What's Up 42: Vines and fences, weedy lawn, aphids, Franklinia

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In this issue:

Vines might make or break a fence, pp. 1-2
Fluffy, white specks on beech and pine, pg. 3
Sweetness that's bad: Ashes on a garden, pg. 4
Saving a terminally weedy lawn, pp. 4-5
Our mentors live on as we pass along, pg. 5
Wave a magic wand, not a water wand, pg. 6
Soak up spring showers, duck out of lightning, pp. 6-7
Aphids, borers crowd a garden's beauty, pp. 7-9
Butterflies as collateral damage, pp. 10, 12
Plants a butterfly gardener will want, pg. 11
Wary of Franklinia tree's late start, pg. 12-13
Whack the weeds but spare the tree, pg. 13
Hi, boxwood bugs! Bye, bulb foliage! Pp. 14-15
Native plants nice for many reasons, pg. 15
Grins to kids' with cutters, grow-ans to kiwi, pg. 16

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Above: Our cat Fraxinus approves a native spicebush (Lindera benzoin) for planting. Even she is impressed by its spicy smell. The plant came from Wildtype Plants in Mason, Michigan, where just about any native Michigan tree or shrub you might want is ready to buy in small pots and large.


Vines on fence

Below: All that the vine does to the lattice-covered fence behind this perennial garden is to change its color (upper right). Yet as a green, medium texture surface, this fence would not work as well as a backdrop for the flowers.


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Ashes over ashes is not the way to go in a garden

The question came in: What do we need to know aboutspreading ashes from the fireplace out in the yard? My friend has been doing this every couple of weeks during winters and asked me to ask you if it'll hurt anything. - Kurt -

Wood ash spread thin and in different places count asa fertilizer, Kurt. Applied too heavily in one place theycan make the soil too sweet (alkaline) which despite the sound is not a good thing for most of what we like to grow.

Here's an excerpt from our 5th ("E") Q&A book, Evergreen Entries. It's one of six books on our CD Asking About Asters. On the CD you'll find this in the A-Z index by searching for ashes.

Wood ash is a source of potassium and phosphorus, and usually some trace elements. It can be sprinkled on a garden or in a compost to return those nutrients to the soil.

Avoid any heavy concentration of wood ash, especially where water may also puddle, since a concentrated solution of wood ash can burn roots and kill soil microorganisms -- it's caustic, just like the old lye soaps that were made from wood ash.

In quantity and over time, wood ash can also raise soil pH levels. Gardeners who have spread wood ash in an area for several years may find that neutral, pH 7.0 soil has risen to a very alkaline 7.6 or higher. High pH can slow growth or cause nutrient deficiencies in many plants, so if you make a regular use of wood ash you should keep a close eye on your plants' performance and test your soil annually for pH and nutrient content.

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Weeds are the main green in this lawn


Above: A gardener will see less ground ivy (Glechoma), a tough lawn weed, after beefing up the grass.


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Iris borer trouble, try resistant cultivars

IrisBorer.jpg Above: One reason to divide irises often, and in July, is to eliminate iris borers which are in the rhizomes at that time of year. Where the borers gnaw, rot fungus follows. Fewer borers means less rot. 

Below: Once in a while plants with chronic trouble are shown the door and replaced with pest resistant cultivars. Such as  zebra iris, I. pallida argenteo variegata, resistant to the soft rot that can ruin other irises.



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Tree's late start can be result of trouble or trimming 

DSC_0861.jpg Franklinia.jpg

Above: Franklinia (F. alatamaha) presents big, camellia-like flowers (right) in August and September. The leaves may turn fall maroon while it's yet in bloom. I wanted the tree in a client's garden but didn't have the room (it's 15-20' in zone 5b). Realizing that it blooms on new wood I opted to treat it as a cut-back shrub (left). Uncut trees of its type are nearly leafed out by May 20 when this photo was taken. Mine, forced to start from low- and dormant buds, is slower.






This issue is sponsored by: Finlandia Gardeners of the Finnish Center Association












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