Showing posts from November, 2009

Zion National Park This Week

We had the pleasure of spending a day a Zion National Park in Utah this week. Photos say more than I possibly could. And, here is a link for more.

We walked the 3 mile trail in the first photo while our friends climbed up the face of the mountain and back. We had time for coffee while they were pursuing physical fitness.

Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in Ivins Utah

We spent a week in Ivins Utah. Here are a few photos of one place we walked.

End of November Vegetables

One of the warmest Novembers on record gave us late fall harvest in the vegetable garden.

We planted twice as many broccoli starts this fall because the 7 springtime plants were not enough. Fourteen gave us enough to eat raw, cook and give some away - just about the right amount.

Fortunately, the dill is still growing. Swallowtail caterpillars moved to this dill when the fennel gave it up one cold night. It got cold enough that the winter squash leaves turned brown-gray. Now the fennel has new growth at the soil level where it is protected by a raised bed.

The snow pea vines are well-named for their ability to thrive in the fall temperatures. Usually, our spring is short and we get one big harvest.

The green beans did exceptionally well, considering my shabby treatment of them this fall. I planted too many radish seeds among them and failed to go back and thin the radishes. The green beans suffered from lack of air circulation and sunshine for a while. But! As soon as I remedied that, t…

Gardener's Quiz

You may not want to be outside gardening this weekend so here is a fun quiz to work on alone or with family and friends.

1. The difference between fruits and vegetables: A) Fruit is sweet and vegetables are bland. B) Fruit grows on trees and vegetables grow in the ground. C) Fruits develops from flowers and vegetables do not.

2. During a period of rainy weather, outdoor plant leaves can get a cluster of brown spots near the leaf stem caused by: A) Rain splashing soil onto the leaf causing a bacterial infection. B) Insect invasion. C) Too much water.

3. When this blooms, it is time to prune roses: A) Azalea. B) Forsythia. C) Rose of Sharon. D) Snowball Bush.

4. Hypertufa is A) A planting pot made of peat moss, concrete and perlite B) A spring flowering bulb C) A plant disease

5. Skunk Cabbage or Symplocarpus foetidus has evergreen leaves and green, bell-shaped flowers. Foetidus means offensive, stinking odor. A) True. B) False.

6. An invasive weed that looks like yellow and red threads is: A…

On Sale, For Sale, Sale, Sale

In addition to the fabulous plant sales available from mailorder sources in late November - Brent and Becky's, Touch of Nature, Colorblends, White Flower Farm, Wayside Gardens, Easy to Grow, Gardensoyvey, Sooner Plant Farm, Annie's, Bluestone Perennials and others, there are local plant sales in our area. Does your area have anything similar?

Pete Carson at Carson Borovetz Nursery in Muskogee OK has developed an enviable expertise at growing poinsettias and he re-opens his nursery to sell them during the holidays.

Connors State College Horticulture Dept. students raise Poinsettias as a fund raiser.

2009 Poinsettia Sale Connors State College Greenhouse, Warner Campus
December 1,4, 8, 11, from 10:00 to 4.
$8.00 each Colors: Prestige Traditional Red, Shimmer Surprise, and Marble Star
For more information or to place orders or to make arrangements for a plant pick up time call Debby Golden at the Agriculture Office 918.463.6265

It's time to order your seed potatoes for the Feb 14 pl…

New Non-Technology Idea for Saving the Planet

The Dirt is an online publication of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The ideas in the blog entry below are not without controvery, but they are different from most. You can click on the link above to read the entire column. Here are some excerpts -

New Geoengineering Idea: Turning Deserts into Forests
11/20/2009 by asladirt

"Leonard Ornstein, a cell biologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and Igor Aleinov and David Rind, two climate modellers at NASA, argue that foresting the Australian outback and Saharan Desert would solve climate change.

While numerous geoengineering schemes have been proposed to mitigate the adverse effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) build-up, many of the more ambitious ideas, including ocean-based aerosol sprayers, space mirrors, C02 air scrubbers, or artificial C02-capturing trees, have been examined and labeled cost-prohibitive or dangerous (see earlier post).

Others ideas will work, are much cheaper on a small-scale, but requi…

Route 66 Endangered by Progress Again

The Cultural Landscape Foundation alerted readers to yet another threat to Route 66. You can follow the link to the entire article but here are some excerpts - If this part of the natural world is something you care passionately about, there is contact information at the end for your emails and letters.

