31 May 2009

Muskogee Garden Tour June 13 - The Wildman's Home

Saturday June 13 is the Muskogee Garden Club's Garden Tour. The tour is held every two years as the club's primary fund raiser. Tickets are only $5.00 but the turnout is usually great.

One of the 7 homes on the tour is owned by Gary and Mary Wildman. The Wildmans bought 8-acres a few years ago and made it into a terrific retreat for their family of three children and nine grandchildren.

This is a photo of the building on the left side of the driveway. Mary has landscaped and planted a lovely bed of perennials and annuals in front of it. As you walk down the sidewalk between the house and the garage, the first garden is Gary's Azalea bed with a statue of Athena.
At the back of the house, a dozen hydrangeas are in full bloom. Annuals and perennials have been planted in the bed to cover it as summer progresses.
One of the lovely features the Wildmans put in is this waterfall and koi pond. There are large pots of flowers and perennials, as well as a willow tree in and on the water. This is a view from the pond to the back of the house.
You'll have to come on the tour to see the vegetable garden as well as the other beautifully designed features the Wildmans have put in.
It's a gardeners dream spot.

29 May 2009

June 6 Symphony in the Park - Free

Saturday, June 6 will be a big day at Honor Heights Park. Families, church groups and civic clubs will be gathering to picnic, walk through the park and enjoy a free concert.

Edie McJunkins, foreman of the park, said that new plants are being put in every day to get the park ready for the 6th.

From 1:30 to 6:30 the Rotary Club is holding a fundraiser wine tasting at the park. For $15 you can taste wines from seven Oklahoma wineries and sample bread and cheese. The wine, bread and cheese will also be available for sale.

Miss Addie’s will be selling cold sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Friends of Honor Heights Park will have a popcorn and cold drink concession starting at 6:00 with free balloons for children of all ages. You can also purchase a Friends membership that night.

At 7:00 Muskogee Community Band and Singers are performing George and Ira Gershwin show tunes. Bring your blanket or chairs to sit on the lawn.

No matter what time you come to the park, take a walk to look at the great plantings.

At the waterfall, the perennial bed is waking up for the summer. One of the painted mailboxes is by the waterfall, too.

There is a bed of pink flowering Black Lace Elderberry on the hill coming down from the VA Hospital.

Whether you are walking or driving through the park, look for hundreds of bronze leaf begonias. McJunkins said they handle the sun better than green leaf begonias.

The bed of butterfly attracting plants has another one of the mailboxes – with butterflies on it. The area includes Chaste Trees, Butterfly Bushes, Variegated Hydrangea and Canna Lilies.

“I’m so proud of our butterfly bed,” McJunkins said. “We went to butterfly displays all around Texas to learn what to put in to bring the butterflies. It’s a beautiful garden.”

Across the road look for Golden Globe Spirea with lime green leaves and pink flower clusters.

Local grower and landscaper, Ray Wright, dedicated a memorial garden to his son and donates the plants to fill it. This year Wright’s theme is wave petunias in purple, red and white.

When the blue Salvia came back from seed, park workers moved them into a bed that is now completely blue flowers.

“We put layers of colors in some of the beds,” McJunkins said. “The Barberry is in the back of one bed for the colorful background it gives the flowers.”

The Rose Garden has 300 new plants this year and the paths have been improved. Several roses are in full bloom already.

“When people come to the Rose Garden they seem to stop to look at the solid color flowers most,” McJunkins said. “We have Queen Elizabeth, Mrs. Lincoln, Charles Darwin and Carefree Wonder roses.”

Yellow water iris is growing in the creek. Near the benches look for the grove of Artillery Ferns. McJunkins described them as invasive but they look great where they are.

Other places to stroll: Take a walk through the White Garden, check out the new dock at the Kirschner Pond, or walk around the big pond.

The Arboretum is filled with hundreds of trees surrounded by walking paths. Many trees have identifying tags and were planted in memory of family and friends. Benches are scattered along the paths so you can stop and enjoy the scenery.

Take a walk around to see the results of the Parks Department creativity and weeks of work. Come early to support the Rotary fundraiser, grab a burger or some popcorn and enjoy the music.

28 May 2009

Goat Mowing

CNN reports that states are using goats to mow state owned property. Click here to read it.

Maryland released 40 of them to chew on the highway right of way until fall.
The governor calls it "Smart, Green and Growing" - all part of a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Another environmental impact is avoiding harm to threatened bog turtles in the area. Mowing with goats costs the state only $5,000 a year

Hempstead, New York, bought goats to control grass growth at a 50-acre park and preserve.

