Brown Tips on Spruce Trees?

I notice the new growth on spruce trees in Idaho Falls is just starting to emerge from the brown caps at the tips of the branches. That reminds me that now is the best time to spray to prevent damage from the Spruce Gall Adelgid (Aphid). So I thought I would share this Q & A with you from the Forum page of Idaho Community Forestry Partners.

Cooley Spruce GallsQ. The branches of my spruce tree are tipped with brown prickly things that look like pinecones. But the cones higher up in the tree don’t look like these. What are they and will they damage our tree? ~Sarah H., Pocatello

A. The growths on the tips of your spruce are galls, sometimes referred to as spruce pineapple galls because they resemble pineapples. Although they are odd looking, they rarely cause serious damage to the tree. The Cooley spruce gall aphid is responsible for these galls. This insect has multiple forms. Its life cycle requires two hosts over two years: one year on spruce and one year on Douglas-fir or another spruce. And it is misnamed – although it is closely related to aphids, it is not an aphid. Continue reading “Brown Tips on Spruce Trees?”

Thank you, Yanks!

sand-drawings-d-day-the-fallen-9000-2013Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel to France with my daughter. It was a wonderful trip with many highlights including our visit to the beaches of Normandy on the anniversary of D-Day. As we arrived at the beach at sunset the crowds had disappeared and we were completely alone. Walking in silent reverence along the beach we saw that someone had written in large letters in the sand “Thank you, Yanks!”.

I wish I had taken a picture, but the image is as clear in my mind today as it was then. The words still catch in my throat as I remember the sun setting below the horizon and darkness beginning to envelope us. That day, nearly seventy years earlier, marked the beginning of the end of the darkness that was enveloping Europe and the world. Continue reading “Thank you, Yanks!”

Tent Caterpillars

Western Tent Caterpillar ColonyYes, it’s that time of year again when we face the return of the Western Tent Caterpillars. As soon as their eggs hatch in April or May, the caterpillars begin eating leaves and create “tents” – white, silky shelters that cover the forks and tips of tree branches and shrubs. During warmer weather they feed mostly at night and return to their tents during the day.
They are often seen in chokecherry bushes and red leafed ornamental chokecherry trees. The caterpillars are easy to recognize. They have a yellow checkered pattern with a blue dotted line down their backs.

Continue reading “Tent Caterpillars”

Living Sculptures

Apple Candelabra 2015 (600x589)
Espalier Apple Tree

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to travel to France with my daughter. One of the things that struck me about gardening in France (besides the huge number of window flower boxes) were the many espalier (is-‘pal-yər) pear and apple trees we saw, both at private residences and in public parks. Some of them appeared to be very old. The branches of these trees are directed in specific patterns to create designs such as a diamond or candelabra. You can create your own espalier trees by training them while they are young, or they are now available ‘pre-trained’ at Town & Country Gardens. Continue reading “Living Sculptures”

When is it safe to plant?

When is it safe to plant my tender flowers and vegetables? That is a question we hear often at the garden center this time of year. It depends on where you live, of course, as higher elevations and more northern locales have a shorter growing season than lower elevations and more southern locales. And, of course, the weather can vary dramatically from year to year, so really what they are asking is, “What are the odds of getting a frost this time of year”. Continue reading “When is it safe to plant?”

David Austin Roses

DA Rose Strawberry Hill
Strawberry Hill

If you love roses, but don’t necessarily love to pamper them, a garden of David Austin roses is hard to beat. Known for their sheer exuberance of flower and wonderful fragrance, they also have a reputation for hardiness and dependability. David Austin roses are designed to blend harmoniously with other shrubs and herbaceous perennials and are perfectly at home in mixed flower and shrub borders. Continue reading “David Austin Roses”

Mild Winter? Maybe not.

Smiling SunWe all remember last winter for being one of the mildest on record for east Idaho, right? Well, not exactly. It has been extremely mild from February on, but if you can remember back a bit further you might recall that we had some extreme cold in November. In fact from November 11 through November 18 the average low was zero degrees, plunging to -14 on November 16, even colder in outlying areas. Continue reading “Mild Winter? Maybe not.”

Planting Dormant Roses

Roses are probably the most popular flower in the world. Who doesn’t love to have a vase of roses on the dining room table? But if you’re tired of the expensive cut roses from the floral shop only lasting a week or so, it’s time to try something new. Plant an actual rose bush in your yard and enjoy the roses all season long and year after year. Plant them now…and you’ll be smelling the roses by early summer. Continue reading “Planting Dormant Roses”