Monday, July 30, 2012

Milkweed Beetles

Day 176
The Daily DuBrule

Saturday I was doing a garden walk with an enthusiastic group of participants. Someone asked about a white flower in bloom.
That's Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet', otherwise known as the white flowering form of our native butterfly weed or swamp milkweed. See the pods? They look like little milkweed pods. This is one of the many larval food plants for the monarch butterfly. There's a pink version too, right over there...
Both of these plants were self sown from an original plant in a nearby garden. Oh look closely, there are milkweed beetles on them! 

As scary as they look, they don't harm anything. They bore into the stem of milkweed (and it's relatives), overwinter, and then hatch the following year. The sap of the milkweed makes them taste nasty to other predators. This is also true of the monarch larvae. What a cool survival mechanism!
How do I know this? Back in October of 2009 I first spotted these bugs. You really couldn't miss them as there was a cobalt blue stainless steel gazing ball in the garden and they were crawling all over it! A few other visitors to the Natureworks gardens also found them fascinating. I found my friend Michael photographing them, just as I was doing. I assumed that they were beneficial insects eating the gazillions of aphids on the stems of the Asclepias. I was SO wrong.

The aphids were not the target of this bug, the milkweed was! So this time, when I saw them (many months earlier I might add) I knew right away what I was looking at. That's the beauty of an organic ecosystem. Instead of wanting to kill every bug you find you get to look it up and learn about it. Oh, by the way, the ladybug in the bottom right corner of this picture was doing the aphid eating. You go girl!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Riot of Red

Echinacea 'Sombrero Salsa'
Day 175
The Daily DuBrule

I am seeing red everywhere. Ever since Echinacea 'Sombrero Salsa' came into my life, I can't take my eyes off of it. This is a shocking, pure red. As I walk down the steps from my attic office, it is the first thing I see. Every time I turn the corner into the nursery yard, I say "WOW!" to myself. This is one screaming accent color. I must have it.

'Sombrero Salsa' has started me obsessing about the color red. There are two basic flavors: orange-reds and blue-reds.

Hibiscus 'Disco Belle Red'
Perennial Hibiscus 'Disco Belle Red', as seen in the Natureworks gardens, is a perfect example of a blue-red. So is the zinnia below. The type of red helps me to decide what plants to marry it with. Echinaceas, Browalias, and other lavender and purple flowers combine beautifully with this drama queen.
Now look at what happens when you introduce burgundy foliage. It totally changes the feeling. Burgundy with blue-reds or rosy-reds is subdued and quite mysterious
Bee balm (Monarda) is a classic red summertime flower. When you take this blue-red and combine it with a green and white variegated foliage it pops with crispness.
Physostegia variegata with bee balm and Persciaria
The bracts of this bee balm are a deeper maroon
The new red perennial Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' is a breakthrough in Coreopsis breeding. This plant has a deep red flower, approaching burgundy. For a real contrast, pair it with Coreopsis 'Sienna Sunset'. The yellow center relates to the soft peachy pink petals of it's sister Coreopsis and makes the maroon flower appear darker and richer. Still, this red coreopsis tends towards a blue-red, probably made more obvious by the orange-peachy pairing.
Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' & 'Sienna Sunset'
One of my favorite maroon flowers is the daylily 'Royal Occasion'. This variety blooms for 6-8 weeks, often repeating in the fall. Want to make this maroon blossom appear almost black? Put it next to a glowing golden yellow flower. This is how you create an eye-turning display in your summer borders.
Daylilies 'Royal Occasion' and 'Condilla'

There is one summer perennial that is what I call fire engine red. It is rich, vibrant, and catches the attention of any hummingbird in the neighborhood. I will never forget walking through a woodland trail at the Vermont Wildflower Farm on August afternoon. The woods were cool and green, with nary a wildflower in site. All of the sudden I spotted an enormous stand of our native Lobelia cardinalis soaring 5-6' feet into the air along side of a small pond. What a breathtaking scene. Can you see how this red could be described as leaning towards orange instead of blue?
Lobelia cardinalis
I urge my customers not to be afraid of red flowers. You don't have to have lots of them. Use them to draw the eye of garden visitors and heat up your gardens. By studying the type of red in the flower you can better understand how to combine them with other plants. It's really a fun exercise.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flowers of Love

Day 124
The Daily DuBrule

I just got back from a Celebration of Life in Massachusetts. My sister's best friend succumbed to cancer recently and I took some time off to be there for her and honor our friend. Adeline was a wonderful gardener. She and my sister were what I call "gardening buddies". They shared plants. They visited nurseries together and went on buying sprees. It was part of the fabric of their friendship.

