Gardening and landscaping tips

Now is the time to start preparing your plans for landscaping your property. In order to avoid costly mistakes, you may want to contact a landscape architect. If you are doing your own landscaping be sure to draw up a plan before you start to plant. It is easier to move a plant on paper than to move one that has been planted in the wrong location. Keep maintenance in mind as you plan and plant.

January is a good month to plant camellias. Plant camellias in a partially shaded location, which is not exposed to strong winds. Camellias require cool, moist soil that is well-drained and has some acid. Camellias grow best in a soil pH between 5.0 and 6.0. A soil test might be needed to determine the pH balance of your soil.

Mulch camellias with pine needles, oak leaves, or sawdust. Compost is always a good mulch right after planting camellias. Additional mulch should be applied during cold weather. Water thoroughly once a week if there is no rainfall.

When choosing a tree for the yard most of us only think about it with its leaves on. But deciduous trees don’t have leaves several months out of the year. So winter appearance should be taken into consideration when planning your Landscaping.

– Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) – Reaching 15 to 25 feet tall at maturity, this tree can be used for screening purposes. It can be grown under utility lines and if you buy a variety such as Flame it gets a fiery-red fall color. The tree is hardy to much colder climates and grows well here. It can also be grown in containers.

– Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) – This tree is a slow, upright grower, that will reach 20 to 25 feet high. The peeling cinnamon-colored or red-brown bark provides winter interest. This is a fine tree for use as a focal point in the landscape.

– Serviceberry (Amelanchier) – These trees or shrubs, native to this area, produce white flowers in mid to late-April, and edible small fruit in June. The berries attract birds. Fall color is a yellow-orange or apricot-red. In winter, the grayish white bark provides interest. The trees perform well in woodlands or naturalized areas, but could be used in a small yard if kept pruned. These trees thrive in good soil and are often found in wetter areas.

– Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) – This multi-stemmed tree will mature at about 20 to 25 feet. It grows in a nicely rounded form, has heart-shaped leaves, pinkish-purple flowers in late-April and early-May and turns yellow in the fall. These trees are not as graceful or refined as a serviceberry, but they do tolerate drier soil and can be trained to a single stem. Canker, which causes twig and stem dieback, can sometimes be a problem, so if you buy one, get a multi-stemmed plant.

– American Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) – This multi-stemmed tree will grow to about 20 to 30 feet and can spread as wide as it is tall. The white fragrant flowers in late-May and early-June hang like fringe, hence the name. In fall it sports a good yellow color. Younger plants have an appealing smooth gray bark. It makes a nice patio tree or would look fine planted near a creek or stream. It is air pollution tolerant.

– Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) – This native of Japan, Korea and China will top off at about 20 to 25 feet, but it is a slow to medium grower. (Slow-growing trees push 12 inches or less of new growth per year; medium growers 12 to 24 inches per year.) Kousa dogwoods are used in many plantings as a replacement for the American dogwood, which has been plagued by disease. Though this tree blooms at a young age, it is not as prolific a bloomer as the American dogwood until it becomes established. The tree has a reddish-purple fall color and a good winter form as it matures, developing exfoliating bark. Although these trees make a fine lawn specimen, the homeowner should be aware they do form fruit, which drop, so trees should be planted away from sidewalks and driveways. On the upside, the birds like the fruit.

– Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) and Green Hawthorn (Crateagus viridis “Winter King”) – These trees bloom with white flowers in mid to late May and show a reddish-purple color in fall. The red fruit stays on the tree through much of the winter, and will look especially beautiful after a snowfall. A good tough tree.

– Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha) – A slow growing tree with a narrow form when young, it widens slightly as it matures. It bears white fragrant flowers from July through September, has a scarlet-red fall color and a pleasing winter form. Now extinct in its native Georgia, this tree benefits from a protected location, where it will look good in all seasons. It can be used in a small garden and requires a moist well-drained soil.

– Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) – This tree matures at about 25 feet and is beautiful in all seasons. Japanese Stewartia grows in a pyramid-oval shape, pushing out white flowers in July and sometimes August. In fall the leaves turn yellow or red to dark reddish purple. As the tree matures, the bark begins to exfoliate (peel) and becomes mottled, giving added interest.

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