I knew it all along

The southeast is not always sunny and warm

I’ve just returned from a week touring nurseries in the “sunny” southeast. After four days of rain the sun made a brief appearance,  a respite from the monsoon. I flew out Friday evening in a sweatshirt with temperatures in the mid-thirties.

Back home in Virginia, I awakened Saturday morning to large, wet snowflakes. A delightful sight from our warm kitchen, but too wet and cold to venture out into the garden, even to knock the wet snow off the evergreens (Globosa blue spruce above). By midday I summoned enough courage to take a true winter photo of  ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia (below), which didn’t mind the cold and snow at all.

Rub some mud on it

I don’t know if this is a old-time homeopathic treatment, or just some idiotic notion that I’ve had for as long as I can recall, but whenever I suffer a cut or scrape (anything short of severing a limb) I rub dirt on the wound. Of course it’s stupid, but thus far I haven’t lost any major body parts to infection.

Now, researchers at UC San Diego are suggesting that bacteria found in dirt might prevent infections ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6630394/Children-should-be-allowed-to-play-in-the-dirt-new-research-suggests.html ). I don’t expect that mothers will believe a word of it.

Encore azaleas are resistant to lacebug

I’ve been clear that I’m not a fan of azaleas, with their aversion to clay soils and susceptibility to bugs. Early in my gardening career I killed more than a few.

I was enticed to test Encores (azaleas that bloom spring and fall in the mid-Atlantic) with an offer of free plants. Now, they’re making a convert of me. A handful of varieties bloomed in my northern Virginia garden from late September into mid-November, when a freeze melted the blossoms, then more buds opened until the next sub freezing night a few weeks later.

Now word comes from the USDA horticultural research facility in Mississippi that some varieties of Encore azaleas are lacebug resistant. I checked, and sure enough, there’s no evidence of injury on any of the azaleas in my garden.

No wonder that I’m learning to love azaleas again.

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