Showing posts from May, 2010

My Salvia moorcroftiana or Sclera or Turkestanica or or eigii or Vatican Clary Sage or pachyphylla

This biennial Salvia has more names than an often married member of a royal family. It's taken considerable research to identify this beauty because it has so many names.

First and best reference, of course is The New Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch. Clebsch's exacting description and photo helped identify the leaves.
However, Clebsch's original Salvia book, A Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden, identifies a plant that looks just like it as Salvia eigii.

But an Internet trip to Robins Salvias Gallery clarified that - it's not eigii.
And then, look at the photos at Dave's Garden where it is called pachyphylla.

Salvia moorcroftiana Wallich ex Bentham, according to Clebsch, is a robust perennial found throughout Pakistan and is especially common in the Kashmir valley.

But then the leaves of vitifolia are identical, too.

My hope is that it becomes a perennial that spreads by rhizome, seed, whatever. It's too glorious to have only one summer...whatever its name is.

One of My Favorite Flowers

What do you call them? Dianthus Barbatus, Hardy Pinks, Sweet William, Maiden Pink, Grass Pink, Pheasant's Eye, Chinese Pink, Picotee, Carnation, Clove Pink or some other pet name?

One of the oldest known cultivated plants, pinks were first brought to English gardens in the 1500s.

The ones in these photos came from a Blossoms Garden Center, a local nursery. Three years ago I planted a few 4-inch pots and they have grown into a substantial contribution to the garden.

Other varieties have grey stems and single flowers in red, pink, white.

Of course, they are a close relative of carnations. Many varieties are easy to grow from seed and each year I add another color or type to the garden. Most of the time, they come back in an ever larger stand that can be divided and moved.

They bloom best in full sun, but do OK with some afternoon shade.

If you can use a scented, reliable, old-fashioned flower, grab some of these at your local garden center or at the Bluestone Perennials sale here.

Achillea or Yarrow for Your Summer Garden

Achillea (pronounced ah-KILL-ee-ah) has a dozen nicknames including yarrow, old man's pepper, milfoil, thousand-leaf, woundwort, devil's nettle and others. The species name, millefolium means thousand-leaf. That name comes from yarrow’s many-toothed leaves.

Yarrow is the most commonly used name for all the varieties that are available. It is an easy to grow herbaceous (dies to the ground in the winter) perennial that will come back year after year.

The wild, white flowering, variety that grows in fields has been tamed over and over again, making garden yarrow into a reliable and beautiful perennial that likes heat, humidity and lean soil.

All yarrows have flat flower-heads that contain dozens of small, clustered flowers that are ignored by deer and damaging insects. The green or grey-green leaves are feathery and scented or aromatic.

Gardeners who want cut flowers for the house cannot resist long-lasting yarrow blooms. The flower heads are 2 to 6 inches across on 18 to 24 inch st…

Snakes In the Garden

The Snakes of North America website from the University of Pittsburgh has photos of dozens of our snakes to help identify the ones you may see in the garden.

This one is most likely a garter snake. They are harmless - they eat frogs, toads, salamanders, earthworms, fish and mice.

Tulsa Master Gardeners website has a discussion of Oklahoma Poisonous Snakes by extension educator, Bruce Peverley.

Every year, when we clean out the flower beds, we see snakes like these. Most likely, they are traveling through our property on their way to a decent hunting ground where rodents are plentiful. This one, I think is a Great Plains Ratsnake. They eat rodents, bats, and birds.

The best site I found is OK Snakes, with photos of all our snakes in categories such as patterned, striped, etc. The one snake I wish we'd attract is one that would eat moles and voles. And, maybe the skunk, raccoon, squirrel, possom or armadillo back there that's making all those holes in the yard for us to trip on.

Fayetteville Arkansas Garden Tour June 5

On June 5th, the Flower, Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas is holding their Through the Garden Gate tour. Contact Lynn Rogers at lbr845 at for more information.

