There was a time, when I was a child, when rabies was common among dogs and also wild animals. Every summer, especially during August, a mad dog would travel through our community, sometimes going to houses to fight with dogs or bite horses and cows. Few dogs had been inoculated against rabies so it was something to dread. Everyone kept a sharp eye out for strange dogs. Even when I was a teenager, my girlfriend was bitten by a rabid dog on the street in downtown Cadiz and had to take the shots.
In another column, I mentioned the squirrel which was eating my bird food and I had put cayenne pepper on the bird seeds to discourage him. It seems that it is true that squirrels can taste the pepper and birds cannot. I must add that that squirrel was lying on his stomach just looking at the feeder. I felt so badly that I have quit adding the pepper. I guess the birds and the squirrel will share from now on. It’s going to be “first come, first served”.
If you have a bird bath or a pan of water for the birds, be sure to clean it out on a regular basis because the stale water can cause birds to sicken. It only takes a short time every 2 or 3 days to keep the water fresh. I notice that when I put fresh water in the baking pan which I keep just under my bird feeder, there will be several birds taking a bath within minutes.
Would you like to have some of your outdoor blooming plants inside for winter color? Just cut the tips of your favorite impatiens, remove the blooms and put them in a glass of water or some damp potting mix and they will root in a few days and begin to bloom soon after.
You can also have geraniums blooming indoors. Start them in pots outside, keep them trimmed back a good bit and wash well before bringing them indoors for the winter. The older bright red ones seem to do better with this treatment.
My grandmother always brought all her potted plants inside for the winter. I remember that she pinched out the tops of her impatiens to make them fuller. She called them “blooming bettys” and they bloomed all winter in their place in the window. And that is a story in itself for another day.
If you have a large plant or shrub which you would like to move this late fall or early winter, now is the time to prepare the plant for the move. Using a sharp spade, cut down into the soil as far as the spade will go, about a foot or so from the plant. Make the same cut all around the plant without removing any soil. You are cutting the small feeder roots to cut down the shock of transplanting. I do this with all perennials if I plan to move them in a month or so. However, I often don’t “plan” all my moves. Sometimes, when I am cleaning a bed, I get a sudden inspiration to move something to a better place. Sometimes it’s because it is crowded and sometimes I realize it is a plant that needs a dry soil. And sometimes I started a new area in my big flower beds and needed some perennials for a new bed. Moving plants around is just part of gardening.
If I were starting a new garden, I would choose a base of a few lilies, some daylilies, several tall garden phlox, Russian sage, veronica, Autumn Joy sedum and a few roses scattered among the plants. Keep in mind that the Autumn Joy and the Russian sage like very dry soil and rarely, if ever, need to be watered so keep them in a spot at the end or edge of a bed. Those few plants will assure you of some color all summer and other perennials could be added later to complete a “cottage garden”.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions, suggestions or comments.