Gardening with Melinda: Plant easy-care daffodils now for added spring beauty

Photo by Longfield-Gardens.com Unique daffodil varieties like Lingerie offer double flowering.

Photo by Longfield-Gardens.com
Unique daffodil varieties like Lingerie offer double flowering.

By Melinda Myers

Daffodils have a cheery presence in the spring garden and are a surefire way to chase away the winter blues. These fall-planted bulbs are also reliable perennials that require no maintenance and are not bothered by deer or other pests. The National Garden Bureau has declared 2017 the Year of the Daffodil, and with the fall planting season right around the corner, now is the time to choose your favorites.

Yellow trumpet daffodils are classics, but there are many other flower styles and colors to choose from. Double-flowering types like white and yellow Lingerie and long lasting lemon-yellow Sherbourne feature multiple rows of petals and some varieties look more like peonies than daffodils.

Multi-flowering varieties like Beautiful Eyes, display several flowers on each stem. This variety’s white and orange blossoms have a gardenia-like fragrance. Miniature Continue reading

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Gardening with Melinda: Proper tree planting and care is critical to survival

The GreenWell water saver contains and concentrates the water where it is needed during a tree’s critical root establishment phase.

The GreenWell water saver contains and concentrates the water where it is needed during a tree’s critical root establishment phase.

By Melinda Myers

Whether planting a tree to add seasonal beauty, grow backyard fruit, provide a bit of shade, or reduce energy costs, it’s a big upfront investment.  Make the most of your money spent by giving your tree its best chance at survival with proper planting and care.

Now is a great time to plant trees. Cooler air temperatures make it less stressful on newly planted trees and the gardeners planting them.

Select a tree suited to the growing conditions. Make sure it tolerates the sunlight, soil and temperature extremes. Check the tag for the mature height and spread. You’ll have a better-looking plant that always fits the space with minimal pruning.

Plant it correctly to insure your tree thrives for many years to come. Dig a Continue reading

One Simple Step Can Improve the Health and Vigor of Your Lawn

Fall lawn fertilization is the first step in growing a healthy lawn next year.

Fall lawn fertilization is the first step in growing a healthy lawn next year.

By Melinda Myers

Do just one thing this fall and you can improve the health and vigor of your lawn.  Fall fertilization helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer and provides needed nutrients to grow deeper roots and a denser stand of grass. And that means fewer weeds and a healthier lawn that’s more resistant to drought, insects and diseases.

Fertilize around Labor Day as the temperatures begin to cool and lawns start spreading outward instead of growing upward. Continue to leave clippings on the lawn. They return nutrients, moisture and organic matter to the soil.  Consider it free fertilizer applied every time you mow the lawn.

One fall application will give low maintenance lawns the nutrient boost they need. You’ll have a healthier lawn with minimal care.

Increase the quality and improve the lawn’s ab Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Add extra appeal with garden art

Gardener’s Supply Company The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

Gardener’s Supply Company
The Kaleidoscope Tomato Cage provides a sturdy support for tomato plants while adding color to the landscape

By Melinda Myers

Adding excitement to your garden is easy.  You can create instant, year-round color, structure, motion and fun to your landscape with a bit of garden art.

Just like shopping for plants, look for pieces that complement your gardening style. And consider all the benefits each piece of art provides. Many pieces are functional as well as beautiful, helping you get the most from your garden budget.

In centuries past, garden art included statues of gods and beautiful people as well as pieces that mimicked nature’s ornamental qualities. You can still find those traditional garden statues. But these days you will also find colorful pieces made from a variety Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Harvesting, Storing and Preserving Herbs from the Garden

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

Photo credit: Bonnie Plants
Harvesting and preserving herbs allows you to enjoy fresh-from-the-garden flavor all year long.

By Melinda Myers

Enjoy herbs all year round. Harvest herbs now for garden-fresh meals and preserve a few for the winter ahead.

