Gardening With Tony

Fire Is Part Of Nature

UNITED STATES—Plants have very different priorities from those who enjoy growing them. The colors and fragrances of flowers that we find so appealing are really designed to guide pollinators. The appealingly aromatic foliage of scented geranium and other herbs is actually designed to repel hungry insects and animals. Many tasty fruits are designed for seed dispersion by animals who...

Summer Dormancy Is No Mystery

dormancy
UNITED STATES—California buckeye, Aesculus californica, is an enigma. How does it survive while defoliated for so much of the year? Not all are so mysterious. Those that live in sheltered or forested situations behave like normal deciduous trees, by defoliating in autumn, and refoliating in spring, after a brief winter dormancy. Those that are more exposed in warm and...

Warm Weather Confuses Dormant Plants

UNITED STATES—Climate is what makes gardening so excellent here. It is just warm enough in summer for plants that like a bit of heat, but not too unbearably hot for too long. It is just cool enough in winter for plants that like a chill, but not cold enough for hard frost or heavy snow. The climate is also...

Eucalypti Are Innately Drought Tolerant

UNITED STATES—Drought is nothing new here. There could be plenty of rain next winter and for years afterward; but eventually, there will be another series of dry winters, prompting rationing all over again. Landscapers and big box garden centers continue with business as usual. It is up to us to manage our gardens responsibly. Besides native plants, aloes, yuccas,...

Bare Root Season Is Now

bare root
UNITED STATES—Autumn really is the season for planting. That is the general rule. One generalization about general rules is that they generally do not apply to all of the specifics. In other words, there are likely certain exceptions. In this case, there are some types of plants that should not be planted in autumn. The next best season for...

Finish Transplanting Before Winter Ends

transplanting
UNITED STATES—Autumn is for planting; and for good reasons. It is the beginning of dormancy for almost all plants, including evergreens. It precedes cool and rainy weather that inhibits desiccation until new roots are able to disperse sufficiently to sustain new plants. Some plants need to be in the garden in time for winter chill in order to initiate...

Vines Are Naturally Social Climbers

UNITED STATES—If more of us knew how vines compete in the wild, fewer of us would grow them in our home gardens. Understory plants that are satisfied with the sunlight that reaches them through a higher forest canopy are the most passive. Taller trees compete for sunnier exposure above. Vines are the most aggressive as they climb and overwhelm...

Colorful Berries Linger Through Winter

UNITED STATES—Just as many flowers attract pollinators with color, some types of fruit employ color to get the attention of birds and other animals. Just as many flowers reward their pollinators with nectar, fruit is its own reward to the animals that eat it. The only catch is that those who want the fruit must disperse the seed within....

A Tree Falls In The Forest

UNITED STATES—A Great Basin bristlecone pine tree of the eastern Sierra Nevada can live more than five thousand years. A giant sequoia tree of the western Sierra Nevada can live more than three thousand years. A coastal redwood tree from the Coastal Ranges can live more than two thousand years. Besides impressive longevity, one thing that they all have...

Annuals Come And Annuals Go

UNITED STATES—Just like warm season vegetable plants in the vegetable garden, flowering warm season annuals get replaced this time of year. Although the weather is still warm, cool season annuals should be planted now so they can disperse roots before the weather gets too much cooler. Except for a few short term annuals and perennials, most should perform until...
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