Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sneak Up On Spring - Start Plants For Next Year

By Keith Markensen

If you want a real thrill out of your garden next spring, now is the time for fall planting some of the spring flowering bulbs, especially the early ones. These include snowdrops, chionodoxas, Siberian squills, crocus. assorted grape hyacinths, Tulips, Fritillaria meleagris, Camassia Leichtlini, Iris reticulata, Ornithogalum nutans. You may have to look online of bulb specialists to find some of these but it's worth the effort. They all have been growing in my own landscape for years.

The evergreen barberries are a fascinating group of broadleaf evergreens that should take temperatures to 15 or 20 below zero. Probably the hardiest is wintergreen barberry (Berberis julianae) . But my favorites are, despite their jaw breaking names. Berberis verruculosa, Berberis triacanthophora, Chenaulti, candidula, Gagnepainii. Like all barberries they are spiny, but are so low growing that you don't really encounter the spines. Your local nurseryman should be able to order them although he probably won't keep them in stock.

Substitution by nurserymen can be a problem, especially if you don't know what the plant you originally ordered looks like. Fortunately we do not have many of the old style nurserymen left who would sell any variety of, say peach trees. Nevertheless it is always a good idea to state on nursery orders - "Please do not substitute" if you want specific plants

Starting New Plants

Late this month or early next I like to pot up some divisions of the plants in my wall garden. This includes pink rock cress (Arabis , hardy alyssum, hen and chickens, cheddar pinks, Sedum Sieboldi, purple rock cress (Aubrieta) the various bell-flowers including Campanula garganica, C. muralis, and others. I use 2 - 1/2 inch pots, a soil, sand and peat mixture and plunge the pots to their tops in sand or peat in the cold frames. They make wonderful plants by next April. If you do not have these plants many of these can be grown from seed, sown now in a cold frame.

To avoid last spring's disappointment when so many of my primroses were winter killed, I am planning to have at least a three by six foot cold frame filled with them and some hardy tropical plants for replacements next spring. This will give me 200 good tropical plants, all from seed sown last November or last spring or from self sown seed.


Mildew disease, that white powdery stuff on the leaves of roses, zinnias, lilacs, coralberry, golden glow and many other plants can be prevented by dusting or spraying with sulfur. Most other chemicals, including the other fungicides, do not particularly bother it. Once mildew is established on the foliage it is there until the leaves fall. One or two applications at ten-day intervals should suffice.

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