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Janet Macunovich

Member Since 02 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active Aug 17 2020 10:19 AM

#339 butterfly bush still green

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 15 March 2012 - 09:25 AM

J.K. wrote (and we're shifting it here from email)
1.  My butterfly bush has green leaves.  Not sure if this is uncommon.
2.  My dad's Pansie has three flowers on it.
3.  One of my clematis' has green shoots on it.  Never seen that this early.

We clipped a couple johnny jump ups (the tiny tri-color pansies) ffor a client's bud vase on Tuesday, too.

Don't let the butterfly bushes con you into thinking "Oh it's green I CAN'T cut that down. Not unless you have room for a 12' butterfly bush -- a hoary, thickly branched, old wood beast at that.

This winter they stayed evergreen so they have had four extra months to take in sun and sock away photosynthates. After such a winter they are better equipped than ever to come back from a hard cut.

So whack them back to the ground.

We're out the door RIGHT NOW to get into clients' gardens and cut those things that are budding out, the plants we want to keep smaller than their wont, or that we want to have more new shoots from the base rather than all high up. Clematis is one of them. The late blooming clematis we're cutting right back to zip, or to where the canes first grab the trellis/ support. The early blooming large flowered hybrid clematis we're cutting so at least one cane begins anew right near the ground -- so there's new growth from below as well as the tips. The all-new cane will bloom during the vine's second flush  of bloom.

#334 Dressing our plants to kill zombies!

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 14 March 2012 - 11:10 PM

D.O. contributes this, and we're so gladto imagine someone else giggling and "playing"!
Hello Janet,
Hope I'm not to late to submit my Killer Plant. Just returned from vacation. Came home through Georgia. Have you ever seen the Callaway Gardens? The Azalea were just shy of full bloom, 20,000 of them. Got some great pictures.
We call it
"Spider Ship sends Ninjas to Rescue Tweety Bird."
Just need three spider parachutes, three ninjas, and tweety bird in distress.
Can't wait to see all the entries.
Diane Opria

#313 What is Garden Care worth, at auction?

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 03 March 2012 - 11:04 PM

Continuing this topic of what garden work is worth and how to estimate it, M.R. emailed:

I've been asked to bid on a job to do the edging of flower beds for a condo complex. New landscaping was put in spring of 2011 so there's one year's growth.  There are 15 units in the complex plus a main entrance and some common areas.  I don't know the lineal feet - would have to walk it off, I guess.  How would I go about preparing such a bid? BTW, I already do their weeding and they like me so I think if I come up with a fair price I'll get the job.
(I didn't think this was a question for the forum, so that's why I'm sending an email.)
- M.R. -

I think it IS a topic for the Forum, and that anything anyone contributes there would be helpful to everyone, whether it's from the pro gardener perspective or what the client sees.
Everything Steven and I do is based on 1) how many square feet or linear feet are involved, 2) what our notes say about how long that operation has taken us in the past, and 3) all modified by things we see on-site such as whether the beds are well tended or neglected and so on. So we'd need to see the beds -- type of edge, condition of soil and beds -- and figure the linear feet. If it's a cut edge and the bed's in reasonable shape we usually allow an hour for 75 linear feet.

#300 Stopping the volcano mulchers

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 02 March 2012 - 03:03 PM

Heard back from K.B. as follows, all of which makes me ask YOU:
Any suggestions for how to convince a specific person to stop doing this to trees? Or suggestions for how to save the trees?
Post your suggestions here.

K.B. reports:
My little experiment backfired on me. I had the newsletter all printed  out sitting on my chair when the 2 roads & grounds guys showed up in my cube  unannounced! Being the type they are, they completely balked at the whole  suggestion of mulching the base of the tree in that fashion, and said they had  received guidance & approval " a long time ago" from someone at the County Soil  Extension.  So, she's right, and we're wrong............. whatever!  They claim our trees  are dying from some other disease.    You just can't fix stupid!

Janet commented:
What a frustration. Maybe need a flannel shirted guy from the  international society of arboriculture to tell them.. preferably one with a  National Tree Climbing Champion belt buckle!  
Hmmm There are always guerilla tactics: dark clothes, late nights, scrape away  mulch... Interesting to see if a group of tree rescue commandos could be formed.

K.B. then said:
In the next breath they tell me that tree issues are like talking to  doctors, you can get 10 different opinions. However, they are content to hang on  to the FIRST opinion as if its gospel. So sad for my trees at work that their  caregiver wants to listen to some bad advice.

#289 Stopping the volcano mulchers

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 01 March 2012 - 02:48 PM

Another email exchange being transferred over to the Forum this way, gang:

Let me start by saying - I love your newsletter!!! I’ve been getting it for awhile now.

I have a question, and can’t seem to locate the issue that illustrates this “problem”.   At my work, the roads & grounds guys insist on pyramiding the mulch around the tree base. I know this isn’t good for the tree and promotes rot!  (which explains why our trees are dying)  Can you tell me which issue you cover it in? Or re-send me that issue?  I want to leave it (anonymously) in their office……… because you can’t tell them a darn thing, but maybe if they ‘read all about it’ and have pictures, it’ll sink in!  J


Too funnny, K.B. -- a drive-by newsletter barrage!

The last time, best-for-this-use, that we wrote about volcano mulching was in issue #136, which is up on the website so you can download it. Although I see that a Search for "volcano" nets not that one buta different issue. An issue that does indeed have cover volcano mulching but is not the one I wanted.

Which just means that's another issue added to our list of those we still have to index on-site. All that information is THERE on the site but so far only its table of contents is readable to the Search function so far. We have to index its content, then post that index on #136's web page to make it fully visible. Otherwise we must totally reconstruct the issue, remake it using the site's program...

If you have time and care to read through issue #136, then send us a list of search words it would answer, that would be a wonderful help. We'll post them on its page on the site and they'll work as an index!
No holds barred. Any words you see in it or think of that you think someone might look for....


#165 Warm winter's effects will be...

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 30 January 2012 - 01:40 PM

Another emailed question; we've made a first-stab answer and hope you can contribute more.

Although I've rather liked this warmer winter for a change, what pluses and minuses can this mean for my perennial flower garden and newly planted trees? -T.K.-

So far, the impact is probably positive, T.K.. Like living in a zone warmer. Most of our hardy plants are fine in zone 6, too - the warmer weather doesn't hold them back or fail to meet their cold dormancy requirements.

It's been at or below 40 many days, and at night, not warm enough for long enough to break dormancy. And not so cold that flower buds might be killed. So long as it doesn't give us an extended warm spell in February that causes plants to shed their dormancy -- that puts them at great risk to have new growth begin and be killed by late winter freezes. It would probably take a week of 50's by day to do that for most of our hardy fruits, but some could be fooled by fewer days.

There's some chance the vole damage (meadow mice) might be worse, since it's been so warm they've been more active. But by the same token, the hawks have been more active, too -- no snow cover to hide the rodents.

We're hoping we can walk a really fine line with enough heat to encourage premature insect development so a freeze will kill THEM, but not the plants. Not really likely but it could happen!
Janet & Steven
p.s. Posting this on our new site's Forum so more people can contribute, and learn!

#161 Nutsedge in lawn

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 30 January 2012 - 11:28 AM

The silence tells us a lot. We have only been able to sympathize with people, for nutsedge surfacing in a lawn. Which it can do after a dig-up if there are "nuts" even deep in the soil that have been dormant for DECADES. Absolutely not kidding.

Repeated digging or killing, including just repeatedly tilling the area every time the sedge breaks the surface, is the only thing we've seen work. And depending on how hefty the nuts were -- how much stored energy they have -- it can take years. We have seen that spring (when they first come up as the soil warms mid-spring) and early July as the plants are spnding energy making new nuts, are particularly good times to deal them a mighty set-back.

