Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

April 29, 2012

Some Points about Pruning……Chapter I

Filed under: garden seasons,perennials,Pruning — glenn @ 12:15 pm

Spring is probably the best time to ‘prune’ plant material in your garden, especially if your garden is a landscape garden..   I am about to give a demonstration for a dear client and friend of mine in her landscape garden Masteripiece installed about four or five years ago.    The ‘show’ will be also attended by her neighbor.    I shall have to rush.

The vast majority of homeowners nearly everywhere in these parts of the good old USA, pay little attention to the grounds which  surround their homes, except for a shade tree (that’s typically  too big), foundation planting, (that lineup of smooshed things that run along the front foundation of your dwelling and sometimes beyond, and lawn (that green stuff of  which there is too much that  homeowners nowdays pay others to mow.   

Also fashionable for about the last fifty years is  the planting of  some woody plant shorter than an elm or maple somewhere in front with a circle of pavers or hostas ringing it, giving it the modern touch for simplicity of care.

Booze,  drugs, and television  are far more popular enterprises these days in our modern American culture than expressing ones self in the art of landscaping the home grounds…….grounds of which one  pays  taxes….the bigger the parcel,  the pricier the tax in most communities.

If there are woody plants to be operated upon, it’s usually a guy chore; gals  play with flowers if either    appear  caring for their grounds.

So many homeowners now  never even personally shorten a blade of grass…….and their children are likely to think that a tomato is manufactured at the local super market.

Where would they learn otherwise?

It’s Spring, however, and if anyone in a city-area household is liable to snoop aroung their grounds, it will be now.    While observing, the astute homeowner will snoop with a pruning shears, a loppers, and a hedge shears on hand; pruners in the pocket  with the other two  garden weapons in a sturdy wheel barrow accompanying  the caretaker’s travels.

Since  the pruner person is likely a  guy,  his  instinct  to prune is excited solely because  it is  Spring, and  the sun is shining on the one day of the years he is programmed to do this yearly task.

Whoever the pruning artist might be, the first questions asked  before anything is clipped should be: 

“Why am I pruning what, and how should I prune  and why?

Pruning without knowledge can definitely shorten the life span of the plant pruned.

Grouping the Plant Material:

Herbaceous perennials….and annuals:    Gals usually handle this category as mentioned above.  Pruning  plants in this group, herbaceous meaning non-woody,  are usually:  removing the dead material of the perennial’s  past year’s spent growth to be done either in late autumn or early spring, or , if necessary the removal of the annual,  for the  entire annual plant is dead by winter………These prunings are both  done for clean up by getting rid of the dead stuff.  

 I prefer to prune back my perennials in spring  rather than the previous fall, because  the dead foliage in autumn helps capture snow to provide cover from  any exceptionally bitter winter where there has been nearly no snowfall.    The usual winds of that time of the year spend all Fall blowing oak, maple leaves and other loose garden debris  which naturally collect at the crowns of plants  where the perennials foliage is still standing becoming  a mulch  adding insulation to the crown and roots protecting the plant from winter kill.

We, at Masterpiece do offer clean up services and professional pruning both the practical, the healthy and artistic .    Call us at 952-933-5777 for more information.

 

Woody Plants….trees and shrubs…will be continued…I have to attend my pruning class.

April 19, 2012

Our Garden World of Ground Covers

Filed under: Ground Covers — glenn @ 9:11 pm

“Our” garden world refers to the geography of Midwest USA with a Horticultural Zone of, let’s guess, 3.8  to 4.8……….So, then….

What  are ground covers in the landscape garden which I grow and have something to write about?

Those plants whose forms tend to creep along the garden floor forming horizontal masses usually no higher than two or so feet, are called  ground covers.

The most popular groundcover in Minnesota regardless of horticultural zone, is turf grass (lawn).  

