30 June 2009

Good Stuff from Other Garden Blogs

I don't know how many gardening blogs a person can read in a day or a week but not as many as we want to, that's for sure. The photo is another lily blooming in our garden today. Gotta love lilies.
Transatlantic Plantsman has a blog entry on the Top Ten Plants in the UK. The list includes geranium, agapanthus, penstemon, and one of my favorites - salvia.

Garden Design Online featured a new way to warm up the environment on chilly nights. It's a must see and I want one.

Pruned posted photographs that predict the future of the environment the next generation will inherit. Sad but dramatic art.

UC Botany Photo of the Day post is kalanchoe photographs. Fabulous.

Gardens OyVey has a series on hydrangeas - selecting, growing, identifying, loving.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation has a post about Carl Rust Parker, a landscape architect who lived from 1882 to 1966. Parker worked for the Olmsted Brothers.

Happy reading. Let me know if you have a favorite blog or post at mollyday1@gmail.com

28 June 2009

The Birth of a Monarch Butterfly This Morning

At 6:30 this morning I had the privilege of watching a Monarch butterfly emerging from the chrysalis. It sat there for a couple of hours while I watered and weeded the flower bed.

The papery object on the fence just below and to the right of the butterfly is the empty chrysalis.
When it was ready to move, it walked up the fence and then began fanning its wings to dry them before taking flight.

While the Monarch caterpillars only hang out on milkweeds the adults like the nectar of the perennial sweet pea in that flower bed.

25 June 2009

Milkweeds - Asclepias for All Gardens and Gardeners

Whether you call them Asclepias or Milkweeds, this family has everything from tall weeds that grow in drainage ditches to garden quality plants.

Some of them are shrubs, some grow in wet soil, and others thrive in dry scrub. They grow in South Africa and there is at least one milkweed in every state of the U.S.

Their flowers vary but all have seedpods filled with a fluffy, silky substance that carries the seeds on the air.

Asclepias flowers attract several types of butterflies and their leaves provide food for Monarch butterfly caterpillars.
There are three potential problems with growing Asclepias: The milky sap can cause a rash on sensitive skin, they attract aphids and cows can become sick if they eat it.

Many Asclepias are native to Oklahoma but you can also grow other varieties with special care.

The USDA Plants Database lists them at http://plants.usda.gov/. If you have a milkweed to identify, go to http://shrvl.com/n751D to see 226 photos and drawings of Asclepias varieties.

Choose one of these garden-worthy Asclepias species for your garden.

Butterfly weed, or Butterfly flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallowort, Indian Posey, Orange Root or Virginia Silkweed, (Asclepias tuberosa) likes dry soil. Grows up to 3-feet tall with red, orange and yellow flowers. They are native to most of the U.S.

Asclepias tuberosa is the milkweed most commonly sold by nurseries. It does not spread wildly but still has all the benefits of attracting butterflies.

In “Oklahoma Gardener’s Guide” Steve Dobbs wrote about Asclepias tuberosa, saying that you can’t beat its resilience for growing in poor, dry spots. Gay Butterflies Mix is a combination of orange-red, pink and yellow flowers.

Oklahoma native Antelope-horn milkweed is also called Spider milkweed, Antelope horns, Green-flowered milkweed, and Spider antelope-horns. Asclepias asperula or Asclepias viridis has a round ball shaped cluster of flowers.

Bloodflower – also called Indian Root and Swallow-wort (Asclepias curassavica) is perennial in South America and is grown as an annual here. It typically has red or orange-red flowers; the variety Silky Gold has yellow flowers and grows to 3-feet tall.

Perennial Narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) grows to 3-feet tall in dry soil. Pink flowers.

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), an Oklahoma native, grows to 4-feet tall with pink flowers. One hybrid, Ice Ballet has white flowers. Likes moist soil.

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) has purple-pink flowers but likes well-drained soil. Plants for a Future database (www.pfaf.org) says the plant’s flowerbuds taste like peas when cooked. This one can become invasive if allowed to seed at will.

Prairie milkweed or smooth milkweed, Asclepias sullivantii, has pink-burgundy flowers on 2-foot tall stems in moist soil. This one is an Oklahoma native that is threatened because its numbers are so low. The seedpods are collected and used in dried flower arrangements.

Common milkweed, A. syriaca, is a native in more than half of the U.S. They grow to 5-feet tall with fragrant lavender flowers. Can become a weed in good soil.

Whorled milkweed (A. verticillata) has threadlike leaves and white flowers.

Dobbs recommends taking tip cuttings to root at the end of the summer. Keep the plants going indoors over the winter and plant them next spring.

Deadheading can prolong the flowering season. Remove flowers as they fade so the plant will continue to produce more buds.

Gardeners often allow a few seed pods to form. In the spring put the floss and seeds outside. The birds will use the floss for their nests and the seeds will sprout to make plants.

Useful resources for native plants can be found at http://www.missouriplants.com/, http://www.kswildflower.org/, and Oklahoma Native Plant Society at www.usao.edu/~onps/.

24 June 2009

Rudbeckia Maxima - Giant Coneflower

This is the third year I've purchased and planted an Oklahoma native Giant Coneflower, Rudbeckia Maxima. I love them. They grow to 6 feet tall and have huge flowers.
The leaves are a bluish grey which is also a favorite of mine.

The University of Oklahoma has a database of Oklahoma native plants and it says that this beauty if native to Choctaw county.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin calls it a Giant Brown Eyed Susan. Their horticulturist says it is found in moist open spaces from East Texas to the East Cross Timbers.

I'm going to try watering it more and see if this one takes hold and returns next year.

21 June 2009

Start Planning for Fall

Now that summer is officially here with 92 degree tomato ripening weather, we can take a look at the garden with an eye to fall. Whether you want a few extra perennials to make a new bed look full or need some seeds to grow fall veggies, the online stores are ready to accommodate.

Renee's Garden Seeds is reminding all gardeners to think of fall planting. I just bought some broccoli seeds to plant in pots in July for the fall garden.

What to Plant in June/July is here and the Second Season article is at this link.

Brent and Becky's is having their summer sale on bulbs. To get the discount, order by July 1st for fall planting. Here's a link to the bulb selection.
The perennials on sale at Easy to Grow Bulbs include a lime astilbe, Roxy Dahlia, and Starfire Phlox.

Sooner Plant Farm has several trees and shrubs on sale at the Clearance Zone link. One that I would love to grow is Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), They also have Black Barlow Columbine, Harvest Moon coneflower, and Sapphire Skies Yucca.

Another favorite, Bluestone Perennials has specials, too. Several hosta varieties, candy lilies, popcorn viburnum, and Sioux Blue Indian Grass. Here's that link.
Bottlebrush Buckeye at the entrance to the Overland Park Arboretum
If you know of other online stores having sales, let me know at mollyday1@gmail.com and thanks!

20 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

Since 1909 Father's Day has been a celebration of gratitude to the men in our lives who nurture, care for and love their families and friends.

In 1966 president Lyndon Johnson formalized the date as the third Sunday in June.

Whether you honor the men in your life by planting a plant or a kiss, have a wonderful day.

18 June 2009

Great Beauty Greets Visitors at Overland Park Arboretum south of Kansas City KS

If you are in the Kansas City area this summer, make time for a detour to the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden. It is a relatively new addition to the area and is not very well known.

The gardens open at 8 a.m. every day of the year except Christmas or when the weather causes closure. There is no admission charge for either the gardens or the Environmental Education Center.

Throughout the year there are special events to attend. For example, on June 27, an annual fundraiser called Stems: A Garden Soiree, is being held. The $75 tickets sell out when they reach 1,000 attendees. Restaurants, musicians, wineries and artists contribute their specialties for the night. (opkansas.org/_Vis/Arboretum/Events/stems_soiree.cfm)The Erickson Water Garden was the first feature built in the Arboretum. As you enter the gardens and walk down the path, plants surround waterfalls and ponds.

When we visited the Arboretum last week, it was obvious that their summer weather is a few weeks ahead of ours. Tall Cosmos and sunflower plantings were already in full bloom, and the Baptesias had already made this season’s fat seedpods.

Because it is an arboretum, many of the plants are identified. The path from the building down to the large pond is lined with both familiar and new plants in pots and flowerbeds. Several plants have detailed information for gardeners to read.

One plant on display from Australia is Ptilotus exaltatus Joey, hardy in zones 9 and 10 (we are zone 7). The flowers look like a pink bottlebrush plant so it is called Pink Mulla Mulla or Lamb’s Tail. (Seeds available at parkseed.com/gardening/PD/51641)

A new Blanket Flower Hybrid, called Fanfare (Gaillardia grandiflora) has petals that resemble coral honeysuckle. (Plants available at highcountrygardens.com/catalog/product/53243/)

Sunflower Soraya is an award winning multi-branching selection that reseeds the next year. It grows 5-feet tall and has 5 blooms per stem. (Seeds available at www.territorialseed.com/product/759/147)

Around the ponds and in the gardens, artists are painting at their easels using the beauty of the surroundings to create lasting memories.

The Monet Garden is loaded with color. One side of the path is all pastels and the other side is deeper purples and reds.

