Oh, that poor dogwood tree! (Or, Help for Liz's new yard)

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Well, Liz, since your poor little dogwood twig seems to be alive (new growth is a VERY good sign), let's do what we can to keep it that way. Liz, meet the Virginia Cooperative Extension. They are your yard's new best friend. CE's are the same guys that foster 4H clubs, and they're generally a good source for all sorts of practical advice on home and family topics. The link above (if I did that right) should take you to the Home & Garden section of their factsheets-- check out what they have under "Trees," especially the bit on planting and caring for a new tree. There's also a sheet on how to establish a new yard, and a month-by-month guide for what to do around your yard. If you want spring flowers, now's the time to plant bulbs for them. (They tell you how to do that, too.) Give me a couple of days to consult the family gardening guru (my sister) and I can have a few really *good* beginning gardening books to recommend for you, too.

::evil grin:: Who knows...maybe by spring you'll miss having an apartment, where they do all the landscaping *for* you. ^_^

-- Karen O. (lisl_1@yahoo.com), September 13, 1999


Luckily, we have a gardening guru locally. Sara would probably be willing to come by and work on it for free. All we would have to do is indictate that there is a plant in need. *g*

(Seriously, one morning after crashing over here, she got up early enough to go and weed my garden before heading off to work. I had forgotten that we even had a garden. . . )

-- Richard A. Randall (rrandall@iname.com), September 15, 1999.

Well, my garden-guru sister responded with some book recommendations for Liz...but I think she's just gonna have to wait for her birthday to find out what they are. ^_^

It's probably too late now, but my sister *did* suggest being careful to plant your bulbs towards the *back* of your new flower beds. That way, you don't have to worry about accidentally digging them up when you plant more in the spring, and more importantly, you don't have those weedy, unsightly dying leaves after the bulb flowers die (since it's not a good idea to just rip out the greens that supply the plant with food after the flowers die, if you ever want the suckers to flower again....)

-- Karen O. (Lisl_1@yahoo.com), October 02, 1999.

It's that time of year again...spring is springing, the grass is doing grassy things, and Liz is worrying whether all that hard work she did in the fall was worth it. And here I just *happen* to be at work, with a whole shelf-full of gardening reference books....::grin::

Okay, worry one: grape hyacinths (Muscari) often send up growth when they're first planted, to establish themselves (actually, the reason you plant spring bulbs in fall before a freeze is so they can establish roots...Muscari is just a little more...umm....vigorous about it). Depending on your winter, the greens will sometimes even persist through to spring, but more often not. Muscari are also *really* darn hard to kill...in fact, once they're established, you're going to have a fun time of it if you ever *want* to get rid of them.

Worry two: your bulbs didn't sprout as quickly or as hugely as your neighbor's *because* they're just getting themselves established. The longer bulbs are in the ground, squirrelling away the energy they soak in through their leaves year after year, the bigger they get (assuming your local ground rodents don't eat them, of course). Sometimes, the bulb clusters get so large that they need to be periodically dug up and divided...you won't need to worry about that quite yet. Since this is your bulbs' first year of bloom, they'll take a little more time coming up, and won't be *quite* as full as more established plants, but they'll still be pretty. ^_^

Two things to keep in mind for the end of the blooming season: *DON'T* remove the leaves (that's how the bulb replenishes its "strength" for next year), but do snap off what remains of the flower heads after they're bloomed out. That way, all the energy the plant produces will go into storage in the bulb, instead of being wasted in going to seed.

Man, you've got little yellow heads on your daffodils already? I'm jealous! I barely have stubs poking out of the ground yet!!!

-- Karen O. (Lisl_1@yahoo.com), March 01, 2000.

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