(Not all grasses are groundcovers.   Miscanthus giganteus  should by its Latin name suggest it is not fit for ground cover use.    It is a beautiful grass with spectacular “plumes’ in late summer, but stands at an expanding clumb somewhere around twelve feet tall at maturity.)

Ground covers are essential landscape garden  materials which  provide  negative space. that is space absent  of forms,  to allow the display of an individual  plant  or even a group of plants independent  from mass plantings.   (Another purpose might be to display the beauty of  the ground cover itself.   

When one sees a  beautiful sculpture of a mature White Oak or Emerald Green Arborvitae , it is noticed  because it arises as an individual  from the negative (empty) space  surrounding it rather being lost  a forest.

I have many, many favorite groundcovers and use many of them as if they were fighting for space at the floor of a forest glade.  Among them are:

Ajuga, but not all are reliably hardy nor spread readily.   I prefer the Purple leaf  or Gaiety ajuga to all others for they  spread, spread and spread and  show a mass of  beautiful bluish blooms in mid spring.  Nearly all of ajugas  so-called improvements, such as Black scallop or Catlin Giant  do not spread aggressively and cannot be counted on  to live very long.

Burgundy Glow is a special ajuga, one with variegated bluish green and gray to cream foliage.   But until about ten years ago the plant was NOT reliably hardy.   It spreads only modestly, so I do not term it as  a groundcover.

If you have a reliable watering system Lily of the Valley can make a spectacular mass and when large enough and in bloom, the unique fragrance of Lily of the Valley can be intoxicating without you ever having be bend down to pick a flower stem.    Try to confine its space to about 100 square feet so the mat becomes so thick nothing, even tree seeds can penetrate its cover.  The regular watering encourages its ability to expand and mass.

Lamiums are usually  troublesome.   I have all sorts for they seed readily and spread even ‘readilier”.   They cover and cover in mass okay, but sometimes they run over and around everything else including valuable peonies taking over their space.

A few are more refined, but some of the ‘refined’ lose their propagated beauty.   Anne Greenaway is an example.   Beautiful bluish and limegreen with streaks of yellow and true green make this a beauty…..EXCEPT the plant can’t reliably hold its colors  as it ages.   It reverts to a dark gray-green mixture  leaf pattern, but maintains an ability to bloom steadily from midMay to frost…..a sharp attractive purplish lavender.    

I stay away from Herman’s Pride Lamiastrum.   It is big and clumsy and I don’t want another yellow in the garden.   It likes to live and do its thing….run over everything else.

Pachysandra is another once not-hardy plant that is now a wonderful regular in most of the grounds we landscape.   Easterners love Pachysandra, an evergreen broadleaf, and when I was a kid those who visited or moved here from the Northeast would snobbishly look down their noses on gardens and gardeners who couldn’t  grow the fragrant evergreen, Pachysandra. 

Well, for about the last fifty years we can…..one of the reasons I love  warming here in Minnesota reaching almost a horticultural zone 5 in the Twin Cities.  

Again, in case you missed it, Pachysandra stays bright happy green all winter long.   It makes a good mass, but watch out for lawn grass invasions with this as well as all of your non-grass  ground covers.   Lawn grasses are killers when uncontrolled in the landscape garden.

It does not do well in bright sun.   Its foliage fades and even occasionally  burns.  

This Spring my Pachysandra has been blooming now for about three weeks and will continue until a windy warmup arrives.    

Mayapple is a native Minnesota groundcover,   It looks like a mass of  eight inch umbrellas which opened yesterday this year, and will remain open in my garden until dormancy in mid to late September.   It is a cute addition besides its cover which in frenzied manner aims to jealously own it ever growing space.

In about  two weeks like a six year old kid, I will check underneath an umbrella or two to admire the single happy flower almost smiling  at me.   In a month it will have become a greenish balloon, or ‘Mayapple’  as it is called in lore.

Sweet Woodruff is another fragrant  groundcover when grown in mass.   It is daintier, and although fortunately  just as weedy, as the already mentioned   groundcovers, its mass isn’t thick enough to keep out an endless number of seedling invasions.

