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July 2015
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No labels, please! Music is evolutionary process for Cockburn

cockburn

Twenty years ago, I saw Bruce Cockburn for the first time. Because I then worked at The Indianapolis Star, I was able to interview him ahead of his show at The Vogue. Heres’s the story.

No labels, please! Music is evolutionary process for Cockburn

Stay safe: Use caution when mowing the lawn

Be sure to dress for the job when moving the lawn. Wear substantial shoes and protect your sight and hearing. ©mBaba760/canstockphoto.com

Be sure to dress for the job when moving the lawn. Wear substantial shoes and protect your sight and hearing. ©mBaba760/canstockphoto.com

The other day, I saw a what appeared to be a father and son mowing the lawn. The dad pushed a gasoline-powered mower. The little boy pushed a toy mower and walked right behind his dad.

There’s a lot wrong with this cute image and I’m not even mentioning that the dad was wearing flip-flops.

About 250,000 people are treated annually for lawn mower related injuries, including about 17,000 children, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Injuries include cuts, maiming or amputations from mower blades and burns from the engine. People are injured by projectiles, such as rocks and sticks, thrown from the mower. About 90 deaths are attributed to riding mowers that overturn. A 17-year-old Kosciusko County boy was killed in April when his clothing got caught up in the mower he was working on.

AAP recommends that children be at least 12 years old before operating a walk-behind mower and 16 years old to operate riding equipment. Of course, the kids (and adults) need to be trained on how to use the equipment. Here are some other tips for lawn mower safety from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute:

  • Don’t mow when the lawn is wet.
  • Make sure children and pets are out of the area. It’s best if they are indoors.
  • Clear the area of any objects that could be thrown by the mower or caught in the blades, such as branches, stones and toys.
  • Make sure the mower is operating properly and that guards and safety devices have not been tampered with.
  • Dress properly. Wear substantial shoes, hearing protection and safety glasses.
  • Allow the engine to cool before refueling.
  • Use caution when mowing hills and slopes. It’s easy to lose your footing, which can cause people to slip and fall into the mower blades or engine. Most deaths from riding mowers are caused when the equipment falls over and crushes or runs over its operator.

 

For more information about operating power equipment safely and tips visit opei.org.

When mowing, remember not to remove more than one-third of the lawn blade at a time. If the grass is 4 inches tall, mow to 3 inches. Keep the lawn at 3 to 4 inches to shade the soil, keeping it cool and reducing opportunities for weeds to take hold. Cutting the lawn too short opens it up for sunscald, drought damage and overall weakened condition.

July garden checklist

Indoors

  • For best selection, order spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting. Many bulb merchants will wait to ship the bulbs until closer to planting time, which usually is late fall and early winter. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

    For best selection, order spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting. Many bulb merchants will wait to ship the bulbs until closer to planting time, which usually is late fall and early winter. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

    Keep an eye on houseplants that have been set outdoors to make sure they are watered properly. Hot summer breezes can quickly dry them out.

  • Propagate houseplants by taking cuttings from vigorously growing plants. Root in moistened growing medium, such as perlite, vermiculite or soilless mixes. Keep moist, enclosed in plastic and out of direct sunlight until rooted. The amount of time it takes to root varies according to plant and growing conditions.

General landscape

  • Supplement rainfall to newly planted nursery stock, gardens and lawns if needed to supply 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week or 10 days.
  • Container-grown plants can be planted anytime, but make sure new stock is well watered.
  • Keep grass at 3 ½ to 4 inches tall to conserve moisture.
  • Don’t remove clippings from the lawn unless grass is excessively tall. Clippings return nutrients to the soil and do not contribute to thatch buildup.
  • Apply mulch around young plants and in flower and vegetable gardens to conserve soil moisture and control weeds. Do not allow mulch to touch stems or trunks.
  • Remove water sprouts (from trunk) and suckers (sprouts from roots) on fruit trees, including crabapples and other ornamental trees. See illustration below.
  • Illustration courtesy www.tlcfortrees.com

    Illustration courtesy www.tlcfortrees.com

    Pinch off faded rose blossoms and other flowers. Deadheading, or picking off the faded flowers of many perennials and annuals keeps them blooming longer and tidies up the plants.

