31 May 2011

Lilies blooming today - Where to buy more

Some of our lilies, such as the martagons with their multiple little blooms, have flowered and faded already and others are just now forming buds. There are several types that are opening now though and they are scattered among the flower beds, making "yard work" sheer pleasure.

You have to love lilies for their reliability. Whether they are crowded into pots, planted among tree roots or mixed into beds of perennials and annuals, they never fail to delight. And easy!

If you enjoy learning, click over to the American Lily Society's image gallery http://www.lilies.org/imagegallery.html where you can let your imagination begin to tiptoe through the lilies.

Is this a lily?

Daylilies have lily in their name but are not true lilies.
There are many places to buy lily bulbs, including local nurseries and big box stores.

Where do you usually buy bulbs?

I've had the best success with bulbs from a few mailorder vendors -
Old House Gardens http://www.oldhousegardens.com/
Brent and Beck's http://www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com/
Touch of Nature http://www.touchofnature.com/

If you just add a few lily bulbs each year, your garden will begin to shine in late spring and early summer without much effort on your part.

29 May 2011

The Resilient Gardener

Author Carole Deppe added an extensive subtitle to her new book. The full title is "The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times" Including the Five Crops You Need To Survive and Thrive - Potatoes, Corn, Beans, Squash and Eggs.

Gardening in USDA hardiness zone 8, since 1979, Deppe has considerable experience with growing vegetables. This book is a 300 page paperback packed full of useful information. Published by Chelsea Green. $20 at online book vendors.

Deppe is also vegetable breeder and wrote a previous book on the topic, "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties"

"Resilient" focuses on five crops with calorie, nutrient, and storage values: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and, raising ducks for eggs.

Deppe describes her personal life and experiences with a variety of crops in coastal Oregon, tips for success, and gluten free recipes. Now in her mid-60s, Deppe is concerned with being able to garden no matter what one's life circumstances.

Like another of my favorite gardening book, "Gardening in Hard Times" by Steve Solomon, "Resilient" is a reflection of the author's philosophy. What I like about both books is that neither assumes you have a staff of people to put up structures and pull weeds. And, neither assumes that readers mostly want a display garden.

"Resilient" is a personal memoir as well as having plenty of gardening science.

Deppe's bio from her webpage

"Oregon freelance plant breeder Carol Deppe specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival.

Her writing includes The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-reliance in Uncertain Times, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, and Tao Te Ching: A Window to the Tao through the Words of Lao Tzu.

Deppe, who has a Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University, has been experimenting with crops and gardening in Corvallis, Oregon since 1979.

Subscribe to her email newsletter for information about new website content, new varieties, seed availability, duck workshops, and continuing gardening adventures. "

"Resilient" isn't a grow-your-first-tomato book; it is an awfully good read written by an intelligent and sincere writer. There's plenty of new material to inform even the most experienced among us.

26 May 2011

Spireas brighten any garden

Spirea shrubs are adaptable and easy to care for. Their basic form is a natural mound so most varieties need little pruning. The two types are 1) the old fashioned Bridal Veils that grow to 6 feet tall and wide with arching white flowers in the spring and 2) the generally smaller, woody flowering shrubs. The smaller Spireas have white, pink or red flowers on upright branches.

Since they are members of the rose plant family, they can be susceptible to similar problems such as powdery mildew, fireblight, aphids and scale. Some Spirea varieties bloom on this year’s growth and others bloom on last year’s stems.

The compact Spireas can be used as shrubs in a tidy row in rock gardens, as hedges, or placed into flower beds individually or in drifts of 3 or 5.

Since they can take some shade, they make a good selection in foundation plantings. After the first year, when their roots are established, they don’t need much fertilizer or water. In fact, wet soil is the one condition they cannot tolerate.

All Spireas are deciduous and lose their leaves in the winter. Most bloom between March and May in our area. Some varieties will produce a second set of flowers if the worn out blooms are pruned off.

Spirea ulmaria, Meadowsweet, is one of the plants that contain acetylsalicylic acid, a derivative of salicylic acid. Acetyl and Spirea inspired the name of aspirin which was originally taken from plants.

There are 80 Spireas so only a few can be listed here. The common name and the Latin name are provided since some catalogs use one or the other. You can choose the variety that is best for your needs based on their mature size. Then, you can select the leaf and flower color that complement your garden plan.

Golden Elf Spirea, Spiraea japonica Golden Elf, grows only 10-inches tall but 2-feet wide. They are used in the front of mixed borders or in rock gardens. Sunshine helps keep the leaves gold.