The Arboretum was designed with trees selected for their disease and insect resistance to provide guidance for homeowners and landscape professionals.

The Xeriscape gardens are also intended to be teaching gardens in that they demonstrate water-efficient landscaping.

Legacy Garden and Ailie’s Glade are shade gardens in a woodland setting. Regional native plants, trees, shrubs and wildflowers are in the Marder Woodland Garden, which was dedicated in 1999.

New in 2000, the Rotary Children’s Discovery Garden has a frog pond, a story tree, vine covered tunnels, a sunflower maze and a grass maze.

The entire 300 acres of the park are not developed So far there are 5 miles of paved, asphalt and wood chip sidewalks, paths and trails.

Eighty-five percent of the land is dedicated to the restoration of natural ecosystems. The front entrance to the Arboretum is designed to represent a prairie ecosystem with Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass.

The Dry Oak Savanna is an area with widely spaced oak trees and the Dry Oak-Hickory area is filled with Post Oak, Black Oak and Shagbark Hickory.

Other ecosystems represented are: Mesic Oak-Hickory Forest (Ash, Hackberry, Paw Paw), Riparian Woodland floodplain, Woodland Draws (Dogwood, Coneflower, Milkweed), Dry Wooded Swales and an Oil Field.

Wolf Creek flows through the park and there are two 75-foot bridges. Trail maps are free at the visitors’ center.

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden is south of Kansas City KS, one-half mile west of Hwy 69 at 8909 West 179 ST. Information: http://www.opkansas.org/ and 913-685-3604.

16 June 2009

Mystery Solved by a Reader

A blog reader, SuzOH, sent an email identifying my mystery plant as Lotus maculatus commonly known as Golden Parrot's Beak.

We saw it on a trip to Kansas City and had no idea what it was so I put a photo of it in my June 10 blog entry. Happily a reader recognized it.

Backyardgardener.com (click here) has the scoop on how to grow it. Warning - the site has constant popups that you have to click closed in order to read anything. They say it tolerates heat and humidity and is cold hardy in zone 9.

I searched online and it looks like the vendors are mostly in England.

Wikipedia's photo shows the plant trailing out of a hanging basket. Those hot orange.red flowers don't show at all from this vantage point.

At Overland Park Arboretum they were at eye level so you could enjoy the flowers.

Have you seen it at your local nurseries? Do you grow it?

15 June 2009

Grapes on the Vine

The grapes were planted on an arbor with big hopes several years ago. They are petted, watered, sprayed for fungus and talked to. This year they are farther ahead than ever but we realize that we will never have a crop of grapes the way we have crops of blackberries. So many flowers are blooming that it's hard to choose some to show. The red Asclepias on the left is always a favorite because it brings Monarch butterflies to the gardens.

14 June 2009

Lobularia Snow Princess - a New Alyssum Hybrid from Proven Winners

The old fashioned Lobularia or Sweet Alyssum we planted 40 years ago was such a reliable and sweetly scented plant. Almost every seed from the packet would germinate at the front edge of the border. Later in the summer when the first plants were tired looking we would prune them back and find a dozen new seedlings coming up.

According to David Beaulieu, Alyssum's name comes from the Greek prefix a-and lyssa, rage. Alyssums were used in folk medicine where they were regarded as antidotes to rabies.

The photo you see here is a new hybrid from Proven Winners, called Snow Princess Lobularia Hybrid. The ones in my garden were sent to me as trial plants to see how they would do in our zone 7 heat and humidity. So far they are everything the publicity brags about.

The plant is sterile (grown from cuttings not from seed) so instead of making a dozen new plants from seed in the second half of the summer, it produces more and more flowers. Million Bells or Callbrachoa is the same - no pruning, just summer long bloom.

They are all members of the plant family, Brassicaceae so their relatives are mustards and cabbages of all kinds.

Look for Snow Princess in garden centers next spring. With growing habits like Million Bells, it should make a spectacular hanging basket plant.

12 June 2009

Master Gardener Conference 2009

The 2009 Oklahoma State Master Gardener Conference was held in Bartlesville last week. Conference topics included: Vegetable gardening, life in the soil, understanding chemicals, native plants, tree care, integrated pest management, and lawn care. The keynote speaker was Dr. Alan Stevens from Kansas State Horticulture Research Center.

Here are some of the things we learned in the sessions

Stevens said that the latest flowerbed and flowerpot design is a combination of colorful foliage plus flowers with foliage in the center of the design.

The Prairie Star program at Kansas State University has a website of plants that performed well over a 2-year period prairie conditions. The annual plants are listed at www.prairiestarflowers.com/. Perennials are at the Prairie Bloom link.

Brian Jervis from the Tulsa Master Gardening program pointed gardeners to Kelly Solutions (www.kellysolutions.com) for information on all things bugging your yard and garden.

At Kelly Solutions, gardeners can search for pesticide information on all 20 insecticides and 7 fungicides available

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strives to minimize harm to the environment by targeting a specific problem and using the least harmful solution.

Professor Tom Royer said that gardeners should learn the life cycle of insects, weeds and diseases. When we see a symptom such as a wilted leaf, we should scout to find out what caused the problem rather than reaching for a full-spectrum poison.

Royer also said that beneficial larvae eat more pests than adults. For example, lacewing, ladybug and hover fly larvae are better than adults at clearing the garden of harmful bugs.

Green manures, such as mustard crops, act as fumigants in the garden by enriching the soil, controlling weeds, bacteria, fungi and pests. (See http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/pest/pest.cfm).

Sue Gray from Tulsa Extension said they have had triple the usual number of requests for soil tests and home canning classes.

She said that an average home vegetable garden costs $70 to put in and yields an average of $350 in food.

OSU Fact Sheets to check out include: HL 6009 fall gardening, HLA6004 spring gardens, HLA6007 soil fertility, HLA6436 healthy garden soil, HLA6005 commercial vegetable varieties and HLA6000 fertilizing vegetables.

All the OSU Fact Sheets and information about the Master Gardener program are listed at http://www.hortla.okstate.edu/hortla/resources.htm.

Tidbits of advice from Gray’s talk:
Cucumbers grown on a trellis produce more fruit than those grown on the ground.
Garlic grows better in wide rows than in single rows.
Grow yardlong beans as a hot weather substitute for fresh green beans.
Interplant chives and onions with other vegetables.
Remove suckers from tomato plants up to the first flower.

Entomologist Dr. Carmen Greenwood, spoke about microscopic animals in the soil that live in microhabitats such as around plant roots.

One teaspoon of soil has 6 to 9 feet of fungal strand, up to a billion bacteria, as many as 200 bacterial feeders, 100 arthropods, 5 or more annelids, and thousands of protozoa.

They all work at breaking down organic matter and soil toxicity, are a source of carbon storage, control insects and improve the physical structure of the soil.

Box mites have 8 legs but can close into their shells like a turtle. Pill bugs or rollie pollies, are actually land-living crustaceans. Other crustaceans are lobsters and crabs.

Termites and earthworms are called soil ecosystem engineers because they can reshape a landscape.

Parasitic wasps help keep harmful insects out of the garden, even going into the soil looking for bugs.

Maureen Turner is the chief horticulturist for the Tulsa Zoo and Woodward Park. She provided information about native plants.

Turner's recommendations include Halesia Carolina, or Carolina silverbell that grows slowly to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Also look for Eupatorium maculatum, Joe Pye Weed hybrids, for moist soils in half sun.

10 June 2009

Lovely New-to-Me Plants

These new-to-me plants were at the Overland Park Kansas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. We visited the park a few days ago. Gallairdia Fanfare Blanket Flower
Pink Mulla Mulla

Unknown beauty - know what it is?
Lovely combination at the entrance to the botanical garden

09 June 2009

Seed Starting Success Stories

With all the advice and books provided about seed starting at home, some seeds are reluctant to follow the steps provided.

We buy seed that we assume is fresh from reliable vendors, use sterile seed starting medium, warm their little bottoms in late winter, early spring, then give them bright light and a little fertilizer when they emerge.

And, still some seeds act as though they had not read the same books as we did. Pesky, time consuming and disappointing.

But, there's no time to dwell on those at this time of year. Here are a few seed starting success stories from our garden. I hope you'll share yours. Send an email to mollyday1@gmail.com and let me know what worked and didn't work for you and what you have learned.The Cardinal Climber vine seeds were pretty good at germinating and growing up the fence to delight the hummingbirds. These were from Renee's Seeds as part of a hummingbird package.
The broccoli seeds from Johnny's Seeds also did well. I had enough little plants to share with a gardening friend. This year's crop has us eating just-harvested broccoli every day.

In January a friend bought these pansy seeds when I promised I could grow them. They were just some we picked up at a hardware store. I think they were Burpee Seeds. They are taking the early summer heat and blooming very well.
The Farewell to Spring from Botanical Interests came up even though I planted them directly in the ground so that was a happy result.
The failures included sea kale from Fedco Seeds though other seeds from them did well. The sea kale is a mystery that I'll try to solve when I have a little time.

