Bad News For My Plants

Williamsburg is shown in Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality maps as experiencing “severe drought” conditions.  A little Internet surfing confirmed that both Richmond and Norfolk, our nearest large-city neighbors, both had record-high temperatures for the summer months according to While I did some watering at home in July, I have to say that I haven’t done much since.

Flowering Fruit

Every gardener has a plant in their garden that is not exactly what they wanted. Perhaps they bought the wrong seed, forgot the correct name of the plant, or the growing conditions aren’t what you pictured. This has happened to us here at Busch Gardens. Right now, we have some bananas at the park that aren’t exactly what we’d planned,

For the Birds

There are many things you can do this winter to help the birds.As you perform your fall cleanup, try to leave some areas that will provide shelter and food.  This might mean leaving those seed heads from your summer-flowering perennials, such as black-eyed Susan and coneflowers. Even allowing grasses to remain intact until spring will help.

For the Birds

There are many things you can do this winter to help the birds.

Fun With Clippers

One of my favorite tasks is trimming the topiary at Curse of DarKastle. Rather than following the usual patterns of spirals, espaliers, cones, etc., I get a chance to make the crazed adventures of the ride to life.

Near the beginning of the queue, there are two juniper poodles that get a very loose trim, so they remain shaggy, yet clipped.  You can compare those to the tightly trimmed ones at Sesame Street Forest of Fun, and see what a difference the treatment makes to the themes in each area. 

Great Crapes

What’s a gardener to do in winter?  Bundle up, get outside and prune crape myrtles of course.

Most of the crapes at Busch Gardens are pruned the “right way.”  Here’s the simple way of explaining what I mean by “the right way.”

  • eliminate water sprouts, those straight shoots usually coming off the branch where something was removed from the previous season
  • branches that are rubbing
  • diseased, dead or damaged material


Happy Natives

Let me just say up front that I'm a big fan of native plants.  They require less water once established, and provide food and shelter for insects, birds and mammals.I took advantage of the warm fall weather to start cleaning the pond.  One of the plants we’ve used at the Habitat Garden is the native pickerelweed or pickerel rush.  It grows well in shallow water and has a spike of purple flowers.  So far, so good.

Heat, Disease and Pests … Oh My!

Anytime you're dealing with extreme weather (too wet, too dry, too hot or too cold) you need to be aware of the potential for disease and pests. Plant disease and insect pests will more readily infect stressed plant materials, like those in extreme heat.

Leafminers are in full force this year.  However, the columbine that they inhabit can be cut to the ground and will produce fresh leaves. Other pests may require more aggressive treatment.  For the first time, I have found evidence of leaf tiers in my yard. Leaf tiers are the caterpillars of moths.

Off-Season Landscaping

When the weather turns colder I often get questions about our winter landscaping tasks in the park. I personally feel like we have more to do in the off-season than we do when we are open. The off-season is full of projects that prepare us for the coming year.During the season our job is to maintain the park for our guests. The hedges are trimmed, the turf is mowed, the flower beds are changed from pansies to summer annuals to mums and everything gets watered and fed as needed.  All of this happens before the guests arrive.

Rosemary at Christmas

Many plants used during the holidays have legends dating back thousands of years.  Those traditions have carried forward into modern times in myriad forms, with each generation adding layers to the story.  I only recently learned that rosemary has a legend, as well.

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