31 January 2009

Stuff to Do While It's Still Too Cold

IN TULSA FEB 7 AT 8:30 AM On Saturday Feb 7, I'll be attending the Oklahoma Native Plant Society "Birds Bees Butterflies Blankets and Beautiful Oklahoma" Indoor Outing. On-Site Registration begins at 8:30 am and the last event ends at 3. Click here for the roster of speakers. Admission is $5.

SAT FEB 21 AT 9:15 AM IN MUSKOGEE OK On Saturday, Feb 21 in Muskogee OK there will be a free how-to Community Gardening event at Muskogee Public Library, 814 West Okmulgee AV. The library opens at 9 and registration for the event will begin at 9:15.

The keynote speaker will be Bruce Edwards from the Regional Food Bank of OK and the Urban Harvest Program. Edwards is involved with successful community gardens all around the OKC area.

After Edwards' talk, attendees will be able to choose between two presentations. One will be a panel of gardeners helping beginning gardeners with basic information. The other track will be a presentation about growing to sell at farmer's markets.

The program will conclude with a presentation about gardening with family, youth, school, and children's groups.

For more information contact Doug Walton, doug.walton@suddenlink.net and 918-686-6939.

IN SPRINGDALE ARKANSAS FEB 21 AT 10 AM On Saturday, February 21, the speaker for the Flower Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas will be Joyce Mendenhall. Mendenhall is an all around great person and Washington County Master Gardener. Her topic will be "Garden Whimsy". Social time begins at 9:30 and program starts around 10 a.m. Call Lynn Rogers at 479-841-8759 or email lbr845@cox.net.
The meeting will be held in the Student Center at the Northwest Technical Institute, 709 S Old Missouri Rd, Springdale, AR which is 8.7 miles from Fayetteville.

IN TULSA FEB 21 AT 7 PM The Oklahoma Horticultural Society winter speaker will be Michael Shoup of the Antique Rose Emporium on Saturday, Feb 21, 7:00 PM in the Tulsa Garden Center Auditorium, 2435 S. Peoria. The program is free.

Mike Shoup is the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium, in Brenham, Texas so of course his topic will be, "The Ultimate Garden Plant - A New Look at Old Roses".

Mike will talk about the early days of rose rustling, the difference between garden roses and modern exhibition roses. Light refreshments will be provided and served by The Tulsa Perennial Club members.

IN TULSA FEB 26 On Thursday Feb 26 at 10 a.m., The Tulsa Council of Federated Garden Clubs is having their annual book review and style show at Tulsa Garden Center. Cost is $15. I went last year and really enjoyed the fashion show by Mary Ruby - the shop is pricey for my budget but the fashions modeled by garden club members is fun. Lunch is Charlie's Chicken and BBQ of Pryor. Contact Carolyn Romine 918-251-4179 for information.

IN MUSKOGEE OK FEB 28 9 A.M. The Friends of Honor Heights Park will hold its first business meeting as a 501(C)3 to talk about the goals of the organization, to meet fellow Honor Heights Park enthusiasts and find out what members want to volunteer for.

The event will be held in the new classrooms at Honor Heights Park.

From 10 to 12 there will be two workshops: Matthew Weatherbee on plant propagation and Martha Stoodley on seed starting. The workshop is free to members and $10 for visitors. You can join friends that day. The membership levels are $25, $35 and $100 or above.
For more information contact Weatherbee at 918-682-9276 or Honorheightsfriends@gmail.com.

29 January 2009

Japanese Garden Zen at the Fort Worth Texas Botanic Garden

Just a few hours south of Muskogee, there is a wonderful haven for garden lovers. Last weekend when it was 26-degrees and cloudy in Muskogee, it was 75-degrees and sunny at the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden (www.fwbg.org/).
the weather station on our roof
The Botanic Garden itself looked like most winter landscapes but the seven-acre Japanese Garden (www.fwbg.org/japanese.htm) maintains its distinct beauty in the winter.

The entire botanic garden is 109-acres with 23 gardens that are home to 2,500 species of native and exotic plants.

The Japanese Garden was the inspiration of the parks and recreation director and the botanic garden director in 1968 and it was built on a site that was originally a bluff that opened onto the Trinity River floodplain. It served as a watering hole for cattle, a trash dump and a gravel pit.

Clubs, businesses and individual donors contributed plants, materials and art objects to make the garden a reality.

The garden has three entrances, representing heaven, man and earth. Inside the garden visitors can wander along tea garden paths and relax in a tranquil setting. The interconnected paths, bridges, decks and pavilions surround several ponds with large Koi, or Imperial Carp, that visitors can feed.

Although the gardens were built in the tradition of stroll gardens of the Edo-period other features were added. There are 5,900 feet of walkways and exposed brick and asphalt; gardeners used 71,000 plants in the original construction.

Nagaoka Japan, one of Fort Worth’s sister cities, donated a portable festival Shinto shrine, a Mikoshi. Other unique features include an Indochinese Buddha, and the stone monkeys (Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru).

The Suzuki Garden, designed by its namesake, Shigeichi Suzuki has stone structures softened by evergreens. It was completed in 2000.

The Meditation Garden was designed as a replica of the Ryoanji Temple Garden of the Abbot's Quarters in Kyoto Japan. The Karesansui or dry landscape garden is made of 15-rocks placed in sand that is raked to resemble flowing water. It is surrounded by an enclosed, viewing veranda.

A Japanese Teahouse extends over one of the pools.

The Moon Viewing Deck is an adaptation of the one at the Silver Pavilion Garden at Kyoto Ginkakuji temple. A Taijitu yin-yang symbol is embossed in exposed concrete at the top. The amphitheater is the location of the fall and spring Japanese festivals and the site of many weddings.

The Botanic Garden itself offers free admission where visitors can walk through these gardens: Rose, trial, butterfly, Fuller Perennial, fragrance, water conservation, etc. Throughout the park there are entertaining and educational features for children and adults.

The Texas Native Forest Boardwalk provides a walking education in forest ecology. The botanical Conservatory is a 10,000 square foot indoor tropical garden – a perfect place to visit on a winter day. Flowers in the conservatory include: Orchids, bromeliads, birds-of-paradise and tropical trees. Admission costs under a dollar.

One-half acre of the park is a community garden where elementary school students grow vegetables, herbs and berries. The produce is donated to feed the hungry.

Disaboom.com, a website community for the disabled, considers the Fort Worth Botanic Garden one of the most accessible gardens in the U.S.

Ft. Worth Botanic Garden is at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Ft. Worth, TX 76107, 817.871.7686. Admission to the Japanese Garden is Adults $4.00, seniors $3.00, Children $2.00, under 4 free.

28 January 2009

An Ice Storm, Then Snow and Sleet, More Snow, Then an Overnight Freeze

This is the view from the back porch out to the front gate. That's our driveway, somewhere.... On the far left the birds are feasting on seed we had to put on the ground since the feeders are frozen to the trees and can't be moved.

On the lower-right is a Burford Holly and the tree with ice laden branches is an elm that shades our front livingroom windows in the heat of the summer.

On the left is a large oak that is just ouside the back door. In the center is the grape arbor.

Inside the kitchen on the plant windowsill the daffodils from Touch of Nature keep us thinking of spring.

27 January 2009

This Morning's Ice Storm In Northeast OK

This is a branch of the peach tree. Pretty but maybe not so good for this year's peach production.
The lavender has stood tall all winter. We'll see how she does when the ice melts. Thursday it is predicted to be in the mid-50s again.

The Heavenly Bamboo is beautiful iced over. When I approached it to take the photo, a family of bunnies scampered out.
It was still mostly dark at 8:30 a.m.

25 January 2009

A Few Tidbits

Just a few Sunday night tidbits ---

One tidbit - This blog author http://uncorked.org/medley/ is offering a free hand made gift to the first five people who comment on her blog entry tonight. Click over and see if you can be one of the five.

Next tidbit is this http://theseedsite.co.uk/ website about seed starting. Great information plus photos of 700 seedlings to help you identify your unmarked ones when they come up.

Third is the National Garden Bureau's list of new varieties for 2009 at http://www.ngb.org/gardening/varieties/index.cfm - while you are there, on the left you can click on the All America Selections link. AAS varieties go through rigorous testing at gardens all over the country to earn the AAS distinction.

My seeds are germinating and I'm repotting some already. The broccoli babies are in individual pots. Now, we need some rain and some warmer weather.

Friends of Honor Heights Park - Jan 09 Newsletter, First Meeting Feb 09, How to Join

Friends of Honor Heights Park is getting started with its first email newsletter and first meeting.

We hope to have a Friends website soon.

Here is the Jan 09 email Newsletter with the February first meeting announcement.
Membership levels are $25 Individual, $35 Family, $100 and above Donor.

Dear Friends of Honor Heights Park,


We now have 27 members and are looking forward to our first meeting on Saturday Feb 28 from 1 to 2:00 at Honor Heights Park in the newly constructed meeting rooms.

After the business meeting on Feb 28, a workshop will be offered from 2:00 to 4:00.

Matthew Weatherbee will demonstrate plant propagation techniques and Martha Stoodley will demonstrate seed starting.

Everyone will go home with cuttings and planted seeds to grow in pots and beds.
The workshop is free for members and $10 for non members.

In order to complete the 501C3 certification process, we need board members and officers. Some people have already indicated a willingness to help with fund raising, writing a Friends Newsletter and being on the board. We hope everyone will be available to attend or will contact one of us to volunteer.

Look over the list of current members below and send a membership form to other friends who may be interested in supporting Honor Heights Park and the building of the Teaching Gardens and Butterfly House.


If you would like to join Friends of Honor Heights Park, send a check to the address below. Be sure to include your email address and telephone number to be notified of upcoming events.