So many people that I met at this gathering spoke of her gardens. The mailman said he exchanged seeds with her. The neighbor said she looked at the gardens every day. To honor her love of flowers, my sister and I decided to give some away. I went up the day before and brought a giant bucket of flowers and foliage and herbs from my own yard. I picked them at 6 in the morning, put them in the shade, and conditioned them. Hydrangeas, fennel, amaranth, Persciaria, black eyed Susan's, Joe Pye weed, anything I could get find. Thursday evening we visited Adeline's family and checked out her gardens. Friday morning we returned and picked a little bit of everything. We went through my sister's garden and picked some more. Phlox, bee balm, globe thistle, mint, Heliopsis, soapwort, butterfly bushes, Shasta daisies... Funny thing, her flowers and Adeline's flowers were almost the same. Garden buddies are like that. Then we went to the local farm stand and bought zinnias and sunflowers.

We filled every canning jar, vase, and container we could scrounge. It was a rainy morning and we worked outside under the umbrella. It was creative, relaxing, and most of all, healing. I packed over a dozen floral creations into my car and off we went. 

We were met at the door by cousins and family members who helped us bring them in and put them everywhere. During the celebration, my sister told the story of their shared love of gardening and asked everyone to take a vase of flowers home. She had also arranged for a local florist to make eight similar centerpieces for each of the tables.

As we left later that day, we were so happy to watch everyone leaving with a vase of fresh garden flowers. They took a little bit of their friend or relative with them. Flowers of love.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Day 173
The Daily DuBrule

Sometimes a plant is so perfectly named that you just shake your head in wonder. I purchased a couple of Love-in-a-Puff plants (Cardiospermum) this summer. They are annual vines that I have always read about but have never grown. As far as drama queens go, these plants win last place. Teeny tiny white flowers bloom continuously. The pods are in fact puffy and resemble smaller, apple-green versions of Chinese lanterns. It is a delicate vine, finely textured, but it certainly hasn't turned any heads or emitted squeals of delight from my staff or customers. That is until one of the pods finally ripened and Kassie peeled it open and showed me the seeds. 

Oh my God! They are little black beads with perfectly formed white hearts on each seed. How cute is that! I immediately put them in my pocket and started handing them out to people. Grow a little love, give a little love, this vine is really cool! I get it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Perfect Pinching

Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' pinched
Day 172
The Daily DuBrule

Every June I do a garden walk at Natureworks that demonstrates pinching back perennials to double the bloom period. This is based on techniques I learned from the book The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust. I remember when I first read and understood what she was talking about. I was SO excited. This was cutting edge territory for me, something that I knew would change the way I tend gardens. 

Basically, you cut the front half of the plant in half. Timing is important. For late season bloomers like the Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' above, early June is best. For fall bloomers like asters and Helianthus, it should be done by the end of June. This technique accomplishes two things. First, and most important, the part that you pinch blooms about 3 weeks later. As the back half finishes blooming, the front half starts. Thus you double the bloom period for the plant. How cool is that! Second, you layer the plant so it steps up from front to back. This makes the garden look really nice.

Eupatorium 'Little Joe' perfectly pinched
I did this to Eupatorium 'Little Joe' in June. If you look at the picture above, you can see the back part is budded and about to bloom. The front part is shorter, with lots of smaller buds forming. It will bloom next month.

Try this with bee balm. Do it in May, not June. When the back half is finished flowering (and most likely has powdery mildew), cut it down to the ground. The front half will start to flower and you will get to enjoy your bee balm for another 3-4 week.

Thank you, Tracy Di-Sabato Aust, for writing your excellent book and teaching me this trick. It really makes a huge difference in my gardens. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

I LOVE to Grow Food!

Day 171
The Daily DuBrule

A few weeks ago my husband and I were at a gathering. As the talk turned to gardening, Tony said something that surprised me. He commented that he thought what I really wanted to do was be a farmer! He explained that I am happiest on Sundays puttering around in my vegetable garden. You know what? He's right!

