Archive for the ‘Other Perennials’ Category

Where have all the landscapes gone?   1 comment


My front landscape.
Curved beds, large perennial & shrub garden.

For the last 4 years, I’ve been working on my front landscape.  Trying to find that bed shape that’s just right…a shape that enhances the landscape, without overpowering it.  Something curvy, flowing, more organic.  No straight lines, please!  It’s not quite right, so I search for inspiration for the bed lines and replacement trees, for sick and overgrown trees.

I really seriously struggled with this.  I want my front garden & landscape to be inviting.  But I don’t want to look “over landscaped”.  I already have more perennials in my front yard than anyone in my neighborhood.  I don’t want to look like I’ve given up all grass.

So, a few times a week, I find myself out driving neighborhoods, to get some inspiration.  I mainly drive neighborhoods that look like mine… 10-15 year old, mass developed neighborhoods.  Well, guess what I’m finding?  NO ONE plants in their front yard.  Why?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the 7 shrubs and rock mulch, plus the 1-2 trees (as required by the city) are all well and good, but what happened to having an inviting front landscape?  A diverse planting of shrubs and perennials and annuals.  And lovely container pots.  Where did all the landscaping go?  I also noticed that trees are no longer sited in front of the home, rather off to the side.  It makes me wonder, as a kid, did these now-parents never get to climb a tree in their own front yard?

So, I set out to find something online.  Google, Houzz, Pinterest, back issues of mags.  The pickin’s are slim y’all!  Where are all the front landscapes?  There seemed to be plenty to chose from if you live on a small city lot, with a sidewalk out front where your home is only 25 feet from the curb.  But what about people like me… 1/3 acre, 50 foot setback, house barely differentiated from the next beige house.

So,  why has this become so difficult?  I can’t find ANY houses that have much more than a small island planting in their front yard.  Is it for the same reason that wonderful locally-owned garden centers like Linders are going by the wayside?

I accidentally turned into a 40 year old neighborhood last week.  What was this?  LANDSCAPES!!  Nicely maintained ones.  And it wasn’t a neighborhood where you’d expect people to have garden services.  These were owner-maintained yards.  I even saw a few people out working in their yards.  They were older than me, possibly retirement age.

Then it occurred to me.  Is it a generational thing?

So, who is buying all these new homes?  Oh, I get it now!  These homes are mostly being bought by 20- and 30-somethings.   Landscaping is not a big priority to that generation.  We know that HGTV doesn’t really do much “G” anymore.  These homes are 4-bedroom 2-story homes.  These homes were being bought by young families who have priorities that do not include maintaining a landscape.

I’m also working on a section of my back garden…completely reworking it.  So I decided to sell off a dozen or so mature clumps of daylilies.  I listed them on an online garage sale and to my surprise, 2 separate wonderfully nice 20-something ladies showed up to pick up their purchases.  I engaged both in a conversation about this very thing.  I applauded them for being young and being interested in gardening.  One told me NONE of her friends wanted anything to do with it.  They all lived in townhouses and had the requisite ONE hanging basket, that by now, is already dead from neglect.  She knows no one her age interested in landscaping. The other shared that her home came with a lot of plants she didn’t know what to do with, and I gave her some quick tutorials on dividing perennials of different kinds. I’m so thrilled they both have an interest.

What does this say for the landscapes of generations to come?  What does it say for true nurseries and garden centers?  Will they all be replaced by the limited offerings of what you can find at big-box stores so called “garden centers”?  Are these mass-produced homes going to give way to mass-produced gardens? Are we doomed to cookie-cutter landscapes that contain little more than a few Goldflame Spirea, Autumn Blaze Maple, and Stella d’Oro Daylilies? Oh, and lest we forget the occasional black-eyed susan.

It’s sad, really.  What can we do to get the younger generation to be more interested in gardening?  I know many of them want to plant veggies, but what about flowers? shrubs? true landscapes?

Posted June 12, 2014 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Other Perennials, Shrubs, Trees

Garden Clean Up   Leave a comment

We’ve had a couple inches of snow in the last 2 days… to my dismay.  I just wasn’t able to complete all the backyard (and front yard) task that I was hoping to complete prior to the snow.

