Field of Science

Gardening joys - ants & magnolias

As a tropical biologist, TPP has a lot of experience with ants, and while fascinating creatures, a lot of these experiences have not been good.  Generally temperate zone ants are much less aggressive and if a bit aggressive, then not nearly as common.  So it was with mild surprise that TPP found his left hand and arm swarming with nasty little biting ants shortly after he grabbed a wheelbarrow to move some soil before planting a new magnolia (you never can have too many magnolias).  In the tropics, having ants swarming over you is not all that uncommon especially if you work in forests that have ants that build leafy nests. While working with my great friend and colleague Tony, this happened routinely because he was always charging along through the forest, and he's smack into an ant nest and keep going, and then TPP, who was always bringing up the rear, received the ants' wrath.  Tony found this highly amusing. But being swarmed by ants seldom happens in the northern temperate zone especially at our latitude. This particular ant is the worst around, small, but nasty, and while lots of ants bite worse, they are annoying, and this time the ants had built a new nest inside the left tubular handle bar that extends down under the barrow to an open end.  The small hole in the end of the plastic hand grip was being used as an exit to ward off annoying pest (meaning TPP) who wanted to move their nest's location.  Wheel barrows also don't function well one-handed so an impasse ensued until the right sized twig was found with which to plug up their upper exit.
But on to the magnolia.  As you know TPP has a thing for magnolias, and what with a whole new front bed to landscape following removal of old spruces, the opportunity to add another specimen presented itself, so a Magnolia x. soulangiana 'black tulip' was added to the collection.  The flowers are large, dark pink-purple, and the tree has an upright-growing, rather columnar form so rather good for a smaller space. Don't you just love this! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yum yum.