Mid Atlantic Gardening forum: New and thistles

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upat5
Jun 6, 2016 5:24 AM CST
Hello. Glad to meet everyone!

I'm fairly new here. I live in the Mtns of N. VA and I hope it's ok to post sort of non-gardeny- but-plant-related questions here...if not could you redirect me?

I moved to a wooded area near the Appalachian trail about 4 yrs ago. The land had been (in my eyes) damaged by the previous owners who cut down numerous LARGE trees and left other areas barren...presumably they were going to create a garden. My objective, when I first moved in, was to grow beautiful natives and make a woodland garden....neither of these options are attainable due to the heavy HEAVY deer population!

So, 4 yrs later I have come to my senses...plant the strong, aggressive (mostly native) species and at least keep the birds and insects happy! Well, thistles are a big part of this. I think we have about 4 -5 species here...problem is, I have noticed over the last couple of yrs that the Canada Thistle seems not to be thriving as it once was and after inspecting I found at least 2 species of insects (Rhinocyllus conicus and Cassida rubiginosa) introduced in great numbers by the state of VA to control thistle! Now, I know well that Canada Thistle is an invasive species and I was addressing this. Bull and Scotch are also introduced but I don't mind these as much because they are LOADED with butterflies in the summer when nothing else has survived the deer. I also started from seed some pasture thistle, swamp thistle and tall thistle. Problem is...I don't think the thistle eating insects discriminate....they eat ALL thistle! On top of that, my method of controlling Canada Thistle is cutting it half way down and making it use its energy stores to grow more stem thereby weakening it but now if I do that I am countermanding the biocontrol insects which I, personally, would have chosen not to introduce to my property...but I won't get started on that one!

So, my question is, should I continue to control Canada Thistle in my own way, let the biocontrols take over and wipe all thistle out...and I really would like to know who has the right to dump biocontrols out over large areas to essentially (in my opinion) serve mainly the interest of a particular group. Never thought I'd be so outspoken about the rights of the lowly thistle Smiling

Anyway, thanks for reading and I'm probably not even in the right forum *Blush* Anyone else got thistle?
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ssgardener
Jun 6, 2016 6:19 AM CST
Hi and Welcome! You're definitely in the right forum!

I'm afraid I don't know anything about thistle, but I have a feeling @greenthumb99 and @aspenhill may have some experience with it. Maybe @Muddy1 as well?

Name: David
Lucketts, Va (Zone 7a)
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greenthumb99
Jun 6, 2016 7:00 AM CST
Canada Thistle, despite its name, is not Canadian. It is an introduced species and is horribly invasive. It is extremely difficult to eradicate and is a major agricultural threat, hence its status as a noxious weed on this continent. It is also a difficult invasive damaging parks and private property as well, including your neighbor's. You are indignant about controls. Not to sound harsh, but conversely, who has the right to encourage the spread of a devastating alien species impacting their neighbors? How is it any different than raising Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, Emerald Ash Borers, Purple Loosestrife, Dutch Elm Disease, or other such scourges impacting their community? "But I won't get started on that one! "

There are sufficient wildlife-supporting native species for any local environment so as to not resort to fostering the spread of alien species that impact all around you.

Planet Earth is a galactic insane asylum where the inmates have been left in charge.
[Last edited by greenthumb99 - Jun 6, 2016 7:48 AM (+)]
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upat5
Jun 6, 2016 10:24 AM CST
Hello David,

I did state in my post that I was aware of it's status. In the 4 yrs I have lived on this property I have been battling invasives of all kinds, Canada Thistle is not the worst of them nor is it the least! I have tried everything, including chemicals, to get rid of it but for me the process will take a LONG time. You see where the thistle grows I have bits of land that was once woodland and I have natives, black and blue cohosh...odd as this may sound, bloodroot to name a few, in amongst and between the patches of thistle. For me, the most effective way to get rid of the thistle (and not everything around it)is to chop the stalks half way down to weaken the plant and gradually the patches are getting smaller. At the same time I would like to grow some native thistle but I have found that the biocontrols are eating those too!

Canada thistle is noxious but oddly enough I haven't found that it inhibits anything growing around it as I believed it did...it does form "thickets" but introducing Solidago canadensis (yes, I know that's not Canadian either!) which is also weedy but perhaps more easily controlled stops Canada thistle in its tracks...it just can't compete with it! So interestingly in this area where you have stands of goldenrod you have NO thistle! So, that's my plan, cut the stalks and crowd the thistle out. However, if I cut the canada thistle stalks I am also probably killing a lot of insects (the biocontrols) that are trying to eat and reproduce on the thistle...so now do they look to other thistle species? There are native thistle species...these are also impacted but that's ok right?

