The Blight!

Looked inside your boxwoods lately? If not, you should!

I love a beautiful boxwood hedge! Last March 2014, I lost 35 of my Buxus sempervirens Suffruticosa — the boxwood that is most susceptible to the blight!

Yes, we have boxwood blight in Oregon! It was identified for the first time in Oregon, late 2011 and has been identified as a new fungus species — Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum. 

At first, I was told by three sources that we didn't have the blight in Oregon, so I thought maybe mine was just stressed from not enough water or too much water — neither was the case. I also called the Boxwood Garden for help and the owner told me very strongly, "We do not have the blight in Oregon" — and instead sold me two bags of fertilizer for $80!

With no known cure, I was heartbroken. My boxwood hedge was planted in 2010, and was looking quite beautiful — I was just getting ready to do my first shearing into a squared-off hedge.

Boxwood blight starts out as dark spots with white centers on the leaves. The leaves quickly turn brown, then straw color, then fall off. The defoliated stems develop black lesions, and the entire plant eventually dies.

Boxwood-Blight-#2-475-1000.jpg

The sticky fungal spores are spread by both wind and water (rain or sprinklers) over short distances and also spread by human activities such as pruning — warm, wet weather facilitates its spread.

 

Here's what I did to get the problem in control, nurse the sick and soon to be sick plants, and save the boxwoods I had left:

• I removed and discarded all the infected plants and put them in the garbage —  not the yard debris can.

• I went through each boxwood that looked somewhat healthy, and opened up the middle and base and cleaned out the inside — at times getting on my belly to view from ground level the base of the plant to get them cleaned thoroughly. 

• After cleaning each plant, I dipped and swirled my pruners and Hori-Hori knife in bleach for about 20 seconds. The Hori-Hori knife helped me push out the diseased foliage through the open base. I also worked with multiple pairs of gloves — and my bare hands — so as not to spread the disease. Although tough on the hands, it was easier to wash my hands after each plant cleaning.

• After cleaning out all the plants, including the dirt below each plant, my husband had the task of spraying the plants every seven days with Green Cure Fungicide, given to me by my kind neighbor and fellow gardener, Marcia. I buy mine locally here in Portland, OR at Roots. In case you can't find it in your area, here's the website. http://www.greencure.net/

On average, it took about 20 minutes to clean each plant — and I cleaned 48 plants! The entire cleaning process was extremely tedious, time consuming, and cold in the month of March — lots of frustration and tears. 

But, great news — my efforts paid off! Check out the photo on the right that I took just yesterday — they're on the mend. I'm now going through each plant this fall, making sure they're clean and sprayed...:-)

If you need additional information on who to contact if you think your boxwoods may have the blight, send me a comment in the comment box below. Please don't reply to this email, other readers may benefit from the information.

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Happy Fall! Colorful foliage of the Cercis canadensis "Forest Pansy." See my healthy boxwood hedge below the tree. The gap on the bottom left corner is where I lost two boxwood plants.

Happy Fall! Colorful foliage of the Cercis canadensis "Forest Pansy." See my healthy boxwood hedge below the tree. The gap on the bottom left corner is where I lost two boxwood plants.


Hallelujah Hellebores

Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow' One of the rarest of the Helleborus niger, derived from a cross of Helleborus niger and Helleborus lividus.  Early blooming  pink buds open to outward facing creamy white blooms, brushed with shades of rose and cinnamon.  Very dark green foliage, strong stems. Photo by Holly Stickley

Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'
One of the rarest of the Helleborus niger, derived from a cross of Helleborus niger and Helleborus lividus.  Early blooming  pink buds open to outward facing creamy white blooms, brushed with shades of rose and cinnamon.  Very dark green foliage, strong stems.
Photo by Holly Stickley

What would a garden be without hellebores?  *sigh*...sad.

Hellebores are blooming now, late winter.  At a time when color in the garden is sparse, hellebores are pure delight.  Mine are looking gorgeous!

The "petals," single or double, are actually sepals and shelter the true tiny flowers nestled in the center of the blossom surrounded by yellow stamens.  The petal-like sepals, either nodding or outward facing, range in color from deep plum, rose, apricot, mauve, soft yellow, chartreuse, white, and are often spotted with purple. 

Their large, handsome leathery, palmate, serrate, foliage contrasts nicely with finer foliage plant material.  I love grouping and planting them with ferns, hostas and other shade-loving plants; perfect in a woodland garden.

