Monday, July 25, 2016

Drought Tolerant Plants for the Garden - A Resource Guide

Rocket larkspur (Consolida ajacis) is one of several
drought tolerant perennials for the landscape.
Selection and Use of Stress-Tolerant Bedding Plants for the Landscape
Douglas Bailey, Extension Horticulture Specialist
NCSU Horticultural Science, Published Aug. 31, 1999

What Is Stress?

Each of us are subjected to stresses and pressures every day in our home, work, and living environment; plants are no different. Unfortunately, there is no "stressless" environment, and there is no totally stress-resistant bedding plant. Each site has its stress level and each plant has its tolerance level. There are steps that can be taken to reduce or avoid stress in the landscape. However, no program can prevent all problems, and the key to successful landscape color using bedding plants is to match the particular site with specific plant species. But before you can select plants to use, the site should be accurately analyzed and characterized, and preparations should be made to minimize stress conditions that may occur.

Characterization of the Landscape Site

A site analysis for bedding plants should include
1. temperature averages for the color season,
2. amount of sunlight received daily,
3. rainfall averages and average intervals between rains, and,
4. soil characteristics such as drainage and moisture retention.

Each of these components should be further defined prior to plant selection.

See a full listing of recommended plants for each of the four conditions in the NC Cooperative Extension publication:

BOOKS: The Perennial Matchmaker: Create Amazing Combinations with Your Favorite Perennials

The Perennial Matchmaker: Create Amazing Combinations with Your Favorite Perennials
Author:  Nancy J. Ondra       
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Rodale Books (March 8, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1623365384
ISBN-13: 978-1623365387

From Amazon...

Want foolproof ideas for pairing favorite perennials with an array of harmonious plant partners but don’t know where to start? Plantswoman Nancy J. Ondra helps you to jump-start your perennial garden with her one-plant-at-a-time approach for choosing plant partners. Having spent more than 30 years growing and experimenting with perennials and plant combinations, Ondra shares her extensive experience in this in-depth guide to eye-catching color combinations, dramatic textural displays, and stunning seasonal effects.

The Perennial Matchmaker features 80 individual perennial profiles, close to 400 exquisite photographs of plant partnerships, and Ondra’s insight into the wide array of plants that make great combinations, including annuals, bulbs, grasses, shrubs, and other perennials. Each plant profile gives dozens of ideas and suggestions for pairings, including region-specific choices, Ondra’s top-choice perfect match, and an at-a-glance summary of the best color partners.

Whether you are just dreaming of your first perennial garden or are a long-time gardener who wants to elevate plantings for a more cohesive and exciting look, The Perennial Matchmaker is your go-to guide for creating stunning plant medleys.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gardeners Fair at Sarah P. Duke Gardens: Tuesday, July 19

Tuesday this week is the Gardeners Fair at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
Stop by, visit the vendors and see what good buys are available! Event is free, 6:30-8 p.m.

SEEDS Harvest Dinner Fundraiser Set: September 22

Garden Club Exclusive Offer:
Early Bird Harvest Dinner Tickets

September 22, 2016

 We greatly appreciate everything you do to make Durham a greener place. Thus, you are part of a select group to receive this early bird ticket offer.
Tickets can be purchased here

Join us on September 22 to learn how gardens change children's lives while dining under the stars with fellow SEEDS supporters.

Triangle Garden Featured in "Garden & Gun"

A jewel box garden in Raleigh, North Carolina, the residence of Greyson and Garland Tucker. See more enchanting photos
 of the Tuckers' secret garden and full story:

By John Kessler - North Carolina
Garden & Gun, August/September 2016

Greyson and Garland Tucker had plenty of room in their 1⅓-acre backyard garden in Raleigh for their daughter’s wedding. There were tents, tables, a grand expanse of parquet flooring for dancing. And when it came time to cut the cake, guests followed a shady flagstone walkway bordered by elaeagnus and osmanthus to a hidden garden. There they found a tucked-away square of green lawn surrounded by scores of flowering plants. And one bodacious wedding cake.

Inspired by gardens they’d visited in England, the Tuckers began toying with the idea of a concealed garden in the 1980s. “No one we knew had done it,” Greyson says. “We went through books and photos and had such a fun time drawing it on paper.” When they heard about the planned demolition of a nearby furniture warehouse, they asked about buying its old hand-fired brick. “The next thing we knew, we had all these bricks just dumped in our front yard.”

They had the four garden walls built with a corner dovecote, which they use as a garden shed rather than a nesting spot for birds. Then Greyson brought in six hundred kinds of plants. “I had lupine, delphinium, hollyhocks, you name it.” Now she has fewer plants, but enough variety so the garden blooms all the way from mid-May to first frost. With such an explosion of plant life inside this hidden space, it brings to mind the classic tale by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Had Greyson read it as a child? “Of course,” she exclaims. “Every girl wants a secret garden.”

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pest Spotlight: Root Rot and Phytophthora Stem Blight

Annual vinca with Phytophthora stem blight and root rot
Department of Plant Pathology Archive,

North Carolina State University,
Root rot is a common fungal infection to plants created by overwatering, excessive rains and other moisture and pH environmental factors. Learn more about the disease with information from the Clemson University Extension, publication HGIC 2108 pertaining to vinca infections of root rots.

Phytophthora Stem Blight & Root Rot: Aerial stem blight and root rot are caused by Phytophthora nicotianae and occasionally other species. Stem and branch blight frequently occurs without root rot, but root rot is involved in some cases. Dark brown to black lesions form on stems and branches, causing the portions above to wilt and die back. Symptoms of root rot include yellowing and scorching of leaves, poor growth and stunting of plants, wilting and death. Plants with root rot have reduced root systems and individual roots tend to slough off the outer tissue, leaving the inner core behind.

Prevention & Treatment: Water management is the main preventative measure. Frequent watering, even in moderate to dry sites, can make conditions favorable for development of branch blight and root rot. Annual vinca and Vinca species are fairly drought tolerant, so water only as needed. When rainfall is insufficient to supply an inch of water per week, apply deep supplemental irrigation once, or possibly twice per week, depending on soil type, exposure and weather conditions. Avoid excessive amounts of fertilizer as well. To help prevent root rot, it is also important to provide excellent drainage. When preparing a plant bed, thoroughly dig up the whole area. Adding organic materials, such as composted pine bark, to the soil will help increase drainage due to improved soil structure.

Remove and destroy infected plants. The remaining plants can be treated with a fungicide if cultural practices fail to prevent new infections from occurring. For root rot, use fosetyl-Al (Monterey Aliette) or phosphorous acid (Monterey Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide) as a soil drench. For aerial blight, use the products above, copper sulfate products (such as Bonide Copper Fungicide or Dexal Bordeaux Powder), copper ammonium complex products (such as Monterey Liqui-Cop Fungicide Concentrate or Southern Ag Liquid Copper Fungicide), copper soap (Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide, Camelot Fungicide/Bactericide Concentrate, or Natural Guard Copper Soap Liquid Fungicide Concentrate), or chlorothalonil products (such as Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide, Garden Tech Daconil Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control, Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide, Bonide Fung-onil Concentrate, or Tiger Brand Daconil). Read the label completely and apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Pythium Root Rot: The pathogen that causes this disease is closely related to Phytophthora species so root rot symptoms are similar. This pathogen doesn’t cause branch blight, only root rot and damping off of seedlings.

Prevention & Treatment: See root rot management information under Phytophthora Stem Blight and Root Rot.

Rhizoctonia Stem & Root Rot: Rhizoctonia species sometimes cause stem rots of vinca plants and seedlings. Root rots also occur, but are less commonly encountered. Plants affected by stem rot turn yellow, wilt and collapse. Death by root rot is generally slower and more subtle. Affected plants are stunted, their roots have brown lesions, leaves turn yellow and plants wilt even when soil moisture is sufficient.

