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Welcome to My Jungle - July, 2019

The jungle is popping with early summer-blooming flowers, making cut flowers a quick and easy visual treat. I certainly understand some gardener's preference to just enjoy them on the plant, but for me, there is just a little added enjoyment creating a mixed vase of flowers from my own jungle. In early July there are many garden plants to choose from for cut flowers, including but definitely not limited to (pictured above); oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), beebalm (Monarda sp.), daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.), rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), verbena (Verbena sp.), oxeye daisy (Telekia sp.), catmint (Nepeta sp.), skullcap (Scutellaria sp.), lavender (Lavandula sp.), culver's root (Veronicastrum sp.), coneflowers (Echinacea sp.), hyssop (Agastache sp.), blazing star (Liatris sp.), loosestrife (Lysimachia sp.), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), plantain lily (Hosta sp.), astilbe (Astilbe sp.), nasturtiums (Tropaeolum group) and grey-head coneflowers (Ratibida pinnata). I don't just limit myself to cultivated plants either. Plants often deemed weeds and escapes plants also make very attractive cut flower arrangements (see picture above). Just walk along a weedy fencerow and you will be amazed at how many "weedy' plants are in bloom in early July, including: queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota), thistles (Cirsium sp.), yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), plantains (Plantago sp.), clovers (Trifolium sp.), chicory (Cichorium intybus), dock (Rumex sp.), Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) and any number of other interesting grasses. Just to cover the legal end of harvesting wildflowers and weeds…in general, you shouldn't be on property you don't own or control without permission. Also keep in mind Illinois has very strict laws about harvesting and other activities associated with endangered and protected species, so know what you are harvesting. Unless you are the landowner or you have written permission from the landowner, you may not do anything to an endangered or threatened species on the Illinois checklist other than admire it and record images.

IL Endangered Sp. Protection Act:

IL Check List:

I wrote last month about the importance of siting a plant properly and that has certainly been true for lavender in my jungle. At best, lavender has always been a very short-lived perennial due to winter injury, so I needed a more uniform site. I finally succeeded with 'Phenomenal.' I planted a 2" plug in a very sunny, well-drained section of the jungle in the spring of 2017. Two successful overwinterings and the plant just keeps increasing in size. This year I harvested two large handfuls of wands for drying…the garage smells wonderful. I can't wait to figure out what to do with my bounty…I'm thinking drawer sachets.

The weeds have arrived! And not the type you want to use in a floral arrangements. I always dread the flush of weeds that comes with summer heat and mosquitoes. It can be downright depressing, but I have found a solution that works for me. The neighbors probably think I'm crazy, but I have found a high velocity fan and a really long exterior grade extension cord solves both my problems. The air flow not only keeps me cool, its high velocity keeps the mosquitoes at bay so I don't have to be sprayed down with DEET-containing repellents. It's amazing how much weeding you can get done sitting on a piece of foam in front of a fan. And we all know how therapeutic weeding can be!