30 June 2011

How about a rain garden

Rain gardens are probably not what you think. They are not just holes in the ground that collect rainwater and they are not places where gardeners put water-loving, tropical plants. In addition, they are not mosquito havens.

Plants are made up of over 90% water and suffer when conditions prevent them from having the amount of water they need. Weather-wise, the amount of water our gardens receive from Mother Nature is a feast or famine situation.
Northeast Oklahoma receives an annual average of 44-inches of moisture and almost always has a month or two of drought conditions each gardening year. Rain gardens take advantage of both extremes in an ecological manner.

A rain garden is designed to capture and hold the water that naturally pours off your roof and flows across your yard. Several inches of amended soil in the rain garden basin holds the water for three days while it percolates into the ground. As an added ecological benefit, rain gardens clean pollutants out of the water as it percolates through.

Unlike agricultural ponds and industrial water retention basins, urban rain gardens are designed to be filled with garden plants. Too much water around the roots of plants can cause as many problems as too little, so the basin of a rain garden is dug to one-foot deep and then backfilled half the depth with improved soil.
To divert water from structures and to prevent the water from entering the septic or sewer system, a rain garden is located 10-to-20 feet away. The first step is to identify where rainwater flows and comes off roofs.

To make a rain garden a water-collection depression is created either by digging down or by berming a slope. To prevent mosquitoes, the garden bowl should drain in 1-to-3 days.

Rain garden in Grove OK
If a home has several places where water flows, there are design solutions such as directing the water by the use of French drain pipes, building up berms and digging out waterways called swales.

Once the garden is set up, it is time for plant selection. Perennial plants create a low maintenance garden but annuals can be used. All the plants must be able to tolerate wet and dry periods so supplemental water is not needed.

 Perennial grasses, native and non-invasive plants will require the least attention.  Avoid nitrogen fixing plants.

Trees for rain gardens include: Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) and Sweetbay magnolia (virginiana).  Perennial plants for a part sun rain garden include: Blue wild indigo (Baptisia), Iris and Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata).
Shrubs for rain gardens in part sun include: Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), American beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana), Ozark witch hazel (Hamemelis virginiana), and Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica).

Perennials for a sunny rain garden: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutifolora),  Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Rush (Juncus), and Penstemon.

The benefits of rain gardens are widely accepted and many states have established programs to encourage land owners to install them. 

Kansas City MO has an initiative to put in 10,000 residential rain gardens. Their advice is at http://tiny.cc/lwigw.

There is a Bioretention Cell Demonstration Project in Grove, OK, that is a good example of a rain garden on a natural slope.  At OSU’s http://lid.okstate.edu/bioretention-cells-and-rain-gardens  there are several links to recommended references.

Another Internet resource is Rain Garden Design at the Low Impact Development Center www.lowimpactdevelopment.org .

An award winning book by two horticulture professors has easy to follow instructions and tips. “Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge and Everything in Between” by Helen Kraus and Anne Spafford, published 2009, by Eno Publishers (www.enopublishers.org). $15.

I sent the authors an email and Spafford answered my question. We live on a rocky hill and I asked if we could build a berm on the south side to hold rain water that floods across our yard, removing the mulch as it travels.

The soil on that hillside is only about 6-inches deep. It took about 4 years of digging and planting to get a native oak tree to survive. Spafford responded that yes, we could go that route so it will be our fall/winter project - AFTER these 100 degree temps recede and we can do something other than water, water, water.

27 June 2011

Butterflies add to my garden's beauty

The first time I read the opinion that butterflies and other animals in the garden made it come to life, I was perplexed by the thought. My focus was on improving soil, learning plants' survival needs and reading every garden book I could get through.

Now that I have more experience, I agree with that author. Gardening is about so much more than plants.

This week we have enough butterflies during the heat of the day that it is worth while to chase them with the camera. There were a couple of giant swallowtails out there, too, but they are so shy and difficult to photograph.

1st photo is Hackberry Emperor (I think). They do hang around on trees to eat sap. The hook is for a hammock and probably has sap around it.
Check these photos http://wildflowers.jdcc.edu/Butterfly.html
Do you agree?

