Q Is this a type of surprise lily? It is blooming right now.
A Yes, it is surprise lily or Lycoris radiata. There are numerous species of Lycoris, which are members of the amaryllis family. The pink Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera) blooms in late spring/early summer, while the red spider-type surprise lily blooms in late summer/fall. The foliage on this one will appear as soon as it finishes blooming and will persist all winter. The pink variety produces its foliage in late winter, then the leaves die back and it blooms on naked stems. They are fun bulbs in the garden.
Q I have two types of vines growing. What are they and are they invasive? If they are, I'm in trouble.
A Sorry to say, but you are in trouble! Both of the pictures are pictures of ivy — from small-leaved varieties to variegated to solid green. Leaf size can vary, but they all are aggressive and will not stay contained to the ground — growing up trees, shrubs and houses. Shallow rooted plants will be more susceptible to injury from them than deep-rooted plants, but ivy can be hard to contain. I also see a tomato plant growing in the midst of one picture — not a good combination for sure.
Q My young dogwood had been acquiring such a nice shape, but sadly, night before last a limb from a pine tree fell and sheared off three of its branches. Should I put anything on the open wounds on its main trunk, or just count on it to recover naturally?
A Wound dressings will not help a tree. The best remedy for any trunk wound is a clean, smooth wound. If you have any jagged edges, smoothing them off is your only recourse. I will also forewarn you that dogwoods don't handle adversity very well. The wounds I see in your picture are pretty extensive and on the main trunk. Keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best, but you might want to invest in another dogwood tree to plant nearby. Sometimes trees surprise you and recover from terrible wounds, while others succumb to a small cut, you just never know. But it doesn't look good.
Q What plant is this? Are the berries harmful? It has a woody stem.
A The plant in question is my favorite native shrub, Callicarpa americana. Common names include beautyberry and French mulberry (it isn't French, or a mulberry). The berries are not poisonous, but not very palatable for humans, but many wild animals use them as a food source in the winter months.
Q We live in South Arkansas and bought a Grancy Gray Beard Tree a few years ago. It has grown very little and now has some spots on the leaves. The leaves also seem pale. We wanted to know what might be wrong and what we can do to save it?
A Grancy Gray Beard or Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus is a great small native tree. It is not fast-growing, but it will thrive in well-amended, well-drained soils with ample moisture. Once established it can be more drought-tolerant, but it really appreciates some water when dry. I have found that smaller plants tend to transplant easier and will often catch up or outgrow a larger fringetree containerized plant. Your leaves do look like they may have some spider mite damage and a few leaf spots, but this late in the season I would not start any type of spray program. Rake up the leaves this fall, and water if it gets dry. Lightly fertilize it in the spring of the year as new growth begins. Monitor the new leaves closely next spring to see if there are any problems.
The recent rains and cooler weather have made many of our flowering annuals and perennials happy. I wanted to share a picture from a reader. There is a spectacular display of Bidens aristosa along Arkansas 7 south between Hot Springs and Bismarck. Impressive!
Read Janet Carson's blog at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.