Some annual flowers drop seeds and regrow Types: Hollyhocks, cleome, four-o'clocks, dianthus, balsam and nigella can come back.

Garden Q&A

August 17, 1997

I'm sick and tired of having to buy all new annuals every year for my little flower garden. Aren't there some that will drop their seeds and regrow next year?

Many flowering annuals readily reseed in Maryland gardens. The list includes hollyhocks, cleome, four-o'clocks, dianthus, balsam and nigella.

Groundhogs have chomped on everything worth eating in my garden. I live in a densely populated suburb and need some "gentler, kinder" ideas for banishing these creatures.

Wildlife as a whole has been quite interested in vegetable gardens this season because of the drought. Animals in search of water will eagerly feed on such suppliers as tomatoes, cucumbers and melons.

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, can be excluded with a 3- to 4-foot-high fence made of sturdy poultry wire. These animals are excellent climbers and diggers, so you'll need to discourage them by extending the fence 10 to 12 inches below ground level and bending it out into an "L" shape at the top. Bend the top 15 inches of the fence out at a 45-degree angle to make climbing more difficult.

If possible, also run a single strand of electric fence wire around your fence, 4 to 5 inches above ground level. Attach it to a UL-approved fence charger.

I have a large Norway maple in my back yard under which nothing will grow. The roots are exposed, and the area is just a mess. Can I create a raised bed under this tree and fill it with shade-loving plants?

Establishing shade-loving plants under mature trees can be a challenge. The soil is usually compacted and covered with tree roots. And many types of trees cannot tolerate having their roots covered with topsoil. Your Norway maple, however, will tolerate a 1- to 2-inch top-dressing of soil or leaf compost.

An alternative to digging a bed is to dig individual planting holes and amend them with some compost.

Two plants that often do well under maple trees without any added soil are bleeding heart and sweet woodruff.

Before planting anything, though, consult books or articles on shade gardening.

I've been invaded by Japanese beetles. They've devoured half my landscape. How can I protect the other half?

Adult Japanese beetle populations have been high across much of the state.

The best way to control these pests is simply to knock them into a bucket of soapy water. They have a tendency to drop to the ground when disturbed, so this method can be very efficient.

Insecticides are not recommended because they are usually broad-spectrum and will kill beneficial insects along with the Japanese beetles. And it is impractical to spray large portions of a landscape regularly.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For more information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www.agnr.umd.edu/hgic.

Checklist

* Drain the water out of your hose after turning off the spigot. Water held under pressure can burst an old hose.

* Sow beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, peas, broccoli, spinach and other cool-season vegetables into loose garden soil.

* Substitute compost (made at home or bought) for peat moss when establishing new garden beds. Peat moss is very acidic, has few nutrients and is relatively expensive.

Pub Date: 8/17/97

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