Q Over the past week I have noticed continued damage to this ornamental cabbage. [The reader sent a photo.] I’m used to squirrels burying nuts in pots, but I’ve never eaten them on my kale. Suggestions?
A Put some chili sauce in a spray bottle with a little water and spray it on the plant. See if that will deter them. There are other sprays you can buy to keep pets away, but they tend to smell and you might not want to be that close to the house.
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Q I am late in my fall tasks. Is it too late to divide the peonies and irises? Should I try to root Persian Shield cuttings for next year? Will the lemongrass and lemongrass come back on their own if I do something to help them through the winter?
A You can still divide the peonies, but I wouldn’t be dividing the irises so late. Iris rhizomes need to be planted shallow and I’m afraid they will be lifted off the ground this winter by freezing and thawing. Take cuttings of Persian shield and lemongrass, as none will return next year. Lemongrass can come back in a milder winter or with added mulch. You have a lot of lemongrass, and it’s next to the house, so it might be more protected. It won’t be a 100% guarantee, but fingers crossed. If you could dig up a small plant and put it in a pot in your garage or crawl space in your home, it would protect it more.
Gallery: In the garden – November 27, 2021
Q Could you identify this bush that came along my fence? [The reader sent a photo.] I left it because I thought the birds would appreciate the berries.
A The plant in question is an Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii. In Northwest Arkansas, this plant can be quite invasive. It has lovely fragrant white flowers in the summer, followed by these berry clusters in the fall. The birds eat the fruit, then lay the seeds everywhere. The plant is propagated by its root system as well as by seeds, so beware.
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Q We had a wonderful weekend at Eureka Springs and during our stay we visited Quigley Castle where I took this [photo]. (Such a fascinating place – you’ve probably been there. I could have stayed for hours longer just to keep looking at the landscaping in the changing fall light!) I was told the name of the house. crashes but I was not sure of the spelling.
A The plant in question is the crossandra, a beautiful annual. The flowers come in a variety of shades of orange and yellow.
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Q Is that sumac? We live in northern Arkansas, and it started out as a really big tree with leaves on the top. Also, when do you prune Japanese maples?
A No, this small tree / big bush is a tree of the sky (Ailanthus altissima). It has compound leaves like sumac, but this plant is native to China and spreads aggressively. It produces a plume of white flowers at the top that turn into a cluster of purplish seeds. The flowers have a foul odor, so other common names include stinky sumac (due to its similarity to sumac) and varnish tree. As for pruning Japanese maples, I prefer to do this before the trees come out of dormancy in the spring. Every now and then we experience winter damage on Japanese maples, so leaving them intact can give them the protection they need. The best pruning is selective thinning and shaping, not shearing or topping.
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas’ best-known horticultural experts. His blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to him at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or by email [email protected]