FARGO — Do you enjoy watching what's happening around town? I don't mean peering out from behind the drapes to see what quality of furniture is being delivered to the neighbors. No, I'm referring to the beautiful plantings that grace people's homes, which are a visual gift to all who drive by.
Q: l thought you'd enjoy a picture of my mother's amaryllis. She's maintained several plants for many years. They are such a unique plant and flower. — Dawn Lelm
When I was younger and heard senior citizens talking about time passing ever more rapidly as they aged, I figured it was the Geritol talking. Now that I've become my parents, I've discovered it's true — the sand slips through the hourglass faster than a rabbit racing toward the fresh buds of a high-priced perennial. It's already been five years since our first Growing Together column was published March 30, 2013, and nearly that long for Fielding Questions. That's more than 500 columns that have passed through the hourglass.
Q: Last year powdery mildew spread across most of my garden including my pumpkin and squash patch. Do the spores overwinter in soil? Will turning soil help? Anything that should avoided at all costs? - Jeremy Haug, Grand Forks. A: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease easily identified by its gray-white coating that begins as small, irregular circles on foliage eventually enlarging to cover entire leaves. Powdery mildew fungi attack many plant species including lilac, ninebark, peony, rose and garden vine crops like pumpkin, squash, cucumber and melons.
Topics for our weekly garden column often originate from what's happening in our own gardening life. My wife, Mary, recently experienced the passing of her mother, Betty Schouviller. At the funeral, Mary received houseplants, a dish garden and a spring bulb garden among the many floral gifts. As we took the live plants home, it occurred to me that many people are similarly faced with how best to care for these houseplants after a funeral or a hospital stay.
Q: I saved several coleus plants from last summer's outdoor planters, and I've been growing them indoors this winter. I'd like to start cuttings from them so I'll have more coleus for spring planting, as they did so well on my shaded deck. I've heard it's easy to start cuttings in water. - M. Larson, Hillsboro, N.D. A: Coleus are fun and easy to start from cuttings, and it's also a great children's gardening project. Yes, coleus will root easily in a glass of water, and I've used that method frequently, but there's a better way.
FARGO — Gardeners experience a common conundrum. Each year seed companies fill catalogs with hot new flowers and vegetables, tempting gardeners away from varieties they've come to know and love. What's a gardener to do? Do we plant our favorite old reliables, or try eye-catching new varieties instead, especially if limited space doesn't allow both? New types might become our new and improved favorites, or an entire growing season could be wasted, wishing we had stuck with past preferences.
In a recent column about long-lived houseplants, I invited readers to share stories about their own older-than-average plants. Houseplants become part of the family, and responses came from states north, south, east and west as people were eager to tell their plant histories.
Q: I don't have a question, but I have to share this with someone and since you know plants, it is you. Last year for Valentine's Day I received an orchid plant from family members. It bloomed for months so I truly enjoyed it. When it was done blooming, I looked online for care and decided it was a lot of work, but since I can't bear to throw out a plant, I put it with my other plants. I watered it occasionally, but sparingly, because the pot had no drainage hole. It was the most neglected of plants.
FARGO — If anyone doubts gardeners are a happy bunch, just visit a garden center in May. Shoppers high with spring fever swarm greenhouses, giddy as they fill their carts with the fervor of a rabbit eating a fresh rhododendron. Claiming that gardening improves people's lives is a fine thing to say, but can it be proven? Texas A&M University assembled a list of gardening's positive life effects, and it's based on well-cited research. Following are their fascinating evidence-based findings: