AUTUMN BEAUTY CONTINUES

by Sandie Hall

Another stunning choice for autumn color is Disanthus cercidifolius. Although it requires careful management to become established (it will not tolerate drought), the rewards will be enjoyed for years to come. Because of its inherent charm and multi-season interest, this is the perfect choice for a curator-quality specimen plant. It is often referred to by its common name, simply Disanthus. Like many other members of the Hamamelidaceae (Witch-hazel) Family, it will be a source of delight when little else is happening in the garden.

Disanthus is multi-stemmed shrub that can grow to become the size of a small tree. It is full and round in silhouette, and experiences a moderate growth rate. Mature size ranges from 6’-15’ high. The blue-green, heart-shaped leaves are born alternately on zigzag stems and have pinkish petioles (the stem part of the leaf). What a dazzling combination this makes! But the eye-catching abilities of this plant have only just begun during the summer months. Disanthus will be one of the first shrubs to color up in late summer (usually mid-September through October). The leaves will change from green to purple to claret-red.

And if the fall color isn’t spectacular enough, ½” burgundy, star-shaped flowers appear in September through October – a time when most gardeners are surprised to see flowers. The flowers are mildly fragrant, too.

Plant Disanthus in light shade (although even full shade cannot diminish the brilliance of its fall color) in well-drained, moist, organically rich, acid soil. If it is planted in more sun, make sure to keep it moist. This is one focal point specimen plant that will perform beautifully for years to come.

AUTUMN BEAUTY

by Sandie Hall

Enkianthus perulatus is a hardy, slow-growing, multi-season deciduous shrub that adds beauty and charm to any landscape. Its finely textured leaves and branches carry foliage all the way to the ground. Happy growing in zones 5 through 8, this delightful shrub produces profuse nodding clusters of small, urn-shaped, white flowers in early May. The lustrous dark green foliage provides a wonderful backdrop for summer-blooming annuals or perennials. But perhaps most stunning of all is the spectacular purple-to-scarlet fall color. It can stand alone as a specimen plant or be massed in groupings for a knockout effect.

Enkianthus perulatus likes acidic, well-drained soil. Situate the shrub in full sun to partial shade. At maturity, it will reach 3-7′ in height with a similar spread. It can tolerate dry conditions well – a real plus after the summer we just experienced! It is a perfect choice for the sophisticated landscape palette!

PREPARE YOUR MOWER FOR WINTER STORAGE

by Kris Wolf

As the days grow shorter and the nights get longer, we realize that fall us upon us.  In preparation, we close our pools, cover our lawn furniture and put away our yard decorations, but what are we doing to maintain our lawn equipment?

After the last mowing of the year, when the grass stops growing or the snow begins to fall, you should prepare your mower and lawn equipment for storage.  You can follow the instruction manual that came with your equipment or search fall lawn equipment maintenance on the internet.  There are many websites that give you step by step instructions on maintaining your equipment all year long.  Some of the recommended fall maintenance is to:

1.  Drain the Gas Tank or Add Fuel Stabilizer to the Gas Tank

2.  Clean the Undercarriage

3.  Change the Oil

4.  Change the Air Filter

5.  Replace the Spark Plug

Remember, safety first and always recycle the fluids that are drained from your equipment.  If you are not mechanically inclined, you might want to contact your local small engine shop who can perform this work for you. You could do the same maintenance to your lawn equipment in the spring however, if it is done in the fall, you will avoid the spring rush when the grass starts growing.  If you perform fall maintenance on your mower and other lawn equipment, you will be glad you did next spring when you start up your lawn mower again.

TECHNOLOGY: WE EMBRACE IT!

by Chris Gurreri

There was once a time when we used calculators bigger than sewing machines and typed our letters without backspace keys. Our parents also walked 4 miles uphill, in the snow, both ways…to get to school. I still don’t know if I buy that one. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that technology has come a very long way since the Industrial Age in America.

Many landscaping companies, including Classic, have been in operation before the first IBM personal computers were introduced to the consumer market. Since then Apple and IBM have competed in a market now flooded with gadgets and software that put the world at our fingertips. It’s hard to imagine that a landscaping company could benefit from all these advancements in science and technology – after all, a mower is a mower, right? However, embracing and adapting to these changes is part of what has helped us to become an industry leader.

So back to the bulky calculators and typewriters. Tools that were once slow and cumbersome to move and operate, have now become small and very portable. In fact, in today’s world you can literally carry one device in your pocket that will act as a calculator, typewriter, telephone, and camera. I sometimes take all of this for granted, considering that less than 50 years ago, (which seems like a long time, but really isn’t) we still used many of those colossal-sized computing tools.

By incorporating these devices into our operations, our employees who are on the go or managing the business, can keep in touch with each other and the outside world at the touch of a button.

Another way that we’ve streamlined our operations is to adopt a web-based software program that enables one person to do the work of nearly three. The capabilities of this software is all encompassing, handling everything from billing to client care to business development. Not only do we cut labor time and costs, but we also become more efficient and, therefore, more effective in managing our accounts.

Web-based software also enables us to access our systems from anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection (not that it’s necessary to do work while in the Caribbean!). This also translates beneficially to our client base, as they will soon have online access to their accounts as well. Even if you’re on the road, you can access our systems from any device with wireless capabilities…it’s that easy!

FEELING IT YET?

by Donnalee Kudla

Ohhh, the time of year when my nose starts running, the head is pounding, and It seems I never have an adequate supply of clean tissues. (There are plenty of old ones wadded up in my purse and cupholder in my car, but their cleanliness is usually questionable).

For those of you out there who suffer from seasonal allergies, this all probably sounds all too familiar. Typically, spring and fall are the two major times of year that affect seasonal allergy sufferers. Fall seems to be worse for me, as the ragweed and grasses are major causes of distress.

Pollen levels are measured on a scale of 0-12. This time of year, in our area, we can usually expect levels to hit 8 on a daily level (med-high) and run as high as 11+ (high).
This means the levels are high enough to affect most individuals who have any kind of sensitivity to pollen.

As mentioned above, the two main irritants are ragweed, and grasses.  There are 17 widely-seen species of ragweed found in our area. They range in size from a couple of inches to 12 ft. tall. It is everywhere – along roadsides, edges of fields, and the edge of riverbanks to name a few. Flowering occurs late summer (NOW!) and pollen develops once temperatures become lower that 60 degrees and the evenings are longer (ALSO NOW!)

The list of grasses classified as allergens runs over 100 in number. Roughly 20% of these are considered severe allergens, and affect us in much the same way as ragweed. Their prime pollination time is NOW, as well. You really don’t need me to tell you that, I’m sure. Just sniff. The nose knows….

So… relief? There are so many over the counter drugs available today, most in non-drowsy formulas. How many of you can relate to the Benadryl fog one used to experience during allergy seasons before Zyrtec, Claratin, and the like? I believe I missed a good portion of my childhood due to this.

There is not much you can do to avoid having a bad allergy day, unless you are the boy in the bubble. Most of us cannot (nor do we wish to) stay indoors on days  when the pollen counts are high. So, avoiding running in fields (I have no problem cutting this activity from my life….) and limiting outdoor activities (maybe round up other allergy prone friends and plan an indoor activity – like SHOPPING! – yes, that is a plan!) will help to alleviate symptoms, but there is really no avoiding them all together. So, pack up the tissues – clean, fresh ones, preferably – and figure out which OTC medication helps the most, and look forward to that first frost as the point when seasonal allergies abate.

I wonder if I can claim “shopping due to allergies” as a medical expense on my tax return?…..