Showing posts from May, 2007

End-of-Season Sales, Mulching a Path, Bluestone Perennials, Caterpillars

Blossom's Garden Center is having their end-of-the season sale Thursday - tomorrow. Go grab some bargains to complete your garden.As the beds in the back yard have grown and the shrubs have expanded, it was becoming a challenge to get in between things. Three weeks ago my garden column was on covering a patch of weeds with newspaper and then topping it with mulch. The photo on the left is the end result. One less slice of the back yard has to be mowed.

Bluestone Perennials website has an easy to use online catalog where you can browse their half-off everything sale.

The front of the bed in the photo is lined with Nepeta Walker's Low from Bluestone.This year I ordered several dozen plants from Bluestone - for my garden and for a few friends. One type of plant arrived looking less than desirable and they replaced it. Everything from them has taken root and thrived so far. So, I'm impressed.

Here's the progress report on the tiny Spicebush Butterfly Caterpillar found on what…

Dame's Rocket, Diagnosing Plant Damage, Barrel Cactus

Dame's Rocket, a type of mustard is the pretty purple flower in the photo. Many garden writers say to pull it out and burn it if you find it in your flower beds because it is so invasive.
So, I wonder, do you pull up pretty natives and put them in plastic bags in the trash so not one seed escapes?
It seems extreme to me but I may be eating those words next year if Dame invades aggressively.
Quite honestly, as difficult as it is to get anything to grow, what harm could a few purple beauties do?

These are edamame seedlings that have been decimated by something.
The empty spots in the seed starting tray had little plants in them until a bed was made for them in the garden.
After one row was planted, I put the flat nearby until more spring plants could be harvested.
When I went out to pull three large heads of greens, all the edamame had lost its head - something that chews and prefers tender green vegetables has moved in.

Barrel cactus is native to southwestern Oklahoma where this one …

Japonica Pruning

Nasturtium bud and fading flower in today's garden.
A reader asked, "When is the best time to to prune a Japonica?"
I did a quick internet search and found at least a dozen plants with Japonica in their name, including: Japonica Lonicera - Japanese Honeysuckle, Flowering Quince Japonica, Cryptotaenia Japonica, Euonymous Japonica and Caradina Japonica. Fatsia Japonica is commonly known as aralia. The common names for Spirea Japonica is Japanese Spirea.
So, the answer is, "It depends on which plant you have."
Here is the shorthand answer - Many spring blooming shrubs and vines are pruned just after flowering so they can make the flower buds for next year on the wood they grow this summer. Other spring flowering plants are pruned in the late winter.
If your Japonica is a Honeysuckle, prune it late winter because they bloom on new growth. If it is the Spirea Japonica, prune it next February according to The Missouri Botanical Garden's home gardening site.
Pruning c…

Spicebush Butterfly Caterpillar

The daylily pictured came with us when we moved from the west coast to Oklahoma and has bloomed reliably every year no matter what weather Mother Nature provides. This little guy or gal spicebush swallowtail butterfly caterpillar was on a spice bush I just bought in order to attract spicebush butterflies.
You have to be amazed by their finding the plant within a few weeks after its arrival. And, by the way, what a strange looking little thing with the eye markings. Double click to see more detail.
We had almost an inch of rain, thankfully. All those seedlings for the garden tour sale are getting the right stuff for June 9th. The lavender flower is a pole bean I bought from an Italian seed company. I'm not impressed by their germination rate - about 50% in our garden. We shall see how they produce. In the meantime the flowers are very pretty moving up the trellis.
The poppies are already making their seed heads for next year, the blackberries continue to make hundreds of flowers a da…

Frank Sadorus Photography on Illinois State Museum Website

In Today's Garden
Cucumbers every day, green tomatoes on half the plants, snow peas in salads from the garden, flowers on the pole beans, summer squash forming on volunteer plants and flowers blooming. These are some of the reasons we love to be in the garden.
On the Web The Illinois State Museum website is a treasure trove for nature lovers. Their link for Botany is described, "The ISM botanical collections include more than 111,000 botanical specimens that are housed in the herbarium, which has one of the largest collections of Illinois flora in the state. The internationally significant Cutler-Blake ethnobotanical collection preserves remains of prehistoric cultivated plants that represent much of the primary evidence for early American Indian plant domestication in North America."
The link at their site that I found even more fascinating, though, is the online photography show of Frank Sadorus. Sadorus lived on a family farm in Illinois and was an amateur photographer w…

May 23 2007 in a very busy garden

Left: Blue and white Larkspur
with rose campion.

