Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ants and things

Things are growing great in the garden. I spent some time last weekend weeding several beds and trying to ‘thin the heard’ of mint, creeping jenny, and sedum. Would anyone like to come over and take home a sampling of these voracious ground covers?! I also mulched a little and amended the soil for the Hollyhocks which I will be planting this week!

The Hellebores are still blooming. The Rosemary is blooming now, pretty little blue flowers. The Peonies, Baptisia, and Iris will all be blooming soon. My Epimediums are now blooming in my side shade garden (picture). That’s a really neat perennial for the shade garden. They are also commonly referred to as Barrenwort and Bishop’s hat.

Epimediums are grown as much for their flowers as they are for their heart-shaped foliage which can take on beautiful fall coloring. Their tiny flowers are suspended ever so gracefully on their arching flower stalks. Epimediums make great accent plants and groundcovers, although they die back almost completely in our zone. I like to pair my yellow blooming Epimediums with purple-leaved plants like Ajuga and Heuchera.

I recently discovered ants on some of my Rose of Sharon. I fear the ants are ‘milking’ aphids which in turn are feasting on the new foliage. This morning I sprayed the bugs off with water, let’s hope that keeps them away. My next approach may be to use a soap spray. I generally try to avoid using any chemicals in the garden, but especially now that I’m growing edible plants, that would be my last resort.

There are ants on my Peonies as well, which are across the driveway. I have come to expect this every year on the Peonies. [Although at first it was alarming and I admit I sprayed my Peonies with ant killer chemicals that first year] A very knowledgeable gardener explained to me that ants help the Peony buds ‘open up’. So now I ignore the ants, and my peonies have never suffered because of them.

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