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Happy news, fellow gardeners! On Friday, I learned I have been accepted into the University of Florida’s Master Gardener Program. They have an extension office in our county, so it will be a convenient drive.
Classes are on Fridays beginning September 1. I’m told it’s as intensive as a grad school course so I’ll be hitting the books. As time allows, I will try to share the experience with you. Wish me luck.
Today I have a guest post from Alexandria Heinz at FTD’s beautiful blog. It seems she saw my Wordless Wednesday photos of tulips, and found them to be gorgeous. Thank you, Alexandria.
Here’s Alexandria’s intro, followed by a brief excerpt from the FTD blog:
Did you know there are over 3,000 varieties of tulips? As one of spring’s most colorful flowers, it’s easy to see why they are one of the most popular flowers in the world. Since there are so many types of tulips, FTD created this handy guide that features the 14 main groups, along with a list of their most distinctive characteristics so that you can easily identify your favorite types. From the classic single early tulip to the exotic parrot tulip, your bound to find a few of your favorites featured below along with new tulips that you’ve never seen before!
From Alexandria and the FTD Blog:
Spring has sprung, and that means the tulip is showcasing her spectacular beauty. Tulips belong to the lily family, and are native to Eurasia and North Africa. Tulipa grow cultivated and in the wild, and are highly favored additions to gardens. Some of the more popular types of tulips include:
- Single tulips
- Double tulips
- Parrot tulips
- Darwin Hybrid tulips
- Triumph tulips
While a perennial, many gardeners grow tulips as annuals since it can be a challenge to get a repeat performance in the second and third year. Depending on the variety, their brightly colored flowers are single or double and shaped like a bell, cup, or lily.
Different types of tulips also have different bloom times, which are divided into early spring (typically mid-March to late April), mid-spring (early to mid-May), and late spring (mid- to late May). In their peak season, they make stunning arrangements that can range from simple and classic to exotic.
There are 3,000 registered tulip varieties with striking differences, so we’ve outlined the characteristics of the 14 groups, so you can choose the best variety for your garden. We also created a handy guide to help you visualize the characteristics of these different kinds of tulips. To read more about the types of tulips and see lovely photos, just click right here.
Happy Earth Day! In honor of Earth Month in April each year, our local unit of United Methodist Women had a plant exchange at our April unit meeting.
Each woman was asked to take a plant or a cutting of a plant from her yard to the meeting. At the meeting each woman who wanted a new plant could choose one or more of the plants there. All gardeners love to share plants. I took three and picked three. Even if someone didn’t take a plant, she could still take one.
The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church call for us to care for and protect the planet that God provided for us to live. This requires us to be ecologically responsible. So consider not using styrofoam cups, using your own reusable bags for groceries, and buying locally grown produce. There are many other ways to protect our planet, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!
I was recently asked by Wayfair.com to contribute a photo of my favorite planter, and to answer some questions related to container gardening for their section on garden planters. Of course, I was thrilled to be among the garden bloggers invited. Here’s my photo that’s featured on their site:
The section of garden bloggers tips on container gardening went live today on Wayfair.com. Click right here to see it.
The planter in the photo was given to me for my birthday a year or so ago by my dear friend, Becky Witherby. She had put a red bromeliad in it. I had put that bromeliad in the ground in my back yard garden only a few days before Wayfair’s invitation arrived in my inbox. Perfect timing, as I then had an empty planter. I’m now waiting with baited breath for the bromeliad to bloom again.
I love the gorgeous blue of this planter. Becky made a great choice. Thank you again, Becky.
Wayfair provided this clip from their site for all of us to add to our blogs. If you enjoy container gardening, you may find it useful:
I received this question from Walter, an old friend from my high school years:
“I’d like your opinion on the best flowers to put in my boxes on the porch this summer. I have flower boxes that I put on my porch rails that are about 3′ long and 5″ deep. They will get full morning sun for about 3 1/2 – 4 hours then total shade the remainder of the day.
I had impatiens in them last year and they did well for a while but began to fizzle out in July. I know they don’t like the sun a lot but I didn’t think that much would hurt them. Anyway I wondered if you had any ideas.”