Spirea Double Play Gold, Spiraea japonica Yan, is under 2-feet tall and wide. Gold-green leaves and pink flowers.

Spirea Double Play Artist, Spiraea japonica Galen, grows to about 2.5 feet tall. Grow in part shade and prune in late fall.

Spirea Double Play Big Bang, Spiraea Tracy, grows to 3-feet tall and wide with pink flowers and yellow-pink leaves in the spring.

Spirea nipponica Snowmound has white flowers in early summer. Grows 3 feet tall and wide. Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit plant.
Spirea Snow Storm, Spiraea x media Darnstorm, has white flowers that are replaced by blue-green leaves. Matures to 4 feet tall.
Gufsheim Spirea or Elf’s Home Spirea, Spiraea cinerea Zabel, is one of the varieties that needs regular water. Plant it into a flower bed. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. The leaves are grey and the flowers are spires of white blooms in the spring.

Vanhoutte Spirea, Spiraea x vanhouttei, was first introduced to the gardening public in 1862. It matures to 6-feet tall and 8-feet wide. The white flowers cascade in the spring. Gerald Klingaman wrote an interesting history of Vanhoutte at http://bit.ly/lcNCLl.

Meadowsweet, Spiraea latifolia Alba, is a native variety that can tolerate damp soil. It can grow 5-feet tall with white flowers.

Pink Parasols Spirea, Spireae fritschiana, has large pink flowers in the spring and fall leaf color. Grows 3 feet tall.

Double Bridal Wreath Meadowsweet, Spiraea cantoniensis, has springtime white flowers. It matures at 6-feet tall and 10-feet wide.

Prune Spirea shrubs after they bloom and before seasonal growth.

If you could use a few carefree flowering shrubs in the landscape, check out the Spireas available.

23 May 2011

Angelica Gigas

In the winter of 2007/2008 I bought seeds from Chocolate Flower Farm so I could grow Angelica Gigas.
One plant from that seed-starting adventure has survived to grow up.

Fine Gardening has this photo of it in a garden.
The leaves are gorgeous. It's a biennial so I'm hoping for a flower this year and fresh seeds for next year. 

This flower looks like purple broccoli but to the bees it looks like a honeypot!
Heronswood catalog has the flower but I don't yet.

Plants for a Future's website has this spectacular shot of the bud opening which they borrowed from Wikipedia. Gorgeous, eh?

PFAF provides these growing tips
Perennial growing to 1.8 m (6ft).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Do you grow it?

21 May 2011

Blooms of Bressingham

Blooms of Bressingham sent garden writers some of their new selections this week.  Before I put them into the garden beds, I thought I'd show you what they are so you can look for any that interest you for your summertime beds.
Verbena Lollipop
Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop', Vervain
Dwarf Verbena bonariensis from Greenleaf Plants
Garden Care: Provide moist, well-drained soil in full sun.
Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Purple
Foliage Color: Green
Height: 24"/61cm
Spread: 24"/61cm
Habit: Mounded
USDA Hardiness Zones: 7,8,9,10,11 / -17°C
Uses: Front border
Attributes: Attracts humming birds

Lavandula Oxford Gem
 Lavandula angustifolia 'Oxford Gem' , Lavender from David Kerley, UK.

Dark purple flowers late June through August. Healthy, vigorous silvery-green foliage forms dense mounds. Carefree and drought-tolerant. 
Garden Care: Tolerates various soil types, but requires good drainage for best performance.
Bloom Time: Summer
Flower Color: Purple
Foliage Color: Silver, Green
Height: 15"/38cm
Spread: 16"/41cm
Habit: Mounding
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5,6,7,8 / -29 to -7°C
Uses: Container, Mixed border, Rock garden, Cut flower, Dried Flower, Fragrant flower

Geranium Blushing Turtle
Geranium 'Blushing Turtle', Crane's Bill
Pink, one-inch flowers with intricate veins of bolder, more vivid pink. Blooms heavily in June with some rebloom September through frost. Trouble-free performer with fantastic garden presence.
Prefers open, well-drained soil kept moderately moist, but is quite adaptable to various soils and somewhat drought-tolerant once established. A vigorous grower that makes large, weed-free masses.
Sun, Part Shade
Blooms Summer, Fall
Height: 24"/61cm
Spread: 36"/91cm
USDA Zones: Tested to 6 / Fully hardy in UK to RHS -15° C

Echinacea Mistral
Echinacea purpurea 'Mistral', Coneflower from Dutch grower Ad Kempen.

