Category: Garden

Rose Woes? I’ve got solutions.


Summer is in full swing and so begins the annual watch for signs of pests and diseases in the garden. Roses are especially susceptible to troubles as temperatures and humidity rises, but rose problems are general easy to manage. The key is early detection and identification.

Looking for help with your rose woes? Read this excerpt from my eBook Garden 101: Growing and Caring for Roses.

What do you think is the most carefree rose? Tell me for a chance to win a copy of Garden 101: Growing and Caring for Roses for your Kindle or to read on your computer. I’ll select a winner on Monday July 16, 2012. Read the official rules.

Congratulations to Adele, Susan, Susan O., Cindy M. and Jo S. You gals won a copy of my eBook!. Check your email for confirmation. Thank you to everyone for entering! I especially enjoyed reading the deer tips!

Gardening 101: Growing and Caring for Roses “Common Rose Problems”

Now, some may say that roses are prima donnas that are susceptible to all kinds of maladies. Really, though, roses only have a few problems. The truth is, many of these issues can be prevented with good cultural practices and simple treatments. My best advice is to choose the right rose for your conditions and then make certain that the rose is growing in the right place. Happy roses are healthy roses.

Know the Enemies …

Insect Pests

Admittedly, gardeners aren’t the only ones who love roses. Lots of bugs love roses, too. When dealing with insect pests, I like to use methods with low environmental impact. I keep everything orderly to make the garden as inhospitable as possible to these unwelcome guests. I handpick them or use bug traps. On occasion, I’ll use a spot spray of insecticidal soap or pyrethrum-based insecticides. A stealth tactic such as using garlic or marigolds in the garden sneakily repels insects, too.

Here are some of my best tips to prevent and control specific pests.

Japanese Beetle: If you see that your rose leaves are skeletonized and the flowers have been eaten, it’s a good bet you have Japanese beetles. The beetles have coppery-green wings with five little white “tufts” on their sides. Your best defense is to handpick the adult beetles and drop them in a jar of soapy water. Natural repellents include catnip, chives, garlic and tansy, or you can use an insecticidal soap. If the garden is too overwhelmed with them, try bacterial controls or bug traps.

Aphids: Look for reduced shoot growth and distorted or pale foliage with small insects clustered on stems and shoots. Many natural enemies, such as ladybugs, exist that can eat many of the aphids. A strong jet of water can wash away the colonies from the buds. You can also spray thoroughly with an insecticidal soap.

Sawfly Larvae (Rose Slugs): When upper-leaf surfaces are skeletonized or complete leaves have been devoured with only the midvein remaining, you have rose slugs. If the infestation is manageable, handpick the rose slugs and the affected leaves. If the rose slugs persist, then spray with an insecticidal soap.

Spider Mites: You have mites if the leaves are rough and appear stippled with tiny, light-colored dots. To beat spider mites, you have to be persistent. Make sure you spray under the leaves to be effective, because that’s where spider mites live. Spray every seven to 10 days, alternating between a hot-pepper spray and an insecticidal soap. Other pest arsenal options are neem tree oil, BT, garlic insect repellent and pyrethrins.

An Ounce of Prevention …

Roses are susceptible to a number of fungi such as black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew and rust. I’d like to alert you to some symptoms so you can be on the lookout. When trouble crops up, you can be ready with a quick solution.

Black Spot: Black spot is your culprit if you see circular to irregularly shaped black spots on the upper surface of the rose leaves or if you find leaf yellowing, leaf drop or canes with raised purple-red blotches that turn black with age. Carefully prune and discard the affected plant parts when the foliage is dry. I like to use a three-in-one spray (fungicide, insecticide and miticide) made with neem oil that also controls insect pests.

Powdery Mildew: Symptoms of this problem include a powdery, white growth covering the leaves’ upper surface that can also distort the leaves. Prune to improve air flow around the rose shrub as well as around the surrounding plantings. Once I’ve trimmed, I’ll use neem oil to treat the powdery mildew.

Rust: Orange, powdery spores that are usually confined to the lower-leaf surfaces signal a rust problem. If left untreated, orange-brown spots will appear later in the season on the upper-leaf surfaces, and infected young stems and sepals may become distorted. The best offense is a good defense — so again, avoid crowding and prune your roses and the plantings around them to improve air circulation. When you first see rust pustules on lower-leaf surfaces, apply fungicide at regular intervals. Spray every seven to 10 days, except during extreme heat and drought. Again, I have a lot of success with neem oil.

