Tag Archive | gardening

Summer Blooming Flowers 6-26-2017

Happy Monday to everyone! It is a happy Monday because in 48 hours, we’ll be on our way to Door County, Wisconsin for a week. I can’t wait!

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

Alchemilla mollis ~ lady’s mantle   ||  Lychnis chalcedonica ~ Maltese cross (a fav of mine!)

     

Malva moschata ~ musk mallow or musk-mallow   ||    Lychnis arkwrightii ‘Orange Gnome’

‘Orange Gnome’ close up

Rosa ~ Rose

     

Clematis ‘Serious Black’   ||   Knautia macedonica ~ ‘Thunder & Lightning’ This guy was planted 4 years ago, and started out with variegated leaves. He has since reverted back to the regular green leaves.

Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’ ~ Japanese Aster (It’s way more blue than this photo)

Filipendula rubra ~ Queen of the Prairie

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spittlebug or Froghopper ~ Cercopidae species

Midwesterners may have noticed there has been a rise of folks spitting on plants… Nah, I’m just pulling your leg! Spittlebugs are on the rise this Spring, as I’m seeing them not only in my ornamental garden, but in the forest preserves and right of ways. These little Froghoppers are in the Cercopidae family, which contains 23,000 different family members.

For strawberry farmers (a fav of spittlebugs), the spittlebugs are mildly annoying at one spittle mass per square foot, also called “aesthetic threshold”. At five or more spittle masses per square foot, harvests can become affected. I think we’re there this year.

Spittle is produced by the nymph manipulating its body and using broken-down plant juices to blow the tiny bubbles. After there are enough bubbles to surround their bodies, they use their rear legs to cover themselves. Ironically, it’s not spit that makes the spittle… it comes out of the other end of the nymph (farttle?) 😉 The spittle protects them from predators, temperature changes and helps them from dehydrating.

Adult Froghopper

Although spittlebug nymphs and adults do feed on plant sap, the damage is minimal and populations are generally small and don’t warrant pesticide use. In extreme cases, they can cause stunting and weaken plants or reduce yields. An easy way to rid yourself of them is to dislodge them with a blast from the hose. I have read about predatory wasps of the spittlebug, however not sure if they are here in the Midwest. Should you have a severe infestation, be sure to remove plant debris in Fall and lightly till the soil to reduce the amount of eggs for the next season.

After five instars, spittlebugs become froghopper adults, named as such because of their resemblance to frogs. They now have a hard exoskeleton, which keeps them from drying out and they are able to emerge from the spittle. Adult froghoppers travel by jumping, with some species jumping vertically as high as 28 inches/70 cm! This feat surpasses the ability of fleas!

One last little tid-bit:
There are two other insect families that are not related, however look just like the froghoppers; treehoppers (Membracidae), and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). One of my favorite sites to research bugs is: BUGGUIDE.NET, Here’s how they tell the difference,
A leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae) has a row of prominent, regular spines on its rear tibiae (the second long leg segment). Spittlebugs/froghopper (Cercopidae) have no such regular spines, (but may have a few irregular ones). Treehoppers (Membracidae), usually have elaborated pronotums.

 

     

On Lychnis chalcedonica ~ Maltese cross  ||  On Weedy Grass

     

On Echinacea    ||    On Chaenomeles speciosa

They’re everywhere!!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 The Last Spring Blooming Flowers 6-20-2017

Happy last day of Spring / First day of Summer!!! I’ve got mixed feelings. I can’t believe Spring is over, however that means my job gets easier. The rains have finally seemed to back off a bit, as I thought I’d have to build a Plant Ark. Can’t forget about the plants when another flood wipes most of us pink apes out 😉

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

       

Syringa reticulata~ Japanese Tree Lilac

Not smelly, but pretty.  Also salt tolerant. A great street tree.

Philadelphus (Mock Orange) x. ‘Buckley’s Quill’ ~ Buckley’s Quill Mockorange

These smelly little cuties are right under my window that is downwind. These have such a strong sweet smell. It’s 92F /34C out and windy. I have the window cracked ever so slightly to get the smell in without bringing in too much heat. Electric bill be dammed!!

Peonies in a backyard on Bangs Lake. Beautiful!!!

