Pruning Shrubs in the Dormant Season

Most people think of landscape maintenance as exclusively a warm-weather activity. It’s an understandable assumption as it’s easy to see what needs to be done when you are outdoors, enjoying the beauty of your landscape. However, when cooler temperatures bring you indoors, out of sight should not mean out of mind when it comes to your shrubs because the best time to prune many of them is actually in the dormant season, when plants are not growing.     Why? …

Reading a Plant Tag

Plant tags are your key to success when choosing and growing plants. If you don’t understand all the things you see on a label, you’re not alone. Unravel the mystery of plant label lingo – and take the guesswork out of selecting and placing plants in your yard. Plant labels may be different, but often they contain similar information. Here are some of the common words you’ll see on plant labels – and what they mean to you. When shopping …

Seed Technology

A seed is not just a seed. Was I ever amazed after taking a tour of the Ball Seed Technology Lab in West Chicago, IL.  The hours of work that it takes and the science behind what’s needed is far beyond what I knew about.  I recently attended the Ball Customer Appreciation Day in West Chicago, IL.  Ball Seed is a one of our largest sources for the seed that purchase to produce our plants.  For most items, we sow …

Raised Bed Gardening

  Raised bed gardening is a great gardening option for many reasons. Anything from vegetables, to flowers and trees can be grown in raised beds. Advantages Better Drainage – The raised bed allows compost and other organic matter to easily be added to improve the soil structure, drainage and nutrient retention.  Foot traffic is eliminated so there is less compaction of the soil. Bigger Crops – Better root growth promotes greater yields of vegetables and stronger, more lush ornamentals. Longer …

Keeping a Garden Journal

Sue Sarters shares her insight about keeping a garden journal. “Everyone who gardens should really try to keep a garden journal.  I’ll be the first to admit that I do not always keep an official journal, but I do take a lot of pictures, which can serve as a journal of sorts.  And I do try to record important information like, when our first and last frost occurred for the season, how certain plants did their first year in my …

Linda Whitlock Fall Advice

We were fortunate enough to have Linda Whitlock join us the other day to lead a Quick Class.  She is a wealth of knowledge about plants and how to best take care of them in this area.  Linda works with the MSU Extension Service in Consumer Horticulture.  I took a lot of notes about everything from the lack of water and how it will effect the trees to why fall is a great time for planting and her suggestions.  It’s …

Overwintering Plants

To overwinter or not to overwinter, THAT is the question. While plant enthusiasts are blessed with many things here in southwest Michigan, we can never take for granted that the plants we have so carefully chosen are sometimes just not suited to remain outdoors for our winter season. Three big factors to consider before you bring in those pots: Light: Can you accommodate the light requirements for each particular plant? Space: Do you have the room to bring your plants …

Know your Zone

Do you know your garden zone? The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is used by the garden industry to communicate the cold hardiness of landscape plants. Knowing your planting zone can be very useful when you are planning your garden and flower bed areas. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter …

Creating Winter Interest in the Garden

As gardeners, we have a tendency to concentrate our efforts on spring and summer while often neglecting the fall and winter. When choosing plants, keep in mind things like branching habits, color, unusual bark, persisting seeds and berries, or swaying seed heads of ornamental grasses. These features will keep your landscapes alive and interesting throughout the winter months. There is still time to add some plants to the garden that can reward you with a beautiful garden every day of …

Put Your Fall Leaves To Work

The leaves of fall are one of nature’s most gorgeous gifts but I find that I appreciate them even more after they have fallen off the trees. Yes, I said after. While I don’t look forward to the work of cleaning up the leaves any more than you do, I have a very deep appreciation for what they will mean to my lawn and garden a few months from now.  Where most people see fallen leaves as hours of raking, …