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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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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GROW YOUR FOOD! Gardening ideas and types.

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

There are so many ways though 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

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!

Need some help in putting your ideas into a great design that works with your lifestyle and available space? Give Amy Voight a call 507-581—6886 or email amy@vhiinc.com and setup your initial site visit today! We can help you on the journey to a great productive landscape.

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Spring Perennial Maintenance

With warmer Temps and longer sunlight hours comes the spring cleaning duties. Roll up the sleeves, sharpen the pruner and head outside to tidy up your landscape and get those spring cleaning chores done.

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

With the snow melted and gone and the soil temperature above freezing, now is a good time to cut down perennials left for winter interest. Ornamental grasses should be cut down to 3” or so before the new green growth starts to appear as it gets warmer. If your clumps have been planted for 3-5 years it may be time for division. A good sign of this need is a ‘balding’ center of plant. The best process to accomplish division is to first dig out the entire root area and divide into sections using a soil knife or sharp spade. Reinstall one of the divisions back in the original hole and plant the rest of the divisions in a new area or give away to friends!

HOSTAS AND DAYLILIES

Pull off or cut away any remaining leaves left on these plants. Division may be necessary for plants to remain healthy. While division can happen at almost anytime with these two spring is the best time.

CORAL BELLS AND OTHER ‘EVERGREEN’ TYPES

Be careful not to uncover these sensitive type plants too early and expose them to freezing Temps if winter decides to revisit few times. Carefully pull away any leftover leaves to tidy them up.

Cleanup all other sticks and stalks and lightly rake your garden areas if there is an abundance of leaves or other debris. Don’t worry about getting every last little thing to allow natural composting to happen .

Call on us for your spring landscape maintenance needs. We can get you started on the right path for a beautiful landscape that will bring you joy all season. Visit www.ateamlandscape.com Email aTeam@vhiinc.com or CALL Amy 507-581-6886 to setup your groundskeeping consultation today.

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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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Early Spring Gardening in MN- February to April

Seed Starting Helpful Tools and Equipment: egg cartons, milk jugs, seed starting tray systems, clear bags, shop lights, metal shelving unit, seedling fertilizer, small watering can, wood label sticks or clothespins

Seed Starting- Indoors- Celery is first at the end of February followed by Brussel sprouts and onions a couple weeks later. Eggplants and peppers are started in mid March and Brassica family (Cabbage, broccoli etc.) toward the end of March. The beginning of April means 6 weeks until our last frost date (mid May) Tomatoes are started now followed up by squash, cucumbers and pumpkins on late April if you want to give them a head start.


Seed Starting- Outdoor- using milk jugs as mini greenhouse planters you can successfully start seed for cool weather vegetables or prairie type flowers. This year I’m trying this method with: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Parsley and Kale around Mid/Late-March. Towards the end of April spinach and lettuces could be started in the garden but may need night protection. If the soil isn’t too cold and wet Potatoes can be planted.


Groundskeeping Helpful Tools and Equipment: Felco hand pruners, hedge trimmer (manual or battery powered), Loppers, Pruning Saw, tarp to pile clippings on.

Groundskeeping- cut ornamental grasses and other perennials left for winter interest to 3” high. Pull away any leaves or other organic debris from planting beds once snow has melted and overnight temps are above freezing most nights.

Groundskeeping- Pruning – cut spireas, potentilla and weigela to 6” high every 3 years for fresh growth. The general rule is cut back no more then 1/3rd back and 1/3rd thining out for shrubs. Prune spring bloomers (like lilacs and azalea) right after bloom is finished. Most trees should be pruned by the end of March but birch and maple will drip sap at this time of the year.

Homemaking- Maple Syrup is dependent on weather for sap flow. Time to order chicks for meat or eggs.

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