Rhizoctonia stem and root rot on perennial groundcover vinca.
R.K. Jones, North Carolina State University,

Prevention & Treatment: Purchase only healthy, green plants. Inspect the roots if there are any doubts. Make sure plants aren’t installed too deeply. Apply supplemental water only as needed and water thoroughly when an application is made. Light, frequent waterings encourage the growth of stem rot pathogens because of increased humidity levels near the stem. Frequent watering can also exclude oxygen from the root zone, which encourages root rot pathogens. Remove and destroy plants that are clearly diseased, making an effort to remove all roots when root disease is present. Fungicides can be applied to the remaining plants if necessary. Products containing thiophanate methyl (such as, Cleary’s 3336-WP Turf & Ornamental Fungicide or Southern Ag Thiomyl Systemic Fungicide), chlorothalonil (such as Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide, Garden Tech Daconil Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control, Tiger Brand Daconil, or Bonide Fung-onil Concentrate), and iprodione (Rovral or Rovral 4F) can be used. Apply according to label directions.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Garden Spotlight: Ladew Topiary Gardens

The English hunt scene of Ladew Topiary Gardens of Monkton, Maryland. Photo by Ladew Topiary Gardens,
Topiary dogs of the English hunt scene of Ladew Topiary Gardens.

The extraordinary topiary gardens designed and developed by Harvey S. Ladew (1887-1976) are known throughout the world. The 22 acres of delightful gardens include more than 100 larger-than-life topiary forms which serve as backbone and centerpiece to a series of garden rooms with names such as the Rose Garden, White Garden, Yellow Garden, Garden of Eden, Sculpture Garden and Iris Garden. The life sized Hunt Scene of topiary horses, riders, hounds and a fox is one of the most famous of Ladew’s creations. Equestrian and fox hunting memorabilia, fine art and English antiques fill the circa 1747 Manor House. Ladew’s unique Oval Library appears in the book 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America. Visitors enjoy House tours, strolls through the Gardens and Nature Walk, Gift Shop and historical display.

Harvey S. Ladew

Few more colorful figures embellish American cultural history than the late Harvey S. Ladew (1887-1976). As traveler, artist, foxhunter and creator of an extraordinary garden, Ladew filled the nearly 90 years of his life richly, creatively, and above all, with great wit.

Born into privilege in New York City, Harvey Ladew spoke French before he spoke English and was treated to boyhood drawing lessons from curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1929, at the age of 43, foxhunting drew him to this property in rural Maryland.

Harvey Ladew purchased the 200+ acre Pleasant Valley Farm from the Scarff family in November 1929, which conveniently bordered The Elkridge- Harford Hunt Club. The old white farmhouse was in primitive condition- it had neither heat, electricity nor plumbing. Ladew said of his “new” house – “It was in shambles and the only garden consisted of a couple of old lilac bushes.” During the 1930s Ladew added wings to the house and renovated outbuildings before beginning work on the gardens. Then, with the help of local farmers, Ladew carved 22 acres of gardens out of fields previously used for crops and livestock and set to work transforming Pleasant Valley Farm into “the most outstanding topiary garden in America,” as described by the Garden Club of America.

Late in life, Ladew determined to find a way of preserving his creation for all to enjoy. The result is Ladew Topiary Gardens, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is “to maintain and promote the gardens, house and facilities in keeping with the creative spirit of Harvey S. Ladew for the public benefit and for educational, scientific and cultural pursuits.”

Ladew Topiary Gardens opened to the public in 1971. Since then, the Board of Trustees developed a variety of special events to assist in maintaining this uniquely beautiful historic house and gardens. Currently Ladew Gardens hosts approximately 80 annual events which include the My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase Races, Garden Festival, the Summer Concert Series, Children’s Nature Camps, Children’s Day, Christmas Open House and spring and fall educational programs.