Continued from page 36 of the April 2013 issue.
Photos by Sandie Parrott
Continued from page 36 of the April 2013 issue.
Photos by Sandie Parrott
To read the full Janet’s Journal, “Anti-gravity gardening: Planting on a hill,” pick up a copy of Michigan Gardener (in stores by Sept 5) or check out page 32 in our e-edition of the September/October Issue.
In the series above, a stone placed on a step cut to lean back into the hill. The next stone also leans back, and its face is set back away from vertical. Given stones stacked across the face of the hill, this setback would create a “battered” retaining wall. A batter of 1” back for each 12” rise stabilizes a retaining wall.
At the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, this 1.75:1 slope (57 percent) features artistically placed boulders but the main retainers are plants.
Those of us who garden on relatively flat lands may gape at how slopes are handled in hillier regions. Once you know something about terracing, you may focus as much on the ways this feat is accomplished as on the unusual plants you see in faraway places. Residents’ attitudes toward hills and their skill in dealing with them can be worth note, too. That is, the residents of up-and-down neighborhoods in the foothills of California’s San Bernardino Mountains regularly stabilize long, steep hills solely with plants such as these rambler roses and honeysuckle vines.
To read the full story on Atwood Elementary, pick up a copy of Michigan Gardener (in stores now) or check out page 28 in our e-edition of the July Issue.
All photos by Sandie Parrott
Text and photos by Sandie Parrott
Water. They must never dry out; too dry is worse than too wet. For types with overlapping leaf bases, keep the vase area full of water. Overflow a bit for the roots. Large plants can hold several gallons of water. For terrestrial types without a vase area: keep them evenly moist; they can tolerate some dryness.
Air. Air plants (Tillandsia) are named after a botanist that was afraid of water. Mist every couple of days or dunk and soak one hour, every other week. Air plants need good air circulation—use a fan indoors in the winter and hang them outside during the summer. If elevated, you don’t have to deal with sow bugs or other ground pests.
Light. In summer, bromeliads will do well where hosta plants grow well. Wingert also uses 40 percent shade cloth on his shade house. For winter, they need all the light they can get: a south, west, or east window, or better yet, a greenhouse.
Soil. For vase plants, Wingert makes his own mix of 1/3 perlite and lava rock, 1/3 cypress mulch and aged pine bark (fine), and 1/3 peat moss. For terrestrials like Cryptanthus, Dyckia, and Orthophytum, he uses a professional soilless mix.
Pots. Wingert uses plastic. They are lightweight and fit the pot rings in his shade house. Most bromeliads like to be pot-bound.
Fertilizer. This is a constant source of debate. Some experts do not fertilize. It is believed by some that if you want more flowers and don’t care about the foliage, it is alright to fertilize. If you decide to fertilize, use water soluble fertilizer added to water. Place some in the innermost cup of the plant and a little on the soil. Bromeliads cannot handle urea or copper; make sure fertilizer does not contain either one. Air plants (Tillandsia) need high nitrogen. Guzmanias, billbergias and vriesias prefer an orchid-type fertilizer; they will bloom much better. Neoregelias need a low nitrogen fertilizer, like a cactus fertilizer.
Pests. Not a lot of pest problems exist for bromeliads. Scale will create spotting but won’t kill the plant. Use insecticidal soap and scrub lightly. Rub them off if dead. Reapply the soap in two weeks if the infestation is bad. Mealy bug may appear on flower spikes, but it shouldn’t be a concern. Watch for chipmunks planting or spreading seeds in pots.
Foliage maintenance. It is natural for the lower leaves to brown and dry; just remove them. You can carefully trim brown tips with scissors.
Propagation. Plants form pups or offshoots after they bloom. Remove them when they are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. Sever as close to the mother plant as possible and plant separately.
Seeds and plants. Seeds can be collected from plants or purchased. Most serious growers use their own seed or obtain seeds at seed exchanges from other growers. The Bromeliad Society International has a list of companies selling plants and seeds; visit www.bsi.org.
To learn more or attend a Southeast Michigan Bromeliad Society event, visit their website: www.bromeliad.society.gardenwebs.net/.
Here are additional photos from the Applewood feature in the May issue of Michigan Gardener. If you can’t find a copy of the print edition, click here to check out the May 2012 e-edition.
