Attracting Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

DSC 0207 Attracting Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillars

Gardening for Butterflies is growing in popularity, and it’s a three season love affair that can take you from spring cocoons to fall migrations!  Try these host plants for Larvae and Caterpillars to use in the flower garden, and raise your own butterflies!

Growing Flowers For Black Swallowtail Caterpillars:

  • Parsley
  • Carrot
  • Queen Ann’s Lace
  • Dill
  • Alfalfa
  • Sweet Fennel
  • Sunflower
  • Aster
  • Broccoli
  • Milkweed
  • Hollyhock
  • Clover
  • Partridge Pea
  • Snapdragon
  • Thistle
  • Sunflower

Growing Trees For Larvae and Caterpillars:

  • Willow
  • Elm
  • Chokecherry
  • Oak
  • Plum
  • Hackberry
  • Cottonwood
  • Birch


Mix these flowers and trees into your landscape, or organize them into clumps to create a special butterfly garden.  Keep extra herbs like Carrot, Parsley and Dill in a butterfly garden area to create a safe place for the caterpillars to feed, and as a depository for them if you find them in your herb patch.

Happy gardening!


When to Apply Spring Broadleaf Weed Control

Broadleaf Plantain1 When to Apply Spring Broadleaf Weed Control

What are Broadleaf Weeds and How do I Control Them?

Broadleaf Weed Control is usually a liquid application, and one that targets the growth of plants like the Broadleaf Plantain that is shown above, killing it quickly after contact.  This Broadleaf Weed Control is specifically designed to kill weeds like Plantains, Dandelions, Thistles, Wild Violet, Ground Ivy, and the like without impacting the average lawn.  What a Broadleaf weed killer will not kill is grass, or any grassy variety of weed like Quackgrass, Crabgrass, and Goosegrass.

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17 Spring Blooming Perennials, Evergreens, and Bulbs

There can be a gap in blooming time between the blooms of Tulips and Daffodils, and your common summer perennials, so these are seventeen of my favorite mid-spring bloomers that help bridge the blossom gap in the garden and keep color moving through your yard.  If you need a pop of color to tide you over before it gets warm, try your hand at growing one of these!

 17 Spring Blooming Perennials, Evergreens, and Bulbs

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When To Apply Spring Pre-Emergent

Broadleaf Plantain1 When To Apply Spring Pre Emergent

Seasonal weed seeds begin sprouting in late February and early March when the rest of the lawn is still dormant.  If you are a lawn purist the appearance of these seasonal weeds can be a little depressing right at the beginning of the season, but remember that with careful planning, and a schedule of treatment, you can get control of your lawn before the heat of the summer sets in.


The best time to lay pre-emergent is in March and April, although it depends on your climate and altitude.  Pre-emergent by it’s definition is designed to be applied to the lawn as it is just waking up from winter dormancy.  Once it is applied to the lawn it forms a 30 day plus chemical barrier on the soil line that prevents the germination of weed seeds, or lawn and flower seeds.  It must be applied as the soil is warming up to be the most useful.  Pre-emergent does not kill weeds that have already emerged, or those that have already put down roots and established themselves.  Pre-emergent also will prevent the growth of grass seed at the soil line, so it is best used to control weeds several weeks before you intend to patch the lawn with grass seed.

When to Apply:

If your zone thaws and begins showing fresh grass growth in March and April, then you should apply Pre-emergent in March.  If you see new growth in April and May, then you should apply Pre-emergent in April.  Always try to stay one step ahead of the weeds in your yard, and and earlier application is usually best as opposed to one that is applied when the weeds seeds are already emerging. Don’t waste the chemical by applying before the ground is fully thawed, or when frost is still a common occurrence, the only effect you will achieve here is expensive rain run-off out of your yard, and into the sewage system.

Photo Courtesy of: Shandchem

The Strawberry Bush

IMG 3374 The Strawberry Bush

This hot pink and orange shocker is a North American native shrub grazed by Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Deer, Wood Thrush, and Wild Turkey.  It is so startlingly different from what the first Europeans to New England were familiar with, that it was purposely cultivated by colonists for shipment back to their countries of origin.  The colonists nicknamed the shrub “Hearts-a-Bursting,” and naturalists claim that the Native Americans at the time used it’s roots to make a homeopathic tea that treated things like stomach and urinary problems, and a prolapsed uterus.

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Iron Deficiencies In The Garden

IMG 3384 1024x768 Iron Deficiencies In The Garden

Fall is a great time to check your plants for overall health.  As the leaves start falling I want you to keep on the lookout for under-preforming plants like this azalea, with faded leaves and deep green veins. The weeks before deciduous plants begin to shut down for the season are some the the best times to preform a healthy check on your shrubs and trees.  This particular Azalea has a common problem that’s easy to spot this time of year, iron deficiency.

Iron Deficiency:

Iron deficiency occurs in high alkaline soil. The high Ph of the soil binds Iron in the soil, and prevents plants from absorbing it and creating chlorophyll, and passively prohibits photosynthesis.  Severe cases of Iron deficiency will cause leaves to go from faded green with green veins to a solidly bright yellow color, before dropping off the bush. It is a condition that can be exacerbated by over fertilization, or by very wet and swampy conditions, so knowing the area around your plant is important in diagnosing the case of the problem.

Iron deficiencies occur most commonly in acid loving plants like Camellias, Azaleas, and fruiting vines and trees, so if you prefer to grow many of these you will want to check them periodically for iron problems.


The quickest way to correct an iron deficiency is through an application of any common garden fertilizer to the drip line of the effected plants, or an application of liquid iron. Fertilizers with slow release control to them are best, and although a liquid iron application will provide immediate results, they quickly fade out with rain, and a more long term solution is necessary. The easiest long term solution for improving your garden shrubs health is by applying a leaf mold, homemade compost, or bagged manure to the garden bed, and mulching over it for the winter.

Iron deficiency can damage or kill your garden shrubs if it is not eliminated, so check your shrubs and trees over as you complete you fall garden tasks and set yourself up for better success with in the spring!

The Facts About Mushrooms In The Lawn

Mushroom The Facts About Mushrooms In The Lawn

If there’s one thing lawn purists don’t want to find in their yard it’s mushrooms!  These fungal frustrations crop up in all types of grass, and can stand out like sore thumbs in a lush green lawn.  There are two schools of thought on mushrooms and whether you should seek to control them or not, so here are the facts you need to know about mushrooms to decide how to handle them in your yard.

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Deer Control With Polypropylene Netting

Pansies With Netting Deer Control With Polypropylene Netting

Deer are a problem in many gardens, but one way to stop their costly dining habits in your yard is by selectively netting over the most tasty tidbits as a means of protection. Netting is a one-time fix, and comes in several types of sizes and makes, to repel everything from mammals to birds. The best forms of netting that keep animals out and your flowers still visible is polypropylene  mesh netting.

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Moss In The Lawn

IMG 3390 e1288671760963 Moss In The Lawn

Moss is a common problem in shade filled lawns, and if your yard has this problem then the question you need to ask isn’t so much “How do I get rid of it,” but “Why is it here in the first place?”

Moss is one of the dinosaurs of the horticultural world.  It’s a plant that has been around since the first plants came into being, and as a result it’s needs are very basic. Moss isn’t really as much a problem plant as it is an indicator of what is really going on at the soil line in your yard and garden.  Moss will appear if your soil is compacted, features a low ph, a lack of direct sunlight, and a lack of organic material. It thrives in rocky spots, moist and poorly drained spots, and impenetreble, hard-pan, construction-grade soil.

One of the first things you need to do when you have a Moss problem is to really examine the location it’s living in and see if the soil you currently have is capable of supporting another type of plant.  Are your issues simply poor soil and drainage?  Do you have a shady lot?  And lastly, are your plans for your yard the antithesis of what is naturally sustainable? Do yourself a favor and tackle those questions in order.

