Showing posts from April, 2009

Crazy In Love With Our Garden

We are simply crazy about our garden and take photos almost every day of one thing or another.
This is the inside of the herb bed looking out with the yellow iris on the left and the Mexican sage on the right. Right bottom is mother of Thyme (Moonshadow Herb Farm). Outside the fence left is white iris, crazy daisy (thank you Susie Lawrence for the starts) pink iris, burgundy iris and top right is Dame's Rocket. The small tree is an Oklahoma native peach.

This is a shot from the side yard. The fruit trees and vegetable garden are behind the camera.
The bed on the right is a shade bed where tulips and daffodils have completed their fun and other plants are just starting. In the center bed is lavender (Thank you Sharon Owen), native peach trees, pinks (Thank you Lora Weatherbee), clovers, lilies, etc.

You might want to check out "The Ultimate Gardener: The Best Experts' Advice for Cultivating a Magnificent Garden with Photos and Stories", a new book from Health …

The New Leak Proof Tomato

A new tomato has been bred to prevent soggy bread when your sandwich includes a slice or two. ABC News considers it a revolution. Most people who left a comment on the story consider it a move toward less flavorful food.

But really, no one reported on the flavor yet.

The new tomato went on sale at Tesco's in London. They are being grown in the Mediterranean for European customers. Next they will be grown in Mexico for U.S. consumers.Here is a link to the ABC article and here is a bit about the invention: "The growers at Nunhems, part of the giant conglomerate Bayer AG, say that standard tomatoes lose 8 percent of their weight after slicing and a further 12 percent seeps into the bread only an hour later. With the new variety and its much denser structure, less than 1 percent of the moisture is lost when the tomato is sliced and only 3 percent of the juice soaks the bread 12 hours after the sandwich is made."The Daily Mail also ran a news story about the tomato revolution.

Frogs and Toads Have Their Own Day 4-28

Garden Rant posted the picture above with a link to the site.

Save the Frogs dot Com
PBS did a program on Nature about them. Click here to see the episode.

Wiki How has a list of tips for attracting frogs to your garden.

Suite 101 also has ideas on frog pond gardening here.

Stuart Robinson posted these benefits of frogs in the garden on his Australian blog,
Gardening Tips and Ideas (also posted on Garden Rant)

What are the benefits of frogs in the garden?
Frogs are bug and critter devourers
Mosquito larvae, sowbugs and caterpillars are delicacies for frogs.
They forage on the outer foliage of some plants when they are in some state of decay
The downside of encouraging frogs is that they are common food for snakes

How to encourage frogs into your garden
The more moist your garden is the more chance frogs will start to inhabit your yard
A pond that encourages garden frogs is one that is not too deep, offers some plant life for protection and food, rocks for sunning on and still places to breed.

We don…

Back Home

We left early Thursday for a long weekend in Seattle and returned this morning to a completely new garden. At this time of year it is amazing how the trees fill out in a matter of days.
The Sweetspire was bare stems on Thursday and now is completely filled out with leaves.
The lettuce was shivering and now is ready for harvest.
We have hummingbirds in the coral honeysuckle, the salvias and every other red flowering plant in our gardens.

This time of year is the best.
Well, except for the pressure to plant, the nightly aches and other gardening complaints.

What A Difference A Month Makes

The view from the kitchen last month was sweetly filled with daffodils. The piles of brush are from the most recent ice storm a couple of months before. The hyacinths and grape hyacinths bloomed and faded until next year.
The view from the kitchen now is past the bloom of most of the tulips. Now it is full of later spring flowers and the ground is greening.
Here's a closer snap of the last of the yellow tulips and their friendly neighbors Siberian Squill or Persian blue Siberica. For another point of view, gardeners in the northwest consider these blue beauties a nuisance. I suspect their temperate, moist weather helps the bulbs multiply like crazy without any harsh winter freezes to keep them in check. Bluebells are the bane of my existence says Kym Pokorny at the Oregonian in Portland.
I read lots of garden blogs but rarely comment when they complain about invasive this and that. Bermuda grass in the flower beds is about all I'll complain about. What's invasive where you gar…

The Mailbox Art at Honor Heights Park

Koi by Joshua Blundell, 17

Duck Family by Don Jones

Van Gogh by Jim Eaton

Butterfly Garden by Barbara Downs

The White Garden by Wren Stratton Spring Flowers by Ruth Box

Earth Day Is an Opportunity for Each Person to Make One Change to Help Mother Earth

April 22 was Earth Day and around the country attention is being focused on the protection of and respect for the Earth. Three new organic gardening books are out for 2009 to help guide us in improving our gardening habits.