Wildlife

Thorns or no thorns, many animals will eat a rose bush to the ground. If an animal is hungry enough, it will eat anything. Bird netting is one way to keep out those unwanted garden guests, since many animals shy away from the feel of the plastic. Using the bird netting won’t mar the appearance of the landscape either, since it’s hard to see from a distance. I’ve also had luck with liquid repellents, but I have to remember to apply them after every rain.

A Special Note About Keeping Out Deer

Deer are a problem nationwide and I receive questions about deer everywhere I go. Strangely enough, I haven’t had any deer problems in my rose beds at the farm. I also realize I may be tempting fate with those words, considering the fact the Retreat is surrounding by woods. There have been plenty of deer sightings, so I know it won’t last forever. I have some tricks up my sleeve to deter them, yet I’m mindful that they were here first, so my defensive measures will at the very least keep me in their good graces.

Deer Fence: Deer can jump pretty high, but they don’t like to jump across a double barrier. So a fence inside a fence is much more effective than one tall fence. At the farm I’m building two 4-foot fences that are 5 feet apart. The space between the fences will be wide enough for a wheelbarrow or lawn mower to get through, but it will be too far for a deer to jump across.

Deer Netting: Deer netting can be draped over plants or attached to existing fencing. Deer don’t like the way it feels on their muzzles so they avoid it and whatever it protects.

Plant Choices: Avoid traditional deer favorites such as rhododendron, azaleas and hostas. Why tempt them with their favorite salad bowl? I also planted daffodils instead of tulips because deer won’t eat them. Deer also dislike plants with a pungent fragrance, including marigolds, lavender, boxwood and herbs. Fuzzy foliage plants such as lamb’s ear are also not on a deer’s menu. Very few plants are actually deer proof, but, it never hurts to try.

Here Come the Bugs!

The mild temperatures of the past winter came at a price and now it’s time to pay up. Bugs. Without freezing winter temperatures to reduce their populations the insect pests in my garden are back with a vengeance. Pest management is going to be tough this growing season, but I’m trying something new that gives me hope that I can stay one step ahead.

AzaGuard® Insecticide and Insect Repellant is a broad spectrum insecticide, nematicide and repellant. Here are a few points that convinced me to give AzaGuard® a try.

  1. It’s organic, non-toxic and safe to use both indoors and out.
  2. AzaGuard® contains the OMRI listed insect growth inhibitor Azadirachtin. This prevents insect growth, feeding and reproduction. It works on over 300 pests including aphids, beetles, grasshoppers, grubs, and whiteflies.
  3. The active ingredient Azadirachtin has a low impact on the environment and no effect on birds or other wildlife.
  4. In addition to being a growth inhibitor AzaGuard® is also a repellant that works on flying insects like house flies.
  5. AzaGuard® controls parasitic nematodes.
  6. I can mix AzaGuard® in my sprayer with other chemicals such as BioSafe System’s fungicide/bacteriacide OxiDate®.
  7. The packaging is designed with the environment in mind. Each spray bottle comes with 3 ampoules of water soluble product providing 96 fluid ounces of spray. All I have to do is pour the contents of 1 ampoule in the bottle and add water. When I that runs out I can mix up more without purchasing a second spray bottle.

If you want to try BioSafe® Systems AzaGuard® in your garden look for it at your local independent garden center or hardware stores such as True Value or United Hardware.

Say No to Nicotine and Yes to Nicotiana

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple'Today, May 31st is World No Tobacco Day so in honor of that celebration I’d like to tell you about a few Flowering Tobaccos!

Smoking tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum came from the New World and circled out to cultures around the globe. Flowering Tobacco, the cousin of leaf tobacco, is a charming heirloom flower experiencing a Renaissance with gardeners lately. The best part about this ornamental is that it fills the summer garden with large, brightly colored trumpets of star-shaped flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Many hybrids offer smaller, more compact plants with abundant flowers that bloom throughout the summer.

I also grow Nicotiana sylvestris for its statuesque presence and sweet aroma. It makes a bold statement in my flower borders and frequently comes back as a volunteer. The plant is very fragrant with tubular-shaped, white flowers that dance on 30″ – 36″ tall branched stems during the summer.

Another one to try is Nicotiana langsdorfii because it too grows to an impressive height and I love the waxy, lime green blooms. A third species that I just discovered is Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Tinkerbell’. It is similar in appearance to N. langsdorfii but produces lime green and rose flowers with amazing azure blue pollen.

Try Planting an Evening Garden

I enjoy Nicotiana alata for its strong, jasmine like fragrance at night. Introduced into garden cultivation in the United States and England in the early 1800’s Nicotiana alata was prized for its white, highly scented night-blooming flowers. In Victorian times, Nicotiana sylvestris was intentionally planted along walkways and paths so that those strolling by could enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers.

