…On Slugs

Slugs are gross little slimy produce-eating critters. They’re active when the air is cool and damp and seek shelter in the shade when the temperature rises. I squeal when I accidentally touch them. It’s difficult to get their slime off my fingers. Yuk! I know people who will step on them, or skewer them, or drown them in beer. I can’t do that. But, I have found that an empty dish soap bottle with one cup sudsy ammonia – filled up the rest of the way with water, squirted on the little buggers melts them down quickly. Grandma used salt on slugs. The salt, left in the slime trail on the plant leaves, caused desiccation. Sudsy ammonia is nitrogen. It won’t hurt the plant the slug is crawling on.  Try it on your slugs.  It works for me.


Japanese Maples

Angela at My Personal Accent interviewed me about Japanese Maples recently. I grew maples in my nursery for 23 years and have about 50 varieties planted around my yard. It was fun to answer her questions. She even jazzed up some pictures of my favorites for your viewing pleasure. So head on over to the link I’ve provided and take a look. 

Here’s a sample of what was posted:

Angela: How should I care for a Japanese Maple?

Cindy: Japanese Maple varieties can be weeping or upright in growth habit. The leaves can be palmate – much like the native Big Leaf maple in shape but smaller in scale, or the leaves can be dissected and thread-like. Some varieties are green, some mottled in green, white and pink, and others are shades of red or orange.

  • Plant Japanese Maples in a well-drained area. Slow draining and puddling around the tree can promote root rot. Take the tree out of the pot and place into the planting hole. Don’t disturb the root ball. Cover with soil and water well to get all the air bubbles out of the planting hole.
  • Water the new planting with B1 or fish fertilizer (which has B1 in it) to promote root growth and ease transplant shock. Water the rootball only. If you have an irrigation system, water the tree in the early morning about 3 a.m. so it has time to dry the leaves off before the sun hits them. Watering the leaves mid-afternoon, during a hot summer day, will defoliate and kill the plant. Water deeply, at least once a week, during the summer for the first growing season.
  • Japanese Maples grow in zones 5 through 8 in sun to partial shade. They like a ph of 4 to 6.5 (acid to garden loam). Japanese Maples also do well in containers on a deck or patio.

Seiryu Japanese Maple

Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees

Garden Corner

Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated day to encourage planting and caring for trees. This year the day falls on Friday, April 28. (Originally published  4/27/2005 The Reflector Newspaper, Battle Ground, WA.)

The celebration began in 1872 in Nebraska Territory when J. Sterling Morton encouraged citizens to plant trees.

A journalist, Morton had moved to the treeless plains from Detroit, MI and missed trees. Morton began Nebraska’s first newspaper and used it to spread agricultural and tree information to his growing audience.

Morton encouraged tree plantings by individuals, groups and organizations. He became a prominent citizen and eventually was Secretary of the Nebraska Territory. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed a day to plant trees – Arbor Day, to the state agriculture board.

Arbor Day became a legal holiday on Morton’s birthday April 22, in Nebraska. Today it is celebrated nationwide and internationally. The actual day of celebration varies with the best planting time for each region.

Now is a good time to plant.

Spring is a great time to plant a tree. Plant selection and placement are key to tree survival. Most trees will thrive when planted on a well-drained site, but there are trees that can tolerate ‘wet feet’.

A garden center or nursery employee can help with the requirements of selecting trees.

Tree planting begins with site improvement. Dig the planting hole slightly larger than the root ball. Loosen the soil in the hold with a shovel and add a couple of handfuls of bonemeal. Remove the tree from its pot and loosen roots by cutting through them with a knife.

If the tree is wrapped in burlap, set the burlap-wrapped ball into the hole, cut the twine, fold the burlap back and tuck it under the root ball, and cover with soil allowing the burlap to decompose in the hole.

The tree should be planted no deeper than the soil line. Stakes can be placed around to help it stand straight and keep the wind from loosening it in the new site. Leave plenty of room for growth where the tree is tied to the stake so the tie doesn’t girdle the trunk or branches. Water deeply for the first year – a newly planted tree has a limited root system.

Trees have some affects on climate control. Planting a tree in a strategic location can shade the house in late summer and cool the area by absorbing and deflecting radiant energy produced by the sun.

Trees also intercept rain waiter and store some of it, which reduces run-off and flooding. Their roots help hold soil together to inhibit erosion, and shade streams which cool water.

In short, trees increase quality of life and bring nature and wildlife into urban surroundings.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas

Rhododendrons and Azaleas:  Low Maintenance Easy Care Shrubs

Rhododendrons and azaleas are found in many settings in the Pacific Northwest. They are very easy care, low maintenance shrubs that add a dramatic touch of texture and color to the landscape.

Azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild prefer the rich, loamy acid soil found on the forest floor. They thrive on an organic mulch of needles, leaves and twigs that keep their root zones moist and shaded. Some protection is needed from the heat of the sun, yet sunlight stimulates heavy flower production.

To provide the best care possible for rhododendrons and azaleas in the landscape, duplicate the needs they’ve shown from living in their natural range.

Potted rhododendrons and azaleas may be planted any time of year. Remember to loosen the root ball enabling the plant to stretch and spread its roots. Plant in a richly composted garden soil in a well drained area. When packing the soil around the root ball, keep the crown above the level of the ground. This practice will aid in good drainage. Root systems of rhododendrons and azaleas are fairly shallow. After planting your rhodie or azalea, mulch with leaf mold, needles or barkdust. This will hinder weed growth and keep the soil cool and moist. Any weeds that do come up should be pulled by hand because the root system is so near the top of the soil that mechanical tools could damage the plant.

