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Garden Ramblings, Issue #039
November 15, 2007
November 2007

Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos.


In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Tulips from Amsterdam
- The Perfect Fall Lawn
- Garden Proverbs
- Choosing a Tree for your Small Garden
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the November issue of Garden Ramblings. In common with recent issues there are two articles by guest authors this month.

The first is by Pat Zavagnin with some helpful advice on how to restore your lawn to its best condition after the heat of the summer.

Our second guest is Jonathan Ya'akobi, the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, who has some tips on choosing a tree for a small garden.

In between I've added a few garden proverbs. I tried this once before, but here are a few more that I found recently. I'm always on the lookout for interesting sayings, so if you have any particular favorites, do let me know.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

I'm sure that you've all planted your bulbs by now and so here's a foretaste of what you can expect in the spring. This video was shot at the Keukenhof Flower show near Amsterdam.

Enjoy the issue.





Keukenhof Flower show near Amsterdam



The Perfect Fall Lawn
by Pat Zavagnin

The hot, dry summer has probably left your lawn needing a little extra TLC. Now that cooler temperatures are here, take advantage of the full fall days to help your lawn look and feel its best.

Although turf grasses are often dormant above ground in the fall, their roots continue to grow beneath the ground. The dry autumn weather weakens the turf grass and makes it susceptible to damage from cold weather, so a little preventive maintenance will go a long way toward a healthy lawn year round. Fescue is one of the most common grass turfs, in both warm and cold climates. In warm climates, it is often used in back yards (front yards tend to be sodded with Bermuda grass) because it remains green year-round. One of the advantages of using your back deck in cooler weather is the eye appeal of dark green fescue. Use the following items as a rough guide to a healthy, beautiful fescue lawn.

Fall is a good time to restore your lawn to its best condition by re-seeding or over-seeding. But first you might want to check for proper soil pH and other plant nutrients. Your county extension office will usually do this for a small fee. If your fescue lawn has not been aerated the past two or three years, aerate it this year for optimum results. Be sure you aerate with a core aerator before seeding. Put down good quality seed, and after the seed has established itself, make certain the lawn receives adequate water. This is especially important because fescue doesn't tolerate dry conditions or drought very well. If you apply enough water to soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, that should be adequate. That is roughly the same as one inch of rain.

You will want to spray a selective broadleaf herbicide on your fescue lawn to remove weeds. Apply fertilizer, usually in the application 16-4-8 of fertilizer for every 1000 square feet during the autumn. Later, in November, apply fertilizer which has a high potassium content.

If you have Bermuda, centipede, or zoysia (the warm season turfs which usually tolerate hot, dry summers), you may not need to give your lawn too much extra attention. Usually by the end of September the final application of fertilizer should have been put down. If you do it much later than that, it will delay the turf from going into dormancy, and that could make the grass more vulnerable to injury from cold.

Allow your warm season grasses to go dormant in the coming weeks by cutting back on mowing. Raise the mower height half an inch, and mow only one or two times more before winter. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide by the end of September to control winter weeds.

Not too complicated, really, And not too time-consuming, either. In a nutshell, you want to restore fescue lawns, and you want to prepare warm season turf to go dormant. As always, follow all safety precautions and follow all label directions when using any type of lawn care chemicals.


Garden Proverbs

Rhue and time, grows both in ane garden.

Soon ripe, soon rotten.

He plaints early that plaints on his kail.

Meat makes, and clothes shapes, but manners makes a man.

These come from "A Collection of Scotch Proverbs" by Pappity Stampoy published in 1663.

And now for something more modern.

This advice all men should heed, make no more garden than your wife can weed.

... and no more lawn than she can mow!

Overheard on a gardening program on the BBC.


Choosing a Tree for your Small Garden - The 4 Things you Must Know
by Jonathan Ya'akobi


Living and working in the Eastern Mediterranean, I've come to the conclusion that there's one tree amongst many that is unmatched in its suitability for a small home garden in a dry climate. That tree is Lagerstroemia indica, which you may know as Crape Myrtle. It is literally a year round performer. It's not that it simply looks good 12 months of the year, rather it looks different and good all year. In the summer you get a magnificent flower display, ranging from pink, red or white, depending on the variety. In the autumn, you get fall colour. This varies of course with the length and coldness of the season, but in places where the winter is fairly chilly, the autumn leaf display can be quite spectacular. When out of leaf, the tree makes a delightful silhouette, where the reddish, pealing bark is an added feature. Come springtime, and the juvenile leaves have that bright green, fresh colour special to deciduous trees and absent from evergreens.

These factors funnily enough, are not sufficient in themselves to make the decision in favour of this or that tree. Many a serious mistake has been made because the home owner has been so impressed by some outstanding characteristic of a particular species, that they've ignored 4 cardinal criteria that must be taken into account as a pre-condition for their choice. I'm not talking about choosing a tropical tree in an artic winter climate. Obviously you're not going to do that! Here are the" big four".

*The tree must not have aggressively invasive roots. Don't be tempted otherwise, no matter how superb the tree may look in other locations.

*The size of the tree should be in scale with the size of the house and the garden as a whole. Planting a massive Eucalyptus in a small 75 meter plot is a major design error.

* The tree should be hardy to pests and disease. Many fruit trees will turn your garden into a chemical battle site! (With regard to Lagerstroemia, be sure to ask your supplier for a variety that is hardy to mildew)

* The tree should be suitable as far as size, shape and form are concerned. Flower or fall color are a bonus, but these other factors are primary, because the tree should look good all year round.

And this is why I think the Crape Myrtle is so right. It's a small tree, reaching up to about 5 -6 meters. It can be planted close to the house without fear of dangerous roots. It's virtually pest and disease free (the mildew hardy varieties at least) and it's simply a stunning performer. Finally, it combines superbly with another "must" tree for a small garden - the Pomegranate.


About the Author
My name is Jonathan Ya'akobi. I've been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984. I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners. I also teach horticulture to students on training courses. I'd love to share my knowledge and experience with you. So you're welcome to visit me on


Special Offers


Nothing very special this month I'm afraid. Gardener's Supply Company will give you a 10% reduction when you spend $25 or more provided you order through this link or the banner.



Gardener's Supply Company






At Dutch Gardens you can save up to 65% on selected perennials. The site says that the sale ends November 6th, but when I last checked the offer was still good. Click the banner.


Dutch Gardens, Inc.






This month Nature Hills Nursery are offering discounts of 40% on rose bushes, perennials and shrubs, and 30% on flower bulbs.









Chinese Flower Paintings

******************************************************** Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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