Showing posts from July, 2007

Blogging Nurseryman

Photo: Succulent growing over the edge of the sidewalk
softens the look of the hardscape and can survive our hot August.

One of the many horticulture newsletters I subscribe to is the Blogging Nurseryman. It's California based but today's issue is relevant to all of us.

By way of introduction, I'll quote Trey Pitsenberger's blog "A northern California nurseryman talks about the business of running a small garden center, competing in a hyper-competitive market, and anything else that crosses his mind."

It's interesting because it provides an insight into the small, personal, garden center. One recent post was about the frustration of people coming to him for advice and then going to a big box store to make purchases. Then, bringing the plant in later to diagnose it's failure to thrive.

Today's post was about a small family moving into a home and putting in a lawn. They had to water the new lawn, of course to get it going and keep…

American Penstemon Society

The American Penstemon Society has a newly designed website with a new www address.

Here are excerpts from the current newsletter, delivered today, with a summary of the site's new features.

The dropdown tabs include: Cultivation, Propagation, Identification, Distribution, APS, and the Library. The Message boards were created on the cultivation and distribution pages. The message boards are interactive and user’s may log questions.

They are developing a sizable photo gallery. This site has a good start with a Java enabled (runs on any platform) gallery. "We hope as time passes, that the quality of the pictures will help site users identify and cultivate penstemons of interest to them."

The American Pensetmon Society 2008 conference will be in Great Basin National Park (eastern Nevada) second or third weekend in June.

I tried to log into the message board but was blocked - the new software may not be ready for prime time yet.

I joined the APS because I'm dying to learn …

Dang Bugs and Good Bugs, Food and Water Watch

The Leaf Footed Bug is highly praised by someone at this website but let me tell you I don't enjoy them crawling all over my summer squash plants.

We are in the buggy season and they are driving me buggy. Mosquito bites from picking blackberries, squishing mating beetles and leaf footed bugs on the cucumbers, washing squash bugs out of the summer squash and scraping their eggs off the bottom of the leaves, things I've never seen before on the amaranth. Makes me itch all over sometimes.

Photo: I think we need some bug eating chickens!
On the happy side, there are big fat butterfly larva on the dill that we grow for them. How do the butterflies find it? Everyone is talking about how many butterflies there are this year.

And, small frogs jump out from under plants where we water now. They must have moved in when we had the 36 days of rain.

Today I interviews a PhD candidate in forest ecology at Oklahoma State University. We met at a recent Living Kitchen dinner …

ASLA dot org, 2007 Master Gardeners Conference in Little Rock

If you have any interest at all in public spaces and landscape architecture, do yourself a favor and subscribe to a smart blog at where you can sign up to receive an email notice when something new is posted.
Operated by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the blog currently has articles about the walkability of communities, solar powered public art in Washington D.C., an art show in Florence, green roofs, the importance of parks and a tribute to Mrs. Johnson. I have never seen an article at the site that was dull, uninteresting or blah. Photo: Ice plant in a rock garden, 2007 MASTER GARDENERS CONFERENCE IN LITTLE ROCK Whether or not you were available to attend the conference, many of the presentations are available on line right now for a limited time. (They are taking them down in a couple of months.) Go to the Arkansas Master Gardener's website to view 46-educational, informative and amusing presentations. The conference was…

Underwood Gardens and Homeland Security Butt Fish Heads

In a sincere but misguided attempt to keep us safe, Homeland Security has imposed the kind of everyone-take-your-shoes-off-at-the-airport approach to a horticulture product, fermented fish heads.

Organic gardeners around the world use products like bat guano, seaweed and fish emulsion to perk up their plants and feed the good organisms in the soil.

Underwood Gardens "Home of Grandma's Garden Catalog" has been selling Fermented Salmon, all-purpose Liquid Organic Fertilizer, manufactured by Coast of Maine, Inc., in Portland, Maine.

Testimonials on the Web site recommend it as a fertilizer for indoor house plants. In addition, it is 85 percent effective in repelling deer, rabbits, woodchucks and squirrels; and, it does an effective job against aphids and white flies. Then it was found to deter Japanese beetles when it is used as a foliar feeding spray.