Right: Shrimp plant is a zone 9
beauty that will become 3 by 3 by the end of the summer
These are seedlings and recently planted seeds for the upcoming Muskogee Garden Club plant sale at the Centennial Garden Tour June 9 and June 10. Plant seedlings include rose campion, snow on the mountain, love-lies-bleeding amaranth, purple millet, cleome, blackberries, mint and a few others. Seeds that we hope will be up and garden ready for the 9th include teddy bear sunflowers, Mexican sunflowers, sunshine sunflowers, Indian blanket, Berry Basket and Decorzinnias from Renee Seeds and others.
Anise Hyssop is the lavender spire in front and rose campion is the deep red flower in back. They were both started from seed two years ago.

Great gardening weather and welcome rain is coming. It is easy to be an optimist this spring!

Hard to Beet This Catch of the Day and Carl's Birthday

The beets all have to come out before the weather beats them up. This morning I watched the sun come up while I was pulling these. What a great way to start a day.

Snow peas are just now forming - the spring has been a little late for them. It's unusual for the snow peas to be in flower when the blackberries are already forming on the vines. What a berry crop this year! Last year because of the drought there we so few that we had none to give away. This year will be very different - assuming the storm on the horizon does no damage.
The Muskogee Garden Club's Centennial Garden Tour is coming up June 9 and 10 so yesterday I planted a few hundred little pots of things for the plant sale. If they all come up and survive, there will be purple majesty millet, amaranth, rose campion, sunflowers, summer squash, loofah sponge vines, and a few other odds and ends.
So you want a big dramatic planting pot but don't want it to weigh a ton? Check this out.

The orange disk inside the tall …

Brent and Becky's Bulbs, Mid-May Gardening

If you have room for more bulbs, Brent and Becky's announced their 25% off sale today. The email said all remaining summer flowering bulbs are discounted until they are gone. It looks like every imaginable color combination of Caladium and canna lily is on the sale.

In the vegetable bed, transplants of Edamame (edible soy bean pods) are going in where the lettuce and radishes came out. The slugs had to be "treated" before anything could be planted in one little strip where greens were being eaten by something that makes little round holes. The next seeds to go into that spot will either be vining melon or potimarron but the bugs must go first.

The coleus came back!

The shade beds are really taking off after the rain and a few mild days. Tiger lilies given to us a couple of years ago by David Gerard, a friend at the Phoenix, are showing off at over 3-feet tall. They are forming flower buds and will have those remarkable dark orange flowers with freckles.

Also th…

News of the Natural World

There is a lot of news of interest to nature and outdoors-types in Science Daily today.

BEES - First there are new reports about the sudden lack of honey bees to pollinate fruits and vegetables. Science Daily reports that "in the United States, half a million to a million colonies out of a total 2.4 million colonies have died this winter."
Habitat loss and disease in Europe together with a 50% drop in managed honeybee colonies in North America created a global phenomenon known as the ‘pollination crisis’.Cornell and other research universities are making plans to investigate the cause and the federal government is considering investing tens of millions of dollars for competitive grants to programs targeting honeybees' health. Medicare for bees but without the paperwork.
SPIDERS - Entomologists at Louisiana State University report that brown widow spiders are becoming more common in Louisiana. They are as poisonous as the black widows.
brown widow-Dr. Chris Carlton, Louisiana…

Today in the Garden

The Mystery Plant now spans over 4-feet across with each branch topped with one of these crowns. Photos of the plant have been emailed to a few plantsmen and experts who have said it is some kind of primrose. One said to dig it out and another said to wait until it blooms. We're waiting.
The strawberry bed is a small raised bed topped with straw. A drip irrigation system is built into the soil and connects to the hose from the edge of the bed.

The baby's breath came up from seed planted last year. The lavender flower is a native that was planted a year or two ago. Now it's almost 3-feet tall and covered with flowers loved by bees, butterflies and their relatives. That corner of the flower bed is always busy. While I was focusing the camera and macro lens, I was being buzzed the entire time. Only one kind of tomatoes is being attacked by slugs so pans of beer were put into place after watering this morning. The greens are also being nibbled on but they can still be harveste…

Magenta Spreen Lamb's Quarters

This is a seedling of Magenta Spreen Lamb's Quarters that popped up in the vegetable bed. Sharon Owen at Moonshadow Herb Farm gave me her mother last year when it was about this same size. By the end of the summer the plant was 8-feet tall. No joke. No exaggeration.

Sharon told me it would make a million babies if I didn't take the seed heads off. Well, if you weren't here last summer we had 30-days over 100-degrees and watering to save trees was the primary "gardening" going on. (The water bill was $300 a month, for 3 months. We love our plants.)

No seed heads were removed and thus the pink centered beauties are coming up. Funny how you can plant some things with tremendous care and have a big failure and other plants are so agreeable as to show up without any work at all on the gardener's part.

Owen said in a email today, "They're a type of giant Lamb's Quarters. A customer gave one to me years ago. Since then, Seeds of Change catalog has beg…

Daffodils, Today's Garden

This is Brian S. Duncan's latest invention for the daffodil industry.
Not available for purchase ... yet .Duncan has been breeding new, wonderful daffodils for 40 years. He sells exhibition quality bulbs to Ringhaddy. (Ringhaddy Daffodils, 60 Ringhaddy Rd, Killinchy, Co. Down BT23 6TU, Northern Ireland e-mail:
On a more humble note, here are some photos from our spring yard today. Double click on any photo to see more detail in a full window.
Butterfly enjoying the bachelor button patch Clematis Jackmanii full bloom, tight bud and opening bud

Columbine with Nepeta Walker's Low and May Night Salvia

If you are looking for something to do but cannot wade through the water yet, start seeds in pots of sterile soil. Put them outside where they will receive sun and rain. Seedlings can be planted out when the ground dries out enough to walk on it.

Snow-on-the-Mountain, Purple Majesty Millet and Help for Growing Tropicals

Between the rain and the mild temperatures, volunteers are popping up everywhere.

The photo is of Snow-On-the-Mountain (euphorbia marginata) whose children (from last year's crop) are growing by leaps and bounds - between everything. I'm pulling some out and repotting them to give to friends, moving others into beds in the back, etc. But I still have dozens that are already 4-inches tall and dread pulling them so I weed around them until I can get them new homes.
Also - last year's crop of Purple Majesty Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) was great. I bought the extra large 100-seed package from Johnny's Selected Seeds. The first planting was a dud but the second planting in June worked exceptionally well. The trick seems to be that that they need heat to thrive. In October, we harvested 30-seed heads. If you would like a few Purple Millet seeds to plant in your garden send an email to and include your postal, mailing address.A walk around the yard after th…

P. Allen Smith's home in Little Rock and Sales

On one of the tours at the Master Gardener's Conference in Little Rock we toured the gardens at P. Allen Smith's personal residence in the historic Quapaw District. The photos are of Smith during his keynote speech, and some from his home. Double click on them to make them large enough to see some of the detail.

Garden shed
From the sidewalkPorch

A tour of the rural Garden Home Retreat he is building can be found at the link. You will find an abundance of gardening guidance and you can subscribe to his email newsletter at - there are even recipes in the email newsletter and on his site. Sales Sales Sales - Here are some of the sales being advertised online this weekend. Take a look - you may be inspired. Bulbs and perennials at Dutch Gardens Tropical container patio plants from Logee's Daffodil bulbs from Brecks Van Dyke Zinnia seed sale at Redbud Farms (a moving sale) $5 off a $30 order at Burpee Seeds

Mailorder Flower Bulb Source

Before I leave for the International Master Gardener's Conference in Little Rock, I want to give you a heads up about Touch of Nature. There are hundreds of mail order sources for flower bulbs. Some companies consistently disappoint and some always deliver bulbs that grow and bloom.

Everything I have bought so far from Touch of Naturehas survived, grown and bloomed. They have sales that are worth watching for. (Right now daylilies are on sale.) The Dutch iris in these photos are ones I bought at the end of the season last fall - 25 in a bag for $7.50 plus shipping. As you can see they are all blooming or in bud. The dark one is Purple Moon; the light blue one is called Hildegarde.

The owners, Bert and Ingrid Leek, encourage customers to send photos so there are many to browse. Information about how to enter their photo contest is online, too.

If you want to be notified of sales send an email to and put your email address on their list.

While I was planting …

May Day, Preen and Baby Snakes

There's a new Preen product available only at Lowe's. It is a mulch that has a pre-emergent already in it. The product literature says it will prevent weeds for six months. We are trying it on these Sweetspires because they require weekly Bermuda grass weeding over the summer.
The color is too red but may fade in the summer sun.
We decided to remove a riparian area (weeds and vinca) next to the house where baby bunnies have been born and where baby snakes have also been born.
The photo is of one of the baby snakes that was displaced this week. He/She is climbing up the house after scaring us by peeking into the window and wiggling its head at us.
It is May first and we have cooling rain for the week which is great for the transplants as well as recently planted seeds. The rain makes this a perfect time to distribute fertilizer, too, since it will be watered-in while the plants are under cloud cover. (Hot dry weather + fertilizer can lead to burning) Stay on top of picking lettuce …