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Do you use Gmail?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Attention, Weedpatch readers. Gmail has decided to make our lives easier, which means they’ve created a new “time waster” to our lives. Please check to see if my email alerts to new posts has ended up in the “Promotions Tab” on gmail, rather than the “Primary Tab”… Ugh.

Here’s how to check:

http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-do-i-get-my-emails-to-the-primary-tab-in-gmail

I do hope you are enjoying the Weedpatch Gazette and that you will recommend subscribing to everyone you ever met. My ego really really wants more readers, so whatever you can do… xxx’s Rommy Lopat, editor

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

“Do Deer Like Milkweed”?

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

Do Deer Like Milkweed?

This is a query received from a Weedpatch reader named Patti S. I LOVE questions from readers because finding answers is my way of avoiding working on any essential tasks (like earning money or calling the health insurance company). Very oddly, the question reminded me that I had recently bought a used book, The Hidden Life of Deer, by naturalist/anthropologist, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, but had not yet read it. So, now’s the time, right? Honest to God, I randomly opened the book to page 186 and immediately saw the word, “Monarch”. Could I really have an answer so quickly? Well, no, but I did read four riveting pages of Thomas’ observations of a Monarch caterpillar on a Milkweed leaf. Which left me with the question, “Do caterpillars shit only on leaves they don’t nibble”?

But I digress. Next, I googled. Whereupon I came upon a lot of other people looking to answer the same question, but also found my new favorite website, homesteadingtoday.com, which appears to be about as blue state/red state in its opinions as Americans can be. There I read comments claiming that Milkweed is “a noxious weed, just like kudzu” and how best to eradicate it with 2-4D but followed by polite suggestions from obvious blue staters like, “couldn’t you leave just a little bit for the butterflies?”. I also read how Grandpa considered Milkweed to be his cash crop during WWII cuz he sold the waterproof and buoyant floss for stuffing in life jackets and flight suits (methinks Grandpa did not get rich but this CSM article about its WWII uses is REALLY interesting). Then I read that Milkweed “never bothered the cattle”. And that Milkweed should be planted by the front door because it draws bees but the bees “keep the door knockers away”. The same commentator, “Alleyyooper”, answered Patti’s question this way: “Deer like it like a horse eats oats”. H’mmm…

But methinks that Alleyyooper is wrong about the grazing deer. “Milkweed” is MILKweed for a reason (actually, let’s rename it “Silkweed”, much more attractive name). Milkweed refers to its “white juice, which is a kind of rubber”. (Recall that Thomas Edison tried to use it to replace rubber in making car tires. True.). Here’s more from a 1911 book, Handbook of Nature Study, (buy it!) recommended to me by botanist Jerry Wilhelm:

“The most striking peculiarity of the milkweed plant is its white juice. Let a drop of it dry on the back of the hand, and when we try to remove it we find it quite elastic and possessed of all the qualities of crude rubber. We can see that the hollow of the center of the stem has around it a dark green ring, and that outside this is a light green ring. It is from the dark green ring that the milk exudes. The juice will soon fill and heal the wound we made. This milk is not the sap of the pine; it is a special secretion, and is very acrid to the taste. Milkweed is seldom eaten by grazing animals…”.

P1060681

I tested the Milkweed myself, including trying to sniff for its “strong odor” which I thought might deter the deer. I couldn’t smell any odor, although I thought I detected a soft vanilla scent. Deer cookies? Anyhoo, this is what I think. If you were a deer grazing in a salad bowl of vegetation, you might bite off a Milkweed occasionally, but if you got a mouthful of white sticky latex on your tongue every time you would definitely prefer to eat something else. Like a hosta. So, dear Patti, plant the milkweed and watch to see what the deer do to it. Get back to us, okay?

And to alleyyooper–if a horse eats too many oats, a horse gets sick. Same with Milkweed and deer. Please plant milkweed. Make a butterfly come alive.##

monarch on milkweed

Got Milkweed?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

If you are reading this, doubtless you know the Golden Rule of Biodiversity: plant milkweed. Please. No, I take back the “please”. Just do it. Even if you garden on only a balcony, grow some milkweed in a clay pot. However you manage it (ie “float” its diaphanous seed in the parkway or the alley), be a guerrilla biodiversifier and…plant milkweed.

