28 September 2014

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies are Papilio cresphontes Cramer

Giant Swallowtail butterflies are a thrill. We don't get a lot of them and I watch for their appearance every fall when they come to nectar and lay eggs on the Rue plants. 


Called Orange Dogs in citrus growing areas because their caterpillars eat Rue to the stems.

According to the U of FL, "Its range extends from southern New England across the northern Great Lakes states, into Ontario, through the southern portions of the Central Plains to the Rocky Mountains. The species ranges southward to Florida and the Caribbean, into the southwestern United States, and on through Mexico to Central and South America."


Two Giant Swallowtails in flight
The caterpillars go through five skins but each one looks like bird droppings of one kind or another. 

It's one of those things: If you grow the host plant and avoid all chemical sprays and applications, you will get an opportunity to enjoy these gorgeous creatures in your garden or patio.



Rue has beautiful blue leaves

Rue or Ruta Graveolens, is fairly easy to grow from seed since the seed pods are as large as 4-O'Clock seeds. The yellow flowers you can see in my photo of the plant are not large but there are lots of them. Evidently the pollinators love them because they make hundreds of seeds.

 When the seeds fall to the ground a grove of tiny Rue plants emerge. I pull out the smallest and leave the largest plants in place.
 
Mature plants last only 3 to 5 years here but by then we have replacements growing in place. I'm not sure but my guess is that we have less than a dozen mature plants around our beds.
Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar - last instar

And, other swallowtail caterpillars have eaten the plants, also. The Giants are so easy to recognize that you'll know when you see a green and yellow striped caterpillar on the plant that it's not a Giant.

Either way, they are all welcome!

25 September 2014

Fall is Shrub Planting Season - Flowering Shrubs

Shrub planting season is here and there are more choices than ever. Whether your garden needs tall or short, pencil thin or a thick, the selections for adding year-round beauty have never been so appealing.

Shrubs serve many purposes in the landscape and do not have to be those boring blobs of green
commonly seen around fences and foundations. In order to be called a shrub, plants have to be made of several woody stems that do not die to the ground over the winter.

If you think of a garden you admire, you probably see it as a picture viewed from a window or a terrace, with layers of plants. The plants at eye-level, between the taller trees and the shorter perennials are often shrubs.

The two main categories of shrubs are evergreen which hold their leaves or needles throughout the
winter and deciduous types that drop their leaves. Evergreens include boxwood, euonymus, Burford holly and Nandina (heavenly bamboo), as well as the needle-bearing juniper, pine, and spruce.

Some selected shrubs and their seasons of interest –

Spring flowering – Forsythia, Abelia, Aronia (Chokeberry), Physocarpus (Ninebark), Exochorda
(Pearlbush), Spirea, Weigela, Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince), Viburnum, Azalea, Rhododendron,
Syringa (Lilac), Fothergilla.

Re-blooming shrubs have a smaller number of flowers for three seasons and include roses, hydrangeas, Weigelas, Syringa

Summer flowering – Calycanthus (Sweet Shrub), Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), Roses, Crape myrtle, Hypericum (Saint Johnswort)

Autumn flowers, colorful leaves and/or berries – Callicarpa (Beautyberry), Viburnum, Weiglea,
Cephalanthus (Button Bush), Itea (Sweetspire), and Fothergilla has colorful fall leaves.

Winter beauty from bark and/or berries – Ilex (holly) berries, Cornus dogwood red bark, crepemyrtle bark, Viburnum berries, Hawthorn berries, Lindera berries (spicebush), Roses (hips), Pyracantha (fire bush) berries.

When deciding which shrubs to put into large containers for the patio or which ones to add to your
landscape consider what you want and what would be practical. Flowering shrubs bring pollinators and insects that can disrupt activities around doors. Shrubs that drop their leaves are messy around water features such as fountains. Pencil thin shrubs can look spindly and large shrubs can block views.

Berry-producing shrubs bring birds to the garden.

Because there have been so many advances in plant hybrids, many native shrubs have new, improved varieties worth researching.

Consider the size of the shrub at maturity, its sun and irrigation needs, whether it tends to send up suckers throughout the garden, the number of weeks of flowering, cold hardiness, leaf color and style.

A hedge row full of plants with pointy leaves and thorns makes an impression. So does an entire bed full of variegated leaves in white, beige and assorted shades of green.

In planned gardens, evergreen shrubs are inter-planted with deciduous shrubs so that after most plants are bare, there are still some with color. Silver-leaf shrubs are inter-planted with glossy green leaf ones for contrast. Red and orange leaf shrubs are planted among white flowering plants.

Most shrubs benefit from pruning, shaping and a light application of late-winter fertilizer.

For ideas and help

“The Creative Shrub Garden: Eye-catching Combinations for Year-round Interest” by nursery manager Andy McIndoe, published by Timber Press (www.timberpress.com), 2014. $30 list and $21 online.

Plants of Merit, Missouri Botanical Garden’s online reference can be searched by just about any criteria your garden plans require – www.missouribotanicalgarden.org.

Oklahoma State University, Horticulture Department (HORTLA) www.hortla.okstate.edu. Fact Sheet 5816 is “Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape”. Shrubs listings include wet or dry planting area, acid and alkaline soil, shade or sun, showy bark and fruit, winter interest, etc.

Visit a local nursery to see what the shrubs look like. Mail order shrub resources include – Spring
Meadow Nursery, www.springmeadownursery.com and 800-224-4729, Sooner Plant Farm,
www.soonerplantfarm.com and 918-453-0771.

21 September 2014

Cold Hardy Begonia grandis

What a great choice for the hosta bed!



Evidently they can be grown from seed but ours were nursery purchases.

The leaves are red on the back so when the morning sun is behind them it's quite a scene.





At the leaf axis you can see a little white bulbil forming.



They can be removed and planted to increase your holdings.

15 September 2014

New - latest fruit tree additions

All seven of the new fruit trees made it through their first summer in the ground. They came from a variety of sources, both local and mail order as I researched and searched for varieties that would survive our weather, fungal diseases due to the high humidity here, high temperatures, sometimes-droughts, and every insect known to warm, humid zone 7 gardens everywhere.
These photos are taken from the east -southeast of our 2.5 acres. In the first photo on the left is the raised bed usually full of garlic but pressed into service for winter squash and pumpkin vines.

The second photo is from the east. On the left is the same garlic-squash bed but you can also see the garden shed and the two new apple trees over there. The dream-fantasy-illusion is to have an allee of fruit trees that provides spring flowers for the pollinators, summertime shade for gardeners' rest and maybe some bits of fruit when they mature.

This year we planted a second Pawpaw (not shown), Red Currant bush (not visible), Minnie Royal Cherry, Royal Lee Cherry, 2 Stanley Prune Plums, Gala, Fuji and Arkansas Black Apples.

The larger fruit trees in the background by the vegetable garden are the 7 year old plum and the 5 year old pear trees.

Chestnut trees
Then there are the two remaining chestnut trees from an original planting of five. These have made it six years so far though have had a tough time of it. They are not at the farthest part of the eastern edge of the property (there are blackberry bushes and a wood pile behind them) but they are on a little slope. The dream when they were planted was for an early morning coffee spot.

Dreaming of benches in a shady fruit-tree allee or under the spreading chestnut trees....... Maybe next year?

13 September 2014

Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs - order spring flowering bulbs now

Martagon Lily
Old House Gardens specializes in heirloom bulbs and we order something from them every fall for October shipping and planting.

As the summer begins to fade away, ordering bulbs for spring helps ease the blues caused by the realization that, oh, no, the garden is fading.

Here's what I ordered this morning (all photos are from OHG site)
Coral lily

Martagon lily - European mountain lilies
Early flowering, pink turk's cap type flowers, 3-4 feet tall
and a bit fussy according to the OHG catalog. Zones 3-7.
Prefer part shade.

Coral lily - native to Siberia! Zones 4-8. Can be short-lived
but self-seeds. Early flowering.

White Windflower Anemone - Strong white flower for bright
shade in zones 5-8. Here they grow to about 6-inches tall in
the mid-spring.

Avalanche daffodils/narcissus - grows 16-18 inches tall and has clusters
of sweetly scented flowers. It was discovered in Scilly Isles but has grown
well in our garden for years. We needed more! Zones 6-9.



Avalanche daffodil/narcissus
White Anemone Windlfower
We're enjoying the cooler temperatures and the rain this week and are looking forward to the 80-degree days that have been predicted.

The vegetable garden needs another few weeks of warmth.

Click over to the OHG site and start dreaming of your spring garden coming to life.

11 September 2014

Terrific line-up of speakers at Muskogee Garden Club 2014-15

Muskogee Garden Club meets from September through May each year with speakers coming to share their wisdom, experience and ideas on a wide range of topics.
Each meeting that has a speaker begins with coffee and snacks. The January meeting is a round-table discussion during which members and guests talk about plants, soil, houseplants and any other topic that arises.
Two meetings are purely social: The December meeting is a holiday brunch, and the May meeting is an evening picnic at Honor Heights Park.
Everyone is invited to attend the meetings and social events. Membership in Muskogee Garden Club costs $20 per year. Its Facebook page is found at this linkhttp://hort.li/1xz0
Members bring plants they have divided or are ready to pass along, plus seeds, containers, books and other plant- and flower-related items to share. There is also a raffle at each meeting, with prizes provided by the club president. Everyone signs in to enter the raffle; there is no cost.
• • •
Here is the schedule of meetings for the 2014-15 membership year.
• Sept. 18 — Kathy Reid, owner of Pryor Creek Nursery, will speak on “Container Gardening” at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., a short business meeting is at 9:45 a.m. and the speaker begins at 10 a.m. Meetings end by 11 a.m. 


