It’s Time for a Little More Green

Yesterday in the garden I finally got around to adding more evergreen plants. When the deciduous trees drop their leaves every fall the garden is left bare with very few spots of color. The blank slate of yard we inherited over four years ago has grown and matured every year but there has always been the notable lack of evergreen foliage. Maybe that's because evergreens aren't as interesting when all those other plants are blooming or putting on fancy foliage in the spring and summer. In the winter evergreens take the stage like no other garden residents. Perhaps my main reason for not adding more evergreens is that they can be pricy.  The small ones aren't bad at all but to get a plant of any size you can expect to pay upwards of $40-$50 per plant. That's why when my neighbor offered to let me have some of the…

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Propagating Chamaecyparis!

I'm always excited to learn how to propagate something new. Recently I've managed to get a few cuttings of a dwarf chamaecyparis to successfully root. I started the cuttings back in the fall and kept them overwintered in the garden shed. I didn't have any bottom heat even though I'm sure that would have sped the rooting process up significantly. We all like it warmer don't we? Plants do too. I kept the cuttings moist in the typical sand medium I like to use and covered them with a plastic lid. Essentially it was like a greenhouse in a greenhouse. About 6 weeks ago (End of March/beginning of April) I discovered the first two cuttings had roots. I still had 4 more cuttings waiting to root and I found just a couple days ago that the next one had rooted. Sometimes patience really pays off. Here's a picture of the…

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Propagating Schip Laurels

Schip laurels (pronounced Skip) are a very easy evergreen that you can propagate at home. I mentioned propagating cherry laurels a couple years ago but since it's a good time of the year to take cuttings I thought I would revisit it. It will take a couple years before a cutting turns into a plant large enough for a foundation planting in the landscape but if you're patient it's an easy way to get a few extra plants! Schip laurels are one of several varieties of cherry laurel which means that the same techniques used to propagate the Schip laurel should be applicable to the other varieties as well. How to Root Schip Laurels (Prunus laurocerasus 'Schipkaensis') For Schip laurels I like to take greenwood cuttings in the summertime. Taking cuttings is very simple and will result in a rooted cutting in about 4-6 weeks. Take a 6 inch cutting…

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Tuesday’s Tasks: Planting a Dogwood and Three Arborvitaes

Tuesday's task was twofold: purchase and plant a nifty new dogwood and also transplant three migrating arborvitaes from a friend's garden to my yard. It was a busy afternoon but the mission was accomplished after some hard labor. The dogwood I picked out was a 'Constellation' dogwood which is a hybrid of Cornus kousa and Cornus florida. Because of the cross between the Kousa dogwood and our native dogwood the tree gains the benefits of the anthracnose resistance naturally found in the Kousas. The big drawback for me is that it won't fruit in the fall. The location for the new dogwood was an easy pick. I took down a cedar tree a while back on the side of our house that gets morning sun and afternoon shade - the perfect setting for a dogwood. It also gave me a good excuse to expand the corner shade garden. (Please excuse…

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Propagating Arborvitae

Fall is officially here but that doesn't mean it's time to stop propagating. In fact it means that many of the best plants are in their ideal state for hardwood and semi-ripe cuttings. Arborvitae is one plant that does well from cuttings taken from autumn to mid-winter. A couple things to think about: Take Semi-ripe to ripe cuttings.  Semi-ripe cuttings have put on nearly a full season of growth and are beginning to develop thicker tissues.  Semi-ripe arborvitae cuttings work well for propagation since they have had a longer time to develop and store energy for rooting. They also don't lose water as quickly as greenwood cutting would. Semi-ripe and hardwood cuttings root slower but more reliably than greenwood cuttings. The cuttings need to be kept moist. Just a little damp and not soaked. Anytime a cutting dries out it is a death sentence for the hopeful plant to be.…

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Pyracantha Propagation (Firethorn)

While out of town this past weekend at my in-laws home I took the opportunity to take more cuttings from their pyracantha (Pyracanthus augustifolia). It is a favorite of birds due to its bright orange berries and is has an appropriately named common name: Firethorn. Firethorn berriesFirethorn's thorns are quite sharp and offer the plant good protection from would be herbaceous plant munchers, like deer and rabbits, not to mention plant propagators! It is a challenge to take cuttings from but if you're careful you can get by with minimal or if you're really lucky no damage. Pyracantha would make a great plant for security reasons around windows as would roses and hollies. It is also commonly trained into espalier. Last year I managed to root two cuttings of Firethorn but sadly they died over the winter as I made the mistake of leaving them unprotected outside. I thought they…

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Don’t Forget About the Evergreens!

In our haste to welcome the new gardening season many gardeners only think of the flowers beginning to bloom. The flower buds and blooms sure are interesting but why not take a look at the evergreens? Our collection of evergreens is relatively small but here are a couple that we have in our garden that are showing some nice color: the Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), the Bird's Nest Spruce (Picea abies 'Nidiformis'), and a yew (Taxus x media 'densiformis'). Below is a picture of the Canadian Hemlock's foliage. The bright green really stands out against the foliage of the previous year. There are four hemlocks in our yard that form a hedge row, at least they will as they grow. I spaced them about 5-6 feet apart to create a privacy screen. I really like the feathery evergreen foliage. Hemlocks are great trees, unfortunately the hemlock woolly adelgid likes them…

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