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December 14, 2018

Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

Neighbors who live in my subdivision tell me that my house was one of the last houses built in the neighborhood. I suspect it was, because the lot is not the most attractive. It slopes down to bottom land and a creek a few hundred feet away. It is full of trees, some 30 of them, that are way too close together. That means they are very tall and skinny. All parts of the lot behind the house are mostly shaded by the trees and one section behind the garage is very steep. So it is almost impossible to grow anything in this area, especially the steep part.

Years ago, I decided to plant a ground cover in that area to control erosion and provide some type of cover that I did not have to mow or maintain. I selected English Ivy and it gradually covered the steep area behind the garage. What I did not know was that not only does it cover the ground but it also climbs trees. Now, it has not only completely covered the trunks of three or four of my trees, but also a couple of the neighbors’ trees. It attaches itself to the tree trunks and grows up 50 feet or so. It crowds out most other plants under the trees, except poison ivy, which I continually keep on the lookout for. Maggie likes to romp through this area and hunt for voles and other critters and occasionally gets some poison ivy oil on her whiskers that she then shares with me. You can see why I try to keep the poison ivy under control.

Many people have asked me what kind of a ground cover they can plant in areas similar to my spot behind the garage. I used to recommend English Ivy, until I found out it is a climber. Now many landscapers do not suggest it because it is so invasive. I wish I knew about that 30 years ago. Now, more people want to know how to get rid of it, rather than planting it.

I did some searching for ground covers on the Internet and found some excellent ideas at www.hgtvgardens.com where they list some 300 different ground covers that do well in shady areas. Some you might want to consider are: common periwinkle, lily of the valley, pachysandra, Algerian Ivy (variegated) or bugleweed. Check out this site where you can select based on your specific location in sun or shade and other variables. Also, I suggest you look at the U of I page at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hort where you will find all kinds of horticultural information. You can also check with your local U of I Extension office or master gardener for help with your horticultural questions. In addition, you might even be interested in becoming a master gardener. You can find details about that program on the same web page above.

Now is the time to:

  • Read a good book
  • Start your annual diet 
  • But finish your Christmas candy first

Call of the Week:

Q: When are you supposed to mulch perennial flower beds?

A: Normally you do not need to do that until the ground freezes. You can also mulch around rose bushes at the same time.

Stuart Hawbaker can be reached at jmatherly@herald-review.com.

See original article here:  

Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

LADY GARDENER: Garden pests have arrived with the heat

Along with summer heat, garden pests arrive on the scene. In the last month, readers have been reporting damage from squirrels and rabbits as well as deer. Other pests that affect all gardeners are weeds and insects.

It’s frustrating to see weeds and poison ivy growing in the garden. After hours of work, they seem to reappear overnight. Carefully caged vegetables invite numerous animals to dinner.

Poison ivy has been especially tiresome this summer. Growing among pachysandra, it’s difficult to see until it towers over the surrounding foliage. I found one large cluster in a grouping of astilbe.

I won’t touch the poison ivy even with gloves. Occasionally my husband will come to the rescue but he’s usually busy with other garden chores. Our 13-year-old grandson earns spending money by helping but he, like me, is allergic to the plant.

One remedy I have used in the past is to mix a gallon of poison ivy herbicide, according to label directions, and paint it on the leaves with a paintbrush. This keeps the chemical in check and protects surround plants.

I also have a few techniques to control insects. A few insects on a stem can be removed by hand or by simply snipping the branch. Keep chemical use to a minimum. Spray only the targeted area and do not spray surrounding healthy plants and shrubs.

We are fortunate to have a significant frog population that keeps our garden almost free of insects. They hop underfoot and scurry to avoid the lawn mower. Outside the backdoor, I’ve placed a shallow bowl of water that attracts the frogs; however, we have to open the screen door slowly as not to harm the one that sleeps on the step.

Nut Sedge reappears every summer. This is the third summer I have treated the lawn with a chemical product specifically for nut sedge. As with any chemical, read the printed material especially the Do Not Spray list that includes vegetables, ornamentals, and garden flowers. If you feel you must spray, use it only on the lawn, not in the flower beds. When in doubt, call a professional service.

When applying any chemical, wear long pants, sleeves, gloves, and mask. If any chemical spills on your clothing, wash the item separately.

The Master Garden Display Garden, on the former State Hospital grounds, is absolutely beautiful. Visit any day. The garden is free and open to the public. Each garden has an identification box containing information sheets.

Take your camera, pen and notepaper to jot down the name of any perennial, annual, or shrub on your must-have list. In the gazebo garden, look for the limelight hydrangea covered in lime-yellow flowers. Nearby deep red hibiscus plants are truly magnificent. The all-American Selections garden features reliable plants available in area garden centers.

The new summer bulb garden, in its infancy, will be a highlight next year; however, it’s a good example how bulbs should be spaced for future growth.

My new email address has not been working, and I apologize to readers who have not receive a reply. I will answer your questions as soon as possible.

Garden dos the next two weeks:

n Check for fungi especially mildew.

n Thin thick clumps of flowers by pinching a few back to allow air circulation.

n Check out plant sales at local garden centers.

Originally from: 

LADY GARDENER: Garden pests have arrived with the heat

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