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Editorial

Lawn and Garden


Hedges, Borders and Windbreaks



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08/01/2009 - This summer I spent a lot of time around town looking at people's gardens. I tried to focus on plants that were performing exceptionally well, or that were perhaps a little more rare and unusual. Although I am constantly bombarded with magazines that advertise what they say are the best new varieties to grow, I have found that looking around at gardens in Casper has given me more ideas than a year's subscription ever could. Not only was I able to get a lot more ideas that way, but I am able to implement those ideas sooner than if they come from a picture and description in a magazine. Instead of testing the crop for an entire year, and then putting it into full production the following year, I can grow a full crop the first year, because I have already seen how it will perform in our Casper climate.

For the next couple issues I would like to tell you about my favorite plants in a variety of categories. Many, if not most, of the following plants you may have heard of before, or might already have in your garden, but I think they all deserve a second look. This month I would like to focus on hedges, property line border plants, and windbreaks. The first is used well as both a property line border and a front row of a hedge in front of your patio, or along your sidewalk. The Barberry is a plant that has been used in landscapes for many years. Its widespread use has caused plant breeders to refine and change its characteristics to suit different needs in the garden, and now there are many different colors and habits to choose from. Colors range from lime to forest green and rust to burgundy red. The green shades are very nice but I am focusing more on the red hues because I think they stand out more in the garden.

If you are looking for a nice, clean and easily kept plant for the rock area next to your sidewalk the Crimson Pygmy would be a good one because it stays relatively small and it has a rich red color that will contrast well against river rock or other light colored rock. If you are looking for a property line plant that will grow to about 3-4 ft and is easily taken care of, Ruby Carousel, or burgundy Carousel would suit you well.

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All Barberry are suited well to full to partial sun, and require light to moderate watering once established. One possible drawback to the barberry family is their thorny disposition, but as a property line plant this might be a desirable trait to ward off neighborhood cats and dogs. One of my favorite hedges I have seen was a combination of Ruby Carousel Barberry and Ivory Halo variegated dogwood. The contrast of the green and white leaves on the dogwood, with the intense red of the barberry looked amazing. At about 3-4 ft tall the height is perfect for the front of a hand railing or around a patio.

Ivory Halo dogwood is also perfect for filling in any area where you need a 3-4 ft low maintenence shrub, such as around a utility box, or driveway corner. They can tolerate full sun, and require moderate watering once established.

The last plant I would like too tell you about is a true soldier in the landscape. I have seen areas where it has outlasted the homes in front of which it once stood. The Siberian Pea shrub or Caragana, as it better known, has been in landscapes for decades, but it is so common that some of its desirability has been lost. It can be used for everything from a 15 ft tall bush, to a 4 ft square hedge, and even as a topiary. It can grow over 3 ft in one growing season if it is given plenty of water and fertilizer. On the other hand it can survive in pretty nice form with no water other than rainfall once established. The pea shrubs toughness, and its ability to grow fast when well cared for makes it perfect for hedges, bushes, or windbreaks. The best use of this plant I have seen was in a high wind area outside Casper. The plants had been planted only three years ago. But they had been watered once a week and fertilized regularly. With a slight trim each spring the owner had formed them into a 2 ft thick, 6 ft tall wall around their patio. This wall looked great and gave them great wind protection. I hope these plants might find a home in your garden and next month I will try to give you more ideas.

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42 Degrees North

Chris Walsh

Creature Comforts

Cottontales Quilt Co.
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