Thursday, December 26, 2013

A White Christmas?

If we're going to be living in a place with a long winter, I said to Mr. Red House, we'd better have snow for Christmas!  

So far this December we've had an ice storm and a couple good snowstorms that have dumped over a foot of snow at our house.  This has been rather exciting for us after living in North Carolina for so long!  My kids love playing in the snow and have declared that they want to live here forever.

ice coating some pine branches
Of course, all the snow melted just in time for Christmas. 

snow on all of my winterberry holly bushes
My family who came up from Georgia hoping for a white Christmas was rather disappointed, as was I.  On the day after Christmas, however, the sky was full of big fluffy snowflakes.

We are enjoying our belated white Christmas, and I hope you all and your families are enjoying the Christmas season as well, no matter what color it is outside.  I hope you all are staying safe out there!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Red House Garden!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wanted: A Few Good Flies

Strange that I should see so many moths flying about when it is so very cold outside.

Still, I wish them well.  I generally like wildlife, and these are pretty in their own way.

But still, how strange that there should be so many of them in such chilly weather...  When driving, it seemed like I was driving through a blizzard, there were so many of them.  Swarms of them hang out on my porch, no doubt drawn to the light.

Wait a second, these might be Winter Moths, which come out in winter to mate!
Invaders from Europe, the caterpillars that emerge in spring have voracious appetites, and wreak havoc on hardwood trees and perennials...

On second thought, I don't wish you well!

Apparently they've become a serious problem in Massachusetts, defoliating thousands of acres of trees (not to mention gardens)!  They have no natural predators here, so their numbers have ballooned in the last few years.

Hey, get away from that plant!
Nova Scotia had its own infestation back in the 1930's.  The Canadian government has effectively controlled the population by releasing a certain parasitic fly.  Entomologists in Massachusetts have started releasing these flies, but funding is, of course, short for such things.  

The only things a home gardener can do to combat the forthcoming destruction are:
1.  wrap up the trunks of targeted trees in fall to prevent the wingless females from crawling up them to lay eggs  (though the larvae travel on balloons of silk and can be easily blown in from other trees)

and 2. spray for the larvae in the spring (which can, of course, kill other, more desirable moths and butterflies)

This doesn't sound like a very winning strategy...

It sounds like the future of my garden could possibly depend on the efforts of a few parasitic flies.

Uhhh.. hmm?
It's all you, guys..

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Battle Over the Pine Trees

When it comes to our family, I am the head gardener.  Since Mr. Red House is not much of an outdoor person and is actually allergic to a fair number of plants/trees/grasses, etc., I pretty much have free rein in the yard.  While Mr. Red House always appreciates the gardening I do, he doesn't usually have many opinions about the yard...
except when it comes to TREES.

a pine tree seedling in our backyard
Mr. Red House has never met a tree he didn't like.  If we ended up planting all the trees he wanted, I would have nothing but a shady woodland garden, and all of the trees would soon end up crowding out the house!  The only critique Mr. Red House has ever made of my garden is to point out where another tree might fit.  

He also doesn't like to cut down any trees - he's even dubious about me pruning.

But this Christmas I wanted to cut some pine boughs to make a fresh wreath for the door.  And with all the many pine seedlings we had in our yard, I was determined to cut some of them for their lush, densely-packed branches.

Mr. Red House was not happy.

young pine trees in our yard
We have lots of small pines in our woods, but Mr. Red House wanted all of them, no matter how tiny.  I wanted my wreath.  The battle was on!

more young pine trees in our yard
He wiled, he pleaded.  At one point he even connived the kids into standing in front of the targeted seedlings, using them as living barricades against my pruner and hampering my efforts..

...but I emerged victorious!  The pine branches made a beautiful wreath, don't you think?

Sorry, Mr. Red House, I think I'm going to have to cut fresh pine branches every Christmas!

*Mr. Red House regrets to inform you that several young pine trees were hurt in the making of this blog.*

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