Compact coneflower, a sport of the very popular 'Kim's Knee High' iscovered in pink blooms from July to September. Its petals are less prone to flop over the flowering period and it branches extremely well. Front of the border and rock gardens.
Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil.
Full Sun
Height: 18-20"/46-51cm
Spread: 12"/30cm
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5,6,7,8 / -29 to -7°C
Front border, Rock garden, Container

Hypericum Hypearls Renu
Green Leaf Plants introduced four hypericum varieties that offer foliage and flowers in late summer, and colorful berries until frost. The Hypericum Hypearls series are unique perennial shrubs that work both in the landscape and in containers.

They’re heat lovers, with well-branched, robust foliage. Bright one-inch yellow/gold flowers in July give way to showy cream, red, salmon or pink berries in August.
'Hypearls Renu' features round berries that start out cream and eventually turn to bright pink. Its foliage also has a red tint to new growth, which will reach 30 inches tall.
Hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6, this series of shrubs don’t require vernalization – flowers and berries both appear on new wood. Gardeners simply remove the old wood in spring to allow new growth to push through. Best of all, each welcomes birds and bees to the garden.

If you go to the Blooms of Bressingham link above, I can practically guarantee that you'll see another half a dozen that you really really want. I wish they would let me submit a wish list of about a dozen more!

19 May 2011

Gardening helps develop skills

When Pat Pack, director of the Kelly B. Todd Center, heard that a raised garden bed was available she and her administrative assistant Nana Snow, jumped on the offer.
The donor is the Fayetteville, Arkansas company, Greenland Gardener (www.greenlandgardener.com). Greenland Gardener is a manufacturer of raised bed garden kits, composite decking and Smart Stone stepping stones. All of their products are made from recycled materials such as wood chips and plastic.

The owner of Greenland Gardener, Burt Hanna, has donated several double bed kits to non-profit organizations in order to get feedback on their ease of use.

Nana Snow said that she assembled the raised bed herself and that everything went together easily without tools. She said her only advice is to be sure to set up the bed where you want it since it would not be easy to move.

For their use at Kelly B. Todd, Snow put the raised bed on top of two layers of cinder blocks, making the bed easier to reach.

Pat Pack, physical therapist and center director said that the bed was a good addition to their on-going back yard improvement projects.

“The City of Muskogee Foundation provided funds to put in sidewalks and playground equipment,” Pack said. “The Kirschner Foundation paid for the gazebo in the back as well as six benches that will be put in place next week.”

Volunteers from The National Association of Women in Construction (www.nawic.org) will be at the Center on May 19, to pour the concrete and put the benches in place.

Jim Eby contributed some of the ground work in the back yard playground area, but next, Pack needs a landscape planner to help make the area more useable. Right now, the swing set legs are under water much of the year and other parts of the ground hold enough water to breed mosquitoes.

The Civitan Club helps at the Center, too. Most recently they donated money for landscape plants.

“We need someone to help us figure out where we can have grassy play areas and how the irrigation system should be configured,” said Pack. “We are making good progress and the outdoor recreation area is ready for the next step.”

The Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-muscular Center (www.kbtoddcpcenter.org) provides movement and interaction opportunities to children and adults with motor deficits or developmental delay. Their goal is to help their clients gain independence skills and to have a chance to interact with their environment.

The services are paid for through insurance, grants, civic organizations and corporations, as well as individual donations. They rely on volunteers to help put on events to raise awareness and bring in money for programs.

Their upcoming fund raiser is a golf tournament on May 23 at Muskogee Country Club.

Pack said, “The tournament has become something that golfers look forward to every year. There is still room for more teams and individuals to participate. All they have to do is call us to sign up.”

In September, Kelly B. Todd Center will hold their annual walk at Civitan Park.

“We will have free games, food and activities for individuals and families of all abilities,” said Pack. “Usually 150 or more people join in the fun.”

For step-by-step tips on gardening with children: “How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers” by Bucklin-Sporer and Pringle of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance (www.timberpress.com).

Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-muscular Center Golf Tournament
May 23
Muskogee Country Club
918- 683-4621, info@kbtoddcpcenter.org or www.kbtoddcpcenter.org

17 May 2011

Poppy love

For years, I've planted poppy seeds. A few years ago I actually put out 10 different varieties, striving to find one that would thrive in our climate and soil. So, here she is - the poppy that loves our garden. The photos are from early this morning. Know that for each of the past several years I have harvested the seedheads and put them out and around, looking for the perfect place for them.

