August 9, 1996

That Blue Roadside Weed


Driving along it is difficult to imagine what it would be like without those colorful wildflowers/weeds of summer brightening up our Iowa roadsides. One of my particular favorites is Cichorium intybus L., better known as chicory, coffeeweed, or blue sailors. This beauty is easy to recognize mainly because it is one of the only blue-flowered weeds of summer. A single plant consists of several branched hollow stems, each ending in a single bloom approximately 1-1.5 inches across. The tip of every petal has five lobes. Plant size ranges from 1-3 ft. high but could reach up to 5 ft.

Maintenance of Outdoor Furniture


Outdoor living spaces have become very popular in recent years. The furnishings that decorate these outdoor areas are usually quite durable, but most will need regular maintenance to look their best. Frequent washing is one of the best ways to preserve outdoor furniture. When dirt and residues are allowed to set, metals corrode and become pitted, while plastics and fabrics lose their color.

Preserving Fresh Flowers


Fresh flowers are a beautiful part of many memorable events, such as weddings, proms, and receptions. One way to preserve the memories of these special occasions is to dry and preserve the flowers. Arrangements can be taken apart, dried, and reassembled. Or perhaps you would like to preserve some of the beauty from your garden to enjoy when six inches of snow lies where the flowers once stood.

Shedding Bark


Shedding bark on some trees is a completely normal development. The bark of most young trees is smooth and thin. As the tree grows, the bark layer thickens with the outermost tissue eventually dying. Continued growth pushes the bark outward, causing the outer layers to crack. On some trees, the outer dead layers peel and drop off, revealing the inner layers of bark. Shedding or peeling bark is characteristic of trees such as the sycamore, redbud, silver maple, shagbark hickory, birch, and Scotch pine.

Verticillium Wilt


Several shade tree species are susceptible to Verticillium wilt. Maples are quite susceptible. Ash, catalpa, golden rain tree, smoke tree, magnolia, and redbud, and others can also be affected. Susceptible shrubs include barberry, boxwood, dogwood, lilac, spirea, weigela and viburnum. Verticillium is not extremely aggressive but can be a problem on stressed trees and shrubs. Samples that have tested positive for the disease in the Plant Disease Clinic this year include green ash, maple, and catalpa.