What's Coming Up 184: Prune lilacs, falsecypress, roses, annuals; also water, squash bugs and tour NYC

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Take a look at Monet's garden at Giverny. Steven took a detour on his way to work in gardens in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Although he didn't detour as far as France he did the next best thing -- saw the New York Botanical Garden's Monet planting and reported on it in the Expert Afield department of What's Up #184.  

What's Up summary of this week's news

Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila help you grow

Issue #184, July 1, 2012


Here are your links to What's Up this week.

Much of this week's effort involved cutting: Prune a lilac, deadhead and cut back annual- and perennial flowers, step by step to prune a climbing rose. When we finished clipping, we dove into pest-beating advice for the organic vegetable gardener and tips for the water carrier.

What we had the most fun chronicling: Fresh design ideas, gorgeous trees and how to pack lots of color into a garden. To do that, we went clear out to the Big Apple, explored Chinese design tradition, dipped 'way back to our little kid days and made other fun detours.

Here it is, all together for you: Summaries of and links to 19 articles and 142 images


Our top story this week:

A Lilac's Annual Cut

This week is probably your last chance this summer to cut a lilac without losing any of next year's bloom. How to reduce a lilac in size but also how to simply maintain one as is, for this year and forever. Lots of detailed photos.


What's going on in Janet & Steven's gardens:

Steven prunes falsecypresses

Thinking of yanking a too-big evergreen and starting over? Wait ! It's quite the eye opener to see how much you can prune to reduce an evergreen and still have a gorgeous plant.


Green thumbs up and down

This week we give our nod and "No!" to two pairs of situations:

Thumbs up to those who help us when we seek special plants. Take a moment to realize ow special it is to have garden centers in our midst where we can get personal help and have plants ordered just for us!

Thumbs down to ironic timing when special plants suddenly appear. Grrrr, you'll recognize this frustrating happenstance!

Thumbs up and a how-to for pinching back annuals in container gardens. It's not just flower plucking but serious stem snipping that keeps containers and hanging baskets looking wonderful. Come take a look; bring your scissors.

Thumbs down to letting the drought season blues get to you. Perhaps you didn't know there's an up side to drought?


Tip cuttings of special interest

Two topics that are not only in our News but active on our Forum

Drought Makes Water Priorities Clear

What to water and how to apply it most wisely when every drop counts and every plant is crying for it. With some special attention to leaky jugs and upended bottles that can water while we're away. Includes an eye opener for those of you with always-wilt hydrangeas...

Are Our Cucumbers Cursed? Can this Plot Succeed?

Squash bugs and two kinds of cucumber beetles, too?! When only organic methods can be applied?! Argh! But we're up for the challenge, or more precisely, we're down to it.


Our Mentors say...

"Cut Flowers to Get More Flowers"

We are never alone in the garden. We're in the company of gardening know-how passed along to us, such as this demonstration of cutting perennials back hard after bloom. From a neighbor who was a master of stretching out bloom and packing a lot of flower into a small space.


The 45 mph garden

All about two items catching driver's eyes and raising questions this week.

Windshield Full of Royal Purple Magnificence

Can anything be more beautiful than a big purple leaf beech, visible for miles?! We also include a line-up of Peachy Purple Beeches, our favorite varieties from small, and weeping, to gigantic.

Mighty Showy Rose!

What a show the roadside roses have made this summer. Admiring them leads to the question: Who takes care of all those massed planting roses?!

This led us to put together Chopping for Roses: Your primer for summer pruning of climbing roses and shrub roses. Because a great rose show requires great pruning. Pity the poor gardener who faces pruning dozens or hundreds of shrub roses and climbers! Be glad you have just one or two... but admit that even they can get the better of you and be more wild than wonderful. Here are detailed photos and drawings of real-life rose cuts.

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Aiming for answers: Hit or Miss

"What happened next" from previous articles. Celebrating the hits, updating the misses.

Small Bed, Big Color

Digging in for maximum color in minimal space: You can have color for 8 months of the year even in a tiny bed. Here are four tricks and step by step photos of how to and how it looks.

New Life from Dead Heads

The nitty gritty for cutting to the heart of the matter as you groom your plants. Great deadheading now creates color that looks fresh right into fall.



Laughing together to salve problems that have no solution.

Carrot for a Queen

Queen Anne's lace = carrot so of course it deserves a taste. Come on, you've thought about tasting truly wild foods, too.... right?


Scrabbling in the garden

Nifty and useful horticultural terms

Espalier and Epicormic join our lexicon

Learn how to grow flat and know emerald ash borer!


Expert afield

All eyes see differently. Here's a place where we learn through others' lenses.

Four great gardens in The Big Apple

A walk under the spectacular trees of Fordham University campus with a look at how they're maintained; a pretty peek at New York Botanical Garden, that green gem in the ultimate big city; photos and thoughts from NYBG's tribute to Monet's Gardens at Giverny; and an inspirational walk through history and new ways to look at your own garden, in our write up on the Chinese Scholar Garden at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden, Staten Island. Plus, intriguing notes on World Weather.