Fall Foliage in a Townhouse Garden
I would have shown you these fall photos of my garden in the actual fall if a technical glitch hadn’t kept me from posting here at all for a couple of weeks.
So imagine it’s mid-November in my back garden, where my recent shrub- and tree-buying is really paying off, small space be damned.
The Amsonia hubrichtii in the foreground looks great for a long time, as does the Oakleaf Hydrangea behind it. Further right and rising above the screen are the orange-tipped yellow leaves of Redbud ‘Rising Sun.’ Gorgeous.
On the sidewalk side of the screen you see the Redbud on the left, along with the red leaves of ‘Mt. Airy’ Fothergilla and purple leaves of a Purple Smokebush. Below them is a variegated evergreen Acuba ‘Picturata.’
Closeup of the Fothergilla.
Above is the view from my living room with three Japanese maples doing their fall thing. The new maples are ‘Osakazuki’ and ‘Orido Nishiki.’
On the patio you see the three pots that used to hold annuals, which were promptly decimated by deer. I replaced them with ‘Standing Ovation’ Little Bluestem grasses, as I reported in this post.
For winter I added a few artificial pieces for a bit of color to the pots. That’s it for “holiday” decorations in my back yard.
This photo was shot looking up from one of the Adirondack chairs on the patio. On the left is the only plant left that predates my moving here eight years ago, so I don’t know which Japanese maple it is. The ‘Osakazuki’ maple on the right is a recent addition.
Finally, here’s a real do-er in any garden, including this bit of city property I’ve adopted, not far from my house. It’s an ‘Ogon’ Spirea, which I can’t seem to get enough of, since I’ve planted them in all the gardens I tend. It’s the first to leaf out in spring and the last to lose leaves in the fall. Eye-catching in three seasons.
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December 14, 2019 at 01:38AM
Chestnuts and Earth in a Burning Ring of Fire
What does “gardening like there’s no tomorrow” really mean?
Do you think your garden, and earth, can avoid the ongoing sixth mass extinction? The U.N.’s recent “bleak” climate report may put a damper on holiday joy. Believe science or not? Truth or dare? I think about my garden every day but worry only occasionally about actually going over the cliff.
Let me put the limits of personal control and “eco-anxiety” into perspective.
The Russians were going to bomb America into smithereens in the early 1960s. When I was in grade school, the rush was on to stock Do-It Yourself Shelters with water and canned soup beans. Mrs. McCann polled my 3rd grade class every Monday, for weeks, and asked how many families had made progress on their bomb shelters. (Watch this excerpt from the 1982 documentary film, Atomic Café.)
I was scared out of my wits, worried that everyone else in my class might survive the nuclear apocalypse without me. I begged my father to build a bomb shelter. Dad argued that we would be okay without one. I asked, “How?” My father was remarkably sensible, never one prone to hysteria. “We’re going to go down to the basement with a couple of bottles of whiskey and a carton of cigarettes and take our chances.”
We survived Nikita Khrushchev.
Can we similarly stall global warming, put off the sixth mass extinction, and continue gardening for awhile?
Without political leadership, sufficient clean water, shifts in lifestyle and agriculture, a substantial adoption of sustainable energy sources or some miraculous technological breakthrough, I am not sure.
I’ve got an all-electric car, 60 solar panels, and I have planted thousands of trees over a lifetime. I’ve piled up a lot of Boy Scout badges, trying to be a good earth steward, but it’s not enough.
I can’t slow rising temperatures, loss of species, melting glaciers, drought or rising seas by myself, any more than I can stop a colossal asteroid from slamming into my back yard.
I’m sweating it out.
I’m trying to channel my late father, hoping I can divine some way to survive living on earth. What would Dad think? He was generous, worked hard, lived modestly, and didn’t get bogged down in existential thinking. Yet there was always a lot on his mind.
How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan’s book on psychedelics, explains how the author gave up control for a few hours, and expanded his outlook, during several guided hallucinogenic trips. To turn on and escape with psilocybin, LSD or crystallized Sonoran toad venom would not have crossed Dad’s mind. My father was a man of reflection, but the concept of enlightenment was too fuzzy for him. Paying bills was fulfillment enough. Dad took a load off with an extra drink or two on Saturday nights. He listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson on the turntable, and sometimes got a little loopy, but seldom missed Sunday 8 a.m. communion.
I have been keeping up with Dad, lately, via paranormal smoke signals.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Whiskey and psychedelics won’t bolster confidence if you’re stuffed in a musty shelter, even for the sixth ongoing extinction. (I enjoy bourbon, but I went to a cockfight on acid one time, and it was not a good trip. A claustrophobic corner of the basement, probably won’t be tempting, either, even if you add grow lights and cackling, laying hens.)
So, Hell’s bells, put your feet up this Christmas season.
Warm your toes next to the not-so-earth-friendly open fire, built from the remains of ash trees killed by emerald ash borers.
Start dreaming about a white Christmas and next year’s garden; make a bourbon Old Fashioned; please order Funky Little Flower Farm, and listen to Nat King Cole sing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” while plumes of carcinogenic wood smoke and CO2 drift up the chimney into the cold and starry night.
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December 12, 2019 at 03:03AM
RELEASE: Regenerative Farming Fellows travel to D.C. to meet with Members of Congress
Contact: Jessica Manly, Communications Director firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-643-3564 x 722 WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 9, 2019) The National Young Farmers Coalition is partnering with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to fly the Center’s inaugural cohort of Regenerative Farming Fellows from the Midwest and Northern Plains to Washington D.C. to advocate for issues impacting medium-scale...
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December 11, 2019 at 08:03AM
Is this about plants?
The question was staring at me from my Facebook feed, in the form of a hunky guy sitting with a medium-sized parlor palm (I think) between his naked legs. For the past two years or so, the House Plant Hobbyist Facebook group has hosted an intermittent series of group members posing for selfies with their plants, sometimes showing some skin, sometimes not (maybe a pirate costume). It all started last year, when someone posted a selfie with an orchid, shirtless. It may have been inadvertent—the post was in early September, after all—but some other members got mad and it all got very silly, with group moderators needing to step in and delete mean comments. You still see the selfies every so often, in between dozens of the usual “is this plant dead,” “what is this,” and “look what I bought!” posts.
Apparently, it’s not enough to just be excited by plants, as we all are. The excitement has to be selfified, as often as possible. Which, after all, is harmless. But what isn’t harmless is the possibility of being ripped off that comes with the new houseplant market. It’s one thing to pay $2,700 for a variegated monstera at a legitimate auction, where, at least, you’ll be going home with your ridiculously expensive plant.
It’s quite another to send money to a seller on Etsy and never receive a plant or get a damaged plant with no recourse. That’s why there’s now a BST (Buy/Sell/Trade) Facebook group that rates sellers. Kind of like Garden Watchdog, but more confusing because it’s all posts and the data is not averaged out. There was recently a big fuss there regarding a seller who may or may not have scammed money from plant lovers who invested in a potential growing operation.
One of the things I like about Buffalo’s houseplant fan group, Buffalo Houseplant Swap, is that it is swap or giveaway only.
There’s definitely more to this than plants. There has to be! I won’t be the one to say—the NYTimes article linked to above speculates on respite from city living or replacements for traditional families. Or just that plants, as we know, lend themselves so well to social media. One thing we can all forget about: the health benefits (air cleaning, adding oxygen, etc.) from having plants in the home have been thoroughly debunked. I fell for that one.
I can’t answer the big questions about the houseplant craze, but here are my small takeaways.
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December 11, 2019 at 02:03AM
Visiting Daybreak, UT, a Planned Community
This is my third and last post about Salt Lake City, which I visited for the garden communicators annual conference in September.
I live in a town that’s famous in planning circles – the “garden city” of Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a New Deal-era Utopian experiment, with the involvement of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. We’re proud of that, though not all its features work well. So in search of solutions, I sometimes visit other planned towns.
Which is exactly what Salt Lake City is – a planned community of small farms, originally. I’d seen it listed as one of the “10 Towns that Changed America,” along with Greenbelt. But on my visit I realized that the small farms had turned into regular city blocks, at least on the ground. (Views from the air might still reveal its original lay-out.)
Happily I learned that a new planned community was on the conference agenda as an option to visit, which I did. It’s the town of Daybreak, 23 miles southwest of SLC.
According to the Daybreak story, construction began in 2004 on the site of the former Kennecott Copper Mine. When completed, it could contain more than 20,000 residential units, and 25% of the land will be preserved as open space. The commercial buildings are all LEED-certified and the homes are all Energy Star-certified. All good.
Though the population of Daybreak isn’t diverse, its home styles are – in price, density and style – with condos and townhouses selling for about $250K and single family homes in the $580K to $1 million range. (See the Daybreak homes for sale.)
So unlike the dull uniformity of homes in my town (including the one I live in), “Architectural variety is the cornerstone of Daybreak’s design philosophy. It makes the simple act of walking down the street a joy. And it lets each home fulfill its most important role: to reflect the personality of the family who lives there.