We added a Donor membership level to accommodate those who wanted to contribute $100 and more.

If you already joined at the Individual $25 or Family $35 level and would like to add a contribution to become a Donor, feel free to send a check to

Friends of Honor Heights Park, 4211 High Oaks, Muskogee OK 74401

Call or email one of us if you have suggestions or questions.

Martha Stoodley 918.683.2373 stoodleymartha@gmail.com
Matthew and Lora Weatherbee 918.682.9276 matthew.weatherbee@sbcglobal.net

Sue Beck (no email address)
Johnny & Glenda Broome
Dorothy Fite
Barbara Downs
Larry & Nancy Hoffman
Brad & Mary Hoopes
Bonnie Jennings (no email address)
Saren Kozil
Ted & Susie Lawrence
Weldon & Jerry Marshall (no email address)
Jeri McMahon
Jeff & Karen Mitchell
Judy Payne
Duane & Virginia Pickle
Ben & Marcia Robinson (no email address)
Ronald & Nancy Slauenwhite (no email address)
Ross & Barbara Staggs
Jon & Martha Stoodley
Weldon & Connie Stout
Wren Stratton
Bill & Nancy Warner
Frances Watson
Matthew & Lora Weatherbee
Kim West & Greg Saunders
Anita Whitaker
Jan Wilkerson
Mark & Traci Wilkerson

23 January 2009

Gardening Is Part of Muskogee's Wellness Initiative

The Health Department held a wellness event at Muskogee's Arrowhead Mall, yesterday.

To bring potential community gardeners to the table, we put together a little display with plants, freebies, a sign up sheet and a survey.

The box in the back held Osmocote Plant Food samples and informational brochures.

The basket held free seeds from Botanical Interests and Renee's Garden. The papers on the table were coupons for Renee's seeds and seed starting booklets from Botanical Interests.

Muskogee's Wellness Initiative hopes to get more neighborhoods involved in growing vegetables and fruits for their family. The exercise of gardening is a good way to improve health and having vegetables on the table is always a good thing.

Everyone involved considered the event a success. Thanks again to the generous donors!

22 January 2009

Perennial Vegetables

A few months ago I wrote a review of Eric Toensmeier's book, "Perennial Vegetables"

Click here to see a video of him talking about perennial vegetables in his garden.

Toensmeier's book was published by Chelsea Green.

Go take a look.

My Annual Catalog List

With some companies bought out, a few disappointing shipments to me and the need to shorten the list, this year's catalog list has changed from last year's.

In this year's catalog list, the descriptions are shorter. If there is nothing noted, the company offers a wide range of seeds, plants and supplies. A company's specialty is identified but they all offer dozens of products.

Abundant Life, 541-767-9606, www.abundantlifeseed.org Organic seeds and seedlings

Annie’s Annuals,www.anniesannuals.com, 866-266-4370 Rare and unusual

Bluestone Perennials, www.bluestoneperennials.com, 800-852-5243 Plants

Botanical Interests, www.botanicalinterests.com Flower seeds

Brent and Becky’s, www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com, 804-693-3966 Bulbs

Bustani Plant Farm, www.bustaniplantfarm.com, 405-372-3379 Greenleaf plants

D Landrethy, www.landrethseeds.com, 800-654-2407

FedCo Seeds, www.fedcoseeds.com, 207-873-7333 Untreated seeds, potatoes

Forestfarm, 541-846-7269. www.forestfarm.com Perennial seeds, Plants

Fragrant Path, www.fragrantpathseeds.com, Seeds and plants from Nebraska

Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, www.gardenmedicinals.com, 434-964-9113 Herbs, native plants

Graceful Gardens, www.gracefulgardens.com, 607-387-5529 Delphiniums

Harris Seeds, www.harrisseeds.com, 800-514-4441

Heronswood Nursery, www.heronswood.com 877-674-4714 Collector’s plants

High Country Gardens, www.highcountrygardens.com, 800.925.9387 Water-wise

Horizon Herbs, www.horizonherbs.com, 541-846-6704 Medicinal seeds and plants

HPS, www.hpsseed.com, Seeds, plugs, plants

Jackson & Perkins, 800-292-4769, www.jacksonandperkins.com Roses and perennials

J. L. Hudson, www.JLHudsonSeeds.net, Hard-to-find seeds

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 207-437-4301, www.johnnyseeds.com Pelleted seeds

John Scheepers, CT, www.johnscheepers.com, 860-567-0838 Kitchen garden seeds

Klehms Song Sparrow, www.songsparrow.com, 800-553-3715 Peonies, perennials

Le Jardin du Gourmet, www.ArtisticGardens.com, 800-659-1446 50-sample-herb- packet $14

Logee’s, www.logees.com, 888-330-8038 Orchids, cacti, bamboo

Miller Nurseries, 800.836.9630, www.millernurseries.com Fruit

Mischel’s, www.mischelsgreenhouses.com, 800-830-8447 All plants $3.75

Mountain Valley Growers, www.mountainvalleygrowers.com, 559.338.2775 Organic

Musser Forests, 800-643-8319, www.musserforests.com Trees, shrubs

Native American Seed, www.seedsource.com 800-728-4043 Conservancy seeds

Natural Gardening, 707-766-9303, www.naturalgardening.com Organic plants, seeds

New England Seeds, neseed.com, 800-825-5477 Bulk, organic seed

Niche Gardens, www.nichegardens.com 919-967-0078 Bog and wetland plants

Nichols Garden Nursery, www.nicholsgardennursery.com, 800-422-3985

Old House Gardens, www.oldhousegardens.com, 734.995.1486 Heritage bulbs

One Green World: www.onegreenworld.com, 877-353-4028 Fruits from Eastern Europe, Russia

Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, 800-213-0076

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, 888-784-1722, www.groworganic.com

Pepper Gal, 800-537-5540, www.peppergal.com

Pine Ridge Gardens, 479-293-4359, www.pineridgegardens.com/ Native plants

Pinetree Garden Seeds, 207-926-3400. www.superseeds.com over 900 varieties

Plant Delights Nursery, Inc., www.plantdelights.com, 919-772-4794

Prairie Moon Nursery, www.prairiemoon.com, 507.452.1362 Native plants & seeds

Raintree, WA, 360-496-6400, www.raintreenursery.com Fruits and mason bees

Renee’s Garden Seeds, www.reneesgarden.com, 888-880-7228, Heirloom and new

Richters Herbs, www.richters.com, 905-640-6677

Sand Hill Preservation, www.sandhillpreservation.com, 563-246-2299 Poultry

Seed Savers Exchange, 563.382.5990, www.seedsavers.org Heirloom seeds, nonprofit

Seeds of Change, 888.762.7333, www.seedsofchange.com Organic seeds

Select Seeds, 800.253.5691, www.selectseeds.com Historic and vintage flowers

Seneca Hills, 315-342-5915, www.senecahillperennials.com Plants from South Africa

Sooner Plant Farm, www.soonerplantfarm.com, 918-453-0771

Stokes Seeds, www.stokeseeds.com, 800-396-9238

Stokes Tropicals, 800.624.9706, www.stokestropicals.com. Most zone 8

Territorial Seed Company, 800-626-0866, www.territorial-seed.com

Tomato Growers Supply, www.tomatogrowers.com, 888-478-7333

Vegetable Seed Warehouse, www.vegetableseedwarehouse.com Organics

Wayside Gardens, 800.845.1124, www.waysidegardens.com

Wildseed Farms, 800.848.0078, www.wildseedfarms.com Wildlfowers

Willhite, willhiteseed.com, 800-828-1840 Vegetables

Gardeners talk about seeds, plants, gardens and related topics on my blog at www.muskogeephoenix.com and last year’s catalog list is there, too.

Dave’s Garden, http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/, has a directory of 6,600 mailorder companies with opinions from gardeners around the country.

20 January 2009

Hanging Basket - One-Fourth of a Ton

Susan Appleget Hurst, Sr. Assoc. Editor, Garden, Better Homes & Gardens
gave us a heads-up about the world's largest hanging basket.

It's 20 feet by 10 feet and holds over a hundred varieties of plants.

Erected by winch to celebrate the opening of a hotel in Paddington, Great Britain, the Daily Mail's readers were more concerned about what would happen if it fell.

There are more photos and details at the Daily Mail. Click here to see more.

No matter what challenges I havc, trying to tame 2.7 acres, this hanging basket will remind me that it could be bigger.

On the practical side, I wonder how they water that thing and how much water it takes. And, what about passers-by who are coming to register at the new hotel and have no idea what is 25-feet over head.

44th President Sworn In, January 20 2009

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true.

They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations

19 January 2009

The Greenhouse at Virginia Wesleyan College

The Greenhouse at Virginia Wesleyan College has a darn good website worth a visit on one of these cold nights.

Students maintain the greenhouse under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Ressler. Use the link above to click through photos of what they are up to.

Then, click over to Araceum site. Click on English and then browse through a captivating collection of Araceae. Mother Nature either is the best artist ever known or has a sense of humor that cannot be beat.

15 January 2009

Seed Starting Class at Muskogee Garden Club

I gave a workshop on seed starting today at Muskogee Garden Club's monthly meeting. .
We had a morning with snow and 12-degrees and still 25 brave souls came.

Daniels Plant Food, Botanical Interests and Renee's Garden Seeds contributed fertilizer and seeds for the participants so everyone went home with gifts. Park Seeds sent 2009 catalogs for everyone. Wonderful generosity. Thanks everyone. It was great fun.

Maybe you can see the blueberry boxes of soil. We filled the bottom two-thirds with moist planting soil. Then, we topped the boxes up with seed starting soil. All the participants chose a pack of seeds and planted them to take home.

14 January 2009

The Pros Grow Seeds in January, Too

There are seeds that you plant directly in the ground outside and others that should be planted in sterile seed starting soil inside.

Cosmos, marigolds, corn and carrots are planted directly into the ground in the spring. Poppy, chamomile and larkspur seeds are planted outside in January.

The seeds of many perennials and some annuals need to have a chance to freeze and thaw before spring weather arrives. Perennial shrubs and herbaceous plant seeds were planted last September so they could get the alternating temperatures (vernalization) they need to grow.

This month, the seeds of onions, leeks, chives, Chinese cabbage, pansy and other cool weather lovers are planted inside.

Pete Carson of Carson Borovetz Nursery said that the seeds to plant now include those that enjoy a cool start such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.

I start peppers now, too, Carson said. Pepper seeds take 14 days to germinate and you need a heat mat under them to give them the 80-degree soil temperatures they need. Home gardeners can put pots of planted seeds in a hot water heater closet or other warm spot.

Carson said to be careful about fertilizing. If pushed too soon, young seedlings will be weak and spindly. You want them to be stout and strong.

Sharon Owen, owner of Moonshadow Herb Farm, said she planted pans full of Butterfly Weed and echinacea seeds outside a few months ago.

This week Owen planted: Thyme, parsley, lovage, sage, fennel, onion chives, Welsh Onions, Greek Oregano, Salad Burnet, Sorrel, Alpine strawberries, Valerian and others.

I also plant slow growing Lemon Grass and White Sage around this time, Owen said. Parsley, Lovage and Alpine Strawberries require a longer period of darkness to germinate, so they're among the first ones I try to get sown. Once they germinate they can be uncovered and on their way growing with the other perennials.

Kim and Doug Walton of Waltons Farm will be selling at Muskogee Farmers’ Market this year.

Onions, leeks and then cabbages should be started this month. They all prefer about 75 to 80 degrees F soil. But watch the cabbage seed carefully. They can emerge in three to four days and will quickly get spindly if they don't have enough light. The onions and leeks are much less picky that way,”Doug Walton said.

Snapdragons, bachelor buttons and delphiniums all prefer soil temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees, Kim said. The delphiniums will do best with a pre-chilling in the fridge for two to four weeks before putting them in soil to germinate.

It is also time for starting seeds for thyme and parsley, Doug said. Both are very slow to germinate, taking 10 to 21 days.

Almost all seeds can be started in containers if they are given the right temperature, light, and air circulation. Houseplants such as Coleus can be started from seed at any time.

Soil temperature indoors is five to 10 degrees cooler than the air temperature unless heat is provided. The top of the refrigerator or water heater may be warm enough but check it with a thermometer to be sure.

Commercial growers pre-soak seeds three to 24 hours. Some use weak manure tea and others use a fungicide soak. Seeds to soak: Banana, mallow and Chinese wisteria.
Consider the plant’s preferred soil temperature, moisture, humidity, and light.

Tropical plants need hot temperatures and bright light. Cool season plants need cool temperatures.

Lettuce and Delphinium seeds are dormant at 75 degrees and must be chilled before planting.

These like a chilly start: Monkshood, trumpet vine, lobelia, phlox, primrose and Columbine.

Buy a few packets of seeds and share them with a friend. Most of all enjoy the process of participating in the growth of new plants. It can lift your spirits in the cold months.

13 January 2009

Garden Notes from B B Mackey Books

This little volume from B B Mackey Books is the right way for people like me to start keeping track of gardening activities.

Cleverly enough "Garden Notes This Year" is organized by week but the year is not specified. Each week has places to enter Events this week; Seeds or plants planted or acquired, Tasks done, things to do; Weather, etc.

Each week has one page, two sides. There are a few artistic sketches scattered around some of the pages but not so much art that it overwhelms the writing space.

The book has a beautiful cover as you can see above. It's 6-inches by 9-inches - handy size for carrying with you. And, an easy size for stacking from year to year.

It costs $9.95 and is free of shipping charges from B. B. Mackey Books. Contact Betty Mackey at bbmackey@prodigy.net, 610.971.9409 and www.mackeybooks.com, gift cards enclosed as requested.

There are other titles of interest on the site. In particular, how about a $10 CD on papercrete trough construction. Well, that's one of the many that interest me.

12 January 2009

Classes for Plant Lovers at the Community College

Classes for gardeners at the local junior college can be just what you were looking for to brighten up your garden this spring.

A Residential Landscaping class is being offered this spring at Connors State College, Warner campus.
HORT 2301 W01- This five week course will include the basics in designing your home landscape. Special considerations will be discussed. Basic principles and some dos and don’ts will be included.
The class meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:40 pm on the Warner campus for the following weeks: January 20, 27, February 3, 10, and 17.
Participants need to enroll in the admissions office at any Connors campus. Cost is $85.07 for the entire course. For questions about the class, contact the instructor, Debby Golden at (918) 463-6265. For questions about enrollment, contact the registrar, Sonya Baker at (918) 463-6300.