Vail, Colorado has 500 weed-eating goats and Denver Colorado uses goats to mow vacant lots.

Google rents goats to control the grass on their campus. California Grazing rents their 800 goats to companies and municipalities. Sunnyvale CA uses goats to control grass at their landfill. The City of San Jose uses goats to mow grass around a power plant.

This is terrific isn't it? The goats get to eat their fill, no gas is burned mowing the grass and the ground is fertilized at the same time.

27 May 2009

Chenille Plant

If you have a tree and a partly shady place under that tree, a Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida) could be just what you are looking for to add interest to an otherwise plant-free place. The RHS database says Acalypha hispaniolae pendula is a Euphorbiaceae with common names such as Hispaniola Cat's Tail, Chenille Plant and Red Hot Cat's Tail. Also, that it is a Plant of Merit.

Chenille Plant is from the East Indies so it is hardy in Florida, Southern California and other zone 10 gardens. It is an in-the-ground shrub in full sun in its native country.
Here in Zone 7 it is a houseplant in the winter or an annual if you choose to let it go when frost arrives.
Matthew Weatherbee at Blossom's Garden Center where I got the plant, said it takes more water than you might think and my Internet research confirms that it is NOT drought tolerant.
At Dave's Garden, people who have grown the plant say water, fertilizer and morning sun only are the keys to happiness. One gardener said it is a drama queen that pouts whenever its water needs are not met.
Loggee's has a few Acalphya varieties you can order by mail. Their "Strawberry Firetails" looks cool, too. Its catkins are more of a bright strawberry red.
This one is a beauty and I'm looking forward to watching those cattails grow.

25 May 2009

Honey Bees are Buzzing

There are several places on our little slice of the earth where you can hear honey bees buzzing.

In one of the front driveway beds, they cover the lavender blossoms of Walker's Low Catnip (Nepeta).

In the vegetable garden they buzz loudly all over the blooming late spring chard and kale flowers. The back flower bed is buzzing loudly, too.
There are trees in the front yard crawling with honey bees: The huge catalpa and another tree I have yet to identify. The mystery tree has tiny bell shaped flowers at this time of year. Along the side of the driveway the Sweetspire is also abuzz this week. On the other side, the pink-flowering Black Lace Elderberry is covered with honey bees. This lavender-blue flowering perennial is one I bought 4 years ago at a local nursery. The lable said Heliotrope but it looks a lot like a Verbena. Either way, it is a very agreeable ground cover for the front sidewalk bed. It spreads to cover any bit of bare ground, preventing weeds from coming up. And, it spreads politely not aggressively, slowly moving into open places.
I've shared it with many gardening friends who are also unsure of its name but love the butterflies and honey bees it attracts in early summer.

22 May 2009

New Nectar Gem Hummingbird Feeder

New and improved are two words that apply to this new style hummingbird feeder from Homestead, a division of Gardner Equipment.
What new design does is keep mold and ants away.

Nectar concentrate pouches are part of the system so you don't have to boil sugar and water to make the food. The feeder valve is designed to provide a steady supply of food without air pockets.

The package is $12.99 including shipping at Nectar Gem dot com and contains 2 pouches of food and 2 feeders. There is also a tube of papaya flavoring in the package.
You can call the company at 800-393-0333 for stores near you that carry the product. Looks like a great gift item, too. Order at this link Nectar Gem .

It's pretty cool that the feeder design prevents air from entering the food container. I assume I can make my own feeder sugar-water after the hummingbirds eat the contents of these pouches.

Theme Gardens Can Be Easy to Do

A drive around Muskogee to all the places that sell plants could make a person think that Muskogee is a gardener’s city. And, now that the night temperatures are consistently above 50-degrees and the spring rain has slowed its pace, the weather is just right for planting.

What you put on your shopping list depends on what you already have and the feeling you want to create. You may prefer a traditional, tropical or Tuscany style garden. If you aren’t sure, drive through some neighborhoods with a camera handy. Take photos of desirable landscapes that have the same sun position as yours.

Here are some ideas based on what was available this week at Muskogee stores, garden centers and at the Farmer’s Market.

A traditional home has shrubs and trees in place to work with. Woody plants provide basic structure for the garden; their roots, size and shade dictate what can be added. To add softness to an area around shrubs and trees, use a garden hose to shape a circle or a series of curves around the space available. Allow room for the usual foot traffic. Mark the flowerbed shape with flour.

Consider adding a bed of plants under a tree and in front of a row of shrubs. For south or west facing areas, select plants that thrive in the heat such as Gerbera Daisy, African daisy, Ice Plant, Purslane, Verbena, Pentas, Sedums or Million Bells. For a shady spot, use Impatiens, ferns and Coral Bells.

If you have room to add a small, colorful tree, consider a Purple Leaf Plum Tree with a bed of silvery Dusty Miller or Hostas underneath.

Along the border of a fenced back yard, sunlight can be in short supply. A small shade tree a few feet away from the corner will grow into the sun. Easygoing plants that would thrive under a young tree include: Tickseed, Petunia, Basil, Rosemary, Salvias, Vinca, Marigold, Sweet Potato Vine, and Rudbeckia.

If a trip to Tuscany is on your wish list, create a Mediterranean look using plants that can take our weather: Put in a row of three Sky Pencil Holly, some Knockout roses or Oleanders. Add a birdbath or fountain, and blue pots. If you have room, add fruiting plants such as grapes on an arbor, a cherry or fig tree, and pots of rosemary and dark red basil. Duplicate a Dianthus garden in Tuscany with clove scented pinks.

Would you prefer to relax and entertain in a tropical setting? You are in luck. The big box and hardware stores have colorful lawn chairs, fire pits, hammocks, Tiki lights, swings and picnic tables.

Tropical plants are dramatic with large leaves and bright colors. Consider Mandevilla, Hibiscus, Elephant Ears, Texas Five Star Hibiscus (Swamp Hibiscus at the Farmer’s Market), Allamanda, Alternathera (Joseph’s Coat), Mallow (English Hibiscus at the Farmer’s Market), Caladiums, Jasmine, Coleus, and Hardy Palms.

Or, plant seeds of Morning Glory, Scarlet Runner or Cypress vine along a fence. In flowerbeds plant seeds of Amaranth, Zinnia, Marigold, Sunflowers, Calendula, Periwinkle, Gourds, Four O’clock, Cosmos, Nigella Love-In-A-Mist, Cleome and herbs. Renee’s Seeds are available at The Gift Shop at Honor Heights Park.

For the best luck, improve the soil before planting. Dig in compost or potting soil to improve the drainage plus fertilizer or composted manure.

New plants will need water or rain almost every day for a week or until their pot-shaped roots move into the soil. Seeds must be watered at least once a day until they sprout.

Many plants look better if you pinch them back and remove their spent flowers, while others are meant to trail. Read the tag or seed packet for success tips.

19 May 2009

The First Flower Show in Baghdad Iraq

The next time your town or club says a flower show is too much work, consider this first flower show in war torn Baghdad.

Photo from Getty via: Humanflowerproject.com

The week long show was orchestrated to send a message of love and peace according to the city council's spokesperson Hakim Abdel Zahara.

While the war continues there are pockets of beauty and efforts to make life normal and less gruesome for those who can understand such impulses.

During war, not everyone is in the army, an insurgent, a spy. Most of the population is praying for peace, though a flower show seems incongruous to many.

The New York Times article on the show was titled, "Iraq's False Spring"; you can click here to read it and see more photos.

Subtopia Blogspot has a May 18 in-depth article with more photos. It's worth a click.

The time of violence and fear is over now.”

18 May 2009

Do You Know Joe Pye?

I have a dozen Joe Pye plants ready to put into the ground but I'm concerned about just the right placement. Over the years, I have bought the plants several times and they failed. So, this year I bought seeds and started them in the shed.

Joe Pye Weed seeds are offered by Parks Seed - this is their photo. Their growing tips? Full sun-Part Shade. Moist-Well Drained soil. OK, that's do-able. The real reason to grow them is their butterfly nectar in the late fall.

Park Seed's site says, "easy to grow and very floriferous!"
The 4- to 4 1/2-foot stalks, which resemble those of Lilies, are topped with large, curving flowerheads composed of many dozens of small blooms, in every shade of purple from lilac to deep royal.
Joe-Pye Weed blooms the first year if the seed is sown early enough, and will naturalize freely to increase its glorious show year after year. It is superb for mixed beds and even borders, but you may want to plant it in a setting where it can spread. The cut flowers are excellent in the vase, too! Asking only full sun and normally- to poorly-fertile soil."

At Kansas Herbs (Dept. of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources, and Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University), they say that it was named for a New England medicine man who used it to treat typhus. Now the Medicinal Benefits: Not currently listed in the PDR, but folk uses include as diuretic, for urinary tract and kidney stones, prostate problems, menstrual pain, and to ease childbirth.

