Late season observations


Double lilies

I’m sold. I first posted images of these here last month, when they had already been blooming for a week or so. Well, they’re still blooming and I can envision at least a week more. That’s 5-6 weeks of flowering and scent from a lily plant—enough for them to earn a permanent place in my garden, though I’ll likely keep them in containers.

Plant of the season: Phlox Jeana

I bought 3 of these plants from Select Seeds a few years back and now there are at least a dozen, all about 5 feet high, and in bloom since late July. No mildew whatsoever.

Goodbye Kitty

“Community cats” (the new term) had been in the regular habit of visiting my garden, leaving unpleasant reminders and occasional plant damage. Coincidentally, I was offered a trial of Havahart’s Spray Away, a motion detecting, solar-powered device that sprays water in the direction of whatever it detects, making a scary rat-a-tat sound as it does so. It’s placed near the gap where they run in and out, and I’ve heard it go off a few times. No sight, sound, or smell of cats since then. I’ve also drenched myself thoroughly attempting to demonstrate it for friends, so there’s that.

Speaking of cats, there was a very interesting interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, who has plenty to say about feral cats, some of which you’d expect (it’s inadvisable to feed them) and some that you might not. Bradshaw suggests that as more and more cat owners choose their cats from shelters and as house cats are routinely neutered, we may be selecting for cats that are bred for street life, and it’s possible that house cats will become—gradually, over time—less friendly as a result. There’s lots more.  Check out the interview here.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Interesting post, Elizabeth. I had a couple of double lilies, a peachy-pink one called ‘Elodie’ and a sunshine-yellow one called ‘Fata Morgana’. Unfortunately, neither did well and finally succumbed to successive summers of drought. Wish I’d had them this summer – I think the rains this year would have made them look spectacular! Maybe next year I’ll try them again. Regarding the spray shooter, we got one last year when we were fighting a plague of raccoons, and it’s been very effective. It works even better when we’re not brain-dead, and we remember to turn it off BEFORE we go walking in front of it!

  2. I am having another go at double lilies, but this time at the cottage. The soil is very sandy and they will get morning sun, they should love it. They did not like it at my house where they slumped along, and then failed to reappear this year. This could be my own fault, I am finding that the lilies do not tolerate being anywhere near the black walnut tree. Trial and error with everything in my back yard. Liatris also withered away to nothing.

  3. Anyone else have good luck with Spray Away? I keep losing veggies to groundhogs and (I think) a posse of raccoons who were somehow able to cart off 8-10 heavy eggplants the other night. (Do they show up with equipment? Little knapsacks? Miniature wheelbarrows?) But Spray Away is a pretty pricey solution, especially if it’s not completely effective.

  4. Elizabeth, I’m intrigued by the forest mural in the background of the phlox photo. Is that on a garage door? What’s the story?

    • Anne, it is a mural painted on a garage door. However, there is no driveway–the garage is accessed from the alley in back. Our friend AJ Fries painted it, but it is not representative of his art. It was to order, and makes a great alternative to the boring black door that was there.

      • I agree! It would be fun if the idea caught on in the gardening world; painting murals on fences and walls where appropriate.

        • A neighbor down the road in a Californian suburb has a garage door painted with Picasso’s “Guernica”. Not really suitable for most gardens, but it certainly adds panache to the otherwise Stepford ambiance of that neighborhood.

          I have seen more than one house wall or garden shed or yard wall painted with murals. A small mural inside a window frame can suggest fantastic vistas beyond the fence.

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