So summer is here even if it’s not June 21 - the longest day of the year.  I used to say I can handle Oklahoma weather – it’s just two bad months a year – but for the last  few years June is becoming the 3rd bad month…too hot for us to be outside and too hot for our plants!

I look out at all of my beautiful pots and my favorite purple cascade petunia is suffering…it won’t be long before I will pull them out and replant some hardy plants in their place –but they just won’t be the same as my faithful, fragrant petunia.  Last year I tucked in some lavender shades of lantana and more purslane – they did the job no matter how hot July and August became.

So gardeners if you have finished up your planting – get at it not much time left.

Top Things to do in June                 

  • Now is the time to really start paying attention to the watering part of your job as gardener in tune with your garden.   The summer heat comes on strong in June, and hand watering your newer plantings, e.g. roses, will pay off.
  • Remember to shut your sprinkler off if you receive heavy rains - we can hope this happens.
  • Check out varieties of perennials at the nurseries you might not see in the spring months – verbascum, agastache, and rudbeckia – find a spot for them – they are wonderful in any garden.
  • Dead head your roses, petunias, verbena, geraniums, and penta – they will reward you with fresh blossoms.
  • Continue to support your roses and climbing vines – they will continue to provide vigorous growth through the summer months
  • Container plantings will benefit from weekly feedings of water soluable fertilizer like Miracle Grow. 

Best of the Season

Hydrangeas – the hydrangeas look especially wonderful this year.  In fact I was in Dallas a few weeks ago and was struck by one beautiful yard in Highland Park; the entire property which looked to be about one acre in size was completely surrounded by endless summer hydrangeas.  Unlike most of the hydrangeas in Oklahoma City, these were that beautiful shade of blue we all crave in the garden, not the pinky blue we seem to have.  I’m often asked how to keep hydrangeas blue, and it’s all about the soil pH.  A strong acid soil of pH 5.5 or lower will result in blue flowers while a more alkaline soil pH 6.2 and above will promote pink flowers on your hydrangeas.  If you must have the blue then add garden sulfur to promote the acidic soil they need – and if you want pink and are lucky enough to have blue then use some dolomitic lime.  I have never altered the pH of my soil, deciding that it is best to work with the soil I have, after all I never met a hydrangea I didn’t love.

I also get asked about pruning hydrangeas….basically don’t do it unless they get to big for the spot you have them in.  Of course prune off the dead sticks in late spring if they don’t have any leaves on them, but that’s it.  The older varieties of hydrangeas like Nikko Blue bloom on old growth only – so know your hydrangeas – hard to go wrong with the new repeat blooming varieties like ‘Endless Summer’.

Who wouldn’t love this pink beauty…no need to turn this blue…

If only we lived in Boston!

Don’t overlook the magnificent Oak Leaf hydrangea – blossoms the size of milk

bottles!  This is one of my standby plants in a beautiful landscape.  Please do not

 prune this plant – the bigger the better – tall is good and natural.

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

The term bucket list became a popular slang after the movie The Bucket List became such a huge hit and struck a chord with so many of us that life is short – so make it sweet. Even before I developed my own “bucket list”, the Kuekenhof Gardens were on my must-see list. I had traveled to Holland many times, but was never able to orchestrate the timing so that I was there when the gardens were at their peak. Also making a trip there a little tricky is the fact that the gardens are only open 2 months out of the year. This year my stars were aligned along with a trip to Sweden to see our granddaughter and celebrate her 3rd Birthday. The trip to Kuekenhof did not disappoint, and Amsterdam is a fun city as well, so I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone who appreciates nature and spectacular garden design. It is the most photographed place in the world.

Top things to do in May:

  • Enjoy all of the beautiful plants continuing to come into the nurseries from growers – nurseries keep their inventories high through May.
  • Complete spring plantings of perennials, summer annuals, rose bushes, shrubs and trees.
  • Ideally, this is the last month to plant ball & burlap trees, so they have a chance to tolerate the summer heat…of course you can plant throughout the summer, but this will require more work on your part.
  • Begin to convert your containers from spring flowers to those that will endure the summer heat.
  • Review the placement of your perennials and edit as necessary – are sunny perennials getting enough sun – if not move them to a sunnier spot – likewise for shade loving plants.
  • Apply a dose of ironite or milorganite for greener lawn.
  • Check for suckers and dead limbs in your trees – out they go!
  • Secure climbing roses and vines – they will grow twice as fast – don’t let them languish on the ground or flop around in the wind.
  • Apply slow release fertilizer to flower beds and containers.
  • Monitor your water based on the weather – don’t leave your irrigation system on auto pilot – take control for better results and water conservation.
  • Enjoy the surrounding gardens and neighborhoods, as this is definitely one of the most beautiful months to see various plants and shrubs showing off their season’s best.

