The first ever Pacific County Garden Tour scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 18, is sure to not only educate but inspire those who attend with a wealth of ideas for their own gardens.

The tour, which is being orchestrated by WSU Master Gardeners in Pacific County in concert with the Pacific County Historical Society, will feature six gardens ranging from a traveler's cottage garden to one featuring a huge pond which covers nearly an acre.

Tickets to attend, which include driving directions to the gardens, cost just $10 and are available at Kaija's Nursery in Chehalis, Pioneer West Nursery in Centralia, Elma Variety in Elma, Rose Cottage in Grayland, Marshall's Garden & Pet Store in Aberdeen, Everyone's Video in Raymond, Pacific County Museum in South Bend, Bank of the Pacific in Naselle and St. Vincent de Paul in Illwaco.

Gardens will be open for touring from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and participants can tour the gardens in any order they wish. As a special feature of this year's tour, Jane Kirkpatrick, author of "A Clearing in The Wild" and "A Tendering In The Storm," which are historical fiction on the Keil Colony, will be selling and signing books at the Huber garden in Menlo.

Question: Our tree is filled with what we believe to be tent caterpillars. Should we spray them with something?

Answer: Most likely, the tents you are referring to are made by an insect called the fall webworm. It is a common pest of many types of deciduous shade and forest trees. Fall webworms are found in groups and feed together on the foliage of their host trees. They skeletonize and consume the leaves under the protection of a tentlike web which they enlarge from time to time as they develop and as more food is needed. Large portions of a tree may be covered by these webs.

The caterpillars feed entirely within the tent, which protects them from predators and parasites. However, it also helps mechanical control. When the "tented" branches are within reach, they can often simply be snipped off and destroyed. This is a helpful proactive is the tents have not become too large and the tree's shape is not threatened by this method. Chemical control can be used if the infestation is heavy. Bacillus thuringiensis, sold under the trade names Dipel and Thuricide, is effective when used according to labeled directions. Applications should be made as soon as the webs appear.

Question: Help! The majority of new shoots on our lilac bush are wilting. What's causing this?

Answer: Based on the symptoms you described, I suspect your lilacs are infected with a bacterial disease commonly referred to as lilac blight. As with most bacterial diseases, mild, moist weather favors the spread and development of lilac blight.

The disease may first be seen as brown spots on stems and leaves of young shoots as they develop in early spring. These spots become black and increase rapidly in size, especially during rainy periods. On young stems, the infection spreads around the stem and girdles it so that the shoot bends over at the lesion and the parts above it wither and die. On mature stems the spots usually enlarge along the length of the stem causing death of the leaves only within the infected area.

Young, infected leaves blacken rapidly and completely. On older leaves, the spots enlarge slowly. Sometimes several spots will run together, and the leaf may be crinkled at the edge or along the mid-vein. Flower clusters may also be infected and rapidly blighted and blackened.

There is no completely effective chemical control for lilac blight but copper sprays applied during the fall can help to prevent the disease. Pruning shrubs to prevent dense growth and permit good air circulation through the bushes will make conditions less favorable for the disease to develop. Blighted shoots should be cut out and removed as they are seen. Care should be taken to disinfect the pruning shears in alcohol or other disinfectant after cutting out infected twigs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For answers to local gardening questions, contact Master Gardener Earl Miller at 642-0541 or e-mail hm at eymil@charter.net.

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