And - The plant can get very tall, and form large clumps, so don’t plant adjacent to smaller plants or crops that would be crowded out. The flowers are very nice, and this would do well as a background plant, or up against a fence in a backyard flower garden."

Brenda Hyde wrote at Old Fashioned Living that "The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Monarch, and the Tawny-edged Skipper are just some of butterflies known to love Joe-Pye." (Hyde has a cool blog, too. Check it out here
A Garden of Grace and Whimsy.)

Eupatorium Purpureum is actually a weed in some places, but the English love it as a garden plant.

If you have successfully grown Joe Pye and have tips email me at MollyDay1@gmail.com or leave a comment here on my blog. Thanks.

17 May 2009

Tulsa Herb Society Tour

We love garden tours, don't we? Where else can you get so many great ideas that use plants local to your area? I just wish there were more of them so I could see the back yards of homes I drive by and admire from the front. The Tulsa Herb Society garden tour was held on a a rainy day last week. I couldn't get there in time to see the first garden but made it to two wonderful ones anyway.
In the photo above, the gardener protected seedlings from bird damage by putting a bird cage on top of them. So clever.

Here the gardener used a hypertoufa container to make a miniature garden complete with angel, swing, arbor, fence, wheelbarrow, etc. Whimsical.
It was pouring when I took these snaps - camera under the umbrella no less. Anyway, no one could identify the beautiful burgundy flower in the center. Any guesses?I loved this gardener's method of cheering up a solid wood fence: Add nature at play.

Have you ever had your home on a garden tour? Do you have any advice for gardeners who are planning to do so?

15 May 2009

Dunn Gardens In Seattle WA - A Well Preserved Olmsted Design

The word landscaping can make most of us hold our breath. Landscape? We buy pretty plants and hope they will thrive.

One way to decide how to improve the look of your gardens, and yes, your landscape, is to visit public gardens and go on garden tours. There you can see what pleases your eye and recreate it at home.

We visited Dunn Gardens in Seattle, WA, in late April to see landscapes designed by the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903).

Olmsted and his descendents John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., designed Central Park in New York City, Yosemite National Park, MO Botanical Garden, 1893 World’s Fair, the 37 park system in Seattle and others (http://www.olmstedparks.org/).

Olmsted’s landscapes were based in a personal philosophy that he had developed by the time he began landscape design at the age of 43.

In the Victorian era, the poor lived mostly in overcrowded inner cities and the wealthy had the advantage of exercise, fresh air, open spaces and recreation. Olmsted wanted to level that playing field by creating harmonious recreational and cultural environments that all citizens could use to improve their health and reduce stress. The Olmsted’s also originated playgrounds.

Paige Johnson, author of the garden blog, Garden History Girl (gardenhistorygirl.blogspot.com/) said in an email that Olmsted was a genius who was inspired by landscape architects Andrew Jackson Downing, Humphrey Repton and Lancelot Brown. Johnson said Olmsted’s Central Park was inspired by a visit to Birkenhead Park in Liverpool, designed by Joseph Paxton.

One of Olmsted’s Seattle residential gardens is open to the public. Characteristic of Olmsted’s work, the Dunn Garden was designed without the use of a bulldozer, retaining the natural contour of the land, and preserving native fir and cedar trees.

The entrance to the Dunn Gardens and residence is through those red brick posts. It takes good driving directions and a committment to find it on this little side street!

Olmsted’s lawns were for croquet, social gatherings and viewing from the house. Paths curve around the lawn and through the woods of the site.

Arthur Dunn hired Olmsted in 1914 to design the gardens. Upon Arthur’s death in 1945, his son, E. B. Dunn, dedicated himself to turning the land into a horticultural haven. Hundreds of shrubs, trees, Winter Hazel, Flowering Fuji Cherry, Red Quince, Handkerchief Trees, bulbs, trilliums, ferns, bleeding hearts, rhododendrons and other plants fill the beds and line the winding woodland trails throughout Dunn Gardens.

E.B. Dunn, a banker by profession, became an authority on native plants and a garden writer. He collected native plants from the wild and preserved them in his gardens. He also propagated the native erythronium (dogtooth violet) and rhododendrons. Upon his death in 1991, Dunn left an endowment to preserve his estate as a public garden.

All Olmsted Brothers’ projects have the spirit of Victorian and English Romantic gardens. A central green space was surrounded by masses of plantings.

