Date and Place Correction – Learn with Us

Editor’s Note: The Durham Garden Forum lecture for June will take place on June 25, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Richard White Lecture Hall on Duke’s East Campus. There is no lecture this Tuesday at Duke Gardens as previously posted here.

Life Favors Conditions That Favor Life – Durham Garden Forum

Tuesday, June 25, 7:00 – 8:30pmRichard White Lecture Hall, East Campus, Duke University. – Note Date and Place Change for the June meeting.

Description: Life Favors Conditions That Favor Life
Jan Little, director of education & public programs Duke Gardens

Current research has documented the tangible benefits provided by nature – including a conclusion that living near natural areas offers benefits to individuals equal to a $20,000 a year raise! Join us to discuss those benefits
and how nature, in our backyard and in our communities, offers a significant impact.

The Richard White Lecture Hall is the second building on the right as you enter Campus Drive from Main Street. There is some street parking available on Campus Drive. A larger parking lot is available in the back of the Epworth building which can be accessed from Buchanan Blvd across from W Trinity Ave.

Lectures free to members, $10 general public
No Preregistration necessary

Core Aeration of Lawns

by Carl J. Boxenberger, EMGV

Core aeration is a process by which cores or plugs of soil and thatch are removed from the lawn. Core aeration is done by a machine with hollow tines.

Soils that are prone to heavy traffic are subject to compaction. Core aeration reduces soil compaction by removing plugs of soil which opens up a channel in the lawn and allows water, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate down in the soil.

Core aeration should be done when the grass is actively growing. Fall is the time to core aerate cool season lawns such as tall fescue. Spring and early summer is the time to core aerate warm season grasses such as Bermudagrass.

Gardener operating soil aeration machine on grass lawn. Stock Photo c Mikhail Pavlenko

Core aeration equipment with hollow tines can be rented at local equipment rental companies.  There are also professional turf maintenance companies that will aerate your lawn if you do not want to tackle this by yourself.

Run the aeration equipment over your lawn to remove soil cores. Chop up the cores by running a lawn mower over them. If you have a large lawn and a tractor, you can distribute the cores by dragging a piece of chain link fence or mat over them.

Core aerate a few days after a rain. This will have allowed the soil to drain. If you pull plugs when the soil is wet they will form wet clods of soil alongside the aeration holes and actually inhibit air infiltration into the soil, defeating the purpose of aeration.

Further Reading

NC State Extension Turf Files:

News alert about zoysiagrass mite damage

Hallo Rabbit

by Andrea Laine, EMGV

A juvenile Eastern Cottontail (common name: wild rabbit) calls my garden home. He’s bigger than four inches yet well under 12.5 inches, the low end for an adult rabbit.

Rabbits build their nest in low, dense vegetation … like this stand of Eastern Columbine marching down my perennial bed (see photo). I’ve not seen the nest, but I always see the rabbit in this general area and when s/he senses my presence s/he jumps into the thicket of columbine. You may not think of columbine as making a thicket, but my plants have reseeded so profusely that that is precisely what it looked like in April.  

A “thicket” of Columbine. Photo by A. Laine

The first couple of times I startled the rabbit, s/he dashed into the columbine (Aquilegia spp.) so swiftly that I heard but did not see it. I suspected a rabbit, but all I had to go on was a swoosh of plant leaves and the crunch of dried leaves underfoot. I spent a lot of time in my garden this spring, and eventually s/he stopped jumping away. While I went about my business of putting in new plants or pruning established shrubs, s/he was cautiously content munching on the leaves of a big patch of creeping jenny (Lysimachia N. Aurea). I have a lot of it so, I didn’t worry. I have a lot of columbine, too, so I wasn’t concerned about one bunny living in and feeding on it either. As a precaution, I sprayed the hostas with a commercial rabbit deterrent. I didn’t think to spray the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ I planted in March and which was looking really good until suddenly it wasn’t. Now I know that succulent plants provide rabbits with water. Glad(?) I could help.

Creeping Jenny in background, Columbine in foreground, Eastern Cottontail in center.
Photo by A. Laine

A common food for the Eastern Cottontail is blackberry but s/he hasn’t touched any of mine. It seems s/he preferred some young phlox (gone) and a new aster. The hardy begonia also mysteriously disappeared. Hardy – ha!

I became more diligent with the commercial rabbit deterrent spray and soon after I realized that the rabbit was the least of my garden critter worries and probably not the cause of my disappearing phlox and begonia, nor damaged sedum. I noticed a vole hole. Ugh!  My gardening season is off to a rough start.

More on voles in an upcoming post.

Sources & Further Reading

I’ve heard rabbit stew jokes aplenty, but hunting season doesn’t begin til November 17.

Learn With Us, week of June 1

Shade Gardening

Saturday, June 1⋅10:00 – 11:00am For Garden’s Sake 9197 NC-751, Durham, NC 27713

Description: Successful SHADE GARDENING is a necessary concern to many in our area who haven’t access to “all sun – all the time”. Topics addressed will be varieties of flowers, shrubs, vegetables and grasses that do well in shady areas to include their propagation and nutrient requirements. The essentials of soil and water as well as the unique concerns of shade-driven diseases and pests will also be covered. Free/Registration required To register, email or call 919-484-9759

Painless Perennials – Durham Garden Center

Saturday, June 8⋅10:00 – 11:00am Durham Garden Center 4536 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705

Description: PAINLESS PERENNIALS will address seasonal selections of reliable plants to keep your garden colorful from Spring through Fall and into next year. Topics will cover deer resistant plants for both your sunny or shady garden as well as attracting pollinators. Soils, sun and water requirements, in-ground and container varieties and basic pruning and propagation are also on the agenda. Free/Registration required Contact: 919-384-7526 or Sign up at the store, online or by phone. Include the seminar title and full name(s) of persons attending

Garden Calendar: To Do in June

by Gary Crispell, EMGV

“June is bustin’ out all over.” And apparently it is going to be HOT. Are y’all ready?  After a relatively benign summer last year this one is looking like a scorcher already. My potted annuals on the deck want a serious drink every other day and I had to put a soaker hose in the four by eight-foot veggie garden box. So, even though it means getting out of the AC there are things to do outside. (Just get up earlier. Beauty sleep is a myth.) Think of going outside as detoxifying through sweat.

Lawn Care

If you have heretofore procrastinated on this item it is TIME to fertilize warm season grasses (i.e. Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine). It is also the best (and really only) time to fertilize Centipede. The general recommendation is for a half pound 15-0-14 or equivalent per 1000 square feet. Should you desire to be truly accurate – GET a FREE SOIL TEST.

It would be difficult to core aerate our clayey soils too much, so a day or two after a rain (like any day this spring) or a good irrigation would be an ideal time do just that.

When mowing warm season grasses a good rule-of-thumb is to remove one-third of the new growth per mowing.

If you have been drooling over your neighbor’s Zoysia lawn, June is a good time to start your own with sod or plugs.

After getting your FREE SOIL TEST in order to avoid over fertilizing, now is the time to feed your dogwoods following the recommendations.

Vegetable gardens would like a side dressing of fertilizer about now to maximize production.

Again, for the procrastinators out there, if you want a crop this year better get these plants (too late for seeds) in the ground ASAP: tomatoes, peppers, black-eyed peas, lima beans, green & wax beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.

Start (from seed) Brussel sprouts & collards to set out in mid-July.

Coniferous evergreens (they produce seeds in cones) like pines, cedars, junipers, arborvitaes, etc. may be pruned now.

Hedges can be pruned now but be advised do not remove more than a third of the total plant top (the green part.)

Keep pinching your garden mums until mid-July.

Hydrangea macrophylla (the ones with the BIG leaves) can be pruned when the flowers fade.

Azaleas may be pruned until July 4. (An “old wives tale” that works.)

Dieback in ericaceous plants (acid-loving) such as azalea, rhododendron, Pieris, etc. can be pruned out now. Remember to cut below the damage and to sterilize the pruner with 10% bleach between cuts.

Pest Control and Herbicides
Patrol your shrubs for the following likely suspects: lace bugs, leaf miners, spider mites, aphids and bag worms. Use appropriate measures to curtail their destructive tendencies. If the bag worms have already bagged themselves you will have to hand pick them and destroy them in any manner you see fittin’.

June is also the beginning of the Asian invasion better known as Japanese beetles.  There is a myriad of treatment options.

Tomato early blight could be rampant this year what with all the warm dampness.  Watch for dark spots on the leaves and treat with an appropriate fungicide. There are some good organics on the market.

June is a good month to eradicate poison ivy, kudzu and honeysuckle. Get ‘em with an appropriate herbicide while they are rapidly growing.

As with shrubs it is time to be on guard in the garden. Several (many?) insects are looking for gourmet gardens to satisfy their gastronomic inclinations. Look for a variety of worms on cruciferous veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), cucumber beetles on cucumbers (ironically), squash borers on other cucurbits-squash and melons, flea beetles on green beans, tomatoes and eggplant, and aphids on anything green.

Continue with regular pest-management programs on bunch grapes, fruit trees and roses.

Use pesticides wisely, sparingly and only when necessary. Always read the label and follow directions.

Other Fun Garden Stuff to Keep You Outside
Water lawns as necessary but try to do it early in the day to avoid evaporative loss.  Watering a lawn in the evening promotes disease. Lawns and gardens need about one inch of water per week either from natural sources or irrigation. 

Strawberry beds can be renovated now.

It is also a marvelous time to sit on the deck or patio with a glass of your favorite cold beverage and enjoy your garden.