Fall color from shrubs catches the attention of leaf-peepers, too. Red is one color to stand out from the many golden leaves. Fall color is remarkable in western Kentucky from many native deciduous shrubs, particularly that of Itea. Continue reading
Have you noticed that our state tree, yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), is looking less than stately right now? All around the bluegrass, yellow poplar leaves are turning yellow and dropping. Leaves on inside seem most affected but this yellowing occurs relatively evenly distributed top to bottom in canopy. Continue reading
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
Trees and shrubs add beauty and value to a home’s landscape. But as few as 50% of planted trees do not survive beyond one or two years. Why? Improper installation is the leading cause of failure of newly planted trees. You can grow trees successfully if you are aware of a few important planting guidelines. Continue reading
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
We tend to not give much thought to a plant’s form when considering a new shrub or tree to invite into our landscapes. Some plants just scream form. There are the conical-shaped plants, the weepers, and the upright, columnar forms of plants and all have their merits. Then there are the contortionists. Continue reading
As a horticulture nerd, I am always a bit perplexed why we get stuck in tree and shrub ruts. Maples, pears, dogwoods…that’s the tree rut I’m talking about. There are so many other trees worthy of a spot in our yards and landscapes. Here’s one very much worth it.
Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) displays all the things desirable in a tree for home landscapes: clean, glossy foliage, brilliant fall color, unique thick bark, and few insect and disease problems. Continue reading
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?
Decorating with greenery during the holidays is a time honored tradition. Like the song says, the evergreen most people choose when they “deck the halls” is holly. Holly greenery can sometimes be hard to find and is often expensive. But if your landscape has the space, green thumb gardeners can plant their own holly trees and shrubs for an instant and cheap source of holly boughs. Continue reading
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