“Exterior styles include Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Victorian. The homes along each street also have brighter colors than are found in most suburban neighborhoods. Recently, homes with a more modern style have been added.”
Hear, hear! Overplanning and conformity make my neighborhood a lot less interesting to walk around, especially compared to the famously colorful housing in my former town.
Almost every Daybreak home has “a big front porch that stimulates conversation, inspires neighborliness and looks way better than a garage.”
Something else Daybreak does right is funding its events and amenities adequately through a 1 percent surcharge on all home sales. The funds go to Live Daybreak for all sorts of amenities and activities for residents.
So in addition to a community center, with a full gym and exercise area and pools, Daybreak has 22 miles of trails and “over a dozen community parks,” and a man-made lake for non-motorized boating, fishing, and more.
Perhaps the most important feature of the whole plan is Daybreak’s walkability, following the “5-minute rule.”
Walkability was also the central planning feature for Greenbelt, thankfully. I illustrated its success in a blog post called “Destinations on my 7-Minute Walk.” (Close enough.)
Gardens, and Reactions of Garden Writers
Of course we saw some terrific gardens in Daybreak – ones with lots of outdoor living spaces, where desert-dwelling residents can apparently sit and not be eaten by insects.
But as our bus left Daybreak I asked everyone around me what they thought of it and they all expressed criticism for the restrictions imposed on residents. Welcome to my world! Planned communities and homeowner association rules aren’t for everyone.
I found the restrictions listed on the Daybreak Community Association website and yeah, they’re pretty daunting.
So vague! I imagine they could be used to deny almost anything.
As for gardens, lawns are restricted in size to no more than 50 percent of the yard, which makes sense there in the desert. Required also are 3-5-foot foundation plants, and there must be plants (not lawn) for 2 feet on either side of fences. That’s done nicely in the garden above.
Fencing choices are the most restrictive I’ve ever seen – one style, one material, all stained the same gray color.
Sure enough, the one resident I was able to chat with complained about the mandatory grey, suggesting that a subtle green would be more appropriate around her particular home. I agreed that a choice of a few colors wouldn’t kill them – all very tasteful, of course.
Finally, I think we all noticed these marvels of pruning creativity, which to my eyes demonstrate that some rules – like good pruning practices – are best followed.
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November 23, 2019 at 01:06AM
Fear Loathing Capitulation Relapses A Cry for Help and Another Empty Promise to Do Better; In a world of unfairness and charlatans these are the real things!
Fear, Loathing, Capitulation, Relapses, A Cry for Help, and Another Empty Promise to Do Better; In a world of unfairness and charlatans, these are the real things!
Déjà vu all over again. In what is apparently becoming an abusive relationship, I again find myself the victim of Marianne Willburn’s poison pen, which, I now believe she nightly wields in her dreams, inflicting dagger-sized wounds on a field of retreating lesser writers in Play Station-like battles. For again, right here on Garden Rant, my home turf, another rebuttal. Actually, a rebuttal to my rebuttal of her rebuttal to my happy, harmless, and humorous little column, “Time for A Grexit,” which appeared in the July/August 2019 Horticulture Magazine. Just a 500-word bit of sophomoric snark I dashed off last summer when I was still sweet and hopeful. It was cute. It was funny. And, despite itself, it did manage to make a surprisingly cohesive case for American gardeners taking all their English gardening books and dumping them into Boston Harbor. I was innocent back then, and my life was so much simpler. Appallingly, it turns out that having a stalker is nowhere near as much fun as you might imagine.
This most recent rebuttal wasn’t unexpected. Red flags were up after her first rebuttal, and my family and I worried that Marianne could possibly be a serial-rebuttaler. I could see her in her classy, tastefully appointed, mountain retreat, seething from my jovial retort to her first rebuttal, and working. Working! I cowered, knowing she would soon, on a day of her own choosing, emerge with another 15,000 word tirade. All of it letter perfect and grammatically correct, and crafted to turn all my loved ones against me and laying waste to all I am, all I ever was, all I’ll ever be, and everything I’ve ever loved. Including all my dead pets. And all my dead Stewartia. And, I’ve got to admit, I’ve been a nervous wreck. Pretty much, this has been the worst period of my life, which includes the bout with cancer I mentioned in a previous missive and, in fact, bring up in almost all my conversations.
Here’s the deal. After my last rebuttal, I was out of ammo. I’d used up everything I had. No quotes left in the stockpile. No more references back in the magazine. No last cache of jabs, nudges, innuendo, and implications. Not even a dull, rusty bayonet on the end of my empty rifle/poison pen with which to inflict dagger-sized wounds. So I hunkered down in my ramshackle, mismatched, patched together, horticulturist-class, Midwestern hovel, tried not to notice the leaks in the ceiling and the paint peeling from the walls, and prayed for a miracle.
And, whatya know, I actually got one. Apparently Marianne was out of ammo too. So when the inevitable time came and I looked over and saw the grenade roll into my bunker and blow up, I was pleasantly surprised that it did so with only a soft doink. No blast. No shrapnel. No carnage. What happened was more akin to an uncomfortably loud airing of the “We Are the World” video interrupting your conversation in a bar. Or maybe it’s better described as something like hearing the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial playing on a scratchy transistor radio on a hot day by some kid in line ahead of you at the snack bar at the community pool who walks off with the last French Chew. Or maybe it was more like an overly-affectionate, dripping wet kiss from an older aunt with a weird accent right on the face of your much younger self. Whatever metaphor best describes my response to Marianne’s newest rebuttal–and you get to choose–the fact is that while indeed unpleasant and unwanted, I survived it.
But that doink? Came to find out it was pretty passive-aggressive. One that snuck back up on me after another day and a second look. “Garden Regionally, Get Inspired Globally” was Marianne’s banner, her battle cry and l’appel aux armes. Well, who the hell can argue with that?
Marianne, you pulled a good one on me. Left me dangling and looking like a real jerk. Reminds me totally of a time when I introduced another friend/nemesis and co-worker named Brian to the audience at one of our symposiums at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Our ongoing “feud” was pretty well-known to most of the audience, although not all of it, and I decided to deliver the most personally insulting introduction I could imagine, laying it on thick for an awkwardly long time, bringing up typically off-limits things like divorces, and, in my mind, generously setting him up for one of his patented hilarious ripostes. But he said nothing. Just went into his talk. With big sad eyes. Made me look like a complete asshole! A master stroke!
Yep, Marianne, you got me. You got to the reasonable position first and now here I am a rubber ball dangling from a string on your paddle. Well done.
As I’ve made plain, I am but a simple gardener from the heartland forever drawn by the magnetic pull of my next Big Gulp, teetering constantly on the cusp of diabetes, and free of an opioid addiction by reasons no one understands. As such, I too am not without need of nor appreciation for inspiration. So, for you Marianne, yes, if you get that from English writers who for some reason hope to cross how-to manuals with great literature, go for it. It’s kind of weird, but whatever. Just don’t be tricked into trying Meconopsis. It’ll break your heart.
I, on the other hand, I turn to the bottle for inspiration. And, believe it or not, I only discovered that about myself while pondering this. Ironically, it also occurred to me that my method might be even more cosmopolitan than Marianne’s! While plenty of good Kentucky bourbons are close at hand, I sometimes find my inspiration from a single malt Scotch. Or a spicy Caribbean rum. Or a sexy French vodka. Or a hot-tempered Greek Ouzo. Sometimes a warm Japanese sake is just the ticket, but there are times when a smooth Canadian whisky will do just fine. Or a Mexican tequila. Or wines from almost every continent. Even, and I’m gritting my teeth a little as I admit it, an English gin. Fact is, turns out pretty much the whole planet is lousy with spirits ready to light up the masses with inspiration. This whole revelation humbles me. It fills me with wonder. Heck, I’m but a tiny speck in this big Universe. All of us are. And maybe, deep down inside, somehow, we’re all pretty much the same.
I took that idea to bed with me last night. I laid there thinking about people. And Marianne. I pictured her in her home, sitting by the fire with a cat on her lap and a Christopher Lloyd book in hand, sighing at the better passages and finding inspiration. At least between those times when she’s not shrieking abuse towards Ohio and pounding out another manifesto of a rebuttal on her keyboard. Nope. I suppose that when she settles in and watches Monty Don on Netflix that she really isn’t that much different from me when I find my inspiration by stumbling around in the garden at night, a half empty fifth of Jameson in hand, condemning myself to damnation for all the neighbors to hear by way of whatever blaspheme I bellow when I discover brittle, dead branches where my daphne used to be.
Daphnes. My God, how many have I loved? How many I have lost. I feel my mood changing. You know, it just isn’t fair. I just can’t get over the disparity. The disproportionate distribution of the wealth. I’m thinking here in terms of gardening. Those lucky bastards. Those haughty English, PNW, and Japanese gardeners who ply their passion where the soil is rich, the weather is benevolent, and every person who scratches a mountain laurel into the ground gets drunk on their overnight and over-sized success. And they say to themselves, “I’m bloody great. I can grow everything.” And they take a creative writing class on Tuesday nights at the community college and peck out some frilly, freakin’ best seller! Books that we here in the nether regions see in the windows of the five and dime, which draw us inside just to get out of the cold for a minute. But we slobber all over the pictures and the manager comes and makes us buy it, accepting a chicken and a few eggs as partial payment. Figuring that since we now own it, we might as well read it, we do. And then get all “inspired.” Then on the one half of that one spring day that’s sort of nice, we go out, religiously follow all the advice, and then invariably, inevitably, unsurprisingly experience the kind of catastrophic disaster that can only come when you live here and are daft enough to follow gardening advice from those who live over there. In God’s green Eden. In freakin’ Eden!
Wait. Whoa. What happened? It seems I’ve gone back down that rabbit hole. I apologize.
But, you know, there’s another thing that isn’t fair. Here in the continental part of the country, hard-working, decent, good gardening folk who can write and who really need a break never get brought in from the bullpen. Good writers, people who have willed lush, magnificent oases out of hardpan in weather that kills the people whose central air breaks on all but three or four days a year, never get that call from Timber or any other publisher. Why? Because all of their editors are tied up ushering dozens and dozens of spoiled English and PNW writers through their “masterpieces.” So-called gardeners for whom a daphne could fall off a truck and roll into their ditch and still grow like a Callery pear.
Dammit. Angry again. Wait. I’ve got an idea.
I’d like to buy the world a home, And furnish it with love, Grow apple trees and honey bees, And…
Well, that got annoying really quick. Screw it. I’ve got issues. I’m off to the liquor store.
Fear, Loathing, Capitulation, Relapses, A Cry for Help, and Another Empty Promise to Do Better; In a world of unfairness and charlatans, these are the real things! originally appeared on GardenRant on November 20, 2019.Via Gardening http://www.rssmix.com/
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November 21, 2019 at 09:23AM
Finally, a no-maintenance plant
But. Unsurprisingly, that is the opposite of what many gardeners want. After paying scant attention to this trend as talk of it reached me last year, I finally took the plunge and ordered 3 waxed amaryllis bulbs, with plans of buying more. Never fear, I already have 13 of the regular type: huge, beautiful specimens from John Scheepers.
I ignored the ones in our local supermarket, as these had overdone it with the wax, using 3 different colors, but I was able to find plain light green ones (as above) and a red one online. I love planting, forcing, and otherwise working with bulbs in the usual ways, but part of my fascination with them is that they really are as close to plug-and-play as it gets. Just throw them in the ground. This one, which just requires you to place it on a shelf—no watering, no soil—is an extension of that carefree magic. Amaryllises (actually hippeastrum) are already about as magical as plants can get, with their outrageously huge blooms and minimal requirements. The one problem is how to get them to rebloom year after year. One can, especially with the more basic red varieties, but the instructions often involve an outdoor period during the summer, then a basement period, before bringing them to a sunny window to bloom. Which they may or may not do. With the waxed types, there is no question of rebloom, or so I hear; they are one-use.
I am giving a few of these as gifts, to fellow gardeners and to friends/relatives who I know have no desire to take care of any plant. I think they’re fun. However, not everyone is a fan, according to comments on I got on Facebook and Instagram recently:
“Crime against Nature!
On the other hand, some commenters were simply curious, and some love them:
“I don’t know what @#$%^&@ they are, but the 2 I bought bloomed beautifully and twice!”
My only issue is that some vendors have gone too far with decorating the bulbs. Way too far. Otherwise, I say yea.
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November 20, 2019 at 05:23AM
Mosquito Control – Is There Really Such a Thing?
Guest Rant by Helen Yoest
Fall is back, and winter is near; thank goodness! This might sound odd coming from a rabid gardener and outdoor enthusiasts who would rather spend time outdoors than within my home, no matter how uncomfortable I might be. But wait, we are now finally mosquito-free, at least until their return of heat of summer next year.
In Raleigh, NC, where I garden year-round, having the mosquito season behind me is a blessing. But why should I have to wait to be mosquito-free? What can I do? Is there truly such a thing as mosquito control…without chemicals?
If you ask the barrier-spray mosquito control companies, they’ll tell you they have the answer. Indeed, their chemicals control mosquitoes, but what they don’t tell you is that they also kill everything else in the spray path and on the foliage.
Mosquitoes Can Kill
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance; they can be deadly! If a female carrying disease goes for your blood, you could be in trouble. Mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. are one of the deadliest in the world because of the many diseases they transmit. We have had reported cases of dengue, zika virus, West Nile virus, and Eastern and Western equine encephalitis, as well as a host of other diseases affecting you and your pets.
Thanks to the 2016 Zika outbreak, these broad-spray mosquito control companies have grown exponentially, and have set homeowners into panic mode to kill.
Trust me, I don’t like mosquitoes either, and I’d rather die of old age with a hand-cultivator in my grip than from the mosquito-borne Zika virus!
When I asked the closest Mosquito Joe location to me about their chemical toxicity, the reply was, “Our chemicals are organic, and with such a low concentration, it doesn’t affect anything else.” Hmm, maybe I just look like I was born yesterday.
When are we going to learn organic pesticides are still pesticides?
What About Our Safety?
Do we know enough about the chemical safety of these mosquito control companies? To find out more, I reached out to Dr. Michael Reiskind, associate professor of entomology (the study of insects) at NC State University. Reiskind explains, “Mosquito control companies spray an insecticide — almost always a pyrethroid — to vegetation outside your house. That vegetation is where mosquitoes like to rest, so it kills them when they go in there. But it will kill other insects that go in there to rest. We call that a non-target effect.”
These mosquito spray companies often minimize the risk of environmental impacts by saying, “The insecticides are similar to naturally-occurring substances found in chrysanthemums.” But according to Reiskind, “The synthetic pyrethroids used to control mosquitoes have been manufactured to be more toxic and to last longer in the environment.” It’s essential for all of us to understand the consequences of killing with chemicals.”
Generally, barrier spray treatments are applied where mosquitoes spend the daytime — under leaves and in shady areas. Conscientious appliers avoid spraying flowering plants, and by law, they should. But butterfly and moth caterpillars, and many other insects eat the foliage of sprayed plants. As for the birds, pyrethroids don’t directly harm birds, but birds eat caterpillars, so they are at risk as well.
These mosquito control companies also claim they have certified applicators and only spray in the shrubs and trees, never on blooms, and before 10 am, before pollinators start foraging.
Is that so? To find out more, I also contacted Sydney L. Ross, with the NC Department of Ag and Consumer Services, Structural Pest Control & Pesticides Division.
Her reply was troubling: “Within North Carolina, we allow for one licensed pesticide applicator to supervise as many individuals as he or she would like, as long as all individuals work out of the same storage location.”
So only one person in an office of 5, 10, 20, or more pesticide applicators needs to be certified; only one applicator needs to go through the arduous certification training, and be annually re-certified?
To summarize, only one person with the license needs to be available to train in the safe use of insecticide products and be reachable by phone to the unlicensed applicators on the job. That licensee is responsible/liable for any mistakes made by the person they are supervising. Please note, there is no requirement to verify in-house training. To me, that licensee is the designated felon! Would you want that responsibility?
Around my neighborhood, I’ve seen and others have reported seeing mosquito control companies spraying after 10 am. So while Ross was only a question away, I asked: How strictly regulated are the mosquito spray companies in NC? Ross replied: “All mosquito spray companies are required to hold a public health category license with the Pesticides Section. Alternatively, some hold structural pest control licenses with our other section, Structural Pest Control, which covers their mosquito applications around a structure. All mosquito application companies are subject to random and routine inspections once a year, and they are also subject to random inspections while in the field.
“Inspections generally cover topics such as personal protective equipment, products used, application method/equipment, recordkeeping, pesticide storage, and environmental conditions during the time of application. Inspections can also lead to an investigation if there is pesticide misuse.” Ross also noted her office investigates and follow up on all complaints received in their office regarding mosquito applicators, so if you see spraying after 10 am, call your local authority. In NC, that number is (919) 218-7952.
Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit Trees
The chemicals should likewise never be sprayed on or close to edible plants, including fruit-bearing trees, and vegetable and herb gardens. Structures like houses and swing sets also should be avoided; however, rules are murky about structures such as fences.
Pyrethroid insecticides used to kill mosquitoes will kill any insect that encounters it, including bees, caterpillars, and butterflies. The reality is there’s no way to entirely avoid hurting pollinators if you’re spraying for mosquitoes. More studies are needed to quantify this damage, but from experience, I am a twice-failed beekeeper. The first time I failed, I assumed it was Colony Collapse disorder (CCD). The second time, my bees were throughout the garden. I later found out one of my neighbors used a mosquito spray service. Other beekeepers have lamented to me the same experiences.
