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Longfield Gardens Blog

Fertilizer Basics -- Why and How to Feed Your Plants

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Jun 23, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Plants that are well fed are healthier, more pest and disease resistant, and produce bigger, better crops of flowers and fruit.

As gardeners we are eager to do right by our plants and wouldn’t want them to go hungry. Unfortunately, most garden soils don't provide all the nutrients plants need to reach their full potential, so it's up to us to close the gap.

Adding compost and other organic matter is important for improving the long-term health and fertility of your soil. Fertilizers also play an important role in providing readily available nutrients that keep plants growing strong.

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Topics: How-To

How to Control Red Lily Leaf Beetles

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Jun 16, 2016 10:00:00 AM

The red lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is a destructive pest that feeds almost exclusively on true lilies (Lilium spp.), including Asiatic and Oriental lilies as well as Orienpets and species lilies.

First discovered in Canada about 50 years ago, this non-native species has gradually infiltrated most of New England and central and western Canada. In 2012 it appeared in Washington and Oregon as well. If this pest is active in your region, your lilies are at risk. Here are some ways to protect them.

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Topics: Lilies

6 Ways to Control Garden Slugs and Snails

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Jun 9, 2016 10:00:00 AM

They may look harmless, but slugs and snails can cause a surprising amount of damage in a garden. They chew holes in leaves, munch on flower buds and fruit, and devour tender seedlings, leaving a trail of silvery slime wherever they go.

Both of these pests are mollusks (like oysters and clams) so regular garden insecticides are usually ineffective. The best way to control these spineless villains is to attack from several directions.

Make Them Unwelcome

Slugs and snails feed mainly at night. By day they retreat to moist, dark places under leaves, pots and mulch. To make your garden less appealing, keep soggy leaves away from your plants. Put away unused pots and clutter that could provide hiding places. Wait to mulch until early summer when the soil and air is drier. Cut off spent flowers and remove dead or damaged leaves to encourage good air circulation. In the fall, raking up leaves and cleaning up garden debris will make it more difficult for adults and eggs to overwinter. 

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Aftercare Tips for Spring Bulbs

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Jun 2, 2016 10:00:00 AM

When the spring bulb season comes to an end, gardeners often wonder what to do about the spent flowers and fading foliage. The answer depends on whether you are treating the bulbs as annuals or perennials.

Spring bulbs as annuals

Though most spring bulbs are hardy perennials and will return year after year, many people plant fresh bulbs every fall. If that’s your plan, simply use a garden fork to “lift” the spent plants after they finish blooming (bulb and all) and add them to your compost pile. Potted bulbs can also be discarded. Part of the fun of spring bulbs is being able to plant something new each year.

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Topics: Fall Planted Bulbs, Spring Blooming Bulbs

How to Extend the Peony Season

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 26, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Peonies are one of America's best-loved perennials and luckily, they’re also one of the easiest to grow. These robust, shrub-like plants bloom for generations with virtually no attention. They tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, are rarely bothered by deer or other pests and look attractive from spring through fall.

Of course the best thing about peonies is their amazing flowers -- blousy blooms as big as your hand with petals like brushed silk. With their soft texture and romantic colors, it's no surprise they're such a popular choice for bridal bouquets.

The only complaint one could ever have with peonies is that their gorgeous flowers come and go so quickly. Wouldn't it be great if you could have peonies in bloom for two months rather than two weeks? Well you can, and here’s how.

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Topics: Perennials, Peonies

What Were Your Favorite Spring Bulbs?

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 19, 2016 10:00:00 AM

We try our best to show you what our flower bulbs will really look like when they bloom in your garden. One of the ways we do this is by maintaining a trial garden where we grow and photograph most of the varieties that we sell. But flowers are living things with a presence and personality, and getting all that into a photograph is pretty much impossible.

Take the double tulip Creme Upstar, shown above. I can tell you how soft those blossoms are, how they seem to glow from within and how the pink-striped foliage accentuates the rosy blush on the petals. But when you see them blooming in front of you, there's no need for words. You'll just fall madly, deeply in love.

The season is drawing to a close, and we are eager to hear about which spring bulbs captured your heart. Would you let us know by adding a review to our website? Your feedback is SO valuable to us and so appreciated by other gardeners. Was it the size or the color of the flowers that impressed you? How long they lasted or how good they smelled? Maybe you discovered an amazing combination (by design or by luck!).

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Topics: Fall Planted Bulbs, Spring Blooming Flowers, Spring Blooming Bulbs

Planting Dahlias in Your Vegetable Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

One thing all dahlia lovers have in common is a shortage of growing space. No matter how big your garden is, there are always more must-have varieties than you have room for.

Last spring, I filled up my cutting garden and perennial beds with plants I had started in my greenhouse and still had 6 or 8 extra dahlias. I could have given them away, but they were varieties I hadn't grown before and I really wanted to see them bloom. After wandering around the yard looking for possible planting spots, I thought... why not the vegetable garden?

Dahlias are energetic plants with big appetites and they are at their best when grown in rich, loamy soil with access to as much moisture and fertilizer as they want. I discovered that if you give them the same growing conditions as a tomato plant, they do amazing things!

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Topics: Summer Blooming Bulbs, Dahlias, Inspiration

How We Select the Best Flower Bulbs for Your Spring Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM

The world's flower farmers produce about 8.5 billion flower bulbs every year -- and 80% of them are grown in Holland. Others try, but it's difficult to compete with hundreds of years of experience and Holland's almost perfect growing conditions for spring bulbs: sandy soil, cool and moist spring weather, and warm, relatively dry summers.

Most gardeners in the U.S. have growing conditions that are very different from the Netherlands. We belive it's important to know how Dutch bulbs perform when they're not in Holland. One way we do this is by maintaining a trial garden behind our warehouse in New Jersey, where each fall we plant approximately 200 different varieties of spring-blooming flower bulbs. Between the landscaped garden areas and the trial beds (shown above) we usually put in about 25,000 bulbs!

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Topics: Spring Blooming Flowers, Tulips, Spring Blooming Bulbs

How to Keep Container Plants Looking Their Best

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Apr 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Spring is here and gardeners everywhere are busy stuffing plants into pots. It's one of my favorite rites of spring. I love selecting the plants, composing the designs and seeing instant results.

At this time of year, garden centers are packed with so many beautiful, well-grown plants that it's relatively easy to compose a great-looking container. The challenge is keeping your pots and planters looking good from now to fall. 

Here are six planting tips that can make your container gardens look even more impressive at the end of the season than they do in May.

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Topics: Summer Blooming Bulbs, Spring Planted Bulbs, Inspiration

7 Design Tips for Shady Gardens

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Apr 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Some gardeners never spend a minute thinking about design. Others (like me) can spend a year finding the perfect spot for a rock. The person who created the garden shown above, definitely thought a lot about design. If you have a shady place in your yard, you can steal some great ideas from this little jewelbox of a garden.

Foliage color. Shade gardens are always more about foliage than flowers. Notice how many different leaf colors have been chosen to create contrast, including blue-black, burgundy, grey and cream.

Foliage texture. In filtered light, it's much easier to see variations in surface textures. This area includes smooth and glossy leaves that reflect light, as well as fuzzy and dull ones that absorb it. There's also a wide range of leaf sizes, from boxwoods to giant hostas. 

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Topics: Garden Design, Inspiration, Shade Plants

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