Sometimes Size Matters – Dwarf Burning Bush

Don’t call the fire department because that’s not a fireball in your garden! The Dwarf Burning Bush (Euonymus alata “Compactus”) is a low-care, beautiful shrub. With its upright, bushy and vase-shaped habit, it’s a Fall garden’s best friend with its brilliant and intense fiery scarlet Red foilage. Your guests will do a “double take” when they see your Burning Bush as it really is that visually appealing. It is such an incredible garden wonder, it can serve as your Fall focal point.

The Burning Bush ranges from 6-10 feet high, and 6-10 feet wide, and it’s insect, disease, drought, heat, AND deer resistant, and tolerant of shade (but for the most intense fall color, plant it in full sun. ) It’s also versatile enough to use as a hedge screen en masse, so you can block an unsightly view while setting your landscape ablaze with color!

GardenWise with Edible Flower Power!

A Tasty & Fun Garden Project – Edible Flowers! 

I think the best first garden project for Spring should always be a fun small side project that you can successfully complete in a short period of time that will yield quick results.  It’s  such a confidence  booster  to  have  a  great success under your belt as you prepare to undertake larger garden projects over  the  next  three seasons.  An edible garden is a great small  project to  think about for Spring that will  become a favorite gift that keeps on giving.     

It can be difficult to find edible flowers to purchase, but they’re easy to grow yourself.  And there’s no greater personal touch when cooking for  family  and  friends  than  adding  edible flowers grown right  in  your  backyard.   Lavender, Marigolds, Thyme — they’re all edible!  For  the  freshest  tasting  goodies, your edible flowers should ideally be harvested in the cool, morning hours. If you’re not going to use the flowers immediately, cut  them  with  the  stems intact and keep them in water.  You can also store them in damp paper towels in the refrigerator.

Some tasty edible garden delights:

Lavender
Lavender has a sweet floral flavor, with a hint of lemon and citrus. Use as a garnish for sorbets or ice cream. Lavender also goes well with savory dishes.

Violas
Violas give a sweet perfumed flavor. The tender leaves and flowers can be eaten in a salad. Or the flowers can beautifully embellish desserts and iced drinks.

Sage
Sage flowers have a more delicate taste than the leaves, so be sure to be careful when pruning. Sage 
can be used in salads or as a garnish.

Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is indigenous to Southern Europe but is now cultivated worldwide. 
Lemon balm flowers have a gentle lemon scent and can be used as garnish.

Oregano
Oregano can be found growing wild on mountainsides of Greece and other Mediterranean countries where it is an herb of choice.  Oregano flowers can be used as you would the herb; it’s a milder version of plant’s leaf.

Marigolds
Marigold flavors range from spicy to tangy. Their sharp taste resembles saffron and the plant is sometimes referred to as poor man’s saffron. Their pretty petals can be sprinkled on soups, pasta or rice dishes, and salads.

Nasturtiums
Nasturtium blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavor similar to watercress. Their leaves add a peppery tang to salads. Use the entire flower to garnish platters, salads, and savory appetizers. Nasturtium seeds are edible as well when they are young and green and have been likened to capers when pickled.

Thyme
Like sage, thyme flowers have a milder taste than the leaves. Use as you would the herb — the flowers also make a beautiful garnish.

A Hinged Trellis is GardenWise

A Foldaway Trellis!

It’s hard to clean  behind latticework, so a great alternative that allows you to get behind this wonderful garden accent  is to make a hinged trellis that swings open!

Start by fastening a strip of 3/4-by-1-inch wood to the wall about one and a half feet from the ground.  Screw hinge plates to the underside of the strip and the bottom of the trellis. Attach another wooden strip to the wall at the level of the trellis’s top crossbar.  Screw metal eyes into the strip’s ends and metal hooks into the ends of the crosspiece so the trellis can be unhooked and pulled away.

It’s a fairly simple garden project to do and can be comleted in just an afternoon!

 

Phlox ‘Miss Lingard’ is GardenWise

Sophisticated Lady

Phlox ‘Miss Lingard’ is a  GardenWise  July  favorite!  With a spectacular clump-forming habit, ‘Miss Lingard’ has spikes of sweetly-scented, refined pure white flowers that are   disease resistant, so you won’t have to deal with that powdery mildew mess you sometimes get with other types of Phlox.  

Phlox comes from the Greek for “plant with showy flowers” and “flame,”  and ‘Miss Lingard’ delivers with a gorgeous eye-catching spray of flowers.  A June-August  bloomer, ‘Miss Lingard’ gets 2-3 feet tall, is beautiful  when planted in groups, and is our pick if you’re looking for a sophisticated garden show stopper. 

Good Garden Bone Structure is GardenWise

Bone Structure is Key to a Garden’s Success

Home owners are often taken aback when they realize, after many hours of prep time and intensive labor,  their  lovely  and very expensive collection of plants in the garden are nothing more than too many lovely and expensive plants in a forgettable outdoor space.    

The most memorable and eye-catching  gardens  are  those with strong internal hardscape structure. Too  many  plants not separated and defined by hardscaping,  a word landscaper architects and designers use to describe more permanent fixtures  that  give  a  garden  its shape,  depth, and  framework for the plants, can be uninspiring and over- whelming.    

Great landscapes get their character from lovely  bones:  stone work, benches,  water features,   garden accents, sculptures, terraces, garden lighting, containers/planters,  patios,  arbors/pergolas, custom fences and gates, and the edging around  your plant beds.  All the elements that aren’t plants!

When you add a bench,  a large rock, or a delightful curving  stone path to a large grouping of your beautiful plants or a garden bench, suddenly the garden comes to life with its own story to tell.  Your garden  will capture the attention of your guests,  and if you look closely, you’ll see them  leaning in as they marvel at your gardens, as if they’re listening to your garden tell its story for the very first time.  

  

 



Plants that Thrive in Clay-Heavy Soil

GardenWise on Clay-Heavy Survivors

Some areas are lucky to have clay-heavy soil, something I think about often as I work often in the clay heavy soil of Northern Virginia.   I use the word lucky because I have the opportunity to share some of the most beautiful clay heavy soil survivors, with blooms that will take your breath away.  Below are some suggestions for those with clay-heavy soil, beginning with the irresistable Blue Cornflower.

Blue Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) These brilliant flowers are what memories are made of — rare among “blue” flowers as they are actually blue.  They are delicately fragrant and drought tolerant.  This flower has a lot of history — it’s the national flower of Estonia,  was used in Pharaoh Tutankhamunand’s funeral wreath, and was President Kennedy’s favorite flower, worn by John Kennedy Jr. at his wedding to honor his father. 

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) These plants (herbs, actually) do very well in clay-heavy soil, are drought tolerant,  and come in a variety of colors — the  purple blooms will stop you in your tracks.  They will break up soil as they grow, and are a favorite among those who practice herbal health as they have been known to boost the immune system. 

Daylily ( Hemerocallis) A must grow for anyone with clay-heavy soil, they do well in a wide range of soil conditions, come in a variety of wonderful colors, and are rugged.  They also establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little care.  

Liriope (Liriope muscari) With spikes of tiny violet-blue flowers, this grass-like plant is named after the nymph Liropie, mother of Narcissus.  The plant is a member of the lily family, has dark green, ribbonlike foliage that recurves toward the ground, and does very well in soil with clay.   

Coreopsis Verticillata or Tickseed is a plant that is very tolerant of clay and its disc florets and ray florets are bright yellow that will make you smile from ear to ear, even on a not so sunny Fall day. 

• Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and a cheery perennial with bright yellow petals that surround black centers. It’s a striking flower that does very well in clay soil. Plant them en masse and enjoy the show!

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) With its classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow disc, they are attractive to bees and birds, and are drought-tolerant.  They do well in clay-heavy soil and have cheery blooms.

Don’t Cry For Me Weeping Redbud

The Weeping Redbud

The Weeping Redbud is a gorgeous and fascinating tree — it’s a favorite.  They are hardy in zones 5-8 and actually require a little cold weather to encourage budding. They can handle partial shade but prefer sun — and be sure to plant the tree in well drained soil.  A Weeping Redbud tree does not grow very well in hot temperatures – if possible, plant it under the shade of other trees and use organic fertilizer for the best results.

A small tree, it produces beautiful magenta-pink flowers in spring that will make any passerby stop and take a closer look as the trunk will twist and weep into an umbrella shape that will be different on each tree, no two are the same! Weeping Redbud does not like to be transplanted and they thrive with sun. Give yourself the gift of a Weping Redbud, you’ll thank yourself for many years to come.