Valeriana officinalis ~ Garden valerine

Another smelly one!

Common asparagus beetle – Crioceris asparagi

Ugh. Just when you were enjoying all the smelly flowers, this stinker joins the party. Sigh. Welp. It’s time to offer them a swimming lesson, free of charge. Well, it’s not really a swimming lesson, as you will only learn to die at my pool. My fav way to trap these buggars is to use what they know as my advantage. They like to drop to the ground as a defensive tactic to avoid predators. So, I place a cup of water under them, wave my hand above them and watch them do the belly-flop into my cup. I mean, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel!!

     

Asparagus officinalis ~ Very small bloom   ||   Onoclea sensibilis Sensitive Fern

     

Nyssa sylvatica ~ Black tupelo   ||   Mullberry update = Almost!

Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 6-19-2017

Come with me to the past blooming flowers: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’ ~ Cheddar pinks, carnation   ||   Lotus corniculatus ~ Birds-foot Trefoil  (so cool!!)

     

Lonicera japonica – Japanese honeysuckle   ||   Plantago lanceolata ~ Buckhorn plantain (weed)

     

Not even gonna try on these grasses. Guessing weedys.

     

Barbarea vulgaris ~ Garden Yellow Rocket    ||   Stellaria media ~ Common Chickweed

Chickweed is known for its soothing and healing quality. Its high saponin content is thought to be the reason for its effectiveness in relieving skin problems, such as erysipelatous and other forms of ulceration, as well as many forms of cutaneous diseases.

Hesperis matronalis ~ dame’s rocket, damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening and winter gilliflower.

Here, many folks think this is ‘wild phlox’. Sure, you could call it that if you like. However, the easy way to tell the difference is that this one has 4 petals and phlox has 5.

       

When this gets with this, does this happen?

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

Spring Blooming Flowers 6-14-2017

Happy Hum Day!! Hope the ride down the hill of the week is a fast and furious! Wheeeeee!

Wanna see into the past? Click to see what was blooming in 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’    ||    Silene vulgaris ~ White bladderwort

Cornus racemosa ~ Grey Dogwood

     

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’ –  Diablo Ninebark   ||   Geranium ‘Alba’

Vitis riparia ~ Baby Wine !!!  😉

     

Sedum ~ Not sure of flavor   ||   Penstemon Digitalis ~ Beardtounge (Is this like ‘hair of the dog‘ after a night of drinking??)

     

Tradescantia ohiensis ~ Spiderwort   ||   Keep Calm and Chive on!!!

Achillea millefolium ~ Yarrow

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 6-13-2017

Good day!

All of these were taken from my Memorial Day Weekend trip to Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area. This beautiful area is totally man-made! They started construction (or is it de-struction??) on the area in 2002. The creek was flooded, trees and other wildlife came and now we have a party!

Wanna see into the past? Click to see what was blooming in 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Blooming water plant

     

Carduus nutans ~ musk thistle, nodding thistle or nodding plumeless thistle  ||  Rainbow!!

I’m kinda guessing here… Rubus pubescens ~ Dwarf Raspberry

Eryngium yuccifolium ~ Rattlesnake-master

Not blooming but interesting foliage. Latin is a wonderful language that I love. Yuccifolium translated to Leaves like a Yucca. So straightforward. We all should have just stuck with one language. Things would have been a lot easier had we.

Rosa multiflora ~ Wild rose

Iris pseudacorus ~ Yellow flag iris

     

Rosa multiflora ~ Wild rose   ||    Blooming Toxicodendron radicans ~ Poison ivy

    

Tradescantia virginiana ~ Spiderwort    ||    Melilotus officinalis ~ yellow sweet clover, yellow melilot, ribbed melilot or common melilot

Vicia cracca ~ Tufted Vetch

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 6-12-2017

Many of these pests / diseases are making their way around again. Be sure to monitor your plants, as many of these issues are easily dealt with in the early stages.

Ilex vs Rose Sawfly

imageLarvae can be effectively controlled with a neem oil product or an insecticidal soap. Spray only the leaves (both sides), in the morning as neem oil can possibility hurt pollinators (More research needs to go into that). The strategy is to find larvae while they are still small and before damage becomes severe, like our roses! There is no need for control after the larvae have finished eating and left the plants, give or take mid-July.

