Tag: landscape

Summer Annual Containers 2019

Summer annual container time!!! Please contact me if you’d like your containers planted.

 

If you’re looking for sensational summer color, look no further! Summer pots are the way to go. Not only are they full of pizzazz, the color is often right in your face, literally, especially if your favorite container is on a pedestal.

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season with. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Here’s where your imagination needs to run free through the flowers. In many of the containers below, the photos are of the plants after there has been a bit of growth put on them. You can also get instant height from a trellised plant such as a mandevilla, jasmine or other vine.

Another tip ~ Flowering can be increased if the plants are kept on the drier side. This takes a bit of skill, as you don’t want them to dry-out, but keep them on the brink of drying. Why?!? Because. Think of it this way. If you’re kept all fat and happy without doing anything, why not just enjoy the hand-outs? (can you say ‘vegetative growth’? Haha!) However, if you need to work for everything you’re getting, you fight to survive and multiplying is surviving in a plants eyes. Thus, more blooms = more seeds.

©The Naturarian

Don’t Let Crabgrass Get You Crabby!

Crabgrass (Digitaria sp.) is one of the most widespread grassy weeds found in Midwestern lawns. Crabgrass flourishes in full sunlight, high temperatures and can easily out compete common cool-season grasses, like our Kentucky Bluegrass. Crabgrass is a summer annual, which germinates in the spring, grows through the summer and dies with the first hard frost. They produce a tremendous amount of seeds in the mid to late summer when the days start to shorten. These seeds not only ensure next year’s crop of weeds, they can also remain dormant in the soil for many years before germinating. Generally, if you have crabgrass in your lawn, it will be there next year, also. Horticulturists say, “One year’s seed equals seven years weeding.” Gasp!!!

forsythia blooming yellow
Forsythia

The easiest way to take care of crabrass is to take care of it during the spring season, rather than take care of it later on in the season. A well-timed application of a ‘pre-emergent’ is what you’ll need. Just as the name states, a pre-emergent prevents seeds from germination. Killing it before it emerges. Be aware that you can’t use this type of herbicide if you are planning to or have just recently seeded your lawn, as it will kill those seeds also. Timing is critical, as the herbicide does not last long and must coincide with the seed wanting to germinate.

Crabgrass seed will not germinate until the soil temperatures are 55F degrees at the one-inch level. The Illinois State Water Survey reports soil temperature at the four-inch depth at St. Charles reporting station was 47.5F degrees on April 16. The soil temperature at one-inch will be slightly higher. This suggests Northern Illinois is approaching the right conditions for application. Next week the weathermen say it will be warm and that will help the soil temperatures progress. North Americans can go to this site for application timing. Or the indicator plant that can be used for application timing is ‘forsythia is in bloom’. Late April (now) into early May will most likely be our target for 2019.

© The Naturarian

How to Read the Midwestern Landscape

Understanding what you see and observe in the landscape and knowing key indicator plants (axiophytes) aid in identifying each Illinois region community. Learning a few characteristics of each area can help with this identification.

Each area has its separate restoration challenges, however the wetland communities are the most frequently restored regions, followed by prairie, savanna, and woodland, respectively.

Wetlands

Some of the main, topography indications of a wetland are:

  • Standing water during growing season
  • Drift lines
  • Watermarks
  • Sediment deposits

Sometimes because of drain tiles, dams/dikes, or channeling of streams, this might not be as reliable of an indication.

Conducting a soil test is the next test. Wetlands have a hydric soil characteristic described as one or more of the following:

  • predominantly peats or mucks
  • have bluish-gray coloring
  • contain dark streaks of organic material
  • include decomposing plant material

Plant indicators include cattails, bulrushes, cord grass, sphagnum moss, bald cypress, willows, sedges, rushes, arrowheads, and water plantains. Additionally, several types of oak, tamaracks, and pine trees occur in wetlands.

Wetland restoration relies heavily on the hydrology of the location. Generally, when natural water patterns return to an area, the usually, highly viable seed banks of the wetland overwhelm invasives. This makes for the easiest restoration, as most invasives cannot thrive in the wet conditions. Volo Bog is an example of how the returning of hydrology (breaking of drain tiles), along with overseeding, can restore a wetland.

Prairies

prairie land with yellow flowers

Identifying a prairie area should begin with an observation of the layout. Prairies are flat or gently undulating, dominated mostly with grasses, and generally treeless. Some of the plant indicator species include (but not limited to) big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, switch grass, black oak, round-head bush-clover, butterfly milkweed, lead plant, heath aster, grey headed sunflower, compass plant, and cup plant.

Prairie soils (Mollisol) are very rich in nutrients. This is why many prairies are destroyed to grow other crops.

One challenge of prairie restoration lies in the condition of the site when presented for restoration. This will dictate the amount of time and money needed for the task. Another dilemma is the ability to burn. Many smaller restorations near communities that have banned any type of burning, must use alternate methods for restoration, which may delay the re-establishment for years.

Savannas

savanna land with wildflowers and trees

Savannas are recognized by grassland-like features, with scattered trees that are few enough in number not to affect light penetration to the ground.  Indicator plants consist of: yellow & purple giant hyssop, tall anemone, purple milkweed, prairie brome, cream wild indigo, woodland boneset, oaks, and Jacob’s ladder, to name a few.

Savanna’s restoration issues also lie with ability to burn, but time is also a huge factor. Reconstruction may require the planting of oaks and other native trees, which take years to mature.

Woodland

wooden bridge in woodland area

Woodland is an area with dotted trees where the portion of the land surface covered by the crowns is more than 30% (open woodland) but less than 60% (forest). Indicator species can include; oaks, shagbark hickory, black walnut, bitternut hickory, bottlebrush grass, woodland phlox, elm-leaved goldenrod, cut-leaf coneflower, brown-eyed susan.

The main challenge of restoring woodlands is time. Canopies need time to develop, and the understory elements might need to develop later because of this. Many times money and long-term dedication are the biggest hurdles.

© The Naturarian