Friday, April 15, 2016

Cherry Blossom Festivals: Reminders of Friendship Between Two Nations

A reader was kind enough to send a link to this web site celebrating spring cherry blossom festivals and the friendship between Japan and the U.S. which they signify.

The Gift of Cherry Blossoms: Honoring the Friendship of Two Nations.

An interactive map will help you find a cherry blossom festival near you.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How should I take care of bare root plants until I plant them?

Hedera helix - bare root

 Q. If I buy bare root plants from you, how should I take care of them until I plant them? How soon must they be planted?

A. You will receive your bare root plants from us in bundles wrapped with moist packing medium. When you receive your package, open it. Set the bundles upright in the box. Retain moist packing material around the roots. Avoid exposing the plants to sun, wind and freezing temperatures. Do not let the roots dry.

If you can’t get around to planting very soon, place the bundles upright in moist potting soil. Cover the roots with soil. Water well. Keep the roots moist until planting time. Plant sooner than later. Never let the roots dry.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How many bugs can a purple martin eat? I want to get rid of mosquitoes.

Purple Martin bird - JJ Cadiz, Cajay
[CC BY 3.0 (]

Q. How many bugs can a purple martin eat? I want to get rid of mosquitoes. 

A. I don’t know. Purple Martins are known to have insatiable, indiscriminate appetites for flying insects such as honeybees, mosquitoes, moths, flies, etc.  However, like the rest of us, some grow older, lose their appetites, and don’t fly so fast.

If you fear mosquitoes, I suggest you rid your home and garden of places where mosquito larvae can thrive. Are you catching rain water in buckets or barrels for irrigation? That sounds like a good idea, but mosquito larvae can thrive there. Stop collecting water, or treat the water with organic larvicide.

Don’t expect Purple Martins to rid your landscape of mosquitoes, but make homes for them, anyway. You’ll have lots of pleasure caring for them, watching their aerial acrobatics, and knowing they are doing good.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Fay Hyland Botanical Plantation Arboretum

Dr. Fay Hyland at the Fay Hyland Botanical Plantation

Trying to find a parking place to visit The Fay Hyland Botanical Plantation Arboretum - aka Fay Hyland Botanical Garden - on the campus of the University of Maine, Orono, is difficult. Trying to learn about the man is more so.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign! You’d think that after yesterday’s hippies gained control of universities, signs would have practically disappeared. Nope. There are more restrictions than ever.

I parked behind a fraternity house nearby. It was late morning. There was no apparent activity. I supposed the brothers were very studious and in class. I hoped my car wouldn’t be towed.

To learn something about the namesake, Fay Hyland, I had to search deeply. One would think that more information about him would be readily available in the online university web site. Not so. Perhaps Dr. Hyland seems irrelevant now.

According to, Fay Hyland was born March 10, 1900 in Portland, Michigan, the son of Mr. Charles Hyland and Lovinia Florence Crowell Hyland. Two of Charles and Lovinia’s children died in infancy. Lovinia was a Gold Star Mother, having also lost a child in war.

“Fay graduated from Portland High School, Portland, MI, and continued his education at Michigan State University, where he obtained his B.S. He continued his education at the University of Maine, obtaining his M.S. degree. Mr. Hyland did graduate work at Harvard University.

“During his career, he also participated in advance programs of the Brookhaven National Atomic Energy Laboratory, Syracuse University and the University of Massachusetts. He also authored many scientific publications.

“Fay initiated and developed the Botanical Plantation of the University of Maine. He taught there for 50 years, from 1926 until his retirement in 1965. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Maine in 1965. Dr. Hyland died in 1984.”

Stillwater River, Orono, ME
The Fay Hyland Botanical Plantation Arboretum was established in 1934. It’s located along the Stillwater River - a side channel of the Penobscot - affording beautiful views upstream and down.  Many of the trees are tagged for identification. Undeveloped paths and remnants of old drives allow visitors to walk through the collection. The 1.8 mile Stillwater River Trail on the opposite bank follows an old rail line constructed in the 1860s which transported wood products to nearby Bangor and coal to the university. A few relics remain.

Whether one is interested in silviculture, botany, the environment, the man, local history, or a nice place to stroll outdoors, The Fay Hyland Botanical Plantation Arboretum is a great place to walk among tall trees.

Follow me to see what grows there.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Will Blue Rug junipers help stop erosion?

Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii' - aka 'Blue Rug'

Q. We have a serious erosion problem on a slope beside our driveway. We like ‘Blue Rug’ junipers. Will they help stop erosion?

A. ‘Blue Rug’ junipers – aka Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ -  are fine for erosion control, but as with any ground cover, they hold soil best when they are mature. Since you have a “serious erosion problem”, you’ll have to take some measures to hold the soil in place until the junipers grow. 

I suggest you spread an erosion control blanket over the area, and then plant the junipers through it.
Erosion control blankets are available in several biodegradable materials including, straw, jute and coconut fiber in natural colors. The materials are held together with unobtrusive netting.  Water is allowed to percolate into the soil beneath while holding it in place. The ground cover plants will mature eventually to hide the blanket. The materials will decompose.