2012 Plant Delights Nursery August Newsletter

We hope you’ve had a chance to peruse the fall catalog online. The printed copies are in the mail and some may have already arrived. This fall, we’ve included the largest number of new plants ever in a fall catalog, so we trust you’ll find something that suits your fancy…and your garden!

We’ve had a blast this summer on Facebook and we hope more of you will join us there. Just recently we shared photos of the behind-the-scenes process of printing our catalog that generated lots of interest. We’ll continue to share photos of cool plants from the garden and other things that get us excited. If you’re not on Facebook or are afraid to venture into social media, I felt the same way until I discovered the amazing capacity for teaching and information sharing that is available there. If you need some help getting started, don’t hesitate to shoot an email to office@plantdelights.com and we’ll guide you through the process.

Go to www.facebook.com

Sign Up using the sign up form.

Facebook will automatically take you through steps to set up your profile. You are given an option to skip these.

At the top of the Facebook screen there is a search box that says “Search for people, places and things.” Click in this box and type “Plant Delights Nursery”

One of the first results you should see is: THUMB NAIL

To the right of our listing, you will see a gray box with a thumbs up and “Like”. Please click this button to follow the Plant Delights Nursery Facebook page.

Recently, Bobby Ward of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) asked me to let you know that their award winning journal is now online. If you’ve got rocks in your garden…or would like to, check out NARGS. NARGS has always been one of my favorite organizations with a great journal and seed exchange…not to mention all the wonderful members and educational meetings.

One of the exciting new line of plants we had on trial since winter is the Jewel of the Desert series of ice plants from Japan. These amazing plants include varieties like Delosperma ‘Perfect Orange’, ‘Rise and Shine’, ‘Eye Candy’, and ‘White Pearl’. In our garden, they have flowered consistently since March, forming nice compact mounds. After a lovely June weather-wise, July went a bit crazy with 10 consecutive days near or above 100 degrees F, rendering all of these delospermas into little piles of blackened plant snot. Other delospermas we offer were growing alongside and were fine. Consequently, these plants should not be used south of Zone 7a, and if you purchased them and had the same results, drop us a note for a credit/refund.

In some fascinating gardening research, new studies from Sage College of New York confirm a 2007 study from Bristol University and University College London that dirt is indeed a great anti-depressant. Many of us have known this for years, but we just didn’t know why…guess that’s why I don’t make the big bucks. As it turns out, a soil-borne bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, acts as an anti-depressant by causing brain cells to produce high levels of the happy hormone, serotonin. Serotonin occurs naturally in the body from the gut to the brain, and plays a particularly important role in mood. Low serotonin levels have been linked to anxiety, depression, aggression, OCD, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome…who knew? Mycobacterium vaccae has already been used medically in cancer patients to increase their quality of life. The next time you hear that line about not being in the mood, grab your significant other, sans gloves, and head for the garden to get dirty.

A less than pleasant garden-related issue that many of us in the Southeast, and possibly around the country deal with is ants (and occasionally aunts) in our homes. Ants were a bane of my late wife’s life, so now dealing with these critters has passed to me. Instead of playing the ant bait game that Michelle played for over a decade, I did the manly thing and called an exterminator. As I showed him around the outside of our house, explaining that I wanted him to keep the ants out of the house, he laughingly replied, “So, are you going to get rid of the flower beds and mulch? If not, I can’t get rid of the ants.” Other than fire ants, ants in the garden are actually a good thing and an important part of a healthy ecosystem.

Instead of spraying outdoors, he recommended that I buy a boatload of silicone caulk and seal the entrance holes into my home. What a novel idea, I thought. We spent the next hour walking around the house as he showed me the interstate highway-like ant runs that I’d never noticed before. We followed each until we found where they entered the house through seemingly tiny innocuous cracks in the brick. Silicon in hand, I carefully followed the ants, plugging each hole with what looks and feels like tubes of expired Vaseline.

This began my now three-month game of hide and seek with the ants. After nearly a month of no ants, they returned out of the blue, first heading for Zirconia’s cat food. I finally won that round after sealing one crack and daring them to find a way out, which for two weeks, they did, each time returning with reinforcements. Pissed off, the remaining ants outside the house then invaded the kitchen, which became a battle for the ages. Since I had already sealed the easy cracks, they got really sneaky, once coming in between the wood flooring and the air vent, and later through a tiny crack where the dishwasher drain goes through the floor and into the crawlspace. We’re currently in a stalemate, and I’m sure they haven’t given up…but then, I have two tubes of Silicon left.

Although on a slightly different scale, another pest that we’re all familiar with are deer. When talking with gardening groups, I often get random moans when I mention deer control. As is usually the case, these are folks who let emotion override good sense…if indeed, they were ever so endowed. I recently ran across this open letter, I’ll share in the hope it will make Bambi-lovers rethink their hesitance when it comes to controlling the deer population.

I own a home in a residential community in NW Wake County that is considering adopting the NCBA-BCRS program. I was encouraged to share a couple of thoughts with you. I used to be opposed to hunting of any kind. It was my family who changed my mind. Here’s a list of things I learned from them:

-By 1908, the entire population of all species of deer in the lower 48 was estimated at less than half a million, because of overhunting and indiscriminate killing of deer by farmers.
-Conservation efforts by hunters – the creation of sanctuaries and preserves, moratoriums on hunting, proactive efforts to build deer populations were so effective that today, the deer population of North Carolina alone is estimated at 1.3 million.
-While we’ve done a spectacular job at rebuilding deer populations, we haven’t done the same for the mountain lion and wolf, so we’ve effectively eliminated the deer’s natural predators. -Without wolves and mountain lions, deer population is limited only by their food supply. Their population can double every 2-3 years, and long before deer start running out of food, they start destroying the health of the ecosystem they live in.
-Deer overpopulation has been proven to destroy animal and plant diversity, and diversity is the lynchpin of any ecosystem’s resiliency. Deer eat the seedlings of the trees, denuding the forest understory. That leaves only those plants and trees that are “deer resistant.” Small animals and birds that feed off less resistant plants, or feed off of insects that live on those plants, disappear, as do many species of native trees.
-An overpopulation of deer is in direct conflict with the current move toward local agriculture, co-op farms and neighborhood gardens, because hungry deer will destroy all of the above. Too many deer also mean higher rates of Lyme disease (it’s not called a deer tick for nothing).
-When people move into the deer’s habitat, we must take on responsibility for controlling the deer population, because our presence is a large part of what causes that population to explode. Case in point – the deer census in many rural-metropolitan boundary areas is more than double that of more rural areas. Subdivisions in rural areas that were formerly farmland create a patchwork of forests and open land protected against wildfire and hunting.
-Today, I don’t hunt, but I now support it. The hunters I know, contrary to the stereotype portrayed in the media, are naturalists and environmentalists who are deeply respectful of the animals they hunt, and innately respectful of the circle of life. They either eat what they kill or give it away to friends or to food banks.
-Much of the leading research in deer nutrition, behavior, and disease prevention is funded by hunters, and most of the $700 million collected each year for hunting licenses goes to protect deer habitats.
-Also, too many people who watched Bambi as a child, or with their own children, abhor the idea of hunting female deer. Yet in many areas there are 7 or 8 does for every buck, one buck can inseminate all of them, and they’ll each average 1.7 fawns a year…

-Many universities have done studies in using contraceptives to limit the deer population, but none have proven anywhere near as effective as controlled hunting.
Given that: 1. There are no natural predators that once served as a check on deer population.
2. Subdivisions act as artificial sanctuaries that further imbalance the natural order.
3. Too many deer means loss of habitat diversity and quality, more Lyme disease, and crop damage.

A hands-off approach is not an environmentally sound policy, nor is it a responsible one. I can fully understand someone not wanting a hunter on their property. But I think it’s important for individual homeowners and the neighborhood as a whole to ask, what are we going to do to be responsible stewards of the environment? How are we going to restore and maintain a balance between the deer and rest of the ecosystem?
-Eric Miller

Cornell University maintains an informative website on deer population and control.

Enjoy, and until next month, we’ll keep up on Facebook.


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