13 August 2017

Master Gardener Classes Starting - Muskogee

Native Amorpha, Lead Plant
Master Gardener classes are starting in the fall and our extension agent is putting out the word. Re-post for your friends and/or call Mandy for more information.

Mandy Blocker, OSU Extension, Muskogee, wrote: "I am SO excited to be offering a Fall 2017 Muskogee County OSU Extension Master Gardener Class! 

If you or someone you know is interested, please have them come register at the Muskogee County Extension Office or call 918-686-7200 with any questions!  


07 August 2017

New Tropical Hibiscus

Tradewinds Hibiscus Keepsake Plants also known as Aris Keepsake Plants has a new line of tropical HIbiscus. They sent me one as a sample to try in our Zone 7 and it is doing very very well. The photo you see on the right is the plant they sent. 

The new line of Hibiscus has been bred to give us better plant branches and less bud drop than other tropical Hibiscus.
And, in fact, my plant has had zero bud drop. 

Tropical Hibiscus Sunny Wind
The only problem we've had is that the bunnies that live in our yard love this plant's branches and leaves. Now that it's up away from their little teeth it is thriving again.

The compact growing habit of this new Tradewinds line has made it an ideal plant for a decorative pot. Nothing droops, no pruning needed.

Other lovely colors include: Mandarin Wind, Pink Versicolor, Tortuga Wind, Brilliant Red and more. Click on the link above and see them for yourself. Bet you can't have just one!















29 July 2017

Tulsa Botanic Garden

The 170-acre Tulsa Botanic Gardens is located just northwest of downtown Tulsa at 3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive in Osage County. It's filled with lots of plants, walks and water features, plus a children's garden.

The focal point of the garden is the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Floral Terraces that features the Garden Cascade - a six-foot wide water runnel that flows down from the top of the hillside into the lake. In the spring, thousands of bulbs are in bloom and are one of the most impressive in the region. 

Visitors can explore the four levels located in the terraces and enjoy the trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, roses and perennials, while taking in the views of downtown Tulsa.

The Children's Discovery Garden is a favorite spot. The Spring Giant is a 15 ft. stone face that is the focal point of an experience-based learning garden.

This wonderland garden covers 2-acres and includes a Sensory Walk, Art Wall, Tree Fort and lots of hands-on activities.

There's also a Visitor Center to check out and learn more about the history of the gardens and future plans.

We love the Lakeside Promenade that surrounds a seven-acre lake. It's  the main pathway from each garden section, featuring a three-quarter mile pathway surrounded with plants and art.

This link will take you to the calendar of events.

Aug 5 & 6 - Worm Composting
Aug 12 - Astronomy Night
Aug 19 - Honeybee Appreciation Day

There are many more - click over and find out what works for your schedule and interests.



23 July 2017

Dwarf Shrubs talk at Hosta Connection 7/25

Tuesday,  July 25, 2017 in the Tulsa Garden Center Ballroom (Downstairs) , 2435 S. Peoria Ave, Tulsa at 6:30 pm for Hospitality 7:30 pm for Program

We welcome Cherlyn Wilhelm Reeves of Tom's Outdoor Living as our speaker Tuesday.   She will enlighten us on dwarf shrubs you can utilize in your landscape to reduce your trimming tasks as well as using hostas in your landscapes.

You can sign up for hosta clothes to  wear for the plant sale on September 16th, sign up for the fall trip on September 23rd.

https://www.facebook.com/HostaConnection and www.hostaconnectiontulsa.com

Also -
Sue Howard has invited us to Philadelphia to attend the national hosta conference on June 20-23, 2018 (https://www.ahs2018philly.org/).  She says it is a 16 hour drive from Tulsa.  

She would love to see us and show us her garden.  I will have a sign up sheet.  Longwood garden is 15 miles away. If people are interested, I will work up a trip.

17 July 2017

Butterfly Papilion at Honor Heights Park

This is an ideal time to visit the Butterfly Papilion at Honor Heights Park. The days are finally hot enough to get the butterflies going. The Papilion is an open-air butterfly house with 26 native butterfly species, a teaching garden with lots of host and nectar plants, and a new children's garden.

There's plenty of free parking at Honor Heights Park and the Papilion is next to a splash pad, a new playground and a 1/3 mile trail around the pond.

If you enjoy walking there are other trails both surfaced and primitive. Don't miss the stroll through the Arboretum across the park street from the Papilion.

Restrooms available. Accessible for handicapped individuals. Something fun for adults and children.


Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Hours of Operation
Mon-Sat 10 am-5:00pm, Sun 1:00pm-5:00pm 

Admission
$3.00 Adult , $2.00 Child/Student , $2.00 Senior/Military


10 July 2017

Sustainable Worm Healthy Soil = No Till or Low Till

Jo Craven McGinty wrote a worm-affirming article for the Wall Street Journal that was published in the July1-2 2017 weekend edition. Here's a link to the entire article.

Natural Farming
Worms turn 8,000 pounds of earth on an acre of land in two weeks, according to McGinty. The worm tunnels aerate the soil and the castings (poop) fertilize the ground it squirms in. Darwin called worms nature's plows.

A recent study has been completed that concludes plowing kills worms, damages soil fertility, reduces soil's ability to absorb water and diminishes worms' food supply.

It can take up to ten years to repair the damage done to soil by conventional plowing.

Now 34% of US cropland uses no-till farming according to the USDA. Additional benefits include using less fuel and fewer soil improvements.

Did you know that when summer heats up worms move 18-inches down into the soil to protect themselves from the heat? Here's an interesting Purdue U. article about worms.

The University College Dublin conducted similar research and reported similar findings in May, 2017. “What we see is a systematic decline in the earthworm population in the soil after continued ploughing and a significant increase in the abundance of earthworms in less disturbed soil,although some soils would need more than 10 years to show good signs of recovery” says Associate Professor Olaf Schmidt, from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.





02 July 2017

Lilies and Day Lilies

  Both true Lilies and Day Lilies are blooming in abundance right now. What's the difference? It's more than just their names since they are planted, grown, divided and propagated differently.

 The top photo of a Lily in our yard
lily bulb
.
is a true Lily or Lilium that is grown from a bulb that looks like a garlic bulb.
True flowers are trumpet-shaped, bowl-shaped, funnel-shaped and recurved. They have six petals.

True Lily Propagation
 You can separate lily scales and grow more lilies from them as illustrated in the photo. Or you can dig the mother bulb and separate her bulbils (tiny bulbs surrounding the main, large bulb) to be planted into pots while they grow or plant directly in a prepared bed.


While most true Lilies have their bulbils underground right around the top of the mother bulb,
Tiger Lilies have their bulbils along their stems.
Harvest them and plant them in moist compost until green emerges and then put them into individual pots.
I use clamshell berry containers for the first planting.
Day Lily, Daylily, Hemerocalis


Day Lilies are Hemerocalis and there are over 30,000 of them that are registered and another 10,000 that remain unregistered by hobbyists. Their name comes from the fact that unlike true Lilies with flowers that last a week, Day Lily flowers last a single day. 

 They appear to have 6 petals but they have 3 petals on the top layer and 3 sepals on the bottom layer.  

Day Lily roots are dug and divided in order to keep them from becoming overcrowded, maintain flowering and to increase them in your (and in your friends') garden.
Day Lily Propagation

After digging around the entire clump, lift it, hose it off and begin to separate the many plants within. Each separate division is planted into prepared garden beds.
  The crown of each individual division of the mother plant plant is planted at the same soil level. It's usually recommended that you put a mound of soil in the middle and let the roots dangle lower in the hole so they are spread out for rapid growth.

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.