Wheaton Blue Hosta Virus X infected

I was indeed able to get most (all but about 5) of the hosta leaves cleaned out of the garden.  They filled a 65 gallon garbage can!  I was able to finish that on Friday, but I didn’t take the can to the front of the house (oops!).  Hubby was kind enough to bring it around for me today… thru 2 inches or so of snow!

I still want to get out and dig up an HVX infected Wheaton Blue.  Dr. Ben Lockhart of University of MN has done a lot of research on HVX and has (somewhat by accident) discovered that once hostas have flowered thru dormancy, there is a lesser/no chance of transmitting the virus.  So, unless the ground has frozen, it’s my intent to get that plant out of my garden next time I can get out there!

I also need to bring in a lot of my tools and some chemicals that seem to be littered throughout the yard.  I removed the pump from my water feature, I just need to bring it into the garage.  I wasn’t able to bet my tiny lilies planted, so I’ll bring those (and a couple other pots of perennials too) into the garage too.  I have a few other potted plants that need to come in too… a Japanese Maple and a hardy hibiscus too.

Bottom line:  I need one more day outside to finish my chores!

Posted November 14, 2010 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Hostas, Other Perennials

Same situation, different year.   Leave a comment

I’m wrapping up my 4th year of gardening in this yard.  Each year at this time, I end up having the same worry”

Where am I going to put these last few plants?

Ok, so ‘few’ is probably not the right word.  Since August 1, I’ve acquired about 15-18 hostas a handful of other perennials and 7-8 varieties of lily bulbs.

Today is a MAGNIFICENT October day in Minnesota.  It’s almost 80ºF today.  Last year on this day, we had several inches of snow.  While the little ones were sleeping, I went out and survey the situation and plant a few hostas.  I have most of them sitting on the spot where they’re to be planted, but I still have about 6 more that are going to need a spot.  In spring, this won’t be a problem since I’ll be starting a new garden out front.  Too bad the new bed isn’t prepped yet. 😦

Last year, I ended up digging a trench and plopping in about 10 hostas.  Once my new bed prep for the spring was done, they were dug up and placed in a more permanent home.  However, at this time, I don’t really have any good spots to do that with this year.  My only option would be to put them in a full sun area where I’m going to be digging up some lily bulbs for division.  I don’t like this option because this area does get a LOT of sun and I don’t know when I’ll be able to move these plants in the spring.
The other perennials I need to plant will go into the front garden as well, so maybe those would be ok in that full sun area out back.

UGH…. I hate that I put myself in this situation EVERY SINGLE YEAR!

Posted October 8, 2010 by koskashostas in Hostas, Other Perennials

A view I rarely stop to appreciate   1 comment

As I come around the side of the house by my garage, I usually have something in my hands and am watching my footing as I go down the hill (I have a walkout lot). So, I rarely have my head up to appreciate my garden.

Today, I had my head up and this is what I saw:

Posted June 15, 2010 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Hostas, Lawn, Other Perennials

What a difference 15 days make!   6 comments

Ok, you don’t have to scroll down very far to see that 15 days ago, hubby and I were out on the Saturday night before Mother’s Day to cover my hostas.  We had FROST and I have damage on my hostas to prove it.

Fast forward to today.  The official high temperature was 95ºF.  That shatters the official record for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, which was set in the year 1875 at 88ºF.

What does this mean for plants?  First:  NO PLANTING.  PERIOD!!!!  It’s too hot to plant–It’s just way too stressful for the plants.  And if you’re like me, with several plants waiting for their permanent home, the best thing you can do is to put them in a shady spot and water them in the morning…. SOAK THOSE BABIES.  Check them in the evening and consider watering them again.  Same thing for your baskets of annuals.  2 waterings a day is definitely in order.

For your plants with homes in the ground, hopefully, you’ve come into this heat stretch having watered them deeply and having a good layer of mulch on top.  Keep up with watering…. in the early morning hours…  Once it gets really hot, you’ll lose more moisture to evaporation that way.  DEEP SOAKING is best.  You really want those roots that are a foot down to be able to take up that water.  This is also the best way to keep your lawn happy.

