How can I cut down on garden chores as I age? I can't keep pruning my ivy and holly forever.
Here are some ideas:
•Right plant, right place. Match the ultimate plant size and requirements for water, soil and sun to your site, which will mean no pruning, no watering (after the first two years), no fertilizing and no shaping plants that lean out or stretch up to reach sunlight. Remove problem plants and replant. Also, happy plants fight disease and insect pests best.
•Choose highly disease-resistant plants appropriate for your zone. This will require no spraying.
•Group plants in beds with a mowing edge, so they won't require edging.
•Buy tools with force multiplier features; get a lightweight garden cart. This will put less wear and tear on your body.
•Get rid of invasive plants once and for all, such as English ivy. This will mean no more constant fighting.
•Cover bare soil with groundcover plants so you won't need to mulch or weed.
•Analyze where you want to spend time, what is taking most of your time, and go from there.
I believe we have an emerald ash borer infestation. Our ash tree has been declining for years, losing branches at an alarming rate. The bark is cracked and falling off. Do I need to report this, or should I just remove the tree?
At this time, emerald ash borer is only being reported in Baltimore and Harford counties and the Eastern Shore (it is already everywhere else). But whether your ash tree is dying from emerald ash borer or other borers and causes, be aware that ash wood quickly becomes brittle upon death. This makes tree removal difficult, even dangerous. You may want to remove your ash before it reaches this stage. For more emerald ash borer info and photos, go to the Home and Garden Information Center website.
Plant of the week
After a long, snowy winter, there's nothing happier than the friendly faces of violas and pansies in the garden (if the deer don't eat them). Safe indoors, the same is true of Miltonia or pansy orchids — but no deer. Unlike most orchids, the large flowers of pansy orchids have flat faces and markings like their namesake. The lily-type leaves and multiple flower stems grow from a water-storing pseudo-bulb. Native to cool areas of Central America, they thrive with humidity, low to medium light intensity and cool nighttime temperatures often found in an east-facing bay window. Under brighter light, take care to prevent leaf sunburn in the summer. Keep soil slightly moist or leaves will grow out pleated like an accordion.
— Christine McComas