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Show #17

Xeriscaping

Water is becoming more and more precious. In 1965 the average person
used about 50 gallons of water a day. Today the average person uses
about 200 gallons. Add to that the population growth in the south and
usage has skyrocketed. Rainfall in the south averages 40-60 inches of
rain per year but many areas of the south are and have been experiencing severe drought. The greatest amount of water in the summer is used outside the home. This seems surprising until you look at an average water sprinkler. They apply about 300 gallons of water every hour. What can be done? We can't stop watering our lawns and gardens, but we can choose plants that require less water. Xeriscaping comes from the Greek word Xeros which means "dry" and "Scape" for landscaping. We look at a garden that incorporates Xeroscaping principles. It uses Lantana, ornamental grasses, sedum and so on. They require less water, yet don't sacrifice the beauty or quality of your yard and garden. Simply by modifying your watering schedule can provide water savings. Water early in the day when the dew is still on the leaves. Pick plants that naturally thrive in your area. If sunny, pick plants that thrive in sunny areas, if shady, plants that do well in shade.

Bruce Ballard from Biltmore Estate provides some pruning tips for
shrubs. Azaleas bloom early in the spring, anytime after they flower you
can prune them, either a hard prune or soft prune. Azaleas flower on new growth, so after they flower, sometime before the middle of July, is a good time to prune. If you see a dead cane, remove it down to an area where new growth occurs, that way you won't have an open area. Bruce uses a pruning saw on this job because the cane is larger than 1 inch in caliper. His rule of thumb is not to use hand pruners on anything larger than 1 inch. He cuts at an angle away from the crown of the plant so that water sheds away from the plant and doesn't aid rot or decay. He doesn't use a sealer or paint on the wound, instead allowing the wound to dry in the air and heal itself.

If Azaleas are by a walkway, you'll want to keep them tight so traffic
isn't effected. Annual pruning is ideal for this situation. Take away
long, leggy growth, but leave lower inside growth so you don't leave a
hole in the plant. Remove the canes at a joint; that allows and
encourages growth. Remove dead or diseased canes. Lack of sun on parts of the plant may cause the canes to die, if this is the case remove all the way back to the joint at the base of the plant. Although we've discussed Azaleas, almost any shrub can be pruned similarly.

According to many scientists the Mosquito has caused more sickness and death than any other insect. When gardening outside Dr. Rick has some tips for dealing with this pest. Mosquitos from the time they are born until they die may only travel a couple hundred feet. The humming we hear is the flapping of their wings, they flap about a thousand times
per second, but they only travel one to one and one half miles an hour.
Mosquitos reproduce in about 7 days. That egg can lay dormant for up to 2 years. Mosquitos like water so if we can remove water sources we'll
stand an excellent chance of ridding ourselves of Mosquitos. Check your
gutters to make sure they aren't stopped up, check empty wheel-barrows, old tires, buckets, even a mud puddle. Mosquitos hunt for hosts with high levels of carbon dioxide, so if you've just exercised you're a prime target. Certain people's blood chemistry is more attractive than others. Mosquitos seem to be attracted to dark clothing. Herbs, Pansies, Peppermint, Sassafras, Clove, Pennyroyal tend to repel them. But removing standing water is the best single thing you can do to reduce the Mosquito population. If you have a pond add gold fish, or a minnow called Gambuza, they're excellent at eating Mosquito larvae. Dragonflies are Mosquito munchers. To attract Dragonflies take a Bamboo stick or several Bamboo sticks and place them around the perimeter. Dragonflies are Mosquito munchers. To attract Dragonflies take a Bamboo stick or several Bamboo sticks and place them around the perimeter. Dragonflies will roost on their top and wait for their prey. Another method is to make Mosquito traps. Take a couple of buckets, put them around the house, fill them with a liberal amount of dishwashing liquid then fill with water. This creates a sticky emulsion, when the female lands in the water she won't be able to fly away and drowns. Also consider Mosquito dunks or Mosquito donuts, they have Bacillus Thuringiensis or B.T. It is a bacteria that gets into the larvae and kills it. We place these in a pond or standing water and use 1 dunk for every 25 to 100 square feet. You will need to use them all summer long, but it is an organic way to get rid of Mosquitos.

Darien Ball says Biltmore Estate introduces new and interesting plant
varieties and hybrids every year. We look at Amaranthus Fat Spike,
Macalapha, Raggedy Ann, Tequila Sunrise, Inferno, all are heat tolerant,
enjoy water and full sun. The Clerodendum genus is a very large,
beautiful group of plants. We view Clerodendum Quadriloculare, it is a
great foliage plant. Caladium White Wing, like most caladiums is a
shade lover. There are 6 different varieties at Biltmore and dozens more
to choose from on the market. Justicia is a large genus and the
prettiest of the group. Justicia Carnea is an old standby at Biltmore,
their guest love the plant and it is easy to grow, it takes a lot of
water and tolerates heat. The Kings Crown usually forms a nice rounded
shape without a lot of pruning and the dark foliage compliments the hot
pink flower. The Saphoglassus is a good spring through early summer
bloomer. It fades out in the heat but puts out a good show till then.
The color variations run from bright yellow to jet black. Abyssinian
Banana and Sedi Verticosa has great color and interesting geometric
form. It's a heavy feeder, loves sunshine, the leaves don't tend to shed
as much as other bananas. The Abyssinian is considerably hardier than
other bananas. A relative of Kings Crown is Pachysatatachys Lutea, the
Lollypop Plant. It has nice yellow with white flowers. Tecoma Stans grows into a nice, large sized bush and can be trained into a standard
tree shape. The yellow trumpet blooms accent the garden. Egmia is part
of the Bromeliad collection. The pink and blue blooms accent the spiked
foliage. It makes a bold statement. We view an Epiphyte, which means it grows on a tree without soil. They are becoming more popular and
available through floral shops. Antirium varieties have red and white
blooms and are predominately from Hawaii. They are an acceptable
houseplant and can be used as a container plant in most southern
gardens.

Moss is a revered plant in certain cultures, Japan for example. Some
cultures actually build or create moss gardens. When moss is on a rock
or sculpture or a path it's attractive. When on your lawn it's an
indication something is wrong. Moss thrives in shady, compacted, poorly
drained, acidic soils. How do you rid your lawn of moss? You will need
to change the existing soil conditions. First check the PH of the soil.
Add lime, to insure it is at least 6.5. Core aerate to improve drainage.
Next prune or thin existing trees to get more sunlight to the area.
Remove existing moss with a flat shovel, this will allow grass to grow.
With moss on rocks you could use Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids or any
chemical with Pergolic Acid or Ferric Sulfate (in a ratio of 1 to 2
pounds per thousand square feet). These will kill Algae and moss on
contact.

When prepping beds for annuals and perennials you should consider the
ratio of clay to organic matter. The optimum ratio is about 50% clay
soil and 50 % organic matter. This allows the clay particles to hold
water and nutrients while the organic matter creates air places and
helps bind the clay particles together. Make sure you don't create a
layer effect, make sure both are mixed together. If not mixed well the
fine textured clay would pull the moisture out of the organic matter.

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FEATURED ARTICLE
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By Kimberly Toscano, Encore Azaleas, Photographs courtesy of Encore Azaleas

When moving into a new home it is always tempting to start planting as soon as possible. But, before digging into planting take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. For an informative article on the topic, click here.


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