The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, written by Fern Marshall Bradley and Trevor Cole, is an all in one reference book that could be given as a wedding or housewarming gift. With almost 600-pages, it has a directory of 700 annual, bi-annual, perennial plants, 2500 photographs, and 800 step-by-step how-to illustrations. The focus is on organic gardening with non-toxic fertilizer, disease and pest control solutions.

The book begins with a chapter on planning and ends with taking care of your garden. In between, the chapters include: Lawns, fruits, vegetables, water gardens and bulbs. Iris, peony, daylily, hosta, dahlias, roses, and others, each receive an entire chapter to themselves.

The advice in the book is practical. For example in the planning chapter, the a…

Saturday May 2 Food and Wine Event

Saturday May 2 will be a fun day at Honor Heights Park.

Friends of Honor Heights Park is hosting its first Food and Wine Event before the annual Banner Auction. Tickets to the Food and Wine festivities are $20 per person. The food and wine are being donated by members so the proceeds from ticket sales can be put into the account.

Friends of Honor Heights Park Food &Wine Event is 5:30 to 7:00 Banner Auction begins at 7:00
The sign is at Blossom's Garden Center, 3012 East Hancock, one of the locations for buying tickets in advance. Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department, 837 East Okmulgee, also has tickets. Tickets will be available at the door.

Friends of Honor Heights Park was formed to raise money to construct this new feature for the park - a Teaching Garden and Butterfly House.

Banner Auction Information - Joel Everett 918.684.6302
Food and Wine Event information - Frank Medearis 918.683.4387

In the Shade

Whether you call it Phlox divaricata, Woodland Phlox, Wild Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William this lovely plant comes back in April with tiny blue flowers waving in the wind under the deciduous trees. It will reliably cheer you with a month of bloom.

Trilliums are also reliable Oklahoma shade garden plants that are a wonder of early spring.

These are Trilliums in my shade bed. Click here to see the Trillium FloraPix online library of images from around the world. It is breathtaking to see these fragile beauties. We need to plant them in our gardens because they need our help to save them from extinction.
The bulldozers, you know, build the world's economy but take the habitat of Trillium and other fragile friends of the Earth.

Tips for Smart Garden Center Selections

Kerry Meyer of Proven Winners has some tips for selecting plants in garden centers. You probably have thought about these criteria, but it's a good set of reminders as we all go to the garden centers.
Select plants for the amount of sun available where you plan to plant.
Consider whether you want shrubs, perennials or annuals
Decide how many plants you will need to fill the space
Look at the underside of the leaves
Plants that have dry, discolored or spotted leaves are not ideal
Curling or crispy leaves means stress, disease or insect damage
Discolored leaves mean poor nutrition
White fuzzy fungus or rust spots are signs of disease
Look for bugs and webs on the stems and leaves
Check the roots by slipping the plant out of the pot - they should be white and healthy looking
Select a plant with the most branches and buds but the fewest blooms
Cut off the flowers when you get the plant home
If you get a plant home and it turns out to be undesirable, return it to the place you bought it

Carole Reese's Sex Talk

Google's Blogger is still malfunctioning with the image posting feature so this will be another day without wonderful photos to enjoy.

I drove to the April meeting of the Flower, Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas this morning to hear Carol Reese speak on “Sex and the Single Stamen: The sometimes bizarre but entertaining sex life of the garden”.

Reese is an Ornamental Horticultural Specialist at the University of Tennessee Extension Service so she gardens in zone 7 too.

Her talk was billed as entertaining and informative and it lived up to its billing.

Reese writes for the Jackson Sun. Here are links to 2 of her past columns:

Shopping for great plants is as much or more fun than gardening

You can have bright colorful foliage glowing in a shady garden This article is
about the Heucheravarieties that can withstand our humid heat. Reese said these worked for her: 'Citronelle', 'Caramel,' 'Bronze Wave,' 'Pistache,' 'Frosted Violet,' &…

Great Possibilities for Boggy Spots

Blogger still will not allow photos to be posted, so we shall have another words only post. Sorry about that. So many pretty things to show at this time of year, too.

I was asked this week about plants for boggy places. The situation is a pond that leaks, leaving the area wet 12-months a year. The owners have no intention of re-constructing the pond. They already have pussy willows and willow trees.

What would look wonderful and can take wet feet?

One of the perennial flowers I love is Texas Red Star Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus. It enjoys swampy places, grows 4 feet tall and spreads to 3 feet wide. Click here to see a photo of the flower. (Mine bloomed the first year from seed.)

Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica, is a great shrub for wet places. Grows 4 feet wide and tall, has fragrant white flowers in the spring and gorgeous fall color. Over time, it will sucker to cover yards of ground. In the winter the red stems are an asset. Click here to see a photo.

Hardy water canna, Thalia de…

New Art In the Park - Mailboxes for Horticultural Information

Public art has proven itself to be one of the best economic investments a community can make. Nonprofit arts organizations generate $166 Billion in economic activity across the country (Atlantic Monthly Feb 2009).

