A Small, Private Back Yard With Tea Olive and Roses

I often refer to landscaping as a four-dimensional art form. When questioned about this observation, I reply that “the fourth dimension of the art form is time. The landscape planting is an ever-changing entity.” For this reason I never know what I will see when I walk into a yard several years after its installation. The site may meet my expectations, exceed them, or in a few cases it may be a dismal failure.

Helen and Jack Runninger had invited Dekie and me over for a Friday night pizza dinner. Our delightful friend Ginger Grant was also invited. I was looking forward to seeing our friends as well as being curious about the fate of the privacy back yard that I had put together four or five years earlier. I was pleasantly surprised. The garden truly exceeded my expectations.

A privacy wall with tea olive, Knockout roses, and lantana.

A privacy wall with tea olive, Knockout roses, and lantana.

Jack and Helen got married later in life—much later. They sensibly downsized their living accommodations by moving to a very nice retirement community with one level floor plans and small yards. If I recall correctly, Jack was head over heels in love and gave Helen a johntheplantman back yard as a housewarming gift. I started by laying a slate patio with stone that had been donated by one of Helen’s friends.

The yard started with this grey slate patio

The yard started with this grey slate patio

When the patio was finished we pulled up chairs, looked around, and discussed the rest of the back yard planting. There was no privacy. To the left was a very nice yard with flower beds but no real privacy. To the right we could see yard after yard after yard. The ugly part, though, was the rear border of Jack and Helen’s yard. There was a hill-or a large terrace- that went down into the yard behind them and the house at the bottom of the hill was situated so that from the Runninger’s new patio, all one could see was an ugly roof. I thought long and hard about the design. It had to be beautiful, effective, and low maintenance.

I had to put in some complicated drainage and then a raised bed with some good compost. I planted tea olives on the back property line for a high evergreen screen. (The tea olives were about three feet high when I planted them.) I put Knockout roses to the front of the tea olives and prepared a raised flower bed in front of the roses. The first year of the flower bed we had pansies but the deer and rabbits brought their own salad dressing to that feast. The following summer we planted lantana and Helen said that the lantana come back reliably year after year.

This is funny. I told the ladies that I was going to take pictures of the garden for a blog article. They asked me what I wanted them to do and I said, “act like you’re talking about something in the garden. Maybe one of you should point at a feature.” This is the wonderful picture:

Dekie, Helen, and Ginger discuss remarkable parts of the garden

Dekie, Helen, and Ginger discuss remarkable parts of the garden

I used Cleyera japonica for the side yards with a few nandinas thrown in for texture, color, and winter berries. I liked the way the cleyera had grown in.

Cleyera as a screen. It's hard to believe there's another house 10 feet behind this.

Cleyera as a screen. It’s hard to believe there’s another house 10 feet behind this.

Back to the present, we ate dinner on the patio and everyone remarked about the lack of mosquitoes. Helen said that she thought it was because of the birds—especially the hummingbirds. It seems that the colors and fragrances of the garden attract the birds. The tea olives bloom two or three times a year and provide a true olfactory treat.

 A bird bath for accent and utility in a private back yard

A bird bath for accent and utility in a private back yard

While we talked about birds a beautiful yellow goldfinch visited the feeder. It’s in the picture. I promise. Look really close

yellow bird in a private back yard

yellow bird in a private back yard

And that’s the story of the Runninger’s private back yard. Sweet Helen just raves over it.

Helen Runninger raves about her back yard.

Helen Runninger raves on and on about her beautiful back yard.

****************

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Here are a few  related posts:

Summertime care for Knockout roses:  Click Here

A privacy screen with Arizona Cypress and Knock out Rose:  Click Here

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Preventing inch worm damage on Knockout roses and watching the garden develop

Getting ready for the garden tour—part four

Last Tuesday morning, I was sitting on the porch eating my peach yogurt, drinking green tea, and watching the lovely spring day develop when the phone rang. I looked at the caller i.d. Yep, I had been expecting the call.

“Hello?”

“They’re here,” the female voice replied.

I said, “Ok, I’m on it, thanks a lot.”

She answered, “No problem, glad to help. Good luck with your mission.”

