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September 2010
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College campus trees focus of Arbor Day photo contest

Inlow Hall at the I.U. School of Law, IUPUI campus.

Inlow Hall at the I.U. School of Law, IUPUI campus.

Capture an image of a beautiful tree in front of an iconic building or landmark located on a college campus and you could win a laptop computer and have the Arbor Day Foundation plant trees in your honor in a national forest.

The 2010 Tree Campus USA Photo Contest is calling all aspiring and professional photographers to capture the beauty of fall on college campuses nationwide. The winning photographer will receive a MacBook, will have 25 trees planted in its honor, and the photograph will be featured a new Web site that inspires students to plant trees and get involved in on-campus conservation activities.

The contest is sponsored by the Web site of Tree Campus USA, a partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota to award recognition to colleges and universities that commit to improve the tree canopy and sustainability practices of their schools. To date, more than 70 campuses have been designated official “Tree Campus USA” schools.

Entries will be accepted Sept. 28 through Nov. 25, so photographers across the county will have ample time to find the perfect autumn tree shot. The contest is open to everyone at least 18 years old. The top five finalists will be determined by the Arbor Day Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees. On-line voting at will take place Dec. 3 through Dec. 10 to determine the top three photographs.

Winners will be announced by Feb. 1, 2011.

The photographer who submits the second-best photo will receive an i-Pad and will have 10 trees planted in a national forest in their honor. Third-place will receive an i-Pod and will have five trees planted in a national forest.

Here are all the rules and regulations.

Tree identification part of emerald ash borer control

Residents along Summit Drive in West Lafayette, Ind., have tagged their ash trees. Photo courtesy Jodie Ellis, Purdue University

Residents along Summit Drive in West Lafayette, Ind., have tagged their ash trees. Photo courtesy Jodie Ellis, Purdue University

The dreaded emerald ash borer has been found along the Monon trail in Nora, in Sahm Park and at Castleton Square mall in Indianapolis. The Monon in Nora is the farthest south and west the insect has been detected in Marion County.

<p>Emerald ash borer.</p>

Emerald ash borer.

This bug from China, first discovered in Michigan in 2002, has already felled millions of ash trees, with the highest concentration in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario. The bug kills any species of native ash trees within three to five years of infestation.

Seven percent, or 47 million ash trees, are at risk in our forests and woodlands and millions more on our streets and backyards, said Jodie Ellis, exotic insects education coordinator at Purdue University.

<p>Neighborhoods in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Ind., have begun tagging ash trees to demonstrate their number and concentration. Photo courtesy Jodie Ellis, Purdue University</p>

Neighborhoods in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Ind., have begun tagging ash trees to demonstrate their number and concentration. Photo courtesy Jodie Ellis, Purdue University

To emphasize the number of trees that will be killed by the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire), neighbors have begun tagging ash trees in their community with pink ribbons in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Ind. The exercise serves a couple of purposes:

  • It marks which trees neighborhoods and other communities may want to protect with regular pesticide treatments. These might be large, old healthy specimens and those that offer significant benefits, such as shade.
  • It marks which trees should be monitored, so if evidence of emerald ash borers is spotted, action can be taken immediately.

The Purdue program, called Neighbors Against Bad Bugs, or NABB, will be rolled out as communities, neighborhoods and other groups express interest, said Cliff Sadof, a professor of entomology at Purdue.

Many of Indiana’s certified arborists have said they’d provide group rates for treatments where neighbors are working together.

Sadof and other experts also have revised their recommendation on treatment of ash trees. For details and to learn more about the insect and the NABB program, please visit Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana.

Other resources:

FAQs for Treatments

Homeowners’ Guide to Insecticide Selection, Use and Environmental Protection

Don’t Move Firewood

Don’t Move Firewood (for kids)

Emerald Ash Borer found at Castleton Square mall

Emerald Ash Borer on Fox59

Life cycle of emerald ash borer. Image courtesy Purdue University

Life cycle of emerald ash borer. Image courtesy Purdue University

Here’s a video that shows the borer laying eggs.

10 things I learned from my garden in 2010

Chipmunk damaged hostas. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Chipmunk damaged hostas. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

C.L. Fornari, who blogs at Whole Life Gardening, challenged fellow bloggers to consider what we learned from our gardens in 2010. Here’s my response.

10. Plants need water to thrive. We’ve had the driest August since 1897, and the longest stretch without rain in more than 45 years. Even established shrubs have dropped their leaves or turned brown.

9. Plants are incredibly resilient. Even though the summer has been brutal, almost all of the plugs of new plants I received to trial this year have survived in quart or gallon pots. I’m waiting for cool temps to transplant to the ground.

8. Even though we’ve had no rain or very little rain for weeks, the grass looks like it’s going to survive. Yes, it’s brown, but healthy turf grass is the one plant in the landscape that can go the longest without water.

7. I’ve learned to tell the difference between scorched plants and those that have adapted to protect themselves from the heat, by curling or dropping their leaves. I’ve also learned to recognize heat stress does not always mean plants need more water.

