Showing posts from October, 2009

Happy Halloween Dallas Arboretum Style

We took a quick trip to the Dallas Arboretum to see their fantastic fall displays. The weather was sunny and perfect for a stroll and lunch outside at the onsite DeGolyer Garden Café.

Have a goblin friendly celebration!

Pawpaw and Witch Hazel Trees

Fall and winter are the ideal time to plant new trees and shrubs. Local garden centers and hardware stores have plenty in stock and some are even on sale.

Fruit trees have the romantic aura of picking your own apples, peaches and cherries, which, in reality, is quite nice. They require a spraying schedule, pruning, fruit thinning, a deer fence and water during droughts.

Homeowners can be disappointed by the reality of a garden-center recommended tree. The garden center staff tells you either how the tree performed in someone else’s growing conditions or what the grower said about the plant. Neither of these is necessarily a prediction of how the tree will grow in your soil.

Pine trees and their relatives can succeed in our area. They take a beating during ice storms and tend to hold snow after the surrounding trees have bounced back. Austrian pines and other non- native varieties will live beautiful, albeit short, lives in our summer heat.

Two trouble-free, native, shrubby trees to consi…

Moonflower Vines In Late October are Still Growing and Blooming

Despite the cooler nights and wet cloudy days, the Moonflower Vines are gorgeous. Mostly a gardener's treat because they are planted where no one else goes, they make me gasp every time I walk over there.

Ipomoea alba noctiflora syn. Calonyction aculeatum is a Morning Glory relative and may be blooming its heart out because of the cloudy days rather than in spite of them.
Morning Glories open during the day and Moon Flowers open in the evening and early morning, as well as on cloudy days.
Cold hardy only to zone 9, it won't survive the winter here in zone 7, but maybe some seeds will fall and keep this beauty coming back to climb all over everything in its path.

Look at the bud before it opens and those purple stems in this photo taken yesterday.
Have you tried Google for Gardeners yet? Here's the link. Try it and let me know if you find what you are looking for. I have not. I still find Dogpile.comto be the most efficient search engine, though I try every new one that comes alo…

Wed, Oct 28 Michael Pollan "Botany of Desire" on Public TV

"We don't give nearly enough credit to plants. They've been working on us, they've been using us for their own purposes." Those words are first thing out of Micael Pollan's mouth on the Public TV special this week.

That's a good start isn't it? Tune in!

And, in an article in the November/December/January 2009-2010 Organic Gardening, Pollan talks about organic food, Michelle Obama and the local food movement. The issue is on newsstands now.

Pollan sat down with Organic Gardening Managing Editor Therese Ciesinski.
A few quotes from the interview in Organic Gardening:
"organic is in danger of being co-opted" and that he's been on organic factory farms and "…if most organic consumers went to those places, they would feel they were getting ripped off."

First Lady Michelle Obama "She talks about organic, but she also talks about fresh. Basically, getting away from processed food is key. And if you're eating produce, and it's …

Solanum Integrifolium or Solanum aethiopicum L. - How to Grow and Use Pumpkin on a Stick or Ornamental Eggplant

Fall decorations are popping up on porches and in front yards. Stacks of square hay bales, pumpkins, squash, corn and sugar cane stalks become fall symbols of the end of the harvest season.

Most of these grow too large for the average home garden. Pumpkins and squash can take up an entire city lot as they sprawl and make fruit.

One of the unique plants gardeners can grow for seasonal table arrangements is Pumpkin on a Stick, which grows upright and has 2-inch fruits. Introduced as “Scarlet Chinese an ornamental curiosity” by Vanderbilt University in 1879, they are still grown to amuse guests and decorating homes.

The Latin name is Solanum Integrifolium or Solanum aethiopicum L. Other names include: Pumpkin Tree, Pumpkin Bush, Hmong Eggplant, and Mock Tomato.

All Eggplants are in Solanaceae or nightshade family. Found in India, China and Africa, 2500 years ago, eggplant fruit was pea sized, orange and bitter. By the 1500s, German plantsmen had developed yellow and purple cultivars.

Today’s …

Two Saturdays Left To Walk the Trails at the OK Botanical Garden - Tulsa

The Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden will be open Saturday October 24 and 31 from 10 to 1 for anyone who would like to stroll the paths and enjoy the fall scenery.

Here's a link to the map and driving directions.

It is free and open to the public. The park will close for the winter after these two dates.

Hot Lips Salvia Microphylla

Loggee's Greenhouse is offering Hot Lips Salvia plants and if you have never grown it, take a look. The photo is from their site.