To make their gardens a relaxing and peaceful escape, they used lots of blue and white and very few brightly colored flowers. Flowerbeds had a background of green foliage.

Olmsted designs blocked street views with thick, mixed plantings to make a buffer. Existing trees were preserved and vines on trellises covered building walls. Paths follow the contour of the land rather than have straight lines and square corners.

Patio behind the house.

The Great LawnVines on the buildings to soften their structure
On Saturday, June 13, from 10 to 5, Muskogee Garden Club will hold a tour in the Country Club area where you can walk through 7 residential gardens to get more ideas. The tour starts at Harris Jobe School, 2809 North Country Club.
The garden tour is held every two years as a fundraiser to provide scholarships for horticulture students and civic projects. Tickets $5. Information: mollyday1@gmail.com and Anita Whitaker 918-687-6124.

14 May 2009

28th Day of Rain With Lots of Pink

Tomatoes and peppers are turning their backs on the cloudy, rainy weather, yellowing their leaves and refusing to make blossoms.

Lots of the other plants are thriving.

Take a look at the poppy, snow peas and the greens. We are having cooked greens or salad every day from the abundance. And, the snow peas gave us our second bowlful of pre-dinner, tasty snacks last night and they are blooming mightily. I take cuttings every year of my Dicliptera suberecta and grow them in the shed over the winter. From spring to first freeze, they produce tubes of red orange flowers that the hummingbirds and butterflies find irresistible in the heat of the summer.

Suberecta is possibly hardy here but I haven't taken a chance on putting it in the ground without taking cuttings for next year. I bought my original plant from Bustani Plant Farm and they are hardy on that hot side of Oklahoma - we are in very different climates from each other.

This pink tropical Dicliptera is one I traded with Jerry Gustafson. He grows this one from cuttings so now we both have both varieties.

This sweet miniature rose was a gift at a 2007 garden writer's conference. Most of the time when I receive trial plants I do not write about them until they thrive in my garden. This one we can say is a terrific performer. It is next to the driveway with questionable care and still manages to bloom its heart out from May to October. Quite a performance.

This morning it was raining again, of course but I couldn't resist showing you the view from my desk. Last year at Blossom's Garden Center in Muskogee they had these Clematis and we put them on a trellis we had bought there the year before.
You can see that the hammocks are up in the woods in the background but ..... .
They are only to look at and dream of using until the weather changes.

13 May 2009

What's Blooming in Mid May in Zone 7?

These are stunning with their mix of fuschia pink and yellow and purple. In the background is Nepeta Walker's Low in its third successful year as a border.
A lavender iris in one of the front beds was a gift from Nelson Myers, retired physician. Nelson expresses his many talents through stained glass and as a local daylily breeder.

Blue flowers. on the edge of the shade bed.

Lychnis or Rose Campion is a local favorite that loves poor soil and does best planted under or near trees that steal excess water and nutrients.
What's blooming where you are?

12 May 2009

Tovara - A Shade Garden Plant With Many Names and Varieties

One of the plants that reseeds quite a bit in the shade garden is Tovara Virginia or Painter's Palette. It brightens up the shadowy places beneath trees with it's colorful leaves. Late in the summer, its flowers rise on tall, bare stalks, looking more like tiny red beads than flowers. In 2001, David Barnett posted a dozen shade loving plants on the Arlington Organic Garden Club webpage. Barnett's list is here and includes Tovara, Hardy Begonia, Turk's Cap and others.

Missouri Botanical Garden's MOBOT Plantfinder page says the common name is knotweed. They also say it is a Missouri native they call Polygonum virginianum.

At the URI Master Gardener's Favorite Plants site, the plant is recommended as Polygonum virginianum or Tovara virginiana. Their term for her willingness to fill a bed is "an enthusiastic self-sower". Rhode Island isn't in our horticultural zone but their list of plants is similar. Lots of great information and links at the site.

At Dave's Garden, the members who grow a plant they call Knotweed and Tovara is Persicaria or Fleece Flower. I have that in the shade garden, too. It's not the same plant at all.

Alice Joyce wrote about it in the San Francisco Chronicle last year. She said, "This genus keeps taxonomists occupied, as evidenced by recent name changes and much confusion: Synonyms include polygonum and persicaria, but Tovara v. 'Variegata' should not be (although it sometimes is) mistaken for fallopia, a towering, thuggish plant with a running habit."

Many plants such as Tovara (or Knotweed or Persicaria or Polygonum or .....) are available at plant swaps and club sales. An online search yielded one EBay seller (3 plants for $9.00) and Plant Delights Nursery has a beautiful one from Tasmania called Tovara 'Brushstrokes' (Brushstrokes Fleece Flower) for $12.

