August 2012

HortusScope for September 2012

Here’s HortusScope for September 2012, a checklist of garden and nature related events compiled as a public service by Wendy Ford of Landscape Fancies. Please click on the link below to download your copy.

HortusScope September 2012



Women in the Dirt movie at the IMA profiles female landscape architects

September 6, 2012
5:00 PMto7:30 PM

Celebrate the field of landscape architecture with this award-winning documentary film, Women in the Dirt (2011, director Carolann Stoney, 74 minutes), featuring the works of seven inspirational landscape architects. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition, recognition will be given to the many various landscape architects who have helped shape the IMA into one of the most significant landscaped art museums in the country.

The event also celebrates several important milestones: the 40th anniversaries of the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the IMA Horticultural Society, as well as the centennial of the Oldfields estate.

Prior to the film, local professionals and back yard gardeners will gather for a reception at 5 p.m.

Following the film will be an on-stage conversation involving several local prominent women landscape architects, who will share their reactions to the film and describe their view of the profession.

When: Sept. 6, 2012, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Reception is at 5 p.m., where you can chat with landscape architects, landscape designers, landscape architecture students and every day gardeners. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The showing begins at 6 p.m.

Where: The reception will be in the Sutphin Fountain Room. The movie will be in The Toby at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 N. Michigan Road. Free parking is available.

Admission: Free, but registration is requested to ensure enough refreshments.

How: Presented by the IMA Horticultural Society and the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


Plant garlic in fall for a summer harvest

If garlic is a mainstay in the kitchen, try growing it in the garden. © iStockphoto/YuriyS

When thinking about planting tulips, daffodils and other spring-blooming bulbs, consider adding garlic to the list.

Fall-planted garlic is harvested the following summer.

Avoid garlic purchased from grocery stores. It’s best to buy what’s called seed garlic from farmers markets, garden centers or online retailers. Separate the cloves from the bulb and plant. Each clove yields one plant, which takes about eight months to develop into a garlic bulb for harvest.

There are two types of garlic — hard neck and soft neck. The most popular is soft neck (Allium sativum sativum) because it can be stored for up to a year. Most of what we see in supermarkets is soft neck. Hard neck (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) has a woody flower stalk and is used shortly after harvest.

In Indiana, plant cloves by mid to late-October in full sun with well-drained soil that is rich with organic matter, such as compost or finely chopped leaves.

Plant each clove 2 inches deep, tip end up. Space cloves 4 inches apart. Water well. Apply about 3 inches of mulch around the plantings. Use shredded bark, clean straw or other organic material. Keep the area clear of weeds.

In spring, apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer around the base of the plant, according to the label directions of the product you use.

Spring is the time to harvest the flower stalks, called scapes, for cooking. The longer scapes stay on the plant, the tougher they get. Most gardeners remove scapes at some point to increase the size of the garlic bulb growing under ground.

Harvest bulbs in summer after the leaves turn yellow and die back. Brush off soil and place the whole plant on a screen or hang it to air dry in a warm place out of direct sun. This curing is what brings out the distinct flavors of various garlic cultivars.

New perennials are pretty, charming and evergreen


Prince Charming Solomon's seal flowers. Photo courtesy Chicagoland Grows

Low-growing speedwells, a charming Solomon’s seal and dwarf Japanese anemones make up the second part of a new plant sampler. Look for these plants next spring in garden centers or in online or mail order catalogs.

The Pretty Lady series of Japanese anemones (A. huphensis) from Blooms of Bressingham stay on the short side, reaching only about 16 inches tall. The spread is about 2 feet. Two-inch wide single or double flowers in various shades of pink bloom in late summer. Japanese anemones do best in part sun or light shade. They are hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 8.

Pretty Lady Julia Japanese anemone. Photo courtesy Blooms of Bressingham

The newest one is ‘Pretty Lady Julia’. Expectations are that it will be as lovely as Diana, Susan and Emily in the Blooms of Bressingham Japanese anemone series. Gene Bush of Munchkin Nursery & Garden in Depauw, Ind., an expert in shade gardening, says the ladies are prolific bloomers with flowers that cover the plants.

Two deer and rabbit resistant, vigorous-spreading speedwells (Veronica) are coming from Chicagoland Grows. Jim Ault, plant reeder, director of ornamental plant research, and manager of Chicagoland Grows Plant Introduction Program, said these speedwell hold together well and resist splaying like many other ground cover veronicas.

Tidal Pool speedwell (Veronica). Photo courtesy Chicagoland Grows

‘Whitewater’ does well in sun to part shade, sporting white flowers April through June. The perennial ground cover’s season extends into fall and winter with green leaves that turn burgundy. ‘Whitewater’ gets up to 6 inches tall. Plant in full sun to part shade in average soil.

