LATE SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Shrubs and Trees

As early spring bloomers begin to fade the prelude to summer begins with many fragrant flowering woody plants.

Photo courtesy of JFSchmidt- https://www.jfschmidt.com/royalraindrops/index.html

Royal raindrops crabapple – Disease resistant Height 20 ft. Spread 15 ft. Beautiful red-purple foliage, pink-red flowers, red sparkling fruit. Easy care, all-season color. Add a pop of color to your landscaping!

Greenspire Linden -Fragrant, creamy yellow flower Height: 40-50 ft. Spread: 30-35 ft. Symmetrical, pyramidal shape with a straight trunk. Bright yellow fall foliage; drought tolerant.

Japanese tree Lilac- Disease and pest resistant Height: 25-30 ft.  Spread: 20-25 ft. Fragrant, creamy white flower clusters bloom mid-June; brown fruit capsules follow. Textured, striped cherry tree-like bark adds interest in winter. Can be trained to be a multi-stemmed shrub-like tree, or a tall, single trunk tree.

Mandarin Lights Azalea- courtesy of U of MN research

Northern lights azalea grow from 3-7’ tall with flowers that bloom in spring, coming in a multitude of colors, so you would be sure to find one that would work in your landscape! These shrubs look especially lovely when planted alone or near conifers, but can work in just about any garden with partial to full sun and acidic soil! FUN FACT: Festivals celebrating the bloom of Azaleas are held around the world, including Japan, Korea, and the US

Prairie Petite Lilac

Lilac sp.  These white to deep purple flowers bloom in late spring and have perhaps one of the most easily recognizable fragrances to a Minnesota dweller. These shrubs grow best in full sun and can grow anywhere from 4-15’, depending on the variety! FUN FACT: Lilacs represent love! So, the next time you’re looking for something sweet for that special someone, skip the roses and try a Lilac bouquet!

Blizzard Mockorange – Abundant, fragrant blooms attract butterflies and birds Height: 4-5 ft.Spread: 3 ft. Very hardy shrub with deep green foliage and white blooms that last for 4 weeks in June. Orange-brown bark that exfoliates (similar to birch bark) as it ages. Tolerant to full sun.

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LATE SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Perennials

Max Frei cranesbill  Geranium sanguineum ‘Max Frei’ Height: 8 inches Spread: 12 inches Flower Color and Season: Fuchsia late spring to early summer Foliage: dark green. Red in fall

Tiarella spring symphony Spring Symphony Tiarella Slightly fragranced, pink flowers Height: 6″ Spread: 8-10″ Dark green foliage, mounded shape with flowers that bloom in May-July. Shade-loving plant that is great as a groundcover or as a border/edger

Blue star amsonia  Amsonia tabernaemontana Height: 24 inches Spread: 36 inches Flower Color and Season: Blue late spring to early summer Foliage: light green. Yellow in fall

Gold Dicentra Bleeding Heart! Aren’t these flowers sweet?! These perennial shrubs generally grown 24-30” x 18-30”, depending on the variety, and bloom in the spring-early summer. This is a low-maintenance, partial sun or shade shrub that is considered a cottage garden classic! FUN FACT: Depending on where you’re from, this shrub known as either a Bleeding Heart or Lady in the Bath! Lady in the Bath?! Yes!! Because if you turn the flowers upside down, that’s just what they look like

Peony – These flowers are just breathtaking! Blooming in late spring to early summer, peonies have 6 flower types, 4 colors, and varying fragrance levels, so there is sure to be a variety that would work in your landscape! Peonies prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil but are a perfect choice for a Minnesota garden because the cold winters are the perfect chill needed for bud formation. FUN FACT: In Greek mythology, Paeon, a student of the god of medicine and healing, was saved by Zeus from his mentor’s jealous wrath by being turned into a flower, the Peony!

[]Columbine  The resilient columbine grows best in full sun or light shade, with moist, fertile soil. The flower has a deep history in many cultures, and for many centuries, Christians believed that the columbine represented seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, including: wisdom, intellect, reverence or piety, strength, advise, knowledge and fear of God. FUN FACT: The root of the name columbine, columba, is Latin and means dove. But the columbine’s true Latin name is Aquilegia which translates to mean eagle. It was so named because the spurs of this flower reminded some observers of the the talons of an eagle. How neat is that? That’s pretty neat!

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Planting Harsh Sites- BLACK WALNUT TOXICITY

Living with Black Walnut Trees

When dealing with mature trees many times we just think about the shade factor and if the tree has dense or dappled areas under it. Also root competition comes to mind as well as dry ground from rain being caught in the canopy before it can get to the soil. But some trees emit substances that can negatively affect near by plants and Black Walnut is one of the most notorious for harming it’s neighbors.

As a popular choice for shade canopy, Black Walnut is also grown for its lumber production and dye properties in its ‘fruits’. The concern lies in the production of Juglone which is in the roots, leaves, nut husks and even carried by water dripping of its leaves during rain. Areas effected by a tree go well beyond the canopy through the root structure and may effect nearby roots as far as ½” away.

The only real solution to black walnut toxicity is to install tolerant plants. Fortunately there a few plants that show little or no effect in relation to Juglone toxins. Many symptoms are a mimic of diseases or physiological disorders so look up before diagnosing a plant. Even cutting the tree won’t solve the problem since the roots still contain the chemical.

Plants to steer clear of are: Nightshade (tomatoes, peppers etc), yews, Pines, Azalea, Potentilla, Hydrangeas and lilacs. Some resistant to Juglone include: Cherry, Crabapple, maples, dogwoods, carrots, onions, snap beans, arbor vitae and daylilies. Checkout the Morton Arboretum  for a comprehensive list of plants.

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Planting Harsh Sites- SALT TOLERANT

When designing street scapes, Boulevard plantings or landscapes that border driveways and sidewalks a consideration factor is snow/ice and the control method that will be used. Many of these areas will receive a dose of de-icing salts in the northern climates. Salt damage can show up through aerial spray or build up in the soil over time through direct contact or runoff.

Other then careful plant selection there are a few ways to control salt effects in the landscape including little to no use of de-icing salts, spread salt after shoveling, is salt with sand, alter drainage patterns and use temporary barriers to protect plants.

Some of the best plants with resistant characteristics include: Serviceberries, Honeylocust, white oaks, Japanese tree lilacs, Junipers, forsythias, hydrangeas and sumacs. Colorful perennials like daylilies, beebalms, sedums and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass will add allseason interest to your mailbox planting. Be more careful with: maples, river birch, crabapples, arborvitae, boxwoods and viburnums.

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Grow Your Own Food Landscaping

Popular garden types- pick the ones that fit your lifestyle and design ideas.

There are so many ways that you can easily produce an edible harvest in your own yard, deck or windowsill. Containers are available in a multitude of styles, colors and personalities to best fit your budget and needs. New varieties of plants come out almost daily giving us a plethora of choices to be successful with potted plants. Herbs on the windowsill are handy for adding fresh flavor in a multitude of dishes. Compact vegetables grown on the deck also makes for quick salad prep.  The popular trend of strawbale gardening even allows for driveways and other hard surfaces to host productive thriving garden spaces. Also technologies involving self watering containers, drip systems and fashionable watering cans keep plants hydrated as well as saving time. As long as sunlight is available there is a plant to grow there.

Containers and Pots- no yard, no problem

Mix vegetables and herbs with flowers for a colorful and edible container planting!

Straw bale – great for less than desirable soil

Throw down a bale of straw. Prep it for 10 days then plant. Keep watered throughout growing season.

Square foot – high production out of small spaces

Kitchen – combine a wide variety of plants with useful purposes in a careful design

Flowers, fruit trees, herbs and vegetables all planted in this showy garden.

Production Rows – high production farm type gardening

Our busy and hectic lives often don’t leave much time if any for yard work much less gardening. Many of us have a desire to eat local, healthy and organic foods and wish we had the time and the ‘green’ thumb to do it ourselves. If you truly are not able to grow or maintain any of your own plants, the next best thing is to visit your local farmers market and support others who can!

Building a Ledgestone Firepit

Step One: Gravel Base – Dig out the area for gravel base, planning for 4-6” depth of compacted gravel and diameter 3’ wider than your steel insert. Once soil is removed add your crushed limestone and compact every 2” layer.

Step Two: Block Base – Lay the first block course and level as you work along. Key tools are a torpedo level, 4’ level and deadblow hammer.

Step Three: Block Layers – Use a concrete adhesive to adhere additional layers of block together being sure to stagger joints.

Step Four: Steel Insert – Install insert before adhesive hardens and you’re done!

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

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Evaluate your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression of a house. When done right the view from the street or driveway can put forth a positive and intriguing vibe. Research current landscape trends and hardy plant material or call in a landscape professional for a consultation to put together a plan that fits your time and budget to maximize the desired view from the street or driveway.

Beginning at the street the view includes the house itself but also the surrounding lawn, foundation plantings, trees or in some cases the lack there of. An appropriate balance of these landscape elements along with proper care to provide a neat and tidy look (but not blank and sparse) will provide that ideal first impression upon arrival. Often times a simple professional pruning and well placed plant addition can make all the difference.

Don’t let the overgrown shrubs bother you since they can easily be removed or cut down. Instead pay attention to problems like low spots or soil settling along foundations where water may be collecting and running into the foundation. Once you have evaluated problems start thinking about design!

Be sure to look at the front of your house from different angles and entry points such as view from the street, turning into the driveway focal point, walking up the side walk, front door entry waiting zone and don’t forget exiting your front door view to the street!

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

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The Art and Wisdom of Japanese Gardens- karesansui

Dry Landscape Garden

This type of garden stone placement is modeled to look like the base of a mountain or hillside field. Where there are no water features present in nature or the maintenance of man-made water elements is not desirable this garden type can give you a similar look.

A wonderful example of this type of garden is located in Northfield MN on the campus of Carleton College to the east of Watson hall and up the hill from the tennis courts.

Jyo Ro En – The Garden of Quiet Listening – is a beautiful space that incorporates a mountain ‘stream’ cascading down to a wide ‘lake’ surrounded by lush vegetation carefully pruned to enhance the entire ‘picture’. The garden is viewed from the small pavilion and a path of stones directs you along the north edge of the garden.

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

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The Art and Wisdom of Japanese Gardens- STONES- simplified for the beginner

There are many guidelines within the Japanese Garden ideals for positioning, creating interpretation and energy transfer in alignment and design of rock layout. From the huge boulders that interpret mountain scenes to the tiny gravel that simulates the look of water we can create snapshots of the larger landscape views.

There are standing stones and lying stones which should be identified upon delivery of the stones so they can be placed appropriately. Some designers say that there should be more horizontal stones then vertical stones in your garden.

Other key notes highlighted in the book Infinite Spaces- The Art and Wisdom of the Japanese Garden include: Running away stones must have chasing stones, Leaning stones must have supporting stones, Upward looking stones there must be downward-looking stones, and Vertical stones must have horizontal stones.

Typically a principle stone is chosen and it dictates the arrangement of the other stones.

Once layout begins larger boulder types should be set securely in place with their bases deep in the ground. The best sides should be showing and if necessary lean a stone with an ugly top so that no one will notice it.

Flat type stones are also important for creating paths that lead us through the garden and cause reflection on the journey of life. A well designed path starts with the right foot stone and are placed appropriately for a leisurely walk through the space or a spaced close together for more of a ‘paved’ type surface.

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

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STRAWBALE GARDEN- a landscape designer perspective

Strawbale garden are a growing trend that has many positive aspects. The idea that you can grow vegetables anywhere- even on top of the driveway, has many people choosing to explore this option. A  couple of strawbales, few days of conditioning the bales, a good irrigation plan and a fertilizer application now and then can provide the fresh veggies you’ve been waiting for, with no digging required!

STRAWBALE GARDEN PREPERATION

First choose a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day (most vegetables need that much). Your site doesn’t have to be on level ground but you may want to add some bracing if it will be on a slope. Once you’ve put out your bales drive in metal T-post to the ground on the ends and attach wire between the posts. This wire will aid tomatoes and other taller vegetables with support as they grow.

Conditioning is a necessary process to provide the compost dirt in the bale to give the plant roots something to grow into. Research the available methods to do this 10-12 day process to be sure you have a successful experience. Do Not Skip the conditioning process. Water, water,water.

Install your plants or spread some potting mix on top of a bale and plant your seeds. Your garden is ready to grow!

SUMMER MAINTENANCE

Keep bales well-watered throughout the conditioning process and through the summer. A strawbale above ground is a lot like a pot of flowers it can dry out quickly in windy, hot conditions. One of the best ways to provide moisture is to add irrigation. Soaker hoses can work well and drip irrigation can be the best option since it gives direct spot watering.

Be sure to apply fertilizer to your bales through-out the summer months. Since you’re not growing plants in the soil that has nutrients available, you will need to supplement with your favorite garden fertilizer.

There should be no need to weed, though occasionally a mushroom will appear or if your bale had some seeds in it, they may sprout.

DESIGN TIPS

Incorporate your strawbales into an existing mulch planting bed (if there is enough room between plants). Shrubs behind your bales can act as a good support and help disguise the less then desirable decay that happens by the end of the season.

Sow seeds of nasturtiums into the sides of your bales and they will drape down the side and cover the bale. Or plant a row of annuals in the ground in the front of your bale (if you set your bales on soil) to provide some color and more bale camouflage.

Place your bales in interesting lines with paths between to create a maze or create a raised planter for more planting space.

To learn more about strawbale gardening check out the book -Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten. If you’re not sure how to incorporate some strawbales into your landscape call us and set up an appointment with a designer to help you choice the right location. Email: amy@vhiinc.com or call 507-581-6886.

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