow 10 to 12 feet tall and make excellent subjects for covering structures, such as pergolas, arbors, fences and trellises. Look for a structure with plenty of cross pieces no more than about 6 inches apart so the vines can climb from one to the next. And make sure it’s tall enough. Otherwise, when the stems reach the top, they have nowhere to go and tend to flop over into a tangled mess. Large arbors and pergolas allow tall clematis vines to grow to their hearts’ content. Just make sure the leaf stems can grab onto the structure. I’ll tell you more about that on the next pages. TM

‘Bee’s Jubilee’ and a pink climbing rose in • photo 6 are a classic pairing. Group B cultivars Trim back are good companions to roses because their the tips. pruning requirements are similar. As plants leaf out in spring, remove any stems that have died back. And then do a light pruning to keep both vines trained to their structure. The illustration Thin out to the right shows you more about pruning. congested • areas. Group B covers a wide range of colors, from pure-white ‘Henryi’ in photo 7, to pink-striped ‘Nelly Moser’ and deep-red ‘Ruby Glow’. Most have large spring flowers, up to 8 inches across, • like ‘Henryi’. ‘Elsa Späth’ Remove has lavender, 6-inch-diam- Pruning group B broken and damaged eter flowers with overlap- Cut away broken branches. ping petals. Rose-red ‘Em- branches and thin to press of India’ is even larger, balance the look of the at 7 inches. The large vine. Trim weak and flowers open in spring on dead stems back to a old wood. By late summer, set of strong new buds. Cut away remaining foliage the new wood produces and arrange stems on the support to fill in gaps. Tie smaller flowers about half them loosely in place with strips of fabric or plastic-covas large as the earlier ones. ered wire to avoid a big tangle of vines in the future. www.GardenGateMagazine.com 17 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


GROUP A CLEMATIS

I

(9) Dark-pink ‘Superba’ and pale-pink ‘Tetrarose’ bloom at the same time as

pale-yellow ‘Lutea’ banksian rose, and both require only minimal pruning.

f you have a clematis that doesn’t die back in winter and blooms early in spring, it’s • probably a group A cultivar. This group only Cut back the tips. needs enough pruning to keep plants looking fresh and under control. Some of the most popular species in group A include C. armandii, in photo 8, C. alpina, C. macropetala and C. montana, like the pink ‘Superba’ and ‘Tetrarose’ in photo 9. The flowers are often less than 2 inches across, but they more than make up for their size in quantity. Since these clematis bloom in early spring on old wood (produced the previous season), wait to do most of your pruning until after the main flowering has finished. Prune too early and you’ll be cutting off the flower buds. Never • In zones 4 and 5, winters sometimes kill back remove main stems. the tips of group A clematis. If that happens, you’ll need to do a bit of pruning earlier than normal. Wait for new leaf buds to sprout on the stems you suspect are Pruning group A dead before you prune. Cut out damaged wood and any winter-damaged Then, starting at the top, stems as soon as you spot them. After the vines bloom, cut the stems back in prune the stem tips to keep the vine in bounds with its stages. That way in the support if you need to. Thin spots can be addressed tangle of vines you won’t now by pruning a few side branches near the thin area cut off any more than and then directing new growth to fill in holes. 18

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

you need to. Stop when you reach the spot where there is green under the brown outer layer of bark. That’s the point where it should start to leaf out. Keep an eye on the plant for a few weeks. Sometimes, even though the stems are green, the buds are weak and may not have enough energy to grow. You may have to cut some stems back further. Any group A clematis that is not flowering well or has overgrown its spot probably is due for a renovation pruning. After the vines flower, cut off almost all of the side branches, leaving only the main vertical stems that fasten the plant to the trellis. However, don’t cut the plant back near the ground like you would group C because you’ll ruin the form of the clematis and may even delay next year’s bloom cycle. By the following spring, the new growth that sprouts will have had time to mature and it’ll flower normally. Pruning your clematis the right way is the first step to growing perfect clematis. On the next page, I’ll share six more tips that’ll help you get your plants off to a great start. ONLINE

More clematis cultivars

PHOTOS: © Ken Meyer (8&9)

(8) Clematis armandii is a 10- to 15-ft.-tall group A species with fragrant white flowers in spring.


7 STEPS TO CLEMATIS SUCCESS •

• •

4 in. of mulch cools the soil.

1

KNOW YOUR VINE I’ve already shown you one of the most important things you can do to ensure beautiful clematis — pruning the right way for your type. Here are six more steps.

2

It is true that clematis prefer slightly alkaline soil. If a soil test tells you that yours is on the acid side, your vines will benefit from some agricultural lime. But if it’s already alkaline, don’t add lime — you can overdo it. A pH of 7 to 7.5 is just right. Dig the hole 18 inches deep and wide like the one in the illustration. Work in lots of moistureholding compost. Set young plants deeply so the first two sets of leaf nodes will be underground. This encourages plants to send up more stems so you’ll have a thicker plant.

Plant with two sets of leaf nodes below soil surface.

Keep mulch 8 in. from the stem.

START WITH THE SOIL

3

MULCHING MATTERS “Head in the sun, feet in the shade” is old clematis advice. However, a 4-inch layer of mulch keeps the roots cool and moist just as well as shade does. To prevent stem rot, keep the mulch about 8 inches from the stems.

4

The best place to prune a Cut just stem is just above two above a pair of strong strong buds. The illustrabuds. tion at left shows how you can spot them — where two leaves were growing the previous year. These buds will quickly develop into new vines. Don’t worry about making angled cuts — it’s not necessary. MAKING THE CUT

5

RECOGNIZE DISEASE QUICKLY Clematis wilt is

easy to spot: A portion of your vine wilts quickly, often just as the plant starts to bloom. Wilt is caused by a fungus that enters the stem, usually just above the soil line. There is no cure other than to cut the entire stem to the ground and dispose of it in the trash. Do this as soon as you notice the wilt. That’ll prevent spores from moving to other stems. Systemic fungicides can help prevent wilt from spreading to healthy stems. Apply benomyl or carbendazim to vines

Dig hole 18 in. wide and deep.

Work lots of compost into the soil.

immediately after you remove infected portions. Read the package label for specific application information. The rest of the plant usually survives, providing there are enough other healthy stems. That’s another reason to plant clematis deeply: If a stem becomes infected and has to be removed, more will come from the base to replace it. Cultivars that have proven resistant to wilt include ‘The President’, ‘Ville de Lyon’, ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘Betty Corning’ and ‘Jackmanii’.

6

Clematis like to be well fed, but not overfed. I feed my clematis once a year right after pruning with an all-purpose, granulated fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10. SERVE A BALANCED DIET

7

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRELLIS Clematis climb by

twisting petioles, or leaf stems. The vine itself does not twine. So, if your structure is too large, the leaf can’t wrap around it. Anything over ¾ inch in diameter is too large for a leaf to grasp. Nylon fishing line is a great way to get a clematis to climb a light pole or arbor post. See the small knot in the photo at right? Tie one of those every foot or so to keep the vine from sliding. Now that you know these secrets, you no longer have to wonder how to get those spectacular flowers you see in photos — you’ll be enjoying your own! ® — Jim Childs www.GardenGateMagazine.com 19 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


top picks garden gate’s

10

clay-loving plants

C

lay. The soil that can strike dread into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Most will tell you they prefer any type of soil, even sand, to clay. Why? It takes the most work to change clay into something that you can grow plants in. But if you have clay, why go to the trouble of trying to change it? Grow plants that thrive in clay soil — you’ll have a beautiful garden and keep a healthy back! Often you can adjust the soil for a smaller plant like a perennial or a bulb if you have to. But what about large trees and shrubs? You can’t possibly mix enough organic matter into an area that will accommodate the root system of a shade tree. And you can’t build a raised bed big enough to hold it. In this case it’s definitely better to fit the plant to the soil rather than change the soil. In fact, when you dig a hole to plant in clay, it’s not a good idea to amend the soil with compost or peat in just that spot. You’ll need to do the entire area.Why? When the roots reach the clay wall, they’ll turn back. And roots need to push out into the surrounding soil to brace the plant upright and to gather nutrients to keep the plant healthy and growing.

