Monday, July 26, 2010

July Post Series: Gardening

(what I wish my garden looked like)

-Favorite garden stores: Wasatch Shadows (90th south) for
perenials and soil enhancers, Highland Gardens (just
north of the AF temple on the same road) for annuals we always
look for "the wave" petunias as they cover more ground,
Cactus and tropicals for perennials, pots, and expert advice.

So we had an arborist from Wasatch Shadows come out at
the beginning of the month to look at our trees and plants
and give us advice on their care and maintenance. I grew up
gardening in my mother's garden and thought I knew enough
to put together a nice little garden in my own house but I am
realizing that there is so much I still need to learn. Her garden
was 20 years more established then mine with all the kinks
worked out, I only learned about what was delegated to me when
I was young. (mainly planting, garden design, weeding, and dead
heading). I knew that due to different climates that we cant grow
many kinds of plants that are found in different states, but what
I didnt know (at least to the degree that I know now) every
neighborhood has a different climate and that even within one
yard there are microclimates that you need to learn to work
around. I tried many plants that worked in friends and family's
gardens here in UT but here at the point of the mountain, not
everything thrives.... or even survives. So here I will share basic
gardening tips that were given to us to help with what is struggling
in our garden (many of you probably know more about this,
but Ill share just in case there is a tip that could be useful).
As well as my favorite plants that have been tried and tested
and have been loved in my garden.

So we knew we needed to get out and prune our trees but
we appreciated the tips we were given. Trim where branches
meet bigger branches so there will be less scaring, if you are
not sure where the branch is dead or not scratch the bark a
little and look for where the skin underneath stops being tan
and starts being green (or "wick" for all you Secret Garden
lovers). We have a hedge of mock orange bushes that still
havent bloomed, many spring flowering bushes only bloom
on new growth so they will need to be pruned. The best time
to pune those bushes would be in the middle of the summer
or right after they finish blooming so they can establish some
new growth before winter. This also includes Forsythia bushes
(one of my favorites!!!!!) which bloom bright yellow in the
spring and then turn into just a nice green bush durning the
summer, we have two of those in our yards that I cant wait till
they get bigger (the three twigs that they consist of are great
(Forsythia in bloom. looks amazing with spring
bulbs blooming all around it)
We also learned that we should feed our trees twice a year
because our soil and climate are so harsh. Spring and fall.
You can either do this by drilling 4-6 holes in a 3 ft
perimeter around the tree with an auger and then fill with
a tree and shrub food, or we are trying out some stakes that
we found at home depot. We drilled some smaller holes in the
ground to put the stakes in but we are hoping that the slow
release, continuous feed will help our trees for the remainder
of this season. We learned a few years back that evergreen
trees do not do well in wetter areas of your yard. It was hard
for us to know where those where since eveything looked pretty
dry from up top, but we had an area that was more clay than sand
and gravel and didnt drain as well when our sprinklers as well as
our neighbors sprinkler water was passing through. We lost a pine
tree that was planted in this area and was instructed to plant a
distigious tree there instead. We chose a dogwood, over the last
year the trees blooms and leaves got fewer and fewer. The arborist
told us that Dogwoods love acidic soil and that we should till in
a sulfer based soil acidifier as well as feed and prune. Lets hope
this does the trick. (you can also till in peat moss in your soil as
well to acidify and loosen up your soil as well)

Our maple was getting marbalized coloring on the leaves and
we were told that maples love IRON in the soil so we are going
to till in some Ferreplus. as well as prune and feed.
We unfortunately not only have the "garden variety" weeds
we also have some pretty pervasive and obnoxious varieties.
One being morning glory, the strangling vine-like weed with
the weak and delicate roots that break when you try to pull it.
At first I thought the little white flowers of this weed were cute
but now they frustrate me as I now know how it strangles my
plants and kills them. This weed spreads like wild fire too. We
were told one of the best ways to deal with this weed is to wear
thick plastic gloves and then dip your hands into a bucket of
roundup, the grab the vines and rub roundup all along the vine
and then into the small area around where the vine is going out
of the ground. This is a good way to localize the weed killer
without killing the surrounding plants.
The next weed is horse tail brush and looks like little pine
trees sprouting around. The roots on this weed are also very
fragile and make pulling very difficult or impossible. We were
told that this weed is pretty resistant to weed killers and that
we should try using shrub and stump killer. After that we hope
pulling up the weed once its dead will clear that area up for
Many of you have noticed that the soil in TM is CRAP! hard
and full of rocks. The first time I tried planting bulbs was a
blister-making experience. So we have tried to till in new soil
and pull out all the major rocks every season but we always
find spots that have remained tough and Im still pulling out
rocks that are the size of my head. But on the other hand there
are areas that are now much easier to plant in and the plants
are stronger and flourish as the soil is easier to grow in. We
now only buy the hefty duty garbage bags from Home Depot as
our yard waste including the build up of rocks that we are
throwing away gets so heavy.
Our favorite soil to till into our existing soil is this Harvest
Supreme found at Wasatch Shadows located just off of the 90th
south exit on I-15.
Blooming vines:
-We have a bunch of Wysteria growing over our pergola.
The first couple springs it bloomed its dripping violet
blossoms great but these last few springs our vines went
from winter to summer leaves skipping the blooms (my
favorite part!) we asked the professional and he said that
we will need to shock the plant and make it go back into
reproduction mode, it seems to feel too safe and doesnt
generate blooms in an attempt to reproduce. To do this we
are supposed to cut a few of the roots by driving a shovel
into the ground 2-3 ft away from the plant. We are going to
do this as well as thin out and braid the vines to train them
a little more. We have had great success in training our
wistaria and clematis by tying the vines onto the trellises
with raffia.

-Tips on designing flower beds- Organic edges (curvy
instead of straight) feel more natural help a garden appear
more flowing, plant taller plants in back then mid plants
and then small. We are putting in our edging in ourselves
using this product from home depot. We have some pretty
thin areas of lawn between flower beds and didnt want to
loose any more space visually and even physically with a
cement edging. Its a lot'a work but its cheaper, we like the
look, and its presenting great opportunities to till in more
harvest supreme in every bed as we dig the trenches to
install the edging.
-Our plan for our flower gardens is to build up base of
perennials with only small areas left to plant annuals
every year. Although we get much satisfaction out of working
hard in our garden we eventually want the job to be
maintaining rather than planting and constructing the entire
-We have been bugged out of our minds with the drip
watering system for our flower beds. We were told that
it was not only cheaper but more efficient. But we are
discovering that it is only good at watering a "zero(dessert)
scape" garden as the coverage is terrible and only a few plants
get watered from the select hoses. We have lost many flower
plants because they werent watered enough. We have
punctured a couple main lines just weeding (as they are not
buried which is also ugly) and has caused us a lot of flooding
issues. We are now currently bidding out contractors to
switch our drip to a normal underground metal pipe sprinkling
system. So our recommendation would be a very strong NO
if you are thinking of having a drip system.
-Also if you are having someone install (or doing it yourself)
outdoor lighting remember to remind them that it is code
to burry the electrical wires 6" underground. The guys that
installed ours left all the wires floating around above ground
in our beds and they have been damaged, tripped over, and look
so ugly because of it. We are now burying them ourselves but we
checked into it and we could have reminded the contractors that
it was their obligation to burry them. So just a tip for you that
might come across this situation. But do look in to uplights on
your house and trees, great effect!

Our favorite perennial base flowers (that come back
every year and only need to be planted once) that are
tried and true for our climate in TM and in many other
areas in UT are:

Hollyhocks- we bought these as potted plants but we have
let the original ones that we bought go to seed every fall
and now they have spread and fill in the back areas of our
garden quite nicely.

Whirling butterfly bushes- get very big. beautiful floating
delicate white or light pink flowers.
Lavender- Fills in large areas with great color and
smells amazing, we placed it by areas where we would
be sitting in our yard so we could smell it on summer
nights. Do know that lavender blooms out in mid July
and then needs to be cut back (this picture was taken at
the tail end of my lavenders blooming season).
Salvia- Large areas of bright blue-purple. Also
ends blooming in mid July. We deal with this by planting
a few groupings of the annual variety of salvia around
the perennial salvia and lavender so when the later bloom
out we dont have large areas lacking in color the annual
salvia keeps blooming on. (annual salvia loves miracle grow
fertiliser and doubles in thickness and size if fertilized a
couple times in a season).
Annual saliva (blossom testure is a little different)
Day lillies- large areas of green and yellow, low in
height, should be cut to the ground every fall.
Jupiters beard- Large areas of pink (or white)
and if dead headed will bloom all summer long.
Spreads fast and thick.
Creeping Jenny has been a favorite of our ground
cover, we hope to have ground cover greening up
all our areas under trees where we havent planted
flowers or bushes.

As seen in this post (click here)- We love spring bulbs
and have had great performance from them. We plant
them in groupings in November. We have never had
problems with dear eating our tulips as we mix in
Daffodils and hysenths (flowers that dear hate) closely
to our tulips. I absolutely LOVE the smell of hysenths.
They are amazing.
-Our favorite tree ever has been our ornamental pear
(as seen in the link posted above) Beautiful full white
blooms in the spring, and gorgeous red orange in the fall.

Hope at least something has been helpful in this lengthy
post. Gardens are sooooo rewarding.

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