  • To rejuvenate summer-stressed plants, cut annuals and perennials back by about one-half, water well and apply an application of water soluble fertilizer.

Vegetables and fruits

  • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and ornamental kale and cabbage for late summer plantings and fall harvest.
  • Harvest tomatoes, squash, okra, peppers, beans and cucumbers frequently to encourage further production.
  • Complete succession planting of bush beans and sweet corn.
  • Standard sweet corn is at its peak for only a day or so. The super sweet corn maintains its peak quality longer. Harvest when silks begin to dry and kernels exude a milky, rather than watery or doughy juice when punctured.
  • Broccoli seedlings. Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau

    Broccoli seedlings. Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau

    Make sure potato tubers, carrot shoulders and onion bulbs are covered with soil to prevent development of green color and off flavors. Apply mulch to keep them covered.

  • Allow blossoms on newly planted strawberries to develop for a fall crop.
  • Prop up fruit tree branches that are loaded heavily with fruit.
  • Harvest raspberries when fully colored and easily separated from stem. After harvest, prune out fruiting canes.

Mid-season tasks for more flowers and veggies

Annabelle and White Dome hydrangeas, blue larkspur and the seed heads of allium form a July Fourth bouquet of flowers cut fresh from the garden. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Annabelle and White Dome hydrangeas, blue larkspur and the painted seed heads of allium form a July Fourth bouquet of flowers cut fresh from the garden. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Even though the season of summer just arrived last weekend, the growing season has been upon us for three months.

And with all of the rain the last several days, plants have been on steroids, seeming to be ahead of their usual performance.

Weeds, in particular, seem to be thriving in my yard, and with the heat and humidity, the task of getting them under control is not pleasant. Hostas, too, seem to have emerged bigger and more lush this year. Some of us think this may have more to do with the past winter rather than the current season.

Some plants, especially those in pots, have just rotted off because of the humidity and rain. My sweet alyssum has all but disappeared because of the heat and rain.

What to do:

  • Apply a water-soluble fertilizer to pots, window boxes and other containers. Fertilize vegetables, too. For this, I prefer a granular product. Read and follow the label directions.
  • Give annuals a haircut, especially if they’ve grown leggy. Cut back to tidy up and shape the plant. With the dose of fertilizer, the annuals will snap back in no time.
  • Deadhead perennials. Not only does this tidy up the plant, it encourages the development of more blooms from side shoots.
  • Try to keep weeds under control. Weeds rob desirable plants of the nutrients they need to thrive. Fortunately, weeds are easier to pull after a rain.
  • Monitor for fungus diseases on plants. Fungus causes mildew, fuzzy growth and spotted leaves, as well as root and stem rot. Once a fungus is on a plant, there’s not much to do. Most fungus is opportunistic, which means the right conditions have to be in place for it to occur. If you chose to use a fungicide, always read and follow the label directions. Fungicides, even organic ones, are deadly to bees.
  • Be on the look out for aphids and other bugs. With all the rain, aphids may come calling for their favorite meal –bursts of tender plant growth. Also earwigs and millipedes seem to be abundant this year.
  • If your pots can be viewed from all sides, rotate them periodically to ensure good light exposure for the plants.

Lastly, pick a bouquet of red, white and blue flowers for your Fourth of July celebration and enjoy the holiday.

Downy mildew attacks basil

Downy mildew has taken a toll on basil the last few years. One symptom is fuzzy spores on the undersides of leaves. Photo courtesy Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab

Downy mildew has taken a toll on basil the last few years. One symptom: fuzzy spores on the undersides of leaves. Photo courtesy Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab

Basil has taken a huge hit over the last few years from a downy mildew, which can quickly decimate a crop in the farmers’ fields, growers’ greenhouses and our gardens.

Downy mildew is the common name for this disease, even though the fungus that causes it may be different, depending on the plant. It gets the name from the symptoms, downy-like fuzz on the leaves.

On basil, the culprit is Peronospora balbahrii. Initially, the leaves turn yellow, and then black spots appear. That’s followed by fuzzy spores on the undersides of leaves. The problem starts at the base of the plant and moves up. The fungus is air borne or can be splashed on plants from infested soil. Plants and seeds can be infected, according to the University of Minnesota Extension, which got its first reports of the disease in 2012.

Here in Indiana, Purdue University has seen only a handful of samples since 2009. “A couple each year,” said Tom Creswell, director of Purdue’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab.

“Most of our reports from the home garden have been from the home garden of Tom Creswell,” he joked. “It seems that if this is showing up extensively in the home garden, then either no one is paying attention or it comes on so late in the season that they’ve already made pesto, or they don’t know they can send samples to the lab for help.”

What can we do?

  • Remove any infested leaves. It’s all right to eat healthy leaves from infested plants.
  • Plant resistant varieties. Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is the most susceptible, which includes Genovese, Nufar, Italian Large Leaf, Queenette, Superbo, Poppy Joe’s and others, according to Minnesota extension. Red Rubin and Red Leaf (O. basilicum purpurescens) and lemon basils (O. citriodorum) are considered moderately susceptible. Blue Spice, Spice, and Blue Spice F1 (O. americanum) are less susceptible.
  • Don’t plant basil in the same spot year after year. If you grow basil in a pot, dump the soil each year and scrub the pot with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Use fresh potting mix each year.
  • Give plants plenty of air circulation.
  • Closely examine basil plants at garden centers to make sure they are symptom free.
  • Consider growing basil from seed. It’s easy and plants comes up quickly.

Lilac trees extend the fragrant season

Lilac tree flowers are as fragrant as their shrub cousins. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Lilac tree flowers are as fragrant as their shrub cousins. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

At garden centers, on garden tours, over dinner and in emails, people are asking about a tree with fragrant white flowers.

It’s a Japanese lilac tree (Syringa reticulata), a gorgeous beauty that blooms later than lilac shrubs. The ornamental tree has a rounded to pyramid form and reaches 30 feet or more tall and 20 feet wide. It is considered one of the easiest lilacs to grow.

The 12-inch long, creamy white flowers bloom in June, attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, pollinating insects and human attention. Cardinals, chickadees and finches like the seeds. The tree tolerates clay soil, deer browsing and salt spray.

Japanese lilac tree does best in full sun but tolerates light shade, which may reduce blooms. It needs decent drainage and is considered a good urban tree. You’ll see it planted as a street tree in several Indianapolis neighborhoods, along the Indiana Central Canal, the city of Carmel and other communities. It also makes a lovely hedge, windbreak or seasonal screen.

Good air circulation is recommended, even though the tree is considered resistant to powdery mildew, the plague of many shrub lilacs. It also is resistant to scale and borers, other pests of lilacs. If the lilac tree needs to be pruned, do so within a month after it is done blooming.

There are a couple of cultivars, but ‘Ivory Silk’ is the most widely available. More compact, ‘Ivory Snow’ gets up to 25 feet tall and is a profuse bloomer, usually a little earlier than the straight species of Syringa reticulata.

The seed capsules dry and are abundant enough to provide a bit of fall interest. The smooth, attractive, reddish-brown bark resembles a cherry tree.

For more information about the lilac trees and shrubs, download Lilacs for Cold Climates, a very helpful, free publication by Laura Jull, a horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Trees and shrubs to consider for your landscape

Native Virginia bluebell form a carpet of blue beneath the yellow Japanese Kerria. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Native Virginia bluebell form a carpet of blue beneath the yellow Japanese Kerria. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If I could only have one perennial for certain situations, such as shade or sun…that’s what we talked about in last week’s column. This week, we’ll look at a few shrubs and trees.