I have since registered with Fieldwatch, a program that allows pesticide applicators to locate any nearby beehives or sensitive sites and contact the site’s owner to avoid pesticide contamination/drift. Although personal gardens aren’t yet allowed to register, I registered anyway because I have over 30 fruit trees and consider my pollinator a sensitive site. So sue me
Mosquito spraying is not the only reason insects like fireflies, butterflies, and bees are in trouble. But mosquito sprays can kill these species. Decreasing the amount of spraying is one thing we can do to help them.
Clean Your Garden
You diligently work to control mosquito breeding through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), right?
If this is you, be the one in the neighborhood who begins to take action!
The most important thing you can do to reduce mosquitoes in your yard is to take away their habitat through a tip and toss practice of ridding your garden of their breeding ground, which is standing water. In controlling pests with IPM, you do the least environmentally impactful things first, then progress to the point of using chemicals, or not. I don’t use them.
Reduce the number of sites available to females for egg-laying — clogged gutters, old tires, plant holders, birdbaths, and discarded containers. Use personal repellents that keep mosquitoes at bay. And when the mosquitoes get too bad, go inside! However, what your neighbor is doing may be overshadowing your efforts due to their mosquito control applications. Is keeping your yard clear of standing water enough? You need to get your neighbors on board. Mosquitoes are a neighborhood-scale problem!
Eliminating standing water isn’t always feasible; for instance if you have a pond. Bee Better Naturally recommends all-natural larvicides, which kill the mosquito larvae and truly doesn’t harm other wildlife. These Bt dunks can wipe out another chunk of a garden’s mosquito population.
On our back porch, where we often sit, we have a series of ceiling fans and another oscillating fan, which helps a lot. But still not enough of days after a good rain. So I wondered what would Doug do?
Doug Tallamy’s Recommendation
At a recent conference, I asked Doug Tallamy for his best recommendation for mosquito control.
“Simple,” he said. “In an out-of-the-way area, partially fill a bucket of water, add wheat straw or hay, let it ferment. The fermentation attracts female mosquitoes to lay her eggs. Then add a mosquito control dunk that’s specific to the mosquito larvae.” I tried it, and it works.
We all have lots of decisions to make as consumers. For some people, a mosquito-free yard is worth the cost of some “by-kill.” Not for me! At least if we decide to spray our yard we should be informed of the potential losses, as well as benefits of being mosquito-free.
Helen Yoest is Director of Bee Better Naturally, a 100% volunteer non-profit helping homeowners save the environment, one garden at a time.
via Blogger http://wendyimmiller.blogspot.com/2019/11/mosquito-control-is-there-really-such.html
November 16, 2019 at 12:46AM
Be realistic, demand the impossible.
I am waging war against frustration, and impatience is an obstacle. My struggle may take two or three years before there is a measurable outcome. This year’s brutal heat and drought nearly ground to a halt any remaining enthusiasm for my garden. While the president fantasized in August about buying Greenland, I dreamed of a cooler global climate and a little rain. Nothing worked. Greenland’s ice sheets continued to melt, and central Kentucky had the hottest and driest September on record.
So, I’m done with our garden, at least, until the early-flowering, squirrel-resistant Crocus tomasinianus hits full stride next year. At the first sight of thousands of lavender-colored March bloomers, on the nearby Ursuline Campus in Louisville, I hope my gardening mojo returns. In the meantime, I needed an autumn pick me up. I decided to launch the Rudbeckia Revolution.
But let’s be honest.
I am a little long in the tooth to start a revolution by myself, so I enlisted an alley-wise, 24-year-old who came highly recommended. He had previously aced the rigorous Seed Bomber segment of the Guerilla Gardening Aptitude Test. My accomplice’s love for his garden and his will for a little tomfoolery caught my attention.
He planted his first garden this spring in a community plot in Louisville’s Germantown, while continuing to teach English online to Chinese kids. During his inaugural season, he navigated the normal ups and downs encountered along gardening’s learning curve and never flinched. (I am protecting the young man’s identity so that any urban seed-bombing in the future can remain discreet and, perhaps, even beneficial and pretty.)
We deployed seeds in lieu of bullets in two Louisville alleys on November 1st. We were caught on one site, but I explained we were sowing flower seeds. A quick reprieve, and an endorsement, was granted. My comrade’s seed-sower disguise might have appeared alarming but he’s a good-hearted Lone Ranger, not a bandit.
