In the garden: pampas grass, vines, blackberry vines, and more

In the garden: pampas grass, vines, blackberry vines, and more

s I live in Fayetteville and have an inground pool that rises up one side of the sloping ground with a stone wall about 5 feet high. Will pampas grass be good around a wall? I don't want anything (leaves, flower heads, etc.) to get blown into the pool.

a Ornamental grasses such as pampas grass would be an option. Do you want to insulate the wall or be able to see the plants above the wall? Ornamental grasses contain seeds inside the flowers, and pampas grass can reach more than 10 feet tall with plumes. Seeds can blow into your pool if you leave it open all year. Purple Muhly Grass or Feather Reed Grass is a beautiful wall covering ornamental grass but stays low enough that I don't think seeds would be a problem.

s I have an iron ring about 3 feet wide and 2 inches deep that I plan to mount upright on its edge in my flower bed. I want to plant vines to grow on, something thick and fast-growing to completely hide the ring. Flowering is not a necessity but would be a bonus. What do you advise me and how much to plant on each side? I live in Maumelle, I am retired and have time to prune the problem every day to keep it under control.

Carolina jasmine, also known as jasmine, is a popular flowering vine.  (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Carolina jasmine, also known as jasmine, is a popular flowering vine. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

a You don't mention whether you have sun or shade or whether you want evergreen or deciduous plants. Also, 3 feet is not a great height for any vine. In what way can the episode be raised some? Vines typically grow to a height of 6 feet or more. Several options will work. For sun, you can plant trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) or 'Gold Flame' honeysuckle (Lonicera heckrottii). Do not plant the familiar off-white Japanese honeysuckle, which is very aggressive. There are many jasmine vines that will give you gorgeous flowers as well. An evergreen option is Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which does well in the southern half of the state. Carolina jasmine will also work with its bright yellow flowers.

Blackberry canes are usually cut after the berries are harvested, allowing the new cane room to grow.  (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Blackberry canes are usually cut after the berries are harvested, allowing the new cane room to grow. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

s When is the best time to prune blackberry canes? I know you're supposed to prune fruit trees in the winter but you don't know anything about blackberries. Are there any special tips I should know before I do this job? They are 3 years old and I have never trimmed them. I had a lot of fruit last year and I want to keep it productive. It's a thornless variety if that makes a difference.

a I imagine you have a bit of a mess in your blackberry patch if you haven't pruned anything in three years. Blackberry canes grow the first year, setting flower and fruit buds for the following season. After the canes bear fruit, those canes die back, but the canes that started growing that spring will bear fruit for you the following year. Normally, we do not wait for the canes to die but cut the fruiting canes after harvest, giving the new canes room to grow. I imagine you have quite a few dead stems among your live canes. The only pruning we usually do on canes that will bear fruit the following season is to keep them pruned to a manageable height during the growing season, which will encourage them to grow bushy rather than tall, which will help with harvest. Now that the plants are dormant and have no leaves, it may be difficult to distinguish live canes from dead ones, unless they have been dead for a long time. Typically, in late February, you can prune the side branches to 14-16 inches, giving you larger blackberries this season. Clear what you can and be sure to remove all old, dead canes and canes that you harvested from during the growing season.

s Hurricane Rogers hit in October. My neighborhood was known for its majestic pines. More than 90% were blown up. It has dramatically changed the appearance of our area. What type of pine tree should we replant to grow quickly? Can the Forest Department help?

a The pine is the state tree of Arkansas, and there are four species native to Arkansas: shortleaf, longleaf, slash pine, and loblolly pine. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) are the most common. Loblolly is probably the fastest growing and most common pine in the state today. The Arkansas Forestry Commission sells packages of seedlings as well as young trees in containers.

Janet Carson has retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and ranks among Arkansas' most respected horticulturists. Her blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to her at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email

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Home Style on 01/11/2020

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