Monday, June 30, 2014

July Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

NC Botanical Gardens
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Growing and Making Local Teas
July 20, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Event is Full: Accepting Wait List Registrations
Learn how all types of tea (white, green, oolong and black) are made from the leaves of camellia sinensis. The class will include an introduction to tea, hands on demonstrations and a tea tasting, including tea grown here in Chapel Hill. Fee includes your own tea leaves to take home! Limit to 10 participants. Fee: $35 ($30 NCBG members).
Introduction to Insects
July 26, 9:30- 2:30 p.m.
Topics will include the distinctive
features, evolution, diversity, and importance of insects. There will be a 45 minute lecture, followed by 30 minutes of lab work showing the features of common orders (using microscopes), and a 90 minute field trip to Mason Farm to demonstrate collection/observation techniques and to look for examples of local species. Fee: $40 ($35 NCBG members).
Pollination Tour of the Garden
July 26, 10 a.m.
In honor of National Pollinator Week, we are offering a free pollination-themed tour of the Garden. Come learn about the plight of our native pollinators and the role that native plant gardening plays in pollinator conservation. This 60-minute tour of our Display Gardens will highlight various plants that attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other native pollinators. Participants will also receive tips and resources to turn their home landscape into a pollinator garden. Free, but please register online. Tour will happen rain or shine.

Planting Native Pollination Gardens
July 26, 2-3:30 p.m. 
Learn about the plants that provide season-long beauty and habitat for pollinators, and how to design the garden for maximum pollinator benefit. Take a virtual tour of the extension's popular pollinator demonstration garden in Pittsboro, NC. $15 ($10 NCBG members).

Animal Pollinators and their Amazing Adaptations for Floral Feeding
July 27, 2-4:00 p.m.
Participants take a look at pollination from the pollinator’s viewpoint — who they are, why they visit flowers, what their adaptations are for floral feeding, what unique behaviors serve the pollinators and the plants, who are the most important pollinators and how do we know, what does the plight of the pollinator mean for our own human ecology. For those interested, we will take a close look at the insects working flowers in the Garden – can we tell what they are feeding on or if they are

efficiently pollinating? Fee: $15 ($10 NCBG members). 
JC Raulston Arboretum

Location: Ruby C. Mc Swain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State
University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.

Hypertufa troughs can uplift your garden! Learn how to make one at the JCRA July 26 workshop.
Plantsmen's Tour : The Summer 2014 Interns' Top Picks
July 1, 9-10:30 a.m. and 6–7:30 p.m.

The JCRA's crop of summer interns pick their Arboretum favorites on this fun tour. Be sure to come and ask them plenty of questions to test their horticultural knowledge. Cost is free. Advance registration is not available.
Hypertufa Trough Workshop
July 26, 9-noon
Preseted by Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, Lasting Impressions and JCRA Volunteers.
Hypertufa troughs were developed in England as an alternative to old stone sinks which were used to feed and water livestock. They provide excellent drainage and can highlight those special small plants that you have! A planted trough can be a garden unto itself. Participants will mix the ingredients, build a container, and learn how to release a finished container from its mold. Participants should wear work clothes and have a flat area approximately 2' × 2' in their car for taking their completed trough home.
Cost:  $65.00 for JCRA members, $75.00 for nonmembers. Fee includes all materials including mold and plywood work surface.
Registration:  Contact Chris Glenn at (919) 513-7005 to register for this workshop. From June 28 through July 2, please contact Faye Koonce at (919) 513-7457. This workshop is limited to 12 participants. Registration is considered complete when payment is received. A minimum registration of eight participants is required for commencement of this workshop.
Cancellation:  Workshop cancellations can be made through Friday, July 11, 2014. No refunds will be made after July 11, 2014. A $5.00 cancellation fee applies.
Location:  Amelia Lane's residence in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Cast Concrete Leaf Workshop
July 26,1–3 p.m.
Presented by Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, JCRA Volunteers

This two-hour workshop will teach you everything you need to know about how to prepare your leaf, mix the concrete medium, and mold a natural leaf sculpture to hang on an inside wall or use outside in a garden. Beth and Amelia will provide leaves or you may bring your own medium sized leaf (maximum = 10" × 8". If you are bringing your own leaf for this workshop, please keep in mind that a leaf with a large surface area works best. Hostas and elephant ears are perfect examples. Please wear work clothes and have a flat area approximately 18" × 18" in your car for taking your completed cast leaf home.