Rhododendrons and azaleas are not heavy feeders. If they are healthy and producing nice flowers, a little acid base fertilizer should be applied once a year.

If a large plant is desired, a higher nitrogen fertilizer should be given after the plan is done blooming. This is when the natural growth takes place and will allow time for the new growth to harden before any severe winter weather conditions arrive.

After fertilizing in the spring; water well until early August. Begin tapering off the water at this time to prepare the plant for winter extremes. The only exception would be a new planting which would need continued water to further establish the root system before winter.

Consider growing rhododendrons and azaleas in containers on the deck or patio. They are attractive, adding a variety of form, color and textures to the landscape. The soil in the planter should be 75 percent organic matter and 25 percent good garden loam.

Rhododendrons and azaleas come in many colors from whites and pinks, to reds, oranges and lavender. Varieties can be purchased in bloom from February through the spring and summer, and into fall.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Inter-planting two different plants, because of the benefits each has for the other is called Companion Planting. Some plants need light and others require some shade. Some have deep roots that break up the soil and other short-rooted varieties benefit by having the soil broken up for them.

There are plants that are heavy nitrogen feeders and those that don’t require as much. Legumes, such as clover, peas, beans and alfalfa capture nitrogen from the air for assimilation. They have bacterial nodules on their roots that fix nitrogen from the air, thus building up the nitrogen content in the soil. As an added bonus, the lush root growth of a legume aerates the soil.

Corn, on the other hand, is a heavy nitrogen feeder. Inter-planted with a legume such as beans, the two are compatible. Let’s take it a step farther. Plant pole beans, corn and squash or pumpkin seeds in the same planting hole at the same time. The pole beans will grow up the corn stalks and squash or pumpkin plants will act as living mulch keeping the soil moist and suppressing weeds.

Beans also grow well with carrots and cauliflower. Lettuce grows well with beets.

The cabbage family of ‘cole’ crops include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi. Late cabbage and early potatoes do well together.  Dill, sage, rosemary, chamomile, and members of the peppermint family are companion plants to all members of the ‘cole’ crop family.

Chives are commonly taken for granted in the home garden. They are usually never attached by disease or insect. It is said that when chives are planted among roses, they repel aphids.

Cucumbers appreciate some shade and will grow well in alternate rows of early cabbage, early potatoes or corn.

The marigold gives off a substance from its’ roots that kills nematodes in the soil. It has also been reported that tomatoes grow better and produce more fruit with marigolds present. The odor of the foliage and blossoms of the marigold are helpful as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Planting marigolds randomly throughout the garden is also very pleasing to the eye.

Planted near one another, some types of plants benefit from companion planting.

(c) Cindy Morgan   Permission to reprint – must include credit to author and link to webpage.                 https://cynthiamorgan.wordpress.com/



The Clematis can be successfully grown as long as a few basic needs are met. It prefers a rich, well drained soil and a neutral PH. Our Pacific Northwest soils tend to be high acid. To sweeten the soil to a neutral level, add one handful of ground limestone to the hole before planting.

Most Clematis enjoys a sunny location with a root system that is cool and moist. To achieve this, plant the Clematis near a ground cover or some shrubbery.

Make sure it is in a sheltered area away from most wind and provide some kind of support for it to grow on. The Clematis will reach lengths of 12 to 20 feet.

A strong crown will develop if the Clematis is placed in the ground, a couple of inches below the old soil line on the plant.

Deep planting often prevents the Clematis from dying due to Wilt disease. Wilt fungus attacks at the soil surface and kills the plant tissues above ground.

Consider planting Clematis with a climbing rose. Both appreciate the same soil conditions and the rose will usually outgrow the strangling ways of the Clematis.

Many of our popular varieties were brought out 60 to 100 years ago, so the Clematis is not a ‘new’ plant.

Here are some small flowered varieties: Minuet, Venosa Violacea, Etoile Violette, Little Nell, Alba Luxurians, and Abundance. They flower from July until September and may be pruned to the crown after bloom.

C. cirrhosa balearica and Marie Boisselot enjoy a shaded north wall. If you have a Clematis that isn’t blooming, it may be planted in too shady of a location.

Spring flowering varieties need no regular pruning. Pruning should be done after flowering to remove dean wood and to shape the plant. Doing this will eliminate a ‘bird’s nest’ effect. Pruning now will provide ample time for the flower buds to develop for next spring’s show. Clematis armandii, C. macropetala, C. alpine, and C. Montana are all spring flowering varieties.

For varieties that start blooming in the middle of June, pruning should be done in late winter. A thick woody stump, not more than one foot high will result. If you want this type of Clematis to cover the side of a wall or a tree, pruning need not be so severe. Some varieties from this category are Victoria, Star of India, Jackmanii, Perle d’Azur, Comtesse de’ Bouchard, and Lady Betty Balfour. They are all hybrid varieties. Some species varieties classified under this bloom time and pruning conditions are C. flammula, C. Campaniflora, C. Viticilla, C. tangutica, and C. orientalis. All the above mentioned varieties flower on the tips of new shoots made in the current season. These shoots can be from 3 to 12 feet long.

Lastly, is a group of Clematis that flower on short, lateral growth made in the previous season. These are all hybrids and they will have large flowers between mid-May and mid-June. Examples are Lady Northcliffe, The President, Nellie Mosier, William Kennett, Lord Nevill and Belle of Woking. Prune only dead wood, After pruning, support the plants framework on a trellis for best display.

©1987 Cindy Morgan Permission to reprint – must include credit to author and link to web page.   https://cynthiamorgan.wordpress.com/