Garden Observations

I’ve never had a common culinary sage overwinter before – the vibrant blue flowers are bigger than the cultivated ornamental sages, such as “May Night”, and the bees love them.


I’m a bit short on insectary plants in my garden area at the moment – the skirret is forming buds, so it will be ready soon, but my volunteer borage is still only at the four-leaf stage. One of the best things you can do for garden or orchard productivity is to insure you’ve mixed in some insectary plants with staggered blooming seasons, so the bees always have something to come back for. Umbels are lovely and liked by many predatory insects, who will help keep down the unwelcome bug population. (And anything we can do for neighborhood bees, the better.)

The below picture, unfortunately, is an early symptom of fireblight in a prairie rose. Notice the “shepherd’s crook” of curled, dead leaves at the top of the stem. This particular individual was stressed, as it’s been growing in a pot since last spring’s mass-uprooting-of-rose-runners-from-my-planting-beds, and I tend to forget about artificial fertilization. 😉 None of the ones still in the ground is showing symptoms, thank goodness. I cut off the infected branch as far down to the root as I could, sterilized the pruners in a bit of bleach (chased with a bit of vinegar to keep the bleach from deteriorating the tool), and gave it a meal – and the remaining branches are looking better already.

I had had a mild spate of this last year, in the rose tangle that I had not yet gotten up the courage to crawl into to prune out, but it looks like the cleanup I did last fall and this spring was mostly successful. I ended up trimming canes on my back armed with oven mitts and a bow saw (and found out I had some nice rockwork under the snarl of canes, ouch!) but I was extremely proud of myself when it was done. 😉

It’s a bit sad to see, as a lot of our big fruit species like Apple and Pear are in the Rose family, and thus susceptible to fireblight. Newer cultivars have been bred for blight resistance, but most of the important heritage varieties of which I evangelize to friends and neighbors, of course are not. You kinda think of North Dakota as an isolated backwater – we’re still lucky enough to be free from the Emerald Ash Borer, but it’s coming! – but plant diseases try hard to survive. 😛

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