Showing posts from February, 2008

Pine Ridge Gardens Has Woody Plants for Butterflies

Woody perennials for attracting and feeding butterflies will come back for years to bring the flying flowers into your garden.

Pine Ridge Gardens in London Arkansas has a handy chart on their website that explains what to plant for whom. Click on the link to see the entire list of plants you can order to enhance your chance of raising butterflies this summer.

Woody plants for food for caterpillars with each plant's botanical and common name

Amorpha fruitcosa Lead plant Dogface, Gray hairstreak
Aronia melanocarpa Black chokeberry Striped hairstreak
Asimina triloba Paw Paw Zebra swallowtail
Aristolochia macrophylla Bigleaf pipevinePipevine swallowtail
Aristolochia tomentosa Dutchman's pipevine Pipevine swallowtail
Carpinus caroliniana Ironwood, musclewood Red spotted purple, tiger swallowtail, marine blue
Carya illinoiensis Wild pecan Gray hairstreak
Carya ovata Shagbark hickory Banded hairstreak
Ceanothus ovatus Inland NJ Tea duskywing
Celtis tenufolia Dwarf hackberry Question mark, mourni…

Susie Lawrence Gives Proven Seed Starting Tips

Susie Lawrence is well known by most people who shop at the Muskogee Farmer's Market. For the past 14 years, Lawrence has been there selling cut flowers, herbs and vegetables that she grows from seed at her greenhouse in Braggs. Lawrence offered her advice for gardeners who want the advantages of growing from seed for their own gardens.

"Get a how-to seed starting book, such as 'Park's Success with Seed' by Ann Reilly or the newest edition by Karen Park Jennings," Lawrence said.

"Park's Success with Seed" 1978 edition sells online for around $5. The 2006 revised edition costs $25.

"Success With Seed" has its own Web site The photographs and information in the 2006 book are duplicated there. On the left side of the site's main page, click on links to find out which seeds require pre-soaking, are easy to grow, are for containers, shady spots, etc. Park's blog at has mor…

Start Seeds Now to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden This Summer

Monarch Watch is restocked on their Monarch Butterfly Waystation Kits. You don't have to become an official stop for migrating Monarchs in order to plant the seeds and enjoy the view.

Use the discount coupon code 2008SEED to get 15% off Monarch Waystation Seed Kits. Each Kit includes 12 seeds of 12 plants. Six of the plants are for adult butterfly nectar and the other six are to feed caterpillars. These host plants are where the adults lay eggs and are the plants the caterpillar stage Monarchs eat in order to grow into butterflies.

MILKWEEDS are both host and nectar plants. Aphids love them, so put them in full sun. The information from Monarch Watch on the contents of the seed packs:

BUTTERFLY WEED (Asclepias tuberosa) Perennial; Height: 1 to 2 feet; Blooms summer/fall. Attractive prairie plant with orange clusters of dainty flowers. Attracts butterflies. This drought-tolerant plant blooms from June to September. Host plant for monarch and queen larvae. For best germination rates, s…

Pots for Environmentally Conscious Gardeners

Photo: Comfrey in last year's garden

Last summer, Ball Horticulture announced Circle of Life plants and pots for the green conscious gardeners among us. At the link provided, Ball even has links to sustainable gardening. According to the press release, Ball partnered with Summit Plastic Company to make rice hull pots in six sizes from 3.5 inches to a "trade" gallon.
This is great news in an industry that has a hard time disposing of seedling trays, plastic pots, plastic bags, etc. none of which we can take to a recycling center for earth friendly disposal.
Fun Time Happy Garden Explosion blog says Target is marketing a similar product under a different name.
Enviroarc is making not only garden pots but dinner ware out of bamboo pulp waste. The pots come in pretty colors, assorted shapes and sizes.
According to the Sustainable is Good blog, even the giant, Bonnie Plants who supplies Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. puts some of its transplants in biodegradable pots.
If …

Lurching Toward Spring

Lurching Toward Spring, in my book, is this series of warm days that make plants optimistic and break ground, followed by 25-degree nights that shock them back into realilty. Jump back, it is not spring yet.

