Poisonous Plants

By Karen Fraizer

A poisonous plant is by definition, “a plant that when touched or ingested in sufficient quantity can be harmful or fatal to an organism”.

People sometimes think if they do not directly ingest a piece of a plant (such as leaves or seeds), that they are probably safe from being poisoned. Or, maybe you think that if you see an animal consume the plant, it is probably okay for you to eat. Both of those statements are false and could get you into a sticky situation! Some plants are poisonous just by touching them. Some may be alright for the birds… but are definitely not okay for us. 

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Deadheading & Cutting Back in the Late Summer Garden

By Ellen Azotea

It’s the end of August, and we have been slogging through the dog days of summer this month. The heat and humidity have done a number on our gardens and container plantings, and it’s time to start tidying things up in preparation for autumn.  There is still color in the garden, so this is where deadheading and cutting back come into play. 

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Chanticleer

By Mark Hoover

The Kingwood Center Gardens Horticulture Team was fortunate to be able to visit Chanticleer in early August as part of a very quick trip to America’s garden capitol. One could spend many days in the Philadelphia area, enjoying various gardens. We chose Chanticleer for its strong reputation of being one of the best gardens in the country. It also has some similarities to Kingwood, in that it is of similar size.

Chanticleer'19 (37)

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Art in the Garden

By Chuck Gleaves

The 2018 Perennial Plant Association meeting in late July/early August in Raleigh, North Carolina was an opportunity to take the gardening blinders off and see and hear a few things others are achieving with their gardens. For example, I thought I knew what was going on at the famous English garden, Great Dixter, but Head Gardener Fergus Garrett’s talk revealed to me I had no idea about the scope, nature and profoundness of the gardening taking place in that great place.

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The Struggle with Annuals

By Karen Fraizer

You may think that because we are Professional Gardeners here at Kingwood, everything in the gardens comes easy to us. Well, you would be wrong!

When we are planning our annual displays a year in advance, you can be certain that we are picturing the perfect specimens. The problem is, rarely do we get that “perfect specimen”. We must fight mother nature as well as human error, to make the annuals look as good as everyone expects them to.

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Weeds

By Shawn McClain

Weeds are competitive, fighting your garden plants or lawn grass for water, light, nutrients and space. Usually, weeds grow quickly taking over many of the open areas. Weeds thrive in favorable conditions and can be found growing anywhere the ground has been disturbed. In addition, they offer clues about your soil conditions. An example would be plantain. This stubborn weed often grows in compacted, heavy clay and well trafficked areas with low fertility.

Plantain

Plantain

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New Introductions

By Doug Schuster

It’s an exciting time of the year for me. I just got back from one of the largest horticulture tradeshows in the world, ‘Cultivate’18’, where many new plant introductions are made for the spring of 2019. New plants are exciting; it’s when my imagination can run wild of the possibilities. I’ve have found that it is important to keep perspective on new plants though, the plant race is turning in to an “arms race” of sorts.

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Sempervivum – ‘Forever Alive’

By Holly VanKeuren

The Latin name for what is commonly referred to as ‘Hens ‘n Chicks’ is Sempervivum, and this name was derived from the custom in Europe of planting these remarkable succulents along the ridges of thatched roofs.  This was done to protect the houses from lightning, and the name came from this custom, with Semper standing for ‘always’ or ‘forever’ and with Vivum meaning ‘alive’.  They are also known commonly as a Houseleek, yet another named that refers to their use on rooftop plantings.   Their third common name, Hens ‘n Chicks is used very widely, and refers to their method of reproducing themselves.  The mother hen or more mature plant is surrounded by its miniature offspringsimilar to baby chicks around their mother hen.  These baby chickens are attached to the mother plant by a thin stem, or umbilical cord, which once severed allows the new plant to grow its own roots and begin its own colony. 

Sempervivum arachnoideum or Cobweb Houseleek

Sempervivum arachnoideum or Cobweb Houseleek

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Garden Thug: A plant with the potential to be a huge pain in the asparagus

By Ellen Azotea

What is a Garden Thug? Most gardeners have encountered at least one Garden Thug in their experience…plants that grow vigorously and choke out less aggressive nearby plants. They tend to be a really interesting, pretty plant that grows so easily for you that you are suddenly overrun with it. Beware taking a new, unfamiliar plant that someone offers by the boxful. The giver might say things like, “It’s a really enthusiastic plant!  I just rip it out… I’m sure it’ll grow for you!” Or, “I have so much I just had to share!” 

Sometimes we buy plants from a garden store, and other times we get “pass along” plants from fellow gardeners. Or we see a plant growing wild in a field or ditch and think it might look great in our gardens.  No matter where you acquire a plant, use a bit of restraint and do some research online first. Don’t dump thugs on your friends, and beware of bringing an unknown botanical headache into your own garden, from a well-meaning but uninformed friend or garden center. 

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