It is good that I like it.   Once Sweet Woodruff is introduced into your grounds, it is likely to be there forever.   Its delicacy saves it.

A ground cover which SHOULD NEVER BE PLANTED ANYWHERE NEAR A GARDEN, is Aegopodium….Bishop’s “Weed’, but more commonly called, perennial Snow on the Mountain.

It is a WEED of the horrible kind.   It becomes uncontrollable in no time at all and suddently your garden is under siege.

Remember, the Landscape Gardener’s definition of a weed is:   A PLANT OUT OF PLACE.   Perennial snow on the mountain eventually because a plant out of place whereever it is grown.

Then there is Vinca…..Garden  girls from out East prefer Periwinkle.  Dart’s Blue is by far my favorite.   It eventually grows  several layers of wires covered with masses of  small sized  dark green shell like  leaves, and like  this very day show off  splotches of sharp dark blue open faced flowers.   

I do have an automatic irrigation system providing water on a reliable schedule from early April till shut down time in October.    I cannot grow any Thyme as a result.    I have a common sedum that would cover the Earth if I didn’t control it…and I cherish it every day it grows.  It blooms yellow, but I have never been able to score its real Latin name.

It is the kind of sedum I can rip out of the garden and hand it over with or without soil to friends to take home with the following instructions…..plop or spread the clump onto open soil, then step on the clump and wait a day or two.   If in June it will have double it space  in a week……It is only and inch in height….two when in bloom.

Many of the sedums on the market do not defend their space well and fall to invaders….especially the tree kind.    Many prefer drier soils than I have.   I grow Coral Carpet in a drier location in full sun for half a day and it is doing okay….looks like a mass of reddish beads among its stone neighbors.

One hardy perennial groundcover grown for its floral color I must have in my landscape garden is Arabis caucasica….white rockcress.   It spreads rapidly and in early spring,  as now, it produces the whitest blooms in masse one  could ever see.   The white is so stark and pure, I have several  areas roughly twenty five square feet each spread throughout a section of the grounds  for repetition for rhythm on the grounds rather than a single  white target.   Like the blue-flowering ajuga, I grow this Arabis for its floral  yield rather than its foliage, which appears wimpy and weak, but don’t mistake that for trouble.   If it likes its location  it will soon let you know.

In most grounds white arabis likes to advance its space and does so.   Other arabis are not able to make this claim.

Some of the most beautiful and hardiest of all ground covers are the evergreen conifers….those in the catalogues called ‘spreaders’.     As a group most tend to range from six inches to two and a half feet in height.    Many,  if the space for their expanse were  available, could grow for decades and decades and reach fifty to  two hundred or more feet, if not limited by invasive seedlings, for most have the ability to continue rooting as they wander around their world.

Coniferous ground covers will be a topic for another day.

April 13, 2012

Reviewing the Frost Damage of This Past Week

During the evenings of the early part of this week,  our Twin Citiy, Minnesota area was hit with night frost lows of 27F, 26F, and 32F, although at my place Wednesday evening’s frost of 32F didn’t arrive.   Instead my landscape garden escaped the third day of damage with a low of 35F.

The damage had already been done.    The blooms of my 40 year old PJM Rhododendron were on the ground by Tuesday morning.   Those of my Elisabeth Magnolia, the pride of all my trees’ flowerings, had already turned a repulsive  brown, and by Wednesday morning some had already fallen to the ground.

The leaf tips of some hostas had recoiled into an ugly twist on many, but not all of these fogiving plants in Spring.    In a week or two, when the weather does settle down some, these hostas will offer roughly the same look as if their leaves had  been stepped on rather than the frost.

Such disfiguration can easily be corrected in a few weeks when the plant has leafed out enough the damages leaf or two can be cut away, pruned out carefully to the ground…..so no onlooker, namely you,  would  notice anything untoward.

