Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Is The Time To Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs

If you are one of those people who dreads winter, try skipping past it in your mind and start thinking about spring. Imagine early blooming Crocusesfollowed by Daffodils Hyacinths and Tulips. Picture the fields of color that dazzle us every year during the Skagit Tulip Festival. Then get outside and plant some bulbs!

A field of daffodils blooms near  La Conner, Washington, at the
beginning of the annual. month-long Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Fall is an ideal time for planting in the Northwest. The weather is mild enough that working outdoors is comfortable. Plants have a chance to gradually settle in before spring. Fall and winter rains keep everything watered.

A frequently asked question is, "How deep should bulbs be planted?" The answer varies, depending on the size of the bulb and where your garden is. Here at sea level, I plant bulbs about twice as deep as they are tall. So a 2" tall daffodil bulb would sit with its bottom 4" into the ground. Tiny bulbs like crocus, I would plant about 3x as deep as the bulb is tall. In the foothills of our mountain ranges, I would plant bulbs deeper, to keep them from freezing. Give them at least another inch of soil on top.

Bulbs are easy care plants. About the only thing you need to do to keep them thriving is to add Bone Meal to the soil at planting time and as a top dressing after the flowers bloom.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Help! My Tree Is Dying!

It is normal for western red cedars
and other conifers to lose some
leaves in autumn.
I have received frantic calls from clients at this time of year because they fear they are losing their favorite evergreen trees. They look into the canopy of a pine, a Hinoki cypress, Douglas fir or western red cedar and see brown needles or leaves - sometimes a lot of them. And they are sure the tree is dying.

But nearly always, the tree is just fine. It is normal for conifers to shed old leaves and needles in the fall. A tree is called an "evergreen" because it has green foliage year around. People often take that to mean that the tree never sheds a leaf, which isn't the case. Older leaves on the inside of the plant, close to the trunk, turn brown and fall in autumn. The rest of the tree, of course, remains "green."

The time when brown foliage on a conifer is a sign of trouble is when the growing tip (the outer end of the branch) turns brown. If you have concerns about the health of your trees, consult with a certified arborist.