31 December 2010

Wow- MOBOT & Kew produce The Plant List

St. Louis Public Radio announced The Plant List, the first comprehensive, global online plant list. This free reference is a result of coordination between the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Gardens in London.

It includes scientific names of all known plant species on our planet.

And, it's free.

30 December 2010

Seed catalogs to browse while dreaming of spring

This year the catalog list includes several new seed sellers, many of which produce their own seeds in open pollinated fields.

Every year I buy seed to try, testing the germination rate, so I can recommend sources you may not have tried in the past. Most of the companies listed below charge under $5 shipping for small orders. Hopefully, this list includes some that are new to you.

Bountiful Gardens - heirloom seeds including Creasy Greens medicinal and culinary herbs. The Cold Comfort collection includes Echinacea, mint, yarrow, horehound, catnip, chamomile and hyssop, $11. www.bountifulgardens.org and 707-459-6410.

Chiltern Seeds, England - unique flower and vegetable varieties for U.S. gardeners, including Pumpkin Nuts, a peel-less pumpkin grown for its seeds which can be eaten without peeling. Request the vegetable catalog www.chilternseeds.co.uk and 44-1229-581137

Fedco has 4 divisions: Seeds, tubers, organics, trees and bulbs. Vegetables include Poona Kheera cucumbers and Scorzonera Spanish parsnips. Flowers include Dyer’s Broom and Japanese Indigo. www.fedcoseeds.com and 207-873-7333

Hometown Seeds of Orem UT - non-hybrid varieties plus Survival Seeds collections: 16 varieties $40 and 35 for $100. Seed combinations include Salsa Value Pack and Fruit Lovers Value Pack. www.hometownseeds.com and 888-433-3106

Johnny Select Seeds - flower, herb and vegetable seeds, organic and pelleted seeds, supplies, greenhouse equipment, tools, etc. www.johnnyseed.com and 800-792-0053

Kitazawa Seed - seeds for greens, beans, melons and Vietnamese herbs. Listings include Chrysanthemum greens, Ping-Tung Long Taiwan eggplant and Fluffy Top Kaisin Hakusai cabbage. www.kitazawaseed.com and 510-595-1188

Lost Creek Shitake Mushroom Farm - log and seed kits. http://shiitakemushroomlog.com and 800-792-0053

Pinetree Garden - vegetable seed company that offers 12 tobacco varieties. The Micro Green packets offer combinations of salad greens for $2 or $3. www.superseeds.com and 207-926-3400

Renee’s Garden - heirloom flower, herb and vegetable seeds. Collections include Fragrance Garden, Children’s Garden and Fabulous and Unusual Annuals. $14 www.reneesgarden.com and 888-880-7228

Sand Hill Preservation - rare seeds and poultry varieties that they call genetic treasures. Seeds include Naranjilla, Alabama Coschatta flint corn, Black African sorghum and Insuks Wang Kong beans. www.sandhillpreservation.com and 563-246-2299

Seeds from Italy - Italian as well as its own U.S. grown from NE, PA, CA GA and OK. Italian greens, beans, squash, peppers and tomatoes are well represented. Seeds are available in packets and in bulk. www.growitalian.com and 781-721-5904

Seed Savers Exchange is all organic, including tomatoes, garlic, and flowers. Collections include Heirloom Lettuce and Heritage Farm Favorites, $14. Seedlings are $3 each and shipments begin late March. www.seedsavers.org and 563-382-5990

Territorial Seeds - all seeds including open pollinated, pelleted, flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. The Chef de Cuisine Spring Greens Collection includes 12 gourmet salad greens, bio film, Reemay, copper plant tags and a colander, $72. www.territorialseed.com and 800-626-0866

Thompson and Morgan - organic seed plus annuals and perennials. They also have a product called Easy Starts, a tray of seedlings that they grow from seed. 42 Echinacea seedlings $20 and 42 Delphinium seedlings $23. www.tmseeds.com and 800-274-7333


Jill Henderson, editor of Show Me Oz blog (http://showmeoz.wordpress.com), developed a regional seed and plant provider list. I have not grown seeds from any of these vendors.