Helleborus x ballardiae 'Merlin' One of my favorites and another early bloomer.  Outward facing pink blooms mature to a deep cranberry.  Dark green, slightly marbled foliage with dark burgundy stems...striking!  Wonderful when planted with early or mid-spring blooming powder pink tulips!  Photo by Holly Stickley

Helleborus x ballardiae 'Merlin'
One of my favorites and another early bloomer.  Outward facing pink blooms mature to a deep cranberry.  Dark green, slightly marbled foliage with dark burgundy stems...striking!  Wonderful when planted with early or mid-spring blooming powder pink tulips! 
Photo by Holly Stickley

Helleborus orientalis, commonly called Lenten Rose Photo by Holly Stickley

Helleborus orientalis, commonly called Lenten Rose
Photo by Holly Stickley

If you've never tried growing hellebores, I highly recommend them.  I grow a few varieties, Helleborus orientalis, more commonly known as Lenten Rose and Helleborus niger, more commonly know as the Christmas Rose; neither are roses, but are actually in the Buttercup family.

They are super easy to grow and need little care.  They love moist, but not wet, rich organic, neutral to alkaline soil, and are greedy feeders; I like to use a time release fertilizer like Osmocote or a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring.  Plant in an area that receives winter sun, but later shaded by deciduous trees and shrubs.  Although evergreen, in the winter the foliage will often look tattered, so I'll prune back the dead and disfigured foliage before the new growth appears.

Enjoy, and as always love hearing from you! 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line in the comment box below.  Click the rectangle icon and give it a little time, the computer has to think...:)

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Helleborous orientalis, the Lenten Rose Photo by Holly Stickley

Helleborous orientalis, the Lenten Rose
Photo by Holly Stickley

Hire A Crew

Designing a landscape, clean-up, and maintenance is not for everyone.  Last week, friends of mine asked me to look at their backyard.  They were feeling frustrated and overwhelmed at their overgrown yard.  They had recently moved into their new home and didn't know where to begin to get it cleaned up and turned into a beautiful low maintenance garden.  Gardens can be low maintenance, but never no maintenance.  I suggested to them that they hire a crew for all the work that they did not want to do themselves or know how to do. 

The left photo is actually after the yard was cleaned up.  It's not pretty, but it's clean.  Photo on the right is from the same angle with new berms, pathways, plant material, and bye-bye rusty white shed.

The left photo is actually after the yard was cleaned up.  It's not pretty, but it's clean.  Photo on the right is from the same angle with new berms, pathways, plant material, and bye-bye rusty white shed.

A professional garden crew can do a ton of work in an 8 hour day.  Cleaning up a yard and getting it to a state of control and beauty is an expertise, like any other profession.  A garden crew comes with the right tools and know-how.  They prune overgrown vines, shape shrubs and trees correctly, add planting berms, plant material, compost, clean beds of weeds, lawn care, etc.  They are worth ever penny!  And, once you get your yard into a manageable state - voila, you have a fresh palette to play with and enjoy.  I highly recommend a garden crew at least once a year to keep the garden healthy and looking beautiful.  I think it is cost effective, because it saves you time, energy, and stress, and you'll enjoy your outdoor living so much more - hire a crew! 

Check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.  This is the best way to comment back to me, not through email.  If you click on the rectangle icon, a comment box will show up below the post.  Give it a little time to show up; the computer has to think...:)

Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

 

 

What You Can Do With 19"

What I mean is... what you can do with a 'planting depth' of 19"..:) 

I like to design and replant the side of my driveway every few years.  Here are a few design ideas of what you can do with a shallow depth of planting space.  My first design was with Light pink/coral Knock Out Roses and Blue Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'.

I enjoyed the early growth of both the roses and the grasses.  Later in the season, I had to snip the roses to keep them from spilling out too much, while still retaining their free-flowing look.  The switch grasses made a nice compliment to the roses with their soft breezy movement.  In the Fall, however, the grasses started to flop a bit, so I had to prune here and there.  I kept the grasses up through the Winter, so that I'd have some structure in the bed with their tan colored seed heads.  I usually prune grasses early Spring.  I love the lush look.  I might do this again, maybe with deep red roses...:)

Light Pink/Coral Knock Out Roses & Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' 

Light Pink/Coral Knock Out Roses & Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' 

Cushion Spurge    / Euphorbia 
			 hybrid   Blackbird    Variegated Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam', Angelina Stonecrop / Sedum rupestre 'Angelina', Queen of Night Tulip    

Cushion Spurge / Euphorbia hybrid Blackbird 

Variegated Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam', Angelina Stonecrop / Sedum rupestre 'Angelina', Queen of Night Tulip

 

Another design idea:  Euphorbia 'Blackbird' with the Variegated Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam' and the ground cover Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'.  The euphorbia and sedum are evergreen, so you'll have something in the bed during the Winter. 

In the Fall, I planted the dark purple/black 'Queen of Night' Tulip.  They made a dramatic statement the following Spring.  I wasn't happy with the reed grass because the location was too hot for this grass.  It can't take the heat as well as its parent 'Karl Forester'.  So, if I was to recreate this combination again, I'd use 'Karl Forester'.

