Get Off The Grass - Groundcovers For Problem PlacesWritten by Jean Fritz
Why fight nature? If you’ve got an abundance of shade, thin, sandy soil, or other lawn challenging conditions, keep your sanity and your budget intact this season and install groundcover plants instead of attempting to reestablish a lawn.
Groundcovers have advantage of requiring fewer pest controls to stay healthy and look good. Maintenance is also minimal, as most of plants are either slow-growing or naturally dwarf. Many will accept “weed whacker” pruning periodically and if they start to break out of their bounds, errant plants may need to be dug. Most require an application of time-released fertilizer once a year. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut your chemical bills to nearly nothing?
The most ubiquitous groundcovers are Baltic ivy and pachysandra, but these aren’t only options available. Be creative! Groundcovers can be woodland natives, low-growing evergreens, or herbs. Some options for shady areas are: Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadensis), Lily of valley (Convallaria sp.) bloodroot (Sanguinaria) one of many cultivars of hosta, or even unattractive-sounding dead nettle (Lamium maculatum). These plants grow quite vigorously in shady, moist conditions, stay low-growing, and offer additional benefit of flowers, although in case of wild ginger, they may be inconspicuous. In addition, their leaves span gamut of green shades available on nature’s palette; hosta and dead nettle also offer two-toned or silver-toned foliage.
Sunny spots with thin, sandy soil can support low growing evergreens such as creeping juniper, Mugho pine, and false cypress quite nicely. These plants take their sweet time about growing but once they’re established, they are as permanent as house they were planted to accent. The junipers also produce small berries, which are a treat for birds and serve as an ingredient in Alsatian choucroute for very adventuresome cook.
How to Transplant IrisesWritten by LeAnn R. Ralph
In my experience, irises are among easiest flowers to transplant.
One spring many years ago, an older friend of mine dug up an iris bed at her home. They were bearded irises -- a lovely shade of lilac purple -- and she moved some of them to a different location. The irises had already started to grow and were about four inches high. She didn't know what to do with remaining irises, so she put them in a box, intending to give them away.
As it turned out, irises remained in box for more than two weeks. By now, she didn't feel she could give them away because she didn't think they would grow. I offered to take irises and plant them, just to see what would happen.
The irises were not one bit bothered about being in a box for more than two weeks with no water and no dirt around their roots. I planted them, they started growing, and they're still going strong more than 25 years later.
In past two decades, I have thinned out irises and planted them in other locations. I have also found irises growing by old homesteads where no buildings remain (I live in rural Wisconsin) and have dug them up and transplanted them in my yard. Each year in early June, irises bloom in a variety of colors: white, blue, yellow and purple.
Here's how to transplant irises:
1. Prepare new flower bed where you intend to plant irises.
2. Use a shovel to dig up roots that you want to transplant. Irises have very tough root systems. If irises are exceptionally thick, a trowel probably won't do trick. Stick shovel into dirt among irises and start digging. And don't worry about cutting roots with shovel. You won't be able to avoid it. Irises spread by their roots, so many of plants will be connected. Even a short section of root stands an excellent chance of transplanting.