Mine came from Tulsa Perennial Club's annual sale for $5. Do you have Tovara? Do you like it in your garden?

11 May 2009

Seeds, Seedheads and Weeds in Our Garden Today

Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) seedpods hang underneath the tree at this time of year. Next year the tiny trees will be popping up all over the place. Last year's Italian flat parsley (Petroselinium neapolitanum) was planted in a protected place for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars to eat. Today it is about to burst open and plant itself throughout the garden.

Red Russian Kale planted in the vegetable garden last year, is going to seed. Once it has completed its cycle, I'll take it out and put in the peppers.

Leeks have a wonderful seedhead on a stem reaching six feet high.
Chinese Privet, Ligustrum sinese, is a weed that plants itself freely by seed. Locally, it is often used as a free filler for a shrub row. This one is flowering beautifully, providing nectar for lots of insects. It's difficult to dislike it even though it has a naughty habit of growing everywhere.

Last year's celery plants are 7 feet tall because I'm letting them complete their seeding cycle. They are beautiful structural biennial plants.

08 May 2009

J Carole Reese - Plants that Bring Nature Home - Sex Is Happening In Your Garden

J. Carol Reese, horticulture specialist at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, spoke in northwest Arkansas April 18. Reese is a well-known gardening speaker who has appeared on the Do-It-Yourself Network. She also writes a weekly garden and nature column for the Jackson Sun in MS, is a columnist for Horticulture Magazine, and contributes to other garden magazines.

The Flower Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas sponsored Reese's talk. Their monthly meetings are held on Saturday mornings in Springdale AR and feature experienced gardeners, educators and authors.

Reese opened her talk by telling the audience of 60 members that she thinks it is always good to talk to gardeners because there is never a criminal in the crowd. Well, except for those cuttings you took at the botanical gardens you visited.

The title of Carol's talk was Sex and the Single Pistil though she gave us the benefit of her experience in all things nature. One of the books she recommended is Sex in Your Garden by Angela Overy.

Gardeners' love goes beyond plants, to pollinators, Reese said. That includes birds, bees, butterflies and the rest, because real gardeners understand the connection.

While we know that in order to support the life of pollinators we have to leave unsprayed and natural places for them in our garden, Reese says you can go with a wildlife garden concept that includes more than native plants. She said it is a good idea to include shrub masses that serve as thickets for birds such as brown thrashers.

Even mowed turf adds an element that bluebirds and phoebes use to hunt grasshoppers.

You want water, a diversity of plants, and then add some structure, Reese said. Add the hand of man to your garden. Structures help balance the mixed medley of plants in a good wildlife garden. Overhead Structure is easily added – just dig holes for the posts.

Returning to her sex-in-the-garden talk, Reese said that grasses are wind pollinated and when their blooms are blowing in the breeze, the flowers are trying to get pollinated. Showy, large petals are the strategy for flowers that need to attract pollinators to carry sticky, heavy pollen.

Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis) is one of the best hummingbird plants, Reese said. The nectar is 43% sugar. The transsexual flower starts out life as a male and becomes a female.

Other hummingbird nectar plants she recommends are cardinal flower, cross vine, and trumpet creeper.

Some of the plants that Reese recommended include a mixture of native and non-natives include: Pink or Purple Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries),
Super Size Elephant Ear (Colocasia gigantea) Thailand Giant Strain;
King Tut Cyperus papyrus (Egyptian Papyrus);
Fountain grass Pennisetum Princess;
Miscanthus sinensis Gold Bar;
Pennisetum (Arundo donax) Peppermint Stick,
Giant Reed Grass;
Yucca recurvifolia Margaritaville and
Yucca filamentosa Color Guard;
Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris);
Blue Mist Shrub; and

For a low care dahlia, Reese recommends Bishop of Llandaff with an almost black leaf and red flowers late summer.
Others: Bishop of Auckland (dark red flower),
Bishop of Canterbury (black leaves and pink-purple flowers),
Bishop of Dover (white flowers),
Bishop of Lancaster (deep pink),
Bishop of Leicester (rose pink),
Bishop of Oxford (peach) and
Bishop of York (cream-gold).

The idea behind Reese’s type of gardening is to attract all types of beneficial bugs and creatures by using a variety of plants that flower and fruit at different times of the year. Her method provides food and cover for all nature’s creatures.