04 June 2009

Muskogee Garden Club Garden Tour Will Be June 13 from 10 to 5 pm

Seven gardens in the Muskogee Country Club area will be open to visitors on Saturday, June 13 from 10 to 5.

Muskogee Garden Club’s Garden Tour will begin at Harris Jobe Elementary School, 2809 North Country Club Road.

Tickets cost $5 and are available that day at the homes and in advance at About Hair, 603 South York ST.

The tour is the Garden Club's primary fund raising activity. The proceeds fund scholarships, and civic projects such as the Chandler RD Enabling Garden and the Broadway ST planters and hanging baskets. Garden Club membership is $20 per year; membership forms will be available at the tour.

Homes on the tour

Vernon and Sally Burkett, 3103 Chelsea LN

Bud and Marilyn Hinshaw, 3506 University ST

Duane and Nola Mason, 3401 River Bend PL

Mary Nevitt, 3412 River Bend RD

Darrell and Priscilla Parks, 3510 Porter AV

Harvey and Kay Price, 2501 Country Club RD

Gary and Mary Wildman, 3400 River Bend PL

Garden Club president, Oyana Wilson said, We hope lots of people come and enjoy seeing into other gardens. Everyone should drive slowly through the neighborhood to see the ones that are not on the tour.

People will enjoy the beauty of the various garden styles represented, said Anita Whitaker, vice president and tour organizer.

The main thing is that the gardens are designed, planted and tended by the homeowners and their families, Whitaker said.

Tour participants Gary and Mary Wildman are opening their 8-acre home site. Look for Gary's favorite Azalea bed and Mary's favorite Hydrangea beds. The home has a waterfall pond, swimming pool, tennis court, golf range, vegetable garden, greenhouse and wide-open spaces for their 9 grandchildren to play.
The greenhouse is where I start vegetables and herbs from seed as well as store the big ferns over the winter, said Mary.

Gary said, After the ice storm 3 years ago we had to plant a lot of trees. Crape myrtles and 80 Loblolly pine trees were planted to fill in. You can start or end your day of garden strolling at the vendor area at Harris Jobe Elementary School. The public is welcome to shop the vendors without going on the tour.

Shopping opportunities include:
1) Plant sale with plants donated by garden club members, Blossom's Garden Center and Tri-B Nursery;
2) Chaos Cactus Nursery, Bill Keeth and Terri Mann, from Sand Springs with succulents and cacti, plus hand made pottery;
3) Moonshadow Herb Farm, Sharon Owen’s Muskogee grown herbs;
4) Jordan Essentials natural body and hair products;
5) Harris Jobe PTA BBQ sandwich concession;
6) Faith Sarber machine embroidered towels and shirts; and,
7) Shutterbug Club members' nature photographs.

Friends of Honor Heights Park will have an information table where you can see the architect's drawing for the proposed teaching garden and butterfly house.

Sharon Owen said the Moonshadow Herb Farm tent would be set up with pots of herbs you can buy to put into patio pots or garden beds at home.

I’ll have three types of mint, Owen said. The gallon pots will be rosemary, lavender and castor bean. Quart pots will be lemon verbena, thyme, Stevia, fennel, feverfew, Artemesia and Patchouli.

Tour vendor Claudette Marsh, of Jordan Essentials lives in Lebanon MO and travels to Muskogee a lot to visit family.

Jordan Essentials are natural bath and body spa products made near Springfield MO, Marsh said. Some of the products are even made with locally grown ingredients.

You might want to bring a snapshot camera to take photos. Garden Club members will be at every home.
Information: Anita Whitaker, 918-687-6124, Oyana Wilson, 918-683-5380 or Martha Stoodley, stoodleymartha@gmail.com.

02 June 2009

Bonita Shea Begonia and Gaillardia Georgia Sunset are Two New Improved Plants You Will Want

Bonita Shea Begonia

Look at the color and leaf shape of Bonita Shea Begonia. I am entranced. I've had it over a month and maybe you can see in the photo that it has been sitting in an impatiens bed under an oak tree, looking prettier every week.

It grows 6-10” and blooms spring until fall. Full sun to part shade. It's basically a houseplant in the winter since it is cold hardy to 30-degrees, that is considered Zone 10-11. It will be well worth bringing in for the winter.

Gaillardia Georgia Sunset from Athens Select is a wonderful Blanket Flower. It took a few days to adjust to being in the ground but since then it has bloomed and bloomed.
The bright colors and it's sun loving nature make it a good addition to one of our sunny beds. Look at all the new buds. It will make quite an impression by the end of the summer.

These two new plant introductions were sent to me to grow in our area. I'll give the companies feedback in August. So far, I'd say they have a couple of winners.