 

Here's my current 'look'.   I started with finding the right evergreen plant.  I decided on the columnar Japanese Holly, Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil', which gives a linear upright structure and great for tight narrow spaces.  This year, I decided to go more vibrant in my color selection, so I planted Canna 'Tropicana' with the sun tolerant red/orange Wax Begonia and the dark purple/blue Lobelia  to bring out the colors of the canna foliage.  For added interest and strengthening the tropical feel I planted the Dwarf Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'.  So far everything is growing nicely.  I should be getting vibrant orange canna blossoms in the next few weeks.  I've been making sure everything is watered deeply, especially since we've had many days in the 80's and 90's.

Japanese Holly, Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil', Canna 'Tropicana', Wax Begonia, Lobelia, Dwarf Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'   

Japanese Holly, Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil', Canna 'Tropicana', Wax Begonia, Lobelia, Dwarf Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'

 

Anyone else have a shallow planting bed design you'd like to share? 

Also, check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.

Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

 

Clams from the Bell Buoy of Seaside

It is a wonderful thing to have good neighbors who watch over your home and garden, who are kind, considerate, and keep a tidy beautiful garden for me to look at from across the street, besides throwing fun, wild Mardi Gras parties...:)  Last month, my friends and neighbors, Rob and Duane, brought clams home for my husband Fred and I, from the Bell Buoy of Seaside (Oregon Coast).  They were thanking me for opening and closing their greenhouse door.  This may sound trivial, but they love their tropical plants (we live in Portland, Oregon) and did not want their babies to get too hot in the greenhouse during the day or too cold in the evenings.  May in the Northwest can be a tricky weather month.  Of course, being a gardener I could empathize.  I  did have to put up reminders everywhere, so that I could remember to do this task over a couple of days.  I had visions of my friends coming home and finding their tropicals either burned or frozen to death…:)  Yikes!

Fred steamed the Bell Buoy clams in white wine, butter, garlic, and parsley…need I say more…:)  We served them out on the deck in one of our cast iron skillets, so they stayed warm until the very last clam was gone.  With a french baguette for dipping and a glass of pinot gris, I was in my happy place.  Ok, I know some of you really hate clams and some of you really love 'em, and I understand both sides.  For most of my life, I wouldn't even try a clam, because they looked creepy.  But, on our 10th anniversary at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Fred ordered an appetizer of clams and I absolutely loved them!  I didn't care what they looked like, I just kept eating and dipping.  I think the dipping was what I really liked...:)

If you're looking for a great place to buy fresh seafood on the Oregon Coast, the Bell Buoy of Seaside is the place to go.  Rob says the Bell Buoy has been there since the beginning of time… His grandparents would cruise up the 101 to the Bell Buoy to buy crab, and Rob has many fond memories of being at his family's vacation home in Cannon Beach and driving to the Bell Buoy of Seaside to buy clams, crab, you name it... always a special treat, as it still is for him today. 

Below is the recipe Fred used from Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life that I'd like to share with you.  It is perfect.

Steamed Clams in White Wine, Butter, and Garlic

Serves 2-4 people as an appetizer

Ingredients:


3 tablespoons butter

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine or dry Vermouth

2 pounds of clams (Littlenecks or Manilla), rinsed and cleaned

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

*optional 1 small lemon cut into wedges

Directions:

Melt butter in a medium pot or cast iron skillet, over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant, but not burned.  Add wine and increase heat to medium-high until wine is brought to a simmering boil.  Add clams and cook covered for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until clams have opened.  Discard any clams still closed.  Add parsley and give the pot a quick stir.  Transfer clams and broth to a large serving bowl or serve as cooked in the cast iron skillet, which keeps the clams warm.  Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Steamed Clams   

Steamed Clams

 

And, don't forget to have a crusty bread for dipping.  We dipped with a French baguette and it was delicious!  Check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.  Anyone else have a fond clam memory or seafood recipe you'd like to share?

Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Awesome Alliums!

Allium 'Globemaster'

Allium 'Globemaster'

I love Alliums!  Its common name, Flowering Onion, might make you think they smell like onions, but they actually don't have much of a scent.  Alliums are elegant, sculptural and offer a form and texture that is unique and very useful in practically any garden design.  They are super easy to grow in zones 5-8, love sun and prefer well-drained soil.  One of my favorites is 'Globemaster' with its large globe-shaped heads of lavender-purple blooms held high on strong sturdy stems.  I think Alliums are interesting in all stages of their growth - before they open, in full bloom, and even after the blooms have faded.  They also look spectacular in a vase.  I plant them in the Fall with my other bulbs and this year in the Northwest, they started blooming mid-May.

Gwendolyn amongst the Alliums.

Gwendolyn amongst the Alliums.

