Garden Rows

Friday, August 26

Lanky Lilac

There is a large, overgrown lilac bush in my back yard.  When I moved into this house it was hardly noticeable for the forest of other overgrown plants.  The critters loved the safety of the branches that reached down to the ground.  

I think my landlord got tired of mowing around it all and just trimmed things back.  The evergreen bushes (the kind that are infront of any house from the 60's or 70's) are trimmed up about 4 feet so they now look like funny trees.  The lilac was pruned back with force as well.  It needed it.  It still bloomed even.  This summer I looked up info on pruning lilac bushes.  Really, it is pretty simple.  Mostly it is about the timing.  You don't want to wait too late after the blooms fade.  They set next spring's buds shortly after this years flowers fade.  I kinda missed that window! so I opted to just cut out the dead twigs and branches.

It is amazing what cutting out leafless chunks did for the looks of the lilac!  Don't get me wrong, it still looks like an old, overgrown shrub, but it looks a bit healthier now.  There is a bit of poison ivy on the ground near by, so I was careful to avoid it as I was wearing flip-flops and have a reaction to the pretty little three leafed vine.  As I was was snipping away in the bows of the shrub, I realized there were vines growing up and into the large evergreen mentioned earlier right over my head.

I was careful to avoid contact with these vines as well because I was having trouble deciding if there was poison ivy here, too, or if it was just creeping virginia.  Better to stay out of this pile of spaghetti  to stay on the less itchy safe side!  For the record, I know these leaves are not poison ivy.  They are just kinda cool looking!

I think I got some of these vines at the base, so they will die back soon and not be competing with the lilac.  You may have noticed in the first picture that there are lots of suckers.  What is hard to see is that there are a few really tall, maybe 8 foot tall, branches that are reaching out to the left of the photo.  Most of the suckers need to come out, and the long branches need to be wrangled in so the bush is not so dramatically lopsided.  It grew this way reaching for light.  I will worry about shaping it in the late spring after flowering dies off.

As I took pictures, I realized that some of the leaves have a strange white look to them.  I am not sure what this is.

The photo has been edited a bit for color and exposure reasons, but you can see what I am talking about.  There are also little brown spots.  Even the creeping virginia has the spots.

These symptoms have also appeared on the peony that were transplanted last fall.  I wondered if it might be powdery mildew.  The difference is that the peony has this white stuff on the stem/stalks rather than the leaves.  Any ideas?  

On the bright side, there are some nice buds for lilac blossoms next spring in the works!  

The lilac may not look much different, but I really did get rid of quite a chunk of dead!  My dog, Izzi, chilled in the grass enjoying the wonderful morning in the shade, occasionally crunching a twig or two.  

It might seem silly to take such an active role in my back yard considering my landlord is responsible for it technically, but they do not mind a bit and it is a way for me to practice and learn things.  I do not feel it is a waste of time at all, I am having fun!

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