Memorial day is to honor our fallen soliders, past and present

American Soldier - Toby Keith
American Soldier - Toby Keith
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The spring flowering Dogwood



The king of the spring-flowering trees is the dogwood; from Florida north to Massachusetts, this is the most loved of all spring-flowering trees. This tree reminds me of the South with all of its beauty, the feathery strands of Spanish moss growing between its flowers on its branches. What would the Masters Golf Tournament be without all of these beautiful white and pink flowering dogwood trees creating a canopy of color over all those beautiful azaleas? If you have a garden with a bit of shade, the spring-flowering dogwood is the tree for you. When spring arrives, you too can enjoy the wonderful flowers of your dogwood as they brighten your garden as the trees of the Masters Golf Tournament do.


Have you ever heard of the legend of the dogwood? The dogwood of the past was a tree, larger than the mighty oak of today, that grew in the Middle East. It was valued for its strong wood, thick trunk and fine lumber but it did not flower then. The Romans chose this tree for the lumber to make the cross for the crucifixion of Christ. The dogwood was so distressed to be used for this purpose that it felt ashamed, and when Christ was nailed to the cross he could sense this. Jesus told the tree that "Because of your regret and pity for my suffering you will never grow large enough to be used for this purpose again. You shall grow slender, bent, and twisted and you shall blossom like no other tree with flowers to remind everyone this entire event. Your flowers will form a cross with two long and two short petals. The center of the outer edge of each petal will have a marking of a nail, stained like blood. In the center of the flower will be the crown of thorns worn on my head for all to see and remember this day." Take a minute today and look at the flowers on the tree, and you will better understand the legend of the dogwood tree.


The spring flowering dogwood will grow 20 to 25 feet tall and just as wide. The branches are smooth and dull gray; as the tree matures, they will become rough and almost scaly. The branches develop low on the tree and often grow very horizontal with a flat or rounded top. The growing habit is unique and distinctive, making the plant also very noticeable during the winter months because of its growing habit and appearance. If you're looking for something unusual for your garden, look at the weeping dogwood often found at larger nurseries. The branches seem to grow in layers, are very strong, and look like open arms inviting you to look at the flowers. The leaves grow 3 to 6 inches long, are oval with a point on the tip and the margins are a bit wavy. The leaves are deep green during the year but in the fall turn bright crimson red, lasting many weeks before falling from the tree. Today you can also find some varieties of dogwood with variegated foliage growing in milder climates.

The flowers form in April and last well into May and depending on the variety can be pure dusty white, soft pink and reddish-pink. The flowers have four petals that will grow 3 to 4 inches in diameter with a cluster of yellow polling sacks arranged in a circle in its center. As the flowers begin to fade, streaks of pink color will form in the wavy lines in the center of the petals just before they begin to fall. In warmer climates, you can also find double-flowering varieties with many flower petals.


If the bees visit your trees and do their job properly, the flower will be pollinated and a fruit will form where the flower once set on the branch of the tree. The fruits are bright red when ripe in September and will last on the tree until the birds eat them during the winter months. Each fruit will grow about an inch long and resembles a jelly bean; they sometimes grow in clusters on the tree. The fruits are noticeable on the tree during the winter until the birds eat them.


If you want to grow the spring-flowering dogwood in your yard, choose a location with a bit of shade if possible, but it will also grow in full sun. The tree does prefer a soil that is on the acidic side and one rich with organic matter but it must be well drained and there should never be any standing water around the plant. If planted in full sun, be sure to water the tree during the hot dry days of summer, as this is the time the tree is making flower buds for the following spring. When it's young, I would suggest that you make a large planting bed around the base of the plant 3 to 4 feet in diameter, add bark mulch 2 to 3 inches thick over the soil and plant flowers. If you do this, you will water and fertilize the flowers and the tree at the same time. This will help the tree to become established in your yard much faster and will also help it make flowers earlier in its life--and more of them. Trees grown in full sun will grow thicker and much fuller in appearance, causing them to lose some character, unlike those grown in partial shade.


When you plant your dogwood, always use compost and mycorrhizae microbes to help the roots form quickly. If the tree is over 6 feet tall, the tree should also be staked for the first year to prevent root damage during the winter by the winds. The white dogwood is stronger than the pink varieties of dogwood, so be sure to plant the pink varieties in a sheltered area away from the winds of winter. Growing up in Massachusetts we planted a white and a pink dogwood on my parents' front lawn and during a normal winter both trees had flowers in the spring. If we had a windy and cold winter the pink dogwood had many flower buds that dried out and never opened or the partially opened with only two of the four petals showing color. The spring-flowering dogwood buds have no covering on them, just the four petals folded over each other; that is why some years they dry out and fail to flower. If this happens to your trees, spray the buds in the fall with an antidessicant like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop in October.