CAHH Seed Bank, U of Central Arkansas, http://arkansasagro.wordpress.com/seed-bank/

Giant Watermelons, Hope AR, http://www.giantwatermelons.com/

Granny’s Heirloom Seeds, Bolivar, MO, www.grannysheirloomseeds.com/

Heirloom Acres Seeds, New Bloomfield MO, 573-491-3001 and www.heirloomacresseeds.com

Heirloom Seed Shop, Norfolk AR Food Bank, 870-499-7358 and www.foodbanknca.org/seed_blog

Hummert Seeds, St. Joseph MO, 800-383-0865 and www.hummertseed.com

Morgan County Seeds, Barnett MO, 573-378-2655 and www.morgancountyseeds.com/

One Garden – Ozark Seed Bank, Brixey MO, 417-679-1003 and www.one-garden.org

White Harvest Seed, Hartville, MO, 866-424-3185 and www.whiteharvestseed.com

There are hundreds of seed companies so this list is incomplete. What are your favorites?

27 December 2010

"Citrus" a new book by Monica Moran Brandies

If you live far enough south to grow citrus, Monica Moran Brandies' new book is one you'll want to pick up.

Brandies writes books about gardening in Florida. Her previous volumes include "Florida Gardening", and "Shade Gardening for Florida".

"Citrus" has plenty of growing tips but stars in recipes, too. Brandies has tips for using citrus for house cleaning, pesticide, worm growing, and as a beauty aid.

"Citrus" books are available through the publisher, B. B. Mackey Books for $16.95 postpaid. Contact Mackey through their website www.mackeybooks.com or email bbmackey@prodigy.net for more information.

26 December 2010

A big win for the organic food industry

The University of California in Santa Cruz has a full story (online at UCSC here) about Jacobs Farm founders Larry Jacobs and his wife Sandra Belin. After an unfortunate experience with pesticides, Jacobs converted to integrated pest management and organic growing.

Founded in 1980, Jacobs Farm is the largest producer of culinary organic herbs in the U.S. Jacobs has won a couple of important lawsuits in 2008 and last week, against producers that spray pesticides that can drift onto his fields.

Christmas morning walk - Carmel River
His problem came to light when a health food store chain refused to accept his dill, saying that it had pesticides on it.

Reported in the Oakland Tribune, Jacobs said, "It didn't take more than half an hour to find several papers on the movement of these materials and their volatilization."

It took Jacobs and his significant resources 4 years to win the case; the tainted dill was discovered in 2006.

24 December 2010

More plant names and their origins as promised

Our backyard swamp magnolia

Magnolias were named for the French botany professor Pierre Magnol who lived 1638 to 1715. Our swamp magnolia, or Sweet Bay, Magnolia virginiana, of course was first identified in Virginia (ergo Virginiana).

It was planted in our yard for the benefit of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

Rudbeckia Chocolate Orange

Rudbeckia was named for the Swedish professor Olof Rudbeck (1660-1702) - the elder, not the son. Olof the elder was Bishop Johannes Rudbeckius' son and the father of botanist Olof the younger. Rudbeck's career was human anatomy and linguistics, but he was  interested in botany, establishing Rudbeck's Garden.
I grew the Chocolate Orange ones in the photo (seeds from Ivy Garth) and by the end of the summer they reseeded. The offspring reverted to having smaller, but equally beautiful and durable flowers.

Hollyhock, Alcea or Althea Malvaceae

Hollyhocks grow semi-wild in our garden. Once you have a bush that flowers, the seeds are eaten by birds and squirrels and the plants come up everywhere you have decent soil. They are biennial so the first year all you'll see is a green plant about a foot tall. If it's left in place, the next year you'll have a six or 8 foot tall flowering beauty.

