May 30, 2014

Bug, Slug, Snail and Roly Poly Control

Now that we've all done our happy dance over the recent rains, it's time for a reality check...cuz bugs, slugs, snails and nasty garden fungi loved the moisture just as much. In a perfect world our avian friends would take care of all our garden pests. But while they do their part...eating small grasshoppers, crickets, grubs and other small bugs...we have to give them some help.

But before you start spraying and sprinkling insecticides everywhere, take the time to observe - and identify - what you're up against. If you are unsure, consult a reference book on garden pests or take a sample (please, contained in a closed baggie or such so as not to spread your garden woes) of the offender or damaged foliage/flower to your local nursery or extension office. Here are some of the more common issues ~ and some organic solutions ~ you might find helpful.

Solution: SLUGGO (buy it here) consists of iron phosphate granules that when sprinkled on the soil causes these pests to cease feeding, slow down and ultimately die. The good news is that it works great; the bad news is that you will have to make a trip to a local nursery (or go online) to purchase. It's not carried by big box stores and is pricey. You can also find SLUGGO PLUS that will kill sow bugs as an even higher price. Still...especially if you have pets, it's well worth the expenditure.

Problem: Tiny worms that chew through buds on flowers like geraniums and petunias just as the plants are otherwise performing their best.

Solution: Dipel Dust or Spray (Bt) (find it here) is an easy to use bio insecticide that controls worms on veggies, flowers, shrubs and lawns. One bite of treated foliage causes worms to stop feeding and eventually die. The active ingredient Bt Bacillus thuringiensis kills worms without harming humans or pets and occurs naturally in the soil. It will ALSO kill beneficials (like butterfly caterpillars), so use sparingly and judiciously.

Problem: Yellow stippling on leaves with tiny dots and webs on the underside of  foliage that can occur on almost any plant in your landscape...including evergreens like boxwood. Very difficult to eradicate.

Solution: First, try a non-chemical attack: a strong jet spray of water, cutting back affected foliage and letting it 'start over'; improving air circulation around all of your plants and in your landscape; in general, cleaning up debris and old mulch around in your beds. If the problem persists...and it probably will...try Neem oil as a miticide for spider mites. It also works for whitefly (those pesky airborne insects that make a white 'cloud' when affected foliage (like Boston Ivy, a favorite) is disturbed...and leaf-eating grasshoppers. It is also helpful in controlling blackspot, powdery mildew and rust ~~ all common diseases that thrive in humid, damp, densely planted conditions.

Problem: Sow bugs, pill bugs, roly polys...aka a real pain in your garden's a#*> (ahem) root zone. These nasty gray pests will attack fleshy stems and foliage on susceptible plants -- like anything planted with inadequate drainage or under the canopy of the plant itself or nearby debris. They are one of nature's great decomposers, but will also decompose and eat your petunias and lettuce if you don't watch out.

Solution: Good cultural practices will help prevent an invasion. Don't over water, provide excellent drainage where needed, clean up nearby debris where these annoyances can hide and multiply, cut back spent and dying foliage, provide good air circulation and apply Diatomaceous Earth (here) to the surrounding soil. Always try an organic solution first, but for a VERY rabid bunch, you might want to resort to something stronger like SEVIN (read about it here. Use sparingly as it is a broad spectrum insecticide that also harms beneficials.

And for more tips on controlling pests in the garden, watch 4 YOUR GARDEN on NewsChannel 4 today at 4:30. 

May 22, 2014

dahlia creme de cassis

So to my purple pot tableau, I am adding another purple posie...and necessary vertical element to the mix. I give you:

the exquisite dahlia CREME DE CASSIS (find them here). Her colors parody the tones of the supertunias exactly (or at least I hope they do)...

and, speaking from positive dahlia experience in 2013, they should be able to handleour intense sun, heat, and weather extremes in stride (okay, depending on just HOW extreme our summer gets...).

The foliage is already strong, dark green and vibrant... growing well, with thick tempting buds on sturdy stems. The chartreuse of lime mound spirea and variegated yellow and green cut-leaved sweet potato vine should enhance the plum hues beautifully. At least that is my vision. Can you see it too?

May 21, 2014

Supertunia Bordeaux and a Purple Moment

I am having a purple moment in the garden. Purple, yellow and white moments 
to be exact.

