Showing posts from August, 2008

Two Butterfly Houses in St.Louis MO

Can you imagine? St. Louis MO has two butterfly houses. Talk about pastures of plenty! The dome shaped building on the left is at the St. Louis Zoo and the one on the right is at Faust Park in Chesterfield.
The butterfly house at Faust Park belongs to Missouri Botanical Garden.

The Faust Park house had 1,200 butterflies in it today. It was built with private funding from foundations, corporations, individuals and membership. Each bench and rock has a donor name on it to acknowledge the community support for the project.

The project began in June 1997. The 8,000 square foot Conservatory Garden is sheathed in 646 pieces of glass. The center vault is 36-feet high. Another 8,000 square feet adjacent to the Conservatory houses classrooms, theater, and gift shop.

Christner, Inc., Bannes Consulting and BSI Construction executed the design, project management and construction.

It is a tropical house with only imported butterflies in it. Around the outside there are gardens loaded with nectar an…

A Quick Answer to Growing Lettuce and Spinach

Planet Veggie Garden has a blog entry tonight that offers a simple, yet terrific, solution to a common problem: Where and how to grow non-irradiated, safe salad greens.

One of the three blog authors offers a solution: Fill a banana box with potting soil and plant lettuce and spinach seeds in it.

She points out that produce boxes are heavy duty enough to last two seasons. Put heavy paper over that rectangular hole in the bottom. Put the box on bricks or wood so air can circulate under them.

Fill the box with potting soil or amended soil from your garden. Click on the link above to read their entire column.

Barbara Lawton's Parsleys, Fennels and Queen Anne's Lace

The Not So Humble Umbel There is a family that includes sweet, spicy and poisonous among its almost 3,000 members.

Barbara Lawton, award winning writer and photographer wrote about this plant family in her book, Parsleys, Fennels and Queen Anne’s Lace. Here are a few items from the book to whet your appetite to learn more and then add them to your garden.

The family name varies from umbel, Umbelliferae and Apiaceae, but includes the plant that Socrates used to commit suicide, hemlock, and one of American’s favorite vegetables, the carrot

In a telephone interview from her home near St. Louis, Lawton said, Gardeners can just wander around the mint family planting any of them. That is not true of the Umbels-parsley family. People don’t realize how poisonous some of these plants, like hemlock, are. Hemlock and Queen Anne’s Lace look very similar.

What would Mexican food be without cilantro or German food without caraway? Sausage has to have fennel and potato salad has to have celery. All of th…

Video of Exotic Garden in Australia

ABC's show, Gardening Australia, has video clips of not-to-be-missed garden interviews. Melbourne's Botanic Gardens is the site of the newest interview and tour.

Jeremy Prentice, Curator is interviewed on this one. Click and enjoy before the clip is taken off the website!

The title is Tropical Hothouse and the date is 23/08/2008.

Jeremy's blog about the Melbourne Glasshouse is called the Natural Ponderer.

He is the administrator of
An International Network of Horticulturalists

And there is a link to a U. Conn. botanist's blog,
Burger's Onion blog is at
Weird Botany and Horticulture

Then, there is The Mindful Gardener blog link on his site, written by an American horticulturist who is practicing Thich Nhat Hahn's mindfulness meditation while working at a large commercial nursery business.


The Late August Garden

The monarch butterfly caterpillars keep getting this big and disappearing. Are the birds eating them or are they making chrysalis and becoming adult butterflies?

Sharon Owen gave me some Spreen a few years ago and it's grandchildren came up in unlikely places this year. One plant came up through the weed prevention cloth in the bramble bed. This photo is the view at the back of the blackberry bed (on the right). On the left, is a hedge of Manhattan Euonymus (Euonymus kiautschovicus 'Manhattan' )along the chainlink fence.
Here is a closeup of the (Lambsquarters) Spreen.

One of the Google alerts I have is vermicompost as we are still learning about how to maximize the health and usefulness of our compost worm beds. Here's a link to an Australian site with 10-helpful-tips for vermicompost success. Mother Earth Worms 10 Best Tips

Muskogee OK Learning Garden and Butterfly Sanctuary

Butterfly Love

Tourism proponents say Muskogee’s natural resources already are drawing tourists and will bring more with an addition to Honor Heights Park.

Matthew Weatherbee, a member of the Muskogee Parks and Recreation Board, recently presented plans for a butterfly garden and sanctuary to the Public Works Committee.

The garden is a highlight of a larger plan called Birds, Blooms and Butterflies, which has been under development for several years.

Weatherbee says the garden will fit in nicely with existing projects.

It’s a part of a trend in ecotourism; a lot of people are visiting natural attractions like lakes, rivers and gardens rather than amusement parks,” he said. “So, it fits in with Muskogee’s tourism plan.

Other cities have been responding to public interest, Weatherbee said, a fact revealed in research done by Muskogee Parks and Recreation.