Fertilize in the spring with Holly-Tone or a loving plant food. When you apply lime to your lawn, keep it away from the planting bed. This is a great tree for adding to your landscape if you do not have one already. Plant the spring-flowering dogwood as a specimen on the corner of your home, in the middle of your lawn or, better still, in groups at the end of your property for a show of spring color in a planting bed with perennials or spring-flowering bulbs. Dogwoods do not like road salt, so keep them away from the side of the road or your driveway if you use salt during the winter.


If you have tall-growing pines, oaks, and maples that had their branches cut back to let in some sunlight to your yard, scatter small dogwoods here and there under them for a natural woodland look to your property. This dogwood will grow well in the same area as rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurel, and when they are planted together, your property will look like the golf course where the Masters tournament is played. Dogwoods look wonderful if you place upward-facing night lighting under them--the shadows will be wonderful in the summertime as well as during the winter. Enjoy!




Bottlebrush or Fothergilla



If you're looking for something unusual to plant in your garden this year that will catch the eyes of your friends and neighbors, look no further than the fothergilla. Of all the shrubs and trees I have seen in my many years of gardening, this plant stands out because of the flowers it makes in the springtime during April and May. The flowers are white and fragrant a real bonus. Each flower cluster will grow 1 to 2 inches long and about 1 inch wide, not very large, but it is shaped like a baby bottle brush used to clean the used bottle. Each flower petal is 1/2 to 3/4 inches long and tubular, with a tiny opening on the tip that is the thickness of a round tooth pick--delicate.


When the plant is in full bloom, it will look like a Fourth of July firework display on the plant. It is very unusual and the white color of the flowers is bright and showy. As the flower petals begin to form and open, they begin as a green-yellow thread that quickly turns white. The flowers form on the tips of the branches of the plant before the foliage develops and last well until the leaves form on the plant or longer. The best flowers are on plants grown in full sun but if the plant does get some shade, they are still nice, just not as plentiful. Fothergilla will flower every year no matter what the winter weather was like.


The foliage of this plant is also special; each leaf will grow 1 to 3 inches long and about 1 inch wide. It looks like a fat oval leaf with a somewhat blunt tip, and smooth-to-toothed leaf edge, depending on variety. The leaf is dark blue-green and some hybrids are almost blue--in the shade less blue and more green because of less sunlight. In the fall, more magic for your garden, as the foliage will turn yellow, orange, and red on each leaf at the same time. The color is more brilliant in full sun than in part shade, but still beautiful. The color lasts a long time on the plant, and it changes with the colder weather and frost during the fall season.


Fothergilla will do best in a soil rich in organic matter. The more peat moss or compost you add when you plant, the better the plant will grow for you. If your soil is sandy, dig a big hole, remove the sand and backfill with top soil that has been conditioned with compost, animal manure or peat moss. Acidic soil is best for this plant, so be sure to keep lime products away from the plant. Plants like a moist soil to grow in; adding bark mulch on the garden after planting will help retain moisture around the plant during the heat of summer. If your soil has clay in it, it's O.K.--but the plant will not tolerate standing water around its roots. Plant the fothergilla in a raised planting bed if drainage is a problem in your garden. This plant will also grow very well on the side of a sloping hill or embankment to keep the plant happy and healthy.


The branches of this plant seem to all come out of the ground individually in a cluster when the plant is young, and do not branch out until it matures. These branches are strong, upright-growing and gray. The plant grows thick with these branches. When the flowers fade, no fruit or cone will form on the plant. The winter shape is not special, but the plant can tolerate lots of snow on it because of the upright branching and has little to no winter damage. Fothergilla will do well in a climate with -20 degree temperature and grows throughout most of New England and south to Florida.


Fothergilla was not grown much as a landscape plant when I first started to work in the nursery industry during the 60's. In the past 20 years, the plant has created much interest because of its flowers, foliage and hardiness; it can now be found in many nurseries.


Use this plant in a foundation planting around your home, mixed in deciduous shrub beds with quince, forsythia, and the early-flowering Rhododendron mucronulatum or in mass planting with evergreen shrubs that flower at this time of the year, like 'P.J.M' rhododendrons, azaleas and hollies. This plant will make a wonderful background hedge when planted behind the perennial flower garden to draw entrees to your bleeding hearts, hellebores and spring flowering bulbs. In the fall with its yellow, orange and red foliage the plant will add extra excitement to that fall flowering mum growing in your garden.

