NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR NOVEMBER 6, 2004

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WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

BY GLADYS JEURINK

          A number of people have asked how and where I have gotten such a number of queer or different plants.  So Ill name a few sources.

          Betty Olson tries out new seeds every year.  Several times she has given me some of her excess babies.  One is a thistle like plant about two feet high with a dainty white or yellow bloom.  The leaves are pointed and variegated with white. Each year a few seedlings come up.  This year she started standing cypress (Texas torch), a slender finely leaved plant that the rabbits ate down so I had to rescue with wire cages.  Four of the six survived and bloomed brilliant little red bells.

          Les Brehm, a resident of Eastmont now, is well into his nineties.  He gave me a Hyacinth Tree with long chains of white blooms with red centers.  It has been destroyed twice by storms but sends up babies from its roots.  I currently have two small ones about nine feet tall that turn white each spring. 

          Sheila Hines started me on the double, purple datura trumpet shaped blooms.  I start the seeds every February and they reach nine feet by September with bumpy seed balls.  The flowers are related to the Angel Trumpets and the moon flowers (Jimsen weeds).  One plant will have fifty 8x12 inch pure white blooms pop open at sundown. 

          Several years ago Margene and Lori Zachak gave me a pot with two desert rose plants.  They are natives of Madagascar. They work at the Earl May store on South 48th and call me if something exotic comes in.  The rose plants hoard water during the rainy season in a swollen base. During the dry season they drop their leaves off a leather like stem and wait for a rain.  For me this is about December or January.  Their roots will rot if watered during the dry season.  Soon they sprout leaves and then white blooms with a bright red ruffled edge, 3 inches across on those funny stems.  This summer they are almost two feet high and had 40 blooms at one time. 

          George Edgar brought me seed from an old fashioned cockscomb (crested celosia) that has heads of fuzzy red velvet eight inches long and three inches across.  I would like to see the rooster they would fit!!!  He also brought me a start of a plant called Iresine.  It is also known as beefsteak plant, blood leaf and chicken gizzard! It is an heirloom in his family having come from his wifes aunt. The stems are red as are the leaf veins but the leaves are white with green splotches. It is not hardy and must be brought in for the winter.  Taking cuttings each fall is the easiest way to keep. If left it will get 4 feet tall and quite bushy.

          Even strangers help me out.  One day as I was working in the yard a man stopped with a potted plant and said, I walk by here all the time and I see you dont have on of these so I brought you one. It turned out to be a Black Knight butterfly bush. The bush is now six feet tall and four feet wide. 

          A teenager Id never seen before, brought me a night blooming jasmine, a tender plant that blooms all winter.  Have you ever breathed in a room with a blooming jasmine?  The donor was from California but staying with his grandmother for the summer.

          My yard is a corner two lots so everyone can see what I lack.  It really is a neighborhood garden.  I havent named nearly all the special plants I have been given by special people.  Thank you to all these people who have shared with me.

 

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STRANGE LADYBUGS

BY GEORGE EDGAR

          Many have asked about the many ladybugs that are trying to come into our warm homes. Actually the offending ladybug is a beetle called the Multicolored Asian Ladybird Beetle (MALB) according to Barb Ogg, Extension Educator with the Lancaster County Extension Service. The colors of MALB differ, ranging from pale yellow-orange to bright red-orange with and without spots on the wing covers. The MALB, recognized as a voracious feeder, was introduced several times a number of years ago in the U.S. by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to control aphids and other insects.  According to an entomologist at Iowa State University, these beetles did not survive. Thus, the ones we are seeing now came into the country from an unknown source.  They are beneficial, as the MALB is a voracious feeder of soybean aphids (also native to Asia).

          If they get into your home, they do not eat anything, do not do any damage, but are looking for a place to hibernate.  However, the MALB does secrete a foul-tasting chemical from their legs, which makes them unpalatable to their enemies.  This secretion can stain fabric and wallpaper so leave a mess when crushed and smell awful. In fact they stink when smashed. Use your vacuum to collect them and then empty the bag outdoors. 

          Why do we have so many now? The beetles have been feeding on aphids on soybeans, sorghum and other crops on the farms.  Once the crops are harvested they have no food and so have come to town to see if you have any food for them.  Once we have a hard frost (lower 20s F.) they will be gone.

          For more information go to lancaster.unl.edu on the internet, and see the article by Barb Ogg on Ladybugs.