Seniors 65 or older can apply to have their tuition waived by contacting Lance Allee in the Warner Campus advisement office. His number is (918) 463-6309. A copy of your driver’s license will be required to waive tuition along with completion of a simple one page application.

Beginning Floral Design HORT 2652 W01 and W02 will be offered this semester. The class will highlight basic principles, line designs, arrangement types, basic mechanics of arrangements and flower types. Students will work with live flowers each week and make an arrangement to take home. This is an 8 week course. The class meets on Tuesday evenings from 4:30 p.m. to 6:10 for the lecture and 6:10 – 9:30 for hands on lab for the following weeks: March 10, 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5. In addition to tuition, a lab fee of $96 will cover containers, foam, flowers etc. for all labs.
For students not requiring college credit and/or not interested in the lecture portion of the floral design class may enroll in a one hour credit course HORT 2301 W02 Floral Design Lab only. Tuesday evenings; 6:10-9:30 pm; March 10, 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28 and May 5.
Enrollment can be completed at the Registrar’s office at the Muskogee or Warner campuses. All classes are held at the Warner campus. This is a 2 hour credit class. Cost per credit hour is $85.07.

For questions about the classes, contact the instructor, Debby Golden at (918) 463-6265. For questions about enrollment, contact the registrar, Sonya Baker at (918) 463-6300.

Senior citizens 65 or older can apply to have their tuition waived by contacting Rob Stone in the Warner campus advisement office. His number is (918) 463-6309. A copy of your driver’s license will be required to waive tuition along with completion of a simple one page application.

Seed Starting Indoors in January

Here are some radish seedlings started inside the shed. They were out of direct light until they came up. Then, they were moved under fluorescent bulbs about 2-inches away. Notice that I plant seeds in slices of paper towel and bathroom tissue rolls. That way, the seeds stay in the center of the planting area instead of drifting off to the sides where they are difficult to prick out for transplanting.

Notice the reflective material on the back wall. It bounces the light back onto seedlings.

This plant is a salad green that I picked up in Germany last fall. It has to stay inside most of the time but is happiest on the days that are above 50 so it can spend hours outside in the wind and sun.

It's already 65-F here, so I'm headed out to sun bathe the seedlings and plant more seeds!

10 January 2009

Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing, Saturday February 7, at the Tulsa Garden Center

Get on this and get your pre-registration form sent in before Jan 23! Here is a link to the registration form.

Welcome and on site registration at 8:30 a.m. Presentations at 9:00 a.m.
tours of areas surrounding the Garden Center ending at 3:00 p.m.

This major event sponsored annually by ONPS is hosted each year on a rotating basis by one of the four chapters of the Society: Central Chapter (Oklahoma City), Northeast Chapter (Tulsa), Crosstimbers Chapter (Stillwater), and Mycology Chapter (Edmond).

The theme for the Tulsa event is Birds, Butterflies, Bees, Blankets, and Beautiful Oklahoma.

Keynote speaker will be Mike Klemme, official photographer for the Oklahoma Centennial celebration in 2007 and photo/author of the book CELEBRATING OKLAHOMA.

Other speakers will include James Thayer (Gardening for Butterflies), Dr. Kay Backues (Bees and Beekeeping) Sutton Avian Research Center staff member Dan Reinking (Oklahoma Bald Eagle Winter Populations), and Linda Harkey (Utilizing Natural Dyes for Native American Blankets.) In addition, Gina Levesque will present a hands-on weaving demonstration using natural dyes.

Tours in the afternoon will include the Arboretum, Tulsa Rose Garden, Linneaus Teaching Garden, and Woodward Park. A catered lunch will be provided by Camille's Sidewalk Cafe.

Several vendors will be on hand to offer items including books, jewelry, plants, and ONPS logo merchandise.

The 2009 Indoor Outing sponsored by Oklahoma Native Plant Society is open to the public.

Registration for the event will be accepted through January 23, with registration forms available on the ONPS website. Here is registration form. Be sure to get it completed and submitted. Cost is $5 for just the program and $13 including what looks like a yummy lunch (4 sandwich-wrap options).

For additional information, contact Sue Amstutz at 918.742.8374.

08 January 2009

Vegetable Gardener's Bible - 2000 Book is Still Relevant for New Gardeners

Once in a while a garden book comes along that stands the test of time. The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith was published in 2000, and continues to attract the attention and praise of vegetable gardeners.

Smith's approach to vegetable gardens is based on his WORD. system: Wide rows, Organic practices, Raised beds and Deep soil.

From Seed to Harvest: Higher Yields with Less Work is the first chapter about how wide, raised beds produce considerably more vegetables than narrow rows. In a standard garden, half the space is compacted by gardeners' feet. Planting beds that are 3-feet wide and made deeper with 18-inch deep raised beds and narrow paths gives more of the square footage to production.

Wide beds save space and work. They allow closer planting and easier access for weeding and harvest. That design also conserves water.

Either building plank-sided boxes around beds or simply piling additional soil onto the rows can accomplish the recommended depth of your growing beds.

Smith has pages on tools, planning a new garden, converting a grassy or sod area into a vegetable garden and how to read a seed catalog.

The pages on companion planting are arranged in charts for easy reference. Then there are tips about interplanting. For example, he recommends that you plant light-feeding carrots with heavy-feeding tomatoes and pair deep-rooted parsnips with shallow-rooted onions.

Smith says crop rotation by plant family is crucial for fooling the insects that prefer specific plants and he gives examples of how to make it work.

One of the reasons you get more out of Smith's method of vegetable garden planning is that he recommends that you grow plants a lot closer together. He says that you can put them closer in a 5 by 2 bed that is 2-feet deep, than in an 8-inch wide by 2-foot long row because
the plants can get the nutrients they need from the deeper soil.

The chapter on jump-starting the season with your own seedlings is detailed enough to help a new gardener get off to a good start using seeds.

Vertical gardening is utilizing teepees, A-frames, trellises and fences to support tomatoes, melons, beans, peas and other climbers such as winter squash vines. Smith gives plenty of help with how-to build and install them.

Organic mulches are usually recommended as the best for weed suppression, soil enhancement and moisture conservation. Smith also recommends IRT, infrared transmitting plastic as good for weed control. IRT blocks visible light that weeds need for growth.

When your soil is fertile from a few years of the addition of organic matter and rock powders, the only fertilizer you will need is compost and maybe some fish emulsion. This winter is a good time to get a soil test before adding spring fertilizers, so you will know what you are doing.

Watering has its own chapter: Watering cans, nozzles, irrigation systems, etc.

Then he covers soil and plant health, including the nutrients plants need and how to provide them, soil pH (acid and alkaline), followed by the benefits of green manure. Planting a cover crop in the fall can improve soil texture and fertility.

There are 100-pages of plant descriptions for a typical vegetable garden.

Scattered throughout the easy to read text there are garden wisdom tidbits such as these: Grow lettuce among onions, carrots, corn, beets, and cabbage. The lettuce shades the roots and cools the soil. Soil nutrients pass into plants through the water surrounding their root hairs so careful watering is essential.
Pick corn in the morning when the sugar content is highest. Treat seed potatoes with sulphur to help prevent potato beetles. Carrot roots grow 1.5 feet out on all sides and 3-feet downward so deep, wide beds work best.

The book has 320-pages and hundreds of photos and illustrations to guide you, including how to get a head start on the season, protecting vegetables in the summer and extending the season into late fall.

Storey Books published the Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Ed Smith in 2000. It is available for $17 on Amazon.com and Overstock.com and the paperback edition is available from Walmart.com for around $17. Muskogee and Eufaula libraries have copies, too.

06 January 2009

Guess What?

We decided it was long past time to separate our vermicomposters from their vermicompost. Here's one pile of the contents of one of the worm hotels.
Vermicompost, black gold, worm castings - call it what you prefer - the stuff is magic for plants.
Did you know that one-third of the stuff being trucked to landfills is worm food in the form of kitchen, grocery store, food processing, garden, restaurant and other edible wastes?
A worm bin serves the planet in two ways: 1) provides your garden with invaluable nutrients; 2) keeps the landfills from filling up with plastic bags full of perfectly good worm food. Well, in my case there is a third benefit: Now we have pets that do not give me asthma attacks.
If you like scientific information to back up my casual statements about vermicompost's value to your garden, click here. Someone analyzed samples and uploaded the results.
This company points out its benefits for organic gardeners.

Park Seed sells vermicompost in plastic bottles for organic gardeners.

You can buy a bag of worms from me to start making your own homegrown worm castings, email me at MollyDay1@gmail.com and we'll figure out the best way to get them to you.
By the way, I read in a garden blog a few days ago that to clean out the bins, you can just remove a few worms to start a new bin and dump the rest of the container onto the garden where the worms will live a happy life. Not true. Vermicompost worms cannot live in the ground. They are not earth worms.
Just needed to clear that up.

04 January 2009


New plants are discovered and known plants enter extinction. It's a cycle that environmentalists would like to go one way only - their preference is that nothing becomes extinct.

But don't let that concern for what is lost, keep the excitement down when an undescribed, new Aroid like the one pictured here, is found. Click here and here to see more photos taken by Elizabeth Campbell.

Here's what Campbell said about the plant in an email exchange.
"...basically it is a large, free-standing (trunked) Anthurium from Section Belolonchium, and very little else is known about it.
It's currently only known in cultivation at the Quito Botanical Gardens in Ecuador, where the photos were taken; staff there think it was rescued from an oil pipeline cut in the cloud forests above the town of Mindo in Ecuador, but as it was about 10 years ago that it was collected they are not at all certain.
Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Gardens had a look at it and told me that it wasn't A. angamarcanum as I had previously thought, but an entirely new species. He pointed out that the inflorescence was different from anything else he'd ever seen in the section.
I'll be going hunting for this plant in the wild in the coming year and hope to find it in its natural habitat so that a type specimen can be made and the species properly described and named."