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How do you know if you have clay? The easiest way is to pick up a handful of your soil when it’s moist, but not too wet. Squeeze it in your hand as hard as you can. After you release your grip, gently tap the ball of soil with your fingers. Does it break apart easily? Or does it stay in a firm ball? If it stays in a ball, you have clay. But there are different kinds of clay. Rub some between your thumb and fingers. If it feels gritty, there is some sand in it. Try to form a ribbon of soil as you rub. If it falls apart before it’s an inch or two long, you have a fair amount of organic matter in it. Both of those types of clay will allow some plant roots to penetrate. But if your soil forms a 3-inch ribbon, you have sticky clay that will be hard for most plants to push their roots through. All the plants I’ve listed here will tolerate any clay. Of course the better the drainage, the better they’ll grow. And sure, perennials and bulbs will benefit if you work organic matter in to the entire bed to help the soil hold more oxygen and drain better. But save your back and see how beautifully these 10 plants will grow in the soil you already have. ® — Jim Childs


Quamash

3 ft.

Martagon lily

Camassia leichtlinii

Lilium martagon

This North American native typically grows in the moist meadows of the Cascade and Sierra mountain ranges. Plant the bulbs in fall in groups of 15 or more to get the best visual effect. Set them 6 inches deep (to the bottom of the bulb) and 6 to 8 inches apart. Once they’re established, don’t disturb the bulbs. Clumps will expand slowly over time. You can start quamash from seeds, but it’ll be three or four years before you get any blooms. The star-shaped flowers open along the stem from the bottom up. Each stem is sturdy, and rarely will fall over on a wet or windy day. Flower colors range from clear or creamy white to blue and purple.

Martagon lilies also bloom just fine in shade. Individual flowers are about 2 inches in diameter, but the tall spires can have 50 buds on one stem, taking several weeks to bloom from bottom to top. Colors range from crisp white to orange to an almost-black burgundyred. Some of them have a spicy fragrance. You can plant potted plants anytime; bulbs are best planted in the fall. These slow-growing plants can live in the same spot for years, eventually forming large clumps. If you do have to move or divide them, they may not come up the first year, especially if you divide in the spring. Be patient and they’ll be back.

2 ft.

1 ft.

0 Type

Hardy bulb

Size

Up to 48 in. tall by 12 to 15 in. wide

Bloom Midspring Soil

Fertile, slightly acid

Light

Full sun to part shade

Pests

None serious

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 4 to 10 Heat: AHS zones 10 to 1

6 ft.

4 ft.

2 ft.

0 Type

Hardy bulb

Size

5 to 6 ft. tall by 1 ft. wide

Bloom Early to midsummer Soil

Moist

Light

Full sun to part shade

Pests

None serious

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 3 to 8 Heat: AHS zones 8 to 1

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

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top picks continued

Joe-Pye weed Eupatorium purpureum maculatum

If you’re looking for a focal point or a background plant for your late-season garden, look no further. Joe-Pye weed is an excellent choice. First, the foliage is large and striking — sometimes leaves grow 12 inches long. The stiff, sturdy stems, which rarely need staking, hold 12- to 18-inch-diameter domes of pink to mauve flowers in late summer. After the flowers fade, this stately plant still has one more feature to offer — attractive, fuzzy seedheads that last well into winter. I don’t cut mine down to the ground until spring cleanup time. ‘Gateway’ in the photo is one of the most easy-tofind cultivars.

22

6 ft.

Swordleaf inula Inula ensifolia

The mounds of small swordlike leaves are almost covered with 1-inch-diameter golden-yellow flowers 4 ft. in midsummer. Swordleaf inula is easy to start indoors from seed. Barely cover them with potting mix. Keep them 2 ft. moist with the temperature at 65 to 70 degrees, and they will sprout in about 3 weeks. Move the seedlings to your garden after the 0 danger of frost has passed. Type Perennial Since it is a low grower, Size 5 to 7 ft. tall by 2 to 4 ft. wide use swordleaf inula as a border for taller perennials Bloom Mid- to late summer and shrubs. Soil Fertile, alkaline Don’t let plants stay Light Full sun wet, especially in the Pests Leaves may scorch if the winter, or they will rot. soil dries out Set the crown on a mound at least an inch or two Hardiness higher than the rest of Cold: USDA zones 3 to 9 your garden. Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

2 ft.

1 ft..

0 Type Perennial Size

2 ft. tall by 11/2 ft. wide

Bloom Mid- to late summer Soil

Moist

Light

Full sun

Pests

Powdery mildew if allowed to dry out too frequently

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 4 to 9 Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1


PHOTOS: ©Jerry Pavia (Joe-Pye weed, swordleaf inula) PHOTO LOCATION: Chicago Botanic Garden (obedient plant)

Bugleweed Ajuga reptans

This fast-growing evergreen creeper makes a wonderful ground cover or edging plant. It spreads by stolons, but not so fast that it gets out of hand, especially in clay soil. Colors range from white-flowered ‘Alba’ to ‘Pink Elf’, but are most often beautiful shades of blue, like small-leafed ‘Chocolate Chip’ in the photo above. Flowers aren’t the only colorful feature of bugleweed. ‘Catlin’s Giant’ has large bronze leaves. You’ll have small, variegated gray-green-and-cream leaves with ‘Vanilla Chip’. ‘Multicolor’ grows darkbronze leaves marked with pink and cream. Many of the species have rich dark-green foliage.

Obedient plant

4 in.

Physostegia virginiana

2 in.

0 Type

Perennial

Size

4 in. tall by 10 to 12 in. wide

Bloom Late spring to early summer Soil

Moist

Light

Full sun to shade

Pests

None serious, occasional crown rot if kept too wet

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 3 to 9 Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1

Obedient plant can spread much too quickly and will get away from you in a hurry in enriched garden soil. However, clay will slow it down. Fertile soil grows lush foliage and floppy stems. If your obedient plant grows too tall, even in clay, cut it back in early spring to promote shorter and stockier stems. White ‘Miss Manners’ stays in a clump no matter where you plant it. Spreading white cultivars are ‘Alba’ and ‘Summer Snow’. If you prefer the rich color in the photo, plant brightpurple-pink ‘Vivid’. ‘Variegata’ has pink flowers and gray-green leaves edged with white.

3 ft.

2 ft..

1 ft.

0 Type

Perennial

Size

18 in. to 4 ft. tall by 2 ft. wide

Bloom Late summer into fall Soil

Acid and low fertility

Light

Full sun or part shade

Pests

Occasional rust

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 3 to 9 Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

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top picks continued

Flowering quince

Slender deutzia

8 ft.

Chaenomeles japonica

Deutzia crenata nakiana

As the weather warms in spring, flowering quince begins to bloom. You’ll find bright-red-orange, soft pastel pinks and whiteflowered cultivars to choose from. Some even have double flowers. Plant a flowering quince or two in a perennial border. The flowers will be gone before most perennials bloom, so they won’t compete. And the flowering quince foliage will make a good background and wind protection. But this shrub is more than just an ornamental. Because of its twisting branches, flowering quince grows into an almost impenetrable hedge. It blooms on old wood, so prune it right after the flowers fade.

The graceful and arching branches of deutzia are covered with clusters of white flowers for 10 to 14 days each spring. Later, the summer foliage is a clean medium green. ‘Nikko’, in the photo above, grows 2 feet tall and makes a good edging plant or ground cover. Plus, it has foliage that turns red-purple in autumn. Plant several of them where they can grow together into a dense 2foot-tall mass for a spectacular spring show. Space the plants about 2 feet apart to get the best effect. If ‘Nikko’ deutzia is marginally cold-hardy in your zone, plant it among taller shrubs or against a structure for a bit of extra winter protection.

24

4 ft.

0 Type

Deciduous shrub

Size

4 to 8 ft. tall by 4 to 10 ft. wide

Bloom Early spring Soil

Acid

Light

Full sun to part shade

Pests

Occasional leaf spots and aphids

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 5 to 8 Heat: AHS zones 8 to 1

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

2 ft.

1 ft.

0 Type

Deciduous shrub

Size

2 ft. tall by 3 ft. wide

Bloom Midspring Soil

Acid

Light

Full sun to part shade

Pests

None serious

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 5 to 8 Heat: AHS zones 8 to 1


White ash

PHOTO LOCATION: Chanticleer (flowering quince)

Fraxinus americana

60 ft.

