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Archive for the ‘Seasonal Landscaping Design’ Category

When to Prune Your Hydrangea

Posted on: May 5th, 2015 by ENF , Comments Off on When to Prune Your Hydrangea

ENF Designs pruning hydrangeas

This has always been a big question…and not easily answered! It all depends on what type of this beautiful shrub you have growing in your garden. The different hydrangeas need pruning at different times so it’s important to know which variety you have. If you prune your hydrangea at the wrong time, you may affect its bloom for the season. Other reasons for a non-blooming season could be an early frost, a cold spell, or that it was planted in an unsuitable location.
If you don’t know which variety you have, by looking at the flowers and leaves you can do your best to make an educated guess. The descriptions below hopefully will help! The best chance for a beautiful blooming season is by good pruning!

Bigleaf Hydrangea – Hydrangea macrophylla (photo above)
Bigleaf hydrangeas are the species of hydrangeas that are affected by the pH in the soil. When you see those pretty blue flowers, the soil is acidic; pink flowers, the soil is alkaline. There are a few varieties whose flowers are white, so that makes it a little more difficult to identify them. The leaves on the bigleaf hydrangeas are glossy, dark green and coarsely serrated.
The bigleaf hydrangeas flower in the summer. They should be pruned after their flowers are spent, late summer into early fall, before their new buds have formed. At the same time, pruning some of the old, weaker stems will help to keep your shrub healthy and vigorous.

Peegee HydrangeaHydrangea paniculata
Peegee hydrangeas are probably the most common of all of the hydrangeas. (This variety includes tree hydrangea.) They have very large round flowers that start out white in color and slowly turn to pink. Long after the leaves have fallen off the shrub, the flowers persist on the shrub in a dried state.
The peegee hydrangeas flower in the summer but their buds have only formed that spring on new growth. You can prune gently in the late winter or early spring before the buds have formed to remove the old flower heads, groom your shrub and to encourage new growth and hopefully more flower buds.

Annabelle Hydrangea – Hydrangea arborescens
Annabelle hydrangea and its varieties have large white flowers. Its green leaves are somewhat rounded with a pointed end and whose underside is a paler color.
These hydrangeas also flower in the summer on new growth that is formed in the spring so pruning as described above will benefit these shrubs as well.

Oakleaf Hydrangea – Hydrangea quercifolia
Oakleaf hydrangea is very different than the other hydrangeas by both its flower shape and leaf shape.  The beautiful white flowers are conical is shape but the oakleaf-shaped leaves are its most treasured feature. An added bonus is the beautiful crimson color of the fall foliage.
Oakleaf hydrangea is another variety that blooms on new growth so a gentle pruning in late winter or early spring will provide what it requires for a wonderful blooming season.

Climbing Hydrangea – Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
Climbing hydrangea is actually a vine, not a shrub, and so does not follow the same regimen that the shrubs follow. Once established, it is very hardy and may only require an occasional pruning to provide you with a season of wonderful flowers!

How to Clean Up Your Landscape in Spring

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by ENF , Comments Off on How to Clean Up Your Landscape in Spring

ENF Designs spring cleanup

Now that spring is hopefully upon us to stay, it’s important to give your landscape a nice fresh pick-me-up with a good spring clean-up before any new seasonal plantings should be done.

After the last of the snow has melted and the sun has warmed up the air to that crisp spring scent, it’s time to take out your rake, your clippers and your edger.

You should begin by raking out any of the dead leaves that might’ve been missed during your fall clean-up along with any dead plantings and weeds you come across – in your beds and on the lawn. Trim from your plants any dead or broken branches that might’ve been damaged from the winter. A good way to tell live branches from dead is the color beneath the bark – if you see green color, it’s alive; brown, it’s not. (If tempted to do any pruning of any flowering plants at this time, make sure you know when it flowers and when it produces its flower buds. My November 2012 newsletter issue talked about this – if you have a question about a plant, please email me.)
Lastly, walk around the edge of your beds with your edger cutting about 4 inches into the bed. This will give your landscaped beds a nice clean look when you spread your new mulch this season.

A few important steps and your landscape will be ready for the next phase – new plantings perhaps, spring pruning, new mulch. A new year of beauty to come!

