31 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 connected to a person or place?

29 March 2009

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 Saturday to help with the chairs and tables. It was definitely a team effort.

The sleet and snow coming down outside made an irresistible view out those windows. The site out the windows is the location where the new gardens and butterfly house will be built.

Click here to read the Muskogee Phoenix story about the event.

27 March 2009

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 moonshads@aol.com

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 plants that require warm soil will be available mid-April,” Owen said. “Plants in that group include Japanese Morning Glory, African Gourds and Purple Majesty Millet.”

In the month of April, Owen travels to plant festivals on Saturdays so Moonshadow is open only Friday and Sunday. Then, in May, Moonshadow is open Saturday and Sunday 10 to 4. It is best to call ahead.

For making tea of fresh herbs, Owen grows: Lavender, Mint, Feverfew, Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena. You can use a leaf from your own Stevia plant to sweeten the tea without sugar or chemical sweeteners.

“I like to offer a broad and plentiful choice of basic culinary herbs that double for butterfly plants and medicinal plants all in one,” Owen said. “There is always an assortment of mints. I usually dig those directly from the garden if I run out of potted ones.”

Muskogee Garden Club president, Oyana Wilson said, “I like to shop at Moonshadow to support a local grower and to find unusual herbs and plants. Sharon makes time to tell you where to put the plant, how to take care of it and maybe a little folklore about it.

Local growers also rely on Moonshadow for unique tomato plants.

Owen said, “I succession plant the tomato seeds from March through mid-April so I’ll always have some varieties ready.”

Heirloom varieties available at the open house include: Cherokee Purple, Brandywine Suddith’s Strain, Yellow Pear, Red Pearl, and Sungold Cherry, plus a few Bloody Butcher and Purple Dog Creek.

In April these tomato varieties will be ready: Mortgage Lifter, Purple Dog Creek, Barnes Mountain Yellow, Glick’s 18 Mennonite, Amish Rose, and Indian Moon (Navajo origin).

New this year, Owen will offer a selection of heirloom pole bean seeds traditionally grown in Kentucky: Doyce Chambers Greasy Cut-Short beans, Cherokee Long Greasy beans and Tobacco Worm beans. Bean seeds are packaged based on what it would take to feed a family of four, plus some to give-away.

Later in the summer, Owen will have several unusual Coleus to perk up your flowerbeds and patio pots. The Coleus selection includes: Trailing Garnet Robe, Trailing Plum Brocade, Trailing Queen, Wild Lime, Inky Fingers, and more.

“I’m also growing Pumpkin Trees this year,” Owen said. “Pumpkin Tree (Solanum Integrifolium) is a novelty plant that grows three to four feet tall in the ground or in containers. It makes an inedible, pumpkin-shaped eggplant.”

The leaves look like an eggplant but the fruits look like mini-pumpkins. The fruits are dried and used in ornamental arrangements. Florists call it Pumpkin on a Stick.

For the back of the border, hollyhock is a good choice. Moonshadow Hollyhock colors include single black, scarlet red, bright pink, white, sunny yellow and Chamois, an apricot-cinnamon color.

Moonshadow Herb Farm is set back off the north side of the road at 3500 South Country Club, south of Peak BL. Look for the Moonshadow banner at the end of the lane.

26 March 2009

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're serious about our hope for feedback from you. Since this is a new project, there will undoubtedly be room for improvement, and perhaps a few bugs to work out. Fortunately, we have an excellent team of software engineers working on this, and we can make changes fairly quickly. Just pass your suggestions on to me, gardenjim@gmail.com."

Sunset does NOT use USDA freeze zones NOR American Horticultural Society heat zones, they use Sunset Zones so be sure to check yours. Ours is "Texas Oklahoma" zone.

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 said to calm the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.

U Oregon story of his life with poetry
Encyclopedia Britannica
National Geographic essay written by Howard Norman who re-walked Basho's famous trail. The site also has fascinating links to the route and photographs of the sites along the way.
Photoguide JP has a photo collection of relevant Basho sites.

25 March 2009

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."

"Do you ever find yourself bursting into a sort of lunatic laughter at the sheer prettiness of things?"

Nichols' garden and home books include
Down the Garden Path (1932)
A Thatched Roof (1933)
A Village in a Valley (1934)
How Does Your Garden Grow? (1935)
Green Grows the City (1939)
Merry Hall (1951)
Laughter on the Stairs (1953)
Sunlight on the Lawn (1956)
Garden Open Today (1963)
Forty Favourite Flowers (1964)
The Art of Flower Arrangement (1967)
Garden Open Tomorrow (1968)

Several plants are named Rhapsody in Green, there is a blog called Rhapsody in Green and Elkhart IN has a festival by that name.

23 March 2009

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 of seeds last winter in hopes of getting a overwhelming number of flowers this summer.

The Virbunum Burkwoodii is blooming. Its flowers are supposed to be attractive to butterflies and indeed I have seen a dozen already this spring.
What's blooming where you are?

22 March 2009

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 written by gardener Leanne Holcomb who gardens in zone 7 Flat Rock Alabama.

Last June, Holcomb planted the seeds and wrote about this member of the aster family complete with recommendations for herbal uses.

A bonus for us butterfly fanatics is that the flowers attract the Lycaenidae family of 6,000 gossamer winged species which is 40% of all butterflies.

Click here to see how many different butterflies will come to your garden just by planting Spilanthes!

21 March 2009

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.

20 March 2009

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 fertilizers are produced from inorganic materials and soil scientists believe that they harm the health of soil by reducing the population of microorganisms. Chemical fertilizer supporters say the plants can’t tell the difference.

Chemical fertilizers can be designed to quickly target a specific deficiency. The numbers on the container indicate percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.

Starter solutions are diluted chemical fertilizers, usually called something like quick start. OSU Fact Sheet 6007-4 provides a recipe: Add two tablespoons of 19-46-0 or 12-24-12 or 10-20-10 fertilizer to a gallon of warm water and dissolve thoroughly. Apply a cup of the diluted fertilizer to each plant; avoid contact with plant stems.

Organic fertilizers contain smaller amounts of the three primary plant requirements and take longer to change soil fertility.

Organic fertilizer products make use of otherwise destructive manures while growing healthy vegetables, fruit and flowers.

Composting chicken waste into garden fertilizer helps resolve a local problem for Oklahoma. Brands to look for include Earth Smart and Back to Nature. Local places to buy it include Carson Borovetz Nursery in Muskogee and Green’s Elevator in Checotah.

Organic greenhouse growers use foliar sprays of diluted fish emulsion and seaweed. Some studies show that spraying organic fertilizer directly onto the leaves and stems of vegetables increases the amount of produce and prevents disease, pests and parasites.

Use foliar sprays when the temperature is below 80 and the air is humid. Mist the underside of leaves since the nutrient carrying canals (stomata) are there.

Scotts makes two of the most popular chemical fertilizers for home use, Osmocote and Miracle Grow. Use Osmocote for a three-month, slow release fertilizer and Miracle Grow for soil or foliar-spray through a hose attachment.

Miracle Grow is ammonium phosphate, urea, potassium chloride, boric acid, copper sulfate, iron, magnesium, zinc sulfate, and sodium molybdate.

The tiny Osmocote balls are made of chemicals and soybean oil. Soil warmth releases the chemicals.

Steve Solomon’s recipe is: 4 parts seed meal, one-fourth part agricultural lime, one-fourth part gypsum, one-half part dolomitic lime (optional 1 part bone meal, rock phosphate or guano, one half part kelp meal).

Muskogee Farmers Association (411 Talledega ST) and Munding Milling (429 South G) carry some of the ingredients.

If you prefer to use an organic product but do not want to lug and mix 50-pound bags, Daniels Plant Food is available as a liquid concentrate. Made of seed extract, the product has soluble organic nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, amino acids and trace minerals.

Allan Armitage uses Daniels to mist plants in the sustainable greenhouses at the University of Georgia. Daniels is available at Southwood Nursery in Tulsa.

