Category Archives: Shrubs

Design for Bio-Diversity in Your Home Garden

Our ability to feed ourselves, find water, breathe oxygen, is dependent on a bio-diverse environment. The bio-diversity of our planet is declining at an alarming rate due to habitat loss. Human activity is the main reason behind this loss, which is actually good news, because this puts us in a position to do something about it.

Our suburban home gardens are part of an integrated ecological system that either supports bio-diverse habitats that contribute to a healthier, more life sustaining planet or degrades and accelerates its decline. In other words the decisions you make about your home garden has consequences.

Here are some of the gardening practices and landscape design considerations you can adhere to in order to support more bio-diversity and expand a more hospitable habitat for all life on this planet.

  • Design your garden to be hospitable to birds, pollinators and beneficial insect populations by selecting plants that attract and support them.
  • Incorporate plants native to the area to better support native species of wildlife that are dependent on these plants for their survival.
  • Add water to your garden, either through the use of a birdbath, a fountain, a rain garden or a watergarden.





  • Limit the use of pesticides in the garden by attracting more beneficial insects
  • Dill, parsley, carrots, chives, basil, and onions are some of the plants you can use in your vegetable garden to repel harmful pests without the use of pesticides.
  • Planting poly-cultural vegetable and flower gardens is an effective way of controlling outbreaks of harmful fungus diseases and destructive insect populations.
  • If pesticide use becomes absolutely necessary opt for those that are the least harmful to beneficial insect populations, pollinators, and wildlife. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are far less damaging to the health of the environment.


Suggested Pruning Time for Common Flowering Trees, Shrubs, & Vines

Spring-Flowering Plants:

Plants that bloom in early spring usually produce their flower buds the year before. The buds over-winter on the previous year’s growth and open in spring.
Prune after flowering:

Alternate-leaf Butterfly-bush (Buddleia alternifolia)
Azalea (Rhododendron species)
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)
Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’)
Bridalwreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia)
Clematis (Clematis species)
Climbing roses
Crabapple (Malus species)
Deutzia (Deutzia species)
Dogwood (Cornus species)
Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum)
Flowering Almond (Prunus species)
Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles species)
Forsythia (Forsythia species)
Indian Hawthorn (Raphiolepsis umbellata)
Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)
Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica)
Mockorange (Philadelphus species)
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Pyracantha (Pyracantha species)
Redbud (Cercis species)
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
Thunberg Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii)
Weigela (Weigela florida)
White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)
Wisteria (Wisteria species)
Witchhazel (Hamamelis species)

Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs In Late Winter or Early Spring.
Many summer flowering shrubs bloom on the current year’s growth.  Pruning them back in later winter encourages them to produce lots of new growth that summer and will result in more flowers.  Don’t be afraid to cut fast growing plants, such as buddleia or caryopteris, down to as little as 10-12” tall.  The exception to this rule is Hydrangeas.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa species)
Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii)
Camellia (Camellia species)
Chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus)
American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum)
Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia species)
Floribunda roses
Fragrant Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
Grandiflora roses
Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria species)
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica)
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Nandina (Nandina domestica)
Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
Anthony Waterer Spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’)
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)


Repairing Winter Damage In Your Garden

Winter Garden Damage – What Now?

Winter can offer obstacles for our gardens.  Cold, snow, ice, freeze/thaw cycles, wind, salt from treating roads and sidewalks are a few that spring to mind. Most of those obstacles can be readily overcome, but some are more challenging.

Cold, Snow, Freeze/Thaw Cycles – In Other Words, Normal Winter For Cold Winter Climates

These issues can by and large be mitigated by choosing plants that are cold hardy for our area and that are suited to the spot in your garden where they are being planted.

What does suited to the location mean?  It means if you have a place where the wind tends to come whistling through the garden, don’t plant something that is susceptible to wind damage.  Put that plant in a spot where it is protected from wind.  If a plant doesn’t like wet feet, don’t plant it in the low, wet spot in your garden.  Putting each plant in a spot where it can thrive leads to good plant health. And healthy plants are much better able to survive adverse winter conditions than unhealthy plants

Unusually Cold Temperatures

After the Cold has Passed

Annuals – if the foliage is brown and or mushy, remove it and compost or discard it.  Plan on replacing your plants in spring.

