29 September 2007

Chaos Cactus Nursery, Tulsa Cacti and Succulent Society Sale October 20

In the interest of continuing to learn about plants and gardening, I subscribe to a few plant discussions online. At least half of the conversation is beyond my ability to understand but the other half is beginning to sink in.

A topic of interest across several discussions is the difficulty of sending seeds from one country to another when members want to share an abundance from their gardens.

In BBC News this week, there is a report of a California man who had a wooden leg outfitted to allow him to smuggle iguanas into the US from a nature preserve in Fiji. While I would not suggest getting a wooden leg just to trade flower seeds, there is a seed of an idea there .......

Photo: Cleome

Two more inches of rain and the wind that brought it in, beat up some of the fall garden, broke off the woody stems of the basil plants and generally made every bed muddy. Gardening in Oklahoma is for eternal optimists! No one else could hang in there. Ah, sweet memories of gardening in northern California where everything wants to grow and the weather is constant.

Photo: Pitcher Sage

Tom Ogren reported on one email conversation that he found a website devoted to roses, peonies and clematis. The site is called Help Me Find, and Ogren said it is a good resource for information on roses in particular. Ogren is an author and speaker on the topic of Allergy Free Gardening. The link is to his helpful website on the topic.

My garden column this week was about Chaos Cactus Nursery in Sand Springs. Owners Terri Mann and Bill Keeth will be selling at the Tulsa Cactus and Succulent Society sale on October 20 at the Tulsa Garden Center on 24th and Peoria.

Here is a link to Thursday's column in case you missed it. And, yes I noticed that they gave the column a title that is unrelated to the topic.

Enjoy the wonderful weather and as you walk around public gardens, notice what looks terrific for fall that you might want to plant in your garden for next year.

Our September is being brightened by asters, salvias, zinnias, millet, cleome, lantanas, pentas and assorted herbs in bloom.

28 September 2007

Botanica Gardens Wichita Kansas

We went to Wichita to see the Butterfly House at Botanica.
The first photo is of a plant kaleidoscope in the sensory garden. The bowl of plants rotates while you look through the kaleidoscope viewer and it is spectacular.

Notice that everything in the Sally Stone Sensory Garden, including the beds behind the kaleidoscope, is at the height a child or an adult in a wheelchair would need.

These are two shots from the Jayne Milburn Aquatic Collection.





Muskogee Parks and Recreation is beginning to plan a butterfly house for Honor Heights Park and our trip was to gather information since Botanica's butterfly house has been in existence for almost 10-years and they know what they are doing.

26 September 2007

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars, Good Reason to Preserve Plant Species, Move Herbs Indoors

The Monarch Butterflies are still very busy making babies on the Asclepias. Sadly, the large caterpillar on the patch of Asclepias in the front was destroyed by spiders feeding themselves dinner. Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas has an online resource for all things Monarch.
These are in a backyard planting. In the top photo, there are two sizes of caterpillar and lots of yellow aphids on the top of the photo. Aphids and Asclepias go together but you can't spray the aphids without harming the tiny Monarch eggs and hatchings.
The bottom photo is another fairly large caterpillar. We have yet to find a chrysalis so we don't know if all the caterpillars are being eaten by birds and spiders or if they are just more shy than the Fritillary Butterflies who have their chrysalis on everything from the brick walls of the house to the lightening rod ground wires.

Monarch caterpillars eat only the leaves of plants that are members of the Milkweed plant family. Since Asclepias is native to the coastal regions, we have to plant it here. Once you have a successful planting, it will seed itself and you will see migrating Monarchs in your garden.

CBS News Online reported that 70 % of plant genes are shared by human genes and that 60-percent of the medicines used by cancer patients are from plant, soil and bacteria sources. More useful medicines come from plants than from chemical sources.

It is time to bring in herbs for the winter windowsills. Organic Gardening online provided tips: Dig up the herb, plant it in clean soil and leave it outside, under a tree for a week. The plant has to get used to the lower light conditions that will prevail in your home even in a sunny spot. Go to their link to read which herbs work best for the move indoors.

24 September 2007

Plant and Divide Bulbs This Fall

Pansies, tulips, iris, daffodils and other features of the spring floral display are all over the stores, catalogs and Internet sources. It is definitely time to buy and plant!Photo: Iris and coral honeysuckle blooming in our yard last spring.

There are two schools of thought about this time of year: One type of person buys two or three times as many plants and bulbs as they think they need and they other type orders half of what they want.

