Archive for leaves as mulch

What’s Going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens This Fall?

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, green gardening, How to, landscape design, my garden, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Fall 2014 at CSGFall is a beautiful time of year in the CSG gardens, especially right now while the sugar maples are turning.

Blog followers who are also customers received an email in September letting them know that our nursery would not be selling plants this fall.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (“CSG”) has gotten so busy in the last five years that we have been unable to do anything besides sell plants.  By remaining closed this fall, we hoped to better prepare for spring, complete some much needed garden renovations, and make some capital improvements to our potting and shipping areas.  This post will show exactly what we have accomplished so far.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Leaf mulch and pine needles CSGCSG uses a staggering amount of ground leaves to mulch the garden beds, and an equally large amount of pine needles to cover all of our paths.  The photo above shows our stock pile for spring once the beds have been mulched and the paths refreshed (so the actual amount required is a lot more).  The piles are about five feet high and wider than tall.  Our own massive deciduous trees provide the leaves, which we grind in the driveway with a lawnmower.  The pine needles are collected from the sides of local roads. 

We highly recommend mulching with ground leaves.  For step-by-step instructions with photos, click here.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, my son and his business Practiced Hands Gardening can supply the ground leaves and do the mulching for you.  Just email him at practicedhandsgardening@gmail.com.

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CSG Terrace Renovation Fall 2014Extensive renovations have been completed to the terrace by our front door.  The grass was removed so that we no longer have to haul a lawnmower down the narrow stone steps.  We decided to try pine needles as a replacement.  They are free and easy to install and refresh plus I like the look with the newly installed stepping stone path.  Gravel might have been more suitable from a design standpoint, but the area floods occasionally so we decided to try pine needles first.  We also added more of many of the perennials that were working and eliminated some perennials that had self-sown to  overwhelm other plants.

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CSG Rock Garden Renovation Fall 2014The back of the rock garden on the first terrace is also being renovated.  The area had filled in with vinca and self-sown garden phlox.  We are adding a lot more stones and hope to create a path through the middle for ease of viewing.

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Transplant Magnolia sieboldii Fall 2014We have moved a lot of trees and shrubs like this double Magnolia sieboldii, one of my favorites, which was planted at the bottom of the garden where the drainage is poor.  Magnolias like to be well-drained so we moved it to a drier area up by the house.

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Csg Bulbs Fall 2014Six hundred pots of perennials are planted in the fall for spring sales.  Here they are stacked next to our carport with an initial covering of ground leaves.  Eventually the cover will be six inches thick.  Some perennials do not do well in pots so we also plant a lot of stock in the ground in the fall.

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CSG Snowdrop Propagation Fall 2014Snowdrops are propagated in the fall and planted in the ground for spring sales.

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CSG Mini Hosta Propagation Fall 2014The photo above shows 21 crates containing 820 miniature hostas.  We usually only winter over  20 to 30 leftover mini hostas.  However, this year several of my wholesale hosta suppliers decided to close their businesses.  I purchased and divided extra plants in the spring of cultivars that I want to try to keep going myself only to find out in September that my main mini hosta supplier, with whom I had already placed my spring 2015 order, was going out of business.  We decided to take as much of our order as was left in stock and potted them up this fall.  At least for spring 2015, many of your favorites, including several of the mouse ears, will still be available.  Sadly, a lot of great minis like ‘Appletini’ and ‘Crumb Cake’ will no longer be available in the trade.

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DSCN5354There is a lot more to do outside, but we are also hoping to make some significant capital improvements in the carriage house to make potting the plants we grow here and shipping snowdrops and mini hostas more comfortable and efficient.  Believe it or not we have spent weeks cleaning out this area in preparation for the renovations, but there is a lot more to do.

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Fall 2014 at CSGMore of the trees that power the CSG gardens with their leaves.

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Fall 2014 at CSG.

Fall 2014 at CSG.

Enjoy fall,

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notifications of catalogues, sales, and events at the nursery by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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Low Maintenance Garden Part 2: Techniques

Posted in How to, my garden, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.Magnolia kobus 'Wada's Memory'‘Wada’s Memory’ magnolia provides plenty of leaves for Michael’s leaf grinding efforts plus some gorgeous fall color.

My husband Michael and I have spent 30 years perfecting our gardening techniques at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, and we are always happy to pass on what we have learned to our nursery customers.  In spring 2012, Michael developed a series of seminars to demonstrate our methods to our customers right here at the nursery.  This post is Part 2 of a two part series explaining what goes on at Michael’s seminars.  Part 1 detailed the tools that we recommend to make garden maintenance easy.  You can read it by clicking here.

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DSCN3368Michael with a typical pile of leaves ready for grinding into mulch.

