Now's the time, and this is how to prune your roses


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My name is Matt Parent and I am doing the Dark Side Challenge in April. The Dark Side 
Challenge is a 10K run on April 16th and a half marathon on April 17th. I am raising money
 to pay for me to participate. The Noah's Light Foundation is an organization who is trying
 to help cure pediatric cancer. This is something close to my family as I lost a cousin to
 brain cancer. So help me help them find a cure!  Please take sometime to click on the link and make a donation. 

Noah's Light Foundation - Donate

Matt's Darkside Challenge Race for the Light! supporting the Star Wars™ Half Marathon - 
The Dark Side 2016 campaign Good day everyone. As you know I like to run
 now it's time for me to put my legs and stamina to a good cause. 
I am raising money for Noah's Light Foundation. They help with pediatric brain Cancer.

This is our Oldest son  Matthew who is trying to raise money for 
Noah's Light foundation.  Thank You to anyone who would like to donate.
Lets Start to get the garden ready for Spring!

                                        Things are beginning to warm up a bit and rainfall has increased--both are a good thing for our gardens. Now is the time to get out and start working with our garden plants while the weather is still cool and most of the plants are still dormant. Here are a few things for you to do during the next couple of weeks.

Transplanting Perennials:
This is the best time of the year to transplant and move any plant growing in your yard. Plants are dormant and by moving them now there will be less transplanting shock to the plant and they will adapt much faster and more easily.

Most perennial plants, including peonies and bleeding hearts, must be moved right now, while the new growth is just an inch or two tall. The ground is wet and that will help to hold the soil around the roots better, preventing the small feeder roots from being damaged during the move. When you replant into the new garden, be sure to set plants at the same depth that they were in the garden originally. Be sure to condition the soil before planting with compost, animal manure, or peat moss. Peonies MUST be planted in a shallow hole; be sure that the buds are no deeper than one knuckle below the soil surface or they will not bloom.

If they are not flowering, they must be moved to a sunny location for more blooms and better growth. When you move the plant, look for the graft of the plant that resembles your fist--just below the branches--as the graft must be covered with soil for better winter protection and never allowed to be out of the soil. Look to see if growth is developing below this graft; if so, remove it, as these shoots (called "suckers") will steal energy from your plant that could be used to make flowers--suckers never flower.

Your bush-type roses should be cut back now to 18 to 24 inches tall to help stimulate new growth. Begin by removing any broken or dead branches on the plant before cutting the plant back. Fertilize now and add bark mulch around the plant to control weeds and help retain moisture in the soil during the summer. Spray your roses with natural non-chemical All Season Oil and Copper fungicide to kill overwintering insect eggs and disease spores on your plant.

Broadleaf Evergreens:
If you have azaleas, rhododendrons and holly that are not flowering very well or are getting too big for the present location, now is a wonderful time to move them. These plants are dormant right now and the new growth has not begun to form, so let's tie up the branches of the plants and dig them up while the weather is in our favor. Broadleaf evergreen plants do not have a tap root; they grow with hundreds of spider web-like roots; that will make it easier for you to dig and move the plant. Choose a location with more than half a day of sunlight if you want more flowers. If possible, find a sheltered location out of the wind. All broadleaf evergreens prefer a soil that is moist most of the year and rich in organic matter, so be sure to condition your soil when planting.

Blue or Pink Hydrangeas:
If your plants are not flowering it could be the location because these plants require sun most of day. If you live north of Cape Cod, these plants will also do better if planted near a structure like a building or fence to help block the winter winds. If your plants have become very large, now is also a great time to dig them up and split them in half and make two plants from the one.

The most important thing to remember about the ball-shaped blue or pink hydrangeas is to prune the plants only in the spring, and always after the new growth has begun to develop. The flowers form on the branches made on the plant last year, old wood. Only remove dead or broken branches but wait for the growth to start to form on the plant. One other possibility for no flowers is the type of hydrangea. If you received onet for Easter or Mother's Day in full bloom, you probably have a florist type variety; this type of plant is not winter hardy for the Northeast. It will make foliage but no flowers, because the flower buds die during the winter due to the cold.

Flowering Deciduous Plants:
Forsythia, lilacs, Roses of Sharon and similar plants should also be moved right now. If you can move these plants before the flowers open, the plant will have less stress and the flowering time will be longer. As the flowers fade, the new growth will develop more easily, because the root system is not disturbed as the foliage is developing on the plant.

When plants are moved before the foliage develops, the plant can adjust the amount of foliage made that spring so it can concentrate on the roots first, which will be critical in the summer heat. Eliminate stress for healthier plants when they have to be moved. If you can prune the plant by 25% after the flowering cycle, your plants will also adapt to the new location faster. Lime the lilacs in the spring for more flowers next year.

