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Fall 2013 Mary's Plant Farm Newsletter
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“When skies pour out their blessed store, and I’ve not toiled in vain.
You’ve got to be a gardener to appreciate the rain.”

   What a wonderful summer of nice temperatures, flowing breezes and rain when we’ve needed it. For the past two years we have needed a pick axe to break the ground to start digging the spring peony orders for fall planting. Peonies should not be dug till after September 1st. To quote one garden writer “I always start September 1st at 9:00 am, as I like a leisurely breakfast.” Peonies will not bloom the first year if dug at other times. And the plants should never have less than three eyes (shoots that become stems) or more to bloom well.

   During August, I move to the lower terrace for my afternoon breaks because it is shadier. Sitting there I can view the filled containers I’ve planted for summer color beneath the larger copper beech. The containers give me summer bloom since the tree roots do not allow enough room for summer perennials. The bulbs, ferns and wildflowers that I planted there before the tree roots got so thick do well in the spring and the ferns are at the beds edge. I don’t believe all gardeners realize how many great plants can grow in dry shade. I had planted a Thujopsis in a large terra cotta (actually cement stained terra cotta so it can stay out all winter) container at the back entrance for two years. It has touches of white on its green flatten evergreen foliage. This area gets full morning sun and no matter how much I watered, the tips of the foliage burned. Most evergreens require some sun, but in researching it I found out that Thujopsis is a shade lover and tolerates drought. So this spring I had it moved to the end of the sidewalk under the copper beech. Its leaves deflect the sun and water and the evergreen is lovely this season. I have to water the other containers filled with cannas, callas, impatiens, red dragon wing begonia, ferns and the lovely large spotted yellow leaf farfugium. These pots will be moved to an attached garage or basement for the winter allowing the bulbs and ferns to go dormant and all I have to do is replace the annual impatiens and begonia for the next season. Other evergreens that prefer shade are Alberta spruce, paper bark pine with its exfoliating bark and Cephalotaxus harringtonia that looks similar to a taxus yew, but is not. It is slow growing and I’ve got it planted under a huge spruce competing with tree roots and little water. There is also an upright version planted there with touches of gold foliage C. ‘Ogon’. Its companions in this shady dry area are buxus (boxwood), hellebore, and epimediums. When I think of the boxwood I’m reminded of the Buxus s. ‘Green Pillow’ we shipped to a customer. He contacted us after checking with the boxwood society on how and where to plant them, saying that they told him that boxwood could not be planted under his pines. Sherri told him to loosen the burlap that covered the roots as they were shipped B&B and see the pine needles on top of the soil. They were dug from the stock we grow under our pines in dry shade. So much for the boxwood society. That’s why I dropped my membership years ago. I disagreed with most of what they say. A group of tree enthusiast came to tour last summer and saw my Buxus ‘Harlandi’, and were astonished saying that it doesn’t grow here. Well, it’s been here for years and is facing NW in the winter and it is three foot tall. My motto always was, "You have to grow it, to know it."

  This spring we got so many requests for oriental poppies as customers admired the clumps in my gardens. The ones in the nursery sales area sold out quickly. I believe that oriental poppies, like peonies should be planted in the fall. So we will have two varieties of poppies potted and ready for customers to plant now. This summer we have received so many comments from customers who have come to see what could be planted in their gardens for summer color. Most only see the spring bloom, and did not realize how the gardens change with summer and fall blooming plants. The late spring to summer blooming allium varieties were gorgeous around the roses in the north border. The daylilies out did themselves from the first of June and are still going strong with late Aug/Sept blooming varieties and some have rebloomed three times and I’m not talking about that little Stella thing. The huge clumps of Lycoris (magic lilies) are taking up the spots of where the Allium were, and the roses keep on blooming with nearby phlox, Aster ‘October Skies’, Chrysanthemum rubellum, Verbena ‘Bonharensis’ and helianthus to name a few.

   It is almost Sept. and how quickly the summer flies. I have a feeling we may have an early fall. The leaves on the burning bushes are turning red and many of the cercidiphyllum (Katsura) leaves have lost color and are falling. And to top it off a wooly worm crossed my path. He was all brown, no black, which bodes well for the winter. Many of my customers have deer problems, but I have rabbit problems. I think that we have had at least three Warrens (litters) this year and we still have small ones running around. They chewed off all the peppers and ruined the cutting garden, often chewing plants off leaving the cuttings. They loved the florist type asters, eating them to the ground. The Rudbeckia ‘Cherokee’ were left as they must not have liked the fuzzy foliage. I think these rudbeckia with the extremely double blooms and gorgeous colors are the best I’ve ever grown.
   I need to remind you to visit this fall and see the color and fall blooming colchicum, sternbergia etc. etc. etc. We will again have our Lycoris squamegeri (magic lilies) bulbs selling at wholesale prices. All of the spring and fall blooming bulbs will arrive from Holland by the second week of September for fall planting. Many are unusual varieties and we will help you select bulbs that can give you bloom from January through summer to fall. There is nothing better than seeing blooming bulbs coming through the snow to let you know spring is around the corner. Sherri is listing large trees and shrubs for fall digging from the field and customers are tagging their selections for fall planting. It is an old saying but remember ‘FALL IS FOR PLANTING’. We all like to plant in the spring, but remember that fall planting allows the roots to mature while the plant is dormant, and you don’t have to worry about watering during the winter months. And you can’t enjoy spring bulbs unless you plant them in the fall..

   It may be early, but think about Christmas & Holiday gifts by checking out our gift shop. We still have a good selection of brass garden plaques and pewter wind chimes at 25% off. These are all ‘Made in the USA’, and would be ideal for any gardener. Also, all gardening books are 40% off. In addition we will have our colorful dried seasonal herb and decorator wreaths for your home or for gift giving. Fall Seminar: Hyper Tufa Trough Class – October 5th, 10 a.m. Materials and instruction are included to make a 12” or 16” trough with your choice of mold shape. Pre-paid fee $35.00 per person. (513) 894-0022

Good and Happy Gardening,

Summer & Fall Hours: 
Tues. Sat. 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
İMary Harrison