2nd photo is a Black Swallowtail on Verbena

3rd photo is what I mostly get photos of when chasing butterflies: The flower they just left.

4th photo is a Fiery skipper on a zinnia volunteer.

Butterflies and Moths of North America  link here

Another great site to visit and browse photos is
Field and Swamp: Animals and their Habitats

25 June 2011

Turban squash is curcurbita maxima

Winter squash loves getting a good start in summer's heat just at the time when the summer squash is blooming and spreading. How many of these we grow depends on how much room we have in the garden.

Summer squash, all the zucchini varieties and shapes included, is picked and eaten while the seeds are small and the skin is soft. In contrast, winter squash grows all summer and is harvested when the outer skin is hard and the seeds are pretty big.

Trombetta di Albegna from Renee's Seeds
Summer squash is curcurbita pepo including zucchini, marrow, courgette, yellow,  crookneck, etc. This year I planted Trombetta from Renee's Seeds. It climbs but I put it into the garlic bed to crawl.

The four kinds of winter squash are: curbita pepo such as spaghetti and acorn squashes, curcurbita moschata such as calabaza,and cushaw (the ones I have mostly grown), curcurbita mixta such as butternut and curcurbita maxima such as hubbard, turban and banana. There are pumpkin-types in all four species.

Every summer when I'm out in the sun hand-picking squash bugs and their eggs and nymphs, I promise myself (muttering out loud on most days) that I will not plant squash again the following year.

But by the next spring, all of those promises fall by the wayside out of excitement for the delicious meals that both summer and winter squash represent.

Victory Seeds dot com
The winter squash I plant varies from year to year. This year it's Turban squash. Late last fall I was in Arnold's produce store and the Turbans were on sale for 50-cents apiece. Well, what gardener could resist picking up one for the seeds? Not this one!

Turks Turban is also called Aladdin's Turban, Mexican Hat and Turk's Cap Gourd. Here's what
St. Clare's Heirloom Seeds has to say about it.

"80-125 days. Highly decorative and colorful buttercup type squash, this heirloom dates back to pre1800. This variety has been gaining popularity for it's decorative qualities. The Turk's Turban Squash/Gourd is orange and red and white on green, with a distinctive cap or turban on top. The fruits grow to about 8-12" in diameter, and weigh 5-10 lbs. Keeps well if not bruised during harvest and storage. They are fair eating quality. Can be baked plain or stuffed. Very popular at roadside vegetable stands."

That Turban sat in the kitchen all winter and held its shape and color. A couple of weeks ago we took out the seeds, not knowing whether or not the experiment was even a waste of 50-cents. There were so many seeds that we couldn't plant more than a third of them and put the rest into the worm bin with the squash meat.

Turban squash seedlings have 8-inch long roots and are ready to go into the ground.
Turbans are not grown for their food value since they are not the best flavored eating squash, but they are widely used as fall decorations. If the pollinators do their job and the squash bugs and borers don't get them, we'll have plenty to share in about 90 days.

The Library of Congress has an educational page on squash that's a fun read at  http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/squash.html.

LOC says that curcurbita maxima has round thick stems, curcurbita moschata has round stems, and, curcurbita pepo has pentagonal prickly stems. Who knew?

Here's a clever idea from Veg Box Recipes - bake the Turban as a bowl.

1 medium turban squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped, 100g bread (broken into crumbs), 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed, 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped, 100ml double cream, salt and pepper to taste

1.Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 / 190 C /350 F

2.Slice the top off your squash and use a sharp knife and a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
3.Wipe the skin with olive oil and cover in foil, before roasting in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until soft (depends on the size of squash)
4.Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Then mix in the cream, sage and breadcrumbs.
5.Being careful (hot!) scoop out most of the squash flesh, leaving enough to create firm sides to the skin of the squash, which will be your serving dish!

