25 June 2017

Memphis Botanic Garden


Memphis Botanic Garden is a garden-travel destination we have loved for several years.

It's a six hour drive from here. Far enough to feel like we've gone someplace but still easy to do in a half day. We're especially excited to be going now because the Hydrangea Garden is in full bloom.

In all, MBG is 96-acres with 29 specialty gardens. Open from 9 to 6, you can go early morning and walk through the cool hours of the day. Admission is $8 or $10 for seniors/adults.

The Sensory Garden and Wildflower Trail are great places to see butterflies of all types. The garden for families, My Big Backyard features climbing, games, crafts, educational exhibits, and toys.

This year, we plan to take in Fratelli's Cafe for lunch since its just about the only part of the garden we haven't visited yet.

Memphis Botanic Garden 750 Cherry Road | Memphis, TN 38117  Phone 901-636-4100

In the same neighborhood is Dixon Gallery and Gardens which we always include in our beloved places to walk list. 

The English garden behind the gallery has been maintained to represent Mr. Dixon's original design with walking paths, open spaces, and intimate formal spaces framed with boxwoods.

There are a dozen memorable spots on the property. Here's a link to the week by week what's blooming calendar.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens 4339 Park Avenue Memphis, TN 38117  901- 761-5250







18 June 2017

Bottlebrush Buckeye for Shade Gardens is Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebursh Buckeye
Cold hardy in zones 4 to 8, Bottlebrush Buckeye is a lovely addition to shade and rain gardens.

Paige Nugent at A Girl in Her Garden said, "It holds dark green leaves in the summer and throws up white flower spikes over them in June to July. Unlike other buckeyes, it holds its leaves well into autumn when they turn a brilliant yellow. Late summer it makes buckeyes which begin by looking like bright yellow spiky pears on the plant. The seed is poisonous to humans so don’t try it as a snack." 

Bottlebrush Buckeye is a southern native but can do pretty well in zone 4 or 5 climates with care, especially supplemental water during our drought months.

Our shrub came from a home vendor at the farmer's market in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He dug it out of his back woods so I'm confident in saying it is not a hybrid of the native variety.

It's in its third year with us and this is the first year it has made such a nice flower. The first two years the flowers were insignificant. Butterflies, moths and bees like the flowers; squirrels eat the nuts which are poisonous to us.

Missouri Botanical Garden experts say about this understory shrub -
No serious insect or disease problems.

"Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Intolerant of dry soils, particularly in the early years before its root system becomes well established. Pruning is usually unnecessary. Though native to rich woodland areas in Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, it is winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5.
Photo - Sagebud.com
Aesculus parviflora. commonly called bottlebrush buckeye, is noted for being one of the best summer-flowering shrubs for shade areas. It is a dense, mounded, suckering, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub which typically grows 6-12' tall. Features palmate green leaves (5-7 leaflets) and erect, showy, cylindrical panicles (to 12" long) of tubular white flowers with conspicuous red anthers and pinkish filaments. Mid-summer bloom can be spectacular. Flowers give way to glossy inedible, pear-shaped nuts (buckeyes) encased in husks, however these nuts are infrequently produced in cultivation in the northern parts of this shrub's growing range (including St. Louis). Foliage turns yellow in autumn. A very large planting of bottlebrush buckeye can be observed on both sides of the sidewalk leading south from the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Genus name is the Latin name for a kind of oak bearing edible acorns but applied by Linnaeus to this genus.

Specific epithet means small flowers."


Pine Ridge Gardens in London Arkansas sells 
Yellow Buckeye - Aesculus flava - 75 ft. tree from Illinois
Ohio Buckeye - Aesculus glabra - understory or sun
Texas Buckeye - Aesculus glabra v arguta - TX Buckeye for shade
Bottlebrush Buckeye - Aesculus parviflora - 5-10 ft. tall, forms suckers/root sprouts
Bottlebrush Buckeye hybrid - Aesculus parviflora v serotina 
Red Buckeye - Aesculus pavia - understory OK and Ark native

We bought our Red Buckeye from Marilyn Stewart at Wild Things Nursery in Seminole OK
It doesn't appear on the 2017 plant list however.

As usual with deciduous flowering shrubs, prune after bloom, fertilize late winter with light amount of fertilizer.