The contribution of art includes tourism, of course. But, equally important, it gives citizens a new way to see their town and it helps pull the community together around beauty.

Muskogee Parks and Recreation ordered cedar covered mailboxes to hold brochures for Honor Heights Park and local artists painted them. Six are completed and installed.

Susie Lawrence of Braggs and Olivia Walton, 16, of Muskogee will paint two more. Lawrence is a member of Muskogee Arts Council and Walton is a local artist. Walton painted the guitar at the Hwy 69 Visitors Center and has painted many banners for the Azalea Festival.

Joshua Blundell, 17, a Warner High School student, said he liked painting the mailbox that will be placed at the Kirschner koi pond.

Since it was for the koi pond, I decided to…

Tax Day '09 Was Spent Gardening!

Last year our friend Dave was going to come visit and he was dying to have arugula salads so I planted a patch.

Well, he didn't get to come and I just let it grow. Here are this year's flowers from that original planting.
I've even used arugula flowers in a vase and they lasted for a week as cut stems.

Gourmet Sleuth says it is also called rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola. They also say it is an aphrodisiac.

Russell Studebaker, garden writer for the Tulsa World, gave us this sweet Columbine for the shade garden. He said it is a cross between two native varieties.
It's quite tall and hopefully it will scatter its seeds generously.

Last year when we had our Muskogee Garden Club plant swap, Karen Coker brought Iron Maiden Penstemon and I planted a few in different spots to see where they would prefer to be.
I think they all returned. The leaves are gorgeous and the plants should grow into magnificent specimens.
Penstemons are gradually moving into many areas of our garden. Her…

NOAA Says It Is Now Spring, Who Uses LED Grow Lights?

OK, Now it's spring.

If you go to NOAA's National Weather Service site at
you can enter your local zip code and get the weather for the week ahead. (Top left hand side of the page "Local Forecast by City, St) and use your zip code.

For the week ahead we have daytime temperatures up to 60s and 70s and night time lows in the 40s and 50s. Ah, now the real planting can begin.

We can pull out the tropicals for the front and back porches, clean out the places they have been stored and take a deep breath.

Here it will be raining off and on all week with sun interspersed but who cares?
Do You LED?
I was in the bank today and the teller asked me about the LED grow lights you can purchase from an online vendor, HID Hut. Have you heard about them or used them?

He said that he and his dad grew herbs indoors all winter using the HID Hut LED grow light and that they were dark green the entire time. No burning of the leaves either.

Here's the link for HID Hut grow li…


Happy Saturday.
If you are like me, you are headed outside for the day. So many wonderful activities are pulling us out. The farmer's markets are opening, herb and plant festivals are being held, and, our gardens need us!

For locals:
The Connors State College Horticulture Department will host a spring Plant Sale
Tuesday and Thursday April 14, 16, 21, 23
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
contact: Debby Golden at

For everyone: J. L. Hudson Seedsman sent out his spring catalog addendum.
You can email me at and I'll send it to you in a MS Word Document
or just go to his site and check it out.
The company is a public access seed saving site that is dedicated to preserving seeds and species. The prices are good and my experience with germination has been above average.

Friends of Honor Heights Park is hosting a food and wine fundraising event during the Banner Auction. Tickets are $20.
Mark your calendar for Saturday May 2 from 5:30 to 7 and plan to join the fu…

Baskets and Bedding Plants, Oh My

Gardeners who walk into the greenhouses and growing house at Carson Borovetz Nursery in Muskogee are greeted with the scent of blooming flowers and the sight of rows and rows of bedding plants.

The blooming flats of petunias come in bright colors of hot pink, red and white stripe, purple and white, yellow, white, lavender, and others. Petunias love heat and need at least 6 hours of sun a day to achieve their best flowering. They tolerate average garden soil as long as it drains well. If they are to be planted in heavy clay, dig in some compost before planting.

While you are digging up the bed put in some fertilizer such as the composted Earth Smart chicken manure available at Carson Borovetz. Pete Carson told me he brought in ten-tons of composted manure in 40-pound bags to meet this year’s demand.

Carson also is offering Osmocote this year in hand-filled bags (2-pounds $5). This slow-release chemical fertilizer will keep your flowers blooming for three months.

I’m offering the Osmocote t…

No More Freezes Wahoo! Stuff and Stories of Early April

Lots to talk about when the spring weather is like this - sunny, cloudy, rain, hail, hot, cold, windy, still - all in one day.Hey look at this eggplant!
A few of us pre-ordered vegetable starts from Blossoms and I picked mine up yesterday. Healthy, rooty, ginormous.
The light this afternoon made the greens bed look electrified. It had rained, hailed and then the sun came out. Look at that yellow light. The Angelique Tulips are opening. What a beauty. Touch of Naturewas my source.Before the rain I had a chance to mow part of the 2.75 acres we live on. This is the view out the back door, off the office.Having fun in your garden?

The April issue of ATTRA News has a particularly interesting column about the over-reliance on fossil-fuel in gardens and on farms.

They ask the question, "What would really happen if farmers and gardeners went a year without fertilizing?"

What do you think?

They emphasize that compost, cover crop, green manure and crop rotation bring better results.

Lots of Spring Gardening Today

It was 85 today after 2 nights of freezing weather. Must be spring. The neighborhood dogs met at the bottom of the road to talk about such matters. And, no doubt compared notes about where the bones are buried.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensiavirginica) are ringing in two of the three places they were planted. It appears that the third set chose to remain silent henceforth and forever more.
Anyway, I love these wonderful flowers of our spring garden.
Some people call them Virginia Cowslip, or Oysterleaf or Roanoke Bells.

More lettuce seedlings went into the ground today and we are getting braver about putting plants into the ground in the hope that no more freezing weather will come.

I untied the climbing hydrangea today and started to train it up a tree. We bought it last year during the Hydrangea Festival in Memphis. Gardens OyVeyis a great source for all things Hydrangea.

Also, our friend Jerry Gustafson started Hydrangeas by rooting them and he gave me a couple to plant. They are alive and…

But I Digress

Today we took a much needed break from the joys of the gardens.

Here's what's growing -
The iris are blooming along with the late tulips and daffodils.
The snow peas recovered from the last freeze and are now six inches up the trellis.
The garlic has grown well above the thick layer of pine straw we loaded on it last fall.
The snow ball viburnum has little snow balls forming - they are the size of a dime now.
We picked enough lettuce and chard tonight for a salad or two this week.
The fruit is forming on the peach, nectarine and plum trees.

AND, tonight the temperature is going to be 34 and tomorrow the prediction is 24.

Now, I'll digress to one of the other joys of spring - the birth of baby animals all around us.

Oyana Wilson, president of Muskogee Garden Club, raises race horses and in the past 3 days, three babies were born. Here are the two day and three day old foals.
This is Oyana with Carney and her foal, who didn't have a name as of yesterday.
This is Final CommentThis i…

A Really Good Writer Who Loves Her Dirt

Gerri Hirshey wrote a lovely piece about her father, gardening, and the importance of good soil.

The column, "When It Came to Dirt, Dad Knew Best: Feed It, Then Brace for Bounty" gives readers a window to her love for her dad translating into her love for the soil.

Here is the link to the article in the Long Island edition of the NY Times, April 3, 2009.
Let me know if you read it and share my enthusiasm for the beauty of her heartfelt writing.

Blossoms at Blossom's

Muskogee area gardeners know it must be spring because Blossoms Garden Center is open for the season.

Owners Lora Durkee and Matthew Weatherbee said they have more plants than ever before.

We have the coolest coleus called Electric Lime, Matthew said. We have geraniums in red, pink, white and coral, Endless Summer and Blushing Bride Hydrangeas, six different lavender varieties, plus 20 colors of Million Bells.

Million Bells (Calibrachoa hybrid), members of the potato family that look like tiny petunias, bloom all summer. Blossoms has stocked an amazing array of colors in 4.5 inch pots including: Dark blue, tangerine, red, gold with red eye, dreamsicle, hot pink, apricot punch, etc.

Also, if you missed out last year, they have 100 cold hardy banana trees (Musa basjoo Japanese Fiber Banana). This plant takes Oklahoma winters in stride and returns the following summer in a larger clump that grows even taller than the year before. As it matures, it will top out at 15 feet tall. (It will die b…

Spring Flinging

Honor Heights Park is blooming like crazy. This is the view of the arboretum as you drive in on the second 48 Street entrance - down by the tennis courts. I think most visitors miss seeing the arboretum since it is off the main loop.
But here are the azaleas on the main loop. Are they gorgeous or what? The cold nights predicted for the next several days will slow down their peak bloom but the tulips are wonderful, too. Today there were 8 men working on the rose garden paths, getting ready for summer.

OklaTravelNet has an overview of what most people do not know about our state: It is beautiful. Unfortunately, most people think of the footage from Grapes of Wrath and other movies about the panhandle and drought. Click here to see the OklaTravelNet'ssite. OR One of the other things to do this weekend, is travel to Whispering Vines Vineyard (click here for more information) to prune grape vines. Participation is free. You show up, have a little breakfast and they give you a class on pr…

Fritillaria ID Help Needed

Do you know Fritillaria? Is this beauty Fritillariacrassifolia?

This one I ordered from Touch of Nature; it is FritillariaMeleagris.

I've searched the Internet and American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants
with no answer.
Any ideas?