Murder in the garden

Kathy Henderson

Bleeding, murder, justifiable homicide and sudden death.

An example of Crape Murder. Special photo

Bleeding muscadine vines in Kathy’s garden. Special photo

Sometimes gardening is CSI in the Garden and perhaps it is Criminal Minds in the Garden. We do most of the damage with our weapons that we call pruning tools. Other weapons are herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers. But we will discuss those on another day.

Maybe you, like me, pruned your muscadines a little late. Then they rewarded you by bleeding profusely. Uh, oh, no problem though. They just scare you with all that sap rising. At least mine are just putting out new growth, so they did not get damaged by the late freeze at the end of March. I cannot say the same for the sudden death of the blossoms of my Umbrella-formed Wisterias that I prune faithfully every two weeks in the growing season in order to see their beauty for two weeks in the spring. This year - dead blossoms - oh, well - there is always next year. My macrophylla hydrangeas were hit hard and will recover in late April and May. Someone said that I should have covered them. Do they have any idea how many I have? They were damaged in sun and shade - nature takes its revenge. But I have no damage on my muscadines! Nature: 2 Kathy: 1.

Then there is the murder of Crape Myrtles. Do I have to mention you murderers by name to get your attention? I was recently in Louisiana and Mississippi (the kingdoms of Crape Myrtles) and did not see many plants that were pruned. The ones that were pruned were pruned correctly. I am sure they have Crape Murder in their midst, but I saw none of it until I got to Alabama and Georgia. Are those folks smarter that us, or do they have a Crape Myrtle Policing Unit?

Justifiable Homicide occurred in Locust Grove. At least that is my opinion. While the pruning task did not kill the plant - it did kill its beauty and personality. That was the irreverent pruning of the Bradford Pear. Yay! Bradford Pear finally gets its due treatment for smelling like a dog with poor personal hygiene, scattering its seeds in every field, vacant lot and landscape, and splitting down the middle in rain and wind storms or that occasional late snow or ice. Can you tell that I have no sympathy for the demise of Bradford Pear? I would pray for a Bradford Pear blight, except for the fact that it would attack other members of the rose family like apples, peaches and fruit pears.

Sudden death of a plant often occurs when we get anxious to plant annuals and other tender plants too early. That makes the sellers of annuals and tender vegetables rich.

Sudden death can occur when water stands around the roots of a plant that needs good soil drainage. Sudden death occurs when you forget to water the plant, or add too much fertilizer to a young root system. Canker diseases, wood boring insects and soil borne diseases can cause sudden death. Investigate and use the services of your Extension Service to help you determine the problem.

If you have freeze damage, just be patient for a few weeks and let the plant recover before you start pruning. The plant can tell you how much to remove and what part is really dead.

So if you think gardening is mundane, just think of it in terms of a reality crime series on T.V. Maybe that would be a good new gardening program!