Archive for July, 2009

Daylily Fever

 

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

  I’ve been receiving calls and emails about Zora Ronan’s upcoming open gardens this weekend and hearing from people who plan to make the trip to see her daylilies. For those of you who cannot attend, Zora sent some tips on dividing daylilies and other general advice:

    When or if to divide a daylily is a decision to be made based on the plant’s health.  If it is not looking unhealthy, is still blooming freely and has not outgrown its space, there is no reason to disturb it.  I only divide when one or more of those problems occurs.  Daylilies vary greatly in how fast they become crowded.  I have some that get divided every 4 years or so and some that have been fine for more than that time.  The biggest problem in waiting to divide until the plant is very overgrown is that it can become very large and hard to handle.  When I do divide, I replenish the soil with lots of compost and a bit of peat. 

   Daylilies are considered the perfect perennial because they survive and thrive with very little care.  However, good nutrition and adequate water is always going to improve daylily performance.  I do fertilize lightly every year with lawn fertilizer (no herbicide).  Daylilies can use a bit more nitrogen than other perennials to keep the foliage a nice healthy green.  I apply a 3-month time released fertilizer in the early spring–never any fertilizer after August 1.  If you have a good supply of compost, top-dressing with that every year is also beneficial and can probably take the place of artificial fertilizer. 

   Any dividing is best done in spring or after bloom has ended.  I would not divide any later than early to mid-September – daylilies need about 6 weeks to settle in before winter arrives.  We never know when that is going to happen.

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Rain: Too much of a good thing

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

     He was correct.  A climatologist said July was going to be wetter and colder than normal.  Did you imagine we’d be wearing jackets and sweatshirts on mid-summer mornings?  A couple of my houseplants living on the deck for the summer got relocated under the eaves.  They were experiencing a little too much of a good (rain water) thing.  It has been nice not having to drag hoses or fill the water wagon as much this year.  The soaker hose has been pretty much dormant, too. 

    It does bother me letting all this precious water run off, though.  Rain barrels have become a popular efficient way to retain that wonderful commodity that Mother Nature provides. Rain barrels don’t need to be plugged in or powered up.  They’re good for the environment and save money. 

    Rain water is preferably to municipal water for gardens because it provides a beneficial pH balance, thus creating less of a need for fertilizer. 

     Rain barrels situated at the base of a gutter or downspout, are typically modified recycled 55 gallon food grade drums, and include a filter, spigot and with an overflow pipe usually directed  on to a flower or vegetable bed.  Commercial rain barrels are available with costs varying.   Rain chains, water-funneling devices, can be used in place of down spouts for an esthetic effect.  Maybe you would want a decorative rain barrel situated on either side of your patio door. 

     Rain barrels may provide a good source of water should we have a water restriction order.  While the primary use is plant associated, rain water can be used to wash a car, scrub patio furniture or even flush a toilet. 

     Rain barrels do require minimal maintenance.  Leaves and other debris have to be removed from the filter and the gutter supplying the water.  Also, users need to guard against mosquito breeding and algae.  All in all helping  the environment far outweighs a bit of inconvenience.

    And, speaking of mosquitoes, just a reminder with all of the moisture we’re experiencing, the most common floodwater mosquito will be laying eggs in any source of stagnant or muddy water.  Remember to regularly empty and clean the kids’ wading pools, the pet’s water dishes and the bird bath.  Tall weeds and grasses harbor mosquitoes during the day.  Reduce the incidence of the problem and reduce the population of the annoying and possible disease carrying critters.

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Trees Forever grant to go toward flood recovery landscaping

This just in from Trees Forever in Marion:

     Trees Forever today announced that it received a $10,000 grant from the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) and The Home Depot Foundation. This challenge grant is part of the National NeighborWoods Program, made possible through generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. NeighborWoods is a nationwide initiative that engages the public in meaningful hands-on action to produce tangible improvements to community health through tree planting and stewardship. Trees Forever is one of just eleven organizations nationwide who received a NeighborWoods award in support of partnerships between urban forestry non-profits and affordable housing providers.

  Trees Forever is a regional nonprofit that plants trees and cares for the environment by empowering people, building community and promoting stewardship. Disastrous flooding in Iowa in 2008 irrepara-bly damaged 944 homes in Cedar Rapids, 75% of which were low-income housing. The city needs at least 420 new owner-occupied homes, half of which must be affordable housing. Trees Forever is partnering with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to help address this need and ensure green, sustain-able redevelopment in Iowa by planting approximately 40 trees at 20 new Habitat homes in the College Park Estates and Wilderness Estates neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids. 

Trees Forever will also plant another 50 trees at 20-25 Habitat sites in Des Moines, in partnership with the Greater Des Moines chapter of Habitat for Humanity. These projects will revitalize devas-tated Iowa neighborhoods and benefit low-income homeowners by increasing their property values, improving air quality, reducing storm water runoff and producing energy-conserving shade. Volunteers and future Habitat homeowners will receive training on proper tree planting and maintenance to ensure survivability of the trees and maximize their long-term benefits for Iowa communities.

“The NeighborWoods grant allows Trees Forever to help Habitat for Humanity leverage their landscaping budgets on dozens of new flood-recovery homes,” commented Karen Brook, Trees Forever Program Manager.  “And the new homeowners will benefit from the energy savings, aesthetics and improved home value that the trees provide over time,” Brook added.

For more information on the Trees Forever NeighborWoods project, please contact Karen Brook at (319) 373-0650 ext.20.  For more information on Trees Forever and its many programs, log onto www.TreesForever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/> .

About Trees Forever

Trees Forever is a nonprofit organization based in Marion, IA committed to planting trees, encouraging community involvement and stewardship, and caring for the environment. Programs focus on improving air and water quality, increasing wildlife habitat, providing substantial energy savings and beautifying our landscape. For more information visit www.treesforever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/>  or call 800-369-1269.

