Garden Notes: Uncontrolled Growth – Martha’s Vineyard Times

As for what’s happening with the weather, Hurricane Lee’s path in the Atlantic Ocean is hot in the news, adding a splash of danger to coastal life and visits. Despite what could become a dangerous and devastating storm, modern weather forecasts provide insurance for reliable information and tracking that was not available to previous generations.

In contrast, what happens with the climate is the most troubling existential question. Most people know that, like Bob Dylan, “There’s something going on, but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?”


Local officials discuss the negative impacts on our environment due to the increasing proliferation and control of Canada geese and deer in Canada. It would be good to hear them also acknowledge and discuss controlling the continuing pressures that rampant development is placing on this limited island’s natural capital. Instead we should discuss supplementing goose eggs and giving Premarin to deer.

Rampant growth and development are responsible for much of the imbalance observed, not only at the local level, but also at the global level, and not only at the economic level, but also at the environmental level. Climate is only one aspect of this, although it includes all.

Why do we blame geese and deer, animals that have no sound and voice, while we ourselves, Homo sapiens, are growing uncontrollably?


The Native Plant Trust’s fall catalog of native plant events and programs is available at Check it out: From art and nature “Green Photography” to gardening and design “Winter Pruning” to botany and preservation of “Native New England Shrubs,” – extensive and interesting displays will be offered at Garden in the Woods and other New England locations, some of which are available by Zoom.

Cicada killer

A large, mysterious moving object next to the tire of my truck caught my attention. What the heck was that? I couldn’t tell, I had to look closer. Part of the body is revealed to be a large wasp with flaps of wings. It was sitting on top of a larger cicada, upside down, partly flying it or partly dragging it across the pea stone.

I took the photo (pictured) and shared it with Suzanne Bellacampi. Her response, “The magnificent cicada killer wasp,” confirms what I recently read about solitary wasps in the UK in the June issue of The Garden magazine, and the role of Hymenoptera in garden ecology and beauty.

And from another source, “Garden Allies” by Frédéric Lavoiepière: “Don’t you like wasps? Good news! Most of them are minding their own hunting business—and most insect pests on the planet have at least one species of wasp that preys on them.”

In the case of the cicada killer, Sphecius speciosus: despite the seriousness of the name, it is a mild-mannered, large, solitary wasp whose life cycle is dedicated to hunting down and burying the hapless cicada in underground galleries for its embryos to feed on.

Sphecius speciosus burrows are generally located 6 to 10 inches deep in warm, sandy soil, such as lanes, which the female can easily dig to access the galleries in which she lays her eggs. Each will be provided with one of these feasts of cicada protein, or perhaps even multiple cicada feasts.

There is nothing to distort about this activity; It’s just part of nature, like the cicadas themselves, chewing on tree roots.

In addition to cicada killers, other solitary parasitic Hymenoptera you may encounter include mud wasps, waist wasps, and sand wasps. The large orange spider-killing hornets are another species with a ferocious name. They hunt large spiders such as wolf spiders. Adults of all the above species feed exclusively on nectar and pollen: prey for their offspring.

Speaking of spider-murdering wasps, dodging the webs of spiders like tropical garden weavers is easier when they’re laden with dew! Note that Argiope aurantia, the black-and-yellow garden spider, ingests enough of the insect’s protein to produce a large egg sac for next year’s spiders.

Original hawthorn?

“Hawthorn, commonly known as hawthorn, is a genus of several hundred species of shrubs and trees in the Rosaceae family, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.” – Wikipedia

Along with many other ideas that had been put on hold, I was very curious about the hawthorn (Crataegus) in my own garden. I spotted it and nurtured it as a small shrub when we bought this land. I finally got some ideas when island botanists Margaret Curtin and Greg Palermo were in my neighborhood on another assignment.

They identified this hawthorn: “As we suspected, it is the habitat of Crataegus flavida. It has been locked in well. We have previously found only three other places for Crataegus flavida, all in Edgartown, so it’s great to have one in WT as well.”

According to Curtin and Palermo, local hawthorns were common in the vineyard in earlier times. However, loss of previous habitat, massive land clearing, and development have led to its gradual disappearance. While hawthorn can be found in planted landscapes and roadside areas, it is most often a species of European hawthorn, C. monogyna. The thorny branches of hawthorn and hawthorn provide protection for wildlife and food.

According to Curtin, “Crataegus is a difficult genus to get rid of. There are many species and hybrids with overlapping characteristics, making it difficult to identify and identify species.

In the garden
Shrubs such as rose of Sharon, ‘PeeGee’ hydrangea, crape myrtle, and early fall bloomers such as grasses, asters, feronia, sage, and dahlias colorfully hold the spotlight.

Remove and compost spent vegetable plants, such as squash vines; Plant a quick cover crop such as buckwheat in its place. Tired perennials can be cut back for cleanliness and cleared for division. Deadhead and cut oak leaf hydrangea.

However, garden debris left over for the winter provides the arthropods, pupae and eggs a chance to survive until next year. Even hollow stems, which can be removed and composted, are overwintering sites. The food chain of many land animals also includes berries and seed heads. Even when we want to eliminate “insect pests,” we must respect the web of life.

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