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Gardening

Want to get a great easy-care look for the yard this year? Plants that say no to pests and shrug off disease? Doesn't everybody? To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Master Gardening program in Minnesota these professionally trained volunteer...

Want to get a great easy-care look for the yard this year? Plants that say no to pests and shrug off disease? Doesn't everybody? To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Master Gardening program in Minnesota these professionally trained volunteers have assembled a list of their top 25 suggestions for an ornamental garden.
These plants are resistant to pests and disease and require little in the way of pruning and no staking. They are the workhorses of the garden with features such as continual bloom, great foliage, winter interest, or fall color that earn them their place on the list. Here are the top picks of some of the top gardeners in Minnesota.
Top trees
Long lasting good looks in a garden start with the big stuff, the shade and flowering trees around which the rest of the garden can be built. The first two are the big guys, trees that aren't likely to quit 15 years into planting because they are native to our state. The remainder are great choices for a smaller area or to accent existing treed yards, with three- season interest.
1. Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
2. Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
3. Japanese tree lilac "Ivory Silk" (Syringa reticulata "Ivory Silk")
4. Flowering crab "Prairie Fire" (Malus "Prairie Fire")
5. White pine (Pinus strobus)
Top flowering shrubs
Shrubs as specimens, groupings or hedges are a big part of a good landscape plan. These suggestions are hard workers featuring a variety of shapes and bloom times for three seasons of interest.
6. Serviceberry (Amelanchior)
7. Rhododendron "Northern Lights" azalea series
8. Forsythia "Meadowlark" (Forsythia ovata)
9. Compact viburnum (Viburnum trilobum "Compactum")
10. Hydrangea "PeeGee" (Hydrangea paniculata "Grandiflora")
11. Korean lilac "Miss Kim" (Syringa patula "Miss Kim")
Top shrub roses
The varieties of shrub roses newly available today as well as old favorites boast a long season of bloom with good flower shape and color as well as colorful rose hips in the fall. They make roses within the reach of even beginning gardeners. To make them even more irresistible they are very disease resistant. Like all roses they prefer rich soil, at least six hours of sun, and plenty of moisture; consistent rebloom is achieved if they are fertilized and watered regularly after their initial flush of bloom in early summer. Be sure to purchase plants that are grown on their own roots, not grafted, and they will be hardy throughout Minnesota with little winter protection. Not needing the winter care of the hybrid teas, they can be included with other perennials in the border. These suggestions include varied colors and choices that will work for the entire state.
12. "William Baffin"
13. "Winnipeg Parks"
14. Morden "Sunrise"
15. "Therese Bugnet"
Top perennials
Continual bloom is that elusive goal of most ornamental gardeners. There are many wonderful perennials that have a good display for ten days or so, and there are many that bloom longer but have disease problems or are invasive. The suggestions below were chosen by the Master Gardeners with this goal in mind as well as for ease in cultivation for a novice gardener, disease and drought resistance, and availability.
16. Perennial salvia
17. Daylily
18. Rudbeckia
19. Upright sedum
20. Calamagrostis "Karl Foerster"
21. Hosta
22. Heuchera
Top annuals/container plants
Gardening in containers whether large or small has become popular because they offer versatility and a chance to be creative. Think of them as a mini-garden in terms of design; vary colors and textures and alternate trailers with plants that give height. Don't forget to include plants with interesting foliage; even though they do not bloom they provide consistent color appeal.
As in a regular garden the growing medium is important. It should be light so the pots don't get too heavy, and drain well, but should also be moisture-retentive. As a person gains experience with container gardening all kinds of experimentation is possible in concocting sure-fire planting mixes. In the beginning a good commercial mix specific for containers is the easiest way to ensure success. Enhance it with a slow-release fertilizer for season-long benefits. Why not keep the plants going into fall?
Refresh the containers in mid-August by cutting back the plants and giving then a new dose of fertilizer. Here are some suggestions of proven performers from area Master Gardeners.
23. "Wave" petunias
24. "Profusion" zinnias
25. Impatiens ("Dazzler" and "Fiesta" series)
To enliven your containers use foliage plants to weave consistent color and shape throughout the planter.
Some favorites are "helichrysum" or Licorice plant, Sweet Potato Vine Margarita and Blackie, "strobilanthes" or Persian Shield, both the silver and variegated forms of "plectranthus" or Swedish Ivy, and all true ivies. They provide the back drop for the colorful plants listed above, whether in the container or out of it.
More information about the plants on the "top 25" list is on the Master Gardener Web site at http://www.mg.umn.edu .
These suggestions and many other hints to help area gardeners are available from the Master Gardeners. Ask a Master Gardener at your county Extension office or call the Yard and Garden Hotline at (612) 624-4771 in the metro area or (888) 624-4771 in greater Minnesota for assistance.

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