Here is the lineup -
164 N. Skyview Lane, in Fayetteville
7 E. Lover’s Lane, in Fayetteville
2468 N. Crossover Rd. in Fayetteville
1011/1079 Tanglebriar Lane in Fayetteville
8779 W. Forest Hills Dr. in Fayetteville
30 Windsor Dr. in Rogers
2200 S, Dixieland Rd. in Rogers

ALSO - here's the lineup of the organization's upcoming meetings

July 17 Joyce Mendenhall, Washington County Master Gardener, FGNS member

August 21 Renee Reed, garden writer and owner of Reed's Designs Landscaping

September 18 Fred Spiegel, UA Professor of Myc…

In Our Garden Today

Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold, is a wonderful beneficial for the vegetable garden even though Wikipedia says not to plant it there. It's used medicinally by some and to color custard, vinegar, etc. Easy to grow from seed in full sun, it prefers the temperatures of spring.

Here's a biennial Salvia, started from seed last year. The size of the fuzzy grey-green leaves set it apart from others. Once we see the flowers we'll be able to identify it. Of course, since I order new salvia seeds every year, the exact identity of this one is to be determined.

Broccoli heads are almost ready to harvest in the vegetable bed. These seeds came from HPS.

Chocolate Orange Rudbeckia - huge flowers on every plant. The seeds came from Ivy Garth.

Most of the seeds started successfully, though I started them WAY too early last winter and many of the plants checked out...not enjoying the conditions I could provide in a record cold Oklahoma winter in a slightly heated shed.

This is Rudbeckia…

Peonies - Queen of the Garden Flowers

Peonies are called the Queen of Garden Flowers for their month-long, annual display of huge, scented, single and double blossoms. Ideal for low maintenance gardens, peonies have large, attractive leaves that stay pretty all season, on a 3-foot tall plant. Flower colors include white, cream, pink, coral, red and purple.

The plants need a cold winter and plenty of sun in the summer, though they appreciate some afternoon shade in August. A northern exposure suits them best because a south facing location tends to freeze and thaw several times a winter.
Since peonies prefer to grow underground throughout the winter and emerge early in the spring, they are bought and planted in the fall. Spring planted or transplanted peonies will take an extra year to bloom.

Each plant or division should have 3 or 4 eyes. If the division has less, the plant will need extra years to grow more eyes before blooming. The most common cause of peonies not blooming is that their eyes were planted more than an inc…

Oklahoma's 2010 Master Gardener Conference is in Norman June 17-18

Norman Oklahoma will be the site of the 2010 Master Gardener Conference June 17-18.

Here's a link to the registration form. If my schedule allows it, I'll be there!

Oklahoma Master Gardener Conference registration

I'ts $40 if you sign up before June 1st. Here's the line-up -

Master Gardener Conference Social Event
Thursday Evening, June 17, 2010

To get the Norman flavor and meet your fellow gardeners, please plan to attend the Wine and Cheese Social from 6 to 9 p.m. (come and go) at the Cleveland County Master Gardener Association Demonstration and Teaching Garden at the Cleveland County Extension Office and Fairgrounds at 601 E. Robinson. The garden was established in 2000 to help residents see for themselves how beautiful their own gardens can grow. Various themed gardens include herbs,vegetables, Oklahoma Proven selections, butterfly gardens, Xeriscape plants, square foot and handicapped beds, Native American vegetables, plus much more. Gardens will also be featured as a …

Spring Brings Many New Things

Every couple of days plants emerge from dormancy surprising us as we weed around the stubs of their root crown. The Lantana sent out half a dozen leaves this week, the Black and Blue Salvia has three leaves at the base of the roots, the Black Lace Elderberry, in its third year, is coming into its own with pink flowers on top of 4-foot tall stems.

Another Salvia I started from seed 2 years ago is 3-feet tall and has buds. Out of 50-seedlings, there are 5 plants that are successful. The hydrangeas and lilies have lots of buds, and I've already had to take the clippers to the hops vine.

In the photo (below) you'll see part of the side yard. There is a Martin birdhouse stand on the far left. (Of course, Grackles live in it.)

Just to the right of the Grackle house, you'll see a couple of small oak trees. When we moved into this property 10 years ago, we planted a tree in that spot. It died.

Then, the next year another tree, etc. The trees in the photo have been in place for three …

My Friends the Flowers

In a not-to-be-missed sale, Brent and Becky's Bulbs is having a 50% off sale.
No kidding. Click here to see what they have left for summer blooms.

A cool new book, "My Friends the Flowers" is now available. Written by William Lach, this adorable book is illustrated by Doug Kennedy.

It's geared for children from Kindergarten to grade 2, ages 4 to 8.
Each page describes the flower illustrated. For example "Four-O'Clocks are bright and bold, though not before that hour." The illustration of Four-O'Clocks is clever.

In the back there is a Glossary of Flowers that is useful and can be used to help children identify flowers in your flower beds and in public gardens.

Grow a Flower Friend Garden is half a dozen pages of how to grow a garden - tips for children who want to grow those garden friends from the front of the book.

If you have little ones coming for the summer, you would probably enjoy reading it to them and talking them through your similar plants as yo…

USDA's U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. Is a Research Facility, Public Park and Several Gardens

The U. S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC is not far from the Capital Mall. Visitors have an opportunity to get away from the crowds, see distinctive plant collections, walk the paths and learn about plants in a 446 acre park. There is also a tram tour.

Close to the Visitor's Center and within easy walking distance are the Aquatic Garden and Koi Pond, Friendship Garden, the National Herb Garden, and the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. (see a map of the grounds at

The Asian Collection includes a Japanese Woodland, Korean Hillside, Asian Valley and China Valley gardens.

The Bonsai and Penjing Museum is a series of gardens and bonsai displays. The garden was started with a gift from the Japanese people in 1976. The oldest plant in the collection is a Japanese White Pine, which was started in 1625.

Each garden is a collection of miniature garden scenes, shade loving plants and water features accented with Asian art, gateways and arbors.
The Knot Garde…

The National Gallery Walkway, Waterfall and Atriums

The west building of the National Gallery contains art produced up to the 19th Century. the east building is modern. The walkway between the east and west buildings is a work of art itself.
We shared a gelato while we watched the waterfall (and the people) in the Concourse between the buildings.
In the west building, at each end, there are benches, comfortable chairs and atriums so you can absorb what you've seen.
The high glass ceiling is covered with white shade cloth and one would guess that the tropicals and ferns are happy but that the roses have to be replaced.
It's a lovely and refreshing setting.

U.S. National Arboretum Washington D.C.

It is remarkable to consider that there is a 450 acre open space Arboretum in the center of Washington D.C. with gardens ranging from dogwood and boxwood collections to Asian plant collections.
The National Herb Garden is filled with edibles and domestic arts plants, including roses, sage, lemon balm, and lettuce beds.
The site is best known as a plant research center with dozens of greenhouses.
There's plenty to see in a half day, including the former Capitol columns that now sit perched on a 20 acre site inside the Arboretum.
The connifer garden is remarkable and not to be missed.

Roanoake VA Farmer's Market Scenes

On the weekend in Roanoake the streets are closed for a market loaded with flowers, plants, fresh produce, jewelry, soaps and art of all stripes.
The location is a street full of shops - Paper Chocolate, an artisan bakery, Oh La La clothing store - well, you get the drift -
Check out these classy half-urn planters. Big enough to add a spot of greenery and slim enough to keep the sidewalk open.
It's still chilly weather so not many people were buying ornamental plants. What I saw was large purchases of vegetable seedlings - boxes and boxes of them being carried to cars.

Rhododendrons in Wytheville VA

When you drive into downtown Wytheville VA one of the remarkable touches is the logo of an office supply store - a gigantic pencil.
In the historic district, each home has a distinctive address marker.

And, look at those rhododendrons.

We thought these homeowners had set their house apart with beds of hostas. The whole effect is lovely.

Even though northease Oklahoma is in zone 7 - same as here - our summers are too hot to have much success with rhododendrons. We have to travel to one of the coasts to see them in the spring. San Francisco also has gorgeous rhododendrons.

Memphis Botanic Garden

Today at the Memphis Botanic Garden

The Japanese Garden of Tranquility is a beautiful place to walk on a late spring day. Benches in the shade provide a place to watch the koi splashing and jumping.

The iris garden is in its full glory with art as dramatic as the flowers.

If you haven't visited yet, it's definitely worth adding to your travel itinerary. Each time we come, it looks different. The website has a link for what blooms when so you can see your favorites.