Plants for Tough Sites: Dry Shade

I grew up with a yard that had a slope facing east, shaded by a mature tree with miniscule amounts of good fertile soil to grow any type of plant. I have also inherited this site in my new garden.  This area is too steep to mow easily and the grass is so thin it’s mostly weeds.  I’m a gardener so I’m not opposed to removing the lawn in favor of perennials and shrubs. Continue reading

A Messy Winter Garden Makes Good Wildlife Habitat

You worked hard turning some of your property into wildlife habitat. You planted nectar and host plants for butterflies and pollinators. Trees and bushes offer shelter and habitat for birds, squirrels, and other small creatures. Perhaps this summer, a box turtle took up residence in your back yard or you heard tree frogs singing in your own trees! Now, after all your hard work, why would you destroy that wonderful ecosystem by cleaning it up for winter?

Continue reading

Hydrangeas – Blue or Pink? You Decide.

Hydrangeas grace the landscape with beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. The most colorful hydrangeas are bigleaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea macrophylla. Their flowers are usually either pink or blue. Flower color depends on the pH of the soil, a measure of soil acidity. Soil pH can be raised by applying lime. Some hydrangeas will respond to a higher pH (between 6.0 and 6.5) with pink flower color. To lower pH, apply aluminum sulfate. A lower pH (between 5.0 and 5.0) often results in blue flower color. A soil test will determine the existing pH and you can change your soil with the appropriate amendment to get the resulting flower color you want. Continue reading