“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.” Frederick Douglass.
“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Harry Truman.
It’s the middle of June and summer is fast approaching with July not far behind. And July 4th (Independence Day) is that time of the year when our country turns toward celebrating the birth of our great nation. Numerous thanks are expressed to the many men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Also, to those who have served or are currently serving this great country, we extend our appreciation to each of you.
Independence Day is always a special time each year as vacations are taken, families are visited, activities are planned, memories are made, fellowships are shared, good friends are remembered, and new friendships are made while celebrating our nation’s freedom in numerous ways in the great outdoors. It is truly a week for building relationships and sharing family and neighborly love. Welcome summer as you enjoy the great outdoors.
Landscape activities in June and July include:
Patriotic gardening: Many annual plants are available advertising the red, white and blue colors of our great country for exhibition at your home or office. How you plan your color choices and implement your projects help to dictate the degree of enjoyment that you and your guests will enjoy. Your planting designs can be simple and follow basic guidelines, or you may elect to develop a more elaborate patriotic flower display. Such examples may include developing an area of your front lawn or landscape in public view for outstanding curb appeal with an astounding American flag planting, a fascinating outline of the good ole USA, a liberty bell planting using select annuals, or simply placing the grand ole flag on display.
Annuals: It’s time to plant more zinnias, nasturtiums, and other annuals for a great late summer and fall show of color. Continue to dead-head annuals that have already bloomed and expired. Cut-back impatiens and other leggy annuals to encourage compact growth and more blooms. Harvest leaves and cut back herbs to encourage healthier growth. Plant celosia, coleus, crossandra, exacum, hollyhock, impatiens, kalanchoe, marigolds, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, periwinkle, portulaca, and salvia.
Bulbs and Perennials : Dig up and divide over-crowded irises and daylilies at this time. Pinch off expired blooms for effective nutrient management and better subsequent flowering. Stop pinching off mums in mid-July so they can develop flower buds for the fall. Give your plants a good watering once or twice a week rather than frequently and lightly. Bulbs good for July and August plantings include African iris, Aztec lily, butterfly lily, crinum, gladiolus, iris, Kaffir lily, society garlic, spider lily, and walking iris.
Pruning: Pruning of large trees should be a job that is out-sourced to qualified tree care professionals with the proper equipment. Ask questions and get answers before contracting with any company. Be sure that they are bonded and follow safety precautions. Otherwise, you can do most of the pruning of shrubs and small trees if you get the proper advice, equipment and training. For example, to shorten a branch or twig, cut it back to a side branch or make the cut about 1/4 inch above the bud. Always prune above a bud facing the outside of a plant to force the new branch to grow in that direction.
To properly remove large branches, three or four cuts will be necessary to avoid tearing the bark and damaging the tree. Make the first cut on the underside of the branch about 18-inches from the trunk by undercutting one-third to one-half way through the branch (be careful not to bind the saw with the weight of the limb). Make the second cut a couple of inches further out on the top of the branch until the branch breaks free and falls to the ground. Be sure that all safety precautions have been followed and that the falling branch does not harm people, property, or other plants.
Before making the final cut which will separate the branch base from the main stem or trunk, identify the branch collar which grows from the stem tissue around the base of the branch. Then make the pruning cuts so that only branch tissue (wood on the branch side of the collar) is removed. Be careful to prune just beyond the branch collar without damaging the collar or leaving a stub. If the branch collar is left intact and undamaged after pruning, the wound will seal more effectively and the stem tissue will not decay. By following this procedure, the health of the tree will not be compromised.
Trees and shrubs that flower early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Do not prune azaleas after the second week of July or the buds for next year’s blooms will be removed and fewer flowers will develop next spring. Complete the last pruning of other shrubs in September so that new growth can mature and harden-off before cold weather arrives. Prune damaged or dead branches on trees and shrubs as needed.
Scout plants: Scout all your plants and flowers throughout the landscape on a regular basis to make sure they are healthy, alive, and vibrant. Dehydrated or dead plants and flowers become eyesores and reduce curb appeal while becoming a distraction and liability and should be removed and replaced with new flowers, plants, or container plantings. When purchasing new plants, select low-maintenance and sustainable varieties that offer curb appeal with minimum effort to grow.
Think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape. May this bit of awareness ignite your desire to learn and ask questions, encourage you to further apply your gained knowledge, and bring you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your home landscape activities.
Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need. Also, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Look three times before entering the highway. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Click it or ticket! Help the homeless every chance you get. Share your blessings with those less fortunate. Let’s keep everyone safe and secure while enjoying the great outdoors. Our mission teams will soon be returning from Bethlehem, Peru and Haiti (Jeremiah 29:11, Mark 16:15). Please cover these missionaries in prayer as they continue to do the Lord’s work in other cultures. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers around this nation and the world. Pray for all our fathers that they will set good examples for the younger generation to follow.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20.
Eddie Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to email@example.com.