What's Coming Up 192: Small tree bare circle, gifts, tools, cold jade poinsettia

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Elegant holiday decor for your pots, from your own garden. 

What's Up summary of a week's news

Issue #192, December 17, 2012

Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila help you grow

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We've just posted these items in What's Up

 To download this issue in pdf:

New tree best barefoot: Plant the flowers elsewhere!

Why to start small with a new tree

Jade's cold... and cut back

Cold kills: Protect holiday plants

Giving the heave ho to perennials-that-aren't

Love that lopper: A best tool recommendation

Gift what you covet: Time saving, idea-loaded shopping tour

Grass skirt that bests burlap: Beating salt spray

Releaf for the grapeholly during winter

Holiday greens ideas: Liven those pots from your own yard

What's Coming Up 106 ensemble of 18 articles on shade, hedges, tomatoes, medicinal plants...


Read on for a summary of all the new articles.


For the pdf version of this issue, download it here.

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We're ever more enthused with the website. We not only posted 15 new articles this week with 80 new pictures but made 100+ links between this material and what we've already posted, using the drift of those connections to help us revise our yet-to-be-posted list.

We don't make those links lightly, or just for the sake of linking. When we find that we have helpful information already written, we link to tap into it rather than going over the same ground again. It lets us give you fairly brief articles that can answer even more questions if they arise. That's always been our aim, to connect to what we've already done but keep moving on into new things.

Such as what to do with a few hundred preying mantises during winter, and why aphids on unexpected Brussels sprouts might be cause for joy. But more on that next week!


Who are Janet & Steven?
Entertaining answers in About Us

Please support this effort to help the gardening community grow!
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Where to see us.

Now until Christmas: Visit with Santa Steve at Village of Rochester and Macy's  in Lakeside - Rochester Hills and Sterling Heights, Michigan

1/3/13 in Waterford, Michigan,Can't Judge a Plant by its Cover

2/2/13 in Detroit,Organic Gardening

2/5/13 in South Lyon, Michigan, Design and plan withThe Armchair Gardener

2/9/13 in Toledo, Ohio, Collectors' Gardens and Entry Garden Design

2/16/13 in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Entry Garden Design and Visualizing Landscape Changes


Details in About Us: Where we're appearing



2 new items in Main features:

New tree best barefoot: Plant the flowers elsewhere!

Next time the empty circle of soil around a young tree tempts you to plant your leftover annuals there, remember this insight to how a tree grows... and doesn't. We hope it causes everyone nurturing a new tree to get that sod off its feet, too.


Why you should start small with a new tree

Most people want a tree for shade or massed greenery in the landscape. That's why so many accept the much higher price to buy the biggest available. Here's simple proof presented in unequivocal chart form, that the extra expense is not worth it and actually ends up adding to your yard work for at least three years.



New times two in This week in our gardens

The department that covers what we ourselves have been up to in our own and others' gardens.

Jade's cold... and cut back: Recognizing cold damage

We test limits and sometimes hit the wall -- this time there was cold air at that far edge and the blow fell on our lovely old jade trees. We used the experience to pin down when cold damage happens, how to recognize its symptoms on anything from impatiens to hosta or houseplant, and figure what to do as a remedy. Plant lovers be forewarned: Drastic measures are pictured here.

Cold kills holiday plants: How to protect that poinsettia

Millions of dollars are spent about now each year on holiday plants, and ten times more on houseplants to brighten the winter. Don't waste your share of that expense on plants that will be nipped back or killed before they even reach your home.


Green thumbs up and down

This week our nod and "No!" go to:

Giving the heave ho...

...to perennials-that-aren't. Grrrr, we would love to bite someone over plant tags that say "perennial" but fail to complete the thought with a zone number or region. Here's our advice about Argyranthemum, one of the plants most likely to disappoint as a perennial-that-isn't, and a caution list of others that could fool you.



In Tip cuttings

Of special interest on the Forum:

Love that lopper

Here's a great and inexpensive gift... or two or three. Our Forum discussion of the best pair of loppers turned into a complete line-up of recommended tools and where to find them.

We've begun moving all of our email-answering onto our Forum, by the way, so that anyone who's interested can read or even take part in those conversations as they happen. We hope you'll check out the Forum, and tell others to do the same when they have questions or "what is this" photos. We're part of a great team of answerers on the Forum!



New in our Mentors department...

We are never alone in the garden, we have the advice that came to us from others, and grow on.

Gift what you covet

Some of the best advice ever makes shopping more fun. Our expedition into garden stores took us through more than a dozen gift categories and ate up more than a day, so we took notes and posted the highlights of what we saw, where. Of note: For those who've chided us for our lack of grandbaby pictures, we remedy that in Gardeners of a Certain Age



Just now seen in the 45 mph garden

It's catching driver's eyes and raising questions this week.

When a grass skirt bests burlap

Brown is not nice in a garden so unnecessary burlap makes us cringe. Peeking into a garden screened without need, we notice several things that may help you save time and grow better where salt sprays, and a few applicable to any garden anywhere.



We crow about a hit in Aiming for answers

Hit: Releaf for the grapeholly in winter

"What happened next" from a past article proves that burying plants under fall leaves does not kill and can protect where winter's cold and dry. Good for the dwarf grapeholly but not its big brother...



New in the Stumper department

Laughing together to salve problems that have no solution.

Holiday greens ideas

Those pots that sported lush plants all year sure look bare and make a porch look bleak. Some of the most beautiful fillers for those pots are very simple combinations you can cut-and-stuff from your own yard. (Whyizzit we were in such a rush to get it all cut and gone already?!) Have fun recreating the dazzling holiday greens in this article.



New in the library called Ensemble Weekly Editions

We move recent news into this department as the year rolls on, but we also keep adding to this season-based library from our own archives. This week, we've posted:

What's Coming Up 106 An ensemble issue with a whopping 18 articles on shade, hedges, tomatoes, medicinal plants, thorns, ecologically friendly cleaners and more. Thanks to a Sponsor who pulled it forward in our queue of past work to be posted.


There are now more than 900 articles in the library. Please use them:

• Choose a season in the library and scan the key word titles.

• Or plug keywords of your choice into the Search on our site.

For instance, if this week's articles cause you to wonder if that struggling tree in your yard was planted wrong and what you can do about it, click on Search (upper right, any screen)and type the words:

planting tree struggle

In less than one second you'll have help from  Growing Concerns 520: Problems that cause plant death.

Not the words you would have chosen? It's an infinite index, so simply try others:

new tree fails to grow (net: Growing Concerns 583: Solving mystery of tree death)

tree has not grown (net Oaks got flare, some of our best tree-planting, failure-explaining work)

With continued support, this winter we can more than double the library's content -- we have that much and more in line to post.

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If you expected to find a different issue number and
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