Showing posts from March, 2009

End of March in the Woodland Beds

What could announce spring more completely than Trilliums?

Three or four times a week I have been out there, crouched over the bed. They emerged and I whooped. They leafed out, buds formed and I couldn't believe it. Now they are opening. It's a thrill, I tell you.Here's a site with good Trillium links if you want to learn more about them.

They are so beautiful.

About two and a half years ago I subscribed to the Trillium-L to begin to learn about them. Much of the conversation is over my head but I keep reading. Click here to go to the Trillium-L Discussion List where there are clicks to a photo gallery and identification help.

In the course of reading the discussion, I mentioned that I didn't have any for our woodland beds. A generous soul sent me a box and I planted them in what I had learned would help them succeed.

And, look at the Trout Lily he sent as an additional gift.
Gardeners are, for the most part, the most amazing and generous people. Are your favorite plants co…

Friends of Honor Heights Park Butterfly Gardening Workshop 3.28.09

The late fall pre-freeze caterpillars gathered from our parsley and dill, grew and made chrysalis in the garden shed, emerged as butterflies and lived in their box in the shed for a week or more.
We had them at the Friends of Honor Heights Park butterfly workshop on Saturday.

Friends of Honor Heights Park 501(c)3 was formed to raise money to construct a new project and then provide money to upgrade existing park features.

Matthew Weatherbee gave an overview of the Teaching Gardens and Butterfly House plans. The new education center has wonderful floor to ceiling glass.
(The glass company has not sealed the gaps in the corners so cold air floods the room on these snowy freezing rain days!)

But look! the ceiling tiles are in, the lights work and Hix got the heat going in time.
I gave the butterfly gardening talk. Friends members brought refreshments, planted pots of seedlings to give away, and, contributed handouts for attendees Raymond from Muskogee Parks and Recreation showed up on a Satur…

Moonshadow Herb Farm Opening Weekend April 4 and 5

Moonshadow Herb Farm Open House
Saturday April 4, 10 to 4 and Sunday April 5 noon to 3
3500 South Country Club Rd
Contact: Sharon Owen 918-687-6765

Growing herbs on a windowsill or in a garden bed is a good choice for both experienced and novice gardeners. They enjoy the heat of our summers, produce flowers for butterflies and make delicious additions to tea, soups and salads.

Next weekend, Sharon Owen will hold her seasonal open house at Moonshadow Herb Farm.

For Owen, the season goes all year, since she starts taking cuttings in the fall and plants herb seeds as early as January. By the time of the open house she has plants ready for your kitchen.

“I have lots of Stevia, Lemon Verbena, Hardy Sweet Marjoram, 7 varieties of Basil, 3 types of Parsley, Madeline Hill hardy Rosemary, Provence Lavender and French Tarragon,” Owen said.

She also has dill, chives, parsley, cilantro and fennel. Owen said the tender herbs should not be planted outside until after April 15.

“The plant…

Sunset Plant Finder Goes Live Online

Whether or not you have subscribed to Sunset Magazine or bought their big fat reference books, you can now click to a new online Plant Finder.

For decades, Sunset has been a go-to source for all things plant related. Monrovia is the sponsor of this new database.

I'll just quote the press release from here
"grows out of our best-selling series of plant encyclopedias, which include the Sunset Western Garden Book, National Garden Book, Northeastern Garden Book, and Southern Living Garden Book.

At launch, the Plant Finder lists about 2,000 plants—enough to make this a serious reference tool, but with plenty of room to grow (the Western Garden Book, in comparison, covers about 6,000 plants). We’re literally adding more entries every day.

You can search the database by plant name, type, or characteristics, all keyed to your climate zone. Plants that answer you search show up in list form, and you can select any of them to learn more (see sample screen below).

Try it - click here

And we…

Be in the Garden Instead of Do in the Garden

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is an adopted or pen name of the Japanese writer and Haiku poet. His most famous work, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North", is considered a high point in Japanese literature.
That work was written on a walking trip taken in 1689. Basho had been studying Zen Buddhism and felt that the demands of the world were closing in on him so he packed a few belongings and set out on a 1200 mile stroll. Age 45 at the time, he said he "felt the breezes of the afterlife" and wanted to visit literary and religious places.

His goal for the trip was to become a hyohakusha or one who moves without direction. It was a spiritual journey, though he continued to teach along the way.

When we go for a walk in a beautiful park without the pressure of time or when we wander through our own garden, looking, watching, observing, enjoying, appreciating, we have an opportunity to become a hyohakusha for a little while.

