Dear Garden Problem Lady

August 2019


I think I’m confused because my schoolroom Latin has left my noggin. Am looking for a shrub with a magnificent blue flower that attracts butterflies and blooms in August and September. I don’t think it’s Coreopsis – but something like? Help!

Coreopsis flowers are yellow, or pink, or yellow with a brown center. C. has thin, needle-like leaves, and blooms all summer. Could you mean Caryopteris?

Both names come from a Greek word, “core” that means bug – because their seed looks like a bug. Caryopteris is three feet tall and blooms in late summer with wonderful, blue flowers. Both adore sun.

Confusingly, there is yet another plant – Corylopsis – that is a member of the Witch hazel family. It blooms in January and February with very fragrant yellow flowers.


It’s our fig tree – we can’t really see out of the back windows of our house, especially upstairs, because our fig has grown so hugely. We have not been entirely well, and the gardening gets away from us – but this fig is just too big. What can we do about it right now?

First, enjoy the figs now. Then gird thy loins – and wait. Fig trees must be pruned only when dormant, during the winter. Otherwise they bleed sap from the cut places, and might die. Figs love to be pruned at the right time, and can survive losing as much as one third of their size in one year.


What is the best way to transplant a healthy, two-foot-high boxwood shrub?

Don’t do it now, wait until at least September. Boxwoods are shallow-rooted and suffer extreme transplant shock during warm weather. It will form new roots better in autumn and over the winter. Water the shrub well the day before to ensure that the root ball stays intact during the move. Begin by preparing the new location with rich, loose soil to a depth and width slightly larger than that of the existing shrub. The next day, dig around the plant’s drip line to a depth of one-third of its height. Slowly pry the entire root ball free, making sure you do not sever any major root. Place the root ball into its new location about one half an inch above the soil surface. Boxwoods need good drainage and hate wet feet. Apply one inch of composted mulch.


The next meeting of the Capitol Hill Garden Club occurs on the second Tuesday of September 2019 at 6:45 pm at the NE Public Library, corner of Maryland Ave. & 7th St. NE. Meetings start with refreshments, and are free and open to all. Membership and Program Topic details are at