Non-Flowering Deciduous Plants:
Privet hedges, burning bush, tall hedge, barberry and similar plants will fill in better--growing thicker--and you can control the size of the plant more easily if you prune them at this time of the year. These plants can be cut back as much as 50% while the plant is dormant, so get out the pruners now and shape the future of the plant.

If you're doing a major pruning to these plants, be sure to fertilize them with Plant Tone fertilizer to help produce new dark green foliage after the pruning. These plants can also be moved easily at this time of the year to a new location without the foliage on the plant.

Clematis, honeysuckle, grapes and wisteria are such are likely to survive a move without your cutting back the plant. Just pull down the plant from its trellis or arbor, tie it up for easier handling--and you're ready to dig and move it to a new location. Secure the plant on the new trellis or arbor and your vine will have few problems with the move. Keep it wet once the new growth develops on the plant, and your vine will fill in quickly. Use twist ties to hold the vine on its new structure and feed with Plant Tone fertilizer.

Transplanting from the Wild:
Digging wild-growing plants such as white pine, birches, mountain laurel, pussy willow, cedars, and more should be done during April. Several years ago I moved several eight to ten foot tall wild growing birches from the wild during April with great success. Plant them like a new tree from your favorite nursery and be sure to stake them in place so the wind does not move the root ball in the soil. These plants will have a better success rate if dug without foliage on them--while the plant is dormant.

Wild beach roses, bayberry and ferns will move more easily now than later. If you can use the new Thrive with mycorrhizae bacteria, it will help to quickly replace the roots you were not able to dig with the plant when you moved it. This is new technology in gardening and it will help you move your plant around your yard more easily and with better results when you use it this spring.

Anything can be moved now while it is dormant; if you get busy now, your success rate will be better! Once you dig up a plant, if it is too heavy for you to pick up, try rolling the plant onto a plastic tarp, and then pull the tarp across your lawn. Two years ago I moved a eight foot rhododendron with a 3 foot wide soil ball across my lawn with little effort; it will just slide--don't pick it up. Transplanting in April is wise use of your time in the garden.
The Kingsmen - Jolly Green Giant - Little Latin Lupe Lu 1965.mp4
The Kingsmen -
Jolly Green Giant - Little Latin Lupe Lu 1965.mp4

The Star Magnolia needs warmer weather to come into bloom.

From Maine to Minnesota and south to Georgia, there is no more exciting tree than the flowering star magnolia in the springtime. As April approaches, the tree begins to open its flower buds, which resemble pure white eggs that burst into pure white star-like flowers, quickly covering the tree branches.

On a bright full moon evening look at your tree for a real treat, as those flowers will glow in the moonlight and light up your garden with color. Next fall, plant white-flowering daffodils in the garden around the base of the tree and you will be in for a very special treat. White reflects the moonlight and your garden will amaze you--try it.

The star magnolia is the first flowering tree of spring time and it will show you that warm weather is not far behind, so get ready for spring. This type of magnolia will grow as large as a flowering crabapple, from 15 to 20 feet tall and just as wide--but if placed in a sheltered area with evergreen trees protecting it from the winds it can and will grow larger. The star magnolia can be grown as a single trunk small tree or multi stem shrub-like tree; it will depend on the shape of the plant you select at the nursery.

If you want more of a tree shape, select a plant at the nursery with just one main trunk and remove all the other smaller branches that develop at the base of the plant. Your pruning techniques will shape the future growing habit of the plant and determine its overall shape. If you allow the side branches or the shoots that will form the base of the plant to form, the plant will stay shorter and spread out more like a large shrub does. If you prune out the side shoots and lower branches, the plant will grow taller, stay more narrow and spread out less, resembling a tree more--it's up to you.

The bark of the plant is smooth, gray, and very clean looking. The branches have many small side shoots that will form; these side shoots will all make flowers in the spring. The flowers look like giant daisies when in bloom and each flower can have 25 or more white petals that grow 2 to 3 inches long and 3/4 to 1 inch wide. The star magnolia flowers will last 2 to 3 weeks, sometimes longer if the weather is not too severe and warm as the flowers begin to fade. Because the flower petals are long and narrow, the wind seems to flow through them easily.

The saucer magnolia, a wonderful sister to this plant, has much larger flower petals and if the weather gets stormy will blow apart easily, causing the base of the tree to look as if a box of Kleenex exploded under it. So if your yard is in an exposed area with lots of wind, plant the star magnolia, not the saucer magnolia and you will enjoy the flowers longer in your garden.

