NIGHT GARDEN ... BY GLADYS JEURINK
If you are one of
those who works fairly late, or busy being a taxicab for children, or
just busy with lots of other activities, and thus has only parts of the
weekends to visit the garden, there is a garden you can enjoy after it
is dark. This column is about having a “Night Garden”.
Many think of a “Night Garden” with lights. I am not going to
talk about lights at this time as that is a whole separate topic. I want
to share about plants that show up at night.
It is a bit
cooler after dark, and it is too dark to weed, so all you need to do in
your “Night Garden” is relax and enjoy. If you have ‘Bee Balm’ (Monardia
sp.) in your garden, take a flashlight along.
Bumble bees like to sleep in the blossom and won’t be bothered
if you flash a light on them.
variegated leaves, and perfume makers should be a large part of your
plants in a “Night Garden”. There are a number of flowers that open
only at night and some that close when the sun goes down. The
‘Moonvine’ (Ipomea alba)
that climbs up and over anything nearby is fragrant and waits not for
sundown (or a very cloudy day) but true darkness.
The ‘Moon Flower’ (Datura
species) in fertile soil grows 4 feet by 4 feet and opens as it
darkens. It is also
fragrant with bees hovering nearby to get the nectar.
Most of us have
tried to catch fire flies and carried a jar at night.
Each species of fly has a special flashing signal so that they
will mate only with their own group. Try while you are there to catch
the number and length of the flashes.
On a damp evening, near the outside edge of shrubs you can
scratch away the mulch or top soil (not too deep now, just scratch) and
you may find the larvae that are already practicing their flashes. It
used to be in certain parts of the United States that kids could catch
the fire flies and be paid for them.
The chemicals used to create the light were used to manufacture
certain products. So now you are carrying a jar and a flashlight.
If the moon is
shining your garden gets even more interesting. ‘Snakeroot’ (Cimicifuga
species) is a perennial that likes partial shade and damp soil. It
grows only about 2 to 2 ½ feet tall and wide but sends up a long
slender bloom that has given the plant the name of ‘Fairy Candle’.
The tall white
‘Flowering Tobacco Plant’ (Nicotiana
sylvestris) is a good background plant with its long tubular flowers
(6 inches) that opens at night and gives off perfume. Its big leaves are
quite dramatic, and it is an annual that produces zillion of seeds.
Another tall one is the ‘Regal Lily’. Mine grew about 5 feet tall
and could be smelled from the street with their big 5 inch waxy blooms.
When I was a
kid (many years ago) one of the first shrubs I met was a ‘Snowball’,
so it was the first shrub I had to have.
Then I found out there are many Viburnums,
many of which have snowballs of some shape. Much work has been done in
this family the last few years and the newest one I acquired this last
year is ‘Forever Summer’. Now I have five different species of
“Vibes”, and all of them look good at night especially when used as
a background to white flowers. Several of them are highly perfumed. My
original ‘Snowball’ has been smashed twice by storms and falling
limbs but I cut it off to the ground and it springs back as if nothing
happens. Aphids love it in the spring and can distort the leaves if you
are not watching. Lady bugs
will get them or you can hit them with a strong spray of water.
All of my “Vibes” recover from being entirely cut back and
some, like ‘Annabelle’, bloom every year while some take two years.
I have been
wanting for years to get some of these lights that recharge themselves
during the sunlight and then turn themselves on at dark.
They are short (2 foot or so), and are used to edge pathways.
Just think how these night flowers would look. But that is
For now take
your jar, your light, and your lemonade, and sit under the big, old
cottonwood and listen to its leaves rattle and talk to you, while you
enjoy your “Night Garden”.
... BY GEORGE EDGAR
From time to
time I will write a “Pest Alert”. A “Pest Alert” will contain
information from the Cooperative Extension Division of the University of
Nebraska at Lincoln. The information sent to Master Gardeners in
Lancaster County this past week alerted us to general discoloration of
tall fescue lawns. “It appears to be the results of a brown patch
infection that occurred last fall. As the turf begins to green up, most
lawns will grow themselves out of the disease and its symptoms. The
first mowing should be low to remove the damaged leaves. These leaves
should be collected and removed from the lawn.
If environmental conditions favor brown patch later in the
spring, homeowners may need to treat the disease with a fungicide.”
is a difference between brown patch (a leaf disease) and summer patch (a
crown disease). Brown patch is easy to control with a fungicide spray
when symptoms appear. Summer patch is hard to control after symptoms
appear. A granular systemic fungicide should be applied May 1st
and a second application 3 weeks later as a preventative in areas
infected last year. Contact your local County Cooperative Extension
Educator or a full service garden center specialist for a diagnosis.
information you can also go on line to http://ianrhome.unl.edu/search.
Type in Brown Patch Disease of Turfgrass (NebGuide G84-688-A) for
further recommendations or type in lawn diseases for more information