Whether you have room for something new in your garden or not, it’s hard not to at least peek at the plants that are introduced each year. I’ve drooled over much of what I’ve seen on tap for 2011, and here is a roundup of the things I fell for that are suitable for our Zone 4 climate. If you’d like to see more of what’s new for 2011, go to the websites of any of the nurseries or growers I mention here. You can also just type “new plants for 2011” into a search engine, like Google, and you’ll get all kinds of results and photos.
From our very own Bailey Nurseries, located in Newport, Minn., we have Hydrangea arborescens (‘PIIHA-I’) Bella Anna, a new hydrangea in Bailey’s Endless Summer collection. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of many of the poofy-headed hydrangeas in this collection. But Bella Anna stands out in my mind for being only 3 feet tall, having unusual pink blooms that last from early summer through fall, and for being able to withstand severe pruning and our harsh winter weather.Read More»
When I decided to write my October column on garden-related books you might want to check out during our impending (and far too long) winter, I had no idea I would be writing it on a warm, 75-degree evening just a couple of weeks before Halloween. But I figure I’ll do it anyway because, well, this is Minnesota so all hell could break loose tomorrow and you might be in need of a good book while waiting for your neighbor with jumper cables to help you start your frozen car!
I’ll begin by warning you that there are several memoirs in the bunch, but then I’ll make it all better by assuring you that these aren’t the sorts of memoirs where disheartened divorcees run off to third-world countries to find love and enlightenment. No, no. (Ack.) These are memoirs packed with dirt and critters and plants. At the top of the list is, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating,” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. I found out about this while reading one of my favorite gardening blogs, Garden Rant: gardenrant.com.Read More»
Q: I bought a balled-and-burlapped tree. Do I need to remove the burlap before planting?
A: Yes, and here’s why. Burlap used to rot over time, so it was no problem to bury it along with your tree’s roots. Nowadays, though, burlap is made from synthetic fibers that don’t decay well. If your tree is unimaginably heavy and already down in its freshly dug hole, you may not be able to get all of the burlap off before planting. In this case, do your best to cut away as much of the material as possible. It’s most important to remove burlap from the sides of the root ball because tree roots grow laterally. (Always remove the wire cage around the root ball, too.)
Q: My trees are being attacked by woodpeckers. What can I do and why are they suddenly doing this?
A: Sometimes, woodpeckers start drilling into trees for no discernable reason. Usually, though, they’re after insects they’ve detected within. So what you want to do now is try to figure out what type of insect has invaded your tree and treat the problem as quickly as possible. I would recommend contacting a tree service for this and, if you do this, be sure to hire a company that uses certified arborists. Trees add a lot of value and beauty to a home and someone who isn’t qualified to care for them may wind up doing more damage than good in the long run. If bugs aren’t the problem, try hanging pie tins, CDs or other shiny objects from the tree the woodpeckers after and they’ll probably move on.
When I wrote something on this topic last year about this time, I got a lot of questions from readers about different preservation methods. That’s why, this year, I’m focusing my column on freezing techniques. Of course, you’re always welcome to email me with any questions you have, too.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve herbs, vegetables and fruit. And though you hear talk to the contrary, most will keep well in the freezer for many months. The best time to harvest is in the morning because that’s when stems and leaves are in their best shape — not shriveled or dried out from the hot sun. Do your harvesting on the same day you’re going to freeze things because the longer fresh edibles sit on the counter, the less fresh they’ll taste when it comes time to use them.Read More»