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Last week, as I walked out into the back garden, I noticed something that didn’t look right with my a few of my yellow bell shrubs (Tecoma stans stans)

The photo, above, shows how they should normally look, however, last week, they looked like this….

Definitely not normal looking and manyM of the outer leaves were skeletonized, and it got worse. All four of my yellow bell shrubs had the same symptoms.  So, did my orange jubilee shrubs, which are closely related.

To be honest, I was a bit stunned to see the damage.  You see, I had grown these beautiful shrubs for over 14 years and have never seen this before – not even in landscapes I managed or when consulting.

What was interesting is that other shrubs right next to my yellow bells and orange jubilee weren’t in the least bit affected. So, what is eating my leaves?

I looked at the symptoms – the skeletonized leaves, the fact that many of my leaves were ‘rolled’ and little black dots (insect poop) told me that my shrubs were suffering from ‘leaf rollers,’ which are tiny caterpillars that roll the leaf around them while they eat.  It is hard to spot the caterpillars themselves, but the damage they cause, usually makes it easy to diagnose.

Now that I noticed my yellow bells and orange jubilee shrubs being affected – I have noticed these same shrubs being affected in my neighborhood, along freeways and other areas.  I don’t know why leaf rollers are affecting these shrubs all of a sudden after all these years.  I suspect it is the higher than normal rainfall we experienced this summer, but I don’t know for certain.

Regardless of why leaf rollers are affecting these beautiful shrubs – there are ways to get rid of them. Here are a few different options:

1. Prune off the affected growth and dispose of the leave in the trash can (not in your compost pile).  

2. Treat your shrub using a biological pesticide that contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis),  which is ingested by the caterpillars.  BT basically ‘eats’ its way from the caterpillar’s stomach outward. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.

3. You can use an insecticide spray to kill the leaf rollers.

4. Lastly, there are systemic insecticides that are applied around the plant and are taken up by the roots – but, their use can lead to the build-up of resistant insects and can have other negative environmental effects.

**Whenever using any pesticide – follow directions carefully. For my shrubs, I will prune back the damaged growth and not apply pesticides. However, if the leaf rollers continue to attack, then I may decide to use a product with BT.

So, if you have yellow bells or orange jubilee shrubs – check them to see if they are being affected by leaf rollers.


**If your bougainvillea leaves are showing signs of being chewed – they may have been visited by ‘bougainvillea looper caterpillars.’  For more information on how to recognize and treat these caterpillars, click here.
Thankfully, the rest of my garden is looking healthy 🙂

I haven’t stepped out into my garden since Wednesday.

It rained so hard on Friday, that our back patio flooded and my daughter and nephew started scooping up water using buckets and throwing it onto the back lawn.

To top it off, I have been rotating between my favorite chair in the family room and my bed.

I REALLY HATE THE FLU….

The good news is that I am feeling a little better, but have no energy.  But, I thought I would share with you a photo that I took last week of a very pretty Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans).

It has been pruned into a small tree.
I have three that are in the typical shrub-shape.  While I do really like the way they look pruned up like this – I probably won’t be doing this to ours anytime soon.
Mostly because we do our own landscaping and while I do enjoy pruning – I don’t like doing it enough to keep up with the tree form.
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I hope your week is off to a good start.  Our weather is beginning to cool off a little, so once I get my energy back, I’ll be back out in the garden getting my vegetable gardens ready for fall 🙂

It seems just like I was creating a bouquet for the month of April.  Where has the time gone?

My garden is in full bloom, but all I seem to see when I look outside is some plants in need of a bit of pruning 😉

I have had some exciting events occur in my garden, which I cannot wait to share with you next week.  

Some of you wondered how my daughter, Gracie, was doing after having 6 teeth pulled last week and she is doing much better.  She was able to eat a Rice Krispy treat last Monday, but told me that she it was too hard to eat salad – I don’t think so……

Okay, so back to my Monthly Garden Bouquet.  You know, some months it is difficult to come up with a bouquet.  In winter there are much fewer flowering plants to choose from.  So, I really appreciate the warmer months when it  only takes me about 10 minutes to put together a pretty bouquet.

So, I picked out two different flowers, one from a shrub and the other from a groundcover.  I had the perfect container and was ready to take my photo when, my dog, Tobey, decided to get a closer look at my bouquet….

So once I got Tobey out of the way, I was able to take this picture of my bouquet.
I love using mason jars for flower arrangements.  I recently purchased a special lid that has a wire grid that separates and holds up each individual stem.  I love it.
The flowers that I chose were yellow flowers from my Arizona Yellow Bells shrubs (Tecoma stans stans).  I love the bright green foliage and the flowers are present from April to November in my zone 9a garden.
**You know what?  Many people overlook the fact that many flowering shrubs can be used to make great bouquets.
The  purple flowers are from my Trailing Purple Lantana (Lantana montevidensis), which add gorgeous purple to my garden for 9 months each year.

Okay, so maybe some of you are wondering about this Monthly Garden Bouquet.  Well, here are the details below…..
If you would like to participate in this month’s MGB, here are the guidelines:
1. MGB begins on the 21st of each month and runs until the end of each month. Bouquets can be submitted during this time (or even later 🙂 
2. Create your own garden bouquet as fancy or simple as you like.
3. I would appreciate it if you would provide a link back to my post inside of your MGB post, but it is not required 🙂 
4. Add your link to Mr. Linky below and that’s it! 

It can be as simple or fancy as you like.  Each month, I cannot wait to see what you all come up with.

Hello Everyone!  It is hard to believe that it is already time for this month’s MGB.  The summer seems to be flying by.  Soon my kids will be back in school and I will be able to get back to blogging more regularly and commenting on your posts 🙂  I miss my normal routine and my life seems to revolve around my kids 24/7.  Not that that is bad, mind you….I love my kids a lot, but I am looking forward to having a little time to do the things that I enjoy.

The bouquet that I created for July is made up of Lysiloma leaves, Bougainvillea brachts and Yellow Bell (Tecoma stans) flowers.    *Did you know that the colorful magenta ‘flowers’ on the bougainvillea are not the flowers?  They are actually brachts that form around the tiny, cream colored flower in the middle.


I must confess that it took me awhile to decide where to take the picture of my bouquet and I finally settled on the lawn in our back garden.  I love how the color green can make me feel like the temperatures have dropped a few degrees.


 As you can see, my bouquet is rather simple like me but rather colorful at the same time.

I would love to see your July bouquets.  The guidelines for MGB are very simple….

1. MGB is held the third week of each month and bouquets can be submitted during a 7 day period (or even later if you like).
2. Create your own bouquet as fancy or simple as you like.
3. I would appreciate it if you would provide a link back to my post inside of your MGB post, but it is not required 🙂
4. Add your link to Mr. Linky below and that’s it!

I cannot wait to see what bouquets you create from your summer gardens.

Have a great week!

 

You know how some people are described as ‘natural beauties’?  They look great without makeup and their hair only pulled up into a ponytail.  Well, I am not describing myself.  It takes some work in front of the mirror before I will venture outside 😉

But, I absolutely love using plants that are what I would call ‘natural beauties’ because they look great without having to fuss over them.  Now, I do love to be out in the garden, but I do not particularly like digging, dividing, pruning and deadheading often – especially in the summer months.  And so, many of the plants in my garden are ‘natural beauties’.  They look fantastic with minimal effort.  

I would like to share with you, periodically, some of my favorite ‘natural beauties’.  Today, I would like to introduce you to Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans var. stans).

 One look at this picture and it is easy to see why I love this shrub so much.  They are covered with gorgeous yellow flowers from April to October.  

Yellow Bells grows into a large shrub (6 ft. high and 4 ft. wide), with beautiful leaves and clusters of yellow, trumpet shaped flowers.


Interestingly, even though hummingbirds usually flock to flowers with red, orange and purple flowers….they can’t get enough of my Yellow Bell flowers.


I do not fertilize my Yellow Bells shrubs or give them any special treatment.  They have not been bothered by pests of any kind.
You can find them growing in many tropical and semi-tropical areas such as the southeastern areas of the United States, Central America and in the Caribbean.


They are somewhat susceptible to frost (hardy to zone 8), and mine suffers damage to the tips of the branches.  As a result, the only maintenance that I perform is an annual pruning in spring, once the threat of frost is over.
 
A plant like this has a prominent place in my garden and provides beautiful color throughout the summer, when I tend to hibernate inside within the comforts of my air-conditioned house.  I do venture out into the garden in the mornings and evenings when the temperatures are cooler to do some work.  I much prefer looking through my window at my ‘natural beauties’.
I hope you enjoyed my first ‘natural beauty’ post.  I will be featuring more in the future.
What ‘natural beauties’ do you have growing in your garden?

One of my favorite flowering shrubs is Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans).  The other day, I spent some time pruning it back with some little hands eager to help.  

Yellow Bells is susceptible to frost damage in the winter and with spring almost here, it was time to prune back the brown tips.

 
My son offered to help me with pruning off the frost damaged tips of our Yellow Bells shrub.  As you can see, the shrub is taller then is.

 
I was happy at how they fared this winter.  Only the tips suffered frost damage.
 

We pruned back the brown, dead growth back to growing buds.

 
I am always happy when any of my children want to help me in the garden, but I particularly enjoyed having my son help me on this day because it is more difficult for him because of his disability.

We adopted our son 5 years ago from China knowing that he had a disability.  He was born with a condition in which some of his joints have limited strength and motion.  In the case of our son, his hands and feet are affected.  
He has had multiple surgeries and it is amazing at what he can do now compared to how limited he was when we adopted him when he was 2 years old.  However, he still struggles with the residual effects of his condition.  He does not always utilize his right hand and quite frankly, favors it while we are repeatedly encouraging him to use it to build up muscle strength.
As a result, I was so happy to see him having to use both hands to prune back our shrub.  He was very committed to doing a good job.
 

How do you think we did?  My son was very proud of the job he did.  I finished up pruning some of the taller branches that he could not reach.
Soon our shrub will be reaching the top of the wall and producing beautiful yellow flowers.