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);
Amaranth,
Blue Mist Shrub; and
Verbenas.

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.

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