Corkscrew Juncus Photo provided by: Proven Winners
Need a striking centerpiece for your garden container?  The visual interest of the corkscrew juncus brings a whimsical feeling to your garden.  New emerging leaves are wound tight and loosen as they mature.  Juncus prefers partial shade, moist or wet soil sites, but will tolerate full sun and regular garden soil if provided with consistent water.  I have grown this plant myself and learned that it can also take getting dry and survived the heat very well.  Corkscrew is also a deer resistant plant.  It grows in clumps and spreads by rhizomes growing 10" to 12" tall.  There are no major pests or diseases to worry about with this plant.  If you put it in a wet, boggy area, make sure you keep the crown above water otherwise it will rot.  You shouldn't have a problem locating this ornamental grass as most of your independent garden centers should carry it. 

At an early age we all learn that bees are who pollinate our flowers and make the honey that we eat.  Have you ever stopped to really think about, just how important bees really are to us?

Bees are of immense importance to our ecological relationships and contribute to the biodiversity of Mother Earth.  There are plants that are entirely dependent on bees for propagation.  Farmers, that supply the food we eat, are dependent on bees to pollinate their crops.  Many animals wouldn't survive without them.  Berries, nuts, seeds and fruits are all produced by pollination from insects and bees are the number one pollinators. 

In the past 6 years the honey bee has been disappearing in alarming numbers.  There are a number of reasons scientists have been researching as possible causes but is still under investigation.  The incidents are being labeled Colony Collapse Disorder.  Take this link to learn in more detail the problem we are facing and possible repercussions of, with our bee populations.   Common Pesticide Implicated Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

One of the ways we can help would be to grow plants that attract bees.  Here are my top 10 favorites for attracting bees to your garden. 

  1. Agastache
  2. Basil
  3. Catmint
  4. Chaste Tree
  5. Dill
  6. Lantana
  7. Red Clover
  8. Sages
  9. Thymes
  10. Yarrow

I'd like to thank Diva Jefferson for making the suggesting of blogging about bees.  It was a subject I didn't know a lot about except for the common knowledge about them.  I have learned so much about them because of this.  It just proves that you can always learn something new no matter how old you are or how much you think you know about any given subject!

Happy Gardening!

Straw bale gardening is great for those of you that have poor soil, limited space for gardening or for those who have difficulty kneeling or bending for long periods of time.  Once you prepare your straw bale, you place your plants directly inside the bale to grow.  The straw keeps your plants cool and holds water well.  Weeding is kept at a minimum and as the bale deteriorates you are making usable compost. 

The best straw to use for straw bale gardening are oats, wheat, rye or barley.  You can use hay bales but you will have plenty of weeds to contend with.  Kent Rogers has a great site that explains the process in detail.

Take this link to learn all about straw bale gardening. 
"How to Grow a Straw Bale Garden"

Happy Gardening!

Click on the pictures to see a larger view and description.

Aphid Control
Insecticidal Soap: You can find recipes online to make, your own.

Neem Oil: A vegetable oil from the seeds and fruits of the neem tree.

Vegetable Oil: Term used for any oil derived from oil-seed crops; soybean, cottonseed, canola and sunflower.

Pyrethrins: Occur in the seed cases of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium. Caution should be used as it is toxic to cats and fish. Some humans can have a reaction also.
Aphids are one of the most common and destructive insect pests known, with about 4,400 species worldwide.  They can be green, yellow, red, black, brown, pink or almost colorless.  Aphids feed by sucking sap from plants.  It causes decreased growth, distorted leaves, yellowing curled leaves, browning, wilting and death.  As they feed, aphids secrete a sugary liquid waste called "honeydew".  The honeydew can result in a black sooty mold growth on your plants.
Aphids reproduce quickly and spread to your neighboring plants.  Treating infected plants as soon as noticed is important.  Control can be accomplished in several different ways.  Insecticidal soap, insecticides or horticultural oils can be used.  Caution should be used when using oils.  Some plants are sensitive to it's use and cause damage.  Always  read the directions and cautions on the bottle.  Alternatively, you can use biological control such as ladybugs or lacewings.  Be on the lookout for the nymphs of ladybugs.  I've included a picture of one so that you will know these little bugs are the good guys!   Companion planting can also be used.  Aphids dislike the smell of catnip, garlic and mint.  You can place these plants near an infected plant and the aphids will leave.  I have never tried this one myself but have read that it works.  If anybody has experience with using this technique, please leave us a comment.  My personal preference is to make my own insecticidal soap with natural ingredients I have at home in my own kitchen. 

All comments and suggestions are subject to South Carolina conditions and do not necessarily pertain to any other part of the US.