More than just a fastgrowing tree (1 to 2 feet per year), white ash has a lot of other things going for 40 ft. it: Flexible and strong wood that won’t break easily in a storm; thin leaves that break down 20 ft. quickly if you don’t get them raked, and finally, leaves that drop early to let lots of autumn sunlight into your windows. 0 But I think the fall color, like Autumn Purple™ in the Type Deciduous tree photo above, is enough to Size 60 ft. tall by 40 ft. wide recommend this tree. Other colorful cultivars are Bloom Insignificant ‘Rosehill’, ‘Autumn Blaze’ Soil Rich and Windy City™. All four Light Full sun of these white ashes are Pests Occasional scale male trees, so you don’t Hardiness have to worry about seeds. Cold: USDA zones 3 to 9 That means that later there won’t be white ash trees Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1 sprouting everywhere.

Flowering currant Ribes sanguineum

April or May, depending where you live, brings clusters of flowers hanging from the branches of this shade-loving shrub. The leaves have not yet fully expanded, so the flowers stand out clearly on this loose, informal-looking shrub. ‘King Edward VII’ in the photo above is the darkest red of the group. Other cultivars are pink ‘Claremont’ and crisp White Icicle (‘Ubric’). All three of these flowering currants produce edible fruit. They’re colorful but not very tasty. By July they change from green to bright red before finally turning blue-black. They’ll hang on the branches until you pick them or they’re carried away by hungry birds.

6 ft.

4 ft.

2 ft.

0 Type

Deciduous shrub

Size

Up to 8 ft. tall by 4 ft. wide

Bloom Midspring Soil

Low fertility

Light

Part shade to shade

Pests

Aphids

Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 6 to 9 Heat: AHS zones 9 to 1

www.GardenGateMagazine.com © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

25


Rose Pruning No-fear

W ONLINE

Sharpening pruners

ant your roses to have gorgeous flowers, a nice shape and healthy foliage? Believe it or not, pruning is one of the key factors, even though roses can be pretty forgiving. Pruning is one of the best things you can do for your roses. You’re opening up the center of the plant to increase air circulation, leading to healthier foliage. And you’re removing dead and diseased wood. Last, but definitely not least, pruning encourages new growth and more and bigger flowers.

Let’s get started Before you make that first cut, you’ll need to have a few things on hand. First, protect your skin with long sleeves and heavy gloves that reach well past your wrists. I leave my favorite thin goatskin gloves inside and wear thicker pigskin ones when I work on my roses. Another essential is a sharp pair of bypass pruners. Why bypass? They work like scissors, with the blades slicing past each other. Anvil pruners have one

sharp blade and a flat surface, which will crush the rose stems instead of making a clean cut. If you’ve never sharpened your pruners yourself, check out our Online Extra, where we’ll show you how. To avoid spreading disease, disinfect your pruners as you work. A mixture of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water is a good disinfectant — dip your pruners into it between cuts, and especially between plants. You’ll also need something to seal the canes to keep rose cane borers out. There are lots of commercial sealers available, but a couple of drops of good old Elmer’s Glue-All® work just fine. In these photos I’ll show you a few basic pruning techniques. They’ll come in handy whether you’re doing a full-scale spring pruning or just deadheading.

Outward-facing bud

(1) Make pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle about ¼ in. above an out-

ward-facing bud. Choosing buds that are headed away from the center of the plant will keep your rose open in the middle, improving air circulation among the leaves.

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Healthy pith

Cane borer damage

(2) The cane on the left is healthy while the one on the right is hollow, a sign of cane borers. Old stems may be hollow all the way to the ground, so go ahead and cut them back to the base. As you’re pruning off winter damage, cut down to healthy pith.


Deadheading keeps reblooming roses going strong all summer. You’ll want to make deadheading cuts right above five-leaflet leaves that face outward. That’s where the strong new shoot emerges. I’ll snip off everything above that as I’m deadheading this rose.

Make cut here

• •

Strong new shoot Five-leaflet leaf

(3) It’s a good idea to seal cuts on bigger canes to keep out

insects that bore into rose canes. You don’t have to seal every tiny deadheading snip, but if the cane is wider than about 1/ in., seal it with glue. 8

www.GardenGateMagazine.com 27 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


4 SIMPLE TIPS WHEN TO PRUNE The best time to prune roses that bloom all summer is in early spring, before the leaf buds open but after the danger of several days of severe cold is past. It’s OK to snip out a branch or a whole cane as needed during the summer, but don’t do extensive pruning late in the season. If you prune too late, the plant will produce a lot of new growth that will be damaged by cold weather. Roses that only bloom once usually bear their flowers on yearold wood. So prune these roses right after they bloom or you’ll be cutting off most of next year’s flower buds.

HOW TO PRUNE Let’s talk about what to prune out of your roses. In the illustration at right, you’ll see a rose with areas marked for pruning. 1 Step back and look at your rose before you start pruning. As you choose which canes to cut, remember that you want to open up the center of the shrub for good air circulation. That doesn’t mean to cut all the canes out of the center, though! 2 Remove crossing and rubbing canes — those areas will create wounds that could let in disease. 3 Cut back blackened, winter-damaged tips, trying to keep all the canes about the same length. 4 Prune old canes back as close to the base as possible. In colder climates,

roses should be planted deep enough to cover the graft, so you may have to dig away a little soil. Pruning principles are similar for all roses, but I just showed you the basics on a shrub rose, which is a category that generally needs only light pruning. They’re usually cold-hardy in USDA zone 5 or 6 without extra protection, and are grown for their overall appearance, not just the flowers. In “Fine-tuning your pruning,” find out how to use these techniques on some other popular rose categories. Use these pruning tips and the techniques on the first two pages to get your roses in shape for a beautiful summer. ® — Stephanie Polsley Bruner

FINE-TUNING YOUR PRUNING There are almost as many pruning techniques as there are types of roses — and the All-American Rose Selections organization lists 35 types! Here are some specific tips for the most common kinds of roses. MINIATURE ROSES are pruned just like shrub roses, opening the center by removing a third of the old wood. HYBRID TEA ROSES are grown for their flowers. Most gardeners cut them back harder than they do shrub roses. It’s OK to cut all the canes back to 10 to 12 in. high in early spring, to an outward-facing bud on each cane, as in the illustration below. You’ll get rid of winter damage and promote new growth and bigger flowers. Most shrub roses grow on their own roots, but hybrid teas and many other roses you’ll buy Cut hybrid teas at the garden center are grafted back to about a foot in early spring. onto a rootstock. In the illustration at right, you can see a cane

28

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emerging from the rootstock, below the graft, that needs to be removed. • Often, the foliage is a different color or size • on these suckers. Cut them • back as close to the root as possible. You may need to dig the soil away to get close enough.

Graft union Sucker Rootstock

GRANDIFLORA AND FLORIBUNDA ROSES can be pruned lightly, like shrub roses, which will result in more, but smaller, flowers. Or prune them hard, like hybrid teas, for larger flowers. If you still have questions or want to prune climbing roses or old or unusual roses, check out “Taylor’s Weekend Garden Guides: Easy, Practical Pruning,” by Barbara Ellis. Or look for Stephen Scanniello’s “A Year of Roses” — it’s out of print and can be hard to find, but it’s a great guide to rose pruning and care.


2

3

NO CROSSING ZONE Remove these crossing, rubbing branches. You’ll reduce the risk of damage to the plant and create a more open, appealing shape for the rose bush.

TAKE OFF TIPS Trim off any dry, blackened, winter-damaged growth at the end of the canes, looking for an outward-facing bud.

1

OUT WITH THE OLD Older wood looks gray and woody, unlike fresher, greener growth. You can cut up to a third of the older canes back to the ground or the knobby base to encourage new growth. As you can see, some of these older canes are in the center of the plant, so you’ll also be opening up the middle of the plant.