One of the two majestic burr oaks stands beside the rose garden, which also has many other perennials and annuals. (Photo: Sandie Parrott)
The branches of this sugar maple are allowed to grow down to the ground. “It is very happy with all the space, water, and fertile soil it needs,” said Program Coordinator Rebecca Stack. (Photo: Applewood Staff)
Above: Originally the caretaker for the farm and animals lived in the gate house, pictured in the 1930s. Below: It has housed the estate’s archives and now serves as intern housing. (Old photo: Applewood archives / New photo: Applewood staff)
The demonstration garden in the early 2000s. This used to be the farmland and is now utilized to show new plant varieties, plant combinations, herbs, and vegetables to the public. (Photo: Applewood staff)
This perennial hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Southern Belle’) is hardy to zone 4. It is cut back to 3 inches each fall. It comes up late in the spring, so having a permanent tag or stake in the ground is important so the plant won’t accidentally be dug up. (Photo: Ryan Garza)
by Janet Macunovich / Photos by Steven Nikkila
It doesn’t take long to seek second or even third opinions before you place a new plant. Try it this year. Here’s what happened when I checked some trusted, respected sources to learn about two plants’ size and growth rate.
Textbook A: 20 feet in 15-20 years
Textbook B: 8-9 feet in 20 years
Mail order catalog: 4 feet in 10 years; growth rate 1-6 inches per year
Garden Center A: 6-8 feet tall x 3-4 feet wide, growth rate 4-8 inches per year
Garden Center B: 10-12 feet x 5-7 feet
Garden Center C: 12 feet in 10 years; mature height 20 feet; fast-growing
Botanical Garden: 12-20 feet tall x 8-12 feet wide
My own Hicks yews: 12 feet tall x 6 feet wide in 16 years, grew 8 inches in 2011
One of the trusted sources we checked when looking into the Hicks yew’s vital stats was our own hedge. We planted these Hicks yews in 1995. They were then just 36 inches tall. 16 years later their tops are level with the 12-foot pole pruner in my hand.
Left: Even if we couldn’t see the shrubs themselves, we could read a lot from just a branch. The current year’s growth begins at the whorl of side branches, and has green twigs because it has not yet developed wood. Do you see the scaly bark developing on last year’s wood, below the whorl, in the lower part of the photo? Right: That’s 8 inches of growth this year, less than the average they’ve established in this site, but still significantly more than the rate some sources told us to expect.
Textbook A: 9-12 feet in 10 years; full size 30 feet tall x 20 feet wide
Textbook B: 20 feet in 25 years; full size 70 feet
Mail order catalog: 5 feet in first 10 years; 6-12 inches per year
Garden Center A: 6-12 inches per year; 40-50 feet tall x 30 feet wide
Garden Center B: 30 feet x 20 feet; slow
Garden Center C: 15 feet in 10-15 years; mature height 50 feet
Botanical Garden: 20-30 feet tall x 10-20 feet wide
My own tricolor beech: 20 feet in 18 years, grew 15 inches in 2011
Left: We can let plants tell us exactly what they’re capable of, in a given site. It’s there in the growth rate of a branch. See the series of close-set creases that ring this tricolor beech twig? They formed where growth terminated last year, and began again this spring. Measure from that “terminal bud scar” to the branch tip, to discover the annual growth rate…which is just about 15 inches on this (center) branch. Right: On many woody plants, including beech, the terminal bud scars that mark cessation of growth each year remain visible for many years. Notice that the scar is not the only line. Changes in the bark can reveal the line between one year’s growth and the next. In beech, the bark is thicker and less red on the older wood, in the lower part of the photo.
This is six years’ growth on the tricolor beech growing in my own garden. I was able to read backward, and see that this branch grew 76 inches in six years. That’s an average of 13 inches per year. Overall, the tree tells the same tale. It was 6 feet tall when planted and after 18 years is over 25 feet tall.
This gorgeous bloom is peacock flower or Abyssinian gladiolus (Gladiolus callianthus ‘Murielae’). A member of the iris family, it blooms in late summer and is a fragrant, tender bulb that must be stored in winter or purchased yearly. (Photo: Sandie Parrott)
Above left: Rub the leaves of this popcorn cassia (Cassia didymobotrya) and it smells like buttered popcorn. This tropical must be treated as an annual and needs lots of water. It has yellow blooms for up to 6 months. Above right: This variegated fig tree bonsai started as a gift included in a planter from a co-worker when McCormack’s father died in 1991. She keeps it as a houseplant, but puts it outside in the summer. (Photo: Sandie Parrott)
In 2008 McCormack worked on a Tournament of Roses parade float at the Burbank float barn. She volunteered for three days and had her camera at the ready because she heard HGTV would visit. Paul James graciously agreed to have his picture taken while there. (Photo: Margot McCormack)
“I bought this Japanese tree peony about 20 yrs ago. It adds one more blossom each year. It never fails that we will get a downpour when it looks its best, so it has a very short appearance. The flower petals are so delicate, like tissue paper. I am guessing it might be ‘Yachiyotsubaki’ tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Yachiyotsubaki’).” (Photo: Margot McCormack)
More stories about enthusiastic gardeners in the Westacres community:
Mary Beth Ridenour
Dramatic conifers, trees, a bridge, and a giant 80-year-old trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) make up Ridenour’s garden. The vine was moved from a previous house. Concerning its care she said, “I just prune it a little, nothing else. It is just in the right spot—hummingbirds love it.”
In 1971, Ridenour moved into her house that was originally built in 1935. She lived two miles away, rode the Westacres bus and wanted to live in the neighborhood. She attended a meeting and found out a house was available. “No outside advertising was done back then; only word of mouth,” she remembered.
“It was Bill’s garden (her husband, now deceased). I never gardened until he died. There wasn’t a tree on the property when we moved in. Bill planted all of the trees, about 50. He also built the wooden bridge. I wish I had gardened sooner. I enjoy it now,” she enthused.
Margie and Mick Popovich
In 1986 Margie and family moved to Westacres to a house built in 1936. “My husband grew up on a farm and had his own ideas about where we should live. I went to school with kids from Westacres and always envied their lifestyle. When we looked at our house, the previous owner (the original resident) had an enormous garden, and the deal was done,” Margie recalled.
Husband Mick is the gardener. Margie claims Mick wears boots from May to October. “He is happiest when he is putzing outdoors. I love going out to the yard with a basket to pick my own vegetables. A basket of corn with basil and tomatoes, or flowers for the house, it just completes me. He does all of the vegetable gardening and I have never seen a prettier, more organized vegetable garden,” gushed Margie.
Mick offers a tip for pests: “The only pest control I do is attracting wrens—they are tremendous insect eaters. We have several wren houses. I always look for them to return in the spring and love the way they sing. Crop rotation is also important. Besides that, a few bugs don’t bother me as much as chemicals do!”
Margie continued, “It isn’t unusual to be standing in the kitchen and hear, ‘Hi Margie and Mick,’ because neighbors are in the garden picking strawberries. We give a call when they are ripe: ‘Come when you like—just lock the gate.’ Kids come and go; I look out and see them picking berries and think life couldn’t get any better!”
Mary and Joe Fox
Mary Fox gardens for her family and also their CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture). “My dream is to feed the community! I’m trying to encourage people to eat locally. I garden using organic practices. With demand increasing, I need more space. My neighbors are donating their backyards for me to farm (an original idea by the creators). My goal is to feed my 20 CSA members, sell lettuce, salad greens, herbs and edible flowers, with the surplus going to food banks,” explained Mary enthusiastically.
She continued, “My CSA shareholders also can purchase eggs from my pastured chickens. If West Bloomfield allows me to continue what I’m doing with gardening and chickens, it will be preserving the legacy of Westacres. It would take Westacres full circle from Depression era residents in 1936 to recession residents in 2011; quite a tribute for Westacres 75th anniversary.”
To provide places for butterflies to lay eggs as well as food for the emerging caterpillars, choose butterfly host plants. And remember that the caterpillars will be doing some major eating on your host plants—it’s part of the process!
|Common name||Botanical name||Butterflies attracted|
|Cherry||Prunus||Red-spotted purple, tiger swallowtail, spring azure|
|Elm||Ulmus americana||Comma, question mark, mourning cloak|
|False nettle||Boehmeria cylindrica||Red admiral, question mark, comma, Milbert’s tortoiseshell|
|Grasses, sedges||various||Alfalfa sulphur, Eastern tailed-blue|
|Hackberry||Celtis occidentalis||Question mark, comma, hackberry butterfly, tawny emperor, mourning cloak|
|Highbush blueberry||Vaccinium corymbosum||Brown elfin|
|Leadplant||Amorpha canescens||Dogface, silver-spotted skipper|
|Nettle||Urtica dioica||Red admiral, question mark, comma, Milbert’s tortoiseshell|
|Paw Paw||Asimina triloba||Zebra swallowtail|
|Sneezeweed||Helenium autumnale||Dainty sulphur|
|Spicebush||Lindera benzoin||Spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail|
|Sundial lupine||Lupinus perennis||Karner blue, silvery blue|
|Swamp thistle||Cirsium muticum||Painted lady|
|Turtlehead||Chelone glabra||Baltimore, buckeye|
|Vetch||Vicia||Alfalfa sulphur, Eastern tailed-blue|
|Violet||Viola||Great spangled fritillary, meadow fritillary|
|Willow||Salix||Viceroy, mourning cloak|
To encourage butterflies to continually visit your garden, choose a variety of nectar-producing plants (for butterfly food) that produce blooming flowers throughout the season. Butterflies are most active in mid to late summer, so make sure you have plenty of flowers in bloom at that time.