First up is viburnum, a species that has a shrub for about any location. There are several native viburnums that are garden worthy, including arrowwood (V. dentatum) and the American cranberry bush (V. opulus var. americana), sometimes listed as V. trilobum).

But my favorite is burkwood viburnum (V. x burkwoodii), a large, semi-evergreen shrub with fragrant, pinkish-white, waxy flowers in April and respectable leaf color in fall. Although burkwood does best in full sun, mine has been in part sun for years and does just fine. It gets about 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The size and the fact that it holds onto its leaves well into winter, make it a good choice for a three-season screen. It is drought tolerant and attracts butterflies and birds. The latter likes the showy fruit, which is not messy.

For deep shade, consider a kerria, sometimes called Japanese yellow rose (K. japonica). My preference is the single flowering kerria, called ‘Simplex’, but there’s a double flowering yellow (‘Pleniflora’) and single white one, too (‘Alba’). In my yard, the kerria gets early morning sun and blooms the same time as my Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) to make a beautiful spring scene.

Kerria does not do well in full sun, which bleaches out the flowers. Arched chartreuse branches brighten the winter landscape. At maturity, it will get 3-6 feet tall and wide, suckering a bit to develop a colony. The suckers can be removed to keep kerria the right size for your space. It tolerates clay soil, dry and wet sites and deer. The flowers are about the size of a quarter and it’s not uncommon for kerria to rebloom in late summer. ‘Golden Guinea’ is slightly smaller than the species.

For a shade tree, I select a thornless honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) for lots of reasons. The native tree provides dappled shade, which allows grass to grow underneath. The small ferny leaves also blow away in fall, reducing raking duties. This tree can become a problem if the roots are cut or removed, which can promote the growth of sprouts. There are several honeylocust cultivars available. At maturity, the tree will be 30 to 70 feet tall and wide.

June garden checklist

Plants growing in containers, such as these at Sullivan Hardware & Garden near 71st and Keystone in Indianapolis, can be transplanted any time you can work the soil. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Plants growing in containers, such as these at Sullivan Hardware & Garden near 71st and Keystone in Indianapolis, can be transplanted any time you can work the soil. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Indoors

  • Houseplants will need more water and fertilizer during summer growing period.

General landscape

  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs within a month after blooms fade.
  • Supplement water as needed. Most newly planted stock needs an inch of water every week or 10 days. Established trees, shrubs and perennials can go several weeks without supplemental watering.
  • Remove faded blooms from peony, iris, delphiniums and other spring perennials.
  • Container-grown stock, including shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals, can be planted any time.
  • Continue planting gladiolus for successive blooms.

Vegetables and fruits

  • Discontinue harvest of asparagus and rhubarb in mid-June to allow foliage to develop and store food reserves for next year. Fertilize. Water when dry.
  • Blanch (exclude from light) cauliflower when heads are 2-inches in diameter. Tie leaves up over the developing heads.
Broccoli head ready for harvest. Photo courtesy Purdue University

Broccoli head ready for harvest. Photo courtesy Purdue University

  • Harvest spring plantings of broccoli, cabbage and peas.
  • Plan your Halloween pumpkin. Determine the days to harvest for particular cultivar and count backward to find the proper planting date.
  • Remove cold-season plants, such as radish, spinach and lettuce, as they bolt or form seed stalks.
  • Every week or 10 days, continue planting carrots, beans and sweet corn for successive harvests.
  • Do not be alarmed by June drop of tree fruit. It is a natural thinning process. If needed, help nature by thinning fruit to 6- to 8-inches apart and propping heavy branches.

 

If I could only have one perennial for these spots

Epimedium. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Epimedium. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

I get asked a lot of the time what my favorite flower is and my response is “whatever is blooming.”

But what if you could only have one of something, what would your choices be? Here are some of my picks:

Hydrangea – the oakleaf (H. quercifolia) would be my choice, but most are very large shrubs, usually in the 6-8 foot tall and wide range. That size is fine for larger properties. Because I have a small yard, I prefer Sike’s Dwarf, Pee Wee or Ruby Slippers, which are closer to 3-5 feet tall and wide.

