Sunday, January 29, 2017

North Carolina Botanical Gardens and Parks Easy with NC Tourism

Van Landingham Glen of the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

Add some North Carolina Botanical Gardens and parks to your 2017 travels with the assistance of the NC Tourism "Things to Do" search: 

Merrick-Moore Elementary Program Receives Grant from T&CGC

The Town & Country Garden Club presents a $850 check to Merrick-Moore Elementary children for their Outdoor Program.

On a chilly Tuesday morning, representatives from NC Beautiful and Durham’s Town and Country Garden Club presented a check for $850 to Merrick-Moore Elementary’s Outdoor Education program. The money will be used to create wildlife observation points, add a shade structure to an outdoor learning area and provide the tools to complete a flora identification project.

In his first year as Merrick-Moore principal, Matt Hunt decided to add an outdoor education class to the school.  Hunt recruited teacher Ben Gaspar to head up the project and Gaspar immediately accepted the challenge and proceeded to look for funding in the form of grants.  In addition to the grant received last week, the program also received a $500 grant from Keep Durham Beautiful in December.

“Some students have very little access to a diverse wildlife environment,” said Gaspar in the grant application. “Our goal with this project will be to continue the development of a more naturally engaging campus for our students. While most of the student involvement through these projects will come during the new specials class, Outdoor Education, these outdoor learning spaces will be available to all classroom teachers. The outdoor classroom, orchard, and nature observation points will give our students multiple places to access nature in an inspirational environment.”

While the grant was presented by NC Beautiful, the money to make the grant possible was donated by the Town and Country Garden Club of Durham. Their goal is “to encourage interest in, and to promote the beautification and enhancement of our environment, promote the betterment of our community and make this commitment by way of membership participation through education, through projects and through financial support.” Garden club members Robin Marin and Caroline Dixon, along with NC Beautiful executive director Steve Vacendak were on hand to present the check.

NC Beautiful will continue to offer Windows of Opportunity grants to K-12 teachers in North Carolina. Through the Windows of Opportunity competitive grant, teachers are rewarded for their innovation and creativity as they promote environmental stewardship with their students to improve appreciation of the environment, and, in turn, the beauty of our state.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hope Valley Garden Club Continues Beautification & Pollinator Projects

Hope Valley Garden Club members with their sponsored
beehive in 2015. Photo by Bee Downtown.
One of the first honey jars harvested
from the HVGC Hive.
The Hope Valley Garden Club of Durham continues to spearhead beautification and pollinator projects this year.

In 2014, HVGC sponsored a beehive with Durham's Bee Downtown organization ( This fall the garden club's hive was harvested and able to produce 51 jars of honey--just the perfect bounty for the club's 50 members.

When the club purchased the hive, they named the queen bee "Doreen" after Doreen Yarbrough, the oldest member. Yarbrough died in 2016 at the age of 99. She was active in the garden club until the very end, according to HVGC President Jean Bethea.

HVGC is also looking forward to a 2017 spring bloom in its neighborhood Memory Garden. Doreen Yarbrough was also a big supporter of the HVGC Memory Garden, Bethea said.

The Memory Garden, located at the corner of Dover and Surrey Roads in Hope Valley, is a living memorial for departed garden club members. The Club financed the installation of two stone walls around the perimeter of the garden that were installed last summer along with a water meter. This fall HVGC members held a service day for cleaning up and planting bulbs and pansies in the garden. This spring marks the first the garden's enhancements will be on display together.

Hope Valley Garden Club members plant bulbs and pansies at it Memory Garden during a fall service day. Photos by the Hope Valley Garden Club.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pest Spotlight: Twospotted Spider Mites

Stippling damage on Nepeta cataria leaves from spider mites.
Photo by J.S. Corser, Durham Co. Extension Master Gardener.
"Twospotted Spider Mites on Landscape Plants Entomology"
By Steven Frank, Associate Professor Entomology NCSU
June 1, 2009

Identification and Damage

Adult spider mites have eight legs. Twospotted spider mites can be rusty green, brown, or yellow in warm weather. Overwintering females are red or orange. These mites have two black spots on their back that are visible with a hand lense. The eggs vary from transparent and colorless to opaque pale yellow. The first stage larva is pale green or yellow and has only six legs. Nymphs are similar to adults except smaller.

Twospotted spider mites are widely distributed in the United States and feed on over 180 wild, ornamental, vegetable, and fruit plants species. They are less common on woody trees and shrubs than on herbaceous plants and semi-woody shrubs like roses and Buddleja. Twospotted spider mites pierce the epidermis of the host plant leaf with their sharp, slender mouthparts. When they extract the sap, the mesophyll tissue of the leaf collapses in the area of the puncture. Soon a chlorotic spot forms at each feeding site. The accumulation of these tiny spots is called stippling. After heavy feeding, an entire plant may become yellow or bronze as the individual spots coalesce. Heavily damaged plants will drop damaged leaves and may die. Mites also spin silk webs that can cover leaf surfaces and accumulated feces, exoskeletons, and other debris.
Twospotted spider mites. Photo by Dave Cappaert.


Eggs are laid singly on the undersides of leaves. Six-legged larvae hatch from the eggs. They develop into eight-legged nymphs, which pass through two nymphal stages. After each larval and nymphal stage there is a resting stage. The adults mate soon after emerging from the last resting stage, and in warm weather the females soon lay eggs. Each female may lay over 100 eggs in her life and up to 19 eggs per day. Development is most rapid during hot, dry weather. A single generation may require as many as 20 or as few as 5 days to reach adulthood and begin producing offspring. Typically twospotted spider mites overwinter in the soil or sheltered places as adults that reemerge in spring. However, with mild winter weather or protected areas like cold frames and greenhosues they may continue to feed and lay eggs at a reduced development rate.

Scouting and Monitoring

Twospotted spider mites are common on roses, daylilies, hollyhock, marigold, butterfly bush (Buddleja), Solomon's seal, and many other annuals, perrenials, and shrubs. Twospotted spider mites are most active in hot dry weather. Begin monitoring susceptible plants in late May as weather becomes warmer. Look on the undersides of leaves for webbing, eggs, shed skins, and mites. An efficient way to monitor is to beat plant foliage on a paper plate or other white surface. Mite will be easily distinguished from dirt and other debris because they will be moving. Check plants weekly as populations can outbreak very quickly. Throughout the season look for stippling damage on leaves and focus scouting on plants that have been damaged in previous years.

Decision Making

Deciding if control is necessary is difficult because no reliable thresholds are available. In addition, populations are often suppressed by natural enemies such as predatory mites and minute pirate bugs. Therefore decisions must be made base on the presence of mites, whether a particular plant or site has had twospotted spider mite outbreaks in the past, and the value of the plants. A few mites in a cool landscape with complex vegetation may never grow into a damaging population. However, mites on plants in direct sun or surrounded by impervious surfaces or turf may outbreak quickly due to higher temperatures, greater plant stress, and fewer natural enemies.

Intervention & Control

Cultural control:

The best cultural control measure for spider mite management is to plant less suseptible plant species in areas that are hot, dusty, or stressful. Nitrogen fertilizer can induce mite outbreaks by making plants more nutritious to feed on. In addition, since twospotted spider mites feed on many weeds and wild plants like black berries and violet, removing these plants from landscapes or from around suseptible plants may reduce infestations.

Isolated mite infestations may be pruned from plants.

Biological control:

Spider mites have many predators that often keep them under control. These include predatory mites, minute pirate bugs (Orius spp.), lacewing larvae, lady beetles, and others. Disrupting natural enemies with insecticides is often a cause of spider mite outbreaks. Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids can also lead to spider mite outbreaks.

Chemical control:

In many cases mite populations can be reduced with insecticide soap or horticultural oil. Spider mites are usually found on the underside of leaves. Thorough application of pesticides to the underside of the plant foliage is essential for good control. In hot weather, another application may be suggested 7 to 10 days later, to kill mites that were in the egg and resting stages during the first application.

Most insecticides do not control spider mites because mites are not insects. There are many miticides available that target specific aspects of mite physiology. These products are also safer for beneficial insects than broad spectrum insecticides. This can prevent resurgence of mite populations or secondary pest outbreaks that occur when pests that were not killed by insecticides are released from predation because all the natural enemies were killed. Check the North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual for the latest list of products labeled for spider mite management in ornamental landscapes.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

BOOKS: The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature

The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature
Author:  Richard Fortey
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf (December 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1101875755
ISBN-13: 978-1101875759

From Amazon...

A few years ago, award-winning scientist Richard Fortey purchased four acres of woodland in the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire, England. The Wood for the Trees is the joyful, lyrical portrait of what he found there.

With one chapter for each month, we move through the seasons: tree felling in January, moth hunting in June, finding golden mushrooms in September. Fortey, along with the occasional expert friend, investigates the forest top to bottom, discovering a new species and explaining the myriad connections that tie us to nature and nature to itself. His textured, evocative prose and gentle humor illuminate the epic story of a small forest. But he doesn't stop at mere observation. The Wood for the Trees uses the forest as a springboard back through time, full of rich and unexpected tales of the people, plants, and animals that once called the land home. With Fortey's help, we come to see a universe in miniature.

Richard Fortey was a senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. He was Collier Professor in the Public Understanding of Science and Technology at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bristol in 2002. In 2003, he won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing About Science from Rockefeller University. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1997 and was elected as a Fellow in the Royal Academy of Literature in 2009.