From July 2011

Getting Rid of Pesky Japanese Beetles



It’s the time of year when Japanese Beetles find there way into your garden and they can create devastation in no time if they aren’t dealt with quickly. While they generally don’t eat dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and Hosta, they’ll eat darn near everything else. These beetles feed on flowers and fruits making a skeleton of the leaves by eating the green parts and leaving the veins. Adults are most active from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on warm summer days. These voracious pests prefer plants in direct sun, so shady areas are usually less damaged.

Adult Japanese beetles are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Between the green head and tiny tufts of white hair along their side you’ll recognize them easily as they happily munch on your roses.

The bacterial spore, sold as ‘Doom’ or ‘Grub Attack’ is generally used to control these pests. Using a hormone lure in your yard simply attracts more beetles to your yard. Put the lure somewhere else a hundred yards away encouraging the beetles to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, reducing the beetles in your yard will not reduce their attacks in succeeding years. These beetles are great fliers and can travel upwards of ten miles from where they hatched.

Handpicking is also effective on your prized plants – drop the beetles into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. There is some data that suggests hand picking is as effective as spraying noxious chemicals and you know you have killed the beetle when it drowns in your soapy bucket. One trick is to hold the bucket of soapy water under the plant and then shake the plant. Beetles will fall off the plant right into the bucket and you’ll get more beetles if you do this in the early morning before they start feeding and flying. Several birds (grackles, cardinals, meadowlarks) feed on the adult beetles so encourage birds in your yard.

If you decide to use a lure, place it at least 100 feet away from your garden. Lures like the Tanglefoot 300000665 Japanese Beetle Trap attract beetles and if you place one in your garden, you’ll have all the neighbors beetles visiting as well. Find a neighbor who doesn’t garden to host the lures and traps.

Annual Garden Tour Fundraising Event

tulips
2011 Annual Garden Tour Fundraiser Event for Fraser

My daughter invited me to attend an annual garden tour fundraising event put on by the organization that she works for. There is never any convincing needed to get me to go along on a garden tour, and I’m especially glad I didn’t miss out on this one. It was a wonderful opportunity to see beautiful private backyard gardens, while contributing to a very worthwhile cause. Fraser is a non-profit organization that offers support and care for children and families that have been affected by autism.

There were 12 gardens on the tour this year, all of them located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We didn’t get started until afternoon, but were still able to take in five of the gardens before the garden tour ended. We were treated to a beautifully landscaped backyard living space at the first home, complete with an En plien air artist.

En Plein Air Artist creating a beautiful painting in acrylic
A Black-Eyed Susan is the inspiration for this artwork

The objct d' art

A babbling water feature offers a cool, refreshing centerpiece in this garden.

The second stop featured gardens that placed third in the 2007 Saint Paul Blooming Gardens Awards and includes perennials and annuals arranged into formal gardens. Included in the setting is a retaining wall garden and a large fountain centered between pathways made of pavers and walls of vegetation.
Veriegated Hostas, astilbe and impatiens are cool and comfy in the shade

White picket fence and arbor invited us to stroll through the outdoor garden rooms.

Pink roses are fragrantly sweet, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds.

Stone steps take us to another outdoor garden room, a perfect place to relax and share a cool beverage in the summer heat.


Roses enhance the black wrought-iron gate.

The third stop was a family garden that included annuals, perennials, and herbs. The front sloping yard is landscaped with a dry stream bed and rain garden for environmentally friendly water drainage.
Through the Garden Gate
The Pathway Leads Through a Wooden Garden Gate

Mixing herbs and vegetables into the landscape are a practical method of gardening.

what is a river bed
Dry stream bed prevents erosion by directing excess water runoff.

Our fourth stop was at the 1889 Victorian home of co-owner of Tangletown gardens who displays his artistic abilities and green thumb on a flourishing garden canvas.

Tangletown Gardens Minneapolis Minnesota
Artist and co-owner of Tangletown Gardens maintains a living space that is like no other.

Garden Path
A lush variety of greenery decorate the garden path.

Koi
Large Koi swim through the channel of water back and forth to a larger pool of water.

Koi Pond
Large Koi Fish add to the feeling of a tropical garden.

water plants
The contrasting colors of foliage and ceramic pots work really well together.

mother & daughter
My daughter took advantage of the many photo opportunities too.

The final stop of our tour was the St. Paul Hotel English cottage-style gardens which have been maintained by a full-time gardener since 1994. The gardens include hundreds of summer annuals, topiary trees and tree roses.
rain garden
A terraced garden around a city drain doubles as a rain garden, filtering run-off before it enters the city drain system.

plant a garden
Flower gardens include annuals to add color and summer blooming perennials along the walkways.

Saint Paul Minnesota
Saint Paul Grill street entrance

phlox
The scent of Summer Phlox drifts through the air and reminds me of my grandma's vast garden flowers.

pictures of flowers ferns tulips
A collection of annual flowers adorn the entrance to the grand Saint Paul Hotel.

lilies
Sweet Asylum make a perfect edge to the gardens bursting with color.

This ended the annual garden tour and it was time for a cool refreshment of fresh squeezed lemonade and peach, berry cobbler. We are already looking forward to next year when we will get an early start so we can take in all of the gardens on the tour.

Top 10 Perennials for Summer Gardens – My Pick

Blue Delphiniums
Blue Delphiniums

As much as I love the ability to walk barefoot through the back lawn to my raised bed gardens and pick fresh, pesticide-free peppers, tomatoes, herbs and whatever else I’ve decided to plant in any given year, I love perennial flowers even more.

What is it about perennials that enthralls me the most? Certainly the longevity of the plants is at the top of the list. I have irises and peonies that have been passed down through several generations on both sides of the family. Deep red peony blossoms that are fragrant beyond belief – unlike many of the hybrid flowers on the market these days (which brings me to the second reason – the heavenly smell). Memories of strolling barefoot through my grandmother’s flower gardens, carefully tiptoeing along the limestone paved paths as summer breezes carried the sweet scent of garden phlox through the air.

Here are my top 10 favorite perennials and the reasons why I like them:

Irises – One of the hardiest plants you can find that require very little care other than keeping them free of borers. They come in hundreds of colors and you can even create your own with a little practice.

Peonies – another very hardy plant that is available in a multitude of colors. The size and smell of the blossoms are heavenly. A fresh bouquet will brighten any room. Very romantic too.

Blanket Flower – these are low maintenance, bright and cheerful and do well with little water. They make a great mid-summer colorful addition to the garden.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) – bright and compact, this winner will attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. It spreads easily but is not invasive.

Black-eyed Susan – similar to the blanket flower, this compact daisy-like flower adds sunny color the mid-summer to fall garden. It can easily be reseeded and is hardy and low maintenance.

Coneflower – This is a daisy-like flower also, but is taller. It adds height to the garden and is great for attracting bees and butterflies as well. The roots are used in the natural cold remedy echinacea.

Hostas – Talk about hardy! Hostas will grow in the shadiest area you can find. The number of options and selection of colors and varigated leaf choices is almost unlimited.

Delphinium – these are not so easy to grow but when placed in the proper location they produce the most romantically beautiful spiked blossoms. The colors of blue and purple simply can’t be beat.

Creeping Phlox – This is a low creeping ground cover that flowers in mid-spring. I love the way it drapes over a rock edging. It’s works wonderful as a rock garden border.

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)– A mid-summer bloomer that will attract many friendly garden visitors too. Traditionally a tall spikey plant, it can also be found in 18-20″ heights with white, purple, or pink blossoms.

Finally – the thing that I love most about perennials is how easily they can be shared with friends and family. Plant exchanges are a popular way to increase the variety of plants in your garden. Perennials need to be thinned out every few years, so it’s a great opportunity for you to offer to share your garden favorites with others. Younger family members are sure to love a shoot from Grandma’s favorite peony bush or Aunt Mary’s purple irises. If only these treasured heirlooms could talk – think of the family history (and secrets) they could share!

What to Know About Raised Bed Gardens

Raised gardens are becoming quite popular. As more people find themselves renting property or living in high rise apartment buildings, they have little or no access to garden space. There are many reasons why using raised gardens are desired over tilling the soil for those who wish to have smaller gardens and are limited on space in which to do so. At the same time, those who desire bigger yields are often dissatisfied with the limits of raised gardens. The choice is ultimately yours but I will try to point out some of the pros and cons of this type of garden so that you may decide for yourself.

Plants need air as much as they need good soil and water, and that is often difficult when planted in garden rows as soil becomes packed down with the frequent traffic that is necessary to properly maintain a traditional garden bed. By using a raised garden, which is designed to be worked from without rather than within, there is little fear of compacting the soil around the plants. At the same time many lifelong gardeners feel the inability to walk around in their gardens is a disadvantage in itself and prefer to be able to do so. This is often a matter of preference rather than practicality but a valid opposition just the same.

You can actually plant more plants in the same amount of square footage in a raised bed because there is no need for rows. You should also be aware that plants in raised beds often tend to grow larger than plants in traditional garden rows. That being said you should resist the urge to over plant within the raised garden bed, as this will eliminate that slight benefit. Many traditional gardeners have seen the results of overcrowding in these beds and feel that their way of doing this is much butter.

One huge benefit to raised beds for summer gardens in areas that are nearly saturated with excess moisture is that raised beds allow much better drainage than traditional row gardening. This is one thing that the average gardener will not argue with unless he lives in an area in which this isn’t much of a problem. Most gardeners in the south though, where there is a great deal of humidity and moisture will agree that proper drainage is a problem.

Raised beds are much easier on your back. By being above ground, raised gardens offer easier access for planting, weeding, planting, and investigating for signs of pests. Another great thing about raised gardens is that they are not as quick to cool as the earth, which renders them more productive and with longer growing seasons that most gardens that are placed in the ground.

For those who have unusually shaped yards or growing areas, raised gardens allow the opportunity to have a beautiful summer garden in almost any shape you can build the box for. This means you are not limited to rows, as many gardens tend to be and that you have a few more options for aesthetics when planning and growing your summer garden.

The downside to raised summer gardens is that they are difficult to dismantle and nearly impossible to till. This means you must do all the working of the soil by hand and many gardeners do not fully appreciate the beauty of that process. The most important thing however, is that you choose a summer garden system that works for you. You may find that combining the two provides the best results and is a great use of your time or that you prefer one over the other. There really is no wrong answer only the one that is wrong for you.