Route 66 Threatened by Proposed Biodiesel Facility
By Debra Martin
Published November 11, 2009

Running more than 2,000 miles, between Chicago and Los Angeles, historic Route 66 attracts tourists and car enthusiasts from all over the world.

....Today, in a rush to make Mohave County, Arizona the renewable energy capital of the United States, the local government has put several green economy projects on the fast track, including the construction of a biodiesel facility on a pristine stretch of historic Route 66.

....Called The Mother Road in John Steinbeck's book The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 became a lifeline to a perceived better life.

Today, Route 66 organizations operate in several …

Sansevieria - A Plant for Every Location

Sansevieria is a wonderfully tolerant plant. You see them in hospitals, hotels, shopping malls, banks and homes.

Sansevieria trifasciata, known as Mother-In-Law Tongue or snake plant may be the most common one. It is recommended as an indoor air purifier, since it converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at night.

Sansevierias will put up with most conditions including low light, lack of water and lack of repotting. They will not survive soggy soil or temperatures much below 65-F.

And, they propagate easily. One leaf can be cut horizontally into 3-inch pieces and stuck into damp sand where they will grow into plants. Just notice which way the leaf was growing and put its edge right side up into the rooting mix.

Sanseveria or Sanseviera was named for Raimondo de Sangro, the prince of San Severo, Italy who lived 1710 to 1771. In its native Africa, Sansevieria trifasciata is said to be a favorite gourmet food of elephants. The medicinal uses include ulcers, parasites, earaches and toothaches (www…

Late November for Gardeners

Zone 7 has officially hit winter - it was 40-F at 7:30 tonight.

The tropical plants are tucked away, most of the seeds and cuttings have been gathered. Of course there are still some flowers and vegetables hanging on and the garlic is coming up.

I got caught up in enthusiasm and ordered 5 varieties of fingerling potatoes from Ronniger Potato Farm. For years, I missed the window to order and get them here in time for our Feb 14 planting. But this year for some reason I hit the mark.

Veseys Seed has their new catalog online. Click here to take a look.

Pinetree Gardens fall bulb sale is on - here.

Touch of Nature's bulb sale is on - 100 tulips for $20 etc.

Tulsa Master Gardeners website has published its November to-do list. You can find it here.

So, what are you doing to prevent horticulture withdrawal? I'm poking around in the shed, reading seed catalogs and puttering.

Pandanus utilis - a Lily Called Screw Pine

A Screw Pine is not a pine at all.
The common screw pine or Pandanus utilis (and lemurs) are native to Madagascar. They are actually monocots, related to palms, orchids and grass.

Iowa State University also says that each flower results in a drupe - a seed surrounded by flesh like an olive or a cherry.

Tropical Plants Online in Ft. Lauderdale FL, sells the plants and suggests that they be used as specimen plants since they grow so large - 25 feet tall.

Rare Seed Source sells the seeds. The plant is hardy in zone 9 - down to 26 degrees-F and can grow in full sun or light shade. Needs sandy soil for fast draining.

I wouldn't use someone else's photos so you must click over to this blog - Exploring The World's Tree Species tree blog. A couple of the Screw Pine photos are spectacular.

The tree's roots grow above the soil line.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida has a Pandanus Primer page devoted to Screw Pines.

Quoting from the Pandanus Primer -
"Sadly, many of the…

Friday the 13th Good Luck or Not?

Are you superstitious about Friday the 13th? Do you plant or not plant? Prune or not prune your plants? Maybe it is time to make special days for gardeners on Friday the 13th. Fairy dances or flowers strewn or....

Many people consider Friday the 13th a lucky day so why do buildings avoid assigning a 13th floor number to the floor above 12? Isn't it kind of silly?

Corsinet offers several connections for your amusement.


There is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13 guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Balder died and the Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned.

There is a Biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper.

A particularly bad Friday the 13 occurred in the middle ages. On a Fri…

Tussie Mussie History and How-to

Aromatherapy as it is practiced today, includes herbal extracts and oils placed in amulets, light plugs, on light bulbs, etc. In earlier times, herbs were scattered on floors in the spring when homes were cleaned of winter waste. And, in the Middle Ages herbs were thought to ward off disease.

A Tussie Mussie, a circular arrangement of flowers and herbs was carried in Victorian times. The herbs and a central rose were sniffed to help people get through the unpleasant street smells. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme and rue were often used for their spicy aromas.