4

UNCOVER THE GRAFT In USDA zones 5 and colder, the graft should be buried 2 to 4 in. under the soil line. So in these zones, you probably won’t see the actual graft. Just cut old canes off as low as you can — brush a little soil away if necessary. Most, but not all, shrub roses are grown on their own roots, but floribundas, grandifloras and hybrid teas are usually grafted.

www.GardenGateMagazine.com 29 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


A weekend project in 5 simple steps

Sand-Cast a Birdbath L

ooking for a simple project with lots of potential? Try this sandcast birdbath — it’s easy to make, works with any large leaf and can be finished a number of ways. For a large birdbath like the one in the photo above, plants like rhubarb, gunnera or ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta work best. This one’s rhubarb. You’re not limited to big leaves, though. When I made this rhubarb birdbath, I had a little leftover concrete, so I used it on sycamore, datura and even small lantana leaves. They came out great! Now I have some 30

unique garden accents scattered through my garden. I use the sycamore leaf as a small ground feeder. As for concrete, even though it’s the most expensive, I like Vinyl Patch by Quikrete®’. When it’s dry, its fine consistency preserves the leaf details clearly. Cheaper concretes are just as strong, but they look coarser. Who’d have guessed that for less than $25 and a few hours of work, you could have such a unique garden ornament? Are you ready to make your own? Let’s get started. ® — Sherri Ribbey

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MATERIALS & TOOLS Materials: 1 large leaf 1 40-lb. bag of sand 1 40-lb. bag of premixed concrete 1 roll of plastic wrap 1 gallon of concrete sealer, such as Thompson’s® Paint or concrete dye (if desired) Water Tools: Bucket or mixing tray for concrete, trowel, scrub brush, paint brush


1 GETTING STARTED I make my ornaments at a table outside, but this project can be done on the ground, too. Start by making a dome-shaped pile of sand that’s big enough for the entire leaf to rest on plus a couple of inches to spare. This rhubarb leaf used all of a 40-lb. bag of sand. Any type will do. The sand pile will support the concretecovered leaf and create the shallow depression that holds the water. In the photo above, I’m covering the completed sand dome with plastic wrap to keep the sand from sticking to any concrete that might leak through or run over the edge of the leaf.

2

3

BRING IN THE LEAF Now lay the leaf face down on top of the sand like the one above. After I laid this leaf down, I needed to adjust the sand pile a bit to make sure the leaf was fully supported. You may need to do this, too. Many leaves wilt quickly, so wait to harvest yours until you need it or keep it in a bucket of water until you’re ready. Cut the stem off close to the base of the leaf. Check the plastic wrap to make sure it extends a couple of inches beyond the leaf’s edge. If the leaf you want to use has a hole or a tear, no problem. Just cut a piece from a different leaf and lay it over the hole as a patch.

TIME FOR CONCRETE Pour the dry concrete into a mixing tray and add water until it’s the consistency of a thick brownie mix. (It took three quarters of a 40-lb. bag for this leaf). Scoop some concrete onto the center of the leaf and begin working it toward the outer edges like I’m doing in the photo above. Make it about 3/4 in. thick in the middle (or whatever it takes to cover the leaf veins) and taper it to 1/4 in. at the edge. Once the leaf is covered with concrete, cover it with plastic wrap. If it’s hot outdoors, put a piece of moist burlap over the plastic so the concrete dries evenly. Give it at least 48 hours to dry.

BIRDBATH PEDESTAL

4 DRY AND CLEAN Now you can remove the top layer of plastic and turn your concrete leaf over. In my experience, if it hasn’t dried thoroughly, a chunk along the edge is the most likely part to break off as you pick it up. To be on the safe side, have a friend help you turn it over or work your hand through the sand and lift it from the center. Peel off the second sheet of plastic wrap and start pulling out the leaf. Most of it comes out easily, but as you can see in the photo, you may have to scrub a bit. Even though the concrete is dry, it needs to cure for a week, so wait to paint or add the water.

5 PAINT YOUR LEAF To use your leaf as it is, just add a coat of concrete sealer, such as Thompson’s® Water Seal® or Drylock®, for protection. In the photo, I’m painting on several coats of a thin wash of acrylic paint. This wash was about three drops of paint to two cups of water. It dries quickly and you can begin another coat almost as soon as you finish the first. I’ve also used concrete dye, water color, oil and spray paint. In our Online Extra, I’ll tell you more about painting and show you how these different products look. Finish your painted leaf with a coat of sealer.

MAKE THIS SIMPLE MATCHING PEDESTAL. We’ll show you how to raise your birdbath off the ground in our Online Extra. ONLINE

• Gallery of colorful leaves. • Video: How to make a birdbath and pedestal.

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Designing beautiful

Garden Rooms W

ant a big look in a small space? Follow these gardeners’ lead and you’ll have a backyard oasis filled with private getaways, sweeping perennial beds and loads of color. All on a typical, city-sized lot. When Suzanne and Max Birdsall moved into their Saratoga, New York, home in 1980, they knew the yard could grow things: It had several grape arbors and a huge vegetable garden. But they wanted seclusion (and not so many grapes). So they took out some of the grapes and put in a privacy fence. Over the years, plant choice and bed design have created an even greater sense of seclusion. And finishing touches, such as the repetition of red in patio accessories, plants and even the house color, create a unified look. Resting places like the bench and the circle of marble pavers, on which the birdbath sits, help define some of the garden rooms. As with any garden, this one isn’t static. The circle of pavers started out as a straight path, but a middle-of-the-night “aha!” moment prompted a redo the following morning. And a garden room was created. Finally, although you can’t tell by looking at these photos of the garden, it speaks to more than just your visual sense: A gurgling water garden and great-smelling roses, phlox and herbs make it a soothing place to visit. With all the seating areas, you really can relax. Turn the page to find out how to get this look in your garden.

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PRIVATE GETAWAYS

W

GARAGE

>

Patio covered by grape arbor

3

> 2

The 6-foot privacy fence and arborvitae hedge create privacy.

Brick patio

SHED

Juniper arbor

Marble slab path

Lavender bed

Metal arbor

Bluestone patio

HERB GARDEN

Waterfall and pond

>

Br ick pat h

Botanical Names

1

Bee balm Monarda didyma Juniper Juniperus spp. Lavender Lavandula spp. Redbud Cercis canadensis Serviceberry Amelanchier grandiflora Shasta daisy Leucanthemum xsuperbum

HOUSE

>

Indicates the direction the photo was taken in the garden

Back porch

hat’s the secret to creating privacy and lots of separate spaces in a backyard that’s only 50 feet wide and 80 feet deep? It starts with getting in shape. And this has nothing to do with early morning workouts (unless you mean edging and deadheading!). NO STRAIGHT LINES A former country dweller, Suzanne wanted more seclusion than most city lots offer. One of the most effective ways this garden creates privacy is with large, sweeping beds. It may seem counterintuitive, but breaking up the space with lots of curving gardens actually makes this backyard seem larger. Why? You can’t make out the whole thing from any one spot. For example, photo 1 was taken from the back porch. From there, you can’t see the seating area in photo 2 or the brick patio near the garage. Suzanne says, “Curves soften things, and I like the surprise factor when people round the corners and say, ‘Oh!’.” This garden started with a straight concrete path between the house and the garage. That’s gone now in favor of a brick walk with some curves to it. You can still get to the garage efficiently (more than one way, actually), but it’s a much prettier trip now. The Birdsalls have installed a lot of brickwork and paving material over the years, and much of what they’ve learned has been through trial and error. They’ve found the best way to deal with bricks is to dig a trench, then put down a layer of landscaping fabric to keep the weeds down in the future. Put a bed of sand in the trench, lay the bricks on top and then sweep more sand into the cracks. A once-yearly weeding is all the bricks need. Some professional landscapers use rock dust instead of sand, but the rock dust sticks to shoes and makes a mess when it’s tracked into the house.

(1) From the back porch,

you can’t see all of the backyard at once. Curving lines, raised beds and tall plants create some mystery.

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Tall plants, such as the red bee balm and white Shasta daisies in photo 3, grow on a raised bed around the brick patio. This is another reason you can’t see the patio from the back porch. CREATE TRANSITIONS Steps, arbors, gates and pillars mark garden room entrances and exits beautifully. The circular lavender bed rests in the middle of this backyard, with an arbor on either side of it to mark its borders. The living arbor in photo 3 marks the south end of the herb garden. You can make your own juniper arbor by planting one of these upright shrubs on either side of a path. When the tallest tips reach high enough to shade the path, tie them together. String or flexible plant ties will probably be good enough at first, but eventually you’ll need wire. As the junipers grow, prune off wayward branches that stick straight up. If you find that the shrubs grow too closely together, you can either prune them or you can carefully dig them up and spread them apart a bit. Once you’ve created these rooms, you’ll need a way to unify them. We’ll cover that on the pages that follow.

(2) Relax! Because of

its proximity to the gurgling water garden, this patio, shaded by a grapevine-covered arbor, is a favorite dining spot.

(3) Frame views

with hardscaping, such as this recycled iron fence and the juniper arbor near the herb garden.


