“Paraskevidekatriaphobics” — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th should not try gardening today. But, if you can pronounce this word, put on your garden hat and gloves and do whatever you want without fear of something bad happening.
On the other hand, rather than taking this cavalier attitude too far, maybe you should wear sunscreen and keep a bottle of water handy and take breaks in the shade as often as possible. In other words, sometimes “to err on the side of caution” is a wise thing to do.
In spite of failing miserably at pronouncing the “Para…” word, I will attempt to answer a couple of questions that I received this past week:
Q: Delores wrote, “I am so baffled when I get up in the morning. Something is chewing off the leaves of my Hosta plant. Not eating them though. I can't figure out what little pest is doing that and what can I do to stop them.”
A: It sounds like deer or rabbits are around your place. Certain types of hosta are a favorite of both critters. Also, they are nocturnal munchers. Try fencing off the hosta in the evening using a temporary barrier-type fencing just around the plant, and then see if the munching stops.
Rabbits will bite off the leaf, eat a bit and then leave the rest. Probably the more tender, juicier part of the leaf is what they want. People have used all sorts of remedies, but fencing is usually the only sure way to stop marauding rabbits and deer.
Q: Anne wrote, “I need your advice about planting a pot of Oriental lilies that I purchased. The fragrance was so lovely that I had the pot in the house so I could appreciate the plant up close as all the blossoms opened. Now they are finished and dropping their petals. Should I plant now, and just let the foliage die off naturally, leave it potted to die, and then plant in the fall? I know this is a perennial and hope to do what is best considering our really dry conditions.”
A: I gave Anne a quick answer that was not as complete as it should have been. I said, “Yes, it is OK to plant them now or in the fall.” A better answer would have been, “Yes, let the foliage die back, then plant the bulbs in the fall.”
Then I should have added, “When you do, choose a place that is in full sun but is also going to give the plant some protection during the hottest part of the day. Amend the soil with compost and dig a hole that is three times the height of the bulb. It is a good idea to know how tall your lily will be because there are many Oriental lilies available, and they vary in height. Some grow to be as tall as 7 feet, some only 12 to 24 inches. Knowing which plant you will be planting will help maintain a balance in your flowerbed.”
Finally, concerning our drought conditions, “If this dry weather continues into fall, once you've planted the bulbs, be sure to keep the site moist, not soggy, and add a layer of mulch to help hold in the moisture.”
If you are reading today, Anne, hopefully this more complete answer will help you and other readers who may have the same question.