Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Something to Watch for

Praying mantis egg cases
Day 35
The Daily DuBrule

I was working in my gardens on Sunday. Yes, another glorious, sunny February day, close to 50 degrees. I am still cutting back plants, believe it or not. I saved the worst for last- a huge stand of gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) that I inherited when we bought this house. It's the plant that just won't quit spreading. My goal is to eradicate it some day, but I do admit I like the white flowers for cutting and it is covered with tons of bees and pollinators when it flower in late summer. BUT, it is spreading into my blueberry patch and trying to overtake my beautiful Japanese irises. 

Lest you think that I only have ONE patch of this vigorous plant, the answer is THREE. I inherited three huge patches. I have just about completely eradicated one of them- in the precious alcove on the south side of my house where I have an ongoing experiment with zone 7 plants. But the other two continue to spread. I admit failure- I have to hire my strong, young crews to dig it out for me. It is backbreaking work. And once it's dug out, what do you do with it? If you toss it on the compost pile, it just returns to grow again.

Anyway, that is not my point this morning. My point is that everywhere I go in my gardens to cut stuff down or prune, I am finding praying mantis egg cases. These guys eat bad bugs, and lots of them. Be on the lookout for them at this time of year and leave them be. They are the good guys. Beneficial insects we call them.

That sickle in the photo is what I use to cut down Epimediums.
In terms of cutting stuff down, NOW is the time to cut down the foliage of your Epimediums. It is brown by now anyway. You can take a garden sickle and make short order of the job now. With the way this year is going, you don't want to wait until the flower buds emerge because then you will be taking you pointy scissors and spending hours hand pruning each leaf so you won't shear off the buds.  
Another cutting chore now is to remove the old, winter weary leaves of your Hellebores which are either blooming or budded now. This has to be done by hand, but why degrade the look of these gorgeous beauties just as they are in flower by leaving the old leaves. New ones will emerge soon enough
My beautiful Helleborus 'Candy Love'

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