Snip a few leaves or leaf-covered stems as needed. For the same intensity of flavor, you generally need two to three times more fresh herbs than dried except for Rosemary which has an equally strong flavor fresh or dried. Continue harvesting herbs as needed throughout the growing season. And don’t worry about harming the plant because regular harvesting encourages new growth which means more for you to harvest. Just be sure to leave enough foliage to maintain plant growth.

You can remove as much as fifty percent of the foliage from annual herb plants. This is about when the plants near their final height.  You can remove up to one third from established perennial plants that have been in the garden for several months or more. Harvest when the plant has formed buds, but before they open into flowers for the greatest concentration of flavor. This is the perfect time to Continue reading

Gardening: Bring in the birds this winter

Photo credit – Gardener’s Supply Company

Photo credit – Gardener’s Supply Company

By Melinda Myers

Brighten your winter days by inviting birds into your landscape. Their beauty and motion help enliven the garden and lighten your spirit. Not only do they provide entertainment, but also an opportunity for all ages to stay involved with nature year-round.

Increase the number of visitors to your yard by including all the essentials these winged visitors need; food, shelter and water.

Plants are the easiest way to bring birds into your landscape. These natural feeders provide seasonal food and shelter for the birds. Take a walk through your yard and look for trees, shrubs and perennials that provide food and evergreens that provide year-round shelter.  Plan on adding a few of their favorites that provide food and shelter and seasonal beauty you can enjoy. Continue reading

New garden feature at www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

https://birdsofnewengland.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/fawn.jpg

Photo by Melinda Myers, LLC
Deer damage can be devastating to vegetable and flower gardens, making fencing, repellents and other tactics essential.

I’m happy to introduce a new feature and page for http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

It’s a garden column from Melinda Myers, a well-known gardener and columnist. I have read her garden column in Birds and Blooms for years. Her columns will appear from time to time with permission on http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com.

Here’s the first one. I hope you enjoy this occasional series.

Five Ways to Protect Your Garden from the Deer
By Melinda Myers

Don’t let your vegetable and fall flower gardens succumb to hungry deer. Even if you’re lucky enough to be deer-free now, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage as these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine. Here are five tactics to help you in the battle against these hungry animals.

Fencing is the best, though not always practical, way to control deer. Install a 4- to 5-foot-high fence around small garden areas. This is usually enough to keep out deer that seem to avoid small confined spaces.  The larger the area, the more likely deer will enter. Some gardeners report success surrounding their garden or landscape with strands of fishing line set at 12” and 36” above the ground.

Low voltage electric fencing or posts baited with a deer repellent are also options. Just be sure to check with your local municipality before installing this type of fencing.

Scare tactics are less effective on deer in urban environments. They are used to human scents and sounds. Many gardeners report success with motion sensor sprinklers. As the deer passes in front of the motion sensor it starts the sprinkler and sends them running. Just be sure to turn off the sprinkler when you go out to garden.

Repellents that make plants taste or smell bad to deer can also help.  You will find products containing things like garlic, hot pepper oil, and predator urine.  Apply them before the animals start feeding for the best results. And reapply as directed on the label. Look for products like Deer Ban (summitchemical.com) that are easy to apply, odorless and last a long time.

Include deer resistant plants whenever possible. Even though no plant is one hundred percent deer-proof, there are those the deer are less likely to eat. Include plants rated as rarely or seldom damaged by deer.  And be sure to provide additional protection if you include plants known to be frequently or severely damaged.

Constantly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the methods used.  Deer often change their feeding location and preferred food. And if the populations are high and the deer are hungry, they will eat just about anything. Be willing to change things up if one method is not working. Using multiple tactics will help increase your level of success.

So don’t let hungry deer stop you from gardening.  Be vigilant and persistent and send them elsewhere to dine.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including  Small Space Gardening  and the  Midwest Gardener’s Handbook . She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything:  Food Gardening For Everyone ” DVD set  and the nationally syndicated  Melinda’s Garden Moment  TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for  Birds & Blooms  magazine and was commissioned by Summit Responsible Solutions for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com.