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 Green Thumb Nursery - 319-393-5946 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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Trying New Plants

October 31, 2001

 The fun of gardening is trying out new plants. So many new plants are coming our way from growers and breeders around the world. On our website throughout the winter months we will try to introduce some of these new varieties as well as showcase some great older varieties that are not widely known to the general gardening public.

The fun of gardening is trying out new plants. So many new plants are coming our way from growers and breeders around the world. On our website throughout the winter months we will try to introduce some of these new varieties as well as showcase some great older varieties that are not widely known to the general gardening public.

Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is one of those under used small trees or large shrubs that is actually native to much of the eastern United States and hardy to zone 3. Its crooked spreading branches form an irregular spreading crown covered by green leaves through summer. Fall is its time of glory! Leaves turn a beautiful yellow gold. Then fragrant, yellow crumpled petals form masses of small flowers in mid to late October, lasting 2 to 4 weeks depending on weather. In landscape situations common witchhazel usually grows15 to 20 feet tall. It will grow in full sun to full shade but prefers a moist soil and will not tolerate extremely dry situations. The perfect tree for a shady patio, shrub border or naturalized garden where the fragrance of the tiny yellow airy flowers will permeate the crisp autumn air! (An additional little tidbit for the garden trivial pursuit buff is that witchhazel extract is distilled from the bark of young stems and roots of plants found along moist shady stream banks.)

Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) is another under used plant that puts on quite a show in very late fall. This 3 to 4 foot tall shrub has a fountain appearance with long slender branches arching to the ground at the tips. Small pinkish lavender flowers appear in summer but the real show begins in October when the tiny purple metallic-looking berry clusters form all up and down the arching branches. It will grow in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil and is hardy through zone 5. It is best to treat it almost like an herbaceous perennial in our area, mulching it in the winter and trimming it down to within 4-6 inches of the ground every spring. It shoots rapid growth every year to reach its 3 to 4 foot height. This heavy pruning encourages its dense shapely form and the flowers and berries are produced on the new growth. It is most effective when planted in groups to best display the showy fruits that are so uniquely colored. Beautyberry is an eye-opener in late October when the rest of the landscape has gone to sleep!

November "To-Do" List:

  • Mulch perennial beds just as the ground freezes to stabilize soil temperature. Covering perennials protects their crowns from the damage caused by moisture loss and the alternate freezing and thawing of late fall and early spring

  • Wrap young trees with tree wrap to protect them for winter. Trees with tender bark are subject to sunscald or frost cracking and to animal damage. Be sure to wrap all maples, crabapples and fruit trees.

  • Spray evergreens and broadleaf evergreens (rhododendrons and boxwood) with an anti-desiccant to help prevent winter burn and browning. Products like WiltPruf work to seal in the moisture that harsh winds and strong sun rob from evergreens in winter. Spray before temperatures drop to the 40ís, but be sure to read and follow directions on the product.

  • Continue watering plants as needed until the ground freezes.

  • Continue mowing your lawn until the grass stops growing in late fall. Rake and recycle or compost leaves. Long matted grass and leaf debris encourages snow mold on lawns.

  • Plant tulips, daffodils and other Dutch bulbs mid to late October through November, after the ground has cooled. Planting too early in warm soil encourages premature top growth this fall that may damage or kill the flower buds. Work bulb fertilizer or bone meal into the beds and water well after planting.

  • Remove all annual flower and vegetable debris after a killing frost. Removing old plant debris minimizes over wintering insect eggs and diseases in the garden.

The following was sent to me via email. I do not know the author but thought it worth sharing as we consider our blessings every day and:
Learn To Be Thankful For:
The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need washing and walls that need painting because it means I have a home.
Any and all complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
The thorn in my finger because it means Mother Nature has provided me the beauty of a rose.
Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.

We hope you and your family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!