28 February 2009

What's In a Plant's Name?

Some of the plant names we see at the nursery, such as Peace Rose, are easy to remember. Others like Cytisus scoparius Burkwoodii make us wonder how to pronounce them.

Many plants were named for the countries where they were originally found. Examples include African violet, Austrian Pine, Kentucky Coffee Tree, New Zealand Spinach and Mexican Marigold.

But how are the rest of plants named?

On Feb 21 at the Tulsa Garden Center, the owner of the Antique Rose Emporium, G. Michael Shoup, told the audience how many of his roses were named.

Over the years, as Shoup, his staff and the Rose Rustlers of Texas went to old homesteads and graveyards taking cuttings to preserve historic plants. They rejuvenate old plants, meet gardeners, and try to grow the old varieties in their greenhouses. Since the roses have been out of production for many decades, they named them as they went.

"Old Gay Hill China" was named after the town where they found it and "Highway 290 Pink Buttons" was named for the location where it was found.

Cytisus scoparius Burkwoodii, commonly known as Burkwood’s Broom is named for Albert and Arthur Burkwood, brothers who were plantsmen in England in the 1900s.

Jane Bath discovered a clove-scented garden pink growing in her neighbor’s yard in Georgia. She took cuttings and gave some to Goodness Grows nursery and the owners named it Dianthus Bath’s Pink. Bath now has her own nursery at Landarts.com

Luther Burbank was the inspiration for the rose named Rosa Burbank. In his lifetime Burbank raised and crossed many roses but he is most famous for the disease resistant potato he hybridized, the Burbank.

Walker’s Low Nepeta or catmint, was found in an English public garden in the town of Walker’s Low.

Henry and Sally Fuller planted gardens full of Phlox. They found one white one in a sea of blue and purple. After digging the plant and growing it they shared cuttings and it became known as Phlox divaricata Fuller’s White.

Arp Beauty Peach is a hybrid from turn-of-the-century Arp, Texas. Madalene Hill Rosemary is named for the woman who found the cold hardy plant, Rosmarinus officinalis Madaline Hill. Hill also discovered Arp Rosemary.

Wall Street Journal garden columnist Allen Lacy discovered an unusual New England aster in his neighborhood. White Flower Farm introduced the plant, Aster Hella Lacy, named for Mrs. Lacy who was known to do the gardening at their home. See:http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/allen_lacy/index.html.

A French rose breeder planted the Peace Rose from a single seed in 1939. Fearing its destruction in WWII, Francis Meilland sent seedlings to growers in Italy, Germany and the U.S. It was presented to all 49 delegates at the first United Nations on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

An employee at Juniper Hill Nursery in Tulsa discovered a new rosemary hybrid growing among the nursery pots. They named it Dorothy in honor of the employee’s grandmother.

Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle is probably the most widely planted variety. Joseph McDaniel, on the faculty of the University of IL found out that the hydragnea was originally discovered in 1910 at a gardener’s home in the town of Anna, IL

Veronica Goodness Grows is an introduction from Goodness Grows Nursery (www.goodnessgrows.com). Owners Marc Richardson and Rick Berry found the new variety growing near Veronica aplina and Veronica spicata. It has also been named Becky and Ryan’s Daisy.

Frank N. Meyer, a plant explorer discovered the now famous Meyer’s lemon. After wandering European gardens, Meyer went to Turkestan, China and Manchuria on behalf of The Department of Agriculture. Meyer is responsible for introducing 2,500 plants now grown in American gardens.

Discover more at www.plantexplorers.com and “Legends In the Garden” by Linda L Copeland and Allan M. Armitage, 2001, Wings Publisher. Short biographies are listed at http://members.tripod.com/~Hatch_L/bioh.html.

26 February 2009

Going Green

Go green and reduce your footprint on the planet.

The Quincy Illinois Library has added a link on their website called "Going Green" and I am so impressed by their consciousness. Check it out here and let me know if your library is as forward thinking as this one.

And, speaking of green solutions, my friend Sharon Owen let me know she was ordering Lady Beetles (Hippodamia convergens) to release in her organic greenhouse at Moonshadow Herb Farm. And, I ordered with her to split the shipping costs.

