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:
Q: When I read your recent article about making Christmas centerpieces, I thought of some I've made and wish to share a photo of one that has a little story behind it. — Jack Fuller, West Fargo.
FARGO — You'd think gardeners who are passionate about their lawns, flowerbeds and landscapes would be weeping hysterically at season's end. But there's an unspoken gardening truth that we quietly acknowledge. We relish the growing season with gusto, but we're secretly OK with it pausing for a while. The key word is pause, not end. We might be resting from weeding, mulching and mowing, but our minds are already planning to make next year's tomato crop the best ever, and we need the eye-popping perennial we saw on last summer's garden tour.
Q: I'm being attacked by yellowjacket wasps every time I step out my door. I've set out traps that work especially well but have not found a hive. The trap uses a homemade recipe containing six ounces of vinegar, two tablespoons sugar and one teaspoon salt. I've emptied the trap several times, but there seems to be an unending amount. I'm concerned that they're attacking our huge apple crop. - Laura, Glyndon, Minn.
If we could identify gardening's golden age, what period in history would it be? The installation of the palace gardens at Versailles centuries ago? Or maybe the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar? No, it's today's gardens. Heck, they didn't even have Wave Petunias back then. We're living in an unprecedented age of plant availability. There's a never-before-heard-of quantity of new plant varieties that we can plant throughout the growing season. In the old days of bare-root trees and shrubs, planting was confined to spring and possibly fall.
Although I was born and raised in North Dakota, my grandparents on my dad's side lived in New Jersey, known as the Garden State. Gardening was a big part of their lives, and Grandfather Kinzler actually died in his vegetable garden. All in all, not a bad way to go. My grandparents taught me much about gardening. Many years ago, they gave me their favorite gardening book, which is now more than 80 years old, published in 1935 by garden author Roy Biles. The book is full of yard and garden wisdom, and it's amazing how valuable the advice remains today.
FARGO — You know you're a dyed-in-the-wool gardener if, when picking cucumbers, you triple check beneath every leaf so not a single cuke is left to over ripen. And when others are helping, you double check their work because they might not be thorough. You know you've got a case of gardening fever when you stay up half the night blanching broccoli that was at the perfect stage for picking, because tomorrow might be too late.
Has your mid-summer water bill skyrocketed from keeping flowerbeds and gardens well-moistened? Gardeners easily rationalize the expense. We don't buy caviar, and we don't winter on the French Riviera, so we're actually saving money while racking up a sky-high utility bill. Besides, the growing season is short so we may as well garden with gusto. Flower gardens, pots and planters are at a summer highpoint. Follow these guidelines to keep plants colorful for the season's second half. Annuals in containers
Q: Our Autumn Blaze Maple tree has greenish-red bumps on many of its leaves. Are these insect eggs that will hatch and eat the dickens out of the leaves, or is it a disease? What treatment is recommended? — Bruce Johannes, Fargo