Leaf casting workshop on July 26 (afternoon).
Cost:  $55.00 for members, $65.00 for nonmembers. Fee includes all materials.
Registration: Contact Chris Glenn at (919) 513-7005 to register for this workshop. From June 28 through July 2, please contact Faye Koonce at (919) 513-7457. This workshop is limited to 12 participants. Registration is considered complete when payment is received. A minimum registration of eight participants is required for commencement of this workshop.
Cancellation:  Workshop cancellations can be made through Friday, July 11, 2014. No refunds will be made after July 11, 2014. A $5.00 cancellation fee applies.
Location:  Amelia Lane's residence in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St Durham, NC 27708  Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Durham Garden Forum Gardeners’ Fair: Ask the ExpertsJuly 15, 6:30-8 p.m.
An informal group, independent of Sarah P. Duke Gardens, the forum meets once a month to enrich its members’ gardening knowledge and skill. In this gathering, you’ll meet with area experts and garden suppliers. Sponsored in partnership with N.C. Cooperative Extension: Durham County Center.
Location: Doris Duke Center.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fungus Among Us: Mushroom Fairy Rings Explained

Fairy Ring. Photo by Martin LaBar on Flickr.
There are fungus among us!
A number of mushroom species grow in distinct circles that have been nicknamed fairy rings. The name is a reference to tales of folklore suggesting that fairies would dance within these areas, but the actual biological explanation is much less fanciful.
Fairy rings start as a single mushroom spore, which begins growing by putting out an underground root network called mycelium. Each summer it produces fruiting bodies - mushrooms - which are temporary reproductive bits akin to flower blossoms. The mycelium draws heavily on the nitrogen in the soil as it grows and fruits, and the mushrooms appear at the outer edge of the network, where the nitrogen is richest. As the mycelium network expands, so does the fairy ring formed by the mushrooms. There are two types of fairy rings. Tethered rings are formed by species that are partially dependent on the roots of certain tree species for nutrition (commensalism), and often occur with a tree growing at their center. Untethered rings don't require tree roots and so are often found in meadows and lawns.
The largest fairy known fairy ring is in France; it is about 2000 ft (600 m) in diameter and estimated at 700 years old. Most fairy rings don't achieve such sizes; typically, rings are less than 33 ft (10 m) across.

Shared from NC Extension Master Gardeners:

Durham Garden Forum Gardeners Fair, July 15

A Gardeners Fair will give Triangle gardeners another opportunity to ask local vendors and experts on a wide variety of topics from beekeeping, mushrooms, composting and more. The fair will run from  6:30-8:00 p.m., July 15, 2014, at the  Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The event is free and open to the public.

Sponsors of the Gardeners Fair are the Durham Garden Forum, NC Cooperative Extension and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
For more information please contact: 919-668-1707.

  • Architectural Trees 
  • Durham County Master Gardeners  
  • Durham Garden Center  
  • Durham Beekeepers Club  
  • Durham City – Rain Gardens 
  • I Must Garden 
  • Mushroom Logs with Andy Currin 
  • NC State - composting 
  • Sands and Soils 
  • The Plant Lady 
  • Triangle Orchid Society 
  • Wild Birds Unlimited 

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden Tour for Transplant Fund, Aug. 23

Pearl Fryar (A Man Named Pearl) Topiary Garden.
Travel with the "Heart for Harrell Committee" to the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC, and also see the Jubilee African American Heritage Festival in Columbia, SC, August 23, 2014.

Highlights day tour of nationally televised Pearl Fryar Garden and the Jubilee African American Heritage Festival. Lunch and meals on your own. Proceeds to benefit Ivan K. Harrell for Heart for Harrell Transplant Fund.

Depart: 5:00 a.m. Aug. 23, 2014 from White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, rear parking lot
Return: 5:00 p.m. from Columbia, SC. 
  • $75.00 per person
  • First come first served
  • Travel in state-of-the-art motorcoaches
  • Deposit: $30.00 due by July 23, 2014 Balance: Due August 6, 2014. 
  • Cancellation Policy: *Refund only available if trip is cancelled by Heart for Harrell Committee
For questions call Margo Garrett at 919-489-4554 or 919-608-0985.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Home Improvement: the Art of Mixing Vines

Climbing hydrangea mixed with two types of Euonymus fortunei at Hollister House
in Connecticut. Peden & Munk/Trunk Archive.
By Lindsey Taylor
WSJ, June 20, 2014
Vertical gardens, like those created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, have inspired countless imitations, but the frenzy for verdant walls may finally be plateauing as people realize the level of upkeep and money such gardens require. That doesn't mean gardeners aren't still craving verticality. Covering walls, fences and other up-thrusting structures like pergolas or tuteurs (tall, conical or pyramidal frames) with plants adds rhythm and interest to a garden—not to mention more growing space, especially welcome in smaller plots.
The easiest way to become upwardly green is the clever use of vines and climbers, including twiners like the passionflower or kiwi vine, whose tendrils and branches need a support to wrap themselves around; self-clingers like climbing hydrangea that will adhere unaided to most vertical surfaces; and ramblers (typically roses) that just need a little support to scramble up and over a structure. Each type has its merits, but the real artistry comes into play when you mix two or more varieties.             

Arranging a marriage of vines with similar needs and habits sounds harder than it is. Unlike European gardeners, who view any vertical surface as a blank canvas, Americans seem to venture into the world of climbers with trepidation, often ending up with a single lonely vine straggling across a wall or fence, tentative and unlush. Achieving a rich tapestry of multiple types is just a question of doing your homework and learning how to control the vines.

Another pairing at Hollister House.
Peden & Munk/Trunk Archive.
George Schoellkopf of Hollister House, an impressive garden in Washington, Conn., is like a mixologist of plants. A Texas native who's spent years perfecting his ever-evolving landscape, Mr. Schoellkopf is a fan of climbers and is brilliant at pairing like-minded partners. "Knowing a plant's habits is important," he said. "Is it an aggressive grower or slow and delicate? What growing conditions does it like?" Doing a little research up front to find plants with simpatico needs goes a long way toward ensuring you don't waste money or create an unmanageable mess. Even so, some pruning is often unavoidable. "It's important to find the balance between the wall and the climbing plants," said Mr. Schoellkopf. "You need to control their growth so they don't just take over, especially when you are working with a rapid grower."
At Hollister House, Mr. Schoellkopf particularly likes to mix different varieties of the hardy evergreen euonymus, which he calls "God's gift to the north." (Note: In zones 6 and northward, euonymus vine is not the invasive problem it can be in warmer climates.) Favorite types include Euonymus fortunei 'Variegatus,' with its almost white leaves ("It plays a trick on the eye—from a distance it reads as a wall covered in white flowers," he said) and the tiny leafed Euonymus fortunei 'Kewensis.' On the back wall of the house, Mr. Schoellkopf combined Rosa 'Eden,' a climbing rose that's a repeat bloomer, with a mix of three different Euonymus for an interesting patterning of leaf and flower. 
The world of vines, of course, is vast and potentially overwhelming. There are vines for shade, for sun, for foliage alone, for flowers. There are evergreen vines, ones that will cover a structure rapidly and those that take the slow approach. And then there are vines you should beware of due to their aggressively invasive nature: Wisteria and trumpet vine, for instance, can do a number on foundations if planted close to a house; kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle are choking parts of the South.
If you're too impatient or risk-averse to experiment with untried mixes, consider the classic combination of climbing-rose and clematis, a common sight in Europe. Dan Long, founder of Brushwood Nursery ( in Athens, Ga., finds the two combine beautifully, having similar requirements for soil, water and light. It should be mentioned that Mr. Long, who's been growing vines for mail-order sale since 1998, is determined to raise the profile of clematis in America (where it's often dismissed as a "mailbox vine").      

A clematis vine gets friendly with a climbing
rose, a popular coupling. Photo by Marion Brenner. 
A clematis planted at the base of a rose, about a foot away, will weave its way through the rose vines, typically blooming when the rose's own petals have faded. (If your rose is a single bloomer, this really helps keep your vine wall or structure vivid.) It's just a question of taking the idea of choosing plants that will bloom in sequence and applying it vertically.
Louis Bauer, director of horticulture at Wave Hill, a jewel box of a New York City public garden in the Bronx, recommends a related formula: Mixing two (or more) types of clematis with different bloom times. Clematis is often a good choice for nervous gardeners, said Mr. Bauer: "Choosing ones such as Clematis crispa and Clematis viorna that die back to the ground [in northern climes] takes the fear of pruning out of the equation."
If your vertical surface is in a shady spot, choose vines that aren't too ravenous for sun. Mr. Long is a fan of the self-clinger Parthenocissus henryana, a less aggressive, variegated version of Virginia creeper that pairs particularly well with climbing Japanese hydrangea 'Moonlight' (Schizophragma hydrangeoides). When it comes to a part-shade wall, Mr. Schoellkopf also recommends a climbing hydrangea, but likes to mix it with the variegated kiwi vine (Actinidia kolomikta), whose green leaves develop pink and white tips, for a dense, interesting pairing.
"Height in the garden is important," said Page Dickey, owner of a charming Connecticut garden called Duck Hill. She grows vines "religiously" on everything from low stone walls to pergolas in the vegetable gardens, and has even found a way to work truly impressive height into the mix: by training climbers to wind around the trunks of trees. "I grow Japanese hydrangea up some of my shade trees, or a rambling rose up an old apple tree," she said, "so when the tree's flowers fade and before the apples come, you have beautiful blooms. It's all about pacing and mixing, knowing your plants and then letting loose a little."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Squash Bugs and Squash Vine Borers are Coming Out!

Now is the time in the vegetable garden when the eggs of pests like the squash bug and squash vine borer are seen, so take care to nip them in the bud! Here is some helpful bug data of how to manage them from the Clemson University Extension Office.
Squash Bug
Older squash bug nymphs (Anasa tristis).
Older squash bug nymphs (Anasa tristis).
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

The squash bug (Anasa tristis) is one of the most common and troublesome pests in the home vegetable garden. Squash plants frequently are killed by this sap-feeding pest. Leaves of plants attacked by the bugs may wilt rapidly and become brittle. Winter varieties of squash, such as Hubbard and Marrows, are much more severely damaged by the squash bug than other varieties. Control is required to protect squash in the home garden.
The adult squash bug is rather large, brownish black, and flat-backed. It is about ⅝ inch (1.6 cm) long and approximately ⅓ as wide. The young, called nymphs, are whitish to greenish gray, with black legs. They vary in size from tiny, spider-like individuals when first hatched, to maturing nymphs, which are nearly as large as the winged adults.