Campbell's blog is called "I Speak for the Trees: A Photo A Day of Plants In Ecuador" and here is a link to her fascinating site.

Take time to look at the posts - it's a window into a world most of us will never have an opportunity to experience first hand.

02 January 2009

Melting Ice and Snow Creatively

When the ice and snow come I plan to use plain old fertilizer from the farm supply store. It melts the problem without any salt damage.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about how creative Americans can be when they need to melt something and the price of salt seems too high.

The authors, Ilan Brat and Timothy Martin, said that towns are using molasses, garlic salt and a "rum-production byproduct that smells like soy sauce" instead of salt.

Evidently last winter the weather was so bad that prices went through the roof to $60 to $120 per ton up from last year's range of $30 to $50 a ton.

In Indiana salt truck computers calculate how much salt to drop to conserve the resource. In Hamilton County Ohio, near Cincinnati, the salt bids exceeded the entire county budget for the ice and snow removal. They are stretching the salt by mixing it with coal plant ash.

The garlic salt story is that a spice maker was dumping it in the the landfill, so in the spirit of waste not want not conservation, the city used it.

In Washington they combine de-sugared molasses with saltwater to clear roadways.

A town near Chicago bought salt and a de-icing compound from Sears Ecological Applications Co. that is made from rum-making leftovers. Using the manufacturing waste product reduced their salt bill by half.

If you are a gardener and or a conservationist, you will see all of this as terrific news. Molasses is known to improve the microbial activity of soil. This is a much better product to be melting into the earth than root-killing salt.

Instead of landfill, garlic salt and rum-production waste is being used productively? Hallelujah.

01 January 2009

Community Gardens Bring Neighbors Together - Jan 8 Event in Muskogee

A neighborhood can put its resources together to grow a bountiful garden of salad vegetables, flavorful melons, zucchini and winter squash to serve family and friends.

A plot of land, some tools, access to water and some seeds can become a source of pride, as well as building a sense of community. One conservative estimate is that there are over 10,000 community gardens around the country.

The push to grow fresh vegetables in World War Two was the last time neighbors put their ideas together to provide nutritious food for as many people as possible. In 1943 the White House lawn, vacant lots in small towns and city parks were put into production. By 1946 half of the nation’s produce was grown in Victory Gardens.

Since then, growing has become more centralized. Now agribusiness has removed the soil-to-table experience from most households.

The concerns now, are tainted vegetables, increased pesticide and fertilizer use damaging water sources, plus increased transportation costs. In the past five years there has been a federal push to bring fruit and vegetable production back into local communities with aid to local farmer’s market growers and farm-to-school food programs.

Muskogee residents are going to have an opportunity to find out more about planting a community garden in their neighborhood at a meeting next Thursday, January 8, at 6:00 in the Grant Foreman Room, Muskogee Public Library.

Two experienced gardeners, Julie Gahn and Doug Walton will present basic concepts in the hope that interested residents will come together to make gardens a reality in their own neighborhoods.

Gahn said in a telephone conversation that the Tahlequah community garden at her church grew and sold produce.

A neighborhood garden is something that pulls together a community in a spirited way, Gahn said. We made enough money growing on one-tenth acre, to fund a second garden in 2009.

Community garden residents were responsible for the planting, weeding, harvest, management and maintenance. The gardens became classrooms for children.

Most of the Tahlequah volunteers already had some gardening skills, Gahn said. But, everyone learned. We supported each other, bounced ideas around, and pooled our resources.

The other speaker, Doug Walton, Community Foods Coordinator with the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will show slides and talk about community gardens happening in other parts of Oklahoma.

It’s really exciting to see all the creative ways that people are bringing gardening into their communities, Walton said. Those who come next Thursday will be inspired.

Walton said he hopes several neighborhoods will be represented at the meeting. It takes leaders and workers to get community gardens started. Walton will have printed materials and resources for those interested in learning more.

One nice thing about community gardens is the opportunity they provide for people without garden space or experience to find out how a garden grows, said Walton. Many of us are fortunate to know how great a home-grown tomato can taste, and this is a good way to spread that joy.

The January 8 event is a project of the Mayor’s Wellness Initiative and the Nutrition subcommittee. It is part of the effort to help Muskogee residents have healthier food choices close to home, in their neighborhoods.

The American Community Gardening Association (http://communitygarden.org) has a wealth of useful information, checklists and encouragement.
If you go
Introduction to Community Gardens
The meeting is open to anyone who thinks they may be interested in growing vegetables and fruits for themselves and for the health of their neighborhood.

January 8
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Grant Foreman Room, second floor Muskogee Public Library
Refreshments provided.

Doug Walton 686-6939
Martha Alford 683-0321