Fothergilla will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and just as wide if pruned regularly as it finishes flowering. This is the best time of the year to prune the plant and help stimulate more flowers for next spring. If not pruned each year, the plant can grow up to 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. If you can prune every year, the plant will develop a mushroom cap-like appearance making it formal; not pruning it will let it open up, giving it a wild or more natural look.


If you like a taller growing variety, look for fothergilla major, as it will grow 6 to 10 feet tall and wide--if not pruned, often it can grow as tall as 15 feet. This taller growing variety is a bit hardier and will do very well in exposed area with lots of wind, weather, and temperatures to -30 degrees. The flowers are also larger--2 inches plus long and 1 .75 inches wide. If you like the size and shape of the burning bush/Euonymus alatus and where you live it is no longer available, this would be a good plant for you to substitute for it. It will make a great hedge; its fall color is more orange but just as outstanding to look at in the fall, with the bonus of spring flowers that the burning bush does not have.


Fertilize in the spring with Holly-Tone or Protilizer from Natural Alternative. Again, keep lime products away from the plant or you will have fewer flowers on the plant in the spring. The plant will attract butterflies and early hummingbirds because of the shape of the flowers, and early honey bees do love the fragrance of the flower and its nectar. Cut some of the taller growing stems and place the branches in a vase of water for wonderful cut flowers for the kitchen table. Enjoy!!
David Ball - Riding with Private Malone

David Ball

 Riding with Private Malone

Spring flowering Pear Tree


When spring finally arrives, one of the most anticipated events is the disappearance of the snow on the ground and the arrival of warmer weather. The grass begins to turn green and our spring-flowering bulbs poke out of the ground with wonderful flowers. Not to be outdone, our trees also wake up with their branches filled with flowers to brighten up our gardens and to help motivate us to get back into our gardens and work with the soil again. No tree does a better job to get us back into the garden than the flowering pear, when its branches are covered with hundreds of snow white flowers for several weeks in the early spring.


Did you know that the flowering pear of today is the result of an experiment that failed? More than fifty years ago, the fruiting pear tree was having and is still having a problem with a disease called "fire blight," bacteria that will turn the new growth black almost overnight and kill that growth just as fast. The idea was to develop disease-resistant varieties by using breeding stock to help make plants resistance to the disease. The experiment failed but the resulting plants that were developed brought us a new flowering tree for our landscape use.


Today "fire blight" is treated with a fungicide called Bordeaux Mix that was developed in France to help prevent people from stealing grapes on plants that grew on the side of the road as they walked by the vineyards. Bordeaux Mix made the grapes taste bitter until washed and people stopped picking the grapes. The new people-repellent was also, to the wine growers' surprise, a wonderful disease preventer on the foliage and helped the plant produce more grapes with fewer problems.

The flowering pears are trees that grow grow broad and pyramidal. This shape made the plant perfect to use as a street tree, along the border of a parking lot, and perfect to plant in the grass strip between the street and the sidewalk. The branches grow upright so they do not interfere with cars parking near them and people walking on the side walk. These plants were also perfect for smaller yards and gardeners who wanted flowering trees. Unlike many of the flowering crabapples tree varieties, these flowering pear trees have no foliage diseases and the plants' foliage looked good all year long without spraying, so their popularity grew quickly.


Flowering pears have dense-growing branche, and when the foliage forms on the plant, it will be very thick and often difficult to see through, making a wonderful tall-growing, narrow wind break or sound barrier tree. The foliage is shiny, 1.5 to 3.5 inches long and wide, dark green, oval with a pointed tip and it often has a wavy leaf margin, giving it much character. In the fall, the dark green foliage will turn shiny orange to red in color and last on the tree for several weeks before falling.

In the spring the plant will be covered with small, snow white flowers 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter that grow in bunches on the branches. These flower buds begin pale pink first, before changing to a white flower; before the flowers change to all white, the two colors are very noticeable on the plant. The new leaves begin to form as the flowers start to open but do not distract from the plant and most of the time are not noticeable.


The entire tree is covered like a snow storm with white fluffy snow; these flowers will last for several weeks before falling to the ground, covering it like new fallen snow. The tree is often visited by honey bees in the spring when they are busily gathering pollen to make new honey after the long winter. The flowers are not easily blown off the tree like the flowering cherry's are with a good spring rain storm. The color stays fresh and clean right up to the time they fall from the tree.

Some varieties will make a small fruit, pea to marble size but the fruit does not create a mess in your yard or side walk like the flowering crabapples will make. Birds and small animals will eat the fruit during the winter, so if you're looking for a clean tree, this is for you. The bark of the tree is green-gold when young but will mature to gray with time. Small spots are also noticeable on the branches, like freckles on a redheaded child. The bark is smooth and often shiny--especially when young. The color of the bark and the interesting branching structure makes the plant nice to look at even during the gray days of winter.


Flowering pears will grow best in a rich humus soil with moisture during the summer, but once established will do well in any soil as long as it is well drained. Flowering pear, when used as a small street tree, will tolerate road salt--a real plus when you want color on the side of the road.


As with any new planting, be sure to add compost and animal manure when you set out your tree in your yard. If your soil is on the sandy side use Soil Moist granules to help hold moisture around the newly developing roots to help get it off to a good start and add mycorrhizae to speed up root development. Mycorrhizae will increase the new growth on plants that do not seem to be growing as quickly as you want them to. Look for Natural Alternative Protilizer or  Ideal Organix Mycorrhizae at your local garden center--not sold in box stores.


Flowering pears will normally grow 25 to 35 feet tall and 20 to 25 feet wide but new narrow-growing varieties are now available that stay just less than 15 feet wide--great to use as sidewalk trees or to create a wall of privacy in narrow areas between homes or buildings. The tree does best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade in the summer. If planted in a lot of shade, you will not get as bright a fall color and the plant will not grow as thick as it would in the sun.


Insect and disease problems are few and the plant requires little to no maintenance during the year. If you can fertilize in the spring and fall when young, with Plant Tone fertilizer or Turf Trust shrub and tree fertilizer , you will see more growth, and the feedings will help produce more flowers the following spring. Always make a mulch barrier 3 to 4 feet in diameter around the plant to prevent damage when mowing or weeding; use bark mulch 3 inches thick to control weeds and help hold moisture around the roots during the heat of summer.


Check with your local nursery for the new varieties and for the size you want the plant to grow, especially if you want narrow growing types. Flowering pear will make a wonderful gift for Memorial Day. Enjoy!



"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds"
Will Rogers
Ballard of the Green Berets - SSGT Barry Sadler

Ballard of the Green Berets -

 SSGT Barry Sadler



DoubleFile Viburnum - Tomentosum



The month of May is filled with beautiful flowering shrubs and trees and if you had to pick just one plant to add to your garden this year, it would be a difficult choice for most of us to make. I want to make a suggestion of a plant for you to consider if you're making such a choice. The plant that I know you will love to add to your garden is called the Doublefile Viburnum, and for just one reason, because every year it will get more beautiful! This Viburnum, when young, has no real appeal, no pizzazz, but in just a couple of years in your garden it will quickly become your favorite. This plant has it all, and in just a couple of years in your garden, you will see flowers, fruit, fall color, and growth characteristics most plants would die for. There is only one word for this plant, "WOW!"


As the Doublefile Viburnum makes its new growth in the spring, the new branches that form will grow horizontally, and they are graceful because when the wind blows in your yard they will move like waves on the water. The plant will make foliage and flowers at the same time during May. The foliage is beautiful. Each leaf will grow from 3 to 5 inches long; they are shiny and clean looking, the shine on the leaf will last from spring to fall. The shape is oval, 2 inches wide near the stem but narrows to a point on the end, and along the edge of the leaf is a row of small teeth. The leaf is covered with a unique network of sunken veins, like stitchery. In the fall these leaves will gradually change from the deep green summer color, to rich red wine colored foliage that the plant will retain for several weeks. When the color changes occur to the foliage, the sunken veins become even more pronounced and the leaf seems to almost glow.


The flowers form on 2 inch stems placing them above the new foliage, like a pedestal. The flowers that form are unique because this flower cluster has two types of flowers in the cluster: a small fruit-bearing and a large sterile type of bloom. The inside of the cluster is filled with 25 or more fertile small, 1/4 inch, white, 5 petal flowers, and not showy. But around this flower cluster are 5 or more sterile, large, 1 inch, very showy, 4 petal white flowers. The flowers combine to make a wonderful 4 to 5 inch in diameter flat flower that will cover the entire stem of the plant from the main stems to the tip of every branch. The flowers will last on the plant for 4 to six weeks depending on the temperature and frequency of heavy rains. Bees and butterflies seem to flicker from flower to flower like in a dance around the Maypole. There are so many flowers on the branches they will bend with their weight and the lower branches will touch the ground. If you're able to enjoy a full moon night outside in your garden the plant will almost glow from the light the moon sends into your garden.


