Friday, August 27, 2010


Grasses have a beauty all their own from the Giant Miscanthus to the Festuca or Blue Oat Grass .
The first picture above shows grasses as they emerge spring and early summer and the next two are late season pictures with their blooms and showing how they fit into the landscape.
Grasses need to be cut back in the early spring and have a winter character that few other perennials have. They are a shelter for birds, can be a wind break for tender shrubs and have a special accent in the winter landscape. Give them plenty of room, as they will spread in a few years and can be divided late fall but preferably early spring.
Their plumes are very impressive and occur from August through the fall. There are literally hundreds of varieties of grasses both for sun and part shade and many tolerate dry conditions so those who want to save water would do well to consider grasses in their gardens. They require very little care and if you buy them from a reputable source they will winter over nicely. One variety that will not winter is the red fountain grass (Pennisetum Rubrum) so beware of this one if you want a hardy grass. Other nice grasses are pictured below.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Color & Texture In The Garden

All of the above are perennials and shrubs that have been in this garden for years. This picture was taken on June 22, 2010 showing the color and texture that happens with just a little planning. It is located in our Ashcombe American garden adjacent to our parking lot.
Pictured above are yellow Euonymus, front and center, blooming white yucca amidst grasses, and behind are Perovskia, (Russian Sage) and Salvias’ May Night and Caradonna. The background for this garden is evergreens, which give a soft touch to the garden. This is of course a sun garden and a dry garden. For a shade garden the one pictured below is a combination Hostas, grasses and a water feature that attracts birds. It is located in our bird garden in the same area as the picture above but with shade from bushes and trees.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ashcombe Dog Days

Make plans to join us at Ashcombe for our annual "Dog Days"... a morning dedicated to dogs and organizations that work hard to help them. Our list of special guests keeps growing, but currently we will have these organizations on hand:
Brookline Lab Rescue
Canine Rescue of Central PA
Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center, Inc.
Miss Lucy's Dog Treats
Harrisburg Kennel Club
1 Life Rescue
Carlisle Area Dog Parks
K-9 Kozeez - Hand Made Fleeceware
Furry Friends Animal Network
Basset Rescue of Old Dominion
"Chill-Outz" Cooling Neck Scarves
Compassionate Hearts Animal Rescue

Bring your loyal companion for a dog wash between the hours of 10am and noon.

We will be giving away door prizes every half hour and will host a "dress your dog" contest and pagent. If you're hungry -- we will have a lunch special: Hot Dog and Soda for $2.00 at our indoor deli.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How To Prevent Blossom End Rot In Tomatoes

Blossom end rot is a disorder commonly found on tomatoes that is caused by a lack of calcium in the plant. This occurs when the tomato plant experiences periods of wet soil and periods of very dry soil. A balance needs to be maintained for roots to properly absorb calcium from the soil. You will recognize blossom end rot by the nasty looking brown spots that may begin as small spots on the blossom end (opposite the stem) of the green tomato. As the fruit matures, the spot spreads to cover larger areas and deepens in color. At maturity blossom end rot may take over nearly the whole tomato and appear black and leathery. Preventing blossom end rot takes a little time and effort, but the results are well worth the effort.

1. Choose soil that has good drainage. Tomatoes need to be kept evenly moist to properly absorb the calcium needed to promote fruit production.

2. Add plenty of composted materials to the soil before transplanting your tomatoes. These organic additions to the soil will help retain moisture and prevent the roots being exposed to overly dry soil.

3. Mulch tomatoes with straw, newspaper or black plastic to retain moisture. This will keep the soil moist even when the weather is hot and dry.

4. Water regularly. Even tomatoes that are mulched need to be watered on a regular basis. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings. Uneven watering seems to be the biggest contributor of blossom end rot.

5. Maintain a PH of 6.5 for optimum calcium absorption. You can purchase an inexpensive soil test to determine the PH level of your soil at your local gardening supply store. Follow the instructions with the kit to raise or lower the PH.

6. Bone meal or manure will increase the calcium in the soil, but this is seldom necessary. Generally low calcium content in the soil is not the cause of blossom end rot. It is the inability of the plant's roots to absorb calcium due to uneven watering that is actually the culprit.