There were 1,500 in the bag. At least that's what it says.

As soon as I cut open the bag they started coming out to eat all those pesky aphids.

The stuff in the bag was shredded and the little buggers were all through it.

It's been 75 and 80 here but it's still cold up north. Sharon tried to order the Lady Bugs from Gardens Alive but they can't ship while it's still so cold.

So, she contacted a place in California, Tip Top Bio Control, and they sent them.
While the bugs were under $10 the two-day shipping was over $35.00. Yikes and that was for plain old U.S. Postal Service.

We released some and put the rest in the refrigerator to release over the next two weeks.

And there will be babies.

Stone Farming Under Trees to Have Spring Daffodils

Yesterday was a treat for gardeners who had the time to be outside working and playing.

It was one of those late-February spring teasers: 80 degrees, no wind and lots of sun. Two nights of 26-degrees are coming this weekend according to the weather people. Back to late February reality.

In our neighborhood, two other families were outside enjoying the weather and making new gardens.

Several years ago a friend gave me a 3-ring binder 1950s Better Homes and Gardens gardening book. It had a picture of a back yard daffodil bed that resembled this photo.

I liked the look but wondered where they got the stones.

We lived in Northern California at the time and basically we could stick a plant in the ground and it would grow.

Of course, in northeast Oklahoma, every time we dig a hole to put a plant in place, we are actually stone farming.

We remove and stack the stones on the side of the slope so we can plant under the trees.

Gardening here solved two previous mysteries:
1) Why line beds with stacks of stones and 2) Where do you get all those stones?

1) To hold the soil when you live on a hill and 2) They come out of the ground when you live on a hill in the Ozark Plateau.

A person can learn a lot by gardening.

23 February 2009

Order Vegetables In Advance - Muskogee Area

If you live in the Muskogee OK area and want to pre-order your vegetable starts, you have one week left to order from Blossoms Garden Center.
Send no money, just your order. Pay when you pick up your plants.

You can print off your order from this list and mail it to Blossom’s Garden Center, P.O. Box 2462, Muskogee, OK 74402
You can fax your order to 1-877-296-2685

Or, since you are reading this online, click here and order online.

Does this not beat driving to Tulsa, Ardmore, Ft. Smith and everywhere else to get the varieties you want? I can't believe no one else thought of it!

Orders must be in multiples of 10. For example 10, 20, 30, 40, 50. 50 is the maximum order.

They need your contact information to let you know when the plants arrive.
Required Information:
Full Name ___________________________
Street Address ________________________
City, State, Zip ________________________
Email Address ________________________
Phone # ______________________________
(We will email you a confirmation and a pickup notice)

____ Canteloupe Superstar

____ Cucumber - Burpless Sweet Slice
­­­____ Cucumber - Pickle Regal High Yield
____ Cucumber - Slicer Poinsett
____ Eggplant - Classic
____ Eggplant - Ichiban
____ Eggplant - Louisiana Long Green
____ Eggplant - Rosa Blanca Heirloom
____ Okra Clemson's Spineless
____ Squash - Yellow Straight Neck
____ Squash - Crook Neck
____ Squash - Zucchini
____ Squash - Zucchini Eight Ball
____ Watermelon - Black Diamond
____ Watermelon - Crimson Sweet

___ Ozark Beauty Everbearing

____ Anaheim
____ Bell Chocolate Beauty
­­­____ Bell Green Jupiter
____ Bell Green Parks Whopper
____ Bell Purple Beauty
____ Bell Red Beauty
____ Bell Yellow
____ Cayenne
____ Chile - Big Jim
____ Hot Banana
____ Jalapeno
____ Serrano
____ Sweet Banana
____ Tam Jalapeno
____ Tiberon (Poblano)

____ Beefmaster
____ Better Boy
­­­____ Black Krim Heirloom
____ Brandywine Heirloom
____ Celebrity
____ Cherokee Purple Heirloom
____ Early Girl
____ Health Kick
____ Jetstar
____ Jubilee Heirloom
____ Lemon Boy
____ Mr. Stripey Heirloom
____ Old German Heirloom
____ Orange Oxcart Heirloom
____ Parks Whopper
____ Red Grape
____ Roma
____ Super Bush
____ Sweet 100
____ Traveler 76
____ Yellow Pear Heirloom

All plants are in individual 4 inch round containers.
Prices are $17.90 + tax per tray.

