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Hydrangeas are the answer to a shady yard

Q. All summer my yard is just green, which is great because at least it’s not brown, but what can I plant in my somewhat shady yard for some color after the azaleas and dogwoods are through with their spring fling?

Monday 06/22/2015
Plant cloning 101
Posted: June 22, 2015

Plants can be propagated, or multiplied, in several different ways. Most people are familiar with growing new plants from seeds, but new plants can also be created (cloned) by cutting off portions of established plants. Many of us have successfully started new plants by rooting houseplant stems in water on our kitchen windowsill. It is fun to see the little roots appear and to know that you have a free new plant that is genetically the same as the parent plant.

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Monday 06/08/2015
Create magic with 'fairy' garden
Posted: June 08, 2015

Q. My granddaughters, ages 6 and 8, are spending a few weeks with me this summer, and I want to interest them in some garden activities. A neighbor mentioned developing a fairy garden. How can I involve them in learning some basics and still keep it fun?

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Blue Lobelia: Treat for the eyes
Posted: June 08, 2015

Sometimes I feel like I am Euell Gibbons reincarnated. (Anyone under the age of 60 will be scratching their head about now wondering who in the world that is.) I prowl my yards every day looking for the latest flowers in bloom, much like Euell Gibbons stalked the wild asparagus. I drag the camera all over the yard to capture pictures before they disappear.

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Monday 05/25/2015
Control burweed in the winter
Posted: May 25, 2015

Q. There is something in my yard that is sticking and hurting my children and me when we walk barefoot in the grass. What can it be?

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Monday 05/18/2015
Why is my clematis dying?
Posted: May 18, 2015

Q. Last month, I planted a clematis vine that had huge periwinkle blooms. Now the leaves are turning brown and it looks like it’s dying. What did I do wrong? Is there anything I can do to save this plant?

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Monday 05/11/2015
Bog gardens and pitcherplants
Posted: May 11, 2015

Q. I overheard some people discussing bog gardens and pitcherplants the other day, but only heard part of the conversation. I thought bogs were wet, soggy places where little grows. What is a bog garden, what grows in one and what in the world is a pitcher plant? — Diane T.

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Monday 04/27/2015
Ground covers: Garden fillers and spillers
Posted: April 27, 2015

In the spring I walk around the garden almost daily to see what is peeping up from the earth. My garden is like a giant flower pot, planted with “thrillers, fillers and spillers.”

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Monday 04/20/2015
The native buckeyes
Posted: April 20, 2015

Q. I recently heard someone speak of a buckeye on their property. Is it a shrub or tree? How do you grow them? Can you tell me more about the buckeye?

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Monday 04/13/2015
Master Gardener: Angel's and devil's trumpets
Posted: April 13, 2015

Q. A friend recently told me that there are two very similar plants that are commonly known as devil’s trumpet and angel’s trumpet? How are they different? How do I maintain them?

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Monday 04/06/2015
The serviceberry, or juneberry, tree
Posted: April 06, 2015

Q: My grandmother keeps reminiscing about the sarvis jelly that was made from berries that she and her mother gathered from trees growing along streams and fence rows. I have never heard of a sarvis tree. What is it?

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Monday 03/30/2015
When to prune crape myrtle and azaleas
Posted: March 30, 2015

Q. Both crape myrtle and azaleas will be blooming soon. When should they be pruned? Can they be pruned at the same time?

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Monday 03/23/2015
Tips for growning winter daphne
Posted: March 23, 2015

Q. I want to plant a winter daphne shrub in my shade garden, but I have heard they are tricky to grow. Can you give me some tips?

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Monday 03/16/2015
Will shamrocks grow in Georgia?
Posted: March 16, 2015

I was wondering if shamrocks will grow in Georgia. I don’t remember seeing any growing here but would like to grow them, if possible. Besides, my family is from Ireland, and it just seems right for me to grow shamrocks! — Caitlin O.

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Monday 03/02/2015
Nandinas: The Good, the Bad and the Choice
Posted: March 02, 2015

Oh, Nandina, where should I begin? You are so beautiful all winter with your green foliage and bright red berries, but you are an invasive plant whose berries are said to be toxic to birds. You have been an important landscape plant material in the South for many years. Our grandparents called you “heavenly bamboo,” but botanically you are called Nandina domestica. Some say you are overused in the landscape, but you have few pests and actually seem to thrive on neglect.

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Monday 02/23/2015
Dahlias are a garden delight
Posted: February 23, 2015

Q: I recently relocated to the sunny South. I have always admired the beautiful Dahlias seen in the gardens of my neighbors in the North. I have never grown these beauties before. Can you help with hints on growing Dahlias here in Zone 7b?

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Monday 02/16/2015
Ask a Master Gardener: Raised bed gardening
Posted: February 16, 2015

Q. Todd and I have just moved to Carroll County, and we have a change in our vegetable production. Before moving, we had a large garden, but we now have a much smaller area. Can you give us some information about growing vegetables in our limited space? —  E. and T. Jones

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Monday 02/09/2015
Blackberries are both nutritious and delicious
Posted: February 09, 2015

Q: I am trying to get more antioxidants into my diet and would like to grow some blackberries. How do I get started?

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Monday 02/02/2015
Ask a Master Gardener: 2015 Georgia Gold Medal Winners
Posted: February 02, 2015

Q.: I haven’t seen or read of the Georgia Gold Medal plants for some time. Have they been selected for this year and how can I find photos of them?

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Monday 01/26/2015
Ask a Master Gardener: How can I attract bats to my yard?
Posted: January 26, 2015

Q.: I hear bats help control mosquitoes. Can you tell me how to attract some to my yard? 

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Woodpeckers don’t just peck wood
Posted: January 26, 2015

Dear Birdman:

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Monday 01/19/2015
Ask A Master Gardener: Soil-born Pathogens
Posted: January 19, 2015

Q.: I have the perfect spot for tomatoes and have grown them there for several years. For the first three or four years, I had a great crop of beautiful tomatoes, but for the last two or three I have had a problem with more and more of the plants getting sick and dying. I am planting and treating them the same way I have in the past. Could something have gotten in the soil that is causing this problem? 

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Monday 01/12/2015
Ask a Master Gardener: Our Partnership With Pollinators
Posted: January 12, 2015

Q.: I would like to have a butterfly garden. What should I do to attract them?

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Butterflies, Hummers and Bees…Oh, My!
Posted: January 12, 2015

Is this dreary winter weather getting you down? Need some inspiration? Before you pull out the seed catalogs or go plant shopping, you might want to learn about pollinators and their importance in your garden.

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Monday 01/05/2015
Ask A Master Gardener: Not So Lowly Liriope
Posted: January 05, 2015

Q.: What can I plant under a big tree where grass won’t grow?

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Monday 12/29/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Gift plants that transition to the garden
Posted: December 29, 2014

Q.: What plants can I buy now that will look nice in the house during the winter, and may then be transplanted outdoors and look even better in my garden in the spring?

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Beaks are unique tools
Posted: December 29, 2014

A while back, I wrote that wings were the things that made birds stand out from all other animals, but I have reconsidered.  It’s true that wings are important, but other creatures have wings. The protruding beak is really the one thing that is unique to birds.  An octopus has a beak at the center point of its mouth, but the beak doesn’t protrude. Think about it. Can you name one other creature on the entire planet that has a protruding beak?

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Monday 12/22/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Food for songbirds
Posted: December 22, 2014

Q.: What can I grow in my flower garden that will provide food for songbirds in winter?

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Monday 12/15/2014
A Walmart Madonna
Posted: December 15, 2014

Shopping in Walmart last week, I saw a little boy put his hand inquiringly on a Christ Child, part of a plastic crèche. “What is this?” he asked his mother, who had him by the hand.  “Come on, come on,” replied the harassed woman, “you don’t want that!” And she dragged him grimly away – a Walmart Madonna, her mind dark with gift thoughts, following a star of her own devising.

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Ask A Master Gardener: Facts and Myths about Christmas Plants
Posted: December 15, 2014

Q.: I heard that poinsettias and mistletoe are poisonous and are dangerous to have around pets and children. Could you tell me if these plants are really dangerous?

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Monday 12/08/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Choosing Holiday Beauties and How to Care for Them
Posted: December 08, 2014

Q.: I love the holiday plants. As beautiful as holiday plants are in the store, I need some help. I can’t resist the colorful and awesome blossoms, but they don’t remain beautiful for very long after I get them home. How can I care for these gems and keep them around for a long time?

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Tuesday 12/02/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Decorating naturally for Christmas
Posted: December 02, 2014

Q.: Can you give me ideas for decorating with natural materials for Christmas?

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A cardinal's trust
Posted: December 02, 2014

You could tell it was a cardinal, of course. Despite the evening light that turned red to slate, the silhouette was unmistakable. The hallmark crest was peaked, erect. The face black.  The tail nicely rounded. And the bird’s eyes – they were jet black, dark as the night closing over the world. From a distance of 10 feet, they peered into mine.

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Monday 11/24/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Do sunflower seeds harm other plants?
Posted: November 24, 2014

Q.: My husband feeds black oil sunflower seeds to birds (and squirrels) year round by our patio. The hulls pile up in my flower bed under his feeder. He refuses to clean up what he calls “free mulch.” A friend says it is the reason I can’t get anything to grow there. I got so mad last fall when the squirrels his seeds attract dug up and ate my pricey tulip bulbs, I wanted to divorce him. Do sunflower seed hulls harm other plants? Can they be composted?