• Oct. 16 — Clark Shilling, Rogers County master gardener, will speaking on how we can help the environment through our gardening methods. His topic is “Support Diversity: The Importance of Native Plants.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., and the speaker is at 10 a.m.
• Nov. 20 — Pat Gwin, the director of the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank and Native Plant Center, will share his wisdom about “Cherokee Ethnobiology: Agricultural Practices.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive, with coffee and snacks at 9:30 a.m. and the speaker at 10 a.m.
• Jan. 15 — The “Plant Talk” Round Table Discussion at the Kiwanis Senior Center starts at 9:30 a.m. Members bring their questions, talk about their successes and failures and give tips about all things plants. It is always a lively discussion, and the time flies by.
• Feb. 19 — Andy Qualls, the director of the Muskogee County Conservation District, is one of the most knowledgeable professionals in the area who can talk about “Conservation, organic methods and cover crops in home gardens.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee starts at 9:30 a.m. and the speaker at 10 a.m.
• March 19 — Matthew Weatherbee, owner of Blossoms Nursery, always shares his thoughts about “What’s New” for the garden year ahead. This is an evening meeting at Blossoms Garden Center, 3012 E. Hancock St. (near York Street). Refreshments begin at 6 p.m. and the speaker at 6:30 p.m.
• April 16 — Russell Studebaker, horticulturist and garden writer, is from Texas and knows a lot about his topic, “Poke: Native Spring Greens or Garden Pariah?” This meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., and the speaker starts at 10 a.m.
• May 21 — Club Picnic and membership drive at 6. Members are encouraged to bring guests. The club provides fried chicken and beverages, and club members bring side dishes and desserts.
• • •
Attending garden club meetings is a great way to learn which plants succeed in our area, find out which nurseries and seed sources to use, and how to best control insects and diseases.
Garden club members are generous with their knowledge, advice, resources and plants. In addition to the beautification of our neighborhoods, growing our own healthy fruits, vegetables and herbs is a big part of gardening.
If you would like more information, email mollyday1@gmail.com or call club President Susan Asquith at (918) 869-7401.

06 September 2014

Squash is Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita argyrosperma

After several years of saying no squash we planted again, using the seeds saved from a few varieties.

The black skin acorns have been wonderful, producing as much as we can eat plus several bags for the freezer.


Acron, curcurbita pepo
At one time, the term winter squash implied acorn, banana buttercup, hubbard and turban but now it includes practically any hard-shell squash or pumpkin that is eaten at the table. Ours is of unknown heritage since we saved the seeds from a fruit we baked last year. The All America Selection, AAS Winner is Cream of the Crop.






The cushaw and pumpkin soup varieties, Cucurbita argyrosperma,  are slowly making viable fruits. They are the real reason we got back into the squash growing habit.
Cushaw, Curcurbita argyrosperma


While many varieties of winter squash are available for purchase, cushaws are not sold here commercially.



We love pumped soup, breads, cookies and casserole that can be made all winter long from the preserved meat of the cushaw. Still check them daily for growth. Still hopeful.

The last photo is of one variety that we haven't identified yet. I think it's from seeds we brought back from Germany last fall.



posted from Bloggeroid
Unknown squash or pumpkin

05 September 2014

Brown Turkey, ficus carica, fig harvesting time


One of the highlights of fall is eating fresh figs from our garden. We have three Brown Turkey, Ficus carica, plants that provide all we can use.



Some years they die all the way to the ground like they did this past winter. But they bounce back and produce.
posted from Bloggeroid

04 September 2014

Hibiscus Cherry Cheesecake Mallow is Summerific

Proven Winners has definitely release a real winner with their Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus or Mallow. Here's the PW link for all the information.

It's deer resistant, matures at 5-feet tall, hardy in zones 4 through 9, and tolerates most soil conditions.
I tucked it into a place where I could keep an eye on it and noticed that it was getting a fair amount of leaf damage from a chewing insect but since we don't spray it had to take care of itself.

The next time I was watering and weeding, I discovered its first bloom - look at the size of it with my hand held in front! What a winner!

Hibiscus Cherry Cheesecake Mallow Summerific
in our garden
Cherry Cheesecake flower with my hand

31 August 2014

Bean picking and canning

Each year we do less and less canning but some things are a must for our pantry to keep the flavors of summer on our table.

In the past our friends Jan and Richard gave us quarts of canned field peas but not last year. So, what's a gardener to do but grow their own?

What we learned this year is when to harvest them. Only the beige colored ones are easy to pull out of their bean shells. Anything greener is way too much work. Live and learn.

Another lesson? They are about the easiest crop to grow - no bugs bother them, no diseases attack them AND they add nitrogen to the soil just by being there. Win Win Win




Here are those peas in their jars already making my mouth water for the taste of them this winter. There are still enough on the prolific, healthy vines out there for us to eat a bunch this fall.

This ends the tomato canning for this year, also. 
These dozen quarts of tomatoes contain six heads of our garlic, herbs from the garden, peppers and tomatoes from the Farmer's Market.


We learned from Richard and Jan to can outside in an adapted turkey fryer to keep the heat out of the house. We also sterilize the jars out there for the same reason. 

I'd show you a photo of the green beans we grew but we just ate them all as they became available.

posted from Bloggeroid