February E-News from Viette's                        Volume 12: No. 2

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                       February/2016

Bumble bee visits a spring azalea flower
The Catalogs
are Coming!
Believe it or not, spring is right around the corner!
It's time to plan your gardens, order your seeds, and dream of
the warmer days to come

It won't be long until you are out in the garden scratching around in the soil!
Make sure you are ready! 
In the meantime, there are some important late winter chores that can
be tackled while you await those
warm spring days!
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Helleborus niger
Helleborus niger - Christmas Rose 
Helleborus spp. 
Early blooms in
the garden!
Imagine ...
Beautiful flowers blooming in the garden during the cold and snow of January and February! These would be the hellebores.
Helleborus spp. are versatile perennials can be used as specimen plants, massed for a ground cover, or naturalized in a woodland garden. Their magnificent shiny, dark green foliage is evergreen in most zones and is attractive in all seasons. The leathery leaves are deeply divided and form a neat rounded mound that adds texture as well as beauty to the shade or woodland garden.
As an added bonus, Helleborus is very deer resistant and make a great ground cover that the deer just won't touch! 
Helleborus niger makes a lovely ground cover for shade.
And the flowers ...
Unique nodding blossoms in shades of greenish white to deep maroon appear as early as late January. These bell-shaped flowers are the finest and most long-lasting of any winter flower, persisting for 2-3 months! What a wonderful treat in the midst of an otherwise dreary winter!
Helleborus orientalis flower
Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) blooms in late February or March.
A beautiful black hellebore
A beautiful black hellebore

Helleborus are particularly well suited for planting under tall evergreen shrubs like Rhododendron or in a mixed woodland border in combination with other shade loving perennials such as ferns, Hosta, Epimedium, and Pulmonaria. They also make attractive plantings along  woodland paths or planted in the rich, moist soil near a pond or other water feature.  
Frosty Helleborus
A late frost covers the fading blooms of Helleborus niger 
Another great Helleborus species is Helleborus foetidus which has finely cut foliage and bears airy clusters of apple-green bell-shaped flowers edged with maroon. This is one of the longest blooming of all the hellebores with its unique flowers appearing as early as December! 
Helleborus foetidus has clusters of unique green flowers held well above the foliage
Helleborus foetidus has clusters of unique green flowers held well above the foliage

Helleborus foetidus nods under a cover of snow
Helleborus foetidus nods
under a cover of snow
Easy Culture 
Helleborus are tough, hardy, and easy to grow. They perform best in well-drained, humus-rich soil in heavy to light shade. Established clumps are relatively drought tolerant and very deer resistant. 
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


Did You Know?
American holly pruned to bare branches
An American holly pruned
down to bare branches
Rejuvenation Pruning
Overgrown shrubs can be a real problem, especially if they are blocking windows, walks, or roadways. Rather than dig up these shrubs and discard them, we recommend doing what's called renewal/rejuvenating pruning.
Severe pruning of holly, boxwood, rhododendron, lilac, and yew is a great way to bring them down in size if they have grown too large for their space. Because these plants have dormant buds on the interior bare wood close to the main stem, they can be pruned heavily until just bare branches remain or they can even be cut back to one to three feet above the ground.
Severe pruning like this is not always 100% successful but a very high percentage come back with beautiful new growth!
One year after severe pruning
In one season, this same holly
put on a lot of new growth

This type of hard pruning should be done in late winter or early spring while the plants are still dormant.
Fertilize with Holly-tone, rock phosphate, and green sand following pruning. You should have good growth the first summer but keep in mind that it will often take several years before they regain their former beauty.
Tip of the Month
This garden has been badly neglected.
This garden has been badly neglected. There are some nice perennials but a lot of weeds.

Is it time for a "Garden Makeover"?
Often in February our attention turns to planning our vegetable gardens for the coming season. But what about your perennial gardens? Now is a great time to walk around your yard and evaluate the gardens in your landscape. It might be time for an upgrade or makeover!
There are different reasons why you might consider a re-engineering of a perennial garden.