6.Mix the squash flesh with the rest of your filling and then scoop back into the squash. Top with the grated cheese.
7.Roast for a further 15 minutes, (no foil) until the stuffing is warmed through.

Hopefully, we'll need a bunch more recipes for Turban squash before winter arrives.

22 June 2011

Summer reading for nature lovers

Enthusiastic gardeners and nature lovers enjoy writing and teaching. They produce hundreds of books and videos each year. When requesting review copies, I ask for the ones that I think will appeal to a wide audience.

This list reviews books and a DVD published between 2008 and 2011. They are about garlic, projects for grandparents, attracting pollinators, vines, disastrous bugs and organic solutions for plant problems.

The information includes the publication information plus the full price and the online booksellers’ price.

Armitage’s Vines and Climbers by Allan Armitage. Published 2010 by Timber Press (www.timberpress.com and 800-327-5680) 205 pages. $30 to $20.

Whether you prefer woody vines and climbers or herbaceous (ones that die back to the ground in the winter), Armitage’s wisdom will guide you to choose the best selections for the space you want to cover.

“Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies” by Xerces Society authors Eric Mader, Matthew Shephard, Mace Vaughan, Scott Black and Gretchen LeBuhn. Published 2011 by Storey Publishing Books for Country Living (www.storey.com and 413-346-2100) 365 pages. $30 to $20.

Everyone has a vested interest in reversing the frightening reduction of pollinators in our environment. One-third of our food relies on the health of butterflies, bees, flies, wasps and moths. You can help preserve them.

“Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks” by Ted Jordan Meredith. Published 2008 by Timber Press (www.timberpress.com and 800-327-5680) 325 pages. $39 to $21.

This is a beautifully photographed and illustrated, coffee-table worthy, book for gardeners and those who love to cook and eat garlic. Grow your own!

“Phlox: A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide” by James Locklear. Published 2011 by Timber Press. 300-pages. $50 to $27.

In mountains, flower beds and grasslands, Phlox is one of the most popular flowering plants. “Phlox” has their history and horticultural preferences as well as gorgeous photos and scientific notes.

“Pruning Shrubs with Your Personal Gardener: Learn how to prune your shrubs with the guidance of your personal pruning coach” – DVD by Carol Chernega. Published 2008 by One Garden at a Time (www.onegardenatatime.biz and 724-575-2106) a one hour DVD $35.

If you have a shrub or a tree in your yarden (yard/garden), you want this DVD. Everything you need to know presented by a patient teacher who garden in PA.

“Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times” by Carol Deppe. Published 2010 by Chelsea Green Publishing (www.chelseagreen.com and 802-295-6300) 320 pages, paperback. $30 to $18.

This is a self-sufficiency book about raising poultry for eggs and growing seven foods that store well. Deppe is a gluten-intolerant food scientist and plant breeder.

“Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks” by Sharon Lovejoy. Published 2010 by Workman Publishing (www.workman.com and 800-722-7202) 200 pages, paperback. $15 to $7.

Recipes for food and fun with children cover the artistically illustrated pages: Alphabet soup, sprouting potatoes, firefly lanterns, pumpkin patches, etc.

“What’s Wrong with My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)” by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth. Published 2009 by Timber Press. 450 pages, paperback $25 to $14.

Written by plant pathologists, “What’s Wrong?” thoroughly covers diagnosis and cure in 3 parts: Simple to follow, illustrated, flow charts of problems, organic approaches to cures and photographs to clarify diagnosis.

“Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects” by Amy Stewart and illustrated by Briony Morrow-Cribbs. Published 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 270 pages, 5”by 7”. $19 to $11.

Stewart humorously tells the stories of over 100 bugs including hornets, millipedes, bookworms and Japanese beetles. An entertaining summer read.

21 June 2011

Rice Paper Plant is Tetrapanax papyriferus

This large-leaf, gorgeous plant is cold hardy in our area.
The leaves can reach up to 1-foot across.

Rice Paper Plant, also known as Aralia or Fatsia papyrifera, will grow from 8 to 15 feet tall. In fact, it is cold hardy in zones 6 through 10, wants to be watered and is happy in sun or half sun/shade. Its name comes from the stem pith being used to make rice paper.

