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Posted at 09:59 AM ET, 07/13/2012

Wanted for wanton acts of garden destruction

From storms to pests, gardeners have recently felt nature’s wrath.

Even though the super derecho is now nearly two weeks in the past, I am sure that a few of you have some major clean-up to do. It is a real shame to see so many old, stately trees down but I guess that is part of the cycle of things.

For those of you who have broken tree limbs, try to get them sawed off at the junction of the trunk without cutting into the collar (raised ridge at base of branch).

Do not get one of those tree wound paints or sealants. Several horticultural studies have shown that they do little to speed healing and, in many cases, cause damage by sealing moisture and lead to rot.

High on the list of chores that pay dividends right now is deadheading. No this is not the Sweeney Todd version, this is cutting back spent blooms.


Butterfly bush
Any of you that have a butterfly bush know what an undertaking deadheading is. But having played barber many times, it is worth the effort for another spectacular flush of bloom for another full month. Better yet the abundance of butterflies will make it doubly rewarding. If you have lilies and I heartily encourage you to cut back these trouble free, eye popping, aromatic beauties as soon as they bloom but leave the leaf covered stem. This will force it to put all of its energy into the bulbs for next year and really pays off year after year. There are more perennials and even some annuals that will put on a second show if you shear off the old blooms. If you are not sure, just ask!

Pest problems

The derecho isn’t the only source of recent gardening woes.

Consider the interlopers of the multi-legged kind that have mauled our gardens we have toiled so hard in. I am sure you have your own favorites and do share. This is therapy time!

My two most wanted creatures are Japanese beetles and deer.

I have said time and again that deer are true epicures. They know exactly when to get the day lily buds at the peak of their size, just before bloom. They also know to rip pansies out of the ground in their glee and prune hydrangeas to within an inch of their life.

What really gets me is they come and go in a heartbeat, unseen in the early morning hours before I can catch them in the act. I have yet to find a spray that works. Having seen them easily jump 10 foot fences, that is not an option, either.


Day lilies guarded by my dog Coco
I have had some luck just pushing some bamboo stakes around the larger stems of day lilies and cardinal flower. That strategy seems to deter them as they are looking for the easiest pickings. But when it all comes down to it, you lick your wounds and move on.

That brings me to my other quintessential nemesis, the Japanese beetle. These things are the tank division of the insect world.

When they emerge in June it is with the ferocity of locusts. I will say that I am thankful that one of their main targets in my garden is the “Knockout Rose” - titans of the rose world. Any of you who have these know that they will just outgrow the munching once the month-long demolition is over. However, during the beetle’s month long pig-out, they are a sad sight to see with denuded blooms and riddled leaves.

Other plants are not as resilient to beetles such as oak leaf hydrangea or the marsh mallow. Thankfully, the more recent hydrangea varieties seem to be less attractive. I have to admit to breaking down and allowing myself a once a year to spray my favorite blooming stewartia tree to protect it but am careful to avoid other plants that benefit bees and butterflies.

My applications of milky spore to the lawn did really seem to knock back beetle numbers this year and it is supposed to be effective for several years. So fingers crossed.

Happy gardening!

By  |  09:59 AM ET, 07/13/2012

Categories:  Latest, Gardening

 
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