Hello Fellow Readers,
The pots between the garage doors remain largely vacant since our yellow jacket dilemma. Due to the proximity of the nest and the risk of anaphylactic shock of loved ones, a non-organic approach was sadly called for. If the yellowjacket nest was not in a tenuous spot, I’d have let it be as they only nest in one spot one time and will not return next year.
There are more earth friendly sprays which contain pyrethrin extracted from the pyrethrum daisy (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) that will not harm established plants. It must be reapplied every 48 hours though due to its effective timeframe. The longer lasting man-made chemicals called pyrethroids work for up to three weeks. You won’t see the word pyrethroid on the labels which is confusing (or intentional?) but the pyrethroid ingredients listed often end in “thrin”. While the chemicals will kill the wasp nest quickly, it’s also harmful to plants. More, is the concern for the impact on the environment. Many countries have banned pyrethroid use as a pesticide. (Check out a previous column on the topic “Urgent Action Needed” )
Because of the use of nasty chemicals, I’ll dump the soil and nest remnants far from the compost or garden and fill the pots with new soil. I missed out on the annuals normally planted there; not to say there aren’t great annuals still available for those of you with naked pots. My plan is to decorate the pots with a shrub and perennials. Then come fall I’ll dig them into the garden.
I have my eye out for a mophead hydrangea called ‘Mini Penny’ (Hydrangea macrophylla) developed by Michael Dirr. Dirr is considered the guru of woody plants. In fact, horticulture students still refer to his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants long after college; mine tattered, taped and prized. Mini Penny’s three to four tall and wide size will work well as a container plant. She’s a repeat bloomer, providing a long summer show. Like other hydrangea, she blooms blue in acidic soils and pink in more alkaline soils. The morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect for this beauty who is high in mildew and disease resistance. Or, there’s my adored Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia also zone 5b to 9) which grows eight feet tall and wide. ‘Ruby Slipper’ is a compact variety Mini Penny sized. Come transplant time it’s good to know she does well in full sun if kept moist or thrives in part shade. With her large deep green maple shaped leaves that turn shades of red, orange and purple come fall, she’s a show stopper. Blooms start our white and change to purplish pink before they brown in fall.
I’ll divide the Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, also known as Japanese Forest Grass, which has been spreading nicely in the rock garden. Draping about 18-24” tall, its variegated bright gold and green blades will lighten up the pots and provide a fine texture next to the Hosta “denotations” that survived the yellowjacket spray. Or, if I find the white-striped form, Hakonechloa macra ‘Albo Striata’, even better. Both Zone 5-8 and deer resistant. Forgive, modify, and move forward. That’s my motto for things still left undone. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone.com
… I visited a favored nursery yesterday and ended up with these goodies. Stay tuned next week to read about them. And, God willing, see my naked pots properly dressed! :^)