Showing posts from April, 2010

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How About Some Take-It-Easy Gardening Ideas?

Whether you have a new home to landscape, an existing home to maintain, or if you rent, making your surroundings pleasing will provide hours of summer enjoyment.

For apartments, a large pot or two brimming with sun loving herbs and flowers make a big difference in how the entry looks and feels. A shady entry can be transformed with ferns in hanging pots or in tall planters.

Trees benefit both homeowners and renters. Most trees need some sun to thrive but, they can be planted in a pot on a sunny balcony or deck to provide shade and improve the view.

Woody shrubs are indispensible around a property line, across a deck, or under trees. In the summer, shrubs add softness and fullness. Placed carefully, they provide shade and a windscreen.

Perennial flowers, bulbs and annuals also play a role in easy gardening.

Easy care perennials come back year after year with little effort on the gardener's part. Hostas in the shade, Knock Out Roses for the sun, fall asters and dozens of other perennial…

A Few Scenes from Today's Garden


There's a New Gal in Town - Hort Couture

Hort Couture sent out their trial plants this week and I am thrilled to be one of their trial gardens for Zone 7.

My box contained variegated sage called Sage la Crema, , Heirloom tomato Black Krim, Ready to Wear Paris Calibrachoa, and Hemigraphis Blackberry Waffle.

This is a new brand to me and these cute plant tags were in the pots.
You can take a look at their blog here.

I researched the plants on the Internet and all the comments from trial gardens were terrific and outstanding. I can't wait to get them growing.

Another Earth Day Story about Organics- This One from Cuba

In today's issue of The Dirt from the American Association of Landscape Architects, the story is about Cuba.

The Future of Cuba's Urban Agriculture
Due to the collapse of aid from the Soviet Union and U.S. sanctions in the early 1990s, Cuba moved from a centrally-planned, fossil-fuel based agriculture system to a locally-organized organic urban one, writes Solutions journal. However, with lessening tensions and growing trade with the U.S., there are new concerns that Cuba’s model of self-sufficient green agricultural production will be scrapped.

Farmers and agronomists responded to economic isolation by localizing food production, which has now taken off across Cuba's urban areas. In fact, urban farms in vacant lots in the capital, Havana, and a network of producers across the country now provide 80 percent of the country with local, organic produce and helped turn Cuba into an unintentional leader of the green movement, says Solutions. CBS News adds that most urban farms w…

Earth Day - Today Is the 40th

Our veggie garden is 20 by 20 - on the left are the peas on a trellis, then leeks, wax bush beans, Dinosour kale, Cos and Romaine lettuce, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, broad beans on the far right and potato cages in the back.
Earth Day is celebrating its 40Th birthday today. Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day in 1970 is the international chair of Earth Day 2010. Hayes is chairman of the board of trustees of the American Solar Energy Society and president of the Bullitt Foundation.

Twenty million Americans participated in that original Earth Day celebration. Within three years Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Today, most schools and many towns acknowledge Earth Day through activities meant to remind us that caring for the earth’s resources is important.

Small conservation activities include recycling paper, glass, cooking oil, plastic containers and plastic bags. Groups can participate in tree planting project…

Old News Can be Worth Reading

The American Society of Landscape Designers sends out a monthly email called
The Dirt with links to stories of interest. Through a series of clicks I found a link to a Sept. 23, 2009 New York Times story that is perfect for the Earth Day thoughts we are all having.

In the Garden, by Ann Raver, "The Grass is Greener at Harvard"

Follow the link above to read the entire piece. Here are a few excerpts to help you think Earth Day thoughts.

There is an underground revolution spreading across Harvard University this fall. It’s occurring under the soil and involves fungi, bacteria, microbes and roots, which are now fed with compost and compost tea rather than pesticides and synthetic nitrogen.

Our goal is to be fully organic on the 80 acres that we maintain within the next two years, said Wayne Carbone, Harvard's manager of landscape services.

The lumps of soil showed how grass grew when treated with chemical fertilizers and how it looked when treated organically, she said. You could…

Leeks, Leeks, Perpetual Leeks

Last summer I let one leek flower and go to seed.
Then, I laid the seed head on a bed, moving it every couple of weeks. Leeks grew over the winter from those seeds. The photo below was taken last November.

Today I did a third harvest and took out all but two that will go to seed for next year's crop.

We cleaned off the green tops and root bottoms after a couple of runs under the hose. The tops went to the compost pile. In the house the leeks were trimmed more and the trimmings went into the stock pot.
The perfect pieces from the bottom were sliced lengthwise about one-fourth inch wide. Those slivers were popped into a hot nonstick skillet with a little olive oil, herb salt and a whisper of sugar and cooked until soft.
Tonight they go under a pile of oven-roasted fresh asparagus.

I'm In Love With A Radius Spade

Frankly, I have always skimmed over gardeners' complaints and raves about tools. I have a shot shovel, a circle hoe, a few trowels and a pair of hands, what else could I need?

Radius offered to send me a Pro-Lite Advanced Design Carbon Steel Digging Tool with Fiberglass Shaft - a spade - and I was cynical but willing.

Well, now I have the religious fervor of a recent convert - this weekend actually. I took it out to the vegetable garden to see what it could to that my shot shovel could not and it proved itself to be worthy of praise.

The ergonomic handle, besides being a fun color, is perfect for grabbing with both hands. The quality of the shovel's spade is the best I've ever used, though I've already admitted to being a bit of a tool novice.

I harvested lettuce with it as well as planting new seedlings where the lettuce came out. It's a dream to use.

Go figure. Tools to make a difference.
"The PRO Spade is a great digging and transplanting spade with a large shar…

Free Saturdays and a Photo Contest at the Oklahoma Botanical Garden - Northwest of Tulsa

Pearl Garrison, Communications Director ath the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden let me know that they are having free Saturdays and a photo contest that is open and free to everyone..

Here's the scoop - The OCBG website is here. You can find a map and hours at the site.

Photo Contest information -
One contest is on Facebook and the other is a judged competition.

Choose: Wildflowers, nature trail, the tree-covered Osage Hills, native grasses, persimmon grove, boulders with moss and lichen, new landscaping and everything else you can imagine in the natural setting of the Cross Timbers ancient forest and prairie.

The pictures must be taken at the Garden, which will be open from 10 am to 1 pm Saturdays beginning May 1.

There is no charge to enter the contests or to visit the Garden.

Instructions on how to enter the contests are at and on Facebook. The contests are for amateur photographers.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday April 20 Natalie Green, owner of Apertures Photo, will lead a one-hour…

Gerald Klingaman Speaking in Muskogee Thursday at Muskogee Garden Club

Dr. Gerald Klingaman, retired extension horticulturist from the University of Arkansas, will be talking on Spring in an Ozark Garden at Muskogee Garden Club this morning. Klingaman said he would talk about native plants as well as non-natives that work well in our gardens.

Some Arkansas natives have a counterpart in China that look similar and grow in the same kind of habitat, Klingaman said. It is more interesting to have variety, so you can plant both.

Native plants include many we grow but do not think of as natives. Consider Oakleaf Hydrangea, Carolina allspice, Virginia creeper, beautyberry, witch hazel, Virginia sweetspire, azalea, Viburnum and sweet bay magnolia.

Several years ago Klingaman gave us a tour of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville while it was under construction. Now he is the operations director.

In addition to public speaking on plants and his work with the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Klingaman writes for Learn2Grow, an online horticulture site an…

A Few Tulips - Spring 2010 - Blooming April 12 Because We Had No April Freeze

Tulips are mostly an annual thing here and maybe everywhere outside of Holland. Every year I say I'm not going to put in tulips because they don't come back, spread, make more, etc.

So when my friends who plan ahead get those great summer deals on fall planted bulbs, I decline to add my order to theirs.

It's the late season sales that I can't resist. When Touch of Nature and Brent and Becky's send those late fall sale emails, I'm thinking spring.

Last year I felt like I had finally arrived as a garden writer when Brent and Becky's sent me a box of complimentary bulbs (first and only). This year I felt like I had arrived as a gardener when these tulips from that box returned to grace the garden a second year.

These three photos are tulips I ordered from Touch of Nature's end of the year sale.

My friend Jan who orders in the summer gave me some of these (smarty pants thinks ahead). They won't return but what a glory!
This year is the best ever for tulips a…

What's Blooming in Zone 7

Hyacinth bulbs
Viburnum now

Viburnum last weekBluebells

Forellenschluss Romaine Lettuce from the Third Millenium BC - One of 75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden

Open pollinated Forellenschluss romaine lettuce has been called the Jackson Pollack of lettuces.

Fedco Seeds says this Austrian heirloom is also called Freckled or Trout Black.

"An absolutely gorgeous romaine with the delicate taste and texture of a butterhead, distinguished for its deep green leaves flecked with wine-red splotches." and "The best-tasting lettuce I've grown - can give a large heavy head as sweet as can be," praises Michael Goldman.

Also the best-tasting of the 50 lettuces in our 1998 trial. Very buttery tender leaves may be harvested at 4 to 6 inches for mesclun or allowed to grow full size for maximum ornamental benefit.

William Woys Weaver traced Forellenschluss back to 1793 when it was a dwarf variety of Spotted Aleppo developed in Germany. More upright and cup-shaped than Speckled Amish, with larger and darker splotches and better heat tolerance.

Forellenschlus romaine lettuce according to Horticulture Magazines' 2007 article -


Connors' Hort Students' Annual Plant Sale - Better than ever

Connors State College in Warner OK has an annual plant sale that showcases what the horticulture students have learned to do. Here's the list of what will be available April 15 and 16 from 10 to 6 only.

2010 CSC Plant Sale – Warner Campus Greenhouse

Full Sun Annuals PRICE
Sweet Potato Vines 2.50 per 4 pot
Dianthus 24.00 per flat 2.00 per 4 pk
Vinca (Periwinkle) 24.00 per flat 2.00 per 4 pk
New Guinea SunPatiens 3.25 per 3 pot
Gerbera Daisy 3.25 per 3 pot
Antigua Marigolds 24.00 per flat 4.00 per 6 pk
Little Hero Marigolds 14.40 per flat 1.20 per 4 pk
Lantana 3.00 per 4 pot
Zonal Geraniums 3.50 per 4 pot
Portulaca (Rose Moss) 24.00 per flat 2.00 per 4 pk
Gazania 14.40 per flat 1.20 per 4 pk
Dreamland Zinnia 14.40 per flat 2.40 per 6 pk

Hanging Baskets PRICE
Other Assorted Baskets 10.00
Asparagus Fern 12.00
True Boston Fern 12.00
Variegated Begonia 6.00
Winged Begonia 6.00
Ivy Geraniums 10.00

Vegetables (Tomato) price Size
Mr. Stripey 1.00 per 4pk Large
Jet Star 1.00 per 4pk Medium
Better Boy 1.…

Salvia Oxford Blue - Clary Sage

Salvias are a favorite of mine and I'm adding seed grown Oxford Blue to the beds this spring.

The seeds are from Chiltern in England and the plant is called Salvia hormium Oxford blue in the catalog.

Well, it's difficult to research this plant since it has several names going for it. Its family name is Labiatae/Lamiaceae or mint, of course.

One synonym is Salvia viridis. Other names include Clary sage Oxford blue. The Backyard Gardener calls it Oxford Blue Annual Clary Sage, pretty much covering all bases.

It is an annual that grows to 18-inches tall, though Clemson U. says it will be 2-feet tall by the end of the summer.

Just to throw a little science into the mix, Purdue's Hort Dept says
"clary, clear eye, eyebright, clarywort, and musoatel sage, the species is widely cultivated throughout the temperate regions of the world. Principal production centers include France, the USSR and Hungary. Reaching a height of 1 to 1.5 meters during flowering, the plant is characterized…

Bulbs, Corms, Tubers and Rhizomes

Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes all have a place in a garden. They are a plant-them-now, enjoy-them- later proposition, unlike the established plants purchased at a garden center. Bulbs, tubers and corms are an energy storage unit that grows roots, leaves, stems and flowers months after they are planted.

A collection of hardy bulbs will give your flower beds, and areas under trees, flower s that will return for several years. Many bulbs will reproduce, giving you the bonus of more plants over the years.

Bulblets form at the base of the mother bulb on gladiolus and along the underground stem on some lilies. Other bulbs make bulbils, or tiny, new bulbs, up toward the top of the flower stems.

Tulips, hyacinth and daffodils grow and bloom from bulbs planted in the fall. Lilies grow from bulbs planted in the spring or the fall.

Tall, stately, Gladiolus grow from spring planted corms; crocus bloom in late winter snow from corms planted in the fall. Corms are actually stems. They mult…

It's a Mystery

Last spring I planted a pack of Fedco Seeds Beneficials Mix in the vegetable garden.
The package was said to contain: alyssum, bachelor button, borage, gem marigold, dill, fennel, Phacelia tanacetifolia or fiddleneck, caraway, parsley, golden marguerite, ajuga, basket of gold alyssum, and Rocky Mountain penstemon.

Indeed dill, parsley, basket of gold alyssum and a couple of others came up.
The entire planting took over a bushel basket sized area but brought the pollinators for our veggies and we were happy with that.

One took over and it's photo is here

Russell Studebaker, Sharon Owen and I exchanged a few emails and decided that it's Golden Marguerite or Anthemis tinctoria. In the spirit of trust and verify, I checked Cal Berkeley's plant site and here it is - Anthemis tinctoria.

The Missouri Plants website has lovely photos and information on it here. They say it is one of the chamomiles grown to make tea.

Plants for a Future says it is also used as a dye.

NEXT Anyone want to t…

Gator Grabber - Get One If You Have Leaves to Pick Up

This Gator Grabber is a cool new item from Radius Garden in Michigan. It has adjustable handles and big teeth, making it easy to use and efficient.

The Radius motto is "garden more hurt less" and it certainly applied in this situation. The oak tree drops its leaves now as the new leaves are emerging. It's either rake them and then bend over to scoop them up or.... ta da ... use the Gator Grabber.
It's no contest which is easier on the back. All those leaves were taken to the shade garden to build up the soil over there. Not one was wasted.

A Mystery Is Solved: How and Why Certain Plants Make it Big and Others Remain Obscure

Each spring there is an explosion of certain new plants in the garden centers of large home improvement stores. Why specific plants are selected for annual promotion may surprise you. If your guess is that the plants are chosen because they are the best available specimens for your garden, you have to guess again.

Tony Avent, co-owner of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh NC, spoke recently on the topic at the Flower Garden and Nature Society in Fayetteville AR.

Photo: left Russell Studebaker - garden writer for the Tulsa World, center - yours truly, right - Tony Avent

Plant Delights, considered one of the premier boutique mail order nurseries, has been providing unique plants since 1991. Their customers are collectors and plant hobbyists.

Avent is known for setting trends. His introductions include tropicals, hostas, Arisaema, Agapanthus, elephant ears, wild ginger, Baptesia, and agave. Avent finds plants, breeds new hybrids, and then grows them on acres of test gardens before they are o…