Squash bug egg clusters (Anasa tristis).
Squash bug egg clusters (Anasa tristis).
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, 
Squash bugs overwinter in protected places as unmated adults. They appear rather slowly in the spring. They mate and begin laying egg clusters about the time vines begin to grow and spread. Eggs are yellowish brown to brick red in color and are laid in clusters of a dozen or more on the leaves. They hatch in about 10 days into nymphs that become adults in four to six weeks. Only one generation of bugs develops each year. New adults do not mate until the following spring.
The squash bug is secretive in its habits. Adults and nymphs may be found clustered about the crown of the plant, beneath damaged leaves, and under clods or any other protective ground cover. They scamper for cover when disturbed. The secretive nature of squash bugs can be used to your advantage in controlling these pests. Place a small, square piece of old shingle or heavy cardboard under each squash plant. As bugs congregate under it for protection, simply lift the trap and smash them with your hoe (or shoe). Other control methods include early planting and removing eggs and nymphs by hand.
Remove and destroy vines and discarded fruit after harvest to eliminate overwintering sites. Early detection of squash bugs is very important, as they are difficult to control and can cause considerable damage. Apply insecticides when nymphs are small, as adults are difficult to kill.
Squash Vine Borers
Squash vine borer larva (Melittia cucurbitae) and damage.
Squash vine borer larva (Melittia cucurbitae)
and damage. Alton N. Sparks, Jr.,
University of Georgia,
The squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae) ranges from Canada to Argentina and is the most serious enemy of squashes and gourds. It causes much trouble where only a few plants are grown in gardens. It rarely attacks cucumbers and melons. Great variations exist in the susceptibility of squash and pumpkin varieties. Butternut and Green-Striped Cushaw varieties are practically immune to attack, but Hubbard squash is highly susceptible.
The moths are day fliers and are often mistaken for wasps. Larvae are white, heavy-bodied and considerably over 1 inch (2.54 cm) long when fully grown.
The insect overwinters in the soil as a larva or pupa (a non-feeding stage where the larva changes to an adult) enclosed in a cocoon. Moths emerge in early summer and lay eggs on the stems of the plants, usually late May in the South. Upon hatching, larvae bore into vines and complete their development in four or more weeks. Then they leave the plant, crawl into the soil, spin a cocoon and transform to a pupa. There are two generations in South Carolina.
In a vegetable garden, various measures can be taken to control this pest. Till the soil in late winter to expose overwintering insects. Rotate squash to another location in the garden each season. Destroy vines that have been killed to break the life cycle. You can slit the infested vine lengthwise and remove borers or kill them with a long pin or needle. Place soil over slit stem after removing the borer to encourage root development, and keep plants well watered. Plant as early as the weather allows since borers do not emerge until early summer.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lavish Gardens Sprout Up on Penthouse Terraces and Rooftops

David and Henrie Whitcomb's vertical garden redeemed a chunk of unusable space on their
2,500-square-foot wraparound terrace in New York's Greenwich Village. The green
wall must be replanted each spring, 'based on what plants will survive there,
and what plants will hold the soil,' said Emma Decaires, the Whitcombs' horticulturalist.
'I'm guessing that it might have been, by itself, a half-million dollar installation,'
said Mr. Whitcomb.  Photo: Dorothy Hong for WSJ.
View Slideshow 
By Amy Gamerman
WSJ, June 12, 2014

Thirty-five stories above New York Harbor, Fred Rich can stroll through his groves of Japanese maple, spruce and pine trees or sit under a pergola hung with grape vines, where wild strawberries and thyme grow between the paving stones. There is a hidden alpine garden, an orchard of plum, peach and heirloom apple trees, and espaliered pear trees growing on copper screens.

"There is always something in bloom," said Mr. Rich, who will be dining on fresh arugula, spinach and radishes from his vegetable beds this week. "I do my yoga in the morning and the birds sit there and watch."

With landscape architect Mark Morrison and a team of engineers, fabricators and organic farmers, Mr. Rich has created a 2,000-square-foot garden irrigated with recycled building water on the rooftop of his $4.8 million penthouse. Mr. Rich, a 57-year-old partner at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm, declined to say what he spent on his rooftop retreat, which has views of the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island.

At its most basic, a green roof consists of a carpet of hard-to-kill plants in a thin layer of soil. Luxury homeowners, however, are opting for bespoke greenscapes as carefully curated—and sometimes as costly—as art collections. With the right design, these eco-chic gardens also add insulation, absorb storm water runoff and deflect heat from the sun.

