At this month’s meeting of our local Master Gardener Association, we were fortunate to have George Bennett, proprietor of Bennett’s Nursery in Huntsville, Alabama, as our guest speaker. Mr. Bennett kindly shared some of his extensive knowledge of gardening, landscaping, and plants with our members; telling some great stories and also taking questions during his presentation.
Of the many plants reviewed, it caught my attention when Mr. Bennett shared his personal experience with Catmint (Nepeta)
as an effective deer repellent. In one of his large landscape beds that featured many roses and other plants that were often “grazed to the ground” by deer, Mr. Bennett reported that the deer no longer visited that area after he established the Catmint at various locations in the planting. The University of Vermont Extension reports similar findings… “Deer rely on their fine sense of smell as an early warning system of approaching danger. Mess
with this, using aromatic plants, and deer tend to stay clear. Some such fragrant plants that generally deter deer include catmint, chives, lavender, mint, sage, and thyme. Some gardeners plant these among more favored deer plants.”
Catmint is a perennial herb that is hardy in zones 3 through 8. Nepeta X faassenii is a hybrid variety with sterile flowers, so it will not self-sow and invade garden spaces. Several cultivars are available, ranging in heights from 1 to 6 feet. Mr. Bennett grows Catmint ‘Walkers Low’, which typically reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and blooms with small “lavender purple” flowers in mid-summer. This plant was named the 2007 Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.
If you’ve been looking for a way to deter or repel deer from some of your prized garden or landscape areas, Catmint might be your herbal remedy.
blog entry by Mark Murphy, CMG
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University.
sources: Choosing Deer-resistant Landscape Plants, Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, University of Vermont. Catmint, National Gardening Association plant care guides. Catmint ‘Walker’s Low’ Named 2007 Perennial of the Year, Purdue University Yard & Garden News.
It’s time to give your landscaping shrubs one last light cut. Pruning should end 10-12 weeks before the last frost date to allow new growth to harden off. The last frost date in Middle Tennessee is generally October 15th, so counting back 10 weeks puts us right at August 6th.
Pruning too late will stimulate plant growth and an early freeze, while that growth is still tender, will kill the young tips. This could lead to more die-back, and set the plant up to be more susceptible to disease.
Stimulating growth by pruning can also interfere with the plant going into winter dormancy which can make it more likely to be damaged by cold. Cold damage can cause branch die-back, basal cankers and even death.
Don’t prune spring flowering shrubs (azaleas, dogwoods, forsythia, etc) in the fall. These plants have already set buds so you would be cutting off next springs flowers. As a general rule, plants that flower BEFORE July 1 should be pruned AFTER flowering. Plant that bloom AFTER July 1 should be pruned in late winter or early spring.
Trees and other herbaceous plants may be best pruned in late winter or early spring while the plants are dormant and before buds begin to swell and open. Do not prune when temperatures are below 20 F.
For more information see the UT Publication “Best Management Practices for Pruning Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Ground Covers" here: UTPB1619
.Blog by: Linda Lindquist, CMG
When observing commercial and residential landscapes, it usually doesn’t take much exploration to find trees with large piles of mulch centered at the trunk and cascading outward. Those mountains of mulch are so common that they’ve earned the uncomplimentary label of mulch volcano!
When properly applied, mulch offers many benefits, such as conserving soil moisture, regulating soil temperature, suppressing weeds, and even enriching the soil when an organic mulch decays.
For trees and shrubs, the mulch layer should be between 2 to 4 inches deep, and extend to a diameter of at least 3 feet. However, the mulch should not be allowed to contact the trunk of the tree (or the stems of
When mulch is allowed to accumulate [or is purposely piled] around the trunk, it prevents natural air-flow around that section of the bark, keeping the mulch-covered portion of the tree damp. That creates an open invitation to disease organisms and insects that can do damage; sometimes to the point of girdling or killing the tree. Also, voles and other bark-chewing animals may be encouraged by a thick layer of mulch.
So, take advantage of the positive attributes of mulching, but avoid the volcano!
<----- Bad. A "volcano" of mulch piled around the tree trunk invites potential damage and decay.
<----- Better. Mulch is kept away from the trunk of the tree, allowing the bark to "breathe".
blog entry and photos by Mark Murphy, CMG