Back in the 70's, I had dropped out of the liberal arts program at UConn. I had fallen into what my brother and I called "the existential abyss". Nothing seemed to make sense. I knew I had to have a career and be able to support myself- those were the days of women's lib and I embraced the concept- but I wanted to do something meaningful. I came up with growing organic food. Everyone who knew me was surprised. I had never gardened before nor expressed an interest in gardening until I was 20. I enrolled in Rackliffe Hicks and I was launched.

Long story short, I ended up majoring in floriculture and I have been designing, installing, and selling flower gardens ever since. But always, in the back of my mind, I wanted to have the food garden I dreamed of in my youth. My first real food garden was when I lived in Mt. Hope apartments in Willington. Down the hill, on the corner of my street, was Harakaly's farm. I asked him if I could rent a space for a garden. He gave me a giant area. Then he brought me into the dilapidated chicken coop nearby, waaaay in the back, and showed me a pile of what looked like brown dust. It was really old dehydrated chicken manure. "Use this" he said. And I did! I made huge vats of manure tea. Oh did it smell, but oh was it potent. In my first real garden I grew GIANT vegetables of every kind. I canned. I froze. I gave food away to everyone I knew. 

After my business got going, I was way too busy to have a vegetable garden. Plus, I lived at the beach, in the shade, on a rocky hillside. So, 21 years after starting Natureworks, when I moved to Middletown, I was WAY overdue for my next real garden. 

Yesterday I made up a batch of fertilizer tea. I took a bag of Dr. Earth Organic Vegetable Fertilizer and dumped it into two 5 gallon buckets. I let it sit for 24 hours. Today, I proceeded to water my tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons with this strong tea. I brought me right back to those days on Harakaly's chicken farm. Believe me, this had nowhere near the smell of that chicken manure tea. Flies didn't chase me and I didn't have to take off my clothes before entering the house. I learned my lesson long ago. But the process of making fertilizer tea and watering my plants with it made me very happy to be growing a big food garden once again. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Native Plants ROCK!

Day 170
The Daily DuBrule

For the past few days I have been slaving away in my garden. The crabgrass wars. Reining in the tomatoes. Deadheading to beat the band. Power weeding. Let me tell you, July is a LOT of WORK. 

When I get tired, I stop and watch the action on the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum). This native plant pulls in more pollinators than any other perennial I have ever met. Thousands-literally thousands- of honey bees, bumble bees, wasps of every size and color, moths, butterflies... you name it, they love my mountain mint. This is a vigorous plant and I embrace its vigor. Spread to your heart's content, my friend, as you welcome into my yard pollinators galore. Plus, the scent of mountain mint surrounding by edible garden and borders has to help deter the deer. 

Anyway, I just have stood and watched in wonder over and over again this weekend as the show unfolded. If you don't believe that native plants create habitats, plant mountain mint. Then you too will enjoy the show like I am doing, day after day, as this crazy summer rolls along. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Favorite Bee Balm

Day 170
The Daily DuBrule

I am a sucker for bee balm. I know, it has a host of faults. Powdery mildew tops the list, and it's just so spready. Invasive some call it. But it is simple to pull out, the roots are on the surface so if it creeps into areas where you don't want it, just rip it.

The mildew thing is another story. I don't like to spray. Organic products or not, it's just inconvenient. So I tend not to grow plants that get diseases easily. I make an exception for bee balm. The way I deal with it is I cut the front half of the plant in half in June. The back half blooms in July. If it gets mildew, I cut it to the ground after blooming. Then the front half blooms, a bit shorter and a few weeks later. That works for me.

My favorite bee balm is 'Mahogany'. It has remained in the top position for years. First of all, it is fairly mildew resistant. Second of all, I love the color. Most important, it lasts longer than any other and has colorful bracts that add to the show. 

In our semi-shaded garden under the tree in front of Natureworks I count on Monarda 'Mahogony' to fill in the blanks left by a bed filled with April blooming bulbs and a large stand of Virginia bluebells. As breathtaking as this site is in the spring, it is an empty, sad scene in early June. Enter my favorite bee balm together with a beautyberry (Callicarpa) which looks like dead sticks in April only to leaf out gracefully and burst into bloom, each arching branch clothed in dainty lavender flowers, just as the bee balm is flowering. They make a good match.