Now I'll tell you. All of the poppies are in the vegetable garden, taking up valuable space that a dedicated veggie gardener would not allow them to use. But! I have fallen in poppy love and have lost all reason.

15 May 2011

Gardening with Conifers by Adrian Bloom

Adraian Bloom's seminal book on gardening with conifers has been reprinted by Firefly Books  in a beautiful soft-cover volume.

192 pages, 9 1/4" x 10 1/2" x 3/4"

250 full color photos, index, appendices, bibliography
This is a guide to coniferous trees and shrubs that available to North American gardeners. Color photographs show conifers in environments, from small gardens to estates.

"Gardening with Conifers" illustrates that conifers can bring backbone or highlight to every garden, as well year-round visual interest and color.
Conifer information covered includes: Size and growth rates, Site and soil preferences, Planting, maintenance and propagationm Pruning, pests and diseases, Dwarf conifers and ground covers, and Conifers in containers.

I don't think I've seen such wonderful ideas and gardens using conifers except in botanical gardens. But these photos are from residential and collectors' gardens. The $20 price is justified for the inspiring photos alone.

The chapter on conifer ground covers, the section called "Some of the Best Conifers", the focus on flowers and cones ... it's all wonderful.

Don't miss this one.

14 May 2011

Can you help a reader with info about imidacloprid in greenhouse plants?

Here's the email from Amy Campbell asking for help with her research into greenhouse plants that have been treated with imidacloprid.

 Dear Molly,

Somehow I found this post in my searchings for information about imidacloprid in greenhouse plants. Our beekeeping club is working with local nurseries to highlight bee-friendly plants and I voiced concern about plants that could have been treated with neonicotinoid compounds. It is very difficult getting this kind of information. Where did you see this posted originally? I have emailed Dr. Krischik but so far no answer. Other scientists are unwilling to go out of their field of expertise - ie if they are entomologists they don't want to comment on systemic pesticides.

If you have other articles especially that have references I would be very interested to read them! I do thank you for posting this because I think it's very important. Back yards have the possibility of not just attracting native bees but helping them to survive. It's totally counterproductive to plant plants that have been treated with a systemic pesticide that no one is aware is even in the soil! Try getting this info from nurseries! Almost impossible!

I will keep an eye on your blog - other posts are also very interesting! You might be interested in the safelawns blog - http://www.safelawns.org/blog/ which posts information about lawn chemicals and is an advocate of maintaining lawns in a totally different, non-chemical way.

amy in rockport maine
amy campbell

So, dear readers, if you can help Amy Campbell find this information, you can post it here in the comments section or reply directly to her.

12 May 2011

Mail order plants arrived - take care of them

Santa Rosa Gardens (http://www.santarosagardens.com/) sent plants to garden writers last week. They will go into our garden after they have been out of the box and in the shade for a few days.

The new plants in the shipment were:

Blue Fescue, Festuca glauca Elijah Blue, is a summer-blooming, clumping, ornamental grass that grows to a foot tall. Blue Fescue likes full sun and somewhat dry ground. The Missouri Botanical Garden site (mobot.org) says it tolerates drought, poor soil and some shade, but will not survive in wet soil. Elijah Blue is short-lived and has to be replaced in 3 years even though it is cold tolerant to zone 5. Other names include: Festuca ovina 'Elijah Blue' and Festuca ovina var. glauca 'Elijah Blue'.

North Wind Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum Northwind,
has wide, 5-foot tall, olive-blue-green leaves, and in September, it has plumes of flowers. This native of North America, is from the tall-grass prairies and tolerates a wide range of soils and conditions. The flowers can be dried for flower arrangements. No disease or insect problems. Plant in clumps of 3, or more.

Houseleeks or Sempervivum Hardy Mix, is a combination of Hens and Chicks in mixed colors that will spread to form a dense mat. Hens and Chicks prefer sandy, well-drained soil. They grow well in containers, especially strawberry pots. They can be planted in sunny rock gardens, on the edge of a sidewalk and on stony banks. The flowers are pink-red on 2-foot-tall stems.

Goldstorm Coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm,

loves the sun and butterflies flock to it when it blooms from summer through fall. Another native American, Goldsturm grows up to two feet tall and becomes bushy with brown-eyed, gold-orange daisy-like flowers. The seed heads attract birds in the fall. Mass plant them with ornamental grasses to make a new bed. Remove faded flowers for continuous bloom. Divide next spring. Goldstorm was the Perennial Plant of the year in 1999 but has been popular with gardeners for 50-years. This is a hardy, long-lived, plant with few disease or insect problems.

