Oak Leaves and Oakleafs

Oak Leaves

Magicicada, the 17 year Cicada, is doing its thing in parts of Western North Carolina.  Driving into our cove you can really see the cicada damage on the oaks.  If you’ll recall from the last post, the females lay their eggs by slitting open a branch and inserting their little baby bug eggs.  This causes the branch to flag (turn brown and droop) and eventually fall off (click on picture at right).  These insects prefer oaks, although they will lay eggs on other species.  On big established trees, this typically does no long-term harm.  Small and newly established trees as well as fruit trees may be severely damaged.

I have been concerned about my many Japanese Maples and two small dogwoods.  Most of the maples have been in the ground for awhile, but several are small and delicate.  Luckily, I have had no serious damage on any of these – good news.  My neighbor and fellow gardening nerd Elizabeth has had serious trouble with her orchard – bad news.  The last time around (17 years ago) her peach trees were killed.  This is not because of the mechanical damage done by the bug, but wounds to the cambium left the trees open to disease.  This year she covered with row cover and has her fingers and toes crossed.

I am looking forward to the day that I step outside to … nothing.  The droning racket has us all about half crazy.  Gidget, our German Shepherd Dog, enjoys them as an abundant and easy to catch snack.  Good protein, but really Gidget – Gross!



Oak Leafs

Hydrangea quercifolia
Straight species growing under a Red Oak in dense shade

It is well and truly Oakleaf Hydrangea season.  Although every season is pretty good for this plant.  Wonderful floral display which is happening now, the flowers last and last turning a dusky rose later in the season, burgundy fall color, and peeling cinnamon-colored bark for winter interest.  Adaptable to a wide range of situations including full sun, full shade and dry or wet soils, this is an outstanding plant for many gardens.  Blooms on old wood so if you have to, prune just after flowering.  I have several in my collection, including the straight species which is native to the South Eastern US.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Semmes Beauty’
Large (8′ – 10′ H & W), with stubbier flower racemes.  Very floriforous.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’
Dwarf, smaller in all its parts (3′ – 4′ H & W)


Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’
Yellow-leafed form, smaller (4′ H x 5′ W)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’
Gorgeous double flowered form, large (8′ – 10′ H & W)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’
Giant flowers that mature to deep dusky red, smaller (4′ H x 5′ W)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Semmes Beauty’
This planting is from two suckering shoots of the original shrub, planted four years ago

Back to Bugs
I couldn’t resist including this picture of a frog sitting next to a deceased Cicada, hmmm

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