|Common name||Botanical name|
|Spring||Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta|
|Nodding wild onion||Allium cernuum|
|Wild geranium||Geranium maculatum|
|Midsummer||Bee balm||Monarda didyma|
|Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta|
|Blazing star, dense||Liatris spicata|
|Blazing star, rough||Liatris aspera|
|Butterfly weed||Asclepias tuberosa|
|Coreopsis, tall||Coreopsis tripteris|
|Michigan lily||Lilium michiganense|
|Milkweed, common||Asclepias syriaca|
|Milkweed, swamp||Asclepias incarnata|
|New Jersey tea||Ceanothus americanus|
|Pearly everlasting||Anaphalis margaritacea|
|Sunflower, giant||Helianthus giganteus|
|Swamp thistle||Cirsium muticum|
|Virginia mountain mint||Pycnanthemum virginianum|
|Late summer||Aster, flat-topped||Aster umbellatus|
|Aster, heath||Aster ericoides|
|Aster, smooth||Aster laevis|
|Aster, New England||Aster novae-angliae|
|Goldenrod, Ohio||Solidago ohioensis|
|Goldenrod, rigid||Solidago rigida|
|Goldenrod, showy||Solidago speciosa|
|Ironweed, tall||Vernonia gigantea|
|Joe-Pye weed||Eupatorium maculatum|
Charts courtesy of Suzan Campbell, Conservation Associate, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and formerly from the Belle Isle Nature Center
When a tree or shrub has roots residing in several properties, differing treatment in one section of the root zone might affect the plant’s entire crown or just one section. In some species, water moves from a given root along a certain path in the trunk to serve a particular branch. Root and branch are usually on the same side of the tree. In such “ring porous” species*, what happens to a given root affects a given branch. In other species, water follows a zig-zag or spiral pattern, so what comes from one root may serve various branches all over the crown.
This post oak lost most of its roots on one side as the hill was cut away preparatory to building a retaining wall. (Arrows mark clipped root ends.) It will almost certainly lose limbs on this side. Extra water for remaining roots, an arborist’s care, and pruning to remove dead wood are in order.
* Including American elm, arborvitae, black locust, catalpa, cherry, false cypress, hackberry, hickory, honeylocust, Kentucky coffee tree, many oaks, mulberry, persimmon, sassafras, walnut, white ash, and yellowwood.
There’s oft-repeated advice about grade changes: Don’t put more than four inches of soil over tree roots. You’ll find it in Extension bulletins and gardening books. What you won’t find included is the basis for the advice. After much searching, I found the source and can assure you that in most cases, it doesn’t apply to what gardeners do.
The caution is based on grade changes at construction sites—large scale alteration of the entire root zone, executed with heavy equipment to spread and pack fill soil to builders’ and pavers’ specifications. By contrast, gardeners raise beds of loose soil, using a wheelbarrow and cover only portions of root systems. I’ve done it, dozens of times, and watched both the beds and trees closely, some for as many as 30 years. I’ve also interviewed professors of horticulture who have done the same in demonstration areas and we agree that loose soil over part of a root system, always kept away from the tree’s trunk, is no problem.
The same may apply to loose soil added over an entire root system. A team of University of California pathologists and Extension researchers filled over trees’ root systems with ten inches of soil in a test plot, settling that soil only with watering. In part of the field, tubing meant to bring oxygen into the soil was installed. The trees were sweet cherries, a species known to be intolerant of low soil oxygen situations. Yet “…no visible injury occurred. …no differences in plant growth, health or appearance…”
Burlap and twine often remain intact and relatively strong for several years in-ground, repelling water and causing serious constriction to trunk and roots. Wire may persist for decades, partially or completely girdling first the flare roots and eventually the plant’s trunk.
So remove these impediments and killers at planting time. Set the balled-and-burlapped tree or shrub in the planting hole and then remove all twine, rope, wire and burlap from at least the top half of the ball.
For more, check:
Chapter 7, “Planting” of Principles and Practice of Planting Trees and Shrubs by Gary W. Watson and E. B. Himelick, or www.isa-arbor.com/education/onlineResources/cad/resources/educ_CAD_BBTrees_View.pdf