August 06, 2009

Another way to get rid of lily beetles

Joyce sent me an email with her solution for killing lily beetles. She says it works on both the adults and the larvae.

She takes one cup (250 mL) cooking oil, 1/2 cup (125 mL) Sunlight dish detergent, puts them in a one-litre bottle and fills it up with water. She sprays the insects directly and reports that they die within seconds.

I haven't tried it myself yet, but if I did, I would be watching to see if there are any negative effects on the plants too. While this spray sounds like it certainly would kill just about any insect on contact, it might be a bit intense for at least some plants.

If you try it, let me know what kind of results you get.

And thanks, Joyce, for sharing your spray recipe with me.

June 14, 2009

Fun Contest: Funky Nests in Funky Places

in Funky PlacesThis just in from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

You find them in hanging flower baskets…an old boot…a garage shelf…or under a bridge…birds build nests in the strangest places! That’s the theme for the newest environmental challenge from our Celebrate Urban Birds project: Funky Nests in Funky Places! As you may know, Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round citizen-science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, focused on birds in neighborhood settings.

For the Funky Nests in Funky Places challenge, we want you to take photos, do a painting, write a story, or shoot a video showing a bird’s nest built in some out-of-the-way or out-of-this-world place.When observing nests please be sure to avoid touching them or disturbing the birds.

For the list of prizes and further details visit the contest website.

You have until July 31, 2009. Do make sure you read the Terms of Agreement.

October 17, 2007

Missing in action

I'm sorry about the lack of new posts here this year. Between various circumstances in my life and my determination to write a novel, I have not been able to stretch myself far enough to keep up with active gardening or active blogging. My energy is unfortunately rather limited. Happy gardening to all of you.

If you want a bit of an idea of what I'm up to, you can check out The Walrus Said, but posts are not very frequent there either.

May 30, 2007

Gross picture warning!

I was hoping not to be able to show you this. But now that I am able, I am obliged. It's that stupid sense of public duty.

My lily beetle hunting expeditions were quite successful this year. I must have squished 30 or 40 of the pretty little nasties, often two by two. I scraped off the occasional clutch of little orange eggs, after dutifully posting the pictures here.

But one of them eluded me. Yesterday, my eye caught sight of a severely chewed leaf and I knew. I just knew. And here it is, complete with chewers.

Lily beetle larvae

One word. Ew.

That disgusting mass of goo contains a lily beetle larva which has successfully made itself extremely unappetizing. The easiest way to deal with these revolting creatures is to rip off the leaf and drop it into soapy water. Or grab a twig and knock the larvae into the same soapy water. Personally, I don't care to soil my shoes by dropping them on the pavement and stepping on them, but what you do with your shoes is your business. But do get them out of there quickly. Left unchecked they can wreak incredible damage. Fortunately, I seem to have only one leaf's worth. Being vigilant during mating season has paid off for me.

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May 19, 2007

I hate my snowball bush!

To the point that I am thinking of digging up my Viburnum opulus roseum. I planted this baby two years ago. Last year it showed every sign of settling in well, despite the attack of the mad arborist. This spring - oh joy! - flower buds. Visions of big fluffy floral snowballs floated in my head.

Then I read online that this particular viburnum is subject to aphid attacks. I was pretty sanguine about it. I hadn't seen the slightest sign of aphids in two years. Two days later - I kid you not - I followed the trail of some over-enthusiastic ants to find colonies of black aphids at the growing tips.

Black aphids on Viburnum opulusThis is patently unfair! I should give up reading on the Internet; it appears to be bad for my plants. I pulled out the all-purpose spray, which is definitely fatal to aphids. The problem is, these bugs are very good at protecting themselves. As they attack a leaf, it curls around them and makes them very difficult to spray. You can see the curled leaf in the photo. It's virtually impossible to get them all, no matter how good the spray is. So I'm going to go out and snip off all the affected parts and drop them into soapy water. If that doesn't work the temptation to dig the thing out will grow even greater.

Perhaps a Japanese maple...

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May 17, 2007

Struggling up the ladder

I was feeling morose a while back. My beautiful Jacob's ladder (the Bressingham Purple) looked deader than a doornail. Polemoniums normally come through the winter with most of their foliage intact, but all I could see were dead stubs. I was, quite frankly, miffed. I'd grown rather attached to this particular form of Jacob's ladder, with its purplish cast and long-lasting flowers. It looked particularly nice with a frothing of deadnettle at its feet.

And then the other day I was doing my normal poking around and what did I see? This.

Bressingham Purple Jacob's ladder
None of the reading I've done on this cultivar mentioned that it was a late riser or that it behaved differently than other Polemoniums. So as a public service I'm letting you know you shouldn't give up too quickly on this baby. It remains to be seen if it will come back as strong as last year. If it doesn't, I'll conclude that it's only borderline hardy in this zone, and make sure I mulch it well next winter.

For now, I am happy to see that it is coming back at all. There are a few residents of my garden that are missing in action or a bit worse for wear. But I'll tell the sob stories later. For the time being I am looking at my bleeding heart with a real sense of awe. A square metre they said it needed. Piffle! This thing is more than a metre across in its third year and the poor grape-leaved anemone behind it is feeling a bit crowded. Not for nothing that all its new shoots have sprouted further away from its rather overbearing neighbour. But I love it all the same.

Bleeding heart

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May 16, 2007

Squill and friends

When I hear the word "squill", it evokes in me images of something vaguely unpleasant, perhaps squirmy and slug-like. Fortunately, the pretty little spring flowers so named are much more pleasant to look at. They are known as good naturalizers but I do believe I'll help nature along by ordering an extra set of bulbs this fall. You can't have too many of these little beauties.

Scilla siberica
This is Siberian squill, or Scilla siberica. The vibrant blue is a welcome jolt of colour in a spring garden, and blue marries so nicely with almost any other colour that might be popping up. Some people grow these in their lawns, but I find that they are still going strong by the time the first mowing is due, so I prefer to leave them in the flower beds where they can continue unmolested.

Puschkinia libanotica
Striped squill are lovely little white flowers striped with pale blue, which gives them an almost ethereal quality. They flopped over a bit in my back yard, probably from insufficient sunlight. I'll try to find them a slightly sunnier spot. Still, they were a joy.

As you may suspect, these are not the freshest of pictures. I'm running a bit behind here, and most of my squill have finished blooming especially in the front, where spring comes a bit sooner.

Some of you are wondering (those of you who actually read titles): but what about the friends? Here they are:

Minnow daffodils
Minnow is a mini daffodil that hasn't really captured my heart. Many of them didn't bloom for me, and I found the colour uninspiring. In a close-up, it doesn't look bad. In the garden, it looked washed out. This one is not joining my must-have list.

Anemone blanda
Squirrels appear to be very attracted to Anemone blanda bulbs. Last year not a single one came up. Being a bear for punishment, I tried again, and this time about half of them survived the loving attentions of the tree rodents. I love the brilliant white, especially next to the deep purple blooms of the hyacinth you can see off to the left. I do hope it succeeds in spreading.

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