My guess is that many people don’t find dirt very interesting. But the truth is that people study it intensely. We actually employ someone who is a soils expert, Mike Curry!
So what exactly Is pulverized topsoil? Topsoil is the upper layer of the Earth’s crust, usually the top 2 to 8 inches. It has the highest concentration of microrganisms and organic matter and is where most of the soil’s biological activity occurs. Plants generally sink their roots into and obtain most of their nutrients from this rich layer.
This high concentration of organic matter is actually what turns soil black. So the darker it is, the more nutrients in the soil, the better your plants and turf will do. Ever notice “grey” colored dirt. It often occurs in areas where a lot of salt is applied during snow removal services. That’s because those microorganisms have been killed and the organic matter is leached out.
This is why it is so important to install mulch and compost in planting beds. It helps provide a protective layer and breaks down over time, reintroducing those beneficial nutrients back into that top layer of soil.
It’s also equally as important that you topdress your lawn with some kind of compost when core aerating and overseeding for the same reason.
Most people probably don’t know how topsoil is created. It’s a fairly simple process. Most often topsoil is taken from construction sites where there are large open spaces that need to be excavated anyway. That soil is then “pulverized” through a machine to remove any debris as well as giving it a more consistent texture that makes it easier to spread and fine grade.
Believe it or not but there are rules and regulations for naming plants. The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, or THE CODE, was first published in 1952 but has roots in Brussles in 1864. The Code is filled with principles, rules and regulations, recommendations, etc. Let’s just say, not the most exciting read.
These rules help guide the Latin names that are comprised of a “genus” and a “species,” which can tell us the origin of a plant or describe it’s characteristics.
Take Acer palmatum, for example. Again, ‘Acer’ means maple while the descriptive ‘palmatum’ means shaped like a hand, and it is derived from ‘platanoides,’ meaning “resembling the plane tree.” Therefore, Acer platanoides means you are looking at a maple that resembles the plane tree.
Once a new strain of that plant is developed we use a “cultivar” to describe it more specifically. So Acer palmatum ‘Blood Leaf,’ what do you think that would mean. Yes, it has leaves the color of blood. Gross, but it’s beautiful!
We rely on the specificity of these rules because common names can prove unreliable. A red maple could mean several varieties. Specifying a euonymus (so a genus with no other information) could mean you want a groundcover or a shrub.
So these rules may be a tad on the boorish side, but they are frightfully important to landscape professionals!
Donna Vignocchi Zych
One of the invaluable advantages of our sister company Montale Gardens is they introduce us to new plants. Particularly plants that replace other plants that have developed issues.
‘Top Gun’ Rose is one of those. Last year they brought this gem in as an alternative to ‘Knock Out,’ which when it came on the scene, was all the rage. We couldn’t keep them in stock! We have found their long term performance waning. They are very susceptible to black spot disease, which if left untreated can devastate the plant.
This new rose has us impressed. It delivers enhanced disease resistance. Not only that, the flowers start our as a deep red and fade to cherry. The bloom production is outstanding over dark green glossy leaves.
Give this baby a try!
Donna Vignocchi Zych
On this snowy and blisteringly cold day I find myself dreaming of tulips.
You see, my mother loves tulips. Even though growing up in Riverwoods there was a fair share of deer, she would tirelessly plant them. Not en masse, but in little charming clumps that would pop up here and there. She would sometimes pair them with Allium in attempts to ward off our beautiful yet hungry friends.
Her love affair with tulips remains strong to this day, although instead of deer she now contends with chipmunks and squirrels. This year I finally talked her into a blend created by one of my favorite tulip vendors. This fall I excitedly placed ILT’s bulb order, my mother’s “French Blend” included.
As I’m dreaming of tulips I decide to do some research on our little spring friends. What I found was extremely interesting. So much so I thought I would share.
- Origin: Thought tulips were from Holland? No my friends. It is widely thought that they were originally cultivated in a corridor running along the 40° latitude between Northern China and Southern Europe.
ILT is in our fist week of the season. Each morning we are greeted at 6 am by new and old faces clad in ILT orange, busy preparing for their day.
The parking lot is a calculated maze of trucks and trailers weaving about gathering the materials they will need for the day.
It is a routine that has been taking place for 50 years, and although things have changed I’m still moved by the sight of it.
So many people who are so dedicated to the work. So many that are ultimately trying to do what most people are striving for…putting away a nest egg, sending children to college, and overall bettering their lives.
I’m fiercely protective of my team because I want to do what my dad has set a standard for before me…respect the hard workers so they can live out their dreams.
Happy Spring Everyone.
Donna Vignocchi Zych
What is Scilla?
We have probably all marveled at the beautiful fields of blue that pop up around this time of year. Customers ask me all the time in wonderment, “What is that?!”
Scilla is a member of the lily family. Most varieties bloom in spring whereas a few are fall bloomers. It is coveted for it naturalizing tendencies. So year after year they will slowly multiply to form that lovely blanket of blue. I always warn that they aren’t for the faint of heart. These are a true gardeners plant. As seen below, if they love their home they can take over.
A mass of ScillaThey like full sun locations with well drained soil. Plant them en masse for the best show. you can even pair them with a Tete e Tete daffodil, which is a lovely dwarf variety in a creamy yellow. Once they are done blooming, they are similar to other bulbs and do best if you let the leaves wilt. Other plants like ferns and hosta can be used to help mask the withering leaves as they come up as the scilla is nearing the end of its season.
See how tiny the Scilla bulbs are?Once the Scilla have put on their show they disappear completely, back into dormancy for their next display the following year. If you have never noticed this unique plant, take the time to look around…you won’t forget it once you see it.