And by the way...when I said this "But I won't get started on that one! " I was referring to the species that have been introduced to the woods by my neighbors! Asian bittersweet (bringing the trees down one by one), a new one, Aralia elata, Paulownia tomentosa, stilt grass (this one is much worse than thistle and I guess technically not introduced by my neighbors!) etc etc. So you see David, you got me quite wrong!

So, before you put me in a box and label me (incorrectly mind you) please give me a chance to ask questions and get some constructive feedback. Thank-you!

upat5
Jun 6, 2016 10:25 AM CST
ssgardener said:Hi and Welcome! You're definitely in the right forum!

I'm afraid I don't know anything about thistle, but I have a feeling @greenthumb99 and @aspenhill may have some experience with it. Maybe @Muddy1 as well?



Hi and thanks for the welcome but I fear I am not really welcome and maybe am not in the right place!
Name: Chantell
Middle of Virginia (Zone 7a)

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Chantell
Jun 6, 2016 12:05 PM CST
@upat5 all are welcomed here. Welcome! Let's start out on the right foot by coming on over 'here' and introducing yourself The thread "Welcome to the Midatlantic Gardening Forum" in Mid Atlantic Gardening forum Sadly we don't always see the new posts to welcome you as quickly as we would in the welcome forum. David stated he didn't mean to sound harsh. We all have things we're passionate about...and one thing in common...plants. So come on over to thread above and let us give you a good ole Mid Atlantic greeting.
What would YOU attempt if you KNEW you wouldn't fail?
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Name: David
Lucketts, Va (Zone 7a)
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greenthumb99
Jun 6, 2016 12:06 PM CST
upat5 - thank you for your clarification. Your post suggested to me that you resented property-line-crossing measures to control invasive problems at the same time you were contemplating allowing the reverse to be visited upon your neighbors, a very uneven-handed position. Since you say that is not the case, I apologize. Please don't forsake this venue on my account, and I applaud your efforts to restore native flora to your property. Your additional posts make it clear that you have made the effort to educate yourself on the problem invasive species in your area and are applying that knowledge. The action I would take issue with is intentionally allowing your Canada Thistle to go to seed. Apparently I misunderstood your intent. I wish you the best of luck on your efforts. Again, please don't go.

P.S. Solidago canadensis is indeed Canadian, and American, and Mexican. It is native to most of North America and was first identified as a species due to early botanical work in colonial Canada. Likewise, many widespread species have specific epithets of virginica, carolina, and pensylvanica because these areas were settled and studied early on.
Planet Earth is a galactic insane asylum where the inmates have been left in charge.
Name: Pat (Backward Glance)
Lucketts, VA
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ecnalg
Jun 6, 2016 1:27 PM CST
Welcome! Many of us attempt to garden in spite of the deer and other critters that sabotage our efforts. I hope you stay with us and join in later this year when we will have a fall swap, location as yet up in the air.
Name: Terri
Lucketts, VA (Zone 7a)
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aspenhill
Jun 6, 2016 3:00 PM CST
@upat5 Welcome! I live in wooded conditions. I don't seem to have any issues with the invasives that you've mentioned, except for the dreaded stilt grass which seems to just appear in any of the wooded areas that have been disturbed in some way - logging trails and the main lane... I don't have much advice to give on that score. However, I am always dealing with major deer problems. Over the years I've been discovering what they will actually leave alone and am concentrating on adding more and more of those. I still love to have some of the plants that are deer candy, but they require lots of attention that some years they get and other years they don't. Here is a list of plants that are doing well for me that the deer don't seem to touch:

Hellebores, galanthus, narcissus, iris, peonies, dicentra, asarums, polemonium, pulmonaria, astilbe, solomons seal, trilliums, and any and all ferns to name a few. I'm amassing quite a collection of named cultivars of hellebores, iris, pulmonaria, and astilbes. I have native mountain laurel and azalea naturalized throughout the wooded acreage that have not been browsed by deer. One of the biggest disappointments from the ever increasing deer population damage is the huge stands of mayapple that were here twenty years ago have completely disappeared. I do like to introduce other natives as well and add them to my gardens on greenthumb99's recommendations and pass alongs, but I am not as familiar with them as he and also muddy1 are.

Good luck! Would love to hear more about your woodland gardening!

Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Jun 6, 2016 3:53 PM CST
Welcome, upat5- PLEASE stick around. I'd love to hear your progress and challenges.
We are all on a learning curve, more or less, and try to share knowledge.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: David
Lucketts, Va (Zone 7a)
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greenthumb99
Jun 6, 2016 4:23 PM CST
upat5 - again, I miss-read your post and apologize for my initial response. Mia culpa, my bad.
Planet Earth is a galactic insane asylum where the inmates have been left in charge.
Name: Catmint/Robin
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Catmint20906
Jun 6, 2016 4:59 PM CST

Moderator

welcome, @upat5--we really are a very friendly, chatty group. I don't know anything about the thistle or biocontrols in question, but it's interesting to learn. Hope you will visit us again!
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
central Illinois
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jmorth
Jun 6, 2016 5:31 PM CST
I'm basically a trespasser here, but occasionally have posted, but I'd like to welcome you to the whole site @upat5.
I agree that thistle's can be a magnificent butterfly and winged critters attractant. But I think I'll just leave em out there in the wild.
Thumb of 2016-06-06/jmorth/159c79

Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Jun 6, 2016 6:56 PM CST

Moderator

J, you are definitely not a trespasser--you are most welcome here!! Thumbs up
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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jmorth
Jun 6, 2016 9:08 PM CST
Thanks, Robin.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Jun 6, 2016 9:33 PM CST

Moderator

J, that is a gorgeous hummingbird clearwing!! Thumbs up
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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jmorth
Jun 6, 2016 9:40 PM CST
That thistle and it's moth are located in a near by state park that is basically maintained in it's 'wild' state. We're fortunate to have one so near in this land of endless farms.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.

upat5
Jun 7, 2016 6:05 AM CST
Thank-you ALL so much for the warm welcomes Hurray! I have so much to ask you all but have been panicking for the past 24 hrs over the bunchflower that has decided to flower and, of course, I put it in a place that is easily accessible and hard to protect! Yes, Melanthium virginicum is supposed to be toxic but the deer don't read those memos!

David, no need to apologise. I'm happy to find so many people who are passionate about the natives and equally passionate about eliminating the invasives!

J, that is an awesome picture! I almost went off the road the other day...I think there are stands of tall thistle along Rt 7...they were absolutely beautiful! Interesting thing is..I have grown, from seed, many native so-called pollinator species....columbine, hairy beardtongue, Chelone sp etc etc but where do the butterfies go? They go to the dandelions, thistles and my daughter's super aggressive bed of red rocket/purple rooster monardas!

Aspen, I think I live (as the crow flies) just SW of you up near Mt Weather....here the deer will take EVERYTHING including trilliums and fern...they even tried to eat a blue cohosh this year! The species that have not been touched are the mega invasives such as bittersweet, stiltgrass etc and very very few natives such as Va bluebells and columbine. The property was terribly disturbed when we arrived...I think the previous owners had set it up to trap and hunt deer (no, I do not hunt) so the deer trails and most of the areas around them were void of anything but stiltgrass. I unwittingly and stupidly went about pulling the stiltgrass and covering with mulch...like laying out a red carpet for the deer! 3 yrs later? I took EVERY tree trunk I could find and laid them haphazardly across one of the worst deer trails...I didn't lay them flat because there were natives, mainly cohosh and bloodroot that were still present but were trampled every year and hence invisible, but I layered them about 3ft high and not only has this stopped the deer from using this trail...they don't seem to like putting their hooves where they can't see the ground but the leaves that were trapped by the logs have effectively blocked the stiltgrass AND the Lindera benzoin which grows everywhere has actually managed to put out lower leaves and this is now shading the trail....stiltgrass does not like shade. I know the deer are still present but I'm hoping that if they don't have smooth trails across this tiny patch of land that they will have to tread different paths each time...some areas will have a chance to recover.

I have temporarily cordoned off some patches with stakes and fishing line and attached some organza bags to the fishing line (hoped they looked like the white of a deer's tail) and it has worked, momentarily...until they figure out they can knock everything thing down in an instant...I'm hoping it'll work so the bees will get some flowers this summer and the little witch hazel cuttings can actually keep some of their leaves and grow a bit!

Wow, I am rambling...

Just so happy to have found this forum!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Jun 7, 2016 6:34 AM CST
Sounds like you're making progress, with the tree trunk plan etc. Good job!
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Jun 7, 2016 6:40 AM CST

Moderator

J, wish I could have something nearby maintained in its wild state! Here, it is becoming increasingly urban--when I retire (7 more years??) I'd love to move further out where I can see more land, more hills, more trees and other greenery--would be wonderful.

I keep trying to encourage something like a meadow in much of my backyard--I have mowed paths around the garden beds and a few for traversing the yard, but otherwise am trying to encourage 'wildness'. The unmowed grass is quite long--up to my waist-- but the wildflowers are slow to grab hold since the grass itself is thick. I am not sure how to change this. There are patches where eg wild violets and creeping charlie have taken over--but that's not what I envisioned either! Glare (Although these are pretty in the spring...) The Verbena bonariensis has spread out into the lawn and reseeds itself successfully each year, and of course the spiderwort spreads happily (talk about a native that's happy in my yard!!). If anyone has suggestions for encouraging more wildflowers in a former lawn, would love to hear them!!

Upat, I am amazed and inspired by your efforts to control the deer and limit the invasives! I didn't know deer prefer smooth trails--I guess that is another reason to keep my grass in the backyard long and up to their chests!! Hilarious!
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso

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