The manufacturer, Envirem, has been sending the Canadian product to the U.S. for eleven years and when the recent snag occur…

Gardening Less, 2007 Farm Bill Online, Online Sales

The industry that brings us our glorious gardens is worried that we are going to abandon them. Sales at garden and lawn retailers totaled $34.07 billion last year, down nearly 15 percent from 2002's peak of $39.6 billion.
One publication said that arthritic 50-year-olds are throwing down their trowels and that the younger Generation X and Y will never garden.
Well, maybe that's true of some but not of me nor my plant enthusiastic friends. We seem to buying at our usual rate, if not more.
Anyway the industry wonders what they can do to encourage us to buy more.
Any thoughts? Comment here or send me an email at

Photos: Two iris blooms from my yard

Papa Geno's, located in rural Lancaster County, Nebraska is having an iris sale until the end of July.
Breck's is having a sale on bulbs for all seasons of bloom - from iris to stargazer lilies. You could get together with a friend or three and order enough to get free shipping.

Gardener's Su…

July's Garden

Photo: A plate full of those wonderful tomatoberry tomatoes from the seeds I got from Johnny's Selected Seeds. Unlike most bite-size tomatoes, these have walls and meat inside instead of just juice and seeds.
The cucumbers are still producing and the peppers are loving the hot, dry days. The spaghetti squash is making fruit and vining like mad. The potimarron squash (Baker Creek Seeds) is lagging but looks promising. We are eating edamame (Botanical Interests) most days with lunch or as an afternoon protein snack. It's the third year I've tried to grow them and the first time we have had a decent harvest due to hungry bunnies. This year a web of fencing has forced them to move to other plants. And, eat they have - the corkscrew vine, the asters, the lower leaves of the eggplant, on and on.The weeds are relentless and now it's time to start watering again. After you water, lay down a few sheets of newspaper and cover it with mulch to keep the moisture close to the roots.…

How To Be A Gardener

BBC online has a course in gardening with soil and site analysis and plant suggestions for each type.

"How to be a Gardener - the Complete Online Guide" is quite good and worth the time if you want to learn, re-learn or feel smart as in "Hey I knew that."
Photo: Powell Botanic Gardens Kansas City, MO

On the introductory page the author and host says, "Let’s face it, gardening can be pretty daunting. All those Latin names, the bugs and blights that can attack your plants just when they are looking their prettiest. How does anyone manage to grow anything?"

No kidding! Now that the rain is gone and the heat has arrived, it's time to assess the damage and congratulate the survivors. And, definitely time to go back to dragging hoses and spraying the bugs.


Caterpillars attacked the blue baptesia and I spent half and hour on What's That Bug looking for a photo of that particular caterpillar so I would know if I could destroy them. Turne…

Climbing Hydrangea

I've been thinking about planting a climbing hydrangea on the new back patio and pergola I dream of having.

The gardening website, Green Beam, featured Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris today, calling it "a gentleman among vines".
A native of Japan and China, it blooms in summer with 6 to 10-inch flowers.
Traditionally grown on trees, it can also be trained on a strong trellis - growth is 50-feet over several years - expect slow growth.Hardy in zones 4 to 7 (zone 8 may be too hot and humid)Prefers medium wet but well drained soil in shade. Likes a mulch of compost or peat moss to keep it cool and moist.Green Beam provided these cultivar tips: 'Skylands Giant,' from Spring Meadow, is large-flowered.
'Firefly,' also available at Spring Meadow, is a yellow-variegated climbing hydrangea. In spring this plant really shines. As summer progresses its gold margin turns to chartreuse.
Moonlight Magic ('Kuga Variegated') from Hines Horticulture has bright-pink…

Exotics - Titan Arum, Amorphallus, Arisarum


The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland Ohio has a rare treat coming - an exotic plant that has taken 13-years to bloom will show its stuff in the next few days. It resides in the Rain Forest at the zoo where visitors can watch its astounding growth. On July 10th it was 28-inches tall and today it is 51-inches.

The plant is a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), also known as a Corpse Flower. It is botanically related to Jack In The Pulpit and Cala Lily.

