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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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Good vs. Evil: Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles

Asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetle - a good bug (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Their names are similar and they’re from the same region of the world, so I can see why some people are still confused about Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles.  But when it comes down to it, there’s really no comparison. The bug pictured here – the reddish/orange lady beetle, is a beneficial insect. It feeds on aphids and other plant pests and doesn’t destroy anything, though I realize some people resent their intrusion in homes in the fall. On the other hand, the copper-colored Japanese beetle, a recent foreign invader in Iowa, is known to devour at least 300 plants, including hollyhocks, roses, raspberries, linden trees and grapes. If you see your leaves turning to lace, the likely culprit is the Japanese beetle.  Japanese beetles have no known predators here, other than me. So feel free to get rid of as many as you can. As mentioned previously, the most environmentally friendly method is to knock them into a bucket of soapy water when they’re sluggish – early evening seems to be the best time. If you have other suggestions – maybe from our East Coast readers and others who have learned to cope with Japanese beetles – please add your comments below.

Japanese beetles (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Japanese beetles - not a good bug, or just plain evil? (photo/Cindy Hadish)

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“Screaming for attention” Chinese chestnut

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut (photo, Brucemore)

   Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, shares the following about an amazing tree on the Brucemore grounds:

     It’s time.  It’s blooming.  Brucemore’s Chinese chestnut is screaming for attention.  The first clue that the flowers on this magnificent specimen are present is the unmistakable aroma mingling through the landscape; earthy and spicy.  This perfume emanates from the chestnut’s canopy, which is covered in clusters of long chenille like tendrils resembling skinny hairy

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

Chinese chestnut in bloom (photo, Brucemore)

fingers or spidery legs.  Approximately 50 foot tall and 50 foot wide, this low branching, wide spreading habitat makes it a great shade tree and, purportedly, an ideal climbing tree, though I do ask that you don’t climb our trees when visiting.

     The chestnut worth noting is standing among younger chestnut specimens. Due to this particular tree’s location in the area of the first orchard as well as its apparent age, estimated from the trunk diameter, height and spread of the tree, this is likely one of the oldest Chinese chestnuts in Iowa, if not the nation. Chinese chestnuts were introduced to the United States by seed in 1903. The original Douglas orchard, planted circa 1909, was in this location.  This was also the location of the Sinclair orchard, the estate’s first family.

    With consideration given to these facts and estimates by tree experts over the years, I feel confident about the age assumption and willingly share the information.  I encourage all to visit and view this majestic specimen, especially during the time of year when the Chinese chestnut drapes its branches in pungent, blooming finery.

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Inspiration from living landscape history

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

Clematis at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Brucemore photo)

The following is from Deb Engmark, head gardener at the historic Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

     I am in a constant state of wonder and awe at Brucemore; every direction I turn stimulates the senses. The birds’ twittering in the wisteria vine mingles with a slight scent of early blooming clematis growing along the grape arbor.  New growth is making its appearance throughout the gardens, as vividly illustrated by the lime-colored sprouts starkly contrasting against the dark green of existing foliage on the old Norway spruce.  Here on the Brucemore grounds, the new and old, past and present are demanding attention, clamoring to be experienced and shared.

     In an effort to appease my senses but also to share Brucemore’s role in American landscape history, I am leading a historic landscape tour. Wear walking shoes and bring a water bottle, this tour will cover a lot of ground and encourage discovery of this quiet, park-like space in the middle of Cedar Rapids.  Brucemore’s 100 years of Prairie landscape history, paired with the burgeoning spring plants, will make for an inspiring hike. Woven into the trek through the 26 acres of grounds will also be discussion of plants (mostly natives), theories of the original design, Brucemore family stories, and issues pertaining to current preservation and property use.

 Brucemore’s Historic Landscape Tour

Tuesday, May 26 & Thursday, May 28 at 6:00 p.m.  and Saturday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m. at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE.

Admission is $10 per person and $7 per Brucemore member. Please call (319) 362-7375 to register. See: www.brucemore.org

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Iris open house

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

    I had the opportunity last year to visit the beautiful iris gardens of Wanda Lunn in Cedar Rapids. Wanda had 400 visitors in two days last spring and let me know that her gardens will again be open for viewing. If you get the chance, visit her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9, 2009, to see dwarf bearded iris, blooming shade perennials, blooming bushes and spring bulbs in bloom.

    The gardens will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday,  May 30, and Sunday, May 31, when 300 tall bearded iris should be in bloom. Wanda noted that instructions on planting, care and identification will be available each day.

