Beneficial Insects in the Garden

on Wednesday, 02 June 2021.

Getting to Know Your (Six-Legged) Neighbors

soaker hoseOf all the different insects you find in your yard, what percentage to you think are actively harmful to your plants: 30%? 50%? 90%?

The actual answer might surprise you. According to the National Pesticide Information Center at OSU, “out of nearly 1 million known insect species, only about 1%-3% are ever considered pests.” That means that between 97%-99% of the insects you encounter every day are either harmless, or are actually beneficial to your plants.

So who are all these beneficial insects? Beneficial insects fall into four basic groups: predators (ladybugs, mantises, green lacewings), pollinators (bees, wasps, butterflies), parasites of garden pests (tiny braconid wasps, tachinid flies), and decomposers (pillbugs, mites, millipedes).

Bee and pollenSummer is the perfect time of year to get to know some of these six-legged garden allies, and learn how to attract them to your garden. There are some great books out there that can help you get started. You can find links to a few of our favorites here, here, and here. Even better, bring one of these books out into your garden with you, and spend some time just watching all the different insects (and other creatures) who you are sharing your garden with!

AphidLadybugEven if you do see an insect that qualifies as a “pest”, there’s still no need to panic. Start by noticing what that insect is actually doing. Does it seen to be causing a problem? If you observe the insect eating one of your plants, is the damage minor (a few holes in the leaves) or is there a serious problem? Do you have any garden allies in the vicinity? One single ladybug can eat 50 or more aphids a day, and most songbirds feed their young an exclusive diet of insects!

In this time of social distancing, why not spend some time getting better acquainted with your non-human neighbors? Chances are, you’ll develop a rich appreciation for the thriving and diverse little ecosystem you are creating in your yard – and you’ll become a better (and happier) gardener in the process!

Five Steps to a Beautiful, Drought Tolerant Garden

on Monday, 03 May 2021. Posted in Drought tolerant

Drought proof

It’s no secret that we’re in for another low-water summer here in the Rogue Valley. And while none of us are happy at the prospect of a drought, there are a lot of things you can do right now to have a yard that is both beautiful and drought resistant this summer.

Here are five simple steps to get you started: 

 

 

Plant Now: Drought doesn’t mean you can’t add new plants to your garden this year – but you do want to plant before the summer heat moves in to stay. Plan on doing most of your major planting this month, so your new plants have time to get their roots established before our prolonged hot weather arrives.

In fact, this is a great time to consider adding some drought tolerant and native plants to your garden. These plants are beautifully adapted to our hot, dry summers and are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. Instead of growing ‘thirstier’ plants that you’ll need to continuously coddle and fuss over, you can have a garden full of plants that thrive here in the Rogue Valley – many of which are also deer resistant and pollinator friendly.

 

Water Wisely: Your plants will actually be a lot healthier if you water slowly, deeply, and infrequently; rather than sprinkling them once (or even twice) a day – and you’ll end up using a lot less water overall. Check out our Watering 101 blog post for more information. If you start implementing these waterwise guidelines now, by your new plants will only need occasional water – anywhere from twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the plants you select.

 

Mulch: Once you get that water into your soil, you want to keep it there for your plants to use – not lose it to evaporation! Mulches like hemlock or shredded fir bark, compost, and even gravel act like an insulating blanket for your soil; keeping your plant’s roots cooler and reducing water loss due to evaporation.

 

Go Easy on the Fertilizer: Fertilizers are designed to push fast new top growth in plants – that’s why they’re popular! But growing fast isn’t always in the best interest of your plants – particularly during a dry year. Those tender new leaves require a lot of water to keep them healthy until they harden off. This spring, consider skipping the fertilizer and let your plants get themselves established at their own pace. Instead, they can focus on putting on deep roots to successfully weather the high summer temperatures.

