Archive for the ‘General’ Category

What’s ailing my plants?!

Garden Rant is featuring What’s Wrong With My Plant by authors David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth in one of their blog posts and are offering the chance for people to submit some problems for a chance at getting a diagnosis for the problem.  I thought this would be a perfect chance to see if I could find out what this issue is I am having.

I first noticed the problem early last spring on one of my dogwood trees.  The tree died over the winter and one of the first things I noticed was this grayish-green fungus looking stuff on the branches.  I mentioned it to my neighbor and we began noticing it on several different woody ornamentals as well.  On some of these plants the branches that have the fungus are dead while on others the branches are still alive.  We’ve found it on azaleas, dogwood and mountain laurel while the lilac, forsythia, burning bush, butterfly bushes and mock orange seem untouched.  All have been in their location for over 15 years and there has not been much change in the environment.

 Below are some pictures of the problem (click on the pictures to enlarge).

I’d really love to know what the problem is and what can be done to solve it with as few chemicals as possible (would prefer none!). Thank you for any input and help anyone can contribute.

Getting a Jump on Yardwork

Burning Bush

We’ve been blessed with some early nice weather here in PA, so I’ve been taking advantage of it by pruning some shrubs that really needed it.  I really took a few of them back too.  Starting with the Burning Bush taking off a good 2-3 feet.

3 of the holly bushes

Then following with the 4 holly bushes.  Two of them just got a nice trim, but the other two gotten taken back pretty far.

1 holly bush along the back fence

The brush pile- it's taller than it looks

This left me with a nice brush pile taller than me which I will have to spend a few weekends  stacking and tying bundles of branches together for yard pick-up in the middle of April.  That’ll be more work than the pruning was.  At least it is done and I’ll only have to deal with my forsythia and lilacs when they are done blooming.

Green Thumb Sunday

Green Thumb Sunday

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I missed last week so I took more pictures this week to make up for it!

Columbine that self seeded in my yard

I have a lot of columbine all over my yard this year.  The wind must have blown in the right direction from my neighbor’s yard.

My neighbor's Bearded Iris 

I get to enjoy a lot of plants from my neighbor.  She is very generous in sharing, but also many seem to spread over to our yard from her’s.  This bearded Iris is actually on her side of the fence.

honeysuckle that is by my front porch.

I love the scent of honeysuckle in the morning and I love the color of the blooms on this one.  Is it planted next to my front porch so I can enjoy it.

Sum and Substance hosta in front yard

This is Sum and Substance, a huge hosta that is in my front yard.  This year it can realy shine since we removed the fern that was taking over the bed it is in.  I can’t wait until it is completely unfurled.

lettuce from vegetable garden

I didn’t plant much in my vegetable garden this year.  I put in some lettuce for my bunnies (I am sure they will share some with me), I think they deserve it since they provide me with stuff for my compost pile. 

They keep calling for rain, but it has been disappointing so far.  Today it acted like there was going to be a good storm, but it only lasted for about 5 minutes.  I am hoping for a good rain so I can get some major weeding done much more easily. Maybe tomorrow…

Green Thumb Sunday

Green Thumb Sunday

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It’s a Bleeding Heart day!

White bleeding Heart and pink Dutchman's Breeches

This is my white Bleeding heart and the Dutchman’s Breeches from the shade garden in my front yard.

pink Bleeding Heart

This bleeding heart is located in my back yard and the last 3 years it has gone crazy!  It self seeds and I have bleeding hearts popping up all over!

This week I was able to spend more time out in the yard.  I planted some lettuce adn carrots and also put in some potatoes.   I love growing potatoes!  I think they are so easy.  In the past I have bought seed potatoes from Pinetree Seeds (Yukon Gold, I love the description) and they have done well.   This year finances are a bit low and when I mentioned I was going to the feed store to get some, my sister pulled out a 5 pound bag she had bought at the grocery store that had started to sprout.  I figured what the heck, so we’ll see how they do.  I would like to pick up a few tomato plants to put in.