One last note, these are not caterpillars, they are actually primitive wasps, so Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis will not work.

Ilex VS Oak Wilt

Oak wilt is confused with other problems such as drought, construction stress, borers, and root problems.

These symptoms would include:Image

  • More noticeable during late summer
  • Regular size leaves, little wilting
  • Leaves browning evenly
  • Leaves remain on the tree after discoloring
  • Dying trees scattered throughout stand
  • More common on stressed sites
  • Signs of borers or root disease

Oak Wilt symptoms:

  • More noticeable during early summer
  • Small leaves, thin crown, wilting
  • Edges and tips of leaves bronzing first
  • Leaves drop soon after discoloring
  • Dying trees found in groups (root grafts)
  • Streaking and discoloration of vascular tissues

Ilex VS. Dutch Elm Disease

dutch elm diseaseThe DED fungus is spread by two insect vectors: the native elm bark beetle (Hylurgopinus rufipes) and the European elm bark beetle (Scolytus multistriatus). The fungus is transported on the beetles from infected trees to healthy trees as they feed on twigs and upper branches. The beetles lay their eggs in the bark and wood of stressed trees along with elm firewood with the bark left on. Developing larvae form channels just under the bark and the fungus grows through the galleries until it reaches the tree’s water conducting cells, or xylem. Chemicals manufactured by the tree during its effort to fight the disease plug up the xylem, causing the tree to wilt.  In the Midwest, beetles typically have two generations per year.

Ilex VS Four-Lined Plant Bug (Poecilocapus lineatus)

The four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapus lineatus) removes plant’s chlorophyll  via their piercing-sucking mouthparts. They also secrete a toxin in their saliva that digests the components responsible for holding the plant cells together that leaves a hole in the plant’s epidermis. This feeding produces white, dark, or translucent spots the plant’s leaves, which can run together forming large blotches. Leaves can turn brown, curl-up and ultimately fall off. If feeding occurs on new growth, wilting may result. This is a photo of a nymph. He was doing just fine in the damage department.

Ilex VS Eastern tent caterpillars ~ Malacosoma americanum

imageThese guys are often confused with fall webworms, and bag worms, although all three are quite different. Tent worm nests are active early in the season while webworms are active late season. Tent worms like to make their tent nests in the forks of branches, while webworm nests are located at the tips of branches. Fall webworms also enclose foliage or leaves within these nests. Tent caterpillars do not. Bag worms are single worm homes made of the foliage from the tree it has decided to call home. They mostly evergreens like junipers or arborvitae. I like to remember the difference like this… A bag can hold one, but a tent can hold many.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern plant Girl

Macrame Plant Hanger

Way back in the day… The days before cable TV, Game Stations and other unpractical entertainment, you had fun using practical techniques and turning them into art.

My Mother loved to knit and crochet. Her fingers flew and knots were fashioned at a speed I was surprised didn’t start a friction fire! I, on the other hand, couldn’t figure out where I had dropped all my stitches and became very good at knitting triangles. At least they were good trivets. 😛

One year at summer camp, they offered a macrame class on making an owl. Owls were my Mother’s favorite, so I hopped on board. I was hooked! I liked the slower, more precise work of macrame. If you tied something wrong, it was easily undone and redone. All of these knots are taken from different, practical needs of many professions including, arborists, boaters, business men (ties), climbers and even S&M fetish folks!

When I was thinking about getting a hanging plant for the corner up front, I remembered how much fun I had making these simple, plant hangers. I ran off to the local hardware store looking for supplies. I bought a ring for the top and the rope, which was a thick, cotton laundry line. It has been awhile since I have had to tie any kind of decorative knots, however I’ve always had a good memory for these things. I did take a quick, 5-minute course from YouTube University on some basic knots, and off I went!

I decided to use a couple of the four basic knots I learned from the video below. On top I used the spiral knots and at the sides and bottom a slip knot. I wasn’t going to get too fancy on the sides, as the plant will quickly cover my hard work.

I was a bit rusty, however I was proud of my creation! My Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata) looks pretty happy in her cotton hammock.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

Ilex vs Boxwood Blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata)

Boxwood Blight, also called Box Blight and Boxwood Leaf Drop (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is a serious and deadly, fungal disease that mainly affects boxwood (Buxus), but can also hit Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis).

Boxwood Blight was first discovered in the Eastern United States in 2011. Presently, it has been identified in 18 states. It is being managed at a state level, which means states have different regulations on how they are dealing with it. Illinois and other states require nurseries to practice boxwood blight cleanliness programs to ensure the plants they sell are disease free.

This statement from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and where they stand on the issue.

It is generally agreed upon that the pathogen is not demonstrating the ability to move quickly or long-distance via air travel, or otherwise natural means. However, the overwhelming means of rapid and long-distance conveyance (interstate) is movement of infected plant material. The potential for more localized movement (i.e. within a production setting, from property to property, etc.) exists via plant to plant contact, contaminated tools, clothing, or other associated equipment that may have made contact with infected plants, in addition to local movement of infected plants or plant materials. This seems to be a “cultural practices” issue versus natural spread like EAB which we are all too familiar with.

In my opinion, us pink apes don’t understand nature enough. I think they are treating this a bit passively. I completely agree that there are many landscapers and gardeners that are not using good cultural practices. However, there are also forces of nature we don’t understand yet.

When I saw these blight alerts popping up in every blog, newsreel, etc that I follow, I became a bit distraught! On average, I plant about 1,000 boxwood a season on my clients’ properties 😯 I trained my crews to be on the lookout for this menace and to bring in any samples they suspected of having the fungus. It didn’t take long before one came in. My clients boxwood were installed by us 10 years ago, using a ‘clean nursery’. She has had no other landscapers but us. The fungus had to have arrived in a natural way, not by bad practices. I had to tell my client the bad news. Not only is this a death sentence, this fungus habitats the soil, making it inhabitable forever to boxwoods. We are now going to use a small arborvitae for her hedge.

I was also talking to the salesman where I purchase my clean boxwood from. He was telling me he was golfing at the prestigious Medinah Country Club where he noticed a groundskeeper whacking away at a hedge of brown boxwood. He walked over to the guy and told him that these boxwood had blight, and he may not want to continue pruning diseased boxwood and then moving on to healthy ones. The groundskeeper paid no never-mind to him and continued to spread the disease.

So whether you’re going to contract Boxwood Blight on your boxwoods is a gamble. You can favor the house by buying clean stock and being sure your tools or your landscapers tools are clean. However, Mother Nature knows how to draw off the bottom of the deck sometimes…

     

Best management practices:

  • Monitor your existing boxwood – Look for the following:
    • Leaf spots – Light to dark brown circular lesions, often surrounded by a yellow halo.
    • Stem cankers – Dark brown or black cankers on the stem, diamond shaped or vertical streaks.
    • Defoliation – Sections of the plant dropping leaves.
    • If you feel your boxwoods have blight, you should contact your local Extension or send samples to your respective states plant clinic.
    • Do not prune suspect plants.
  • Planting suggestions:
    • Avoid planting a boxwood all together! There are many alternatives.
    • Ask the nursery or your landscaper to see the boxwoods’ certificate of Cleanliness.
    • Plant where there is good air circulation.
    • Prune regularly to keep good air circulation.
    • Sanitize pruning equipment before going from one plant to another. Dip tools in a 10% bleach solution between plants.
    • Water plants in the morning, so the sun will dry them off.
    • Avoid overhead watering if possible, use drip-lines or watering bags.

Here are some wonderful references to continue your education on the deadly Boxwood Blight!

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Center

Virginia Cooperative Extension

American Nurseryman

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

Spring Blooming Flowers 6-6-2017

Where am I? What day is it? Goodbye or Hello? Is it Friday yet??!?

Wanna see into the past? Click to see what was blooming in 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

     

 Pastinaca sativa ~ Wild Parsnip

Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmound’ ~ Spirea

     

Hesperis matronalis ~ Dame’s rocket    ||    Descurainia pinnata ~ Tansy Mustard

Weedy grass makes a nice photo

     

Gerbera jamesonii ~ Gerber Daisies a fav of mine   ||   Lythrum alatum ~ Winged Loosestrife

     

Hmmmm?   ||   Trifolium pratense ~ red clover

      

I think we’ll go with two more strikes….

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl