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.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

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

No Way to Cultivate Contented Red Sox Fans

Though I usually write about gardening, the closest this post comes to gardening is the word Cultivate in the title. Nor do my words delve into the monumental melt-down Red Sox fans witnessed in the April 21, 2012 game at Fenway Park. This is an open letter to the Red Sox organization on one way to keep fans happy – don’t misrepresent season ticket seat purchases.

Non-baseball fans may not understand, but baseball fans will know just how thrilling it was, after four years on the waitlist, to get the “Dear Red Sox Waitlist Member” email announcing our chance to purchase a season ticket package. I gladly gave up the better part of an hour, most of it on hold, on a busy day to offer up my credit card for the Y-Plan – ten predetermined Monday, Wednesday, Saturday games. A check off the bucket list … we were Red Sox season ticket holders.

I shared the news with the family, my husband and I scheduled the games we would attend, and our adult children chose theirs.

Baseball has been part of my memory since I could talk and walk, with favored baseball memories revolving around my Gram. She knew baseball, infield and out, right field and left. Her favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates; her favorite player, Roberto Clemente, but she would listen to any team on the radio. She loved the game that much, and she passed this love on to her grandchildren. One of my dearest recollections is when my oldest son, then a young teen, and my nearly 90-year-old Gram lost themselves in baseball talk while the rest of the family went on with our reunion.

Now, with Gram gone for nearly 13 years, baseball is one way for me to hold her close. I carried her memory with me to a Red Sox game a few years back when our kids gave me and my husband tickets to the last game of the season. It happened to be the day the oldest living Rooter was part of pre-game ceremonies. An age-worn woman walked onto the infield holding the supporting arm of a much younger escort. To my eyes, she was Gram and for that moment Gram was there, enjoying Fenway with me, though she never had the chance to visit the park before she died. I doubt my seat-neighbors understood the tears streaming down my face … Gram would have loved Fenway Park.

Sharing the love of baseball with my kids continues our family tradition. I came to Connecticut a Pirates fan, just like Gram. My kids, being native New Englanders, turned me into a Red Sox fan long before we all, as adults, cheered the Sox to their 2004 and 2007 World Series wins.

This history walked with me on April 21 as we strolled down Yawkey Way and entered Fenway. The Red Sox were playing the Yankees. Another check off our bucket list.

We carried our beers up the stairs to Section 7, Row 9, Seats 17 and 18, greeted our seat-neighbors, and sat down to look across the field. To our chagrin, in place of home plate all we saw was one of the vertical roof-support beams.

This was the ‘unrestricted view’ we waited four years to obtain?

I may be a purist, but I think the ability to see home plate is a rather important aspect of watching a baseball game.

While purchasing our tickets I used the feature on the Red Sox website that allows you to click on a seating area to get a view of the field from that section. Go ahead, click on Section 7 (in pale blue), you’ll see the view I expected.

This is the view we had …

view from Section 7, Row 9, Seats 17 & 18 at Fenway Park

During the ticket purchase I had asked, multiple times, if our seats had a restricted view. I was specifically told they do not. “We don’t sell restricted view seats to season ticket holders,” I was assured.

Apparently, it all depends on your definition of restricted. What I’ve learned since, is the Red Sox organization actually considers these seats to have an unrestricted view. Therefore, they don’t note these seats as restricted in their computer, nor do they find it necessary to inform ticket buyers that they won’t be able to see home plate or some other part of the infield from these seats.

The customer service people I dealt with were extremely understanding as I expressed my displeasure and disillusionment. We received a refund for our season ticket package as well as comp seats in a section behind home plate for the April 21 game. I appreciate both gestures. I also appreciate that an extremely helpful woman in the season ticket office is working to find us at least some single game tickets to replace those in our original package.

What I don’t understand is the continued ruse, particularly from an organization that has gone to exemplary lengths to update Fenway Park without losing a century’s worth of history and charm, that certain seats do not have a restricted view, when they clearly do. Fenway fans get it, many seats have restricted views. So be honest about these restrictions, Red Sox organization, be honest about field views, or lack of views, from the start.

To do any less only makes fans feel like they’ve been sold a bucket of crap.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry
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