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Digging in the Dirt

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Digging in the Dirt last won the day on May 8 2014

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About Digging in the Dirt

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  1. When the leaves started to fall this year, my neighbor found that someone was busy this summer building a hive in his tree. I told him that I would take a few pictures of the hive and post them out here to see if anyone knows what may have made it. The hive is about 15 feet off the ground and is approximately 2 foot around (maybe a little smaller). My neighbor is not sure whether to take it down or not. The hive is basically 15 feet above the sidewalk in front of his house, but no one noticed any increased insect activity around the tree this summer. He doesn't want to just automatically knock it down if there are beneficial insects still in the hive, but on the other hand, he doesn't want to leave it if the insects pose a danger to his kids or others. Thanks for any help you can give me on this.
  2. I think it's time to go buy some annuals because the butterflies just keep coming, but none of my flowers want to open yet. The chives and bachelor button are getting close, but they just won't open up. Oh well, it's nice to see the buterflies again.
  3. Over the past week or so, I have noticed quite a few different butterflies flying through our backyard. We have quite a few tulips up, and the color is probably pulling the butterflies in, but not many (if any at all) of my spring plants that are blooming have any nectar, so the butterflies end up leaving. The plant closest to blooming in my garden, and the plant that one of the butterflies kept landing on was my perennial bachelor button. The flower heads are formed, but not quite ready to open. I know it's early in the growing season, so I know that there won't be to many plants that start blooming by Mothers Day, but does anyone have any suggestions for early blooming flowers that have some nectar that the butterflies can use. Thanks.
  4. Thanks for the reply Dsmith74. I went out online and read that groundhogs are active during the day, and are for the most part shy and afraid of people. If that is true, I would have to bet that this groundhog just moved into our neighborhood, and he will probably move out just as fast because of all the activity on my street (I hope). Every morning, he will have to dodge golf balls (my neighbor still believes that he can make the cut of a PGA event), while all throughout the day, avoiding everyone taking walks or walking their dogs, the kids playing everywhere when school is over, and the gardeners and their pets out in their backyards. However, the groundhog seemed pretty comfortable in the wood pile...
  5. I was outside the other day, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught something fairly large run around my neighbors house. I grabbed my camera and ran to the other side of my neighbors house to find this little guy poking his head out of my neighbors wood pile. I stood by my neighbors gate with my camera at the ready, but as soon as he would poke his head out, he saw me and ducked back into the wood pile. We played this cat and mouse game for about 20 minutes, and at that point, I think he just decided to take a nap because he stopped poking his head out. Of course my neighbor is out of town and his fence is locked, so I left him alone for now. This little guy was quite camera shy. I have an easier time taking a picture of my three year old niece, and let me tell you, that's no small feat to get a picture of her. This is the best I could do. The critter is in the center of the picture by the weeds. Thanks for any help you can give me.
  6. Hi Nancy, A few years ago I planted a lavender plant in the front of my flower garden. The only way it could stay in the front was to give it a hard haircut every year. At first I was a little nervous to give it a hard haircut, but I remembered reading once that Janet said if you cut a shrub down because it's to big, and it dies, you haven't lost anything but a plant that couldn't live by your rules. Since my wife wanted the lavender in the front of the flower garden, a hard haircut was my only choice. This is now the third year I have given our lavender a hard haircut, and it's growing back just fine from the bottom of the plant. Even with the hard haircut, we still get lots of flowers and to be honest, by early June, you won't even be able to tell I gave the plant a haircut. Maybe my plant has an extraordinary will to want to live, and not all lavender plants are as tough as mine, but I assume that they are so I think you should be safe giving your lavender a haircut.
  7. Last November, my neighbor gave me a plant (a red riding hood Penstemon) that they didn't want. Since it was late November, I really didn't want to take the plant out of it's original pot and plant it, so Carolm came up with the idea of planting the plant pot and all into the ground, then mulching it well. It worked like a charm and the plant came back as if it had been planted years ago. I almost don't want to dig it up and move it Thanks again.
  8. Thanks for the replies Dsmith74 and Deb Green. I went out online, and it sure looks like what I found are praying mantis egg cases. When I found the egg cases, I cut off a good section of the butterfly bush branch, then stuck the branch into a container, and put them on my front porch. I read that it's really difficult to tell when the praying mantis babies hatch because the egg case does not change appearance in any way. They went on to say that you should attach the egg case to a twig or branch about a foot or two off the ground where there will be cover for the praying mantis babies when the hatch. However, since I don't have any plants that far out of the ground yet, I guess I will take the butterfly bush branches out of the container, and put them back into my flower garden for now. Thanks again for your replies.
  9. I was hoping that some of the old wood on my butterfly bushes survived the winter, but I finally gave up and cut them back last weekend. I found a few of these cocoon's/chrysalis on my butterfly bushes, and I'm not quite sure what they are. I went out online and it looks like the chrysalis of most butterflies are longer and narrower, so I don't think it's a butterfly, but I'm not sure. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
  10. All I can say is that it must of been a hard winter for the squirrels, and they are more than ready to eat. I am at war with a couple of knuckleheads (black squirrels) that can't seem to learn that they don't like the taste of tulips. They bite the head off the tulip, take one bite, spit it out, then move to another group of tulips and do the same thing. I was talking to my neighbor when the squirrels came into my yard and started biting the heads off again. My neighbor gave me some left over liquid fence from last year, and it seems to be working. I haven't lost a tulip head in several days, so the squirrels are safe for now. However, just like Roz warned Mike Wozowski, I warned my two knuckleheads that I'll be watching you, always watching you. They looked at me, smiled, then merrily skipped off to destroy someone else's flower garden...
  11. Does anyone know how well Canna grows if they are started in pots and then transplanted out into the garden, instead of waiting to plant until all danger of frost has past? I'm not sure which variety I have (I received the Canna from a friend), but the leaves are a very dark green, they have a light red flower, and grow to about 5 feet tall. Last year I ended up with quite a few plants that were just about ready to flower, then the cold weather hit and they never flowered. This year I thought that I might try to start them a little earlier, but I wasn't sure how well they transplant since I have always planted them into the ground right around Memorial Day. Thanks in advance for any information you can give me.
  12. Hi Michele, The swamp milkweed pulled in a few monarchs to nectar, but I scoured those plants with a fine tooth comb and have never seen a caterpillar yet. Janet told me not to give up, so they are staying in the garden for now. However, the tropical milkweed (asclepias curassavica) flowered all summer, and surprisingly continued to flower well into October. It was September and October when I really "noticed" the most Monarchs (not that we saw hundreds, but we did see more of them in the fall, than we did in the summer). All year long I deadheaded my butterfly bushes and was rewarded with new blooms that continued to flower until late October. I continued to see monarchs into mid October, with the last one spotted on October 20. I assume my backyard was one of the last areas in our neighborhood for the butterflies to nectar, and that is why we noticed the increase in butterflies in September and October? The one thing that I noticed, (and since the sample size is one, I guess it is not to scientific), was that out of all the butterflies that we tried to photogragh, the monarch was the most skittish around us. If we got within 10 feet of them, they flew off, circled the yard, then tried to come back once we were a good distance away. The black swallowtail was the hardest butterfly to photogragh because the little stinkers would not stop opening and closing their wings, and the red admiral was by far the friendliest butterfly of them all. I had several land on my shirt, my shoes, and it almost seemed like if we ignored them while trying to take pictures of the monarchs or black swallowtails, they would get mad, land right next to you, and expect their own private photo shoot even though we had hundreds of pictures of them already
  13. Over the last couple of years, we have been trying to attract butterflies to our garden. We have planted many types of milkweed to try to bring in monarchs, but last year, we brought in a new visitor to our backyard. They were only interested in the swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata), and as soon as the milkweed was done flowering, they were gone. Every once in a while, I would see one on the tropical milkweed, but they were few and far between. My question is should I be concerned about these insects? They didn't seem to be to aggressive when I took their picture, but we didn't start babysitting our niece until the end of the summer, so there wasn't that much activity in the backyard when they there. Thanks for any information you can give me on these.
  14. My wife and I started butterfly gardening a few years ago, and last year we were able to "raise" quite a few black swallowtail caterpillars on Fennel. Pictured below is Sandra Mary, Alyson Grace and Stripey, and yes my niece tried to name them all After talking to a few people, they told me one of the best plants to attract black swallowtail caterpillars was Rue, so last September I planted one. However, I wasn't sure if I should cut it back last fall, so I left it up all winter. This spring, I see lots of new growth at the bottom of the plant, and it looks like most of the branches have at least a little green on them. My question is should I cut the Rue back, or let it grow and see what happens? If I cut it back, will I lose this years flowers? Should I have cut it back last fall? Thanks
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