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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #154 --- The scale of justice has been unkind to the Medinilla
December 20, 2013

There I was, hiding from the cold and the snow after our return from Cancun, when I noticed it. Watering the upstairs plants, I started to push aside one of the large leaves of the Medinilla and it stuck to my fingers. The clear sticky honeydew that inevitably tells me that there are some Scale insects nearby. I gave the plant its water and set down the watering can to investigate. Sure enough several of the large Medinilla leaves had those small brownish lumps on them that are Scale. These nasty beasts just set up home under their hard tents and set about sucking the life out of their host plant. How much did I like this plant. It had twice displayed its large showy pink flowers and was starting to grow new leaves indicating another possible rebloom. The first step in fighting the scale invasion would have taken an hour or so and I didn’t really like the plant all that well and its flowers were quite messy when they started to fall apart. It got the quick fix. Neither the scale nor the Medinilla will return from their sojourn out in that cold and snow.

Some of the Phalaenopsis Orchids that spent the summer outside in the shade are starting to push out new bloom stalks. These easy to grow Orchids are now the pot plant of choice for many people. They seem to be at every supermarket floral shop or checkout line and deservedly so. In the last few years a couple of big growers have mastered the art of growing these tropical beauties and forcing them into bloom on a year round basis. The plants are relatively small and the exotic blooms will last for a few months almost in spite of the care, or lack of it, that we supply. I have several, because some people who receive them as gifts have no desire to try out their green thumbs, despite the fact that they rebloom quite easily. Those orphans somehow seem to wind up in my collection instead of somebody’s compost. The cool autumn days naturally start them into their blooming cycle. If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might even return them in their blooming state to the non-gardeners who gave them to me.

It’s down to the basement after this to do my Christmas shopping and wrapping. Amaryllis bulbs have been my gift of choice to neighbours, friends and all those people that you would just like to give something to. They have been in my cold room for a few weeks and now is the time to pot them up and drop them into a gift bag for distribution. The local grandchildren will also get one but they, and I, will have the fun of potting them up with Grandpa’s help. This is best done at their house so the parents can participate by cleaning up after the activity. Everybody loves to watch the rapid growth and then the huge flowers that emerge from these large bulbs. A few will keep them on and ask me how to make them reflower next year and that’s just my clever way of creating another gardener. Like the Phalaenopsis, I often get a few of these back after blooming and they get added to the collection that spend the next summer outside.

“Dallying In The Dirt” and I, will now take a bit of a holiday. After some Turkey and maybe some roast Lamb with lots of delicious vegetables, lots of grandchildren, a bit of skiing and some quiet seed catalogue perusal, I’ll turn on the computer again in early January and we’ll get started on the winter seeding and transplanting. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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