Thursday, November 10, 2011

The End Comes. Something New Begins...

If you are lucky enough to capture photos of your plants on the first good fall frost,
You might just end up with a great new shot for your blog header...
And I was lucky enough to have this morning happen on a day my husband was able to drop our little ones off to school…

Because a frost like this is strong enough to kill the upper parts of plants for the season and then be gone within moments once the sun comes up over the hill…
And if you miss it - you will have to wait until next year to try to catch it again…

These two images above are the main side hill garden before this beautiful frosty morning…

And here it is after…
This would be the perfect Halloween Spooky Garden!
Pop a few headstones in there and wha-la…

Photographs of bees on blooms will have to wait until spring…

Little critters are fiercely gathering seed…
This little mouse was eating corn left over from our kids fall pumpkin display.

And even though I will remember my 2011 garden as
"the aster yellows depressing year"…
There are little sparks of hope for what the future holds for my garden...
Because little pathways that I've been creating here and there with plants…

Are starting to be explored!

And that delights me to no end and makes me want to get back out there and make a wonderful exploration garden for my little ones…

Wonder what this winter will hold for dreaming and designing out a new garden?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cone Flower Removal - For How Long?

Well - Today was the day.

Cone Flower Extraction Day.
As I pulled all of my cone flowers and black eyed susans from my garden beds I started thinking:
How long should I wait for replanting?
We normally get a nice wet cold winter here in Delaware.
And I can just hope that I can pull every infected or potentially infected plant out now so nothing survives to pass on the disease in my garden (that is a bit of a far fetched idea seeing as how it infects over 300 different species of plants though). But at least I'm trying right?
Every nook and cranny checked…
Finding the roots - looking for those pink buds that are ready for overwintering and blooming next spring. And out with them - into the heap of dying growth from this year.
And in my mood of pulling things out - out with a lot of the Russian Sage.
It grows so well in my garden - to the point of being too much.
There are more cone flowers in this bed that I didn't get to.
Maybe tomorrow I'll pull some more - and get to the mint and butterfly bush babies that are threatening to take over too.

And my mom's little bird hanging out with the Hellebores that seem to have a bit of pep right now from a bit of the cold we had in the last month.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cone Flowers 2009 to 2011...

I've got a bunch of samples into the Diagnostics Lab at the University of Delaware in the hopes of having a positive confirmation about the status of the cone flowers that are in my garden, and if they have Aster Yellows (which visually, I'm certain they do).
2011 Cone Flower Third Known Year Symptomatic
I first looked at my most recent photos from 2011 - above.
2010 Cone Flower Second Known Year Symptomatic.
Then 2010 when I remembered seeing odd growths on some of the cones - above. 
2009 Cone Flowers
Then by chance I looked back at some 2009 photos - and sure enough - it was there too…

Back then I didn't really know that plants got "diseases".
Never really put much thought into it.
I though it was some kind of genetic variation.
Pretty cool looking actually - although something felt "off" about it...

Here are a bunch of other photos from 2010:
2010 Purchased Cone Flower Varieties for Front Bed.
2010 Cone Flower Second Known Year Symptomatic.
2010 September Cone Flowers with petal curl & odd cone.
View of 2010 Main Side Hill Garden Deer is in Upper Bed.
And some 2011 photos before I took most all of the Cone Flowers out in June 2011:
A thing of beauty up close - 2010 new plants in front bed.
May 2011 Main Side Hill Garden. 2009 divided cone flowers growing.
May 2011 Front Side Hill Garden. 2010 transplanted from Main Side Hill Garden
Main Side Hill Lower Tier Cone Flowers
Main Side Hill Lower Tier Cone Flower Symptomatic Second Year Growth.
Main Side Hill Lower Tier Cone Flowers Second Known Year. 
Main Side Hill Garden upper Tier Second or Third Year (sample submitted).
Detail of "not normal" cone flower from upper tier. 
Abnormal growth of the upper tier smaller variety cone flower.
Front Cone Flower Bed. Back Right = Front Side Hill Garden.
Detail of cone flower from Front Side Hill Garden. 
Second year growth Front Side Hill Garden (transplants from Main Side Hill Garden).
Removal of Cone flowers from Front Side Hill Garden.
Heavy downpour in July. Opposite view of Front Cone Flower Bed.
October view of Front Cone Flower Bed.
2010 purchased plants showing symptoms at end of second year in bed.
2010 Purchased plants showing irregular growth and leaf curl.
Final view of Cone Flower Front Bed from where I took a lot of samples to be confirmed.
I can visually see the symptoms of Aster yellows.
I've heard that it might not be Aster Yellows but rather damage from GoldFinches or possibly from a mite.
I wanted to see if the UD lab could diagnose this for me.
And if a positive result comes back for Aster Yellows - then what.
I guess all of the cone flowers will be dug up.
But what about the suppliers selling them - and the suppliers supplying them?
I've been to both places and have seen the symptoms on their stock.