If you are mailing this order form, mail to Blossom’s Garden Center, P.O. Box 2462, Muskogee, OK 74402. You may fax your order to 1-877-296-2685. Pre-book online at WWW.BLOSSOMSGC.COM. Pre-book deadline is March 1.

22 February 2009

Garden With Children, Families, Neighbors and Friends

Sixty people came out on Saturday for the Community Gardening Education Event at Muskogee Public Library.
Participants represented churches, neighborhoods, communities, schools and civic groups. All are interested in knowing how they can pitch in. Whether growing food strictly for consumption or to involve children in the wonders of knowing where their food comes from, each is passionate about getting started.
Everyone indicated an interest in sharing part of what they grow.
Photo: Bruce Edwards
Keynote speaker, Bruce Edwards from Urban Harvest, Food Bank of Oklahoma City, has been instrumental in helping start as well as work with dozens of community gardens. His enthusiasm for growing gardens with groups is contagious.
The panel included: Rodney King - OSU Extension, Kim Walton - Walton Farms, Julie Gahn - Tahlequah community gardens, George Driever - OSU Extension
Gardeners had an opportunity to hear from each of these experienced gardeners and ask gardening questions. Their topics were soil health, weed control, irrigation, insect and plant disease control.
Photo: Dr. J. Baker
Dr. Baker is the medical advisor to the project as well as an enthusiastic cheerleader. His wife, Cindy is active on the Wellness Committee.
Photo: Doug Walton
Doug Walton, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Muskogee Farmer's Market and Waltons Farm, was the right person to talk to members of the group who wanted to know more about selling what they grow.
Photo: Martha Alford
Alford, Health Educator for Muskogee County Health Department, is an enthusiastic and tireless worker for the Wellness Initiative.
Photo: Demalda Newsome
Edwards joined Newsome for the final presentation of the day. Newsome energized everyone in the room with her passion for gardening with families, children and neighborhoods.
Newsome Community Farms works with neighborhoods and families in North Tulsa. They now have a farmer's market in North Tulsa thanks to Newsome's group.

AND Thank you!
to these generous companies who contributed product samples to the goodie bags participants received.

All in all the day was a great success. I predict this will lead to several community gardens in the Muskogee area as well as more workshops to help gardeners learn to be more successful.

20 February 2009

Propagation and Seed Starting from Friends of Honor Heights Park

Photo: A forest of seedlings grown from one handful of whole black lentils picked up at an ethnic grocery store.
Idea: Don't Throw It Grow It by Deborah Peterson Storey Publishing

Friends of Honor Heights Park meeting 1:00 Saturday Feb 28
"Making More Plants" workshop 2 to 4 following the meeting
Location: New nature education classroom in the old bath house at Honor Heights Park
All materials provided. Free to members; $10 non-members
More information: Martha Stoodley 918.683.2373
The Friends of Honor Heights Park will hold a meeting 1:00 on Saturday, February 28 at the new nature education classrooms at the park.

From 2 to 4 following the business meeting, two gardeners will teach a workshop, Making More Plants. The public is invited to attend both the meeting and the workshop.

Learning how to grow your own plants is a fun and budget-wise activity worth learning. And, February is a great month to start, since cuttings made now can be grown into plants before summer.

Planting seeds is sexual reproduction of plants since seeds are the result of the genes of two plants being brought together when bees, wind and rain pollinate them.

Most of the time we remove our plant’s opportunity to produce seed. For example, when you cut flowers for a bouquet, harvest lettuce for the table, or remove spent flowers so your roses will continue to bloom.

Taking stem, root or leaf cuttings and using them to grow identical plants is called asexual, or vegetative, reproduction. Plants that are easily grown from cuttings include petunia, begonia, jade, elderberry, ivy, grape, poplar, etc.

Workshop participants will learn the basics of both types of propagation. They will plant seeds and make cuttings to take home and grow. All materials are provided.

The class is free to Friends of Honor Heights Park and $10 for non-members.

You can also join that day. Membership in Friends is $25 Individual, $35 Family and $100 and above for Donors.

Please pre-register so there are enough materials for everyone. Register by email - Honorheightsfriends@gmail.com or by telephone Martha Stoodley 918.683.2373.

18 February 2009

Don't Throw It Grow It by Deborah Peterson

An old fashioned-new method of budget-wise growing is found in Don't Throw It, Grow It: 68 Windowsill Plants from Kitchen Scraps, by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsam.

In their entertaining book, Peterson and Selsam present the ultimate recycling approach to making more plants – using kitchen waste. A basic introduction covers what plants need (water, heat, light, air), and how to combat bugs. Then the fun begins.

The plants you learn about growing from seeds and scraps include common vegetables and exotic fruits from ethnic markets.

Easy to find possibilities include: Almonds, lentils, kiwi, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, celery and mustard seed. Many of the exotics are available in Tulsa at Nam Hai (1924 S Garnett) and Whole Foods (1401 E. 41st).

The U.S. government irradiates all foreign produce, killing their ability to reproduce. That explains why my recent effort to sprout avocado pits and ginger did not work but planting the roots of used salad onions did.

Don't Throw It, 150-pages, Storey Books, 1-800-441-5700 and at http://www.storey.com/.
$8 at on line booksellers.

From the Storey site, Peterson's bio
"Deborah Peterson has spent the last 40 years in a wide variety of horticultural pursuits. She was a founder of The Manhattan Orchid Society, a founder of the Rare Pit & Plant Council, and the editor of their newsletter The Pits for 25 years. She has contributed to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbooks, lectured extensively on gardening with pits, seaside gardening, herbs, orchids, and ecumenical gardening. Deborah is the proprietor of Landmark Landscaping."

I tried to find the pits newsletters and they only go up to 2004 online so the newsletter may no longer be around.

Storey Books publishes quite a few fun and interesting titles. Click over to take a look.

17 February 2009

Oh, Hellebores

Want an excuse to travel to Virginia? Is a Hellebore Festival temptation enough? Here is the announcement I received by email this morning.

Hellebore Festival 2009
This year we will offer a larger number of companion plants for hellebores than ever before. We will have Cyclamen and other surprises from John Lonsdale's Edgewood Gardens, this year John will be here to help answer questions. http://www.edgewoodgardens.net/

Asiatica in Virginia?
Yes! This year Barry Yinger from Asiatica Nursery will bring down a tempting selection of Arisaemas and other special plants to tempt our customers. http://www.asiaticanursery.com/index.cfm?

Once again there will be a few special Hepaticas from the Japanese nursery of our friend Takayuki Miura http://www3.tokai.or.jp/yumehanabito/

For the last few years the popular mail order nursery Plant Delights near Raleigh NC has been opening in conjunction with our festival weekends. They offer a most tempting list of plants.

Two other superb mail-order nurseries, Camellia Forest and Niche Gardens near Chapel Hill NC are also open. We provide maps to all these places so our customers can make the rounds.

We will have potted small bulbs, Galanthus, Crocus and species Narcissus as well as the fragrant shrubs Daphne and Edgeworthia. We will be featuring four different clones of H. niger and H. xericsmithii, H foetidus and of course thousands of blooming Lenten Roses in three different sizes this year!

Each year we open our nursery, gardens and Stock House to hellebore lovers from all over the country. We often see the early birds wandering around the garden when we are making the coffee at 7:30 although the sale does not open till 10:00 am. Those folks are first in line for the rare and unusual.

This year's dates are Saturday February 28 and also Friday March 6 & Saturday March 7 from 10 am to 4 pm.

There will be many, many surprises this year, so plan to come and see for yourself. Because they were so popular we will be offering blooming hellebores in several sizes again this year. Tempting double and single flowering Helleborus x hybridus, the popular Lenten Rose, species and interspecies hybrids blooming both in our tunnels and in the gardens. Unlike many nurseries, our plants are bred and grown here at the farm in unheated tunnels and freeze every night the temperatures do and are hardy enough to travel to colder climates without undue stress.

