Monday, July 30, 2012

New Landscaping Ideas

A Landscape for Our Current Needs

The madness is not really mad – disappointment and realism, maybe, but not madness.  Let me go back – twenty years or so.  I had recently been down-sized from my job, and Hubby and I down-sized, as well. We moved here and with my days more unstructured, I set out to design a great garden.
Skip forward twenty years…..and looking forward to the next chapter in our lives.  This chapter is still being written, but the elements have lined up like this.  We are older.  The backs and knees do not appreciate the bending and stooping.  The income stream is more streamlined. The grand kids want to kick soccer balls, and play tag. So we planned a new backyard design.

We are reverting the large perennial beds back to a more manageable endeavor.

Many coneflowers and penstemons have been moved and creeping jenny has been sprayed with an herbicide.  (I’m still scraping some out.)  The raised bed with daylilies, and  plumbago has been dismantled.

And we needed a few design ideas. The yard landscape is changing.

The edging stones have been rearranged to create a more manageable border along the back property line.


As you can see, the design is coming along.  The cleared soil areas shown here are going to be seeded with grass in mid-to-late- August.  Just waiting for cooler nights, and hoping for rain to resume. 

This decision has not been made easily.  I LOVE to garden.  I really do, however, most folks do not find 2-3 hours a day, 15-20 hours a week, in the yard something they want to be obligated to do.    And the prospect of selling this house, to down-size once again, means we needed to rethink the yard design so that the gardens and lawns are less imposing.
The fussy plants are gone.  I've kept the easygoing guys – yarrow, coneflowers, daisies, Hosta, and grasses.  100_0955

Still more to do, but I’m confident this new backyard design idea is on the right track. I find these changes are bringing a calmness and the landscape is more reflective of who we are now and is meeting our current needs.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Asian Longhorn Beetle Threatens Trees

Many Tree Species Are At Risk

Another foreign intruder, the Asian Longhorn Beetle, has been detected in the US.  Originating in China, this destructive beetle has been introduced on freight containers entering the US. 
images (1)

The State of Ohio is only the fifth US state to report this infestation of this wood-boring beetle.  The first infestation was reported in 1996 in New York. New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts have reported the ALB. 
risk map  Risk Map here is just that – the potential risk in a given area.  The red shadings are higher possibility of infestation due to the types of forest in the region. The blue areas are less likely to be come infested since the desirable host trees are less available.
sycamore mapleNorway maple
boxelder stinging buckeye tree
The hardwood species such as the Maple family of trees is highly preferred.  The Norway, sugar, silver and red maples, as well as box elder, and the State of Ohio Tree, the buckeye are host plants for the ALB.
One reason this beetle is so feared is that the list of preferred or host trees is quite extensive.  Besides Maples, and Buckeye, other trees on this list are elm, birch, sycamore, hackberry, ash, poplar and willow. 
planetree sycamoreSalix willow
Sycamore, Plane Tree              Willow

The preferred Maple varieties are potentially disastrous to Ohio as there are 7 billion board feet of maple wood currently in Ohio. This is a $2.5 billion of maples in Ohio, not to mention the $5 billion nursery trade and the 240,000 people employed in the green industry.   The New Hampshire maple syrup industry would be devastated by an ALB infestation.
maple syrup harvesting
So, how do we determine if this pest is present?   This is the second reason this beetle is so dreaded.  The female mates and deposits her eggs into the bark of the host. 
images (2)  As the larvae hatch, they burrow further into the tree.  They create tunnels in the tree's heartwood as they eat.  This greatly weakens the tree.
images (10)6963517756_038c6cc360
The tunneling takes place for up to a year from the ovipositing of the eggs to the emergence of the next generation of adult beetle. 
images (5) Female depositing eggs, with male keeping guard.
images (9) The exit holes are about 3/8” and there are many holes on a heavily infested tree.  Sawdust and/or sap may be seen at the exit site. June through October are the months when the adults emerge, and the search for a mate starts the process all over again.  The fact that this process takes a year before the visible exit holes, a lot of damage can take place before we are even aware of the activity deep in the tree. 
Since there are no biological predators, the  steps to contain this pest are rather drastic.  Complete removal of infected trees is mandatory.  This may seem logical, but the expense is high.  No wood can be transported out of a quarantined  area – so all wood is chipped or burned.  Even the stumps and roots must be eliminated.
tree stump grinding 
The beetle can transport itself up to a half mile – therefore, host trees showing oviposit sites are targeted to be removed in that 1/2 mile radius of the infected tree.  Other host trees not showing sign of infestation are being treated with a chemical,  Imidacloprid, which is the active ingredient in Merit ™, an insecticide in the commercial and retail market.  Bayer Advanced™ is labeled for the homeowner and also has Imidacloprid in this systemic product.  
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This injectable application of Merit ™ is available and the bark and root flare needs to be treated.  The treated  tree takes several months for the chemical to be drawn up into the tree and branches.  Early spring applications are most effective, as the tree needs time to take up the product to poison the nymphs and adults as they eat. Unfortunately, the expense continues to mount with this pest, as chemical treatments need to be repeated yearly until new infestations are under control.
Even as there is some promise of containment,  the exceptions are cause for concern.  The Imidacloprid has not been approved for use on Maple trees that are harvested for the maple syrup industry.  Always  follow label instructions – the Label is the Law
Nematodes may become a natural control for the ALB, but so far they are not readily available or proven to be easily distributed into the forests.
dead larva of ALB by nematode  Dead larvae by a nematode.
Tree removal is the first line of defense in the fight to limit spread of the ALB.  More than 29,000 trees have been removed in the Worchester area of New Hampshire.  And the pest has been successfully eradicated in Illinois and part of New Jersey.  In Ohio, Clermont County is the only infected region, and  monitoring is ongoing in other areas of the state. 
Clermont county ohio ALB region
images (4)

IF the tell-tale symptoms of ovipositing or exiting become evident in your landscape, notify your County Extension Office or Department of Natural Resources. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Drought Tolerant Plants–Very Pretty

Perennials That Need Little Water

Perennials that can stand the heat can help redeem the otherwise scorched landscape.
Stunning may be exaggerating this season considering the heat and drought.  However, as I inspect the garden, several areas seem to be holding their own.
Silver Scrolls, Heuchera, is vibrant.  Located in full shade seems to be ideal.
The blue fescue still has a great color.
The Lavender, Hidcote, is right at home in the dry, hot south side of the house.The blooms have faded already, but may rebloom later in the fall.

 100_0880 100_0879
This silver leaf of the Lungwart still looks fresh. 
Sedum is thriving.  The silver succulent loves this weather. Two varieties here, with one blooming yellow. 
These Hosta get watered regularly and they are hanging in there.
Lungwort, again, gets water.  They tend to wilt and get powdery mildew, but they are surprisingly resilient.
The Russian Sage has full sun this year. We took out an ash tree last year that had been shading this area. So the Perovskia atriplicifolia, or Russian Sage has never looked better. 
Liriope , Silver Dragon, is stunning.  This silver/green grassy plant is drought tolerant and looks ‘cool’. 
The Painted Japanese Ferns in shade, do get supplemental water. The silver fronds and deep burgundy veins are a favorite of mine.
Shasta Daisy and Daylilies have a cheerful attitude!
Yarrow, Achilliea, and Coneflowers, Echinacea, make a great pair.  Even better since their need for less water is the same.
The Monarda, Bee Balm, (unknown variety) is hanging in there with some powdery mildew, and blooms that are reemerging after a good drink. 
The white allium is just blooming, as is the Casablanca Lily.  The white is refreshing in this heat. The lily has an awesome aroma as an extra bonus.
The Sedum, Autumn Joy, is blooming several weeks earlier than usual.  It’s pale pink will deepen into a dark rose by autumn.  This, too, does well in low water situations. 
Heat and water have really been issues this summer, but with minimal supplemental water, these plants will serve us well.