The fruit, "O the fruit," that this plant makes is wonderful to look at on the plant. You know those wonderful small fertile white flowers in the center of the flower cluster you enjoyed in May to early June have now become shiny, 1/4 inch, oval, bright red fruit. Each fruit cluster is 3 inches in diameter and the 25 or more fruit in the cluster lie flat on their stems above the foliage. The rich shiny green foliage below makes the fruit stand out just as wonderfully as the flowers did on the plant earlier in the season. The fruit ripens in July to early August and then without a notice turns bright shiny black in late August telling the birds that supper has been served. All of a sudden, all the berries are gone and the plant can now prepare for the fall by making flower buds for next spring and slowly change the foliage to the rich red wine color.


Doublefile Viburnum loves a soil that is moist, rich, and fertile; if planted in a dry, sandy soil it will not perform very well for you. Condition the soil before planting with lots of compost or seasoned animal manure. I always add Soil Moist granules when planting new shrubs to insure the roots stay moist as the new roots develop in your garden. Mycorrhiza has shown me how wonderfully Mother Nature's microbes work in the soil and I will never plant anything again without using this product. Your Garden Center should have either Protilizer by Natural Alternatives or Ideal Organix powder form of Mycorrhizae available; use it and see the difference in the growth your plant will make.


Water the plant weekly or more often during warm weather to motivate plant growth. Fertilize in the spring with Plant-Tone or Turf Trust tree and shrub fertilizer each spring to encourage good growth during the summer months. Place 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch or compost around the plant to control weeds around the plant and to help hold water in the soil during the summer months. Lots of moisture around the roots will result with more, bigger, and brighter fruit during the summer months on the plant.


Doublefile Viburnum will grow in full sun to partial shade in your garden. The flowers and berries will do as well in either growing locations. Just make sure the location you choose is well drained and has no standing water, especially during the winter. Give the plant room to grow as this plant needs room display the flowers and berries during the year. This plant will grow 8 to 10 feet tall and will spread its beautiful branches 10 to 12 feet wide. You can prune the lower branches on the plant as it matures and create a small tree-like plant with multiple stems.


This Viburnum will make a great plant to grow under tall trees that had the lower branches pruned out to let daylight in under them as an understory plant. If you want to create a tall growing privacy hedge along your property line or cut back the traffic noise from your patio during the summer this is your plant, space plant 10 feet apart. You can also use it as a vocal point or specimen plant in your yard or large planting of mixed plants like Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and Mountain Laurels. If you have a Japanese Garden this plant will make a great specimen flowering plant near a pond or small stream. Plant this Viburnum on the side of a hill to prevent erosion and to create a background of color all summer long with its beautiful flowers and berries. If you have bird houses or bird feeders this plant will ensure that the birds stay from season to season and because of its dense foliage and horizontal branching it also makes a great plant for the birds to build nest in.


The flower closely resembles the flower of the climbing hydrangea; many people think that this plant belongs to the hydrangea family but it does not. And best of all, no insect or disease problems with this plant and once established, it needs little to no maintenance. Look for it at your local nursery; you will not regret purchasing this wonderful shrub, the Doublefile Viburnum. Enjoy! 



God Bless The USA by Lee Greenwood

God Bless The USA

 by Lee Greenwood


Roasted Asaragus andwith Balsamic Brown Butter



Spring is finally here but the weather continues to be on the cool side here in the northeast and beyond. The first vegetable of the season is the Asparagus and it can be cooked many ways, from wrapped in bacon to soup but I love this recipe because it is quick, tasty and has a unique salty-sweet brown butter flavor. Fresh picked from the garden or from the supermarket while the price is reasonable, give it a try and watch your family dig in.


2 pounds or 2 bunches of fresh asparagus,

Thinner Asparagus have more flavor than the thick ones

teaspoon of kosher salt or Truffle Salt

1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

teaspoon of Italian seasoning

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of Soy sauce

1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

Grated lemon rind from 1 lemon



1} Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees.

2} prepare your Asparagus by holding your Asparagus

With both hands, and snap the tough ends where it seems to break easily.

3} Arrange the Asparagus in a single layer on a baking dish or baking sheet.

Spray the Asparagus with a good cooking spray like Pam. Sprinkle with salt,

pepper , and Italian seasoning. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.

4} Melt your butter in a small skillet over medium heat, cook for 3 to 4 minutes

or until lightly browned, shaking the pan occasionally.

5} Remove from the heat and stir in the Soy sauce and the Balsamic vinegar. When your Asparagus is ready, drizzle the sauce over the Asparagus and toss to coat evenly. With salad tongs or a spatula remove from your baking dish and place in a neat mound in your serving dish. Garnish with Fresh cracked pepper and grated lemon rind. Enjoy!




Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!


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