Whitewater speedwell (Veronica) in fall. Photo courtesy Chicagoland Grows

‘Tidal Pool’ gets 4 inches tall and is blanketed with medium to dark blue-violet flowers in late spring. The perennial evergreen will rebloom lightly into autumn. Grow in full sun in well-drained soil. Drought tolerant once established. Both speedwells are hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 7.

Prince Charming Solomon's seal's berries turn purple in fall. Photo courtesy Chicagoland Grows

Also from Chicagoland Grows is ‘Prince Charming’, a dwarf Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum). Plant in moist soil, rich in organic matter in deep to part shade. Within a few years, a 12-inch tall clump of white flowers will reach about 24 inches wide. It is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 7.

‘Prince Charming’ has graceful, arched stems loaded with white, bell-shaped flowers in spring. As the flowers fade, green berries form and turn dark purple in fall.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day August 2012

Low production of tomatoes this year. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Gardeners are nothing if not full of hope.

We hope the seeds sprout.

We hope a struggling plant starts to do better.

We hope a plant blooms like it’s supposed to do.

We hope to harvest a lot of vegetables and fruit.

Tobacco mosaic virus on flowering tobacco plants. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

We hope plants don’t get any disease.

We hope bulbs planted in fall bloom in spring.

We hope to stay on top of the weeding.

We hope the insects won’t be too bad.

We hope it warms up a bit.

We hope it stops raining.

We hope it cools down a bit.

We hope to stay on top of the watering.

We hope we get some rain.

There’s no doubt that the excessively hot and dry weather has taken a toll on the blooms in this blogger’s garden.

What did bloom quickly faded in the weeks of 90 and 100-degree days with no hint of rain for nearly two months. In the last two weeks, though, I’ve received about 3 inches, for which I, my plants and wildlife are grateful.

Double Play Gold spirea. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

To me, the story or lesson from this year’s challenges in the garden are the plants that continued to thrive. I’m working on an article about this topic…for instance, which hostas, side by side held up and which ones melted?

Meantime, here’s a virtual visit to my garden this August, albeit brief because there’s not a lot of show.

The flowering tobacco just keeps on going. I have two types — Nicotiana alata and N. sylvestris, each self sown, coming back year after year. This year, though, I think a bit of tobacco mosaic virus has attacked the plants, probably because they come back in the same place each year. They are close enough to my tomatoes to pull out the flowers, although I really hate to do that since they have been consistently blooming all summer.

Speaking of tomatoes, no virus, but very few ‘maters on the plants. The Early Girl has one, count it, one, and it’s as green as a green tomato can be. My Cherokee Purple tomato has about six small ones and they are only now starting to red up. Looking at this photo, though, makes me wonder if I got the tags mixed up (only two plants, for crying out loud), or the Cherokee Purple was mis-marked.

Yet, I know gardeners all over the area are harvesting tomatoes, peppers and squash by the bushels. I’ve been telling myself what I tell others…this is not a good year to judge your success or failure in the garden, especially the ‘things didn’t go as I planned’ evaluations.

I’m in love with spireas, which seem to have gone through this summer unfazed, except for a few dead branches, with only minimal watering. Shining with a bit more attention is Double Play Gold and Double Play Artist, two reblooming dwarf spireas (Spiraea japonica) from Proven Winners/ColorChoice plants. They both have pink flowers that bloom off and on all summer (this is the first summer in the landscape). Gold’s new leaves have a goldish hue and the foliage on Artist tends toward blue. The only get about 2 feet tall and wide and they have been reblooming even though I’ve been derelict in my deadheading duties. They are hardy to USDA Zone 4.

Chalky Blue Fingers (Senecio), a tender succulent, and 'Blue Bombshell' a winter hard blue fescue. (C) jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

I’ve also enjoyed ‘Chalky Blue Fingers’ (Senecio) and ‘Blue Bombshell’ (Festuca) from Hort Couture plants. I haven’t grown a succulent before and now I’m trying to figure out how to winter it over for next year. The fescue is winter hardy here, so I may transplant it to a spot in the landscape. The blue will be a cool reminder of the summer that was full of hope.

We hope to have something to write about for the next Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

(Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day appears on the 15th of each month on blogs throughout the world. Started by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens, more than 100 bloggers post what’s happening in their garden each month. We hope you will join us.)


Doug Tallamy returns to Indiana with his native plant message

October 13, 2012
8:30 AMto3:00 PM

Photo courtesy Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, returns to Indiana in October to discuss his favorite subject — native plants and their role in our ecology. He will be the keynote speaker for Adventures in Gardening in Hendricks County, Indiana.

