The yellow splashes of forsythia in my garden have passed into their summer suits of green. They’re done showing off. The spring bulbs are finished as well, with the exception of a few late season tulips. Even the heavenly smelling flowers on my Korean viburnums are slowly moving into the next stage of the season. However, the number of flowering trees and shrubs -- azaleas, rhododendrons and dogwoods, among others -- are abundant throughout town.
I noticed the lilacs are in full bloom, including those standing against the back wall of the Cultural Center. I didn’t realize it before, but the Colonial Garden behind the center is cared for by the North Haven Garden Club members. They also tend to the plantings at the Martha Culver Museum. The group does an excellent job, and I had the happy occasion to run into them as this week.
The North Haven Garden Club is a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc. and the National Council of State Garden Clubs. To find out more about the group, you can go to their website or contact them at 203-269-2653. You’ll find they have a lot to offer, from community involvement to garden programs, trips and more.
And it so happens that I went out with my neighbor Sandy this week to buy flats of annuals to put into our own planters. We also bought hanging baskets, too. All of these items were bought from sheltered stock from inside the garden greenhouses and stores.
In the past I would have immediately put the plants outside. A good frost one year (or was it snow?) and I learned my lesson. Now I harden them off. Overnight temps are still in the 40s, so I put the plants out in the day and put them back into the garage at night.
Honestly, though, we’re probably safe, weather-wise at this point. It’s also a given around here that if Mr. Smith, a former Marine and now the dahlia guru of the block, plants his dahlias – we’re pretty much good to go.
Rule-of-thumb: Plant them if the eyes are out, the ground is warm and a frost is unlikely. So I put mine into the ground, with a barely discernible light topping of mulch.
Correction: Sometimes I goof-up the name of a plant or forget it all together. Sometimes it happens with people’s names. That happened last week with Mrs. King at on Montowese. I referred to Mrs. King as Debbie, not Diane. I should also add that she is Phil’s daughter, she is a lovely woman, and the garden center is beautiful. Go see for yourself, introduce yourself to Diane, and make sure not to call her Debbie. Mea Culpa.
Timber! Oma Tike reminded me to look at my trees and check for problems while the season is still young. She was worried about sudden oak death after she found a whole side of her pin oak dead and the leaves were all curled on what was left of the tree.
The U.S. Forest Service put out an alert on Sudden Oak Death. It states there has not been confirmation of the disease on the Eastern Seaboard at this time. Instead, it may be more likely that Oma Tike’s tree has Oak Decline, which is common in southern New England and in the Mid-Atlantic States. Then again, there are many other diseases and there could be other causes.
The main thing to take away from this is the importance of proper tree maintenance. Many of the problems, like Oma Tike’s tree, start years before any problem appears. If you think there's a problem, call the tree experts - the arborists.
By the way, you won’t have to look far to find an arborist this weekend. Really. Just go to the town green on Saturday, and you’ll see plenty of them competing in the . The yearly event is sponsored by the Connecticut Tree Protective Association and features all kinds of impressive demonstrations of skill. The fun starts at 8 a.m.
New Plants 2011: Lavender Ice is the new Delosperma for 2011 from Bluestone Perennials. Oma Tike bought it for herself this season after finding out it’s a perennial and not an annual. Proven Winner’s Pretty Much Picasso is a gorgeous Supertunia with vibrant green edging on a magenta petal with a darker blue throat. Since dahlia were part of "Joy’s Garden Patch" this week, take a look at this beauty from Wynne’s Dahlias, called Wyn’s Ghostie. It’s awesome!
Oma Tike Tip: Make a big hole when you plant your shrub and trees. When you plant, make the hole as deep as the root ball and two times the width of the root ball. You can add sand to the bottom to help even out the planting. Leave the plant about an inch higher than the ground. It creates a little well around the plant when you mulch, so you do not get mulch right up to the tree or shrub.
From the Garden Bookbag:
Oma Tike’s Pick: The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible, by Edward Smith, Storey Publishing. Even if you don’t have the land, you can grow vegetables. This book has the tips and techniques that will help you.
Joy’s Pick: Gardening in Small Spaces, by Time-Life Books
Get the advice to live and grow in your small space. This rather small book packs a ton of hands-on tips and techniques, and gives you useful information on landscaping design and hardscaping, a plant dictionary, veggie gardening how-to and more.
Next Week’s Column: May Chores; New Plans for 2011; Bookbag