Gardening by Ronella
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Jun 22, 2011 | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Having a flower garden with a great variety of flowers has more than one advantage. This mixture attracts fewer insects, pests and disease. Also you will find that roses scattered among these flowers are healthier. You are also more likely to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Some flowers in that varied garden such as marigolds repel insects. When the marigold flowers fade, cut the blooms and scatter the petals in the flower bed. You have probably noticed that some flowers never have insect problems. Those are usually the ones that give off a perfume that insects don’t like such as all the herbs and strong smelling Russian Sage and Artemesia. And so the war with insects and diseases goes on.

You may wonder at the mysterious genes that make some of us dedicated gardeners and others will quit working in their flowers and shrubs when the weather is too hot or too rainy or too dry or when the insects and diseases show up. I am sure that my grandmother

was responsible for my dedication to gardening. Readers from my previous columns remember the stories of my Ma and her love of flowers. Ma was forever finding a few minutes to slip out and pull a few weeds or cut flowers for the old rooms in her house. And before her my great-grandmother was reputed to be a flower and plant lover. So I come from a long line of gardeners who are not easily discouraged. Ma and I, when I was a tiny girl, dug wild flowers on the creek bank and in the woods but always when Pa was not around because we had copperheads and rattlesnakes on their old farm. She always carried buckets from around each wild flower to assure their environment was the same when transplanted. I loved the little wildflower garden.

My grandmother was the greatest influence on my life. She created beauty in her flowers

scattered around her big yard and in her old house which was always immaculate and decorated with her beautiful quilts and her vases of flowers. If there were no flowers blooming, she found berries to use. Each afternoon she changed to a fresh, starched housedress and I remember that she always smelled like lemons from the lemon soap she used. I loved to stay with her at every opportunity and always had to be made to go home.

Ma always found time to “smell the roses”.

If you find ants in your flower beds, remember that that is not a good thing. Wherever you find ants, you will likely find aphids which you don’t want. The following is true: ants will keep a herd of aphids as we do milk cows. Yes, it is true. Strange things happen in your garden.

A tablespoon of Epsom Salts sprinkled around roses and tomatoes keeps them green all summer. I have always used it at least once a month. It is also good for tall garden phlox if they have yellow leaves at the base of the plant.

You can’t win them all but we persevere.

Those who love the outdoors, whether gardening or some other exercise, have many things to bedevil them. Some critters attack plants while others attack us. There is the chigger which attacks about the same time you are through working in grassy areas. A chigger is about 1/15 inch long. They bite where your clothes fit the tightest and they burrow into your skin. They feed and then fall off before you know they are there. There is the misunderstanding. You never actually see a chigger. The red spot is where they WERE and it itches like crazy. Any anti-itch medicine will cure that. The best way to avoid chigger bites is to use a repellent before you go into their territory and a hot shower when you come in. Ticks have become a real concern since we know about lime disease and another disease which ticks carry. This very small tick attaches itself to your skin and burrows in. A spray before going where they might be is good and also a hot shower afterwards. The truth is that it takes more than 24 hours for them to become imbedded. All methods of removing ticks agree that you must not twist or jerk them. Pull gently outwards and upwards. Then you might want to preserve that varmint in a jar in case you have a redness around the bite. Then the doctor will know what he is dealing with. Enough of critters!

Be sure to mulch your flower beds before the hot days of July. Mulch keeps the soil moist and cool and keeps the soil soft and able to retain the rain and watering. Remember to mulch peonies lightly if at all. For some reason they don’t like mulch as all other flowers do.

Please feel free to call me with any questions or suggestions at 270-522-3632. Or you can e-mail me at
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