Early Spring Flowers

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by ENF , Comments Off on Early Spring Flowers

spring flowering shrub

For those of you who are, like me, just watching the snow waiting for it to melt, the following are some of the first blooms you can expect to see when spring has finally sprung!

Crocus, Daffodils, Snowdrop (Anemone) & Scilla (some varieties flower early spring)

Ground Covers:
Phlox, Vinca minor

Forsythia, Quince

Magnolia, Flowering Pear, Flowering Crabapple, Willow (pussy willows)

Pasque Flower (Anemone), Lenten Rose (Helleborus)

I know, when I see that first bright yellow glow of a forsythia in bloom, that spring is here. Yay!!

(Most of these flowers can be looked up online at: www.monrovia.com)

Why Rhododendron’s Leaves Curl in Winter

Posted on: February 14th, 2015 by ENF , Comments Off on Why Rhododendron’s Leaves Curl in Winter

20150214_RhododendronI was wondering what I would write about this month when I noticed the rhododendron in my front landscape bed. Have you noticed and wondered why your rhododendrons curl up their leaves in the winter? I thought this might be a great thing to write about and explain.

As the temperature drops in the winter months, we’re fortunate enough to be able to put on winter coats, hats, scarfs and gloves to keep warm. Our outdoor plants though have to fend for themselves in the cold, under snow and ice, withstanding harsh winter winds. As the soil freezes and it becomes more difficult for water uptake through their root systems, and above ground as the cold, dry winter air begins to sap moisture from their leaves, rhododendrons (as well as other plants) take measures to conserve their moisture.

As you probably learned in biology, plants take up moisture through their root systems and transport it upward through the plant to the trunk, branches, stems and leaves. Water is released through the leaf stomata located on the underside of the leaf. As it releases water, more comes up through the plant to that same stomata.

When the plant is stressed from the winter weather causing it to release more water than it can take up, the plant will close its stomata and live on reserves until the weather warms up again. This is what causes the leaves to look curled! When the weather warms up and “water can flow again”, the stomata will reopen and the leaves will unroll. Photosynthesizing will then resume and our beautiful rhododendron will grace us with another season of spectacular blooms!

Plants for Winter Interest

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by ENF , Comments Off on Plants for Winter Interest

ENF Designs Plants for Winter Interest

As we go into the winter months, our beautiful landscapes usually gets buried under mountains of white fluffy snow. The leaves are gone from our favorite shrubs, no more pretty flowers to look at, bare branches wave at us from our tall majestic trees.
We can be saved from total winter doldrums by inserting into our landscape certain plants that have winter charm. Whether its colorful branches, bright berries, or evergreen needles, any bit of color we can add helps to brighten an otherwise dreary scene.

For colorful branches, we have two wonderful shrubs that help to brighten the winter landscape. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus), and its many varieties, are best known for their bright red winter stems while Yellow twig Dogwood is known for its bright yellow branches. While they both lose their leaves in the fall, their branches stand out nice and bright against the snow with much appreciated color. Both of these shrubs have varieties that are deer resistant.
There are also trees with wonderful, distinctive bark that provide great interest in the winter months. Some examples of these would be European White Birch, with its white peeling bark, or Heritage River Birch, with its cinnamon-colored peeling bark.

There are many shrubs that produce berries that persist throughout the winter months and provide wonderful landscape interest.

  • Cotoneasters are small, spreading evergreen and deciduous shrubs that produce small red berries in the fall (and flowers in the spring). There are groundcover varieties as well as varieties used for small hedges. They are also deer resistant.
  • The many varieties of Holly available make it easy to fit them into our landscapes. They come in many sizes and shapes and are hardy in our cold northeast climate. If we include the varieties of Mahonia along with Ilex, the berries can be found ranging in color from white to yellow to red to blue. Most hollies retain their leaves in the winter but not all are deer resistant, so be selective when choosing a variety.
  • Pyracantha is another shrub with a beautiful profusion of berries in the winter. It’s a wonderful, large evergreen shrub with different varieties that produce orange or red berries. It’s also grown as a colorful espalier on a trellis. Its common name is Firethorn, aptly named because of its sharp thorns, but which are somewhat hidden because of its dense growing habit. Its thorns though help to make it quite deer resistant!
  • Viburnum also has many varieties, some evergreen, many deciduous, with wonderful fruiting habits.  The fruit ranges from the bright red of Cranberry Bush Viburnum to Brandywine Viburnum which has pink and blue berries on the same shrub to many other varieties which have various shades of blue berries. When choosing a variety of Viburnum, you need to check for deer resistance as it varies from shrub to shrub.

Other choices for winter berries include:

  • Barberry (Berberis sp.) – red or bluish
  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus sp.) – black
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) – red or orange
  • Juniper, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus sp.) – blue
  • Roses (Rosa sp.) – red “hips”
  • Serviceberry (Amelianchier sp.) – blue or red

Lastly, I always love to include evergreens in landscapes for their everlasting beauty. No matter what season it is, their lustrous branches lend beauty to our landscape beds. Evergreens come in various colors so our winter landscapes can be highlighted by their green, blue, grayish or golden hues.
Even covered in snow, as the photo above portrays, evergreen branches carry their burden of snow with delicacy and grace.

Fall Blooming Plants

Posted on: October 20th, 2013 by ENF , Comments Off on Fall Blooming Plants

FallBloomingPlantsENFDesignsWhenever I design a landscape, I always tell my clients that I strive to get seasonal colors into the design, whether it is with flowers or with leaf colors. With the fall upon us, we turn to the beautiful leaf colors that emerge with the cooling temperatures.
There’s another option though – fall blooming plants. The following perennials, besides being deer resistant, bloom into the fall season:

  • Anise Hyssop – Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’
  • Bolero Hyssop – Agastache ‘Bolero’
  • Butterfly Blue Pincushion Flower – Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’
  • East Friesland Meadow Sage – Salvia nemorosa ‘East Friesland’
  • Fanfare Blanket Flower – Gaillardia x ‘Fanfare’
  • Fragrant Angel Coneflower – Echinacea purpurea ‘Fragrant Angel’
  • Little Spire Russian Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’
  • Tiger Eye Gloriosa Daisy – Rudbeckia ‘Tiger Eye’

In addition, the following shrubs are also deer resistant and continue flowering into the fall season:

  • Gold Star Potentilla – Potentilla fruticosa ‘Gold Star’ (and other varieties)
  • St. John’s Wort – Hypericum calcycinum (varieties)
  • Black Knight Butterfly Bush – Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ (and other varieties)
  • Blue Mist – Caryopteris incana (varieties)

We also have our wonderful chrysanthemums and ornamental cabbage and kale that spice up our beds in the fall.

Mums can either be grown in pots or in the ground. If you grow them in the ground and want to try growing them as a perennial, cut them back after they finish blooming and mulch them well. The following year, pinch them back during the spring and summer, (stop pinching them in July), and you’ll be rewarded with bushier plants with more blooms.
The ornamental cabbages and kales can be either grown in pots or in the ground and will continue to look wonderful throughout the fall as they are tolerant of mild frosts.

Landscaping in the Fall

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by ENF , Comments Off on Landscaping in the Fall

Seasonal Landscape Design TipsThe fall is a wonderful time of year to do some landscaping and plant new trees and shrubs. With the mild days, cool nights and usual abundance of moisture, the conditions are perfect for plants to establish their root systems before the winter freeze. They will then sprout happily in the spring with the rest of the landscape!

When choosing trees at the nursery, be aware that some varieties should only be dug in the spring because of poor survival rates when dug for transplanting in the fall. Examples of these are: Beeches, Birches, Cherries, Dogwoods, Hawthorns, Magnolia, Maples, Oaks, Pears, Plums, Redbud, and Red Maples. If these varieties have been dug in the spring or were grown in a container, they will provide you with a successful fall planting. (Please check with your nursery when selecting the variety of trees.)

An interesting aspect to fall planting is that you get to observe the plant’s fall colors. We often know about the tree or shrub’s flowering characteristics – now you’ll get a true sense of all of its seasonal virtues.

If you need any help or advice, please feel free to contact me!

Happy Planting!