   Perhaps ...
  • it's been neglected for too long.
  • it's been overtaken by invasive, hard to get rid of weeds.
  • your perennials and/or shrubs have overgrown their "space".
  • or maybe you just want a new, fresh look to your garden.
We often move our furniture around and redecorate our homes - why not carry this same idea into our gardens? Even if you have carefully tended your garden, over the years the landscape matures and everything changes; sun gardens become shadier, plants mature and overflow their "space" and your garden just doesn't "fit" anymore.
What are your options?  
There are different degrees of renovation you can undertake depending on the state of your bed.
If things are really out of hand, you can do a complete overhaul by tearing everything out and starting over from scratch. Sometimes this is really the best/only hope for a badly neglected garden.
If your garden is just a little over-crowded and you aren't up for the challenge of a complete garden overhaul, a partial makeover may be the answer; maybe some heavy pruning to reclaim the garden from some overgrown shrubs or thinning out/dividing some of your perennials that may be encroaching on their neighbors.
A Complete Change 
If you decide to completely redo your perennial bed, be prepared to expend a "little bit" of patience and a lot of elbow grease.
  • Evaluate the existing plants and decide on the ones you want to keep.
  • Water the bed well and carefully dig these plants out.
    • Try to remove any weeds that are clinging to the root ball.
    • Certain perennials, such as hosta, iris, peonies, and daylilies can be shaken and washed to easily remove weeds.
    • Be sure to check for the optimal transplanting times of the plants you are digging out.
  • Once you have removed the plants you want to save, you can spray a product containing glyphosate (such as Roundup or Bonide KleenUp) to kill the remaining plants and weeds. Always apply according to the label directions.
    • Glyphosate can be sprayed around and under trees without harming them. Follow the label!
    • The timing on replanting after spraying varies, so be sure to read the label to find out when it's safe to replant your bed.
  • If you prefer to avoid chemicals, mow or weed-eat the garden as low to the ground as you can, cover the area with several layers of newspaper, and then with a 6-8" layer of clean topsoil.
  • Enrich the soil with the Viette recommended soil amendments and till these into the bed.
  • Do some research and develop a plan for your new bed. The right plant in the right place will save you time and money.
Partial Renovation 
Don't want or need to do a complete makeover?
There are many things you can do to spruce up and rejuvenate your perennial beds.
  • Late winter when the trees are bare it is easy to evaluate your trees.
    Thin trees to allow good air circulation through them
    Prune overgrown shrubs and thin your understory trees. This will make a world of difference in the overall look of the garden. It not only lets in more sunlight but it will increase air circulation which can reduce disease problems.
  • Late winter before growth begins is the best time to do any severe pruning of many shrubs such as hollies, boxwood, lilacs, and yew.
      See article at left ...
  • After pruning, fertilize your trees and shrubs with Plant-tone or Holly-tone, rock phosphate, and green sand according to the Viette's recommendations.
  • Check our website for tips on pruning different trees and shrubs and don't forget to watch Mark's helpful pruning videos!
Is your bed an overcrowded jumble of plants?
  • Dividing daylilies
    Dig and divide
    overgrown perennials
    Take stock of what's there.
  • Remove "non-performers" and disease-prone plants to create more room for the plants that are really doing well.
  • Dig and divide perennials that have overgrown their "space". Plant a few divisions back and move the rest to another garden, create a new garden for them, or give them away to a fellow gardener who may have just the place for them.
Now clean your beds! Weed, weed, weed!
  • Be kind to your back - use Andre's favorite weeding tool, the Swiss-made swing-head hoe, to cut down weeds without disturbing the mulch.
  • Put down a pre-emergent herbicide to thwart the germination of weed seeds (always read and follow the label directions).
  • Add more mulch if necessary. Mulch gives a finished look to your bed while it conserves water, cuts down on weeds, and keeps the soil at a more constant temperature - good stuff!
The Result ... 
Whether you completely re-engineer your garden or just do a partial makeover, you will be rewarded in the end with a beautiful new look that is fresh and clean!    
From the Viette's Views Blog ...
This boxwood may need to be tied back into shape once the snow melts. 01-21-2016 16:53:49 PM

With the impending nor'easter heading toward the mid-Atlantic and southern New England, homeowners have been stocking up on supplies in preparation. Many may also be thinking about ways to prevent damage to their trees and shrubs that may be caused by a heavy snow burden. Here are some tips: With snow accumulation, if it's not [...]...»

Did You Know?   
Protect Trees from Overwintering Pests  
February is a great time to spray your trees and shrubs with a horticultural oil spray to kill many different overwintering insects and insect eggs waiting to hatch!
Tent caterpillar eggs overwinter on branches and hatch out in spring.
Tent caterpillar eggs overwinter on branches and hatch out in spring.
Many insects overwinter in the egg stage on the branches of your trees and shrubs. Horticultural oils sprayed during the dormant season effectively smother these insect eggs by forming a coating of oil over them. Scale insects and certain mites that winter on plants as adults or in immature stages are also suffocated when the horticultural oil blocks their spiracles, the air holes through which they breathe.
Horticultural oils may also be effective in smothering fungal spores, thus reducing the incidence of certain fungal diseases like rust or powdery mildew.
Tent caterpillars
Tent caterpillars can quickly
defoliate apple and cherry trees
The application of a dormant oil in late winter is one of the most important sprays for your fruit trees. This helps kill the eggs of the codling moth and other insects which are so destructive to apples, peaches, pears, and other fruits. Don't miss this important fruit tree application. Be sure to make your dormant oil application in late winter while your trees are still dormant.
Bonide All Seasons Oil or Bayer Advanced Natria Multi-Insect Control are good choices for a dormant oil spray. Dormant applications are sometimes made with a higher concentration of the horticultural oil than applications made during the growing season. Be sure to follow the label directions and mix the concentrate at the dilution rate recommended for a dormant spray. 
Dormant oil applications should be made when the outside temperature is above 40°F.
To avoid plant injury, do not apply a sulfur spray within three weeks of spraying horticultural oil.
Always read and follow the label directions!
Andre's New Book  
is Hot Off the Press!
Getting Started
Garden Guide"
A useful plant selection guide for gardeners in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
The mid-Atlantic region is huge and overflowing with great plants that you can grow - but perhaps you don't know which ones to select or how to grow them. Andre and Mark Viette, together with Jacqui Heriteau share their many years of gardening experience to help you choose the best plants for your garden and teach you how to keep them healthy. Whether you are a beginning gardener, a newcomer to the area, or an old hand who's looking for some new ideas, this is the book for you.

Featuring ... 

  • Recommendations for easy-to-grow, low maintenance plants for the mid-Atlantic region
  • Includes all plant types from annuals to perennials; trees and shrubs; herbs, bulbs, and vines ...
  • Loads of design tips
  • The authors' favorite cultivars and species
  • Advice on planting, growing, and care, including pest and disease control.
Before you buy another plant and cross your fingers hoping it will work in your garden, get a copy of this informative book! 
Call Viette's today at 800-575-5538
to order a signed copy of this wonderful
new gardening resource.
Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
Listen to Andre
on the radio every Saturday morning from 8:00-11:00 on 
"In the Garden  
with Andre Viette"
Click for a station list or listen live from our flagship station WSVA in Harrisonburg, VA.
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of the show.
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Travel with Andre and Claire Viette in 2016!  
Budapest on the banks of the Danube
Budapest on the banks of the Danube
The Imperial Gardens  
and Treasures Tour
September 18 - October 1, 2016

Featuring the Imperial worlds of the
German and Austro-Hungarian Empires
Visit Hungary, Austria,
the Czech Republic, and Germany

Tour highlights include:
Budapest - Enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful city on the Danube; visit a botanical garden; spend a day in the Puszta - land of the Hungarian cowboys and be treated to an equestrian show and gypsy music   
Vienna - From Budapest, we will travel up the Danube by hydrofoil boat to Vienna where you will see the famous Lipizzaner Stallions, the Schönbrunn Gardens, and enjoy a concert of Strauss and Mozart at the  Schönbrunn Palace  
Berlin's River Spree
Cruising on Berlin's River Spree
Prague - We then travel north to Prague by way of the scenic Wachau Valley. Tour Prague, its famous castle, the Charles Bridge, and magnificent gardens. End the day with a three-hour cruise on the Vltava River! 
Berlin - On the way to Berlin, we will stop at the city of Dresden. In Berlin, relax on a cruise on the River Spree, enjoy a candlelight dinner and concert at the Charlottenburg palace, and take a walking tour of Berlin. You can even opt to join Andre and Claire on a visit to the largest private botanical garden in Europe.
Andre will give a series of gardening presentations throughout the trip.

Space is limited to 42 persons so this trip will fill up fast!


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