Garden log, 5.28.13


Today was a day for long-postponed garden chores: cutting back stalks of bearded and Dutch iris, deadheading roses and peonies, pruning back boxwoods. I am halfway through the boxwood hedge, reducing each plant by a third and thinning them to provide better air circulation. Removed some twiggy branches off a hickory and a droopy elm branch that had started to interfere with foot traffic through the garden. Pinched back Viburnum tinus and the camellias in the white garden.

Over the weekend, a neighbor was rumored to have found a copperhead in her garden. This reminded me that they often nest in piles of leaves, of which I have more than one or two lying around. Pulled on the long pants and rubber boots; got to work shredding the pile closest to the kids’ play area; hope to get to them all before the weekend. Sunny, 83 degrees.


Back in action

Please pardon my absence last week. My family played “pass the virus” amongst us but we’re all feeling better now. It’s been a brutal winter for many friends around here; I hope you are staying well where you are.

I got the roses sprayed with lime sulfur last Monday; fortunately, it only has to be done once a year (what a smell!). I sprayed the azaleas and viburnums with dormant oil and as I was strolling around, inspecting the troops, I noticed that the boxwoods are looking a bit rough around the edges.

leaf miner damage

It appears they are infected with boxwood leafminers, which cause the blistered appearance as well as the splotchy spots on the leaves. They overwinter in the leaves (drat!) and emerge in the spring to lay their eggs and start their cycle again.

Not this year! Although I don’t like to use a lot of chemicals in the landscape, I acknowledge that at times they are necessary, and then I use them very carefully, according to the label instructions (friends, more is not better). Between now and mid-April I’ll be doing some research to find out the least toxic option to manage these critters. The damage is pretty significant on a few of the shrubs and I don’t wish the hedge to look as gappy as the resident 7-year-old’s teeth.

Not only do I have leafminers, but I also appear to have mites as well. mite damageMites are very small insects that suck plant sap out of the leaves. Fortunately, they may be controlled by horticultural oil and insecticidal soap.

I’m hoping my observations this winter will help me stay on top of the problem this spring (which, from the forecast, may happen tomorrow). Fingers crossed!

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