Tag Archives: summer

Climbing the Walls

Vines and vineyards have a rich storied history. From the Middle East to France and beyond there is evidence of wine production dating back to 4,000 BC and beyond with numerous Biblical references celebrating vines…..talk about “Da-vine” intervention. I use grapevines on fencing in my yard, not for the production of grapes, but rather the aesthetic feel it provides in my landscape. The same can be said for Hops (Humulus lupulus).

Hop to it!

With the interest in craft beers, growing hops not just for production but their ornamental qualities has become popular. Hops are an herbaceous perennial easy to grow. Provide sunlight and plenty of support and by August and September the presentation of foliage and “nuggets” (hops) can be quite spectacular! Hops like a rich, well-drained soil, so till deeply with good organic matter for best results.
The list of vines you could try in your yard is extensive and fun. If you don’t have a lot of yard space going vertical may be just the answer to create an intriguing enjoyable landscape. From Climbing Hydrangeas to Trumpet Vine, Honeysuckle to Wisteria, you may find you have to apply “tough love” and at some point slow their growth to encourage blooming via root pruning. A vine wants to grow and grow sometimes in lieu of producing blooms. In those cases some root pruning or stress will show the vine who is boss and get it to bloom.
Remember vines grow. It is their “nature”. Provide sturdy support structures with a tendency to “overdo it”.
For days of “vine and roses” here are some vines I suggest you try in your landscape to get growing.

The wonder of Wisteria….a showstopper!

• Wisteria. Make sure to have a strong structure for this vine with plenty of room to grow. A Wisteria can swallow a structure or building but planted in the right place the blooms and results are stunning.
• Clematis. The key to Clematis is “cool roots and hot tops”. This blooming vine is notorious for its presence at mailboxes and on lamposts.

The bashfully beautiful Clematis in dappled shade

Mulched at the base with organic matter in the soil in a sunny area the flowers are simply gorgeous.
• Climbing Roses. Heavy feeders that need sunlight and support, if given these three elements a climbing rose can provide floriferous results for years to come.
• Trumpet Vine. This aggressive grower is easy to grow with some even labeling it “invasive”. That said if you have the room to grow, this woody vine produces blooms to attract Hummingbirds to your yard and provides a visual explosion. (note that both Trumpet Vine and Wisteria both may benefit from root pruning see mention earlier)
• Honeysuckle. With sweet yellow to orange and red blossoms this easy growing vine will attract pollinators, butterflies, hummingbirds to your landscape. Prune back hard in fall and the following year watch it grow!
• Climbing Hydrangea. With white lacecap blooms in summer and aerial rootlets this vine is a “clingy” must in the aerial landscape with glossy green foliage.
• Hops Humulus lupulus. An herbaceous perennial that is ornamental in summer and has broad interest due to the craft beer industry.
• Passion Vine Passiflora. For exotic blooms this might be your vine. Not hardy in most areas of Michigan (herbaceous habit surviving in zones 6 or warmer) don’t let it keep you from trying this vine for its intriguing blooms.
• Morning Glory Ipomoea. What’s the story morning glory? Easy to grow from seed in warm weather this vine has adorned many mailbox posts and lampposts in its day. A tender annual its tendrils are fast growing and adept at pirouetting.
• Moonflower. This tender annual vine has unique unfurling white blooms perfect to be used on decks where evening entertaining will take place. With moonflowers as well as Morning glories go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer (which grows more foliage). Supplementing with some high phosphorus will encourage blooming in lieu of foliar growth.

Lettuce be careful out there

I remember as a kid on hot summer days drinking from the garden hose. The water always tasted funny. No doubt as the hose baked in the hot summer sun it gave a distinctive flavor to our refreshment. Today we are warned and studies confirm that water from a garden hose can contain in addition to bacteria some toxic chemicals. I am told lead levels, bromine, phthalates, BPA and other ugly stuff I can’t pronounce can be in your garden hose. I just wet my plants. Better be safe than sorry, don’t let your kids drink from the garden hose. It does explain a lot about me. I’ve considered bottling water with the garden hose taste to sell. There may be other baby bloomers out there like me who might buy it just for nostalgia sake.

I just wet my plants

In addition I was intrigued when I saw a British study about garden injuries and what lands people in the hospital. Garden hoses were on the list and in the top ten. I’m sure as a tripping hazard when left laying around. “Water” you waiting for? Roll up that hose. Of course the top issue was the lawn mower with everything from injuries while servicing to foot injuries while mowing to flying projectiles! It is without surprise the lawn mower tops the list in both the UK and the US. The number 2 item on the British list is quite surprising however. Flower pots were the second listed item causing gardening injuries. I would suspect hand cuts and dropped pots as well as lifting causing back injuries. Don’t let your day “go to pot” with a trip to the ER. Get your neighbor to help.
Pruners, spades, Electric hedge trimmers, shears, and garden forks all obviously made the top ten list. Interestingly the innocent hose and sprinkler made the list of dangerous accident causing objects. I suppose if you set the sprinkler and run it could result in a mishap. A significant amount of injuries however occur when an unintended “trip” is the result of an errant garden hose. It’s far better to take a trip to the beach and put your toes in the water than to end up at the doctor. I would think weed whackers would be on the list. Your “whipper snipper” is prone to kick up some dust and debris so make sure always to be wearing protective eye wear when using them.

