Beware the wild parsnip! This plant is found along side of roads and in fields and begins blooming around the first of July. It has a yellow umbel flower head and resembles dill. Wild parsnip can cause phytophotodermatitis; if the plant juices come in contact with skin in the presence of sunlight, a rash and/or blistering can occur, as well as skin discoloration that may last several months. The blistering can be much worse than poison ivy. If you need to remove it from your property, be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves and gloves.
Quick reminder: Do NOT burn poison ivy, oak, or sumac to get rid of it. The resins can be spread via smoke and can cause severe reactions in people even those far downwind.
On a brighter note, if you're fond of lavender you have to head over to Lavender Hill Farms, ASAP! The fields are in full bloom right now. If you truly want a deer proof garden, lavender is the way to go. Owner Linda Longworth and her staff are there to greet visitors and answer all their questions about growing and using lavender. Her gardens include more than 20 varieties of lavender which are used for aromatic, medicinal, decorative, culinary and other purposes.
If you need more reasons to include several lavender plants in your gardens here are a few; lavender is drought tolerant surviving only on what rain provides, pollinators love lavender and other bugs hate it, no fertilizing required and it grows best in sandy soils. You can obtain a list of Michigan hardy varieties and ask the staff which varieties bloom again in the fall while visiting the farm. Check out their website at www.lavenderhillmichigan.com for business hours and special events throughout the summer.
Besides lavender, dill is a great deer deterrent. I was reminded of this when I cut some dill to incorporate in my cut flower arrangement for our family room. Other than roses not many of the flowers in my cutting garden have a great fragrance. Adding a few sprigs of dill to your arrangements can give them an understated fresh smell, and growing a few dill plants among your flowers will help protect them from four legged browsers.
So which plants in your garden do you not want to flower? Herbs!
When herbs bloom, also referred to as bolting, they become bitter. If one of my herbs is getting a bit leggy or is about to bloom, and I don't plan on using it soon for cooking, I cut and tie it in small bunches with twine and tie the bundles to a plastic hook hanger. I then hang the herbs in a dry location out of direct sunlight.
Once the herbs are dry I place them in a Zip-loc bag or glass jar for use during the winter.
Are you having lawn maintenance issues? MSU has a terrific website, www.turf.msu.edu. There you'll find lawn care tips, ways to handle moles and grubs, identification of weeds and diseases, and even lawn renovation advice.
Cydney Steeb, Advanced Master Gardener, can be contacted at Emmet Conservation District, 3434 M-119, Harbor Springs (231) 439-8977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Gardening Wit and Wisdom column runs every Wednesday.