We believe that the most valuable asset on our property is the leaves that fall from our trees.  Leaves are what nature provides for free to protect and improve your soil.  Removing and disposing of your leaves outside your own property is the worst thing that you can do to your garden.  During his seminar, Michael demonstrates how we handle the massive quantity of leaves that fall from our 35 plus large deciduous trees.  Basically we leave them in place to decompose on their own, grind them on the lawn to help it grow, and grind them into mulch for our garden beds.

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DSCN2935Michael demonstrates leaf grinding to seminar attendees.

For a step-by-step guide to grinding your leaves to use for mulch, please read my post Your Most Precious Garden Resource by clicking here.  For a video by Scotts Lawn Care showing how to grind leaves on your lawn, click here.  A recent Michigan State University study has shown that grinding up to 18″ of leaves on your lawn and leaving them there is beneficial to your lawn.  For more information on how we handle leaves in our beds in the fall, click here.

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DSCN2936Michael demonstrates how he uses the ground leaves for mulch in our gardens.

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Our other secret weapon is compost, which we make ourselves and also get from the township.  No bed is created and no plant is planted without adding a large amount of this “black gold”.  Michael shows seminar attendees what good compost should look like and demonstrates how we go about composting.  For more information on how we use compost in our garden, read my post Powered by Compost by clicking here.

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DSCN2933During the tool session at the beginning of the seminar, Michael talks about what an important tool compost is.

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DSCN2943Every seminar includes a trip to our compost area and a demonstration of composting techniques.

Many other important gardening jobs are explained in detail with live demonstrations…..

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DSCN7137Planting a perennial using a shovel or an auger attachment to a drill.

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DSCN7138Edging beds to keep out weeds and present a manicured look.

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DSCN2939 Planting a shrub, here Michael shows how it is important to loosen the roots on the outside of the rootball.

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DSCN7141Every session ends with a question and answer period during which attendees can ask about any gardening task that interests them.

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These are just some of the topics covered in a typical seminar.  Other subjects include deer management, invasive plant removal, winter interest, container planting, and many more.

Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the winter.  Please visit my Etsy Shop to purchase photo note cards suitable for all occasions by clicking here.  Look for the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue in early January.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Your Most Precious Garden Resource

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, green gardening, How to, organic gardening, sustainable living with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Yes, the sky is really this blue and the trees are really this red during fall in the northeastern US.

Fall in Pennsylvania (mid-Atlantic US) is a big picture time of year.  For a good two months, everywhere you go there are gorgeous vistas like the one above as the leaves change color before dropping.  The show is long-lasting because the leaves turn at different times, starting in my garden with the American hornbeam’s golden yellow hue, progressing through the bright red tones of maples and native dogwoods, and ending with the burgundy and orange of hydrangeas and viburnums.


The soil is deep and very fertile in my area, allowing trees to grow to gigantic size.  And after the color show, the leaves fall and create what I consider my most precious garden resource.  Those leaves are what nature supplies for free to protect and improve the soil year after year.  That is why it is so disturbing to see many area residents collecting their leaves and putting them by the side of the road to be removed by their municipality.


Here at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens we use every leaf that falls to improve our soil either by leaving them in the beds or by grinding them and using them as mulch.  A detailed description of our methods can be found in Shade Gardening in Fall: Fall Clean-up.  In addition, up to 18″ of leaves can be ground up and left on the lawn with beneficial results as described in Shade Gardening in Fall: Leaves on the Lawn.  There is a video by the Scott Lawn Care Company in the second post to show to your doubting spouse.

In early October, about 35 Carolyn’s Shade Gardens customers attended two Low Maintenance Gardening Seminars given by my husband Michael during which he demonstrated how to grind leaves for mulch.  For the benefit of my far flung readers  and in the hope of converting more gardeners to this practice, I thought I would show you step-by-step photographs of the process.  Michael is the reluctant star of the do-it-yourself guide below.

Step One:  Gather the leaves from an area where they can’t be left to decompose on their own.  Michael is removing leaves from the pine needle paths on our back hill using a tarp.  All leaves in the beds will remain in place as mulch and eventually compost.

Step Two:  Take the leaves to a level area like your lawn or driveway.  Our driveway is closest to the back hill so Michael took the leaves there for grinding.

As you can see in the photo, we use a standard lawnmower to grind our leaves.  We recommend wearing steel-toed footwear, ear protection (see photo below), and, if appropriate, eye protection when using a lawnmower.


Step Three:  Grind the leaves to the required consistency.  Michael usually goes over them twice, but you can make them as fine or as coarse as you want.


A large amount of leaves becomes a manageable pile after grinding.


Step Four:  Gather your free mulch into a container for easy transportation and application.  Michael is using a township recycling barrel.



Step Five:  Spread the mulch in your garden.  Here Michael uses it around the base of newly planted viburnums.

I hope I have made this process look as easy as it really is.  Once you try it and see the beneficial results for your soil, you too will be a convert.

Carolyn

 

Nursery Happenings:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is done for the fall.  Thanks for a great year.  See you in spring 2013.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

 

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