Friday, October 28, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - October 28, 2011

Needless to say, the freeze last night put an end to the 2011 growing season.

The gradual cooling in fall is beneficial as trees and shrubs are able to adequately harden off in order to survive the long winter that is ahead.

At the nursery, the only plants we like to protect from a heavy frost in fall are the evergreen azaleas as sometimes the flower buds that formed in summer are not quite ready for a freeze and will be killed inside the bud sheath so that the bloom in spring would be limited.

With all the constant rain, we had to move our German iris from outside to an area under cover as a too wet German iris begins to rot if drainage is not adequate.

This year has been so incredibly wet that it gives new meaning to the phrase “well-drained soil”.

In fact, a customer bemoaned the death of a Royal Red Norway Maple as he planted it in a too wet area that maybe in normal weather would have been just fine.

At the nursery, the sales yard is almost empty except for some trees athough we sill can retrieve trees and shrubs from our storage area.

Our selection of trees includes Sugar Maples, Red Sunset Maples, Cleveland Select Pears, Autumn Blaze Maples and some Dogwood varieties.

Soon we’ll be cutting branches for our grave blankets and then getting ready for Christmas trees.

The Owl Barn is already somewhat decorated for Christmas with a good selection of apples, pears, cider and fresh backed goods from a local baker all along side the artificial decorated trees.

Even the poinsettias in the greenhouse are echoing Christmas as they are now showing a significant red hue in the flower bracts.

A few sunny days would be nice or maybe an Indian summer before we rush into Thanksgiving and then Christmas but we’ll just have to wait and see.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - October 21, 2011

What a change from last year!

Last year it was so warm and dry as it had been all summer that many established plants were suffering from drought that lasted well into November.

Now this year we all wish it would just stop raining for just a few days a week!

A least this weekend the sun is supposed to come out but with the weather forecast, my thoughts are that there indeed may be some frost in low lying areas if the sky is clear at night and the air is still.

In fact, the first frost date for northern Ohio is usually about October 10th although some years it can frost as early as mid-September and as late as November 10th!

This weekend is the last weekend for our fall sale although there will be a few trees that will still be on our 50% off sale.

In a little over a week from today, we’ll be covering our over-wintering structures for the small trees and shrubs as they cannot take the full blast of winter when they are in a pot above the ground.

Even with the end of the growing season, our greenhouse is still growing poinsettias, geraniums to use for cuttings and the plants of azaleas and blueberry we rooted last summer as these must be kept on what I call minimum heat, that is about 45 degrees.

For about another month, tree and shrub plantings can still go on along with the “planting of spring”, that is, Holland flower bulbs.

Hopefully the remainder of the fall will yield a significant number of sunny days as I have had enough of the cold rain although we should count our blessings as we could be in the same sad situation as Texas that has been hot, dry and burning.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - October 14, 2011

The progression of fall and then winter reminds me of the problem that many of us experience caused by grazing deer on a variety of plants especially certain evergreens.

Taking a proactive approach is the best way to avoid major deer damage by spraying valuable plants with Liquid Fence. Spraying the product about mid-November and again a month later will teach the deer that their food is elsewhere.

One evergreen deer love to chew is the Taxus (Yew) genus that otherwise is a wonderfully sturdy group for sun or shade.

I think it’s utterly strange that all parts of the Taxus plant except the red aril (berry) are poisonous to humans and cattle when ingested and yet the plant is a deer salad.

Another evergreen deer love is Arborvitae. They will strip the foliage as high as they can reach.

At the nursery, we are suggesting to customers that have deer problems to plant the Thuja plicata species or more commonly known as the Western Red Cedar.

This evergreen is perfectly winter hardy to climate zone 5 and has numerous advantages over the similar looking Arborvitae genus.

The benefits of using the Western Red Cedar as a hedge or screen are:

1. As stated before, deer won’t browse the foliage.
2. The plant has a single leader so that heavy snows or ice do not split it apart.
3. Western Red Cedars grow much better in moderate shade than Arborvitae as well as growing well in all day sun.
4. Growth on Cedars is rapid sometimes as much as 3 feet per year depending on the variety.
5. Plants for a screen can be planted 5-6 feet on center making the planting cost effective.
6. For a shorter hedge or screen without the burden of trimming the variety, ‘Can Can’ grows only to 8-10 feet.
7. Although the two conifers Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar are similar they are different in that the cedar will grow again from older mature wood when trimmed while the Arborvitae will not re-grow from old wood if trimmed hard.

Right now at the nursery we have the variety Green Giant in stock that will grow to about 20 feet in 5-6 years when planted at the beginning 5 foot hedge while only gaining a width of about 6 feet.

As I have stated many times before, fall is for planting about any tree or shrub as well as many perennials but Holland flower bulbs must be planted in fall so the cool moist soil will foster root growth so that the flower bulb can fulfill its spring promise of a flower.

See you at the nursery,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - October 7, 2011

In my last blog I touched on the beauty of nature with the changing of the leaves of the trees with their different hues of red, yellow, orange and gold..

In the landscape, vibrant colors of Autumn are easy to create by the addition of native plants. The maples seem to be the favorite for brilliant reds such as the Autumn Blaze hybrid maple and red maples or the multicolored Sugar Maple that displays colors of red, orange and yellow frequently mixed on the same tree.

Red oaks have a more subdued red hue in fall than the maples although the Ohio and Pennsylvania forests come alive with the massive fall displays of so many oaks.

One of my favorite native trees for fall color is the Oxydendron arboreum or Sourwood tree in that its Lily of the Valley-like-flowers hanging on the tree in clusters in August through early October while the rhododendron-like leaves begin to change to shades of mahogany and finishing up in a brilliant red display.

The Aronia brilliantissima or Chokeberry shrub is noted for it’s white bloom in late April and early May and the rich dark green leaves of summer giving way to a brilliant red and yellow glow in October.

As I have stated many times, though the various blueberry varieties are brightly colored in red, orange or yellow leaves in fall depending on the variety. The clear yellow is well known from the compact variety called Bluegold which will attain a height of about 4-5 ft. I’m sure the advantages to using blueberries are evident as they bloom with clean white flowers in spring, have handsome foliage in summer, brilliant fall colors, winter-colored wood and lastly if not most important, delicious and nutritious berries to eat!

The non-native Euonymous alatus Compactus or Burning Bush seems to be on the wane as a favorite of fall color in the landscape. How many times have I heard the complaints of homeowners fighting to keep the size of this plant in check or fighting spider mites that defoliate this euonymus.

With a little research and planning, you can create another season of interest in your landscape using all native plants which for years have been undervalued and neglected in the landscape.