Now, your lawn.  If you’re like most of America, you think you need to run your sprinklers daily for 20-30 minutes.  WRONG!  This does not allow the water to penetrate deeply into the soil.  If the water penetrates only 1″, guess what, that’s where the roots of your lawn will live.  And that means a weak lawn, highly susceptible to heat stress.  Instead, water 1-2 times a week so that that water penetrates 4″ or more into the soil.  This allows the roots to go deep in search of moisture… thus creating a healthier, more resilient lawn.  Generally, it’s recommended your lawn receive 1″ or more of water per week… more in the hot times.  Want to figure out how much you’re giving your thirsty lawn?  Tuna cans or other shallow cups/cans with straight (not angled) are a great way to check.  Place them throughout the lawn.  This will show you how much water is making it to the lawn.  It does not, however, show you how much is evaporating, especially if you’re watering during the warmer times of the day.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:  DO NOT APPLY FERTILIZER WHEN IT’S THIS HOT.    It’s too stressful on the plants/lawn.

Posted May 24, 2010 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Hostas, Other Perennials

Landscape Rock + Black Plastic Weed liner = BAD CHOICE   5 comments

I moved to Minnesota in 1999 and I noticed that most houses did this rock mulch thing…  I get it…. cuts down on weeds, gives a clean appearance and doesn’t need refreshing  like  wood mulches.

But, I have to say, my tune  has TOTALLY changed.

Yes, it’s generally effective for keeping weeds at bay, but it requires tons and tons of rock and it’s not foolproof.  The weeds will get thru the spots where the landscape staples pierce the black plastic.  But beyond that, it’s terrible.

So what happens if you want to plant something?  First, understand that soil is alive.  But when you put plastic over it, and cover that with 50 lbs of rock on a square foot of ground, you’re smothering the ground.  No oxygen, no moisture = NO LIFE.  So, 3 years after you put down the plastic, don’t be surprised when you find no earthworms or other bugs cuz they can’t live there either.  So, what makes you think a shrub or perennial would want to live there?  You want to cut a hole the size of the pot the plant came in so you minimize the amount of non-plastic area to minimize weeds.  Well, guess what?  Only that area is going to get oxygen and moisture.  The roots are not going to want to expand past the width of the hole.  The weeds and grass are going to rush to that hole and now your plant is going to have MORE than its fair share of weeds!

Now, I’m going to stop preaching and give you a REAL LIFE example from my OWN experience:

The daylily story.
2 years ago, I planted 6 daylilies (Rosy Returns) in that terrible rock mulch that the previous owners put ALL THE WAY around the house.  I figured they could handle it.  Well, even THEY hated being planted there.

I noticed very little growth from them in the last 2 years and when I pulled them out, I could see why.  I could see that the hole I cut for them into the black plastic weed barrier was only about the width of a 1 gallon pot.  So, there was nowhere for new growth to go.  When I dug them up, I could see new fans trying to pop thru, but couldn’t.  The roots hadn’t wandered much past the width of the cut plastic.

What floored me was the extent of the grass infestation.  The bluegrass/quackgrass had traveled 12 inches from the lawn to get thru to the daylily holes.  And there were sections of grass that were nearly as big as the daylily.  Pulling this grass was pointless… the roots were NOT coming up!

So, when I took out the daylilies, I washed most of the soil off so I could see where the grass roots were and get them removed.  There were some grass roots that were encircling the plants and nearly choking the daylily roots. Some of those roots were almost as thick as drinking straws.

My goodness, that was a lot of work for those little plants!  But, now I can see that if I intend to plant anything in the areas where the previous owner loaded tons and tons of limestone on top of  2 layers of black plastic, I am going to have to remove all of that junk to allow the soil to breath and re-acclimate to LIFE!

Posted May 15, 2010 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Other Perennials, Shrubs, Weeds

Rainy Days   2 comments

Well, in the period of a week, we had over 2.5″ of rain.  Good for the plants, but MAN were we tired of being stuck inside!  When the rain finally stopped on Thursday afternoon, my camera and I went out to see what we could find:

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Lady’s Mantle

Hosta ‘Split Milk’ (I love the irony on this pic)

Hosta ‘June’

Hosta ‘Grand Slam’

and one more I can’t remember what the name of:

Posted May 15, 2010 by koskashostas in Hostas, Other Perennials