Make time for some goal free enjoyment of nature. It is …

Rhapsody In Green - the Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverly Nichols

Roy Dicks read and studied Beverly Nichols (1898-1983) with a passion. Dicks pulled together the best quotes from Nichols' garden writing and Timber Press put them into a volume that I have enjoyed reading.

It can be read by flipping to a page and enjoying one or two quotes. Or, my favorite: Lying on the bed reading page after page.

Nichols was a writer of 60 books and plays including mystery novels and short stories, books about travel and religion and children's books. His gardening books remain timeless contributions to all of us.

Quotes from "Rhapsody in Green" ($12 at Amazon )

"The sweet fragrance of the flowers gives to the mind an amiability in which the most fanciful conceptions flower freely."

"The Regal Lilies do indeed praise the Lord. Some of my own, last summer, were so exultant that they praised Him through no less than thirty snow-white trumpets on a single stem, and even the most accomplished angel could not do much better than that."


Late March Blossoms

Crabapple (Malus) Prairiefire has the reputation for being the most disease resistant crabapple variety so we put one in about 5 years ago.
It is coming into its own this year with more flowers than ever before.
This variety has bird fruit but not the size crabapples I remember from my childhood. Those were large enough that country women would preserve the fruit for the holidays.

When I called in my late fall bulb order to Touch of Nature, owners Bert and Ingrid Bagwell added a few extras to the box they sent.

It was enough to make a narrow bed of them where we could enjoy them while working in and around the shed and vegetable garden.

Daffodils are not available to order today. but if you click here, you can see the varieties T of N has available.
This orange and yellow one is new to me this year. Fortissmo is its name and it is huge!

The little blue Scilla Tubergeniana flowers are from the same source. What you see coming up on the ground around the Scilla is poppies - I planted hundreds…

Spilanthes for Hot Spot Edging, Plus A Medicinal and Butterfly Garden Plant

Tired of the same old petunias and zinnias? How about Eyeball Spilanthes?
The Eyeball flower has been in the seed catalogs for a few years and looks so cute, that this year I bought seeds from Garden Medicinals and Culinaries.
The flowers are described as olive shaped. They come in pink-burgundy and yellow-orange color combinations.The germination rate of my indoor seed sowing is impressive and so far I have about 60-tiny seedlings. A Zone 10 native of South America and Africa, this humidity and heat loving plant grows to about one-foot tall, blooms until the first hard freeze and is said to make great cut flowers that last for several days in the vase.
my seedlings this morning
Herbalists refer to the plant as the toothache plant because chewing the leaves will numb gums after the chemicals first make your tongue tingle. Tinctures are used for earaches, immunity boosting, Lyme disease and malaria.

For a thorough coverage of the plant's benefits click on Cove Rock Farm Life blog writte…

Even Barbie and Ken Garden

Irvin Etienne, Horticultural Display Coordinator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, did his 3-20 blog entry on Barbie and Ken in the garden.

A quote from the blog entry,
"But what is the secret to that never aging body, everything firm and still in place? Believe it or not it’s gardening. Yes folks, gardening. Sure she’s all glamor and pearls but she’s also all mulching and pruning.
On a recent spring day Barbie invited me to her posh estate, Pink Glitter Farms, for a look at her incredible gardens."

Here's the link. It's great fun what with Barbie riding a pink flamingo and winning the race.

Etienne's profile says he has chickens and rabbits as pets, gardens and bakes as hobbies. Oh, and you'll like this: his favorite foods are butter, bacon, sugar and brown sugar.

Thanks to the Hoosier Gardener, jo ellen meyers sharp, for tipping me off to Entienne's blog. Enjoy.

To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize; That Is the Question Dear Gardeners

Shakespeare's Hamlet said "To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? "
Is it nobler to give your plants some food before they turn yellow and appear to be on death's door? Or is it a stronger gardener who waits for the enemy's approach and then takes arm against the sea of trouble?

The next decision is whether to take an organic or chemical approach. Organics are said to feed the soil and chemicals are said to feed the plants. Organic gardeners believe that if you feed the soil your plants will be healthier.

Microorganisms in soil break down organic fertilizers to make nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace minerals available. Typically, organic gardeners use products such as cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, manure, compost, mushroom growing medium and sludge.

Chemical fertilizer…
All these photos are Tulipa Fosteriana 'Pirand' - starting four days ago - the last one is today after an overnight rain. The bulbs are from Brent and Becky's Bulbs

The wildflower version of tulips were first cultivated in the year 1,000 by the Turks. The word tulip is Turkish for turban.
Tulips were introduced to Europeans in the late 1500s.

