August 10, 2001

A Passion for Purple


While it may be hard to have a passion for anything outside during the heat and humidity of late summer in Iowa, I think fondly of the colors in my landscape. As I look out of my air-conditioned window, I watch the curtain close on some of the summer blooming perennials and note that the beauty of fall blooming plants has not yet arrived. In this lull, we look to plants with colorful foliage to provide interest. While there are a number of colorful possibilities, one of my gardening passions is for reddish-purple foliage. Purple leafed plants are not limited by size.

Yellownecked Caterpillar


The yellownecked caterpillar is a common pest on crab apple, pin oak and birch trees in Iowa. It is also known to feed on elm, linden, honeylocust, maple, and fruit trees. Adult moths lay clusters of eggs on the backside of leaves in July. These eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars that remain in a cluster as they feed on the foliage. Small larvae are purplish with slender white stripes. As the caterpillars mature, they scatter throughout the host tree and feed individually. Full-grown larvae are 2 inches long and are black with white stripes.

Brown Patch of Turfgrass


Temperatures have been high both day ( 85F) and night ( 60F). If high humidity and 10 hours or longer of blade wetness is added to the scenario, your lawn may come down with a case of brown patch, also known as Rhizoctonia blight. The common fungus Rhizoctonia solani causes brown patch. Most types of grasses and several non-grass plants can be infected by the fungus.

Bulb Catalogs


While the hot, humid days of August are still upon us, it's time to begin planning our fall garden activities. One fall garden chore is the planting of tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs.

Gardeners can purchase spring-flowering bulbs at local garden centers and mail-order companies. For your convenience, the mailing addresses and web sites of several mail-order bulb companies are provided. Brent and Becky's Bulbs 7463 Heath Trail
Gloucester, Virginia 23061 Dutch Gardens P.O. Box 2037