Saturday, 20 July 2013

Unwelcome guests in my garden

The hot weather is still going on here in Britain, the longest spell of fine weather in 7 years so far. I think we can safely say we deserve this weather, after many dismal summers and extremely cold winters lately. The hot weather has made some unwelcome guests reappear in my garden though, I haven’t seen them for a good few years and they caught me a bit off guard - I have an infestation of spider mites!

I have had a couple of hospital appointments this week, and the rest of the days it has been so hot I have just been lounging in my garden under a parasol and not done much except watering just before going in for the evening – usually as it is about to get dark. It wasn’t until today I realised that two of my dahlias were completely defoliated, and half of the leaves on my new, 3m tall magnolia have died too. On a closer inspection I found that there are spider mites just about everywhere, on all the crocosmias, on the dregea, on several of the roses and even on some of the fuchsias! This evening I have sprayed the whole garden with rapeseed oil and I will do another spraying in a few days and continue weekly until the temperature drops or we get rain, but I have not much trust in these fatty oil sprays, they haven’t been much good in the past. If you have discovered a good treatment, especially if you know of any systemic treatment that doesn’t have to be applied so often and is available here in UK, please let me know. The good weather is set to last, by that time it ends I might not have much more foliage left in my garden.

On my previous post I promised a follow-up post with more photos from my garden, my GBBD post on the 15th got too long to accommodate all the photos I had so here’s some more.

I got some dwarf sweet pea seeds as a present in May, they are called Little Sweetheart and there were 5 seeds with a small bucket of compost. Three of the seeds germinated and two of them are in flower so far.

Lathyrus ‘Little Sweetheart’.

Lathyrus ‘Little Sweetheart’.

Lathyrus ‘Little Sweetheart’.

Lathyrus ‘Little Sweetheart’.


Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

In February I bought several packets of seeds, tempted by some colourful catalogues that came through the post. I bought sunflowers and poppies and both had to be direct sown according to the instructions. I waited and waited for the weather to be warm enough to sow my seeds, but it was late April before I could safely sow them. I sowed poppies on my shady side and sunflowers on my sunny side, a few seeds scattered around between other plants, 12 sunflowers in total and 20 locations for poppies but poppy seeds being so tiny I expected to thin them a lot eventually. I bought 3 different types of sunflowers and 2 different types of poppies. The seeds took forever to germinate, thanks to the cold spring we had, and by the time the plants got out of the ground, many of my herbaceous plants were well out of ground and getting quite large, shading completely for those poor, tiny seedlings. Only a few sunflowers and poppies have made it to large plants so this have been a lesson for me, not sure I will repeat the experiment unless I sow the seeds in pots indoor, despite the warnings on the package not to do so!

One of the poppies that has been successful is an opium poppy called Black Beauty. When I bought the seeds I only saw a photo of the flower and I thought it looked absolutely stunning. Looking at the plant growing I must admit it is a bit of an ugly duckling. I think these plants have a great resemblance to some of the weeds I keep pulling out!

Even though the flowers on the top look stunning, the whole appearance is rather weedy – or is it just me who thinks that?

The bud is spectacular though, just like other poppies it is amazing when they finally ‘pop’ and reveal what’s inside.

Some of them hang upside down until they have opened almost fully, and then they miraculously straighten up against the sun.

Look at that colour! Almost open now.

Papaver somniferum ‘Black Beauty’. Some of them are semi double....

....and some of them are double.

Definitely a beautiful swan on the top, I just wish the rest of the plant was a bit more pleasing to the eye!

In this hot weather, each poppy flower only last one day, sometimes even less, so it has been a challenge to take photos of them. I have come out it the morning in bright sunlight and seen another flower open, thinking I would take a photo of it in the evening when the light is better, and by the evening the petals have dropped! There are a few more of these plants dotted around that haven’t started to flower yet so I hope some of them will be the other type of poppies I sowed, called Cherry Glow - time will show :-)

That was the rest of the GBBD photos for today, I have some fuchsias and lily photos but I will make separate posts for each of them when they all are in flower, still waiting for the rest of the oriental lilies to flower and most of the fuchsias. Well, that is if the spider mites don’t polish off the whole lot before I can manage to kill them! Until next time, take care.

~~~~~~

UPDATE:
When I got out in the garden today these two beauties were waiting for me!

They are the other variety of my annual poppies, ‘Cherry Glow’, a single form, perhaps not as stunning as the double ‘Black Beauty’ but I thought I should add a picture of them on this post as these poppies will be only a brief appearance in my garden.

36 comments:

  1. What a wonderful colored popy. Never have seen it before. i's great to have a real summer Helene.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, I am sooo enjoying the summer weather!
      Have a great week-end you too!

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  2. I guess that's the downfall to hot weather... weeds and pests love it too! Our last summer was hot and by the end of it there were whitefly EVERYWHERE... great clouds of them would fly up when you walked, and if I brought flowers inside the whitefly would come too. I spray with pyrethrum and use neem granules to control pests.
    Thanks for sharing your poppy growing story! I just bought some poppy seeds online because of the photo of the flower and like you I haven't considered what the plant will look like. I think I will sow the seed in punnets, and transplant them later to the back of the border. So thanks for sharing your pics as otherwise I wouldn't have thought to do that!

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    1. Happy to be of help :-) I think I might do the same next year too, considering there were 1000 seeds in each package and I have only used a few! They last till autumn 2014 so should germinate find next spring. I will take the chance and sow in pots. Further back in the border the leaves will be less obvious but the flowers still show.

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  3. Urg red spider mite us a devil to get rid of. I have used a biological control in the greenhouse before, but I guess it wouldn't be cost-effective or as successful in the garden. Your poppy story is very helpful - after a similar experience, I grow everything - wild flowers, teasel etc in containers of soil before transplanting in a fake natural style!

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    1. There is a spider mite predator to buy here in UK, but apparently it isn’t very effective outdoors so I haven’t tried it. If I repeat the poppies next year I will definitely grow in pots.

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  4. Oh dear I have a rapeseed preparation at the ready just in case our mini kiwi gets spider mite as it has for the last couple of years in spite of poor weather!

    AS for those poppies - they'll probably self seed all over - if yu want to avoid that take of the seed capsules before they ripen.

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    1. Oh, I don't let any of the poppies set seed, don’t want these ones all over the garden! Even though the seed heads look beautiful too, and I probably could leave them safely for a while, I cut them off when the flower petals drop.

      I spent last night on the Internet reading about different types of remedies for getting rid of spider mites. They all claim a lot of things, I could go bankrupt if I was to try out all these things – and in the mean time my garden suffer.

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  5. Helene, I have the same problem with roses, especially small plants and new leaves. So I use the 'cypermethrin'. You can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypermethrin. Take a look at some UK treatments that have this insecticide.I use 1 tablet (10 gram) for 10 liters of water, as an instruction says. Good luck!

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    1. Hi Nadezda, I looked up Cypermethrin but I don’t think it is available for use in the garden here in UK. Many products have been withdrawn the last 10 years as they are harmful to beneficial insects and sometimes to people. I would prefer to use ecological, environmental friendly products like I do now – at least if they work.

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  6. Sorry to hear about your spider mite infestation. I guess they've been really enjoying the summer weather. Lovely Sweet Peas. They just won't grow for me here. While I do so love the colour of that Poppy, I do agree with you about the growth habit. It does look rather weed-like. Still, the flowers are sensational.

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    1. It is the first time with sweet peas for me, I didn't think I could grow them either, but that was because I have no room for a tall, wide plant like that. Then I got this tiny dwarf, no more than 25 cm tall at this stage and I doubt it will get much taller.

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  7. Hi Helene
    Too bad about the spider mites! You have such a lovely garden and need to enjoy the blooms! Who has time for bugs !! :) The colour of the dark poppy is astounding and even if it is a one day wonder, it's worth growing. Thanks for showing is the other beauties as well.

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    1. Thanks Astrid, I am not giving in, I intend to save as much as I can and I hope that the dahlias will grow new leaves since it is quite early in the season still – in fact those two dahlias haven’t even started to flower yet! I just wish there were some fool proof stuff I could treat the plants with that actually worked, like the stuff I use for aphids, that actually works – but sadly not against spider mites.

