28 February 2010

Sunflower Seed Hull as Mulch or Compost?

Martin Bebb who lives close to downtown Muskogee, sent an email with an offer for anyone in who might want some sunflower seed hulls to add to their compost pile or to use as a mulch.

The sunflower seed hulls are the collection of several years of feeding birds.

You can contact me or email Martin directly at martinrb@swbell.net if you would like to have them.

27 February 2010

St. Lynn's Press just published "Tomatoes Garlic Basil" the latest book by gardener and garden writer Doug Oster. List price is $19 and the online price is $12.
It's a lovely read and I was able to go through it today from back to front because the stories were delightful.



In honesty, it could have been called Mostly Tomatoes with a Pinch of Garlic and Basil. Tomatoes are the bulk of the story - to page 159. Garlic is pages 159 to 197 and basil is pages 197 to 227.



Oster's writing style will carry his readers along, with nostalgic remembrances, up to the minute gardening tips and recipes for savory dishes.



Since it's a tomato growing book, let's start there. You will find gardening information on seed starting, pruning, staking, seed saving, pests, diseases and soil. Plus, heirlooms vs hybrids, tomato varieties past and present. And, future tomatoes as well, since Oster explains how to hybridize your own tomato variety to get the characteristics you seek.



Every recipe sounds good and worth a try.



On to Garlic - varieties, planting, mulching, pests, harvesting, preserving and recipes.



The basil section introduces the qualities of several basil varieties, as well as interesting tips on growing it indoors and saving the seeds. Great recipes in this section also.

Throughout the book, Oster has interplanted stories of friends and families that illustrate the happiness we gardeners take in knowing each other.



Doug Oster has his own website here. And, he has a blog with gorgeous photos here.



Perhaps most interesting of the Oster online links I found, the Allegheny Front posted some of his radio shows with Jessica Walliser here so you can enjoy hearing their voices on the air. Their show is called "The Organic Gardeners" and airs weekly in eastern PA.



Oster and Walliser co-authored, "Grow Organic". Walliser wrote another book I liked called "Good Bug Bad Bug".



So, if you are in the market for a pleasurable read with gardening tips, check it out!

25 February 2010

See You Saturday at the Gardening School

Gardening Basic Training
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday
St. Paul United Methodist Church
Activity Center
2130 W. Okmulgee AV
Muskogee

This half-day class is organized by the Muskogee City Wellness Initiative and will bring together several experienced local gardeners and educators to introduce participants to the wonderful world of growing food.

In these times of super-sized everything — from meal servings to TVs and waistlines - gardening offers a plateful of fun and fulfillment for any and all who partake.


Some of the hot topics and featured speakers will include:

• Choosing a garden site and growing backyard fruit, Sue Gray, Tulsa County OSU Extension.

• Earth-friendly gardening, Doug Walton, Muskogee Farmers Market.

• Selecting vegetable varieties, Matthew Weatherbeee, Blossoms Garden Center.

• Seed starting and transplanting, Martha Stoodley, Master Gardener.

• Irrigation and weed control, Kim Walton, Waltons Farm.

• Kitchen garden herbs, Sharon Owen, Moonshadow Herb Farm.

Free Gardening: Basic Training on Saturday.

Please call OSU Extension at 918-686-7200 to let them know you're coming.

Buy and Treat Seed Potatoes Now for March Planting in Zone 7

Potatoes are thought to originally be from Peru because pictures of them are on ancient pottery from the area. They were prepared for storage by stomping on them and drying them for future use.

Potatoes came to North America from Europe in the 16th Century. Today, each American eats 65 pounds of potatoes every year.

In our area, potatoes are a cool season crop grown in spring and harvested in summer. Since well-drained soil is important to prevent rotting, small crops can be grown above ground in containers layered with straw, compost and soil.

Buy seed potatoes in February, so you have time to prepare them for planting. Planting time is between Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, depending on the weather. One expert recommends waiting until it is warm enough for dandelions; another says plant when it is 50-degrees.

John Harrison of Harrison Fruit Stand said that potatoes can rot in a heavy spring rain.

"I don't plant mine until March," Harrison said. "If they come up and we have a freeze, they will die. They'll come back but not as good."

Growing potatoes in trashcans with holes drilled in the bottom, or homemade wire containers can be fun for families. It is inexpensive and entertaining to track the plants' growth.

Keep the stems covered with soil and mulch.

Grocery store potatoes have been treated to prevent sprouting. Buy only certified seed potatoes from garden supply stores or mail order sources.

Bonnie Phillips, owner of Arnold's Fruit, said that they have red, white and Yukon Gold seed potatoes available.

"Buy the seeds now and let them sprout," Phillips said. "Each one can be cut so it has one eye, plant them 3-inches deep and cover them."

To prepare for growing: Lay seeds (actually pieces of small potatoes) in a single layer, between sheets of newspaper to warm and get them to sprout.

After they sprout, cut each potato into pieces with from 1 to 3 eyes. These planting pieces can be treated with sulphur or fungicide to reduce rotting. Let them dry a week between cutting and planting.

Harrison said, "Cut them into 2-inch pieces, put them in the furrow, cover them with dirt and let them grow. I side dress them with the same nitrogen I use on the pasture."

Select a planting site with 6 hours of sun. Put the potato seed, eye up, about 5-inches deep and 6 to 12 inches apart in moist soil. Cover with 3-inches of soil and compost or mulch. In a trashcan or similar size planter, plant 4 pieces. Harrison mixes 10-20-10 into the planting soil.

As potatoes form under ground, between the seed and the leaf-stem part of the plant, they will start to show up at the top of the soil. Watch for signs of insect damage and remove them.

Add more soil and straw mulch on top to prevent potatoes from being exposed to sunlight. Do not cover stems and leaves.

Water plants regularly, until flowers appear, then stop watering. Keeping them soaked can spoil the potatoes.

The plant tops will start to die back around June and then it is time to harvest. Gently pull on the plant top and sift through the soil to find the potatoes.

They prefer acid soil so lime is not important. Potatoes need phosphorous, so look for 10-20-10 or other fertilizers with high middle numbers.

Ronnigers Potato Farm recommends adding compost to the soil and using diluted molasses as fertilizer. Combine five gallons of water with 1-cup of molasses. Apply to the potatoes 4-times as they are growing.

More information: Ronnigers http://bit.ly/9PZSnv, the Gardener Guy of Tulsa http://bit.ly/6a5MJ3, and
http://www.idahopotatoes.com.

24 February 2010

Year-Round Gardening - the Complete Idiot's Guide

Sheri Ann Richerson is a best selling author. She teamed up with Delilah Smittle to produce The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year-Round Gardening.

Richerson's website, here doesn't say much about the book so let me tell you what I've found.

It is a very upbeat presentation of the many ways to extend your growing season. For example, row covers, cold frames, bubble wrap, and tunnels.

The chapter on start with the soil, explains micro and macro nutrients such as nitrogen, the qualities of healthy soil, and how to improve what you have.

Compost is explained, fertilizers recommended, and seed starting is covered.

Some of the unusual ideas include placing heating cables at the bottom of a raised bed to get the temperature up when needed. One of the authors wraps her greenhouse in bubble wrap in the winter. And, she keeps finches in the greenhouse.

Aspirin water is recommended for greenhouse plants. Dissolve 3 aspirin (80 mm) in 4 gallons of water and spray.

If you are in the market for a basic book with some unique tips, or are new to gardening, check out "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Year Round Gardening"; it's $8.50 on Amazon.

23 February 2010

Chlorophyll In His Veins by Bobby J. Ward

Noble County Oklahoma native J. C. Raulston was a modern plant hunter who became an educator, horticultural ambassador and plantsman at North Carolina State University. Now, there is an 8-acre arboretum in his name.

Here's a link to the Raulston Arboretum so you can take a look and maybe plan a visit.

The book is available at author Bobby J. Wards's site here.


On a recent trip, I had time to read the entire 350 pages and loved every minute of it. We have all read about the Brother Gardeners, Bartram, Fairchild et al from the 1790s. Lancaster was a modern day version with an equally complex life.

It's interesting isn't it that most of us know less about Raulston than we do about those historic figures?

Ward was a friend of Raulston for 10 years before J. C.'s death in an auto accident in 2006.

Biography, plant history, botany, Oklahoma, institutional politics, sociology - it's all here.

21 February 2010

DIRT! The Movie

"Dirt! The Movie", produced by Independent Lens is nothing short of remarkable in its scope and approach.

Inspired by "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth" by William Bryant Logan, the one-hour PBS documentary will be an eye opening and inspiring watch for millions of Americans. Here's a link to the YouTube trailer.


There is a list of community showings and a discussion guide so you can help people in your community become active. This is the discussion pdf link. Pages 7, 8 and 9, of the pdf provide references and plenty of links you can use to keep the conversation going.


The history of soil and its importance to animal life is demonstrated from the beginning of time to the present. The role we can each play to maintain and improve the health of our life-giving soil is illustrated in interviews with activists around the world.

It's unfortunate that there are a few portions in this otherwise well-rounded production that are inappropriate for young viewers.


For example, the suicide of 200,000 farmers around the world and video of bodies being dumped into common graves are included. They are in sharp contrast to the informative, sometimes animated, remainder of the film.


Here's a link to the PBS site for Dirt! The Movie. It will show on PBS April 20 so there is plenty of time to get your TiVo or DVR set to record it.

18 February 2010

Wazzup? Lots of Things!

Broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage seedlings got to sunbathe today. They are still pretty spindly. Inside, still under lights, lettuce seedlings had a fan on them for several hours today.
Jewels of Opar seedlings are coming up among the seeds and stems I laid on top of sterile germinating mix. They were on a heat mat until they came up.
Most seed companies say to plant pea seeds directly in the ground rather than inside, but my luck is improved by starting them inside where the birds and squirrels can't snack on them.

Dianthus, pinks, seedlings are so fragile when they are getting started. Hard to believe what tough little plants they will eventually become.
This is a sage plant that I brought into the shed for the winter. As it grows I use the leaves in the kitchen.
I'm planting seeds almost every day so it better warm up soon - the shed will be too full in a couple of weeks.

17 February 2010

Steve Owens Speaking Here Feb 20

Free and open to the public
Feb 20, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
Steve Owens, owner Bustani Plant Farm
"Plant Hunting in Kenya for Oklahoma Gardens"

Garden Education Room, Honor Heights Park
Sponsored by Friends of Honor Heights Park
Talk followed by membership meeting

Steve and Ruth Owens, owners of Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater OK, focus on growing unique plants for gardens in Oklahoma as well as other states with similar growing conditions.

Steve and Ruth travel to Africa looking for new plants. This Saturday, he will give a talk for Friends of Honor Heights Park members and guests. His topic is plant hunting in Kenya but since he is knowledgeable in all things horticultural, participants should come ready to learn a wide spectrum of details about how to succeed in their gardens.

In a telephone interview, Steve said, Gardeners can get a good idea what we have from the website (www.bustaniplantfarm.com) and from the free catalog, but, there is a much greater variety available to anyone who visits the farm.

The native plants they grow are from seeds collected on their property and other plants are grown from cuttings taken from their own stock.

We grow everything from seed and cuttings, Steve said. We don't buy plants to grow and sell.

With a focus on natives and perennials for Oklahoma gardens, some customers come to them specifically for hummingbird and butterfly attracting plants.

Collecting our own seed, helps us grow plants that are ideal for our cold hardiness zone, our rainfall and soil, Owens said.

The hummingbird attracting plants available at Bustani include native wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya) and native Baptesia australis (Baptisia australis var. minor). The native varieties remain more compact and stay put without being invasive.

Native Baptesia is drought tolerant after becoming established.

Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the tubular shaped flowers of Vervain which is related to verbena and lantana. Dwarf Red False Vervain (Stachytarpheta Red Compacta) has bright red flowers on a 2=foot tall and wide plant. They also offer Deep Blue, Pink, and Variegated Pink, False Vervain.

A plant I bought from Bustani several years ago is King's Crown (Dicliptera suberecta) from Uruguay. It is a shrubby plant, around 30-inches tall, with soft gray leaves and red-orange tube flowers that hummingbirds like. It is hardy to zone 7 but I take cuttings every winter just to make sure I have one to plant in the spring.

Another one that keeps hummingbirds busy is Coral Bean shrub (Erythrina x bidwillii). In a west facing bed at our house, it grew 6 feet tall and bloomed all summer with blood red tubular flowers that made visitors stop and stare. Though mine did not survive the winter, other Muskogee gardeners still have theirs after several years.