Native in the southeast United States, oakleaf does best in part shade or dapple shade, but tolerates full sun if given adequate water. It begins blooming in June with white cone-shaped flowers that turn red as they age through the season. The leaves turn a deep, wine red in fall and persist through winter.

Sike's Dwarf oakleaf hydrangea. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Sike’s Dwarf oakleaf hydrangea. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Bishop’s cap (Epimedium), commonly called barrenwort or bishop’s cap, is my choice for a shade-loving perennial. This is nearly a four-season plant, beginning with delicate, wiry flowers in early spring, followed by reddish-tinged, leaves. The leaves are dark green in summer, and in fall, become leathery, deep maroon. I cut this plant back to the ground in February. Epimedium thrives when given adequate moisture, but is tolerant of dryer sites. Start with two vigorous (but not invasive) cultivars: the yellow-blooming (E. x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’) and red (E. x rubrum).

'Magnus' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

‘Magnus’ purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) would earn space in a sunny spot. Another eastern United States native species, this long-blooming perennial is favored by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds in summer and in winter, the finches devour the seed heads. There are a lot of garden-worthy cultivars available, but to me, the best performers are the straight species or ‘Magnus’. Somewhat drought tolerant, purple coneflower appreciates a good soaking of water during dry periods. Coneflowers are usually 24-30 inches tall and form a clump about 12-inches wide. They can self-sow a bit, but are not invasive.

High season for garden tours

Twin Oaks’ garden has been lovingly restored and rebuilt by John Herbst, president of the Indiana Historical Society, who resides in the home. Photo courtesy Indiana Historical Society

Twin Oaks’ garden has been lovingly restored and rebuilt by John Herbst, president of the Indiana Historical Society, who resides in the home.
Photo courtesy Indiana Historical Society

Put on your walking shoes, slather on some sunscreen, grab an umbrella and a hat and head outdoors, for this is the season of garden tours. Most of the tours benefit the neighborhoods, garden clubs, education programs and other projects by the sponsoring groups.

Garden tours are rich with ideas for crafting your own landscape, examples of knockout plant combinations and exposure to plants you never heard of. Here’s a round up.

Historic Meridian Park, noon to 6 p.m., May 30 and 31. Start at Trinity Episcopal Church, 3243 N. Meridian St.

The 20th annual Indianapolis Garden Club Garden Walk, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 3, five gardens.

Twin Oaks Home and Garden Tour, June 5 through 7. Built by L.S. Ayres, this was the late Ruth Lilly’s residence and garden, which is now leased to the Indiana Historical Society.

Meridian Kessler Home-Garden Tour, June 6 and 7. Seven homes and gardens are on the tour. This event is more about the homes than the gardens.

Gardens of Zionsville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 20. Includes summer tablescape ideas and an opportunity to bid on containers planted by area vendors. Number of gardens not specified.

Plainfield Garden Club Tour, June 20 and 21 features seven gardens.

11th annual Brownsburg Garden Tour, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 27 and 11 a.m. t 4 p.m., Sunday, June 28. Five gardens. Details: Tia Foundation, 317-852-3463.

Irvington Garden Tour, 1 to 5 p.m., June 28. Number of gardens not specified.

Woodruff Place Home and Garden Tour, June 27 and 28. Six homes and four gardens.

Now that you’re decked out and ready to go, here are some tips to make your tours enjoyable, comfortable and with the best etiquette.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You may be walking on muddy pathways or gravel walkways.
  • Anticipate the weather and dress appropriately.
  • Stay on the pathways. Wandering off the paths of a garden is like open a closed door in someone’s house.
  • Do not take anything except notes and photos. No filching seeds, cutting flowers or taking snippets of plants allowed. There are horror stories from garden tour hosts who have had whole plants stolen from their gardens.
  • Think green. Don’t leave any trash or litter.
  • Allow time to enjoy the gardens. Remember some may be crowded, so be sure to take time to smell the roses.