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by Cliff Bennett

August 17, 2013

The heat remains and we were on track for the hottest July on record. I find myself giving my shade gardens a little extra attention since the hydrangeas are in full bloom and it is quite a bit cooler there. It’s interesting that on the hottest days of the year is when we need to relax in our gardens. Watering duties is really all that we should be thinking about doing during this time. Even though insects and diseases are busy doing their thing, we need to sit back and realize that spraying or treating garden issues can be a bad idea during the heat. We can do far more damage when temperatures are above 90 degrees spraying and applying chemicals. These products can burn our plants and we need to be very careful while we do so. Even organic methods can cause damage if not used properly.

It is about this time of the year that many of us consider planting a shade tree in our yard to take the edge off the heat. Trees can do amazing things for our home and gardens. The proper tree can shade the house at the hottest time of the day and help us save substantially on our air conditioning bills. Our gardens can also benefit greatly with some extra shade as well as a future shade garden. Selecting the right tree is very important especially since trees last decades. The wrong tree in the wrong place can be a major pain down the road. Here are a few things to be aware of and to ask your nursery expert.

I would start by informing the salesperson of the location you are wanting to plant and the goal you are trying to achieve. How tall and wide will the tree grow? Will it be planted in a lawn area? How fast will it grow? Will the tree be shallow rooted and how do I help the roots go deep? Is this tree prone to insects and diseases? Is this tree messy? As you can see, there are many things to consider when selecting the right trees. This is particularly important if you are on a small lot. The proper choice will give decades of enjoyment and comfort. Trees also add value to your property. One thing for sure is that there is a tree for any spot no matter where you are.

A couple of things to watch out for in your garden right now and that is red-spotted spurge. It is a flat, small leaf weed with a small red spot in the center of the leaf. It will be in your lawns, flower beds and even cracks in the sidewalk. Easy to pull with it’s shallow root system but can be sprayed with a number of products. For your lawns weed and feeds do not work well so use a liquid lawn weed killer such as Bonide’s Ultra Weed Beater. Remember to wait until it cools off into the 80’s before applying unless you are spraying driveways and the like. Crabgrass is now germinating in our lawns also for those of you who did not apply a crabgrass preventer last spring. Even if you did you may still have a little bit. Prevention is always best but you can spray now(when it cools off) with a crabgrass killer. I do recommend this since a single flower from crabgrass can leave as many as 10,000 seeds for next year’s headache. I will always recommend taking samples of weeds to your favorite garden center to be sure that everyone is on the same page and the right product is used. Everyone is happy this way except the weeds.

It is now time for Cool New Plants. This month I have some great ones that are must haves. Lets start with the newest raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake. Offers everyone a chance to enjoy raspberries like never before. This revolutionary thorn-less raspberry has a compact, rounded growth habit and will thrive in a patio container or in the landscape. Perfect for children and adults and this carefree plants requires no staking or large garden space. Produces full sized, nutritious and super sweet raspberries mid-summer. Grows 2ft. to 3ft. tall and wide. Likes full sun and requires no pollinator. Tasty and very sweet.

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Jade Butterflies Ginkgo. This new dwarf Ginkgo is really exiting. Has the typical unusual shaped leaves of deep green that has striking golden yellow leaves for fall color. This dwarf form is perfect for the small city yards or a really nice bonsai candidate. Only grows 6ft. to 10ft. tall and 6ft. wide. Hardy to -30 degrees. Will take full to part sun.Again, Ginkgo’s have very cool leaves that visitors to your garden will ask about.

Amber Jubilee Ninebark.Talk about showy foliage wow. This new ninebark has a nice dense rounded habit. Has an array of colors of orange, yellow and gold. Will stand out in any garden. Grows 5 to 6ft. tall and 4ft. wide. Needs plenty of sun to color up. Very hardy down to -50 degrees. This plant glows in my yard. Deer should leave alone.

� 2013 - Cliff Bennett - All Rights Reserve

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Cliff and his wife Roxanne have owned and operated Chets Garden Center downtown Grants Pass, Oregon at 5th and H st. for the last 21 years. Cliff has an extensive background in plants. Owned a large commercial landscaping company in San Diego for 23 years specializing in hotels and shopping centers. Cliff and Roxanne are very active in the community and are always doing what they can to help beatify the downtown area such as hanging flower baskets etc.

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I would start by informing the salesperson of the location you are wanting to plant and the goal you are trying to achieve. How tall and wide will the tree grow? Will it be planted in a lawn area? How fast will it grow? Will the tree be shallow rooted and how do I help the roots go deep?