ABOUT THIS PLANT: Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) are lovely in the wild, and enjoy the most extensive native range of any tree on the continent. Their leaves have flattened petioles, so they tremble in every light breeze. You may have admired aspens lighting up park slopes with brilliant yellow fall color. Aspen trees grow very quickly and are very hardy. That means that you can “furnish” a new backyard in just a few seasons if you plant aspens. Aspens are small and won’t overwhelm your yard, and sometimes they provide nice autumn color. On the other hand, consider that the role of aspens in nature is as a “succession” tree. Its job in the wild is to spread quickly in eroded or burned out areas, providing cover for seedlings of forest trees like pine, fir and spruce. As the forest trees get bigger, the aspen die out.
PLANTING TIPS: Try to pick nursery-grown specimens rather than those taken from the wild. Nursery grown trees require less quaking aspen tree care and may avoid some of the disease issues the tree experiences in cultivation. A large part of quaking aspen tree care involves selecting an appropriate planting location. Plant the trees in moist, well-drained soil. The soil should be slightly acidic for the tree to thrive. Plant aspens on northern or eastern slopes, or northern or eastern sides of your house, rather than sunnier areas. They cannot tolerate drought or hot, dry soil.
This sensational fall favorite makes a dramatic accent as a hedge, in a mixed shrub border, grouped into a mass planting, or near water where the brilliant read color can be reflected; however, take care to avoid planting in heavy clay or very wet areas. The shrub grows best in well-drained soil and in a sunny location, but it will produce good fall color even if planted in a heavily shaded area. If possible, plant the shrub where there is good air circulation so the leaves dry quickly. This will minimize disease problems.
Measure the width of the root ball, container, or bare-root spread and multiply that measurement by 3 times to find the diameter of the planting hole. The planting hole should be large enough to allow the entire root system to be covered. The plant should be set into the planting hole with the crown at the same depth it was growing in the nursery, where the roots and top growth join, just at the soil surface. Loosen the root system and position the plant so that the uppermost roots will be covered with soil. Be careful not to let the roots dry out during the planting process. To prevent your shrub from settling lower in the soil after planting, never dig the center of the planting hole deeper than the height of the root ball.
After planting, press the soil back in firmly around the roots and water thoroughly, until the soil cannot readily absorb any more water.
Butterfly Bush ~
ABOUT THIS PLANT: It is a delight to watch all types of butterflies sip nectar from the abundant flowers on this aptly named shrub.Butterfly bush is a large, arching shrub that produces masses of flowers in midsummer to fall. Flower colors include blue, pink, red, violet, yellow, and white, and the shrub grows 5 to 10 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety. Butterfly bushes grow well in shrub or perennial borders, and the fragrant flowers can be used for cutting. True to its name, the Butterfly Bush attracts butterflies.
PLANTING TIPS: Select a site with full sun and moist, well-drained soil.Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 5 to 10 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the rootball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
CARE:Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Flowers are produced on new wood, so prune back old growth almost to the ground early each spring before any new growth emerges.
ABOUT THIS PLANT: When you’re looking for something attractive to quickly fill in a large area, then you can’t go wrong with ajuga (Ajuga reptans), also known as carpet bugleweed. This creeping evergreen plant quickly fills in empty areas, smothering out weeds while adding exceptional foliage color and blooms. It’s also good for erosion control. The flowers of bugleweed are normally bluish to purple but they can be found in white as well. And in addition to the traditional green foliage, this ground cover can also provide the landscape with stunning copper or purple-colored foliage too, making it great for adding year-round interest.
PLANTING TIPS: Ajuga ground cover spreads through runners, and as a member of the mint family, it can get out of control without proper care. However, when placed in strategic locations, its quick growth and mat-forming trait can provide instant coverage with only a few plants. One good way to keep this jewel in bounds is by enclosing your garden beds with edging. Another way, which I’ve found to be useful, is by planting ajuga plants in a somewhat sunny area. Ajuga is typically grown in shady locations but will thrive just as well in the sun, albeit more slowly, making it much easier to control. The plant also likes fairly moist soil but is remarkably adaptable and will even tolerate a little drought. Once established, ajuga plants requires little care. Unless it’s really dry, ajuga can usually sustain itself with normal rainfall and there’s no need to fertilize this plant. Of course, if it’s located in the sun, you may need to water it more often.
ABOUT THIS PLANT:Related to catnip, but much showier, catmints (Nepeta) are easy to grow perennials that not only have flowers in shades of purple-blue, pink and white, but gray-green foliage that remains attractive throughout the growing season as well.The most familiar catmints are those with purple-blue flowers that bloom heavily in early summer. These come in a range of heights, from a foot tall up to as much as 3-4 feet tall, making them useful in many garden settings, including flower borders, rock gardens, and edging. A classic combination is to grow them with hybrid tea roses to cover the "bare knees" of the rose bushes and complement the many shades of rose blossoms with their soft blue flowers.But there are also catmints with pale pink or white flowers, even one uncommon species with yellow flowers. All make great bee and butterfly attracting plants.