Click on the Metroparks Zoo link above to watch the progress toward full bloom.

If you would like to grow something similar, check into growing an arum, available from Breck's and Plant Delights Nursery.

And, Heronswood has a beautiful 6-inch tall Arisarum proboscideum in their online catalog ($9.95 web special price).

Contributing - What can we do?

GOOD DEEDS come in many forms and the best of them inspire us to do something ourselves.
The Professional Landcare Network is donating equipment, time, manpower and organizational skills to prune, plant and install irrigation at Arlington National Cemetery and the Congressional Cemetery on July 16.

The dollar value placed on their combined services is a quarter of a million dollars. Fifteen to twenty corporate sponsors are making the event called Renewal and Remembrance possible.

It is the 200th anniversary of Historic Congressional Cemetery. Green industry leaders will meet with Congressional leaders in the new 110th Congress during the three day event.

What can we, any of us, do to contribute to our community? It's a topic that warrants more than a minute's thought.


If you love the sight of daffodils in the spring, this fall will be the right time to add to your collection. I have a dozen varieties and add at least one more every year.

Mary Lou Gripshover,, has been a daffodil fan for more years than I have been gardening.
At one time, she wrote an online column about daffs.

Still available online, the ten articles' topics include her favorite daffs, the best suppliers of bulbs, getting blooms in January.

The bulb suppliers listed - Mitsch Daffodils, Oakwood Daffodils, Daffodils and More, Cheery Creek Daffodils, McClure and Zimmerman, Brent and Becky's Bulbs and Old House Gardens.

Read them all at

From Gripshover's online bio, "I now grow between 700 and 1000 cultivars of daffodils. I do a bit of hybridizing, and have registered several daffodils.
In the intervening years, I served in many positions for The American Daffodil Society, including edi…

Salsa Contest in Muskogee


The Muskogee Farmers’ Market will host the 9th Annual Salsa Tasting Contest on July 28 at the Market Square. Tasting is from 9:30 am to 11:30. A $2 tasting kit will enable tasters to sample all the entries and vote on the best. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Summer Reading program at the library.

Two salsa categories “Tomato Salsa” and “Other Salsa” will be voted on. “Other salsas” include fruit or vegetables other than tomatoes as major ingredients. The top three salsas in both categories will be determined by a count of tasters’ votes and guest judges will decide the first, second and third place winners.

Guest judges this year are Dave Davis, Port of Muskogee; Frank Medearis, City of Muskogee Attorney; Cheryl Whalen, ONG. Winners will be announced at noon, and prizes will be awarded for first place in each category.

Entry forms may be picked up and returned at the Muskogee Public Library during business hours and at the farmers’ market booth…

Euphorbia Website, Tulsa Rose Sale

Did you know? Euphorbias grow best in plastic pots with drainage holes but without saucers underneath them. And, it's best to repot them in the winter when they are dormant.

Click this link to a Euphorbia website with well-written, fascinating cultural information on all things euphorbia - the site is in German and English.

Here's a tidbit "For every newly acquired plant, you should assume that the grower has used a soil that costs as little as possible, and is only intended to keep the plant alive and standing upright until it is sold. Such cheap composts are not suitable for cultivation over a long period. Therefore repot your plant as soon as possible." Photo: Propagation of succulents

"Trying to imitate the soil at habitat is not a good idea and at best a lost labour of love. For example, if certain euphorbias in nature grow on limestone or gypsum, it makes little sense to add limestone or gypsum to the soil in cultivation. In habitat it is not that …

Upcoming Events

Lovely Lambs Ears

Mark your calendars

July 14
Tulsa Iris Society Sale, Tulsa Garden Center

July 21
Walks, Paths and Patios $20
Tulsa Garden Center
Barry Fugatt and representatives of the hardscaping industry discuss steps and surfaces.

July 27 - 29
Oklahoma Iris Society's Iris Rhizome Sale
Large amounts of iris left from hosting this year's American Iris Society's National Convention. Some of the latest and greatest will be available. 8 AM to 4 PM or sold out. OKC. Will Rogers Garden Center,.3400 NW 36th. Call 405.843.7130 for more info.