In the warmer zones its inclination to sucker and move around the garden become a problem. I've been told that it will spread here in zone 7, but, I can tolerate that. The place it is planted is in a privacy screen bed about half way across our 3 acres.

Top Tropicals, a Florida plant vendor says that the leaves grow up to 3-feet across but the ones I've seen here do not. They are probably evergreen in FL, too, but not here.

I have not had the pleasure of seeing one in bloom but evidently the white flowers are in umbels.
The genus Tetrapanax is from woodlands in South China and Taiwan. My experience has been that plants from Asia tend to sucker and spread here.

19 June 2011

Applause - Kudos - Thank You!

The tour was a big success yesterday and we have the homeowners and gardeners to thank. So, here they are!
Thank you, muchas gracias, arigatô, grazie, merci, danke, Wa'-do, Sas efharisto, Askwali, Dziekuje.

Anita (Mrs. Mack) Whitaker

 Barbara and Chad Richardson

Jimmy Ginn with his daughter Macey

Melinda and Jim Murphy

Sarah and Bob Tidmore

These gardeners worked, weeded and watered and then played hostess and host to over 200 visitors in one day.

Thank you in 465 languages.

15 June 2011

Muskogee Garden Tour this Weekend

Each of the five gardens you will see on Saturday’s garden tour is distinctly different from the others. The homeowners have expressed their artistic and design talents in their front, side and back yards.
Muskogee Garden Club 2011 Garden Tour Saturday from 10 to 5
Tickets $5.00 available at all 5 homes on the tour

The Richardsons, 215 South 13th ST
The Whitakers, 415 North 16th ST
The Murphys, 4100 South Robb AV
Jimmy Ginn, 801 North 45th ST
The Tidmores, 4711 Howard ST

The home of Jimmy Ginn is a showcase for his landscape and design company, Grounds Keeper of Oklahoma (www.groundskeeperofOklahoma.com). Ginn’s main office is in Tulsa but his work takes him all over the state. His design ideas made the best use of his house lot.

The driveway retaining wall has a green strip on top that is accented with perennial Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus') and Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Shortly after buying the house six years ago, Ginn designed a unique stamped concrete sidewalk that goes from 45th Street to the front door. He said he wanted brick insets in the design to pick up the brick of the house and the tile pieces to make it modern. A friend who did the concrete work added rustic wood pieces to the sides. The walk is lined with Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon).

The front yard flower beds are made of dry stacked native rock and artfully curve around mature trees. The plants in the front beds include Double KnockOut Roses, Spirea, Laurel, Sweet Potato vines, Dragon Wing Begonias, Nandina and Maiden Grass. A pink tropical Mandevilla climbs up the lamp post and Asparagus ferns hang along the front porch.

In the back of the house, Ginn’s design talents really show. He has managed to make a fairly small back yard into a fully equipped outdoor entertaining area.

When visitors walk through the gate they will first see a newly installed fountain and koi pond on the left.

“Since there was limited space, I put it in the corner and had it flow out from there,” Ginn said. “It took four men four hours to dig out the hole. Then we lined it with rubber and started building up the stacked rocks to form the edges. The skimmer is at one end and the fountain is at the other end.”

The water circulates through a 2-inch hose under the rocks. The lily pads and a dozen koi were added afterwards.

In the flower beds around the pond are Cat-tails (Typha), assorted Hostas, Monkey Grass and a Blue Atlas Cedar.

Directly ahead and through the arbor is Ginn’s outdoor kitchen and entertaining area. Its features include a smoker, charcoal grill, gas grill, and a fireplace for cool weather entertaining. A gaslight on top of the fireplace adds warm light in the evening.

“My grandparents were farmers in Haskell,” Ginn said. “In the summer we always spent the evenings outside under the shade trees. I have good memories of those times and I wanted a kitchen out back so I could cook out here.”

