Thursday, June 22, 2006

hummingbird feeder : garden letters


Editor's Notebook

Steve is out of town, so this month's column was written by me, Bob the water turtle (glub). As a rather shy aquatic reptile, I'm usually content to let Steve do the talking, but one issue really steams my shell (glub, glub). Immersed as ( often am in pond scum, my world is mostly green. But you humans fait to notice a great way to jazz up a green landscape-summer-blooming native azaleas. Start with sweet azalea (Rhododendron arborescens), shown at left, with fragrant, white flowers sporting spidery, red stamens. Follow that with plumleaf azalea (R. prunifolium), which bears orange-red flowers in July and August. Finish with hammocksweet azalea (R. serrulatum); it flaunts fragrant, white flowers anytime from July to September. Order them from Woodlanders, (803) 648-7522 or order will be shipped in the fall.

Now, I know what you're thinking (glub): Turtles don't use the internet. Oh, really? Who do you think has been sending you all that spam? -BOB


Do you have any suggestions for landscaping to camouflage airconditioning linitS? SPRING TUCKER * WAXHAW, NORTH CAROLINA


Refrain from planting shrubs close to your AC units, because you'll need to maintain access for any future service. You also don't want to impede airflow. We suggest erecting a wood screen around the units. Wooden screen panels attached to treated 4x4 posts can be designed to be removed easily. These screen panels have spaces between slats to allow air to pass through. Place the screen at least 3 feet away from the AC units.

My yard was once a wooded area but has been cleared and sodded. Tree suckers keep sprouting through the lawn. How can I remove the buried tree stumps?



You can't-not without destroying the lawn you worked so hard on. Regular mowing should eventually exhaust the roots and end the sprouting. To hasten the process, cut the tops off the sprouts, and then paint the cut ends with triclopyr (Brush-B-Gon) or gtyphosate (Roundup), mixed according to label directions. You may have to do this more than once.

Are you supposed to cut off the flower spikes that appear on coleus? I think they look nice and would like to leave them on.



Whether you cut or leave them really boils down to a matter of taste. Some people don't like the spikes and think that they detract from the foliage. Others say the plants grow bushier when the spikes are removed. Ultimately, if you like the spikes, just leave them. After all, it's your garden.

My beautiful border of pink dianthus stays lush and green until August, but then patches turn brown and die. What can I do about this?



Dieback of dianthus is common in the South. The combination of summer heat, high humidity, and heavy, poorly drained soil often causes this favorite perennial to melt. To prevent this, choose a different spot to grow your dianthus next year. Plant in loose, well-drained sou where air can circulate freely, and choose selections that tolerate high heat and humidity such as 'Bewitched,' 'Bath's Pink,' and 'Firewitch.' (You can order them from Sunlight Gardens, 1-800-272-7396 or, or Forestfarm, (54!) 846-7269 or

I've discovered a great way to keep ants from traveling up the post holding my hummingbird feeder. I simply spray the post with vegetable cooking spray. The ants have given up trying to climb it. The feeder has been ant free for almost a month.



Tips of the Month are ideas readers say work for them. We do not test them. Submit tips on a postcard with your name, address, telephone number, and e-mai) address Io Garden Tips, Southern Living, P.O. Box 523, Birmingham, AL 35201 or by e-mail to For each tip published, you will receive a copy of the new Southern Living Garden Book.

Copyright Southern Progress Corporation Aug 2005
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved


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