Coastal and Tropical South
It's not that Art Wolk makes me laugh (which he does, repeatedly), and it's not that he is a great gardener (which he is, having won the Grand Sweepstakes at the always amazing Philadelphia Flower Show). The reason you should be the first in your group to read Garden Lunacy (coming in Jan. 2005 from AAB Book Publishing; $26.95) is that Art's stories document and poke gentle fun at the foibles we gardeners hate to admit. Art writes about our common experiences with humor and insight worth quoting.
You'll find yourself and your gardening friends in his tales, and you'll want to be the first one to point them out to everyone! I found myself on p. 196, where I identified totally with Jill, whose neighbor didn't like her gardening style. Art uses her saga to deftly put down the snobs who try to tell other people what to grow and where to grow it. Neither of us suffers fools gladly, and I was tickled to read his conclusion, since it is my own. "We've started a new millennium, I think it's time for a different front yard paradigm to emerge -- one that allows gardeners a full range of creative expression."
Clever Gardening Technique
Controlling Scale Insects
Scale insects can plague sasanquas, camellias, hollies, and a host of other woody plants. Winter is a great time to survey underperforming plants for evidence of their hard bodies stuck to stems and trunks. They look like tiny lumps and if you could pick them off intact, you'd find a beak stuck right into your plant's lifeline, sucking it dry.
When you find them, don't panic, but do get some ultra refined horticultural oil and use it to spray them thoroughly. These products are formulated to go through a pump-type sprayer, which also gives you a great deal of control over the areas to be sprayed. That can be very important in treating undersides of leaves and large infestations of insects. Coat each stem and trunk (and leaf surfaces on evergreens) with the oil, which works by smothering the scale insects. Follow the oil spray with a close examination of the affected plants to look for new scale insect larvae. They're mobile for a while after hatching, and easily controlled with insecticidal soap, pyrethrin, or neem. Once they mature and stick their beaks into your plants, it's much harder to control them.