Don't confuse these with the Australian Bottlebrush plant. If your seller doesn't provide Aesculus in the identity, you might be getting one of the others. SF Gate wrote about the distinctions.







11 June 2017

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly by Kylee Baumle

"The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly" by Kylee Baumle has just been released by St. Lynne's Press.

I recommend this wonderful book for classrooms, teachers, scout groups and nature lovers in general.

I've been studying butterflies for at least a decade. Not in an academic sense but from the point of view of a garden writer and gardener. In our yard we call ourselves people who raise butterflies as much as plants. Dozens of plants have been selected and grown here strictly because of their usefulness as butterfly habitat both for nectar and raising caterpillars.

As a result, I have read books and articles as well as taught classes on butterfly lives in an effort to raise awareness of how the plight of butterflies is intricately intertwined with our own fate.

Baumle's book is  a lovely introduction to Monarch Butterflies: Who they are, their life-cycle, the threat to their numbers, how to help and how to connect with others in the community of people who want to make a difference.

There are pages and photos to help readers identify Monarchs and their almost look-alikes such as the Viceroy and Soldier. The chapter on their life-cycle has information that was new to me despite my reading in the past.

Baumle also has photos of the Monarch Caterpillar look-alikes such as the Eastern Black Swallowtail and Queen butterflies.

Monarch on Aster last fall in our garden
The now-famous migration patterns of the Monarch is detailed for you, too. I've noticed that we have at least five times more Monarchs during the fall/winter migration than we have in the spring. I suspect that it's because we don't keep milkweed in a greenhouse for them over the winter but by fall we have plenty of plants for them to make the next generation.

The chapter on milkweed varieties is useful for public gardens and gardeners who would like to make sure they are feeding caterpillars as well as they need to be fed in order to thrive. Instructions on how to grow milkweed from seed, which plants mimic milkweed and which nectar plants are important are in chapter seven.

Chapter eight helps explain why 95% of Monarch caterpillars do not mature: predator insects including: Tachnid Fly, Spined soldier bugs, Paper (and other) wasps, Spiders, and Fire ants.

From page 99 to page 130 the book is loaded with resources for citizen scientists, teachers, and gardeners. Projects listed include rescuing eggs, providing water sources, raising caterpillars, tagging butterflies, and butterfly crafts.

The Monarch: Saving Our Most-Loved Butterfly sells for $12.50 online; it's worth twice that amount if its wide distribution helps save Monarch Butterflies, educate the public about sustainable gardening and opens children's eyes to the wonders of the world outside.




02 June 2017

June 10 Garden Tour - Fayettelville

The Flower Garden & Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas presents the 20th Annual Through the Garden Gate Tour June 10.from 9 to 4. 

Seven private gardens in Fayetteville plus Botanical Garden of the Ozarks will be featured.

 This is a rain or shine event.  
Tickets at $15 for the tour are available at all Westwood Gardens and at Botanical Garden.

  More info call 479-301-2128 or e-mail blowerk@prodigy.net

https://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA/

27 May 2017

Garden Tour Muskogee June 10th

Muskogee Garden Club is hosting a tour of member gardens plus our local winery, Pecan Creek.

June 10th from 10 to 3
Purchase tickets on the day of the tour
at Pecan Creek Winery
8510 West Fern Mountain Rd in Muskogee

Jon and I will be at the Winery from 1 to 3 selling and checking tickets. Hope to see you there!


22 May 2017

Seed Germination Story - Great Customer Serivce

Cosmos flowers are one of the most fun annuals I plant. The stems are tall, and the flowers are lovely rayed discs that the butterflies find irresistible. In late summer, and until hard frost the stems sway in the breeze while butterflies hang on tight.

This year I'm planting both for my butterfly habitat and also for Muskogee's butterfly garden at Honor Heights Park.

So, I purchased three packs of Cosmos seeds from Ferry-Morse, Burpee and Sow Easy. The Sow Easy seeds were coated with clay, lime and perlite. All three packs were planted the same day in cell trays.

As of now the Ferry-Morse Sensation and Burpee Little Princess have filled the 72-cell trays with little plants now growing their second set of leaves. The Sow Easy has produced exactly 4 plants that still have their cotyledons (seed leaves).

So I called the phone number on the package and the woman I spoke with is sending me a few packs of Cosmos seeds to replace the one dud package. Great interaction. Zero hassle.

Hats off to Plantation Products in Norton MA - www.plantationproducts.com

The last time I raved about Cosmos was in 2014. Here's a link to that article with complete Cosmos planting and growing information.


21 May 2017

Crapemyrtle Pruning and Trimming

Our gardening guru to the south, Neil Perry is one expert who knows his stuff when it comes to correct pruning and trimming of Crapemyrtle shrubs.

Two facts to remember:
• Crape myrtles are a sub-tropical plant. In their native homes they’re not subjected to really cold winters.
• McKinney is north of Dallas, and winters can be rather cold in McKinney. (Respect paid to Amarillo and North Dakota. We still get cold by crape myrtle standards.) 
Freeze damaged crapemyrtle
Therefore, we do occasionally see freeze damage to some of the less hardy varieties. Types like Natchez, Tuscarora, Muskogee and the old variety Country Red commonly freeze to the ground. Trim out the dead wood quickly so the new shoots can start filling in.
Game plan here should still be to remove the dead stems carefully. Leave all of the new shoots in place until fall. At that point, select the 7 or 8 straightest stems and leave them. Remove the rest. Next year, perhaps in early summer, the new growth will be sturdy enough to allow the gardener to remove all of the extra stalks and start training the three or five (odd numbers look most natural) that remain.
It’s pretty amazing how quickly crape myrtles regrow. That’s why we also recommend retraining plants that have been butchered (as in “topped”) by cutting them completely to the ground in the winter, then waiting for the regrowth to pop up come spring. Do that one time, and promise your plants that they’ll never be topped again and you can have lovely crape myrtles within 18 months.
Here's his blog http://neilsperry.com/

16 May 2017

Native Plant Tour and Sale this weekend

This weekend is one of the times native plant vendors will all be available for you to buy plants for your garden.

Garden Tour 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday
24rd Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour & Plant Sale
Cost: $6 per person and children younger than 13 are free; tickets can be purchased at any of the featured gardens
Garden locations:546 N. 27th W. Ave., 1424 W. Easton Pl., 639 N. Cheyenne Ave., 1135 N. Denver Ave. and 636 N. Denver Ave.
Vendors will be located at each garden as part of the plant sale.
Information: tulsaaudubon.org or call 918 521-8894

NATIVE PLANT NURSERIES AND ORGANIZATIONS AT HOME SITES

Wild Things Nursery
Oklahoma Native Plant Society
Monarch Watch
Duck Creek Farm
WING-IT
Utopia Gardens
Bird Houses by Mark
Pine Ridge Gardens
Oxley Nature Center
Oklahoma Wildcrafting
Missouri Wildflowers Nursery
Tulsa Audubon Society
Northeast Oklahoma Beekeepers Assoc.
http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepagelatest/wildlife-garden-tour-includes-range-of-spaces-with-native-flowering/article_b74f4377-6118-5d28-bc63-c634e31af032.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

10 May 2017

Making more plants at home

Agastache

Many of your favorite perennials can be multiplied right now to make more plants for our gardens. Right now in re-purposed strawberry clamshell containers, I have cuttings from Anise Agastache, Nepeta Walker's Low, Salvia elegans, Lavender and I'm about to start Setcreasea pallida and Huskers Red Penstemon. 

Prepare a planting container with moist sand, vermiculite, perlite or sterile potting soil. Take stem cuttings about 4-inches long and remove all but the top few leaves. Make holes in the rooting medium and stick the stems into the hole. Firm up the sand, etc. around the stem. Roots will grow where you removed the leaves so be sure there is a leaf node at the very bottom of your cutting.

Nepeta cuttings with tiny roots
Shrubs that flower in the spring should also be multiplied at this time of year. Branch cuttings taken in the spring for the purpose of propagating more plants are called softwood cuttings.

Softwood is not the new tender growth shrubs have now. Test for softwood stage by bending the stem near where you would be taking cuttings. If it snaps it is ready to use. If it is flexible and does not snap it is still too green. If it is not flexible at all it is too old to use.

The methods for propagating shrubs are as numerous as the people writing about the process.

Most agree that a sharp cutting instrument must be used in order to avoid crushing the end of the stem. All but the top few leaves are removed from the cutting so no green material is under water during the rooting process.