If the weather is kind and the sun warms the Edgeworthias and Daphnes the fragrance of Spring greets visitors as they leave their cars. On cold or rainy days the aroma of coffee from the urns in our large shipping house is almost as welcoming. We are always grateful to our friends and family who flock in from fields afar to help us on these days. We quite honestly and literally could not have these events without them. Many of you now recognize our son Richard and his partner our son-in-law Jamie who run the registers, our daughter Helen who answers questions, our son-in-law Greg and grandson Josh who ferry plants to the parking area. My mother and our granddaughter Ruth help keep the coffee urns and pastry tables stocked.

At other times of the year we welcome visitors by appointment. We are a small nursery and do not staff full time retail department. For while we are 18 miles from I85 we are located in a very rural section of Virginia surrounded by water and North Carolina. As you drive to the farm it is a bit like driving back in time, JOIN US!

Dick, Judith and the crew at PKF
Bring a copy of this email for a free plant!
phone 434-252-1990

The event sounds very nice no matter what the weather and obviously will appeals to lots of plant lovers.
What I find amusing is that nowhere is there a name or an address for the nursery sponsoring the events. Other nurseries in the area are listed with web links but the host nursery is called only PKF.

16 February 2009

First True Leaves

These are our sugar snap peas coming up. They go outside in the sun and wind on most days. It's still below freezing this morning so I think I'll wait till after breakfast when I won't risk losing their heads.
Also the rainbow chard babies have to go out today so they are strong enough to pass on to adoptive parents at the community gardening event on the 21st. Some of them have their first true leaves.

Is this not the most exciting part of growing seeds?

Sunset Magazine is a "must read" on the west coast, much as Southern Living is required reading in the south, mid-south, upper south, etc.

Fresh Dirt, a Sunset blog, recommends bright yellow flowers for cheering up the country in this time of bad news. Read all about Renee's baby powder scented wallflowers, Erysimum perovskianum, here at Fresh Dirt's entry.

Photo: Our backyard cheerful yellow daff.

Treading Lighter on the Beaten Path has a link to a carbon footprint calculator. Even I could figure out how to use it - before breakfast. Click over and see how your usage compares.

After you go through the process of entering your usage information on the tabs, it tells you how your usage compares with the usage of others and worldwide goals.

When you click on the how to offset your emissions button, they give you 4 options for sending in money. The main page and the Reduce Your Carbon Emissions (2) button has a list of suggestions though.

Is it warm yet?

15 February 2009

A Cold Wind from the North

Our lurch toward spring was interrupted today. Yesterday it was 68 and today it's 40, windy and rainy.
Some of the plants outside don't care about the weather. As you can see the raised bed full of garlic is making enough healthy sprouts to top a salad or a bowl of soup.
The wildlife is active emptying all the bird feeders every day.

The garden shed is stuffed with little seedlings popping up and plants growing into planting size.
Sugar snap or sugar pea seeds were planted in trays with individual cells. They will be ready to put out with rabbit proof fencing, the next warm day.

My sister also reminds me that it's time to plant beet, turnip and pea seeds, too.
The next warm day......

Yesterday, in addition to pulling leaves off the daffodils and tulips, I weeded one bed. This is a great time of year to dig and divide perennials so I removed a daylily, divided it and put the pieces in two other beds. Usually the scraps of root left behind make a nice new plant - you don't have to leave any big pieces if you have plans for the bulk of the plant.

The bridal wreath Spirea needs to be divided, too .... the next warm day.

Now that forsythias are starting to bloom, it would be a good time to bring some branches inside and put them in warm water to bloom indoors. Other candidates for blooming inside include branches of lilac, crab apple, redbud and flowering quince.

Is it still freezing where you are? I'm ready for spring!

12 February 2009

Community Gardens Raise Spirits

Photo: Ruby Chard, Violas, parsley and ivy combined in a planter at Ft. Worth Botanical Garden

Bruce Edwards, keynote speaker for Muskogee's Feb 21 community gardening event, is an experienced and enthusiastic community gardening coordinator. For the past five years, Edwards has been the Urban Harvest director for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

The ten year old program got started to support and sustain Oklahoma City community gardens in churches, schools and neighborhoods. Edwards said.