 I had asked Jennifer to watch out for signs of inch worms because she lives down by the river and they show up there first. Last year there had been a bumper crop of inch worms and they had eaten up everything in sight right at the end of April. I thought they might be early on account of the mild weather this year, and I was right. I have been pampering a group of roses on the mountain to have them ready for the Rome, Georgia Junior Service League’s garden tour on April 28 and I sure didn’t want the inch worms to eat up the leaves and flower buds. I finished breakfast and got in the truck. When I reached the job site I found that I was just in time.

inch worm damage on knockout roses

inch worm damage on knockout roses

The damage was minimal but I could tell they had started. I saw a little hole here and another there. The caterpillars seem to come out at night and eat away the leaves. They only stay around a few days before making a cocoon and going into the next stage of their life. But they sure can eat during those few days. I got out my killer liquid sevin and the spray can.

spray inch worms with liquid sevin

spray inch worms with liquid sevin

A good dose was applied to the rose leaves, over and under. I also went around and took care of the Japanese maples and hydrangeas

Spray to cover the tops and bottoms of leaves

Spray to cover the tops and bottoms of leaves

As a reward for myself for a job well done, I went for a walk through the garden to see what was going on and to guess what would be in bloom for the garden tour. I first noticed the plant that we call “English dogwood” which, I think is really a mock orange. If you know the variety, please leave a comment.

English dogwood or mock orange?  (or are both correct?)

English dogwood or mock orange? (or are both correct?)

and here is a close up of the flower:English dogwood/mock orange flower

I stopped to admire the first open flower on the rhododendron by the fountain.

first rhododendron flower this year

first rhododendron flower this year

The hosta has really come out in the last week. I hope the deer don’t get to it.

hosta early spring

hosta early spring

I was really tickled to see the development of the flower buds on the Nikko blue hydrangeas. They just might make it for the show.

Nikko hydrangea ready to bloom

Nikko hydrangea ready to bloom

And the oak leaf hydrangeas have really done some growing. Here is a picture of the working flower buds.

Oakleaf hydrangea early flower bud

Oakleaf hydrangea early flower bud

I now have three weeks left until the tour. This coming week I will open the pool and we will do all of the last minute pruning and put down a hundred or so bales of pine straw.

Next week will be the “big mow” in which we cut about ten acres of hillside grass.

And then the final week will be to get the fountains clean and working, plant the flower beds and urns, and fix everything that ain’t been fixed.

Will John the plant man make it?  Time will tell.

 To read part one of this series, Click Here

For part two of the series, Click Here

And Click Here for part three

 To see a previous article about this lovely landscape garden, CLICK HERE

To read about Johntheplantman and the rednecks, 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

If you want a consultation with John Schulz in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Preparing the garden for an early spring event. Part three of a series.

According to WordPress, this is my one hundredth article. Yay.

 Oops, I’m going to have to do something about the Knockout roses or they will bloom too early. The Rome, Georgia Junior Service League Garden Tour is scheduled for April 28. I’m in pretty good shape with getting things ready for the tour. On March 28, I took a walk through the garden to see if I was missing anything. I’m glad I did, too, because I noticed that the Knockout roses were covered with flower buds. I want these plants to be in bloom for the affair and it looked like the first flush of flowers would come too early.

 

knockout roses starting to bloom too early for the event

knockout roses starting to bloom too early for the event

 

 

I know from experience that these roses will put out a big flush of flowers and then rest before blooming again. I was afraid that this would mean no flowers for the tour. That just would not do. I thought about it for a while and then decided that it was time for what I call “No Guts, No Glory.”

 No Guts No Glory means that if you think you need to do something, but are not quite sure, then you go ahead and do it and take a chance. This usually means that if your idea doesn’t work you are a piece of trash but if it does work you get to be a hero.

 

cutting flower bud to delay blooms

cutting flower bud to delay blooms

 

 

I decided to cut all of the flower buds from the roses and see if a fresh bloom will show up at just the right time. So we went through the yard and cut off every flower bud from every rose plant. Will it work? I sure do hope so. The buds were cut off exactly one month before the event. The plants now look like this:

 

knockout rose with flower buds removed to delay blooming

knockout rose with flower buds removed to delay blooming

 

As I walked around I noticed a couple of things going on that would be gone before the tour so I took a few pictures. Here’s something nice going on with a pieris at the back porch entrance:

 

porch entrance-early spring with pieris

porch entrance-early spring with pieris

 

And I loved this picture of a palmatum Japanese maple with azaleas and spirea in the background:

 

Palmatum Japanese maple with azaleas in the background

Palmatum Japanese maple with azaleas in the background

 

The front entrance looks well tended and inviting

 

Well shaped plants at the entrance

Well shaped plants at the entrance

 

 

Stay in touch. Will John the plant man get everything done in time? Will the roses bloom just at the last minute? We’ll see.

To read part one of this series, Click Here

For part two of the series, Click Here

 To see a previous article about this lovely landscape garden, CLICK HERE

To read about Johntheplantman and the rednecks,

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Preparing the garden for an early spring event. part one of a series

March 1, 2012: The phone rang right after lunch. “John,” Patsy said, “Don’t forget about the Junior Service League tour of gardens in April.” I replied that I had not forgotten and that we were on the same page.  I have been working on the yard on the mountain for probably thirty years and it is one of my favorite places to visit and work. I pictured the grand weeping cherry tree silhouetted against the late winter sky.

weeping cherry, silhouetted in the winter sky

weeping cherry, silhouetted in the winter sky

The tour of gardens is scheduled here in Rome, Georgia for April 28, which is early enough in the North Georgia season to warrant some creative thinking. I realized that I had two months to put on a show. It was time to start. A wise old gardener had once told me, “Son, in your business, timing is everything.” I listened.

March 2: We loaded cutters, blowers, rakes, tarps, and other useful implements into the truck and headed out. The driveway is a bit over a half a mile long and as I reached the final curve heading for the house, I grinned at the daffodils that I remembered planting in my much younger days.

daffodils on the hillside

daffodils on the hillside

After parking the work truck, I grabbed my notebook and trusty camera and went for a walk. I found a couple of delightful surprises as I passed a rock garden:

a surprise in the rock garden

a surprise in the rock garden

I found a nice jasmine and nandina combination

I found a nice jasmine and nandina combination

I figured that the first thing was to clean out all of the winter debris from the flower and shrub beds.

Time to clean the flower beds and get ready for spring flowers

Time to clean the flower beds and get ready for spring flowers

I had pruned the knockout roses in December, but I wasn’t happy with the way the ivy had crept in. Late winter is a wonderful time to take care of such as this.

Late winter is a good time to control unwanted ivy

Late winter is a good time to control unwanted ivy

On down the walkway I found some beautiful Lenten roses showing off under a tree. The grouping is backed up with perennial ferns which had browned out through the winter. We would trim the dead fronds and hope that the ferns reappear before the event.

Lenten rose in the late winter garden, N. Georgia

Lenten rose in the late winter garden, N. Georgia

I decided that it was time for me to deadhead the Annabelle hydrangeas and shape them a bit so that they will bloom in a tiered pattern. I doubt that they will be in bloom for the event, but the foliage will be lovely and, one never knows.

Time to shape the Annabelle hydrangeas and get rid of those old flower heads

Time to shape the Annabelle hydrangeas and get rid of those old flower heads

We started to work. The ivy is removed from the knockout roses and I am pondering as to whether or not they need a bit more work. I’ll bet we can count on some blooms here.I’ll feed them next week. The bed looks much better.

Ivy gone from under the roses. I'll have to remember to stay on top of it.

Ivy gone from under the roses. I’ll have to remember to stay on top of it.

I have pruned the hydrangeas so that they will make a mound leaning back toward the house. They don’t look like much now, but they will be beautiful in just a few weeks.

Hydrangeas after deadheading. They look like a bunch of sticks, but just wait.

Hydrangeas after deadheading. They look like a bunch of sticks, but just wait.

We continued deep cleaning the beds. I like this job because it gives such an immediate feeling of satisfaction when viewing the finished project.

deep cleaning the flower and shrub beds

deep cleaning the flower and shrub beds

Almost to the end of the upper front walk, we stop for a late lunch break. The cleaning and pruning is going well and we finish by the end of the day.

deep cleaning the flower and shrub beds

deep cleaning the flower and shrub beds

My notebook is full of ideas on how I will have flowers in bloom and accent plantings ready for the tour. Remember, timing is everything.

This series will include a number of articles in sequence. If you would like to receive them by email, subscribe in the box which is located in the upper right sidebar or click “follow.”

To see a previous article about this lovely landscape garden, CLICK HERE

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

A Privacy Screen with Arizona Cypress and Knockout Rose

What happens if you don’t prune?

I write a lot of articles about pruning and actually the articles on pruning Knockout Roses are the most popular ones on my blog site. One of my rules on landscape design is to plant so that the project will look finished in five years. Today, I visited a site that I had planted about that long ago and I thought I would share.

I love the way the rose grew in. I parked my white Dodge minivan behind it to give an idea of scale. This rose has never been pruned

privacy screen with Knockout rose and Arizona Cypress

privacy screen with Knockout rose and Arizona Cypress

I had been asked to design a small privacy screen that would not be just a row of plants. I studied on the problem and decided that I would use a juxtaposition of textures, colors, and sizes in an irregular pattern.

I chose one of my favorites—Arizona cypress for the blue tint in the winter time, Knockout rose for the summer bloom, and a semi dwarf crape myrtle that would give shade for the summer and allow the sun to shine through in the winter.

The design turned out to be a good one. The plants were planted and never pruned. Actually, other than growing them in the first year, they were never watered. The plants performed well and survived a couple of droughts.

The Knockout rose was in full bloom in mid-November even after two periods of heavy frost. It is approximately ten feet high and eight feet across.

Large Knockout rose--never pruned

Large Knockout rose–never pruned

The crape myrtle has dropped almost all of its leaves, but you may still see the effects of its screening in the summertime.

