30 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 Amazon.com.

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 watering. They are available in 14, 24 and 36-inch lengths. $10 each at www.deepdrip.com.

Monrovia introduced new Barberry shrubs this year, including one with coral-orange leaves and yellow edges. It’s a nice, low hedge for the front of the border or as a garden wall maxing out at 2-feet tall.

Pygmy Ruby Barberry is only 18-inches tall and sports red leaves. It could make a gorgeous herb garden wall. One source for fall planting is www.waysidegardens.com.

One of the new plants that thrived in our garden, despite this summer’s heat, drought and unusual rain pattern is Coralberry Punch Superbells from Proven Winners. It bloomed no matter what the weather.

Pink flowering Double Play Big Bang Spirea tripled in size over the summer. Pale green and yellow Colorblaze Alligator Tears coleus thrived and grew to 18-inches tall in part sun.

The new Royal Chambray Superbena Verbena bloomed early in the summer, took a break during the 105-degree weeks and returned to flower when the temperature went back down into the 90s. All are new introductions this year.

New books were released, full of encouragement to help us catch the wave of transitioning from lawns to sustainable meadows.

Writer John Greelee and photographer Saxon Holt produced the award winning, “The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn”.

The photos, text, plant lists and descriptions could convince the most lawn-committed gardener to give up a patch of boring green and replace it with ornamental grasses, meadow flowers, bulbs and shrubbery. TimberPress.com $35
“What’s Wrong with My Plant? And How Do I Fix It?” by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth won the 2010 Garden Writers Association Award in the Technical Books category.

Part One includes flow charts to identify problems. Part Two supplies organic solutions to each problem. Part Three is photos of diseased plants to further help with identification. Deardorff and Wadsworth cover insects, diseases, stem, fruit, flower and root problems. Thorough and easy to use, this volume belongs on gardeners’ bookshelves. 450 pages, www.TimberPress.com $25.

The book that I read from cover to cover two days after it arrived is, “Mentors in the Garden of Life” by Colleen Plimpton. Plimpton retired from a career in social work to become a garden writer and garden consultant (www.colleenplimpton.com).

“Mentors in the Garden of Life” is a memoir that describes her lifetime of experiences gardening with relatives and friends, the plants they taught her to love, and how it all came together to shape her life. It is a beautiful read for everyone who sees friends and family in the faces of their flowers. Park East Press, www.parkeastpress.com, $17.

29 September 2010

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?

28 September 2010

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.

25 September 2010

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, Buckets and Boots". Each one is delightful and informative with wonderful art.

Easy to buy for friends and family -
$15 from Workman Publishing$10 online

24 September 2010

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 fertilizer of choice, and watering was from an overhead system.

With that said, the grain is a beautiful and functional forage plant. It's popularly grown for maze making.

I'd like to get ahold of some of the haygrazer seeds. Wouldn't you love to grow a few rows feed the birds next fall?

23 September 2010

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 new, low growing, varieties this year and both have double flowers.

Floweringquince is a woody shrub with a naturally rounded outline. Older plants can become unattractive if they are not pruned from time to time. Spring flowering shrubs are pruned right after the spring flowers fade. Unless pruned some varieties will become 8 feet tall and stop flowering.

Proven Winners, Flowering Quince Pink Storm

A flowering quince that has lost its form or stopped blooming can be cut to 6-inches above the ground to be rejuvenated. They can also be trained onto an espallier or thinned out to just a few canes to make a graceful form. In general, remove the oldest and largest canes first then stand back and look at the plant’s natural shape before continuing to cut.

The traditional quince flowers arrive by March in scarlet, red, pink, peach and white. In late January or February, budding branches can be brought inside and placed in warm water to bloom.

The seed pome that forms after the flowers fade resembles an apple and is about 2-inches long and wide. In October, the bitter fruit can be harvested and cooked. It is high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant flavinoids. The new flowering cultivars are fruitless.

The adaptability of Floweringquince makes it a good choice for difficult places in the garden where the soil is poor or thin. They enjoy sun and will not flower if planted in shade.