Some of us order as soon as the catalogs arrive so we don't miss out on anything. Others wait in hope of a last minute sale.
Photo: One of the most popular pansy colors.

Which ever type you are, clean out the old planters, start amending the soil in the beds, and rest assured that if you want a pretty spring, you can accomplish it by buying your bulbs, corms, rhizomes and pansies this week.

22 September 2007

Herbal Vinegar, Moonshadow Herb Farm

September's earlier sundown signals plants that it is time to make seed for next year. And, it reminds gardeners that it is time to harvest, take cuttings and collect seed from plants they want to grow indoors or preserve for winter use.

Harvesting herbs and preserving them is a specialty of Sharon Owens at Moonshadow Herb Farm. Sharon spoke at Muskogee Garden Club this week and shared some of her recipes for herbal vinegar and herbal combinations for cooking.

If you would like to be added to the email distribution for Moonshadow's quarterly newsletter contact Sharon at moonshads@aol.com -

HOW TO MAKE HERBAL VINEGARS

Use clean and completely dry herbs and glass containers. Put herbs in the bottle and pour vinegar to the top.
HERBS AND SPICES - Fresh herbs should be gently washed and patted dry with a paper towel. Treat any fruits (blueberries, raspberries, etc.) the same.

One teaspoon of dried herbs can be substituted for one-tablespoon of fresh herbs for flavor, use some fresh parsley or cilantro for artistic effects.

CITRUS – White wine vinegar with quartered fresh limes, lemon grass,lemon basil, lemon thyme or lemon verbena
MINT – White or wine vinegar with lemon peels & mint springs
ASIAN – Rice wine vinegar, whole cayenne or Szechwan pepper, lemongrass, sliced fresh ginger, garlic
CHILE GARLIC – Cider vinegar, basil, two cloves of garlic, six chili peppers, & two slices fresh ginger
DILL – Cider or white vinegar, dill stems, stalks & flower heads,lemon peel (no white inner zest), thyme, lemon basil, bay leaf
SAGE – Cider vinegar, sage leaves, three cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, whole cloves.
ITALIAN – Red wine vinegar, oregano, basil, rosemary (no stems),peeled garlic clove(s), whole red chili peppers.

Photos:
Purple millet, sunflowers and
zinnias thrive in the cooler nights and
warm sunny days of mid-September.

Have a Peaceful Day
Today qualifies as a sort of peace day. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation September 22, 1862 and President John F. Kennedy signed legislation creating the Peace Corps on this day in 1961. You can read more at the
Writer's Almanac link.

19 September 2007

Mustard from Botanical Interests, Re-blooming daylily, Fritillary Butterflies

Fall is definitely the busiest season of the year for gardeners. In some ways, it is more pleasurable than spring because the summer flowers are still in bloom at the same time the fall garden is being planted.

In the past few days several dozen new daffodils have been planted. I bought from Daffodil Hunter this year again because everything I bought from her last year came up and wowed me.

The Peruvian daffodils from Touch of Nature gave a great show for two years and grew many new bulbs - the 6 bulbs from my original purchase became 20.

Photo: Seedlings of Mustard Red Giant from Botanical Interests
These are volunteers from a plant that went to seed early in the summer. Red mustard is good picked small for salads and also cooked as a green veggie when the leaves grow bigger.

Photo: This daylily is re-blooming in September!

Photo: The bird bath is the scene of caterpillars becoming butterflies. The Gulf Fritillary butterfly eggs were laid and hatched on plants and the caterpillars somehow made it across the driveway to the birdbath where they are making chrysalis. Look at the top left to see the caterpillar right next to a chrysalis, then 3 more bottom right.

It's almost time to plant garlic so buy a few heads at a farmer's market and start digging the rows.

15 September 2007

Fall Plant Sales

Two sales were held at Tulsa Garden Center today. This is such a pleasing way to shop, I am surprised that the halls did not resemble a Filene's Basement sale. Quite the opposite: It was easy to walk around and select purchases.
Photo: Thousands of iris, day lilies and shade perennials were available for purchase at the Tulsa Area Iris Society fall sale. Prices ranged from $2 to $20. Entire planters full of Louisiana Iris and Landscape Iris were $10. Great bargains and great looking plant stock.
Bags of day lilies and iris were being sold by the bundle. Some of the containers were marked "landscape" because the donor couldn't recall exactly what they were.

Tulsa Area Daylily Society members were on hand to answer questions at their sale.
Photo: Sharon Gilchrist of Tulsa
Photo: Tables were lined with day lily varieties. Members grouped their plants by color, bi-color, etc. Two to 4 plants were banded together with identifying tags.

