I just discovered this term in an article by Marty Hair, forwarded on by a master gardener in my area.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Joan Boram saw Carolina lupine in a mail-order plant catalog and sent away for it. In her Ferndale garden, she loves its striking yellow flowers. What Boram didn't expect is that the plant's seeds scatter and grow so freely that she now has Carolina lupine everywhere.Call it plant spam. Like computer spam, plant spam pops up where it's not invited. And it can be tough, though not impossible, to exclude”
The article goes on to mention a good tip that’s worked for me in dealing with one type of plant spam- mint. I plant mint in a container, then nestle the container among the other plants in my herb garden. I also have chives in a pot, and the containers look colorful in the garden.
But the best defense against plant spam is to be careful what you sow. Because what you sow could be what you reap and reap and reap and reap.
Although the previous owners of our house left us several nice landscaping features, the long concrete wall they built against the driveway is not one of them. It’s functional for rebounding missed shots from the basketball hoop, but not especially attractive. Well we have learned to live with it, but our neighbors? They are insane.
The wall (after the recent ice storm)
One night after work, my husband noticed a man on our property studying this wall very carefully. Turns out he was from the neighborhood association and was snooping in our yard to look for code violations. This guy has taken it on as a personal mission to document all the building code violations in our neighborhood. We’ve been to a couple of these neighborhood meetings where he explains the finer details of the neighborhood code and cites the numerous violations irking him that particular moment. Then everyone nods sympathetically and carefully weighs how to do absolutely nothing about it.
Question: if a neighborhood code is violated and none of the neighbors can see it without trespassing, is it really a code violation?
Keep in mind that our house is bordered on two sides by a steep-banked creek and trees, one side by a highway, and of course on the fourth side we have the wall. And this particular neighbor does not live on an adjacent lot. In other words, it took considerable effort and planning to accidentally wander across our property line.
So my husband politely let him know he was trespassing. Luckily my husband was raised a city boy and is not redneck enough to brandish a shotgun. In other parts of town, our neighbor might not have been so fortunate.
The building of the wall itself was also due to insane neighborhood feuds. Several years ago, the previous owner of our house was getting fed up with the neighbors dumping their leaves and grass clippings in the stand of trees that edge the property line. These neighbors haven’t learned the valuable art of composting, so the leaves and clippings just keep piling up. It is frustrating, not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also to see all that lovely organic matter going to waste.
Anyway, in a burst of neighborly insanity, the wall went up. What better way to block an ugly view than to put up an ugly wall.
Quick and easy humming bird nectar
1. Heat up 4 cups (1 Liter) of water to boiling. I do this in a large glass measuring cup in my microwave.
2. Add 1 cup sugar and a couple drops of red food coloring. Stir until dissolved.
3. Let cool. I cover and leave the nectar on the counter for a while, then transfer to the refrigerator.
Note: If you are making extra nectar ahead, keep it in the refrigerator. It will mold if left out too long.
So when should you put out feeders? I was told March 20th, although last year I didn't see any visitors until April. Well, the bar is open here when they are ready to drink up!
Alas, it was only a case of tree dandruff. The rain over the past few days brought down most of the white petals from the bradford pear trees.
Don't fret, we are still enjoying plenty of spring blooms here. The pansies are going through a major growth spurt, and the cherry trees looked spectacular last weekend. Jill in North Carolina just posted a nice picture of the blossoms of a cherry tree.
The daffodils are still going, too. I was pleased to find that the previous owners of our house had done an interesting job in planting them; there are at least 4 different varieties of daffodils in our front yard. The natural tendency, for me at least, is to pick up one variety and go to town. Here, though, we have a smorgasboard of daffodils poking up under the trees, from pale yellow and frilly to bold lines in orange on white.
I'm also thankful the previous owners of our house for bequeathing me their humming bird feeders. I still have the original note she left, with special instructions for feeding them. She was really crazy about those birds, and I promised to take care of them. It was an important part of the negotiations, along with leaving the washer and dryer. What a nice bonus to get along with a house.
So I will remember this every time I start resenting them for building "the wall", which will be the subject of a later post.
I may be a gal growing Southern, but am I in redneck territory yet? Here's a few developments in the last months:
1) Went to my second NASCAR race.
2) Learned most of the words to the country hit "Billy's got his Beer Googles On" (Thanks to my friend's kids)
3) Developed a hankering for instant cheesy grits
4) Walked to lunch today in 60 weather and found it chilly.
5) Bought and started wearing a Jeff Gordon (#24) T-shirt
(Thanks to my dad for forwarding the cat picture)
#1 What's your earliest memory you have of becoming fascinated with living things- gardens, animals, etc ?
I have lots of early memories of family hikes in the woods visiting both sets of my grandparents in the country. My maternal grandpa had a two huge Buckeye trees that he had grown from seed on his farm. This fascinated me to imagine that those huge trees had come from a tiny buckeye! He also helped me plant the seeds in the little greenhouse kit that my parents got me for Christmas. (One of the best presents ever) My paternal grandmother also loves watching, nurturing, and painting wildlife. I still enjoy talking to her about gardening.
I also enjoyed girl scouting and learning about edible plants of the woods, which got me the camp nickname "Nature Woman" because I was always putting plants in my mouth.
#2 What was your first pet? (I'm adding my own question here- what was your first plant pet?)
When I was about 2 or 3 growing up in Ohio we got a crazy-looking dog from the humane society, which I named "Bear". Our first cats a few years later were Casper (which I once spelled "Catspur" without realizing the irony) and Spooky.
My first plant was a dwarf hibiscus which I kept alive from grade 5 through grad school. So I'm not being misleading about my gardening skills, I must admit that many, many adopted house plants came and went during that time.
#3What was your favorite pet?
Moses was one of my favorite cats, and he passed away recently at my parents' home. He was a beautiful dark gray color, and had a charming split personality that went from purring contentedly on your chest to spending the night killing small rodents in the woods.
Butterflies expect to be wined and dined. If you are running low on cash and just throw in a few milkweed plants, don't expect a migration of monarchs in your backyard. Butterflies like large splashes of color. Lots of color = lots of food. The butterfly bush, Buddleia, will give you a lot of bang for your buck.
Another important thing to know about the female butterfly is that like most females, she is hearing the tick of her biological clock and thinking about laying her eggs. Yes, some fine dining might keep her visiting temporarily, but sooner or later she'll be wondering if this where she wants to lay her precious eggs.
Keep in mind that her babies have discriminating tastes in food plants. Caterpillars are not the munching machines that they appear. They have discriminating palates. Some will demand a diet of only one specific plant, and then they will have prolonged discussions over their meal- "Hmmm..some nice fruity essences here...munch munch munch...a little bit tannic for my taste though...munch munch munch" So to create a butterfly garden that will keep her coming back for more, you need both nectar plants and host plants.
Well now is the time (at least here in the Southeast US) to plant the seeds for a butterfly garden that will be buzzing with life in a couple short months. Some things I'm planting now:
1. Butterfly weed (Asclepias)
1. Fennel (for the Black Swallowtail caterpillars)
2. Parsley (also for the Black Swallowtail)
3. Milkweed is also a host plant
For now my list is short, but if I convince my hubby to help tear up the front yard to make more room for more plants, then there'll be more to report!
Looking for more detailed information? The Clemson University Extention has a great article on Butterfly Gardening in South Carolina, including popular nectar and host plants. I've also enjoyed watching the progress of a Texas butterfly garden over at Gardening Obsession.
Editors note: Please visit my Earth Day post to find out more about mulching.