Showing posts from September, 2010

2010 Brought lots of good stuff for gardeners

New tools, plants and garden books for 2010 include redesigned handles for spades, double hibiscus for the hedgerow and a dozen volumes on garden design.

Each gardener can find something to enhance their library and shed. Here are a few that you may not have heard about.

The Arnold Power Rake attaches to many walk-behind lawn mowers (requires tools and some mechanical ability). It dethatches, can help with fall leaf chopping, lawn scalping, and aerating. Cost $15 - $20 Available at Lowes and

Deep Drip Tree Watering Stakes will be helpful for fall tree planting. Watering should be deep enough to encourage the roots to sink down into the soil, below the hole. Deep Drip soakers look like heavy- plastic, giant, turkey-basters, with irrigation holes in the sides. Designed to work with either a garden hose or soaker, they are planted into the hole between the tree trunk and the drip line.

Fertilizer added to the Deep Drip via the removable cap goes directly to the roots with water…

Hey composters

I was dubious, doubtful, suspicious and dreaded a potential mess. But we took the leap and tried the Norpro Degradable Compost Bags.

We put a bag into a lidded cheapie ice bucket from the local cheap stuff store. Then, put in the usual things: coffee grounds, eggshells, salad trimmings ... you know the things that could make the bottom of the bag fall out on the trip from the kitchen to the compost bin.

No mishaps. The bag held together. This is not a paid commercial - we bought the bags. Do you use these or something else?

Plumeria or Frangipani at the garden of designer Todd Hudspeth

Todd Hudspeth is a garden designer in Tulsa so of course his garden is always full of delights. Click to see his garden blogspot, called Discover Eden.

This is a Plumeria in his front yard garden space. Mostly they are grown in Hawaii and the sweet flowers are made into the leis that will be put around your neck as you deplane there in January.

Also called Frangipani, they have to be taken inside and stored warm or stored dry in a basement over the winter in order to be grown as a perennial here. Keep the roots from freezing temps and replant in the spring.

Master Gardener online says -
Plumeria has many common names throughout the tropical world including:

•Dead Man's Finger (Australia)
•Jasmine de Cayenne (Brazil)
•Pagoda Tree or Temple Tree (India)
•Egg Flower (southern China)
•Amapola (Venezuela)

There are dozens of sources for the plants on the Internet.

Sharon Lovejoy's Newest Book of Love - Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars

With the subtitle, Grandma's Bag of Tricks, Sharon Lovejoy summarizes her latest book of ideas for child care workers, teacher, parents, grandparents, and, well, anyone who enjoys hanging around with children.

There are 130 ideas for children of all ages.

Chapters and a taste of their contents
1 Preparing Camp Granny - birthdays, stories, home made bubbles,
2 The Neighborhood Naturalist - explorer kit, bird watching, butterfly gardening
3 Kids in the Kitchen - recipes for critter cakes, fluffy clouds, salad party
4 Kitchen Garbage Garden - citrus trees, sprouting spuds, strawberry skirts
5 Kids in the Garden - recipes, bale planters,
6 Rainy Day Activities - puppet show, crafts, theatre, worm hotel, cards to make

Outboxes on many pages have more suggestions - books to read, more activities to do together, bird words, nature facts, nutrition tips, crafts,

Lovejoy's previous books are favorites, too - "Trowel & Error", "Sunflower Houses" and "Roots, Shoots,…

Pumpkins Galore

Oklahoma State University Dept. of Agriculture conducts field trials but we/I rarely find out about the presentations. Tonight I had the opportunity to go to one at the Bixby Vegetable Research Station. (Thanks to Sue Gray)

We had the opportunity to walk through the beds and take a look at the varieties that they were testing. Pumpkins are planted in June and harvested in September.

Equally interesting was the growers conversations I overheard among the growers. They talked about the varieties they grew and how few pumpkins were on the vines at the Research Station.

But the star of the presentation was the windbreak of grain planted between the rows of pumpkins. Sorghum sudan haygrazer was planted to help prevent aphids and mildew problems with the pumpkin crop.

The pumpkin seeds were planted June 21 and the haygrazer seeds were planted the next day. They used preemergent to help with weed control, insecticide and fungicide spray were applied every two weeks, 46-0-0 nitrogen was the ferti…

Do You Know Your Flowering Quince?

Whether or not you recognize it, you see flowering quince every spring around the time forsythia blooms. In contrast to forsythia’s bright yellow, flowering quince blooms in pink, red and white.

The two best known flowering quince are Chaenomeles speciosa, Common Floweringquince and Chaenomeles japonica, Japanese Floweringquince. Both are cold hardy as far north as zone 4 or 5 which means gardeners who live south of Minnesota can grow them.

The common variety is native to China but was cultivated in Japan. Proven Winners released two new, low growing, varieties this year and both have double flowers.

Proven Winners, Flowering Quince, Scarlet Storm

The two best known flowering quince are Chaenomeles speciosa, Common Floweringquince and Chaenomeles japonica, Japanese Floweringquince. Both are cold hardy as far north as zone 4 or 5 which means gardeners who live south of Minnesota can grow them.

The common variety is native to China but was cultivated in Japan. Proven Winners released two ne…

Come Garden with Me and Be My Love

People sometimes begin their gardening lives as one of the several shared passions of new romance. We met a woman once at a dinner party – a very good gardener – who explained that she and her husband had begun their ambitious garden – now hers from a recent and quite acrimonious divorce settlement – in the first spring of their marriage. It started one fine dewy Saturday morning, over breakfast, as they were discussing their summer vacation plans.

"Rome?" she suggested? "To hot," he replied. "Paris?" "It’s closed in August." "A house in the Hamptons?" "Too expensive. And too snooty." "My parents’ cottage on Long Beach Island?" Silence.

"Well…We could just stay home…." His eyes lit up as he lowered his cup a little too loudly in its saucer. "What…would we…do….with all that time?" (He was a currency trader, and needed to anticipate results.) "Oh" she remembers saying shyly, "We could …

September 19 2010 In the Garden

One of the authors of our favorite gardening books, Wayne Winterrowd,
died yesterday.

With his partner Joe Eck, Winterrowd wrote "Our Life in Gardens", "Roses", "Living Seasonally", "A Year at North Hill", "Annuals for Connoisseurs", "Annuals and Tender Plants for North American Gardeners", as well as writing for garden magaines.

When you think about all the authors who inspired and taught us over the years, it's an amazing list of dedicated plant lovers who were willing to share their knowledge and experience.

So, I dedicate the photos I took of our garden this morning to those wonderful people from whom we have learned.

My garden would not be a tenth as satisfying as it is without
the generous help of garden writers.

So, thanks to them all.

Colleen Plimpton pens her memoir in "Mentors in the Garden of Life"

Colleen Plimpton has accomplished an autobiography of herself as a person, a church and community booster, a professional social worker, a gardener, a friend, a daughter-mother-wife, a mentor and someone you will feel you have known for years after reading her book.

"Mentors in the Garden of Life" weaves stories of great grandparents, grandparents, in-laws, children, neighbors, casual acquaintences and best friends into the fabric of a life well lived.

Plant lovers and gardeners will see themselves in many of the stories because they are at some level common to us all. We watched how our ancestors tended to their flowers, vegetables, houseplants and,or, livestock. And those experiences became a part of us that we lived out later in our own gardens.

We experienced the happiness of seeds cracking open, plants returning from dormancy, talking about plants with strangers, family and friends. Most of us have suffered loss and have a plant that reminds us of that love.

When Colleen an…

Dew Stop

Gardeners give their kitchens and bathrooms a beating. We drag in baskets of garlic, cartons of fruit and vegetables, tools to be scrubbed, and pots to sterilize.

We should take off our muddy clothes before we drop dirt everywhere in the house but have to consider the neighbors.

In the summer we shower as often as 3 times in a day, changing clothes every time.

The bathroom I wish I had
Our bathroom is being redecorated with minor remodeling and we are putting in one of these The reason is that this little switch can reduce mold, steam and humidity in the bathroom.
Dew Stop installs into the fan switch and turns itself on when it senses high humidity. Then, it remains on for 30 minutes. The multi-switch arrangement allows you to turn it on and off yourself, too. The Dew Stop is meant to replace your existing fan switch or it can be used with a new fan which is what we're going to do.
It's available at

Mark your calendar for the Living Arts Garden Tour in Tulsa Sept 25-26

It's time for the Living with art in the Garden tour and sale.
Sept 25, 10 to 5 and Sept, 26 1 to 5
Information Living Arts of Tulsa
or Christy Fell 918-747-1919

Cost for the tour is $10 at any garden ($5 students with ID)
What could be better than an art sale in a beautiful garden? The annual Living Arts of Tulsa garden tour and art sale will be in 7 beautiful gardens. Master Gardeners and home owners will be on hand to answer plant questions. And, at each site, an artist will be available to talk about their work on display.

Each garden will provide a showcase for local artists. The tour includes one site-specific multimedia installation by Tulsa artist Walt Kosty. His concept is named sit.sat.set and includes physical art, social media, GPS mapping and(optional) public participation.

The seven gardens on the tour include a wide variety of styles and plantings. You can begin the tour at any location - 1450 E Fir Drive - Sand Springs/Tulsa Exit 81st West Av), 1708 W Easton Ct, 1524…

A Few Tidbits

Micahel Mace worked with members of the Pacific Bulb Society to develop an up to date list of suppliers. The list has been edited and revised by PBS members so it is current and available online for your browsing and shopping. Click and shop this international resource!

Where to Obtain Species Bulbs

The next Horticulture and Landscape conference will be in Ft. Smith Arkansas, January 14 1nd 15. I usually go the second day. The focus of this year's winter conference is four season growing.

Sponsored by OSU, it is usually very fairly priced. It will be $50 for two days,
$35 one day and lunch is $15 per day additional. You could also bring lunch or eat outside the conference.

The featured speakers are Alison & Paul Wiediger from Au Naturel Farm in Smiths Grove, KY. The sustainability website with their info is here.

If you want to stay at the conference hotel it will be Holiday Inn, $85 plus tax, including complimentary breakfast for each person.