What: Adventures in Gardening, a seminar for all gardeners, sponsored by the Hendricks County Master Gardeners.

Who: Speakers will be:

  • The keynote speaker is Doug Tallamy, author and professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home, explains why native plants are important in the home landscape and recommends which ones to use and how to use them.
  • Ellen Jacquart, director of stewardship of the Indiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy, will identify the invasive species on properties and how to get rid of them.
  • Hendricks County Pollinator Project highlights the importance of pollinators and their role in food, flower and fruit production.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.

Where: Hendricks County Fairgrounds Auditorium, 1900 E Main (Old U.S. 36), Danville, Ind.

Hendricks County Master Gardeners Adventures in Gardening 2013: $35 if received through Sept. 22, 2012; $45 if received Sept. 23 through Oct. 5, 2012. Includes continental breakfast, lunch and materials.

New perennials to come from Terra Nova Nurseries and Blooms of Bressingham partnership

Cantaloupe Supreme coneflower. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

During an annual mid-July trek to OFA, the country’s largest horticulture trade show in Columbus, Ohio, I found a few plants that hold promise for our landscapes in the next few years. Here’s the first of a two-part sampler:

Supreme Elegance coneflower. Photo courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries

‘Supreme Cantaloupe’, ‘Supreme Flamingo’ and ‘Supreme Elegance’ are a series of coneflowers introduced in a new partnership between two well-known brands — Terra Nova Nurseries and Blooms of Bressingham Plants.

Terra Nova, which introduced ‘Tiki Torch’ coneflower, bred the Supreme series to bloom their first year.

Many of the newer coneflower (Echinacea) introductions need a couple of years in the ground before they perform to expectations. In fact, many breeders recommend cutting off the first-year flowers to allow roots to bulk up.

The Supreme series will be co-branded with Blooms of Bressingham Plants, which introduced ‘Rozanne’ geranium.

On a sweltering July day, the crisp and clean ‘Supreme Cantaloupe’ stood out in the Blooms’ perennial trial garden in its first year at Ohio State University, adjacent to the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences building.

Supreme Flamingo coneflower. Photo courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries

Each of the Supreme coneflowers is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9. Cantaloupe, with a color that is just like its name, is 29 inches tall when blooming; Flamingo, with coral to shrimp pink color, is 30 inches tall; and Elegance is 34 inches tall with rose-red flowers. Each is about 15 inches wide.

Also in the first year mix for the partners are two foamy bells (Heucherella).

Buttered Rum foamy bell (Heucherella). Photo courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries

‘Buttered Rum’ and ‘Cracked Ice’ have white flowers that dangle about 5 inches above 10-inch compact mounds. They have white flowers and are hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9.

‘Buttered Rum’ has large, buttery, caramel colored maple like leaves that turn rose red in fall. The leaves on ‘Cracked Ice’ have a blue-green hue and contrasting veins. They turn pinkish in fall.

Cracked Ice foamy bell (Heucherella). Photo courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries

Look for these plants next spring in garden centers, online or mail order plant sources.

Spider mites love this hot, dry weather

Spider mites on coneflowers. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Those specks of rusty gold on the leaves of coneflowers, tomatoes, dahlias, arborvitae, spruce and dozens of other plants in the garden are one more thing to blame on the excessive heat and drought.

The stippling is caused by spider mites, creatures that aren’t really spiders, but are closely related. Spider mites flourish in hot, dry weather. The weather also suppresses a natural fungus that helps control the mites, allowing the bugs to remain unchecked.

Spider mites puncture the cells of leaves and suck out the chlorophyll, leaving small rusty, gold or creamy spots. Each mite can puncture 100 cells an hour and there may be thousands of mites on a plant. There are several different mites and they tend to be fairly specific to certain types of plants. For instance, the mites on a dahlia are not the same as those on an arborvitae.

Usually you see the damage before you see the tiny yellow, green or brown mites. They work on the undersides of leaves and branches, forming visible webs on plants to help them move about. To test for mites, shake a leaf or branch above a white piece of paper. If dots that move appear on the paper, the plant likely has spider mites.

Fortunately the mite damage is not usually deadly. The first line of defense is a strong spray of water from the hose to wash off the mites from plants. Remove any visible webs. Insecticidal soap, a natural insecticide available at garden centers, also can be used to control heavy infestations of spider mites. Horticulture oils smother spider mites and frequently are recommended for evergreens. Horticulture oils are temperature sensitive, so make sure the one you use is seasonally appropriate. Make sure to spray the undersides of leaves. Always read and follow the label directions.

For more information about this pest, download Purdue University’s Spider Mites on Ornamentals or Ohio State University’s Spider Mites and Their Control.