And then what?
Do I find a list of the 300 species of plants it affects and pull them out too?
But what about my neighbors that have plants that might get this?
What about the insect that transmits it?
Did it die? Did it migrate? Is it overwintering?

Realistically what are the measures to be taken about this?
And to think - all those potentially great seed sources for birds overwintering - now gone.
That really stinks.
Looks like I'm going to have to stock up on extra bird seed for this winter.

UPDATE: UD says that the symptoms that they see indicate Aster Yellows or possibly a genetic mutation. Their lab cannot test for Aster Yellows.

I went online and googled to find some extra help.
I know I have to pull them all out.
Should I then pull out any other plant that might be infected - what plants are on the list of over 300 species?
Diseases of Echinacea (canada - 1999)

Integrated Pest Management Strategies

1. Remove diseased plants. Once a plant is infected with aster yellows, it is a lost cause since the disease is incurable. Early diagnosis and prompt removal of infected plants may help reduce the spread of the disease. Although the disease itself is not fatal to the plant, its presence makes it impossible for a plant to fulfill its intended role in the garden.
2. Plant less susceptible plant species. Controlling aster yellows is difficult. As long as infected leafhoppers are around, they can infect plants. A practical way to avoid having problems with this disease is to grow plants that are not as susceptible to aster yellows. Verbena, salvia, nicotiana, geranium, cockscomb, and impatiens are among the least susceptible plants.
3. Control insects. Vegetable growers may protect susceptible crops by using the mesh fabrics that keep leafhoppers and other insects away from the plants. Some growers put strips of aluminum foil between rows because bright reflections of sunlight confuse the leafhoppers.
4. Control weeds. Remove weeds in your lawn, garden, and surrounding areas, including plantain and dandelion that may harbor the disease.

Q.I'm rebuilding a perennial garden that was infested with aster yellows. Do you have any advice?
A. Aster yellows disease causes distorted growth and sometimes death of susceptible plants. The phytoplasm (bacterium-like disease organism) infests more than 300 species of plants with members of the aster family such as coneflowers, Rudbeckias being some of the most susceptible. The disease lives in the infested plants and is spread by aster leafhoppers from sick to healthy plants.
Remove all infested plants and weeds from the garden. Controlling leafhoppers will help reduce the spread. I have not found an up-to-date comprehensive list of resistant plants, so I would suggest you check out each one of the plants you plan to add. If they are not listed as susceptible or resistant, you might want to start slowly and limit the number of aster family members you include.

And finally - Kansas State University Cooperative Extension (1993):

Some other questions I've got that I would like to find out answers to is:
1. If a plant that becomes infected with Aster Yellows, that was already forming seeds - are those seeds infected too? It is know that infected plants may not produce viable seeds, but should seeds from these infected plants be grown for the following year or disposed of.

2. What is the best way to deal with the soil that the plants were in? Is there something environmentally friendly (friendly to other plants, insects, animals, etc) that will kill off anything that remains in the soil? Or is this pointless because the insect does not pass on the disease to future generations. What about treating the soil in general for other fungus and disease? Maybe there is a product that will help "clean" the soil a bit since we have hot & humid as well as cool & humid seasons all year here in Delaware.

Would love some feedback...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Heart Macro - Cone Flower

Welcome to my post for I Heart Macro.
I have every intention on creating a follow up Cone Flower post that has more in depth information about the current conditions in my garden where I'm having issues with my cone flowers.

I believe I have Aster Yellows Phytoplasma on my Cone Flowers.
It affects over 300 species of plants - and I'm admittedly a bit concerned that this is just the beginning.
I've got a bunch of samples into the lab at the University of Delaware to see if they can confirm what it is that my plants have and what they recommend that I do about it.

I love my garden not just for the beauty and inspiraiton that it provides to me personally,
but also because it supports so much wildlife all year round.
And because it gives me a place to go with my little ones to let them experience nature first hand…

Stop by and check out some other macro shots over on Studio Waterstone's Blog:
studio waterstone

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Florida Version of I Heart Macro...

This week I'm in FL visiting with my family on a last minute trip…
My little three year old has kept me busy in the pool from the moment we wake up.
Today I stole a few moments to go check out some of the local sights on the front porch...
This snail was very curious about what I was doing with my camera and hand lens so close to it...
We've had rain for most of the day today, and I loved the color variation on the palm leafs.
Crazy to see the cells (stomates) in those droplets... 
Here an old piece of palm leaf on the outside…
I enjoy the color & textures of decaying plants.
And a quick last minute shot of a dead weevil.
I've never seen one so pale white/green before, and this large.
The ones up home in Delaware are gray brown and about 1/4 of an inch.
This one was at least 1/2" to 3/4".

Swing by and check out the rest of the posts for
I Heart Macro Sunday over on Studio Waterstone Blog.

studio waterstone

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sunday Garden Day...

Sunday was very humid, but cool.
And we had nothing planned going on…
 So it was family out in the garden day.
Riley is finally big enough to get around on his own!
 Slow start - looking over some of the pretty blooms.
Loving these Begonias that I got from Karen A. last year!
The Main Side Hill Garden is a complete overgrown mess! 
 Overgrown is one thing…
Overgrown with invasive Japanese Stilt Grass, Thistle,
And Butterfly Bushes yet to be pulled is another.
There is a sort of desperation feeling with the latter.
 The Stilt grass is first to go.
Little by little, the "worm finder" and I get wheelbarrows full pulled out.
She helped "pick up piles" with the little plastic shrub rake for about 5 minutes before discovering the worms. And well, having a worm hunter with you in the garden - is a must!
I think this was 3 wheelbarrows full...
Then 4 or 5 as I move to the pathway mid-way down the hill...
Standing on the cleared pathway, looking up at where I started.
I'm such an ADHD weeder - all over the place!
Especially when there is so much to do, and there are two little kids running around, leading you to clearing paths for them so they can get through without toppling over from tripping from the overgrowth.
This would be the path before clearing…
Notice the green round Cats Mint up on the left in the above photo.
And after.
Now can you see the rounded Cats Mint?
See - there really is a path there!
Which, by the time it was all cleared,
The worm hunter had given up her gloves and was happily walking the path, sitting on the garden walls, picking seeds from pods that were splitting open - and singing!
A happy almost 4 year old singing made up songs in the garden is the best thing ever…
Well, maybe a big strong husband prepared with shovel and chainsaw is better…
Hmmm - maybe it was the combination of everyone being there that made it perfect!
Worm Hunter...
Shrub Rake Master (master at getting it stuck in anything)...
Foot Stomper helping dad dig up that holly that was half dead...
Seed gatherer…
Garden path and rock wall explorers...
There is still a ton of work to do.
But just about all the butterfly bush is gone.
Stilt grass and thistle are a plenty - a lot gone, a lot left to pull...
 Once the upper bed is finished, the bottom bed can be cleaned up too.
Then I can pull the remaining cone flowers and any other plant showing signs of Aster Yellows Disease. I will replant clean cone flowers next season, so they ALL have to come out this year.
I have some plants that need to go in this year - goldenrod, little joe pyeweed, etc.
And Riley will be getting his first pair of crocs next summer so he can have nice clean shoes after that can be rinsed off with the hose.
Besides - who doesn't love the happy squeals of getting feet washed off with cold water?
Chloe's bad mood from having to go inside for lunch changed pretty quick after hearing me crack up and make a big to do about the cold water from the hose.

So now, I know what I was doing on the 10 year anniversary of September 11.
Sadly, this was also the day 4 years ago that the decision that my mom would be taken off of the ventilator in ICU would be happening on Sept. 12th.
Hard to believer that 4 years ago, we lost her.
4 years ago, pregnant with Chloe.
2 years ago, pregnant with Riley.
6 years ago we were fixing drainage issues with my dad in the garden…
 I hope in two more years, we will be out enjoying the garden all together.
Maybe even having a cook out with family and friends.
I sure would like to have a back yard fire pit for roasting marshmallows…

Thanks for stopping by for a bit of garden hang time.
We'll see when I can get some of my MG friends out when it not so rainy, wet and cold...