FARGO — What type of lawn care provider are you? Do you mow only when you need to find where you left the wheelbarrow? At the opposite end of the grassy spectrum, do you fret if your mowing pattern doesn't look precisely even, causing you to lay down with a cold compress until the stress passes? Or maybe like most of us, you just want your lawn green, dense and weed-free.
Classic humor bears repeating. How can you tell if a newly emerging, unidentified plant in your flower garden is a weed or your new high-priced perennial? Simply give it a tug. If it pulls out easily, it was the high-priced perennial. If it won't pull, it's a weed. If you check Scripture, God never said, "Let there be weeds." The definition of a weed is "any plant out of place." Did you know dandelion, quackgrass, purslane and most of the "plants out of place" that we battle weren't originally here, but were instead imported into the United States?
Q: I just had to report that after planting milkweed two years ago, it has successfully attracted at least three monarch caterpillars this summer. Just doing my part to help the monarch butterfly! — BeAnn Canton, West Fargo.
Can you guess what gardening question I hear most frequently? At the top of the list is "What can I do about rabbits?" followed by preventing tomato blight and the best times to prune. Not far down the garden question list: "Is it too late to plant?" The last question is easier to solve than the rabbit dilemma. Just ask Elmer Fudd, especially since an elderly gentleman running through the neighborhood waving a shotgun after Bugs Bunny is no longer considered appropriate behavior.
FARGO — Have you noticed I never refer to our region's growing conditions as harsh, severe, challenging or any other negative adjectives, as though we're the last outpost on the way to the Arctic Circle? That's because our gardening region is positively wonderful, with more than enough flowers, vegetables and fruits to occupy anyone's gardening lifetime.
Q: I kept my dipladenia indoors over winter, and as you said it would, it dropped many leaves but overall remained healthy. I repotted it in May and the plant looks great with healthy leaves but no flowers yet. Is this typical or should I be adding anything to boost flower production? I use Miracle-Gro weekly. — Nicole Welsch.
Our gardening discussions give us a chance for lighthearted, upbeat fun each week, but it's difficult to put a humorous spin on a tree that's headed for that big landscape in the sky. Around this time five years ago, our gardening column, "The mystery of the murdered tree," investigated visible injury to the base of tree trunks. Now, five years later, I decided to revisit one of the trees we photographed at the time, to see if the tree recovered from its wounds.
Q: Do you know what kind of shrub this is? The flowers are beautiful, and the bees are enjoying the blooms. It's about five to six feet tall and was trimmed back in the fall of 2016. — Sarah Adams, Moorhead, Minn. A: Botany is a tremendous help when identifying shrubs, trees, and other plants. Clues that distinguish plants include leaf arrangement along the stems, whether attached directly opposite or in an alternating pattern, as well as stem characteristics, leaf shape and flower traits.
FARGO — Old names have certainly circled back into popularity, and according to recent lists, garden-related names are back in style, too, like Violet, Dahlia, Ivy, Lily, Rose and Daisy. I guess no one wants to name their baby Chrysanthemum. I was surprised, however, that Iris didn't make the list of baby names. I've met some fine Irises over the years, both human and botanical.
FARGO — It sounds like an interesting riddle: When is a pine cone not a pine cone? The answer: When it's growing on a spruce. In last week's Fielding Questions, I missed a great opportunity to mention the importance of differentiating between evergreens, which resulted in spruce cones being called pine cones. If you recall, we were discussing the heavy cone production on a transplanted spruce tree. In the original question, the cones were generically referred to as pine cones, as all cones are often nicknamed, and I replied simply used the word "cones."