Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mother Nature is messing with Connecticut gardens

I know, it’s hard not to panic when reading:

Freeze Warning

Valid: April 27 at 3:30PM EDT – April 28 at 8:00AM EDT

* LOCATIONS…PORTIONS OF SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT…THE LOWER HUDSON VALLEY AND NORTHEASTERN NEW JERSEY.
* HAZARDS…HARD FREEZE.
* TEMPERATURES…25 TO 30.
* TIMING…EARLY SATURDAY MORNING.
* IMPACTS…ANY OUTDOOR…SENSITIVE VEGETATION MAY SUFFER DAMAGE IF NOT PROTECTED DUE TO TEMPERATURES DROPPING BELOW FREEZING FOR A PERIOD LATE TONIGHT.

But it is not unusual to have a frost or a freeze in April or into May.  We live in Connecticut. Yes, our weather has been warm but, unless Connecticut moved to another region while I was otherwise occupied, it’s still a New England state. And April is a fickle month. Some years it’s warm, others it’s cold. This year Mother Nature cannot make up her mind just what she wants April to be.

It’s easy to get caught up in gardening mode when the weather is warm. I have two hibiscus

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and  a fig I overwintered indoors.

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All are just itching to soak up the warmth of the sun on my covered south-facing front porch, but their new, tender leaves are not ready to brave the cool nighttime temperatures we are having, and I’m not willing to move such large plants out during the day and in at night.

It’s easy to become intoxicated with the early Spring warmth that has caused many plants and shrubs to blossom nearly three weeks earlier than normal. For the most part April has felt and looked like May. In 2011, my purple lilacs were not in full bloom until May 14. This year they were fully open on April 23.

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But April warmth does not mean that tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers, most greenhouse-grown bedding annuals and most houseplants should be outside yet, unless tended by a very experienced gardener with enough time to cover them or move them in and out according to each day’s temperatures.

If you have already placed tender plants in the ground cover them with upside down apple baskets, overturned pots, or sheets. If you must, do this before you go to bed. The real cold won’t hit until the early morning hours. Just make sure the covering is not touching any leaves. Coverings will transfer cold to the leaves, causing damage. And, by all means, move any potted tender plants or houseplants back inside until nighttime temperatures moderate a bit.

Any freeze that materializes is likely to shorten the life of blooms already open and may alter the quality of blooms still in bud. But, in situations like this we need to accept that we are not in charge.

So cover any newly planted annuals or blooming perennials you simply cannot live without, grab a camera to preserve some digital reminders of your blooms, then pick as many as possible and fill every available horizontal space with fresh cut flowers.

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When you have no room for another indoor bouquet, sit back, enjoy, and remember … it’s April.

Garden thoughtfully.

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Emerald Ash Borer Is Too Close For Comfort

So what are those strange purple box-kite-like structures hanging in trees in wooded areas in some state parks and what do they have to do with transporting firewood  (particularly ash) outside of local regions? Both are connected to the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle that is on Connecticut’s doorstep. The destructive Emerald Ash Borer was recently reported about 20 miles from northwest Connecticut, on the Connecticut side of the Hudson River in New York.

Emerald Ash Borers live and feed on, and kill ash trees. Emerald Ash borers feed on the trees’ inner bark – the nutrient transport system. As the beetles feed they prevent nutrients from reaching sections of, and eventually the entire tree so the tree dies. Since the beetles are not native to North America, ash trees growing here have no natural defenses against them.

Emerald Ash Borers, along with other harmful tree pests, may be transported from place to place in cut firewood. It is always advisable to use only local wood for firewood. But the Emerald Ash Borer also flies to find a new ash host.

sign of emerald ash borerThe Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) has an extensive explanation of the Emerald Ash Borer – it’s life cycle, the damage it causes, what it looks like. I urge Connecticut residents to become aware of the problem.

One sure sign of the Emerald Ash Borer is “D” shaped holes in an ash tree. If you notice new die back at the top of an ash tree, look for the ‘D’ shaped holes. This report at Environmental Headlines urges residents to  contact the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station (203-974-8474) or email CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov if you see these signs or suspect you have seen the green metallic beetle .

Get information about the purple traps via the Emerald Ash Borer trapping program.

The most common Ash tree in Connecticut is the white ash (Fraxinus americana).  Click the tree’s botanical name to see the photos and information posted by the  UConn Plant Database, a great resource for learning about trees, shrubs and vines growing in Connecticut.

Watch this video on white ash:

watch?v=yjnKOXQBAC4&list=PLBE1197A3397CAE00&index=15&feature=plpp_video

Remember, if you see an ash (tree) hole shaped like a ‘D’ an Emerald Ash Borer it will be. Report it.

Many thanks to Environmental Headlines for helping to keep Connecticut residents up to speed on environmental issues.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry