Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | May 15, 2011

Gardening “Oh No’s”

It was with a heavy heart I had to tell my dear friend her roses had the dreaded ‘rose rosette’ disease.  The rosette disease, is fatal to cultivated roses in the United States.  There is no cure, only remove and destroy.

It is a strange-looking disease.  The rose become vicious – extreme thorniness, weird-looking leaves and a wild crazy growth that is called ‘witches broom’.

Witches Broom on knock out roses

The sad thing is even if you try to prune it out, once the rose is infected, its toast.


Because this is  a virus disease, if you prune the sick rose and without cleaning your pruners you then prune a healthy one, you could have just spread the disease.  Even if there are roots left in the ground when you removed the sick rose and plant a new healthy rose, those roots could still spread the disease.  It’s not in the soil, it is in the plant and roots.  A tiny bug, an eriophyid mite, a wingless mite that can travel passively in the wind is the main culprit.

Proper plant placement, cleaning your tools with a mild bleach solution, using good fertilizers like Bayer all in one for Roses and not hesitating to email or call your garden coach, will help you avoid some of the ‘Oh No’s!!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | May 4, 2011

New Finds – Systemic Rabbit deterrents!!

Keeping rabbits off of your plants is a challenge for a lot of us.  Listening to people talk about their problems with those voracious eaters has led me to wanting to write a book about rabbit resistant gardening.  My strategy is to plant more trees, shrubs and perennials that they don’t like and try to break their habit of using your garden for a meal.

One of the tricks to break these creatures of habit, is to use sprays that smell really bad and/or have hot pepper in it so the rabbit won’t like the taste.  Depending on the type of spray used, it can last till the next rain, or three months meaning –  you have to reapply at some point.

It was very exciting to find a very long-lasting repellent.  I found Repellex, systemic tablets, at our local Ace Hardware.  I knew about the development of this product and was excited to learn it has been approved by the E.P.A.   So simple to use!

“In the case of Repellex, tablets with the delivery formulation are placed near the roots of a plant and, when watered, release a natural hot pepper concentrate known as capsicum that is absorbed by the plant, making it inedible.”

“This is a great application because capsicum is very safe and very effective. There is no
genetic modification. Eventually the plant will outgrow the capsicum treatment,
but it lasts much longer than spray repellents.”

I have a customer with a bunny population under her deck.  I applied the tablets around her roses and the annuals I just planted for her.  I will let you know how well it works.

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | April 22, 2011

Don’t let the rainy day blues get you!

If you’re ready for some spring color,

          here’s a simple, cheerful combination that will take cold weather.

An easy recipe, just mix:

3 Superbells ‘Dreamsicle’

2 Nemesia Sunsatia ‘Lemon’

2 Verbena ‘Pink Shades’

Just because it is cold and rainy, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and color!  Pansies, violas, snapdragons, sweet-smelling
stock, dusty miller and even alyssum can all handle this chilly weather.    Having a simple pot full of pansies, at the front door, will bring a smile to your  face.         

Are you doing any special for Earth Day?

It amazes me that the simple things, like turning off the lights when you leave a room, not letting the water run while brushing your teeth or doing the dishes, are not taught to our children.  Our household has always been environmentally aware, partly because of my love of nature, partly because my husband is an environmental manager and mainly because we save money by doing so.

Reuse and recycle is a way of life for us, even when it can be embarrassing (more on that next month).

If you haven’t started composting, now is the time.  We keep a bucket under the sink for coffee grounds, kitchen scraps and tea bags.
When it gets full, we take it to the compost pile in the back of my gardens.  You can have a simple pile, single bin or three bins.  The key is to add green (fresh) and brown (dry) mixing them with air, by stirring or turning it over and let it decompose.  Or just dig a deep hole, 18-24” and bury the scraps.  You will be amazed at how much you can compost and not put down the garbage disposal or in the trash.   At the very least, spread the coffee grounds around your roses or in the perennial beds.

Look for the silver lining in this chilly, wet April.  The cold keeps the daffodils and tulips around much longer and I love my daffodils!  The rain delays much-needed pruning, but enables paperwork and promotes homemade chicken noodle soup, my favorite!

Have a Happy Easter!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | April 5, 2011

Don’t be an April Fool and forget to fertilize!

Another easy reminder for the garden, “you are a fool if you don’t fertilize in April”.  Whether it is the lawn, your roses, trees, shrubs or even ground covers, fertilizing now is a big help to having that beautiful garden. 

As you begin raking and pulling weeds, sprinkle in some Preen weed preventer with brilliant blooms fertilizer.  It is a great all in one, weed preventer and fertilizer. 

Now is the time to put down a crabgrass preventer.  This needs to be done before night time temperatures reach 50 degrees.  Thats when crabgrass seeds begin to emerge.  If you want to go organic, use Corn Gluten Pre-emergent 8-2-4 controls weeds naturally by Concern.  It may be pricey, but worth it when you are worried about children, pets or the environment.

 It is important to know the NPK ratios of your fertilizers. Just remember “up-down-all around“!

 N – nitrogen is ‘Up” the green of the plant. High nitrogen is used for the lawn.  

P -phosphorus is “Down” or the roots and the flowers.  You will see super bloom boosters with a high phosphorus like 56.    

 K – potassium is for all around health of the cell structures. 

If nothing else, you can’t go wrong with an all purpose 10-10-10 in the garden.  Although, you would never use that on a lawn.

So, back to chipping and shredding in my yard.  Front is done and heading to the back.  Have to cut the grape vines and annabelles today before they really take off with budding. 

Happy pruning!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 23, 2011

Winter interest gives way to spring clean up

Sharpen those pruners and start cutting!

Rain, a blessing and a frustration.  The gardens are calling me to clean them up.  The rain prevents the easier shredding of everything I rake or cut back because it will clog up my old Toro chipper/shredder.  So I am bagging it baby!  Probably have so many bags in the garage, my husband won’t be able to park the car.  Upside, when it all dries out, I can shred it.

While racking up the leaf mulch, I see my favorite weed is back and loose, Quack grass.  Drives me whacky, trying to eliminate it.  Now is the time to work on it.  With the soil so moist, the grass pulls out easier.  Nasty 12 inch long roots can run vertically and horizontally.

White rooted Quack Grass

The heuchera behind the quack grass will also be cut back to the new growth.  Crocus were fighting their way through the mulch and my Helleborus bloomed!!  Now where is the motrin!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 16, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day!! Grab your green beer and….


Pruners!  Its time to get outside and prune the roses!

I have used St. Patrick’s Day as an easy reminder for homeowners to think about their gardens.  The best indicator for spring pruning is the forsythia shrub.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know what that shrub is.  But everyone loves to be Irish on St. Patty’s Day and if it helps anyone to get outside and help their gardens get a good head start, I am glad.

My mother started my love of roses.  Growing up I would help in the garden by putting coffee grounds around the roots.  My 100% Irish, Grandpa O’Bryan started my love of gardening!

Shrub roses can be pruned hard.  I will prune my knockouts and shrub roses down to 4-6 inches from the ground.  My hybrid tea roses, I will prune to 7-10 inches and only keep 3 -4 healthy stems.  No crossing branches allowed.  Open vase shape is preferred. 

My antique roses are treated differently.  I will remove all the old gray stems now, and cut back after it blooms because it only blooms once.  I tolerate this old rose simply because my Uncle Roger gave it to me from his home in Georgia.  He told me, the rose originated from his mother’s home in Detroit.  Grandma O’Bryan, I think of you all the time!!

I have climbing roses that I will gently prune back and then arch the canes.  The new blooms will come from the arching. 

Prune back all ornamental grasses to 4-6 inches from the ground.  Annabelle Hydrangea can be pruned to 2 inches from the ground!  Cut old stalks down from coneflowers, and any perennial that was a late summer bloomer. 

Do NOT prune the lilacs, ornamental crabapples, forsythia, or bridal veil spirea.  Anything that blooms in April and May, you want to wait until after they bloom to prune.

Any questions???  Let me know.  In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful day and GO OUTSIDE!

Tis proud I am to be Irish!  Have a good one! 

