Saturday, March 31, 2012

FAQ: What is this?

I'm often asked, "What is this?" This time, it's about a bee. 

Q. What is this? I noticed sawdust under my porch swing, and I felt buzzing in the seat. My husband found a hole in it. Something was moving inside, so he sprayed some bug-killer. While I was taking a picture a few days later, this came out!

A. I'm not a bee expert, but I have some experience. I've been stung by many. This looks like a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees look like bumblebees; both dig holes. Maybe they're the same species; I'm not sure. But, so far as I know, bumblebees nest in holes in the ground; carpenter bees dig holes in wood. Both would rather fly away, but will sting if threatened.

Several years ago, one son was mowing a field when he pulled the machine over a bumblebee nest. It was an unforgettable experience.

On another occasion, while visiting my uncle in the mountains of North Carolina, I tagged along to visit one of his auto mechanic friends. The friend's old, weathered barn was swarming with carpenter bees. There were holes and buzzings everywhere. The whole barn seemed to be vibrating. I wondered how long it could remain standing. I got close enough to watch them, but didn't make any sudden moves. I wasn't stung.

I don't know why bumblebees are so-named; maybe because of the sounds they make, or because they don't seem nimble. I expect that carpenter bees are called that because they work in wood and leave lots of sawdust. It doesn't seem to me that, other than making their own nests, carpenter bees build much else. They seem destructive to me. I've known carpenters like that.

I often see bumblebees or carpenter bees visiting orchards where I used to see honeybees. Fruits are set. They must serve useful purposes.

Return to

Monday, March 26, 2012

Behind A Garden Wall: The Wesley Memorial Garden

Wesley Memorial Garden entrance - St. Simon's, GA

"About 3:00 in the afternoon, I first set foot on St. Simons Island and immediately my spirit revived." Charles Wesley, March 9, 1736.

My sentiments exactly when I visited, about the same hour, the Wesley Memorial Garden, "Dedicated To the Glory of God and in memory of the Reverends John and Charles Wesley."

John Wesley (1703-1791), M.A., Lincoln College, Oxford, was a priest of the Church of England. He was appointed to be a missionary to the Colony of Georgia. Though he wanted to be a missionary to the Indians, General James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, assigned him to minister in Savannah. He was rector of Christ Church, Anglican, Savannah, from 1736 through 1737. John traveled occasionally to St. Simons to minister. He is most famous as a founder of Methodism.

John's brother, Charles Wesley (1707-1788), M.A., Christ Church College, Oxford, was also a priest of the Church of England, the first minister at Frederica on St. Simons. Charles was appointed as Oglethorpe's Secretary For Indian Affairs in 1736. Charles is best known as a Christian hymn writer and a co-founder of Methodism.

In 1984, A.W. Jones, Jr. proposed a gift of 20 acres to be divided equally between Christ Church, Frederica and the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church providing that the two come together to create a memorial honoring the Wesley brothers. Each set aside one acre for the project, and established a foundation to maintain the memorial garden. The garden was designed and the construction overseen by Henry Derriel Green and Candace Brewer. The focal point of the garden is an 18', 15 ton Celtic cross, cut from Elberton, Georgia granite.

There are two ways for visitors to enter the garden. The most obvious is through the front, flanked by garden walls of tabby and brick. The celtic cross is immediately visible. Gravel paths approach and surround the monument, and lead through a garden of over 4,000 azaleas, boxwoods and other shrubs. Camellias, ferns, suitable perennials and annuals provide seasonal interest.

The other visitor approach is from a parking lot directly across the street from Christ Church, Frederica. Here the entrance is marked by a bronze plaque mounted on a tabby pile, and another bronze plaque recognizing Alfred W. Jones, Sr. (1902-1982) and Katherine T. Jones (1903-1986) whose vision made the memorial possible. This is the approach I prefer because it provides a short woodland walk through a native forest ornamented by azaleas and other species. A monumental muscadine vine drapes a tree immediately inside the entrance. If you take this approach, stay on the gravel path. Poison ivy lurks.

Bignonia capreolata, Gelsemium sempervirens and Wisteria sinensis may be blooming in spring. Bignonia is the least obvious, usually flowering high above the head, and barely visible unless fallen blossoms are noticed on the ground.

On two acres, you can walk through the garden, be in and out in less than 15 minutes. That might be all you want if you have no interest in the Wesley brothers, if the flowering shrubs aren't in bloom, or if the mosquitoes and gnats are swarming. Otherwise, there are benches for rest and contemplation.

The Wesley Memorial Garden is magnificent during the spring azalea bloom. Masses of purple, red, orange, pink and white dazzle the eye. Unfortunately, the season is too brief, and as I write, it's over. I missed it my last visit. My other favorite is during fall and winter when camellias are in bloom, with the added advantage that mosquitoes and gnats aren't around. In my opinion, there are too few camellias at the Wesley Memorial Garden. A few fine ones screen the Wesley United Methodist Church from the garden.

While visiting the Wesley Memorial Garden, you should also walk across the street to walk around the grounds of Christ Church, Frederica. The church has a very interesting history. The cemetery is a fine place to stroll, view iconic sculptures and aged vaults, and contemplate.

Historic Fort Frederica National Monument is also nearby. History buffs shouldn't miss it.

These and other worthwhile sites, such as the St. Simons lighthouse, Village, and beaches are only a short drive off I-95, and well-worth your time. Revive your spirit on St. Simons Island. Don't be in such a hurry. Stay the night.

Return to

Saturday, March 10, 2012

FAQ: What Garden tasks should I do in March?

Among the most frequently asked questions, "When is the best time to...", is near the top of the list. Here are a few gardening tasks for March organized by region.

Northeast States: Frost is possible. Continue pruning dormant deciduous trees, shrubs, vines; but avoid removing spring flower buds. Maintain house plants, checking for disease and insects. Feed the birds. Browse seed catalogs and nursery web sites. Order spring flowering bulbs, onion sets, strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus, if you haven’t already. Check bulbs and roots in cool storage; throw out rotten ones. Add mulch to planting beds, if needed. Plant bare-root trees and shrubs. Sow warm-season annuals and vegetables in cold frame. Clean and oil garden tools.

Mid-Atlantic States: Frost is possible. Continue pruning dormant deciduous trees, shrubs, vines. Avoid removing spring-blooming flower buds. Spray dormant oil on dormant fruit trees, if you haven’t done so yet. Refill bird feeders often. Add mulch to planting beds, if needed. Take soil samples to your local Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. Adjust pH, if necessary. Sow warm-season annuals and vegetables in cold frame. Plant bare-root trees and shrubs. Clean and oil garden tools.

Mid-South States: Late frost is possible. Continue pruning dormant deciduous trees, shrubs, vines. Spray dormant oil on dormant fruit trees, if you haven’t done so yet. Continue planting and transplanting broadleaf and evergreen trees and shrubs, perennials and ground covers. Continue to irrigate shrubs and trees as long as weather is above freezing. Fertilize trees and shrubs when dormant, if you haven't done it yet. Add mulch to planting beds, if needed. Take soil samples to your local Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. Adjust pH, if necessary.

Lower South and Gulf States: Finish dormant pruning of deciduous trees, shrubs and vines. Do not spray fruit trees with pesticides if flowers are in bloom. For that matter, don’t spray any flowering shrub or tree with pesticides while flowers are in bloom. Plant both cool and warm season herbs and vegetables. Plant summer-flowering bulbs and tubers. Continue dividing perennials. As spring blooming bulbs complete flowering, allow foliage to yellow and dry before removing. Fertilize shrubs, trees, perennials, and small fruits. Begin lawn care and maintenance: adjust lawn pH to 6.5, fertilize, mow grass to a low level, dethatch, aerate. Begin rose care program.

Plains and Rocky Mountain States: Follow the same regimen as for Northeast States.

Pacific Southwest and Desert States: Follow regimen for Lower South and Gulf States.

Pacific Northwest States: Follow the same regimen as for Mid-Atlantic States.

Return to