CREATING A THEME GARAGE

Repeated red plants

Brick patio

E SHED

HERB GARDEN •

Bench on blue paving stones

Paperbark birch

• •

Paperbark birch

>

>

Back porch

>

5

Indicates the direction the photo was taken in the garden

4

6

>

HOUSE

(4) Hostas’ textures create repetition when they’re dotted

here and there throughout the garden.

Front porch

36

ven with several garden rooms, this backyard doesn’t seem disjointed. Unity is important because although you’ll never see the whole thing from any one vantage point, as you walk around, you still want to feel as if you’re in the same yard. And from the upstairs window, where photo 4 was taken, you can actually see quite a bit of the garden at once. REPETITION IS KEY Notice how the beds all have similar curves to them. A square bed or straight line in this garden would feel out of place. The repeated curving lines help pull it all together. The color red is another unifying element. As you move through the garden, you’ll see red patio accessories, red flowers dotted throughout the perennial gardens and red begonias in containers. Even the house is painted brick red! All this red adds a spark of color to the traditional pinks and blues that started in this garden. They’re still here, but the red just livens things up a bit. Using a few favorite plants throughout the garden is another way to use repetition to create unity. There’s plenty of variety in the photo below, but you can see the distinctive leaf shape of hostas dotted here

J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 4 / I S S U E 55 www.GardenGateMagazine.com

© 2004, August Home Publishing Company

G A R D E N G AT E


(5) On the back porch, red cushions, awnings and plants create a dramatic place to entertain.

charming wooden bench in the middle of the garden to the secluded back porch in photo 5, a perfect spot for entertaining, this garden has several patio and seating areas. Finally, this garden makes everything old new again: From a no-longer-used swingset turned into an arbor, to old paving bricks reused in patios and pathways, and vintage wrought-iron fencing turned into trellises, there’s always a use for good stuff. Twelve years ago, after some home renovations revealed a treasure of beautiful blue paving stones buried in their own backyard, the Birdsalls decided to use these stones as the patio under the wooden bench. Who knew you could do so much with a small city backyard? Now you know (6) Even the front porch gets in on the act, how to create a big look of with red begonias dripping from a hanging your own. ® — Kristin Beane Sullivan basket and window boxes.

and there. These large leaves make great backdrops. For example, the usually rangy spiderwort pokes up through the sturdy hosta plants for a nice combination. This garden was all shrubs and perennials until nine years ago. Now that the three paperbark birches are larger, they block views and create garden rooms while taking up a surprisingly small amount of space and light. If you’d like to plant some trees in your backyard without sacrificing much sun or ground moisture, try small, airy trees, such as paperbark birch, serviceberry or redbud. Other plants you’ll see throughout this garden are daylilies, astilbes and ferns. They’re all easy care and look good for long stretches. PLENTY OF STOPPING PLACES

Once you’ve created curves to block some views, you need places to stop. From the

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Botanical Names Astilbe Astilbe spp. Begonia Begonia hybrids Daylily Hemerocallis hybrids Hosta Hosta spp. Paperbark birch Betula papyrifera Redbud Cercis canadensis Serviceberry Amelanchier spp. Spiderwort Tradescantia hybrids


GARDEN GATE’S

DESIGNCHALLENGE TIP ONE: Pick a shady character

NEW HOME FRONT YARD

In a new development, it’s unusual to have any trees on your lot to begin with. Yet trees look nice, and, planted in the right place, a tree will save you money on heating and cooling your house. While it may be tempting to plant a stately oak, consider something a bit faster growing, and then splurge on the biggest specimen you can afford. See “7 Great Front-Yard Shade Trees” below for a list of trees that grow quickly but not so much that they’re weak limbed.

been overwhelmed by a Eciallyver project? I bet you have, espeif you’ve purchased a new home and have been faced with creating a brand new garden out of bare soil. While a blank slate may be exciting, it also poses a challenge. Where do you begin to make a new house feel like a home and a yard feel like a garden? This yard has a lot of possibilities. For a traditional suburban look, you’d want to put in a foundation planting, an island bed and a shade tree in the front yard. Sometimes the covenants at a development dictate this. What if you want more? Here are some unique ideas for a suburban front yard. This design allows more room for flowers. I’ve also given you some practical tips about tree and shrub placement. Remember that a few small changes can make a big difference. A gorgeous hanging basket goes a long way toward making an entry inviting. Even livening up the paint color of the shudders quickly dresses up the property.

TIP TWO: Location, location, location

Ash Fraxinus spp.

4 to 10/10 to 1

Besides the importance of getting the right tree, putting it in the right spot is essential. A deciduous shade tree can work for you when it’s placed by the south-southwest corner of your house. It shades the house from the sun in summer and lets in light during the winter, while buffering blustery winds. Allow 20 ft. between the house and your planting spot. This’ll keep a full-sized tree from rubHeight/Width bing against your shingles and tearing your siding. 50 to 60 ft./25 to 40 ft.

Bald cypress Taxodium distichum

5 to 10/10 to 1

40 to 60 ft./20 to 30 ft.

5 to 9/9 to 2

50 to 70 ft./25 to 45 ft.

7 Great Front-Yard Shade Trees Plant

Cold/Heat Zones

Japanese zelkova Zelkova serrata Linden Tilia spp.

3 to 9/9 to 1

50 to 65 ft./25 to 30 ft.

Red maple Acer rubrum

3 to 9/9 to 1

40 to 60 ft./30 to 50 ft.

Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua

6 to 9/9 to 1

50 to 70 ft./30 to 50 ft.

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

5 to 9/9 to 2

50 to 70 ft./35 to 50 ft.

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TIP THREE: Dress up an awkward space For some reason, many new houses have “the narrows” — pint-sized porches and awkward strips between the sidewalk and the garage. The porch on this house isn’t large enough for much furniture, so we put a single bench where you can sit down to take off your shoes. Let the far end of the bench double as a plant stand. Not sure what to do with the planting strip? Check out From the Drawing Board on p. 40, where we give you the plan and plant list for this garden as well as one suitable for our Southern readers.

TIP FOUR: Ornamental trees Small ornamental trees give a garden structure. There are so many great ones out there, with new varieties each year. Here, we put in a white fringetree. Whatever you choose, place it far enough from the sidewalk and the driveway that you don’t have a big mess from dropped flowers and fruit to clean up. In this case, planting it about 10 ft. in from each keeps the drive and walkway clean and also gives you a clear view when you back out of the garage.

TIP FIVE: Hardscaping Hardscaping immediately adds structure to a new landscape. Here, a low, open fence along the front of the property echoes the railing on the front porch. Unlike adding a tree, you don’t have to wait for the hardscape to grow. Also, it gives a sense of permanence to a new flower garden. Notice how it’s set about 3 ft. from the sidewalk, making a great backdrop for flowers on both sides of it. The arbor and limestone path leading from the sidewalk beckon guests to stroll to the front door while enjoying the garden along the way. www.GardenGateMagazine.com 39 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company


from the drawing board

a sunny entry garden QUICK TIP

A cottage garden is made up of plants that often weave themselves together into a solid mass. Because air can’t circulate well through them, keep your eye out for powdery mildew. Try to water early in the day and make sure the foliage stays as dry as possible. If you do spot this gray fungus on your roses, delphiniums or other perennials, control its spread with a fungicide, following the label instructions.

T

his entrance garden, taken from our Design Challenge on p. 38, says “welcome” with its friendly, cottage-garden look. Plants spill onto the sidewalk, giving the illusion of a casual garden path. Clematis-covered trellises grace the blank garage wall; they’re a quick and easy way to add height in a narrow space like this. Even better, the trellises don’t waste any of your precious planting space. You’ll have color from early spring until fall in this garden designed for Northern climates. To start the year, the bed is underplanted with tulips, daffodils and crocus. By late spring into summer, perennials take over, as will a fragrant shrub rose

40

and the clematis. By midsummer, the annuals along the walk reach their peak; they take the garden through the heat of summer. In late summer, perennials, such as the tall Japanese anemones, are the focus once again. Evergreens that frame the porch entrance direct guests to the front door, especially in the winter. And a container or two lets you add accents that you can change with the seasons. This is a low-maintenance garden. A layer of mulch — at least 2 inches thick — keeps down weeds and conserves moisture. Keep a bucket handy so you can deadhead a few daisies as you walk to and from the driveway each day. But don’t deadhead the

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rose or you’ll miss its bright-red hips. In fall and winter they attract birds and other wildlife. The Siberian iris won’t rebloom even if you deadhead, so leave the papery brown seedpods which also add late-season interest. Cut down the catmint and delphinium after they flower to encourage a second flush of bloom. The yews need clipping once a year to keep them in scale. And prune the clematis lightly in early spring while it’s dormant to keep it blooming its best. If you’d like alternative plants for this design — ones that are tolerant of the heat and humidity you find in the Southeastern United States — check out the list on p. 42.