August 16 7:00 p.m.
Tulsa Perennial Club presents horticulturist and garden writer Carol Reese $10
“Sex and the Single Stamen”
ifo: Haroldine Hinds 918.743.5276

"Oklahoma Grazing Lands"
Agenda and registration at the link above.
August 16 and 17 in Oklahoma City $100

September 8
Central Oklahoma Hemerocallis Society's Fall Daylily Sale
8:00 AM until sold out. Will Rogers Garden Center
Contact Laur…

Sun! Deadheading Rain Weary Plants

A shady corner in my sister's back yard.
Hens and their chicks.

SO MANY WEEDS SO LITTLE TIME This is supposed be the only sunny day in a string of rainy ones so we pulled weeds, deadheaded flowers, staked peppers, picked and trimmed tomatoes, sprayed fungicide and whatever else could be done before the sun made it too hot to work any more. Deadheading includes cutting off the flowers that are no longer fresh. While you are out there, trim back a little of the legginess that plants have taken on with all the cloudy days. For example, if the petunia has one lone flower at the end of an 8-inch long stem, trim back the stem. Where? Hold the stem in hand and look at the places where new little leaves have emerged when earlier flowers fell off. Select a new leaf cluster that is growing upwards and cut the stem just past that spot, leaving the upward facing leaves in tact. Don't worry if you cut it wrong the first time, just cut down a little farther. "Cut to the earliest green on t…

Flowers and Vegetablers, Botanical dot com, Bird Bath Style


The cat-climbing birdbath is in the garden at LaPorte Avenue Nursery in Ft. Collins Colorado. Amusing and functional garden art.

BLOOMING Zinnias are about to take center stage now that the day lilies have had their day. Is it too late to start more seeds of zinnias and cosmos? I'll try it and let you know.


Weeding and picking are the primary chores now. We started half a dozen kinds of cucumbers from seed and harvest 20 or so good size ones every day. The white one on the top of the pile is an Armenian cucumber - no peeling. All the others are "burpless" types from different seed companies. They vary in size but the flavor and lack of bitterness is wonderful with the abundance of rain and good soil temperatures prevailing.

Another new addition to this year's garden is a 2007 introduction from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They sent out mini-packs of seeds to garden writers so I thought what the heck. Tomatoberry is a heart-shaped or strawberr…

Flowers, Container Gardening and Hornworms

So much is in bloom to admire as we splash around the yard!

Photos: Pink Lupine and a Mixed Bed of Flowers in Colorado

All of the plants we acquired on our excursions to Kansas and Colorado over the past few weeks will be planted in pots at least until the ground drains. And, believe me there are plenty out there to be planted. Home and Garden TV sent out an email with thorough coverage of container gardening help. Topics include outdoor and house plants, trees, bulbs, edibles, a pond in a pot and making pots. Click here for a link - check it out at's site.
Tomato Hornworms are the caterpillars of the Five Spotted Hawk Moth The other thing I found at their site is a photo of a tomato hornworm in pupae stage. It interested me because I have found of few of these brown cases while cultivating the garden and squished them (of course).
HGTV's writer said that by the time it is in this stage, the hornworm has already eaten enough tomato leaves to survive and pupate. Fiv…

Plant Sources

In the past two weeks we have visited a few nurseries and garden centers in Kansas and Colorado that are worth mentioning.

Yesterday we visited LaPorte Avenue Nursery in Ft. Collins Colorado which is known around the country as a source for rock garden plants.

Their online catalog is a resource for information on their 350-plants, listed by botanical names. Keep your plant guide or favorite search engine handy if you have only the common names.

Owners Karen Lehrer and Kirk Fieseler are available for questions via email at by telephone at 970.472.0017 - check out their site for that rock garden you wanted to put in or expand.

Family Tree Nursery in Overland Park and Liberty Kansas (Kansas City area) has a good selection of plants your neighbor is growing along with quite a few you may not have seed anywhere before.
It really is a family operated business originally opened 40-years ago by the current generation's parents. They do a Sunday morning two-hou…