Monday, monday

Unknown hosta
Unknown hosta

Know these?
These hostas came with the house. They have unusually tall, deep purple (photo does not show this) scapes and very glossy leaves. They’re very common throughout my part of Buffalo, but I’ve no idea which cultivar they are.

July fool!
According to this article, people in Chautauqua County, New York were getting messages via Facebook that they must register their lawnmowers, asserting—in part—the following:

Any automotive service station currently licensed for motorcycle, car & truck safety inspections can inspect your mower. The NYS inspection fee is $10.00. The mower must meet a list of criteria, including being rust-free, not bent or wobbly and operating at “less than 85db. sound level.” It also says whoever is pushing or riding the machine “must wear all OSHA approved safety gear (safety glasses, hearing protection, and proper steel toe safety shoes).

It’s a ridiculous spoof, but when you have people using their rider mowers as transportation in the hopes that they won’t get a DWI, maybe regulation of some type is in order.

doublelilliesSo we hate these? Really?
I’ve posted on these before, and I get their unhelpfulness to pollinators, but they’re a type of lily and I’m a lily collector. I like them. By the way, are any of you suffering from the lily beetle? I have not seen any yet.

zinniaSeed strategies
Thanks to the expertise of my neighbor Bob Fink, an expert basement seed grower, I have many annuals grown from seed, including zinnias, tall ageratums, petunias, tall marigolds, and more. I use the leftovers from the street planter program that I oversee. When I plant the seedlings in late May, I often get grumblings from local businesses—“Can’t we afford bigger plants?”—but the seedlings (as well as cannas that are wintered over by another neighbor) always perform splendidly. I don’t recommend seed starting for all gardeners; some have the knack, some don’t. Bob does.

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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. Elizabeth, I’ve seen a few lily leaf beetles this summer, but nothing at all like the last 5 or so years. My fritillaries this spring, which are normally devoured, were intact. It seems as though, this year at least, the severe winter was good for something – it broke the back of the beetle plague!

    • I am in eastern Vermont and have been marveling at the sudden lack of lily beetles this year (afraid that now that I have typed it they will descend in hordes) They have been quite bad for a couple years. I was hoping that the birds had suddenly decided they were a delicacy.

  2. This is the first year that I have seen lily leaf beetles in my garden. I wiped the leaves to remove most of the abhorrent larvae and also sprayed them with a dilute of nettle which seemed to make a difference. After spraying with the nettle mixture the next generation of larvae seemed to shrivel and die. The larval stage lasts for 16 – 24 days which is enough time to totally destroy your plants. To make the nettle mixture I have been picking nettles, covering them with water and leaving them for 2 weeks (stirring every so often). This mixture smells terrible. I then strain the solid matter out and dilute with 10 times water to spray for insects. You can also use this as a fertilizer but you have to dilute the mixture much more. I have been experimenting in my garden and so far nothing has died.

  3. I have had a terrible time with the lily beetle this year. Everyday after breakfast and then lunch I tour the garden squishing beetles and the incredibly gross larvae. There is a satisfying “pop” feeling when you get the larvae. Now I’m back to mainly adults. I take my spoon from breakfast or lunch and the bowl to knock them off the plants then squish them under my shoe on a rock.

    I am in Southern Ontario. I haven’t had any this year yet at the cottage on the Northern Bruce Peninsula.

    I love that double lily. I have a similar one. Some of them have not performed well for me, but that one is a stunner.

  4. I was a volunteer at Fellows Riverside Gardens when I was given this Hosta. It was labeled Hosta ‘ventricosa’.

  5. I am in Avon NY (south of Rochester) and the red lily beetles are as bad as ever this year and unlike Susan, they also destroyed my frittalarias, fortunately after they were done blooming. I’ve given up trying to get rid of the beetles in all their stages and have instead removed the lilies. I’ve found the adults feeding on rudbeckia in the fall. But this week I’m ready to abandon gardening totally because of the deer, rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels (but mostly the deer). I discovered yesterday that they had eaten almost every daylily bud in my far garden as well as the purple coneflowers and rudbeckia. I do spray with liquid fence, but obviously not often enough (every two weeks). My lot is 380 feet deep so I can’t afford to fence it.

    • Miss Pat, I’m in Farmington, just off the Thruway. I did find that one thing that helps keep the LL beetles somewhat under control is to do a really thorough cleanup, spring and fall, directly under the lilies. I notice that they seem to overwinter in the mulch (I use plain cedar), so I not only cleaned up, I lessened the amount of mulch under/around the lilies. As to why they left my fritillaries alone, I have no idea, but I’m grateful.

    • Pat I feel your pain but instead of thinking I can’t fence 380′ why not think about what you could fence. Perhaps you could set aside an area for your favorite plants and fence it.

    • Pat ………. try this………… works!!!!
      Its from the West Va. botanical gardens……a mixture of 1/3 milk and 2/3 water every 10 days. You don’t have to heavily cover each plant. Just spray and walk, walk and spray. It doesn’t matter if the milk is 1 or 2%, whole, skim, buttermilk, sour or good.

      In the winter, whole milk on shrubs, once a month.

      I’ve tried it, and shared this with dozens and dozens of people, and all but one swear by it.

      Good luck.

      Let me know………….

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