MY GARDEN PATH: When will our blue skies return?

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press My pink petunias and heucheras.

I donít know about you, but Iím sure getting tired of staying indoors to avoid breathing the smoke. Too bad we canít get some of those unwanted and unneeded rains from back east to put out the fires here in the west. I can dream, canít I?

On the off chance that we do get some clear skies, there are a few chores you might want to do. Give everything a good soak as those hot days have really taken a toll on plants of all kinds. Spray any powdery mildew as this is often brought on by stressful situations.

You might want to pluck some of those small black bulbs which have formed on the tiger lily stalks. Plant them shallowly in a different area for future flowers.

Perennials that need to be divided or moved should be attended to soon. Hopefully, you can find a few cooler days for this chore. If not, you can always resort to my old standby: place a lawn chair over the recently moved plant for a few days in order to provide some shade while they get established.

Look for ďfirst yearĒ foxgloves and move them to any desired locations. These are the short plants which will bloom next year. Remember, these are biennials.

As most of you veteran gardeners know, tomato plants donít set fruit when the temps are above 90 degrees. Therefore, most of us are not seeing much in the way of new ones. Keep those plants well watered and with a little luck, it may cool down enough to set a few more baby fruits to enjoy later on.

Our garden club recently enjoyed a very interesting talk on monarch butterflies. As these are heading like a freight train going downhill toward extinction, some experts hope to do what they can to stop that from happening. Monarchs are unlike most butterflies in that they migrate like birds. Unfortunately, they will only eat a certain type of plant. Weed spray has killed off most of this food, thus making it almost impossible for these beautiful creatures to survive. If enough of us plant butterfly weed, maybe we can save them. Check with local nurseries as some have these plants for sale. Populations dropped from more than a million in 1997 to only 100,000 in the whole U.S. in 2009. It continues to drop each year and is no doubt much lower than that now.

In order to expand the current western monarch territory, we need to expand their food supply. We have almost no monarchs in this area now, but that can change with a little effort. Join the cause Ö youíll be glad you did!

It isnít easy to keep those hummingbird feeders even partially full of good sugar water as the heat turns it bad in just a couple of days. Donít give up as the weather HAS TO cool off soon, doesnít it? If youíre having problems with dripping, you might try using a flat, shallow type of feeder, as these donít seem as prone to dripping as those having a big vertical dispenser.

Gardenerís recipe: One part soil, two parts water, three parts wishful thinking.

• ē ē

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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