At Urban Harvest Edwards works with volunteers to develop new gardens and sustain established ones. There is a list of their garden locations at http://www.regionalfoodbank.org/communitygardenlocations.

Just like gardening, community gardens start with the seed of ideas, hopes, and dreams, Edwards said. Plant those in fertile minds so they can blossom and fruit.

One of the topics Edwards will cover in his talk on the 21st is how to organize a group of people and establish goals, roles and desires. Each garden will need a moderator to keep the effort going.

A strong nucleus of people is key to success, Edwards said. The coordinator helps the group keep focused and moving forward.

Edwards is bringing with him materials to help groups understand what rules and policies will structure their effort whether your goal is growing for your neighborhood or to give to the hungry.

They start by talking to potential members and inviting them to participate, said Edwards. Then, plan meetings, have a ground breaking event and invite everyone to come share the excitement.

Gardens close to where members live are more likely to be weeded, watered and harvested in the heat of the summer.

One of the gardens I work with is managed by a group of senior citizens in Noble who got local business folks to pay for the cost of building the original garden beds through financial and material donations, Edwards said. They are in their 70s and 80s but were able to grow and sell enough yellow pear tomatoes last year to build eight more growing beds for 2009. An Eagle Scout built their fence to earn his badge.

We like the gardens to have vegetables, herbs and flowers, Edwards said. Flowers attract beneficial insects but also make the gardens a nice addition to the neighborhood.

Often garden centers donate unsold plant materials to distribute to the community gardens. Edwards grows and distributes thousands of seedlings every year in the Urban Harvest Greenhouse.

Community gardens create more than vegetables, herbs and flowers, Edwards said. They create community. Senior citizen to youth relationships develop as seniors share their knowledge of where food comes from and how to grow it. It's generational.

After Edwards' opening talk, there will be presentations on basic gardening skills, growing for farmer's market and gardening with youth and children.

Basic gardening panelists include: Kim Walton of Walton Farms, George Driever, Virginia Stanley and Rodney King from Muskogee OSU Extension.

Doug Walton, Kerr Center and Muskogee Farmer’s Market will teach growing to sell.

Edwards and Demalda Newsome from Newsome Community Farms in Tulsa (http://www.newsomecommunityfarms.org) will present information about gardening with youth and children.

Registration: 918-683-0321, City Health Department, Martha Alford, martha@health.ok.gov or Doug Walton, doug. Walton@suddenlink.net and 918-686-6939.

Please provide your name, telephone, email and the number in your group who will attend, so there are enough materials for everyone.

Community Gardening Event, Feb 21 9:15 to 12:30, Muskogee Public Library, Information and registration: Muskogee Health Department 918-683-0321, Martha Alford, martha@health.ok.gov or Doug Walton, doug.Walton@suddenlink.net and 918-686-6939

11 February 2009

Newsy Tidbits

At Honor Heights Park, the home of Muskogee's annual Azalea Festival, the azaleas are looking pretty good despite an ice storm last week and tornado-carrying storms last night.

I walked the park and it looks much like our yard with limbs and branches down on the paths. It will take a crew a few days to clean it up.
Think they would come to our yard next? Me, either.

The newsletter of the Tulsa Cactus and Succulent Society says their next meeting is March 5 at the Tulsa Garden Center. The newsletter includes recipes for cactus scrambled eggs and chicken cactus chili. More information contact J. W. Keeth, email jwkeeth@hughes.net

Renee's has new seeds for 2009. New bonus packaging, too. Here are some highlights for you fellow seed starters.
- Bonus packs for butterfly gardens and hummingbird gardens
- 15 new varieties: Summer Peaches Alyssum, Scented Gold Fragrant Wallflower, Ruby and Emerald Duet Container Lettuce ..... Here is a link to the catalog - I can't stop ordering seeds so my latest order included the Summer Peaches Alyssum.

Beginning Floral Design is being offered at the local community college, Connors State. Basic principles, line designs, arrangement types, and flower types. Students will make and take home an arrangement every week. Contact the instructor Debby Golden at 918.463.6265. If you are 65 or older it's free!

10 February 2009

Grocery Store Wars on You Tube

The Garden Lady, C.L. Fornari posted this link to the Garden Writers online conversation tonight.

You have to see this video. Enjoy the Grocery Store Wars on You Tube.
This afternoon I took a stroll in the back yard to see how many daffodils were showing. Along the back fence everywhere I removed the heavy oak leaf mulch there were clusters of yellow-green daffodil stems. Some were just barely peeking out and others were two inches tall.

In the newer beds that weren't heavily mulched, the stems are at least two inches tall and dark green. Yellow and white crocus are blooming here and there and dozens more will bloom as the weather cooperates.

Photo: White Garden, Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, March 2008

The garden shed is a glorious mess of planted seed trays, seedlings, plants that overwintered and now are producing fresh spring leaves.

Our friends, Lora and Matthew Weatherbee, owners of Blossom's Garden Center, got me a large heat mat so this year we have pepper seedlings up and making me optimistic about a summer full of grilled vegetable sandwiches.

One of the many blogs I peruse is The Slow Cook. Ed Bruske, the author in D.C. gave readers the scoop on an online service of the USDA's collection of soil data.

Their online tool is "Web Soil Survey" which allows you to enter an address and pull up all kinds of information on the soil in your area, including organic content, pH, and whether it rates as suitable for growing food.

I went to the site and spent 20-minutes messing around though I think our location is low on the kind of information available for other areas of the country. Click here to see what you can find out about your location. Thanks to Bruske for the scoop.

There are two native plant nurseries I know of that sell a variety of habitat, bird, butterfly and Mother Earth friendly stock for the home gardener.

Click to see the online catalog of Munchkin Nursery and Gardens
Click to see the online catalog of Pine Ridge Gardens

Here's a link to the column I wrote last year about Pine Ridge and its owner, Mary Ann King, whom I like and respect.

It's time to put natives in the ground so when the butterflies arrive they will have a happy home at your place.

Mary Ann is offering the book, "Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy. It is a must read for plant lovers. Here's a link to the column I wrote about the book.

What's peeking out of the cold soil where you are?

07 February 2009

What a Great Day

Today the Oklahoma Native Plant Society had an event at the Tulsa Garden Center. We bought one of these bird feeders made from a recycled tire. Here's the resource: Clear Creek Farm and Gardens: no website. Loretta and Kirk Bowers, P.O. Box 89, Peggs, OK 74452. (918) 598-3782. Ccreek@chouteautel.com. Native plant nursery featuring eastern Oklahoma trees, shrubs and perennials; butterfly gardens; prairie fields; undisturbed woodlands; springs. More than 125 species of trees, shrubs, vines and perennials are planted in wildlife gardens, butterfly nectar gardens, butterfly host plant gardens, herb and rose gardens, and vegetable gardens.

On their display table, there was this very nice planter full of vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Wild Things Nursery was at the event with a table full of plants. Over the past few years, I have bought several plants for the shade, for the sun, for the butterflies. They have all thrived and continued to come back year after year so today I bought a few more. I told Marilyn Stewart from Wild Things that I'm glad I didn't know they would be there or I would have made a list in advance.
Contact information is 405-382-8540 or e-mail us at wtnursery@yahoo.com
Here's the scoop on Wild Things from their site.
Our goal and mission is to produce plants native to Oklahoma and beneficial to wildlife. We have a special emphasis on plants which support butterflies, moths and other pollinators.
We are a small Oklahoma nursery and because we do not have a brick and mortar location, we sell through farmer’s markets and herb shows. Where they will be this year is on their site - the green link above.

So, neither of these businesses have a location and sell when and where you find them.
Sustainable Oklahoma's site identifies dozens of resources of interest of nature lovers.
To top off the day, it was 70 when we came home so all the plants we bought went in the ground.
That's a great day.

06 February 2009

Flowers are Sexy

Iowa State University horticulture newsletter has a great explanation of just how sexual reproduction impacts fruits, vegetables and berries.