Needless to say, I also enjoy the fact that bee balm is a hummingbird magnet. And, I must add that the flowers are edible, they taste spicy, smoky, fruity and work well added to fruit salads. Pop a floret into your mouth the next time you run into a blooming bee balm in an organic garden and smile.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Filling in the Blanks

Day 169
The Daily DuBrule

I just recently cut down a GIGANTIC bleeding heart in my main perennial border. Nature abhores a vacuum; immediately, a neighboring cat decided to move in! Meet "Gray Shirt", not his real name, but our name for the friendly feline who is one of the many visitors to our yard. He posed for me to help me demonstrate just how large of a gap this early spring perennial left. 

Yesterday I visited a client who had a small shade garden under a large dogwood. She commented that it looked bad and something was wrong. Well, there were five old fashioned bleeding hearts turning yellow and going dormant, many of them right in the front sections of the bed. Of course it looked bad. I suggested that all but one of them be moved to another area of the yard, behind a hillside of daylilies, so they could bloom and go dormant and not be noticed as the daylilies would take up the slack. That is exactly what we are going to do.

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'
Large gaps in the garden at this time of year can be so frustrating and so challenging. My solution in my own gardens is to plant tender perennial Salvias. These plants grow big FAST. They bulk up quickly, bloom from now until late October, attract hummingbirds, and are not bothered by heat, humidity, and drought. Some of my favorites include 'Indigo Spires', 'Wendy's Wish', 'Van Houttei', and 'Black and Blue'. I discovered these durable plants over 20 years ago and have been using them to fill in the blanks ever since.

Salvia 'Van Houttei' in my courtyard

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Blues

Day 168
The Daily DuBrule

There's blue, there's purple, and then there's "blurple" which designers use to describe a flower that looks blue until it is placed next to a truly blue flower. True blue is actually a pretty rare color in the garden. That is why I love tropical Plumbago auriculata. It is the color of the sky on a beautiful day. Not a trace of purple in site.

The fun thing about this plant is that it is also called the corsage flower. At the base of every floret there are sticky glands. If you pick a blossom and gently place it on your shirt, it will stick! 

Nowadays, tropical plants are commonly used in containers on terraces and decks. Plumbago is a wonderful choice for this purpose. As the summer heats up this plant kicks into high gear, blooming profusely until the days get shorter and the sun loses its strength up here in our northern gardens. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Laughing at the Heat

'South Seas'
Day 167
The Daily DuBrule

I just love daylilies. For a few years I was sick of them. Not that I ever really didn't like them, I just thought "ho hum, daylilies. Big deal." Now I am singing a different tune. What changed? First of all, I expanded my horizons and discovered tons of new varieties that bloom a lot longer than the older forms. Then I started looking at flower size, range of color, succession of bloom... Let's just say I have gained a new respect for this humble flower.
'Francis of Assisi'

They laugh at the heat. Because each flower is only open for one day, it simply drops off and a new one opens. You don't have to worry about faded blossoms and fancy deadheading or pick at your plants. When all the buds on a flower stalk are done, chop it to the base. 

Nowadays, lots of daylilies are repeat bloomers. This doesn't mean that are everblooming, it means they cycle in and out of bloom. It all started with good old 'Stella D'Oro'; she has given rise to an abundance of dwarf repeat bloomers. This changed the daylily world forever.

I love the fact that daylilies come in so many forms. Spiders fascinate me. I grow two soft yellow ones that marry with all summer flowers:
'Ladyfingers' is a lemon yellow

'Spider Miracle' is a little brighter

Daylilies say summer to me. I have them in all of the gardens close to my house, dotting them about individually for a punch of color amongst the Stokesia and Echinacea daisies, the spikes of Veronicastrum, and clouds of Calamintha.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Garden Candy

Day 166
The Daily DuBrule

When I moved into my house eight years ago I noticed what looked like a Belamcanda (blackberry lily) growing in one of the gardens. Blue green foliage resembling a bearded iris gives rise to beautiful orange spotted summer flowers. Imagine my surprise in late July when the flowers opened yellow. I had candy lilies! Pardancanda norrisii comes in carnival colors of yellow, pink, purple, peach, and everything in between. I shouldn't have been surprised these were yellow as everything the former owner of my house planted was either yellow or pink.
The first flowers

As the years went by my candy lilies self seeded throughout my gardens. I let the seed pods form and ripen on the plants as they are decorative and I dry them, using them for fall arrangements.