I covered my nonhardy false jasmine potted shrubs on both Monday and Tuesday of the frost nights.   They will be all right.

Some of my Angelic gigas, both among those potted and some thriving in the garden, appeared damaged, as if suffering from a hard frost…..can you beat that?    Others never seemed to have paid much attention tok anything cold.    Such a difference in the regarding  plant susceptibility to frost damage also occurs on many narcissus and tulips.    Even within  the same species and groupings, some flower stems carrying either bud or flower will crease at the half way mark and cause its purpose for human enjoyment, its floral color, to fall to the ground.   Others don’t seem to be bothered in the least.    None of the Dutch bulbs we use in our gardens will be damaged by the week’s frosts.   Soil is a great insulator….as is leaf mulch.

Shade probably is a protector for frost susceptible garden flowers and plants.   Especially if the protector is a nearby rather large conifer or leafed out deciduous shrub.     The warmer air of the day might become entrapped under the branchings of the neighboring  material  to avoid subfreezing issues.  

If you have a time when frost is expected and you have some potted woody material which hasn’t yet been planted, be sure to move the plants into the garage for the evenings of frost  or make certain you cover them with a bed sheet  for the plant’s safety.

My Toka Plum, Weekend Forsythia, bloodroot, corydalis, pushchkinia, squll, chionodoxa,  vinca,  heleborus, Arabis caucasica, Waldesteinia,  Amelanchier, about half of the Merrill Magnolia,  and pachysandera are all still in bloom.    Aglo and Olga Rhododendron buds are about to open.

I ahve about seven or eight redbuds somewhere on my property which have been in bud for three weeks already….by far the earliest ever in my observations, for our area.    As you know the flowers of the Northern  Redbud, Cercis canadensis are a hot pink when open…..a hot pink mist when still closed.   It is very attractive.

I grow only one crabapple on my property.  It will open its pure white blooms  in a couple weeks.   It was a beautiful tree until November 13, 2010  that Saturday when 30 plus inches of very wet snow dropped many many branches of many trees from my deciduous and conifers both.

Both this older crabapple and the couple sixty foot White Pine  which suffered from the winter storm, now have more character than beauty.     There may be a time in the short future when there might be enough caracter to make them as beautiful as they once were.

That is part of  governing a landscape garden.    Nature rules, but often permits you to think that you, the artist run the show  from time to time.

Wisdom, knowledge and patience are great assets for a successful landscape gardener to develop.   For you beginners, you will be amazed how angry you might become toward a favorite tree or shrub, not obeying what you have  told them to do.  

Whoever informed  any of them  that Spring was to arrive in full force by mid March, in our year 2012?

The frosts did nothing to any of my many Juddii Viburnums……one of the most beautiful deciduous shrubs available to our Twin City Northland.    Its common name is “Fragrant Viburnum”.    

A single flower cluster warmed by the adjacent brick  of the house opened its bloom two weeks ago.   Yesterday morning  its shrub joined  by a second, both positioned  in good sun,  have more than half of their countless blossoms in bloom.   What a pleasure to see and smell such winsome flower clusters.     Because others Juddiis have different microclimates where they are planted on my grounds, I shall enjoy their bloom for a month…..or longer, this year if it remains cool long enough.

April 10, 2012

Plant Deaths in the successful Landscape Garden

The temperature  low last evening was televised locally as 29F.  

Plant deaths have been on my mind for the past 24 hours with the return of hard frost.    Unaware, I discovered that my sprinkler system had turned on at 3AM this morning making most of the grounds appear frozen solid.    I had potted about 100 Angelica gigas leftovers from last year’s growth now  anxious to get into bloom mood for August displays, but they all  looked plagued and going nowhere.

In addition I got an email from a newer garden friend who was interested in ordering  a Corlylus ‘walking stick’  and became concerned why some nurseries list dozens of diseases and pests to which the plant might succumb, yet  other sources mention none at all.  

A few things must be remembered about living things.   