Grow Better Tomatoes

I don't know about your garden, but ours suffered from heavy rain, a string of hotter than usual days and a generally mediocre tomato crop.

Two Australian consultants to the tomato industry pulled together their best tips and put them into an 80-page over sized paperback. Lucia Grimmer is a plant pathologist who advises growers. Annette Welsford studied horticulture and has worked in the industry for years.

A CD that comes with the book contains photos, seed sources for 1300 tomato varieties, and more cultivation notes.

You can buy it as an ebook, too. Just click here or here.

I expect to read my copy word for word before the next tomato growing season. The book is full of tips and tricks, plus plant lore.

The illustrated pages on tomato varieties should help with my January seed ordering.

The authors have tips on soil development, mulching, growing in containers, seed starting, pruning and staking, watering methods, fertilizers, plant diseases, pests - really, everything we need to lea…

Here Kitty Kitty

When a gardener sees a flower as cute as Cat’s Whiskers, they can’t restrain themselves from urgently asking what it is and how to get one. The plants and seeds are not available through flower catalogs and garden centers but they are worth the chase.

The flowers resemble cat’s whiskers and attract hummingbirds and butterflies with their abundance of nectar.

Tulsa grower, Anne Pinc, said she found the plant when she had her nursery and has been growing it from cuttings ever since.

I have never had a seedling come up in the garden, or even make seeds on plants in the greenhouse Pinc said. I can’t tell you where I got that first plant 10 years ago. I like cats and thought it sounded neat and have been taking cuttings ever since.

What is most important about the plant is its summertime bloom.

I tuck it in where I know hummingbirds will come along, Pinc said. Even though it does not have red flowers, the hummingbirds enjoy it. I have it where I can see it from the kitchen window.

Cat’s Whiskers…

Bird of Paradise Shrub - Caesalpinia

Do you grow this?

This beautiful Caesalpinia is the tropical variety, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, growing at the home of one of Russell Studebaker's friends in Tulsa.
In fact, Studebaker wrote about Caesalpinia in an August Tulsa World column.

Also called the Pride of Barbados, it is cold hardy to zone 8.

(Tulsa is zone 7, and northwest Arkansas is zone 6, so if we want to grow it, we have to protect it in the winter.)

Another variety, Caesalpinia gilliesii is native to Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, etc. It's flowers are not as red but are equally beautiful and dramatic.

Even though it is said to be cold hardy only to zone 8, the USDA site shows its native territory including OK.

Sharon Owen's parents grew it beside their house in a protected spot in Muskogee so I remain hopeful that when my seed-started plant is two years old (next year) it can safely be planted in the ground. Sharon (Moonshadow Herb Farm) bought a few seeds and shared them with me.

UCB featured it last year.

The Univ of…

Want More Weather Info? Mesonet gets a Makeover

Is it time to plant? Do fall plants need to be covered? What's the rainfall?

If you love gardening, you watch the weather. AgWeather says its newsletters will now focus on Mesonet. Today's newsletter has all the details here.

Included on the new website
- Rainfall maps display accumulated rainfall observed at each Mesonet site,
as well as rainfall estimates based on radar.
- Enhanced radar makes zooming and animating the radar easy.
- Prominent links are shown for outreach programs in agriculture, public safety, lawn irrigation, mobile connectivity, wildfire management and K-12 education.
- No plug-in required. The new website runs without any plug-ins, so it is very easy to use.
- The search feature on the new website makes finding specific maps and information much easier.

Click to see the weather maps on Agweather/Mesonet. It rained for 2 hours yesterday and the map says about a half inch of rain fell in our part of the county. Go figure.

Mary Ann King of Pine Ridge Gardens Reveals Perennial Wildflower Seed Tips

The bare spots in your fall garden could be the ideal place to put in a few seeds for next spring.

Even though they may not come up before the first frost, they will emerge by spring. In particular, seeds that need a cold period in order to sprout will wait until the soil warms next year. If seedlings do come up, plan to mulch them after the first freeze.

Native Rhododendron on the northwest U. S. coast.

Native plants have the advantage of easily adapting to our soil and weather, as well as being beneficial for wildlife.

Experienced gardener and native plant specialist, Mary Ann King, is the owner of Pine Ridge Gardens in London, Ark. King grows hundreds of native plant species from seed each year.

"I try to grow the plants that gardeners can't find other places," King said. "After all these years, I am still learning how to grow some things. It is frustrating when what grows is not what you thought it would be. And some seeds won’t grow at all."

King said that some …

Bugs We Love

Nature photographer Bev Wigney has a great site with wasps, winged ants and their kin. Here's the gallery of wasp, hornet and sawfly photos.

It looks like her nature blog, Burning Silo, was left to languish but there's a great page of identification links that make it worth the click.

The monarch butterfly caterpillars are all over the milkweed, eating their way up and down the plants.

Do you see the giant swallowtail eggs on the Rue? They are the latest in a summer long parade of eggs and munching caterpillars.

This is what the giant swallowtail caterpillars look like. Even when the eggs first hatch they look the same, just smaller.

Beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder.