Archive for the ‘Spent flowers’ Category

Today, after lunch, since I was in the Dining Room and half way to the gardens, I thought I’d take a little swing through them to see what was peeking up.  I was NOT disappointed!  In fact, after I waltzed through the 3 levels, I went upstairs and got my little iPod-Touch (my camera!) and went back to take some pictures of the rhododendrons.  They are VERY pregnant with blooms, IMG_7211and I thought that justified a blog posting about how to deal with rhododendrons, or rhodies, as I call them.

Over the next month these plants will bloom, and bloom and bloom.  They are among the most prolific and beautiful blossoms you will find in our gardens.IMG_7214IMG_7213

Now, how do you care for them?  They are really pretty easy.  Here are some basic points to think about:

  • DO NOT PRUNE UNTIL THEY ARE DONE BLOOMING.  If you do, you will rob us all of beautiful flowers!  If you want to pick some of your own blooms for use inside, that is of course your privilege.  Do NOT pick blooms from any one else’s garden however!  (Unless you have permission.)
  • Prune sparingly.  Try to remove ONLY dead and diseased plant material.  If the shrub really needs to be brought under control, size-wise, or if they are looking “leggy”, it’s easy to do by pruning right down as close to a parent branch as possible.  You will get new shoots, which will be blooming in a couple of years.
  • These plants bloom so prolifically that they often exhaust themselves trying to produce seed from all those blossoms.  If you are careful, you can remove the spent blossoms.  However, be careful to take ONLY the spent bloom, and NOT the leaves surrounding them, as that is where next years blossoms form.  If you are feeling timid about this, just leave them alone.  Then when they are completely dry, you can almost brush them off!  Or still leave them alone, the plant will be just fine.  Some wild plants are NEVER pruned and they continue to bloom as if they were being paid for it!!!IMG_7206
  • Here is a Washington State Extension article about pruning your rhodie.  It has more links associated with the page.  Click away!
  • Fertilize them?  They naturally grow in the woods, with no need for extra fertilizer.  They love partial shade, as well as all the needles and leaves that coat the forest floor.  Keep that in mind!
  • Do they need extra water?  Probably not.  As long as they have rich soil and good mulch they should do fine.  If we have a REALLY dry spell, they would probably be grateful for a DEEP watering.  They are shallow rooted, so if you don’t water them deeply, the roots will head toward the top of the soil to get that water, making them vulnerable to heat and dryness.IMG_7210

Here is a PDF from Washington State Extension Service.  It tells about a myriad of issues that can take down your rhodies and azaleas.  Don’t let the article scare you off.  It looks pretty dramatic.  BUT, if you DO have a problem with your shrub, there are great pictures here of what the affected plants and leaves look like, and then you can deal with the problem.  Click on the link to see the information.

Now, notice how healthy all the rhodies look in the photo’s I took today?  Our plants are doing quite well, and you probably won’t have ANY of those difficulties…so don’t worry about it!

At any rate, enjoy the rhododendrons as they fill our gardens with a profusion of wonderful color and cheer!  All of our gardeners are HOPING you go down to the garden terraces and just “hang out” there!

There was also a clump of Hellebores blooming away…here they are!IMG_7209


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Autumn is surely here! IMG_7026 The trees have turned color, started dropping their leaves and begun looking a bit “bare”.  It is the way of the garden…even our little gardens here at Horizon House.  Here’s a link that has photos and a few comments about our gardens.

But, to get back to autumn, and how it affects us, AND our gardens.  I decided to write this post because I’ve just begun to read a book about soil, called “Growing a Revolution-Bringing Our Soil Back to Life”, by David Montgomery.  Jean D. had asked if the IMG_7018Garden Committee would co-sponsor a program, with the Conservation Committee featuring David Montgomery, to speak about this new book.   I thought that would be a great idea.  He will be coming to HH sometime in the not too distant future.  Anyway, I’m LOVING this book and how he explains about the soil and how we can replenish it with far less chemical intervention.  Anyway, it got me thinking about how we can get into this “mode” here, even in our little gardens!

It is a totally natural approach.  It’s wonderful, not only for the soil, but for insects, and the wildlife, of which many of us are not really aware.  It is also easier on the gardeners, as the chores we usually accomplish in autumn are diminished.IMG_7028

Our garden beds are looking a bit scruffy right now.  It’s a time when we fussy gardeners think it’s time to clean up all the debris.  STOP!!!  DON’T DO IT!!!!

When we remove all that debris, we stop the soil from replenishing itself.  The leaves, if left alone, will become places for microbes and little critters to hide for the winter.  All those little guys will use the leaves for food, passing it into the soil in a form that can be utilized as the roots gobble it up to feed the plants!  So, don’t be too quick to remove those leaves!IMG_7019


IMG_7020Also, the plants themselves, if left standing are happily feeding birds and little creatures.  There are green buds, berries and seeds, all of which keep our wildlife fed and passing it back to the soil as they hop from place to place.IMG_7024

Sure, it doesn’t look wonderful to OUR eyes, but the soil and wildlife will be so appreciative!IMG_7025  Pledge to become a MESSY GARDENER along with the Nature Conservancy.  This link will tell you more about how these techniques will really be good all around!

I think I will write a note in the ALERT telling people that our gardens may be looking a bit “scruffy” during the winter months…and WHY!  So, go ahead and experiment.  Leave those leaves alone, and let’s see what happens.  In the spring, you can clean up your garden if you want.  Letting the leaves break down further will be good for the soil, but if it looks too nasty for you, go ahead and clean it up in the spring, but leave the leaves for now!

Here’s to the Horizon House Garden Committee’s contribution to replenishment of the earth’s soil!  Have fun being MESSY!


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Is the garden looking a little tacky?  It’s probably time to be “deadheading”.IMG_6831

At some point, every flower will stop flowering and begin to “set seed”.  The plant’s entire goal in life is to regenerate itself. IMG_6825 When the flower dies all it’s energy goes into making seed.IMG_6820  Unless you WANT seed from that particular plant, it is best to remove the “dead head” of the flower.  If you do this, the plant will try, yet again, to make more seeds, which translates into MORE FLOWERS!  So, deadheading not only makes the plant look neater, it actually stimulates it to make more flowers.

I went down into the three gardening terraces this morning to take pictures of examples.  So, you may see some pictures you’d rather not brag about.  IMG_6823It’s rather like taking pictures of your apartment the day before the cleaning lady comes! (Sorry)  But, they are just examples of when you need to start snipping, picking, plucking and cutting.IMG_6821

Deadheading is when you remove the dead blossoms and plant material from your garden.  I’ll talk a bit about it here, but in the meantime, here’s a link with a YouTube video explaining, and showing how to do it.  Deadheading video

When you “dead-head”, you can remove just the dead blossom, or you can follow the stem holding the dead flower down to the next healthy leaf.  You don’t want to have stumps of ANYTHING in the garden.  When you are done, it should look neat.

If you want, you can just let the seeds fall onto the ground around the mother plant, and hope for more of the same coming up in the spring.  Or you can put the debris into the compost pile.  Just remember, if that compost doesn’t get HOT, those seeds will sprout!

Do watch the little video, it will show you exactly what to do, with a demonstration!  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for nice, neat gardens!  🌺🌻🌱



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