If you notice your hemlocks are looking a little droopy, it may not be just the lack of water. They could be hosts to a nasty little critter with an ungainly name: hemlock woolly adelgid.
Take a look at the branches. If you see white waxy balls at the bases of the needles, you have a problem. This tiny, aphid-like sucking insect, which attacks only hemlocks, can kill a tree within a few years.
According to Charles Staines, entomologist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, hemlock woolly adelgid isn't a new pest. (It was introduced from Japan in the '40s.) But it is yet another stress on trees doubly susceptible because of the drought.
The insect can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. But because you need very thorough coverage, the trees may have to be sprayed by a professional.
As for the general health of your hemlocks, Mr. Staines points out that their native habitat is stream bottoms.
"If I had hemlocks, I'd water them," he says. "Give them a good, long soaking."
Clean hot line
Have a stain you can't get rid of? Want some advice on tackling a really dirty bathroom?
Now there's a cleaning hot line open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The number, (800) 717-CLEAN, puts you in touch with the Clean Team mail-order catalog company. True, the people who answer the phone would like to send you a catalog of their cleaning products. But they are also happy to answer your most difficult cleaning questions for no charge.
Eco-goodies for sale
I never knew a Coke can could look so good. Or rather, 400 Coke cans, which is how many it took to make the little bowl at La Terra that resembles sterling silver. It's one of many decorative accessories and items for the home at Hampden's eco-store, all recycled or organic.
La Terra, 4001 Falls Road, has the leafware for an eco-friendly picnic that was featured in this column earlier this month.
You can get handsome place mats made out of recycled rubber and funky water goblets fashioned from beer and water bottles. There are chairs made from recycled steel with little animals carved on them and wall pieces shaped like leaves made from previously used wire.
All of which make you feel as if you're helping the planet just a little bit when you buy them.
La Terra is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.