 

Try One of our Waterwise Collections: Not sure where to start? Not to worry! Shooting Star Nursery has designed two curated ‘waterwise’ plant collections –a Waterwise Jewel Tones collection and a Waterwise Pastel Tones collection. These collections include plants for a 90-100 sq. foot garden bed, design vignettes that provide year-round interest, plant descriptions, and spacing guidelines. If you’re new to drought tolerant plants, our collections are a great place to start!

Hedges and Privacy Screens

on Monday, 30 November 2020. Posted in Landscape architect

Great options for Privacy Screens and Hedges

Privacy hedges or screens are more than just an attractive living visual barrier between you and whatever is on the other side. They also buffer noise, wind, dust, and other pollutants kicked up from nearby driveways and roads. There are many great selections of mid-size conifers and broadleaf shrubs that stay green all year round. Since we get a lot of questions about what can be used for privacy screens and landscape borders, we thought it would be great to tell you a little more about what we have.

This is just a small sample of many other options for evergreen hedges and privacy screens. We'll tell you more about other options in future posts. Make sure to sign up for the Shooting Star Nursery Newsletter for the most up to date news and new arrivals!


cedrusDeodaraDivinelyBlue2Cedrus deodara,
'Divinely Blue' Deodar Cedar

A dwarf variety of the full-sized Deodar Cedar, with the same beautiful blue-green evergreen foliage on graceful nodding branches that forms a low mounding shape. Prefers well-draining soil and full sun but will tolerate some shade. Drought tolerant once established. Slow grower of about 6" per year, reaching up to 6' tall x 3-6' wide within 10 years.

 


taxusHicksiiHicksYewTaxus hicksii, 'Hick's Yew'

The upright, columnar form of the Hicks Yew is made up of long branches with lush, glossy, evergreen foliage that makes it a great option for tall hedges and privacy screens. Does well in full sun to full shade and prefers well-draining soil. Drought tolerant once established. Grows slow at about 12" per year, reaching up to 10-12' tall x 3-4' wide at maturity.

 


thujaExcelsaThuja plicata,
'Excelsa' Western Red Cedar

A Pacific Northwest native with full-bodied, evergreen, fan-like foliage that is Aromatic with some deer resistance. Prefers moist, well-drained soil and full to part sun. Drought tolerant once established. Grows fast at 24-36" per year for an almost instant privacy screen! Reaches up to 30' tall x 20' wide at maturity.

 

 

thujaVirescensThuja plicata,
'Virescens' Western Red Cedar

A Pacific Northwest native with upward reaching branches that create a tall, tight, and narrow pyramid shape. Glossy evergreen aromatic foliage some deer resistance. Prefers moist, well-drained soil and full to part sun. Drought tolerant once established. Grows moderately at about 15" per year, and up to 25' tall x 12' wide at full maturity.


portugueseLaurelPrunus lusitanica, 
‘Portuguese Laurel’

If you don't want a conifer hedge, laurels are the way to go. Portuguese laurels have narrow, rounded, glossy, evergreen leaves and red stems. They are fast-growing, bushy, and produce fragrant white flowers that bloom in late spring. They respond well to being trimmed into a uniform shape, and if you prefer the look of natural growth, you should still trim them at least once a year. Prefers well-draining soil, and does equally well in full sun or full shade as long as its root system is established. Generally, these shrubs can reach 18-20' tall x 10-15' wide, and larger if not maintained.


buxusGrahamBlandy2Buxus sempervirens,
'Graham Blandy' English Boxwood

If you love boxwoods and need an option for a tall privacy screen that fits in a narrow space, then 'Graham Blandy' (Buxus sempervirens) boxwood, is the superstar you have been looking for. This is a relatively slow-growing boxwood, at less than 6" or less per year and that can reach up to 10’ tall and only 2’ wide. 

There are many great options available to you for a privacy screen. Take a look at some other ideas with compact and dwarf conifers, columnar plants, and even bamboo that is cold hardy enough for the Rogue Valley!