May 19, 1995
Genetic alteration of organisms by inserting genes from other species is an astounding achievement of modern biology - until you consider that Mother Nature has been doing it for millions of years. A humble bacterium with a 25-cent name, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, was changing the genetic makeup of plants long before humans developed opposable thumbs, let alone picked up a test tube.
Gardeners are often surprised when small apples and other fruit drop prematurely to the ground. However, premature fruit drop is relatively common on apples and other fruit trees. The home gardener shouldn't be alarmed if the fruit tree appears healthy. The fruit drop may simply be nature's way of reducing a heavy fruit load.
Bacterial blight of lilac is caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. Infection results in brown spots on leaves and internodes. These spots may enlarge and coalesce, causing leaves to become misshaped. Eventually leaves may be killed. When the infection spreads around a twig, it becomes girdled and dies. This phase of the disease is evident as new shoots develop in the spring. The shoots turn a black color, droop over, and die.
Some perennials need support to prevent them from flopping on their neighbors, opening in the center, or snapping from wind or heavy flowers. Properly staked perennials are neater in appearance, but do not reveal the equipment used. Timing and selection of the proper support material is important.
Wildflower plantings can provide a colorful alternative to high maintenance, mowed areas. The beauty of a wildflower display will often be more spectacular during certain times of the year, depending on the species composition.
Most people do seem to enjoy a planting of wildflowers. However, if your idea of a perfect landscape is immaculately clipped and manicured, then wildflower plantings will probably not suit you.