Best of the Season

  • Everything is green in shades only seen this time of year
  • Roses, hydrangeas, flowering vines – clematis, jasmine
  • Early Summer Flowering perennials – penstemmon, scabiosa, huechera, daisies…and so many more
  • Japanese Maples

Just a few photos from our stroll through the Kuekenhof Gardens:

Kuekenhof is the largest bulb flower park in the world, it covers an area of over 32 acres and over 4.5 million tulips are planted in 100 different varieties. 7 million flower bulbs are planted by hand.

As we walked through the front gate to the garden, this massive display flanked us on both sides of the entrance – you could hear an audible wow from everyone!

More than 2500 trees can be found throughout the gardens. As you can see, many of the trees are enormous – as they are hundreds of years old. There are 87 different varieties of trees scattered about creating the incredible bones of the garden design.

The fragrance of the hyacinths was completely intoxicating.

Where Kuekenhof is situated now, was a hunting area in the 15th century. This design, in the English landscape style, has always been the basis of Kuekenhof.

There are many lakes and streams situated throughout the gardens, this was a unique feature – stepping areas fashioned to look like lily pads….

A small garden shop had scores of potted bulbs displayed.

A beautiful combination of pink tulips and burgundy hyacinths.

Inside an exhibition hall, new varieties of various bulbs were displayed. My husband is over 6’ tall - look at how high these tulips are!!!!! These were almost unbelievable!

My husband also has large hands….look at the size of these tulip flowers!

Playing chess with a woman from Russia…he stopped after a while… 

The only thing that made our trip to Kuekenhof better was seeing it for the first time with dear friends…White Flowering Crabapple tree behind us.

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

As many years as I have planted tulips and pansies in the fall, I still find myself so amazed at the difference the tulip makes in the spring garden as she emerges from the earth. Tulips add dimension and vibrancy that only they can add to your springtime landscape. Yes, they don’t come back in our climate here in Oklahoma – but they are well worth it – I always tell my clients and gardening pals they are a luxury you give your neighbors and yourself! Tulips beautify a neighborhood in a way that only they do in the spring when everything is green and vibrant – a breath of fresh air! Try them once and you’ll be hooked.

Now that the temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s gardeners are out in force everywhere – this is the month we wait for all year. We get to enjoy all of the fruits (flowers) of our labor and planning. April and May are the most beautiful months of the year. The birds are chirping, and the garden is coming to life – much more than just the pansies and tulips now…. Happy planting!

Top things to do in April

  • April 15 is last freeze date – plant with confidence.
  • Planning and the right gardening in April can give way to months of enjoyment during the upcoming summer months.
  • Late April and early May is the optimal time to remove dying pansies and the foliage from tulips (which do not come back in Oklahoma).
  • Getting your summer plantings in by late April to mid May will give you stronger plants – this will allow them to thrive during the hot months of July and August.
  • Several trips to the nursery are surely on your agenda - I once went to a nursery 5 times in one day….obsessive?
  • Spring plantings of perennials, annuals, rose bushes, shrubs and trees are in full force.
  • Secure climbing roses and vines – they will grow twice as fast – don’t let them languish on the ground or flop around in the wind.
  • Begin the transition from your spring containers to summer plantings.
  • Take photos of your containers to the nursery to help you plan out which plants to purchase. If you took photos of your containers last year at the end of the year when they should have looked their very best – that can also help when purchasing plants for your containers.

Best of the Season

  • Flowering trees like Redbud, Whitebud, Crab Apple
  • Roses
  • Flowering Vines like cross vine, wisteria, clematis, jasmine
  • Flowering shrubs like viburnum and snowball and spireas
  • Green fescue and rye blends of grass
  • Perennials – Salvias, Dianthus, Creeping Phlox, Woodland Phlox, Violets
  • Pansies and Tulips

Spectacular example of old fashion Eastern Snowball bush – a “must-have” for the Spring garden.

Beautiful container for the Spring – get planting!

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

Spring is definitely in the air, and if you have walked through your garden then you have seen all buds ready to pop and fresh green growth on your roses, perennials and ornamental grasses. The pansies are waking up after their winter nap and the tulips have emerged and will be blooming this month.

Top things to do in March

  • Late February and early March is the optimal time to perform most Spring Clean up and pruning tasks – do this now and you won’t prune off beautiful new growth – if you procrastinate you will.
  • Check the February blog on things to do in February – do those this month if you didn’t do them last month.
  • Feed cool season grasses like fescue and rye with fertilizer and for extra dark green grass I like to add an application of ironite or milorganite.
  • Bring the pansies you planted last fall back to life after our long icy winter by removing the dead foliage and then a boost with water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Grow.
  • If you are like most gardeners, you can’t resist strolling through the nurseries looking for old favorites and new varieties alike Always fun to see the new Proven Winner selections, I like to incorporate these into containers because it’s an easy and safe way to try them out.
  • In Oklahoma, our last freeze date is mid-April – so before that only hardy plants get planted but after April 15, you should be safe to plant tender annuals and vegetables for your summer garden.
  • Secure climbing roses and vines – they will grow twice as fast – don’t let them languish on the ground or flop around in the wind.
  • Take photos to remember color combinations of pansies and tulips for the upcoming fall when it’s time to plant them again.
  • Don’t be afraid to prune….but please avoid the hedge / lollipop effect – use hand pruners and selectively prune your shrubs to keep them at just the right size and tight.
  • Prune / cut back evergreens which need to be maintained – hollies and yew – but please don’t use electric shears – try to avoid pruning if at all possible – if the right plant is in the right spot it should need only minimal pruning….try to avoid the “lollipop” effect as this will require a lifetime of difficult maintenance.
  • Do Not prune the tops of your tree form crepe myrtles - just edit limbs as needed
  • I have seen so many examples of bad pruning, resulting in many beautiful shrubs being more or less ruined. It can be very difficult for shrubs to come out of the shock of the hedge effect.

