Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plant Doctor

I was walking around the yard this evening checking to see what plants were ready to bloom next, when I noticed the tall garden phlox was looking sickly. The leaves were an odd shade of pale green with splotches of yellow. The edges of the leaves were sorta curled as well. I gave the plants a closer inspection and to my horror, discovered these tiny orange and brown insects covering a large portion of each plant. I immediately came in and searched on the internet for "phlox + insects" and the first thing that pops up is a photo of the nasty things out in my garden! Now you may think I'm silly for being shocked at finding insects in my flower beds. But I can honestly say in my twenty-five or so years of gardening I have never had a pest problem. So this was a bit of a shock.

The "phlox plant bug" aka. lopidea davisi Knight.

Species in the genus Lopidea are fairly species-specific plant feeders. They tend to feed on leaves, stem terminals, and flowers and seeds. The bugs often form dense populations and cause spotting and death of the foliage. Lopidea davisi is considered a pest on cultivated phlox in the eastern United States. As early as 1925 it became a serious pest of cultivated phlox in Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, and West Virginia. It breeds on wild phlox, but it may fly to cultivated varieties nearby. Unlike most other Lopidea species, it has two generation per year. The phlox plant bug passes the winter in the egg stage in dead phlox stems. A spring generation appears in May and June. The summer generation appears in July and lasts to late September. The bugs suck sap from the phlox foliage, causing the leaves to turn brown, curl, dry out, and drop.

The phlox plant bug is known to occur in the eastern United States from Maryland and West Virginia in the east to South Dakota, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Mississippi in the midwest. This insect is about 5.5 mm long. It's black and orange aposematic (warning) coloration suggests that it might be toxic or at least distasteful to predators.

Luckily for me and unfortunately for the plant bugs, insecticidal soap (1-2 tablespoons of liquid soap to 1 quart of water) is quick & easy to make and should take care of the little buggers! I gave them a good shower tonight and will keep a close eye out for any survivors.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flower Bed Update

The past three days have been cloudy and cool but with little rain. The two main flower beds in the backyard are doing well but the potted annuals could use more sun. Below is the "center" bed.

Below is the newer, "side" bed. I am thinking about removing the old dog kennel as I no longer need it. It's not very attractive either.

The honeysuckle on the back fence will be blooming in about a week's time. This is the old fashioned yellow & white variety which smells absolutely wonderful.

Also, the peregrine falcon chicks on the Woodmen Tower in Omaha are growing fast! Check them out here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's Flowering?

I went out this evening and took a few photos of the shrubs, vines and perennials that are currently flowering.

Bridal-wreath Spirea





Shasta Daisy


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Hungry Mouth

A young Robin waiting for its parents to return with lunch.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Downpour

I came home early from work today hoping to get the lawn mowed in between sprinkles. But before I could even get the mower out of the garage, the clouds darkened to the point the street lights came on. Soon after, the rain was coming down in sheets. There was even a little bit of hail mixed in.

The fish are oblivious to the rain. But it's was so dark at 10:30 in the morning, they probably wondered where the day went.

This was taken through the front door. The street gutter in front of the house was running full.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Last Wisteria Post

I just adore this vine! I love walking under the branches and sniffing the flowers. I enjoy watching the bees climbing over the flowers. I listen to them buzzing around my head as they collect the pollen and the phrase... "busy as bees", comes to mind. These will be the last photos I post though. I'm devoted enough space to this one plant.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Today the dogs and I took a little road trip to visit Indian Cave State Park. It is only 22 miles from my home and is nestled in the bluffs along side the Missouri River. I used to go there to hike the trails just about every weekend when I had my Golden Lab and German Shepard. I was surprised that the little dogs enjoyed the trail hike. I didn't have to carry Banjo one single step. He kept up with Bijou the entire way.

Here are a few of the wildflowers we saw along the way.

At the Cave, there were hundreds of these little ferns.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wisteria Update

From afar.

Up close.

The flowers have a pleasant, but faint aroma. You must stick your nose right in a bunch of flowers in order to smell it. The honey bees were working it over yesterday. The bumble bees are today.

Edited at 5:30pm - Today's temp reached 80*. The heat seemed to bring out more of the flower's scent as I could smell them while walking around at that end of the yard. They smell similar to lilacs.


Here's an intersting "condo" birdhouse I got last weekend at the flea market.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Some Changes

The garden is evolving, as it does throughout the year. But these are exciting changes! The wisteria is starting to bloom. These photos were taken just a few minutes ago.


I put together this little planter over the weekend. The base was left over from a bird bath. The top no longer holds water. I spent a recent Saturday searching for a bowl that would fit the base. I think it turned out well. It would look even better if I had got the bowl centered on the base. I just love these plants. They are so accommodating.


One last photo from today.

A columbine.