PLANTING TIPS:Most catmints prefer full sun and well-drained, not overly fertile soil, although plants in hot summer areas do well with some afternoon shade. Established plants are quite drought tolerant.Container grown plants can be set out throughout the growing season. Space smaller cultivars 18-24 inches apart; taller varieties should be set about 30 inches apart. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
CARE:Shear back plants by one-third after their first flush of bloom is past to neaten plants and encourage a second flush of flowers later in the summer. Keep plants vigorous by dividing every 3-4 years in spring or early fall. Give newly set out or divided plants regular watering until established. While not as enticing to cats as true catnip, felines may still try to roll on catmints. If there are cats around, it's a good idea to protect young plants for a while with a dome made out of chicken wire. An annual layer of compost in fall or spring should provide catmint with all the nutrients it needs.
ABOUT THIS PLANT:The leaves of chives are used in all kinds of sauces and salads to lend a delicate onion flavor. Flat-leaved garlic chives combine the flavor of onion and garlic.Once you plant chives in your garden, chances are you'll always have them. Chives are hardy perennial plants and can be easily dug up and divided when they get too large. Plus, the attractive purple flowers scatter their seeds, so you likely see numerous chive seedlings each spring.
PLANTING TIPS:Choose an area in full sun to part shade. Chives prefer rich soil and will tolerate either moist or dry conditions.Start plants from seed, purchase a plant or two, or dig up part of a clump from a neighbor's garden. If seeding, plant in mid-to-late spring. Sow in clusters 1 to 1-1/2 feet apart.
CARE:Water young plants throughout the growing season. Once established, mature chive plants need minimal care. Remove flowers after they bloom to prevent plants from self-sowing. Small clumps of chives potted in the fall will grow indoors. Divide the plants every three or four years.You can begin harvesting about six weeks after planting or as soon as established plants resume growth in the spring. As you need leaves, cut the outer ones right back to the base. Use them fresh or frozen; they do not retain their flavor well when dried.
ABOUT THIS PLANT: So, what is a chokecherry? Growing chokecherry trees are large suckering shrubs (small trees) that are indigenous to the Southeastern United States but may be grown as a perennial landscape specimen elsewhere. Prunus viginiana can attain heights of up to 41 feet tall with a canopy of 28 feet across; of course, this is extremely rare and generally the plant can be maintained to a size of about 12 feet tall by 10 feet wide. Chokecherry trees bear 3- to 6-inch long creamy white blooms, which become dark red fleshy fruit, maturing into a mature purple black with a pit in the center. This fruit is used to make jams, jellies, syrups and wines. The bark has at times been used to flavor cough syrups. Native Americans utilized the bark extract as a cure for diarrhea. Fruit from growing chokecherry trees was added to pemmican and used to treat canker sores and cold sores. Leaves and twigs were steeped to create a tea to ease colds and rheumatism while the wood of the chokecherry was made into arrows, bows and pipe stems.
PLANTING TIPS: Chokecherry is commonly used as a windbreak on farms, riparian plantings, and for highway beautification. Due to its suckering habitat (and potential toxicity), care should be take when determining where to plant chokecherries. In the garden landscape, chokecherry may be utilized as a screen or in mass plantings, being aware of its propensity for suckering and multiplying. Also, keep in mind that deer love to graze on chokecherry trees, so if you don’t want deer, you don’t want chokecherry trees. As a landscape planting, you can grow and harvest chokecherry fruit in the fall; the later the reaping, the sweeter the fruit. Remove the toxic stems and leaves when cleaning the berries and do not crush the seeds when cooking or juice extracting. Thus, common sense would tell you not to put the berries in the blender!
The foliage of these plants is probably their most striking feature. The leaves are often large and heart-shaped or rounded, and many are variegated or ruffled. Because heucheras are evergreen, they bring year-round interest to the garden, even under a dusting of snow.
The plants prefer partial shade, but can take more sun in cold climates. Give them well-drained, moist, rich soil that’s neutral to slightly acidic, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Other than keeping them regularly watered during their first year of growth, heucheras don’t require much care. Simply cut off the stalks after the flowers are finished, to help the plant put more energy into leaf production. Divide heuchera clumps as needed, or every three or four years. Deadhead the flowers, to promote more blooms, which may continue into summer. If you wish, prune the foliage back in early spring, so new growth won’t be crowded. Few pests or diseases bother these deer-resistant beauties, although leaf scorch can be a problem in hot, full sun. Watch for soil heave in changing temperatures; this happens when the ground freezes and thaws, eventually pushing roots up out of the ground. Keeping the plants well mulched can help prevent this from happening.