Monthly Archives: July 2014

It’s time for a haircut! Well for your plants at least.

Summer pruning and deadheading is a repetitive job but it is something we need to do to ensure that plants continue to flower all season long and will add healthy new growth next year. It allows the plant to slow its growth down by reducing the surface area of the leaves therefore slowing down the amount of food produced and sent to the roots. Pruning in summer is also a great time for corrective purpose.

Basic Pruning practices:

  1. Remove any dead or diseased wood. Although it is more difficult to see the outline of a tree in leaf, it should be easier once you have removed any unhealthy stems.
  2. Take out stems that are growing toward the center of the tree. Be wary of pruning large branches that will heal slowly.
  3. Remove any crossing branches to prevent them from rubbing against each other and causing wounds that may result in serious damage
  4. Prune out weak stems that did not produce flowers or that have few leaves, and rub out shoots forming on the lower trunk.
  5. Keep the tree in shape by reducing the length of wayward side stems and excessive new growth by cutting them back by about one-third.

Hedges grow rapidly in summer. The heavy shearing of hedges that exposes too much of the interior wood and the tender interior leaves, will cause scorching from the hot summer sun. Sunburn then kills the wood and leaves, resulting in a half-dead, scraggly hedge. It is best to shear hedges lightly and frequently in summer.

Perhaps the most labor-intensive plants to prune in the garden are the perennials. Perennials are not maintenance-free as most new gardeners might think. Most perennial plants, especially the flowering ones, not only need to be cut back entirely at some point before or after the growing season, they need regular pruning, shearing or deadheading.

Pruning generally creates a healthier, more robust and attractive plant.

winnetka-il-perennial-flower-bed-600x400

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It’s not always about the flowers.

I love flowers but in our gardens they are fleeting and demand more maintenance.  Perennials come in stages, flowering shrubs and trees flower for such a short time and annuals add a pop of color but need to be replaced every year.  But what we do see all year long is the foliage; this is where color and texture can really break up the monotony of green!

There are some great plants that are available purely for their foliage (the flowers are secondary).  The change of color, from either a nice deep burgundy or bright chartreuse, can easily break up the wall of green in most planting beds. Don’t forget about textures as well.  Leaves of all the same size and shape bleed together; but adding different shapes and sizes of leaves will break up the border.

There are a great number of plants that use their foliage as their selling point, from perennials to trees and shrubs.  Here are a just a few great additions to the garden.

weigela rubidor soft and hard textures heuchera palace purple
heliopsis loraine sunshine cornus kousa wolf eyes eupatorium chocolate
japanese maple heuchera caramel play with texture
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Happy 4th of July!

Have a safe and happy 4th!

fireworks

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Van Zelst
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