The Dirt On Roots: Lesson 1

By Michael Leach

“Amend the soil” appears as a commandment in almost every gardening how-to book and article. For good reason. Roots are work horses ensuring a plant’s survival.

Granted the leaves and flowers attract all the attention and are the make-or-break for inclusion in a decorative scheme. Plus they are an essential in the plant’s survival kit. Leaves make the food. Flowers make seeds. But without the roots, that amazing leafy food factory shuts down and flowers wither. End of story.

Gardeners, however, can make a happy ending by providing a pleasant working environment for roots, which take in most of the water, nutrients — and oxygen. Adding compost, leaf mold, rotted barnyard manure, shredded leaves and such helps loosen the soil allowing more air, water and nutrients to penetrate and be available to the roots.

Favorite Flora: Shimane Chojuraku (‘Long Life’) Peony

Shimane Chojuraku ('Long Life') peony (Paeonia ‘Shimane Cho Juraku’)

By Debra Knapke

It is fitting to start Favorite Flora and the New Year with the tree peony ‘Long Life’ — a plant that produces flowers of incredible beauty that are short-lived in the garden, but long-lived in our memory. Tree peonies typically bloom in the Midwest in early to mid-May. Mine are often in bloom for Mother’s Day. The flower above was eight inches across and held a place of honor in my dry stream garden for two days.

Wishing you a beautiful and healthy New Year –and a happy, long life.

Posted in Favorite Flora



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