The first time we saw Hot Lips, it was blooming its head off last fall at the Tulsa Zoo. We had to have it. Blossom's Garden Center in Muskogee had the plants and we put in two.

This year's weather was somewhat un-summer-like. Other than July, we had rain, rain, and more rain.

So, our Hot Lips is just now doing its blooming best. But, it was about this time of year we saw them blooming beautifully at the zoo, too. So maybe fall is their time to shine.

Plant Delights says Hot Lips was discovered in Mexico and that they are hardy to our zone 7. "This wild selection of the Mexican Salvia microphylla was introduced by Richard Turner of California after the plant was shared with him by his maid, who brought it from her home in Mexico. The fast-growing, 30" tall x 6' wide clump is adorned with stunning bicolor flowers with red tips and wh…

Brother and Sister Seeds Play Nice but Compete With Non-Siblings

While horticulturists and farmers may have known for decades that seed saving is a great idea, scientists have added new research to confirm their experience. Plants grown from seed of the same parent plant, grow more cooperatively with each other.The story came out this week from The University of Delaware where scientists made a discovery about plants being able to read the chemicals in each others' roots.

Here's the October 18 UDaily article in full.

In 2007, Susan Dudley a McMaster University evolutionary plant ecologist said Sea Rocket plants could recognize their siblings. Those siblings did not send out roots into each others' territory to take water and nutrients. The National Science Foundation funded the research.

When positioned next to non-sibling plant seeds, the they send out roots to compete with neighbors.

Noting that "Plants have no visible sensory markers, and they can't run away from where they are planted" Harsh Bais, assistant professor of pl…

Go Green and Learn Worm Composting at a Workshop in Muskogee Saturday morning

Go Green Oklahoma reports that paper manufacturing is one of the most energy and resource intensive processes in our economy. Their website urges us to reduce our paper consumption.

The site has other go-green suggestions at their Make Every Day Earth Day link.

1. Plug printers and chargers into power strips and turn off the strips when not in use.

2. Waste less water. It is cycled through a chemical bath before it comes out your faucet.

3. Read product contents and choose the ones with less packaging and fewer chemicals.

4. Slow down on the highway. Avoid long drive-through lines where your car engine runs while you wait.

5. Choose locally grown food and compost what you don’t use.

6. Take re-usable bags to the store instead of getting oil-produced new ones on every trip. Keep them in your car.

7. Reduce paper use and recycle the rest.

8. Compost and worm compost. Each of us wastes 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. Yard trimmings and food waste combined make up 25 to 30 percent of our nation’s…

Cure Common Plant Diseases Without Chemicals

Plants that are accustomed to cooler temperatures and breezes blowing, often grow a little mold on the top of the soil when we bring them indoors

Remove the moldy soil down to a half-inch, replace it with fresh soil and sprinkle the top with an easily available fungicide - ground cinnamon from the kitchen spice rack.

Here is a link to the Texas Aggie - Horticulture site with many indoor plants' light and water needs.

Also, you'll want to bookmark the Golden Harvest site here for more easy, inexpensive, chemical free plant fixes.
Here's a sample of what you'll find there.

Click on This Remedy To Treat This Problem
Apple Cider Vinegar FungicideLeafspot, mildew & scab
Baking Soda SprayAnthracnose, early tomato blight, leaf blight and spots, powdery mildew & as a general fungicide
Chive Spray Prevention of apple scab and downy mildew on cucumber, pumpkin and zucchini.
Compost and Manure Teas Blights & general disease
Corn and Garlic Spray General fungus preventative
The longer nights are a signal to plants to move toward dormancy and a reminder to gardeners to prepare their tender plants to be brought inside.

Although there is no frost or freeze warning in our immediate future, if you have as many plants tucked under trees and in beds as I do, it will take a few days to get them all cleaned, sprayed and washed out.

Before bringing in plants that will join protected houseplants, be sure to spray them off with water to remove dust and bugs. Then, water them enough that water flows freely out of the pot. This flooding will remove salts from the soil.

Remove dead leaves, prune off spindly side branches and deadhead leggy branches to fit into the confines of your home space.

Clean the leaves and stems. Use insecticidal soap or put a few drops of dish soap into a gallon of room temperature water and drench the plant, letting it drip outside, in the bathtub or kitchen sink.

Hose off the pot and put it into a tub of water to rinse off the bottom.

Inside the ho…
The newest 5 inch rainfall brought a snake into the kitchen. I guess its outdoor home was unpleasantly wet, so it came in to dry off.

When I tried to steer it into a container it slithered under the refrigerator. The warmth from the motor probably dried it off, and there might have been a few small snacks available under there, too.

