Showing posts from 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…

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 gre…

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.

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 …

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 …

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 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:
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.”

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 …

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 …

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 (

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 spa…

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 Diclipterasuberectaand 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…

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?

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 MOBOTPlantfinder page says the common name is knotweed. They also say it is a Missouri native they call Polygonumvirginianum.

At the URI Master Gardener's Favorite Plants site, the plant is recommended as Polygonumvirginianum or Tovaravirginiana. 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 D…

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.…

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 re…

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 th…

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.

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 videoConstruction
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.

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 Salixintegra '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.


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 agn…