A noted garden writer of the early 20th century Louise Beebe Wilder describes Nicotiana alata as a “poor figure by day … but with the coming of the night the long creamy tubes freshen and expand and give forth their rich perfume and we are then glad we have so much of it…”

I have to agree, I’m a huge fan of all of the Flowering Tobaccos!

Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena with its sugary lemon scent is an herb you’ll want to have in your garden for the fragrance and flavor. And plant it somewhere close! It’s one of those plants that release scent every time you touch the leaves.

Lemon verbena is a shrubby herb with loose, twisting branches and bright green foliage. It can grow to 6 feet tall by 8 feet wide where it is perennial (zones 8 – 11). In my zone 7 garden it stays a little more contained because I grow it in a pot that I move indoors for winter. It’s a fast grower that needs full sun and excellent drainage – too much water will rot the roots! Lemon verbena has a sweet lemon flavor – I tend to use it with desserts and as a seasoning for meat dishes, but I also love placing it near my outdoor living areas so I can enjoy its lemony scent. In fact, it was its lemony scent that led me to make this lemon verbena infused honey, and I can’t wait for you to try it.

What you’ll need

  • A few stems of lemon verbena, cleaned and dried
  • 1 mason jar
  • Honey

All it takes is a little herb-tidying. Pluck the lemon verbena leaves off of their stems, rinse them, and dry them with a paper towel. Loosely fill a mason jar with the leaves and then pour the honey over the top. While you may want to try it right away, put the jar in a cupboard for a few weeks to infuse. After two weeks strain the honey to remove the leaves.

You’ll end up with a lovely lemon-flavored honey that you can stir into tea, drizzle over nuts or cheese, or use as a sweetener.

Do you want to know more about this great herb? Jump over to the Bonnie Plants website to read about growing lemon verbena.

Color-Blocking Containers

A big trend in fashion last year was color-blocking; combining blocks of colors in one article of clothing or outfit. It was a big hit that seems to have carried over to 2012. So I got to thinking, why not color-block containers? The same principles that apply to fashion can be used in the garden. Just plant one color flowers and foliage per container. If you really want to take the idea to heart select a bright container to contrast with your plantings. Or choose a neutral hue for the pot to really make the flowers pop.

All About Blue

Blue is my favorite color for the garden. For harmonious pairings choose other cool colors like green, turquoise and purple. Fuchsia is even a good match. Jazz up blue with contrasting hues like orange and yellow.

In this Container:

  • Proven Winners® Graceful Grasses® Blue Mohawk (Juncus inflexus)
  • Proven Winners® Sweet Caroline Light Green Sweet Potato Vine
  • Proven Winners® Colorblaze™ Alligator Tears Coleus
  • Proven Winners® Decadence ‘Blueberry Sundae’ Baptisia
  • Proven Winners® Laguna™ Sky Blue Lobelia
  • Proven Winners® Graceful Grasses® Fiber Optic Grass (Scirpus cernus)
  • Proven Winners® Color Spires® Steel Blue Agastasche

Passionate about Purple

Purple is the number one color choice for gardeners. It looks great with orange or chartreuse. Keep it cool with green, fuchsia or varying shades of purple.

In this Container:

  • Proven Winners® Artist® Purple Ageratum
  • Proven Winners® Graceful Grasses® Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
  • Proven Winners® Superbells® Plum Calibrachoa
  • Proven Winners® Supertunia® Lavender Skies
  • Proven Winners® Senorita Rosalita® Cleome

Blushing Pink

Pink is a chameleon that can be both warm and cool. Color-block it with yellow, blue or orange. It also looks great with bright green and chartreuse.

In these Containers:

  • Proven Winners® Flying Colors® Trailing Antique Rose Diascia
  • Proven Winners® Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia
  • Proven Winners® Karalee® Petite Pink Butterfly Flower (Gaura lindheimeri)
  • Proven Winners® Superbena® Pink Parfait Verbena
  • Proven Winners® Molimba® Pink Argyranthemum

Window Treatment Ideas with Tobi Fairley

Hello Allen’s readers! It’s great to be back with you today. I hope spring is treating you well and that you’re soaking up some sun!

Being a Southern girl, I’m especially fond of the warmer temps and longer days we have this time of year. I also love natural light and the beauty that it can bring to any room!

Tall panels like these make the room “guest-ready” and opening them allows plenty of light to shine throughout the space. Since living rooms are such a multipurpose space, it can be nice to maintain some formality while still making your window treatments work for everyday use.

Most people typically think of using roman shades in kitchens or baths. However, they make a fantastic option for bedrooms, too. Having one near a bed can provide extra light for reading, too. For this room, I matched the panel to the duvet and shams to create a polished look.

