Garden Maintenance

Brrr! What NOT to Prune in Winter

January 17, 2010 7 comments

Right now it’s major big time pruning season here in Northern Cali. I’m cutting back hardy perennials, roses, fruit and other dormant trees and ornamental grasses. But there are a few things I’m leaving alone for the time being. A lot of my favorite plants are frost-tender and can be killed by a stern frost […]

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How to Prune Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Video Tutorial)

November 30, 2009 21 comments

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a true garden classic, especially paired with ornamental grasses, lavenders and colorful sages. It’s particularly great because during the summer when everything else is blooming, its greenish-white buds are getting bigger and bigger, creating a subtly beautiful show, then as everything else slows for the fall, ‘Autumn Joy’ bursts into bloom […]

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How to Summer-Prune a Floppy Miscanthus Grass (Video Tutorial)

September 26, 2009 10 comments

I’m a big fan of ornamental grasses because they add so much motion and life to a garden. If you use multiples, they’re an easy way of bringing a sense of continuity to a busy or scattered-feeling garden, because the effect of their foliage is so soothing. Miscanthus is a favorite because it grows so […]

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How to Prune Hydrangeas (Video Tutorial)

September 12, 2009 9 comments

I love Bigleaf Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), the traditional garden Hydrangea with either big mophead flowers or the subtler lacecap flowerheads. Most gardens have a Hydrangea or two tucked in, and why not? As long as they have composty soil and get watered regularly, they make a fantastic show of blooms with very little effort on […]

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How to Deadhead Mexican Bush Sage or Salvia leucantha (Video Tutorial)

September 1, 2009 4 comments

I shot this video in December, when this Salvia was at the end of its blooming season and just starting to think about going dormant, but the advice for how to deadhead and prune it is still great for summer. Right now, many of the Mexican Bush Sages in the gardens that I maintain are […]

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Organic Gardening 101: Learning to Love What You’ve Got (How to Stop Spraying and Start Seeing Beauty Everywhere)

July 25, 2009 18 comments

We’ve been talking about how to prevent pests on roses and flowers, and how to treat them organically if you do end up with problems. Today I want to talk about one of the biggest things that keeps us from gardening organically – our expectations and attachments to a specific kind of garden or plant. […]

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How to Treat Rose and Flower Pests Naturally: Organic Control of Black Spot/ Powdery Mildew, Aphids, and Caterpillars

July 14, 2009 5 comments

If you’ve tried to prevent rose problems with the tips in this article, but still ended up with some pests (it happens!), here are the methods I recommend to get rid of pests on roses the organic way. (Obviously, before spraying anything, read the instructions on the bottle and be sure to suit up appropriately […]

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How to Treat Rose and Flower Pests Naturally: Prevention

July 12, 2009 2 comments

The introduction to this series is here. Preventing pests with good gardening habits is the first step towards having healthy roses and flowers. Healthy plants are a lot less likely to get diseases, while sickly plants become overrun by problems very quickly. Not only that, attending to the basics of a healthy garden will get […]

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How to Treat Rose and Flower Pests Naturally: Intro

July 12, 2009 2 comments

Roses can be tough to grow organically, because they’ve been so over-bred for their honking big flowers that often, breeders paid little attention to disease-resistance. So you end up with these great frankenflowers that look fantastic – until midsummer when the black spot, caterpillars, and aphids move in. But – I admit it – I […]

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How to Kill Thrips Organically on Rhododendrons and Other Plants

June 27, 2009 10 comments

Thrips are a tiny sucking insect that pester Rhododendrons (particularly many older varieties) and Azaleas, some evergreen Viburnums, Photinia, and occasionally other plants in the coastal Pacific Northwest. You can tell you have them because your ordinarily green leaves will develop a silvery sheen on them, while the undersides of the leaves will get little […]

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