Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I think a bear got into my bird feeder...

Q. I woke up to find my bird feeder pole bent over. Even though we live in a subdivision, I think a bear got into it. I also found my garbage cans plundered. There are bears in the mountains a few miles away. Do you have any suggestions to prevent this?

A. I also suspect you were visited by a bear. It would take a mighty big dog to bend a pole like that. I haven't had any such experience apart from camping, but I'll offer a few thoughts anyway.

I see that you have suet cages on your feeder. Suet could be the main attraction because it's mostly fat. Bears are omnivorous, which means that in addition to fruits, seeds and insects, they also eat meat or fat. Suet, of course, is fat mixed with seeds, sometimes fruits and even insects. YUMMY!

I also see that you have children, judging from the toys around. Bears could become a danger to your little ones as well as yourself if they become accustomed to finding food in your backyard.

So, I suggest you avoid attracting them by doing one or more of the following:
  • Keep your garbage cans in your garage, if you have one; 
  • Stop using the suet cages for awhile, or stop feeding the birds altogether;
  • While you're at it, remove anything else that bears might like to eat;
  • If you must feed the birds, suspend your feeder from a cable strung between sturdy steel posts or trees so the bears can't get at them.
I hope this is helpful.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

National Garden Bureau 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year - Allium 'Millenium'

Photo Credit: Walter's Gardens, Inc.

"The Perennial Plant Association has awarded the title Perennial Plant of the Year® 2018 to Allium ‘Millenium’. This herbaceous perennial, relative to the common onion, is a workhorse of the late summer garden. Bred by Mark McDonough, horticulture researcher from Massachusetts,

"...This cultivar is the result of a multigenerational breeding program involving Allium nutans and A. lusitanicum (formerly Allium senescens ssp montanum), selected for late flowering with masses of rose-purple blooms, uniform habit with neat shiny green foliage that remains attractive season long, and for its drought-resistant constitution.

"Allium ‘Millenium’ has numerous virtues to add to the landscape setting. Growing best in full sun, each plant typically produces an upright foliage clump of grass-like, glossy deep green leaves reaching 10-15” tall in spring. In midsummer, two to three flower scapes rise above the foliage with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch spherical umbels of rose-purple florets that last as long as four weeks. The flower umbels are completely round (spherical), not domed or hemispherical as they are in some Allium species.  They dry to a light tan often holding a blush of their former rose-purple color.  While other alliums can look scraggly in the heat of the summer, ‘Millenium’ does not let the heat bother it!  Easily grown in zones 4-9 (possibly zone 3) makes it a great perennial in many areas of the country.  In very hot summer climates it does appreciate afternoon shade."

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden

Pergola at Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden

The Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden covers almost six acres of plant displays on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. It was established in 1984 by faculty members of the Horticulture department to serve as a resource for plant, landscaping and environmental education.

The garden featuring perennial borders, aquatic gardens, shade gardens, a native meadow, and a pavilion was named in 2004 after benefactors T. Marshall and Peggy Lee Hahn (1923-2009). T. Marshall Hahn (1926-2016) was president of Virginia Tech from 1962 to 1974.

Ms. Hahn is dearly remembered in her obituary. “During her marriage to Dr. Hahn, she was a successful and much loved First Lady throughout his presidency at Virginia Tech from 1962 to 1975. Her love of flowers and gardening is legendary, evidenced by her determination to see the Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Gardens and Pavilion at Virginia Tech brought to fruition. The embodiment of a gracious lady and consummate hostess, she spent many years at her husband's side while he served as President and CEO of Georgia Pacific in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta, Ga. After retirement, they enjoyed traveling around the world, but ultimately returned to Blacksburg and Hickory Hill, which she often referred to as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’ where her greatest joys were tending her gardens and spending time with her family.”

The Hahn Horticulture Garden is set in the magnificent campus of Virginia Tech. In my opinion, the real beauty of the campus is due to the Hokie Stone, a local limestone that forms the facades of most VT buildings. To ensure a ready supply, the university has owned and operated its own quarry nearby since 1869.

Visitors can reach the Hahn Horticulture Garden without difficulty, with the possible exception being “game days”. Any season is a good season to stroll the garden.

Follow me to see what grows behind that garden wall.

Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden terrace

View of Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden

Fall foliage at Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden

Carex at Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden

Winterberry Holly at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Lawn view at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Junipers at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Cow sculpture at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Oakleaf Hydrangea at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Rain Garden at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Memorial stone collection - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Water feature - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Fish sculpture at Hahn Horticulture Garden

Ajuga 'Black Scallop' - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Ornamental grasses - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Arum italicum - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Insect sculpture - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Frank Lloyd Wright sculpture - Hahn Garden
Lamiastrum - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Cupressus nootkatensis - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Conifer collection - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Trifoliate Orange tree - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Euphorbia - Hahn Horticulture Garden

Euphorbia myrsinites - Hahn Horticulture Garden
Have you visited the Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden in Blacksburg, VA? We'd love to hear of your experience. Leave a comment, please.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kwanso Daylilies Still Blooming

It's September 28 and the Kwanso daylilies are still in bloom.

Return to Daylilies at GoGardenNow.com.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

 Since opening in April 1974, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has become one of the most successful mid-sized zoos in the United States, winning awards for exhibit design and animal conservation efforts. Original features included the moated exhibits for cats, bears, giraffes and rhinos, exhibits for small mammals and the 22,000-square-foot Ecosystem Birdhouse. My oh my, how it has grown!
Riverbanks, located at Columbia, SC, attracts more than 1.2 million visitors annually. That’s more than the population of Columbia Metropolitan area which is home to about 810,000 souls. It’s an easy 2 to 2-1/2 hour drive from cities such as Savannah, Charleston, Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, and Myrtle Beach.

In the early 1960s, some local businessmen conceived the idea of a small community zoo for children. The initial effort was doomed, but the idea didn’t die. In 1969 the South Carolina General Assembly created the Rich-Lex Riverbanks Park Special Purpose District governed by a seven-member commission. By doing so, two counties joined the city of Columbia in the project. Approximately 100 acres of land on the Saluda River outside the city limits were leased to the commission by South Carolina Electric and Gas for 99 years at $1.00 per year.

The property is also the site of several interesting historical landmarks and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Points of interest date back to the early 1800s with South Carolina’s textile industry and the War for Southern Independence.

Construction of Riverbanks Botanical Garden began in 1994 and opened in the summer of 1995. It’s connected to the zoo by an 800-foot-long bridge over the scenic Saluda River. The Garden includes a large visitor center, a formal walled garden, an antique rose garden, an education center and a half-mile long nature trail along the riverbank. Visitors may access the Garden by walking or taking a motorized tram.

A recent addition is a modest water park adjacent to the Botanical Garden. Together with the zoo, Riverbanks is a great place to spend a day.

Follow along to see what grows behind the garden wall.

Edgeworthia chrysantha (foreground)

Crapemyrtle allee

Mixed bulb, annual, perennial planting

Hyacinthoides hispanica

Riverbanks Botanical Garden View

Riverbanks Botanical Garden View

Stauntonia hexaphylla

Bignonia capreolata

Rose arbor
Have you visited the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden? We'd love to hear what you think about it. Let us know in the Comment section.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Determine If A Plant Is Edible

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia) fruit.

I don’t claim to be a fanatical foodie, though I love to cook and eat. But I am fairly serious about food, particularly native plants. My impressive credentials include:
One question that often enters my mind when eating any herb, spice, fruit or vegetable is, “How did someone decide THIS would be a good thing to eat?” Was it tested on "Mikey" first?

Kirsten Rechnitz, Head Instructor at Boulder Outdoor Survival School (Utah) suggests the following test for edibility if you’re in a survival situation where you have to subsist on mice and a few greens.

“The first thing you want to do is take a tiny bit of it and rub it on the inside of your wrist. And then you want to wait a number of hours to see if you have a reaction. If you don’t have a reaction…take the tiniest of bites, put it on your tongue, leave it there for a few seconds and then spit it out, and then rinse with some water. See what happens after a few hours, if you have anything going on. If you don’t, then maybe you want to take a tiny piece, chew on it, actually swallow it, take it down with some water. If you don’t have a reaction within a few hours, go for a small but larger gathering of that plant. Have that, then wait a full day and see what your system actually does. Anything like diarrhea, …itchy throat, ...stomach ache. Maybe that food isn’t actually poisonous, but it’s new to your body and if it’s causing you harm, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.”

That's one way it's done; courage born of starvation. Sylvester Stallone once remarked, “When I was a kid, my mother used to feed me mashed-potato sandwiches, Brussels sprout sandwiches; my brain cells were starving from lack of food. I'll eat anything. I'll eat dirt.”

Or, determining whether something is edible or delicious, even, can be born of an adventurous spirit.

There isn't anything I don't eat, although I'm not too keen on creepy crawly things. Other than that, I'm quite adventurous.  - Cherie Lunghi (Actress)

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

FAQ: How can I tell if my holly is dead?

Q. I transplanted a large Fleming holly in the spring. Soon afterward the leaves turned brown and fell off. I've been watering and fertilizing it, but I believe it's dead. I hate to dig it up unless I'm positively sure. How can I tell if it's truly dead?

A. With a pocket knife or your fingernail, scratch several places on the stems, starting at the top and working downward. If you see green beneath, it's still alive at that point. If it's brown, cut it off.

Even if the cambium is green, the plant might eventually die. But if you care enough to keep it, continue watering when needed. Don't add fertilizer. Keep an eye out for tiny vegetative buds forming and leaves emerging. It's still possible your holly will survive.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Foundation Shrubs for Home Security

In my recent article, Ten Simple Landscaping Ideas for Home/Land Security, the first two safety precautions were: 
  1. Choose low-growing foundation and border shrubs. (Low-profile shrubs require less pruning to keep them in bounds);
  2. Prune foundation shrubs to 3 feet high. (This might be necessary if you are working with an existing planting.)
The reason should be obvious; home intruders prefer to do evil in secret than in plain view.

Here are two examples.
This one shows a clean foundation planting with few places to hide.

This one exhibits a foundation planting that practically hides the house.

Which home would you choose to burgle? (Don’t get any ideas, now. Google is watching you!)

Some examples of low-growing shrubs include:

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Don’t think that tall plants are always excluded. If they're narrow, they don't provide such good places to hide. Some fine examples include:

Foundation shrubs such as these will help to make your home a safer place for yourself and your family.

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