Be a Smarty Plants

Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what their word of advice would be for someone new to gardening and just starting out. Many offered some well rooted advice to mulch or water or be open to change. Having a vision, a good foundation of organic soil and to start small were other popular words of well grounded wisdom. One of my Facebook friends suggested that frozen berries in wine was a good pain reliever.

Don't "wine" about your landscape....do something about it this fall

Don’t “wine” about your landscape….do something about it this fall

Another suggested buying Motrin along with a lot of plants. Those who had thrown in the “trowel” suggested the new gardener give up before their backs and hips, have a drink and hire someone to do it for them. I liked the fact some felt variety was important and that gardening is good therapy.

In the spirit of turnabout is fair play, I asked myself the question. If left with suggesting one thing, I would recommend that a “smarty plants” invests time in their garden in September and October. Along with great deals on plants, the fall climate is perfect for plant establishment. In fall the soil cools down after a hot summer but is still warm and rainfall is more plentiful. Plants put in the ground focus on root establishment instead of top growth. Plants put in the ground in fall are well rooted and take off quicker in spring. This applies to woody landscape plants, trees, perennials, bulbs and even annuals like pansies. Frost tolerant pansies provide color in fall and then overwinter under the snow to outperform spring planted pansies the following spring.
The weather in fall is enjoyable for yard work, even mundane work such as the lawn. Feeding your lawn in fall is important to develop a thick well rooted lawn. Grass seed grows well in the fall for patching or starting a new lawn, September is arguably the best month of the year to start a lawn in Michigan. And when it comes to weeds, well “weed” need to talk. Perennial weeds send their food reserves to the roots in fall just like the trees. If you apply weed killer you’re getting good translocation of the herbicide into the roots instead of just top kill. Also many annual weeds like Henbit germinate in the fall to become rampant and blooming in the spring. Fall applications of weed control keep these weeds from becoming a problem in spring.

Lawn along top of the picture cut short all summer.....lawn in foreground deck was raised on mower. Any questions?

Lawn along top of the picture cut short all summer…..lawn in foreground deck was raised on mower. Any questions?

If you “plant”-asize about gorgeous flowers in spring, September is the perfect month to plant flowering bulbs. It can be as easy as dig, drop, done. Bulb selections go way beyond tulips with many of the “minor bulbs” like Scilla, Fritillaria and Alliums or Dutch Iris to name a few. Planted in a well drained soil these miracle orbs will pop up and surprise you next spring.

Bulbs are planted....time to run in the 5K event

It’s bulb planting time!

September planted Mums provide brilliant fall color. Mum-Ma-Mia! Hardy Mums and Asters can be displayed in pots for fall color and then if planted in the ground before winter with a light mulch covering should come back next year.
Be a “smarty plants” and make a date with your yard and garden this September.

Mum Ma Mia!

Mum Ma Mia!

Hot Plants never go out of style

Hot “Plants” Never Go Out Of Style.

Agastache in bloom....attracts Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees and Sphinx Moths in August

Agastache in bloom….attracts Hummingbirds, Butterflies, Bees and Sphinx Moths in August

Hot pants were all the rage just in time for my high school years in the 70’s. Daisy Dukes cut offs inspired by the Dukes of Hazard Catherine Bach or Wonder Woman in her hot pants outfit were looks we could never imagine ever going out of style. Some people consider the 70’s the decade that taste forgot, and looking back at some of my pictures I would have to agree. In my gym class in the 70’s the guys too and the basketball team wore very short shorts. They were so short that a revolt followed the 70’s and the pendulum swung the other way until people were wearing shorts so long you didn’t know if they were short longs or long shorts.
Short shorts may have gone out of style but hot “plants” never go out of style. Both Annuals and Perennials offer an opportunity to be colorful as things get steamy. August is a great time to rejuvenate our flowering landscape Annuals and zip up your plants! Pruning back stretched tired or leggy annuals and then feeding with a water soluble fertilizer will give them new life. Whether Petunias, Impatiens, Zinnias or the many other flowering annuals we planted back in May, they often need a pruning and a kick in the plants by August. They’ll kick back into gear and produce a new flush of growth and color well into October. Mums and Asters become available starting in August to supplement your rejuvenated annuals for continuous color.
It’s the hot weather favorite Perennials that get me excited in the heat of summer. On steamy days these hot plants put on a show as both tough and beautiful plants. Be a smarty “plants” and pick from my list because every diverse landscape should have a few of these in the sun. Check it out and plant one on me!
Hot Weather Favorites…Hot Plants that never go out of style
Achillea, Agastache (hyssop), Althea or Rose of Sharon, Baptisia, Buddleia, Carex, Chives, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Echinacea, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Hemerocallis (Daylily), Hibiscus, Hydrangea (panicle), Lavender, Nepeta, Oregano, Ornamental Grasses, Perovskia, Roses (shrub landscape own-root roses), Succulents (Sedum, Sempervivum), Thyme.
If you have some “thyme” on your hands, get out there and put some hot “plants” on your landscape. You’ll be short on boredom and long on landscape color!

Some “Grow”-tivation

In July the summer heat can lower the “bloom” on some people’s enthusiasm for gardening. It’s at that point I need to give them some “grow”-tivation. We all need a little boost now and then. Besides, my Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this.

Mom told me there would be "Daisies" like this

Mom told me there would be “Daisies” like this!