Proven Winners, Flowering Quince Orange Storm

The common varieties have thorns and some gardeners find them useful as a hedge. There are several thornless varieties that are easier to keep pruned.
Floweringquince has had many names over the years. At one time it was Pyrus, then Cydonia and now Chaenomeles, a member of the Rosaceae family.

Here are a few of the 150 flowering quince varieties to consider –

Cameo – Double peach flowers, 5-feet tall, nearly thornless and disease resistant.

Contorta – White flowers on twisted stems that add interest to the winter garden.

Double Take Orange Storm – Orange flowers on thornless, 3 to 5-foot tall shrub. The flowers are double and resemble a peony or rose.

Double Take Pink Storm – Pink, double, camellia-like flowers. No fruit. Deer resistant.

Double Take Scarlet Storm – Large, dark red flowers on heat tolerant, 5-foot tall shrub. The three Double Take Flowering Quince are new introductions from Proven Winners. They were developed at the North Carolina State University Extension Service.

Jet Trail – White flowers on an almost thornless plant that grows to 3 feet tall and wide.

Moned – Bright red flowers on 8-foot tall shrub.

Orange Delight - Bright orange flowers on a low spreading 3-foot tall plant.

Texas Scarlet - An almost thornless 3-foot tall dwarf with tomato-red, profuse, flowers followed by fruit.

Toyo-Nishiki - White, white and pink, pink or red flowers all bloom on the same upright branches.

In mythology, quince was considered to be the Garden of Eden’s forbidden fruit. The Ancient Greeks and Romans dedicated them to Aphrodite and Venus as emblems of love. Widely cultivated by Romans and then Europeans, the fruits were prized for pie and wine making.

Fall is the ideal time to plant shrubs. White Flower Farm (whiteflowerfarm.com) has the new Double Take varieties.

21 September 2010

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 read…nap…We could start a garden…watch the little things grow…Get bigger…Blossom."

"Needless to say," she tartly concluded, "We did not start double digging just at that moment, but we did get around to it soon enough, and the whole scheme cost me a husband and gave me a very fine garden. Some things…." She trailed off vaguely…."are just meant to be, I guess."

"You mean NOT meant to be?" one of us asked.

"No…meant. I was thinking of the garden!"

A good many marriages actually begin in gardens, bride a and groom and wedding party photographed in absurd finery before some cheesy park fountain or gaudy flower bed, while a casual passer-by murmurs "Mistake!"

So constant is this impulse that it must imply some deep symbology. But other sorts of relationships begin in gardens too, perhaps in the nether reaches, where the shrubbery is thick, or even in garden centers. ("is eyes met mine over the seed rack, and he held out the last pack of Emmenanthe penduliflora…I was sunk!")

The question, however, is not whether relationships begin in gardens - for sacred texts attest to that – but whether they can continue in gardens, and that is the question under examination here. As with all questions worth asking about human passions, the answer is Yes…and No…and Maybe. It all depends.

A consideration of couples in the garden must begin with the master-slave relationship, the sort that routinely follows a pattern such as this: "Dig!"…"Yes, Dear!"…"Plant!"…."Yes, Dear"…."Weed!"…."Oh, Dear,….Must I Dear?" Ow!...Yes Dear."

Whatever psychotherapists might think of a horticultural relationship structured this way, it can be surprisingly efficient in making a garden. However, the results cannot be exactly described to visitors as "our garden" but more likely as "MY garden." And it is a shared venture that we have in mind as the ideal.

But before leaving this possibility, we should note that when two people choose the perilous path of gardening together, an occasional experiment with this mode is sometimes satisfying, for it is good to have one partner in firm command of the day when the other is rather prone to drag behind, or is, for whatever reason….rather prone.

We would, however, like to assume as an ideal two people who are equals in the garden, perfect peers in their knowledge of garden design and configuration, soil management, composting and fertilizing, color harmonies, planting, propagation, cold-framing, ripping our, replanting remaking…in short, all the myriad skills required to make up a successful garden.

We would like to imagine such a couple…but we just can't. For in every case that we know of where gardens have been created by two people, each party is better at something than the other, and the success of the garden will depend on the free and frank acknowledgement of this fact. (It follows, of course, the success of the relationship will too.)

It is still, we suppose, a help if there are clear and distinct identities, perhaps sexually-based, if only by derivation, and buttressed up by conventional societal assumptions. ("I build the walls and the Little Woman comes behind and plants all the pretty flowers. But don’t ask ME their Latin names, ask Herself.")

That sort of thing might seem a safe path, and sometimes it is, even if it is She who builds the walls and He who pokes in the flowers. Truth to tell, however, such rigid role identification hardly ever prevails in really good gardens made by two people, even though society and garden writers need to think so ("Of course, it was Harold who masterminded the structure, and Vita who selected and grew the plants…") For sooner or later, the wall-builder is apt to cross over into the plant person, and the plant person may try her hand at laying down a path. Then a cross fertilization may occur, creating a garden of true hybrid vigor Or acrimonious quarrels may result, bent on protecting turf(sometimes literally turf) which may signal a serious crack in the relationship, and possible either the death of the garden or its reversion to a single owner.

Couples or any other unit of people who choose to garden together, whatever their sexual or familial or social arrangements may be, should first acknowledge one truth. Quarrels about the garden are never about the garden, any more than quarrels about money are ever about money. They are about control. If the impulse to control occurs from a sleepless night, or indigestion, or a hang-over, or a bad day at the office or a messed-up manuscript, or any other purely occasional thing that makes one party aggressively argumentative and the other dig in her or his heels and shout "But I like it that way!" then gardening should stop for that day - by mutual agreement - and recontinue when things are smoother. For this is a fact: Good garden decisions are never made out of fractiousness, whether between two people or even with oneself. They are made out of peace. And that, in the garden, is the happy conjunction of inspired vision, eager and joyful labor, good materials, solid previous achievement and a clear and shared sense of what is next to be gleefully undertaken. When the impulse to control is chronic, such moments may be very scarce or even non-existent, and the garden will fail, as surely as will the relationship itself.

In such a case, the first recourse might be to a skilled and sensitive couples therapist, who, for obvious reasons, should probably NOT also be a gardener.

However, many professional garden designers often find themselves functioning as marriage counselors, stumbling into situations where one party announces "I have always felt that there should be a ______ there, but He thinks there should be a ______. What do YOU think?"

Happy day, when the garden designer comes up with a totally different solution so inspired that both parties beam with approval, and peace is restored. More often, however, the designer receives a check and a cursory note saying "Thank you for your efforts. I loved your ideas, but my husband(wife)and I cannot seem to agree, and so, for the moment, we are undecided as to how to proceed. "No garden there" the designer mutters, tearing up the note, endorsing the check, and feeling vaguely like an out-take in an early Bergmann movie.

For all people who propose to create a gar5den together we would offer the following seven basic rules:

One: realize, from the start, that the garden is not only a central part of your shared lives, but probably also one of the clearest lenses through which the interconnectedness of your lives and all its attendant problems will be viewed.

Two: Talk as enthusiastically about the garden together as you can in happy peaceful times, and never when you are feeling stressed by life or by any tension between you. If even the shadow of tensions originating outside garden issues becomes apparent, change the subject, and go to bed early.

Three: Always agree beforehand on the amount either person may spend on acquiring plants for the garden before consulting the other. Depending on your income, that might be $3.95 or $395.00 or $3,950.00. But purchases that stretch the budget in any way also alter the character of the garden, and so require a double negotiation.

In this connection, never expend a budget-breaking sum on any plant or garden alteration as a special birthday or anniversary surprise, and most especially, when it is something you really wanted for yourself. That is pure aggression. It follows from this rule also that you must never bring home a plant your companion despises. "How could you? You Know the smell of chrysanthemums always makes me puke!"

Four: Both parties must agree on all additions to the garden, on all removals and/or relocations, and also on any incidental expenses that might occur, even when unexpected. ("Sorry Lady. Moving that tree, we broke through the sewage line. Better call a septic engineer.")

