St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on March 31, 1994 · Page 84
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 84

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Thursday, March 31, 1994
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ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH GARDENING 4W THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 1994 CHIP TYNAN Forsythia Needs Full Sunlight And Correct Pruning To Bloom Q: Can you tell me why our forsythia does not bloom? We bought a bundle of seedlings nine years ago and planted them in a hedge,, about 4 feet apart. They are now tall and have grown together but have few yellow blooms. The buds open into leaves, not flowers. We live in a valley, but have friends just a few miles away, and their forsythia is beautiful. " L A: Lack of sun, cold weather injury and improper pruning and fertilizing are the most common reasons why older forsythia fail to bloom. Forsythia flowers best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Keep in mind that shade increases as a landscape matures and surrounding trees grow taller. The flower buds of forsythia can be injured by severely cold temperatures, or by late frosts that occur after the buds start to grow as spring approaches. Because cold air tends to flow downhill, any property in a valley or a hollow is likely to experience colder temperatures than that on higher ground. This may explain why your friends' bushes bloom better. On the other hand, the winter of 1992-93 was so mild that I am surprised your plants did not bloom heavily last spring. This leads me to suspect a pruning problem. Forsythia flower buds are formed in summer on the new growth of the season. These buds don't open until the next spring, when they are referred to as "old wood." If you cut back a forsythia in late summer, fall, winter or early spring before blooming, you will be removing flower buds. The proper time to prune forsythia is immediately after flowering occurs. In most years, this is by mid- to late April in the St. Louis area. To encourage a natural, upright arch, remove one-fourth to one-third of the old canes at ground level each year. As for fertilizing, excessive amounts of nitrogen or a lack of phosphorous can prevent a plant from flowering. A soil test will be necessary to determine if improper fertilization is at fault. A general guideline for flowering hedges is to apply 2 to 4 pounds of 10-10-10 or similar fertilizer per 100 Design Guru Promises A Rose Or Gertrude Jekyll, famed English garden designer, once said, "Every good garden has been in the wheelbarrow three times." But Ken Miller, rapidly becoming famed St. Louis garden designer, says his goal is "to get every plant in the right place the first time." Miller provided entertaining instruction once again at his annual horticultural seminar held March 19. With fellow designers Mike Miller and Cindy Gilberg, he showed with color slides and commentary the how-to and how-not-to of garden planning. . After 12 years at his job, he feels he's changed. In some ways his thinking is bigger, ' He's more inclined to ask, "Where do we put the golf course, the swimming pool?" But also he's become more realistic, advising that one should make a wish list and then discard 90 percent of it as unrealistic. Most of all, we observed as a student of many of his seminars, he's become kinder and gentler. "I've reached a time when I like all gardens," he said. Miller added, "There's no right or wrong to design." This doesn't mean he's averse to prompting laughter at a garden filled with pink plastic flamingos or blue gazing balls, but he's less caustic over the sheared yew hedges he once called "meatballs." Meatballs and even the longer shaped meatloaves can have a place. He added philosophically, "We all have our individual sense of balance." Miller's approach may be less critical, but he still does a masterful job of gently steering us toward effective design and the functional way to achieve it. In St. Louis it's not easy. "The trouble with garden books is they lie so much," he said. "Those writers have never been west of Baltimore or east of Los Angeles. They talk of 'long blooming seasons.' In St. Louis, 10 days is a long blooming season. Our flowers are tough; we're tough people." But many garden strategies are universal. Miller's segment illustrated, the use of color, the vibrant energetic impact of yellow in his