What's Up 67: Ginkgo, cucumber, stump rotter, weevils

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In this issue:

Ginkgo can warm a heart yet fail to glow
Nuke the soil when cukes fail?
Tripped up by stump rotters
Fruitful ginkgo: Big mistake?
Poison ivy's edible relative
Cool way to say hang on and track dirt

In our gardens:
Hands-on tree winterizing, tree planting
Steps to renovate perennial beds
Reason to be a Christmas light lookout
Add ideas to the Best of What Came Up
Acclaim a fabulous fall
Reclaim a punky peony
Derail weevils to save coral bells
Correction: fertilizer chart, Issue #66, page 21

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H-eye-lights from this issue:

Photos and captions to hit the high points. To read much more in the complete issue download the pdf.

After this week, holidays trump gardens. How about helping me to recap this past year and toast the new? See pages 3 and 9-11 for examples like the one below: "After an overly wet spring, the weather was the best of what came up for us. So many fine days when we could walk in the woods, or take the dogs out to play Frisbee!"



Ginkgo goes for fall gold, sometimes ends its race quietly

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Above, left: This Ginkgo biloba's still a baby at 25. Even though it was purchased as a fruitless male variety, we'll still hold our breath until it's still fruit-free at 30 and beyond.
Above, right: It can be disappointing when trees with potential miss their mark in developing fall color, yet it's also part of the fun. Variability makes every year a lottery. Although we hope our trees will show, we never put big money on them. Thus it's all just a game we can win but never really lose. Plus we know there's always "next year!" Even more than its overall gold, I love to see ginkgo leaves (above) as they change. The green seems to drain from each fan-shaped leaf blade, replaced by an arc of gold along the outer edge (right side leaves, above) which recedes like a wave's imprint on the shore.

You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.


One gardener's weed, another gardener's joy: Fruitful ginkgo trees


Above: Ginkgo fruit ripens. When it drops it's sometimes called "stink bombs."


Protecting Japanese maples


If a hard freeze kills a Japanese maple's leaves before they finish producing a seal between their stalk and the twig, moisture can escape through the tiny hole left when wind or snow finally pulls that leaf free. This drying can, in turn, cause twig die-back during that winter. This understory maple is protected from sudden freezes -- something its species "expects." If such a tree is out in the open and can't complete its normal leaf drop, it's a candidate for treatment with anti-desiccant -- a.k.a. antitranspirant -- on a cold but not freezing day as winter nears. These spray-on products form a waxy protective layer over twigs and leaves that are at risk of drying out. Examples are Wilt-Pruf® and Moisturin®.

You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.


Clean up peony roots


Above: See the tiny bulbs lodged in crevices of this peony crown? They are wild onions, a.k.a. ramps. "Look at that, they aren't even ashamed of themselves!" said Deb Hall, my right hand gardener in this bed renovation. Too true, Deb! Which is why even after we removed all we found as we dug over the beds we'll respect this weed's determination by expecting and planning to continue our anti-ramp campaign. Right now, that means smothering spaces where they may emerge because these cool season plants can double or triple in size by spring if their foliage reaches the sun.


Keep an eye peeled for leftover holiday lights.

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Above: It happens quicker than even a gardener expects, that an expanding limb takes up the slack in its wire wrapping and girdles itself. We advised this tree's owner of what we saw, just in time.

You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.


The Best of What Came Up


Above: "I'll nominate a pest for "best" -- pine sawfly," says Steven. 'It qualifies because for once I remembered to get out there and knock all the sawflies off before they ate away all of last year's needles!"
Below: Steven sees this photo, simply as a photo, as an example of the BEST of What Came Up. It's captivating, and makes me want to stay forever in that day when the creeping forget me not (Myosotis scorpioides) was blooming all around this statue's nose.



Above: Tollgate Farm (Meadowbrook at 12 Mile Road in Novi, Michigan) almost closed because of State budget cuts. It survived, last minute. How I would miss shooting in its peaceful, pretty places. Probably some people who bring their kids to its children's garden don't even know they nearly lost this gem!
Below: I rank it with the year's best ideas, seeing the railroad set-up in Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania). Just as I was saying to myself, "I want a train in our garden!" a little redheaded boy who could've been me 50 years ago, ran up and said exactly that.


 You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.


Pitted Peony need help!


Above: Peonies are susceptible to leaf spots that can progress to become stem infections. Then they travel down to the crown and decay the root. When I lifted this peony it was with the intention of removing any weeds, dividing it to obtain the most vigorous piece, then re-setting it in a new spot within the garden. Seeing this extensive damage and realizing how many fungal spores must reside in those divots and hollows, I had to change my plan. To salvage it I chose the piece with the most plump buds, cut away the infected material, then cleaned it with a bleach-water solution (peroxide would have worked, too). In the end I was left with smaller starts than anticipated. It may have been better to hot compost the infected plant and start fresh.


Above: Sometimes the peony with this kind of problem is very special. If it's Aunt Mel's grandma's treasure, the best course is to think small. Here's the best segment I could find. Is it any wonder so many peony transplants fail to bloom the next year? Think how many spores are ready to transfer from infected spots here to new shoots, come spring, killing any bud before it even begins to swell!


Above: Then, I cut away bad tissue and cleaned what remained with bleach and water on cotton tipped swabs. The resulting division is quite small (below) but it's willing -- see the new roots it's already developing? It's also a good idea to relocate this plant to a bed where peonies have not been grown, in the full sun and great drainage peonies need to be at their best.

You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.


When evil weevils crop your coral bells' roots

If in fall you dig up a coral bell (Heuchera) or any of the 100+ species that are prey to root weevils you may notice notched foliage or that they lack new white roots. Check for black vine weevil grubs in the crown and in the soil next to the plant. They are now about the size of cooked barley grains, yet a perennial may die if it must continue to support even a few of these grubs from November to May. Think of weevil grubs as ravenous adolescents, able to eat huge amounts and do twice as much damage in this stage as in their infancy. Clean the perennials' roots to be sure they are rid of all weevils, squashing every grub you find. Then, move the host plants to a bed that's free of weevil symptoms.

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 You're viewing highlights of issue 67. To read the complete issue download the pdf.












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