Monday, March 3, 2014

Spring Yet? Maybe, Just Maybe

Perhaps Spring really is just around the corner. Weather reports for this week seem to lead us to draw that conclusion as the warm-up begins this week. It was so mild this morning that I walked downtown to get my nails done.

One of my favorite stores in town, Blooms and Heirlooms. Run by Ann and her mom, it is only open on week ends since Ann has a full time job. She and her mom do a lot of antique shows. Inside, the little shop is packed full of wonderful treasures. Ann also does special occasion flowers, but not full time. 

She always decorates her windows for each holiday. This jolly Irishman smiles down on those who walk by. In doing my own genealogy, I am discovering my Irish roots. 

Look at these treasures. Oh my. Good thing the shop was closed. I love the pink apple and the huge green mixing bowl. I am trying to de-clutter the house these days, but I just might have drop in one of these days.

And look at these cool items. Do you know what they are? Butter presses. After our grandmothers made their own butter, they would stamp the fresh butter with these decorative butter presses. How cool are they?

Looking east down Main Street, you can stop at Gray's Cafe for a cup of coffee and then continue antiquing, for you will find four more antique stores, with another one across the street.

No shopping today. I continue west for half a block, turn left to walk on home past the park and the old school where my husband and children attended elementary school. 

Now down to the more serious business of gardening.

I have looked back at my comments trying to find a comment on my use of Bayer's Rose Food and I have searched for another blogger who wrote about perennials treated with pesticides by the growers, so I wanted to address both of those discussion, which I wish I could find them. If either discussion sounds familiar, would you please raise your hand so that I can repost both discussions, especially the discussion on nursery grown perennials treated with pesticides and the threat that these plants pose to honey bees.

I have asked my daughter about the use of Bayer's on roses, which is what she uses. First, Heather has her Bachelor of Science for the School of Agriculture at Colorado State University (2000). She has worked in the green industry since her graduation, first working for Swingle in Denver, a large tree and lawn care company. There she received her training on lawn care, learning how to apply the chemicals, how to water, and general lawn care. From Swingle she moved on to work with a small Denver municipality that--how shall I put it--did not advance her career. She found her heart and soul working for another small tree care company, American Arbor Care where she thrives. Here she has earned her arborist certification and has all of the required licensing and certification to buy, apply, and handle all of the commercial chemicals that keep yards and trees healthy.

So now here are that she sent me in an email in response to my question about plant chemicals. Rather trying to paraphrase, I will just let her speak:

Many of the newer products available on the market today for applications of pesticides are synthetic of something that works naturally in the world.

1.  Pyrethroid (synthetic for pyrethrin--naturally exuded by plants in the chrysanthemum family)
2.  Neonicotinoid (synthetic for nicotine-naturally occurring in some plants like nicotiana)

Pyrethroid is the active ingredient (most commonly) named permethrin.  It has a wide range of uses, including flee shampoo and collars.  When explaining the relative harm a pesticide can cause to a pet or person we often talk to clients about the mix rate according to the label.  The label on the bottle IS THE LAW!  It tells us how much we can mix.  All of these are mixed in water and all of the half-life's are tested, lethal dosages, chronic and acute.  And what most people don't realize is that we are mixing these to kill bugs not people or animals.

When imacloprid is sprayed at the normal rate we apply at according to the label it usually persists to kills something like an aphid for less than 30 days.  I am not sure of the persistence in the plant.

The neonicotinoids when they first came out were supposed to be great because they were better and easier for manufacturing, mixing and loading.  And they were less toxic to people and animals.  And they took smaller amounts to mix to be effective.

All of these products have drawbacks.

One that has been on the market for 30 years and is the most tested pesticide out and works so well, Sevin.  It is used in so many pesticides.  It has a very low toxicity to many things, but over-exposure to humans is it is a cholinisterase inhibitor.  Over time this can be very bad for people if they are constantly absorbing this pesticide.  We don't like spraying a lot of pesticides.  We prefer injections, but they are very expensive.

Emerald Ash borer-see the link:

Emerald ash borer was discovered in boulder.  The Midwest has spent millions upon millions of dollars on treating and taking trees down.  It has been active there for about seven years and they spent five years figuring out what products would work that were available on the market to treat these trees and get them passed in some areas through the EPA.  This area of the country is native for the Ash trees.  They are losing almost all of them and people are still spending millions trying to save the ones they have remaining. 

We thought it was new to Boulder, CO, but based upon testing of the trees on CU campus it has been there for three to four years!

We only have three products that arelabeled to be used in Colorado to treat this insect:

1.  Imidacloprid-a neonicotinoid that is a soil injection (least effective against EAB of all three).  Very inexpensive, has to be done every year.
2. Safari - a neonicotinoid that is a soil drench.  Provides mid-range treatment fairly effective against EAB.  VERY expensive, has to be done every year.
3. Treeage (emamectin benzoate) a trunk injection ONLY that is done every two years and only can be done on trees over 6" in diameter.  Very expensive. 

Ash trees are not prolific flowering trees--they do product flowers, but not ornamental flowers like apples, pears, crabapples, hawthorns, etc...Most ash trees are dioecious.  At this point we are being led by Whitney Crenshaw that these chemicals will not be too detrimental to the honey bee population.  BUT if these products are taken away from us we will have nothing left to treat many insects with-one being EAB and another being European elm scale that attacks American elm trees.

Companies like what we do struggle with a balance.  We are in business ultimately to make money but we also want to do what is right for a client and the environment.  Others may not see it this way.(here she refers to other tree companies)  Those are greedy people.  but, what will we do when we lose all the honey bees, or all of our ash trees?  The repercussions of both can have huge life changing impacts and economic.  Hmmm.  Don't know. 

But we await on a report from Colorado Dept. of Ag and CSU on a treatment program for EAB.  I am praying it is not significant for us like it was in the Midwest.

Hope this all helps. 

Here two more links that address the problem of honey bee hive collapse. They are both the scholars' versions of the research. Reading these studies, we will discover that the research is frightening and as gardeners, we know that we must do our part to not only understand the problem, but to then come up with our solutions until Science can find solutions

"Are Neonictinoids Killing Honey Bees? A Review of Research into the Effects of Neonicatinoid Insecticide on Bees"

Well, if we are not depressed now? The good news? Researchers are working hard to discover what really is killing bees, but to me it appears that new ways of gardening and farming may be the future.

Sun is shining and snow is melting. Couldn't have a nicer day. I hope yours is wonderful, too. Have a great week.


  1. I'm not a fan of chemicals or pesticides, or additives or artificial sweeteners. Its good to do research and find out about these things. Too bad they are so widely accepted.

    The photos look like the snow is almost completely gone and looks to be Spring your way! We're having frosty mornings withsunny spells (sun is always a welcome change in Ireland)!

  2. Nice to go out windowshopping with you, I think these butterpresses are very pretty. The discussion about pesticides is going on in the world and they are still using too many dangerous ones. It is good they do a lot of research to manufacture pesticides which are harmless for humans and animals. For myself I don't like using chemicals in the garden, even not in my roses, I have stopped already spraying for more than 15 years.

  3. I don't like pesticides at all. I worked for a crop dusting company when I was in high school and college and I hope I'm not poisoned. I hope the bees aren't forever affected.
    Yay for blue sky and double yay for all those great antique shops!

  4. I was eying that pink apple too :) I wish our snow was melting, but we still have cold temps. I would love to walk you town, it looks so quaint. Jim was going to do bees but then we built our barn, but the guy who was going to mentor him said that this year might be his last year for them because his bees were dying out.

  5. After working 18 years in the Nursery/Garden Center business I am now reaping the rewards of years of pesticide exposure...and it's not fun. My sister only worked a few years, and she is suffering's sad that our world needs to have perfection at such a price. Had I but known....

    That store, is delightful, good thing it's not close by to me.


  6. I love seeing your downtown street. Looks like some neat shops to go into and explore! We're having a rainy day which is nice for a change. It just started a nice gentle rain! ahhh! Sweet hugs!

  7. Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by my blog. It was good to see your smiling face.

    I recently read this blog entry on roses and this may or may not be the one you were referring to, but good information anyway. Here is the link