favorite perennial, coreopsis moonbeam, paired with lavendula. Red is the strong eye-catcher. If ydju want to shorten space, use red; it linear feet of . hedge, with one-half that amount along each side of the hedge. If your hedge is growing in a lawn area, adjust fertil izer applications as needed. Q: Could you please tell me when I could order ornamental cabbage plants for my garden? A: Ornamental cabbage, as well as the equally attractive ornamental kale, are best grown for the fall garden. They are easy to grow from seed that is sown in mid-June to provide transplants for your garden by the end of July. Cool fall weather and light frost stimulate the development of the colorful foliage. Transplants are often available from area nurseries in spring, but these plants must be nursed through the heat of the entire summer. By autumn, they often appear tired, worn and leggy from the loss of their lower leaves. But with the arrival of cooler fall weather, they will perk up. Unfortunately, few nurseries carry young seedlings in July and August for the fall garden. The best suggestion I can offer is for you to call around to find those that plan to carry ornamental cabbage this fall. Otherwise, growing your own from seed is your best bet. Stokes Seeds, Box 548, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240, and Park Seed, Cokesbury Road, Greenwood, S.C. 29647 are two mail-order outlets that offer a wide selection. Timely Tips Seeds for annual aster, balsam, cockscomb, cornflower, marigold and portulaca may be started indoors now. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Chinese cabbage can be transplanted into the garden now. Sow seeds of beets, carrots and New Zealand spinach outdoors now. CLARISSA START overpowers other colors. Blue, the most emotional color, moves away from you; don't put it at the back of the garden, because it will recede put it in front. Pink is a good supporting color, like heuchera chatterbox in the sun or astilbe sprite in the shade. Use less white than you think you'll need. It's a visual cool down. EIIBMarai3JBlBBr3BBI Hop On Over To The Bunny( Brunch Buffet DATE: Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994 PLACE: Grand Ballroom Doubletree Hotel & Conference Center TIME: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PRICE: Adults $16.95 - Children $7.95 (3 and under free) A BEAUTIFUL BUFFET OF CLASSIC EASTER FAVORITES FEATURING Roast Leg of Lamb Steamship Round of Beef Chicken Marsala Smoked Salmon & Seafood Scrambled Egg Bar Belgian Waffles Made To Order Dazzling Array Of Salads & Desserts Much, Much More! SPECIAL APPEARANCE OF THE EASTER BUNNY! DRAWING FOR KIDS TO WIN GIANT STUFFED BUNNY! LXUBLETREE HOia&OONFERENCECENrrERST LOUIS Kesorvations for 10 or more recommended. Please call 532-5000 HSf525 swingley RidHe Rd. Chcsierfield, MO 03017 Hwy. 40 West 10 second Chcsierfield Parkway Exit (19A) Like Watching Grass Grow? By William Bryant Logan 1994 N.Y. Times News Service Plantain, a perennial weed, has colonized the bare spots on my lawn with rosettes of leaves the size of cocktail napkins. Crab grass waves its crooked arms in the breeze. There is moss in the damp spots. The maples have converted the lawn beneath them to bare dirt. .As for the ground near the fir trees, forget it! I was about ready to fall upon my rake. Or worse. A couple of years ago, I actually called a lawn company to come kill the old lr start a new one and dose it with plenty of high-nitrogen fertilizer and weed killers. But I got the eco-jitters, an increasingly common ailment caused by the gap between ecological principles and actual practice. It is worsened by offspring who have been trained to be aware of every . ecological nuance. So I called off the assault and decided to call a few organic lawn specialists to see if I could Do the Right Thing, yet recover my Ideally, soil is well aerated, rich in organic matter and neutral in pH. In such conditions, grass roots will extend 6 inches deep. lawn. I talked with Maria Cinque, the lawn specialist at the Nassau County office of Cornell Cooperative Extension. "If your lawn is more than 50 percent thin grass and weed, then you should start over," she said. "If it's less than that, you can just renovate." A judgment call. After a glance at the winter-sodden sod, I reasoned that at least 50 percent of my lawn was intact. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but Cinque had also told me that to start from scratch with bare ground, I'd have to wait until mid-August. Otherwise, weeds would overcome the new grass. No way. It's now or never. "I want to go organic," I said. I wanted to use little or no weed killer, little or no pesticides and I wanted to use a natural fertilizer. "The word organic is meaningless," she said. "Technically, any urea fertilizer is organic, because urea is, chemically speaking, an organic compound." The compound, however, is frequently produced as an industrial synthetic. In other words, it may be organic, but it is not natural. "How about just healthy?" I said. "That's more like it," she said. The first step to a healthy lawn, Other Garden One of our St. Louis problems is heat, but then "Some Like It Hot," as Cindy Gilberg showed in her review of perennials that flourish in heat. We'll be writing more about that in a later column. As always, I came away with lots of ideas for gardens, my own as well as others. Ken Miller commented that he had distilled so much of his knowledge into one program that his regulars might find that, "If it works, you may never have to take this class again." We will, just the same. We'd miss the fun. is Healing The Soil Cinque told me, is to heal the soil. . Robert Riley, owner of Green Pro, a trainer of lawn-care workers in Hempstead, N.Y., agreed. "Soil is paramount," he said. "And it's almost always forgotten." Ideally, soil is well aerated, rich in organic matter and neutral in pH. In such conditions, grass roots will extend 6 inches deep, sometimes more than twice that. What is the usual situation? Slablike soil with a build-up of thatch (a layer of dead grass clippings), lacking organic matter and having a pH just this side of lemon juice. The roots peter out at 2 inches. Sometimes, the weeds that invade a lawn can indicate just how unhealthy the soil is. A lot of plantain "means you have low organic mat ter and a pH of about 4 to 4.5," said Mark Miles, head of a Minneapolis organic lawn-care company called Greener Pastures. The pH ought to be between 7 and 7.5, he said. So the most important thing to do if you want to renovate your lawn is to feed the soil organic matter and to balance the pH. Organic matter can be many things, from composted sewage sludge to a concoction of seed and bone meals to humic products. The last of these derive from prehistoric humus dug from ancient lake beds in places such as North Dakota and Utah. The advantage of such products, Caution, Common Sense Break Allergies' Summer Stranglehold DENVER (AP) A gardener with an allergy can get through summer without misery by taking a few precautions, an allergist from Denver says. Work in your garden in the early morning when pollens are at their lowest, and wear a mask, suggests Dr. Harold Nelson, allergy specialist at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. "Choose a disposable 'comfort mask,' which is 90 percent effective in removing pollen and mold spores," he says. "If this doesn't work for you, a 'dust and mist respirator,' available in automo Quality SERVICE -Selection PASSlGLIA'S Nursery & Garden Center SINCE 1950 PINK DOGWOODS RED DOGWOODS WHITE DOGWOODS PURPLE LEAF PLUM RED BUDS BRADFORD PEARS KOUSA DOGWOODS LARGE SELECTION OF Di PASSIGLIA'S ONLY LOCATION Hwy 109 & Clayton Rd. White Pines, up to 14 ft. Norway Spruce Up to 12 ft. Blue Spruce Up to 12 ft. Hemlocks Up to 12 ft. 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Organic matter makes it easier for water and air to get into the soil and also provides a source of food for a healthy population of microbes, which stimulate humus formation and devour thatch. In a healthy lawn, there is seldom a buildup of thatch. But microbes hate acidic soils. So lawn owners usually have to add calcium carbonate lime to the soil to raise the pH to near neutral. But what about the weeds? And what about the bare areas in the shade? Soil improvement alone will not help these conditions. It's tough to get rid of weeds such as plantain with- . out using poison. When such weeds are hand picked, some part of the tap-, root usually remains in the ground, so the weeds come right back. An What about the weeds and the bare areas in the shade? Soil improvement alone will not help these conditions. ambitious all-natural gardener might wait for a hot, sunny day and spray a vinegar solution directly on the plants. "That'll kill anything," Miles said. But what he recommends is a onetime-only spot application of the pesticide Round-Up. Of all the weedkillers available to home gardeners, he said, it is the least toxic and least persistent in the soil. Shade cover is another matter. If the lawn does not get four hours of direct sun each day, it will not sur- bile and paint stores, is five times more effective and may be the ticket for you." When you're done, throw the mask away, change and wash your work clothes in a room other than the bedroom and shower and shampoo immediately, Nelson says. Taking allergy medicines won't be effective if you still have pollens on your body. He also recommends using the air-conditioner and keeping all windows and bedroom doors shut to keep stray pollens at bay. For more information about allergies, call (800) 222-LUNG. FORSYTHIA PERSIAN LILAC COMMON LILAC PURPLE LEAF SAND CHERRY MAGNOLIA ROYAL STAR HONEYSUCKLE OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA (Nhw bximtKiun) Clay In n l ir rnr hi it iiin ii r r i i nr passiglias fa is 1833 Hwy. I SUi 109 J , , Lalnyotln I j- High School MonchoBtor Rd. "3E" lTRANSMISSONTUNE-UP mso Includes (Auto j Fluid Trans. (RHer Extra) Only) Includes' Road Test. 21 Point Courtesy Check Removing the pan Clean the Sump and Screen Replace the Pan Gasket Adjust the Bands and Linkage 'For Most American Cars m m imp m m m mm mm mm m mm m m mm i Read On vive. "Either prune out the secondary growth in your trees to admit more light, or forget the lawn and put in something that likes the shade," Riley said. Even if the lawn does get enough sun, you must also be sure to add extra lime to the soil, because sap and leaves and bark that fall from the trees are always acidic. 'Z Certain trees just don't allow lawns beneath them. It is almost impossible to keep a lawn going under conifers; the conditions are too acidic. Here is a step-by-step; guide to making a healthy lawn: - Rake off any covering leaves or branches left from the winter. Apply Round-Up to - plantains and other perennial weeds. If you wish, prune out branches of decidu- ous trees to admit more light. Wait a day; then rake the whole lawn lightly, '.using a steel rake or a "weasel," a small '. hand-driven rototiller. Take a pH reading of the soil. A simple but accurate pH meter can be bought for about $15. If the soil is acidic, spread calcium carbonate limepver the ground. More lime will jprobably be needed beneath trees. Select a grass seed mix that is tough, fast and versatile. Miles suggests a mix of 25 percent Citation II, 25 percent Manhattan II (both rye grasses), 25 percent bluegrass and 25 percent creeping red fescue. This includes varieties adapted to both sun and shade and will give the lawn a uniform look. Citation II and Manhattan II are especially useful because they naturally produce chemicals that destroy white gruhs in the lawn. Spread the seed and a natural fertilizer over the whole area, both bare patches and current lawn. The fertilizer should be used at a rate of about 30 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Roll the seed in lightly with a roller that weighs no more than 75 to 100 pounds. Rollers can be rented at most tool rental stores. Keep seedbeds damp but not soaking wet. Once the grass is up, mow it no shorter than 3 inches until the last two autumn mowings, when it can be shorn closer. It sounds like a lot of work, but I am going to try it. I would like, the lawn to be both green in color land "green" in a way my children j will approve. i II 9 H miUIVi ! It's An Event! It's An Opportunity! Operation : "MUSTSEll" Must Sell Large : Amount of Beautiful Landscape-Sized Trees, Shrubs and Evergreens, j Finest Quality Nursery Stock ; Beautiful Pines, 4-foot, 5-foot, 6-foot, 7-foot and 8-foot and extra large 12-foot and 14-foot. Large Selection of all sorts of Evergreens. Over 50,-000 plants to choose from Beautiful Shade Trees, Magnolias, Azaleas, Hollies, Rhododendron, Boxwoods, Yews any plant you are looking for we usually have. Largest selection of plants you can find! Many more items too numerous to list! i Save Enormously! WE ARRANGE FOR PLANTING AND ; DELIVERY, ! Complete Landscape j Installation, TREELAND Take Manchester Vi mile west of Clarkson Road to Old' .State Road; go South on Old State Road one mile to TREELAND, or take 1-44 West to 109r!go North on 109 to Old State Road, North 2-12 miles .'to TREELAND. 1 ! Si t, JFJ : Open 7 Dayt 8:00 to 5:30 p.m. 391-3909

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