Horticulture and Home Pest News is a product of the Extension Service. Here's an excerpt from the article by By Cindy Haynes, Department of Horticulture:

Monoecious and Dioecious
These botanical terms are terms used to describe the reproductive behavior of some plants.
Perfect in a botanical sense means that each flower has both male and female parts in the same structure. Lilies, roses, and apple flowers are perfect.
Monoecious plants
have male flowers and female flowers in separate structures on the same plant.
Mono means one – and monoecious is literally one house.
The same plant houses different flowers – some being male the others being female. Squash is monoecious. If you take a close look at squash flowers you can soon tell which are female because they have a tiny fruit at the base.
For obvious reasons, the male flowers don't. Knowing that only the female flowers produce fruit and that only 50% of the flowers on squash are female can save some heartache when all the flowers on the plant don't produce fruit.

Dioecious plants
house the male and female flowers on different plants.
The plant has separate male/female flowers. They have male plants with only male flowers and female plants with only female flowers.
Hollies and asparagus are dioecious.
Since only the female plants can produce the fruit, hollies must have a male plant and a female plant in close proximity.
Male holly plants are often given masculine names like Southern Gentleman, Jim Dandy, or 'Blue Prince. In the landscape, one or two male hollies are often tucked behind the female hollies to ensure pollination and fruit set and to hide the male plants that don't produce the showy fruit.

The male cultivars of asparagus are more popular with gardeners than the females because the male spears are larger— they don't waste any effort on fruit production.
Male plants can also be neater. Male ash trees don't produce the canoe paddle-like fruits of the females. Male trees of Kentucky Coffeetree, Cork Tree, and Ginkgo are popular for the same reason, i.e. no messy fruit.

03 February 2009

What Is Gardening On A Budget?

OK, the dilemma is that there will be fewer vacations taken away from home this year. So, we all have to fix up our front and back yards for those stay at home vacations.
And, we want to put in a few vegetables for the table, herbs for the salad bowl and flowers to cheer up the home space. Then there are pots of lush greenery we need to decorate front and back porch, patio, deck. So, what are you going to do to accomplish all that and stay within your budget?

In Sydney, Australia at the Botanic Garden they are celebrating the Chinese New Year by featuring some of the plants from China. Kung Hei Fat Choy – Happy New Year.
At their site, you will find nine plant databases at this link - the main one is PlantNET. Scroll down that page to the 4 link icons and research your heart out!
The photo below was posted onto the Trillium list tonight. You can view Trillium and Woodland Plant section of the FloraPix Gallery at http://florapix.nl/trillium-L Enjoy!

02 February 2009

February 2009 Warming UP

Well, I don't know about you, but I've been out in the sun the past two days. Only for a couple of hours, mind you, but wearing a jacket pulling weeds, planting seeds and getting some sun.
Even the trays of baby plants in the shed got to come out for a sunbath both days. Ahhhh. It will be spring.

If you don't subscribe to the UCB daily plant email ,Botany Photo of the Day, you are missing out on an email that will cheer you on a cold day. Today's photo is here. I tried to post the picture of the Buddha's Hand but Blogger wouldn't upload it.

Mackey Books has a book called Plant Notes that is for the collectors in your life. Or, for you if you are a plant collector.

Each page from page 11 through 138 is for a description of a plant in your collection. You just jot down the common name, genus, species, description of your beloved beauties and end up with a journal that would be the envy of anyone who wants to know more about your garden. Plus you will have a reference for next year when you can't quite recall all those details. $10 at the link above.

The crocus are peeking up now that the snow and ice are melting. Take a look at the
Crocus Pages at The Alpine House. The photos will make you want to plant lots more crocus next fall.

I hope your garden is starting to peek out green tips and crocus flowers, too.

If you have a little book shopping energy, check out the American Nurseryman sale here.

Oh, and today is the day for the Link Latte at Dark Roasted Blend. Lots of interesting and unusual things to see.

01 February 2009

Indoor Green Stream at the Modern

We visited The Modern while we were in Fort Worth. The outer walls of this museum are floor to ceiling glass overlooking water. Window seating in the restaurant is an experience we can recommend. So is the cuisine!

One of the art installations was an indoor green stream. I'm showing you this to encourage those who think you can never succeed with an indoor green water feature. What do you think?
Hubby - the art major - on the left.

The artist is Felix Gonzales-Torres a Cuban born American.
And, here is a closeup of "Untitled"