You know why I am pushy about this plant: because its leaves are the only thing that Monarch butterflies can eat. As noted entomologist Doug Tallamy says, “To have butterflies, we need to make butterflies. To make butterflies, you must use a native species that serve as a host for butterfly larvae [Ed: that’s a caterpillar] as well as a supply of nectar for adult butterflies. Butterflies do not lay their eggs on any old plant. They lay their eggs only on the plant species to which their larvae are adapted”. And that means…Milkweed.

You even have choices when it comes to which milkweed, but three species are commonly available in garden centers or via seed packets:

The Common milkweed [Asclepias syriaca], which has husky leaves, roots that grow to China, and a handsome dusty rose globe of a flower. [If you are worried about this being too aggressive, look for its cousin, Sullivant’s milkweed, which grows slowly, albeit by rhizomes, which means its good in tough-to-grow-anything-else spots. Nonetheless, I like the Common milkweed in gardens–it provides a tall, solid, almost tropical contrast although you might have to tie it up with a strong shoelace.]

 

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

The Butterfly weed [Asclepias tuberosa], which has flowers the extravagant color of a Navel orange, does well in dry, “crappy” soils, and makes a great bouquet;

Common Milkweed / Asclepias syriaca

Common Milkweed / Asclepias syriaca

The Red or Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata] has a two-toned pink flower, narrow leaves, and a pleasing way of gracing a moist spot–especially nice en masse if you have a lake edge to landscape.

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

And if Monarch’s weren’t good enough for you, at least 11 other species of butterflies and moths reproduce on milkweed as well. Goldfinches eat the insects that get trapped in the flowers and also use milkweed seed “down” for nesting material, and you may see (good) beetles on the plants as well. Biodiversity can be easy if you try!

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air...

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air…

Okay, I’ll be nice again. PLEASE plant milkweed someplace on your property. Or your balcony. And now I won’t be nice: if you work for a municipality, we gardeners expect to see milkweed growing everywhere around town. It’s the law.#

My Ash Was Shot Up Today!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s July 23 and a relatively cool day outside, just right for giving my ash(es) an injection…

P1060374-001

…against the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). If you have a large ash (this is just too hard to write without laughing), I recommend getting shots. Just so you know, our five ash trees, ranging from 10″ – 23″ in diameter, cost $645 to be injected with a two-year treatment. This reduces to an average cost of $65/tree/year. Which is a whole lot less than cutting these trees down, especially because they are wedged in next to our garage, a new-ish fence, power lines, and ornamental plantings. Plus having been innoculated before, they look incredibly lush and healthy now.

And, puff puff, aren’t I something…the company that innoculated them, The Care of Trees, took my suggestion and made dogtags to hang on each tree showing when they were treated against EAB:

P1060363-001

Please have a forester inspect your big ol’ ash today! You’ll thank me later!#

By the way, ash is a very hard wood and if you have to cut down a tree, make sure you use the wood somehow. You can save it for firewood or have a portable sawmill come to your house and make some planks for flooring or tables or baseball bats or…building a log cabin.##

The Blues on the 4th of July

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Happy 4th of July! It’s a great holiday, parades, picnics, pyrotechnics. What’s not to like?

Of course, you can get the blues on the 4th of July-but in a good way, in the garden. Two bulbs must be ordered for your garden because they are indispensable and you cannot have too many of either one. First, let me introduce, Brodiaea corrina:

A side view showing coloration of Brodiaea corrina

A side view showing coloration of Brodiaea corrina

Isn’t she beautiful? I can’t pronounce her name worth a damn (I call her “Corrina”), but these 2″ funnels of blue with darker blue midveins can be planted anywhere in your garden and you will be so pleased with yourself that you’ll glow all day with nary a depressing thought until the evening news comes on.

Then, to keep “Corinna” company, order yourself scads of Allium azureum, aka The Blue of the Heavens, introduced in 1830. A true blue that is so blue that even a pink flamingo turns into a blue flamingo in its company:

Allium azurum: globes of true blue color

Allium azurum: globes of true blue color

Both are available through mail order from John Scheepers, Inc. Order today and thank me next July 4th!#

Garden(er) Inspirations

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Last week while shopping at Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock, Il, I met a lovely gentleman named Art Tanimura. Art is a part-time salesperson at Rich’s because, he explained, “It’s a hike out here in traffic, but I really like the plants and the people I meet.” That’s a plenty fine reason to take a job, right? Art has a two-acre property in Long Grove, and as you can see, he’s done a remarkable job as a gardener. And, yes, he is a really good salesperson (very patient, very knowledgeable) of dwarf conifers, Asian maples, and the other wacky plants sold at Rich’s. By the way, Rich and Susan Eyre have a personal goal of building sixty hospitals in South America. (Don’t you LOVE people who think like that?) Your purchases of hostas and conifers are the backbone of making their dream come true.# PS If you would like to make a collage of your garden, however “modest”, send it here for posting. It can be your 15 minutes of fame!

Tanimura Garden, Long Grove, IL

Tanimura Garden, Long Grove, IL

News Briefs from around the World…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Social Impact of Horticulture, Uncategorized, Weather | 2 Comments

In case you missed these stories…

. TWIGITECTURE: my new favorite word and my new favorite garden idea. Gotta have my own nest! Check out this NYTimes story by Penelope Green. People are soooo creative…

Jayson Fann's nests

. Conserving water is very important, especially when Illinois is in drought and, despite a lot of rain this year, Lake Michigan is 19″ below where it should be. I live in Lake Forest, which borders Lake Michigan, where we have a daytime “sprinkling ban” by which half the town (even-numbered houses) gets to irrigate between midnight-10 am or 8 pm-midnight on one day, and then the other half of homes gets to irrigate the next night. We don’t have automatic sprinklers at our house because I think they waste more water than they save, and my plants don’t need equal amounts of water. Thus I hand-water–in the morning. Usually. Maybe on an even day. (So arrest me.)

But, according to the NYTimes, the water-parched City of PHOENIX, AZ doesn’t have such restrictions. “There is no limit to how many times someone can wash a car or water flowers in a yard…that’s just myopic”, says Phoenix’s Policy Advisor for Sustainability. Instead, it uses strategies such as “graywater” from bathrooms and washing machines to irrigate, or uses treated wastewater to cool a nuclear power plant and a man-made wetland. Water use is a factor in zoning decisions. While Phoenix does not, other cities such as Mesa, Las Vegas, and Tucson give rebates for residents who remove grass and xeriscape, harvest rainwater, or use graywater for landscaping. Some towns regulate homeowners’ trees, shrubs and flower choices. The article does not say how much residents pay per gallon of water, but these strategies appear to be working: in 1990, Phoenix residents used 250 gallons of water/day. Now they use 123. H’mmm…

Los Angeles' residents use 123 gallons/H20/day. How much do you use?

Los Angeles’ residents use 123 gallons/H20/day. How much do you use?

. NYC aims to make recycling mandatory by 2016. Wow, good! That means 1.2 million tons of food waste will be made into COMPOST!

. CHINA is moving 250 million (yes, you read it right) farmers off their land and into high-rise apartment buildings in newly-made “cities”. The hope is to create 250 million CONSUMERS. Can you say, “worldwide social, moral, cultural, and economic DISASTER”?

. NYC has released its Climate Change report which predicts that 800,000 people will live in the 100-year flood plain by 2050, more than double the current 398,000 currently at risk. The number of days with temperatures above 90 degrees is expected to jump from 22 to 48/year by 2050.

. LOURDES, FRANCE is under flood water. They are hoping for a miracle.##

Lourdes photo

A WEDDING GARDEN

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Landscape Architecture, Plants, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s June! Time for graduations (congratulations to our Leah for graduating from UCLA!) and especially for WEDDINGS (congratulations to my husband, John Drummond, for marrying me 25 years ago. Smart move.).

In honor of June weddings, I thought it would be fun to design a garden that celebrates weddings. A “Wedding Garden” would be so exciting to design and install at the Chicago Botanic Garden or other venues so that brides could be surrounded by plants that add to the joy by virtue of their names. (I’ve designed but never installed a Dentists Garden and a Candyland Garden full of “sweet sugary” or “toothed” plants).

By the way, having reviewed long lists of plant names, my research reveals that plant hybridizers have their preferences (who knew?) in names. “Wedding names” mostly come from people who hybridize daylilies [Hemerocallis]. But other types of growers make some interesting choices. For example, Hosta hybridizers like…FOOD. There’s Hosta ‘Guacamole’, Hosta ‘High Fat Cream’, Hosta ‘Golden Waffles’, Hosta ‘Candy Hearts’, Hosta ‘Cherry Berry’, Hosta ‘Donahue Piecrust’, Hosta ‘Spilt Milk’, Hosta ‘Vanilla Cream’, and Hosta ‘Regal Rhubarb’.

On the other hand, rose hybridizers prefer proper names, especially if you are a Duke, Duchess, Queen, Dr., Frau, General, Kaiser, Lady, President, Princess Prince, Sir, or Saint. Check out this amazing list of Rose names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rose_cultivars_named_after_people

 
Nonetheless, here’s my list of perennials, shrubs and trees that are good candidates for a WEDDING GARDEN: (If you have photos or more plant “wedding names”, please send them to me.)

SHRUBS and TREES

Abelia grandiflora ‘Silver Anniversary’: (Zone 6): a 3’x3′ shrublet with white-margined foliage with white flowers

Halesia tetraptera ‘Wedding Bells’: (Zone 6): 20′ tall rounded tree with white bells

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’: (Zone 4): 10-12″ flower clusters open cream and age to pink, rose and red

Hydrangea ‘Wedding Ring’: (Zone 5): 3-4′ shrub with reblooming bi-color lacecap flowers

Spirea thunbergii ‘Mt. Fuji’: (Zone 4): This is “Bridal Veil” Spirea, blooming white in spring

Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’: (Zone 5): ivory-white flowers in summer

Syringa vulgaris ‘Bridal Memories’: (Zone 4): Fragrant, creamy-white single flowers

 

 PERENNIALS

Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’: 2o” lavender – blue spikes, July-Sept

Aster nova-angliae ‘Wedding Lace’: 36″-48″ white daisies in Sept-Oct

Astilbe arendsii ‘To Have and To Hold’: 28″ purple-pink plumes in June-July

Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamonds and Pearls’: 28″ silver white plumes in July-Aug

Astilbe arendsii ‘Vision in White’: 18″ conical white spires in June-July

Astrantia major ‘Ruby Wedding’: 28″ dark red frilled flowers from May-Sept

Buddleia davidii ‘Attraction’: 36″ magenta-red flowers from July-Sept

Chrysanthemum ‘Bridal Bouquet’: 6-10″ double ruffled white shasta daisy from June-Sept

Cimicifuga simplex ‘Black Negligee’: 60″ lacy black/purple leaves with white flower spikes in October

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’: 36-60″ with pink/white flowers in June and Sept

Dianthus hybridus ‘First Love’: 15-18″ white aging to rose from April-Sept

Dicentra eximia ‘Burning Hearts’: 10″ dark red hearts from May-Sept

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’: 24-30″ red hearts in May-June’

Echinacea h ‘Fatal Attraction’: 26″ rich pink with dark stems in July-August

Echinacea h ‘Secret Desire’: 36″ multi-color pink and orange from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Joy’: 24-28″ double pale yellow poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Lust’: 25-31″ fiery-orange double poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Passion’: 18-27″ coral cone with pink rays from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Romance’: 28″ salmon-pink double flowers from July-Sept

Athyrium ‘Lady in Lace’: a 12″ frilly fern

Gaura lindherii ‘The Bride’: 36″ white flower aging to pink from June-Aug

Helleborus h ‘Sparklyn Diamond’: 12-14″ double white from March-June

Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’: 24″ heuchera with fuzzy lime-green leaves and white sprays from Sept-Oct

Hibiscus h ‘Heart Throb’: 48″ plant with 10″ wide burgundy-red flowers from July-Sept

Hibiscus h ‘My Valentine’: 48″ plant with 9″ wide deep red flowers from July-Sept

Hosta ‘Bridegroom’: 18″ green pointy leaves with purple spikes in July-Aug

Hosta ‘Everlasting Love’: 14″ blue-green leaves with wide cream edges, lavender spikes in July

Linum perenne ‘White Diamond’: 12″ dwarf white flax from May-August

Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Burning Love’: 16″ dwarf red clusters of flowers from June-Aug

Papaver ‘Royal Wedding’: 30″ poppy with white flowers in May-June

Peony ‘Bridal Gown’: 32″ double creamy white flowers. Midseason

Peony ‘Bridal Grace’: double bomb with a deep creamy infusion inside and some red flecking outside; 32″

Peony ‘Bridal Shower’: Ivory white double bomb framed by white guard petals; 34″

Phlox subulata ‘Maiden’s Blush’: 4″ pale pink flower with a lilac eye in May and Sept

Rose ‘Burning Love’: I couldn’t find a description: coral red, I think, but…

Saruma henryi: 12-16″ heart-shaped downy leaves topped by soft yellow flowers from May-Sept

Scabiosa japonica ‘Blue Diamonds’: 6″ lilac-blue flowers from June-Aug

Veronica ‘First Love’: 12″ bright pink spikes from June-August

DAYLILIES

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’: 40″, early-mid season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride Elect’: 36″, mid-season, fragrant, coral pink

Hemerocallis ‘Bride to Be’: 28″, late, cream melon pink with gold edge and yellow pink throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Bouquet’: 30″, mid-season, very pale yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Dream’: 21″, early, lavender wine spider with wide green and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Garter’: 26″, mid-season, fragrant, cream with purple eye and purple gold edge, green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Halo’: 30″, mid-late, fragrant, orange pink blend with orange halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Kiss’: 36″, early-mid, rosy red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’: 42″, mid-season, red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’s Gown’: 28″, early, fragrant, light pink with gold edge and very green throat (Author: Bridesmaid’s Gown: this plant must be really ugly!)

Hemerocallis ‘Dayton’s Last War Bride’: 32″, mid-season, very fragrant, yellow with rose halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Diva Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, ruffled cream with pink blush and butter yellow edge and throat

Hemerocallis ‘Fairy Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, orchid pink with yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Filipina Bride’: 30″, mid-season, blue pink with a slightly darker eye and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Gypsy Bridesmaid’: 20″, early-mid season, rose edged white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Hopi Bride’: 28″, early, fragrant, cream with burgundy eye and yellow green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Journey’s Bride’: 32″, mid-season, fragrant, pink bi-tone with gold edge

Hemerocallis ‘June Bride’: 34″, mid-season, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘June Bridesmaid’: 25″, early-mid season, fragrant, light pink bi-tone with darker pink edge

Hemerocallis ‘Princess Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, very fragrant, white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Quaker Bride’: 44″, mid-late season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Radiant Bride’: 29″, mid-late season, fragrant, red wine with chartreuse green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Sabbath Bride’: 14″, mid-season, white to cream with yellow to green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Seminole Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, strawberry pink with darker pink eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘September Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, light lemon yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Blushing Bride’: 23″, mid-season, light pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Bridesmaid’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with rose eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam June Bride’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Snow Bride’: 20″, early, fragrant, diamond dusted near white with green throat

Open Days this Sunday for Gardens in Lake Forest, Highland Park, and Winnetka

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Events, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program – June 23:

On Sunday, June 23rd, make plans to become inspired by five private gardens in Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Winnetka, opening to the public to benefit the Garden Conservancy, a national non-profit whose mission is to preserve exceptional American gardens across the country. Admission is $5 per garden and children 12 & under are free. No reservations needed, tours are self-guided, and are rain or shine. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call toll-free weekdays, 888-842-2442.

The two Lake Forest gardens are NOT TO BE MISSED. Incredible: one of them has a grape arbor said to date back to Frederick Law Olmsted. Visitors will see modern and classical sculpture within the landscapes, classical garden arches creating a passage through a parterre, enclosed garden rooms, a topiary garden, views of Lake Michigan, a garden designed by Rosemary Verey, colored waves of native plants, and the ancient precision of labyrinth geometry.
Fairlawn Arbor

2-CIMG6899

Additional area Open Days will take place on July 21 in Elburn and West Chicago; and July 28th in Lake Forest and Mettawa – mark your calendars!

Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Congratulations to landscape architect Darrel Morrison, a friend to many designers here in Chicago who have known him since he taught at the University of WI Madison, for a wonderful article about his new native-to-NY-area garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG]. Read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/garden/native-flora-garden-opens-at-brooklyn-botanic-garden.html?pagewanted=all

Darrel was starting this garden when I had the opportunity to visit our daughter, Danielle, in Manhattan in 2011. Darrel and I went to dinner and he told me about the fun of going with BBG Curator Uli Lorimer to discover rare plants at the pine barrens in New Jersey, for example. Taking seed from these plants and then assuring their success in Brooklyn meant engineering duplicate soils [isn’t that amazing?], a story broadly told in the article. Read more