Most days that go above 55-degrees you will find me outside doing something, though not always much. If you can get outside this week with the temperatures going up to 60-F on Thursday, here are a few things to do.

Remove winter cover from shrubs, bulbs and beds.

Plant dormant shrubs and trees. Divide and re-plant day lilies.

Feed trees in 2-inch deep holes around the drip line.

Mulch trees and shrubs with manure for spring growth.

Fertilize shrubs and evergreens now. Use evergreen or azalea type food for evergreens.

Water in dry fertilizers.

Prune summer flowering shrubs now but not spring flowering ones. Remove the larger, center stems and branches, dead stuff, broken limbs, etc. Clean out small branches that prevent sun from reaching the roots.

Prune back your honeysuckle, cross vine, e…

Hydrangeas, Shrub Pruning, Vermicomposting, Black Magic Ivy Geranium

Linda Orton, president of the Mid-South Hydrangea Society sent out a great newsletter this month. I wish they were closer because their quarterly meetings always look so enticing.

The Mid-South Hydrangea Society is located in Memphis Tennessee. Their quarterly newsletter is worth at least $10 a year and members get to attend the members-only annual tour. This year's tour is June 7th and I can't wait to go.

Orton said she had resolved in 2007 to limit her plant purchases to only those that would fit into her garden. (Don't we all make that promise to ourselves every year?)

The newsletter covered an international hydrangea tour and a pruning chart from Walter Reeves' website. If you have any pruning still to do (;-) check out his guidelines at this link for what to prune month by month. Another version is at this link. They are both Adobe pdf.

If you want to join, contact membership chair, Linda Lanier at

A thousand vermicompost worms arrived in the…

C. Colston Burrell Speaking in Tulsa and Oklahoma City

MARCH 1, Saturday, 3:00, Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria AveTopic of Burrell's talk: "Design Ideas and Plant Combinations for Winter Gardens"

MARCH 2, Sunday, 2:30, OKC Zoo Educational Building, 5101 Northeast 50 StreetTopic of Burrell's talk: "New and Underutilized Perennials"

Both talks are sponsored by the Oklahoma Horticultural Society (, are free and open to the public. Books will be available for sale and book signing. Oklahomans are in for a treat. Noted naturalist, perennial expert and author C. Colston Burrell is speaking in Tulsa on March 1 and in Oklahoma City on March 2.

In a telephone interview, Burrell said he is looking forward to his first trip to Oklahoma.

"The topic of my talk in Tulsa is adding structure and beauty to your winter garden," Burrell said. "Winter's garden starts with the leaves changing colors and seed pods forming on flowering plants. It is a matter of looking, seeing, then finding…

Late Winter Gardening and Vermicomposting: The Worm Hotel Is About to Have Guests

Lowe's has their late winter vegetable starts in. Packs of 9 plants are about $3.50. I want to plant Brussel sprouts and broccoli using starts so I asked Sue Gray at the OSU Extension in Tulsa for some guidance. Here is her response.

"Go ahead and plant your brassica starts, but DO protect those tops….especially whenever it's going below 32 degrees F……the storebought transplants are probably not hardened off….so you may want to spend a little quality time on them or go ahead and cover with some kind of protection from wind, extreme light AND cold."
So, my new babies are inside under lights for now since we are supposed to get several more freezing nights this week. I'll transplant them out of these cells because there are two plants in some of them.

Composting with worms, vermicomposting - Hubby built a four-story hotel for the compost worms we ordered from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. I called Uncle Jim and the Red Wrigglers (Eisenia foetida) are su…

Truth About Garden Remedies

If you have enjoyed the V8 commercials with the people popping themselves on the head, then you know how it feels to read this great little book from Timber Press.

Jeff Gillman , PhD, actually did experiments to find out if the soil amendments and mother's little helpers some of us believe in actually are effective. Well, sufice it to say, most are not.

I was happy to find out about most of the truths Gillman reveals because it will save me quite a bit of time and effort in the future.

The forward was written by horticulture giant Michael Dirr, one of Gillman's mentors.

The book is written in a down-to-earth style with plenty of tongue in cheek comments sprinkled throughout.
Photo: Blossoms Garden Center in Muskogee

In northern Canada there is a garden blogger whose cheerful resolve toward gardening is a real treat to read. Click on Northern Exposure Gardening to see what it is like to garden in an area with no soil, no commercial farming and a very short growing season.
Another fa…

Perennial Plant Association Plants of the Year, Dahlia Photos

The Perennial Plant of the Year is awarded to plants that are special in their ability to withstand the onslaughts of the garden: Bugs, disease, erratic weather, gardeners leaving on vacation, mold, virus attacks, etc.

A new e-book (in Adobe pdf) from Doug Green summarizes the Perennial Plant Association picks and is available free at the link. The e-book covers PPA plant selections from 1990 to 2009. Each plant has its own page with photo, growing instructions and useful information such as propagation tips.

When you look at the the zone information, remember that Muskogee is cold zone 7 and heat zone 8. The zone information provided in the e-book is cold hardiness.

Photo: Blossom's Garden Center
in Muskogee - getting ready for spring
Photo: Pelargonium in bloom at Blossom's

Sunset Magazine is the gardener's Bible on the west coast and their blog has a wonderful preview of dahlias. Click on this link and enjoy the inspiring photos on the Feb 15th entry.

Rain, snow and sleet com…

Sooner Plant Farm Excels

Photo: Brian Chojnacki, owner Sooner Plant FarmPhoto: Sooner Plant Farm

Sooner Plant farm does booming business online, over mail
Brian Chojnacki started Sooner Plant Farm in Park Hill with his father-in-law, Ivan Fuson, in 1999. Although local gardeners may not know about it, Sooner Plant Farm is highly regarded across the country as a high-quality mail order plant supplier. "We shipped to 48 states last year," Chojnacki said. "Our Internet business has grown faster than our expectations and we are well known for the quality of our plants as well as our customer service." Unique to mail order companies, Sooner's Garden Clubs offer a variety of discounts. The basic, while not required for purchases, Sooner Gold members receive a 20 percent discount and basic membership provides an automatic 10 percent discount. Basic membership is $9.95 and gold is $29.95 per year.There also are discounts for early season purchases, and multi-plant discounts when more than one of …

Is Participation In Project BudBurst for You?

Project BudBurst is a new program starting Feb 15th and if you have time to put bloom dates into their database, you would be helping to track global warming.

Science Daily reported the story today.

Here is the information from the BudBurst website -
Join us in collecting important climate change data on the timing of leafing and flowering in your area through Project BudBurst!

This national field campaign targets native tree and flower species across the country. With your help, we will be compiling valuable environmental and climate change information around the United States.
Register Now - Become a member of the Project BudBurst community! This allows you to save your observation sites and plants that you are monitoring throughout the year and for coming years.

The citizen science observations and records are entered into the BudBurst data base.

As a result of the pilot field campaign, useful data was collected in a consistent way across the country so that scientists can use it to lear…

Garden Whimsey

We are back home from a week in Santa Cruz California where my favorite bumper sticker was "Keep Santa Cruz Weird".

I thought you would be as entertained as I was by some of the whimsical garden ornamentation we saw on our walks.

Photo: Animals surround a garden Nativity Scene
Photo: There are about 50-bowling balls in this front yard

Photo: In the center of the photo, notice that the arbor is bed springs for a single bed.
Photo: Toto internal works adorn a rock garden in a birdbath
Photo: A home made mailbox
Photo: This is an assortment of blue glass and broken pottery made to simulate a stream.