The common name, hollyhock comes from the Middle English word holihocke. The Malvaceae origin is: Malva, the Latin for mallow from the Greek malache or malakos. The Greek reference refers to the skin ointment made from its seeds.

The webpage for the Robert Freckmann Herbarium at the Univ of Wisconsin has fascinating pages on malva and other plants at this link.

I find the plant names and their origins fascinating - similar to others finding family geneology endlessly interesting.

23 December 2010

Some light reading for the holiday

At this time of year there is so much going on that I assume gardeners are busy with
activity. Maybe a novelty article is in order. Take a few minutes, relax and enjoy.

Cyclamen at Cagle's Flowers in Muskogee

Flowers have a Latin name and usually more than one common name. The origin of those names is an interesting study. For example, petunias are named for petun, the Brazilian tobacco to which it is related. Lettuce is named for the white sap inside its ribs because lac means milk and the Latin name for lettuce is Lactuca satvia.

Astilbe’s name means lack of beauty and is a combination of two Greek words: a, meaning without and stilbe, meaning brilliance (without brilliance). It is also called spirea because it resembles Aruncus spirea or goatsbeard.

Buddleia or Butterfly Bush is named after English Rev. Adam Buddle. Buddle was a horticulturist who studied and wrote about moss. The most common variety, Buddleia davidii was named for the Jesuit missionary Pere Armand David. David was a plant explorer in China but he did not discover Buddleia. Pere David became a forestry professor whose professional passion was clean air.

Cyclamen persicum, sometimes called Persian Cyclamen, is a houseplant with pink and white flowers. The name Clycamen means circle, referring to the seed stalks that curl up as they ripen. Its common names include Sowbread and Swinebread because in Shakespeare’s time pigs ate native, forest grown Cyclamen.

Apollo loved a boy named Hyacinth. While the two were playing a game of discus, Hyacinth was hit on the head and killed. As he was dying a

Hyacinth flower grew out of his wound. Hyacinths that grow in the wild turn their flower heads toward the ground. The little markings on their petals resemble “Al, Al” which in Greek is the sound of a sorrowful cry.

Lavender is from the Latin word lavare, to wash because it was used by the Romans to scent soap and then later as a perfume to cover the lack of bathing. Soap was too expensive for common people so lavender water was used instead. In early America, lavender was laid between linens instead of laundering them.

Monarda or Bee balm’s botanical name is Oswego tea. The Oswego Indians from the Oswego River drank monarda tea and taught the Europeans to use it as a substitute for the tea they dumped into the Boston Harbor. The Monarda common name is from the Spanish physician Nicolas Monardes, a colonial naturalist with an interest in medicinal plants.

The most practical orchid is the one that produces vanilla flavor. The word vanilla is from the Latin word vaina, or sheath, the shape of a vanilla bean. Orchid comes from a Greek word, orchis or testicle since the orchid tuber resembles testicles, at least in its appearance.

Peony’s botanical name is Paeonia. Paeon was the Greek physician to the gods who was capable of healing wounds with herbs. Another healing god, Asclepias (milkweed’s Latin name), was jealous of Paeon’s healing skills so Zeus turned him into a plant to save him. Peonies were thought to heal 20 different physical problems.

Roses have the Latin rosa for their red color. The Persian word for the rose was gul, meaning flower. Later roses, called Tea Roses, were brought to the west from China in tea boxes.

St. John’s Wort’s name is a reflection of its being harvested on St. John’s Day, June 24. The Latin name, Hpericum is from the Greek words hyper, above, and eikon or picture. Traditionally, the plant was hung over a religious altar on St. John’s Day to ward off evil.

Zinnias were named for the German botanist and medical professor, Johann G. Zinn who wrote the first description of this Mexican native. The original zinnias were considered ugly and the 200 varieties we enjoy today were not hybridized until this century.

More plant name information will be on my blog tomorrow.

The front window at Cagle's Flowers in Muskogee

22 December 2010

Time to Re-pot?

