From Shrubs and Bushes

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.

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!

Before Buying Plants, Plan Your Garden

Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You’ll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts.

But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow.  You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have.

Now you are ready to plant. Well – almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organised, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest.

Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers.

The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.

Deadheading Endless Summer Hydrangeas (Update)

Deadheading Endless Summer Hydrangea
Deadheading Endless Summer Hydrangea

Several weeks ago,  I posted about deadheading Twist and Shout Endless Summer Hydrangea shrubs because the blooms had faded and I wanted to encourage new growth.  The shrubs have been blooming all along.  They have new growth and it’s time to deadhead the old blooms again.

Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist and Shout
Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist and Shout

To deadhead the old blooms, I clipped them back to the second set of leaves as shown below.

Clip back to the second set of leaves to encourage new growth
Clip back to the second set of leaves to encourage new growth, and shape shrub.

While trimming the shrubs, I noticed that some of the leaves had brown areas.

Brown areas are likely a fungus caused by water on the leaves.
Brown areas are likely a fungus caused by water on the leaves.

It’s likely that this is a fungus that is commonly caused by water on the leaves.  It’s not harmful to the plants, but I’ll have to be more careful when I water them and make sure I soak the base of the plant and avoid getting the leaves wet.  I learned that it’s also best to water in the morning, rather than at night.  In the fall, I’ll trim the affected leaves off so the fungus doesn’t carry over to next year.

© 2010 The Good Thing – About Gardening

Transplanting Roses so you Have Strong and Healthy Plants

If you grow roses, expect that at some point, moving them from one location to another will eventually happen.  For instance, transplanting roses might be due to the initial location not providing the bushes adequate sunlight.

Regardless, you want to make sure you choose a place for the roses where they will get six to seven hours of direct sunlight and about five hours of indirect sunlight every day.  That way with proper rose bush care, the bushes would grow strong and produce large, fragrant blooms to enjoy.

Now, before transplanting roses or rose planting, it is imperative that you make proper preparations first.  This means getting the soil ready and the hole where the bushes will be placed.  Roses have what is known as a root ball and if exposed for too long, the bush would die.  In addition to proper soil, you want to make sure the day prior to transplanting roses that they be watered well.  Even with this, once the bush is taken out of the ground, the root ball should be wrapped in a moist cloth or piece of burlap so it stays wet until it goes back into the ground.  Of all steps taken for this process, keeping the root ball moist is one of the most imperative.

Keep the root ball well hydrated to ensure transplanting roses to a new home is successful.  Typically, following a few simple steps will make the movement easy but even with this you might have a plant die, which is common.  Often, the younger or weaker bushes would have a more difficult time so while
no one wants to lose roses during transplanting, it could happen.  As mentioned, the hole of the new home would need to be an appropriate size so the root ball fits, giving the bushes the best chance of thriving and producing large, colorful blooms.

As far as pruning, usually, transplanting roses would not involve any type of pruning until later on.  To keep pruning needs to a minimum, just be sure the root ball you dig up is kept intact.  From there, the bush would be set into the ground carefully.  Now, the exception is that if you were to notice a bush showing signs of damage or any portion of the plant starting to die, pruning might be required but we suggest this be minimal.

As you set the rose bushes into the soil, make sure the top of the bushes have adequate support so blooms can grow big and strong.  If for any reason, the plant starts to look wilted or weak after being moved, you may need to cut the top portion back.  Then, when placing the bud union in the ground when transplanting roses, always keep it about two inches above the rim of the hole.  Over the following week as the bushes are watered, the soil will naturally start to settle and along with the soil, the bud union would fall into place.  At that time, push soil around the plant’s base, covering the roots and giving the rose bush support at the bottom.

While the best time of year for transplanting roses is when the bush is dormant, if you are moving from one home to another, you may not have luxury of waiting for dormancy.  The reason this is so helpful is that when rose bushes are dormant, they are in a state of rest, meaning they are not growing.  Therefore, transplanting roses at this time keeps the plant from going into shock or even dying.

In addition, if you have the chance to move the plant while dormant, chances are pruning needs would be decreased.  The bottom line is that for transplanting roses, you want to have healthy soil, a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball, keeping the root ball well watered, providing the plant with support, and choosing a location with proper sunlight.

Endings and New Beginnings: A New Garden

Planted the first 100 bulbs in this full-sun garden.
Planted the first 100 bulbs in this full-sun garden.

After a very stormy evening, I made a trip out to my hometown to see if there was any damage since there was a tornado that touched down just west of Winsted yesterday afternoon.  Fortunately the tornado touched down in a bean field and did not cause any severe damage or injuries.

There were as many as 70 tornadoes that tore through the state of Minnesota during the course of the evening, likely an all time record.  Unfortunately three cities did not escape damage.  Windom was devastated by the storms.  A tornado flattened most of the buildings in town.  It will likely take years to rebuild.  There were three deaths from three different areas of the state.  My heart goes out to their families and loved ones.

The weather can change so quickly this time of the year, often with very little advanced warning.  Every day brings a new beginning, and often endings – sometimes unexpected, sometimes not.

Today is a new beginning for a flower garden in the front lawn.  Eleanor (my soon-to-be-mother-in-law) ordered several hundred flower bulbs including gladiola, anemone, allium, and acidanthera.  It seems we received a double order and I had already planted the first shipment.  Since there was no more room in that garden for more, it seemed necessary to start another garden.  Gardeners can never have too many gardens, right?

The front lawn at my new home is half shade, half sun.  The shade is created by the umbrella of a massive oak tree.

Oak tree in the front lawn
Oak tree in the front lawn provides shade for half the yard.

Several years ago, Steve and I landscaped the area beneath the tree because it was impossible to get grass to grow in the deep shade beneath the tree.  We covered the ground with black plastic, then hauled in loads of mulch from the free mulch pile and added a border of field stones.  We planted several different types of hostas, which have been doing well even though they get very little sun.  Hostas are one of my all-time favorite perennial plants because they grow pretty much anywhere and as long as you keep the slugs and rabbits away, they are happy to grow in even the deepest shade year after year.

Landscaped front lawn in 2006.
Landscaped front lawn in 2006.

After assembling the tools and a quick trip to the local garden center to purchase some sun loving plants, I’m ready to begin creating the new garden.

Plants and tools assembled to begin the new garden.
A Double Knock-Out Rose, Zinnias, Dianthus, and Petunias will add color until the bulbs get started.

Laying the garden hose out in the shape that I want the garden to be, I use a sod cutter to cut through the lawn.

Using a step sod cutter, the garden shape is cut out.
Using a step sod cutter, the garden shape is cut out.

Using a flat edged shovel, I dig up the sod, clearing the area that will be the new garden.  Because the oak tree roots are just below the surface of most of the lawn, I’ll fill in the areas with organic compost from the very large “compost bin” area beneath the oak tree.

The decomposed mulch and shredded oak leaves make a very rich compost for the new garden.
The decomposed mulch and shredded oak leaves make a very rich compost for the new garden.

The new garden will be somewhat of a raised bed, since I don’t want to dig into the ground and disturb the oak tree roots.  This way I don’t have to worry about cutting into underground utility lines either.

Rich compost made of decomposed bark mulch and oak leaves.  Earth worms make there home in the compost.
Rich compost made of decomposed bark mulch and oak leaves. Earth worms help create the compost.

An easy way to transport dirt, mulch, and rocks is to use a tarp.  Just load the material on the tarp, drag the tarp to the new locations and dump it off.

Tarps work well for transporting mulch, dirt, and rocks to the new location.
Tarps work well for transporting mulch, dirt, and rocks to the new location.

Now it’s time to plant.  A trick I learned from my father-in-law who was an avid gardener, is to dig the hole (three times larger than the root ball), then fill it with water before planting.  This works well for tomatoes, shrubs and anything that is transplanted from a pot into the ground.  It works especially well for plants that need a lot of moisture and are planted in the heat of the day (it’s 85 degrees and pretty humid as this new garden is being created).  It also means that I am officially playing in the mud now.

Filling the hole with water before planting the Knock-out rose bush.
Filling the hole with water before planting the Knock-out rose bush.

The same method is used for planting the Zinnia, Dianthus, and Petunias.

Double Knock-Out Rose Bush

Dianthus
Dianthus
Yello Zinnia
Yellow Zinnia
Purple Petunias
Purple Petunias

Steve, being a loyal Green Bay Packer fan often wonders why there are so many yellow and purple flowers in the gardens.  I can only say that this is Minnesota, and also point out that there is a lot of green in the gardens too:)

Here’s the final result.

Knock-out Roses, Zinnias, Dianthus, and Purple Petunias provide color until the bulbs grow.
Knock-out Roses, Zinnias, Dianthus, and Purple Petunias provide color until the bulbs grow.

Another (cooler) day, I’ll add an edging of field stone to give the garden a more defined look. But now it’s time to hose off my garden clogs, cool down, and have a cold beverage.

Cleaning (and cooling) my garden clogs and feet.
Cleaning (and cooling) my garden clogs and feet.

Blooms in the Garden

The rain has stopped and the sun is shining.  The meteorologist said yesterday that we’ve had rain and clouds every day this month except two.  The gardens are lush and green in the bright sunlight.   The vegetables are really growing.  There’s a baby broccoli head forming on one of the plants.

Baby broccoli head is the size of the tip of my little finger.
Baby broccoli head is the size of the tip of my little finger.

Volunteer maple trees that I transplanted into pots are growing like mad too.

Volunteer maple trees transplanted into pots earlier this spring.
Volunteer maple trees transplanted into pots earlier this spring.

Now it’s time to mow the lawn.

An Afternoon Visit to Lyndale Park Rose Garden

Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010
Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010

The skies were overcast all day, but the lighting was perfect for photos at the Lyndale Park Rose Garden, located on the northeast side of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.  The garden became an official All America Rose Selections (AARS) test rose garden in 1946, and is a sanctuary of beauty on the south side of the city.

Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010
Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010

The park consists of 1.5 acres of roses, perennials, and annuals, as well as a Peace Rock Garden adjacent to the rose garden.  There were tea roses, hybrid roses, and shrub roses of all colors and sizes.  I didn’t take the time to write down all the names, but quickly filled up the memory card on my camera, (if I hadn’t we may still be there).

Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010
Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010

The Lyndale Park Rose Garden is the second oldest public rose garden in the US and at the peak of the season sometimes contains 60,000 blooms.  It was constructed in 1907.  It’s the home to 4,000 plants and 250 different species.

Lyndale Park Rose Garden, June 13, 2010

There was no shortage of bees to pollinate the thousands of buds in the gardens.

Lyndale Park Rose Garden

Love this saying . . .

Count Only the Sunny Days
Count Only the Sunny Days