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The poisonous caterpillar gets attacked

The Saddleback Slug Caterpillar featured in the previous post now has troubles of its own. It was attacked by a female parasitic wasp which laid eggs on the caterpillar. The eggs hatched and ate the insides of the caterpillar. The eggs were present inside the caterpillar in the previous photographs, we just did not know it. The young parasitic wasps (in their pre adult form) have emerged as little oval cream colored pupae all over the back of the caterpillar. The pupae will hatch out and will have changed (undergo metamorphosis) into adult parasitic wasps and the cycle will start again. It is a rather gruesome sight that seems stranger…

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Cutting a Dahlia flower nearly needs a stepladder

Cutting this dahlia nearly needed a stepladder. The flowers are held at over eight feet high on smooth dark stems. The flower color is almost impossible to describe, as the petals shade from a light creamy orange to a spicy darker center; sort of Cafe au Lait meets Orange Creamsicle. The center of the flower…

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Weird parasitic plant – Thyme Dodder

I found an unusual plant called Thyme Dodder (Cuscuta), in the Sunset Garden today. It is a parasitic plant that has no chlorophyll and so relies on getting water and nutrients from its host plant, which in this case is a thyme. I remember this plant from childhood holidays at an English pebble beach in…

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Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, Maryland

The gardening world is firmly divided over the question of topiary. Should you prune a tree or shrub into a shape to resemble another object or shape, or should you leave the pruning shears safely in the shed? This type of garden decoration has gone in and out of fashion many times in gardening history,…

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Lovely Larkspur

Larkspur (Consolida) flowers in that rare shade of blue and purple, that is so beloved of gardeners, are one of the joys of the self sown garden. Rising gracefully to 2.5 – 3.5 feet, larkspur plants are perfect to mix and mingle in the flower bed, as they take up very little horizontal space. After…

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Ladybugs – an insect eating machine

This year at Northview there is a heavy infestation of aphids on the cup plants. Aphids are a type of insect that can reproduce asexually and reproduction is rapid. They insert their sharp proboscis into the phloem (the vessels carrying plant nutrients) and suck food out of the leaf. The aphids are clustered on the…

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2014 – The year with no Hydrangea Flowers?

The garden looks bare. Areas that were full of pink, purple and blue blooms last year are shades of green. Much as I like green, I do miss the glorious Hydrangea blooms that are normally a prominent feature of the July shade garden at Northview. The emails started flying in late March, asking me: “will…

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