Gardening with Bob Jack

Gardening with Bob Jack“June is bustin’ out all over…”. This song from Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma”, doesn’t take much of your imagination to see how it might pertain to gardening. To assure “bustin’ out” in your beds and borders, get your hands on some organic plant food the first fine day in June and scatter it about your “bustin’ out” perennials and flowering shrubs and stand back and wait for the show!

Here at Pine Run, we are particularly blessed to have some terrific plantings of hydrangea shrubs. These beds with their big “mophead” blooms are enough to take your breath away each summer. Many of the Pine Run plantings of hydrangea tend to be blue flowering, but did you know that it doesn’t take too much effort to convert that blue blast to a pink one? The trick lies in the soil acidity and, of course, I’m sure that you’ve also noticed white flowering hydrangeas. The white flowering beauties happen to be a different species from the blue/pink flowering types and with them we are stuck with white – no way to switch.

Soil ph is generally found to be in a range from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. A ph below 7 means an acidic soil and above 7 would be alkaline. Alkaline soils produce pink blooms in hydrangeas and acidic soils produce blue hydrangeas. Changing the ph of your soil is done simply by adding lime to make it more alkaline or aluminum sulphate to make it more acidic. I am advising that if one desires to change the soil ph, it won’t happen overnight, but perhaps a year or two to really affect a difference.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth to be in tune
And over it softly her warm ear lays.
—James Russell Lowell

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