Our ammo was gifted by Jelitto Perennial Seeds. Jelitto offers the best selection and quality of perennial seeds in the world. (I’m a little biased. I worked with Jelitto for 22 years. When I retired two years ago, I was given a generous lifetime allowance for perennial seeds instead of a gold watch. Who needs a gold watch when you can have all the perennial seeds you want?)
The Rudbeckia Revolution has modest goals. We don’t envision elegant plantings resembling Piet Oudolf’s High Line design in New York. There will be no fussy alley coddling in Louisville. Imagine our small-time seed bombing as the scruffy Low Line.
The revolution’s goal is simple: We are crossing our fingers that seeds germinate and a few dozen plants of black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba) and northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) will establish in sun to semi-shade, in hard-packed, but well-drained clay soils.
You’re wondering: Why didn’t we seed more species? This is a skirmish, not an invasion.
If our small battles succeed, and there is no guarantee they will, a few plants may eventually self-sow and compete with crab grass, wintercreeper, hackberry roots, poke weed, lambs quarters, foxtail, autumn clematis, paulownia and tree of heaven seedlings, and whatever worrisome uncertainties global warming throws at our hidden alleys.
I’m not sure, even if the seed-bombed alleys flourish, that anyone will notice these new pollinators and caterpillar hosts. One of our battlegrounds, in the Crescent Hill neighborhood, sprinkled with garbage cans, has a tree canopy of filtered light. Dog shit is ignored, a token of the bygone era when dogs wandered free and crapped everywhere. Deer and coyotes, Louisville’s recent arrivals, now roam with rats and cats. This alley is nothing like the closely monitored neighborhood front yard landscape, where deer feast on hostas and a security camera occasionally tags a naughty dog owner who won’t pick up pooch’s shit.
The second alley, downtown, has more sun, weeds and litter, plus a marvelous Catalpa and Osage orange, warehouses and an abandoned homeless camp.
Both alleys are passageways to a diverse and mongrel ecology.
We are not overreaching. The Rudbeckia Revolution’s handbook states plainly: “A few survivors may self-sow or not.” This is not an ugly, in-your-face fight for hearts and minds.
My comrade and I don’t expect to save the world; we are only buying time until next spring.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre!
via Blogger http://wendyimmiller.blogspot.com/2019/11/rudbeckia-revolution.html
November 14, 2019 at 02:46AM
The first step is admitting you have a problem
At this moment, two things are true. I still have 4 boxes of bulbs—maybe 250 or so total—sitting in the back room. And when I opened the door of that room and stepped outside this morning, I walked into 10 inches of pre-Thanksgiving winter wonderland.
This is also true: There probably wouldn’t have been that many bulbs left over if I had ordered a few less than 1900. Even with selling some to a friend and planting and potting all I could, I still have to find a place for a whole mess of hybrid tulips.
Some of the tulips I don’t even remember choosing. Why did I get 100 Ballerina, lily-flowered? “Few can resist her,” says the Van Engelen copywriters. I should have. I don’t like the lily-flowered types that much, and I hate calling plants “her.” What’s with the 350 doubles? Doubles can be troublesome to grow in pots. (I force many tulips and hyacinths and grow hybrid tulips mainly in pots.) Why 100 Bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder?’ It’s a decent species type but 10–20 would have been fine to mix in with the other species I have.
I must have been in some kind of late summer frenzy. It wasn’t alcohol.
I don’t know too many gardeners that get as obsessed with bulbs. Bulbs are among my earliest plant purchases; I remember choosing from the Van Engelen catalog the summer after we moved into our house and had our first real garden. And regardless of how that garden has changed over the years, with many makeovers, bulbs go in every year. It must be because they’re a sure thing. Perennials don’t always perform as expected; I am positive I’ve planted dozens that have faltered and ultimately have vanished. For at least one season, bulbs are perfect, usually even better looking than their pictures. They’re great for an impatient gardener who doesn’t really want to wait through the sleeping and creeping. And who isn’t troubled by deer. Though I know many suburban gardeners who succeed with tulips in spite of deer. There are ways.
Perhaps I focus on bulbs because they distract from the real work my garden needs. Perhaps I throw bulbs in a hole in the beds to avoid thinking about how they should be reorganized. or at least weeded.
This year, I went too far. I admit it. I won’t go cold turkey. But maybe next time, I’ll have a designated reviewer of my order before I hit “proceed to checkout.”
via Blogger http://wendyimmiller.blogspot.com/2019/11/the-first-step-is-admitting-you-have.html
November 13, 2019 at 07:39AM