Weeds in the garden have pulled me away from the computer this summer. After a wet April, a dry May, and a very wet June, I continue to do battle. Fortunately, I have help this summer in the form of David Arnold of The Esoteric Gardener, so by the close of this season the garden will look far better than it has in the past couple of years.

In addition to the regular culprits, I am making a special effort to eliminate wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius), which are threatening to take over major portions of our property. I expect this to be a multi-year battle, and I don’t think I will ever be able to let my guard down completely.



Above: Wineberries with multiflora roses (Rosa multiflora), another common non-native invasive weed.

In the past, I’ve tried digging and discarding wineberry plants. I’ve also routinely cut off and placed the fruit in the trash to try to reduce the number of seed-grown plants. Despite previous efforts, this year they have taken over more space than ever, indicating my past efforts haven’t been effective. In response, I am resorting to using herbicide and a sprayer, something that I hate to do.

Wineberries are a serious non-native invasive that are worth fighting. Not only do they spread by suckers and come up from seed sown by birds, they also root wherever the stem tips touch the soil and produce canes that arch over and shade out nearby plants. The end result is an interconnected mass of thorny stems that form thickets that are really difficult and unpleasant to negotiate. The fruit is edible, but is not enough of a reason to let the plants live. Native black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) are thorny and can get out of control, but they are a far better choice and a great homegrown fruit.


Above: Wineberries have arching stems covered with bristly reddish hairs and plentiful thorns. On the left is another non-native invasive, oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)


Above: Black raspberry stems are whitish in color. While they have thorns, they  lack the red hairs that characterize wineberry stems.

Spraying wineberries is not a once-and-done operation. Established plants form dense tiers, and I have found that spraying twice or three times at about 10-day intervals works best to eliminate the plants. The first spraying generally takes care of the main canes, which reveals lower branches along with smaller plants closer to the ground. I am using Roundup mixed according to label directions. (I buy the concentrate, mix it myself, and add a squirt or two of dish-washing liquid as a spreader sticker.) When spraying, I try to isolate the canes to prevent drips from getting on any plants below. This isn’t always possible, and I have  damaged some plant growing underneath the wineberries. I hope they will rebound once the blanket of dense foliage dies away. I am also leaving the canes in place so I can see where they were located and spray again if necessary. I’ll probably cut them back late this fall, then start year two of my elimination program next spring.

Just a quick post to let Eastern Shore Gardeners (and ones from the Western Shore, too!) know that I’ll be signing copies of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping at this year’s Kent Island Day.  That’s today from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I’ve never been before, but it looks like a fun event! Hope to see some of you there.

I was honored to be asked to do a video interview about Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping, for The Chestertown Spy. Here it is for readers who don’t get the Spy. Below, I’ve added a photo that illustrates one my other overwhelming interests!


Above: Front row: Bienn and Bonnie. Back row: Bing, Casey, Me, and puppy Charlie.

Spring was late this year, to be sure, but in recent weeks the pace has picked up considerably in my garden. This morning, I am sharing a few spring plant combinations. For the most part, my spring combinations depend on self-sowing perennials such as wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginiana). I am also seeing self-sown plants of great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) that are just getting large enough to bloom. My division of this early blooming wildflower originally came from my mother’s garden.

Later today, I hope to see some Eastern Shore Gardeners at Twigs & Teacups in Chestertown, Maryland, for First Friday. I’ll be at the store from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. signing books, answering questions, and talking about gardens. Also, don’t forget to come to the plant sales next Friday at Fountain Park in Chestertown and Saturday in Rock Hall! Both sales begin at 9:00 a.m., and you will find a number of the plants pictured here among the offerings!


Above: Favorite spring flowers, taken April 17. Great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora), double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore Pleno’), and Dutchmen’s breeches (Dicentra cucularia)

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I hope some readers of Eastern Shore Gardener will join me at Adkins Arboretum this Friday or Saturday. Adkins is celebrating the opening day for their native plant nursery, and I’ll be there to sign copies of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. There’s little doubt I’ll be buying some plants as well.

I will be signing books on both Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bring questions, too, and I will do my best to answer them!


Adkins Arboretum is located at 12610 Eve Road, Ridgely, MD 21660
Phone: 410-634-2847

For more on the event see Native Plant Nursery Opening.

I had lots of fun at the American Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Market on April 10 & 11 (Friday and Saturday). I am quite sure that I told a few people that I will be at Adkins Arboretum’s Spring Nursery Opening and Plant Sale, but I had the dates wrong yesterday. (I am blaming the fact that I didn’t check my calendar.) Anyway, I will be at Adkins Arboretum next weekend on Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. if you would like a signed copy of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. Hope to see you there!

I am packing my car this morning to get ready to go to Alexandria, Virginia, for the American Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Market. I will be selling and signing copies of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. Hope to see some of you there! Here are the details:

Friday, April 11 & 12, 2015
American Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Market
Members’ Only Morning, Friday, April 10,  10:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon
Public Sale: Friday, April 10, 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 11, 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
7931 East Boulevard Drive
Alexandria, VA 22308

For more information on the market, see Spring Garden Market. CGL-Cover005_thumb.jpg


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