Both sales offered great looking plants and were well organized, well staffed and fun to shop. Watch for it next year.

13 September 2007

National Gardening Association, Whizbang Garden Cart, Tapioca Plant, Barley Straw Planter for Ponds

The National Gardening Association has an email newsletter they send out to subscribers in each of the gardening regions.

Today's issue had two items of interest.

The Whizbang Garden Cart has its own blog online.
And that blog leads readers to another blog of a farmer who built a Whizbang for his farm.
Does everyone have a blog?

The Whizbang is an old fashioned item that is still available for sale. Herrick Kimball wrote a book about how to build your own. The book is around $15. Kimball says it costs $150 to $200 to build your own cart and his blog is full of home spun conversation and photographs.

Oh, and he is having a contest with prizes - just build a cart and send him a photo.

The other item of interest is a barley straw pond planter that cleans the pond. The hidden plastic insert keeps the plant in tact while it floats in the pond. It is distributed by Summit Chemical whose primary products are mosquito chemicals for ponds.


Photo: Another wonderfully successful plant this year is the Tapioca Plant from Blossom's Garden Center. The pink stems and large, variegated leaves make it an eye catching addition. It is reputed to take full sun but this one grew 5-feet tall in a pot just under the branches of an oak tree. PlantAnswers.com a service of Texas Extension, Texas A & M, says about this beauty:
"Tapioca is one of the common names of Manihot esculenta 'Variegata' as is cassada, cassava, manioc, yuca, mandioca, shushu, muk shue, cassave, maniok, tapioka, imanoka, maniba, kasaba, katela boodin."
Photo: This little pond was $12 at Lowe's. It holds 9-gallons of water, 3-goldfish and 4 plants. The weather is cool enough now that the fish will be safe outside and the water will not get too hot. When cold weather arrives the fish will come indoors.

There is still time to plant and great weather to be outside.

12 September 2007

Butterfly Chrysalis, Snow Peas, Flower Bed Design

BUTTERFLY CHRYSALIS
Photo: Butterfly Chrysalis
The butterfly caterpillars continue to make their chrysalis in unlikely places. These photos are chrysalis on the fence and gate. Several different butterflies are arriving to the gardens - kinds I have not noticed here before.
This year's unusual summer weather has provided more nectar food than ever for the adult butterflies.

Photo: Snow Peas
You might be able to see the cardboard circle around the snow pea seedling. Each seed was planted inside a slice of paper towel cardboard. It protects the seeds from drifting, helps me see where they are planted and keeps crawling insects off the plants when they are first coming up.

Photo: A front yard flower bed
On the right is the "lawn" - we mow whatever grows there. On the left is a row of Nepeta Walker's Low from Bluestone Perennials. They were trimmed before the heavy rains.

The bed was built to accommodate the fact that we live on a rock plate. The water between the lawn and flower bed is just a narrow ditch that helps with drainage when the rain is heavy as it has been recently.

It was the only way we could have had a flower bed on that part of our hill. The shallow soil on top of the rock plate was suitable for the brick factory down the road, so much of the soil in the bed was added with compost, bags of crushed oyster shell and amendments.

10 September 2007

Compost Info from the EPA, Chilly Chilli, Datura Flowers

Datura or Jimson Weed seeds were sown by the birds again this year and here is one of the flowers that bloomed today.
A garden club member brought ornamental pepper seeds to share last year and this is what the plant looks like in its full fruiting glory. I've heard the pepper are very hot. One of the seed companies invented a not-hot one for gardeners with little children who pop everything in their mouth. The cool one is called Chilly Chilli.

Someone asked me today about composting. Our bin is a U shaped cinder block structure that we fill with grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps and gardening stuff.

The Environmental Protection Agency is a good resource online that is not trying to sell books, chemicals, organisms, drums and all the other composting products.
They provide lists of what to put in your compost and what to avoid.
Your tax dollars at work - check it out.

09 September 2007

Salvias and Morning Glories, Gardening for Healthy Children, Titan Arums

A fellow Master Gardener gave me a root division of a Blue and Black Salvia. Hers grows in a 4-foot wide clump by the cattle guard and fence into the front yard. It had already bloomed at her place this season and it obligingly bloomed again for me in its new home along our front sidewalk.
Lady in Red Salvia and Cleome are thriving in a bed next to the blackberry bushes. Since we just had 5-inches of rain the last two days, they are sitting in 2-inches of water today but seem to be happy about it.
When we were strong-armed into putting up a chain link fence, Morning Glory vines seemed like the only way to soften the look of it during the first summer. A new perennial bed will go into the spot this fall.

