Friday, August 31, 2007

Bullington Fall Programs

The Bullington Center has announced another great fall lineup of classes being offered. You can attend a class on choosing the perfect small landscape tree or learn how to make botanical holiday ornaments. Check out this link below for a full listing of classes offered. Call John Murphy at 698-6104 for more information.

Bullington Fall Classes

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free Water Conservation Help

Water conservation is everyone’s business, especially as the drought in NC worsens. Through a cooperative effort between the Department of Crop Science and the State Climate Office of North Carolina at NC State University an internet based decision-aide entitled the Turf Irrigation Management System (TIMS) has been developed and is now available to the citizens of North Carolina. This simple to use system can be utilized by anyone from the dedicated turf professional to the homeowner to help make irrigation management decisions.

First, it guides you through your account set-up by asking a few simple questions about the type of grass, soil and irrigation system you have. After set-up, it calculates the amount of irrigation you need and keeps track of when and how much water you actually use. Once you have entered your address, climate information is read from the closest weather station which is part of the NC Climate Retrieval and Observations Network Of the Southeast (CRONOS) and the irrigation needed by your turf is calculated based on recent weather conditions including precipitation and evaporation.

This system will help you practice better water conservation for your lawn, landscape or other turfgrass areas in this critical time for water resources. It is free to the public in NC and can be accessed at the following URL:

The State Climate Office of North Carolina is a public-service center and extension of the UNC system housed at NC State University and the primary source for climate data and expertise in North Carolina. The mission of the State Climate Office is to provide climate related services to the state, local and federal agencies, businesses and citizens of North Carolina.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Construction and Tree Protection

As western North Carolina continues with our rapid growth, we hear of many concerns of how to protect our mature trees during construction. North Carolina Cooperative Extension has developed a new publication to help the homeowner and builder develop a tree protection plan. For more information and to view the publication online, click the link below.
Construction Publication

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Statewide burning ban now in effect

The N.C. Division of Forest Resources has initiated a statewide ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits effective at noon on August 21st. The ban on open burning will be in effect until further notice. The ban on open burning is necessary because of the dry weather conditions and an increase in fire activity statewide. Currently more than 100 firefighters are battling 130 wildfires in Robeson County alone. Yesterday there were 46 new wildfires affecting more than 370 acres across North Carolina.

By North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning statewide, regardless of whether a permit was issued. Open burning includes burning leaves, branches and other plant material. In all cases, it is illegal to burn trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-vegetative materials. The ban will be enforced by local law enforcement agents, county fire marshals and the N.C. Division of Forest Resources, an agency within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The open burning ban means that all burning is prohibited if it is 100 feet or more from an occupied dwelling. An occupied dwelling is a home or residence that someone lives in.

For more information, contact Chris Carlson at (919) 733-2162 ext. 262 or cell (919) 210-5013, or Brian Haines at cell (919) 218-9728. Residents can also contact a county ranger with the Division of Forest Resources or the local county fire marshal's office.

Taken from Asheville Citizen Times - 8-21-2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, someone brought several small larvae into the Master Gardener plant clinic. I had never seen this particular insect larvae before so I had to do a little research to identify them. As it turns out, they were Soldier Fly larvae. You have probably seen the adults frequenting flowers in the landscape. Adult flies vary in color from black, metallic blue, green or purple, to brightly colored black and yellow patterns. You can tell that they are flies and not wasps because flies have just two wings, unlike wasps that have four wings. When at rest, the wings are folded scissor-like across their abdomens. Soldier fly larvae are harmless to humans and are great decomposers which was great news to the visitor to our plant clinic considering they found them in their compost bin.
Photo Credit:
Soldier fly, Hermetia illucens Linnaeus
(Diptera: Stratiomyidae), larvae.
Photo by G. McIlveen, Jr.

Fall Webworms

A few months ago I posted an article on tent caterpillars. You have probably noticed that we are now experiencing an “invasion” of fall webworms. This pest is different from the tent caterpillar in that they build their nests out on the tips of branches in the fall. These nests will continue to expand to include more and more of the tree as the season advances. Because this pest is active so late in the season, there is little threat to the health of the tree. They can also be easily controlled in the landscape simply by breaking open the nest and destroying the caterpillars inside. This also allows for predation by birds and wasps. For more information see the following website.