I'm glad to be home to dig in my garden again. As I went around pruning today, I saw Crocuses blooming and daffodils coming up all over our yard. Bulbs in pots are coming up in the garage and the shed. It is almost time to start seeds indoors - we are 8-weeks from our last frost date.

Landscape and Garden for the Birds and Butterflies

Gardens attract birds, butterflies

Birds and butterflies bring pleasure to everyone, especially gardeners, birdwatchers and children. The view of a red cardinal in February's dull landscape can cheer even the casual observer. Birds not only bring beauty to our yards, they help control insects.Though many people put up bird feeders, the requirements for attracting more beneficial wildlife include plants that provide food, sources of water and shelter such as ground cover plants and brush piles. A wet place in the garden can attract butterflies, frogs and salamanders. A dripping hose can provide enough water for the mud needed by robins and swallows for nest building. Even though caterpillars and birds can do some damage to beneficial plants by eating them, they pay their rent by reducing the number of harmful insects and plant diseases in your vegetable, herb and flower beds. In addition, once a commitment is made to supporting wildlife, the cost of poisons will drop significantly.O…

Do You Know About Vermicomposting or Mazus Reptans?

Photo: February Fussing over plants in the shed.
VERMICOMPOSTING In preparation for my compost worm giveaway at Muskogee's Earth Day celebration, I'm reading "Worms Eat My Garbage" by Mary Applehof and have set up a Google alert for anything related to vermicomposting.

In case you don't know, vermicomposting is practiced by making a container of moist, torn newsprint, kitchen food scraps and Red Wriggler worms. The worms eat through the materials over time, creating the most perfect way to maximize the use of kitchen scraps.

Reading on the web, some people get into the hobby to reduce landfill, others do it to produce sterile fertilizer for their garden or houseplants. The stuff pigs and cows produce is called manure. The stuff worms produce is called castings and it sells for big bucks at the organic garden shops online.
One blogger claims that Red Wriggler castings are the purest humus in the world and that they prevent harmful nematodes, bacteria growth, pathogens …

Hellebores - a new book by Colston Burrell and Judith Knott Tyler and helpful advice!

Hellebores published by Timber Press written by Colston Burrell and Judith Knott Tyler
Hardcover, 296 pages with 146 color photos Winner of American Horticultural Society Book Award
From the Timber Press website, "A mere 10 years ago, hellebores were considered connoisseurs' plants — subdued in coloration, hard to find, and the subject of much snobbery."
Oddly enough, even though I still consider myself a novice gardener, I was growing Hellebores 20-years ago.
Also, "Cole Burrell and Judith Tyler have produced what is arguably the definitive book on this genus, packed with up-to-the-minute, comprehensive information on growing, maintenance, design, hybridization and selection, and trouble-shooting."
It would be hard to imagine anyone writing another book about Hellebores for at least a decade to come - this volume is so complete.
What's cool is that Judith Knott Tyler and her husband, Richard Tyler, own Pine Knot Farms, a wholesale and retail nursery specializing…

Upcoming Events for Gardeners

The upcoming events for gardeners are stacking up. Few of us have the energy and financial resources to go to more than one a month.

Here are a few to consider-

Feb 22-23 Richard Reames is teaching workshops on shaping live chairs at the Kansas City Garden Symposium. A few months ago I referenced his astonishing work in this bloog.

March 1Cole Burrell Free talk at the Tulsa Garden Center 3:00. Burrell's books will be for sale and sales will benefit the Oklahoma Horticultural Society.

March 5 to 9 Wichita Garden Show

March 9-16 Indiana Flower & Patio Show, Indiana StateFairgrounds, Indianapolis

May 2 to 4 Orchard in Bloom, 19th year, Holliday Park, Indianapolis
Photo: Lettuce under lights in the shed
Photo: Pregnant onion flower

reaching for the skylight in the shed

Photo: Birdbath and gazing globe in the snow
Photo: The oak outside the back door