It’s that time of year when the mailbox is full to bursting with plant and seed catalogs. If you’re thinking of ordering some bare-root perennials, great! They are a wonderful way to add plants to your garden without busting your budget. They can sometimes be a little temperamental, though, so let me offer a few tips for success.
When your plants arrive, open the box right away so you can inspect everything. Bare-root perennials are usually shipped in small plastic baggies filled with sawdust or a bit of peat moss. Roots should be white and firm. If you’re looking at plants that are yellowish or brown, or if they feel dried up or mushy, send them back for a refund. It’s not worth planting anything in that shape.Read More»
Snow doesn’t always lead to snow mold, but this year’s heavy, lasting snowfall that started before the ground froze in many parts of the country means it will definitely be showing up in a lot of yards this year.
If you haven’t heard of snow mold, it’s a fungal disease that becomes visible in spring as the snow melts. There are a couple of different types of snow mold. Gray snow mold is caused by a fungus called Typhula blight, and pink snow mold is caused by the fungus Microdochium nivalis. The fungi overwinter in infected plant debris—though gray snow mold can also survive in the soil—and they start growing during the winter underneath their cover of snow.
You know you have snow mold when you see circular, beige-colored patches in your lawn in the spring. As long as the grass stays wet and cold, those patches will keep getting bigger. These patches will look matted and may have patches of fungal growth. Gray snow mold can be anywhere between white and gray and pink snow mold will be white to pink. You may even see some mushrooms popping up in spots.
Though it looks horrible, damage from snow mold is usually just temporary. Gray snow mold stops growing once temperatures reach 45°F or the soil surface dries out. Pink snow mold, though, may flare up in wet weather if temperatures are between 32°F and 60°F.
If you have snow mold in your lawn, rake the affected patches gently to help loosen up matted areas and promote drying. Those areas should green up fairly quickly as the weather warms up.
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.)