If you like to entertain, you know that lighting can make or break any event. Blending blinds with panels gives you more control over how much light you let into the room. Here I paired matching cornices and panels with plantation shutters to give the room a more formal or “dressed” look.

If you live in an area that’s lucky enough to get warm temps for more than a few months out of the year, you might also consider changing out your draperies for a fun summer pattern made from a lightweight material. As a color lover, my motto is “go bold or go home.”

These bright, punchy fabrics from my Tobi Fairley Home line are a testament to that and I think they can bring a bit of happy to any room. See the full line at TobiFairleyHome.com.

Speaking of windows, I’m also excited to be a guest speaker at this year’s Vision Conference in Chicago, April 23 – 26. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite trends for windows and more about my business and design philosophy. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there.

Happy Decorating!
xo,

-Tobi

 

Ten Unusual Seeds

Seeds are the miracle makers of the garden world. Big things come from such small, seemingly inert packages. A carrot seed is small enough to get caught under a fingernail and yet will produce a delectable carrot in a few months. And what about sunflowers or corn? So much promise!

There’s still time to get seeds started. If you live in a cold climate you can get a jump start by sowing seeds indoors. Gardeners who live in regions with long summers and warm falls be sure to buy extra now to start a second crop of blooms and vegetables midsummer.

Flowers

Sunflower ‘Sonya’


Zinnia ‘Benary’s Scarlet Giant’


Gomphrena ‘Las Vegas Pink’


Cosmos ‘Cosmic Orange’


Polish Amaranth ‘Oeschburg’ (Amaranth cruentus)

Veggies & Herbs

Carrots ‘Purple Dragon’


Lettuce ‘Tom Thumb’


Tomato ‘Sun Gold’


Yard Long Beans


Pepper ‘Holy Mole’

Who’s Got the Best Strawberries?

The Fruit Gardener's Bible

Congratulations to Fran Danner! You’re the winner of The Best Strawberry Giveaway. Your cautionary tale of eating strawberries that you should be saving for shortcake made me laugh. I’m sending you a copy of The Fruit Gardener’s Bible.

Thank you for all your comments. It was a joy to read each of them. There’s something comforting in the fact that so many of you can remember the taste of an exceptional strawberry from 20, 30 and even 60 years ago!

It’s so close to strawberry season I can almost taste the strawberry shortcake. I’m a little biased but I think the best strawberries are grown right here in Arkansas. Care to challenge me on that? Tell me about the best strawberries you’ve ever eaten for a change to win a copy of The Fruit Gardener’s Bible by Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry. If you’re interested in growing fruits of any type this is a handy reference to have around.

Strawberry Tip from The Fruit Gardener’s Bible

  • Everbearing and day neutral strawberries are the best choice for growing in hanging baskets.
  • Plant strawberries with the crown sitting at soil level. Too deep encourages disease; too high and they’ll dry out.
  • Alpine strawberries, Fragaria vesca, produce small, intensely flavorful berries all summer. They spread by seed and don’t produce runners. Great for partial shade.

Soil Prep for Edibles

The first week of March definitely came in like a lamb this year with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. It was beautiful weather for working in the staff garden at the City Garden Home.

The soil needed some TLC after working hard all fall and winter. Vegetables are needy when it comes to soil. They require fertile, well draining ground for optimal growth. I like to refresh the soil after each growing season to replenish nutrients. Gardening is raised beds makes it easy. I take the existing soil and mix in well rotted manure and compost or humus. A good ratio is 2 parts soil to 1 part manure and 1 part compost.

As a final step Jobe’s Organics All Purpose fertilizer was added. This stuff is powerfully good at breaking down nutrients in the soil for plants to absorb.

This year is going to be the best yet for the staff garden.

 

Fruit or Vegetable?

From a gardener’s perspective a tomato is a fruit. It forms from the ovary of a flower and contains seeds. Therefore it is a fruit.

Now a cook might tell you different because tomatoes are not often used to sweeten a dish. They are served as vegetables so they are vegetables. Right?

Tell me your opinion for a chance to win an awesome Garden Patch Grow Box™ and a packet of ‘Jelly Bean’ and Roma tomato seeds from my Bountiful Best collection from Ferry-Morse Seed Company.

The winner will be announced Wednesday March 7, 2012.*

Congrats to Debbie Chen! She’s the winner of a Garden Patch Grow Box™. We suggest planting it with tomatoes!

*Winner will be selected by P. Allen Smith and his staff based on the merit of their comment. Click here to read the official rules and legal mumbo jumbo.