Herbaceous Perennials –Remove brown and mushy foliage.  However, do NOT assume that the plants are dead.  Even if you are used to the plants remaining green throughput the winter, they may not be dead.  Many perennials are “root hardy” which means that although the foliage and stems are dead, the plant will regrow from the root system.   In spring, be lazy and wait a bit.  Give the “dead” plants time to regrow from the roots before replacing them with new plant material.

Shrubs – Do nothing.  This is another great time to be a lazy gardener.  Resist the temptation to help and just wait for spring. See what new growth emerges and prune after you can see the true damage to your plants.  If there are obviously broken branches, you can remove them, but other than that – hands off. Pruning now could encourage new growth too early, which can harm the plant. Branches that may appear to be dead, may not be. Once spring gets here and the shrub leafs out with new growth, you will then know for sure which parts of the shrub are dead and can be safely removed.


Ice is pretty much the cruelest thing that can happen to your garden in winter.  The sheer weight can be devastating.  You are going to want to try and rush out and help your plants.  Resist that urge.  Do NOT try to help.  Take a deep breath and procrastinate. Do not knock ice off branches; channel your grade school days and keep your hands to yourself.  Allow the ice to naturally melt.  The branches beneath the ice will be brittle, trying to remove the ice is most likely going to lead to more damage to the plant, not help.

The rest can be pruned to shape, if needed or if you want to.  This may mean sacrificing blooms on spring blooming shrubs.  If you don’t mind a somewhat bedraggled shrub in your landscape, wait until after the spring blooming shrubs flower and then prune to shape.

Trees:  Remove downed branches or trees, if you can safely do so, or hire someone with experience to take care of this task.  For broken branches and additional pruning, it is best to hire a certified arborist to assess and service the plants.  Trees are a long term investment and much harm can be done by accident.  Let the professionals handle it.

Salt Damage

You may already recognize that salt really isn’t all that great for plants.  Salt applied by road crews or on sidewalks by homeowners can end up in nearby garden beds.  There are a couple of ways to deal with this issue.

If you can reasonably assume that salt will be applied regularly, consider choosing plants that can withstand a bit of salt (yes, we have circled back around to Right Plant, Right Place).   Internet searches will yield good results for plants lists.

If salt is unlikely to be an issue, then you may prefer not to limit your plant selection.  The best way to deal with an unusual application of salt to plants is water.  Once the temps warm up and snow cover melts, lightly spray off plants to wash off any salt that might be on foliage.  Then in early spring, water the affected areas heavily to wash the salts out of the main root zone of the plants.  You want to soak at least 6 inches of soil.  This will allow the majority of roots to reside in soil where the salt has been flushed out.


Lacecaps Like Light (and a Little Shade)

What You Should Know About Lacecap Hydrangeas

Lacecap hydrangeas are a more delicate version of their mophead relatives, and have the same growing requirements. See below for pruning hints.

Continue reading

Look for signs of this scale in the next few weeks!

Az+bark+scale    crypto scale

Azalea bark scale and cryptomeria scale can be seen in our area. Apply insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to treat crawlers in late June through late July. Giordano’s has these organic treatments by Bonide in stock.

Do you have scale in your landscape?

Learn how this harmful insect can be recognized & treated using organics. Scale can be treated using insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils that we sell here at Giordano’s in Sea Cliff.

The scale insects are small insects of the order Hemiptera, suborder Sternorrhyncha. They comprise the superfamily Coccoidea, previously placed in the now obsolete group called “Homoptera”. There are about 8,000 described species of scale insects.
Armored scale insects:(A) Lepidosaphes gloverii, adult females. (B) Parlatoria oleae, adult females (circular, with dark spot) and immatures (oblong). (C) Diaspidiotus juglansregiae, adult female walnut scale with waxy scale cover removed.
Oystershell scale (Ceroplastes sp.), a waxy scale on young blueberry


1 Description
2 Ecology
3 Economic significance
4 Systematics
5 See also
6 References
7 Further references
8 External links


Scale insects vary dramatically in appearance; some are very small organisms (1–2 mm) that grow beneath wax covers (some shaped like oyster shells, others like mussel shells), to shiny pearl-like objects (about 5 mm), to creatures covered with mealy wax. Adult female scales are almost always immobile (aside from mealybugs) and permanently attached to the plant they have parasitized. They secrete a waxy coating for defense; this coating causes them to resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence their common name.

The group shows high degrees of sexual dimorphism; female scale insects, unusually for Hemiptera, retain the immature external morphology even when sexually mature, a condition known as neoteny. Adult males usually have wings (depending on their species) but never feed, and die within a day or two.

Species in which males do have wings generally possess only one pair of fully functional wings, and in particular, the fore-wings. This is unusual among insects; it most closely resembles the situation in the true flies, the Diptera. However, the Diptera and Hemiptera are not at all closely related and do not closely resemble each other in morphology; for example, the tail filaments of the Coccoidea do not resemble anything in the morphology of flies. The hind (metathoracic) wings of scale insects are reduced, commonly to the point that they generally are overlooked. In some species the hind wings have hamuli, hooklets, that couple the hind wings to the main wings, a condition usually associated with the Hymenoptera. The vestigial wings often are reduced to the point where they are referred to as halteres or pseudohalteres, but again, their resemblance to the halteres of flies is analogous, not homologous.[3] It is not at present clear to what extent the pseudohalteres have any substantial control function to match the true halteres of the flies.

The first instars of most species of scale insects emerge from the egg with functional legs and are informally called “crawlers”. They immediately crawl around in search of a favourable spot to settle down and feed. In some species they delay settling down either until they are starving, or until they have been blown away by wind onto what presumably is another plant, where they may establish a colony separate from the parent. There are many variations on such themes, such as scale insects that are associated with species of ants that act as herders and carry the young ones to favourable protected sites to feed. In either case, many such species of crawlers, when they change their skins, lose the use of their legs if they are female, and stay put for life. Only the males retain their legs and use them in seeking females for mating.[4]

The specifics of their reproductive systems vary considerably within the group, including three forms hermaphroditism[5] and at least seven forms of parthenogenesis.


Is your lawn prone to flooding? Or do you have a water feature and want to decorate it with flowers, shrubs and/or trees? Careful when selecting for your wet soil sites, plants that are not specifically adapted to wet soil conditions eventually fall victim to root rot and rarely survive, let alone thrive. Feel free to stop by Giordano’s with any questions or for additional recommendations. Enjoy this quick read and the beautiful photos!


The above PDF details many beautiful trees, shrubs & perennials that LOVE moist soil conditions. The Liatris pictured below is a prime example of a fragrant and visually pleasing flower that thrives in wet soils!


Wet Soil Plants

Calla Lily


We have an extensive inventory of plants for wet soil conditions at Giordano’s Gift & Garden (Click For Directions).

Click On The Images In This Gallery For Larger Photos


Tree_Red mulberry



Shrub_Swamp azalea
Shrub_Dwarf Fothergilla



Flower_Pink Coreopsis

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Viburnums

Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’,
Common Name: Witherod

Winterthur is a compact cultivar that produces fragrant white flowers that grow in clusters between April & June. The flowers provide nectar for butterflies, native bees & other pollinators. As the season transitions to later summer & fall the flowers are replaced by berries that turn color as they ripen; from light pink to a purplish-black. The leaves also change color during the fall to a maroon or dark redish-purple.

  • Flowers Attract a Variety of Pollinators
  • Compact Plants w/Striking Clusters of Multi-Colored Berries Provide Food for Wildlife
  • Wine-Colored Fall Foliage
  • Plants Provide Nesting Sites and Cover for Native Bird Life0
  • Easy to Grow!

Viburnum alnifolium,
Common Name: Hobblebush

a disheveled shrub found in the forest understory, ravines, coves and stream banks. It grows 6 to 12 feet high and the outer branches root wherever they touch the ground. In shady, moist woodland conditions, it can also grow down a slope along the ground like a creeping vine or “steppable” herb. The white flat-topped flowers are showy in May and develop into clusters of red fruit that eventually turn purple-black.

