Joy's Garden Patch

Share in the fun of the season with gardening tips and advice

Where does the time go? Honestly, wasn’t it just May? You turn around and the heat of summer’s sun is blazing down on your sweaty, little head and that humidity? It’s staggering.

It really is July now. We spent June in a constant downpour, didn’t we?

And I worry that my “to do” list has once again eclipsed my “got it done” list.

Isn’t that always the way.

I wanted to finally move the burning bushes (winged euonymus) out of the front yard, enlarge the fish pond to include a waterfall, which is funny because I can’t even figure out how to work the new fountain this year. I also wanted to fix the lattice fence. That’s the one that blew down the first year my husband Scott and I put it up. After several attempts with and sans hubby help, I managed to tack a few of the panels sideways onto the posts. My neighbor Sandy refers to it as “that hot dog stand.”  I don’t’ think that’s what I’d call neighborly.

There’s really no whining to be done, though, especially after the past couple of days of sunshine and warm weather. It’s been glorious—quite a change from last month. It’s especially lovely to sit on the patio in the morning. I drink my coffee, and fully enjoy the garden. The flowers and plants are beginning to thrive. Well, that’s true of most of my flowers, with the exception of my lilies.

Remember the red lily leaf beetle? It’s back. This time it brought friends. Alas, my lilies are in shreds. As ascribed by the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, the use of permethrin is secondary to a first measure of handpicking.

The weather, as I mentioned, has been glorious. That’s made the job easy. It’s really nothing at all to pick the beetles off the plants. In fact, I have a big smile on my face as I pick them one by one, and then joyfully squash them under my garden clog. I can’t even hear them squeak.

After a few disasters like the red lily leaf beetle, I have to confess it made me think about the plants I put into the ground. I should use more natives. New England natives have their own little eco-systems; they can fend off pests better and can put up with a lot more. Plus, they are programmed to New England's topsy-turvy weather.

I do use quite a number of native plants. They include butterfly weed (Asclepia tuberosa) and wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and wild geranium (Geranium Maculatum). Wild red columbine is in my herb garden. Oma Tike started it from seed and gave me the plants. It blooms in abundance some years, and this was one of them. It makes me smile to see the plant, since it reminds me of my mother.

The Connecticut Botanical Society and the DEP Wildlife Division are both great sources for finding natives to plant in your New England garden.  A few suggestions include wild ginger (Asarum canadense), New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), and foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), as well as others among the long list. Don’t forget mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). You can also choose from among many different native shrubs, trees, ferns, grasses, vines, and wildflowers.    

Oma Tike Tip:  Let Your Tootsies Go Dutch! The Dutch know a thing or two about feet in the garden. Slip-on clogs have always been great for slogging through the mud. Today’s rubber clogs are perfect for dewy mornings or damp days in the garden.  They beat sneakers and sandals by a long shot.

July 2nd CT Horticultural Society Garden Tour in Avon.
Two tours of shade gardens are scheduled. Admission is $5.00 in advance or at the gate.

July 13 Lockwood Matthews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, features a lecture and book signing with New York Times garden writer Jane Garmey and her book, “Private Gardens of Connecticut.” The $25 fee includes lunch.

To Do List:
Bell Nurseries
is having a cash and carry sale on just about everything with savings of 25-50% off annuals, perennials, mulch, compost and more. The sale date runs through July 5th. Happy Planting!

Check out Pasqualoni’s on Meriden Road in Cheshire. Veggie plants are going cheap! They were selling two-for-a-buck. It may be cheaper now. Get there before July 2nd; that’s the last day Mark will sell plants and will changeover to selling produce.

Oma Tike Tip: Some wild things are good. Spiders and snakes are good in the garden. Give them somewhere to hide. Try an upended crate. In return, they’ll help to keep mice and bugs out of your garden.

From the Garden Bookbag:
Oma Tike’s Pick
: “The Gardener’s Companion,” by Sara Goodwin, Smithmark Publishers, Inc.
The author takes us on a trip through different gardens, including her own. An anti-lawn gardener, Goodwin is an advocate for various garden styles. She appreciates privacy that a garden affords. She likes a cozy space; one that suits the gardener. She offers lots of design ideas for almost any setting and beautiful photos from Derek Fell. 

Joy’s Pick: “Water Features for Small Gardens,” by Ethne Clarke, Ward Lock Publishing
There’s so many great water feature ideas in this book, and with so many great photos, you may want to try to create more than one feature in your yard. Clarke talks about design components, but she writes to everyday gardeners. It’s an easy book to digest. Her ideas run from formal, to casual and whimsical. Actually, it’s just fun looking at the pictures.

Next Week’s Column:  Beneficial Insects and the Plants They Love; Bookbag, and more!


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