Q: I have a question about several of our young plum trees. Some of the fruit are all brown and shriveled up. Any idea what is happening? — Lisa Rakowski, Mayville, N.D.
June provides plenty of time to ponder while weeding. Take dandelions, for example. It's commonly known they were brought to this country as a salad or vegetable crop. Didn't they know they spread like, well, weeds? Or was this a hot new variety in the old country? "Here Gustav, take some of this when you journey to the New World. It's a plant breeding breakthrough, a vigorous new introduction I've named 'dandelion.'" Weeding included, June is a busy month for yard and garden enthusiasts. The following reminds us of the late June to-do list.
Q: I've attached a picture of a probable fungus growing on our cedar trees. It's like Jell-O, slimy, smells like fish when touched, is bright orange and about 2 inches in width. Do you know what it is, if it will spread to other trees and is there a cure? — Kathy Scroch, Lidgerwood, N.D. A: The odd-looking growths are the spore-producing bodies of a fungal disease called cedar apple rust. Cedars are also commonly known as junipers.
When it was first reported that the ravenous Japanese beetle had entered North Dakota and Minnesota, and the tree-killing machine called emerald ash borer was feeding its way toward us, it seemed insect invasions were getting steadily worse. Sort of like the locust troubles of the ancient Egyptians who didn't follow Moses' control recommendations.
Q: I'm new to gardening. I planted two hydrangeas from Sam's Club (not sure of the variety) yesterday, and I'm already thinking about winter care. I was reading online where you are supposed to build a cage around them with chicken wire and fill it with leaves to protect them. Is this necessary? — Rachel Chisholm, Grand Forks. A: Hydrangeas are a well-adapted and wonderful landscape shrub, with no need for winter protection, if we choose the right types. Non-adapted types don't enjoy the same carefree existence.
FARGO — We're all friends here, so please feel free to talk openly. How do you view yardwork? Does caring for lawn, landscape and garden bring you happiness, or is there a hint of negativity, as in, "That sounds like a lot of work?" The fruits of our labor are usually appreciated, as most people prefer their home yards neat, nicely planted and well-weeded instead of barren or overgrown. But what about the process itself, the "work?" Is it enjoyable, or is the process a chore?
Q: Do you know what kind of shrub this is? The flowers are beautiful, and the bees are enjoying the blooms. It's about five to six feet tall and was trimmed back in the fall of 2016. — Sarah Adams, Moorhead, Minn. A: Botany is a tremendous help when identifying shrubs, trees, and other plants. Clues that distinguish plants include leaf arrangement along the stems, whether attached directly opposite or in an alternating pattern, as well as stem characteristics, leaf shape and flower traits.
FARGO — Old names have certainly circled back into popularity, and according to recent lists, garden-related names are back in style, too, like Violet, Dahlia, Ivy, Lily, Rose and Daisy. I guess no one wants to name their baby Chrysanthemum. I was surprised, however, that Iris didn't make the list of baby names. I've met some fine Irises over the years, both human and botanical.
FARGO — It sounds like an interesting riddle: When is a pine cone not a pine cone? The answer: When it's growing on a spruce. In last week's Fielding Questions, I missed a great opportunity to mention the importance of differentiating between evergreens, which resulted in spruce cones being called pine cones. If you recall, we were discussing the heavy cone production on a transplanted spruce tree. In the original question, the cones were generically referred to as pine cones, as all cones are often nicknamed, and I replied simply used the word "cones."
FARGO — Have you ever struggled with a some-assembly-required item, and hours later concluded that whoever wrote the instructions obviously never actually put one together? That's the way I felt the other day when I simply wanted to add fertilizer around our arborvitae. I even decided to read the directions. The bag of 10-10-10 was headlined for trees, shrubs and flowers and said to apply 1 pound per 100 feet of row. But I don't have 100 feet of arborvitae. Just tell me how big of a scoop to sprinkle around each, as in how many cups.