Rooting hormones are sold in most home improvement stores. Their effectiveness diminishes with time and they no longer work at all after six months. If rooting hormone is used, the cutting is dipped into the powder or liquid and shaken off. Too much rooting hormone reduces the possibility of rooting. 
Quince cuttings


Cuttings are placed in a pre-moistened sterile medium such as perlite or in sharp sand that has been well rinsed. Which ever rooting medium you use, make a hole in it with a pencil and put the cutting into the hole, then firm it in by pressing sand, peat or perlite firmly around the cutting.

Here are directions for a rooting bucket from “Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden.” Put two inches of gravel in the bottom of a one gallon plastic bucket. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the bucket just at the top of the gravel. Fill the bucket to the top with sharp sand. Fill with water and let drain until the water is clear. Make holes in the sand and stick the cleaned cuttings in the sand. Keep the rooting bucket in the shade and check for water periodically.

Some gardeners keep the cuttings moist and warm by covering with a plastic bag or the top of a clear plastic bottle.

Forsythia, bursts with yellow flowers in early spring. Experienced gardeners find that they can take branch end cuttings and stick them in the ground where they want them to grow. They can also be rooted in peat moss, perlite, peat moss and sand.

Flowering Quince or Chaenomeles speciosa, locally called Japonica can be rooted the same way. The old-fashioned variety has pink-orange-reddish flowers that bloom at the same time as Forsythias. New cultivars: “Texas Scarlet,” has tomato-red blooms; “Cameo” has pink flowers; and “Jet Trail” has white flowers.

Roots grow on branch end cuttings in peat moss or sand, within one or two months. Carefully check one cutting after a month. Plant rooted cuttings in pots and then in the ground next fall.


Pink Flowering Almond or Prunus glandulosa rosea plena has powder pink flowers at the same time as Forsythia and Flowering Quince are blooming. It is also called Sinesis. Thomas Jefferson planted these shrubs in his Monticello garden in 1794. Take cuttings after flowering ends and leaves emerge; root as above.

Bridal Wreath Spirea or Spiraea vanhoutti, has branches of white flowers the same week all of the above shrubs are blooming. Take Spirea softwood cuttings are taken when the leaves emerge and root in moist sand and peat moss.

Making new plants is most likely to succeed when the cuttings are taken from a healthy plant. The desire to replace a dying plant by taking cuttings is understandable but may not work.

Propagation summary: Use a sharp knife and take three to four-inch cuttings from the growing tips. Make the cut at a slight angle just below a leaf node. Remove all flowers and the lower leaves. Dip the end into rooting hormone and put the cutting deep enough into the medium (sand, vermiculite, peat moss, etc.) that the cutting will stand up. Roots emerge from the former leaf nodes so be sure there are nodes down in the medium. Water and create a greenhouse effect with plastic bag, glass jar or clear plastic box. Place in a semi-shady spot out of direct sun. Cuttings root best at 65 to 75 degrees. Remove the covering to check on their progress, allow air to circulate and the top of the soil to dry a bit.

For rooting other types of plants, refer to the Rooting Database at the University of California, Davis Web site http://rooting.ucdavis.edu where you can search by Genus and Cultivar.

05 May 2017

Tomato Plants by Lisa Merrell

Image may contain: cloud, sky, plant, outdoor and natureThe Tomato Man's Daughter "Our Heirloom Plant Nursery" is having their end of season sale so get your plants soon so they can get in the ground and start growing.

If you have not been to their new location it is
2515 W 91st St  Tulsa, Ok. 74132

Here's Lisa's announcement this morning - 
From now until May 14th we are going to extend our hours to be open on Sundays!

End of Season Hours:
Monday - Saturday  9am-5:30pm
Sunday 10am-4pm

Our Spring Season is on its tail end.  Since the weather for April turned soggy and cold I bet some of you out there have not planted your gardens yet.  I know I haven't!  Since I have more greenhouse space this year I was able to grow even more plants.  We still have a full selection of big,healthy, beautiful plants waiting for your gardens.

Also, I'm offering a Mother's Day Special!!!

Buy One 20 gallon "Smart Pot" and 2 bags of Black Gold Potting soil  Get the tomato plant for free
Total Cost is $40.

I am going to send out an educational piece about the Smart Pots later today. But trust me they work!  I am now growing our seed stock in them. The pots are reusable for at least 5 years.Lisa Merrell (918) 446-7522
https://www.facebook.com/tomatomansdaughter/