Monday, August 31, 2015

Gardens of Havre de Grace

Garden in Havre De Grace

Havre de Grace (pronounced: Have-ruh-duh-Grayce), Maryland is a small town you should visit. Located at the confluence of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay, Havre de Grace has retained its historic charm though it has long been beside heavily-traveled routes along the Eastern Seaboard. It was formerly known as Harmer’s Town, named by the settler – Godfrey Harmer – who established it in 1658.  The Lower Susquehanna Ferry first crossed the river in 1695.

The Marquis De Lafayette visited several times while traveling up and down the coast to encourage American patriots and fight alongside them. It was he who suggested that the proposed city along the banks “should be called Havre de Grace” meaning “Harbor of Grace.” So it was.

Though small in size, Havre de Grace was proposed to be named the capitol of our new nation. It lost the distinction by one vote to the swamp along the Potomac.

Havre de Grace became a terminus of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal in 1839. The Underground Railroad route ushered slaves to new-found freedom in nearby Pennsylvania.

Nowadays, U.S. 40, I-95 and U.S 1 carry lots of traffic nearby. It’s amazing that so many people pass without knowing about the jewel of a town just down the hill.

As proudly noted on the Explore Havre de Grace web site, listed it among the Best Small Towns in 2014. Rightly so. Interesting shops and restaurants, museums, special events, walking tours and gardens satisfy tourists, and of course there’s the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. Walkers can enjoy it from the Promenade. 

Havre de Grace Promenade

One particular feature of this part of the Chesapeake is the area known as the Susquehanna Flats. Millions of tons of sediment are deposited at the mouth of the river into the bay covering thousands of acres. Rich with submerged grasses, The Flats attract many species of wildlife, especially fish and waterfowl. Fishers and hunters follow.

Canada Geese

Havre de Grace is famous as the Decoy Capitol of the World. There’s no better place to learn about the history of hunting waterfowl and the decoys that attract them than the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum
Havre De Grace Decoy Museum

No matter your interest, a good walking tour can begin just about anywhere. Park your car where it’s legal and start strolling. That’s what I did. Follow me as we view landmarks and some of the gardens of Havre de Grace.

Concord Point Lighthouse
Concord Point Keeper's House

Concord Point Park
Raised beds in the making.

Peonies in bloom

Variegated boxwoods

Magnificent Fagus sylvatica purpurea
Gordonia alatamaha

Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum
Cornus kousa in bloom

History is best lived in.
Lovely clematis in bloom
Small, effective landscape planting
Hosta - America's favorite perennial.

Iris germanica
Quiet street scene

Old Bayou Hotel - Hot Spot of the Jazz Age

Rhododendron in bloom

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Monday, August 24, 2015

My crape myrtles are covered with black on the leaves.

Sooty mildew on Eucalyptus
Bidgee [CC BY 3.0 (]

Q. My crape myrtles are covered with black on the leaves. It won’t wash or wipe off. What is it and how can I get rid of it? Will it kill my crape myrtles? 

A. The black stuff is called sooty mold or sooty mildew which includes several species of fungi that thrive in honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky secretion from the bodies of aphids, whiteflies, scale insects and similar pests.  Honeydew reminds me of tiny droplets of corn syrup spray. Wherever it falls – on other plants or even your walkway – sooty mold will appear.

It’s futile to try removing the existing mold on leaves, but you can prevent it from appearing on new ones. Get rid of the insects. You’ll get rid of the mold. Shop your local garden center for insecticides labeled for the target insects. If mold occurs on ornamental plants, I prefer products containing systemic insecticide/fertilizer combinations. If applications are begun early in the season, you may prevent insect and sooty mold infestations all summer long.

Sooty mold will not kill your crape myrtles. However, the black film does interfere with exposure to sunlight, which is essential to photosynthesis. Repeated infestations can weaken your plants.

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