North Carolina Drought Advisory

Until further notice, the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council is strongly urges the implementation of drought response actions, for all Henderson and Haywood County water users located in or dependent on water resources from the areas of the state experiencing the following drought conditions. See map and key to see that Henderson and Haywood Counties are both listed as level D3.
  • (D3) Extreme drought conditions. (Red)
  • (D2) Severe drought conditions. (Tan)
  • (D1) Moderate drought conditions. (Peach)
  • (DO) Impending drought conditions. (Yellow)
Dealing with Extreme Drought (D3) conditions means we should be following these precautions until further notice:
  • All water users are advised to follow the water shortage response guidelines set forth by the Water Use during Drought Rules effective March 19, 2007. Water users without a written plan are advised to follow the applicable default water use reduction standards outlined in Section .0613 of the Rules during extreme drought designations.
  • Stay informed on drought conditions and advisories (
  • Participate in regional and local coordination for the management of water resources.
  • Reduce socially and economically important water uses to ensure the availability of water for critical needs (e.g. firefighting, health and safety, etc.).
  • Revisit and/or explore, if not already accomplished, alternative water sources and reuse options.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Tree Topping Myths

Myth: Topping a tree will reduce storm damage and make the tree easier to care for.
Topped trees can regain their original height in as little as two years. The fast growing, extremely long and loosely attached shoots caused by topping will be more susceptible to breakage and storm damage. Ultimately, a topped tree requires more attention in the future than a properly pruned tree.
Myth: Topping invigorates a tree.
Topping immediately injures a tree and starts it on a downward spiral. Topping wounds expose the tree to decay and invasion from insects and disease. Also, the loss of foliage starves the tree, which weakens the roots, reducing the tree's structural strength. While a tree may survive topping, its life will be significantly reduced.
Myth: Topped trees will add value to your home and property.
Topped trees are ugly and may reduce your property values. Also a topped tree can become hazardous and cause property damage, making it a liability.
Myth: Topping is the best way to keep a tree from getting too big.
A tree's genetics and environment determine how tall it will grow. Topping just shortens the life of the tree and creates long term maintenance problems.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Devil's Dipstick

Many people enjoy feeding birds. They fill their feeders each day and birds showed up for the feast. Their yard provides food and cover for her birds. It’s interesting that we do the same thing for fungi. We mulch our landscape beds with bark mulch. Yet we seem surprised when fungi show up to feed on or live among the remnants of trees. What some view as unnatural is one of the most natural processes in nature. Take a walk in the woods after a rain and you’ll see a plethora of fungi growing on rotten logs and fallen branches. It’s been estimated that there are 400lbs/acre of fungal biomass in some woodland soils.

Most of our wood rotting fungi are basidiomycetes, capable of breaking down cellulose or lignin. Many fungi that we see on mulch are not feeding on wood. Indeed, most of the fungi encountered in mulch are not plant pathogens and are harmless to plants. Some of the more common fungi observed on mulch are slime molds, stinkhorns, bird’s nest fungi, and various higher fungi that produce a fruiting structure called a mushroom or toadstool.

Above is a photo of a stink horn. The fruiting body of this fungus is brightly colored, but you will probably smell it before you see it. One of the more common stink horns is Mutinus elegans, called the elegant stinkhorn or the “Devil’s Dipstick”. The smell of the elegant stink horn has been compared to rotting meat. It’s the smell that attracts insects which aid in spore dispersal.

Photo and Article taken from "Ornamental Pest and Disease Update - July 2007". Written by Alan Windham, UT Extension.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Turf Time

Now is the time to begin planning for planting or renovating your cool season lawns. Seeding of cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue should be done around August 15 to September 1. If using tall fescue cultivars use about 6 pounds per thousand square feet. Apply a starter-type fertilizer such as 0-10-20 at the time of seeding. Keep the seedbed moist with light, frequent sprinklings several times a day to ensure good germination. For further details on planting a new lawn or renovating and existing lawn contact your local county extension agent or see Carolina Lawns at the following websiet: