Bee on cosmos, August 2009
1. "If you fill one side of a balance scale with all kinds of insect pests, and place a single bee on the other scale, the benefits of that one bee will outweigh the negative impact of all the others." Our session on insects turned out to be one of my favorites, probably because of our enthusiastic instructor. Although we spent almost the entire time on harmful insect, he was passionate about the benefits of pollinators. Needless to say, the emphasis on pest control was to use natural controls.
5. From our tree expert came this advice about selecting trees: "Plant whatever your neighbors don't have!" His point was actually about diversity--with the loss of trees caused by Dutch Elm disease in the 50's and 60's and now the Emerald Ash borer, which is coming closer and closer to our area, it's wise to plant a variety of trees so that future threats don't wipe out an entire tree population.
I doubt that any of my neighbors have a pussywillow tree like mine:)
6. Speaking of trees, the section on plant pathology, or plant diseases, was pretty scary. I find I can't walk past a stand of pine trees now without wondering if that dead branch means the tree has pine wilt, which will eventually cause the tree to die. Of particular interest to me was the discussion on cedar-apple rust and apple scab, Venturia inaequalis. Last year my flowering crabs didn't bloom as fully as in the past, the leaves wilted and dropped over the summer, and a few blooms strangely appeared in August. I talked to the instructor about the symptoms, and she said apple scab was a possibility. Her best advice was to plant newer disease-resistant cultivars nearby so that they could eventually replace the older, diseased ones.
Crabapple blooms made a brief appearance last week before the winds blew away their delicate blossoms.
Dark pink and light pink blooms covered the trees, which looked pretty healthy this year.
All the flowering crabs were planted 20 -30 years ago, so I don't know any of the cultivars. This white crabapple, though, has never shown any signs of disease, and its profuse blooms last longer than those of the pink varieties.
I would hate to lose any one of these trees, so I'm hoping the instructor's diagnosis is wrong. Just the same, I am going to be vigilant about watching these trees all summer.
The last weekend in March the local Master Gardeners chapter sponsored a two-day program on campus, "Spring into Gardening." Although it wasn't part of our instruction and was an optional activity, I did attend and am glad I did. The two featured speakers on Saturday were Joe Lamp'l, better known as Joe Gardener on PBS' "Garden Smart" and Rosalind Creasy, author of Edible Landscaping: Now You Can Have Your Gorgeous Garden and Eat it, Too. Smaller breakout sessions also featured well-known speakers and gave me many ideas for choosing new shrubs and ideas for garden design and problem-solving. Friday's session was a very entertaining presentation on landscape design by a well-known local professor. To get us all to think about seeing our gardens in three dimensions, he had each of us design a small garden using Play-doh.
Here's my new daylily bed! I thought it looked pretty amateurish, but this photo of my design was featured on our local MG Facebook page.