AND THE WINNER IS… 2017 PERENNIAL OF THE YEAR
The Perfect Perennial for Lakes Region Gardens
Asclepias tuberosa – butterfly weed
With all the ”buzz” about bees and butterflies, BUTTERFLY WEED is an excellent plant choice for the 2017 Perennial of the Year. Known for its ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for the beloved North American native Monarch butterfly, it puts out 3 months of tangerine/orange blooms on perfect little upright shrubs 24” tall and wide.
Hummingbirds, bees, beneficial insects, and other butterflies also love the flowers, which are laden with pollen and nectar. They grow best in full sun, are deer resistant, and tolerant of wet or dry soils. They are hardy to zones 3-9, and native throughout almost all of the Eastern states.
Since Asclepias tuberosa is a native prairie plant, butterfly weed is quite comfortable in meadow gardens, native plantings and wildlife sanctuaries but is finding its way into more formal to semi-formal urban gardens. Plant it in large masses, for an unrivaled display of eye-popping orange. Butterfly weed pairs well with summer blooming Phlox, Hemerocallis, Liatris, Echinacea, Salvia, and most of June/July sun-loving perennials.
The Perennial Plant of the Year showcases a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. At Miracle Farms we often chose plants on the list of past Perennial of the Year winners to be reliable bloomers year after year.
Here is the list we often choose from:
Previous PPA Perennial Plant of the Year winners:
- 2016 Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ (windflower)
- 2015 Geranium ‘Biokova’ (dwarf cranesbill, hardy geranium)
- 2014 Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (tall switch grass)
- 2013 Polygonatum odoratum variegatum (Solomon’s seal)
- 2012 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss)
- 2011 Amsonia hubrichtii (blue star)
- 2010 Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)
- 2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Japanese forest grass)
- 2008 Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (cranesbill, hardy geranium)
- 2007 Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint)
- 2006 Dianthus ‘Feuerhexe’ (aka ‘Firewitch’) (cheddar pink)
- 2005 Helleborus x hybridus (hellebore, Lenten rose)
- 2004 Athyrium niponicum pictum (Japanese painted fern)
- 2003 Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ (shasta daisy)
- 2002 Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (garden phlox)
- 2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass)
- 2000 Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ (pincushion flower)
- 1999 Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (black-eyed Susan)
- 1998 Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ (purple coneflower)
- 1997 Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (aka ‘May Night’ ) (wood sage)
- 1996 Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (beardtongue)
- 1995 Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
- 1994 Astilbe ‘Sprite’ (dwarf astilbe)
- 1993 Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’ (speedwell)
- 1992 Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (threadleaf coreopsis)
- 1991 Heuchera micrantha diversifolia ‘Palace Purple’ (coral bells)
- 1990 Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)
japanese beetle damage on roses
So one day your roses were covered in colorful blooms and then the next day… gone! Chances are the culprit is the dreaded Japanese beetle. It’s late in the season for beetle damage here in the Lakes Region, but my knock out roses are still being devoured. The telltale sign, along with an extreme lack of blooms, are skeletonized leaves and even complete defoliation. Usually, the demons can be caught in the act. Japanese beetles also love to eat rosebuds – every last one that you’ve been anxiously awaiting.
If you are unfamiliar with Japanese beetles, they have shiny, metallic green and copper colored bodies – kind of pretty in the worst sort of way. They are roughly 3/8-inch long and 1/4-inch wide.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THEM?
The best defense is a good offense. Japanese beetles are the adult stage of grubs that are found in your lawn earlier in the season. A good lawn program to control grubs applied early in the spring before the beetles emerge is your best bet. Watering, fertilizing and general good horticultural practices will also help reduce the damage caused by Japanese beetles.
Inevitably though, the beetles still come and there are a couple of options to hold the major damage at bay. Spray affected plants with a pyrethrin-based insecticide the minute you notice them. This is a safe and effective control that can be used on flowers and vegetables alike. It will help to control other pests as well. To make every effort to cause no harm to honeybees with these products, do not apply during hours when bees are actively visiting the flowers.
Neem oil is an “antifeedant”, which when used early on can be an effective tool to reduce feeding. Chances are you will have to reapply either of these options if the beetles last as late in the season as they are this year.
Another helpful, but disgusting option, is to hand pick them first thing in the morning when temperatures are cooler and they move a bit slower and drop them in a bucket of water containing one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. If you are diligent about this it is a very effective way to clear your garden of these pests.
Japanese beetle traps are helpful if you have the ability to place them far from your garden. They actually have an aromatic chemical attractant that brings them to the trap so you don’t want to hang it near the plants you are trying to preserve.
Whatever option you choose – choose something fast! Timeliness and thoroughness of application are very important in controlling the damage or at the very least, keeping it to a bare minimum.
arbor for wedding
For several years now we have been asked by clients to send our garden services crew to “freshen up” their properties for parties or other events. A crew generally goes in just before a wedding, graduation party or summer barbecue and mows the lawn, edges beds, touches up mulch where needed, and rakes beaches.
whiskey barrel accent
We often add annuals for a pop of color in the landscape. Many clients have rented colorful containers to accent areas of the yard or to enhance an area for picture taking. Give Miracle Farms a call when you’re planning your next backyard event no matter how large or small.
Mother Nature has been teasing us with some beautiful spring like weather for a month or so now here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and here’s hoping we are headed in the right direction. With the warmer temperatures and lack of snow it’s a great time to think about what we can do to get the lush green lawns we’ve been dreaming about and there’s no room in the dream for crabgrass! Crabgrass control starts with good practices that encourage the growth and health of desirable lawn grasses, as crabgrass will not invade vigorous, healthy turf. Good management is the best means of crabgrass control, and often least expensive as it will also help control other weeds and diseases.
One of the first things on the list for a healthy lawn is an application of a pre-emergent weed control just after completing a spring clean up. If your lawn tends to be spotted with yellow dandelions and crabgrass, pre-emergent weed prevention is for you. Timing is everything however; so don’t get ahead of yourself before your lawn is ready. Pre-emergent crabgrass preventer can wear off before crabgrass actually germinates if you put it down too early. Crabgrass germinates based on soil temperatures, generally around 56 to 64 degrees at the earliest.
Many professionals watch for a colorful sign in the landscape as an indicator that soil temperatures are within an adequate range for crabgrass to germinate. The sunny golden yellow of forsythia in bloom is a sure sign to move forward with your pre-emergent crabgrass control application, as they will be in full bloom just prior to crabgrass germination. Keep in mind that the herbicide will not be effective after the crabgrass is out of the ground and actively growing so keep this window in mind.
Applied in spring along with your much needed spring fertilizer, pre-emergents work by stopping weeds and crabgrass before the plants have an opportunity to germinate and grow. They work by forming a barrier over the surface where they are applied leaving the roots of established plants (such as perennials, shrubs and trees) unaffected. Be sure to keep pre-emergents away from garden beds where you may be planting seeds. You need to activate the herbicide by watering the lawn after the application. Most products call for a half-inch of irrigation (or rain) within 21 days of application.
Your lawn will grown green and healthy if it doesn’t have to compete with weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients. Apply a pre-emergent yourself or leave your weeds in the experienced hands of the “Lawn Enforcement Officers” at Miracle Farms. Contact us to schedule a free estimate for this service and any other lawn and landscape needs we can help with.
For the Lakes Region in NH, call us at 603-253-9292
The mild weather we are experiencing here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire will surely turn your thoughts to the warmer more colorful days ahead. Forcing branches to flower indoors is a great way to get in to a spring state of mind.
A tall vase of blooming forsythia branches can chase away the winter blahs. Bring a bit of spring indoors by gathering branches of flowering deciduous shrubs and trees and forcing them to bloom or leaf out early in your home.
Early native bloomers are particularly suited for indoor early forcing such as forsythia, witchhazel, and pussy willows. The closer to the actual bloom time you prune the shrub or tree branch for forcing, the faster it will bloom indoors. In late March or early April, later bloomers such as cherry, crabapple, flowering pear and dogwoods are great choices.
Follow these easy steps for success:
- Select a branch with many large, round flower buds on it. Leaf buds tend to be smaller and flatter, and lie closer to the branch. Cut the branch to about 6 to 18 inches long. Split the cut end with sharp shears or a knife. Remove any buds that would be under water.
- Once indoors, recut the stems and place them in cold water overnight to take up water and acclimate.
- Place the vase in a 60-65 degree room, out of direct sunlight. Once the buds start to show color, move to a sunnier spot and enjoy.