What also makes the flowers last longer on the tree is that the flower buds do not all open at the same time, happening over a week or two in April. At this time of the year, the weather is cooler and this also helps to keep the flowers blooming longer. The flowers have a mild fragrance when the days are warm and the weather is dry. If you have a branch that is growing out of shape, prune it off while it's in bloom and place it in a tall vase of water to enjoy on the kitchen table for a couple of weeks.

The leaves are dark green, oval in shape, growing from 4 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Some years the leaves will develop on the tree at the same time as the flowers are in bloom. In the fall, if the wind and insects did their job properly, a pod will form where the flowers were on the plant. The pod is cone-shaped, with swollen bumps along its side that contain small red seeds. The pod is gray, and it will burst open and reveal its seeds when the weather gets cold in the fall, as the leaves drop to the ground from the tree. Birds and small animals like chipmunks will eat the seed during the winter, or you can pick them and store them in your vegetable crisper for the winter and plant them in the spring time.

Magnolias will grow in full sun or half a day in the shade. They will grow much better if there is moisture available to them all year long. If your soil is sandy, be sure to add lots of organic matter like compost, animal manure or peat moss when planting. To help get your magnolia off to a good start, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Soil Moist granules to help hold moisture around the new roots that form. I have had great results also adding kelp seaweed and mycorrhizae at the time of planting to help the roots to develop more quickly.

Always plant magnolias in a planting bed and cover the soil with bark mulch to help hold moisture around the roots of the plant and keep out weeds. Planting beds also help prevent damage to the trunk of the plant from your lawn mower and weed whacker. The bark is smooth and thin; it will not tolerate bruising from your garden equipment. The planting bed also gives you room to plant spring flowering bulbs like white daffodils for your moonlight garden in the spring and annuals for summer color.

I have always noticed that flowering plants that have flowers planted under or near them always flower better in the spring. This is because you are feeding the flowers during the summer, and your flowering trees get some of the food you're giving your flowers. This feeding will help produce more energy for your plants and make flowers for next year on your trees.

Keep the plant well watered the first year in your garden; if the plant is taller than 5 to 6 feet, I would stake it in the fall to help keep the winter winds from blowing it around during the winter and damaging the new roots. If you're planting the tree in an area where there are tall grasses or a wooded area close by, be sure to wrap the trunk of the tree a couple of feet high with tree wrap the first winter to prevent mouse damage.

If the winter is one with lots of snow and the snow lasts into early April, don't be surprised if squirrels eat the flower buds before they have a chance to open; it does not happen often but it does happen. They also like rhododendron flower buds so if you see those disappearing, use an animal repellent on them quickly.

Plant the star magnolia as a single tree, or plant several in a row to create a wonderful tall-growing privacy hedge on your property; they also make a good noise barrier to buffer road noise and quiet the traffic. If the side of your house has a large blank wall between windows, a tall fence, or evergreens as a background, the star magnolia will soften the area during all seasons of the year. This is also a great plant to place a spotlight under to highlight the unique branches and flowers.

The star magnolia is a tree that will give your garden the look and feel of the South in the cold of the Northeast. All you need is a mint julep and a rocking chair near the tree to enjoy the arrival of spring!

Magnolia ~ J.J. Cale
Magnolia ~ J.J. Cale

Spring flowering Dogwood will be in bloom soon

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. 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!
Wilma Lee Cooper -
Wilma Lee Cooper - "Legend of the Dogwood Tree"
"Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets use to it."

The ultimate Cocoa brownie with mini chocolate chips

Have you ever sat down to watch TV and had a craving for anything Chocolate? I have the answer for you and it's easy to make when you have a chocolate attack or you just want some sweet for the family. They are a real comfort food as is or with a scoop of Ice cream and you're in Heaven.

cup all-purpose flower
cup of unsweetened cocoa
teaspoon of baking powder
teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 large or extra large eggs
2 teaspoons of real Vanilla extract, not artificial flavored
cup of mini chocolate chips

1} Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. Grease an 8 in square baking pan. In a small bowl combine the flower, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

2} In a 3-quart sauce pan, melt your butter over low heat. Remove from heat stir with a rubber spatula your sugar, then the eggs, one at a time and vanilla until well blended. Next, stir in your flower mixture. Spread your batter in prepared pan and level. Sprinkle your chocolate chips evenly over the batter.

3} Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack about 2 hours.

4} When completely cooled, cut brownies into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 squares. If you try to serve when hot the brownies will fall apart. Add a scoop of your favorite Ice Cream and enjoy the show. If you like them without Ice cream, hide them or the kids will eat them before you can even taste them. Enjoy!

Day to look forward to:

April is National Gardening Month

April 22 - Earth Day is 8 days
April 27th - Secretary's Day is 13 days
May 8th - MOTHER'S Day is 24 days
May 21st - Armed forces day is 37 days
May 30th - Memorial Day is 46 days



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!        Supplies are now limited!


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