When the working class saw how much money the wealthy were making on tulip bulbs, they went into the business, creating a bubble economy. People hocked their farms, homes and businesses to invest - no one wanted to lose out or be left behind. By 1636 a tulip bulb sold for as much as a home cost in Amsterdam Holland at the time.The tulip crash followed. People had worked, bought farms and homes and then sold them to invest in tulip futures, then called a wind trade.
The government, then, after so many people had lost everything, instituted regulations on the trade of tulips. This Tulipa Pirand in the photos is a member of the Fosteriana (F…
With apologies for how unclear the photo is, please get excited about my less-than-a-year-old Viburnum about to make its first flowers! At least they are her first in our back yard.

I always worry a little about shrubs and whether or not they will make it through their first winter.

This one was grown by Greenleaf Nursery in Tahlequah OK and I got it from Blossom's Garden Center in Muskogee. Buying locally grown plants makes their adjustment easier on the gardener because we don't have to try to recreate their environment of origin in order for them to thrive.

The past few days have been full time gardening. Well, except for writing garden columns, teaching yoga and doing life stuff.

New beds were dug. trees planted, vegetable starts put in the new beds, and the pruning!
One of my favorite plants is Sweetspire Henry's Garnet (Itea virginica).

Ours was bought at Sanders Nursery in Bixby, eight years ago because Southern Living ran an article about how great Sweetspire is for wet…

Narcissus Abba

Brent and Becky's Bulbs sent out an email saying their
2009 Spring Fall catalog is now available on line.
This narcissus blooming in the back garden is from B & B, it's called Abba.

Their scent is divinely spring.
According to Daffseek this bulb was discovered in 1984 by J.M. van Dijk in Holland. Abba is a Sport, a new variety invented by Mother Nature and found in a bed.

Rethink Coleus - It Could Become This Summer's New Garden Favorite

At one time Coleus was a protected houseplant that was shared with friends by cuttings. We fed them a monthly dose of diluted fish emulsion and pinched off the blue flower heads to preserve their beauty.

The plant was found in Java and named by Karl Blume (1796-1862). Similar to the tulip mania, Coleus was the plant to have in the 1800s. Their Latin genus name was changed in 1990 from Coleus Blumei to Solenostemon scutellarioides.

Today's gardeners can have Coleus for the sun as well as shade and choose a color range from white and lime green to almost black purple. In our area they are usually treated as annuals.

Ray Rogers, author of Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens said in a phone interview, that you should not jump into Coleus to try to get fabulous beds the first year.

Grow a bunch of them in containers, Rogers said. Group them in several combinations. Then next year you can wow your neighbors with beds of the ones you like.

He also said that the Proven Winners s…

Friends' Pot Party

Gearing up for the next event for Friends of Honor Heights Park, a few of us had a little pot party. The topic of the workshop and Friends' gathering on Saturday March 28 is butterfly and hummingbird gardening.Members Barbara Thorp, Susan Asquith, Glenda Broome, Martha and Jon Stoodley met to make newspaper pots and plant seedlings for everyone who comes to the workshop.To make the newspaper pots, you tear a full sheet of newspaper down the center fold. Fold that in half to make a square, then fold that into thirds. The resulting rectangle is wrapped around a jar and the bottom is pinched up. Then, the top collar is folded down. Put the pots into half an inch of water to settle the edges.Fill with potting soil and a few granules of fertilizer and plant the seedling.

Here's what I like about newspaper pots: They keep plastic out of the landfill, they can be made small enough for rooting without using very much soil, they stay moist unlike peat pots that dry out and harm tiny pla…

March Winds Doth Blow

Although the winds have been howling for days and the temperatures are unpredictable, no snow is in the forecast to complete the poem's line, "The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow".

There is something to be thankful for you see.

This is a photo of a Chianti Rose Tomato. I grow them from seed as well as some other varieties.

Then, I get some healthy tomato plants from Blossom's Garden Center and Moonshadow Herb Farm and Lowe's.

And, yet, the ability to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes eludes me no matter how many plants I put in. If you have any sure fire secrets to getting the darlings to produce fruit, please let me know either through a comment on the blog or by email so I can get some benefit from all my work.

However, I do have a bumper crop of Bridal Veil Spirea.
Happily, it is sending up new shoots about 4-inches from the main plant. I can dig those out to expand the planting into other areas of the back acre or give them away.

Many se…

Eating Plants from Your Yard? Do You Know Which Ones are Poisonous?