Ways to Improve Your Soil:

“Soil” may not even exist in your yard yet.  The honest truth is that if you have a moss problem, you may only have “dirt” in your yard.  The best way to create a more hospitable environment for lawn grass, or garden plants is to incorporate organic material into your soil.

  • Core Aerate Rent a core aerator from your local home improvement store, or call a contractor to do this for you.  Use the aerator in a checkerboard fashion across your yard to ensure that you uniformly loosen the soil and create pockets across your yard for water, air, and soil to mix in.
  • Use a Mulching Lawn Mower Moss In The Lawn if you are not already, and work composting into your yard’s maintenance program.  Composting is the cheapest and best thing you can do with your yard after core aeration.  It’s a free process that doesn’t take too  much time, and will produce rich organic soil for the lawn that you can rake in, and completely renovate your yard.
  • Add quality organic material to your lawn.  Whether it is through composting, or more costly bagged material from the garden center, if you have moss in your yard you need to improve your soil. Use soil in tandem with aeration and raking, and expect to repeat the process every other season to allow the nutrients to be absorbed into the soil, and change the composition of it.  With hard pan soil this process will need to be repeated for several years if you want to grow flowers or lawn in the moss covered area.

Multiple treatments of Lime powder are often prescribed for Moss problems, but these aren’t guarnteed to fix the problem because the real problem isn’t just the Moss or the lower ph, but the soil’s inability to support the grass you are repeatedly sowing. Lime is one natural chemical that does have beneficial uses in the garden for raising the ph, and making nutrients more available, but it won’t solve the whole situation for you. If you’re looking for a Moss free yard you first need to ammend your soil to build it up, and as a result of that you will end up with a far healthier lawn that will automatically lose the moss as a better balance is achieved between the organic material, necessary metals, and nutrients.

Pollard Trees: When To Schedule Pruning

Pollard Pollard Trees: When To Schedule Pruning

Pollarding has been in practice for centuries, and it is an effective way to prune trees into a limited and defined shape and growth pattern every year.

Pollarding is the complete pruning of all growth back to the main branch, and the removal of the entire canopy of a tree at one time.  Knowing the correct timeframe to complete the maintenance is necessary to protect the tree from vulnerability to pests, disease, and even sunburn!

When to Pollard:

Pollarding should be completed in the fall months, when the tree is shutting down for the winter and moving into dormancy.  Fall pruning does several things, it eliminates the fall photosynthesis process effectively shutting the tree down for the season, and prepares the tree for quick shoot growth in the spring.  The cooler weather, and shorter days of fall also protect the newly exposed trunk and branches from sunscald, which would cause several kinds of damage in the long term, and a shedding of its bark in the short term.  The fall weather is also when insects are dying off, migrating, or beginning to hibernate, so the exposed branches and fresh wounds on the tree don’t open the tree up to damage from disease and pests that the same wounds would cause in the spring and summer.

Why to Pollard Your Tree:

Trees must be Pollarded forever if they have been pruned in that fashion even once before.  A pollarded tree no longer has a growth pattern to support the weight of all of its branches for the long term.  Shoot growth, and water spouts that spring out from the tree’s surgical cuts in the spring of the year are thin and rapidly growing, but vastly different from branching growth, and they will grow to choke the tree eventually, or simply begin braking off en mass if they are left un-treated.

Pollarding is an old European method of pruning that has a long history, and while it can be a strain on the tree, it does have its uses, and can be beneficial for the tree over it’s natural life span.  Pollarding is a costly expense, and should be carried out by a certified Tree Surgeon or Arborist each year, so it is not a program to begin unless you are confindent of your ability to provide the right maintenance for the tree over the length of time that you live in your house.

How Do I Know If A Tree Has Been Pollarded?

If you’ve purchased a new house but are unsure if you now own a Pollarded tree, check out my checklist list on how to determine if your tree has been Pollarded or not!

Photo Courtesy of: wfbakker2