I used to have a border of rudbeckia in my wildlife garden. But as in any monoculture, it gradually became a habitat for four lined plant bugs that disfigured the foliage. When other insects started chewing the petals off the bright yellow flowers, I ripped the whole thing out.
Of course a few have self-sown, but because there is no monoculture, and because they are mingling nicely with other plants (if not actually being overtaken by my supposedly dwarf hibiscus syriacus) I don’t have the problem with insects anymore.
Interestingly enough, the insects that eat the flower petals seem to have found a container with some annual daisies in it. Almost as fast as the daisies open, their petals are gone.
Here’s a closer look at the damage.
What’s causing this? In my case, I am sure it is earwigs. They are about the only pest of the numerous possibilities that I know that I have in abundance.
If you are seeing this sort of damage and aren’t sure what might be causing it (and don’t think earwigs are a possibility for you) some other possible causes are the notorious Japanese beetle, or believe it or not, striped or spotted cucumber beetles, which are pests of far more than cucumbers.
I did find a cucumber beetle of the striped variety in my vegetable garden (where I am not growing cucumbers) but 1 beetle is not doing all my damage, surely. I think he ventured over from a neighbor’s yard and probably went right back.
And as for Japanese beetles, this year, I haven’t seen beetles of any kind: not our “June bug” types, nor the asiatic garden beetles or the Japanese beetles. It’s a little odd. (But I am not complaining!)
One of the things I always talk about when I lecture is the importance of foliage in garden design. Even when I am talking about house plants, foliage is the star–I will often bring 20 or 30 plants to display–and after everyone is done “oohing and aahing,” I will remark that it’s important to notice a couple of things about my display: first, how colorful it is and second, that there are maybe only one or perhaps two at most flowering plants int he whole thing (and if there are, I guarantee you one is a phalaenopsis orchid so that I can talk about proper watering technique–not the “ice cube” method.)
For example, here’s a grouping of plants from my living room. There’s not a flowering plant among them but the grouping is vibrant and colorful. This photo is from last year so it’s changed up a little bit, but it’s still substantially similar–and still no flowers in this low-light area beneath a window.
The same results can be achieved outdoors as well. In fact, when I have the time and energy, I find that it’s almost more fun to create all foliage containers. I have not created anything at all this year–as I type, I am nursing a 3″ scar across the my arm–and I am right handed–that is preventing me from doing anything outside at all, including watering. That’s where the Spoiler comes in handy. But I knew this was coming so I didn’t make this an intensive gardening year. There’s always next year.
For inspiration, however, check out these lovely, mostly foliage containers at Avant Gardens. And then plan for your foliage containers in the future!
This is my vegetable, herb and pollinator garden. I last showed it in my Memorial Day post at the end of May.
It had been growing nicely until about 2 weeks ago. Then something decided that it was tasty.I’m not sure what that “something” is since we do host wild kingdom in our backyard. Most likely it’s rabbits or deer.
It’s sort of interesting what they will eat and won’t eat–they’re eating parsley and dill for example but not tarragon, which I thought would be mild enough to be gobbled up (I should just count my blessings!)
And my pole beans never get a chance to be climbers. As soon as they sprout leaves–chomp! That’s the end of that. That’s why I am not sure if it’s rabbits or deer. Everything is being nibbled so low that it really could be either.
But I have my secret weapon. This should work for either deer or rabbits (in fact, according to the package, it will even work for elk, should they happen to wander in from the West, heaven forbid! Talk about a grazing problem!)
I haven’t had to use this since 2013. Apparently other things in my yard have been tastier. This worked beautifully when I put it up in mid-July, 2013. I put it up, as you’ll see, at 2 heights, for “heavy browse,” because there’s no point in taking chances.
The instructions says to refresh it with Messina Wildlife spray after a month. I never needed to in 2013. We’ll see what happens this year.
And what does it smell like? The tape smells like herbal tea. It’s wonderful to work with and very easy to put up, and fairly unobtrusive.
The spray, however, is less wonderful to smell, so I hope I don’t need to use it. It smells like rotten eggs! But again, if it works, that’s all that matters!
I’ve done a lot of posting over the last week or two about what I’m planting–my herbs, both for me and for the pollinators, the annuals in the herbs garden, my indoor succulent corner (which no pollinators can get to, of course, unless they accidentally get inside the screened porch–and why would they want to?
As I was thinking back over this and thinking forward to Pollinator Week, which occurs this year June 17-23, I realized that for all my talk about native plants, I hadn’t planted any native plants.
Is this a catastrophe? No. I already have a lot of native plants in my yard. But as someone who talks a lot about native plants, I do like to add them when I can.
But one thing I didn’t do this year was add any trees, shrubs or perennials–the sorts of plants that are native plants. So that’s why no natives this season.
So should I consider my whole season a loss? I guess that depends on what you are trying to accomplish. This season, I am lucky that I can get a little gardening in. I am hoping to be able to harvest just a few tomatoes and some green beans–and to have some fresh herbs to cook with.
I’d like a few pretty flowers to look at and I have chosen those flowers with pollinators in mind. In the past, I have seen both hummingbirds and sphinx moths on impatiens so I chose those for a semi-shaded spot.
For the sunnier spots, I chose annuals in colors of blue and yellow, primarily to attract bees and butterflies. One of the containers has some lantana, which I know the butterflies in my area love.
My earlier spring container, which was a Wordless Wednesday photo, was violets and alyssum. I have watched honeybees and smaller bees on that until I moved it to a shadier spot where I don’t get to observe it so readily.
So I am not feeling too sad about the gardening season so far. I am just hoping that the deer don’t eat the green beans, as they have in some years. Time will tell!
On Monday I had some photos of a few annuals and herbs, and a couple of tomato plants that I hope to get planted in the next few weeks. When (or maybe if) it warms up, I will get a couple more warm weather herbs and plant green beans as well. Ideally, the weather will cooperate on one of the days of Memorial Day weekend to allow me to do this.
It’s been a crazy spring. It’s been raining just about every weekend–the professional weather folks just announced that we had our 6th rainy weekend in a row.
To top that off, a colleague–my only co-worker–abruptly left our office so I am getting by currently with a part time volunteer. When my colleague announced that she was leaving, I went home and announced to the Spoiler, “well, there goes the summer.”
The next week, my right arm was biopsied and at the end of June I have to go back for another “excision.” It’s not more melanoma so it’s all good but it will put a dent in the gardening, of course. I just need to find a way to get my pond cleaned between now and then.
So whatever gardening gets done, gets done. And that’s really the least thing I have to stress about. Because when gardening becomes a stressor, that’s a problem!
Although the oak leaves are the size of little mouse’s ears, we are still going to get some very cool weather this week. Our average high this time of year should be 70 degrees. Today it won’t reach 60 and tomorrow it might not reach 45.
It’s a bit easier to understand why I joke about “winter and July” being the 2 seasons in Connecticut. Or, as Mark Twain used to say, the coldest winter he ever spent was his summer in Connecticut.
These lovely looking tomatoes are now indoors on my glassed in sun porch. No point in setting them back who knows how long by keeping them out in 40 degrees!
Memorial Day is usually warm enough to plant around here–although the way things are going this year, I may have to wait until July 4th!
Gardening is regional and local. I was reminded of this on my trip a couple of weeks ago. I flew into Dallas and could see the spring trees flowering as we came in to land (that was all that I saw of Texas, but it was a lovely sight!)
When I flew into Oklahoma, nothing was flowering–not even the spring bulbs. You wouldn’t think a distance of a couple hundred miles would be so dramatic, but there it was.
And of course here in the frozen north, even now, all I have are the earliest of the spring bulbs–not even daffodils or tulips (although I have seen some very sorry looking tulips that folks have purchased somewhere and then put out in planters. We can still have snow yet–if tulips aren’t up in your yards, why might you think they’re okay in planters? I mean, I know we’re starved for color, but….)
The amazing thing is that out in California, they are pulling out their cool season annuals and planting warm season ones. A recent post by a great blogger a follow talked about this and it nearly blew my socks off. You can read that post here.
No matter what Tony is posting about, it’s always interesting.
I’m just looking forward to the time–say 6-8 weeks from now–when I can plant my own annuals!
Unless you are very fast or very lucky, you’re not going to see the beetle that’s making the holes in this plant and others like it (morning glory, moonflower and that pest, field bindweed. It’s a shame we can’t train it just to eat that!).
This is a very interesting beetle. I’ve actually only seen it a few times back in my retail gardening days when we had so many of these plants that the beetles came in droves.
They looked like small golden ladybugs. They were beautiful–but of course very destructive. And, of course, that’s only part of the story because this is a very interesting beetle.
This beetle changes color under stress–for example, when we touch it. And of course, when it dies. So what I saw in my retail gardening days as a beautiful golden beetle becomes a red beetle.
Here’s a little bit more information–with some photos–about this interesting beetle from HGTV.
If you do a search for “what’s eating my sweet potato vine,” you’re likely to come upon all sorts of things out there. Take a good look at the photo in the my post. This is damage from the golden tortoise beetle. If your damage doesn’t look like that, it’s possible something else is eating your plant. After all, there are all sorts of insects and critters in our gardens, and we don’t all garden in the same place.