Just some thoughts on the Tent caterpillars that are migrating from their nests…We’ve been heading into the upswing of their 7 to 9 (or so) year cycle. It’s amazing how many there can be. Some of us who have lived here a long time have been able to observe these cycles. Remember 1985? Cars were skidding on the streets because of the thickness of their bodies.
I think it helps to know some fun facts about our creepy crawly relatives and the meaningful place they hold in the bio-system. Their host plant is the Red Alder (called “red” because of how they look in the spring when the buds are swelling.) In the years when the Tent caterpillars’ numbers are large, they all but completely defoliate the alders. This opens up the forest floor to sun, rain and air circulation.
If you’d like to know more about tent caterpillars and how to deal with them organically, see our Expert Article on Tent Caterpillars.
Join us on June 30th from 10 am to Noon for a live broadcast of Gardening with Ciscoe (97.3 KIRO FM). Ciscoe is well known in the media. KING5 TV airs his popular gardening segments with Meeghan Black as well as his weekly show “Gardening with Ciscoe”. His Friday night Q & A show, ‘Gardening with Ciscoe Live’ broadcast on Northwest Cable News. Every other Monday, morning, he appears on KING5’s New Day Northwest with Margaret Larson. You can also catch his gardening advice mixed with a hearty dose of humor every Saturday morning on News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM. His book, ‘Ask Ciscoe’, was among the top selling garden books nationwide. In addition, he co‐authored books on roses and perennials, and he also writes a weekly garden column in the Thursday edition of the Seattle Times. Ciscoe is crazy about dogs and gardening, and he can often be found working with his pooches Fred and Ruby in his Seattle garden which has been featured in several publications. Ciscoe’s other passion is travel, and despite his busy schedule, he manages to find time to lead garden tours to countries all over the world.
Ciscoe and Staff at Bayview Farm and Garden in 2011
New to the scene a few years ago was the Intersectional, or Itoh Peonies. These are hybrids between the herbaceous (one that dies back in the winter) and the tree peony. They have the huge gorgeous flowers of the tree peony and the easy care of the old fashioned peonies. The Itoh peonies are very popular because of this rugged habit, the incredible flowers and the attractive foliage. It is an outstanding and durable landscape plant.
Among others, there are:
- Bartzella – vivid lemony yellow color and fragrance
- Cora Louise – Soft white to pink-lavender petals that look like a watercolor painting.
- Kopper Kettle – the most unique golden copper colored, semi-double blooms
Proper soil preparation and planting will ensure beauty and success with peonies.
* Be sure to plant in full sun, at least six hours a day of direct sun.
* Amend the planting area with plenty of compost, about a 50/50 mix of good rich compost and existing soil.
* Add a high phosphorous organic fertilizer into the hole and swish it around before planting the root ball.
* Make sure the crown (where the roots meet the stem) is at or just above the soil line…peonies don’t like to be planted too deeply.
* Water well after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
Julia Rose Itoh Peony
Photo Credit: RadioMarz via Flickr