Contrary to popular belief around these parts, I’m not always out digging in the dirt. I do spend some time reading, in print and online. So I thought perhaps I’d share with you some bits and pieces of horticultural information, tips and hints that I’ve come across over the winter. Some are things that are new to me, some are things that keep cropping up over time and some are downright curious. Herewith are some examples.
I recently read an interview with a clematis grower on Margaret Roach’s “A Way to Garden” blog, and he recommended feeding your clematis with rose food. I had never heard this before, but apparently the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratio in rose food is exactly what clematis need and like. I therefore went around the garden intending to feed all of my clematis with rose food but, after feeding my roses first, started to run out — and was in no mood to go buy more. This will be an experiment instead; I fed a number of clematis in one location in my yard with Rose-Tone and fed the rest with a product called Flower-tone. Both are organic granular fertilizers made by Espoma. I’ve used their products for years with good success. We’ll see who does better as the season progresses.
For years now, I’ve been continually seeing articles on container gardening, which is becoming ever more popular for many reasons. For the apartment dweller with a balcony, for instance, containers allow for growing fresh produce, herbs and other plants, assuming sufficient sunlight, of course. For those of us who have entered the downsizing phase of life, containers in a patio-style home, condo or townhouse allow you to keep on gardening in a more manageable way. Hand in hand with this goes the great news that the seed companies have been paying attention. There are now container-sized versions of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, melons, etc. Pick up a seed catalog and be amazed at the offerings.
I am on a Facebook group called Planet Peony, and as you might expect from the name, we all grow peonies — some merely as gardeners, some as professional growers. Members are from all over the world, and it’s highly interesting and informative. Case in point — a member from the Netherlands posted a photo of one of his peony plants that he said was minus the four flower buds he’d waited several years to see. The reason? He claimed that a bird had nipped them all off, likely to impress a female. He also thought that it was a magpie, and I remember reading that they’re notorious thieves. I had never heard of such a thing — very, very curious indeed!
Susan Krobusek trained as a master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension. She’s been part of the Mansion Floral Design team at Sonnenberg Gardens for over 20 years and is a charter member of the Sonnenberg Garden Club. She graduated from FLCC in 2004 in ornamental horticulture, and was the school’s 2013 Outstanding Horticulture Alumni Achievement Award honoree.