Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh I will miss you!

Leaving for my annual Sweden trip tonight. Not much to complain about, except...

The Joe Pyeweed in my backyard is so close to bloom...

My Summersweet has big buds and my bird house gourds are about to take off...

The lavender in the community garden is still attracting billions of beautiful creatures...

And this Great Golden Digger wasp is busy busy at the onions.

And exactly What will become of this furry moth caterpillar hiding under a violet leaf?

I know most of it will still be there when I get back. And there's plenty to marvel at in the Swedish forests and gardens. I will soon show you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Summer is here. Abundance of color, fragrance and taste. Whether it's in my backyard, community garden or weeds by the roadside, I love everything about it.

Dock and mugwort

Grass and chickory

Green bee on aster

 Painted Lady in my backyard

 White currant in my community garden plot

Tart but absolutely delicious even for Milo

A wasp building nest in my fake birdhouse

Double decker beebalm

Tiny bees mating in California Poppy

Honeybees on onion

Dill stars

The Black Currant - bigger, slightly less tart, with edible leaves as well

My Butterfly weed took three years from seed to this but so worth the wait

A bug most vegetable gardeners do not appreciate - Squash Vine borer Moth. She will lay her eggs in the vines of squashes and pumpkins and the larvae will almost certainly kill the vine. Enlarge to see her funny looking furry appendages? dangling from her body.
A question mark

This Tiger Swallowtail was in Franklin Park, spotted by my son who knew how excited I would be to see it. Enlarge the picture to see the nectar feeding tube elegantly rolled up, and to take a look at the great coloration of the body as well.

A wasp carrying a green larvae almost her own size. Is it going to be food for her eggs?

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to plant a tree

The reason why I went to Garden in the Woods the other day was a workshop in tree planting, but I sort of got caught up in admiring the azaleas that were blooming and never posted anything from the workshop.

Our instructor was Rolph Briggs, a wellknown arborist with many projects under his belt. He is the man in the hat, as we are we are gathering around the pot-grown birch we have the honor of planting on the sacred grounds of the Wild flower Society.

I will not go into much detail about the workshop - it's actually pretty basic stuff. Unfortunately, trees today often get planted too deep which will eventually kill them, since the root system does not retrieve enough nutrition when it's buried under too much soil. This is partially because many people have the wrong idea of how trees grow their roots - we still tend to think they grow deep down, when they actually spread outwards and never really go any deeper than 6-18 inches. And it's partially a consequence of nursery machinery that digs up the young trees and wraps them in burlap for delivery to stores. The machine throws a lot of dirt on top of the root ball, and then the customer assumes the proper depth being the top of the burlap ball, when in fact the root flares should be clearly visible, and those extra inches of soil should be brushed off. He showed us how to remove soil from the trunk of the tree so that we could all see the first primary roots. If some of them were crossed, as roots will be if they've been confined to small pots for too long, the crossing roots need to be cut off so they won't be girdling the tree when the root keeps growing. This seems self evident - but there's still quite a lot of resistance and ignorance around the subject.

Here the primary roots of the tree are exposed and it can now be planted with the root flare clearly visible.

Once he hole was dug and the plant's roots were freed from the confining shape from its tim ein the container, the measuring stick came out. The tree was placed in the hole, and pretty much all of us was surprised to see that it really shouldn't go any deeper than this.

Again, we checked the depth with stick and a shovel. 

and then we carefully filled up the hole with a gentle mix of compost and soil.

The special mulch came on

And although the tree was standing firm, we staked it for good measure.

Now, on the way home I couldn't help but notice how this new development has their trees planted deep and buried under vulcanoes of mulch.

If your trees look like this, please liberate them as soon as you can from the vulcano of mulch, and if it can't be replanted, at least don't bury it!

White moth identified...

A few weeks ago I saw this white moth resting in a planter with pansies. It was so white and neat, and the planter so tidy and non-natural, and I thought they sort of fitted well together. I wrote to (thanks for that one too, Jackie!) and in a few days they returned with the answer.

The White slant-line moth (Tetracis cachexiata) is maybe better known in its caterpillar form, where it tries really hard to look like a twig.
This picture I downloaded from google since I wanted to show what a completely different creature its larva is.

It feeds on many different kinds of trees, and can be found along the East Coast from Canada to Florida.