THE FALL GARDEN
The lettuce seedlings had to be brought in out of the storm and put under lights but they may have to be re-planted anyway because they are so leggy. A night time low of 59 is predicted for later this week, so I'll try again then.
Spinach, lettuce, chard, kale, snow peas and other fall veggies can all still go in the ground. The cucumbers I planted last week from seed are already 2-inches tall.
GARDENING MAKES HEALTHY FAMILIES (Link to UPI for complete story)
Not too far north of us at Kansas State University in Manhattan Kansas, Candice Shoemaker received a $1.04 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Research Institute for Project PLANTS, or Promoting Lifelong Activity and Nutrition Through Schools.
The idea is to involve elementary school students in growing their own food and flowers in gardens and high tunnels to increase their exercise and involve them in an interest in healthy food.
Tip of the Trowel to Garden Rant for bringing the story to my attention.
TITAN ARUM
Another gigantic Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) bloomed August/September at Eastern Conn. State University and the photos are posted at their Plant Phys site. Click on the link to see the amazing time-lapsed photos. Links at the bottom of the page take you to related sites, i.e. the mother and father's plant sites.
UNWANTED GRASSES AND TREE SEEDLINGS MUST GO
The two days of rain made the ground nice and wet: It's been a good day for weed pulling!

08 September 2007

Penstemon from Bustani Nursery and Clematis from LaPorte Ave Nursery

This wonderful Penstemon from Bustani Plant Farm is one of the best new finds in the back yard this year. It has bloomed nonstop since the beginning of the warm days and looks like it will carry on until freeze.
And this adorable Clematis from LaPorte AVE Nursery is blooming with a bell shaped flower after only a couple of months in a pot. What a treat.



Park Seed sent out their sale email today. This link is to their cut flower listings - bare root perennials for fall planting. So many of the listings are plants that would make a good addition to perennial beds.
Winky Purple and White Columbine is a plant that is not normally considered a cut flower but it looks very pretty. Columbines re-seed easily in gardens here. Their Raspberry and Inferno Dianthus are also gorgeous.
You might prefer to start Dianthus from seed - many people have great luck with them.
This is also the time to plant seeds of Columbine - the seeds need a winter freeze in order to crack open in the spring to make plants.

Whether you prefer to buy plants or seeds, what you do this month could make next spring and summer your best garden ever.

03 September 2007

Link to Ideas for Fall

Kitazawa Seed Company
in California has Chef Specialty Gardens of mixed seed packets: Asian Herb Garden, Asian Salad Garden, Tropical Garden, Japanese Heirloom Garden, Tsukemono Favorite Pickling Garden, Macrobiotic Garden, Shabu Shabu Garden, Stir-Fry Garden and Thai Garden,
The alphabetical list has very tempting items for the fall garden, too.

Looking for ideas for edible landscaping? Check out the company by that name, Edible Landscaping. The company was recommended by a trusted source.

ECHO is an international Christian organization fighting world hunger. The link is to their blog. Their gardening techniques have to survive in tough landscapes. One idea on the blog - plant a seed in the row and put a pot upside down on the seed. Mulch the bed, remove the pot and the mulch will be well distributed without covering the seed.

Stretcher is a website with self-help articles shared by other members. This link is to their gardening columns.


Seedquest's site also has good articles and ideas for successful seed priming. For example, to overcome the problem with lettuce seed germination, germinate lettuce in fridge for 4 days or soak in 10% bleach solution for 2 hours at 40 degrees followed by 4 fresh water rinses.

Good growing!

01 September 2007

Bugs: Green Darner Damsel, Fall Webworm, Fritillary caterpillar, chrysalis forming, adult

Photo: This Green Darner Damselfly sat on the amaranth for hours this morning. I walked by a dozen times getting supplies to plant seeds of bush beans, carrots and summer squash. I was lucky to get photos and sent them to www.whatsthatbug.com and they responded within an hour with the identification for me. I can't recommend them enough as a first resource for all things buggy.
This is a fall webworm. Whenever we see caterpillars we look them up to help us decide whether or not to get rid of them. Get rid of these if you see them. They will defoliate everything they land on.

FRITILLARIES
This is a fritillary caterpillar eating our passion flower buds.


This is a caterpillar wiggling as it begins to form a chrysalis. They are protected at our house so they are making chrysalis on everything, including the car tires.
This is a completed chrysalis - the entire process from caterpillar to this form takes mere minutes.


Here is an adult that resulted from the process above.