Urban Gardening Taken to New Heights

David and Henrie Whitcomb's vertical garden redeemed a chunk of unusable space on their 2,500-square-foot wraparound terrace in New York's Greenwich Village. Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal

Creating the natural look hundreds of feet above the sidewalk demands intricate engineering, sophisticated waterproofing and irrigation systems, custom-designed soil, and occasionally, a crane.

A block in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood is scheduled to be closed to pedestrian traffic later in June while a 150-foot crane lifts 13 species of mature trees onto the roof of Jean-Laurent Casanova's duplex apartment. The big lift is part of a two-year, $200,000 project to create an 1,100-square-foot arboretum reminiscent of the Southern Alps, Normandy and Corsica.

"I love trees. I really want to have shade—almost to have a little forest on both sides of the roof," said Dr. Casanova, a 50-year-old pediatrician and research scientist from Paris who is also a professor at Rockefeller University. Designed by Jacob Lange of Christian Duvernois Landscape, his forest will be set in an undulating landscape of meadow grasses, perennials and creeping thyme, crisscrossed with walking paths.

Michael Gerstner created a dense meadow-scape on the roof of his Tribeca penthouse, inspired by New York City's High Line elevated park. "I like nature and the presence of nature—I don't like a sterile wood deck," said Mr. Gerstner, 39, who works in investments. He bought the duplex in a converted 19th-century industrial building in 2011 for $3.1 million, according to city records, and spent two years remodeling it to "bring the outside in," at a cost he declined to disclose.

Once a caviar warehouse cooled by giant blocks of ice, the structure was strong enough to support 15,000 pounds of plant and soil. Architect Andrew Franz cut out part of the sloping roof to install a large retractable skylight—the roof garden's access point. Because of the roof's severe pitch, a scaffold structure was built to support the plants and trees, which include birch, ginkgo and a black pine Mr. Gerstner prizes for its "sculptural" qualities. Juniper bushes, lavender, bright yellow yarrow and Scotch broom frame an ipe-wood deck. Although the plants have been selected for their hardiness in excessive sun and wind, they still require tending. A gardener makes regular visits to the 1,000-square-foot space, and a drip-irrigation system delivers measured amounts of water to different plant zones.

Herbicide Help: Information About Pelargonic Fatty Acid Products

Crabgrass Digitaria sanguinalis can be killed organically
 by pelargonic fatty acid herbicides.
Photo by J.S. Corser, Durham Co. EMG.
Weed control comes in different forms. Organic remedies such as pelargonic fatty acid-based products may do just the trick for your home garden.
Pelargonic fatty acid are non-selective herbicides from modified plant oils and are OMRI certified. OMRI is the Organic Materials Review Institute  which determines approval for organic uses.
Pelargonic Fatty Acid Facts:
  • They function fast by burning and drying out leaf and stem surfaces on green plants.
  • They do not penetrate or harm woody portions of plants. 
  • These products are quite rain fast, may act as surfactants at very low rates for other systemic herbicides. 
  • By themselves they are do not translocate in plants and are locked tightly in soils. 
  • Replanting can occur quickly into soils on sites where they are used.
Marketed as Axxe by BioSafe, Scythe by Dow and generics marketed by varied distributors:
One Quart for $25.01 plus shipping
One Gallon for $69.99 plus shipping

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pinehurst Alternative: Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

Atkins Hillside Garden.
Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.
While the Men’s and Women’s US Open in Pinehurst are in full swing June 9-22, gardeners wanting more horticultural visuals than only the historic course No. 2 turf grass may want to venture northeast to visit the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.

The Sandhills Horticultural Gardens opened in 1978 with the establishment of the Ebersole Holly Garden, and today it cover thirty-two acres. The Gardens are free and open to the public Monday to Sunday, from dawn until sunset. The Gardens offer an educational visit to anyone with an interest in plants, nature, and design composition in harmony with the native, sandy topography of south central North Carolina. Students enrolled in Sandhills Community College’s Landscape Gardening Department maintain the Gardens with the support of the Sandhills Horticultural Society. Planning, design, construction and maintenance of the gardens provide field experience for the students pursuing their Associate of Applied Science degrees in landscape gardening.

Over the years, additional gardens have been created and installed to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, these include:
  • Rose Garden
  • Conifer Garden
  • Sir Walter Raleigh Garden
  • Atkins Hillside Garden
  • Fruit & Vegetable Garden
  • Hackley Woodland Garden
  • Ambrose Japanese Garden
  • Desmond Native Wetland Trail Garden
Visitors can find the Gardens on: 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst, North Carolina 28374. Phone: (910) 695-3882.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fire Blight spreads through Bradford Pears in the Triangle

Fire blight Erwinia amylovora  creates scorched looking
sections of leaves and branches of Bradford pear trees.
By Michelle Wallace Horticulture Agent - Durham County

Fire blight - While originally Bradford pears were bred to be resistant to fireblight, that does not mean they can't get it. There are so many Bradford pears in the area, that there is a lot of disease pressure and a lot of host plants.

Fire blight is a bacterial disease that is spread by flies when the bradford pears are in bloom. The flies are the dominate pollinator of this plant - hence the malodorous fragrance from the flowers.  The flower's scent is suppose to fool the flies who are looking for a place to lay their eggs and prefer rotten meat or dung. If the fly comes
in contact with an infected host flower the disease will be spread to every susceptible flower it comes in contact with. Not a new problem around here, I have seen this problem on bradford pears for years.

The recommended treatment is to prune out the infected wood, 6-8 inches below the dead limbs. Make sure to clean pruners with an anti-bacterial wipe in between cuts.  When the tree is in bloom it can be sprayed with streptomycin sulfate - a type of plant anti-biotic. However, I recommend just taking down the tree and replacing it with a tree that has no insect or disease problems. Bradford pears are short-lived with many known problems including splitting of the limbs. It is more expensive and time consuming to invest in saving this tree than replacing it with a better one.  In addition, there are environmental and safety issues related to spraying antibiotics.

 Additional information regarding fire blight can be found on .

Monday, June 2, 2014

Flower School: A De Kooning-Inspired Flower Arrangement

The Inspiration:  Willem de Kooning's painting
'La Guardia in a Paper Hat, 1972' © 2014.
The Willem de Kooning Foundation/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Arrangement:  Savage smears of color in
Willem de Kooning's painting 'La Guardia in a Paper Hat,
 1972' are represented by relatively well-behaved
tulips, ranunculuses and peonies.
Ceramic Vessel, $1,500,
Stephen Kent Johnson for WSJ, Styling: Lindsey Taylor.

By Lindsey Taylor
WSJ, May 30, 2014

Sometimes its the vessel that inspires an arrangement. When I first saw the work of New York ceramic artist Donna Green, I was taken by its boldness, scale, gestural quality and in-your-face confidence. Her pieces, covered in vigorous brushstrokes of color, fluctuate between the figurative and the abstract. There's nothing precious about her forms, made by compressing layers of clay coils, then scraping, pushing and prodding them. "The play between the ugly and beautiful is what intrigues me," said Ms. Green, who counts Italian painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana among her inspirations.

Ms. Green agreed when I mentioned that some of her pieces evoked the canvases of Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), the subject of an ambitious new biography, "A Way of Living," by Judith Zilczer (Phaidon). So, for this month's arrangement, I decided to bring the two artists together, using de Kooning's "La Guardia in a Paper Hat, 1972" as a starting point and one of Ms. Green's ceramic pieces (18 inches high) as my vessel.

With the vase standing in for the lower part of the painting, I selected salmon-colored French long-stem tulips, single yellow tulips, densely petaled yellow-and-green ranunculuses, candy pink peonies and branches of the early chartreuse viburnum blooms. My goal was simply to bring to life de Kooning's—and Ms. Green's—sense of energy and freedom.