Join Doug for a once in a lifetime trip to see the gardens of Italy!

Join me next September as I lead a tour through northern Italy to see gardens and much more.

Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already started to sign up. There’s a $250 discount for travelers who sign up early. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.

Plant cool weather plants like pansies and kale as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Every fall I plant cool loving pansies and kale in the garden. Keep them watered and they might last all winter. Photo by Doug Oster

How about flowering kale and pansies growing together? I love planting both in the same pot.

It’s an annual ritual planting pansies in the fall. They are the one plant that can take the cold and pump out the blooms through the fall and maybe all winter.

I like to feed them a good liquid organic fertilizer about once a week to keep the flowers coming.
You can buy them in baskets, bowls and flats. The colors will really brighten the garden and they are great for containers.
The trick to getting them to go through the winter is to keep them watered all the way up until a hard frost.
Pansies and violas won’t flinch at a frost and will keep color in the garden at least until Christmas.

It might seem strange to be gardening this late in the season, but pansies, violas and flowering kale will thrive deep into winter.

I always plant flowering kale and pansies as the annuals fade. I’m substituting the tender container plants with these hardy varieties.

Lets look at the garden timeline for my pots. March 7th pansies are planted in containers close to the house, then more in two weeks along with some other tough cool weather flowers. They were replaced in July with discounted annuals. Now we’re back to pansies and of course the flowering kale.

Site them where they can be seen from inside the house, or walking up to the front door.

You’ll be surprised how a few plants will bring a smile after slogging through a few inches of wet snow.

When the winter sun is right, the kale explodes with color.

Making mums last as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

One important tip to making mums last is buying them before they are fully in flower.

I’m often asked “what can I do to make my mums come back in the spring?”
The reality is that there’s only a 50/50 chance that the plants will overwinter.
They’re expending so much energy when they bloom right now that it’s hard for the plant to establish a good root system.
Here are some tips-
Buy from a good grower who’s taken care of the plant. All the mums I used on the show are from Hahn Nursery in Ross, but any good nursery will work.
Choose plants with tight buds. I know gardeners love to buy their flowers in bloom, but the plants will flower much longer if bought in this stage.
Keep the plants watered when it doesn’t rain.
Plant them with the help of compost, always improve the soil.
Don’t cut them back until the spring. Mums benefit from holding onto their branches over the winter.
If they come back, give them a haircut, removing the buds, twice during the season. this will cause lots of branching and in turn, lots of flowers.

Perennials for Shade as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

This big, green leaved hosta is one of my favorites. I’ve split it several times and planted the kids in other parts of the garden. Photo by Doug Oster

This is a great time of year to plant shade loving perennials. It’s tough to plant tout in the open now because of the intensity of the summer sun.
Some gardeners sigh when thinking about what to plant in a shady nook, but there are countless options.
Here are my favorites-
Hosta- Don’t stick your nose up at this plant. Reach deep and search for cool color combinations, giant leaves, tiny leaves and more. This is one of the most versatile shade plants, with thousands of different plants to choose from. I love big chartreuse, variegated leaves. Everyone has their favorites.
Ligularia desdemona-Dark purple huge leaves followed by deep orange/yellow daisy like flowers. I love all ligularias, some grow tall like ‘Rocket,’ others are bushy with different flower forms. Give it some morning sun if possible.
Astilbe- Indestructable perennial with airy blooms in white, pink and reds. Needs a moist soil tho thrive.
Ferns- Japanese painted ferns, hay scented fern and others love the shade. The come in many colors, shapes and sizes. Easy to grow even with a little sun.
Fringed bleeding heart- Unlike it’s bigger cousin, this bleeding heart will stay above ground all season. It loves to grow in good compost with plenty of water. Pretty pink, white or red blooms are held over fringed green foliage.
Somomon’s seal- Cool, tough plant grown for it’s pretty foliage and early spring blooms.
Heuchera, heucherella, tiarella- All three love the shade, have beautiful foliage and are tough.
All the plants used in the segment came from Hahn Nursery in Ross. 412-635-7475. They are located at Three Degree and Babcock.