1.   All that is living has adversaries to that living.   That is a rule of life…..or death, which ever you prefer.

2.  Every living thing is in a battle for survival competing with its neighbors and its enemies determined  by Nature.

Think of the thousands of “troubles’ a human being faces every day he or she wakes up in the morning….all of the cancers,  biochemical maladies, rabid dogs, edibles infested by whatever thousands of noteworthy killers or disablers….and those less noteworthy.

Watch modern television advertisers.   Our government bureaucracies now  force drug company advertisers to list troubles both real and imaginary  to match the salespitch time allotted selling   the product, including troubles of paralysis and death “in rare occasions'”.   

In all of my fifty years experience  dealing with living plants mostly the outdoors ones here in our Northland called Minnesota, 

                   about 90% of plant deaths are caused by lack of reliable watering.

That leaves 10% for all of the rest of the death-mongers put together:  Winter or Spring frost and/or kill, rabbit  and dog kills, insect chewings, fungal threads, scale, bacteria,  deer, thrips, black knot, black spot,  apple scab, the rusts, galls, sawflies, borers,  Japanese beetles, cabbage worms, tree borers,  human plant movers, etc, etc……are you getting the gist?   We can even throw over-watering into the mix for deaths in this 10% range.

Almost all of the above troubles become troubles due to lack of  reliable watering needed to keep the more important plants, the woodies, healthy, stealthy and prized.   

Among garden annuals and perennials the  lack of water  percentage might reach 95% of all such plants’ deaths.

My irrigation system has been operating now for about 20 years.   I cannot remember the last time I have sprayed anything with a fungicide.    I have used sevin to ‘damage’ sawflies and a systemic to kill scale on my Merrill magnolia, but usually don’t have the patience to put a solution together, so I use a powerful hose spray to dislodge as many worms as I can.

I have used systemic  insecticides to control scale on the magnolias when infested.

Fox, coyote and feral cats live somewhere nearby.   I hear an owl  from time-t0-time, usually at night.

Even with my automatic watering over the years  dry spots  develop where, as an example, my hot lips turtlehead (Chelone) no longer thrive.     Some conifer shrub or small tree, no doubt, has begun to interfere  with the water spray reaching these reliable and usually expansive,  moisture-loving perennials.   

So with the lack of reliable watering, the Chelone has found its limits in my landscape garden adding to its natural  beauty.  Something more arid tolerant can be planted as its neighbor.

Corylus is not one of my top fifty shrubs I normally allow into my landscape garden.   A few years ago, before Japanese Beetles arrived at Glenn’s Glen, I succumbed to plant Red Majestic Hazlenut specifically for the contorted woody stems and advertised  maroonish foliage.   

I have not yet thrown it out.   As with the Corylus I remember  planting  decades ago, the plant cannot retain its curly stems and reverts to its non-descript just-another-bush straight stem character.   Worse, the valued colored foliage fades by August, when  the Red Majestic is a litteral living trap for Japanese Beetles.   They make themselves big and fat on the foliage, too sated to fly away and so I easily ritualistically  pinch them in half.   It is a satisfying  garden  task,  No matter how tired I might be from my landscape chores, I rev up halving about fifty with each Corylus visit.   

Note:   Throughout my fifty years of Sp;ring garden experience,  I have not seen my landscape garden endure a winter without a January and February, with sunny temperate warmups  as early as mid March.   I will predict the following, however:

I expect no deaths from last evening’s hard frost, although some ‘items’ such as tulips, might become temporarily disfigured.     In two weeks time or so I expect normal growth and happy appearing plants as usual ……..from the outstanding soil developed  and reliable seasonal waterings for the past twenty years  regularly watered every other day by my automatic underground watering system with visible sprayings.   I demand to see where the water is going.

April 9, 2012

Mother Nature is STILL a Creature of Habit: Frost Warnings Ahead

And what is a Minnesotan  supposed to do when it is  April 09, 2012, and  it is already May 15th in the landscape garden, and frost is in  the forecast for the evening?   

French  lilacs in open sun are about to bloom, redbuds in the city are already opening their flowers, crab apples appear about to open theirs as well and the temperature is expected to drop to 26F tonight.

If your  tomatoes were already set out and growing, they would have to be covered or become  dead by morning.

Fortunately,  most of the woody plants we enjoy in our landscape gardens or settings are too hardy to be bothered by a light  frost in a very early Spring.   But what about an normal frost in “late” Spring.    What might be expected.   Well, more frost in the future, for one item.

One of my most beautiful trees in bloom is Elizabeth Magnolia.   The tree structure isn’t much to admire, but the blooms are much more than impressive…..and if you like large,  soft yellow  almost waxy petals of Southern style to show off here in the Twin Cities, Elizabeth is your tree. 

My Elizabeth is about ten years old in its space, a hide away no one ever sees in my landscape garden except for its owner.  It usually opens its show around Memorial Day, yet its buds are now already about to explode  in another warm day or two.    What damage will the frost cause?

I live in a mid tier western suburb of Minneapolis, outside of the isotherm surrounding the more ‘cemented and paved’  Twin City metropolitan area.    My Elizabeth wouldn’t have a problem if the evening’s cold dropped to only  30F.   We don’t call this cold a hard frost, but 25F IS  a cold frost.

What about my intersectional peonies?   They are rather expensive perennials and not as reliably hardy as  traditional peonies.   Tree peonies shouldn’t  be troubled by the spring cold, but what about intersectionals?     Well, do as I just did this very minute ago…..thinking about my beautiful yellow intersectional, I just now came back from covering it with a size twenty horticultural pot……big enought to cover safely a foot and a half cluster of the peony’s new growth.

There are about 100 newly potted perennials I have dug   from this spring’s garden produce already.   They are sitting in an small tree covered area to the south of my house.   They are on their own…..and unless the temperature drops to twenty degrees, I am not particularly worried about their welfare.

In general, with the exception of  intersectional peonies, I dont worry about any of my two hundred or so herbaceous perennial species  in my landscape garden  being damaged or killed  by a spring frost, this year or any year.    If a leaf or two is damaged by frost  on early growth, there will be renewed growth.

Althoug my Elizabeth tree won’t be damaged, but her  buds might be.   They may freeze and refuse to open and turn ugly brown for this spring’s display, or the edges of the blooms may become discolored.   That would be painful for me.

We shall see.

No conifers will be bothered by this year’s early spring warmth and frost combo, either in foliage or growth.  

If the cooler temperature persists for a couple of weeks,  our garden plants will hold back on their growth and return more or less to the regular seasonal growth patterns.

You may have noticed that most of your hostas not growing on sunny exposures on the south side of your house haven’t shown much interest in poking their noses above ground despite this wonderful warm 2012 spring weather.    Those which have leafed out might  show some leaf wrinkle or discoloration due to a hard frost, but no matter the plant will simply supply you with countless other leaves as if nothing untoward  ever happened during the evening of April 9, 2012.

If your apple trees had just opened bloom and the cold weather lasts for several days, don’t expect to have much of an apple crop this autumn.

For longer lasting spring blooms, whether tree or herbaceous perennial, a cool, windless, rather dry spring will yield the best floral display over the longest period of time  possible.   My redbuds, the six to ten that I have somewhere on the grounds have been in swollen bud for nearly three weeks, showering each tree crown with a mist of hot pink awaiting to explode into full form.   I don’t expect the frost to cause trouble here, since there is no sleet forecast to accompany  the cold.

Do keep record of when your plants come into bloom.   Be aware that the East side of the house is almost always the best aspect for garden planting displays all other conditions being equal.      It will improve your artistry  in placing plants for better displays in the future.     Toka plum, PJM Rhododendron  are in full bloom when redbuds are in lacy appearing full bud nearly every year…..and what a beautiful display that is to witness when you have cleverly positioned them.   Imagine too, spreading green and aqua junipers and pure white arabis rockcress added for further color emphasis……and an accent of Weekend Forsythia in the distance.

