Q: I always chased fireflies as a kid. Nowadays I don't see them. Is there a way to increase the firefly population, similar to how people are trying to increase the butterfly population?
A: The firefly is a beneficial predatory insect. It is also known as the lightning bug. It is neither a fly nor a bug: It is a beetle. They are among the most...Read more
Q: We have a Japanese maple growing in our yard. It is a dwarf maple that is only about waist-high, and it has weeping, crimson-red leaves. This spring, two new branches have grown at the top of the trunk. They have bright-green leaves with red edges. They are very pretty. Do we have a new variety of Japanese maple that we can propagate? We like...Read more
Q: We have a tall evergreen in our yard. I think it's a juniper. How do we prune it to make it a nice spiral shape? We have some other evergreens that have been pruned into squares, but they are totally boring. I want to do something artistic with them. If I can't, then I will get rid of them. Do you have any ideas on how to be creative with box...Read more
Q: I want to give my mother a window box full of plants, but I can't seem to get plants to grow nicely together. They look pretty together at the beginning, but then something goes wrong and some of the plants begin looking sad. Eventually, half of them die and I get mad and throw them out. What is the trick to getting them to stay alive and ...Read more
Q: My wife loves peonies, and I want to surprise her with some for Mother's Day. But I know nothing about them and don't want to ask her too much, otherwise I might spoil the surprise. What do I need to know to pick the best ones?
A: Peonies come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, and they live for a very long time. You may need to ask her ...Read more
Q: We have a can of spray foam that says it can be used to fill cavities in tree trunks. There's a hole in one of our trees where a branch was removed -- it's about waist-high. The hole extends up and down inside the trunk. It seems to be about half the diameter of the trunk, which is about 2-feet thick. Will spray foam protect our tree? I have ...Read more
Q: Last year, all of the cauliflower heads in my garden were a yellowish-white color. I didn't realize they weren't going to turn pure white until it came time to harvest them. I planted more heads this year, and I want to know how to blanch them. What I have read so far is confusing. Some are self-blanching and some are not. What do you suggest...Read more
Q: I know spring is here, but my clematis vines are overgrown and I need to trim them. I think they are supposed to be pruned during the winter when they are dormant. Can I still prune them now while they're starting to grow? There is not much growth yet.
A: It is probably a good thing that you didn't prune them during the winter when they were...Read more
I, Alexandra (A Legacy of Stehle's Door)William M. O'Brien Jr.
It began very incidentally. One odd occurrence after another. Then came the dreams. And then the apparitions. Alexandra and Stephanie had figured something was wrong early on. Then, one bright Saturday morning, Johanna appeared. Chased into her apartment and hiding in a...
Q: I am going to be planting several trees for Arbor Day. They are not too big. Their trunks will be about 2 inches thick and about 4 feet tall. Some will be in large plastic pots, and I think the roots of some others will be wrapped in burlap. The area that I'll plant the trees is wet in the spring, but dries up in the summer. I have been told ...Read more
Easter is coming soon. That means Peeps, chocolate bunnies and Easter lilies are flooding the stores. My love of Peeps is well known. Have you tried the sour watermelon flavor? It's a pink marshmallow covered in green sugar. But my favorites are the ones dipped in chocolate. What can I say? At least they're seedless.
Even if you do not ...Read more
Q: A few years ago we bought several fruit trees from a local hardware store. We bought a variety of apple, cherry, pear and peach trees, plus a lemon and an orange tree for indoors. We did not expect to see much fruit growing for the first couple of years, so we were happy to see a few pieces of fruit.
Finally, more fruit appeared last summer....Read more
The weather forecasters said there would be two different storms and lots of snow this March, but spring arrived in large dusty blows instead. March is the official start of spring, but spring doesn't start for me until the local native trees' leaves start falling out, and that is still a few weeks away. Not to fear: There are still plenty of ...Read more