Container of annuals •

E

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Garage J

K

K

D

L

C

L

L

C

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G

F

D

D

F

F

B

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Porch

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Sidewalk

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Scale: 1 square = 1 square foot

A HARDY GARDEN FOR THE NORTH Plant Code Name

No. to Plant

Bloom Color

Bloom Time

Plant Type

Cold/Heat Height/ Zones Width

Comments

A

Shrub rose Rosa ‘Blanc Double de Coubert’

1

White

Summer

Deciduous shrub

3-9/9-1

5 ft./5 ft.

Hardy, disease-resistant shrub rose; colorful, 1-in. hips for fall interest

B

Pyramidal yew Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata’

2

N/A

N/A

Evergreen

5-7/7-1

3 ft./3 ft.

Easily clipped to maintain small size; rich dark-green color

C

Delphinium Delphinium ‘Black Knight’

5

Dark blue

Early to midsummer

Perennial

4-9/9-1

4 ft./2 ft.

Tall spires of flowers; cut down after flowering for a small second bloom

D

Siberian iris Iris sibirica ‘Butter and Sugar’

3

Yellow and white

Late spring

Perennial

4-9/9-1

E

Willow bluestar Amsonia tabernaemontana

1

Steel blue

Late spring

Perennial

3-9/9-1

F

Shasta daisy Leucanthemum xsuperbum ‘Becky’

9

White

Midsummer to fall

Perennial

4-8/8-1

G

Japanese anemone Anemone xhybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’

6

White

Late summer to early fall

Perennial

4-8/8-1

H

Catmint Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’

9

Lavender

Late summer to fall

Perennial

4-8/8-1

12 in./18 in. Provides nectar for butterflies; cut down after flowering and it’ll rebloom

I

Mealy cup sage Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’

7

Blue

Midsummer to fall

Perennial*

8-10/12-1

18 in./10 in. Will self-seed; good for cutting; deadhead to keep it blooming all summer

J

Petunia Petunia ‘White Storm’

21

White

Midsummer to early fall

Annual

K

Clematis Clematis ‘General Sikorski’

2

Blue-purple

Summer

Deciduous vine

4-9/9-1

10 ft./4 ft.

4- to 6-in. flowers; prune lightly in early spring before growth starts

L

Asiatic lily Lilium ‘Connecticut King’

8

Yellow

Midsummer

Hardy bulb

3-8/8-1

3 ft./12 in.

Multiplies easily in well-drained soil; deadhead to keep plants looking neat

30 in./18 in. Spiky foliage makes a good texture contrast; easy to grow 3 ft./3 ft.

Foliage changes to yellow for fall interest; stands well without staking

36 in./24 in. Excellent for bouquets; deadhead to promote continued bloom 4 ft./18 in.

Late blooming; good for cutting; may need staking in windy areas

Annual/12-1 10 in./12 in. Deadhead occasionally; durable annual for a hot area

*Treat as an annual in colder zones.

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Container of annuals

from the drawing board continued

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Garage

A Southeastern welcome

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K

K

L

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L C

A

G

G

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D

F

F

B

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I

H

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J

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Porch

If you live in an area where the summers are blistering hot and the winters are mild, like the American Southeast, this list is invaluable. Many of the plants listed here were chosen for tolerance of those conditions. A few plants, like ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy, which is a very heat-tolerant cultivar, and the fall-blooming anemone are carry overs from the original plan. You can even create your own custom garden if you want to. Mix and match plants from both lists as long as the ones you choose are hardy for your USDA zone. And don’t be locked into our annual choices. If you prefer different ones, both in the ground and in the container, feel free to switch. The result will be a charming entrance garden that reflects your individual taste as it welcomes your guests even before you open your front door. ® — Jim Childs

Sidewalk

J

J J B

I

Scale: 1 square = 1 square foot

HEAT-TOLERANT GARDEN FOR THE SOUTHEAST Plant Code Name

No. to Plant

Bloom Color

Bloom Time

Plant Type

Cold/Heat Zones

Height/ Width

Comments

A

Butterfly bush Buddleja davidii ‘Nanho Blue’

1

Pale lilac-blue

Summer to fall

Deciduous shrub

5-9/9-1

5 ft./4 ft.

Compact form; cut down to the ground in spring

B

Boxwood Buxus sempervirens ‘Vardar Valley’

2

N/A

N/A

Evergreen shrub

6-8/8-1

3 ft./3 ft.

Easily pruned for size; light-green foliage

C

Foxglove Digitalis purpurea ‘Apricot’

5

Apricot-pink

Summer

Perennial

4-8/8-1

4 ft./18 in.

D

Crocosmia Crocosmia xcrocosmiiflora ‘Solfatare’

3

Apricot-yellow Midsummer

Perennial

6-9/9-1

E

Wild blue indigo Baptisia australis 1 ‘Purple Smoke’

Dusky purple

Late spring

Perennial

4-9/9-1

F

Shasta daisy Leucanthemum xsuperbum ‘Becky’

9

White

Late spring

Perennial

4-8/8-1

G

Japanese anemone Anemone xhybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’

6

White

Late summer to early fall

Perennial

4-8/8-1

H

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’

9

Blue-purple

Midsummer

Perennial

5-8/8-1

18 in./24 in. Fragrant flowers on dense spikes; drought tolerant

I

Verbena Verbena hybrida ‘Peaches and Cream’

7

Orange-pink

Summer

Annual

Annual/12-1

12 in./18 in. Orange-pink flowers age to cream; spreading form

J

Petunia Petunia ‘Sonata’

12

White

Summer

Annual

Annual/12-1

12 in./18 in. Double-flowered white cultivar; deadhead to keep it blooming

K

Clematis Clematis florida ‘Sieboldiana’

2

White

Late spring to summer

Vine

6-9/9-2

8 ft./3 ft.

L

Lily Lilium ‘Enchantment’

8

Orange

Summer

Hardy bulb

2-8/8-1

3 ft./12 in.

*Treat as annual in colder zones 42

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Short-lived perennial; easily started from seed; self sows

28 in./24 in. Bronze foliage; spikes of arching flowers; good for cutting 4 ft./3 ft.

Drought tolerant; ornamental seed pods; pest-free foliage

36 in./24 in. Excellent in bouquets; deadhead to promote continued blooming 4 ft./18 in.

Late blooming; good for cutting; may need staking in windy areas

Prune lightly in spring; 3-in. flowers have purple centers Multiplies quickly; flowers have black spots on petals


container recipe I

PHOTO LOCATION: Norenburg Gardens

always start the gardening season off with the best of intentions — especially with my containers. But I often forget to water them. This container plan takes the heat, and doesn’t dry up the first time I forget to drag the hose around. Flowers really start popping by early summer with pink verbena and coral-red twinspur swirling around the red-veined foliage of rumex, also called bloody sorrel. My favorite plant is the ornamental oregano, with its pastel bracts trailing over the side. The contrast of foliage shapes is nothing to sneeze at, either. As for the container, it’s made of concrete with a basket weave along the side that contributes to the interesting texture of the whole planting. GROWING TIPS Another great thing about this plan is that it blooms all summer. A little deadheading keeps the verbena in shape. If the twinspur slows down, cut it back by a third and it’ll rebloom as the weather cools. Go ahead and pull the bloody sorrel if, by midsummer, it gets too ratty. ‘Minus’ licorice plant, with its compact habit, is a real time saver: It doesn’t need all the pinching you have to do with other licorice plants. If you can’t find the oregano, sorrel or ruby grass at your local nursery, check out the Resources on p. 47 for some mail-order sources. You’ll save yourself a lot of guilt over lost plants if you remember this plan when it comes time to pot up your containers this year. ®

• Full sun • Well-drained potting mix • Fertilize every 10 to 14 days with a 9-59-8 mix from Fertilome®

Container is 281/2 in. long by 91/4 in. wide

PLANT LIST Code Plant Name

Tips for care

No. of plants

A

Bloody sorrel Rumex sanguineus

B

Ornamental oregano Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ 3

C

Verbena Verbena tenuisecta ‘Edith’

2

D

Twinspur Diascia ‘Red Ace’ (‘Hecrace’)

4

E

Ruby grass Melinis nerviglumis ‘Pink Crystals’

1

F

Licorice plant Helichrysum petiolare ‘Minus’

2

D

C E

2 A

B D

D

F B

A

C

B

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F

D


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Container Gardening This new book by Paul Williams could change your perspective on containers. A quick flip through the pages shows you plants and plant combinations you may never have thought of. For example, what do you think about ‘Plum Pudding’ coral bells with cape daisies? Or burgundy flowering maple, licorice plant and white petunias? You’ll find these, along with many other combinations, in the pages of Container Gardening. The practical details aren’t neglected, either. There’s a plant directory with brief care instructions and how-tos on designing combinations, choosing containers and growing plants in pots. Container Gardening by Paul Williams is published by Dorling Kindersley and is available at your local or online bookstore. You can also buy it online at www.GardenGateStore.com. Retail price is $25.