6. I’ve learned not to locate my bird feeder within chipmunk jumping distance to the ground and my hosta bed.

5. I grew sweet corn for the first time and was really taken with the way the newly sprouted seedlings looked like grass. Reminded me that corn is a grain and not a vegetable.

4. I’m grateful for minimal leaf disease on my tomatoes this year, which have been pretty productive, considering how little water they’ve received.

3. I continue to cherish the tough,  long blooming plants in the garden, such as the KnockOut roses and Hydrangea paniculata. Coleus can absolutely take the heat and is extremely drought tolerant.

2. I’m sick of watering. Did I mention I work in a garden center? Dragging hoses, watering, fixing leaking hoses, unkinking them, getting the hoses around pillars and concrete blocks, fixing leaking hoses, watering some plants twice a day. No wonder I don’t water a lot at home.

1. The heat and drought has renewed my conviction that gardening teaches us patience. Now, I just have to wait until next year to see which plants made it through this long, hot and dry summer.

Emerald ash borer hits Nora area — Hoosier Gardener on Fox59

Resources:

FAQs for Treatments

Homeowners’ Guide to Insecticide Selection, Use and Environmental Protection

Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana.

6 things you should know about the emerald ash borer

<p>Adult emerald ash borer.</p>

Adult emerald ash borer.

The Hoosier Gardener talks with Jud Scott, a certified arborist and owner of Vine & Branch, about the emerald ash borer, Sept. 22 on Indianapolis’ Fox 59’s Morning News. The insect was recently detected in Nora and along the Monon Trail, which is the most south and west area where the bugger has been found. Most of us suspect the deadly insect is all over Marion County, but has not yet been detected. This insect kills all ash species, usually within three to five years of infestation.

What to do? Check back on Sept. 25 to see what some neighbors are doing in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Ind.

Meantime, here are some tips:

  1. Make sure it is an ash tree. Here’s a good list of resources.
  2. Know what and emerald ash borer looks like, in comparison to other insects.
  3. Know the signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer infestation.
  4. How to protect (or save) your ash trees.
  5. Whom to contact about the possibility of having EAB in your ash tree, especially if you live in a state that has few, or no, infestations known.
  6. If you are thinking about moving firewood, here’s where you can learn if it’s allowed or not.

More resources:

FAQs for Treatments

Homeowners’ Guide to Insecticide Selection, Use and Environmental Protection

Purdue University Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

Native spring bloomers for Midwest gardens

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

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

In the September issue of Angie’s List magazine’s Midwest edition, the Hoosier Gardener gets tips from Midwestern gardeners about native bulbs and other ephemerals to plant in the landscape.

Black Velvet petunia is another show stopper

Phantom petunia from Simply Beautiful. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Phantom petunia from Simply Beautiful. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The Simply Beautiful brand will introduce three new petunias in 2011, each with show-stopping traits.

These plants, developed by Ball Horticulture, stopped people in their tracks at this year’s OFA, the country’s largest horticultural trade show, held each July in Columbus, Ohio.

There were other interesting plants, too, including many tropical foliage plants, which continue to remain popular with high-end gardeners and plant geeks. I’ll write about some of the tropicals a little later. Meantime, it was the petunias that got cameras clicking.

  • Black Velvet petunia from Simply Beautiful. Photo courtesy Simply Beautiful

    Black Velvet petunia from Simply Beautiful. Photo courtesy Simply Beautiful

    ‘Black Velvet,’ the horticultural industry’s first and only black petunia, has a slightly ruffled flower that looks like its name.

  • ‘Pinstripe’ petunia has a deep purple, almost black background with a creamy white stripe.
  • ‘Phantom’ petunia has a black background splashed with a yellow star.

Each of these sun-loving annuals gets 8- to 10 inches tall and wide, making them well suited for hanging baskets, containers or window boxes. The flowers are about 2 inches wide.

Even though they are quite dramatic, black plants can be a bit challenging in the landscape. The color recedes and the plants form a black hole in the landscape, making them hard to appreciate from a distance.

Make them showier by planting them in large masses or set them off them with colorful companion plants.

Pinstripe petunia from Simply Beautiful

Pinstripe petunia from Simply Beautiful

As a focal point in the garden or on the deck or porch, pot up these black beauties in a tall, colorful container or large hanging basket, draped with gray or chartreuse trailing plants. This combo frames the black plants and elevates them closer to eye level, making them hard to miss in your landscape.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day September 2010

Dogwood berries. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Dogwood berries. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The other day, a guest on one of NPR’s talk shows referred to ‘withering weather.’ Indeed, those words absolutely describe the way my garden and the plants in it look. The withered part also describes how I feel in the sixth week with no rain.

Blooms are definitely down because of the lack of rain. In the shade garden, where I’ve done a bit of supplemental watering, the Hostas are not scorched and ‘Annabelle’ (Hydrangea arborescenes) has shot up a fresh mophead.

Before I left last week for the Garden Writers Association’s symposium in Dallas, I moved all the perennials I’ve been holding in pots to the shadier side of the garden and cut them back if they looked bad. I somehow overlooked the six pots of carex (Carex conica ‘Marginata,’ ‘Snowline’ or ‘Hime Kansugi’), which remained near the edge of the blacktop driveway. A couple of them look a little brown.