When I slipped this stevia rebaundiana plant out of its pot to see if it could benefit from a larger container it looked like it was ready for a new home since the roots are visibly growing through the soil to the edge of the pot.

So, first I filled a slightly larger pot with fresh soil and poured warm water on it both to settle it and so the water would absorb into the perlite and peat moss. That takes a little soaking time.

(Using warm water helps the plant's roots adapt and reduces transplant shock in the cold months.)
Then I gently teased the roots out, so they could grow quickly into the fresh dirt. That done, I moved the plan out of direct sun for a week or so, while it was busy underground.

A green striped - variegated - spider plant had fallen onto the ground and was forgotten for a few months. By the time I wondered what happened to it and found it, the roots had sort of grown.....

It is a tropical plant that does very well outside in the summer but the top had frozen off before I located its broken pot on the ground by the patio table.

Generally a plant that enjoys being pot bound, this one was beyond pot bound.
 So, I teased out the roots - they looked like parsnips -
and moved the poor thing to a larger pot and gave it a good soak with Daniels Plant Food in the water. Hopefully, it will forgive the poor treatment and re-sprout some leaves.

18 December 2010

Fungi - Fascinating Friend or Foe

Firefly Books released a 2010 revised edition of "Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America" by Roger Phillips. Any mycologists on your list? Online booksellers have it for under $15.

Mushrooms and Other Fungi of N.A. is well researched and thoroughly illustrated with over 1,000 studio photos, so you can figure out what that is growing in your yard, at the park, or campsite. Don't go exploring without it!

Each picture includes stages of growth, growth info, where you can find it and whether or not you should use it in the kitchen. Included are descriptions of the cap anatomy, stem, and spores.

AND MORE from the weird and wonderful world of fungi

The Harvard University Botany site has a link to The Life and Works of Theodor Holmskjold. It includes "Beata Ruris Otia Fungis Danicis Impensa, or Happy Resting Periods in the Country Studying Danish Fungi". Take an hour out of whatever else you have to do and browse here.
from the site - "The stunningly rendered, impeccably accurate, and beautiful illustrations of each of the seventy four specimens in the two-volume work led Swedish botanist Anton Jahan Retzius (1742-1821) to call it “the most brilliant work which had appeared up to that time”. C.H. Persoon (1755-1837), the father of systematic mycology and himself an author of texts on some of the same fungi included in Beata, considered the work of great value and the illustrations the most beautiful he had seen (Lind 1913)".

17 December 2010

Bring spring early - Plant bulbs for indoor forcing - illustrated step by step

I bought this large wooden salad bowl at a church rummage sale for $5.
The bowl is cracked across the bottom which will provide drainage for the bulbs.
Potting ingredients - left to right -
vermiculite, soil-less potting mix, perlite and 60% bark soil-less potting mix

Combine all the ingredients of the planting mix

Thoroughly moisten the mixture

Add a little fertilizer to the water you'll use to water the bulbs in after they are all planted.
Use a weak solution of fertilizer with a low first number and a higher middle number. 10-20-10, Quick Start, Daniels, worm castings, etc. all work.

The bottom of the bulb has a residual root from when it was growing last year.
Press the bottom of the bulb into the moistened planting mix.

The growing tip shows at the top of the bulb.
I put the sideshoots toward the center of the container when planting.

This cracked wooden salad bowl is now full of crocus bulbs

Top the bulbs with more soil

Water them in to settle the soil around the bulbs and remove any air pockets

Smooth the surface

The salad bowl is planted.
Note that the bulb tips are still visible.
Next we covered the bowl with newspaper and
put it into the garage where it will stay cool and dark for a few weeks.

Around New Year's Day, we'll remove the newspaper to let in filtered light. When green leaves emerge, the bowl will come into the house and remain in a poorly lit place. The next week, they will get sunshine. The process is completed slowly to mimic spring with slowly increasing temperatures and hours of light.

