Check your roses. Knockouts were the answer to all of our rose problems a few years ago, but now the problems have caught up with us. The dreaded fungus of Rose Rosette disease shows itself this time of year with gnarly red new growth and really hairy stems. You can buy a few more years by pruning to below the ugly stuff, but remember to rinse your pruners in hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol between cuts. This fungus is spread through the roots, so you’ll see it go down the line in the landscape from plant to plant.
Do the boring stuff—weed, water, mulch, clean, while the weather is cool and you have an extra day off. Take advantage of anybody who stopped by for holiday celebrating to do any heavy lifting that needs to be done.
Appreciate the monarchs, and not just the ones on Game of Thrones. Those beautiful striped caterpillars that are currently decimating the milkweeds in my dad’s yard are bulking up for the long road to Mexico. Yesterday, we observed all the different stages of development — from tiny worms, through wrinkly butterfly-about-to-emerge-from-the-chrysalis, to empty shell abandoned by the full-fledged butterfly. This “super generation,” the fourth of the year, will emerge, feed, and head South, often a mile up into the atmosphere, to overwinter in another country, regardless of whether a wall has been built.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).