18 February 2017

Landscaping with Stones, Gravel, Pavers

In our area, stones are a natural part of the landscape. In fact, it's impossible to plant anything here without removing rocks and stones of various shapes and sizes.

On our slice of property in NE Oklahoma, we have made stacked walls, walkways and flower bed borders with the natural rocks we have unearthed and moved.

There is a new, extremely worthwhile little book out called "The Spirit of Stone: 101 Practical and Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden" by Jan Johnsen.

It's loaded with beautiful photographs will inspire your creative process. There are simple project designs that home owners can accomplish on their own or with friends and family pitching in

In addition, Johnsen has plenty of more complex projects that you may want to hire a professional to do for your landscape.

The photos include ideas you may want to use for a rock garden, steps, viewing spots, dry stream bed, walk, foundation, stacked rock art, edging, or art.

There are charts of types of stone, rock garden plants (Johnsen is on the east coast of the US), mortar colors, etc. There are easily understood drawings of construction methods/plans for the ambitious.

On the other hand, if you are in the mood to admire rather than construct, there is also a list of public gardens around the US where you can see beautiful rock installations. 

Jan Johnsen is an award-winning instructor at the NY Botanical Garden, author of Heaven is a Garden (St. Lynn's Press, 2014) and a celebrated landscape designer. Her  design/build firm, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools, was awarded a 2014 Merit Award by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). 

Johnsen was adjunct professor at Columbia University and has worked in Japan, East Africa, Hawaii, Vermont, New Orleans and New York. 

Her other books include: Heaven is a Garden,  Ortho's All About Trees and Gardening without Soil. She blogs at Serenity in the Garden. 

For inspiration, meditation on natural materials and an interesting read, pick up the book. It's The Spirit of Stone, hard cover, 8 by 7 inches, 192-pages, published by St. Lynn's Press, $22 list price, $17 at online vendors.

12 February 2017

Seed Swap Feb 25 Tulsa

Seedy Saturday Seed Swap   Saturday February 25, 2017

 Oklahoma Sustainable Gardening and Butterfly & Pollinator Conservation Association
Saturday February 25, 2017
Tulsa OSU Extension office, 4116 E 15th St
10am till noon (or later).. 

Some FAQ I get are:

1.       (Q)  How do I bring seeds to seed swap:  (A) you can package in small envelopes or zip lock bags and write the name of the plant on the outside.  If you don’t have envelopes, not to worry.  I will bring a whole box of coin envelopes that you can use.  You can just bring your extra seed in bulk and put a pinch in an envelope and write the name on the outside.

2.       (Q) How do I trade or pass them out? (A) We will have tables set up and you can put them out for people to see and barter.

3.        (Q) I don’t have any seeds to swap, but can I still come? (A)  Absolutely.  There are plenty of seeds to share that won’t need a swap.  Everyone is welcome and I guarantee you will have a great time.

4.       (Q) What kinds of seeds can I bring?  (A) If a plant makes a seed and you have some and it’s legal to grow, you can bring them. Just use your good judgment. Our groups’ mission is to focus on butterfly and pollinator plants, but we also conserve heirloom plants and vegetables.  Diversity is more interesting.  AND you can bring plants and cuttings to trade or share as well.  We have had everything from Winter Hardy Palm Tree seeds to winter Onion offsets and all kinds of heirloom tomato seeds, herbs and flowers.

Last year we had a large group and I expect even more this year.  Hopefully the weather will be nice, and right now it looks to be fabulous. One year we even had a snow, but people still showed up. 

Seed Saving Network Green Country,
Gary Schaum

09 February 2017

Order Seeds and Plants

It's time to buy seeds for your 2017 garden. Here's a list of companies with their phone numbers and websites for your ordering pleasure. If your favorite is not listed, please share it in the comments.

Whatever you imagine, online stores and mail order catalogs can help you plan and put it all together.

Seeds of many native plants, perennials, wildflowers, herbs and cold weather vegetables can be started any time through February and be ready to plant out in the garden after the last freeze.

When you know what will be on your list, check out a few vendors, their prices and shipping costs. Many offer free shipping for large orders.

If you are avoiding GMOs, order open pollinated and heirloom varieties. Vegetables in particular, can be easier to grow if you choose the disease resistant varieties.

Almost all the online and catalog stores have monthly email newsletters where they offer growing tips, sales and other useful information.  I set up a separate email address to keep them separate.

Many seed and plant suppliers are online only; companies that offer free print catalogs are marked with an asterisk.

Alpine Seeds, www.alpine-seeds.com (rock gardens)
Amishland Heirloom Seeds, www.amishlandseeds.com 
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, www.anniesheirloomseeds.com, 800-313-9140 *
Artistic Gardens & Le Jardin du Gourmet, www.artisticgardens.com, 802-748-1446 (40c packs)
Baker Creek, http://rareseeds.com, 417-924-8917 *
Bluestone Perennials, www.bluestoneperennials.com  (plants) *
Botanical Interest, www.botanicalinterests.com877-821-4340 *
Bountiful Gardens, www.bountifulgardens.org, 707-459-6410 (grains, etc.) *
Chiltern Seeds, www.chilternseeds.co.uk (unique British selections)
Diane’s Flower Seeds, www.dianeseeds.com
Dixondale Farms, www.dixondalefarms.com (Onions, shallots, etc.) *
Easywildflowers, www.easywildflowers.com417-469-2611 (MO)
Eden Brothers, www.edenbrothers.com828- 633 - 6338
Evergreen Seeds, www.evergreenseeds.com (Asian vegetables) 
Ethnobotanical Catalog of Seeds, www.jlhudsonseeds.net (Seedbank of specialty seeds) *
Fedco Coop seeds and Moose Tubers, www.fedcoseeds.com, 207-873-7333 *
Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, www.gardenmedicinals.com, 540-872-8351 (herbs)
Gourmet Seed International, Italian Cook’s, Italian Seed, www.gourmetseed.com, 575-398-6111
High Mowing organic seeds, www.highmowingseeds.com, 888-735-4454 *
Hometown Seeds, http://hometownseeds.com, 888-433-3106 (wildflowers)
Jelitto Perennials, http://jelitto.com (German perennials)Johnny’s Selected Seeds, www.johnnyseeds.com, 877-564-6697 *
Kitazawa Seed, www.kitazawaseed.com, 510-595-1188 (Asian vegetables) *
Missouri Wildflowers, http://mowildflowers.net, 573-496-3492 * (MO)
Native Seeds, http://www.nativeseeds.org520-622-5561
NE Seed, www.neseed.com, 800-825-5477 *
Nichols Garden Nursery, www.nicholsgardennursery.com, 800-422-3985
Onalee Seeds, www.onalee.com (free shipping) 
Park Seeds, Jackson & Perkins & Wayside Gardenswww.parkseed.com, 800-845-3369
Peaceful Valley, www.groworganic.com888-784-1722*
Pine Ridge Gardens, www.pineridgegardens.com, 479-293-4359 (native plants) *
Pinetree Garden Seeds, www.superseeds.com, 207-926-3400 (herbs & supplies) *
Plant Delights, http://www.plantdelights.com, 919-772-4794 *
Prairie Nursery, www.prairienursery.com800-476-9453*
Renee’s Garden Seeds, http://reneesgarden.com  & Cornucopia Garden Seeds www.cornucopiaseeds.com (value-priced Renee’s seeds)
Richter’s Herbs Canada, www.richters.com, 800-668-4372 (Wholesale for Everyone) *
Sample Seed Shop. http://sampleseeds.com, 716-871-1137 (budget pricing)
Sand Hill Preservation Center, www.sandhillpreservation.com, 563- 246-2299 (heirloom chickens & seedbank)
SandMountain Herbs, www.sandmountainherbs.com (herbs, medicinals) owns www.herb-roots.com (plant roots)
Seed Savers Exchange, www.Seedsavers.org, 563-382-5990 (Seedbank)
Seeds from Italy, www.growitalian.com, 785-748-0959 (generous seed packs) *
Seeds of Change, www.seedsofchange.com, 888-762-7333 *
Select Seeds, www.selectseeds.com, 800-684-0395 *
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, www.southernexposure.com, 540-894-9480 (heat tolerant varieties) *
Territorial Seed, www.territorialseed.com, 800-626-0866 *
Thompson & Morgan, www.tmseeds.com, 800-274-7333 (British varieties)
Thyme Garden Herb Co., www.thymegarden.com, 541-487-8671 (organic herbs, flowers)
Tomato Bob Heirloom Tomatoes, www.tomatobob.com  & www.heirloomtomatoes.com.
Vermont Bean Seed Co, www.vermontbean.com, 800-349-1071 *
Whatcom Seed Co, www.seedrack.com, (palms, bonsai, cycads)
West Coast Seeds, www.westcoastseeds.com888-804-8820 *
Wild Things Nursery, www.wildthingsnursery.com  (OK native plants)
White Harvest Seed, www.whiteharvestseed.com, 866-424-3185 (heirlooms)

There are dozens more companies than I can be list here. Identify what you are looking for, search for it and find new providers. The more you order from a single source, the more you save in shipping.