“May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go,
and guide you in whatever you do–
and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.”

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 9, 2011

Snowdrops are blooming!

St. Patrick’s day is next week!! Remember my motto?

As I look at my garden, I realize there is alot of clean up to do.  Pruning, pruning and more pruning, means the pruners all need to be cleaned and sharpened.  Even as I go through the garden, I am stepping carefully, watching for spring bulbs that I have tucked everywhere.  Some perennials were heaved up out of the ground, so I gently push them back in. 

Roses, grasses, burning bush, privets, black eyed susans, coneflowers, hydrangeas, sedum, mums, daylilies, hostas, just about everything in my yard has to be cut back, reshaped, and mulched.  I prefer to bag all my clippings and then put them through the chipper/shredder when they are dry.  I put most of the mulch on my hosta beds and around the roses.  I will hold off on buying mulch until after spring bulbs are up.  That way I can see them and most of the baby perennials. 

Spring bulbs are pushing up, hellebores (Lenten Roses) are getting ready to bloom, time to gear up and get outside!!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | September 2, 2010

Corn Gluten

Thanks Nan, for asking about this natural pre-emergence herbicide.  I haven’t used it enough to get the results I want.  I love that it is safe for animals. 

“Corn gluten meal (CGM) is a natural substitute for synthetic pre-emergence herbicides. Pre-emergence herbicides attack seeds while they’re still in the ground, before the seedlings emerge from the soil. CGM is a by-product of commercial corn milling that contains the protein fraction of the corn. Its use poses no health risk to people or animals. In fact, because it is 60% protein, corn gluten meal is used as feed for cattle, poultry, fish, and dogs. In addition to the 60% protein, corn gluten meal is 10% nitrogen, by weight.”  For more information follow this link:

It is a little pricey, but better for your lawn than the chemicals we usually use.  I didn’t get it this year and oh my goodness do we have crabgrass!!  So frustrating.  Will have to use the chemicals again this fall.  But will definitely use corn gluten twice next year; Early Spring and then mid August.  Bradfield Organics is a great supplier and their website lets you put in your zip code for nearest retailer.

I have never grown loofas.  Nancy, was your efforts successful overall, other than needing larger supports?  is a great resource site. 

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | August 31, 2010

Final fertilizing

Can you believe Labor Day is next week? I am amazed at how fast this summer went?  I have learned a few things, how about you?

I learned I really don’t like to have too many container gardens. I hate watering everyday.  My vegetable garden was supposed to get a  drip system put in.  Never got around to it.  The beautiful petunia hanging baskets looked pathetic. 

I learned that if you don’t use corn gluten, or crabgrass preventer, you can have an entire lawn of crabgrass!! So after this next rain, I will be hand weeding the darn stuff.  So frustrating!  Will definitely remember to take care of my own lawn next year.  Have to put the corn gluten down after forsythia is in bloom!  Same time as pruning my roses.

I much prefer my established perennial beds.  Rarely needed any extra watering.  The rain barrels were a huge blessing.  Used them all the time, just turn the lever to open the drain and walk away.  Had to remember to close it before the next rain though.

 The important message is that it is time to fertilize your roses one more time.  Bayer all in one for roses is still hands down my favorite.  You can lightly prune them back, but not after labor day.  Roses needed to get as much energy back into the root system before winter.  If you cut back your rose too much, you weaken the rose for next year.

Here’s some before and after pictures of work done this year!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | August 3, 2010


Our garden came with an ancient grape-vine.  The first couple of years we were blessed with great harvests.  We made wine and grape jam.  The last 18 plus years were very dismal in what we were able to harvest.  Between the animals, weather and vacations, we were never able to pick enough grapes to make anything.

This is year is different! Stephanie and I covered the grape arbor with netting three weeks ago.  Yesterday we picked some sweet concord grapes!  I am so looking forward to making jam/jellies.  Gave up on the wine making though.  The last time we made wine, well, it is still in the five gallon jug.  Its been over 10 years and we are pretty sure it is nothing but wine vinegar now.  Maybe this is the year to get some pretty bottles and give it away for Christmas!

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