Alas, my bouquet of tu*ips

Call me superstitious, but some garden things are best left unsaid. For example, it can be dangerous to look forward to the blooming of t***ps. I dare not speak their name. Because the squirrels who, each spring, unceremoniously snap off the heads of the handful of t***ps in my tiny, tiny garden have been at […]

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Warning: Eastern Filbert Blight

The rather gross-looking cankers of Eastern filbert blight, a fungus that’s not a fun-guy! Run out right now and inspect your corkscrew hazel shrub (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) for bumps like these. If you see semi-regular, black cankers along the stems (like I did), your hazel has Eastern filbert blight (Anisogramma anomala). If left to its own […]

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The Aptly Named Hell Strip

I’d been gardening on it for almost 10 years before I knew these garden spaces actually had a name: The Hell Strip. And suddenly all my challenges made sense. Yep, I’ve been trying to garden on a little strip o’ hell. For those of you unacquainted with the “hell strip” it’s a long garden space […]

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Dude, Where’s My Obelisk?

Do garden sneaks arrive in the night wearing slippers? You could have sworn it was there when you went to bed last night. A beautiful—and pricey—metal obelisk for a clematis to scramble up. This morning: only a empty space where the garden designer installed it.  Obelisk? Gone, baby, gone. You had planned on watering the […]

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Nip this bug problem in the bud… or in the egg

During a post-vacation check-up of my heat-challenged, newly planted Japanese maple this morning I spied this pixel-patterned egg mass. Aha! I exclaimed, summoning my vast store of entomological knowledge, Those are definitely the eggs of some kind of insect. No, I’m not an entomologist. But I can be a fairly good detective when it comes […]

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Dog-strangling vine now in flower

If you haven’t nipped it in the bud yet, at least get this menace before it sets seeds. The brownish flowers of dog-strangling vine aka swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum, syn. Cynanchum spp., from the Greek meaning “to choke a dog”) usually look fairly insignificant, though they seem fairly showy in this picture. I guess this particular […]

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Warning: Hosta Virus X

Take a close look at the mottled colour on this hosta leaf, a pattern known as inkbleed. It’s one of the first signs that a hosta has been infected by Hosta Virus X (HVX), for which there is no cure. Photos of other telltale symptoms of this disease – which has become a silent epidemic […]

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Tamarix: One of the Dirty Dozen

Pretty, isn’t it? Tamarix ramosissima, also known as tamarisk or saltcedar, is blooming with extra vigor here and there around the city. When not in bloom, it looks unassuming, and sparsely feathered – as if a shrub had disguised itself as asparagus fern. Don’t be fooled. I used to wonder why it wasn’t more widely […]

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Red Alert: Lily Leaf Beetle Eggs

Nip your lily leaf beetle problem in the bud, or in the egg, by squishing this pest’s red, shiny ova before they hatch. Here’s what they look like… laid in a line, on the underside of lily leaves. Oriental and Asiatic lilies are particularly yummy to the lily leaf beetle, and the three successive generations […]

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Oh, no! Rust on my roses

Rust! I have rust. For the first time ever, rust on my roses. Not on my tough-as-old-boots Rosa ‘New Dawn’, but on my I-had-such-high-hopes-but-it-seems-they’re-coming-to-naught David Austin rose, R. ‘William Morris.’ Rust is a fungal disease, which spreads by spores. Sometimes, rust on roses is co-hosted by junipers, so I’ll have to inspect the tree in […]

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Gardening for the (not yet) Hard of Hearing

Commenting on my Leaf Eater review, wise Pomona Belvedere of Tulips in the Woods reminded me to wear ear protection. She’s quite right. As someone who has a severe-to-profound hearing loss, I should know. And know better. Called presbycusis – a great word to file away for Scrabble or crossword clues – my type of […]

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