Category: Ginny Rosenkranz

Tulips a candidate for containers

October has bright blue skies and cool but comfortable weather, perfect for planting many trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and spring flowering bulbs. Some spring bulbs like daffodils and hyacinth thrive on the Eastern Shore, but tulips often succumb to soft rot diseases in the heat of summer and die. Also, tulips are very tasty treats to many animals including voles, squirrels, chipmunks and mice. Despite those problems, it is hard not to purchase tulips each fall for their spectacular colors, shapes and sizes that are available! When purchasing tulips, choose large, firm bulbs with little to no blemishes. Choose colors that complement or contrast with each other, or just choose one lovely color. Early spring tulips include Kaufmanniana or Water Lilly tulips, which are short with wide open flowers and Fosteriana, or Emperor tulips with tradition tulip shapes. Mid-season tulips include Darwin tulips with large strong flowers, Greigii with green and variegated foliage and two to four flowers on each stem. Mid-season also has Triumph tulips, many with two-tone colors and Viridiflora which comes in many colors and all have green streaks on each petal. Late-season tulips include Parrot tulips, full flowers with ruffles and many colors, and Lily flower tulips that have a vase shaped flower. Fringed tulips have thin fringes on the top edges giving color and texture to the flowers. The double late variety looks like...

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Now’s time to start updating lawn

September is the perfect time to think about updating a lawn. The middle to end of September brings in cooler weather creating the best time to control annual and perennial weeds, amend the soil pH, and apply fertilizer and perennial grass seed. A soil test will determine if the soil pH is too low (too acidic) for the lawn to thrive but it is often perfect for many weeds to thrive. The best way to raise the soil pH is to apply pelleted lime to the soil, and a soil test will tell just how much lime each lawn needs. This can be done at any time, but fall will work very well. The soil test will also show how much nitrogen and potassium the soil needs. With the new Maryland Lawn Fertilizer Law, phosphorous can only be applied if the lawn will be totally redone with the lime and fertilizer mixed into the top 6 inches of soil. By applying fertilizer for the lawn in September, it allows the roots to take up the nutrients and to develop a better and more diffuse root system that will create better grass leaves in the spring and summer. A list of regional soil testing labs can be found on line or call your local county Extension office. Many of the weeds in a lawn are annual weeds which will die...

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Ferns a simple pleasure of August

When the heat of August simmers high, one of the best places to be outside is in the cool shade of trees that have a carpet of green ferns. One of the loveliest ferns for the Eastern Shore is the Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) which also has the added interest of being evergreen, so it can brighten the winter woods when everything is cold and dark. In the springtime the young leaves emerge as sender silver fiddleheads that uncurl to dark green fronds. The plants spear up to 2 foot fountains that stay green all summer, fall and winter. The plants will continue to grow larger, but they don’t spread or naturalize. The fronds are leathery, dark green in color and the small pinnae (that look like leaves) are shaped like stockings, which, along with the evergreen foliage gave it the common name of Christmas fern. Christmas ferns love the soils on the Eastern Shore since they can live happily in dry or moist soils in shady gardens. One or three together or masses of ferns will cool the hottest day in august. Another fern that thrives on the shore is the Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora), which also grow about 2 feet tall and wide, but prefers constantly moist, slightly acidic soils in full shade. The autumn fern grows as an arching vase shaped plant that is usually evergreen during...

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Spider lily a constant burst of blooms

The spider lily, or tradescantia virginiana or Virginia spiderwort, is a native herbaceous perennial that thrives in almost any sunny or lightly shady garden. The tiny bright blue-purple flowers open up in the early morning and last only one day, but there are so many flowers that the plant seems to be in continuous blooms from May through the end of July. The flowers have three petals with bright yellow stamens and are arranged in clusters on the ends of the stems, keeping the flowers above the foliage. The plants form a dense clump of arching leaves and stems about 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall. The sap in the stems, when cut, becomes threadlike and silky, looking a bit like a spiders web. When in flower, the various pollinators including many butterflies and native bees. There are a few cultivars for this lovely native plant, including “Concord Grape” with deep purple flowers, “Bilberry Ice,” that has pure white petals with center steaks of purple, “Sylvana,” with raspberry colored flowers and “Innocence,” with pure white flowers. The plants seem to tire after all that blooming, so it is a good idea to trim back the plant in August so the new foliage can help regenerate the plants. The spiderwort will often bloom in the fall if trimmed back. Plants like to grow in moist, but well drained, soils and...

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Purple cone flowers love summer sun

Echinacea purpurea, or Purple Cone Flower, is a wonderful sun-loving native herbaceous perennial that grows from 1 1/2 feet tall to 5 feet tall, depending on the variety. They bloom the whole month of June and into August, brightening the garden with their large, fragrant daisy shaped flowers in many shades of purple, red, yellow and rose-pink with domed orange center. They love full sun and tolerate dry sandy soil, clay soil, high humidity and drought. They seem to be made to thrive on our Eastern Shore! They are also listed as being deer and bunny tolerant too. Coneflowers bloom more than once a season but that is improved if the dead flowers are trimmed of. Leave a few to mature to seed for the goldfinches in the fall and the new seedlings for next spring. “Pow Wow Wild Berry” is a compact coneflower growing 2-3 feet tall that has lots of branches which means lots and lots of bright rose purple flowers with orange centers. This variety starts to bloom in last spring and continues to bloom through late summer and even into autumn. The flowers grow 3-4 inches across with deep rose purple overlapping petals. “Hot Papaya” is a bright, hot orange-red double coneflower that doesn’t fade with the heat of summer. This variety can grow 2-3 feet tall and wide, attracting many butterflies into the garden....

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