Flowering shrubs and small trees are a staple of most garden designs, as they provide height, structure, screening, and year-round interest. However, integrating these woody plants with perennials and annuals can be challenging because, over time, they will overtake their herbaceous neighbors. At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where I am executive director, one technique we use involves managing smaller woody plants much as we do perennials: cutting them back severely every one to five years (the frequency depends on the variety).
Prevention is key to organic pest control. Start by “creating a healthy growing environment,” says Jack Algiere of Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills, New York. Also, be on the lookout for pests “before you see damage to your plants,” advises Peter Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards in Yountville, California. But what if pesky insects—like aphids, mites, or beetles—or powdery mildew won’t go away? Try these expert-recommended, eco-friendly solutions.
You've spent years training your roses, pruning your Japanese maple, and preventing invasive vines from overtaking your trees. Will you gamble it all for a summer vacation? “I hired the neighbor's kids to take care of my garden while I was away,” says Pamela Horvitz, a passionate gardener in Pittsburgh. “When I came back, things looked so bad that I wanted to cry.” Instead, the former office manager began a new life as a garden sitter.