About Alliance for Community Trees

Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) is dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With 160 grassroots affiliates in 40 states and Canada, ACT engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 80% of people live – in urban areas. ACT member organizations have planted and cared for 14.9 million trees in cities with help from 4.3 million volunteers. For more information, visit www.actrees.org <http://www.actrees.org/>

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Taste of Heritage Gardens in Iowa City

         The Johnson County Master Gardeners will host their 14th annual Taste of the Heritage Gardens on Wednesday, July 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove Historic Site, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City.

        For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will receive a taste of 19th recipes for soups, salads, vegetable dishes, breads, drinks and desserts prepared by the Master Gardeners. In addition, the audience will be entertained by the Senior Center Horn band, and there will be guided tours of the gardens and 1844 Lucas house.

         There will be a drawing for door prizes and recipe booklets will be available. Free parking is available on site.

         The proceeds from this event go to garden maintenance and Kirkwood scholarships. In case of bad weather, the event will be held at Building C at the Johnson County Fair Grounds. Further information is available at 351-4903.

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Day(lily) dreamin’

    It seems too chilly to think this is prime summer and thus prime daylily season in Iowa. Might as well enjoy the cool while you can. Today (Saturday, July 18, 2009) Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids will have an open garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW. Wanda said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions about all of these flowers.

     Next weekend (Sat. and Sun., July 25 and 26) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, Linn County Master Gardener Zora Ronan will open her gardens for viewing at 5031 North Marion Road, Central City.

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

    I had the opportunity to visit Zora’s gardens last week and more will be available in Sunday’s (7/19/09) Gazette.  Zora said her gardens are about one week behind those in Cedar Rapids, so they should be in their prime next weekend. Even a week ago, the beds were beautiful. Zora has the right touch with daylillies, which come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colors. Both Zora and Wanda are open to questions and I think this is one of the best ways to learn about gardening, with an up-close view to see what both looks and works great. It’s really inspiring to have people like this in our community who are so willing to share and generous of them to offer their time and expertise, as well as open up their gardens to the public.

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Here are directions to the home of Zora and Paul Ronan:   From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

When I went last week, one of the roads from I-380 was closed, but it was easy to get there by going to Central City and taking a left on E-16.

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Slimy slugs

Laura Jesse, of Iowa State University Extension’s Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic, wrote the following about garden slugs:

 

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

    There seem to be plenty of slugs in my garden, but I hope not in yours. Slugs leave small, irregular holes all over the leaves of plants. They especially seem to like my hostas but they are not picky feeders. Slugs are difficult to detect because they feed only at night. Slugs look like snails without a shell. They vary in size from less than an inch up to 2 inches in length, grayish colored, and a bit slimy to the touch. In fact as they crawl along they leave a slime trail.

    Slugs need moisture to survive and are found under mulch, rocks, logs, and other damp locations. My hostas tend to be eaten because they grow in a garden that is shaded and holds the moisture longer.

    Reducing slug damage is not an easy task and nothing will fix holes already there, so your first question should be – how bad is this and can I live with the damage? If you do decide to try to reduce the slug population you should combine several tactics. First, remove mulch and reduce moisture from around the base of afflicted plants as much as possible. Remove slugs you find either by using a trap such as a board on the ground that slugs will gather under or pan traps with beer as a bait. I assume cheap beer works fine and would not waste expensive beer on this. Remove dead slugs daily or it will get pretty disgusting. Finally there are commercially available slug baits available containing a molluscicide, but they are best used in the spring or fall.

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Mini garden walk

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

What a great idea, visiting other people’s gardens! Amazing!  Awesome!  (and, with planning) Affordable!    If you were gadding around and missed the Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk or if you didn’t take the plunge for the Pond Society tour, do make a concerted effort to mark your 2010 calendar to attend both! One of the stops incorporated all manner of garden art, mostly primitive farm equipment and several unusual birdhouses.  The other end of the spectrum was a beautiful English garden.  Ponds fed by babbling brooks created mesmerizing atmospheres. 

                My neighbors have even planned a mini-garden walk involving just a few families.  It’s an opportunity to get better acquainted with your neighbors and visit about something besides the weather.  It’s too late for a vegetable garden this summer, but there’s still time to start a flower garden involving the whole family.  My favorite daughter’s second garden is a family affair reaping benefits far out weighing the harvest of peas and pumpkins.   Charlie has beans on his beanstalk (Two year old Charlie planted a good share of an envelope of beans in one hill.)  Catie is planning on several jack-o-lanterns.    Daddy grills home grown potatoes, tomatoes and onions.  

The long range forecast for July is cooler and wetter weather so get in sync with Mother Nature and go for it.  New beds do need to be religiously watered this time of the year to establish root systems.  It’s okay to fertilize from now through the end of August.  Your new garden needn’t be huge.  It can be containers on the porch.  If the kids are still bugging about a pet, put in a pond and get some goldfish.  The fish we saw at the walks were huge and survived there through the winter.  Your water feature could be a whiskey barrel size container adjacent to the deck. 

Now is a good time, too, to do some rearranging.  We didn’t get the new strawberry bed organized quite soon enough this summer so I’m going to remove the weeds that have sprouted and cover the bed with mulch.  I’ll soon be transplanting several Iris and a few Hosta over to the seeder wagon area. Some of the Tiger Lilies are moving from the ditch there to surround the mailbox in the newest zeroscape area.  A horse ate the top off the sapling in that bed.   I’ll need to install a taller barrier than the garden gate that I thought was such a nifty idea.  Oh, well, the garden gate can become home to a climber in another location.  That’s the great thing about plants and gardens.  Nearly everything is portable and/or potable.

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