Hope this helps. Feel free to email me with any questions mollyday1@gmail.com - there are no dumb questions.

16 December 2010

Coaxing bulbs for an early spring

Coaxing bulbs to bloom indoors before spring is called forcing. The leafless, winter-dormant bulbs are chilled and then gradually warmed indoors to convince them to send up leaves and flowers.

Some bulbs are given a cold period (35 to 55 degrees) outside, in a cold garage or refrigerator and then brought inside to a warm, sunny location where they bloom.

Warm-climate Paper white narcissus (Narcissus tazetta), Soleil d’Or, Chinese sacred lily (N. tazetta var. orientalis), and Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) can be grown inside without a chilling period.

Plant vendors, such as Southwood Nursery (9025 S Lewis, Tulsa) sell pre-chilled bulbs. Select the largest bulbs you can find since they have the most food available to produce flowers.
At this time of year, pre-chilled bulbs are identified as good for forcing.

Other bulbs that are often forced for indoors flowers include tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, crocus, snowdrops, scilla, muscari, and anemones.

Paper whites, hyacinth and crocus can be grown in pebbles and water in the bottom of a bowl or tall vase. All the other spring bulbs are grown in soil filled containers with good drainage. Pots, planter boxes, old cream pitchers, retired bread trays, hypertoufe containers and other unique and artistic containers can be used.

Do not use garden or bagged potting soil mix. A homemade mix of sand, soil, spaghnum moss, plus either perlite or vermiculite is best. Any bagged “soil-less” mix can be used.

Add some low nitrogen fertilizer such as bulb food or 5-10-5 to the mix. Or add water soluble houseplant food at half-strength when moistening the mix.

Fill containers three-fourths full with moistened planting mix. Set bulbs close together. Tulips are planted with the flat side to the outer edge of the pot. When bulbs are in place, fill in with planting mix, leaving the tip of the bulb exposed. Water and add more soil if it settles down below the growing tip. The entire bulb should be below the rim of the container.

To create the cold, dark period, put the pots in a cold place and cover loosely with newspaper, paper bags or plastic. If you chill the bulbs in a refrigerator, they will have to be checked more often for water since the condenser will dry them out faster.

Bert Leek at Touch of Nature (www.touchofnature.com and 770-237-0993) said that in the nursery business, tulips get 6-weeks in a cooler and then 4-weeks in a chilly, rooting room. He said home gardeners can let Mother Nature do the work.

Plant the tulip bulbs in 6 or 8 inch deep pots and put the pots outside, then surround and cover with mulch such as leaves and straw, Leek said. In 8 weeks, begin to check them for growth. When they have 2-inch tall green sprouts, bring them inside to bloom.

Chilling times: Crocus, daffodil, Glory of the Snow (Chiondoxa), Grape Hyacinth, Iris danfordiae, and Tulip prefer 15weeks. Hyacinth 11 weeks.

Tropical bulbs have never had a cold winter so they need no pre-chilling to bloom.

The bulbs will begin to grow roots and in a couple of months roots may even emerge from the container’s drain hole.

When the bulbs have chilled for the required time, bring them inside and put them in a cool place. Bright light is not necessary. When green starts to show, move the pots to a warmer, brighter location for a few days. You are trying to mimic spring with gradually warmer temperatures and slightly longer hours of light. A sudden transition can cause a blast of the bud and failure to flower.

The bulbs will bloom within a few weeks. Move them out of direct sun. To have flowers for several weeks, bring in a pot every week or two.

There will be photos of the process on my blog tomorrow and there is more information at http://tinyurl.com/28bugqm.

14 December 2010

Mulch and cover Encore Azaleas

Over the past few years winters have become colder in many places, with ice storms and weird weather patterns.

Azaleas have been hit hard. Honor Heights Park here in Muskogee, once known for its springtime Azalea Festival has lost hundreds of azaleas.

Each year, more Encore Azaleas are replanted in place of the historic varieties (thank you Greenleaf Nursery!) but their roots are barely deep enough to protect them from these weeks and weeks of below freezing night time temperatures.

Encore Azaleas posted a freeze warning and offered these tips to protect your spring blooms -

1. Reduce Water   Alter your watering schedule to help Encore Azaleas harden off. About a month before first frost, decrease the amount of water given to your plants. After a few hard freezes, increase the amount of water to add moisture to the plants and the surrounding ground. This process helps your plants harden off and go dormant as the initial decrease in water moderates the drop in temperature and then provides needed moisture when the ground is frozen.

2. Add Mulch   Add mulch to protect the roots. Mulch can be applied anytime, although it’s good to add about 4 inches of mulch in fall to protect the roots from first frost. Mulch keeps Encore Azalea's shallow roots safe from the outside environment while providing some moisture as the watering schedule decreases and the temperatures drop.

3. Cover or Drape   Drape material to protect plants from severe weather. When the temperature suddenly drops and maintains 25 degrees or below, provide additional protection by driving stakes into the ground around the plants and draping material over the stakes. Choose burlap or any cloth material so the azalea receives air flow. Be sure the cover does not have direct contact with the plants as this can injure the foliage. Cover is especially beneficial for new azaleas or azaleas that were recently transplanted and have not had enough time to establish a strong root system.

When your shrubs bloom in the spring, you'll pat yourself on the back for getting out there with old sheets and a few bags of mulch.

13 December 2010

Half off prechilled bulbs

Brent and Becky's is selling their remaining prechilled bulbs half off. Click to see what they have left.

Here's the message from Becky
"However, we will NOT ship them until after the 1st of the year. I don't want them to get lost with all the presents being shipped by UPS and FedEx at the moment. Also, the pre-cooled bulbs will be such fun to pot up, root and watch bloom indoors during this, what seems to be a VERY cold winter! So order soon, but understand that we won't ship them until at least January 3rd. Also, if you are in an area that is a long distance from us, we will have to ship them 2nd Day Air so they'll get to you safely!"

12 December 2010

Thinking about art and artistic touches

A back stoop can be dressed up with some bamboo attached with twist ties -
Garden Deva metal pieces can surround a tree -
A stained glass orb with radiating energy fields -
Whimsical bird in a pond -
A log surrounded by river stones and topped with ceramic art -
This time of year, while the plants are napping, is an ideal time to
look at the structure of your front, back and side yards, beds and planting areas.
Where would they benefit from a simple touch of art?
During the winter many garden items are
on the "sale sale sale" shelves and tucked into the back corners of stores
just waiting for your imagination to find them.

09 December 2010

Stevia Rebaundiana Bertoni - Sweet leaf

Stevia Rebaundiana Bertoni is a useful herb that few gardeners grow. The leaves of the plant are dried and used as a non-chemical, sugar substitute that has zero calories and is safe for diabetics.

A member of the aster plant family, there are 200 varieties of Stevia that are related to lettuce and marigolds. S. Rebaundiana Bertoni is the only variety used as a sweetener.

Some people say fresh Stevia leaves have a licorice flavor. The dried leaves are ten times sweeter than sugar and are added to tea and made into extracts. A concentrated syrup is made from dried leaves and water.

Stevia leaves and stevioside extract tablets and powder are also available. When the sweet quality is harvested from the leaves, one half teaspoon of the extract is 300 times sweeter than refined sugar.

Unfortunately, some producers use stems in the manufacturing process, leaving a bitter taste when the Stevia is used in foods.

White powder Stevia is concentrated stevioside. It is so strong that producers add fillers such as milk lactose or maltodextrin from corn, rice or tapioca to reduce the potency.

Powdered steviosides are dissolved in water, alcohol or glycerin and sold as a clear product. In Japan, stevioside is mixed with fruit and grain based erythritol. The product is calorie free, promotes dental health and is safe for diabetics.

Coca-Cola and Cargill developed their own Stevia based product called Truvia. Pepsi developed Pure Via for its zero calorie beverage market. Dr. Pepper’s zero calorie drinks use Reb A as the nickname for their Stevia extract.
The plants are relatively easy for home gardeners to grow during the summer. The leaves are harvested in the fall, dried for a day, and stored for use.

Dried leaves are added to tea, used as a substitute for part of the sugar in ice cream or fruit desserts or sprinkled on cereal. Stevia cannot be directly substituted in cake or bread recipes since refined sugar is part of the chemistry of those recipes. The website stevia.com provides recipes for many sweets.

The Guarani Indians of the Amambay Mountains in Paraguay grew Stevia for centuries before westerners discovered it. The Guarani grew K’ a’ he'en to sweeten their bitter mate teas, to sweeten medicinal potions and as something sweet to chew. Written records show that Stevia was used in Brazil and Argentina by the 1800s.

Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, a Swiss born, (1857) Italian plant explorer and botanist, thought he had discovered the plant when he found it growing in the mountains of Paraguay in 1887. Bertoni named the Stevia Rebaudi in honor of the Paraguayan chemist who was the first to extract the plant's sweetness.

Bertoni moved to Paraguay in 1884 where he and his wife Eugenia Rebaud Bertoni (Married 1876) raised 13 children while conducting research on the Guarani Indians. They self-published their writings through their own publishing company called Ex-Sylvis, which means from the forest. Their house is now a museum.

Stevia was grown commercially after Bertoni wrote about it and by 1908 the first commercial crop produced a ton of dried leaves.

The sweetness of Stevia leaves is said to be unpredictable when the plant is grown from seed. Sources: Burpee Seeds at burpee.com and Johnny’s Seeds at Johnnyseeds.com.

In the spring, the plants will be available from Moonshadow Herb Farm in Muskogee. Mailorder sources include Mountainvalleygrowers.com and Possumcreekherb.com.

Stevia is a tropical plant that thrives in full sun or afternoon shade. Plant them 18 to 24-inches apart when temperatures are at least 60 during the day and the soil warms. The plants’ roots stay close to the soil, so use mulch to keep them evenly moist.

07 December 2010

Seedlings of Veronica Birds Eye and Wooly Silver Speedwell

In the garden shed, windows face east and south.
Plus there is a skylight that leaks when there is heavy rain

Trays of seedlings compete for sunlight

Lettuce under lights.

This plant has more names! Veronica Birds Eye, Veronica persica, Bird's Eye Speedwell, Groundwell, Persian Speedwell, and Large Field Speedwell. Historically it was a medicinal herb though I'm growing it as a native wildflower.

Wooly Silver Speedwell has silvery leaves and blue flowers - a beautiful combination.
Woolly Silver Speedwell seedlings
A day without dirt is just not complete.
It's too cold to dig outside so I get dirt under my nails inside.

Woolly Silver Speedwell in bloom 18 months later

How are you coping with winter?

06 December 2010

Beautiful and relaxing drive from Talihina to Mena

On a 54-mile stretch of Oklahoma 1 there are gorgeous views no matter what time of year, but especially in the fall.
You can't travel fast but the highway from Talihina in LeFlore County's Talimena State Park through the Ouachita National Forest is worth the hours invested.
The highway takes you through ancient forests of hardwoods and pines with small waterfalls in the rocks.

Oklahoma 1 becomes Arkansas 88 on its way into Mena, Ark., and it's called the Talimena drive. I must have heard it said 3 or 4 times before I could understand what they were recommending. 

The Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area has a campground for warmer days. But the drive itself has lots of beauty to absorb.

There isn't anything to do along the drive and when you arrive at Mena Arkansas, there isn't much there.

If a relaxing overnight in a rustic setting seems like a good idea, consider the Queen Wilhemina State Park Lodge.

As a drive or an overnight, taking the time to enjoy nature at this busy time of year seems like a luxury, but it really isn't.