We looked at other cities have similar facilities, like Wichita, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, he said.

These butterfly houses have a really big a…

Create a Small Cactus Garden with Expert Step-by-Step Instructions

Debra Lee Baldwin wrote a step-by-step article for the Los Angeles Times this week. Baldwin's book, Designing with Succulents is world class.

click on the link to read the entire column Creating Cactus Garden Dioramas in Containers

Choose a small accessory first - a doll, a car, a toy robot, etc.
Then, select a garden container that suits your theme.
Put gravel on the bottom and then fill with cactus planting mix.
Try out a few arrangements while the cacti are still in their pots.
Make holes in the soil and use tongs to handle the plants safely.
Top off with stones, rocks, glass beads, sand.
Dribble with water and put in bright light.


Put down the rake, trowel and packet of seeds. Take a few minutes to consider the joys of nature and gardening in other people’s words.
Photo: from the side of the shed


When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before anyone is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness. Celia Thaxter

Every garden is unique with a multitude of choices in soils, plants and themes. Finding your garden theme is as easy as seeing what brings a smile to your face.
Teresa Watkins

Oh, Adam was a gardener
And God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s
Work is done upon his knees
Rudyard Kipling

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. James Dent

Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands. Thomas Jefferson

I never saw a discon…

Tomato Seed Saving Strategy Using Fermentation Method

Are you saving any seeds from this year's garden for next year? I collected a supply of the hard to find nicotiana seeds and will collect others as they mature.

Mostly, I deadhead flowers and herbs and leave the seed heads on the ground where I want them to come up next year.

Victory Seed's website has a set of instructions for saving tomato seeds. The instruction headline says, "We find that the fermentation method results in clean seeds with high germination rates."

Each of the 12-steps are illustrated with photos.

Victory Seed refers readers to a link to AVRDC, The World Vegetable Center. Their illustration shows someone stomping on a plastic bag full of tomato seeds. They recommend no more than two-days of fermentation on their illustrated page of instructions.

I asked Donna, the writer at Veggie My Love for her tomato seed saving secrets and she generously provided her method. Click on the link for the complete directions that I'm just summarizing below.

Seed Fer…

How Would You Rate Your Summer '08?

We are on the path toward the end of Summer 2008. How would you say your garden choices turned out?

Our beds varied from better than ever to Oh, that didn't work very well.

Big hits here, in no particular order, were San Marzo Paste Tomatoes, Lemon Cucumbers, Peace Rose, White Crapemyrtle, Shasta Daisy, Kandy Corn, Shrimp Plant, Wave Petunia, lilies of all types, garlic, Passion vine (red and blue), iris, daylilies, Snow-on the Mountain (native Euphorbia), zinnias of all sizes, Nicotiana, bulbing fennel, Asters, Black-eyed Susan, Castor Bean, Hibiscus, lettuces, Mexican sunflower, Phlox (tall perennial), Ixia, Canna lily, Nepeta, herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, mint), etc.

What will you repeat next year and what will you leave out?

Best Gardens to Visit

What are the best gardens to visit?

I don't have the time or energy to go to all the gardens I want to visit. Take a look at this list compiled by an Australian and tell me which gardens to add that you especially like.

• Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, Georgia
• Botanic Gardens of Baltimore, Baltimore, Md.
• Cheyenne Botanical Garden, Cheyenne, Wyoming
• Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Fran, CA
Fairchild Botanical Garden, Miami, FL
• Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, Hawaii
• Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA
• Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, FL
• L.A. Arboretum, Arcadia, Ca
• Lewis…

Cucumber Purchases by Women Declared Illegal by Al-Qa'eda in Iraq

This barely qualifies as garden blog fodder, but our cucumber vines continue to produce so much fruit and we are sick of them. But this story made my eyes bug out.According to an article sent to me by a friend, Al-Qa'eda has lost credibility for enforcing rules on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.
These rules include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables.
SheikhHameedal-Hayyes told Reuters that they regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men.
So, does this get me out of harvesting, watering and caring for our cucumbers for the rest of the summer?

Bittersweet Fall Approaching and Diane Beresford-Kroeger Offers Bioplans for Gardeners

It's only the middle of August but it seemed like the end of September today as I spent most of the day starting the garden cleanup that I usually do later in the year.

When the 105-degree days left, they were replaced by mid-80's and rain predicted. That's not August! That's September.

At any rate, zinnias, tithonia, cosmos and nicotiana were deadheaded, weeds were pulled, daylily leaves were removed, fallen leaves were taken off daisies that look promising for a fall re-bloom.

The approach of fall bittersweet, isn't it? Does approach of the end of the gardening season make you sad?

Scientist, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, was interviewed by the New York Times and the column is at this link.

Beresford-Kroeger has degrees in Botany and medical biochemistry.