      The poppies have been an inexpensive and easy way to add some new interest, I hope the few surviving sunflowers will be just as successful when they start to flower too, I think there will be only three of them. Next year I will definitely sow in pots and plant out when the plants are strong and healthy – not direct sow. Lesson learned.

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  8. I haven't had trouble with spider mites myself but it seems in the past I've heard all you really need to do is knock them off with a blast of water. Despite the troubles your garden looks lovely.

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    1. Oh, I wish it was that easy, but with a garden like mine, packed with plants it would take a lot of jet-washing to scrub all the leaves in my whole garden! The spider mites are attached on the underside of the leaves so spraying directly on the plants doesn’t affect them, I would have to lean under and spray from the underside on each plant. They also seem to be well stuck to each leaf with a sticky substance so not easy at all. I found spraying the oil real tricky, that has to be applied on both sides of the leaves, I just can’t get the solution on the underside on all the leaves and if some are left untreated the colonies explode in numbers again within 3 days. A real challenge…

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  9. Spider mites....I don't use chemicals any more, but as in above comment I try to knock them of with a blast of water. Your sweet peas are lovely and I too do love all kind of poppies. I collect the seeds and sow them the next year on places where I want them. You get all kind of crossings, especially as you have a single one and double ones. But often they have self seeded in the garden, at the moment there are some in the middle of the strawberry bed.
    Wish you a wonderful Sunday in the garden!

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    1. Thanks Janneke, I don't let my poppies self seed as I don't want to have them everywhere, I deadhead them once the flowers are gone. But I might have another go next year with some of the rest of the seeds :-)

      I tried to water blast the crocosmias today, they have thin, vertical leaves and should be the easiest to wash as there is no underside to them. But even after a long, powerful wash and after the leaves had dried, the spider mites were still there, as if nothing had happened. Ugh! I will give them another round of rapeseed oil tomorrow, hopefully that will start to help.

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  10. Fabulous poppy with such rich colour! I love those sweet peas too. I have always been attracted to them but have never planted any.

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    1. Unfortunately the spider mites have taken them too, the leaves are all shrivelled up and yellow now, I am not sure if I will get anymore flowers but they were sweet as long as they lasted.

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  11. Helene - I hope you can get on top of your red spider mite problem. Probably about one of the only pests I've yet to find. I say yet, because if I say I don't get it - it will appear ;)
    I'm glad to have read your comments re the opium poppy. I've been rather smitten with images I've seen of them and was thinking of giving them a try next year. I don't think I'd like them if they have a 'weedy' appearance. It's a pity they don't sell them as plants in any of the nurseries I shop at. I'd get a better idea by looking that them that way.
    Your little sweet pea is lovely. I'm enjoy a neighbours at the moment. I'm looking after their garden whilst they are on vacation and have lots of them growing around the garden.

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    1. I think it is a matter of having the right conditions for them, hot and dry weather is necessary and I think it needs to be above 15 degrees during the night. It is only a problem in my garden in longer spells of nice weather unfortunately, we haven’t had that for a good few years and I haven’t had a problem with spider mites for a good few years either. I have both red and white spider mites in my garden, but not many other pests I must say, haven’t seen a slug in weeks!

      I must admit I prefer oriental poppies, but the flowers on these annuals are really nice so I might give it another go next year. You are lucky getting sweet peas from your neighbour, I guess you can pick as much as you like when they are away then :-)

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  12. 'Little Sweatheart' is very aptly named!
    Poppy blooms are beautiful! Perhaps you would like them better if they were over against the fence, or at least behind the bird bath, instead of at the front of the garden bed.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Thanks Lea, I think I will grow the poppies next year, but further back at the border yes :-)
      Happy gardening to you too!

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  13. The Sweet Peas are lovely, and the Poppies are magnificent! Sorry about the spider mites--I've had those before, and I just try to physically knock them off. Which reminds me ... I should check more closely for them in my garden. Thanks for the reminder. If the spray works, let us know. Good luck!

