Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectibility" -Sam Keen

I found this picture somewhere on the internet and thought it was perfect.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Blue Jay Chronicles

As it turns out, Baby is a smart bird and is really working me. She has learned that when a light turns on in a room that I'm in that room. She promptly flies to the window to let me know that she would like a cricket. Immediately.

When I go into another room and flip that light on, she moves too. It's amusing and pulls at my material heartstrings....but it also makes me think, "What have I gotten myself into?".

The bait store employees are amused that I have bought at least 500 crickets over the last week. I've tried to alleviate this expense by showing Baby the cache of insects in the compost pile, but she has developed expensive taste.

You should see me pointing out all of the insects to her as she sits on a nearby branch. With her back to me.She ain't no dumpster diver.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lace Bugs are Active Now

For all of you nursery and landscape professionals, be on the lookout for Lace Bugs on Azaleas and Lantana. If this pest has been a problem for you historically, now is the time to treat. If you have never had an issue with this pest, do not apply an insecticide; As members of the Green Industry, we should never haphazardly "spray and pray."

This is an easy insect to identify: large lacy wings (hence the name), black-and-white coloration and a tendency to stay in groups on the undersides of the leaves.

The black dots on the undersides of the leaves are a combination of their varnish-like excrement and egg masses. The mommas guard their eggs, keeping predators away.Damage to the leaves is a bleaching effect. On susceptible cultivars, they can turn the plants white, severely impacting their vigor and aesthetic value.Want to avoid insecticides all together? Choose a cultivar that is resistant to infestations by Lace Bugs. There are too many azalea cultivars for me to get into, but I will say that the Southern Indica cultivar 'Delaware Valley White' is very tasty to a Lace Bug.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nobody puts Baby in the corner

Okay, so it's gone beyond a little wildlife stewardship and turned into true love. I have officially imprinted this young Blue Jay.

And I've named her after my favorite character in the epic film Dirty Dancing. Baby. (Well, not really. But Baby it is.)

I know she's just using me for my seemingly endless supply of crickets (she goes through at least 50 a day!), but I pretend that she has developed some level of affection for me. When I go out onto the porch, she talks to me for a few minutes from her perch in the pines- and I know it's her! Seriously, I'm smitten.

When shes wants a cricket, she flies to the porch railing or my outstretched finger. Very Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. From there, we begin the ritual of me supplying live crickets and her gulping them down. After about five to seven, she settles down, hangs out on my hand for a couple of minutes, and then flies back to the pines.

I know it won't last (alas, these types of relationships fade quickly) and I can already sense that she's building confidence. Jays are independent birds and I'm sure she'll follow nature over nurture.In the meantime, I'm happy to have her around.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blue Jay Love

This weekend, I had the chance to help with a little Blue Jay fledgling. Even after they've learned to fly, young birds have very high protein needs (i.e. insects) and rely on their parents to locate food. So basically, he needed a temporary stand-in parent to get this done. I gladly volunteered (a.k.a. begged).

He taught me very quickly how to recognize when he was hungry by squawking and flapping his wings. It reminds me of when a 2-year-old has a meltdown and can't calm down!I bought crickets at a bait store for food which the Blue Jay loved. It was intense.He had an aversion to the legs and would quickly pull them off each cricket before he'd eat them.
Remember that movie Jurassic Park and the really scary Velociraptors? That's exactly how this bird eats crickets. Only he was fuzzy and much cuter.

Realizing the volume of insect protein this one bird needed for one day made me think about our responsibilities as stewards of this earth and the creatures that inhabit it.

In an effort for perfection, a real effort is made to eliminate insects from our lawns and gardens with grub killers, insecticides, miticides and other "cides."

When we sterilize our collective landscape, we make it harder for birds like my little Blue Jay to make it into adulthood. It doesn't matter how many bird feeders you provide if there aren't insects for the nestlings and fledglings to eat.

A true gardener should embrace all components in the garden, not just the plants. Trust that a healthy garden can and should support a wide range of birds, insects, spiders, mammals, amphibians and other creatures.

A great book on this topic is Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallemy. I read this book about six months ago, and it has changed everything for me. You know how Food, Inc. and Michael Pollan have made you think differently about how you eat and where food comes from? Doug Tallemy has made me think differently about how I garden and the impact I have on the world around me.