She said in the article that trees are chemical factories with complex strategies to survive. Their flowers contain oils to repel mammals but have fragrance to attract pollinators. Wafer ash trees protect butterf…

Big Floppy Flowers of Tobacco Smell Sweet

Flowering tobacco, Nicotiana alata, has such a beautifully scented flower that it is often called jasmine tobacco. The old fashioned variety has the best scent but new hybrids are more compact.

Nicotiana is classified as an herbaceous perennial in the Solanaceae plant family. Its native home is Brazil and Argentina (zone 10 and 11) so it is a summer pleasure in any area with cold winters. Northeast Oklahoma is zone 7.

Each flower produces a seedpod and each plant makes thousands of seeds. It will re-seed itself for next year in the same location, if the conditions favor it and the seedlings are not pulled up during the early spring weeding.

The seedlings are susceptible to being nibbled on by chewing insects such as beetles and tobacco hornworms, but as the plants mature they are less likely to need protection.

Nicotiana comes from a family of plants with poisonous leaves, including potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, etc., so restrain from eating flowering tobacco or the leaves of any of its …

Green Greener Greenest

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the greenest of them all?
picture from Project Gutenberg via wikimedia

Announcements are coming out of the big box stores letting consumers know how green they are. Here are a few of them. Want to pick the winner?

From the New York Times
... the nation’s biggest store chains are coming to see their immense, flat roofs as an untapped resource. In recent months, chains including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on roofs of their stores to generate electricity on a large scale. One reason they are racing is to beat a Dec. 31 deadline to gain tax advantages for these projects.

In the coming months, 85 Kohl’s stores will get solar panels; 43 already have them.

Macy’s, which has solar panels atop 18 stores, plans to install them on another 40 by the end of this year.

Safeway is aiming to put panels atop 23 stores. And other chains, including Whole Foods Market, BJ’s Wholesale Club and REI, the purveyor of outdoor …

New Plants Revealed in Detail

The Royal Horticulture Society has long carried the standard for serious gardeners.

There is some good news for the rest of us. One of the new blogs at the RHS site is dedicated to new plant finds.

The blog is called My Garden and is written by Graham Rice. So far, the new plants Rice presents information on include new roses, a red rudbekia, the best pansies, hot papaya echinacea, a rose scented begonia, and many more of interest.

Also, Rice provides links to his other informative articles that we might not have access to otherwise.

Well worth a click.

Very Cool Links

This beauty is blooming in the mid-August rain

Here are some great links to click on. They aren't gardening related but are smart.

LED lighting for bicycles

World record bike jump

Phenomenal photos

Enjoy the views.

Plants that Respond Well to Root Cutting Propagation

Aha! Using different search terms I found a Fine Gardening article that lists the plants best suited to root cutting propagation. Written by Hunter Stubbs, horticulturist, writer, landscaper, owner of BB Barns Landscape Company.

Stubbs' illustrated instructions will help even those of us who are novices succeed.

Click on the link above and choose printer friendly version.

These are the plants Stubbs recommended for root cutting propagation. I'm encouraged to try to propagate my Joe Pye Weed.

Woody Plants
Figs (Ficus carica) zones 6–9
Glory bowers (Clerodendrum spp. and cvs.) zones 7–11
Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata and cvs.) zones 4–8
Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris cvs.) zones 4–8
Mock oranges (Philadelphus coronarius and cvs.) zones 4–9
Oregon grapehollies (Mahonia aquifolium and cvs.) zones 6–9
Pussy willow (Salix discolor) zones 4–8
Raspberry (Rubus biflorus) zones 6–9
Red- and yellow-twig dogwoods (Cornus stolonifera and cvs.) zones 3–8
Rose of Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus cvs.) zones 5–9

Propagating Root Cuttings

The Avant Gardener reports the resurgence of propagation by root cuttings. This is a method I have not yet tried but will experiment with now that Thomas Powell reminded me about it.

What has been your experience with root cuttings? Have you tried it yet? Powell says it is the easiest and most reliable method to increase your stock of woody and herbaceous perennials.
By the way, do you know what a herbaceous perennial is? Russell Studebaker, former horticulturist for Tulsa Parks and garden writer for the Tulsa World, clarified it for me over lunch one day.
Plants that come back the next year are perennials. (Annuals are plants that come up from seed, live to produce next year's seed and then die.)
Woody perennials leave their stems above ground over the winter. Herbaceous perennials leave no trace. They are the ones that make gardeners say, "Oh, look it came back!" and dance with glee the rest of the day. Green stemmed perennials (as opposed to woody stemmed) are the herbaceo…

Monarch Butterflies are Here

Monarch butterflies are finding the Asclepias we planted for them. There are a dozen tiny caterpillars, several mid-size ones and these fairly large ones.

To see Monarch adults, pupae, Monarch Watch has photos. Big Sur California has a

Monarch Walk every year. Their site is informative also.

Monarchs are the only butterfly to commute such long distances with the season change. They return to their winter roosts and sometimes even to the same tree. Individual butterflies make the round trip from the Great Lakes to Mexico once. the Monarchs we see the following fall are their great-grandchildren.

The stages they go through are egg, caterpillar, pupa/chrysalis and adult butterfly.

The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days and the caterpillar eats the egg shell.

They eat milkweed and as they grow out of their skin/cuticle, they molt. They eat that skin and grow another cuticle. This happens 4-times.

After the 4th molt, the caterpillar creates a green chrysalis that hangs in shade under a leaf for 2-weeks. …

Artists Jan and Marc Meng Live and Create Functional Beauty at Hungry Holler

Hungry Holler art center is a must see.

Jan Mohr Meng and her husband Marc garden and create art on 6-acres they bought between Grove and Pryor in 1992.

The work of both Jan and Marc are inspired by nature. Marc is known as the Zen Spoonmaster for the wooden spoons he carves and Jan is known for her gourd carving and painting.

The Mengs named their place, Hungry Holler and have put such a unique stamp on the place that Discover Oklahoma has recorded a show about them that is scheduled to run this Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

The gourds that Jan grows to paint are all hard shell gourds, Lagenaria siceraria.

Meng said that gourds are the planet's most giving natural product. They have been used in art and for utilitarian tools for thousands of years.

Jan's tips for growing bottle gourds
- Location: Plant seeds in sun near a source of water when the soil warms up to 70-degrees in spring. They like compost and a place to climb. You may want to plant them where you can enjoy their evening blo…

Golden Plants, Wine Stomping and a Horticulture Show at the Fair

IT'S GOLDEN David Zlesek at the Univeristy of Minnesota sends out an email newsletter, Yard and Garden News that always informs.
Today's issue has a survey of gold leaf plants for the landscape.
Zlesek lists and describes the time-tested ones - Golden-leaved spireas, barberries, ninebarks, cutleaf staghorn sumac, gold bridal wreath, Garden Glow dogwood, golden mock orange, golden elderberry and golden smoketree. Click here to read all about them.
WINERY GRAPE STOMP Dee Selby ( at Stone Bluff Cellars in Haskell OK sent out an email about their grape stomp which will be held this Saturday. The White Grape Harvest Party & Grape Stomp is Saturday, August 9th from 7 to 10 a.m. Cost is $15 per person, RSVP to 918 482 5655 is required. In an email Dee said, "People who attend the grape stomp & harvest party get a buffet style breakfast, a visor or bandana, 10% off wine purchases, a chance to experience grape stomping, observe the wine-making proc…

Nature: Birds, Fruit and Baby Butterflies

Tithonia, Mexican Sunflower, is so popular with butterflies and hummingbirds I wish I had more success with starting them from seed.
Some years, not one seed germinates. This year there were 4 plants from a pack of seeds started indoors and babied.

The apples were harvested today - we think they are gala but we lost the tag years before it ever produced fruit.

Tonight while watering I discovered a few Monarch butterfly babies on the Asclepias in the front walk flower bed!

The photo isn't very good but it's the best the camera could do with flash.

More garden miracles to come, I'm sure.

The Edamame is Ready to Harvest

The Edamame (Glycine max L.) is about ready to harvest. You may already know that Edamame is the proper name for a soy bean. We started growing them before you could easily buy them frozen in bags at the grocery store. None of our local stores sell them fresh.

The food guru Mark Bittman has an Edamame preparation video online at the New York Times.

We just grow 8 or 10 plants to have the pods as snacks. Preparation is simple: Boil in salted water and eat like a peanut, removing the bean from the pod.

The Blackberries are being hit hard by the heat and are dramatically slowing down production of ripe fruit. The flowering has stopped completely, although we have watered them to try to keep them going.

Amazingly, this Black Beauty lily reached 6-feet tall and is still blooming to the tune of a dozen flowers open every day. The weather has barely fazed it's rugged nature.

Anything happening where you are?

Stay Cool Inside

Very little in the way of gardening can be done when it is 105 outside. Today we watered and checked on things but plants struggle to survive the kind of soil temperatures there will be over the next few days. Even some of the shade garden plants in moist soil are desiccating. Poor dears.

For a hot weekend, some quality time on the Internet or with a book will fill the gardener's time.

On the gardening side, check out Felder Rushing's website. Rushing's books include some titles you may have read, "Tough Plants for Southern Gardens", "Passalong Plants", "Gardening Southern Style" and others.

Rushing's website is
Click on links that interest you but be sure to click on the Felderphotos link on the left side of the page for some entertaining shots of his yard, friends and places he has visited.

UBC BOTANICAL GARDEN at offers a botany photo of the day. The link is on …