Floating rain gauge Simple but elegant, this copper rain gauge ages to a classy looking patina, but that’s not all it has going for it. It holds a cobalt-blue, plastic measuring tube calibrated in ¼-inch increments with easy-to-read bright-white numbers. The cobalt tube hides inside the copper until raindrops start falling. Then it slowly floats up as the rain accumulates. A decorative iron stake wraps around the copper tube to hold it off the ground and is coated so it won’t rust. Buy the floating rain gauge from T.M. Hoff Handmade at 845-255-0197 or check out www.GardenGateStore.com. Suggested retail is $37.

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did you know? Although deer will eat anything when food is in short supply, knowing what they usually pass by can help keep your garden looking good. Now there’s a list that rates more than 500 common garden plants on how attractive they are to deer. Using input from nursery and landscape professionals, Master Gardeners and the extension staff, Rutgers University Extension has developed a list you can check out online at www.rce.rutgers.edu/deerresistance/default.asp.

Natural alternatives to deet

‘Fragrant Angel‘coneflower Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are known for hardiness and long bloom time. Now you can add fragrance to the list. ‘Fragrant Angel’ coneflower has a sweet fragrance and large, 5-inch white flowers. Plants are a sturdy 20 inches tall by 24 inches wide. It needs full sun in moist, well-drained soil. It’s cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9; its heat tolerance is not yet rated. Get ‘Fragrant Angel’ from Busse Gardens at www.bussegardens.com or call 800-544-3192.

TM

Firefly solar light Add a distinctive look to your garden with this new solar light. It has a crackle glass globe that makes an interesting pattern of light on anything nearby. The height is adjustable from just over 5 feet tall to 42 inches. Since the Firefly is solar, it doesn’t need any wiring and is easy to move. A sunny day keeps your Firefly glowing for 8 hours. Get Firefly from Rittenhouse at www. rittenhouse.ca or call 877-488-1914. Or visit www.GardenGateStore.com. Suggested retail price is $36.99 each.

Currently, deet is the most effective mosquito and tick repellent. However, there may be some natural alternatives available in the future. Studies at National Taiwan University have shown that cinnamon oil may be an effective pesticide for use against mosquito larvae. Testing for use as a repellent is coming soon. In another study, scientists at North Carolina State University are working on an insect repellent that taps into the natural compound tomatoes use to keep insects at bay.

Wheelbarrow recall Ames® True Temper® has recalled a wheelbarrow that was sold under a variety of names between 1993 and 2000. In some circumstances, the wheel assembly has been known to cause injury by shattering while being inflated. Check for a wheel 14 inches in diameter with a black plastic rim divided into 16 pie-shaped wedges. For more details, go to www.ames.com. To get your free replacement wheel, call 866-239-2281.

Join the beetle brigade The viburnum leaf beetle has been munching its way through viburnums in Canada and the Eastern United States for years. Adults and larvae feast on the leaves of this hardy shrub — sometimes even defoliating an entire plant. Help keep an eye on this pest’s migration by becoming a citizen scientist for Cornell University. Learn about the beetle’s life cycle, document sightings and keep track of damage to help researchers try to contain this pest. Go to www.hort.cornell.edu/vlb/ to learn more. In Canada, contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Food at www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/ english/crops/facts/vlb.htm.

www.GardenGateMagazine.com 45 © 2004, August Home Publishing Company

PHOTO: Courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. (‘fragrant angel’ coneflower)

Deer-resistant plants


askgardengate Save the hemlocks! P.P., Massachusetts

Q Questions? Send them to Garden Gate Q&A, 2200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312, or e-mail us at gardengate@ gardengatemag.com. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number in case we need to reach you. Because we receive so many questions, we can’t answer all of them, but we’ll certainly contact you if we publish yours.

My hemlocks have little cocoons on the undersides of the twigs and needles. What are they? You’re seeing the woolly fuzz on the bodies and egg masses of hemlock woolly adelgids (Adelges tsugae), a serious pest of Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) in the eastern and northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. When the adelgids feed on sap, they inject toxic saliva into new needles and buds, causing the needles to dry out and fall off. Adelgids can kill a mature tree in three or four years.

A

Wooly adelgids on underside of hemlock twigs

46

Pinch down the streaks in the leaves to smash the borer.

They can hitch a ride on anything, so look for adelgids in yards or the woods, especially from March through June. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, applied in early April and in June, can control adelgids. Sprays like imidacloprid can be used for a heavy infestation. Contact a local arborist to find the best way to treat yours.

Iris borer larva

1 in.

Banishing borers N.S., Ohio

Crispy astilbe S.T., Michigan

Q

My astilbe foliage turns brown in the summer even when I water. Why? There are a couple of possibilities. Astilbe does best in morning sun and afternoon shade. Your plants could be getting a little too much sun. They may do better in a shadier spot. Astilbe also likes moist soil. So even if you’re watering it as often as the rest of your garden, it might still be drying out between waterings. Spread a layer of mulch around your plants, and then water deeply and slowly. It’s not uncommon during a hot, dry summer for astilbe foliage to get a little crispy around the edges. After it flowers, you can cut the entire plant back to encourage new, healthy looking growth from the base.

A

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How can I get rid Q of iris borers without using pesticides? To control iris borers A (Macronoctua onusta), destroy their eggs by clearing away leaf litter in fall. In spring, pinch down the telltale brown streaks on leaves until you crush the larvae. If the streaking reaches the rhizome, dig up the rhizomes and look for exit holes. Cut away the damage and soak the rest in a 10-percent bleach solution for a few minutes to prevent soft rot and drown larvae. Rinse the rhizomes and let them dry for a day or two before replanting. Two beneficial nematodes (Steinernema car-

pocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriospora) are just as good at controlling iris borers as chemical pesticides are. Stir them into water and spray them on the plants. The Beneficial Insect Company (336-9738490) and Territorial Seed Company (541942-9547) both carry the nematodes.

Compost vs. peat moss A.K., Minnesota

Which is a better Q soil amendment — compost or peat moss? Compost. It imA proves soil texture and adds nutrients. Peat moss, or partly decomposed sphagnum moss, is not the best

Borer exit hole • •

Rotten area

Healthy rhizome


resources CLEMATIS (P. 12) MAIL-ORDER CATALOGS

soil amendment by itself. It improves soil texture, but it’s nutrient-poor. It’s also slightly acid, which your garden may not need. Add peat moss to your compost pile and put the compost on your garden to take advantage of the compost’s nutrients and the peat moss’s waterholding capacity. Don’t use peat moss as mulch — it takes water from the soil and forms a crust water can’t penetrate.

vacuum at the foot of the back side of the fence. Downdrafts can damage plants at the base of the fence as badly as the original wind problem. Use a picket fence or a fence with slats spaced 2 or 3 inches apart to slow the wind. Or you can use shrubs to create a living windbreak in your garden. You may need to protect the shrubs until they are big enough to baffle the wind for smaller plants. As they grow, they’ll be able to tolerate more wind themselves.

Caught in the downdraft J.C., Illinois

Hard water is hard on pumps

I want to put up a Q fence to create a windbreak. What kind

C.M., Kansas

of fence is best? A good windbreak fence should slow the airflow down without blocking it completely. Solid fences can create a downdraft, where the airflow is first pushed up, then drawn down into a

A

Q

We have extremely hard water. I haven’t been able to find a recirculating pump that will last, and I’d love to have a fountain in my garden. What can I do? There are several ways to deal with hard water:

A

A solid fence creates a downdraft.

One possibility is to use a water softener — you probably already have one in your house if your water is this hard. Water softeners remove the minerals that settle out of the water, corroding metal and leaving white deposits on your fountain. A plumber can route your outside water supply through your water softener. Or you could fill the fountain with water from inside the house. Collected rain water is also a good source for softer water. You can also look for a metal pump made with a “sacrificial anode,” a replaceable zinc and magnesium piece that attracts the mineral particles so they don’t settle on other parts of the pump. Many new fountain and pond pumps are plastic, and the minerals in hard water don’t corrode plastic as they do metal, although they’ll still collect on any rough surface.

A baffled fence slows the wind.

Busse Gardens www.bussegardens.com 800-544-3192 • $3 Completely Clematis Specialty Nursery www.clematisnursery.com Wayside Gardens www.waysidegardens.com 800-845-1124 • Free

TOP PICKS FOR CLAY (P. 20) MAIL-ORDER CATALOGS

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com 804-693-3966 • Catalog free Quamash and martagon lily Busse Gardens www.bussegardens.com 800-544-3192 • Catalog $3 Joe-pye weed, ‘Miss Manners’ obedient plant and ‘Chocolate Chip’ bugleweed Forestfarm www.forestfarm.com 541-846-7269 • Catalog $5 Flowering quince, Autumn Purple ash, flowering currant, swordleaf inula and ‘Nikko’ deutzia

CONTAINER RECIPE (P. 43) MAIL-ORDER CATALOGS Avant Gardens www.avantgardensNE.com 508-998-8819 • Catalog $3 Ornamental oregano Outsidepride.com, Inc. www.outsidepride.com 877-255-8470 Ruby grass (also called Rhynchelytrum repens) Park Seed www.parkseed.com 800-845-3369 • Catalog free Bloody sorrel

Don’t Know Your Zones? Find your heat and cold zones online at www.GardenGateMagazine.com/zones.

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notes

from the test garden

dividing grape hyacinths I More bulbs you can divide Daffodil Narcissus spp. Glory-of-the-snow Chionodoxa luciliae Netted iris Iris riticulata Snowdrops Galanthus spp. Squill Scilla spp.

sn’t it a thrill when you realize that the little bulb you put in the ground several years ago is now a healthy monster? And it’s even more exciting when you see that not only is your plant thriving, but it needs to be divided. That means free plants, and that’s a phrase every gardener loves to hear. There are two main reasons for dividing bulbs. The first — most gardeners’ favorite — is to get more plants. Many plants that grow from bulbs do form seeds, but it’s a slow way to grow new plants, and you can’t be sure that the seedlings will be the same as the parent. It’s a lot easier and quicker to divide the bulbs. The second reason to divide is to rejuvenate an overcrowded planting. As clumps of bulbs grow, they compete with each other for space, water and nutrients, which can mean fewer flowers as they become overcrowded. True bulbs, such as grape hyacinths, are modified stems that store food for the plant. They reproduce by offsets, little bulbs at the base of each mother bulb. You can break the new bulbs from the main clump to make more plants. I’ll show you how to divide grape hyacinths step by step in the photos below and in our Online Video. These steps will work for any true bulb. It’s best to divide hardy spring bulbs like grape hyacinths in late spring to midsummer. So gather up your garden fork, your gloves and some bulb fertilizer, and you’re all set to make new plants! ®

(1) The best time to divide bulbs is when they’re dormant or nearly dormant after they bloom. It’s easier while you can still see the foliage so you know where to dig. When you dig the clump, start far enough away that you don’t slice through any bulbs.Gently shake the soil off the clump so you can see what you’re doing.

ONLINE

Dividing grape hyacinths

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(2) Break the clump apart. Be sure that part of the

basal plate, the flat spot on the bottom of each bulb, is included on each offset. You can plant them all or just keep the biggest offsets. Dust the ones you want to replant with a fungicide powder from your local garden center.


weed watch Yellow nutsedge Cyperus esculentus

IDENTIFICATION Yellow nutsedge is a perennial weed with slender, ½-in.-wide leaves that grow up to 2 ft. long. It sprouts in early summer and matures by fall. Triangular stems, up to 3 ft. tall, rise from the center of each plant topped by clusters of yellow-flowering spikes. While yellow nutsedge does grow from seed, its corms, often called “nutlets,” are the structures that reproduce most quickly. Each plant sends out underground runners that produce clusters of the nutlets. After these nutlets are ready to grow on their own, the parent plant disconnects and the nutlets sprout. When you pull mature plants, the nutlets break free and are left behind. FAVORITE CONDITIONS This weed thrives almost anywhere it receives full sun, especially in wet and compacted soils. And it’s damaging to crops: Yellow nutsedge hosts a soil-dwelling bacteria that can destroy soil-borne nitrogen. CONTROL The plant releases its nutlets before chemical herbicides are able to kill it. It’s tempting to pull the weed when you see it, but pulling it in the spring just snaps off the plant above the nutlets and encourages new growth. Instead, dig everything you can in early summer when the nutlets are “worn out” from producing growth all spring and before new ones form. To prevent it from taking hold in a new bed, put down a layer of landscape fabric before planting. Avoid plastic because the new shoots can poke through the plastic as it gets brittle. ®

(3) Replant the new offsets at the same depth as the original planting. Sprinkle some bulb fertilizer into the bottom of the hole first, then cover it with a dusting of soil or compost so the fertilizer isn’t in direct contact with the bulbs. Spacing is up to you. Closely planted bulbs will look better next spring, but you’ll have to divide them sooner. Water immediately.

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editor’schoice prairie smoke

8 in.

I

4 in.

0

Geum triflorum Size 12 to 15 in. tall by 12 in. wide Habit Clump forming Bloom time A couple weeks in midspring Soil Average, well-drained Light Full sun to part shade Pests None serious Hardiness Cold: USDA zones 3 to 7 Heat: AHS zones not available

Mail-order source Prairie Nursery P.O. Box 306 Westfield, WI 53964 www.prairienursery.com 800-476-9453. Free

’m a sucker for colorful names. So when I heard of a plant called “prairie smoke,” I couldn’t wait to get some — even before I knew what it was! The small pink springtime flowers in the photo at right have a Dr. Seuss-like charm. When the flowers set seed, as photo 1 shows, it’s obvious why names like “prairie smoke,” “old man’s whiskers” and “torch flower” were hung on this native plant. Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) easily makes the move from wild thing to well-mannered perennial. In spring, columbine and scilla make good companions. It also mingles nicely with little bluestem and other ornamental grasses. Don’t forget plants to complement the seed heads, too. Try hardy geranium, bee balm or phlox, to name just a few. Prairie smoke’s deeply cut leaves also provide a nice foliage contrast to sedum or bergenia. At 12 to 15 inches tall, this low grower works best at the front of your border. And since the flowers are small, plant in groups of three or more so you can really enjoy them. Mature plants form dense clumps that make a good ground cover, too.

make a small mound and plant my prairie smoke. Both the compost and a higher planting level help with the drainage. An easy way to get more plants is to divide a clump of rhizomes. In spring, after flowers fade, gently lift the plant out of the soil with a garden fork. With a clean, sharp knife, cut off the smaller rhizomes, making sure that you have some roots and foliage with each section. Replant immediately, with the top of the rhizome 1 inch below the soil level, and water in well. To give new transplants a boost, mix some organic fertilizer into the soil of the hole before adding the plant. Once established, prairie smoke doesn’t need regular fertilizing. By spring, you’ll have even more of these charming little flowers with the colorful name. ®

PHOTO LOCATION: Minneapolis Lyndale Park Peace (Rock) Garden

12 in.

Care and culture Prairie smoke does best in full sun and well-drained soil. But it can also take part shade. Insects don’t bother prairie smoke, but root rot can be a problem in poorly drained soil. Don’t let that discourage you, though — I have clay in my garden and still grow this tough little plant. I work a couple shovelfuls of compost into the soil,

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(1) Prairie smoke’s small, pendulous

flowers gradually move to an upright position as the seedhead forms.


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Wings widespread It stops to feed At the flower bed And on its favourite flower The butterfly settles Like two extra petals.” — Stanley Cook

Fertile Crescent Nursery

“The sun is on fire In the sky And in its warmth Flowers open In the garden And the butterfly Flutters by.


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