Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 2013

Break out the broom. You probably don't think of a broom as a garden tool but I quite often use mine as one. One of my favorite uses is cleaning the winter damage from my  Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata). After a good sweeping the Phlox looks green and bright and ready to display its early spring flowers. Another sweepable (is that a word?) plant is Creeping Thyme (Thymus minus or serpyllum). It tends to look brown and dead at this time of year but cheers right up once I've broomed it. Other plants I sweep are Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa), Iceplant (Delosperma) and Creeping Rosemary (Rosmarinus). A broom is sometimes useful in cleaning fallen leaves from sturdy shrubs such as Sage (Salvias) and Lavender (Lavandula). Enjoy this warm spell and get those plants cleaned up.
Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) before

and after sweeping.

Divide perennials. Propagating a plant by dividing it into several individual plants, complete with roots and buds of their own, is called division. Most herbaceous perennials, those that die to the ground in the winter, will benefit from being divided every few years. Bee Balm (Monarda), Daylillies (Hemerocallis), some Sage (Salvia), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Coneflowers (Echinacea) are just a few that fall into this category. If your perennials have become overgrown, died out in the center or just don’t bloom as well as they used to, rejuvenate them by dividing now. Have the area you plan to transplant them to or the containers you will pot them in ready so you don’t leave their roots exposed for too long. Add 1/3 Back to Earth Compost to 2/3 of your native soil and a handful of Bone Meal to encourage root growth when planting in the ground. Use Uni-Gro Organic Potting Soil for containers. Start by digging up the root system using a trowel, spade or in the case of large clumps a garden fork. Shake off the loose soil and remove dead leaves and stems. Wash the soil from the crown so you can see the buds clearly. Divide the clump into sections that contain several buds or shoots and healthy roots discarding any old, woody growth. Replant and water thoroughly with a root stimulator to settle the soil around the roots. If it as been dry you may want to water the plants you are dividing the night before you plan to dig them to make your job a little easier.

Potentilla fruticosa 'Goldfinger'. 'Goldfinger' Cinquefoil, referring to its five-leaved leaflets, is a small, mounding deciduous shrub that grows at a moderate rate to 3' by 3' and is well adapted to moist or dry soil. This member of the rose family (Rosaceae) flowers all summer with deep yellow 2 " blooms at the ends of its branches. It is deer resistant and low maintenance, only needing to be sheared to about a foot tall in late winter keeping it fuller and more floriferous.  This shrub makes a good background plant in a low perennial bed with Coneflowers (Echinacea), Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa), the ground cover Dwarf Plumbage (Ceritostigma) or other low growing red or blue flowers. It is also nice as a foundation plant or in a cottage garden. Potentilla 'Goldfinger' will be happy in full sun or part shade, is cold hardy to zone 2 (-50 to -40) and drought tolerant once established.
Potentilla fruticosa 'Goldfinger'