In the Garden
Ground beetles may not be beautiful but they are beneficial to the garden
Garden writer Ciscoe Morris recommends providing a habitat for ground beetles that are beneficial to the garden. The annual "Art in the Park" event will be Aug. 12 at the Graham Visitors Center in the Arboretum. If you have a mystery plant the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, the organization that collects and houses specimens of the plants in the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, offers a free plant identification service.
Special to The Seattle Times
We've all seen them: Those big, black iridescent beetles that come running out when you're out weeding in the garden. Although they're commonly known as carabid or ground beetles, entomologist Sharon Collman named them "eek squish" bugs because that's what most of us do when we see them. Resist the urge to put the size 9 "el kabotski" on them.
Ground beetles are actually one of the most beneficial insects in the garden, although it must be admitted, they probably do have bad breath. That's because these beetles eat slugs! Most ground beetles only eat slug eggs and baby slugs, but one particularly voracious variety is called the "slug-snail destroyer," and it takes on some big ones. Go out with your flashlight at night and watch. You'll be amazed if you see one pounce on a 5 incher! You can't buy these beetles, but you can build up good populations in your garden if you provide habitat by planting heavily, and avoid the use of pesticides that are harmful to insects.
Enjoy art and wine in a beautiful setting
What could be more fun than shopping for fine art featuring botanical and natural history themes in the beautiful courtyard at the Graham Visitors Center in the Arboretum? How about adding a wine tasting, where shoppers have the opportunity to enjoy the finest vintages of local wineries, paired with quality cheeses? Brought back by popular demand, "Art In The Park," 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 12, is just such an event. Admission and parking are free, but there is a suggested donation per person of $25 for the wine and cheese tasting.
If you want to take part in the wine tasting, register on line at www.arboretumfoundation.org, or you can sign up and pay at the event. A percentage of all sales will benefit the Washington Park Arboretum.
As a special addition to this year's party, representatives of the University of Washington Botanical Garden's Hyde Herbarium will be on hand to discuss their role at the Arboretum and will offer professionally framed one-of-a-kind plant pressings for sale.
Get your mystery plant identified
Anyone who gardens comes upon a mystery plant from time to time. Often an interesting plant will appear out of nowhere, and it's hard to tell if it's something valuable or a nasty. Or maybe you spot a spectacular looking plant that you just have to have, but don't know the name.
In my own case, visitors always embarrass the living tweetle out of me by asking the name of the one plant in my garden that I've never been able to identify. Fortunately, volunteers at the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, the organization that collects and houses specimens of the plants in the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, offer a free plant identification service at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Just bring a sample of your unknown plant to the UW Center for urban horticulture during hours the Herbarium is open, or if you come when the herbarium is closed, you can drop your sample off at the CUH reception desk. The volunteers are highly skilled and will do their best, but your chances of getting an ID are much better if your sample has flowers or fruit. For hours, directions and information about the Hyde Herbarium, visit depts.washington.edu/hydeherb.
Ciscoe Morris: firstname.lastname@example.org. "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.
About In the Garden
Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.
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