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Your photos – springtime heralds and new additions!

New photos today! Laurie Vulich shots these wildflowers during a walk along the trails at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids on this warm spring day.

 

Wildflowers shot at the Indian Creek Nature Center.

Wildflowers shot at the Indian Creek Nature Center.

 

 

Bloodroot in bloom

Bloodroot in bloom

 

 Intrepid photographer and Linn County Master Gardener, Jay McWherter, sent in these photos shot at the Noelridge Park Greenhouse open house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on April 11…  

 

 

Close-up of an orchid

Close-up of an orchid

Passion flower

Passion flower

 

 

Tulips

Tulips

If you have photos you’d like to share, send to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

Include information about the subject and where and when it was shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emerald ash borer alert – new infestation found just miles from Iowa in Wisconsin

This came out today from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Spokesman Dustin Vande Hoef said the emerald ash borer infestation discovered in Wisconsin – the closest its ever been to Iowa – appeared to be well-established. The best action Iowans can take to prevent an infestation – which most experts believe is only a matter of time – is to buy firewood locally and not bring it into the state from quarantined areas such as Michigan, where the emerald ash borer was first discovered in the United States and where the beetle has already decimated ash trees.

Here is the press release that came out today:

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

IOWA OFFICIALS HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS TO PREVENT AND DETECT EMERALD ASH BORER FOLLOWING NEW DISCOVERY IN WISCONSIN

New Infestation Discovered Across Mississippi River in Wisconsin

 

DES MOINES – Following the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) just across the Mississippi River from the Iowa-Wisconsin border, members of the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team today highlighted steps being taken to prevent an infestation in Iowa and detect the beetle if it is in the state.  EAB is an invasive beetle that feeds on ash trees and eventually kills them.

 

The new infestation was found near Victory, Wis. on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from Allamakee County in Northeast Iowa. This new infestation is less than 5 miles southeast of the Minnesota-Iowa border.

 

The Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the USDA Forest Service

 

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is native to the Orient, and was introduced in the United States near Detroit, Mich. in the 1990s.  Although not yet found in Iowa, EAB has more potential for future harm to Iowa forests and urban communities than any other insect currently being dealt with in the United States.

 

EAB kills all ash (Fraxinus) species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing (cambium) layers of the trees. EAB has been killing trees of various sizes in neighborhoods and woodlands. Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to recent sources, Iowa has an estimated 58 million rural ash trees and approximately 30 more million urban ash trees.

 

The movement of out-of-state firewood to and through Iowa poses the greatest threat to spread EAB.  Areas currently infested are under federal and state quarantines, but unknowing campers or others who transport firewood can spark an outbreak.

 

Each member of the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Team is taking steps to monitor Iowa’s ash trees and ensure that the beetle has not spread into Iowa by examining high risk sites.  The Iowa EAB team has defined high risk sites as locations where people would bring out-of state wood, such as campgrounds, nurseries and sawmills.

 

DNR estimates there are up to as many as 5 million ash trees in Allamakee County, this represents about 5% of the trees in the forested areas of this county.  Allamakee is the most forested county in Iowa with 42% of the land covered by trees (176,000 acres of forest).  Iowa agencies in cooperation with USDA-APHIS and Forest Service will be working together to survey for EAB.

 

Monitoring efforts include visual surveys at high risk sites by Iowa State University, DNR’s placement of sentinel ash trees that are intentionally stressed so that they are more attractive to EAB, and the placement of purple sticky traps around the state that attracts and traps the insect by a collaborative effort among APHIS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

 

Team members will be working with Wisconsin and Minnesota officials in response to this new discovery and will be conducting additional visual surveys in the area in the coming weeks.

 

To learn more about EAB and other pests that are threatening Iowa’s tree population please visit www.IowaTreePests.com.

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Another snowstorm? Look here for spring

As Iowa braces for what could be another spring snowstorm this weekend, Deb Engmark, head gardener at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, sent the following observations and photos from the historic Brucemore estate:

From the Brucemore Gardens

 

It would have been a glorious first snow fall of the season had the snow fallen sometime between November 27th and December 30th. With four to six

 inches on the ground, my week of vacation coming to an end, and not nearly enough yard work finished, it sure made Sunday hard to take. On the bright side, on Monday morning the little bit of green that was evident in the landscape at the end of last week was much more abundant and vibrant. I also noticed the swelling of the buds on many of the shrubs and some of the trees here at Brucemore have expanded close to the point of explosion. Many buds have popped and the leaves are extended toward the sun.

