Unique Forsythia Varieties

Surely one of the most widely recognized harbingers of spring is the bright yellow blooms of forsythia. These extremely durable shrubs have graced gardens for centuries. While beautiful in bloom, these plants grow quite large and may be more plant than your landscape can handle. Fortunately, there are several lesser known types of forsythia that have a more manageable size. These varieties may require a little more effort to locate but are worth the search. Continue reading

Selecting Fast Growing Shade Trees

Trees are a valuable asset to our home landscape.  In addition to blooms, texture, and fall color, trees also help reduce energy bills by casting shade on our homes during summer.  People are often reluctant to plant large shade trees because they don’t want to wait 20 years or more to enjoy the benefit. Selecting a fast-growing tree therefore is a primary concern. However, I would urge you to read about specific trees that are sold as “fast-growing” and any maintenance problems they may have before purchasing.  Bradford Pear trees are an example of a fast-growing tree, but as most people are aware, they are very short lived, often breaking apart in storms after only 20 years of growth. Other fast-growing trees that should not be planted in home landscapes due to weak limbs or other problems include silver maple, eastern white pine, American sycamore, cottonwood, pin oak, and weeping willow. Continue reading

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