Showing posts from 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.

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. 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 and 44-1229-581137

Fedco has 4 divisions: Seeds, tubers, organics, trees and bulbs. Vegetables include Poona Kheera cucumbers and Scorzon…

"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 or email for more information.

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.
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.
More plant names and their origins as promised

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 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.

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 …

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.

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 no…

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 …

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, i…

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.

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

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.

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 ot…

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 prov…

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!"

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.

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 …

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. A day without dirt is just not complete. It's too cold to dig outside so I get dirt under my nails inside.

How are you coping with winter?

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 natu…