Dear Problem Lady

730
Hummingbird moth

By Is it too late in the season to plant flowers to attract butterflies and hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds like asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) and most red and orange colored flowers. Why not have a hummingbird feeder too? Place your feeder in burning sun for only half a day, and safe from cats and heavy winds, easy to see by you, and easy to fill. You need to keep it clean and refill it every four days or so. Use a simple solution of one part white sugar to four parts water. Too much sugar will kill the birds.

For butterflies, supply a little still water and some protection from wind. Their best hosts are milkweed and Joe Pyeweed but they like carrot greens, dill, parsley, nasturtium, marigolds, red salvia, zinnias, lantana, cosmos, impatiens, purple coneflower, salvias, butterfly weed, Mexican sunflower, yarrow and buddleia (butterfly bush.

Yesterday inside a foxglove I saw the tiniest hummingbird in the world. It was not green. It had no ruby throat. It was about the size of a bumblebee.  What was that?
It drinks nectar like a hummingbird from a long proboscis, and its whirring wings allow it to hover over a flower with similar power and speed. But it’s an insect, not a bird. Only about an inch and a half long, it’s called a hummingbird moth!

Over the years, some lovely Lily-of-the-Valley have invaded my garden. They do not spread nicely, they take over. Please can you distinguish for me how to tell the difference before I bring some invasive home again?
Watch labels. Ask experienced salespersons. When someone says, “This primrose will naturalize well” the word “naturalize” means “spread”. Then ask, “So is this primrose invasive?” Have a wee discussion. You will be weeding your life away if you don’t. Avoid the following invasives no matter how fragrant or beauteous: Physostegia, Japanese Honeysuckle Vine, Virginia Creeper, Purple Loseestrife, English Ivy, Autumn Clematis, Bindweed. Polite naturalizers are Rock Phlox, Lavender, Columbine, Lenten Rose, Sweet William – and lots more.

We’re just back from touring famous British gardens. I know they are large in size, and here on Capitol Hill our garden is petite. Still, we love love loved the little structures we saw INSIDE the gardens, tucked away – where one might sit and read or have a picnic. How can we find ideas for such gems around here?
Look on the Internet for these magic words: Arbor, Pergola, Pavilion, Gazebo – even just Garden Deck with Retractable Roof.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club convenes public meetings again on September 11 at 6:45 pm at the NE Public Library, corner of Maryland Ave. & 7thSt. NE. Meetings are free and open to all. Membership details: capitolhillgardenclub.org.

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Your problem might prove instructive to others, and help them feel superior to you. Send them to the Problem Lady c/o dearproblemlady@gmail.com.Complete anonymity is assured.