How to use a color wheel

Flower Color WheelFrom the most experienced plantsman to the rankest amateur, the one thing everyone wants in their outdoor space is COLOR!  But how do you effectively use color in your garden?  First, remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden.  Color choices are a matter of personal taste.  For some, a riot of color is just the ticket.  Others prefer to work with a single hue.

 

A basic understanding of color theory can help your figure out combinations that work for you, allowing you to combine blooms, foliage and other elements in ways that you will find pleasing.  Let’s start with a simple color wheel which is essentially the colors of the rainbow arranged around a circle.  Note that on one side of the wheel are what we call warm colors — yellows, oranges and reds. On the other side of the wheel are the cool colors — greens, blues and purples. [Read more…]

The reward of starting seeds

Bloom n gardens seed startingDo you love fresh veggies from the garden? I do.  There is nothing quite like picking a ripe tomato straight off the vine, taste just like summer. …Yum!  Vegetable gardening is an art that has seen some resurrection in the past few years. It seems like everyone is focused on eating healthy and saving money, which bodes well for backyard vegetable plots.  Ask the old farmer when to plant a summer vegetable garden and he will tell you Mother’s Day.  Why Mother’s Day you ask, that is around about the time the soil warms enough making it hospitable for seeds to germinate and roots of transplants thrive and grow.  More technically, for summer vegetables, the soil temperature should be about 60oF. [Read more…]

No “Bones” About It

Belgard paversThere is a very common old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Which we all take to mean it’s what a person has on the inside that counts not the overall outward appearance.  What makes each of us unique is the combination of flesh, bones, and soul that all combines to make us who we are, Individuals.   This same concept can be translated to your homes landscape, as well. I know it might seem like a stretch, but hear me out on this.  Of course, when we first look at a landscape, we hope to see pretty plants, clean beds, and freshly laid straw, these items are known as the “Softscape”. This outward appearance can be fussy, or as low maintenance as you like.  The important thing in making a good first impression is clean and neat, but all the fluff is what takes a landscape from good to great. Think about your morning routine, does it take a little or a lot of effort to create your unique look.  Do you make a good first impression? Let’s hope so. [Read more…]

LISTEN! to what your garden has to say

Bloom n gardens sound in the gardenDaffodils and cherries are starting to bloom, peepers are singing, and soon lightning bugs will be floating on the breeze.  The warm rays of the sun, the colors and scents of flowers, and the taste of fresh berries readily come to mind when we think of gardens in spring and summer, but what about sound?  When it comes to the landscape, the sense of hearing is usually ignored, unless, of course, there is noise to buffer.  But what about using sound to enhance your outdoor space, instead of just block out the drone of traffic? [Read more…]

Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Over Weed Issues!

bloomngardenslandscape Yard Cleanup Before and AfterDo you gaze out your window each summer and just want to pull your hair out there are so many weeds?  Why does your neighbor’s yard look so weed free, when you never see him out there pulling and pulling and pulling.  Stop suffering from yard envy and do what the pro’s do. Put out PRE EMERGENT HERBICIDES (Pre-M).  What exactly is this wonder of a substance? Pre-M is a class of chemicals that you spread/spray in the spring and fall that prevents germinating seeds from growing.  Mind you this means just about all seeds, including those that you actually wanted to germinate (more about that later).  They work by forming a chemical barrier in the top 1” of soil where most seeds lay in wait until optimal growing conditions rise allowing them to pop open and begin to grow.  They don’t prevent the seeds themselves from germinating, but interrupt the process before a sprout has the opportunity to push through the soil.

Are you ready to jump on board the PRE-M train?

Well, first off, timing is critical for Pre-M to be effective. As the chemical barrier begins to break down after six to eight weeks, you do not want to apply it too early, else you lose effectiveness.   But applying it too late can mean you missed out as well. Tricky, Tricky, Tricky, I know, but you need to actually read the weather cues to hit the mark. Additionally, if you plan to plant any new plants from seed (i.e. seeding a Fescue Lawn or direct sowing perennials), you must skip the PRE-M step and deal with pesky weeds after the new plants are established. Oh and by the way, as with any chemical, make sure you follow the label instructions when handling and applying the product.

Why do I still have weeds?

So, you put out your PRE-M, but you still have weeds showing up, what gives? Well several factors could affect the application. The first obvious cause for failure is that your weeds did not germinate from seeds but were perennial weeds that rose from existing root stock. Pre-m only works on seeds. If this was not the case, did you put your PRE-M out too early, or too late? Maybe you never watered it in. The easiest way is to apply it right before a rainstorm or you can use your irrigation system to water the area down. One other cause might be that the soil layer was disturb somehow breaking down that chemical barrier. Lastly, I hope you weren’t trying to save a few pennies and did not put it out at the appropriate rate listed. READ THE PRODUCT LABEL.  

In all, one chemical is not foolproof, but with good attention to detail, you can greatly reduce your weed population and get the landscape that you love.

Location, Location, Location……….

Perennial Bed_FotorBelieve it or not, we will be changing pansies for petunias very soon!  Annual color is a great accent, but the twice a year change-out can get old.  Perennials can be a great solution, but they can be higher maintenance.  Now, I know you are scratching your head, saying “But perennials are LOW maintenance!”  And you would be right.  Most commonly available perennials are tough, drought tolerant, long blooming, and don’t require a lot of fuss to thrive.  BUT in the wrong spot, perennials might require a lot of care.  How is this possible?  Well, you have to understand the qualities of perennials vs annuals. 

Annual/Perennial…What’s the DIfference

Annual plants put most of their energy into blooms.  They have to set as much seed as possible all through the season so that the species can continue.  Annual varieties are bred for more abundant and more rapid bloom cycles than they would have if left to the hand of Mother Nature, and cultivars that have larger flowers and that easily shed old blooms make a constant show of uniform color.  Perennials, on the other hand, have to live through multiple seasons.  They have to put some of the energy they “earn” from the sun into a “savings account” to get them through the winter, which means that their bloom cycles are more distinct.  Regardless of how healthy or well located the plant, there WILL be times when perennials look messy or tired.  Which brings us to maintenance.

How to Use Perennials Effectively

In general, for an area that is seen up close all the time, perennials need to be frequently groomed to keep them looking their best.  Otherwise, they are less “lush English garden” and more “weed patch”.  (By the way, those lush English gardens usually had a full time staff!)  BUT, if you need color on the far side of a wide lawn, or somewhere that will be typically seen from a moving car, you can use the “plant and forget” method.  Garden phlox and coreopsis are ideal for this type of situation.   Like real estate values, perennial maintenance requirements are about 3 things: location, location, location!

Don’t Get Convicted of…….CRAPE MURDER

As early as mid December, I began seeing crimes committed all over the area, terrible, heinous crimes of the landscape.  What is sad to say is that most people do not even realize they have committed CRAPE MURDER; they are simply following the lead of their neighbor’s neighbor. Unfortunately, for those folks, I feel my advice may be a bit mute for this year, but if you have not pruned your crape myrtles yet, please heed my warning and instructions. 

First and foremost, you must prune your crape myrtles during the right time of year.  If you prune them later in the year, say November or December, you run the risk of having them try to produce new growth, if we get a warming trend in January, that new growth will freeze when temperatures cool again and this will be very stressful for your plant.  In actuality, pruning tells a plant it is time to grow, so hold off until later in January and February.  The next important factor to consider is to use good, sharp tools that will make clean cuts.  It is most healthful for a plant if cuts are clean and free of jagged edges or tears otherwise you are opening up the plant to potential invasion from unwanted pests and disease. 

Bloom N Gardens Crape Myrtle-001When you begin your pruning, first start by removing any dead, diseased or crossed branches, this is also a good time to remove any suckers from the base.  Next, begin thinning the canopy, a general rule of thumb is to remove twigs that are less than a pencil width.   With that done, as you examine your tree, you will typically see two lateral branches emerge close to where you cut the previous year.  You will want to head back these branches to within 6” of last year’s growth; this will prevent the “knuckle” look that can be so unattractive and unhealthy for the plant

One of the biggest excuses many people have for pruning their crape myrtles incorrectly is that they do not want their crape myrtle to be too big.  This problem is best solved by removing the tree and choosing one that is better suited to the confined space. There are many varieties of crape myrtle that grow from shrub sized to giant sized and all sizes in between.  Choose wisely from the beginning and you will be happier in the long run. Additionally, there is a fallacy that drastically pruning a crape myrtle will make them bloom more.  In reality, a correctly pruned crape myrtle will produce twice the number of branches, and therefore, twice the number of blooms than the previous year.  Additionally, the branches will be stronger and better able to withstand the weight of the heavy bloom. 

If you have a crape myrtle that has been incorrectly pruned for many years, there are ways to improve the overall health and look of the plant by reconstructive pruning, a process that you may want to bring in a professional to provide. Good luck and happy pruning.

How to Effectively Transplant an Existing Shrub with the Greatest Success

Tree Installation Have you ever experienced that “Oh dear” moment when you realized that a plant has been planted in the wrong place and is now beginning to take over.  Perhaps it is a Japanese maple planted along the front walk, or a Camellia Japonica planted too close to the foundation.  The best way to avoid these mistakes is to put careful planning into selecting the proper plant for the spot in the first place, but hey hindsight is 20/20, right. So what can you do about it now?

Transplanting shrubs in the landscape

Many shrubs and small trees respond reasonably well to transplanting. How quickly you can transplant after you have made the decision depends a few factors.

1.      How important is it for your transplant to be successful?

2.      How soon do you need to transplant?

3.      What type of plant do you want to transplant?

Ideally, you want to root prune your shrub at least 6 months in advance to ensure the most successful transplant.  Root pruning reduces the overall size of your shrubs root ball. You see, the workhorses of the root system are the feeder roots found at the outer perimeter of a plants root ball. By cutting down the size of the root ball, in advance of transplanting, you allow the plant to produce new feeder roots giving your plant a better chance of survival after transplanting. So how do you prune the roots if they are underground? Since the majority of a plants root system is 6”-24” below the soil surface you can simply take a sharp spade and cut a ring around the plant that is slightly smaller than the root ball you want to transplant.  If you want to transplant a larger specimen, you may want to actually dig a trench around the plant and backfill it with fresh soil. 

Transplanting Day, Hurray!

So you have done everything right and it is now time to perform the actual transplant. The most important thing is to first dig the new hole where you will be transplanting your shrub to.  This will minimize the amount of time your root ball is exposed to the outside air.  Next carefully, dig around your plant releasing the root ball from the soil and wrap it in natural burlap to hold the root system together.  Use either twine or pins to lash the burlap tightly around the root ball. Always use a wheelbarrow or cart to move the plant from one location to the other so as to protect the root ball from cracking and breaking. Plant the root ball slightly higher than in the previous hole, back fill, mulch and water immediately.  Pay close attention to watering especially during the first growing season following transplant. 

Remember root balls can be very heavy, let the expert staff at Bloom’n Gardens Landscape assist you with any plants that may need to find a new home in your landscape.

An English Garden Oasis

The English garden has been a staple of home decorating and style magazines for years. Something about the sprawling trees, idyllic wildflowers, and perfectly placed garden ornaments reminds us to let go of our carefully manicured everything and let nature take its course. The perfect blend of unkempt and tended, the English garden is the perfect landscaping style for recovering perfectionists, free spirit gardeners, and anyone who loves a splash of color.

The Rise of the English Garden

We may all dream of creating a “secret garden” of overgrown flowers and artfully crooked cobblestones, but the English garden (or simply “landscape garden” in the United Kingdom) wasn’t an accepted gardening style until the 19th century. Landscapers developed this freeform gardening method to balance the clean symmetry and intensive details of the 18th century French style garden. It’s no surprise that English style gardens gained quick popularity, both in Europe and across the pond in America. English gardens strongly influenced the development of public parks and estate landscapes.

Characteristics of an English Garden

Parks and estate grounds offer expansive examples of English gardens. Ponds, grassy knolls, and artfully aged rotundas serve as a backdrop to bright, barely tamed flowers and shrubs. Smaller homes display stone statues, architectural touches on benches and pavilions, and seemingly forgotten florals that add a touch of whimsy to the landscape.

Creating an Idyllic Oasis

garden urnIncorporating touches of English-style gardens to your landscape adds a pastoral atmosphere to your backyard. Plant flowering shrubs and thick bushes along fences and pathways. Place classic garden ornaments like birdbaths, Hellenistic statues, and stone sundials. Plant-life grows into wooden elements like woven trellises, creating a sense of structure while maintaining the careful disarray of the style. When pruning trees and shrubs in an English garden, avoid creating crisp, groomed shapes. Meld the English style with Southern attention to detail by balancing wild blooms with manicured grass.

Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscapes for expert advice on choosing a garden style that suits your Vinings home.

Tackling Winter Pruning: Roses

rose bushMany a movie has portrayed a similar portrait of the Southern woman: perfectly coiffed hair, a smart blouse, and stylish gardening gloves wielding pruning shears over brilliantly blooming rose bushes. The perfect presentation may be a myth, but it’s no exaggeration that roses are a Southern staple. Whether you prefer trimmed rose bushes against a white picket fence or wild blooms in an English style garden, proper care is essential to keeping your roses healthy. Here are three things to keep in mind when you pick up your pruning shears.

  1. The best time to prune roses is winter. Thanks to our temperate Georgia climate, Vinings gardeners can prune their roses as early as January. Winter pruning allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each bush. The unimpeded view allows you to cut away dead wood and thin overfull areas of your rose bush. Winter pruning primes your plants for spring growth, but their dormant state keeps your bushes from blooming too soon. Research the hardiness of your variety of roses and schedule your pruning between late January and early April.
  2. Overgrown roses die more quickly. Unlike trees and most shrubs, roses don’t grow exponentially larger. Old stems tangle with new ones, blocking sunlight and air from new blooms. Thinning and shaping your rose bush redirects nutrients to newer canes, allowing your roses to flourish.
  3. The biggest detriment to bright, hearty roses is a lack of preparation. Always wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from sharp thorns. Sharpen your shears before you begin pruning; dull blades will damage and tear the tender parts of your plant. Make each cut at an angle mimicking the natural growth of your rose bush. Assess how much height and thickness you want to remove before you begin pruning, but step back and reassess every so often. Poorly trimmed rose bushes can take seasons to recover.

Does your garden need a touch of grace? Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscape to help you incorporate Southern garden classics into your Smyrna landscape.