‘IT’S ENDLESS,” plantsman Michael Dodge of Vermont Willow Nursery was saying over the phone the other day, alluding to the possibilities of the genus Salix—the willows to which he has been devoting the recent chapter of his impressive horticultural career. We narrowed it down to some best-of willow selections from more than 150 in his collection—best willows for outsmarting deer; winter interest; abundant flowers and even best for making honey if you’re a beekeeper—and I also got a brutal tutorial on willow pruning (also known as coppicing) to share with you. [read more…]
How to prune: fruit-tree pruning, when to prune trees and shrubs, how to prune viburnum, hydrangea, roses and more.
I OPENED THE DOOR to the barn yesterday and could almost hear them calling out to me: “Rusty; I’m getting rusty in here, Margaret.” And: “I’m not feeling too sharp right now.” Oh, dear. I called a tool-savvy friend for a refresher course on tool-care—just five easy tips I think I can commit to this year. [read more…]
WANT TO SUCCEED with blueberries? Ask the guy with a Ph.D. in the subject, author of all the best books on home-garden fruit growing: Lee Reich, the guest on my latest public-radio show—and the speaker at the May 11 Open Day here at my Hudson Valley, New York, garden. That’s Lee’s blueberry “gazebo” up top. All the delicious details…along with how to grow blueberries (in print or the podcast) and two chances to win Lee’s book “Grow Fruit Naturally.” [read more…]
ONE OF MY FAVORITE lines ever in a garden book: vintage Christopher Lloyd, the late daring plantsman of Great Dixter in England, in his Clematis manual. “An unpruned Clematis looks like a disemboweled mattress—a painful sight,” he wrote. Indeed. Yet so many of us go into denial and paralysis mode when approaching our beloved vines during spring cleanup. “Now what was I supposed to do with this one?” we say, scratching our heads while not-so-accidentally turning away to some other task, and leaving the botanical sprung mattress innards just hanging there. Boing! I asked Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery, a.k.a. gardenvines.com, to help me (us!) get past our “pruning fears and misconceptions,” as he calls them. The story, plus pruning diagrams and a podcast full of more vine-growing tips. [read more…]
THE FRUIT EXPERT LEE REICH came to my open garden day this June, which was a happy surprise—and also a moment of terror. “Nice fig tree,” he said, and for a moment there, I felt so proud. “But what will you do with it this winter?” Uh-oh, a leading fruit guru who gardens in the same zone as I do thinks the tree’s a goner. Gulp. Now nights are getting colder, and it’s time for me to start the process to (hopefully) prove Lee wrong. So how will I overwinter a potted fig tree in Zone 5B? [read more…]