What's Coming Up 191: Lights, long nights, failures in shade, tree roots

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It has no leaves, no roots and we can't coax it to grow but it is a big part of the garden. In this issue: How nighttime lights affect your fall and winter flowers. 

What's Up summary of a week's news

Issue #191, December 10, 2012

Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila help you grow

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Light the night... without ruining the garden

When long nights spur bloom

Failures that tell important tales as we review the year

Essential shade garden: Why what seemed a bust is really the best kind of start

Shade gardening: Making more light under trees

Shade gardening: Wringing water from trees

Choosing shady plants that thrive, not merely survive

Read on for our week's overview and a summary of each of these articles


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We started reviewing the year, strolled over to shade garden questions posed by our 93 year old poet gardener, Frank Harney, and dug up a whole issue worth of shady secrets to share: plant lists, garden lay-out, watering, mulching and what amounts to a pair of x-ray glasses so you can "see" the tree roots that compete with your garden.

Looking into holiday lighting and its effects on trees turned into a similar romp, ranging from the differences between rhododendrons in the Great Smoky Mountains and those in our gardens, to mums with patchy bloom and all the way over to a mysterious pink-flowered perennial for December.

Coming soon, a report on completing..... drumroll please:our first year on line.

Also in the next issue -- next weekend! -- gardeners' holiday gift giving, perennials that aren't, grapeholly, grass skirts and more.

Summaries of this week's news

Two new items in Main features:

Light the night

Answering the question: Will holiday lights hurt my garden? Short answer: They can, but won't if you keep a gardener's eye focused on the plants that support them. Practical how-to included, as always! Then: Who could know that lights would also plug us into Christmas at fabulous Longwood Gardens, changing the ways of rhodies that won't bloom, when and how to deadhead rhodies and even out to the Pacific Northwest to admire theirRhododendron pruning?


When long nights spur bloom

Bringing long night plants into flower can be mystifying, but here's the scoop on managing poinsettia, mum, jade tree, kalanchoe and others that can't put on their blooming best without long, unbroken nights. Along the way we revise our garden site assessment checklist to include outdoor security lights and come away coveting the pink blooming Nerine that graces the December garden


Five newbies in the department, This week in our gardens

What we ourselves have been up to in our own and others' gardens.

Failures that tell important tales: A little pain, lots of gain

Why it's good to look back now, even or especially at the garden projects that went bust. There's no statue of limitations on old gardening disappointments -- those failures keep tellin' tales. You may even dig them up and find they've gone gold. The example we use in this feature is one almost every gardener faces -- dealing with a tree that thwarts our best attempts to garden around it. Here we lay it out, in brief and in depth as you choose to read it: What the biggest obstacles are and how to overcome each one.


Essential shade garden: Three keys to success

Make it your year for a truly great shade garden. This can be your under-tree mantra, helping you grow by these objectives in this order: Light up the light, wring out more water, and choose plants by letting them self-select. As a bonus, we bring you this design tip: Let there be space!


Shade gardening: Making more light under trees

You can make light of the shade! How to prune, open "windows" in fencing, and even recycle light that's already finding its way in to your dark, troubling corners.


Shade gardening: Wringing water out of trees

Watering a shade garden is frustrating. It's a ruthless environment and the deck is stacked so that the plant with the most leaves, grabs the water you pour on. No need to count, youknow that tree's going to beat your new perennial. Yet watering more slowly, more often, earlier in the year and day, and weeding later in fall can give your garden a leg up. The garden's share of the water allowance can increase, too, if you change your planting and digging habits to get around the way tree roots grow. It's truly an in-depth look, and we've already done all the hard digging into root-filled ground to reveal it to you.


Choosing shady plants

We start with the notion that tolerance is not a virtue, and spell out how to find plants for a shade garden so what you grow actuallyloves the light/water/soil situation your yard offers. With three illustrated case studies and a sterling list of the best perennials for the worst shade.



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