Call us for consultations,  tours, or help  landscaping your home or business grounds to enjoy or  learn more about the art of landscape gardening…..at   Masterpiece Landscape, Ltd….952-933-5777.

April 7, 2012

Sawfly Alert! It’s the start of Lacy Foliage Week!

Sunny Schneiderhan, starette landscape gardener beautifying  her space in Dinkytown USA,  reported active sawflies on a mugho pine last Wednesday.  

Fortunately, for those of us who live in suburban Twin Cities where our horticultural zone is not yet #5, we usually  have a  four or five day respite from such  attacks  than our city brothers and sisters who grow Scot’s and mugho pines.

Do note and remember that Spring on  a sunny  South and the Southwest exposure  of your home  expecially  within ten  to fifteen feet from the house  foundation, is  often two to three weeks earlier and warmer than the  geography on the north side.    

Few insect pests can do more damage in such a short period of time  to their favorite plant food than sawflies.   Normally  we  sound the alarm, that is the damage, around May 14   give or take a week depending upon where you live in the Twin Cities.

It isn’t every year we Minnesotans have a winter without a January or February.   Many, if not most of our  deciduous woody plants are already leafying out into what I call the  Lacy Foliage Look of  our Spring……the time when the evergreen conifer forms no longer dominate the winter landscape.    

The Lacy Foliage look lasts  about five or six  days, depending on the temperature.   In just a few days, sun willing,  the Lacy Look to upper levels of our neighborhood landscaping scenery will yield to five to six months of green leaf  mass and its shade.   

Although not every plant  species is equally affected by such an early spring, our Spring, 2012 is occurring about five weeks earlier  than the  average  of our outdoords of  the past half century.

The beginning of sawfly activity, meaning their munching on the foliage of your favorite Scots Pine, Mugho Pine,  and all of their cultivars, seems to coincide with the Lacy Look calendar dates.

The mother sawfly lays her countless eggs into last year’s crop of new  needles sometime in August where they remain apparently quite unalert but cozy until   Lacy Look week of the following Spring.    The warmth of Spring arouses the critters who, very hungry from their previous condition, begin chewing away from the insides of each infected needle.    These needles have already been damaged beyond repair.

But, as Nature would have it however, most homeowners, I and other landscape gardeners included, may notice nothing at all……until very close personal inspection.    For eyes of my age that inspection has to be within a foot or two from the  scene of the crime.

For those of you who know something about   a riled Medusa  of  ancient Greek lore,  expect to see the same  if you happen to bump a branch of you pine victims and notice the writhings and wigglings of what appears to be pine needles.    Alas, pine needles can, on their own,  neither writhe or wiggle…….This  repulsive display is symptomatic of an active saw fly attack.  

 If not combatted, either by the end of the week or by next year’s crop and the years’ following, your susceptible pines will likely  have no foliage left at all, except the ones producing food for baby sawflies.    A pine without needles is not a pretty sight.

Immediate attention:   Shake the branchings to dislodge the wormy creatures from the needles.   I am told that most have no ability to crawl back up to trunk to their previous dinner table location.

If  your garden hose is handy, hit the ‘worms’ with the hardest water pressure possible, again, to dislodge them from their dinner table.    Reach the highest branchings possible.

If you remember having seen them or their damage on the pine last year, you can apply an insectide, Sevin or Malathion  at this very time when the larvae on hatching and eating.

For best control of sawfly infestation on pine  over a number of years, apply a systemic insecticide which includes sawflies on the lable, to each individual suffering from the pests sometime in midAugust.

As soon as it stops raining I plan to examine my mugho and Scot’s pines for any sawfly activity.   Occasionally the pest will attack the Eastern White Pine, but the damage is usually less devastating.