Spanish Flag or Exotic Love Vine (Ipomoea lobata) from Mexico is a relative of Morning Glory, with tube-shaped flowers in red, orange, yellow and white.

The colorful tube-shaped flowers of Cigar Plant (Cuphea) also bring hummingbirds. David verity Cigar Plant will grow 2-feet tall and wide over the summer if we have our usual heat and it has full sun. Other Cigar Plant varieties: Purple bi-color, Orange and Susan's Little Gem.

The online Hummingbird Forum (http://www.network54.com/Forum/439743/) has ongoing conversations about hummingbird plants for your garden.

Bustani's first open weekend of the season will be April 16 and 17 when their plants and the ground are ready for each other. Then, they will be open every weekend until June 6.

If you go to their retail location in Stillwater, allow time for walking around the display gardens to see everything and get ideas on how to combine native plants to look as good as any formal garden.

At the Saturday event, Steve will have copies of his book, "Best Garden Plants for Oklahoma" and copies of Bustani's catalog.

Information: honorheightsfriends@gmail.com
www.FriendsofHHP.com or Matthew Weatherbee 918.682.9276

16 February 2010

Cabin Fever? Can't Wait for Spring? Start Some Bulbs Inside - They Will be Ready to Bloom in a Few Weeks


I started these paperwhite narcissus in the pot after Christmas. Like many bulbs, they will emerge in about 10 days and bloom within a month or so.

Take a look at these daffodil Websites for other narcissus ideas.
The American Daffodil Society is here
The online daffodil conversation is here.


Consider rain lilies, lily of the valley, calla lilies, snowdrops, crocus, iris, tulips, and hyacinths, too. They will all succeed indoors and bring spring a couple of months ahead of schedule.

As gardening projects go, this could not be easier.

Select a shallow pot - 6 to 8 inches deep at the most.
Fill with soil to within 2 inches of the top.
Water.
Arrange the bulbs on top of the moist soil.
Fill in with a combination of soil and pebbles to anchor the bulbs in place.
I like to top it with pebbles or chicken scratch to help keep the surface dry and free of gnats.
Put the pot in a cool room.
Check in a week and when green leaves emerge from the bulb, move into the sun.
Press your finger onto the soil and water when it is dry.

You will have flowers in about a month.
In the photo are narcissus Ziva that I bought from Touch of Nature in December. They still have narcissus and tulips on sale here.

If you want Zivas, White Flower Farm has them on sale here.
Rain lilies from Easy to Grow Bulbs here.
Many other bulbs I mentioned above are available on the Internet.

Bring spring on!

14 February 2010

Blossom's Pre-Order

This is such a cool idea for veggie gardeners to know about.

For the second year, Blossom's Garden Center in Muskogee is offering an opportunity to pre-order veggie starts so you don't have to drive around from one garden center to another looking for what you want.

You let them know now what you want and they have it for you to pay for and pick up when they open mid-April.

The order deadline is in two weeks - March 1 - so click over and take a look.

Here's the email from owners Matthew and Lora Weatherbee -

We promised you an email when we opened up our vegetable plant booking this year. Customers seemed very happy with this service last year. Simply go to our website and let us know what vegetable plants you want and we will save them for you for pickup in April. It's a great way to guarantee that you'll get the varieties you want. No payment now. You can pay for the plants when you pick them up in April.

We have not raised our prices. They are the same as last year.

If you have friends that are gardeners, please pass on this information to them. Booking deadline is March 1, 2010.

Here is a link to our website: www.blossomsgc.com
Thanks, Matthew & Lora Blossom's Garden Center, Muskogee OK

I'm collecting eggshells that are just cracked open on the top to use at a volunteer appreciation lunch as place setting planters. The event is sponsored by Rotary and Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center. Jessica and Rebecca at MNRC are the artistic types so they will decorate. I'll plant. Should be cute - we need over 100 eggshell planters but we have until Earth Day to get it done.

13 February 2010

Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms - the North American Guide

Once in a while a really good reference book comes along that should be on every library's shelf.

Most adults avoid eating unidentified plants but we are all being nudged to be more aware of which plants can be harmful to our pets and children.

I grow several plants that I know are poisonous - castor beans, iris, oleander, many houseplants, and nightshades such as tomatoes and potatoes. But we don't have pets or children on our place eating random leaves or tubers.

We also have regular outbreaks of mushrooms on our property - we don't eat any of those either because we don't know the difference between the harmless ones and the ones that would make us sick.

A couple of years ago when I went flower picking to make Queen Anne's Lace jelly, the boggy area where it grew was also host to hemlock that is awfully similar. I had to memorize the details of each flower structure to ensure a poison free product.

This well-illustrated reference would be helpful to all of us who interact with nature, but especially to novice gardeners, young families, teachers and pet owners.

The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms: How to Identify More than 300 Toxic Plants and Mushrooms Found in Homes, Gardens, and Open Spaces - written by Nancy J. Turner and Patrick von Aderkas, was published by Timber Press in 2009.



The authors selected plants that commonly occur so the book would serve as an easy to use, ready reference.

I love their practical approach to the topic. They acknowledge the pre-science uses of the plants and how often plants are confused by the uninformed.

Also! I keep activated charcoal capsules in the house at all times. It's value as a digestive aid is underestimated by most families. The authors say that activated charcoal will also take care of most cases of mild plant poisoning. Second to that, drink milk and get the activated charcoal at the hospital emergency room.

And, on the topic of mushrooms - of the 5,000 named species only 100 are poisonous. With that said, mushroom poisonings are on the rise. Really, people, look before you eat. Oh, well, then they go on to say that most of the poisonings are children under the age of 6.

The book is well organized, with each plant described and illustrated. Where it is usually found, which bits are toxic, and notes of interest follow.

For example, burning bush, which is commonly found in back yard hedge rows is poisonous all over - leaves, bark and fruit. Children sometimes eat the plant parts but the result is rarely serious.

In the back there is a list of fruits, vegetables and beverage plants with their ingestion issues. For example, apple seeds contain a cyanide producing compound which is harmful if eaten in quantity.

It's a fascinating read that you'll pick up again and again. Check out Dr. Turner's bio here and Dr. von Aderkas here.

$29.95 from Timber Press and $15 online.

11 February 2010

Bonnet House, Ft. Lauderdale Florida - Go see it

Thinking of travel to Florida? History buffs, art lovers and garden tourists will all find Bonnet House worth a visit.

Located on 35 acres of Barrier Island on the Fort Lauderdale Florida shore, the Bonnet House grounds and home reflect the nature of the residents who needed a retreat from their hectic lifestyle. There are no huge rooms that echo, no workout room with rows of equipment, just peaceful surroundings accented by hand-made and hand-painted art.

The history of the property began with Chicago attorney Hugh Taylor Birch who purchased 3 miles of Ft. Lauderdale beach for a dollar an acre in 1893. Birch spent the winter on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and trekking the native hardwood hammocks. His daughter, Helen, married Frederic Bartlett and the couple received part of the Birch land as a wedding gift.

The Bartletts named the residence, Bonnet House after a yellow lily that is native to the fresh water slough on the property. Bartlett’s third wife, Evelyn Lilly, spent winters at the house until her death in 1997, one month before her 110th birthday. Her gift ensures the preservation of the house and grounds in their original style.

Even after his daughter’s death in 1925, Birch continued to spend his time with Bartlett and his wife Evelyn, until 1941. At that time, he built a home of his own on the property now known as Birch State Park.

In the central courtyard of the residence, Evelyn had the sand replaced by 4-inches of soil in the 1930s in order to plant a lush garden. Surrounding the courtyard, there is an artist’s studio with two-story, floor to ceiling north windows, a large second story veranda with expansive views, and Helen’s music room.

Frederic Clay Bartlett (1873-1953) demonstrated his boundless energy and talents throughout the property. Though his fame was primarily as a builder and muralist, at Bonnet House, he made furniture, created shell inlay around doors, built the pillars and door jambs, put in a music room for Helen and created faux marble surfaces. When Bartlett had eye surgery, Evelyn became the family painter for 5 years and a former guesthouse now serves as a small museum, displaying the family’s paintings.

On the grounds, Bartlett cleared the forest, put in a fruit orchard, filled a swamp to plant coconut palms, dredged lowlands to make a fresh water lagoon, built a shell museum and bamboo lined bar. Evelyn’s 110-acre vegetable farm in Massachusetts provided plenty of fresh food for entertaining.

The grounds are natural rather than manicured, making the setting relaxed. Much of the 1930 landscaping was blown away in hurricanes in 1995, EDSA, a Ft. Lauderdale landscape architecture firm, used the garden design captured on the Bartlett’s home movies to recreate the original.

The Bartletts added Australian pines as a buffer from Highway A1A, which is just on the other side of their property. Native plants in the under story include wild coffee, silver palm, coontie (Zamia floridana or Arrow Root), gumbo-limbo, seagrape, sabal palms and paradise trees. Night blooming Queen of the Night Cereus (Selenicereus) climbs to the top of the trees.

The land that Birch bought now preserves saltwater wetlands and an ecosystem endangered due to coastline development.

On the driveway to the house, there is a row of Melaleuca (Tea) trees. While inside the courtyard, tropical plants surround a central fountain, a desert garden sits outside the residence, 14 feet above sea level, the highest spot on the parcel. Endangered habitats on the property include maritime forest, mangrove swamp, primary and secondary dune. Brazilian squirrel monkeys, Manatees and fiddler crabs also live on the estate.


Bonnet House, 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL, www.bonnethouse.org, 954-563-5393. For more history see http://www.bonnethouse.org/pdf/Fall%202010.pdf or http://bit.ly/cd7HBX or
http://nyti.ms/aFXc7Y

08 February 2010

Lettuce Combos help gardeners get some of everything from Renee's Garden Seeds

Renee's Garden Seeds is one of my favorites. I have high standards for germination rate and information on successful growing. If there isn't an explanation of how to grow the plants and if the seeds don't germinate, I stop ordering. No doubt you do the same thing.

Another reason I enjoy using Renee's is that the website is easy to navigate and stuffed with useful information.

Since I spent the afternoon transplanting lettuce seedlings, I have lettuce on the brain and explored Renee's combination packs for future planting.

So, here are the combo lettuce packs they are offering this year. Consider the wisdom of a variety pack to get a colorful salad bowl without buying 3 different envelopes of seeds.

The photos are from the website - there is no print catalog. Use the link above to access the details on each blend.

Baby Mesclum Cut and Come Again

Heirloom Cutting Mix Italian Misticanza Farmer's Market BlendAsian Baby Leaf Mix Ruby Emerald Duet Container Lettuce French Blush Batavian Trio Summer Bouquet Mesclun Monet's Garden Mesclun Paris Market Mix Lettuce: Romaine - Caesar Duo

07 February 2010

Phacelia tanacetifolia - Purple Tansy

The Bountiful Gardens 2010 catalog lists Phacelia tanacetifolia - 1250 seeds for $2.25. Lavender flowers, forms dense carpet, helps soil hold moisture, prevents weeds between plants and rows AND attracts beneficial insects. Plus, makes good compost.

Anything to attract pollinators gets my eye. I ordered the seeds this morning. Do you grow Phacelia Purple Tansy? I'm asking because the cultivation information is contradictory from site to site.

Small Farm Success says it is planted widely in California vineyards.
Grows quickly, one of the top 20 bee attracting plants, high quality nectar for a long period with abundant flowers.
It's native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, needs dark and cool soil - 37 to 68-degrees to germinate, spring planted seeds flower 6 to 8 weeks after germination, and requires 13 hours of light to flower.
AND - if you want your crops pollinated, plant purple tansy to bloom at a different time because pollinators will avoid your crop in favor of tansy's nectar.

Photo from TAMU Aggie Hort

Their advice is to plant in 60-70-degree soil at 1-16th of an inch deep. Germinates in 15 to 30 days, grows to a foot tall. Blooms April - July. "Produces an abundant quantity of nectar which butterflies and bees find hard to resist."

U.C. Berkeley News has an interesting read about bee supporting plantings that is worth the read if you are one of us who care about bees. The article is about entomologist, Gordon Frankie, who runs tests on what bees will be attracted to in urban settings.
Purple tansy is one of the plants they use - the bees get purple legs from eating the pollen.
AND they have a website called Urban Bee Gardens that has more interesting and amusing reading.

