Memorial Day is traditionally the day to honor and remember our veterans of past wars, particularly those who did not return from the wars. Graves are decorated with flags, poppies are sold, and parades are held in commemoration.
All of that is upended this year because of the pandemic but it doesn’t mean that we fail to remember those brave veterans.
In past years, I would post about how planting my vegetables always helped me remember–and in my own way honor–the veterans like my Dad and my neighbor who were special to me.
Although they aren’t with us any longer, they do live on in our memories, of course and I still have happy memories of starting–and sharing–tomato seedlings with them both.
I credit my Dad for instilling my love of gardening to this day and the introduction I use for my lectures talks about him in the first sentence.
So while I don’t grow as many tomatoes anymore (the battles with the deer and chipmunks just aren’t worth it!), I still grow lots of herbs, and have turned my vegetable garden into a pollinator garden. So it’s all good.
Happy Memorial Day!
Something’s clearly not right with the leaves of this hydrangea. Several of them are all glued or stuck together at the top.
If you look at this photo of the peeled opened leaf cluster, you can see several holes that have been chewed in the leaves, as well as small black dots. That’s caterpillar frass (the polite term for its excrement).
And here, just barely visible, (look for the tiny black head) is the creature known as the hydrangea leaftier.
It doesn’t affect all hydrangeas. As the title of my post indicates, only smooth hydrangeas are susceptible. If you’re not sure what smooth hydrangeas are, they are ones with names like ‘Annabelle,’ Invincibelle Spirit and Incrediball. The botanical name is hydrangea arborescens.
How do you treat these? It’s very simple. You prune them off as soon as you see them. Since this type of hydrangea blooms on new wood, the sooner you catch them, the better it is.
Insecticides are unlikely to work because the insect is so deep inside the leaf pocket so don’t waste your time.
The sooner you get them, the fewer you’ll have. So keep your eyes open if you have this type of hydrangea. A little preventative pruning goes a long way to keeping them happy!
Through a series of unfortunate events, we are dog sitting for this cute little guy while his owner is in the hospital (not Covid related, but his owner will likely be there awhile. We have already had the dog 10 days). He is as unlike our current dog as is possible so we ramble around the yard.
It gives me the time to see lovely little nature pairings like this, which I might ordinarily miss.
We also hear lots of lovely bird song. And just yesterday we startled a large rabbit just outside the door. That’s trouble (but it was still nice to see so close up).
The “resident” dog and I have had a few wildlife encounters this week as well, but less pleasant. She and I encountered a coyote so close that even she was able to see it (normally she ignores the coyote and bear that cross our path when we’re walking). Luckily it scampered into some woods instead of making a stand.
We also came home one afternoon to a good sized garter snake sunning itself on our walk. She was oblivious so I just took her inside through another door and tried to return for a photo but as is usually the case, the snake was camera shy.
Ah well. It’s always good to respect the wildlife.
I am not sure that I have ever talked about this before but this is an idea that I used when I worked in retail gardening and I still use it for myself as a handy “marker” to remember important things. I often talk about it in my lectures.
What am I talking about? Well, I key important things in the garden to regional or national holidays. And of course, this is not original to me.
The famous fertilizer company “4-step plan” is based on something similar–the concept of phenology, of when plants bloom.
I found, however, that folks had no idea when plants bloom (or in some instances, what the blooming plants referenced by the fertilizer company were!)
So I changed it up a bit. Here in the United States, everyone knows when Income Tax day is (April 15) or that Mother’s Day is the second weekend in May. Memorial Day is the last weekend in May.
For us here in Connecticut, the lilacs (above) bloom at Mother’s Day. It’s true even in this exceptionally cold spring. So that’s a good marker for folks.
There are some particularly nasty sawfly larva that come out some time between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, depending on temperatures. One skelatonizes rose leaves; the other attacks mugo pine. If I were to say “watch for these in May,” that’s pretty vague. But to say, “keep your eyes open between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day,” now folks have some idea of the timeframe to check their plants.
I even use it to remember that one of my favorite migratory birds, the catbird, usually returns around Mother’s Day. This year it returned May 6.
So “holiday gardening” can be helpful for reminders. And who doesn’t need reminders now and again?
Remember this photo from Friday of the oak leaves and flowers? You may wonder what this has to do with goldenrod.
Spring and fall are primarily the two times that folks have allergies here (at least to plants–there are other allergies to pets, dust, etc that I am not going to discuss in a gardening blog).
Those with fall allergies quite often think they are allergic to goldenrod because that’s what’s in bloom when they are symptomatic. But the real culprit is an unassuming plant called ragweed that has dull buff colored flowers and tons of pollen.
I have spring allergies. And for years, I thought that I was allergic to flowering trees, meaning dogwood, magnolias, flowering cherries and things like that. But no!
The true spring allergens are caused by things like oaks, maples, birches, junipers–things where if you were not looking closely you might never see a flower!
So it suddenly dawned on me that if I was confused for years, maybe others were too.
And no wonder goldenrod gets unfairly blamed in the fall.