Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bat Problems

These little brown bats in a New York cave were suffering from a disease scientists have dubbed "white nose syndrome." (NANCY HEASLIP/NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION)

2/28/08 - Local update from the Morning Call: "Bucks County bat cave escaping 'white nose' die-off plaguing Northeast.",0,3013519.story

White Nose Syndrome

Elizabeth Licata’s February 20 post on Garden rant contained a “scary report” on a mysterious disease that is wiping out bats in the northeast.

According to the Boston News, “In March (2007), officials at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation determined that as many as 11,000 bats had died from the disease, dubbed "white nose syndrome" because of a flaky white fungus on the nose of many of the sick and dead bats.”

"I've studied bats for 40-something years, and I've never seen anything like this; it's alarming," said Thomas Kunz, a preeminent bat researcher at Boston University. "It's frustrating and perplexing, because we don't know what it is and we don't know how to control it."

Kunz and other scientists will be entering New York caves this spring to study the bats.

“There is a lot we don’t know,” said Scott Darling, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “There is a real threat.”

Although not the most beautiful animal, a quote from "Homeowner’s Guide To Northeastern Bats And Bat Problems", Penn State, College of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension.

"Bats make good neighbors. As the only major predators of night flying insects, bats play an important role in controlling many insect pests. A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects each night."

A small animal – a big problem!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Tired of snow? Me too. I choose to ignore the snow and think about indoor plants, garden catalogues and flower shows.

The coleus cuttings are due to be trimmed for more cuttings. I'll pot them in peat pots so they can go directly into the garden in May.

Fuchsia cuttings grow well under the lights. They are also ready for cuttings.

The rosy amaryllis is ready to bloom.

Pussy Willows produce fuzzy little blooms.

As I continued to ignore the snow, I put through my first garden catalogue order. From Gardener’s Supply – Large Tip Bag, 31" Diameter - “Self-Standing Bags Make Yard Clean-Up Easy”. I borrowed one of these bags last fall for leaf cleanup. It worked so well that I had to have one for myself. They are sturdy and collapse for storage. I also ordered two Drip-it Pro waterers for my container vegetables - ”Two-Week Plant Sitters” according to the catalogue. I’ll let you know how they work out.
Next month the 36th Annual Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show "Tapestry of Green” will be held at the Allentown Fair Grounds Agri-Plex - March 7 to 9. You can print a $1 off coupon and read the press release at The press release promises more plants for sale this year.
The Philadelphia Flower Show "Jazz It Up" takes place March 2 to 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. According to the promotional material, ' "Jazz It Up" will celebrate the birthplace of jazz and much more, as exhibitors take gardening to the next level with pumped-up versions of New Orleans walled courtyards, cast iron balconies, fountains and canals. If you like music, there will also be the toe-tapping sounds of great Jazz legends.'
Think spring!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adventures in Agriculture

February 15, 16, and 17, Palmer Park Mall in Easton hosted “Adventures in Agriculture.” It was sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension and Northampton County. The displays covered a wide variety of conservation and agriculture as well as home gardening topics.

Hens, chickens, rabbits, dogs and alpacas grabbed the kid’s attention. Games and prizes were available throughout the mall. 4H members helped the children make silly putty and butter. Other 4H members displayed project rabbits. The soft, cuddly animals begged to be touched. Guide dog handlers answered questions while the kids stroked the young dogs.

Local food was available to taste and buy. Becker Honey Farm, Klein Farms Dairy & Creamery, the old Copella store & farm and Reeder Farms were among the local food vendors. Smith Krekk Alpacas displayed soft and luxurious scarves, gloves, skeins of yarn and alpaca toys while 2 patient alpacas rested in their cage.

Master Gardeners were on hand to help identify the seeds of common vegetables and answer questions about seed starting. Informational sheets included vegetable variety recommendations and seed starting instructions. The display included a soil-less potting mixture and how to make paper pots.

Northampton County Conservation District brochures included “Backyard Conservation.” This colorful brochure highlights “10 conservation activities, adapted from farms and ranches, that can be used in your backyard.” - planting tree windrows, providing wildlife habitats, composting, cover crops, creating a pond, soil testing, terracing, drip irrigation and pest management. More information at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Other informational displays included Northampton Farm Bureau, RSVP groundwater flow model, Forks of the Delaware Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Burnside Plantation. Mall stores offered up to 70% off on merchandise. There was something for everyone. Don’t miss it next year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

House Plants

I’m finally out of the closet. The second and final closet is painted.

Recently, Doug Green wrote in his Garden Blog that he gave away all his house plants before he moved to a new house. Every room in my house contains house plants. Wherever there’s a window, there’s a plant (or two or three).

Doug’s blog got me thinking. I really don’t need all those plants.
Beware of a friend bearing plants! I plan to reduce the number of plants in my house by half.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Spring Planning

I’ve been busy removing wallpaper and painting the inside of a closet the last few days – something I like about as much as having my boot sucked off in a muddy paddock.

I haven’t done a lot of garden related thinking. I did manage to start a list of things I’d like to do this spring.

Plants to divide:

Coral Bells (Micrantha ‘Palace Purple’), Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata Moonbeam)

Daylilly (Stella D’Oro)


Lilly of the Valley

and - mums (Chrysanthemum Koreanum ‘Single Apricot’), Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and zebra grass.

I hope to get at least half of these plants divided and share some with friends. I also started a “to prune” and “to plant” and (best of all) “to buy” list. But before any of that, I have one more closet to paint.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


More information and opinion on Hemlock wooly adelgid from Garden Rant writer Susan Harris. Susan also writes Sustainable Gardening Blog and is co-founder of DC Urban Gardeners.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


A recent article in American Horticulture Society’s “The American Gardener” magazine is titled “Coleus Comeback” by Ray Rogers.

According to Rogers, “Coleus are more than just simply the darlings of a monomaniacal collector’s eye or quaint Victorian throwbacks for the odd shady corner . . .”

Season-long color, ease of propagation, infinite variety, sun tolerant as well as shade plants, specimen plants or mass planting, upright, mounding, or trailing, in containers or in the garden - what’s not to like? Yes I’m one of those monomaniacal collectors. But, it’s not my fault. My good friend Myra gave me a few plants several years ago and touted their beauty. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’m seeing a greater variety in local garden centers recently. Dan Scantz Greenhouse donated sun coleus for Musikfest’s Blumenplatz (shown here). ‘Pink Chaos’, ‘Merlin's Magic’, ‘Religious Radish’ and ‘Pele’ created quite a splash of color in the corners of the bed.

I don’t try to remember all the cultivar names. Every supplier seems to have their own set of names.

A Master Gardener once told me square stemmed plants are the easiest to propagate. Most of the coleus have square stems. I usually root them in water then plant them in a mixture of three cups potting soil, one cup vermiculite and one cup peat moss. Sometimes I plant directly in the soil after dipping the stem in rooting hormone.

I clean all the pots in the summer in 1 to 9 solution of chlorine bleach to water and rinse thoroughly. I’ve lost about 15 to 20 percent this year. Mostly to damping off. I think I just don’t pay enough attention to the potted plants and probably overwater or overcrowd the trays. But every year I end up with 60 to 80 plants for the garden and friends.

I’ve been browsing through Rosy Dawn online catalog. Oh my, temptation!

See posts – 12/29/06, 5/8/07, 5/26/07, 7/11/07, 8/18/07, 10/20/07, 1/5/08