When I start anything from seed, I try to mark the space with an upside down hanging basket (above). It reminds me NOT to weed there for a few weeks and gives the plants some protection when they do emerge. The basket is removed once the plants start to reach the wires. Inside this particular wire enclosure are some celosia seeds - stolen celosia. Last fall, our local nature center did a crafting with nature event (NOT related to my book...just a happy coincidence!) and we were able to make a variety of ornaments and such out of pinecones, seedheads and other plant bits. I made sure to make a little tussy mussy including some pretty celosia with seeds still attached. Today, they found their home!
From what I have read, it might have just been a lack of water last year, as there were no obvious signs of pest or disease, but to be safe I trimmed off all branches with signs of these curling, brown leaves. This is a very mature rhododendron and there are several that line the creek, but this was the only one affected. While this is not the time of year to prune rhodies (you will take off the ready-to-bloom flower buds), I needed to get at this problem as soon as I saw it.
Link to Fiskars Loppers -- a ton of options for you!
Bird’s Eye Speedwell (veronica persica)