Sara Sherwood of Muskogee purchased the Tussie Mussie in the photo at the Savannah GA home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. Low lived from 1860 to 1927.

In England, judges carried them into court and today, judges in the highest court carry them six times a year. In France, the Tussie-Mussie was placed in a small, metal, hand-held vase with ring chain, making it easy to carry.

Other uses for Tussie-Mussies inclu…

November Sales, Powerful Pumpkins, Late Fall Gardening

November has many beauties - pansies, mums, salvias, sedum, monk's hood, the last of the summer flowers like marigolds and zinnias. Add to that the fall colors, the holly berries, and the terrific weather. Such a wonderful season.

November is also loaded with sales by plant and bulb companies large and small. Here are a few that have arrived in my email inbox.

Sunshine Farm and Garden 4 goldenseal plants for $25 including shipping
Annie's Annuals - gift certificate sale - 15% off
White Flower Farm - 50 pastel tulips for $39
Brent and Becky's Bulbs - 25% off bulbs - Erythronium, Fritillaria, Gladiolus, Hermodactylus, Hyacinthoides, Hyacinthus, Ipheion, Dutch Iris
Blooming Bulb - 60% off fall planted bulbs
Holland Bulb Farm 50 to 75% off fall bulbs
Tulip World online sale of tulips
Old House Gardens has a few items on sale - only until Nov 12th though.

I checked a few other sites for sales - who are you ordering from right now while the sales are hot?

Powerful pumpkins! Science Daily d…

Do You Grow Gingers?

The variegated one is Dr. Moy. Gingers R US has a photo of the flower though they were not in bloom last week at the Dallas Arboretum.

I know the white flowering variety below is cold hardy. If you are growing gingers outside how to you keep them going over the winter?

White ginger, has the most beautiful scented blooms.

Which Plants to Protect from Upcoming Frost

So far, fall, 2009, has been frost-free and we still have time to get vulnerable plants pulled indoors. Houseplants that vacationed outside over the summer definitely want to be inside by now. Cacti and succulents that are not native have to be protected, too.

Not everything will fit into the house, garage, shed or small greenhouse and choices have to be made. Select only healthy plants to save. Diseased plants should be trashed, not composted.

Prepare plants by removing dead leaves and spraying them with insecticidal soap (a few drops of dishwashing detergent mixed into a gallon of room temperature water). Pots of herbs need to be well cleaned before bringing them into the kitchen.

Transplant garden plants into pots, using fresh potting soil. Dig around and down to get the main roots. Slide the shovel at an angle under the plant. Lift the root ball and place it into a pot that already has potting soil in the bottom. Water and add more soil if necessary. Rinse off the leaves.

Discard ine…

Your Koi Pond in the Winter

How do you take care of your koi pond over the freezing months? At 43 degrees the fish stop eating and begin to hibernate, huddled close together.

Most people here leave their koi in the pond, stop feeding and partially cover the water with an insulating cover.

But, other pond owners are investing in small heaters to use from January through April. These are installed in the filter system with the thermostat set to 50-degrees.

Definitely, prune back the plants, clean the filters and turn off the pumps. Cut back on feeding and switch to wheat germ based food. Keep the biological filters running.

If your koi pond is more than 18-inches deep, the fish will stay below until the freeze passes. You can pour warm water on the ice to thaw enough to allow oxygen to get in.

Will you drain your pond and bring the fish inside? What are you experienced koi pond owners doing to keep your koi pond healthy during the winter months?

Water Gardening Magazine has online tips that may help, too.

Sunday Night Tidbits

Here's the Sweetspire Henry Garneton our driveway. The October-November color is spectacular this year - must be all the rain - Henry Garnet does like to be wet.
Spacing Toronto - Understanding the Urban Landscape, has a Worldwide Wednesday feature where they send readers to interesting sites.
One in the Oct. 21 edition is a blog called Urlesque that can be congratulated for a post on the World's Coolest Bus Stops. Check it out and you may join me in wondering why they can't all be this fun.
In our town, the public transportation officials can't figure out how to increase ridership. There are no identified bus stops. Not even the bland kind with just a simple sign. Can you imagine the impact on ridership with creative, artistic bus stops like these? ________________________________
The Philippine Star online has a great October 31, column (in English) on Euphorbias by Kevin G. Belmonte. If you grow some of the 3,000 varieties, you'll be interested in his knowledgeable …