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Wednesday, May 15, 2002

A Gardener's Notebook - Sudden interest

An occasional series
After months with little to no interest in my garden, the last few weeks have brought on a veritable frenzy of activity.

After years of staring at the south fence border in disgust I finally attacked all the Morea (Dietes) (also known as the Fortnight Lily) and chopped them off at the roots. They had taken over the bed, forcing the hibiscus and gardenias for grow upwards out of the way. I knew there were Amaryllis bulbs in the bed somewhere but now they can flower fully instead of expending all their energy just getting to the sunlight. I have already planted one more hibiscus plant to fill in a blank spot and plan on adding another gardenia when I can locate a healthy one at a local nursery.

I have been fighting major problems with Giant White Fly (Bemisia argentifoli)nn this same bed for almost 2 years now. They seem to love the hibiscus. I tend not to use pesticides in the garden, but these devils have but my will sorely to the test. The next best way to control them seems to be simply washing them off. The larvae cannot crawl back up the plant, although the surviving adults can lay new eggs. A regular schedule of washing seems to keep the population suppressed, though. I am hoping that opening up this bed will assist me in getting rid of the bugs, too. Plants seem to be more susceptible to disease and pest attacks when they are stressed. Now they can receive plenty of water and plenty of sun so I hope to make a little headway.

The 2 rose beds in our back garden are getting a summer refurbishment. I have checked all the drip irrigation lines and my wife, Rosanne and son, Joe, are removing all the old mulch and leaf mold. I plan on top dressing both these beds with a nice layer of topsoil. Not only will it help neaten the bed visually, I think it will be less likely to promote rot around the base of the roses.

Finally, I have been on a propagation kick lately. I have potted up azaleas that have "layered" new roots, rosemary, for creating "ball and stick" topiaries, iceplant, donated from a friends garden, and 4 sun-starved shrub roses that will get a second life as porch plants on the sunny west entry.

I am hoping my new-found gardening kick survives the summer heat. It can be very difficult to motivate yourself when the temperatures rise into the 90's and above.


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