Viburnum acerifolium,
Common Name: Maple-Leafed Viburnum

The Maple-Leafed Viburnum has foliage that resembles red maple leaves. It is non-aggressive and does not cast a great deal of shade. It can grow to 6 feet tall and is hardy from Zones 4-8. Features creamy white flat-topped clusters of flowers that ripen into lovely black berries. During fall the leaves give the impression of pink water colors; the fruit and shelter provide home and food to both birds and butterlies as well.

Viburnum trilobum
Common Name: American Cranberry Bush

Since the bright red drupes often persist through winter, these bushes make a meal for migrating birds. Fun Fact: the fruits (which are not actually cranberries) are safe for human consumption and are used mostly for making jam. The American cranberry bush is ideal for hedges and/or screening your property as they can grow to 12 feet tall and are opaque with their fullness of foliage. The fall colors yield burgandy reds and edible berries!

Viburnum prunifolum
Common Name: Black Haw Viburnum

This variety has the stature of a small tree! Typically found in the woods from Connecticut to Florida and as far West as Michigan. The Black Haw Viburnum is also famous for being drought tolerant and can grow in just about any type of soil. Flowers bloom in May, berries emerge in late June and the foliage turns a shiny, purple-red. The berries are food to birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other friendly critters! The berries are edible for humans, but usually the birds get to them first.

Viburnum Berry Recipe:

  • 8 Cups Ripe Berries
  • 5 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Cups Water
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder

  1. Rinse Berries & Place in a Large Pot
  2. Add Water & Bring to a Boil for 5 Minutes
  3. Add Sugar, Arrowroot, & Lemon Juice & Stir Vigorously as Mixture Comes to a Boil Again
  4. Simmer on Low for 20 Minutes, Stirring Occasionally
  5. Remove From Heat and Allow to Cool Completely
  6. Enjoy on toast, with pancakes, on icecream, etc!

Don’t Forget to Share!

The Science and Happiness of Mulching

Choosing the right mulch is essential to giving your plants the best possible conditions. Mulch improves plant growth, conserves moisture, reduces weed growth and moderates fluctuating temperatures. The contribution of mulch undoubtedly assists in the generation and balancing of an ideal micro-ecosystem for your landscape.

Fork It On!

pitchfork with mulch

Mulching is a Science, it turns out…

Who thought that gardeners would be reading graphs and performing tests with beakers & litmus paper? We did! We also piggy-backed on some research done by Fine Gardening and also by the University of Washington; thanks goes to them for the test results!

First let’s take a look at the Growth Graph of 5 different shrubs when planted in mulched vs unmulched. The shrubs studied were Arborvitae, Yew, Cranberrybush Viburnum, Hydrangea and Arrowwood Viburnum. Every mulch that was tested yielded similar enough results that they fell under the expected variance (or in other words, yielded no significant difference); save one. Cyprus mulch did not affect growth in any substantial way, but did offer weed suppression much like the other varieties of mulch tested. Without further adieu, here is the first graph we’ll take a look at.


Notice the range of difference between the mulched vs unmulched plants. While it varies from about 10cm to nearly 100cm, every shrub tested experienced improved growth and overall health when properly mulched. This alone implies significant value in mulching your landscapes. But, there’s more!

Other Benefits of Mulch from the Same Study:

Test Completed
No Mulch

Soil Moisture Retention @ 2″ depth, 2 hours after watering

Soil Nutrient Retention & Availability in Root Zone

Weed Control
76% Reduction

Time Spent Weeding 25 Shrubs Over a 3mo Period
Approx 19hrs
Approx 4hrs 45mins

The Results are Clear!

Mulching has a positive effect on ever aspect of your landscape. Another study conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle goes on to show that Nutrient Retention in Soil directly contributes to overall health of your plants and “…the surrounding landscape”! This means that healthy, happy plants make other plants HEALTHIER! We find it fascinating that there are levels of communication going on all around us, communication we can’t see or hear. And, we love that when your plants are happy and healthy they contribute to the overall happiness and health of your entire landscape. Keep that in mind the next time you’re out in the garden, it just might put a huge grin on your face!

Our Recommendations For Mulch:

  • Pine
  • Recycled Pallet
  • Cyprus
  • Hardwoods

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