Volume 2 Issue 7 | July 2021
July - Flowers to gather and vegetables in overdrive. Time to enjoy the fruits of your labors – all the while keeping an eye on the watering.
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Look Around
What better spot on a warm summer day than a bench or perch in the garden? The first order of business is to tune out mental “pop-ups” and quietly settle in. The plants we watched break bud in spring are now in their prime---the colors and shapes weaving together in the landscape. The activity around us draws our attention. Squirrels, chipmunks, and birds go about their daily business. Bees and butterflies flit among the blooms.  More subtle, and even more captivating, is the swaying of branches and buds, as breezes bring the plant world to life and turn this static picture into a dynamic vision.

Eyes draw upward with the rustle of tree leaves dancing in the wind. Many have different hues top and bottom, a vision of undulating color that accompanies the soft whisper. Tall, stemmed perennials and annuals join in. Verbena bonariensis, daisy, gaura, and burnet blooms prance above the greenery. The shrubbery comes to life, tapping its toe to the rhythm, and butterfly bush and spirea blooms nod along. Grass plumes take center stage on breezy days. Northern sea oats, fountain grass, purple moor grass – one more beautiful than the next. In the meadow beyond, wildflowers sway with each gentle gust. Queen Anne’s lace, chicory, black-eyed Susan, teasel, and fleabane turn a simple meadow song into an orchestrated chorus. 

Sitting still and attending to the movement around is a fine way to spend a July day. Look Around!
 
Note to self: Plant more long stemmed “movers” in my garden beds. They are enchanting!
K Edgington
Leaf Brief - Diervilla
July 21 issue
What? A honeysuckle that’s not a vine but a shrub? Who knew? Yes, Diervilla lonicera is a bush honeysuckle that can fill in many blanks in your garden. While technically not a true honeysuckle, the diervilla is a close cousin. Known for its versatility, diervilla (pronounced deer-VIL-lah) is a small to medium sized shrub with green to coppery red foliage that thrives in any soil condition, doesn’t care if it is sunny or shady, can tolerate floods and dry spells and even prefers cool summers like Cleveland's. Don’t you wish your family was that agreeable!

Diervilla is native from Canada south to the Appalachians and can be found at the edge of the woods, steep slopes and roadsides where its non-fragrant trumpet shaped flower is an important source of nectar for bumblebees, its primary pollinator. In summer, the blooms are more or less continuous and are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies as well. It is unique in that the bloom starts out yellow in late spring and then, as it is visited by pollinators, turns a deeper yellow, then salmon, peach and a darker red. What fun to watch!

A manageable size for many gardeners, diervilla grows 2-4 feet tall. It reproduces by rhizome and seed, forming widely scattered clumps that are easily controlled, and not invasive like honeysuckles. The leaves are what make it stand out in the landscape. Like the ever-changing flowers, it starts out with dense, dark green foliage that turns yellow-orange, then red to purple in the autumn. In winter, diervilla is understated with bare stems that form a haze of fine pale branches.

The botanical name honors a French surgeon named Marin Diereville who took a great interest in the plant while visiting Canada around 1700. He then brought the shrub back to France where he introduced it to Europe.

You will probably be hearing more about this shrub as growers produce more commercially. Especially well regarded are the Kodiak cultivars. Kodiak Red’s early foliage is a deep burgundy that turns bright red in the fall and sports yellow flowers all summer long. It has developed a reputation as one tough plant. Kodiak Orange has more copper-orange tones and is the 2021 landscape shrub of the year! Kodiak Black has a cool name plus dramatic black-purple foliage all season with vivid red tones in the fall. It is one of the best cultivars for shade tolerance.

This shrub has generated excitement in the landscape industry not only because of its unusual coloring but also because of its many uses including erosion control, use in dry shade, and versatility to light and soil conditions. It is an ecofriendly alternative to the ubiquitous and invasive burning bush and it even does well in fire prone areas where it quickly re-establishes. Road salt tolerance is another big plus. While deer use diervilla as a food source in the wild, the cultivars are considered deer resistant. (We’ll see about that!) Moose and caribou can be a problem in more northern locales.

No excuses, if you’ve got the space in your yard, you’ve got the right conditions for a diervilla. You just have to decide what color!
J Gramlich
Creature Feature - Lightning Bugs
On the next warm, muggy, moonless night, switch off the lights and step outside. Breath in the moist air, listen to the sounds, and look around. Was that a flash of light? There’s another, and suddenly the backyard is aglow! Fireflies are out, lending their magical sparkle to the night. But what exactly are these amazing little creatures, and why are they flashing those lights?
 
Fireflies are not flies – they are winged beetles. There are about 2,000 species in the Lampyridae (“shining one” in Greek) family worldwide; 170 have been identified in the U.S and about 12 in Ohio. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. They like warm, humid climates, so in temperate zones come out during summer. Fireflies need moisture, and thrive in forests, fields and marshes near lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. 

Fireflies and lightning bugs are the same insect—what you call them could depend on where you grew up. “Lightning bug” is most commonly used in the eastern part of the U.S. Some think that name is connected to the occurrence of frequent lightning strikes in the east. “Firefly” is more often used out west, perhaps due to the prevalence of wildfires in western states. This glow-y beetle might also be called a candlefly, firebob, firebug, jack-o-lantern, lamp bug, and will-o'-the-wisp.

The relatively rare ability of a living organism to produce light is called bioluminescence. Most bioluminescent species live in the ocean, so we are lucky to experience this phenomenon through our firefly friends!
A firefly’s light is the most efficient in the world—100% of the energy is emitted as light. In contrast, an incandescent lightbulb emits 10% of its energy as light, while the other 90% is heat. Most fireflies have a special light-making organ located beneath their abdomens. They produce light by combining a chemical called luciferin, enzymes called luciferases and oxygen. As air rushes into a firefly’s abdomen, it reacts with the luciferin, and gives off a glow, which may be green, orange, yellow, or even blue, depending on the species. Entomologists believe fireflies regulate the airflow into their abdomens to create their pulsing patterns. 

Fireflies communicate with their light. The fireflies we see are usually males looking for a mate. Each species has a specific light pattern so they can find mates of their own species, a sort of “flashing fingerprint”. A female will wait on a plant or the ground until she spots a good-looking beetle flashing his pattern, then she’ll flash back.
 
Here’s the firefly version of The Dating Game for Photinus pyralis, a common species you may find in your backyard, nicknamed the “Big Dipper”. At dusk, Mr. Big Dipper flies about three feet off the ground, every five seconds making a one-second flash while flying in the shape of the letter “J”. The female is on the lookout in low vegetation. If she likes what she sees, she waits two seconds before making a half second flash of her own at the third second, signaling her interest. Some species will continue the flirtation for hours, while others light up only 20 minutes or so at dusk. 
 
Besides mating, fireflies use their light to defend territory, warn off predators—and sometimes more devious reasons. Certain species of fireflies, including our friend the Photinus Big Dipper, secrete defensive chemicals called lucibufagins, that may provide protection from predators like birds and spiders. Photuris females, who lack these chemicals, will imitate the light patterns of the Big Dipper to attract his attention. When a male lands next to this tricky gal, she steals his chemicals—and eats him! This clip is interesting if you don’t mind a little gore: 

Adult fireflies only live for a month or two—just long enough to mate and lay eggs. Females deposit eggs underground, where larvae develop into adults over 1-2 years. In some species the larvae and even the eggs glow! Firefly larvae eat snails, worms, and slugs, which they inject with a numbing chemical to disable. Adult fireflies eat nectar, pollen, or nothing—except for those tricky lady cannibals noted above.
 
The most amazing firefly light displays occur when certain species practice synchronized flashing. We don’t know exactly why, but scientists speculate it may be competition, or to make the males more noticeable to the ladies. The only species of fireflies in America that does this is the Photinus carolinus. These fireflies live in the Great Smoky Mountains, and the U.S. National Park Service organizes watch parties for the show. Click HERE to watch.
 
There is evidence that the world’s firefly population may be disappearing, although this is difficult to quantify. Most scientists blame two factors—development and light pollution. Development destroys firefly habitats, and fireflies don’t migrate—when their habitat disappears so do they. Logging, pollution and use of pesticides also contribute to the destruction of firefly habitats. Human light pollution may interrupt firefly communications. Scientists have observed that synchronized firefly patterns are disrupted after a car’s headlights pass. Increased human light at night may interrupt the firefly’s ability to signal for mating, resulting in reduced population.
 
Given this, perhaps those summer memories of catching fireflies in a jar are best left as memories. But if your summer is not complete without a firefly or two, HERE are some tips on how to catch them.

Just make sure to release them so they continue to spread their magic… 
C Christian 
Getting Edgy
If you are into straight lines and precise edges, this article is not for you. Garden edging plants soften a garden and ease the transition between hard surfaces, like walks or patios, and planting beds. Of course, you can maintain your edging plants within that line that separates sidewalk from garden bed, but why not live on the wild side and let your edging plants puddle over the edges? A soft edge brings a natural component, and fragrant plants, such as the thymes, oregano or alyssum, release their sweet scents when brushed. What a pleasure!

I would like to further suggest that looking at mulch or bare soil at the edge of beds (or in them for that matter) cannot begin to compare with the sight of interesting plants flowing into one another and creeping onto paths. That bare soil is valuable real estate, “opportunity space”. Here are a few suggestions from the many plants that work well as bed edgers.  

Some good edging plants for sunny areas (* indicates drought tolerant): 
  • Groundcover sedums*, which now come in wonderful foliage hues – reds, purples, blues, and yellows. The Sunsparkler series and Angelina are particularly lovely for edging. 
  • Low-growing thymes*, including lemon and wooly.
  • Lamb’s ears*, especially Helen Von Stein and Silver Carpet, which stay shorter by virtue of being non-blooming.
  • Campanulas, in particular Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Birch’ or Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’.
  • Groundcover oreganos*, such as Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’, which is a yellow cultivar.
  • Petunias, of course.
  • Perennial geraniums, such as Geranium sanguineum ‘Elke’ which offers a mat-like habit and pink blooms over a long season.

Some good edging plants for shady areas:
  • Ajuga, which offer bronze, purple, and yellow foliage choices.
  • Liriope, with leaf blades that cascade down and offer contrast to other leaf shapes.
  • Lady’s mantle, with its frothy flowers and cupped foliage which holds water droplets that sparkle after a rain.
  • Pulmonarias, with variegated white and green foliage and blue or pink flowers.
  • Epimediums*, which delight with delicate-looking flowers in spring and tough, tough foliage once established.
  • Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra cultivars), with gracefully cascading foliage and beautiful chartreuse and yellow color offerings.
  • Small hostas*, which offer broad leaf shapes for textural contrast.

Several of the best edgers are a bit fussier about water and sun. Alyssum and cascading lobelias are enchanting plants to stage along walkways, but need regular water and prefer a part sunny locale. 

There’s no rule that says that taller plants can’t edge beds, and adding medium or tall plants to the edge mix, especially those with a see-through quality, can add interest and create “pause moments”.  

So, get a little edgy with your garden plantings. You will create paths that beg to be explored.
K Edgington
Water, Water.....
Jul 21 issue
Plants need water. It’s that simple.
Most vegetables require at least one inch of water per week. That’s not a bad goal for ornamentals, either. The questions arise: What is the best time to water? The best way? How do you know when the plants have enough? Too much?
As with all things garden, it starts with the soil. Your test (you have done one, right?) shows your soil’s character. Is it loamy? Full of clay? A little on the sandy side? The answer to those questions determines how much you need to water each week to achieve that 1-inch goal. Soil that’s a mixture of loam and clay won’t need to be watered as often as sandy soils, which drain quickly, even after amending with oodles of organic matter. 
 
As important as knowing how much you water is when and how. It is best to water in the morning because water droplets evaporate during the day. Watering in the evening encourages damp conditions, ideal for disease growth. However, if evening is the only time you have, it’s more important to water than to wait, particularly in drought conditions, such as July and August in these parts. Sagging plants need water NOW. 
 
Next to how much to water is the question of how to water. There is a myriad of devices designed to move water from your house (well, pond) to the garden. Most systems and devices work on the principle of moving water quickly through a hose and onto your plants. While there is satisfaction in holding a hose and watching the water drip off the leaves onto the soil, leaves don’t drink water, roots do. The plants will remain thirsty. This is not the most efficient or effective way to get water to thirsty plants.
 
If hand watering is your preferred or only available option, turn down the volume of water and hold the nozzle near the roots for several minutes, ensuring they get their required inch. That kind of watering will ensure that the water goes where it needs to go and keeps it from splashing onto the plant. 
 
Suppose you spend one minute watering each plant. If you have a large garden, multiply that by the number of plants you have. That will give you a rough idea how many hours per week it will take to sufficiently water your garden. If your garden is like mine, there aren’t enough hours in a week to get to it all.
 
Enter drip irrigation. 
 
Before you throw down your water buckets and complain about expense and how hard it is to put in, there are some simple drip systems that only require placing on the ground where needed, attaching to the water system and opening the spigot. Such systems involve hoses made of porous rubber that either weep as the water flows or flat plastic with tiny evenly spaced holes that drip water onto the soil. These work fine, but, especially in the case of the porous rubber, might not last more than a season or two.
 
If you think you want a more complex system, many companies market drip systems at affordable prices to home gardeners. The benefit of using the more complex system is that once it is in, it rarely needs to be taken up or replaced. These companies will have the different components required, and will sell and design a system after you provide a garden layout, The directions they include make installation a DIY project. Honest.
 
Like doting parents, we want what’s best for our plants. Google “drip irrigation.” (Focus on .edu sites. Their fact sheets are research-based, and they’re not trying to sell you anything.) You’ll find the kind of help and knowledge you’ll need to have healthy plants without spending a fortune in time and money. And, as climate change shifts weather patterns, using water wisely is the epitome of environmental stewardship. 
 
Here are some resources for more complete explanations and details for drip irrigation.

S Vradenburg
Branching Out - Kingwood Center Gardens
July 21 edition
Anyone who has traveled to Kingwood Center in Mansfield over the past several years knows what a gem it is among Northern Ohio’s garden cornucopia. Prepare to be delighted with the new, improved Kingwood, unveiled last fall, now in full bloom. The first hint of the differences ahead appears in the parking garden. The former open parking lot is now divided by areas filled with plants, part of Kingwood’s effort to deal with stormwater runoff.
 
Industrialist Charles Kelley King built his mansion in 1926 on 47 acres in north Mansfield, surrounding the mansion with formal and informal gardens, banks of perennials and relatively expansive forested areas. When King died in 1952, the president and chairman of Ohio Brass left most of his estate to a 501©3 non-profit corporation, which began opening the gardens in 1953. His endowment continues to support the center’s operations.
 
About 6 years ago, staff began planning a $10 million visitor center and a remake of about nine of the center’s 47 acres to be more accessible and environmentally friendly. After more than a year of construction, including unanticipated but inevitable COVID-19 delays, the Gateway Center opened to the public in October 2020.
 
The center is literally the gateway to the gardens. It also has a café, ballroom, classrooms, gift shop and greenhouse. On the way to the gardens, visitors pass through a mini museum filled with artifacts of King’s career at Ohio Brass and other items reflecting his life at Kingwood.
 
Immediately on leaving the Gateway Center, the paths offer several ways into the gardens: a walk through a perennial garden, a stroll through an allee that runs from the center toward the mansion or a detour into the nearby woods. Two of those paths take you through blooming gardens newly planted for the summer season, ending in a semi-formal setting leading to the mansion.
 
After taking a self-guided tour of the mansion, a visitor might enjoy a meander through another woodland area that shelters Storybook Trail, a project in partnership with the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library. It winds through The Thing About Spring by Daniel Kirk, a popular children’s book author. 
 
Another direction will bring King’s formal gardens into view, a tiered path leading past former pools now emptied and studded with marigolds and climbing up to several formal areas peopled by statuary. A natural pond is presided over by a heron topiary created entirely of sedums and succulents. Further plantings of perennials sport massive stands of double poppies and Stella d’oro daylilies.
 
The Courtyard area is familiar to anyone who has been to Kingwood in past years. The Freedom Apple remains espaliered on the brick wall forming the south side of the Courtyard building. Cherry trees dripping with tempting fruits line one wall near the Duck Pond. Decorative metal grates educate as well as offer drainage for the reworked water system. The familiar greenhouses are still there, but they are now for display and production. The garden shop is in the Gateway Center.
 
Rose fragrance wafts by, announcing the rose garden and its nearby neighbor, the All-America Selections trial gardens. The nearby Nature Pond has been nearly doubled in size to accommodate stormwater runoff.
 
With so many areas of interest, it takes a couple of hours of easy walking to reach most of the garden areas. A meal at the café could offer a tasty break between meanderings.
 
Kingwood is located at 50 N. Trimble Road, Mansfield, OH 44906; (419) 522-0211. The gift shop, garden café and shops do not require admission. The gallery or gardens, which can only be reached through the Gateway, require a $5 fee. Grounds are open daily from 10 am to 7 pm. The café and shops close at 6:30. Children under 12 are free.
S Vradenburg
Down and Dirty
July Checklist

  • Trim, deadhead, and refertilize roses.
  • Plant basil, beans, cucumbers and radishes from seed in any open garden spaces.
  • Cut back mums to prevent premature blooming.
  • Deadhead perennials to encourage reblooming.
  • Stake delphiniums, dahlias, hollyhocks and tomatoes for support.
  • Trim back growth of spruce trees and shape.
  • Manage and treat grubs in the lawn through cultural or chemical means. MORE INFO ON GRUB CONTROL
  • Remember to water during dry spells, deeply and less often.
New Growth!
To learn more please check out these programs:

  • Shade Gardening: It's About More Than Just Hostas with Dennis James, owner of DJs Greenhouse, on Wednesday, August 4th at 6:30 pm.

  • Bug and Botanical Portrait Photography: Discover the Wonder of Your Garden with Danae Wolf, Ohio State University Extension Technology Specialist on Wednesday, September 1st at 6:30 pm.

Meet Me in the Garden Series

  • Backyard Ponds & Aquatic Plants with Summit County Master Gardener Rick Reeves on Wednesday, July 28th at 6:30 pm.

  • A Sneak Peak at Proven Winners 2022 Offerings and Great Plants for Fall Planting with Proven Winners Representative Doug Parkinson on Wednesday, August 25th at 6:30 pm.


Learn more about and register for these programs on our website (link below).
More learning opportunities:
 I like gardening — it's a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.  
Alice Sebold
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The Root of It staff: Karen Edgington (Editor), Emma Barth-Elias (Photo Editor), Carolyn Christian, Jennifer Gramlich, Sarah Vradenburg, and Geoff Kennedy (Technical Advisor)
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