My neighbor gave me 2 azaleas that were in 1 gallon pots.  She said she took the pots off my patio last year because they looked dead.  She kept watering them and the azaleas came back.  I honestly don’t remember buying azaleas (we have several and I really don’t have room for more shrubs), but she insisted I take them back.  She helped me dig up an area in the shade garden where ferns were taking over and we planted them there along with some coral bells and Stella D’oros that were put in the one sunny spot.   I am very lucky to have Diane as a neighbor as she is a big help! I have a lot of plants that came from her.  She always reminds me not to thank her for the plants because they won’t grow if I do.  Has anyone else heard of that or any other gardening folklore?

To Cut Or Not To Cut

That is the question.  At least mine to you. 

My mom lives with me and she loves the flowers as much as I do.   The difference is she likes to cut them to admire them inside the house, while I prefer to admire them in the natural setting.  In fact, I cringe a little bit, when she comes in with a new batch, but I say nothing.  My plan is to add to the ones she likes to cut so I have something to admire.  How do you prefer your flowers- cut or in the garden?

Green Thumb Sunday


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Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Everything is beginning to green up and start blooming.  Along with the grape hyacinths and daffodils,  The hyacinths, periwinkle and Dutchman’s breeches are blooming.  Next in line to bloom looks like the creeping phlox, bleeding hearts and soon the lilacs!  Yeah, Spring is here!!

I did a few things outside today- pooper scooped the yard (something I look, oh, so forward too),  a little weeding (I have a hate/hate relationship with Creeping Charlie, but I will prevail! I hope.) and trimmed my butterfly bush that is along one side of my house.  I don’t like to take the butterfly bushes back before winter because I have lost one to cold, so I wait until the spring.  I am hoping this one flowers this year.  I planted it 2 years ago and it hasn’t bloomed yet.

I also put together an arch for my clematis.  The one that was there rusted and collapsed over the winter.  I want to build something more permanent, hopefully something with benches to sit on, but that will be awhile, so the arch I used was a cheap one I bought at Big Lots a few years ago.  Hopefully it will last 2 years like the last one and then I will be ready for my dream arbor.

It was nice to get out and get some things done.  I have a very short attention span when it comes to gardening so my goal for the summer is to get outside and do something for at least 15 minutes 5 days a week.   This way I can accomplish something instead of giving up by July and letting the weeds take over.  We’ll see how I do!

In the garden, everyday is Earthday

As a gardener, I feel a special kinship with the earth.   There is nothing like feeling the warm dirt in your hands or seeing the first robin in the spring.  Because of the respect I have, I try to garden in a way that is good for the environment.

Some of the things I do-

  • I compost.  Any vegetables from the house,  weeds and prunings from the garden and the droppings and leftover hay from my rabbits.
  • I only water newly added plants.  I don’t have a sprinkler system going everyday.  When we do have a drought, I have a drip hose for my vegetable garden that I use once a week.
  • I let my grass turn brown.  I don’t need a green lawn to give me status in my neighborhood.  Besides, my neighbors already think I am nuts!
  • Eliminating lawn.  I do like having some grass because it gives me a place to play catch and chase with my dogs, but there are areas I am trying to eliminate.  My front lawn is not big and my plans are to eliminate the grass and expand my perennial garden and have the front art be Vinca.  I already have one side almost done.
  • Don’t use herbicides.  Sometimes this can be tough because it is so easy just to grab the sprayer and spray those big, annoying weeds, but especially after reading about herbicides causing bladder cancer in dogs, I have discontinued this.  I use newspaper and cardboard to smother weeds.
  • Attracting wildlife.  I try to add plants that attract different species of birds, butterflies and other wildlife.  Just like many other areas, this area is being built up and open land is disappearing.     The plants will help give the wildlife food and a home, plus I have benefits as well.  Not only do I get to see species I wouldn’t normally see, but often they eat insects and other pests that most people use chemicals to get rid of.

What do you do in the garden to help the environment?