You know you’re in trouble with a plant right off the bat when you don’t know what to call it! Do you pronounce it Clem-a-tis or Clem-a-tis? Whatever…we all know which plant we’re talking about. Here’s one time tested piece of advice: Keep their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade.

The truth is that clematis like their roots cool and moist, but they grow best in a sunny location. You can accomplish that a number of ways. Place mulch at the base of the plant or plant other perennials that don’t compete (ex. iris aren’t deep rooted). Decorative rocks also help shade the soil.

There are lots of cool varieties in many different colors these days. Heck ,they are even bush cultivars now! No old-fashioned garden is complete without them.

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Callery Pear Trees

(Pyrus calleryana) Varieties like Bradford and Chanticleer have been promoted for years as fast-growing spring blooming trees. The one in our front yard here at Back Home had to be one of the biggest in the state of Virginia before we finally took it down. It had a circumference of 6 ft. or more at its base. So what’s all the uproar about these trees now? 

First, they are brittle and famous for splitting (and they’re ugly after that). Second, genetic testing has revealed that when a Bradford hybridizes with other cultivars, an invasive wild hybrid with beautiful blooms results. This hybrid has been taking over the countryside. It sets fruit and it has thorns. Once they become established, they’re almost impossible to remove.

Our advice? Find a reputable nursery to recommend to you some spring blooming specimens. I’m partial to redbuds, but there are many more.

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Kill Weeds Naturally

There’s nothing more frustrating that taking time and money to create a beautiful garden only to have it taken over by weeds. Here are a few effective ways to get rid of and prevent weeds without using harmful chemicals.

After planting your garden, cover the soil with an extra layer of organic matter such as compost, bark, wood chips, straw, etc. This can smother existing weeds and prevent others from sprouting.

Dig ‘em Up
You can use a hoe or shovel to remove all weeds. However, this method requires constant attention. If you don’t put in the time, the weeds will come back and need to be dug up again. On the bright side, constant hand-weeding will prevent the weeds from reproducing.

Cram Packed Plants
Weeds can’t grow if there’s no room for them to do so. Planting dense ground covers and perennials will make it harder for weeds to grow underneath.

Bake ‘em
If you have a large area of weeds in an area that don’t have a lot of plants, you can cover the impacted area with heavy plastic sheeting. This works best in an area that gets full sun. Cover the area with plastic and let it sit for 4-6 weeks. When the area underneath is brown, you’re ready to move forward with planting your goodies.

Vodka, Man!
Mix 1 oz vodka, 2 cups water, and a couple drops of dish soap for an excellent natural weed killer. Spray the mixture on weeds that have good sun exposure. Keep in mind, this doesn’t work too well for weeds in shady areas.

Flame weeding is a the process of passing a flame briefly over an area to kill the weeds. A flame weeder is usually a wand connected to a propane tank. Please not this method only kills the weed plant on the surface and not the roots so you would have to do this on a regular basis. As with any fire-related activity, please take safety precautions.

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Impatiens Care

Appropriately referred to as “Busy Lizzie”, impatiens propagate like crazy. Even the gentlest touch can cause a ripe impatiens seed pod to burst, scattering its seeds about. Available in a rainbow of colors, impatiens love shade and moisture. Here are a few tips to keep these beautiful blooms healthy and thriving.

After the last Spring frost, plant impatiens in a humus-rich, moist, and well-drained soil. Plant them in an area where they have a bit of shelter from the wind. Impatiens can grow up to 30 inches tall so plant them 8-12 inches apart to keep them low to the ground. When it comes to sun, some impatiens like more sun than others. Be sure to check the label.

As we said, impatiens love moisture. Be sure to water them regularly, keeping them moist but not wet. If they get too much water, they could develop fungal diseases. If they start to lose their leaves, they need more water.

We have several varieties of beautiful impatiens here at the Greenhouse! Stop on by and pick some up.