In Milwaukee, microorganisms are used to treat the city sewage. Milorganite (http://www.milorganite.com/) processes the city sludge into fertilizers used on home gardens and golf courses. Its nutrients are 5% Nitrogen, 4% Iron, 2% Phosphate and 1% Calcium.

The county extension offices are seeing an increase in gardeners bringing in soil samples for testing. At $10 it is probably the best way to save money in your garden because when the information comes back, you add only what your soil needs.

Take action! Keep thy plants from the sleep of death.

19 March 2009

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 (Foster Tulip) group, also called Emperor Tulips. Many are named in a way that points to their relationship: Emperor Orange, White Emperor, etc.

Foster tulips are originally from Turkestan, in an area now called Kazakhstan.
Fosteriana tulips are known for their bright colors and wide flowers.
Fosteriana and Emperor are used interchangeably by bulb sellers.

What's blooming where you are?

18 March 2009

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 places in the yard.

Here is its winter look after pruning - red-brown stems are beautiful without the Bermuda grass growing all through it.

Missouri Botanical Garden gave Henry's Garnet their Plant of Merit rating.
Click here to see photo of how pretty it is in bloom, leaf color, and to read more.
MOBOT's page says it will spread to form colonies and they are not kidding. We put in two one-gallon plants and now have about an 8-feet wide shrub row.

It is 80 and breezy and delightful being out in the garden weeding, watering and planting.

16 March 2009

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.

13 March 2009

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 selections are some of the best you can find. Today's Coleus is tough and lasts until frost with a modicum of care.

Rogers said, Seed mixes such as Rainbow, Wizard and Kong are all bred to go to seed. They flower quickly unless they are pinched regularly. The best ones are grown from cuttings.

One of my missions in life is to convince people to grow Coleus selections that are grown from cuttings, not from seed, said Rogers.

Buy colorful Coleus this spring. Make a note in your September calendar to take 2-inch cuttings and root them indoors over the winter out of direct sun. Coleus cuttings root well in water but rooting them in small vermiculite makes stronger plants. In February, take cuttings from those plants and root them to plant them outside after April 15 next year.

Rogers’ well-illustrated tips for propagation from seed and cuttings are covered in 15 pages of his book. In our conversation he said be sure to provide warmth, sun and careful watering to prevent rot.

I asked Rogers for recommendations for gardeners who want to plant their beds and go do something else. He said to look for these

Alabama Sunset, Bellingrath Pink and Texas Parking Lot – rarely flowers, sun, grows anywhere, combinations of yellow and chartreuse to red

Inky Fingers – semi trailing, duck foot leaf, dark purple with lime green edging, part shade

Sedona – Proven Winners, heat tolerant, sun, orange-brown, sometimes dark purple flecking

Freckles – cream, yellow, bronze and orange flecked with chartreuse, yellow and orange

Lancelot Velvet Mocha – A new Proven Winner – narrow, chocolate leaves, easy to topiary

The book is Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens by Ray Rogers with photographs by Richard Hartlage. 288 pages, 385 color photos, 8-by 9-inches, Timber Press. $29.95 at timberpress.com and $20 at online booksellers.

Rogers is a life long gardener who has edited and written over 40-books including Pots In the Garden. His writing style is delightful and informative, making this one a good read.

The photos by Richard Hartlage fill the the book with eye-candy so it is also a worthy coffee table book.

Since Rogers frequently shows plants, his topiary and container chapters have lots of creative and fresh ideas. The Encyclopedia of Cultivars includes popular, heirloom and new selections in separate sections for Trailing, Distinctive Leaf Shapes and Sizes, Twisted and Cultivars by Color or Pattern.

Websites: Rogers’ website is www.showplants.net.

Coleus info and photos: whiteflowerfarm.com, www.provenwinners.com, www.colorfarm.com, roseydawngardens.com and http://coleussociety.blogspot.com/.

12 March 2009

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 plants.
Interested in coming to the butterfly and hummingbird gardening workshop?
email honorheightsfriends@gmail.com and let us know.
Free for members and $5 for guests.

11 March 2009

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 mollyday1@gmail.com 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 seedlings in the shed are being potted up as they grow their first set of true leaves. It was crowded before; now it is almost impossible to move around out there except on tip toes.

10 March 2009

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 Prunus armeniaca
Arrowhead vine Syngonium podophyllum
Avocado peel and pit Persea americana
Autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale
Azalea Rhododendron species
Bird of Paradise Poinciana gilliesii
Bittersweet Solanum dulcamera
Black nightshade Solanum nigrum
Caladium Caladium bicolor
Calla lily Zantedeschia acthoipica
Castor beans Ricinus communis
Crabapple seeds Malus species
Daphne Daphne mezereum
Deadly nightshade Altropa beladonna
Devil’s ivy Epipremnum aureum
Dumb cane Dieffenbachia seguine
Elephant’s ear Alocasia macrorrhiza
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Goldenchain tree Laburnum anagyroides
Holly berries Ilex species
Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis
Hydrangea Hydrangea species
Indian tobacco Lobelia inflata
Iris leaves, roots, and rhizomes Iris species
Jequirity bean (rosary pea) Arbus precatorious
Jimsonweed Datura species
Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum
Jerusalem cherry Solanum psuedocapsicum
Larkspur Delphinium species
Lily of the valley Convalleria majalis
May apple (unripe fruit, root, and leaves) Podophyllum peltatum
Mistletoe berries Phoradendron villosum
Monkshood Aconitnum columbianum
Moonseed berries Menisperum canadense
Morning glory Ipomea hederacea
Oleander Nerium oleander
Peace lily Spathiphyllum species
Pear seeds Pyrus species
Periwinkle Vinca species
Plum leaves, stem, bark, and pits Prunus domestica
Heartleaf philodendron Philodendron cordatum
Poison ivy Toxicodendron rydbergii
Poison hemlock (resembles wild carrot) Conium maculatum
Poison oak Rhus diversiloba
Potato plant leaves Solanum tuberosum
Privet Ligustrum species
Raw cassava root Manihot esculenta
Rhubarb leaves Rheum rhabarbarum
Split-leaf philodendron Monstera deliciosa
Tobacco Nicotiana species
Tomato leaves Lycopersicon lycopersicum
Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Water Hemlock Cicuta maculata
Wisteria seeds and pods Wisteria Species
Yew Taxus Species

09 March 2009

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 http://seedlings.uidaho.com/NurseryShop/default.asp? 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 pricing and shipping charges.

University of Minnesota Extension Yard & Garden News has another informative edition available here. Topics include the germination of saved vs purchased seeds, Rhododendrons, Disease Resistant Veggies, and All America Rose Selections.

Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables for your health?

According to researchers at Ohio State, most children, adolescents and adults are not.

You know, when I was a kid, my mother put 3 or 4 vegetables on the table every night, fruit at breakfast and we ate fruit as a snack.
We still eat lots of fruits and vegetables here. Probably too many foods that contain sugar make their way into our daily diet but skimping on f & v is rarely a problem.
Growing them helps. They are there and rather than waste them we put them into our diet.

Are you getting your 5 to 8 servings a day? A serving is the size of the palm of your hand. How are you integrating them into your daily routine and your family's habits?

06 March 2009

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, it will grow from the buds closer to the base. Growth buds are on leaf nodes, where leaves were or still are, attached to the branch.

A heading cut is done to reduce height and stimulate growth close to the cut. Make the cut one-fourth-inch from the node, above an outward facing bud to encourage the plant to grow in an outward direction.

A thinning cut removes branches at their base to make the plant less dense, allowing sun to reach the ground and air to circulate. These cuts rejuvenate a shrub and can reduce disease.

Remove dead, diseased and damaged branches by cutting down to healthy wood just above a node.

Disinfect your tools with 10 percent chlorine bleach solution, Lysol, Listerine or rubbing alcohol.

To prune shrubs with canes, such as forsythia and nandina (heavenly bamboo), remove the largest canes at the ground. Remove other canes from the center that prevent sun and air from flowing through the plant.