I replied to Walter right away by e-mail, but I’ve just now had time to turn his great question into a blog post. So, here are my suggestions:
Off the top of my head, impatiens do seem like the best choice for planter boxes that get mostly shade. It was probably the intense summer heat that caused them to fizzle out last summer. Impatiens, petunias, and vinca tend to get long and leggy during the hottest part of the summer. I have found that, when they become leggy, cutting them back severely will encourage new growth, and helps them to bush out more. I haven’t had good luck with regular impatiens here in central Florida, probably because I have very little shade, but I’m creating shade as fast as I can. With my lack of shade, I have used SunPatiens (a brand name of sun-tolerant impatiens) and vinca instead, so I don’t have any photos of regular impatiens. Below are some photos of leggy vinca, showing how beautifully they recover from severe pruning of the “legginess”. The same effect can be obtained with impatiens.
Below is some vinca that I cut back a few months ago. It filled out quickly, and looks better than it did before:
Another Shade Lover – Waxed Begonias
These waxed begonias would be a beautiful option for your planter boxes. They can take morning sun, but need to be shaded from the afternoon sun. They are available in this darker pink, a lighter pink, white, and red. There is also some variety in the colors of their heart-shaped leaves.
Waxed begonias have either these dark-colored leaves or a lighter, true green. Both are complimentary to your garden.
One More Shade Lover – Caladiums
Another good choice for an area of mostly shade like you described is caladiums. There are some newer varieties of caladiums that can take more sun than the older varieties. Below are some photos of my caladiums that can tolerate partial sun are Red Flash, Gingerland, and Florida Sunrise.
These three caladium cultivars perform beautifully. You could combine them with impatiens for a little variety; and when your impatiens get leggy, the caladium leaves will act as a type of camouflage.
Caladiums in Winter
North of Zone 9, be sure to dig up your caladiums before the first freeze. Wash the bulbs to remove all soil. Lay them out to dry, then store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cardboard box or vented or net bag in your basement should be perfect. Replant them the following spring after all danger of freezing temperatures has passed.
A Substitute for Impatiens
Another option is vinca, which likes full sun, but does well in part shade, too — and it comes in lots of colors, just like impatiens. Here are some photos of vinca:
Walter, be sure to let me know how the flowers in your planter boxes do this summer. See you in the garden.
Sharon F. recently read my article on HubPages, entitled “Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles” and e-mailed me about her myrtle. Here’s Sharon’s question: “My Crepe Myrtle is getting too large (both tall and wide) for the space where it was planted. How would you approach shaping this lovely tree?”
So many people butcher their myrtles. I feel sick every time I see one lopped off with nothing but chopped off trunks sticking up. They may as well go ahead and cut it down, and let it start over from the ground up. So I was really glad to receive this question. Here’s my reply, minus the small talk of thanking her for the question and for reading my article, etc:
First, do a little routine maintenance: Remove any dead wood and any branches that are growing back toward the center of the tree — this will allow air to move freely between the branches, and will help to maintain a healthy tree. (This is true for any tree.) Also, if you have two branches that rub against each other, one of them will need to be removed.
For controlling the width of the canopy: If it has a large spreading canopy, I would first remove the lowest branches at the point where they emerge from the main trunk, taking care to make a clean, smooth cut. Then, to reduce the overall width, remove the ends of the branches around the circumference of the canopy, but again, remove them at a joint in order not to spoil the natural appearance of the overall shape of the tree.
For controlling the height of the tree: Choose the tallest branches, and remove each one at the point where it grows out from its supporting branch. After you have done this, if the tree is still too tall, repeat the process, always taking care to cut at a joint, so as not to leave a branch that is just lopped off.
I also offered that if Sharon needs more info, to please send me a photo of her myrtle, so I can offer advice more specific to her particular myrtle. If you have a problem with your crepe myrtles or any of your plants, drop me a line. Include a photo when you can. If you have a question or comment related to crepe myrtles or pruning in general, just leave a comment below. For questions or comments on a different topic, please click on the “Contact Me” tab above to send an e-mail message.