Missouri Environment & Garden Newsletter today provides an up to date list of plants that can harm those who eat enough of them.

I must say again that I don't know who is going around eating apricot pits, azaleas and yew, but it seems to be a recurring theme in garden literature from many sources.

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week please click over to
University of Missouri Newsletter and read their warning about the following plants.

The Missouri Poison Center provided this list:
Apricot pits and leaves Prunusarmeniaca
Arrowhead vine Syngoniumpodophyllum
Avocado peel and pit Perseaamericana
Autumn crocus Colchicumautumnale
Azalea Rhododendron species
Bird of Paradise Poinciana gilliesii
Bittersweet Solanumdulcamera
Black nightshade Solanumnigrum
Calla lily Zantedeschiaacthoipica
Castor beans Ricinuscommunis
Crabapple seeds Malus species
Daphne Daphne mezereum
Deadly nightshade Altropabeladonna
Devil’s ivy����…

Daffodil Love

We think there are a thousand daffodils blooming in the back yard today. There may be more but who can count?
The weekend was spent pruning, weeding, planting. Glorious 78 degrees and windy days, including today.

Snow peas are replanted, kale and chard transplants are in the row, Renee's spicy salad green transplants are in.

We really need the rain the weather persons promised. Today I dragged hose all around the back yard watering the dozen baby trees we planted last week.

I bought lots of stuff this year as usual. The source of the best trees and shrubs was University of Idaho seedling program. If you have any space for more trees or bird feeding shrubs click on the link to take a look.

They came on a freezing cold day and I left them outside as directed by the papers in the box. They all had excellent looking roots, great packaging, and the plants are leafing out their first week in the ground. Oh, plus good …

Pruning Tips Tools and Techniques

Pruning trees and shrubs is done while the weather is still cold because harmful insects are absent. Later when the weather warms and insects are swarming, plants are more likely to be damaged at the point of the cuts.

Spring flowering shrubs are pruned after bloom not before.

Always have a reason to make a cut. Do not whack the head off a tree or a shrub. Prune selectively to keep your investments healthy and attractive. Reasons to prune: Control size, increase strength, distribute sun, regulate fruit, renew wood, and remove undesirable wood.

Pruning defined at Onelook.

What's your favorite pruning tool?

Photo: The nectarine tree gave us what seemed like 100 pound of fruit last year. Pruning will keep it productive - hopefully.

Photo: We love the mechanism of the Fiskars Pruning Stik. It rotates to cut at wierd angles, has a 14-foot reach, no dangling rope and a mechanism that makes it easier to make good cuts.

Shrub shoots grow out from the tip. When you remove the tip of a shrub shoot…

Ready to Plan Your Garden?

Timber Press never lets us down, does it? This little gem, "Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season" takes a new approach to guiding gardeners toward success. The Table of Contents is segmented into seasons starting with Early Spring to Mid Spring and ending with Winter.
I'm an enthusiastic cheerleader for planting perennials. We rely on them to come back with each spring's warm weather. Especially this month, as flowers and leaf buds are appearing, we get excited all over again about the return of our favorites.
For each of the 23 seasonal sections, the author, Tom Fischer, gives perennial plant suggestions with a photo of the final result and an outline of the plants that provide that result.
Each plant is named, specifics provided - height, spread, hardiness, etc. Sun and water are requriements given in symbols.
Here's an example: Mid-Spring to Late-Spring. 1. Pearl Drops western bleding heart (Decentra 'Pearl Drops') Height/…

Cloudy and Warm Weather Tempts Eager Gardeners to Jump Into Spring

The snow peas I put in two weeks ago on a 70 degree sunny day have taken quite a beating from the past 3 nights of 20 degrees.
Today, we have clouds and wind and 60. Oh, what a tease Mother Nature is.This bunny has been hunkered down between the daffodils for days now. Part of me wants to run him off because they eat so much of the plants we put out. Another part of me wants to take him a blanket against the freezing nights.

From today through Sunday Garden Deva is having an annual sale. I can't afford her great stuff even on sale but it is wonderful to look at. Here's a link for your viewing and purchasing pleasure.

Our friend Pat Gwin was in the Tulsa World today. Gwin is the Cherokee Nation natural resources supervisor. He grows Trail of Tears plants and gives the seeds he harvests to Cherokees so the strains will live on.

This weekend you can go to the Wichita Garden Show and Texas Daffodil Society Southern Regional Show, Dallas Arboretum, 8617 Garland Road. Contact Rod Armst…