Crape myrtle for shade in summer and light in winter

Crape myrtle for shade in summer and light in winter

And, here’s a view from another window showing the cypress, rose, and an arborvitae.

cypress, arborvitae, and rose for privacy screen

cypress, arborvitae, and rose for privacy screen

Nest summer, I may prune the back side of the rose away from the Arizona cypress. But, then again, I may not.

 *****These articles are brought to you by the author of Requiem for a Redneck

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

Would you like to have a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist in your yard in NW Georgia? Contact me by email:  wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Summertime care for Knockout roses

Knockout Roses and summertime maintenance.

Over the last few years nothing has affected the color of our landscape like the Knockout rose.  Originally this rose was praised as “maintenance free” (and it is, to a point) but we have learned that there are certain tricks to getting the most out of the plant.  Read on—

Beautiful flowers on a Knockout rose, but the spring flush is starting to fade.

Beautiful flowers on a Knockout rose, but the spring flush is starting to fade.

After over 30 years as a landscaper and plant grower, I have learned that there is no such thing as “no maintenance”, only “low maintenance.” The Knockout rose is definitely in the low maintenance category.  After the first beautiful flush of bloom, the plant begins to fade.  This is because the first blooms have been pollinated and the plant is busy with its inherited job of making seeds.  This shows up as dead blooms and an overall dropping of the early spring petals.

The seed pods develop and the petals fall.

The seed pods develop and the petals fall.

Here’s what is going on.  The flowers have been pollinated and are in the process of making seed pods.  There is a chemical produced in the plant that slows down the next blooms so that the seed pods can mature.  In order to fool the plant that it needs to make more flowers, the seed pods must be removed.  This is called “deadheading.” All serious flower growers know about deadheading and I talked to Judy about her Knockout roses the other day about it.  Judy said that cutting off each spent bloom took a lot of time and trouble.  It started me thinking about the best way to accomplish the job.

My feeling on the deadheading job on the roses (and the way I do it on the job) is to combine the job of deadheading and cosmetic pruning into one operation.  I start by looking down into the plant to isolate the stems which have mostly spent blooms.

Look inside the plant to isolate the stems with spent blooms

Look inside the plant to isolate the stems with spent blooms

In performing my task, I am trying to promote new growth and more flowers.  I want to be careful to leave any new growth which looks like this:

Careful pruning and deadheading will produce new growth like this--with lots of flowers.

Careful pruning and deadheading will produce new growth like this–with lots of flowers.

If I reach inside the plant and cut the stem (directly above a new leaf node) I can not only get the plant deadheaded in less time but also cause the stem to branch out and make even more flowers than before.  You may read about some of the principles of pruning in this article onhow to prune a jade plant.”  The principle is the same. I carefully cut a stem in a manner that performs two tasks.  Here is what I cut.

deadheading and pruning the Knockout rose at the same time.

deadheading and pruning the Knockout rose at the same time.

After this cutting, the old stem will branch out and form new growth which will develop more flowers and will, again, look like this:

New growth on the Knockout rose

New growth on the Knockout rose

The process is really rather simple and you probably won’t mess up.  You can cut the stem short and get more branching at the top of the plant or you may wish to take out a larger cutting which will let more light inside the plant and increase the later flowering even more. You may wish to try deadheading on all of your flowers, especially marigolds and petunias. It does make a difference in the number of flowers you will get.

An application of a high phosphorous plant food or fertilizer will also help the plant to flourish and produce even more flowers.  Maybe use something with an analysis of 15-30-15 or a similar ratio.  Liquid feeds are fine and it doesn’t hurt to pour it all over the leaves as well as around the roots.  The upside for liquid is that it works faster.  The downside is that it doesn’t last as long.

Time release fertilizers such as Shake ‘n Feed or Osmocote will work well and last the entire season.  You need to scratch these into the soil or pour them into a small trench around the plant for full effect.

Time release fertilizers break down slowly and feed for the entire season

Time release fertilizers break down slowly and feed for the entire season

You may wish to read my article on fertilizer here.

Another article on pruning Knockout roses

And an article on pruning crape myrtles is here.

Every now and then you may get fungus on the roses, and sometimes aphids will set in.  I suggest a combination fungicide/insecticide which you can purchase at any good nursery.

Got Questions?  Enter a comment.  I always try to answer.

I try to put up a new article every Sunday. Stay in touch.  Share it with your friends.

If you live in or around the northwest Georgia area and would like to have a consultation on your property with johntheplantman, you may contact John Schulz by email at

wherdepony@bellsouth.net .  Do not send pictures or attachments as they will be deleted.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Or the traditional print edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Redneck-John-P-Schulz/dp/0981825206/

Try “see inside the book”

 

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