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Dust off your green thumb and keep reading to learn more about upcoming horticulture events at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden!

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is hosting a series of gardening classes and Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposiums.

Cincy Chic: Tell us more about upcoming horticulture events at the Cincinnati Zoo!
Angela Hatke, Communications Coordinator at the Cincinnati Zoo: We have an upcoming gardening class as well as our Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposium!

Cincy Chic: What makes these events so unique?
Hatke: As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, there’s no better place to dig in than with the experts from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Go from zero to 60 with your gardening knowledge and skills directly from the Zoo’s top horticulturist, and be ready to create a thriving and beautiful garden this spring.

Cincy Chic: How much does it cost to attend these events?
Hatke: The gardening classes are $10 per class for members and $15 per class for non-members. The entire gardening series is $45 for members and $70 for non-members. The Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposium is $49.

Cincy Chic: How can readers RSVP for the horticulture events?
Hatke: Readers can RSVP here or email with any questions.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for the Zoo in 2017?
Hatke: We’re still putting together the events for 2017, but we do have a new events manager and we’re excited for her to bring a new spin to our classic events! Keep an eye out at

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more about the zoo and upcoming events?
Hatke: Visit for more information.

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Our landscape expert explains why an increase in the water bill this month will be much less than replacing your mature trees, shrubs, and lawn in the future.

The garden
Our gardening expert shares why sacrificing for an extra water bill this month will save your garden down the road.

After the prepping our gardens in March and April, planting annual color and possibly trees, shrubs and perennials in May and June, we may find that July is a nice month to just sit back and enjoy the hard work. There are still weeds to pull and lawns to keep mowed but for the most part the garden is on cruise control. Although, there are times that pulling out weeds can take much of the time. We may need a backpack sprayer and other essential lawn tools to keep us on our game.

That being said, we still have to be aware of what’s going on with the weather. We really need to be sure we’re providing enough water to our landscape and the heat of July can present some problems. We’ve had summers where we have some significant weekly rains and others where we wont see much rain for six to eight weeks. One of the most costly natural disasters we’ve ever had in the US was the drought of 1988. In today’s dollars, its cost would be over $120 billion, second only to hurricane Katrina. The drought affected 45% of the continental US. The wildfires in Yellowstone National Park occurred during this period. I recall that here in Cincinnati we didn’t have a significant rain from about mid-May until September.

While that extreme doesn’t happen often, we can see a lot of damage in our landscapes from even just a week or two of hot weather with no rain. While a lawn may go dormant and have resurgence later in the summer or early fall, the stress of a drought can cause all kinds of problems. Our lawns stay weed free with much less effort when they stay thick. Insects are also attracted to lawns under stress. What looks like a lawn that may come back can actually be a lawn in need of complete reseeding.

In the case of our trees, the damage from drought could take years to be recognized with slowly thinning crowns, a sign of declining roots. Trees under stress are also more likely to be attractive hosts to insects and diseases. Watering a lawn is a great way to also take care of our mature trees.

Our shrubs will also let us know when they need a drink. While wilting leaves late in the day aren’t uncommon on a hot day, we want to watch out for leaves that are not perking up over night. Hydrangeas, viburnums, barberries, azaleas, and rhododendrons are all going to tell us when they need help.

My first preference for a well-watered landscape would be an in ground irrigation system. The ability to assign watering frequency by various zones around a property is really a wonderful feature. The fact that they keep on working while you’re out of town is another. If the in-ground system isn’t an option, then the good old oscillator is the next choice. If you add a timer at the faucet your can “set it and forget it,” at least in that one part of the property. You still have to move the sprinkler around to ensure complete coverage.

Impact sprinklers also work well but I find that if you need some height in applying the water they are somewhat limited. My least favorite is the soaker hose. They’ve been shown to only apply water right under the hose with very little very actual coverage.

Whether from the clouds or the spigot, our landscapes need about an inch of water per week, sometimes more when the temperatures climb into the mid to upper 80s and beyond. An inexpensive rain gauge is a great investment. The next investment would be some time on your part to look at your plants and landscape for signs of drought stress like wilted leaves, faded color, dropped leaves, cracked soil, etc. The increase in the water bill will be much less than replacing mature trees, shrubs, and lawns.

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Our gardening columnist shares his favorite part of landscaping in June. Click to learn all his blossoming expert ideas.

Hydrangeas will do well in your garden through the remainder of summer!

If I had the choice to rotate through one month endlessly I’d pick June, and not just because I’d have a birthday every month. June just has that great mix of leftover spring and start of summer weather. We can have cool mornings and warm afternoons with blue skies and big white clouds. Our longest days will also come at the end of the month. What’s not to like?

In the garden, we’re still looking at installing annuals for that seasonal color but it’s also a great time to look into flowering shrubs and perennials. If you want to have growing season interest in your landscape that changes throughout the season, you really do need a blend of plants that provide color from spring through fall. Here are some that you should consider and, for the most part, they’re pretty easy to care for as long as you provide enough regular water.

In the world of perennials, and there are literally thousands that do well in our area, look into the many varieties of daylilies. The come in an array colors including red, orange, and yellow, sizes, and bloom periods. They’re drought tolerant and you’ll end up with plenty more to divide and move around the landscape later on.

There are plenty of annuals
There are plenty of annuals that you can still plant to get great seasonal color.

Other favorites would be purple coneflower and the many varieties of daisies, sedums, yarrows, and monarda. The key would be to look for perennials that won’t spread out of control and don’t need excessive water. Choosing the right mix will give you color well into the late summer and fall months.

Flowering shrubs are another great option for any garden. Whether as a single specimen or in groups, they can give that big eye-catching impact to your property. As we discussed in an earlier article, you do have to be cautious with the pruning. When in doubt, just don’t prune much at all and never shear them. The internet is full of helpful information if you have questions, it’s better to do a little research before you start removing branches.

Some great options for our area would be any of the spireas, some of the hydrangeas like Annabelle and Oakleaf, Crepe Myrtles, beautybush, butterfly bush, caryopteris, and even old fashioned hibiscus. As you can see, there’s no reason to have nothing but evergreen shrubs in our gardens or have nothing but the most common spring flowering shrubs. Once again, a little research and planning will allow you to have color throughout the summer.

Be careful when pruning so you don't
Be careful when pruning and weed control during the summer months.

In terms of general maintenance, this is the time of the year that we need to be diligent in our weed control on our beds. They’re also taking advantage of the long days to grow like crazy. Hand-pulling or careful spraying done on a weekly basis will keep your garden weed-free.

Proper pruning of our shrubs is also important. Remember to go for the hand shears first. We want to maintain natural shapes with our plants. Shearing your plants just creates more work as you have to prune them more often and also can ruin their flowering potential and longevity.

Enjoy this wonderful time of the year not only in your garden but visit the gardens in our city parks, especially Ault Park. Seeing plants in person as opposed to in a catalogue is always preferable before buying.