Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring is here

Double tulip - photo by Melanie

Double Tulips, Late Flower Double Tulip Bulbs


The blossoms of Double Tulip Bulbs have so many petals that many people refer to them as Peony Tulips. The blossoms of double tulips extremely large; when fully open they can be as much as 4 inches (10 cm) across.The flowers will bloom late and are very long lasting.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


"Ticks: the foulest and nastiest creatures that be." --Pliny the Elder, 23-79 A.D., Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher

Rhinebeck, NY, April 28—Sunshine and flowers are especially welcome this year following the extremely harsh winter.  The season has finally begun for hiking, gardening, picnicking, and simply enjoying the great outdoors.  It is now also tick season—which means increased exposure to the serious infectious diseases they carry.
The frigid temperatures did not kill ticks as they have a two-year life cycle and are well regulated to survive winters.  They become active once the weather starts to thaw, and by the time it reaches 40 degrees they are seeking warm-blooded hosts to feed on.

"According to the New York Department of Health, ticks are most active late spring through mid-August," says Lou Paradise, president and chief of research of Topical BioMedics, Inc., Rhinebeck, NY, the makers of the Topricin line of natural pain relief and healing creams.  "Now is the time to avoid contact with them and be aware of the symptoms of Lyme and Babesiosis, two dangerous tick-borne illnesses."


The Lyme disease bacterium (Borrelia burgdorfen) is carried by a species of ticks known as Ixodes.  Ticks in this group include deer ticks, western black-legged ticks, and black-legged ticks.  These tiny terrors are small—typically no larger than a poppy seed—and transmit the bacteria when feeding on warm-blooded hosts, including mice, deer, dogs, and humans.  The bacteria enter the skin through the bite during feeding and eventually make their way into the bloodstream.

Lyme disease is rampant.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of Americans diagnosed each year is approximately 300,000, and the agency has gone on record to say that it believes only 10% - 12% of Lyme disease cases are actually reported to them. Most documented cases have occurred in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, with some incidences reported from western states, including Oregon and northern California.  Moreover, the Companion Animal Parasite Council Parasite Forecast Maps predict Lyme is expanding its range to the west as well as southern states.

The NY Dept. of Health reports that in 60 to 70 percent of Lyme disease cases, the first symptom is often a rash that occurs at or near the site of a tick bite and has a round, "bulls-eye" appearance.  It can be between 2" and 6" in diameter, and lasts up to five weeks.  Other symptoms occur from several days to weeks, months, and even years after a bite.  They include "flu-like" symptoms, such as aches and pains in muscles and joints, chills and fever, headache, sore throat, stiff neck, swollen glands, dizziness, and fatigue.  Even if these symptoms fade away, untreated Lyme disease may lead to arthritis, nervous system abnormalities, and an irregular heart rhythm.


Babesiosis is another infection transmitted by ticks and is caused by a parasite that lives in red blood cells. The babesia microti parasite infects and destroys red blood cells, and the disease—which is a malaria-like illness—can cause hemolytic anemia.  Symptoms begin anywhere from five days after a bite or longer, and may include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, tiredness, and a rash.  Unlike Lyme, Babesiosis has been known to be fatal.  Therefore diagnosis and treatment should begin as soon as possible after it is contracted.


Because tick bites are usually painless, the incubation period is long, and the symptoms so varied, a tick-borne disease may go unrecognized for weeks or even months.  Moreover, these diseases often mimic other conditions—such as the flu, meningitis, or, in some instances Multiple Sclerosis—making it easy for there to be a misdiagnosis.  Further complicating matters is the fact that diagnostic tests are not always accurate or conclusive.

Test timing is a factor in diagnosis.  According to Sally Hojvat, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Microbiology Devices at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, "It's important to know that blood tests that check for antibodies to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease are not useful if done soon after a tick bite.  It takes two to five weeks for initial antibodies to develop."


Avoiding contact with ticks and disease prevention are the first and best lines of defense against tickborne infections.  Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe from these tiny threats.

  • Ticks are carried by deer, mice, and other common woodland creatures.Keep these uninvited guests away by installing a deer fence and moving brush piles and wood piles (where mice find shelter) and bird feeders (a source of food for rodents) away from your house and play areas.
  • There are a number of plants you can cultivate around your yard that repel ticks, including lavender, garlic, pennyroyal, pyrethrum (a type of chrysanthemum), sage, and eucalyptus.
  • Use natural tick repellents.  According to award-winning author and green living expert Annie B. Bond, the essential oil of rose geranium is an effective repellent.  "Do not apply it directly on skin, but mix a drop or two in an oil, or dab onto your clothing, particularly shoes, socks and pants, shirt cuffs, and collar" says Ms. Bond.  "You may also use it on your dog, but again not directly on the skin.  Apply a drop to a bandana, or on a collar or harness."  Other products she recommends include Rose Geranium Hydrosol, available from Simplers Botanicals for $12.65 (www.simplers.com)  and Buzz Away Extreme, which is formulated with citronella, cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and peppermint.  Studies have found it to be as effective or better than DEET-based products, and it was rated as the most effective natural insect repellent by the Good Housekeeping Institute. 
  • It seems that dryer sheets also offer some protection.  According to Dr. Gary Wilkes, a veterinarian at Westside Animal Hospital, Augusta, GA, "To avoid ticks, I like to place dryer sheets in my socks, pockets and hat.  I don't know if it's the smell or the fragrance, but it seems that loading up on Bounce provides good protection."
  • If your lifestyle permits, raising chickens, ducks and guinea hens will help keep the tick population down as these feathered friends have a voracious appetite for them.
  • Keep your lawn manicured and avoid walking in wooded, brushy, and grassy areas. When hiking in an overgrown or wooded area, try to stay near the center of the trail, and do not sit on stonewalls, which harbor rodents.
  • When outdoors, protect yourself and your children by wearing long sleeves and long pants, preferably in light colors so you can spot a tick more easily.Wear shoes and socks that you tuck pant legs into or a pair of tall boots.
  • After being outdoors, remove clothing and place them in a dryer first for 15 minutes, then wash your clothes and dry again.Washing alone will not kill ticks—even with bleach—it's the heat of the dryer that does the trick.
  • Do a thorough body check of yourself and your children after spending time outdoors, and take a shower or bath within two hours of coming inside.In the case of Lyme disease, infection from a tick to a human typically takes 30 – 40hours, so spotting and removing them quickly is an important first defense. (It is uncertain how long it takes for Babesiosis to spread.)
  • De-tick with duct tape.To get the pests off you or your pet, use sticky duct tape to remove before they bite.
  • Your four-legged friend may pick up an unwanted hitchhiker after being outside.Be sure to inspect dogs for ticks after they've been outside as they may deliver a tick to you, and they can also become sick with Lyme disease.

If you discover a tick attached to you, carefully remove it. Using tweezers, grasp it close to the skin and pull straight back without twisting or yanking. There are also devices on the market today that are made for effectively and efficiently removing ticks.Avoid pressing or squeezing the tick's belly as it can push bacteria into your body. Similarly, do not use the heat of a match that you light and blow out, or petroleum jelly.After you've removed the tick, disinfect the bite area.Save the tick for possible identification by a doctor or the local health department.


There is now research showing the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), offering hope to patients crippled by chronic Lyme disease. Dr. William Fife at Texas A & M University has published extensive research demonstrating profound improvements in Lyme disease patients treated with HBOT. These improvements include pain reduction, return of clarity of the mind, and reduction of depression.


Doctors will often prescribe antibiotics if they suspect Lyme or another tick-borne illness.  Here are some ways you can assist your body further with some safe, natural treatments.
"With tick-borne diseases, the body needs to detoxify, especially joint, muscle and nerve tissue," says Paradise. "Applying Topricin is helpful as it gives the body the support for its basic function of maintaining healthy cells and repairing damaged ones through enhanced healing.  Its combination of natural biomedicines in a clean water-based cream base that's free of chemicals and other irritants helps restore vitality to joint, nerve, and muscle tissues while providing safe, effective pain relief."
The reference book Prescription for Nutritional Healing offers the following recommendations for helping to recover from Lyme Disease.
--Nutritional supplements recommended include:
--Essential fatty acids (for helping to reduce inflammation and joint stiffness)
--Pancreatin and bromelain (to aid protein digestion and reduce inflammation)
--Evening Primrose oil capsules (to help combat pain and inflammation, with significant benefits to the skin and cardiovascular system)
--Garlic (immune system stimulator with antibiotic properties)
--Kelp (a rich source of B-vitamins and minerals, aids in detoxification)
--Vitamins A, C, and E (antioxidants and immune system support)
--"Green drinks" provide chlorophyll (aids in detoxification while providing important nutrients and enzymes).
Herbs recommended include:
--Alfalfa (supplies minerals and detoxifies the body)
--Dandelion root, ginseng, hawthorn, horsetail, and marshmallow root (help cleanse and rebuild the blood and damaged tissues)
--Echinacea (immune enhancer fights bacterial and viral infections; caution: should be used with caution if you are allergic to ragweed) 
--Goldenseal (use for one week only as a natural antibiotic; caution: do not use during pregnancy and with caution if you are allergic to ragweed)
--Milk thistle extract (protects the liver and kidneys and stimulates the production of new liver cells)
--Red clover (cleanses the bloodstream, helps fight infection)

About Topical BioMedics, Inc.
20 years in business and a Certified B Corporation, Topical BioMedics is the research and development leader in topical patented natural biomedicines for pain relief. The company's flagship product, Topricin® Pain Relief and Healing Cream, was introduced in 1994 and is now a leading natural therapeutic brand. A combination biomedicine formula, Topricin has been awarded a patent for the treatment of pain associated with fibromyalgia and neuropathy, was listed among the Top 100 Green Products of 2012 by Healthy Holistic Living.
The Topricin family of natural healing products also includes Topricin Foot Therapy Cream, specially formulated to treat painful foot and ankle issues and conditions, and Topricin for Children, which received the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval (with 5% of sales donated to pediatric cancer foundation). Made in the U.S.A., all Topricin products are federally-regulated over-the-counter medicines with no known side effects, no parabens, petroleum, or other harsh chemicals, no grease, and no odor.
Topricin is available in independent pharmacies, natural food and co-op stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Pharmaca, The Vitamin Shoppe, Fred Meyer, Wegmans, CVS (Foot Care Section), Walgreens (Diabetic Section), and other fine retailers, as well as directly from the company.
For more information visit http://www.topricin.com 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Arboretum director tells about tree care

Trees add beauty and character and break up the lines of a building or home, says Travis Stokes, director of the Northwest Missouri Arboretum, who spoke recently at the Maryville Garden Club about tree care.

But trees require maintenance. A pin oak tree has 1.5 million leaves. In addition, it drops acorns which attract squirrels. Hemlocks are everygreens don't require a lot of meaintence, but they need to be decandelled in the spring by cutting back new shoots so that the foliage is thick. The Craig Myrtle is the one tree that they have had trouble growing.

At the Northwest Missouri Aboretum, he says they don't add a lot of amendments, but rather allow the trees to grow abd adapt to their surroundings.

The Arboretum, located on the Northwest Missouri State University campus, has over 1700 trees of 134 different varieties from 22 countries. The Arboretum has been named Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Recently, 100 people gathered to celebrate its 20th anniversary by planting 20 new trees. The Arboretum has a goal of adding 50 new trees a year.

Visitors can take three tree tours around the campus and soon they will be able to use a cell phone app to provide information about the trees and showing pcitures in different seasons. Each tree will be mapped by GIS.

The Northwest Missouri Arboretum has over 1700 trees of 134 varieties.

Stokes says the "best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best is today." However, fall is the best time when trees are going into dormancy.

Nursery stock usually comes in a container or as a root ball in burlap.  In the early spring they can be planted as bare roots.  Young trees have a root flare that is used to determine how deep to plant. Trees should not be planted too deep, says Stokes. Rather the hole should be dug wider so that it is three times the size of the root ball. "The wide hole makes its so the tree doesn't have to work too hard."

Remove the wire basket, rope or burlap when planting.  providing enough room and spreading of the roots prevents gridling. Girdling can cause a tree to die overtime. You don't need to stake the tree unless it needs to be stabilized. Satbilization allows the tree to stand up to wind.  The tree needs to be stablized for usually only a year. If you do stabilize, remove the wire or hose before the tree grows too big.

At the Northwest Missouri Arboretum, Stokes says they don't usually fertilize trees, but if you do add fertilizer add it around the drip line of the tree.

Two to four inches of mulch acts as a blanket and keeeps the trees cooler. Avoid creating a volcano with the mulch.  It could lead to girdling. You can extend the mulch as far out as the drip line. Pine needles that drop make a good mulch.  Hostas are a good plant to grow under the trees in the mulch, although it is hard to plant them around a walnut tree.

Mulch keeps mowers away from the trees. Mulch can be put on top of the soil or grass cuttings can be used as a base before adding the mulch.  Some people also use newspapers or cardboard.

After planting new trees need slow watering of 2-4 gallons a day for two weeks. Then they may need less frequent watering throughout the hot summer months. Watering is not generally needed in the fall.

The best time for pruning is in the fall when the trees are dormant. Cutting in the summer could lead to stress, but don't hesitate to cut a limb or branch off it is is endangering the roof.  A beautiful tree has a central leader.  Prune other leaders and branches that cross. Good pruning leads to well placed scaffold branches and a strong trunk. Fuel oil or horticultural oil can be used around the cut off.

While moving trees is not always successfl, it is should also occur in the fall. Tree spades are often not big enough.  Whenever moving a tre, lots of waterings is needed.

Students choose the campus because of its beauty.

It's a bad idea to top trees. It causes lots of suckers that weaken the main branch of the tree. During the ice storm of 2007 many trees were destroyed when co-domiant branches broke off from the weight of the ice.

Espaliating a tree is the process of training a fruit tree onto a wire or trellis, allowing it to grow in a structured way along a fence or wall. In this case you would clip off the leader.

Northwest Missouri State University has 21 full-time grounds employees and 18 part-time. The Arboretum is supported by state appropriations. The first and last impression prospective students get is of the beauty of the campus.

The site for the Arboretum is nwmissouri.edu/arboretum.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weeder is quick and easy

With the Garant weeder you can easily uproot any weed. And it seems to be true.
  • Insert the weeder straight down on the weed.
  • Remove the weed by slightly twisting the tool.
  • Then eject the weed with a single shot of the sliding handle. 
It is effective in all soil types.  I found that it worked best with thistle and dandelions on my lawn but didn't work so well on tree roots. It was quick and easy - a tool I would recommend for a
ny gardener. One feature I found particularly helpful was a ratchet in the hanlde. When I attacked weeds next to a wall and could only turn the hanlde half way, i could ratchet it back so that I could go at the weed again.

I liked the fact that I could dig out a weed and not have to lean over and pick it up.  This made the job at lot easier and faster.
The YouTube demonstration says a weed digger is just as effective, but I don't find it nearly as easy to work with.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Phlox are hardy flowers, large with brilliant colors

Phlox is now blooming in my garden. It will bloom throughout the summer. It's one of my favorites because of its brilliant colors, size, and hardiness. We've had a drought for four weeks, but the flowers still are beautiful. 

Phlox paniculata 'Eva Cullum'
Clear pink flowers with a darker pink eye are displayed in large pyramidal panicles atop stiff, erect stems with abundant foliage. Especially remarkable when planted en masse, 'Eva Cullum' will bloom nearly all summer long. Its sweetly fragrant blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Phlox paniculata 'David'
 'David' was named the 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.  What sets this Phlox apart from other non-award winning Phlox is the exceptionally large flower heads of pure white and mildew resistant green foliage.

Phlox paniculata 'Andre'
Phlox paniculata "Andre" is a blue violet flowers atop green, mildew resistant foliage.

For more information go to:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grape leafroll or curled leaf

White grape with leafroll or curled leaves
Neptune seedless grapes are the largest white grape. These grapes grow over an arbor in the back of our garden. They should ripen in August or early September. 

This relatively new variety produces big, juicy, highly flavorful grapes that resist cracking, even in adverse conditions. In conical clusters, they make beautiful additions to fruit baskets or centerpieces. Disease-resistant and cold-tolerant. Self-pollinating.

Grape leafroll disease

by Sara Ipatenco, Demand Media
Wine grapevines, Vitis vinifera L., are susceptible to many pests and diseases, but grape leafroll disease is one of the most devastating. Healthy grapevine leaves are vividly colored and flat. When grape leafroll disease attacks a healthy grapevine, it leaves behind curled and unsightly leaves. Several factors could be the cause of leafroll disease and must be identified before treatment can begin.

The symptoms of grape leafroll disease vary among different varieties, which makes it difficult to detect and diagnose early enough to save the plants and grapes. Visual symptoms are usually not detectable until late summer or early fall. In red-skinned varieties, leaf tissue turns dark red or purple and the leaves curl downward. In white-skinned varieties, the leaves turn yellow and curl downward. For both varieties, the veins of the leaves remain green. There is no way to cure grape leafroll disease, so management and prevention are essential.

Ten different viruses can be responsible for the development of grape leafroll disease. The viruses, named GLRaV-1 through GLRaV-10, are often spread when grapevines are propagated or grafted. In some instances of grape leafroll disease, a single virus is responsible for the damage. In other cases, a grapevine might be infected with more than one virus, which leads to more extreme and devastating damage.

Two species of mealybugs, longtailed mealybug and citrus mealybug, are known to transmit grape leafroll viruses among grapevines in California vineyards. Scales are another type of pest that can cause grape leafroll disease. As the pests migrate from grapevine to grapevine to feed, they take the virus with them, spreading it to healthy vines.

Additional Causes
The use of certain herbicides can lead to leaf curling, though this is not considered true grape leafroll disease. Nutrient deficiencies can also cause grapevine leaves to curl. If the soil where the grapevines are planted is deficient in potassium and phosphorus, the leaves might begin to curl. Amending the soil can remedy the problem and restore the health of the grapevines.

Management and Prevention
Remove branches and vines that have evidence of grape leafroll disease and watch for the presence of pests to catch the problem early. Prevention is the only way to keep grapevine leafroll disease away because there is no cure once the vines are impacted. Because most instances of grape leafroll disease are caused by propagation and grafting, new cuttings should be tested for viruses before they are introduced to other grapevines. Purchasing certified cuttings ensures that new grapevines are virus free.

Serviceberry, Shadbush or Saskatoon Berry - a member of Rose family

Damage looks like rust and poor water management
Four years ago we planted four serviceberry plants in hopes that they would serve as a barrier between two sections of the garden. We have not seen any significant growth nor have we gotten any berries.  This year their leaves are turning yellow long before fall.  They are also getting rust. 

Poor water management, poor drainage
Inappropriate watering commonly damages landscape plants. Inadequate water causes foliage to wilt, discolor, and drop. Prolonged moisture and poor drainage results in smaller leaves, dieback or limb drop, and susceptibility to root rots, mineral deficiencies or toxicities, wood-boring insects and other pests that eventually can kill plants. Excessive moisture smothers and kills roots. As roots die, discolored and dying foliage appears in the above ground portion of the plant.

Maintain adequate but not excessive water in the soil to ensure plant survival and good growth. Examine plants regularly for symptoms of water stress. Monitor soil moisture around the plant's root zone and adjust irrigation according to seasonal need. Soil around young plants during hot weather may need to be monitored daily; every few weeks may be adequate when monitoring around mature trees during more favorable weather.

Do not water established trees and shrubs near the trunk; this promotes root and crown disease. Water plants when needed around the drip line and beyond. Adjust sprinklers or install deflectors to prevent wetting of trunks. Move drip emitters away from the base of the trunk after plants are established. Read more at the UC Davis website here.

Serviceberry plant
Rusts are fungal diseases that infect many hosts, including birch, cottonwood, cypress, false cypress, fuchsia, hawthorn, juniper, pine, poplar, rhododendron, rose, and spruce. Dry reddish, yellowish, or orange spore masses or pustules form on infected tissue, especially on the lower surface of leaves. The upper surface of heavily infested leaves turns yellow or brown and infected leaves may drop prematurely. Orange, gelatinous masses appear on some infected evergreen hosts. Some species cause tissue swellings or galls, colorful spots on plants, or cankers on bark. These can cause branch dieback and occasionally kill the entire plant. Some rusts may cause leaves and shoots to become distorted, dwarfed, and discolored, forming "witches' brooms."

Avoid overhead watering, which favors spore germination. Rake infected leaves or needles and clip and dispose of infected shoots and branches as soon as they appear. Fungicides applied in the spring can reduce some rust diseases, but the frequent applications required to provide good control are generally not warranted in landscapes. Read more from UC Davis website.

Leaf spot may also be present 
Entomosporium leaf spot is a fungal disease that spots the leaves of plants in the Pomoideae group of the rose family, including apple, flowering crab apple, evergreen pear, hawthorn, pear, photinia, pyracantha, quince, Rhaphiolepis, and toyon. And in this case serviceberries. Tiny reddish spots, sometimes surrounded by a yellow halo, appear on the leaves of infected plants, usually on older growth. These spots darken and enlarge as the leaves mature. Spore-forming bodies eventually appear in the center of the spots; these dark fruiting bodies may appear to be covered with a glossy membrane, beneath which white masses of spores may be visible. Infected plants may prematurely drop many leaves.

Remove and dispose of spotted leaves that are on plants or have fallen. Do not water overhead as this spreads the fungus spores and favors infection. Reduce humidity around plants by providing adequate space between them and by pruning lower branches. Consider removing groundcovers beneath shrubs and mulching or maintaining bare soil instead. In very severe or special cases, copper compounds or chlorothalonil may be used as a preventative treatment. Read more here.

About serviceberries
Serviceberries are deciduous shrubs or small trees.  New leaves in spring are purplish and turn dark green in the summer.  Leaves become yellow, orange, or red in the fall.  Clusters of white or pink flowers bloom in spring followed by production of small berries that attract birds.  Berries are often used in pies and jams. 

Serviceberries do best in areas with full sun or partial shade.  Plant in a site where fruit drop won’t be a problem.  Provide moderate to regular amounts of water.  Prune after bloom to remove old, damaged, or crossing branches. Read more here