We left the door open between the kitchen and the garage and assume it went back outside when the rain stopped. We have no pets other than our compost worms, the birds and butterflies we feed and encourage, rabbits, snakes, lizards and similar country cousins.

We have a neighbor who isn't home much and as they continue to collect cats, we inherit them in our yard and on our cozy chairs. You don't have to actually go out of your way to adopt strays, they adopt you.
On another topic, if you find yourself confronting nonsense sometimes, science would like to reassure you that you are doing a good deed for your mental development.

The New York Times reports…
The change from summer to fall is taken more gracefully by gardens than gardeners because plants have no regrets about what they did not accomplish over the summer. They are ready for fall even if they did not bloom their best or produce buckets of fruit.

Gardeners can take cuttings of tender perennials now to prolong their gardening activities well into the fall. Those cuttings will grow on a sunny windowsill or under lights and provide plants for next spring’s garden.

Tender perennials include: Begonia, Coleus, Fuscia, Hoya (Wax Plant), Impatiens, Joseph’s Coat, Lantana, Mandevilla, Passion Flower, Pelargonium (scented geranium), Plectranthus, Plumbago, Rosemary, Sage and Salvia, Sweet-potato vine, Torenia (Wishbone Flower), Verbena, etc.

True annuals, started from seed, will not overwinter well from cuttings.

Take a look at how much windowsill space you have for plants after they root. If you have a fluorescent-light bench to grow several plants, consider the size they will become and …

Deborah Silver's Sheetcake Garden

I've linked to Deborah Silver's blog, Dirt Simple, before and must again. Silver is a landscape designer with an online portfolio here.

A recent blog entry called "A Sheetcake Garden" has photos and descriptions of a truly clean approach to landscaping - planting shrubs in masses. Silver then introduced her readers to Spanish landscape architect, Fernando Caruncho. The website is in Spanish, of course, but the photos make it worth a visit. Clean elegance.

A Google search on Caruncho yields pages and pages of images.
The website, Vulgare says that most of Caruncho's designs are in Spain. "Caruncho has carefully studied the history of oriental and occidental garden architecture and translates a number of archetypical elements of Moorish and Arabic gardens into contemporary designs." Hence the clean lines. Take a look at these spectacular designers' ideas as you consider your landscape over the months ahead.

Cold Hardy Tropical Plants

By December we will wish we were in South America - or at least Florida.

But, alas, we can't all go. We'll have to console ourselves with fall photos of cold hardy plants that are usually considered to be grown only in tropical climates.

Cold hardy Banana trees, Musa Basjoo, have thrived in our zone 7 garden for a couple of years and grow larger each year.

Another one is the cold hardy Begonia grandis pictured here with it's pink petioles and flowers as it looked at the beginning of October. And, you can add a gorgeous ginger to that list, too.

There are 1,000 varieties of ginger and at least one of them, White Butterfly Ginger, is cold hardy in zones 5b to 11.

So when you are catalog shopping this winter or making a list of must have plants for next spring's shopping spree, add one or all of these to create a tropical look and feel to your surroundings well into next fall.

What's This Baby Snake?

We live on a hill and every time a hole is dug for a plant, the rocks have to be removed. So the rocks become borders for the beds as well as being used as walkways.

When I pull weeds around the beds, I move and restack the rocks. Look what I found under the rocks under one of the trees.

Do you know what it is?

Tulsa Perennial Club Tour October 2009

Over thirty plant lovers gathered on Saturday, October 3 to attend the Tulsa Perennial Club's member tour.
The weather couldn't have been better for walking through 5 or 6 gardens to be surrounded by fall blooms and talk about plants.
These gardeners are artists, in addition to being great with encouraging the best from their soil.
At a garden designer's home, there were so many eye catching compositions we just kept smiling.
The last official stop on the tour included a lunch provided by the homeowner. This welcoming fall scene was in the front to guide us all into a wonderful back yard.
Everyone who brought a camera was busy snapping photos of friends, plant combinations, art, and arrangements to remember.
Thanks to each host and hostess who invited us to share your home. We all know that it takes a lot of work to prepare for visitors. You made it a remarkable day

Plant Catalog Exaggerations and Hyperbole

Doonsbury summarized a lot of our feelings about plant, seed and bulb catalogs on 9-30.

Take a Minute - Vote for Your Favorite Poster at the First Annual Save the Frogs Contest

Save the Frogs is an organization with an obvious purpose. They held a poster contest and need your vote to select the winners from the 18 finalists. Click here, scroll down and look at the entries. To vote you just have to give your first name and an email address. Support children in learning to preserve the earth and all her inhabitants.