Monday, April 19, 2010

Lilacs, Viburnum, Aphids, and Lady bugs

The lovely Lilacs are in full bloom, wafting their aroma throughout the garden. Until seventy five years ago the world was primarily agrarian and with it came the natural odors of animal waste, poor sanitation, and stifling heat. Traditionally planted outside windows, the dependable and sweet-scented Lilac has been a favorite for hundreds of years. The lilac was the basis for colognes, aftershave, and bath oils; the flowers were dried and used for freshening linens. There is nothing quite as lovely as an extraordinary bouquet of freshly picked Lilacs to brighten the house.

Another early garden favorite is the marvelous Viburnum. Available in many forms and colors, perfect as a single specimen or gathered together in groups, the Viburnum is a necessary addition to any landscape. A member of the Honeysuckle family, the tree-like shrub is native to North America, Europe, and Asia, making it a naturalized global species. Their white or pink flowers appear in clusters as large as a tennis ball and deepen in color as they open. The flowers appear early in the spring before all of the dark and heavily ribbed leaves have matured completely, making them one of the first seasonal feasts for the bees. The scent is sweetly enchanting, almost delicious, as it wafts through the garden carried by the winds. When planting a new shrub, remember that the first year it sleeps, the second it creeps, and the third it will leap!

The aphids arrived last week, appearing in the surrounding wheat fields and the garden simultaneously; they seem unfazed by the cold. These nasty little green bugs suck the life out of vegetation which is exactly the reason they arrive this time of year when the garden is tender. If one is considering a natural solution to the problem of aphids, it is noteworthy to mention that the favorite food of the darling Ladybug happens to be aphids! A large order of 72,000 ravenous Ladybugs may be purchased at about $70.00. Last year our order arrived in two days suspended in cloth bag in small pallet of wood. Refrigerated until evening to keep them calm, at dusk we began sprinkling the dormant Ladybugs on the heavily infested plants. Initially they seemed lifeless but upon release they began moving…. and eating! Since each ladybug will eat 50 times her weight a day, the Aphids in our garden were eliminated without the use of harmful pesticides.

Some of our darlings took up permanent residency here and I see them hard at work this year. Sometimes money is well spent!

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