Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Attack of the alien invaders - Japanese Lily Beetle

We had our first blast of summer heat today - 32 degrees celcius (39 with humidex).  Fortunately it is  much cooler here on the shoreline of Lake Ontario.  The tulips have come to the end of their bloom, having been battered by a deluge on Sunday night and now frying in the heat of the day, so I went out after dinner with a bucket and scissors to deadhead and take stock.  Whilst crouching down amongst the burgeoning foliage I was distressed to find something other than the usual detritus of human life that I seem to find intermittently scattered in the garden as a result of living on a main street (abandoned cell phones, car keys and sundry articles of clothing, not warranting further comment).  I have my first infestation of Japanese Lily Beetle!

In my efforts to ensure I had something spectacular in bloom all summer long last year (a result of my anxiety at not knowing when the Master Gardeners of the local horticultural society would turn up to judge my efforts, after some kindly citizen anonymously nominated me for a prize Etobicoke & Toronto West Great Gardens Contest) I popped in a variety of lilies, bought in near full bloom, to fill in a few gaps.  Now, they are growing back with great vigour, but are under attack from what might otherwise be considered a rather beautiful insect.  The Japanese Lily Beetle appears to have arrived in the North East US about 15 years ago, and in the absence of any natural predators, has gone on to successfully colonize large swathes of the US and Canada, and now Mimico!  I had my first encounter with them on a visit to the Toronto Botanical Garden last summer, where the lilies were completely denuded and looked like bejewelled sceptres, absolutely enrusted with ruby-red beetles.  Utter devastation!

So, from now on, I will need to make regular inspections and see if handpicking the little blighters will be enough to keep them under control.  If anyone has any good tips on controlling them, please let me know!!

PS - in case I haven't already tooted my trumpet on last year's Great Garden competition, I was first prize winner in the "alternative category" (how apt) for Ward 6.  Unsolicited compliments much appreciated ;)

Here are some photos of how things look on the last day of May.

Tulips are over - what will be next to make a splash?

In the backyard, there are still a few tulips that look like they'll hold out for a few more days

On an impulse, I bought 2 standard gardenias to adorn the deck this year...they should like Toronto's hot and humid summer weather, and I can't wait to smell their perfume

My Chinese Tree Peony is starting to open - the flower petals look like the wings of a swan

I'm expecting a burst of crisp white from this clematis in a few days

Greg's Grandmother sent him home from a visit with a bunch of seedlings from her garden - she's 87 and still gardening and travelling intrepidly.  Lupins, cardinal flower, lungwort, bachelor buttons and costmary were amongst those I could identify.  The others will need to flower before I'll recognize them.

Japanese Lily Beetles are not the only troublesome pests in the garden at the moment.  The squirrels love digging in my newly planted containers.  A dose of blood meal will discourage them.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Change is in the air

The anenomes have just opened, and delicately float in the breeze
The last week has seen more torrential rain, and the garden has been quite battered.  Despite the weather, I've had quite a good showing in the front garden, and given that Mimico is "an up and coming" neighbourhood, and thus still a little rough around the edges, I've been pleased to see lots of people stopping by to take a look, and lots of folks snapping photos of the garden as they go past on their stroll.  I have to say, I get quite a bit of satisfaction from thinking that my efforts help to beautify the neighbourhood, and hopefully bring some enjoyment to others.

The tulips have come up trumps again, after 6 years.  Every year I anxiously await to see if this is the year where they get too tired and overcrowded to bloom well, and each year they continue to look lovely.  I am on the verge of digging them up to make sure I don't reach the stage of overcrowding, but can't quite bring myself to disturb what seems to be a good thing.  Maybe I'll wait for just one more year.  In the meantime, I'll stick to my regimen of plenty of bonemeal and keeping the water away from them in the summertime.

The tulips are just starting to go past their prime, but have looked magnificent
One thing I have done in the last couple of years is try to find ways to not let the predominance of tulips in the garden become such an aesthetic problem after blooming.  Some strategically placed companion plantings, such as aquilegia and lilies have now matured to the size where I think they will do the job of hiding the retreat of the tulips, whilst still allowing them a full opportunity for the leaves to die back naturally, allowing the bulbs to store up all that vital energy needed for perfect blooming next year.  The extra light afforded by the absence of the locust tree should also help.

This tall lily will draw the eye after the
tulips start to decline
Here, peonies and hostas will be the focus
once the tulips go past
Change is definitely in the air though, and whilst today is still damp and grey, and a little on the cool side, the forecast for next week includes lots of lovely sunshine and much nicer temperatures.  The next wave of early summer flowers, such as peonies, alliums and clematis are all on the verge of bursting out, and they should enjoy and change in the forecast, and they'll certainly have been well hydrated until now.  No gardening today though - I have started on an arrangement of the Bach Italian Concerto for piano quartet, which at the rate I go, will see me through the rest of this year!  There just aren't enough hours in the day!

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the state of the union in the garden, and although it's sad to see some things going past already, there's much excitement about what is to come over the coming months.

This area had become increasingly shady and will need a re-arrangment shortly.  I plan to wait until the anemones are done flowering.

Although it's not raining today, there has been quite a heavy fog, which has left lots of droplets on the Lady's Mantle

This clear white clematis only blooms in early summer, but it does so before the New Dawn rose opens up, so it makes a good companion plant.  It's also not too vigorous in terms of foliage, so it doesn't crowd the rose.

These dark aquilegias are just opening as the tulips go over,  and the frondy foliage will hide the declining tulip foliage from the street view

These Alliums will be fully open in a couple of days.  The peonies are already hiding my homemade woven dogwood stakes

My crocs were decorated with fallen forget-me-nots when I took these photos in the drenched garden

Monday, 23 May 2011

Happy Birthday Queen Vic!

It's always been slightly puzzling to me that Canadians, at least those of my generation, started each school day by singing the National Anthem....and not just "Oh Canada".  Whilst the benevolent face of Good Queen Betty smiled enigmatically down upon them, their sweet treble voices would request that "God Save the Queen".  The Queen features on the Canadian coinage, and today, in honour of Queen Victoria, we have a day off work to celebrate her birthday.  Actually, the birthday is tomorrow, May 24th, but I'm sure we'd all rather have a long weekend than a random Tuesday.  I do wonder why Canadians continue to celebrate her birthday to this day, something the Brits no longer do.

Often this Victoria Day long weekend is on the cool side.  The proverbial 40 days and 40 nights of rain we've been having were interrupted over the last 3 days, and we've had some nice sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Unfortunately, my outdoor efforts have been thwarted by intermittent downpours today.  None the less, I've managed to get a few jobs taken care of in the garden this weekend.

Order of Work - May 22-23

  • planted window boxes.  This year I went cheap and cheerful, with pink geraniums and rosy coloured begonias.
  • trimmed and did a little shaping of the boxwoods in the front yard.  There was quite a bit of winter damage, which I've trimmed off, and hopefully they'll recover nicely.
  • staked peonies with left over dogwood branches from my outdoor Christmas decorating.
  • cleared out some of the invasive Virginia creeper that always sneaks in from next door and makes a bee line for the 50 foot high fir tree, covering and choking the whole thing in what seems like a matter of days.
  • cut the thatch off the clematis montana that smothers the trellis on my deck each year.  It's a lovely deep, velvety purple and blooms all the way through from July to October.
  • very relieved to see that bougainvilla is finally sprouting out in leaf all over.  If the showers hold off, I might get it planted up in a container for the deck.
Hope my homemade, woven peony stakes are strong enough to do the job.

Forget-me-nots give a real cottage garden feel.

These pink tulips have been going strong for 6 years now and have formed big clumps.

The rain stopped me from hanging up the window boxes after planting them.

This is the 1st year for these bulbs.  Not sure if I like the tall orange tulips.

More 1st year tulips - I really like these short, bright yellow ones. Very cheery!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday Photos: May 20th 2011 - Victoria Day Long Weekend

 Here are a few shots of my tulipolicious garden, in time to celebrate Queen Vic's b'day.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Play delayed by rain

Rain all weekend, so little by way of gardening, although it did give time for some last minute preparations for the first gig for the Spinnaker Ensemble, at the Mimico Cruising Club, which seemed to go off very well, despite a few nervous moments.   

ORDER OF WORK - May 15th 2011

  • went out briefly in the rain to plant my latest clematis purchase, "Special Occasion", which will be the partner to "Gravetye Beauty" (recently relocated from the backyard, to the front), whose name suddenly popped into my head a day or two ago, after I had maddeningly forgotten it.  Hopefully the two will soon be joined in a loving embrace, to cover up chicken wire and municipal guy-wire, which is admittedly even more of an eyesore since embelishment with a chicken wire armature.
  • must pot up the ornamental cabbages and currant tomatoes before the day is done.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday photos

The sea of tulips should soon be in full sail

Love the creamy white petals and soft yellow centre of these daffodils
If the stray dandelion in the middle of the muscari patch flowers soon, this will be such a lovely colour study

Pincushion spurges are just taking on their limey-loveliness
This climbing hydrangea flowered for the first time last year, so hopefully will put on a good show this time around