Flower Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas upcoming meetings: May 16 Water Harvesting and Cisterns, July 18 Nature Conservancy Workand Major Projects, October 17 Residential Landscape Sustainability.

For more information contact Lynn Rogers at 479-841-8759.

07 May 2009

Big Moo Story: Cow Wow Manure From Organic Dairies

Cow Wow is one of several fertilizer possibilities for gardeners who want to grow strictly organic. While I'm not sure yet how important it is to use strictly organic poo as fertilizer, the product makes use of an otherwise pootent environmental problem.

CowWow logo

Yesterday the conversation on the Garden Writer's forum included the observation that if you use corn gluten to fertilize your lawn that's a non-chemical but not precisely an organic method -unless you use gluten from organically grown corn.

Then, on the Science Daily email today, one of the stories is about manure from organic dairy farms being used as manure.
From the source, PA Farm News:
"Cows on organic dairy farms generally consume forage feeds cultivated on soils that are fertilized with manure and compost rather than manufactured fertilizers. This organic management, in turn, may significantly affect how easily nutrients are converted in soil into forms readily taken up by crops.
The researchers found that the two types of manure had at least 17 different chemical forms of phosphorus that varied in concentrations. The organic dairy manure had higher levels of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.
Organic dairy manure also contained more types of phosphorus found in association with calcium and magnesium. Such forms are comparatively slow to dissolve and would thus gradually release the nutrients. Slow-release fertilizers generally increase the likelihood that they eventually will be taken up by crops, rather than being washed out of fields into nearby surface or groundwater sources.
Because of this, slow-release fertilizers often can be applied at comparatively low rates. Manure produced by cows in organic production systems may show similar characteristics compared to manure from conventional systems."

So, dear reader.... Did you take philosophy class and hear the conversation about angels dancing on the head of a pin? It means that people love to spend time arguing about issues about which they can have no personal knowledge and over which they have no control.

On a scale from one to ten, how important is this to you as a concerned environmental citizen and as a gardener who wants to improve the earth? Will you seek out manure made from the animal byproduct of organic dairies?

by Elizabeth Chandler

06 May 2009

Table Top Gardener is One Cool Tool for Gardeners

Check out the Table Top Gardener.

From Argee Corp., this affordable asset is a terrific way to get gardening tasks up off the ground.

You don't have to be disabled or elderly to want to take care of potting and re-potting without getting onto the ground. But, this cool tool would help those groups, too.

Have a mom or grandmother or aunt who needs a gift this coming Sunday for Mother's Day?

It is lightweight, has handles on the sides and is deep enough to be useful. Of course crafters will find uses for it, too.

For apartment dwellers, it's perfect because it keeps everything contained on the kitchen table or out on the deck.

The Table Top Gardener is $13.95 at the Argee site here and their phone is 619.449.5050.

Marc at GardenDesk has photos of himself using it. Here's the link to Marc.

Very cool.

04 May 2009

Earth Tainer pdf at This Blue Marble and Instructional Videos at Tomato Fest Site

Today, a blog reader wrote a comment on one of my entries from last summer, saying that the Earth Tainer instructions were no longer available at the link provided.

It's true that the pdf link where you contribute to a charity is a broken link. But the instructional videos are still available.
Click on this link to go to Tomato Fest

Scroll down the page to the bottom. The links are still active and you can see the videos Link one is building. Link 2 is assembly. Link 3 is planting.
EarthTainer Construction Videos
Chapter 1 - Introduction and Building the EarthTainer View video, Download video Chapter 2 - Assembling the Cage System View video, Download video Chapter 3 - Planting View video, Download video

AND, if you want the revised version 1.6 printed instructions in a pdf file they are at This Blue Marble. Click here Homemade EarthTainer. The constructionsection is a pdf and the assembly links are there, too.

Hope this helps. Tell me if you build them and how they work.

03 May 2009

Wet With More Rain In the Forecast

Yesterday when we went to the Tulsa Perennial Club's annual sale, we could see that the rivers were up their banks. Water was up to the bottom branches of the trees along the banks.
It's still raining.

The plant just left of center in this photo is Salix integra 'Hakuro-nishiki' or Dappled Willow, a variegated Japanese willow.

Of course the willows love this weather. They can soak their feet to their heart's content. MOBOT's page (link above in green) says it can have insect and disease problems but it has been a perfectly healthy lady or gentleman in our garden.

The beds that are slightly raised are still doing OK though I'll go out later this morning and make sure nothing is standing in water since rain is predicted for the rest of the week. There are a few plants that can handle some standing water but not many.

The seed trays I put out to take advantage of rain water's benefits will have to be drained or the seeds will be ruined before they can sprout.

The birds are thrilled to have lots of food in the feeders, puddles for splashing and wet soil to bring the insects to the surface. Their babies will have a plentiful feast of crickets and worms today!

Plant sales are a great way to see what is working well for other gardeners in your area. Despite my best intentions, two bags of plants came home with me. Is there an addiction program for plant enthusiasts?

We expanded the shade garden this year and I found a couple of things I wanted to try. And, I, well, here's what I bought

Lizard's Tail for the little fountain garden
ButterBur (Bog rhubarb, Devil's hat, Pestilence wort) for a shady bed
Red Yucca for the hummingbirds
Yellow Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) for the butterflies and skippers in part sun back bed
Echinacea or Purple Cone Flower to replace the one that did not return this year

At the Farmer's Market I bought one pot of Variegated Basil, Ocimum xcitriodorum 'Pesto Perpetuo'.

If you have not seen it yet, check out the Promising Plant page of the Herb Society of America. Here's the link.

At the plant sale, club members offered concrete and hypertoufa containers that they made. I bought two shallow leaf-shaped ones to make butterfly feeders.

02 May 2009

Vitex Has Colorful History

Muskogee Garden Club purchased a Chaste Tree that was planted in the median on 12th Street in the Kendall Place historic district. The tree honors long-time Garden Club member, Elizabeth Sullivan whose home was on the garden tour several times.

On May 2 at 1:00, family and friends will gather at the tree for a dedication. The flagpole near the tree was dedicated to Clarence Sullivan. Nancy Gassaway and Lisa Moore, Sullivan’s daughters, will be at the dedication. Her son Mike Sullivan will be in town from Franklin, IN for the event.

Phil Sapienza, Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department, helped purchase the tree from Sanders Nursery in Inola. Sapienza brought in heavy equipment to plant the 750-pound balled and burlap specimen. Parks and Recreation will prune the tree and Kendall Place Historical Society members will water it. Sullivan was an active member of the Historical Society.

Chaste Tree has a long history of being used by physicians and herbalists. Botanically known as Vitex agnus-castus, its common names include Abraham's Balm, Texas Lilac, Chaste Lamb-Tree, Safe Tree, Hemp Tree, Monk's Pepper-Tree, Indian-Spice and Wild-Pepper.

Hippocrates wrote about Vitex in the fourth Century BC, recommending it for inflammation and swelling of the spleen. In the year 77, Pedanius Discorides wrote about the uses of Chaste Tree in “De Materia Medica” which was a description of 1,000 medically important drugs. The original Greek writing was translated into 7 languages and it was used for 1500 years as the authority for medicinal herbs and plants.

During the October festival of Thesmophoria, Athenian women celebrated the holiday by placing Chaste Tree boughs under their beds. Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, fertility and women, used chaste tree blossoms for adornment.

Women were expected to remain chaste during the festival and were often prescribed tinctures of Chaste Tree extracts for various maladies. Throughout history, monks and soldiers used the herb to help them remain chaste. One of its active ingredients is saltpeter.

Research conducted in the 1940s and 1950s confirmed Chaste Tree's medicinal properties in balancing hormones. In 1990 clinical drug monitoring research confirmed those earlier findings. Herbal pharmacies in the U.S. and Europe dispense Chaste Tree extracts for a wide variety of disorders, including PMS.

Most of the 250 Vitex varieties grow well in average soil. The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants states that summer soft wood cuttings root like weeds and seeds can be successfully sown directly into the ground when it is 40 to 50-degrees.

Chastetree, Vitex agnus-castusvar latifolia, was introduced to European gardens from the Mediterranean and western Asia in 1570. Now it is naturalized in the United States from Maryland and Florida to Oklahoma and Texas. Chastetree is actually an aromatic shrub that grows to 10 or 20 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide. The leaves are gray and the lilac-lavender-blue flowers bloom for several months.

New varieties, which were bred for improved color and form, include, Montrose Purple, LeCompte and Shoal Creek. They are all marketed under the name Texas Lilac Vitex.

All Vitex are relatively disease free and pest free. Avoid spraying pesticides on them because they are a nectar source for bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. Deer generally do not eat plants as strongly scented as Vitex.

Chaste Trees are heat tolerant and love the sun. They lose their leaves in the winter and in harsh weather may die down to the ground. Growers can get a second round of growth: Prune off the first bloom when it fades and water deeply. Control and shape the tree with late winter pruning.