The Gardener’s Dirt August 2009
Information you can dig into.
|North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Johnston County Center
2736 NC 210 Highway * Smithfield, NC 27577
| Shawn Banks
|In this Issue
|This newsletter offers timely information for your outdoor living spaces. Addressing the most common questions ranging from container gardening, tree pruning, wildlife management, to fire ant control, insect identification and lawn establishment.|
By Shawn Banks
|To some gardeners there is nothing prettier than a wooded lot where mature trees provide lots of shade in the summer. The feeling of being secluded in their own world is what the trees provide. In summer, trees help reduce the cost of cooling the house.
When a new gardener moves into a house on a shaded lot one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “What kind of flowers can I grow in all this shade?” Keep in mind that not all color comes from flowers. Consider foliage with different colors and textures when selecting plants for shade gardens. Some examples of plants that are flower but are mostly grown for their beautiful foliage include Hosta, Heuchera, Ajuga, Aucuba, and Polygonatum (Solomon’s-seal) along with many others. There is a wide range of ferns with beautiful, fine textured leaves that contrast with the larger leaves of Helleborus or Acanthus (Bear’s Breech).
There are some annuals that do well in deep shade such as Caladium, Coleus, and Impateins to provide a seasonal splash of color. Here are a few of the perennials that bloom well in shaded sites: native columbines (Aquilegia canadensis), bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia or D. spectabilis), Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida), Turtlehead (Chelone glabra or C. lyonii), and Astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii). A variety of shrubs do well in the shade with the added benefit of flowers at some point during the year, examples include: Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), native and hybrid azaleas (Rhododendron spp.), winter daphne (Daphne odora), and camellia (Camellia japonica or C. sasanqua).
Before planting anything, observe the site for a while. Note special characteristics like: Is the soil wet, moist, or dry? Is the shade heavy and dark, or light and dappled with sun? Select plants that will do well in the present environment. It is easier to change the plants to fit the environment than to change the environment to fit the plants.
A website you may want to visit for a look at some other plants for shade gardening is that of Rita’s Garden in Apex, NC. Here is the link http://www.ritasgarden.net/pages/home/index.php. I am going to try to put together a list of other plants that will do well here in Johnston County in shade gardens. Look for that information in an upcoming newsletter. If you have questions on plants that do well in the shade contact the Master Gardeners by e-mail at email@example.com or phone at 919 989-5380. Always remember that a garden is an ever-changing thing.
Musa basjoo; Musa balbisiana; Musa x paradisiaca
banana plant in a garden
|The banana plant is not a tree in that it does not have a woody stem. It is actually the world’s largest herb. The banana plant is the largest of all herbaceous flowering plants. The banana plant grows from a corm just like gladiolus. The base of the leaves form what is known as a pseudostem that can grows up to 20–25 feet tall.
Banana fruits come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. Bananas can be eaten raw, though some varieties are generally cooked. Some bananas produce seed, but many bananas are propagated from offshoots called pups. Dig one up to separate it from the mother plant and it can be transplanted to another area in the garden.
Many bananas are tropical in origin. The three mentioned above are more cold hardy and can be grown here in Johnston County. For best survival cover the main part of the stem with a two foot pile of leaves in the fall for winter protection. They may not produce flowers and fruits, but the foliage gives a tropical feel to any garden.
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|August 27 8:00 – 3:00pm JCC is offering a Tour and Lunch at Elodie Farms. The cost is $25 per person. Visit their website to register. http://www.johnstoncc.edu/arboretum/events.aspx
Rough brown snake.
|It’s a common misconception that the only good snake is a dead snake. There are only six different types of venomous snakes in North Carolina. Three of those can be found in Johnston County; timber rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead.
The most common snakes are the black rat snake, rough earth snake, eastern garter snake, or the worm snake. The smaller snakes feed on worms and slugs. The larger snakes are responsible for keeping small rodent populations in check.
Knowing which snakes are beneficial to your garden may help reduce anxieties toward them. A really good place to find information on snake identification is the herpetology webpage at Davidson College. They have a key that uses simple characteristics such as length, color, build, pattern and location to identify what snake it is.
Most snakes would rather run than fight and will get out of the way of humans. If they feel cornered the snakes may turn and defend themselves by biting or striking at whatever has cornered them. Bites will hurt even from a non-venomous snake. The best advice is to leave the snake alone and it will do the same for you.
The dog days of summer have begun!
TREES, SHRUBS & ORNAMENTALS
VEGETABLES & FRUITS
HELPING PEOPLE PUT KNOWLEDGE TO WORK.
Got Questions? We’ve got answers!
If you have a gardening issue you would like to see addressed in this newsletter please let me know I will do what I can to get you the information you need. Contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (919) 989-5380.
The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1 to 4 pm to answer questions as well. They can also be contacted by phone at (919) 989-5380 or by e-mail at email@example.com
|Past Newsletters||Johnston County Lawn and Garden|