Apr 04 2012

Sawfly: Time to be on the lookout!

Sawfly Larvae Feeding in Groups

It seems that our unseasonably warm spring has resulted in more than just an early awakening of our spring blooming favorites like daffodils, magnolias, and forsythias.  Not surprisingly, some of the pests are emerging early this year too.  Yesterday we had the first reported sighting of pine sawfly in the area.  Pine sawfly normally emerges in May & June and can be extremely devastating to pine trees.  Take a minute to review our previous blog post on European Pine Sawfly then head out and start scouting your landscape!

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Mar 23 2012

What’s On Your Summer Reading List???

Published by Administrator under Books

A great resource as we head into a new season

Bringing Nature Home, How you can sustain wildlife with native plants.

By Douglas W. Tallamy

Timber Press

(A review by Karen Van Norman, Lead Gardener, Field Outdoor Spaces. Inc.)

I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at a conference in February 2010, and now two years later, I’m still inspired and motivated by his speech and this book.  Planting native plants in our gardens isn’t a new idea by any means, but Mr. Tallamy does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of biological diversity in our own backyards.

The key word is “Insects”.  Not only are insects important for pollination of plants but also as protein food for many animals.  Songbirds eat insects.  Native insects need native plants as their food source, so a backyard or neighborhood nearly void of native plants and trees will have fewer insects.

Most people would cheer at the thought of fewer insects but Tallamy says, “Our nearly universal animosity toward insects is understandable, but seriously misplaced.  Of the 4 million or so insect species on earth (to put things in perspective, there are only about 9500 species of birds), a mere 1 percent interact with humans in negative ways.  The other 99 percent of the insect species pollinate plants, return the nutrients tied up in dead plants and animals to the soil, keep populations of insect herbivores in check, aerate and enrich the soil, and as I keep stressing, provide food either directly or indirectly for most other animals.”

This book is full of beautiful photographs and has succinct and easy to understand explanations and examples of biodiversity, creating balanced communities, and what plants support the most insects.  Did you know that an oak tree supports 534 lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) species?  Late winter is the perfect time to read Bringing Nature Home. It will excite you about the wonderful ways gardeners can make a difference for the earth.  You’ll want to sharpen your shovel in anticipation of spring.

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Mar 19 2012

Spring has sprung!

The crocus in our office garden began blooming last week!

Well, it looks like spring is really here so it’s time to think about cleaning up those gardens.  The weather last weekend was glorious, and if you haven’t done so already, there are a few things you can get out there and do.

  • Remove any burlap from evergreens
  • Uncage & remove mulch from any tender perennials you added extra protection to over the winter
  • Cutback perennials left up for winter interest
  • Remove any matted leaves from the lawn – you may have more “leftover” leaf litter than normal since we had such a late leaf drop in the fall

Get out there and enjoy our unusually warm spring!

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Mar 05 2012

Why Permeable Pavers?

Part 1 of 2:

By Joe Larson

It’s almost spring, and at Field we’re hoping that our abnormally mild weather will continue into March and April. However in the back of my mind, the part I try to ignore, I think there is a chance that winter is waiting to release it’s pent up fury on us in March.

Spring is the one time of year that a lot of homeowners think about percent of impervious surfaces, surface water runoff, and soil infiltration rates. Well maybe they don’t know that’s what they are thinking about, but they are wondering why their basement is flooded as they check on the sump pump. Wet basements aren’t the only problem that water runoff causes though.

Infiltration Rates for Impervious vs. Pervious Surfaces

The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey, and decreased aquatic life and increased algae in our lakes and rivers are all a result of surface water runoff. In a modern city when it rains, around 40%-70% of the water that falls makes its way into the storm sewer systems by means of surface water runoff. The water carries with it a good deal of sediment and pollutants that become nutrients for algae in lake and rivers. The same fertilizer that helps your grass grow enables algae to grow. The algae uses sunlight to process the nutrients and when they die they fall to the lake or river bottom. The decomposition of these “algae blooms” takes a lot of oxygen out of the water and can in extreme cases, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, create an area that is hypoxic, or void of oxygen and thus cannot support marine life.

Brown Water in the Gulf of Mexico

This is why there is a strong movement to filtrate and infiltrate storm water onsite. Filtrating the water removes sediments and can also remove contaminants from the water before it enters a lake or storm water drain. Infiltrating the water involves collecting the water into a depression and allowing it time to naturally seep into the ground. Rain gardens can accomplish both infiltration and filtration, and so too can permeable pavers which we will look at in the next blog.

Rain Garden at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis

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Feb 28 2012

Minneapolis & St. Louis Park Tree Sales

Published by Administrator under Around Town

Tree Distribution Day!

Once again this year Tree Trust will be partnering with the cities of Minneapolis and St. Louis Park to provide low cost trees to residents.  For every new tree that is planted each year, five are lost to storms, disease, and pests.  With the increasing presence of Emerald Ash Borer in our area, it’s so important to start re-canopying our urban forest today!  This is a great opportunity to add a tree to your existing landscape and at an unbelievably low cost .  Additional information about the sale, including the tree varieties available in each city, can be found by visiting Tree Trust.  The trees have sold out in the past so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this great opportunity!

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Feb 22 2012

It’s Alive, It’s Alive…..

Published by Administrator under Uncategorized

By Ann Davenport

Plants never cease to amaze me.  It’s unbelievable the amount of abuse they will take and the adaptations they will make to survive.  Living in an urban environment, you can’t turn around without seeing a some totally inhospitable environment for plants, yet there they are, stuck in some tiny space surrounded by a sea of concrete.  They spend their days baking in the hot sun with little or no water, being stepped on, or driven over, or peed on by dogs!  Yet, they continue to grow, bloom, and survive.

The Seed Burying Culprit???

In a search through some recent news items, I came across this National Geographic story that shows that some plants may have that survival trait ingrained pretty deep into their genetic code!  Scientists in Russia uncovered a seed bank of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, which had been buried by an ice age squirrel.  (I can’t help but think the little guy looked just like Scrat.)  The seeds were completed encased in ice and brought up from 124 feet below the permafrost layer.  Using radiocarbon dating, the seeds were estimated to be 32,000 year old!  Wow!!!!  That bypasses the previous record holder for “Oldest Plant” by like 30,000 years.  Now as if simply finding these seeds isn’t enough, these scientists took things a step further and extracted tissue from the frozen seeds, placed it vials and grew it.  The new plants not only grew, but they also flowered, and a year later produced their own seeds.  Pretty amazing stuff from a 32,000 year old seed source!

So the next time you come across that old packet of seeds that you’ve been meaning to plant for a few years now, instead of just tossing it in the garbage, why not go ahead and give it a try.  You never know what those little guys are capable of!

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Feb 17 2012

Are Your Containers Working For You???

By Ann Davenport

Container gardens are all the rage these days.  You can’t walk into a garden center without seeing the endless selection of pots and of course, plants with which to fill them.   Containers make great additions to the landscape.   A well placed display can bring an entirely new dimension to a space.  Here are some things to think about when selecting and placing containers in the landscape.

  • Welcoming Entryways

Containers placed at the entry of a home bring focus to the front door, creating a warm and welcoming entrance.  Planting combinations can be anything from simple to elaborate.  The possibilities are endless!  Because of the high visibility of a front door, it’s an excellent opportunity to select and change out plant material according to the season.

  • Define a Space

Woolly Pockets Vertical Planting System

Use containers to create separate “rooms” in an outdoor space.  For example, containers can be placed as a perimeter around a seating area, creating a defined space separate from other parts of the garden.  A cluster of containers can turn an area into a lush, intimate, oasis.  In small spaces where “real estate” in the yard is at a premium, think about going up.   Green walls are another great way to define a space, create a focal point, and try something new and different.

  • Soften a Hardscape

Placing containers along a section of wall or fence helps break up a long horizontal line, providing a focal point for the eye.  Think about using clusters of pots of varying heights to provide visual interest.

  • Conversation Starters

"Head" Over Heals for these Containers!

Think outside the box when it comes to containers.  There are endless opportunities.  Look for something whimsical and fun.  Bright colors, interesting shapes, and things you wouldn’t likely think of as a plant container.    Almost anything can be used to hold plants.  Get creative!  Just remember that your plants will need adequate drainage to be happy so if you choose a “non-traditional” container you may need to drill a few holes in the bottom to allow water to escape.

  • Kitchen Gardens

Color for the Garden and the Plate

Love to use fresh herbs in your cooking?  How about growing a few of your own veggies?  Containers provide a good opportunity for those with limited space.  Combine several herbs in a pot.  Maybe choose a theme and select ediblies that fit that theme:  “Italian Extravaganza”, “Salad Garden”, “Tea Time”…..  There are many possibilities to add color to your garden and your plate by growing your own herbs and vegetables.

With these ideas in your head, you are well on your way to transforming your containers from “just another pretty face” to hard workers in the garden.  Happy planting!

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Feb 10 2012

Field…..It’s What Women Want….

Published by Administrator under Recognitions

Field...It's What Women Want!

This week we were notified that Field Outdoor Spaces has been voted ‘A Favorite Garden Designer or Landscaper’ in the Minnesota Women’s Press annual What Women Want survey of their readers.  We’re honored and excited to be included in their annual publication.  Look for us and the rest of the survey results in the May publication of the What Women Want Survey.

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Jan 30 2012

There’s an app for that…..

Published by Administrator under Cool & New

BeeSmart is available for both IPhone and Android systems

There’s an app for everything these days so why not create one that will help you choose pollinator friendly plants for your garden???  The folks at the Pollinator Partnership have done just that and created the BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener App.  The app features almost 1,000 plants native to the United States.  It allows you to filter by your region, type of pollinator you want to attract, soil and sun requirements, flower color, and plant type.    You can create your own plant lists with notes on specific plants.  The app provides great pictures for plants in the database with the capability to add your own plants to your customized lists.  No more wandering around the garden center wondering what will attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden!  Pollinators are what keep our gardens growing so don’t forget them when you plant!!!

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Jan 25 2012

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map….It’s Here!!!

Published by Administrator under Cool & New

It’s been a long time coming but the USDA Hardiness Zone map has been updated, it was last updated in 1990, and it looks like there are some changes for many parts of Minnesota.  Much of the state now falls into the category of Zone 4b (lowest temps of -25) and many borderline Zone 3 areas, such as the St. Cloud area, are now firmly in Zone 4a.  And now for the news we’ve all be waiting for***drum roll please***Zone 5 has even managed to sneak into Minnesota!  Parts of Jackson and Martin Counties are now officially Zone 5 as well as parts of the southern metro including South Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Richfield.

The fact that the new map is showing the US a half zone warmer definitely brings up questions of climate change.  At this point, the USDA is taking a cautious approach, noting that current mapping technology may be better than in the past and that climate change shows itself over longer stretches of time.  So we may have to wait until the next Hardiness Zone map update to be able to draw any real conclusions.  But in the mean time, take a few minutes to check out the new map.  There are some great interactive features that allow you to find your own hardiness zone based on your zip code.  And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to comfortably go out and purchase that cool Zone 5 plant you’ve had your eye on for years…..

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