From the Ground Up

Gardening, books, and other interests


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Big on Color, Low on Water– Plants for Drought Tolerant Gardens

I want to share an excellent article I came across, courtesy of Christine Tusher and Houzz.com. There are some very good suggestions here regarding low water and drought tolerant plants for your garden, like lavender, kangaroo paws, sea lavender, succulents and sedum. Depending on how you group them, they can have a modern, highly symmetrical look, like a cool, arty Mondrian painting. Or they can be grouped together to form a lush, exuberant, cottage garden-type vista.  Thanks, Christine and Houzz!

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Rose fever

Despite their reputation as prima donnas, roses are among the toughest plants in the landscape, and will survive and flower even if you neglect them. After all, a rose is just a thorn bush with healthy self-esteem. But they look ever so much better with a little TLC, and theyImage reward you many times over with beautiful, healthy blooms. If you haven’t pruned your rose bushes back yet, there is still time to do so. In our warm climate roses never go dormant, but they benefit from a good pruning once a year before their spring growth. You don’t have to cut them back to bare sticks, it’s not necessary. Just remove any dead or diseased branches, and open up the interior a little. In the process it’s a good idea to remove almost all of the leaves to trick the roses into thinking they’ve gone through dormancy, and now it’s time to wake up and start growing. Clean up the ground around the bushes and discard any old leaves and debris. This helps avoids spreading blackspot or other fungal diseases.

If you did your winter pruning back in January, your roses are probably already showing lots of fresh new growth and the buds are starting to swell. Snap off any buds that are facing the interior of the plant; this will aid in air circulation and prevent disease.

Once you start to see new growth, you can apply fertilizer. You can use an organic fertilizer specially intended for roses, like Dr. Earth or Rose-Tone by Espoma, but these tend to be kind of expensive. Another option is to apply a handful of of alfalfa pellets (they sell it as rabbit food at the chain stores), and/or a handful of bone meal, blood meal, cottonseed meal, or fish meal, at the base of each rose bush. Some people also like to add one tablespoon of epsom salts per bush. Water thoroughly before fertilizing; then spread the fertilizer around the outer perimeter of the bush, at the drip line, and water thoroughly again. Do this once a year in the spring as the bare minimum for roses. If you want to encourage repeat blooming throughout the year, do the fertilizer routine two more times, in mid-summer and in September.