Some would refer to it as the dog days of summer. I love July, love the heat, and only need to think back a few months to the long cold winter to appreciate what July has to offer. Fortunately there are a number of plants that are heat lovers and thrive in July.
Succulents have developed a new found popularity in the midst of water concerns in some areas across the U.S. Succulents come in many shapes and sizes and are easy to grow provided you don’t drown them with kindness. Herbs are a great choice too. Herbs are sun lovers and thrive in the heat. Basil, Lavender or Oregano are a few examples.

I think Basil planted near tomatoes makes them taste better but I can’t scientifically prove it!

There are many “own root” or shrub roses available to today’s homeowner from the “Drift” series of groundcover roses to “Easy Elegance” roses they are a workhorse in the landscape. I have some Proven Winners “Home Run” roses in my yard and they have continuous blooms and great disease resistance to both black spot and powdery mildew. They are heat tolerant, cold hardy with no winter covering and require no deadheading. I give them a general pruning back and feedings a couple times a year and that’s it!
Remember a light layer of mulch helps plants through the summer months cooling the roots and helping retain some soil moisture. When watering, try watering at the base of the plants as “mulch” as possible and morning is a great time to water.
Everywhere I go people tell me they enjoy my garden puns and sense of “humus” to which I say thank you very “mulch!” They then tell me in addition to the puns they like my lists. So here goes, my list of heat loving plants to try. Give a few a try….I knew you had it “zinnia!”
Annuals: Celosia, Cosmos, Cleome, Gazania, Scaevola, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Gomphrena, Zinnias.
Perennials: Agastache, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Echinacea (coneflowers), Ornamental grasses, Gaura, Gaillardia, Sedum, Nepeta, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Yarrow.
Woody Flowering: Own-root Roses, Buddleia (check out new dwarf butterfly bushes like ‘Lo and Behold’), Panicle Hydrangeas.
Rick Vuyst

H2O

Every day I drink a lot of tap water without giving it a thought. I wet my “plants” with water from the hose expecting it to be there so my hydrangeas don’t wilt. I’ve always lived close to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes here in Michigan.

Running for fresh water with Team World Vision

Running for fresh water with Team World Vision

As a gardener and a runner, water is important to me, but I am so blessed with it I often take for granted the plentiful resource it is at my disposal. I was reading the other day that, of the world’s total water supply, over 96 percent is saline. And, of the total freshwater, over 68 percent is locked up in ice and glaciers with an other 30 percent of freshwater in the ground. Those are amazing statistics if what I read is true. Of course everyone would agree that every child deserves clean water. Yet I’ve come to learn that more than 1,000 children a day die from unsafe water… more than from AIDS and malaria combined.

Team World Vision!

Team World Vision!

Clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene can prevent disease and deaths of children in our world. World Vision is one of the largest providers of clean water in the developing world due to the support of World Vision donors all around the world. New or rehabilitated wells and water points as well as sanitation facilities help many children, families, get the sustained clean water they need to live… something many of us take for granted everyday.

This October I will be running for Team World Vision to help raise money for this important cause. Would you take a moment to look at my Team World Vision page and consider helping provide clean water to those in need? Here is the link and thank you very “mulch!”

Please support me here: Team World Vision: Rick Vuyst – Madison Square Church

Rick Vuyst

A June Swoon

OK here we go…..as the month of June arrives the landscape goes Ka-Bloom!
June is a month we swoon over the natural beauty of bloomers in the landscape. My Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this. It’s a combination of sunshine along with perennials in their prime while the May planted annuals take root and begin to perform on nature’s stage. The landscape Roses radiate while the Peonies pop in their prime. Allium giganteum tower above the garden’s performance, while Sweet Woodruff and blooming Ajuga provide a carpet under stunning Iris. And no, Ajuga is not a spring break hot spot in the Caribbean.

Leucanthemum Daisy May Proven Winners

Leucanthemum Daisy May Proven Winners

June can make you swoon to the intoxicating aroma of flowers in bloom as the landscape is full of life, arguably one of the most beautiful months of the year in Michigan. If you “plant”-isize about a beautiful garden June is your month.
Don’t let your commitment swoon to the garden as we approach the days of summer. Remember a thin layer of an inch or so of mulch for your landscape plants helps cool the roots and retain moisture as well as minimize weeds. Also remember your fledgling annuals are growing in leaps and bounds and are hungry. So are your Roses. They are heavy feeders and June is an important month to provide both dry and water soluble feeding to maximize performance. The hanging baskets that have been up since Mother’s day also need a feeding and attention when it comes to water on warm windy days. It’s easy to tell when they need water by just pushing up on the base of the basket with your hand and feeling the weight of the basket. Because soil contracts from the sides of the basket when dry, make sure to water thoroughly until the water is running out of the base of the basket.
Don’t forget to pinch your Mum in June! Pinch back mums to 6 to 10 inches above the ground until early July. This will provide nice sized blooming plants in fall that don’t become too tall and flop over in the landscape.
June is a great month for planting herbs. Herbs love the longer days and the sunlight it provides. Enjoy the aroma of basil in the warm sun. I’m convinced basil planted in close proximity of tomatoes makes them taste better. No scientific evidence, just a thought to help you “plant” ahead. Use parsley as an ornamental plant border. Sage makes a great filler plant in mixed containers. Golden oregano is an outstanding and hardy perennial groundcover! Herbs grow best in a good humus soil with lots of sunlight.
OK, I’m sending you to your “bloom”…..enjoy the romance of a June Swoon!