My favorite way to play with them is to make pumpkin arrangements. One year I decorated the stone wall by my courtyard with these pretty pumpkins filled with flowers and candy lily pods and the following spring baby plants appeared. These have matured to gorgeous summer blooming flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. 
Candy lilies seeded in by the wall
Each year the color palette changes. The old yellow ones haven't been around for a while. They were overtaken by perennial ageratum (Eupatorium coelstinum) and that's okay with me. I have too much yellow in my gardens anyway. Give me the roses and burgundies and peaches any day. They are eye candy in the garden and the brutal heat and humidity doesn't bother them at all. A perfect summer flower.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Praise of Trees

Day 165
The Daily DuBrule

I am having a tree crisis. I came home from work last week and my husband was beside himself. "Here, read this and weep" he said as he handed me a paper from the utility company. They were informing us that our gorgeous, ancient, stately maple trees along the street were going to be "pruned" for power line clearance. In fact, the letter said that they could even be removed if necessary. These trees make our part of the street what it is. They are one of the reasons we were attracted to this house in the first place. They are lined up in a row in front of 8 of my neighboring houses. Or I should say they were...
My house when I bought it in 2004

A few weeks ago, in front of one of these houses (where the former occupants had passed away and the relatives inherited the house) we came home from work to find two of these perfectly good, stately trees cut to the ground! The owners of the house contracted to have this done. Their little cape now sits in full blazing sun. The next Monday, I awoke to hear the sound of saws and was horrified to see their tree company cutting down a third magnificent maple in the back yard, on the south side of the house. Now they will need to run their air conditioner day and night as there are no trees to cool the house. And, the house looks so bare and open. The lineup of maples on the street had been breached.

Five weeks ago, a tree service came and cut another maple in the lineup down to the ground. My neighbor on the other side had contracted to have it done as the tree had sustained damage in the Halloween snow storm the previous year and he was sick of having to clean up after it. The same day the the back yard maple came down on one side of me, the stump to this ancient maple was ground- for three loud hours.

Our house has three giant maples in front of it. One is old and sick and continues to lose branches. It may have to come down, but I have hired my own arborist to look at it today and see if can be kept alive for a few more years. The other two flank the driveway and they are supreme specimens. These are the trees we are most concerned about. We want these not only to be saved, but we do NOT want them rudely pruned as I have seen done so many times when electric lines are cleared.

The letter from the utility company said I had 15 days to call and discuss the matter. I called immediately. I said that under no circumstances were they to do any work unless I was home. I said that I was a landscape contractor and they did not want to mess with me. (Actually I said it a bit more gracefully than that, but you get the idea). I said that I know tons of arborists and tree companies and our trees mean EVERYTHING to us. 

I got a voice mail message saying that we will be notified when the trimming will be done and that we can be there and work with them as far as what will be cut. I am going one step further. My arborist is coming for a consultation today and I am going to get his opinion about the best way to work on these trees. If he is willing, I will offer to pay HIM to be here with me when the utility trucks arrive to do their dirty work. My husband is still really upset and we are both really nervous about how this is going to play out. 

With the extremely hot weather we have had this year, starting in March, I have come to appreciate large shade trees more than ever. I understand the safety issues with trees and power lines, but I think many people have overreacted to the inconvenience of a week long power outage by attacking the trees that provide us with cooling shade, oxygen, and a place for birds and other creatures to dwell. We need to think intelligently about what we do to the trees that have taken nearly a century to grow. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An Unusual Annual

Day 164
The Daily DuBrule

This year I am growing an unusual annual on my deck that I really enjoy. It is Ruellia brittoniana. I don't know a common name. I haven't had this plant in over 10 years. I used to grow it in a container at my cottage in Guilford. It was happy in dappled sun and tolerated the uneven watering I was able to give it due to the fact that I had a very shallow well. 

What I really like about this plant is the fact that is is very three dimensional. The flowers sail outwards from the stems. They seem to float in the air. It has a gracefulness that I enjoy, especially when paired with more rounded plants. Hummingbirds adore it, and so do the butterflies.
Yesterday we received a perennial Ruellia at the nursery. Ruellia humilis is called the wild petunia. It is native to the Eastern United States and grows in dry open woods and fields. I am now on a mission to learn all about this interesting genus.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garlic Harvesting

Day 163
The Daily DuBrule

The garlic harvest is in! I love this crop, it is completely backwards from anything else I grow. I plant cloves of certified organic hardneck garlic in November. The sprouts appear in very early spring and provide me with delicious garlic scapes in late May and June. In mid-July, the tops of the plants start to turn yellow. It is so exciting to pull the garlic and find gorgeous, perfectly formed heads. 