Tickseed or Coreopsis Jethro Tull, is a cross between Coreopsis Zamphir and Early Sunrise. The flowers have fluted petals and come back all season if the faded flowers are snipped off. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9. Grows well without fertilizer and tolerates dry soil after it gets established. Blooms and thrives in spite of heat, humidity or drought.

Shipped plants need to be treated with care. Open the box immediately. Santa Rosa Garden’s plants were wrapped in 4 sheets of brown paper that we carefully removed. Each pot was wrapped in a stem and leaf protecting, woven knit sock that easily rolled off.

Mail order plants are usually dry by the time they arrive, so, water them thoroughly and allow to drain overnight in a protected place.

Many shipped plants have not been hardened off. Put the unpacked plants outside in the shade for a couple of days while you prepare the planting area. On the third day, fertilize and water the planting area and move the pots to a location where they will receive a half day of sun.

Dig holes a little deeper, and twice as wide as the pot. Gently squeeze the pot on all sides and slide the root ball out into your hand. Fluff up or tickle the outer rim of the root ball/soil. If the roots are going around in a circle, carefully pry them out so they will expand into the surrounding soil when planted. Remove dead leaves and broken stems. Water the plants in to ensure root and soil contact.

10 May 2011

Better gardening advice right at the store

The New York Times reported that big box stores are making plant information available to shoppers with cell phones. Here's a excerpt.

"For now, garden plants sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s have bar codes on each plant tag that enable customers with smartphone scanners to check out whether the plant, for example, grows in low light or needs frequent watering.

This is the season when stores sell millions of garden plants, which are an important segment of the business. At Lowe’s, for example, nursery sales, which also include trees and flowers, were 4 percent of the chain’s total $48.8 billion sales in the fiscal year ended Jan. 28.

Whether it’s a piece of pipe or new kitchen cabinets, many Americans search for the right product in the aisles of home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s, trying to quickly identify what they need.

In a Home Depot commercial, a customer scanned a bar code with her smartphone to get information about a plant's preferred growing conditions.
The big-box stores are introducing some help to provide customers with immediate information for their buying decisions. They are adding bar codes to certain products that give potential buyers on-the-spot access to product reviews and ratings, how-to guides and videos.

This will gradually expand across a greater range of products in the thousands of stores across the country as the huge home improvement retailers, which have been hit by the poor economy, seek to prompt consumers to undertake repairs or renovations they have been delaying.

Chris Gerhard, a home gardener and real estate broker in San Antonio, says mobile bar codes have greatly improved her gardening outcomes.

“Those little plastic tags on plants always had minimal information,” she said of her purchases at her local Home Depot. “Now, with the bar codes, you can scan them and figure out immediately what is going to grow in the sun, when to plant and how far apart to place plants.

“That’s great for me because in this climate you can fry things to a crisp, and I have. This helped me know exactly what would work on my front porch and back patio without wasting a lot of time and money.”

Home Depot also has placed codes on its outdoor patio sets and is running a 30-second bar code commercial nationwide on cable and network television. "

Read the entire NYT article at the link above.
Thanks to Garden Design Online for posting this today!

09 May 2011

Blooming today - snapshots May 8 2011


Trailing Heliotrope

Sweet William - Pinks

Turk's Cap lily and Shasta daisies




Nepeta Catnip Walkers Low

06 May 2011

Devil's Den State Park

We went to Devil's Den and hiked the 1.5 mile loop yesterday.

The park is 2,500-acres with an eight acre fishing lake, bridle, nature and mountain bike trails, caves, and a 15-mile backpacking trail. Facilities include cabins, restaurants, pool, picnic sites, pavilion, restrooms, showers, laundry, grocery, pedal boat and canoe rentals, backpacking equipment rentals, visitor center with gift shop and exhibits, and playground.

The trails are mostly solidly constructed of rocks.

The trail is a lot of climbing up and down and there are beautiful scenes are every turn.

At the waterfall there is a large bench to sit on and rest.

The caves are closed to the public but I wouldn't want to climb down into them anyway.

This is the newer bridge that we saw from the trail.

The wild blackberries are in flower.

The native phlox fills the ditches on the north side of the park.

Little native daisies have popped up all along the sunny spots on the trail.

Devil's Den is a wonderful escape with trails and scenes that reminded us of many northern California trails we hiked over our years there. It's about a 2-hour drive east from Muskogee and we had lunch in Fayetteville at Common Grounds before the hike.

The park is in the Boston Mtns. which are part of the Ozarks. There are many beautiful places to visit in the Boston Mtns. and the Ozarks.