Mow-tivation

I was reading with great interest a British study recently that implied the gender roles in the home are being rewritten including three quarters of women happy to tackle the job of mowing the lawn previously considered a task of the man of the household. Meanwhile six in ten men would be willing to make dinner every night and clean up afterwards as well. This survey of 2,000 Brits indicates gender roles have evolved in the home and an understanding that a chore shared is a chore halved. I believe it only makes sense that when it comes to yard work, cooking, cleaning and other household chores that teamwork always beats the culturally assigned gender roles that Mom and Dad demonstrated years ago. In the turf classes I have taught with a show of hands, hands down women believe they could do a much better job of the lawn and landscape then the man in the household. Conversely this study showed one in 5 men felt they could do a better job of cleaning and tasks their fathers would have declined to do. Whether it is weeding, mowing, cooking or vacuuming today’s home and garden inhabitants understand that a partnership beats previously culturally defined roles.

Mow and Behold!

Mow and Behold!

Out in the yard the green green grass of home (Tom Jones 1967 oh this dates me) can become a tiresome chore for household partners when the calendar turns to August. My first word of advice is to raise the deck on the mower. Cutting the grass short in the heat of summer is not a good idea and adds stress to the lawn. Longer grass blades shade the crown of the plant, increase surface area for photosynthesis and reduce weed growth and development comparatively to a scalped or short cut lawn. Irrigate in the morning when watering is most efficient (sun and wind evaporation is less) and avoid irrigating at sundown (to reduce disease stress). August is a great month to plan for rejuvenating your lawn with the coming month of September one of the best months to seed a lawn, feed a lawn and control weeds. Fall is the perfect time for lawn establishment and rejuvenation.
Some are abandoning the typical urban front lawn for alternatives and I say more “flower” to you. Even though our lawns are great for trapping dust particles, cooling the earth and generating oxygen, alternatives are available. Groundcovers and ornamental grasses are easy to grow hardy substitutes for a well groomed lawn.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Ornamental grasses are spotlighted in the landscape from August to October as they “dance” for our attention as drought tolerant landscape show stoppers. Perennial, deer resistant, drought resistant and hardy easy to grow plants, Ornamental grasses are available in a wide array of cultivars to enjoy. My neighbors looked questioningly as I replaced a large swath of lawn with ornamental Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ grasses at my lakeshore landscape, but now are true believers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Consider ornamental grasses and move to the head of the “grass” for the “grass” of 2016. Congratulations and enjoy.

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!

Living on the “Hedge”

I remember the summer of 1988. Built an above ground pool that summer. A very hot and dry summer just like this year. I remember coming home from work one afternoon and there were so many people in the pool I wouldn’t have been able to fit a leg in the water if I tried. The summer of 2012 feels like 1988 to me.

A little water will provide “Lawn”-gevity

The lawns are just like they were then, a toasty golden brown with shrubs and trees living on the “hedge” looking stressed.

 

Trees and shrubs need your attention right now with some trickle or deep watering. This is especially true for spring plantings this year without well established root systems. Be watching for wilting or curling leaves. Some older established trees are showing leaf scorch just like they did in the summer of 1988. It’s not just the heat and drought, but wind adds to the problems increasing the rate of transpiration in foliage.

Trees showing leaf scorch

Remember the ability of your trees and shrubs to endure the stress of this season’s weather hinges in part on how healthy they were going into the season and your willingness to deep water them at the base now.

Looks like it may be too late for these Arborvitae

An impulse sprinkler or the hose nozzle you use to water your car isn’t going to work. You need to lay the hose at the base of the landscape plant and soak the soil for any beneficial effect.

Ironic that this appropriately named “Burning Bush” is showing the strain of weeks without water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had a lot of people lately ask me if their lawn is going to survive the heat and drought. Turfgrass dormancy is a survival mechanism allowing survival up to 4-8 weeks without irrigation or precipitation without significant thinning upon recovery from dormancy. This would be under ideal conditions of no traffic, good sub or parent soil, moderate temperatures, minimal root competition from trees, etc. Survival can be affected by species, age, shade, maintenance, the quality of feeding you have done in the past, the deck height on the mower, traffic, heatand other factors. Raise the deck on your mower and if you can, park the mower until the drought is over.

 

 

A shaggy lawn is better than a scalped stressed turf. Remember that dormancy is reversible but death is not. If the lawn goes too long without any water or if it was unhealthy and stressed going into the drought the roots my die causing thinning of the turf. Cool season turf can survive summer dormancy but cannot survive root death.

Cool season lawn dormancy. Remember dormancy is reversible, death is not.

Turfgrasses that are trafficked during drought conditions must be irrigated regularly to maintain performance and prevent widespread turf damage. Lawn areas established in spring or previous fall should be irrigated because they have not yet developed extensive root systems.

Check irrigation systems for improperly aimed sprinklers, defective heads and evenness of distribution, etc. Water in the early morning hours to improve efficiency because of less evaporation from sun and wind. Watering at sunset encourages disease issues.

Limit traffic on your lawn (including mowing) to minimize crushing of the turfgrass leaves and crowns. Avoid the temptation to apply herbicides even though weeds become more obvious in a dormant lawn because they may be the only thing left that is green! Wait until fall to control lawn weeds, a perfect time for weed control.
Remember the fall season is a perfect time for overseeding and feeding thinned lawns. Turf establishment in Michigan is best done between August 15 and October 15 so don’t lose your “composture” if things are looking bleak right now. Your window of opportunity to improve the green green grass of home is coming soon!