02 February 2017

Event for Gardeners - Tulsa Daylily Society

The Tulsa Area Daylily Society 
Bob Scott owner of Bob Scott Nursery in Yukon, OK 
March 2nd at Tulsa Garden Center
2435 South Peoria AV
Snacks at 6:30; Meeting at 7.

Mr Scott's nursery offers a great selection of speciality plants; hostas, helleborus, heucheras, ferns & peonies. He is well known in the daylily industry for his gorgeous daylilys. This is a rare opportunity to hear Mr Scott speak.

Click over to http://www.bobscottnursery.com to see what Scott has to offer.

Should be a good talk!

25 January 2017

Protection from the Cold

We love our cold-hardy Gardenias and worried that they wouldn't make it through the winter without cover.

Home made plant protection
For the past two winters, we've experimented with a cover of pine straw and soil but when we uncovered the shrubs in the spring, the leaves were still green but had fungal spots.

This year a cover was constructed to protect them from the worst of the cold temperatures, while allowing rain and sun to penetrate.

Wood frame wrapped with wire
Corners were stapled together
Here's how Jon did it.

A wood frame was constructed with wood scraps, stapled with a staple gun. The frame was wrapped with chicken wire.

The burlap was stapled to the wood frame and completely wrapped the wire frame. The plants still look good under there.

Re-purposed coffee sacks were draped

The burlap was stapled to the wood

17 January 2017

Red Hills of OK and KS - talk on Jan 31 - Wichita

Ken Brunson
The Kansas Native Plant Society is sponsoring a talk on Jan 31st at 6:30,
The location is Dyck Arborteum, 177 W Hickory Street, Hesston KS, just north of Wichita.

The speaker is Ken Brunson and his topic is Fire Recovery in the Hills.
Ecologist and field manager Ken Brunson of the Nature Conservancy knows a lot about the Anderson Creek Wildfire of March 2016 that consumed about 390,000 acres of land in Oklahoma and Kansas. 
By some estimates, this was the biggest private lands fire in the U.S. since records have been kept. Several hundred head of livestock were killed, thousands of miles of fence, and at least a dozen houses were destroyed. Positive and negative impacts to land and wildlife varies, and Ken will show photos as part of his presentation about this fascinating story.

Come for supper at 6:00 p.m. or just the lecture at 6:30 p.m. ($2 for lecture, $7 for supper and lecture). Call 620-327-8127 by 4 p.m. on Friday before the Tuesday lecture for supper reservations.
Contact: Brad Guhr brad.guhr@hesston.edu 620-327-8127 or Phyllis Scherich pscherich@yahoo.com 620-213-0751
Beautiful Dyck Arboretum of the Plains  in Hesston KS is a primary sponsor.
Ken Brunson's blog, called The Kansas Outback, is at this link.

09 January 2017

After Freeze Plant Care

We've already had a hard freeze but this weekend's rain, sleet and maybe, ice storm will make matters worse for our vulnerable plants.

Here are some good reminders from Buchanan's Native Plants

 After a freeze, some plants may show signs of frost damage. Frost damage can reveals itself as dark areas on leaves, a burnt appearance, or wilting. Here are some things you can do to help protect and nurture a plant with frost/freeze damage.

1. Don’t prune: Although frost damage can be unsightly, you should not cut back dead or damages leaves or branches. This is very difficult for many gardeners, as cutting something unhealthy off their plant feels like the natural thing to do. However, the damaged leaves still have benefit by acting to protect the remaining plant from wind and chill. Besides, pruning promotes tender new growth, which is the last thing we want before winter is over. Keep your shears away until spring (late February for perennials and early March for tropicals) when the weather begins to warm. Spring is the time to cut back dead matter and let new growth take over. Feel free to trim plants all the way to the ground, just leaving a few inches of old growth. After you prune, use a fertilizer. Microlife 6-2-4 is an outstanding organic fertilizer that will help your plants with the production of new leaves and branches.

2. Add Compost/Mulch: It’s never a bad time to add compost and mulch. In fact, adding these two during the winter helps to further insulate plants’ rootzones while supplying plants with essential nutrients and the microbiology the need to stay healthy and happy. We recommend Vegan Compost from The Ground Up, because it contains a diverse range of microorganisms and is full of both macro and micro nutrients for plants. For mulch, the Native Hardwood is best, double-ground and aged, apply a 2-3 inch layer.

3. Prevent further damage: A damaged plant may not have what it takes to make it through another freeze. Protect these tender plants by bringing them inside if possible. If this isn’t possible, wrap them in frost cloth. Cover the entire plant and secure well at the base to ensure no wind can move under the cloth. Wrapping a plant may make the difference between life and death in the garden. Before a hard freeze, water your garden well. Water saturated soil holds heat better than a dry soil. Keep damaged plants well watered but be mindful that plants need less water in cooler weather.

06 January 2017

Vertical Gardening Benefits Schools and Cooks

The New Yorker published an exciting article about vertical farming efforts on the east coast.

Growing crops in the city, without soil or natural light.
 By Ian Frazier


Ingrid Williams, AeroFarms’ director of human resources, lives in Orange New Jersey but knows Newark well. She has degrees in labor studies and sociology from Rutgers. Williams told me. “There’s an AeroFarms mini-farm growing salad greens in the cafeteria of my daughter’s school, Philip’s Academy Charter School, on Central Avenue. I volunteer there all the time as part of parents’ stewardship, and I know the kids love growing their own lettuce for the salad bar.”

We need more Ed Harwoods in the US with messianic enthusiasm.
"The mini-farm’s inventor, Ed Harwood, of Ithaca, New York, sold it to the school in 2010. Harwood is a sixty-six-year-old man of medium stature who speaks with the kind of rural accent that sometimes drops the last letters of words. He has been an associate professor at Cornell’s famous school of agriculture, and he began his career as an inventor by coming up with revolutionary improvements in the computer management of dairy cows, an animal he loves. His joyous enthusiasm for what he does has an almost messianic quality."

And 76-year old Despommier and his wife are still working to improve the world - 
 ‘What would you like the world to be like in 2050?’ They thought about this and decided that by 2050 the planet will be really crowded, with eight or nine billion people, and they wanted New York City to be able to feed its population entirely on crops grown within its own geographic limit."

Agricultural runoff is the main cause of pollution in the oceans; vertical farms produce no runoff. Outdoor farming consumes seventy per cent of the planet’s freshwater; a vertical farm uses only a small amount of water compared with a regular farm. All over the world, croplands have been degraded or are disappearing. Vertical farming can allow former cropland to go back to nature and reverse the plundering of the earth. Despommier began to give talks and get noticed. He became the original vertical-farming proselytizer."

David Rosenberg, CEO
AeroFarms’ CEO David Rosenberg, used his grandfather’s invention to start a business called Hycrete, which he later sold, though not for a sum so great that he has chosen to fund AeroFarms himself. In recent years, his new start-up has raised more than fifty million dollars in investment, about twice as much as has any other vertical farm, or indoor farm of any kind, in the U.S.

Like the original Aero Farms Systems, this company would base itself on Harwood’s patented cloth for growing the plants and on his nozzle for watering and feeding them. It would build the vertical-farm systems but not sell them, grow baby greens commercially, and scale the operation up gigantically. This change in fortunes left Harwood thunderstruck. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “How many inventors have inventions sitting around, waiting for a break, and then something like this happens?”

Though many of the hundred-plus employees seem to be diffused throughout the enterprise and most vividly present in cyberspace, everybody gathers sometimes in the headquarters building for a buffet-style lunch, at which Rosenberg makes a short speech. Talking quietly, he repeats a theme: “To succeed, we need to be the best at four things. We need to be the best at plant biology, the best at maintaining our plants’ environment, the best at running our operational system, and the best at getting the farm to function well mechanically. We have to be the best total farmers. And to do all this we need the best data. If the data is not current and completely reliable, we will fail. We must always keep paying close attention to the data.”

Phillips Academy Charter School is still growing strong.
"Harwood’s original prototype mini-farm, the one he sold to Philip’s Academy in 2010, still produces crops six or seven times every school year. "

Catkin Flowers, left
Environmental Science Teacher Catkin Flowers keeps it going. "The teacher who keeps all this machinery in good order is Catkin Flowers. That is her real given name. A tall auburn-haired woman in her forties, she starts her science students working with the farm when they’re in kindergarten. “We use the farm to teach chemistry, math, biology,” she explained to me one morning between classes. 
“The students learn with it all the way through eighth grade. I think the farm is the reason our science scores are so competitive in the state. We get the kids involved in running the grow cycles and then solving the problems that inevitably come up. That’s how kids really learn, not from sitting back and watching the grownups do everything.”

And, Marion Nestle of Food Politics blog,  is proud to have been mentioned by WikiLeaks as an enemy of the sugary drink industry! What a mensch she is.

"On another morning, I stayed for lunch. First, Mentesana took me, along with Marion Nestle (not Nestlé; she’s no relation), the nutrition expert and N.Y.U. professor, on a tour of the school. A Clinton campaign e-mail released by WikiLeaks the day before had referred to harassment of Nestle by the beverage industry because of her book “Big Soda: Taking on the Soda Industry (and Winning),” and she was in a great mood, proud to have been mentioned. 