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Monday 11/17/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Out of My Mind
Posted: November 17, 2014

One of my favorite large nursery spots had a surprise sale recently, and I happened on it with glee. In no time I had completely lost all sense of proportion or reason and filled my old SUV with everything I could fit in it.  

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Monday 11/10/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Dirt or Soil?
Posted: November 10, 2014

Q.: How can I find out if I have a good quality soil in my lawn or garden?  Can you tell me what I have to do to make sure that my soil is productive and, if not, how can I fix it?

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Are we all obsessed with birds?
Posted: November 10, 2014

Market analysts optimistically estimate that 80 million Americans are interested in watching birds. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is more conservative and says only 61 million – one in four Americans – watch birds. For most Americans, the world of birding begins and ends in their backyards. These are people who have discovered the uncomplicated pleasure of watching the birds that share their world, people who can put a name to the birds of lawns and gardens as easily as they might a neighbor.  

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Monday 11/03/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Shrubs
Posted: November 03, 2014

Q.: We recently did an addition to our house, which was great, but we lost some shrubbery. Is this the right time to plant replacements, and what would be a couple of good choices for this area?  Also, please advise us about some good practices for maintaining healthy shrubs.  

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Monday 10/27/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Pawpaws and Persimmons
Posted: October 27, 2014

I think I have planted as many fruit and berry plants as I can fit into my limited garden space. My grandchildren and the birds enjoy my figs, a few apple varieties, plums and blueberries. 

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Monday 10/20/2014
Ask a Master Gardener Article: Fall Planning and Planting
Posted: October 20, 2014

Q.:  I know that fall is a good time to plant pansies and spring bulbs. Is there anything else I should be doing in my ornamental beds at this time of the year?

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Monday 10/13/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Gardening for children
Posted: October 13, 2014

Q.: My children’s friends are members of Junior Master Gardeners. Are there any requirements to join? What kind of activities do they do, and how can we register our children?

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My sister-in-law thinks I am a horrible person
Posted: October 13, 2014

Beavers are famous as engineers, but their siting skills are often overrated. They are like people – some are smarter than others. 

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Monday 10/06/2014
Ask A Master Gardener: Growing Brussels Sprouts
Posted: October 06, 2014

Q.: We both enjoy Brussels sprouts and would like to grow some, but we haven’t seen any plants in the stores or heard of anyone growing them in our area. Can we grow them here?

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Monday 09/29/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Let the Fall Garden Clean Up Begin!
Posted: September 29, 2014

Q.: What should I be doing in the garden this fall that will help me be more successful next year?  I am relatively new to gardening, and there is still a lot for me to learn. I would appreciate some ideas to help with my efforts.

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Use native plants to attract birds
Updated: September 30, 2014 - 12:46 pm

The best way to attract yard birds through landscaping is to use a diverse mix of trees, shrubs, flowers and water.  Select plants for their flowers and fruits, but also consider them for their potential as nest sites and protective cover.

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Monday 09/22/2014
Planting perennials in the fall
Posted: September 22, 2014

Q.: I hear about fall gardens. I know that there are fall vegetable gardens, are there also flowers that I can plant in the fall?

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Hearts a Bustin’ underappreciated
Posted: September 22, 2014

Arguably one of the most overlooked of our native shrubs is the Euonymous americanus, or Hearts-a-Bustin’. This sprawling shrub with its multiple stems can grow up to 6 feet tall. It’s a thin little shrub, but the stems will thicken and become more branched as the shrub matures. It tends to colonize by suckers, but is not considered invasive. With its green stems and dark green leaves, it will look somewhat unremarkable. It even has small, inconspicuous greenish-yellow blooms which have five purple stamen and five petals.

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Monday 09/15/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Why is my Aucuba dying?
Posted: September 15, 2014

Q.: Recently, all the leaves wilted on a 12-foot tall aucuba that was growing in my yard when I bought my house 20 years ago. Even though I watered it well, the shrub turned black and died. Now, two other large aucubas have black spots on their leaves. Can you tell me what happened and whether there is any way to keep them from dying? 

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Don’t worry, your birds will come back
Posted: September 15, 2014

When you go away from home for a week, do you worry that the birds will empty your bird feeders and abandon your yard? We used to. After being away for a while the first thing we did upon getting home was to fill the bird feeders and – surprise, surprise – within hours, the birds were back and eating.

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Monday 09/08/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: The Sentimental Garden
Posted: September 08, 2014

Q.: On a recent garden tour, I overheard people discussing “pass-along plants.” What on earth are they talking about? 

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Monday 09/01/2014
Ask a Master Gardener: Paella Anyone?
Posted: September 01, 2014

Saffron is a delicious and colorful seasoning that is used in Paella and other flavorful dishes throughout the world and is gaining popularity here in the United States. Without saffron, Spanish Paella and Indian curry just wouldn’t have the flavor and vibrant color that they have.  

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