When I see this form of Crepe Murder I just cringe…..this tree will never look the way it was intended to look once this is done – please don’t do this to your crepe myrtles. If you see the guys that mow your grass come near your crepe myrtles with pruning shears or clippers send them away!

Best of the Season

  • Green fescue and rye blends of grass looking lush and dark green
  • Pansies & Tulips in full display
  • Flowering trees like crab, redbud, whitebud
  • Flowering shrubs like forsythia, snowball, viburnum are just coming on
  • Spring Perennials – creeping phlox, dianthus, candytuft

Mix of white tulips with shades of violet pansies and white for the tie in

Giant Darwin Tulips – Pink and Apricot Impression with a blue mix of pansies

Warm colors of citrus

If you love or Hyacinths or if you aren’t sure what they are …. Check out the massive planting at Classen Curve in front of the 501 café….the fragrance is beyond intoxicating!

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

Yesterday it was a balmy Spring-like temperature of 74 degrees – how can this be – Spring is still 2 months away! Mother Nature was obviously just teasing us with what’s to come, as today is 34 degrees and we are heading down to single digit temperatures this week. Knowing that it was going to be super cold this week, I took advantage of the warm weather and gave all of my thirsty outdoor pots and containers a long drink of water. The English Roses also called out to me for a deep drink and I happily obliged them.

In my opinion, February is the absolute most important month on the garden calendar because the timing is so critical with so many garden chores – get the timing right and the results will be optimal – miss the timing on certain chores and the outcome can really be dismal.

Pruning is probably the most important chore to be done between the middle of February and early March. I always tell my gardening buddies and garden clubs – mark your calendar on Valentine’s Day with the following garden tasks…if you do them you will be rewarded for months and your plants will be much healthier as a result of your paying attention to the calendar.

I planted these paperwhites bulbs about 3 weeks ago! The second wave comes up even faster – I think because they get a longer day of sunshine…their fragrance fills my home with thoughts of Spring!

Top Things to do in February

  • Prune to keep your plants tight but still natural – avoid hedges and the lollipop look.
  • Please don’t commit Crepe Myrtle murder by chopping off your tree form Crepes – only prune to edit suckers and errant limbs – let the growth continue upwards to achieve the graceful habit they will provide.
  • The best time to prune evergreens – Hollies, Yew, Yaupon, Boxwood, Laurel, Pines of all varieties is now.
  • Prune roses – shrub roses should be severely pruned – I keep mine around 18” – and remove all dead wood. Climbing roses should be pruned just to be kept in the space you want them in.
  • Now is the best time to provide support for your climbing rose canes – they are already setting buds and before they begin to put more buds out get them tucked away into their trellis systems.
  • Apply systemic food and herbicide to bases of roses – I love to use the Bayer 2-in-1 product.
  • Apply Ironite other organic products to cool season grasses around the middle of February – they will be emerald green in March – the perfect time for your cool season lawn to look lush and green.
  • Prune deciduous trees – this is the perfect time to see the bones of the tree…get suckers and limbs interfering with other limbs out of there.
  • This is a good time to assess the life cycle of your trees. Are you hanging on to an old Elm tree long past its prime? There are so many wonderful varieties of trees out there just begging to be planted in their place.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses – liriope, mondo, ‘Sweet Flag’ and the taller varieties like pampas and fountain grass. Cutting these back in March means cutting back fresh spring growth.
  • Begin cutting back the perennials in your garden beds – finalize this in early March.
  • Begin garden cleanup in flower beds later this month.
  • Apply a dose of food to pansies and spring flowering perennials like candy tuft, dianthus, and creeping phlox – they will really benefit after the winter months.
  • Order bare root roses from rose sources like Antique Rose Emporium, David Austin Roses, and Heirloom Roses.
  • Continue to water when the weather doesn’t cooperate – but turn off your automatic sprinkler system when the temperatures are below freezing.
  • Look at your garden design – next month is a great time to tweak or modify it.
  • Clean your garden tools.
  • Enjoy the hint of warmer days to come.

Best of the Season

  • Daffodils – with their whimsical trumpet faces – smiling at the sun!
  • Forsythia – un-pruned and naturalized the way it should be.
  • Crocus – one of the earliest bulbs to bloom in the Spring.

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -