Sunday, 8 June 2008

Landscaping course at UWI

I have had these pictures up for most of the week but am only just getting around to posting about them. This was our class visit to Wendy Lee Yuen's farm. I had done the first part of this landscaping course about 6 weeks ago and have beenputting all the info to good use. This is the advanced segment- here we are getting a handle (literally) on the rototiller, a fab machine that mixes and digs your beds. I have added one to my wish list- it makes light works of many of the hard, heavy, time consuming work that is the sweat and blood (or blisters) of landcaping work. This little machine can plough up a bed in no time flat, mix your soil and nicely incorporate all the composted cuttings.

A new variety of acalypha. I was not familiar with this one. I love acalyphas because they offer such a range of colours and textures in the garden. Their downfall is that they are irresistible bait for batchacs and they tend to get wooly scale and other sucking aphids. And the occasional fungus. My were out of commission for almost a year with a particularly nasty fungus and I did not want to spray. I eventually did treat and they all bounced right back.

Our lesson in topiary. I truly had no idea that ficus were so malleable. Apparently they catch very easily from piece, grow well and varieties such as mini-monique and others make it vereasy to make your own topiaries. I was reminded just a bit of Edward Scissorhands.

He makes it look so easy!
Here Adanna from Tracmac shows us the dreaded Cuban thrip and the resulting damage on a ficus leaf.

This is one unhappy plant. And this is why I'm so glad that I am doing this course, In the old days, my rationale would have been that the plant hated me and died based on this strong emotional aversion. Now I have learnt to recognize the problem and help save the plant's life. And that's what makes gardening fun. Nasty infestation of wooly scales, Or white blight as we all know it.
I saw a lot of these Jack Spaniards. They must do a lot of pollinating. Which is why I still try to stay away from insecticides. I hate the thought of poisoning that whole food chain. At the moment, I have a terrible case of cinch bug on my lawn. But I am determined to wait it out. I can't bear to kill the birds that come down to eat the bugs. And as someone pointed out to me, the insecticides affest the bats as well. I need my bats to keep my insect population down so I'm taking my chances and waiting it out.
But if you do have to spray, this is how you should do it. We got a full demonstration as Adanna from Tracmac brought all the kit out to show us- fancy disposable suit, gloves, proper respirator- not dust mask- and really important tip- wash your gloved hands before removing gear after spraying. And of course, the obvious, always spray with your back to the wind. Chemicals are scary things- and they are designed to kill- often on a cellular level- so treat them with great care.