Also, NEVER assume that a quietly murmured suggestion at breakfast, such as "Don't you think, Dear, that ash tree should come down?" followed by "Mmmm" constitutes a full discussion of the issue and justifies calling the tree man the minute your companion is out the driveway.

Five: When mutual agreement cannot be reached, nothing should be done at all, and both parties should allow that space to remain undeveloped, or that tree left standing, or that proposed flower bed remain as mowed turf.

However, the possibility of good will, or a birthday concession, or some other happy moment of concordance or gratitude, should always be hoped for…but never engineered. "I am all dressed up and looking pretty at this moment," a client once phoned us, "and I just know Harold is going to agree!"

Six: An impartial arbiter, a gardener absolutely respected by both parties(and of course the particular friend of neither) might be called in, with the understanding that his or her judgment will be final.

No prompting is allowed, for the question must be put with absolute neutrality, and the decision itself must be absolute as well. When this arbitration occurs, it is probably wise not to have the chain saw waiting in the shrubbery, lest its growl put salt in the would, or its silence, salt in another.

Seven: When all else fails, couples might consider(for the moment or forever) a sort of horticultural divorce, splitting up the garden by treaty into His and Hers, or Hers and Hers, or His and His. Whatever.

Such horticultural partitioning seems to work for many people we know who share the same space, but not the same garden, seeming thus to preserve a lasting relationship.

But, as among hostile nations, the truce may be an uneasy one, and the slightest failure in vigilance may be the occasion for unexpected colonization, and even renewed hostilities. "Can you tell me, Please, what YOUR forget-me-nots are doing in MY garden?"

The point, of course, is this. Gardening, like all the other serious undertakings in life, requires all the sanity one can muster. When one chooses to garden with another person, one must first tend to oneself, and then to the other, and then to both.

A field of cultivation exists far above the condition of the soil, or the individual plant or seedling, or color harmonies, or even the very structure of the garden, its architecture, access, rooms and such. The decisions made - hopefully in happy concordance between two - will certainly influence the texture or shape or beauty of the garden. But those decisions will actually influence a far higher texture, shape and beauty.

For, though we have seen magnificent gardens fashioned by one person in lonely solitude, we still believe that the best gardens are made by two people who have found it possible to work in harmony together.

That is only to say, naturally, that the best gardens reflect the best lives.

Best Wishes from North Hill,

Wayne Winterrowd

Joe Eck

19 September 2010

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.

18 September 2010

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 announced her book release on the Garden Wrters blog, she said "A quick birth announcement for my new book, a garden memoir entitled Mentors in the Garden of Life, published by Park East Press. It's a linked series of stories highlighing plants I've grown; the people who taught me to grow & love those plants, and life lessons subsequently learned in the garden."

Trust me, it is much more than that and I predict that its impact will be much greater in the years ahead than Plimpton realizes.

Buy it for yourself and someone else who loves plants as much as we who see our friends and families in the faces of our flowers.

Here's an article about Colleen and her garden at Newstimes
Visit Colleen's website
And click here for Plimpton's blog
The book is available from Amazon for $12 and $15 at Barnes and Noble.

17 September 2010

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 http://www.dewstop.com/

16 September 2010

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 S Newport, 3167 E 22nd, 3828 S Utica, 4407 S Atlanta Pl and 4747 S Yorktown Pl.

The garden of Mark Linholm and Kenneth Joslin at 1524 S Newport is near 15th and Peoria. Linholm worked for Tulsa Parks and Recreation at Woodward Park for many years and now is a horticulturist at the Tulsa Zoo.

Gardeners at the zoo have a wide variety of responsibilities, Linholm said. We garden, haul logs into the elephant yard, assist with building exhibits and find diverse plants for the animals. We try to find plants from other continents that will persist here.

Linholm said that every area of the zoo needs its own look. He is already propagating plants for next year’s displays. The propagation cuttings are grown in potting soil, at 75-degrees with automatic misters running every 3 minutes.

I've grown so many plants over the years, always getting the newest and hottest, said Linholm. Now '’m leaning more toward natives to bring butterflies and hummingbirds.

His home was built in 1918 and has a dozen beds that start at the front sidewalk, meander down the driveway and culminate in a back yard koi pond with water plants, surrounded by shade loving vines and perennials.

When we bought the house, we started first by tearing out the plants that were too big or in the wrong place, said Linholm.

All the rock used to surround the pond, shape the beds and build the patio and walkway were on site but they had to be moved and used in new ways.

Some of the many plants to look for in Linholm's garden -

Yellow starflower, Galphimia gracilis, is a 5-foot tall tropical shrub.

Strawberry bush or Hearts-A-Bustin, Euonymus americanus, is a cold hardy shrub for half shade.

Paw Paw trees, Asimina triloba, were planted to provide habitat for butterflies.

Devilwood, Osmanthus americanus, is a small, cold hardy tree with tiny, fragrant, spring blooms.

Turk's Cap, Malvaviscus drummondii, is blooming under a large tree in the back yard.

On the trellises Linholm built with a friend, look for Spurred Butterfly Pea, Centrosema virginianum, Paradise Flower, Solanum wendlandii, and Bowtie Vine, Dalechampia dioscoriefolia.

Lisa Mitchell, media chair for the tour, said that the garden at 47th and Lewis has turtles and tortoise in the back yard.

Bring a camera to record good ideas and spend a few hours strolling through gardens and looking at art.

Living Arts of Tulsa is Oklahoma's oldest organization promoting contemporary art. The annual tour is a fund raiser that provides art classes and supports the Myers Gallery. Southwood Landscape & Nursery and Custom Exhibits are the event sponsors.

14 September 2010

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.

The New York Times has a column about my favorite method of planting seedlings in the veggie garden.

Anne Raver does a great job of describing the newsprint method and providing good tips for success. Use the link above to read all about it.

11 September 2010

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 learn to do better next year.

If it weren't for our hopeful natures, we would all give up on growing tomatoes in this hot and humid place. Just once, I'd like to be overwhelmed with good tomatoes.

08 September 2010

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 loves the heat and begins to bloom in June. Pinc said she removes all the spent flowers in August. It will continue to bloom from side shoots until it is knocked down by frost.

Over the summer, it will grow into a shrubby, tender, perennial, 3-feet tall and wide. Water thoroughly and let it dry out in between watering. The plants in Pinc's garden were in large pots sunk halfway into the ground.

Treat Cat's Whiskers like a Lantana, Pinc said. If you fertilize Lantana and keep its roots wet, you will get lots of growth and leaves but no flowers. It's the same with Cat’s Whiskers.

Orthosiphon stamineus prefers full sun but can take afternoon filtered light. To successfully grow Cat’s Whiskers, prepare the soil by adding 3-inches of compost and digging it down 6-inches. Add a slow release fertilizer at the same time.

This member of the mint family has a few Latin names: Orthosiphon stamineus benth, Orthosiphon aristatus and Ocimum aristatum.

Mint family plants are easy to start from cuttings. Cut a 5-inch piece of stem, remove all but the top few leaves and put the cutting into moist potting soil. Keep it watered and out of direct light until new growth emerges.

Since it is tender this far north, Cat’s Whiskers is sold through Florida, Mississippi and Texas wholesale nurseries. Most plants are started from cuttings rather than from seed. Although it is not invasive, when the plant is fully grown, the portions of plant stem that rest on soil, may form roots.

The dried leaves of Cat’s Whiskers are easy to find since they are sold as Java Tea. Native to tropical East Asia, it is considered to be an essential, medicinal herb.

Orthosiphon aristatus is called misai kucing in Malaysia where it is used as an anti-allergic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory and diuretic. The tea is used to treat kidney, bladder, liver, gout, diabetes and rheumatism. Both cholesterol and high blood pressure are treated with the herb; it is said to remove fatty cells from blood.

The USDA tested the plant’s medical properties and could not confirm its reputation as a cure for kidney stones.

After an exhaustive search of the Internet, not one seed supplier could be found. In fact, in her book, “Mints”, Barbara Perry Lawton said she first saw the plant in a botanical garden. Lawton could find no information about Cat’s Whiskers in any botanical reference.

Pinc will have the plants available for sale in the spring. Her booth at the Sand Springs and Jenks spring festivals is called Collector’s Garden.

06 September 2010

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 Arizona Master Gardeners featured the plant on their site.
Photo of Caesalpinia gilliesii

Arizona Master Gardener's website

One Arizona nursery, Horticulture Unlimited, features Yellow Bird of Paradise, C. gilliesii.

You can see by the leaf form that it's in the pea or legume family. Mary Ann King,owner of Pine Ridge Gardens said that cold, wet planting soil will rot the seeds.

So if you decide to go with seeds, plant them in a loose mix, keep them well drained and warm.

Start the seeds now while the weather is still warm.

Seeds for the tropical C. pulcherrima Thompson Morgan

Seeds for the locally hardy C. gilliesii Chiltern and Tradewinds Fruit

C. gilliesii plants will be available from Bustani Plant Farm next spring.

My seed-grown plant is only 1.5 years old. It's still in a one gallon pot and I'll bring it inside one more winter before having the courage to put it out into the harsh conditions we have here.

04 September 2010

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.

02 September 2010

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 tree seeds and perennials such as native clematis can take two years to come up.

"Home gardeners can select from a wide variety of easy to grow natives," King said. "Most perennials take four to six weeks to germinate; some take three or four months."

Since it is difficult to control conditions in a flower bed, it is best to plant seeds in containers.

King said to plant seeds in seed germination mix, available from garden supply stores. Look for ProMix, Scotts TX-366 or Redi- Earth. Avoid planting seeds too deep. Most seeds should just be barely covered with tiny seeds scattered on top of the medium.

King suggested some native plants that you can to grow at home from seed.

Asters are easy to grow from seed if the seed is good. Aster seed does not usually germinate if it is not cross-pollinated. In other words, aster seed in the wild is usually good. There are a dozen to choose from including: Aromatic aster, Heart-leaf aster, New England aster, Prairie Aster, etc.

Bird of paradise shrub, Caesalpinia gilliesii, drought tolerant, deer resistant, 4-foot tall shrub. Large yellow flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, butterflies. Seeds — Plantsofthesouthwest.com.

Carolina silverbell, Halesia Carolina, is a 35-foot tree for shade. Flowers are white bells. Fall leaf color. Seeds available from Tree-seeds.com.

Coneflowers, Echinacaea - Varieties: Purple, pale purple, yellow, or glade. Seeds — mowildflowers.com.

Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, and Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardi, germinate readily and grow quickly. Seeds — mowildflowers.com.

Mexican hat or Gray-head coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, matures to 3 feet tall. Easy to grow from seed. Seeds — mowildflowers.com.

Prairie ragwort, Senecio plattensis, will grow in dry, half-shade after established. Yellow flowers. Seeds — Prairiemoon.com.

Red flower yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora is a xeriscape plant that attracts hummingbirds. Seed source — Seedman.com.

Red veined sorrel, Rumex sanguineus, is grow in the flower bed and use as a salad vegetable. Bright green leaves with maroon lines. Seeds - Johnnyseeds.com

Rosin weeds, Silphium integrifolium, Compass plant; Silphium laciniatum, Cup plant; Silphium perfoliatum (moist soil), Prairie dock; and Silphium terebinthinaceum (a large leaf foliage plant). All produce bird seed. Seeds - mowildflowers.com.

Wild indigo, Baptisia. Put seeds in heatproof dish, pour boiling water over and let sit 24 hours. Cover with good potting soil, only to the depth of the seed. Grow on at 75 degrees. Seeds — mowildflowers.com.

Wild quinine, Parthenium integrifolium, has large white flower heads, 4 feet tall, lots of insect nectar. Seeds need about 12 weeks of cold, outside or in the refrigerator, to germinate. Seeds — horizonherbs.com.

Most of these plants are available from Pine Ridge Gardens. Search the catalog at www.pineridgegardens.com, call 479-293-4359, or e-mail office@pineridgegardens.com for more information.

01 September 2010

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.