You Can Grow That! August 2012: Hydrangeas

Limelight (Hydrangea paniculata) flowers turn pink as they age. Photo courtesy Proven Winners/ColorChoice

One of the showier shrubs in the garden is one that offers year-round interest. Hydrangeas, with their moptop and lacecap flowers, grab centerstage in the summer garden. And, they hold a place for two more acts as their flowers dry to autumn hues, then winter whites.

There are two basic types of hydrangeas (Hydrangea), those that bloom on year-old growth and those that bloom on current season growth. Some newer cultivars bloom on old and new wood.

The big-leaf hydrangea (H.  macrophylla) forms its flower buds in late summer and fall. In the upper Midwest and other cold climates, freezing temperatures in late spring frequently zap these buds, causing the plant to grow leaves, but no blooms.

Let's Dance Moonlight big leaf hydrangea blooms on new and old growth. Photo courtesy

You can reduce this threat by siting a big leaf hydrangea where it is buffered from drying winds and freezing temperatures. Many northern gardeners protect it by making a sleeve to fit around the plant and filling it with leaves in fall. The leaf-stuffed sleeve stays on the plant until spring, when there’s no danger of a hard freeze. The sleeve can be made of cloth, such as burlap, or it can be a plastic trash can with the bottom cut out.

Most big-leaf hydrangea is better suited for the more moderate climates in the West, South and Southeast. H. serrata is another popular hydrangea that blooms on year-old growth and can be susceptible to flower bud damage from cold temperatures. If you need to prune these hydrangeas do so within a month after it blooms.

Blushing Bride in Bailey Nurseries' Endless Summer Hydrangea series, has white flowers with a blush of pink. Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries

Several breeders have introduced big leaf hydrangeas that bloom on current season and year-old growth. The Endless Summer, Forever and Ever and Let’s Dance series of plants are in this group. The color of the flowers on these hydrangeas depends on the soil. Acidic soil produces flowers in the blue range and hydrangeas planted in alkaline soil have blooms in the pink palette. You can add alumninum sulphate to hydrangeas planted in alkaline soil to turn them blue and lime to those planted in acidic soil to turn them pink.

Although the native oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) blooms on year-old growth, it does so later in the season so its flower buds are less likely to be damaged by freezing temperatures in spring, making it quite reliable in northern gardens. Oakleaf hydrangeas have cone-shaped flowers that turn pinkish as they age, persisting on the plant well into winter. The leaves on this hydrangea turn a leathery, wine-red in fall and stay on the plant through winter and into spring. The bark flakes off, called exfoliating, to reveal a cinnamon color. Some cultivars to consider: ‘Alice’, ‘Pee Wee’, ‘Snowflake’, ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Sikes (Sykes) Dwarf’.

The colors have begun to change on the oakleaf hydrangea. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The most reliable selections for cold climates are the native smooth-leaf hydrangea (H. arborescens) and H. paniculata, commonly referred to as peegee hydrangea, from Asia. Both of these hydrangeas bloom on current season growth, which means you can prune them in spring without cutting of summer’s flowers. The flower colors on these hydrangeas cannot be altered by soil additives.

Popular smooth-leaf hydrangeas are the mop-top ‘Annabelle’ and the lace-cap ‘White Dome.’ ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ and ‘Annabella’ (H. arborescens) are breeding breakthroughs because they bloom with pink moptop flowers.

A tremendous amount of breeding is going on with the peegee hydrangeas. These form cone-shaped flowers, called panicles, that take on various hues of white, green or pink.

Breeders are working on plants with flowers that turn pink faster or bloom in pink. Some of the best H. paniculata are: ‘Tardiva’, ‘Pinky Winky’, ‘Quick Fire’, ‘Strawberry Vanilla’, ‘Limelight’ and ‘Little Lime’.

Plant hydrangeas in shade to part sun. They tolerate full sun, but will need supplemental watering. All hydrangeas do best in soil rich in organic matter and when given a good, periodic soaking during hot, dry spells. The native smooth-leaf hydrangea can handle fairly wet to dry spots.

Apply about an inch of compost, rotted manure or other organic matter to the soil around hydrangeas in spring as they start to develop their leaves and in fall. If using a soil additive or hydrangea fertilizer, always read and follow the label directions.

Annabelle (Hydrangea arborescens) is a long-blooming cultivar of a native plant. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

You Can Grow That! is the meme created by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening. The 4th of every month, several bloggers post columns that encourage gardeners to grow plants.



HortusScope for August 2012

Here’s HortusScope for August 2012, a checklist of garden and nature related events compiled as a public service by Wendy Ford of Landscape Fancies. Please click on the link below to download your copy.

HortusScope August 2012