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    1. I am sure the oil spray works, if it is applied correctly, and that’s the problem, it has to be applied to EVERY leaf, both on the upside and underside. How on earth am I supposed to manage that in my garden, packed with plants, most of them up against the fences where I can’t even get to the back of them! I spent 2 ½ hours yesterday spraying with my 5 litre pressure sprayer which has a flexible spray head on a lance – until the sprayer packed it in and refused to let me add pressure to it. It could not be fixed so ended up in the bin. I am sure I didn’t get oil on every single leaf on both sides but I did my best so we’ll see if it makes a difference. The only comfort I have is that none of my evergreens are attacked so all the plants that now are dying will come up again or get new leaves next year without being harmed by this year’s spider mites. At least that’s something!

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  14. Hi Helene
    Wow, what lovely poppies you've got! Wonderful and a spectacular colour.
    Hihi, sorry, I miss leaded you with this Aspirin rose. This rose doesn't help against headache or fever, no, it just got the name after this medicine called Aspirin. I can't understand why on earth one could give this lovely rose such a name. Whenever I walk by this rose I feel like I'd have swallowed an Aspirin and I really hate this taste. I nearly didn't buy this rose because of that name, but I'm happy now that I did otherwise.
    Have a lovely Sunday in your stunning garden.
    Alex

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    1. OK, I thought perhaps that would be the explanation :-) I don’t understand either why it got its name, it looks nothing like willow!
      Have a great day you too!

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  15. Hi Helene, the poppies are very beautiful, but I know what you mean. I think they look best of all when tucked between other plants where most of the foliage is hidden. Your sweet peas are gorgeous. It is so annoying to find our treasured plants being destroyed by such infestation. I draw the line at having our Roses destroyed and use Rose clear once each year, I spray very late at night when the pollinators are not going about.

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    1. When it comes to aphids I use a very good, completely pesticide free solution against them, made of soya oil and herbs, which I buy from Bakker. I have used it for years and it is the best I have found against aphids, just as good as rose clear, and without any harm to the environment. It lasts for about 4 weeks (is called Pireco, I use the liquid, more economical than the tablets). But it doesn’t work against spider mites, they are the most difficult ones to get rid of, especially when you have such an infestation as I have, just about everywhere in the garden – with leaves completely dying. I might just have to admit defeat for this year and be better prepared next year in case we get a repeat of this year’s amazing summer – ha, not much chance of that, is it?!

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  16. Ugh. I've got the same malady -- a gigantic infestation of spider mite. I remember reading some years ago that treating an infestation effectively is very chemical-heavy involving a good bit of spraying to break the life cycle ...and that the home remedies don't really do much. Do you have access to systemic pyrethrin? I understand these work with spider mites, but they probably won't kill the eggs.

    I do agree with you that the poppies are very pretty in bloom, but that the plant is probably best grown behind prettier foliage -- or perhaps grown en masse. In our hotter drier climate, their blooms are very short lived.

    Lovely to see your sweet peas. Mine have long finished and I'm getting ready to crack open the dried seedpods and haul out the detritus.

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    1. I have already sprayed twice with a spray containing pyrethrin, made no difference, but I suppose I didn’t manage to spray every leaf on both sides, as I am supposed to – we are talking about THOUSANDS of leaves in my garden! And with the hot and dry weather we have had for weeks, the colonies just explode every few days. Today I had 35.5 degrees C (95.9) in the shade in the afternoon.

      The poppies are still producing new buds so they will last for a while yet, even though each flower only last a day. They look so different, each one a version of its own between a double and a semi double :-)

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  17. Oh My! Those poppies are stunning. :-)

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    1. Thanks, the flowers are really pretty yes, still not sure about the rest though!

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  18. It's good of you to bring up some of the problems you have as a gardener from things that don't turn out as you planned to unwanted pests that take over. Too many people gloss over the many problems that we gardeners encounter, giving a false picture of how difficult gardening can be. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for saying that Rosemary, I learn something new every day in my garden and by sharing things here I hope to learn something from this experience so I can be better equipped to deal with it next time. As I am writing this, we have just had an all mighty thunderstorm going past, with a torrential rain lasting for about half an hour. Perhaps that will have knocked off a few thousand spider mites?? At least it will have given my garden some much needed water, great stuff, I hope we get the rain forecasted tomorrow too, I don’t mind a day indoors, my garden needs it :-)

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