Allium 'Purple Sensation'

Allium 'Purple Sensation'

I like to plant my Alliums in drifts of at least 5 - 9,  depending on the design.  My Globemaster's are sitting behind a low boxwood hedge, which doesn't really hide the foliage, so I'm going to dig them out and store.  Next year, I'm going to pair them up with summer-flowering perennials, like Echinacea purpurea, Salvia, Alchemilla mollis.  The expanding perennial foliage will hide the withering Allium foliage.

I also planted Allium 'Purple Sensation' which bloomed early May and were quite beautiful with my deep purple Queen of Night tulips.

Anyone else have a favorite Allium you'd like to share?  Send photos to holly@thewhitepear.com.  I'd love to post them.  And, check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.  Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Heucheras & Spider Mites

Here's my beautiful heuchera hedge 'Frosted Violet.'  I'd like keep it healthy.

Here's my beautiful heuchera hedge 'Frosted Violet.'  I'd like keep it healthy.

A few days ago, I tackled killing the spider mites that have attacked my beautiful Heuchera hedge, plants from Terra Nova Nurseries.  Spider mites are a very common and devastating nuisance plant pest.  They are capable of rapid reproduction, and can wreck havoc and wipe out flowers as well as vegetables.  These sucking pests attach themselves to plant tissue and suck the sap and cell contents from the leaves.  Eventually, the leaves and the entire plant shrivels up and dies.  Spider mites migrate rapidly from plant to plant, so if possible, isolate the infested plant to lessen the spread.  In my case, my heucheras are forming a hedge, so the leaves are touching each other.  The first thing I did was cut off all the infected heuchera leaves, trying not to demolish the entire hedge.  Next,  I made a mixture of alcohol and water and sprayed the leaves well, but not dripping.  Make sure you spray underneath the leaves where the mites like to gather.

Check out the spider mite infestation on the foliage in the photos below.  A spider mite diseased leaf looks pock marked on top and bumpy and super creepy underneath. 

Underside of heuchera leaves infested with spider mites - creepy!

Underside of heuchera leaves infested with spider mites - creepy!

Top of heuchera leaves infested with spider mites - pock marked.

Top of heuchera leaves infested with spider mites - pock marked.

Here are a few organic methods to eliminate spider mites.  All have worked for me, but you have to reapply every 4-5 days.

1.  Neem oil repulses spider mites.  Make a spray using 1/2 t. neem oil per quart of water, and a few drops of biodegradable liquid soap.  Put in a spray bottle and spray the infested plants. 

2. Make a mixture of alcohol and water in a 1:1 ratio.  Put into a spray bottle and spray the infested plants.

3.  And, if you don't want to mess around with mixing, try this pre-made organic solution by Growers Trust, called Spider Mite Killer.  Check it out at  growerstrust.com.

Anyone else have an organic solution for killing spider mites or other plant pests?  

Don't forget to check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.  Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Peg's Blue Pot

In my 'Pots with Peg' post 4/24/13, I said I would post some photos of Peg's new blue pot that we purchased from Portland Nursery.   The main plant material is Echeveria hybrid (cactus-like plant), Cardoon (artichoke family), and Kangaroo Paw (the strappy dark green foliage).  The pot creation will become more beautiful as the plants settle in to their new home. 

Echiveria hybrid.  Beautiful focal point to the plantings.

Echiveria hybrid.  Beautiful focal point to the plantings.

Plant Material:  Echeveria hybrid, Lysimachia / Chocolate Creeping Jenny, Cardoon, Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' / Golden Oregano,  Antirrhinum majus 'Bronze Dragon' / Dwarf Snapdragon, Anigozanthos 'Gold Velvet' / Gold Kangaroo Paw.

Plant Material:  Echeveria hybrid, Lysimachia / Chocolate Creeping Jenny, Cardoon, Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' / Golden Oregano,  Antirrhinum majus 'Bronze Dragon' / Dwarf Snapdragon, Anigozanthos 'Gold Velvet' / Gold Kangaroo Paw.

I love the pseudo 'nailhead' decoration.  They look like bumps...:)

I love the pseudo 'nailhead' decoration.  They look like bumps...:)

In placing the pot, Peg and I went back and forth trying to choose between two locations for its home.  I originally thought it would look great as the first thing you see upon driving up to Peg's front, but the pot competed too much with her beautiful front door.  The cooler spot was the corner point of her pathway and the turn that takes you to her back garden.  I thought it made a stunning focal point, something beautiful to pause and gaze at.  Peg agreed.  Pots in the garden are fun and unexpected.  Choose wisely and don't overdo.  In a small-space garden, one or a few, or a small collection of well-placed pots goes a long way. 

Peg's blue pot nestled in the garden.

Peg's blue pot nestled in the garden.

Anyone else have a potted plant creation you'd like to share?  Send photos to holly@thewhitepear.com.  I'd love to post them.   And, check out the links at the bottom of this post.  You can comment, like, and share.  Enjoy and always love hearing from you.

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear