No other plant on the planet gives you more bang for your buck than a single, solitary, spring-flowering bulb, be it a daffodil or a hyacinth or a crocus or whatever. (Yes, I intentionally excluded tulips for the moment – more on them later.)Think about it: in most cases you shell out less than a buck for a gorgeous flower that will return year after year for decades. And in that time all the plant requires is an occasional drink and a light snack.
Fescue is originally from Europe. It didn’t actually arrive in this country until the mid-19th century, but it’s been happy here ever since, first as a pasture grass and later as a turf grass in lawns across America, including Alaska and Hawaii. It’s even planted on the South Lawn of the White House. And here in Green Country, fescue is the go-to turf for shady spots, where it thrives with a little fertilizer and regular watering.
Carrie and I bought our first home in 1979, and before we’d unpacked all the moving boxes I was busy preparing my first vegetable garden. Step one involved removing (by hand) roughly 400 square feet of Bermuda grass, which took two weekends. Step two involved rototilling the entire area. Problem was, I didn’t own a rototiller. Nor did I have a way to transport one.
The window between the end of summer and the beginning of fall is the perfect time to fertilize deciduous plants and turf grasses. And the reason is simple: Providing nutrients that have been depleted during the growing season will enable plants to enter the winter months with the food reserves they need to stay healthy and begin robust growth in spring.
August is ordinarily so hot and dry that I discourage people from planting certain things, in particular large trees and shrubs as well as conifers. But given the current weather pattern we’re in – and the long-range forecast for the rest of the month -- I wouldn’t hesitate to plant anything and everything, including large trees and shrubs and yes, even conifers.
I get asked so many questions about ants that some days I just want to scream, “Uncle!” So let me just say right off the top that most ants aren’t bad. In fact, most ants are enormously important little critters. And rather than seeing them as pests in the garden, I suggest you think of them as partners. Here’s why.
Mushrooms have been popping up in lawns all over town, and their presence causes many a homeowner to panic and wonder how best to destroy them – some sort of fungicidal spray or powder, or perhaps a pitching wedge? Well you might be surprised to learn that my approach to dealing with mushrooms in the lawn is much simpler.
Been noticing a lot of mole tunnels popping up in your yard lately? That’s because a new generation of moles, born in April and May, has matured and is busy staking out new territory. The good news is that moles are very territorial, and rarely are there more than three in an entire acre, except perhaps during the late-winter mating season, so typically the average-size yard is harboring only one. The bad news of course is that even one can be a nuisance.
“Only two things money can’t buy. That’s true love, and homegrown tomatoes.” So said the late, great singer/songwriter Guy Clark in his 1983 ode to America’s most popular backyard crop titled, appropriately enough, “Homegrown Tomatoes.” No doubt most of us would agree with him, but getting a good harvest of homegrown tomatoes can be tricky.
Shrubs rarely get the attention they deserve, and yet they tend to be among the most carefree plants in the landscape. Those that bloom in spring – azaleas and hydrangeas in particular – do briefly bask in the glory while in bloom, but it’s the summer bloomers that I find more rewarding, largely because their bloom period lasts so long. Aside from the obvious – crape myrtles and roses – here are some of my favorite summer-blooming shrubs.
In just about every landscape, there’s a sunny spot that’s not just hot, but crazy, insane, over-the-top hot. It might be an area adjacent to a sidewalk or driveway or concrete patio. It might be near a light-colored brick or stucco wall. It might be in a bed that’s mulched with stone. Regardless, spots like that require plants that can take not only full blazing sun but intense reflective heat as well. And thankfully, quite a few plants fit the bill.
With all due respect to our state tree -- the redbud -- I think the crape myrtle defines Tulsa and its environs better than any other tree. That’s not to say it’s my favorite tree, because it isn’t, but it’s certainly among my favorites, and it vaults to the top of the list when it’s ablaze in summer blooms.
I’ve been growing tropical plants in containers for decades, and this year is no exception. Yes, I know they likely won’t survive past October. And no, I don’t attempt to overwinter them indoors as I once did on a grand scale. But no matter. I love the way they look, and that’s reason enough to plant them.
Rains this week have put on damper on gardening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plant. After all, putting all kinds of things in containers is something you can do regardless of weather – in the garage, on a covered patio, even between downpours. And while obvious choices include flowers and tropicals, there’s a group of plants that’s often overlooked when it comes to container planting.
Last Sunday I was having lunch with my father at his assisted living center, when out of nowhere an elderly woman shouted at me from across the dining room. “Is it time to plant tomatoes?” she asked. “Yes, and everything else that grows,” I answered, which prompted a collective chuckle from the diners. And to everyone else who’s asked me that question in the past week – in the grocery store, at the pharmacy, while walking the dog -- my answer is the same…but with one caveat.
I have a confession to make: I’m a compulsive mulcher. You might even say I’m a mulch maniac. It all started nearly 40 years ago when I used a light layer of straw to cover my first vegetable garden, something I’ve done every year since. A year later, I started using bags of chipped and shredded wood mulch in my ornamental beds, a practice that continues to this day. So clearly, I’m hooked on mulch. And you should be too.