There are dozens of pictures at Cal Photos

Larner Seeds - a California native seed supplier has a photo here.

Their site says Phacelia tanacetifolia or Tansy-leaf Phacelia
Annual with bright-blue flowers gives a fuzzy effect. Good in sun or shade, it grows 1-4' high. Fragrant. Good cut flower. In agriculture, used as a cover crop and interplanted with field crops to attract beneficial insects.

05 February 2010

Venidium fastuosum

Fedco Seeds listed Venidium fastuosum in their 2009 catalog. Have you heard of it? Its common name is Namaqualand Daisy or Monarch of the Veldt.


The USDA Plants Profile indicates that it grows as a native only in Calfornia.

Fedco says it is
Daisy-like flowers close up in dreary weather, but will open in ten minutes if cut and brought indoors. Lloyd says their large center disks shine black like a healthy dog’s nose. Glorious creamy-white 4" flowers have vivid black centers. With multibranching habit and deep-cut fuzzy leaves, Venidium sprawls 2-1/2' and needs a dry sunny location to remain upright. Intolerant of wet feet, keels over when saturated. Start indoors, transplant out after danger of frost. Keep deadheaded for long bloom production. Space at least 2 feet apart. Unless sales pick up, this is the last year we will offer. ~500 seeds/g.

The photo above was on FortuneCity and it's the only one on the 'net.

Have you grown this? I'm going to order the seeds and see what happens.

04 February 2010

Garden Writer Tovah Martin - author of The New Terrarium - speaking in Tulsa Feb 13 at 7 p.m. for OK Horticultural Society

Terrarium gardening is creating a small indoor garden using closed or partially closed clear containers. Their appeal is that they bring nature indoors while keeping the maintenance low. And, terrarium plants such as ferns and mosses thrive with the low light in most homes and offices.

Tovah Martin, author of The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature, will demonstrate this simple art during her talk in Tulsa on Feb 13.

DETAILS IF YOU WANT TO GO
Tovah Martin
Terrariums & You – how to used recycled containers to make indoor gardens
Tulsa Garden Center - Saturday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Martin's books will be available for purchase and autographs after her talk




In a phone interview, Martin said, I've been doing these for decades. At any given moment I have 20 or more on display in my home.

Terrarium plantings can be as simple as a single plant in a covered jar or as complex as a variety of plants in a large container with rocks, moss and miniature features like the ones seen in doll houses.

In the closed environment of a terrarium the plants water themselves. As they transpire, the moisture remains in the container, almost eliminating the need for additional watering.

Martin's book is overflowing with beautifully photographed ideas. Some are as simple as a vacation memory of a seashell in a glass block. Others are collections of plants.

All but two of the terrariums in the book are ones I designed, Martin said. I make them at workshops and then I can't part with them.

Other books by Tovah Martin include: Tasha Tudor's Garden, The Ways of Flowers and A Time to Blossom: Mothers, Daughters and Flowers.

The plants that are suited to a terrarium include mosses, ferns, baby tears, Saxifraga (strawberry geranium), Venus flytrap, African violet, Heuchera, creeping Charlie or miniature impatiens.

In open bowl-type terrariums choose pitcher plant, air plant, Ajuga, ivy, creeping fig, maidenhair vine, flame violet, herbs, or ornamental grasses such as fiber-optic grass.

Terrariums can be made on a budget, Martin said. Begin with ferns and mosses. The high humidity of the terrarium is just right for them.

A cloche is a clear glass bell shaped plant topper that was originally used to protect early spring plants outside. Today, a glass cloche is primarily used to top terrariums.

In her talk, Martin is going to demonstrate how to create terrariums. Here's what you will need -

- Container - jar, aquarium, vase, glass block, candy dish.
- Charcoal - purchase at aquarium supply store or garden center
- Pebbles, gravel, marbles, seashells
- Sterile potting mix (Orchid mix contains charcoal)
- Optional moss and decorative items for the top

Start by putting on gloves and placing sheet moss and decorative stones on the bottom of the container to help with drainage. Top with about one-fourth inch charcoal.

Add some soil or orchid mix.

Check the plants for insects, dead leaves or spent flowers and prune. Plants from the store often have a few inches of roots. Feel free to root prune them. Untangle the roots and trim them by half their length.

Arrange the plants in the container. Martin suggested using a barbeque skewer with a cork stuck on the end to help tamp soil around plants in deep containers.

Fill in with potting soil or orchid mix to the top of the plant's soil line, completely covering the roots. Top with moss and decorative items.

Water with a spray bottle, letting the water wash down the inside of the container to remove any soil.

Glasshouseworks.com has a wide variety of terrarium plants, including a sampler of 10 plants for $25. If you want something specific, try www.terrariumplants.net for links to several providers.

The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin, 176 pages, published 2009 by Crown Publishing – Clarkson Potter. $25 retail or $17 online.

02 February 2010

Klehm Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery- Non Vining Clematis

One of the wonders of this time of year is receiving so many dreamy and exciting catalogs.

Take a look at this dreamy and exciting non-vining clematis in the
Klehm Song Sparrow catalog that arrived yesterday.


It needs a much more glamorous name. Clematis integrifolia Rosea really doesn't make it for me.

How about Clematis Pink Butterflies? Clematis Vivid Pink Origami? Don't those flowers look like origami swans? Look at these on Sparkling Sweet Origami.

Iowa State Extension Service has the scoop on successful growing here.

The highlights of the article are:
Some non-vining clematis bloom in summer.
They act more like perennials with upright, bush-like growth habits.
Solitary clematis (Clematis integrifolia) is 18-24 inches tall and wide with small, nodding, flowers.
Each stem is topped with a single flower.
It blooms for a long time, from June into August. (I bet it wouldn't bloom until August in our zone 7 heat though I would love to try it.)

Most clematis, regardless of bloom time or habit, prefer sunny sites.(There's a myth busted.)
Clematis prefer neutral to slightly alkaline and well-drained soil.

Under 2-feet tall and wide, sun loving....sounds like a front of the bed beauty. I think I need 6.

If you have another click's worth of time, check out the Polish nursery that has dozens of Clematis in their catalog and wonderful photos. Clematis - Container Nursery

01 February 2010

Lavatera

Lavatera is in all the seed catalogs.

Fedco Seeds' catalog describes L. trimestris thusly, " Every stalk is covered with single funnel-shaped blossoms....Cut when flowers are unfurling or have just begun to bloom. Vase life is one week...Botanical name honors the 16th century Swiss naturalist brothers Lavater, and the three-month bloom time in warmer climes. (150 seeds costs 90-cents).

Lavatera is a mallow or Malvaceae. A website dedicated to this plant family, www.malvaceae.info, introduces it with these comments, "Malvaceae is known as the mallow family in English; as les Malvacées in French; as Malvengewächse in German; as Le Malvacee in Italian; as Kaasjeskruidfamilie in Dutch; as Malvaväxter in Swedish; as Katost-familien in Danish, as Kattostfamilien in Norwegian; as Malvakasvit in Finnish, as kassinaerilised in Estonian; as Mályvafélék in Hungarian; and as Slazowate in Polish. Tiliaceae is known as the lime family in England, as les Tiliacées in French; and Lindengewächse in German; as lehmuskasvit in Finnish; as pärnalised in Estonian; and as Hársfafélék in Hungarian.. Bombacaceae is known as Wollbaumgewächse in German."

Ivy Garth Seeds offers several varieties
L cashmeriana - clear pink
L thuringiaca - pink
L trimestris Beauty Mix - pink to white shades
L trimestris Mont Blanc - white
L trimestris Novella - veined pink 3-inch flowers
L trimestris Silver Cup Beauty Pink - silver pink with rose veins
L trimestris Twins Cool White
L trimestris Twins Hot Pink - satin pink, blooms all summer, fast crop

The Lavatera page of the Malvaceae site is here
Then, here is a link to photos of Mont Blanc, Novella, Silver Cup, Pink Beauty, etc.

Of course, Lavatera and all the Mallows are favorites of anyone who wants to bring hummingbirds and butterflies into their garden. They are easy to grow from seed and provide a plentiful supply of nectar. Plus, some butterflies lay their eggs on the plants because the caterpillars are adapted to eating the leaves.

Do you grow any of these flowers?