Actually... numerous moments and vignettes.  

This purple/chartreuse/white combination is the thematic for three large dark bronze pots (that match the color of my arbor and fence) that grace the long flower border that runs just north of the potager.

For THIS moment...let us talk about two of the happy residents in these containers:

Supertunia Bordeaux (read more about them here)

a PROVEN WINNER super petunia that lives up to the terms of its beauty (which is what snagged moi)

and its performance ~~ heat loving, heavy blooming, easy care (i.e. no deadheading!) and relatively pest and disease resistant.

If attitude and beauty alone weren't enough to sell me on this cascading beauty...

this charming excerpt from the PW web page about Bordeaux would:

   ~~ "For you alone I will cover myself with a plethora of blooming flowers the color of a maiden's blushing cheek. I will vein them with the richness of dark, sweet wine. Your hands, your lovely hands, will never know the repetitiveness of deadheading. Neither the burning heat of summer nor swarms of nectar-crazed butterflies and hummingbirds can change what I feel for you. For myself, I ask nothing except food and water. It is only so that I may remain with you, still fresh, still cloaked in blooms until the first hard frost. Or if you make a home for me in zones 10 - 11, we can be together always. Now take me. I am yours." ~~

And take her I did. Romancing her by placing her plum perfection next to a perfectly companionable tri-color sage...with exactly the same hint of this delectable hue.

And so the magic begins...

My Daily Diptic: Supertunia 'Bordeaux'

Tomorrow: other plants lucky enough to share her company.

May 19, 2014

Leeks, the Poor Man's Asparagus

I like plants that tell a story. I also like plants that HAVE a story, but in my mind they are two very different things. My sleeping-capped leeks recite their story to me every time I pass them by.

I first encountered leeks with their joyful round heads in Rosemary Verey's potager at her Barnsley House garden. (Take a little tour below...)

It took me a while to invite them into my garden, but invite them I did and last year they had their coming out party. (Did you know that in France, the leek is known as 'poireau'...a derogatory term meaning "simpleton"?  Its floral casing DOES resemble a dunce cap after all.)

But what I see, and hear, as I greet them when I pass my garden...

or in others' gardens...

are passages (stick with me here...)

 from "The Night Before Christmas"....particularly the line

"...and Mama in her kerchief, and I ... IN MY CAP..."

because the leek does SO closely resemble the profile of the Victorian father...(nightcap perched so jauntily on his head) the illustrated version of this Christmas classic I would read to my boys each year.

If you too would like to grow leeks, and form strange and wonderful associations of your own.. then follow the growing and care tips from BONNIE PLANTS here.  Fa la la some Leeks, won't you?

May 15, 2014


Join me and Linda Cavanaugh tomorrow on 4 YOUR GARDEN at 4:30 on NewsChannel 4. We'll be discussing some thoughts on parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Hope you can tune in!

(Missed some segments? Watch previous episodes here.) 

Climbing Old Blush

I wish I could remember exactly when I planted my CLIMBING OLD BLUSH (here), a massive rambling rose...

 with lord knows how many blossoms,

 that scales the heights of our office/studio in the back.

I feel quite certain, that given the chance...and the time...and freedom from my pruning...

it would completely cover...if not devour...

the roof and facade of the whole structure.

But keep it in check I it just enough slack to mingle with the fragrant, thornless

Zepherine Drouhin (buy one here) that grows up the arbor at the entrance to  the p o t a g e r.

After so many years of maturity, the girth of its trunk is nearly as impressive...and as the bower of its canes and blooms.

I try to keep one step ahead of its aggressiveness by pruning out the thin canes and by an every other year extremely hard prune...

along the fence line. As you can see in this picture, I try to keep the bottom
section below the fence line stripped of foliage.  It seems to help with air circulation and...

denies black spot spores a means of transport to the upper portions of the plant.

As luck and Oklahoma weather would have it, its peak bloom time seems to always correspond with

with peak 25 mph spring winds...

so I long ago quit expecting her duration of bloom to be commensurate with
her quantity of blooms.

Thus far, the all too brief show she puts still worth the  

the relatively large expenditure of time and thorn pricks.  

But as my garden...and I...evolve and mutate (and age) over time...

~ sitting to smell and appreciate the roses may prove more appealing than actually HAVING them.