Thinking Ahead: Annual and Perennial Flowers

Growing a vegetable garden versus growing a flower garden can be hotly debated. Vegetable gardeners ask, “What good is it if you can’t eat it?” Flower growers think if it is not pretty, what’s the point? For me, growing both vegetables and flowers are necessary—vegetables nourish my body while flowers feed my soul. As the…

The Oak Twig Girdler

Flagging branches on oak trees can indicate the presence of the oak twig girdler.

Cucumber Bitterness

The compound that imparts the bitter taste in cucumbers is cucurbitacin. Wild cucumbers have a large amount of cucurbitacin, which discourages feeding by wild animals and insects. Today’s hybrids have been bred to have lower amounts of cucurbitacin in the fruit and what cucurbitacin is in the plant is concentrated in the roots, leaves, and…

Yellow Nutsedge

“What is this grass growing in my flower bed?” is a question I hear quite often now.  Rolling the stem between my fingers quickly determines this isn’t grass at all but the infamous yellow nutsedge.  Sedges are grass-like perennials that have triangular shaped stems.   If they grew at the same rate as turfgrass, many lawn…

Freeze Damage to Spruce

Many spruce trees in the area are looking rough. Beyond the usual injury from spruce spider mites and Rhizosphaera needle cast, spruce trees have serious dieback, not only individual branches but in some cases, the top has died. Drooping clusters of brown needles and streaks of white sap on branches and trunk indicate freeze injury….

The Rain Barrel

A recent brief rain burst, depositing just .2 of an inch in my rain gauge, put 12 gallons of water in my rain barrel. That’s the beauty of collecting rainwater from a roof—a small amount adds up quickly. If you’ve been considering installing a rain barrel, here is a push to get you started. While…

Moles and Grubs

It’s been a good year for moles.  A nice amount of rain keeps soils moist and workable—the perfect environment to enable mole movement as they “swim” through the soil. Many people approach the problem of moles by focusing on grubs—that if the grubs are gone, then moles won’t be in the lawn. Though not accurate,…

Straw Foxglove

Unlike foxglove that are biennial, straw foxglove (Digitalis lutea) is a true perennial. The light yellow bell-shaped downward-facing flowers are smaller than their biennial relatives, but what is lost in flower size, straw foxglove makes up for in reliability and ease of growth.   Straw foxglove does best in average garden soil in a site…

Tree Galls

Galls are structures made up of plant tissue, forming in response to the saliva of mites or small insects as they feed. The number and variety of galls found on trees in our landscapes are closely associated with the weather and how conducive it is to gall-producing arthropod populations. Galls happen every year, it’s just…

Rhubarb

Rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum, is an easy-to-grow perennial that lends a delightfully tart taste to pies, crisps and jams. The fact it is a perennial means there’s no extra labor to grow plants annually from seed like you do for the vegetable garden. The edible part of rhubarb, the petiole (also called a stalk), is technically…