Category Archives: Gardening

New Plants in April

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In St. Louis, Missouri, April is always a month for safety first when it comes to new plants. Many new plants that I buy or have started in the basement are much better off outside, but with temperatures below freezing at times, you have to figure out how to protect the plants.

I don’t plant until after May 1st, so I have to keep on top of the weather for all of April.

Here is one way I use to protect my plants.
I put them on a rolling shelf unit. When the temperature is above 45 degrees, I roll out the plants and give them water and sunshine. I don’t put them in full sun all day, but will start them out in sunshine and then move them to a shady area.

At night when the temperatures go below 40 degrees, I bring them inside the garage for protection.


Filed under Gardening, Plants

When to Plant?

I am already getting questions on when to plant in the St.Louis area, so I thought I’d do a little research on the weather averages.

May 1st is my standard answer for best planting date and it seems to stand the test of time. While you can certainly put in tougher plants like pansies, most annuals and more tender plants need the warmer temperatures.

If you look at the graph below, you can see that while the Normal Lows for April are in the 50’s by the end of the month, the Record Lows can be in the 20’s and 30’s. The Climate Graphs for May also show that there are no instances of freezing weather in the last fifty years.

May 1st seems to be a good planting date in this area. If you want to live dangerously you can plant earlier, but I would look at the 10 day forecast to be safe.



Filed under Gardening, Weather

Cleaning Up the Garden in the Fall

dead-plants-fall-800With the first frosts of fall, my garden turns from a lovely shade of green to a dirty brown with withered sticks and leaves.  While my first inclination is to clean up everything, there may be seeds that you can collect or even save for the birds.

Here’s a good video which talks about some of your options.

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National Organic Farming Handbook

Here’s a free book just out from the USDA. While it is meant for large farms, the principles can still be applicable to small home gardens. Here’s the link.


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Filed under Free, Gardening

Jesse Gilbertson – U City in Bloom

jesse-gilbertsonAt a recent GPHA (Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association) meeting, Jesse Gilbertson, who is the Horticulture Director for U City in Bloom, talked to us about what the group has been doing for the last thirty years. If he does this again, I’d encourage you to attend. It’s a great program for groups trying to put in gardens for a city. Here are a few notes from that presentation.

  • Mission Statement – Our mission is to enhance and beautify our community through public gardens, community partnerships, citizen involvement and environmental education.
  • 114 containers – 76 hanging baskets, 8 school properties, 115 – garden beds and 64 gardens -some big some small.
  • It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
  • He doesn’t put in any new garden without a water source. Find money to get irrigation – at least a spigot.
  • On some of the front beds, they are all annuals. “Eyecandy.”
  • Depending on the bed, he uses a mix of annuals, perennials, cultivars,  natives etc. He gets some criticism for using some non-native plants.
  • Recommends the book – Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape by Lynden Miller (Tom has this book.)
  • Talks about developing wildlife corridors.
  • They do have a water “truck” to water containers.
  • They work with Forestry and Parks Department and ask for help when needed.
  • Raising Money is a big part of what they do.
  • Plant Sales – they get plants from residents gardens and re-pot them up for sale.
  • Garden Tour
  • Donations and Grants
  • Ask for free plants from nursery.
  • He also asks June Hutson – MoBot for divisions of certain plants.
  • Some money from the city and the school district.
  • They have about 200 volunteers all together –  12 to 15 which volunteer on a regular basis in the beds. They also look for volunteer groups – companies?
  • Total revenue is about $160,000.
  • Have signs on all of their beds.
  • They do have events in some of their gardens with other organizations.
  • They don’t use Preen or landscape fabric.
  • Median – they put in water lines/irrigation, but have to watch for not blocking car sight lines.
  • They try to create a Bouquet theme – lots of different flowers and color.
  •  He went through a list of plants that he likes – here is the link from his blog.
  • He uses  wholesale plant sources
    He also use local nurseries.
  • He uses a lot of Calamentha nepeta – catnip.
  • They use a lot of Hardy Hibiscus.
  • New England Aster – October Skies
  • They send out a paper newsletter every year and also use a lot of social media.

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Grow Native Program – Soil – Pollinators – Organic Gardening

Saturday, November 21, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location – Meramec Comm. College

There is a $35 fee.

Here’s the link for more information.

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Botanical Garden at Sue’s House

I just visited Sue Leahy’s house in Brentwood, MO and immediately knew I was at the right place when I noticed that there was no front lawn.


She has quite a variety of plants in the front that just gets mid-day sun, but the plants are thriving. She uses a combination of Black Gold compost and shredded hardwood mulch to feed the plants and keep down the weeds.

As you go around the back, you notice all of her accreditations – she said she still had a couple more to put up.


In the back she has a couple of rain gardens, a beautiful pond and stream setup and even five turtles that need to be rounded up before the lawn is mowed.

One tip she mentioned was that she got a local grant to put in the rain gardens – check with your local Sewer District and send them a proposal if you have an area that gets a lot of runoff.

I also noticed that her Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, seems to be quite happy in the pond. I’m going to put a plant in my pond this year as an experiment. She mentioned that she thought the larvae might drop off into the water which would be a problem. I’ll probably collect the larvae and move them to a different location.

I admired her professional labels and she mentioned that her husband Andy had access to a professional laser engraving machine. I guess I’ll have to stick with my label maker.


Andy, with the help of a friend, has moved as much rock and stone as one of the Egyptian pyramids – just a slight exaggeration.


Thanks to Sue and her husband for such a lovely morning visiting her fantastic gardens.



Filed under Gardening, Lawn