In honor of the first garlic of the season, I came home last night and made a simple sauce. As I peeled the garlic, the pungent oil was released. I cooked it in some olive oil before adding the chopped tomatoes and the entire house smelled wonderful. Even though I washed my hands, I could smell the garlic oil all evening,

Garlic is actually a perennial in my yard. Often I miss a few heads when harvesting. They pop up all throughout my raised beds from previous years. If you leave garlic in the garden, the following year you get six or eight strong shoots of green foliage, each topped with a scape. When you finally get around to digging it up it yields an entire cluster of smaller garlic heads. 

I grow hard neck garlic. It is completely hardy in Connecticut. The stems are solid and you cannot braid this garlic for decorative purposes. Instead, I dry it in the back shed for a few weeks, brush off the dirt, and store it in my cellar. Now that I have been growing garlic for many years, I save some of the biggest heads and replant them in the fall. No pests seem to bother my garlic and when I harvest it, I free up an entire raised bed for a new crop. I just love this plant, its unusual life cycle, and the fact that it feeds my household for months on end. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Banished Again

Day 162
The Daily DuBrule

I've had it with hollyhocks. I want to love them. When I look out across my garden and see those amazing spikes soaring into the sky, it brings me right to a place of cottage garden ecstasy. I had this fabulous theory that growing them in my rich, gorgeous raised bed soil would keep them happy. WRONG. Soon after I wrote a blog post about letting hollyhocks back into my garden, the orange pustules appeared. Rust. The dreaded disease of hollyhocks. Within two weeks, I couldn't stand it anymore. I donned rubber gloves and grabbed a couple of plastic garbage bags and denuded the plants. I removed every single leaf. They looked ridiculous up close, but from my deck, far away down the hill with all sorts of calendulas and other vegetables in front of them, they look fantastic. 

Last night, while moving my hose from tomato plant to tomato plant in my garden (a slow, relaxing exercise for a summer evening filled with the perfume of trumpet lilies), I saw the rust on the stems of my bare hollyhocks. That's it. Banished, again!

Today I was visiting a client who suffered the same agony. She had frilled, double hollyhocks around her deck. They looked so pretty from across the yard. When I got close, I saw the rust and she complained to me that she wasn't up to treating them every week, even with an organic fungicide. I felt her pain. 

Can I stick to my guns? I don't know. It works for a few years and then I give in. Even now, a single, deep red hollyhock is flowering outside of my home office window where I write this. It doesn't have rust- YET. I have enjoyed watching it open and wave in the breeze. I love to see the hummingbirds and butterflies nectar on it. Opposite this plant, on the other side of the lawn, in my main border, a rose of Sharon is in full flower. They look like cousins. I am a sucker for the hibiscus family. I just wish there was a way to grow hollyhocks without the rust and without having to treat them. I won't do it, so I guess I won't be growing them... for a while. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It Was Worth It

Day 161
The Daily DuBrule

Last week I was on vacation. How fortunate that my amazing Oriental and O.T. (Oriental/trumpet cross) lilies decided to bloom for me when I actually had time to enjoy them. The intoxicating fragrance fills my yard, my deck, and even my home. It greets you as you arrive and lulls you into a deep relaxation when you sit outside. I've had some family visiting and my sister and I sat out late into the night talking and enjoying the sweet perfume. I cut a fresh bouquet to celebrate my aunt's 90th birthday and her home was filled with the fragrance as well. There truly is nothing better for someone whose main criteria for the garden is fragrance.
The view from my deck

It was not easy to get to this point. The dreaded red lily leaf beetle showed up in March, arriving with the early spring. I started scouting and squishing right around St. Patrick's Day. It was a daily or twice daily ritual. I have located my precious lilies to places where they are easy to check. They are in my courtyard, by my seating wall, by the steps to my deck, and by the door of my garage. I never pass by without dipping down and examining the undersides of the leaves for the beetles or their eggs. I actually didn't spray Neem or Spinosad or Pyrethrum once. My plants aren't perfect but when they are in bloom, a few holes in the leaves are not noticed.