We did hear a couple of lawn care guys at a conference discussing how herbicide X PLUS herbicide Y gave great results with nutsedge. However, it's not legal to mix that stuff and we steer way wide of the "Synergy" of combined chemicals. Synergy implies not only more effect than would be expected, but also unexpected effects. Since with pesticide "unexpected" includes health implications, we don't like to think about synergism like that. And even with this "that works" combo, the lawn care guys said tey had to do it repeatedly...

Steven, mister Webmaster of the Forum, do we NOT have a spell checker here? Rats, if not. (Sorry to make you extra work, kiddo, but since you wielded your power to do the ha-ha of dubbing me "guru" I figure you must have extra time on your hands!)

#115 Popcorn plant Cassia from cuttings

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 20 January 2012 - 12:25 AM

Hi all. Here's an email that came to us during the website launch, and our first stab at an answer. We really need help with this one, from you folks out there with greenhouses!

I work at a greenhouse and we are having problems growing Popcorn Plant from cuttings. Do you have any info. The cuttings look droopy. Maybe to much misting or not enough, not hot enough or to hot, looking for suggestions.
Thank you,

Not something we've done ourselves but something we'll gladly look into, Deb. Meanwhile we're going to post this on our Forum because there are at least two good greenhouse growers there who may have some experience with this.

Is that the plant also called peanut butter senna
Cassia didymobotrya? (Sometimes it's still listed as Senna didymobotrya, we are told).
Janet & Steven
This photo of Cassia didymobotrya is of a plant in the great Kent County Master Gardener/Extension garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As far as we know it's not hardy to more than a couple degrees of frost, so maybe zone 9,  but could be kept from year to year by taking it into a cool greenhouse over winter, as you woulda banana tree.

#97 What is Garden Care worth, at auction?

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 17 January 2012 - 11:38 PM

K.K. emailed to ask us this:

For a community silent auction, my garden club is donating services for weeding , raking etc
Question to you is: suggestion on amount of hours to donate for one day ( figure 5 volunteers) and really what should we offer ie: planting and weeding and raking? And should we be responsible for carting off the weeds leaves?  Never did this before so your input as a landscaper would be super. Thanks ahead.

We replied as follows. We hope you'll tell us what you think. It'll  be a big help to K.K.
Tough to say, as every one of these donated-services situations is unique. When we've done that we figure what dollar amount is right, based on other things the group is auctioning. So if it looks like a $200 value is the standard, then we figure what we can offer that would be billed at that amount, if we were billing.

Since we charge $50 per person per hour for most things, we could have 4 people there for an hour for a $200 value item. Some businesses charge $35 per hour per person; I think the last time those of us in the Association of Professional Gardeners talked rates, there was no one below $30 per hour. Some service firms who are looking to keep laborers working longer in an off-season might charge less for the unskilled work like raking (although we consider even raking in and around gardens to require knowledge and care). So if you will have a crew of 5 you could err on the low side and offer two hours working as a $200 value...

It's always hard to say. But we hope this helps.

Maybe others can tell us what they think of this so far -- since what matters here is PERCEIVED value -- will someone see it as a worthwhile item and bid on it. So we'll post this on our Forum -- the discussion forum of our new website, and see what others might contribute. You can go there and watch for replies (we'll post it in "Tending and Tools"). IF you Create Account (upper right of the forum screen) and become a member (there's no fee) you can also post your own thoughts it you'd like, as well as elect to be automatically notified when anything is added to the topic.


#62 So how does YOUR butterfly bush grow...

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 12 January 2012 - 02:01 PM

...if you don't cut it back in spring?

I'll/We'll be bringing others' email over here for a bit, posting here what people send to Steven and me, people who haven't realized we've got a live forum once again.

Steven and I are both just thrilled to be able to talk with a group once again!

So. B.D. wrote to us
I have a question. What effect does it have on a Butterfly bush - Buddleia davidii if it isn't cut down in the late winter/early spring? I always cut mine but was just wondering.

P.S. Nice website!

I know what we have seen -- we've handled Buddleia all different ways. But I'm going to go post some of the other emails that have come in during the past few days. If you can contribute to this topic, please do. I'll be back. I've emailed B.D. to say "come on over and watch for replies!