 

 The honeysuckle bushes along Linden Drive opened sometime between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30p.m.on Monday, as did the first scillas on the property, revealing the sweet essence of  spring along with the reliable blues many visitors associate with older neighborhoods. The snowdrops are always an early sign of winters waning. Shining in the woods for a few weeks already and now many of the white nodding heads have opened to reveal the upside down v-shape of green marking the inside bell and if you are able to get close enough, it too carries a fresh scent of spring.   

 

Out in the formal garden the crocus are blooming and other bulbs are making their presence known as are some of the undesirables dandelions, violas and the creeping charlie seem to have survived the winter just fine, lucky us.

 

Now, before spring has totally sprung, is a great time to take notice of that which is often overlooked – trees. We are fortunate here at Brucemore to have a few grand specimens to appreciate. Across the road from the formal garden, west of the old greenhouse is a mature red maple and a stately old red oak.  Roger Johnson, our building and grounds superintendent, believes they are some of the oldest trees on the property. He estimates that they are well over 100 years old due to their height, trunk diameter, and the texture of the bark.  Oaks are slow growing, long-lived, and require a century to mature, and will often live undisturbed for two to three centuries or more. The red maple upon maturity develops a unique bark texture. Flat gray ridges like fins begin to wave and flake while spiraling up to the multitude of branches. A bit of the oaks’ structural supremacy and the mature maples textured bark is softened after the emergence of the leaf canopy in spring.

 

As I finish this typing Tuesday afternoon, the landscape has changed once again adding more colors, hues and tones in every passing moment.

 

I would love to hear what you are doing also!  Please feel free to send me any suggestions, ideas, or tips from your own gardens and explorations.

 

 

Deb Engmark                            

Brucemore Head Gardener                     

2160 Linden Dr. SE

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

deb@brucemore.org

www.brucemore.org

 

 

Blue scilla

Blue scilla

 

Snowdrops at Brucemore

Snowdrops at Brucemore

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Your photos: Rite of Spring

For Stravinsky fans, Le Sacre du Printemps…

 

Spring officially begins Friday, March 20, and Jay McWherter, a master gardener and master composter from Cedar Rapids, sent these flower photos to get everyone in the springtime spirit. If you have plant photos or others you’d like to share, attach them in an email and send to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com

Please include where they were shot and a little bit about what the pictures show. I’ll post as many as I can to “Your Photos.”

 

Blue columbine

Blue columbine

 

 

 

 

 

Bleeding heart

Bleeding heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Jack-in-the-pulpit

 

 

 

 

 

Tulips

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

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Ray’s Market, another victim of epic flood

  

Sweet potatoes from plant purchased at Ray's Market

Sweet potatoes from plant purchased at Ray's Market

  Call me a gardening geek, but yes, that is a photo of some of my sweet potatoes, which we finished eating just a couple months ago. I took the picture because a) they were the first sweet potatoes I had ever grown and b) they might have been one of the last relics of a business that fell victim to June’s devastating flood in Cedar Rapids.

   I bought the sweet potato plant in May from Ray’s Market, near Czech Village in Cedar Rapids,  just weeks before the flood that devastated not only Czech Village and my old neighborhood near Ray’s Market, but many other parts of the city.

  It took me awhile to track down Ray’s Market owner Fran Smith, someone I didn’t even know by name before the flood. She was hesitant to talk about what happened and who could blame her. Not only had she lost her business, a longtime icon at Bowling and C streets SW, but her son, who worked in the store with her, nearly lost his life around the same time. Lynn Smith had to have his leg amputated after he was hospitalized with pneumonia and an infection right before the flood. He and his wife, Karren, lived in a home behind Ray’s Market. The family has been through a harrowing year, but Lynn pulled through his illness. 

   Fran decided against the burdensome cost of rebuilding Ray’s Market. I’m sure many people will miss the blooming petunias and other bedding plants that lined the front of the shop come springtime. And I’ll have to track down another sweet potato plant elsewhere. In the meantime, you can catch up with Fran and her mother, who sell homemade jelly, jams, floral arrangements and aprons, at Cedar Rapids farmers markets. Fran also said she would consider selling Ray’s Market, as well as the house behind it. Although the business is in shambles, the home can be rebuilt.

More on their story is in the Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, issue of The Gazette.

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