Phillips Academy Charter School farm
Robert Wallauer, the school’s young chef, introduced himself. He has worked for famous restaurants, but decided he could contribute more to the public good by running school kitchens. The entrée was a Chinese-style dish of pasta with chopped vegetables. I told him it was so delicious that if this were a restaurant I would come back and bring my friends."

01 January 2017

Native Plants Conference Feb 4 in Tulsa

The Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing is in Tulsa this year! Great news for those of us who live in the eastern part of the state.

Registration is now available online at the link above.

topic Landscaping with Native Plants
time  8:30 to 4:00
location Tulsa Garden Center 2435 S Peoria

To register
Conference is $15 per person
plus optional meal
Lunch is $10 per person
3926 E 33rd ST.
Tulsa 74135

Connie Murray 918.8453170

25 December 2016

Wildlife Fenced in by Refugee Fences

barbed wire fences
on the Slovenian-Croatian border
Yale 360 reported this week that the fences and walls that are being constructed to prevent the movement of migrants, are also preventing the healthy and necessary movement of wildlife. Excerpts follow - 

"A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves."

The author of the article, Jim O’Donnell, is a freelance environmental journalist and conservation photographer. 

In addition to bears and wolves, lynx roam Europe as part of their migratory behavior. 

"On his most recent trip into the mountains along the Slovenian-Croatian border, biologist Djuro Huber counted 11 dead roe deer, all caught up in the fencing. The deer stumble into the barriers while foraging. In a desperate bid to escape, they drive themselves further into the razor wire, entangling themselves and eventually dying of blood loss. “Certainly many more died, but the border officials try to remove them before [they are] photographed,” says Huber of the University of Zagreb in Croatia. “But it is what we don’t see that troubles me the most.” 

While the deer are the most obvious victims, carnivores tend to simply turn away from the fences. If a young male bear or a wolf can’t cross the border to mate, for example, he will look for a more accessible female. The result is genetic isolation and inbreeding, a problem already threatening the region’s dwindling lynx population. This can lead to an increase in diseases and unwanted genetic mutations that may ultimately lead to localized extinctions, scientists say. "

"Not only do the fences kill wildlife and lead to genetic isolation, according to a June 2016 study published in the journal PLOS Biology, but these barriers also hamper the efforts of organizations such as the European Wilderness Society (EWS), which is working to protect and expand existing wilderness throughout Europe. According to EWS Chairman Max Rossberg, Eastern Europe holds some of the best-preserved wildlands on the continent and some of its healthiest wildlife populations."

The impact is being felt in other nations, too.
The impact of border fences on wildlife is not limited to Europe. A 2011 study pointed out that the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border blocks 16 key species from about 75 percent of their habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that a fence proposed by President-elect Donald Trump would impact 111 endangered species and 108 migratory birds. In Asia, nearly the entire 2,900-mile Chinese-Mongolian border is fenced, impacting species such as the Asiatic wild ass and the Mongolian gazelle. Border fences also have been erected between states of the former Soviet Union. "

Consider this phenomenon that can no longer happen with the fences installed:
"One Eurasian brown bear, dubbed Ivo, was tracked by satellite collar as he roamed for 21 months from Slovakia, to Hungary, to Poland, to Ukraine, crossing international borders 63 times. " 
Fencing Europe

“European nations are small,” says Aleksandra Majic, a biologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. “They are not large enough to host their own healthy populations of large carnivores.” 

Although the flow of refugees has slowed, the fences are still being built. Few if any refugees traveled in the Dinaric Mountains, but a fence is nevertheless being erected in this rugged territory. Huber, Majic, and other conservationists say politicians in the Balkans are building the fences to divert attention from other economic and political problems. “They [the fences] only make sense when viewed within the context of populist politicians playing the ‘fear’ card to fuel nationalism and to try and appear to be doing something,” said John Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Trondheim, Norway and the lead author of the PLOS Biology study."

Political volatility in Turkey and a lack of resolution to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria have Europe on edge. A fence is currently being built along the Bulgarian-Turkish border that will cut through a key wildlife corridor
Romania highway bear
Romania, one of Europe’s poorest nations, badly needs a modern highway system. But conservationists warn that unless the movements of wildlife are accommodated, a planned boom in road construction could threaten one of the continent’s last large brown bear populations. 
"Along the border between Russia and Finland, a barrier is planned that could harm bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines, and forest reindeer. "

These are only excerpts from the full piece. You can click on the link at the beginning of this entry to read the entire article.