In other words, what is the nutritional content of my garden?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not about plants:: Heartpaths

If you were able to peer into my brain, it would look like someone's garage that's being used for pointless storage. You know what I'm talking about? When the garage door opens and from floor to ceiling, random items fill every square inch in a haphazard fashion because they are afraid they might need it someday? Yep. I'm a hoarder.

As a result, I often have to rely on well-organized brains. And the person who wrote the following article, Robbin, has a the skills to say some things I think about a lot but have a hard time conveying.

I thought this article had some valid points. Points I think about a lot. My dear friend calls it the "heartpath." As in, "Does what I am about to do in my business or life have a heartpath, or is it void of soul and true purpose?"

Anyway, I hope you'll check out this article from Brains on Fire (a company with a definite heartpath).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Occasional pest on River Birch

This probably isn't a new pest, but it is new to me. Over the last few weeks, I've seen this pest at several nurseries in North and South Carolina.

Woolly Birch Aphid. This species, Hamamelistes spinosus, causes the leaves of River Birch (Betula nigra) to pucker and distort. Very cool.

The distortion creates gall-like pockets where the aphids feed and reproduce.
Thankfully, the Woolly Birch Aphid only has one generation per year.
If you are a homeowner, the best course of action is no action at all. While the affected leaves cannot be cured, subsequent leaves that are formed will emerge without damage.

If you are a horticulturist and your trees have a history of this pest, you can apply a systemic insecticide at budbreak to prevent infestation and damage.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Vertical Gardening on the Cheap

Last year, I posted an entry about Vertical Gardening using common products like gutters and canvas shoe holders. Inspired, I decided to create one an herb garden using a canvas shoe holder this spring. And it is really cute! As the herbs are getting bigger, they are starting to cover their little pouches (which I like).Last night at the meeting of the Charleston Horticultural Society, Jim Martin did an amazing job demonstrating some different ways to incorporate vertical gardens into our landscapes. If you missed the lecture, you missed a lot.
The canvas shoe holder is a good way to introduce yourself to the concept of vertical gardening because it is inexpensive ($10 plus soil and plants) and simple. I cut the bottom two rows off the bottom of mine so that it would work on my porch railing.

  • Leave a 1-inch gap between the soil and the lip of each pouch. This will make watering easier because otherwise the water will just run over the edge without being absorbed.
  • Fill every pouch and water it well before you plant the first plant. I didn't do this and it caused me to get dirt all over the herbs I had planted at the bottom of of the holder.
  • Put plants that need more water at the bottom of the holder and those that need less at the top. The herbs on my top row dry out constantly, but the ones at the bottom stay hydrated.
  • Choose plants that like similar types of conditions and that stay the right size. Vegetables would be too big for this, so stick with smaller herbs or bedding plants. Ferns and other shady perennials would be beautiful if you have a shady spot.
What I love about this simple trick is that it only takes about an hour to make it complete. It's easy to put off the creation of a new garden because of the work it involves. But this is a fun Sunday afternoon project that even your kids would love to help create.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Things I did ths week

1. Tasted Honeysuckle nectar.
I know that I am on the board of the South Carolina Exotic Plant Pest Council but I can't help loving this plant when it flowers! That scent signals the onset of summer for me. Bare feet, windows down, lightning bugs, screen doors. This is my time of year.2. Found 10 Killdeer Eggs.
Three nests and three shrieking momma birds. These birds love the gravel roadways of nurseries and they lay their eggs directly on the ground. You know that you are near a Killdeer nest because the mother will try to distract you by running from the nest dragging her wing. They are good actresses, playing the role of an injured bird.
3. Scouted a few nurseries.
This is best time of year to do what I do. Plants are flowering, trucks are being loaded and shipped to the garden centers and the weather is perfect. This wasn't one of the nurseries I scouted this week, but I love the way the different types of plants created a floral quilt across the hillside in this picture.

So, wow, I'm not that exciting!
But I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

View from my porch this evening

What a life.

You want this plant

I bought this little treasure at Plantasia last week (the fundraising plant sale for the Charleston Horticultural Society). It was grown by Father Guerric at Mepkin Abbey in their native plant nursery. The label didn't offer much information:The succulent gray-green foliage forms a mound about 6-8" high.
And the sweet little flowers open in the evening and are closed by the next morning. They form at the tips of slender stalks that are about 12" high.
This is one of those great plants that we need to see more of in the nursery industry. It looks great in a container and would be easy to propagate.

Let me know if you know the species-


Blog Widget by LinkWithin