The carex and the other perennials have taken a lot of abuse because they’ve spent the summer in pots rather than in the ground. Or course, I’d hope to have them grounded before I left, but that just didn’t happen. Now, I feel like I need to wait until we get a long, slow, soaking rain before planting them. Maybe it will come tonight, when the forecasters give us a 60 percent chance.

'T Rex' sedum. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

'T Rex' sedum. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

In one larger pot in the holdover group are three ‘T Rex’ sedum, sent last spring by Walters Gardens. Even with benign neglect, it has blossomed into a beautiful plant with the same pollinating insect-attracting characteristics that make sedum a must have in the garden.

In the insect-attracting category is Caryopteris, which I like because of its late-season bug-drawing flower and this woody plant’s aromatic asset.

Unknown species of butterfly on caryopteris. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Unknown species of butterfly on caryopteris. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The same with Russian sage (Perovskia), which also has done well in the hot, dry weather. Both of these plants also have winter interest as they silver out.

Like Carol of May Dreams Gardens, host of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, my rare goldenrod (Solidago shortii) is blooming amidst the Igloo series’ Frosty Morn Chrysanthemum. A short distance away is the Lespedeza that showers its spot in the garden with pink flowers.

In its third year in the wrong spot stands a 4-foot tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) still looks decent. I really must move it though.

Alligator Tears coleus holds off blooms until very late in the season. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Alligator Tears coleus holds off blooms until very late in the season. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

In the annual category, I’ve been amazed and pleased by the size of ColorBlaze Alligator Tears coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), a Proven Winners introduction sent to me this spring. With a nicely rounded shape, one of these nicely fills an 18-inch diameter pot. Another attribute is its slowness to bloom, although personally, I don’t mind the blue spikes of coleus.

The coleus in Texas were amazing, too, thriving in the even hotter and more humid climate of Dallas. Caladium, a tender bulb, also was heavily planted in many gardens, including the Dallas Arboretum, in hot sun. I might have to give these newer sun-tolerant tropicals a niche in my garden, too.

Something that only has to be planted once in the landscape is sweet autum clematis (Clematis ternifolia). Although beautiful and wonderfully fragrant, it can take over as well as self sow all over everywhere. The best control is to pull or cut back as much as you can before the seed heads form. Of course, the seed heads are one of the plants attributes, as are most clematis.

The blooms of asters ‘Alma Potschke’ (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius) and the red berries on the native dogwoods (Cornus florida) signal change is in the air.

Recycle plastic and clay pots at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

October 2, 2010
10:00 AMto1:00 PM
Sue Nord Peiffer washes pots for recycling at the Indianapolis Museum of Art greenhouse.

Sue Nord Peiffer washes pots for recycling at the Indianapolis Museum of Art greenhouse.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s greenhouse will accept empty nursery pots for recycling and reuse, 10 am. to 1 p.m., Oct. 2. These reclaimed pots are used by the greenhouse, saving money and reducing the need for new plastic production.

Plastic and clay pots can be dropped off in the greenhouse parking lot. Please knock the dirt out of the pots and give them a quick rinse before dropping them off. Annual cell pack and flimsy trays are not useful to the greenhouse, so please recycle these on your own.

High grades for a coleus and hardy sunflower in the Indiana garden

Alligator Tears coleus takes the heat.  © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Alligator Tears coleus takes the heat. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Summer is nearly over so it’s time to grade some of the new plants I’ve been trialing this season. Here are two that get an A:

ColorBlaze Alligator Tears coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) has a perfectly mounded shape in a container. Here it is mid-September and this Proven Winners intro has just started to sprout the familiar blue flower spikes of coleus.

This annual has narrow, green and creamy yellow leaves that are pointed and heavily scalloped. A single Alligator Tears completely filled an 18-inch diameter container, overwhelming the Supertunia Citrus petunia companion, which disappeared. The deer resistant plant measures about 22 inches wide and 30 inches tall.

Heat tolerant and easy, two pots of Alligator Tears are against a stone wall and an asphalt driveway in full sun from late morning until early afternoon. This coleus also will do well in shade. Because the pots are large, they were watered about every two or three days during really hot spells.

Like most coleus, Alligator Tears is right at home as a houseplant in a bright window.

‘Sunshine Daydream,’ a perennial sunflower, has bloomed all summer in the Indiana Garden. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Sunshine Daydream,’ a perennial sunflower, has bloomed all summer in the Indiana Garden. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Sunshine Daydream’ is a perennial sunflower (Helianthus x multiflorus) that really shines in the flower garden with very little work. At 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, it should be planted in the middle of the border. Mine has been blooming all summer with only lax deadheading on my part. The foliage is clean of any insect or disease damage.

The dense, double, almost dahlia like flowers are about 2 inches across. ‘Sunshine Daydream’ has thrived without supplemental water all summer. The flowers I cut lasted several days in indoor arrangements. This is a cultivar of a native perennial and does best in full sun and average soil. Cut back to the ground in fall when the plant looks bad. It is marketed by Plants Nouveau.