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Webber Moth

This is an odd one. A message came in follwed by an email with three photographs [the first 3 – see below – the rest followed shortly after] of what I was told was the tent caterpillar. Which is correct-ish. But not, because the the [eastern] tent caterpillar moth Malacosoma americanum is from [eastern] North America.

That said we weren’t far off the mark. What we have [because I know Donal Conaty lives in Ireland – because his phone number starts with 087 😀 ], is the webber moth. This comes from varying caterpillars one of which is the Malacosoma neustria. Not that far apart 😯 In short what we have are two Donegans – one is simply my long lost brother. Does that make sense….? [the webber moths also include the euproctis chrysorrhoea/ dichomeris marginella/ Yponomeuta sp.]

So these moths [the caterpillars or ugly butterflies of that is…] can affect any tree or shrub, although they have a particular likening for fruit trees, willow, cotoneaster and crataegus to name a few. What they do is very simple to see from Donals images, they cover the entire area of planting with a web.

The problem for any plant affected by a caterpillar is that the leaves are eaten… Loss in leaf means a reduction in photosynthesis and therefore a loss in production or – more important for any plant is it chances of reproduction. In fruit trees in particular and moreso of importance to me and you – it simply means less fruit. And of course it looks ghastly.

The control is quite simple. Remove the web. Remove the caterpillar. Some say careful pruning but I have seen infestations – like a scene from Wuthering Heights – in my time and a garden rake would be more appropriate in some scenes, to start with. My theory for ‘problems’ such as white fly and caterpillars is always wishy washy liquid and a sponge and in this case by hand first. I may go select pruning if its necessary afterwards. In Donals case I know there are over 100 trees affected and spraying with a pyrethrum based biological control may be the choice.

If you are asking for a name of a product – I haven’t a clue what trade names garden centres have them marketed under and they change regularly enough – just bring them this post and tell them I said call me if they [he says jokingly] need any more information 😉

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Water Conservation

Today I discovered some of plant collection had been, put simply, close on fried. It’s rare for me to complain about the weather…. but here’s my situation.

For gardens that are new, or newly planted [Hi Julie and Terry 😉 ],for best results and knowing that the hose must be used…. try water at night time. It ensures the plant isn’t competing with the sun for water intake and therefore gets the maximum return from the watering and your time in doing so. Also one may find the water, combined with the days sun can act like a magnifying glass of sorts and cook the leaves slightly.

When these water charges do come in – the county councils will most likely up the price of those water butts too. My advice get one what you can sooner.

If however it is newly selected areas of planting, you may find that the water butts are an option to be considered.

As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or direct via audioboo or you subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here.

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The Ladybird

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Coccinellidae or ladybirds as we know them are members of the beetle family, generally red with black spots head and antennae and can be anything up to almost half an inch in size. But with over 5,000 species they can also be any colour from yellow to black. The less prettier and often referred to a the mealybug Ladybird cryptolaemus montrouzieri should not be confused with the Coccinella septempunctata or what I should refer to as the common ladybird

The ladybird is most famed in horticultural terms for being predators or the boilogical control of the aphid [whitefly or greenfly] and they really are a gardeners friend. That said if you spoke to my niece Lilly… they are most famed to her because she had a pet ladybird once…. but it ‘flew away‘ 😉

Ladybirds and other garden predators are/ can usually be encouraged easily by having areas of undisturbed ground and also by the introduction of attractive flowers.

I spotted this guy above just sitting pretty whilst clipping some crataegus in the garden yesterday…. 😉



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Cycas Revoluta

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The Cycas or Sago palm, cycadaceae, is a genus of about 15 species. This one, the C. revoluta is better known as the Japaneese sago palm.

These are another batch of plants I spotted in the Cape Garden Centre.

It is generally a very robust plant but with age it tends to begin to lean over, begin suckering and branching out. The leaves can grow to 1.5 metres long. And surprisingly, possibly, this fella only ever grows to a maximum of about 2 metres in height and width…. which kind of explains why I didn’t see any taller versions of it 😉   

The flowers are dioecious [carry both male and female flowering parts seperate]. The male parts [16″ long but up to 32″ long in other varieties] are cone like and pineapple scented whilst the female parts [8″ long but up to 30″ long] can appear as loose clusters of leaves but in C. revoluta appear as yellow fruits.

Personally I love them simply for their foliage.

      

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Beaucarnea recurvata

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Some of these plants were used in the building of the garden in Wallacedene.

Once again they came from The Cape Garden Centre.  

They were however planted as a smaller species [you’ll see them in the images below in sand in a liner similar to a 1 litre pot]. Once again and yet again to say I was blown away when I saw them over the 6′ tall mark is an understatement. They are magnificient.
The beaucarnea, nolinaceae, are a genus of about 30 species of evergreen trees and shrubs. This variety, the B. recurvata, is commonly known as the ponytail palm. The leaves can grown to 6′ tall, the plant itself can grow up to 8metres in height and 4 metres wide. It does produce flowers through the summer time, but alas I think I’ll have to hope that one day I may see that in person…. For the moment, it is still an absoolute stunner… 😉   
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