Mounding shrubs, such as azalea and spirea, are pruned after bloom by taking cuts from the inside of the plant at ground level.

Tree pruning is done to keep trees healthy, attractive, and productive in the case of fruit.

Remove branches that are in the way of foot or car traffic and those that grow into utility lines. Remove disease or insect-infested branches. Thin the leafy crown of trees to increase airflow.

Tree pruning cuts are made at a node where a branch or twig attaches to the trunk or another branch.

Removing lower branches, or crown raising, has to be done carefully. Lower branches help prevent trunk sunscald.

Make cuts as close as possible, just outside the branch bark ridge and branch collar. If you cut too far away and leave a stub, the plant takes longer to heal. Making cuts flush with the trunk causes permanent wounds.

Consider purchasing new tools if yours are too old to make clean cuts without exhausting your arms.

Fiskars and other brand tools are readily available in a variety of styles and designs, including ergonomic designs to ease body stress from pruning.

Bypass pruners have a curved blade that bypasses the other blade like scissors. Anvil pruners have one cutting edge that closes against an anvil. Use bypass for wood that is alive and anvil for old or dead growth.

Loppers have larger handles and blades to cut branches 2-inches thick. Look for the ones with gears since they are easier on wrists, shoulders and arms.

It is impossible to trim trees without a pole pruner or saw. Fiskars has a Pruning Stik with a cutting head that rotates so you can cut at any angle, 14-feet up. It has a belt and chain mechanism to make a clean cut without dangling ropes to get in the way.

Air healing works best; do not dress cuts. Clean cuts at the right place with sharp tools will keep your landscape healthy and your fruit trees productive.

We are making progress - about half the pruning is completed for this year. How are you doing?

05 March 2009

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/Spread 12-16 in x 16 in
Hardy in zones 4-8

2. 'Cherry Ingram' Venus' navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica 'cherry Ingram')
Height/Spread 10 in x 15 in
Hardy in zones 6-9

Fischer says, "This pairing is a harmony made in horticultural heaven. The bright blue of the navelwort couldn't have a better partner than the blush-white flowers and ferny, blue-green foliage of the bleeding heart. Plant this duo in a shady spot and then spend the rest of the day feeling smug."
The facing page is a full page photo of the combination in bloom.

Then for Midsummer to Late Summer the suggestions are Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' sneezeweed (Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer) and 'Prince Igor' red-hot poker (Kniphofia 'Prince Igor')

The photos on the facing pages will make you want them all.

If you have a place to improve or a new bed to put in, this handy book will help out by providing the eye candy photos by Richard Bloom and Adrian Bloom and the details you need to purchase and plant.

The author, Tom Fischer, is the editor-in-chief of Timber Press. In the past, Fischer was the editor of Horticulture magazine.

DETAILS: Paperback, 216 pages, 7-inches by 6.25-inches

ISBN is 978-0-88192-939-3, $14.95 (free shipping) from Timber Pess. It's about $10 at online booksellers.

04 March 2009

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 Armstrong, 972-517-2218, rla1944@verizon.net.

A much anticipated event in Muskogee is the opening of Blossoms Garden Center on April 1. They are hosting Muskogee Garden Club members and guests on March 19 at 6:00. Owner, Matthew Weatherbee will give a talk, Top Five Solutions for Top Five Garden Problems.

Marilyn Stewart (Marilyn@wildthingsnursery.com) sent out
Wild Things' schedule.
April 4th Norman Farmer’s Market 8:00-12:00
April 11 Herb Day in Brookside 9:00 to 4:00 41 and Peoria Tulsa
April 18 Sand Springs Herbal Affair 9 - 5:00 April 25
Jenks Herb N Plant Festival 9:00 - 5 :00

Also on April 4, Sharon Owen will hold an open house at Moonshadow Herb Farm in Muskogee. Contact Sharon at Moonshads@aol.com

Spring is rapidly approaching. My garden shed is stuffed with plants that want to come out!
What's doing in your garden?