Nature’s energy explosion transmits itself to us, and, ignoring our wiser selves, we think all things are possible. This year we’ll have some “perfect” landscape we saw in a magazine, we’ll …
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Nature’s energy explosion transmits itself to us, and, ignoring our wiser selves, we think all things are possible. This year we’ll have some “perfect” landscape we saw in a magazine, we’ll plant exotic vegetables and we’ll succumb to all the colorful temptations of nursery floral displays. <p>That’s wonderful if you have a team of gardeners, you have the strength of Wonder Woman or Hercules and you don’t also have a job, and a family.</p><p>June’s longer days and sunlight stimulate plant growth and our own desires to work outdoors, but we must remember that June’s freshness evolves into July’s stultifying heat and our own enervation.</p><p>Therefore, write down – and mostly adhere to – realistic gardening and landscaping goals.</p><p>You’ll achieve satisfaction in being fully present in your tasks instead of feeling rushed and frustrated. June is for enjoyment. If we become possessed by perfect landscape thoughts, we lose sight of the process. Gardening is not part of our competitive modern world; it’s a non-competitive activity we undertake for the evolving satisfaction we achieve as we work with the soil and watch nature’s subtle unfolding. Now to your questions.</p><p><em>Q. We would like to plant more flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Can you suggest some? We have strong sunlight from morning until mid-afternoon.</em></p><p>A. Congratulations for becoming aware of the loss of these essential little creatures and for attempting to protect them. I have a caution before you start, though. Buy your plants from local NURSERIES. Plants tested from several major big-box stores around the country were found to contain neonicotinoids, a highly toxic insecticide for bees. Because neonicotinoids are absorbed into plant tissues, planting affected plants means you are actually a bee killer instead of a bee savior.</p><p>That said, try adding milkweed plants (Asciepias family) to attract Monarch butterflies, since that is their chief food supply. Agastache, monarda, yarrow, lavender and thyme will attract other butterflies and bees and give them a flat landing surface. Also plant brightly colored flowers and supply a water source. Penstemon and agastache sometimes provide the additional surprise of hummingbird visitors in late summer.</p><p><em>Q. I have a regular problem with birds eating my sugar peas. I like birds, but I also want to eat my peas. I don’t want a scarecrow in my little raised bed either. Any ideas?</em></p><p>A. Since I’m both lazy and non-handy, I always cover my pea vines with floating row cover. It’s inexpensive and available at all nurseries. Anchor it with clothespins or stones. I use it on peas and green beans to thwart birds, squirrels and insects and even around tomatoes to prevent squirrel invasions. It’s also effective in offering protection from intense sunlight and has long been a staple for commercial growers.</p><p><em>Q. Our landscape is always at its best in late May and early June, but becomes lackluster after that. Is there anything we can plant now that will be showy for the rest of the season, drought-tolerant and easy maintenance?</em></p><p>A. Plastic flowers? On the surface, your request sounds impossible, but nature is always accommodating. Mums, gaillardia, coreopsis, salvia, agastache, the rudbeckia family and asters will all work as will such self-seeding annuals as cosmos and larkspur.</p><p><em>Q. Is it too late to plant vegetables? Someone said we could plant them in containers. True?</em></p><p>A. It’s not too late for green beans, squash, beets, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers if you use seedlings for larger vegetables, and if you have good sunlight. Be certain to use containers deep enough to encourage good root development and be aware of how quickly container soil dries out. Peas and leafy vegetables can be planted in late summer when shade grows deeper.</p><p><em>Q. We have a tall ornamental grass (Karl Foerster) that seems to have died. It’s about 10 years old and has been more sparse each year. This year only a few green shoots appeared. I though ornamental grasses needed no care.</em></p><p>A. Everything needs care, but the large ornamental grasses that are actually pretty uncomplaining tend to die out in the center after a few years. You rejuvenate them by removing the dead center and then re-planting the new growth, giving you new plants. Although they are drought-tolerant, these grasses do require some supplemental irrigation during our drought periods.</p><p><em>Q. Should we prune off the dried blossoms from our lilacs?</em></p><p>A. Yes. They serve no purpose except to divert plant energy toward seed production. Removing them results in greater flowering next year.</p><p>Wisteria woke me this morning And there was all June in the garden.</p><p>Ann McGough</p><p>To a June filled with lovely days.</p>
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