Vermont Garden Journal

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There are more than 600 varieties of hydrangea around the world and while the blue hydrangea gets the most press, there are newer types that don’t get as much attention.

Courtesy, Fine Gardening

I like a shrub with a description that says it tolerates shade, clay soil, wet soil and erosion and still blooms. This shrub is called the pepperbush or summersweet. Its botanical name means “alder” in Greek since the leaves resemble those of the alder tree. We call it clethra.

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We've all lost beautiful summer squash, pumpkin or winter squash plants to the Squash Vine Borer. This destructive moth lays eggs in July at the base of these plants and the larvae burrows into the stem causing it to wilt.

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The variability of summer weather means you have to stay on your toes to make sure your garden gets enough water. Here are three tips for keeping your flowers and vegetables hydrated this summer:

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While annual weeds such as chickweed and pigweed have many control options, including eating them, keeping perennial weeds out of your garden is trickier. Perennial weeds are tough because they can form new plants along their roots, so even if you pull out most of the plant, what's left behind in the soil will eventually send up a new shoot.

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Morning glories are often grown as decoration and sometimes a food crop. It is related to other common garden plants such as sweet potatoes and moon flowers.

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One native shrub that often gets overlooked is viburnum. There are more than 150 species of viburnums, ranging in size from a compact 3-foot shrub to a small tree. Most shrubs grow to be around 6- to 12-feet tall, making them great hedges and foundation plants.

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Pollinators like honey bees and Monarch butterflies play an important role in our food system and ecosystem. It's a good idea to find ways to attract pollinators to your garden. Here are some tips that will bring more bees, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden this summer:

Choose pollinator friendly plants

Wildflowers and heirloom varieties of popular flowers are great choices.  Some modern hybrid flowers may be attractive and have good characteristics but they aren't the best for pollinators.

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In Vermont, people wait months for warm weather and so do the bugs. These insects might an annoyance to humans, but they can damage plants in the garden if you don't get rid of them. Here are two bugs to watch for in the garden.

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Some common names of plants can be a bit of an exaggeration, like sneeze weed and monkey puzzle tree. Ninebark, a common shrub in our area, falls into this same category.

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Get your green thumbs ready for summer: garden expert Charlie Nardozzi helps solve your "perennial" problems in the garden.

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No matter what kind of tomatoes you're growing, it's important to keep them off the ground or else you risk fruit rot and leaf diseases.

Here are four ways to keep plants up and off the ground:

If you're staking indeterminate varieties, pinch off the suckers when small so the plant doesn't overwhelm the stake. Also, use Velcro plant ties to attach them to the stake.

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The Four O'Clock is a bit of an odd flower: Its different colored blossoms open in the late afternoon and close in the morning.

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The spirea is a spring blooming shrub that can look magnificent when cared for properly. Unfortunately, many gardeners plant them in the wrong location and they get too big blocking windows and walkways and end up pruning them into little geometric shapes.

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Some homeowners relish the challenge of creating a lush, green lawn devoid of creeping dandelions and other weeds. Most gardeners are somewhere in between about their lawn. Take a look around your neighborhood and you'll see a range of interest in lawn care.  

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One of the best gifts you can give a child is to garden with them. Most adult gardeners started in the garden with mom, dad or a favorite grandparent. Introducing kids to gardening at a young age leads to a lifetime of healthy eating and loving plants and the environment.

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A common question gardeners have is "what ground covers can be grown in shade?" First of all, all shade is not created equally. Shade under an evergreen tree is different than shade under a small crabapple. So it's best to match the type of shade you have with the ground cover.

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Broccoli has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming one of the top ten vegetables eaten in the United States. While we're all familiar with the classic, green-domed broccoli heads, there are other unusual types, too.

All these broccoli relatives like cool temperatures to grow and mature, so plant in early May for an early summer crop or in mid to late summer for a fall crop. Thwart cabbage worms by growing under floating row covers or spraying with the pesticide BT.

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Trillium is a native, woodland plant is one of the signature flowers of spring. It has three leaves, sepals and petals giving it the common name, the trinity flower.

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Although mangoes don't grow in Vermont, other exotic fruits such as persimmons do. Varieties fall into astringent and non-astringent, Asian and American categories.

Most persimmons you find in the grocery store are astringent Asian types. Non-astringent Asian types are eaten while still crunchy like apples. Both Asian types won't grow in our climate, but the astringent American types can.