The dining table, chairs and benches sit on a bricked patio. Wrapping around the entertainment area is a brick sidewalk lined with flower beds. Those beds contain impatiens, Hostas, a Japanese maple tree, and New Guinea impatiens.

The other water feature in the back garden is a tall vase that has water gently flowing over the edges. Ginn said that the water recirculates in a base that is buried in the ground.

Be sure to make this one of your stops on the tour.

12 June 2011

Friends of the garden

I wish everyone could come spend some time in our yard right now. Not that it's reached any level of perfection, but it is definitely having a beautiful moment. So many things are blooming - from leeks and tomatoes to lilies and campion.

We had a bit of rain today and a visitor on the back porch.
Wildlife is having a field day, too. There are baby bunnies scampering out from under bushes, baby mice running out of the vermicompost bin, and baby birds poking their heads out of birdhouses.

Possoms dig holes all over the yard.
Do you know what Leaf Footed Bugs are? They are a kind of stink bug, which you find out when you hand pick them off of the poppy seed heads and leek flowers.

Insect Identification dot org is a great resource for identifying bugs you find and I used it to decide what they were so I knew whether to leave them of send them all to heaven.

Robert Durgy, Dept. of Plant Science, University of Connecticut wrote:

"They are members of the Hemiptera, the true bug family, order Coreidae. Leaf-footed bugs get their name from the flattened, leaf like flare on the lower portion of the back legs or tibia. They are brown with white marks on the margins of their folded wings. They closely resemble an insect that vegetable gardeners are familiar with, the squash bug.
Leaf-footed bugs feed on the flower, cones and seeds of many species. They are known to do damage to nut trees such as almond and pistachio.
Adults emerge in spring and feed on flowers and newly forming seeds. Soon they mate and lay eggs on host trees. The eggs hatch after about 10 days and the nymphs start feeding. There are five nymph stages, called instars before adulthood. It’s this nymph feeding that causes the most economic damage. They are adults by August and continue to feed through the fall. They overwinter as adults in protected areas including your house. There is only one generation per year.

Control of leaf-footed bugs is not necessary (unless you’re a pinecone grower!) They are easy to catch because of their slowing metabolism. Once caught, they can be tossed outdoors to fine somewhere else to stay for the winter. Be advised, these are members of the stink bug family. If held too long or crushed they emit a foul odor."
Lady bug

Ladybugs each eat 5,000 aphids in their 3 to 6 week life! They taste bad to predators so they can safely spend their lives cleaning up the garden.

10 June 2011

Driving me buggy!

Mosquitoes, flies, gnats - all of them drive me buggy. The only product that seems to work for several hours of gardening is Deep Woods Off.

In my search for an alternative, I tried a new product that is DEET free called BugBand DEET free insect repellent. The band is infused with the repellent and you wear it on your ankle or wrist.

The BugBand is supposed to protect against mosquitoes, ticks and other insects and our yard would put any product to the test. I wore the bug band on my ankle and worked out in the shade beds on hands and knees cleaning out beds under trees.

The repellent is plant based (geranium oil), made in the U.S. and is safe for children and pets.

So here's my result - the days I wore the band and did usual gardening, the band worked pretty well. The day I wore it to work in the woods, I was not bitten on the leg that had the band but I was bitten on the other leg.

The next day I did not wear it at all and got 15 mosquito bites, indicating that the BugBand provided me with bug bite protection in spades. Probably for golfers, walkers and little ones, the protection would be plenty!

At the company's website, the Family Pack is $15 for 4 bands, with each band good for 120 hours of use. I would have to wear 4 of them when working in the woods but probably only 2 - one on each leg - for normal gardening.

Other online retailers have much better prices, if you are interested in trying them for your family.

09 June 2011

Easy Planters

A shaded path and a dark patio corner can both be brightened with a planter filled with ferns. And a self-watering planter makes the entire project simple all summer long.

Self-watering planters are basically two compatibly sized containers, with the smaller one set into the larger one. Plants absorb water as they need it through their roots from the reservoir below.

The container that holds the plants has holes in the bottom plus an overflow hole in the side. A piece of plastic pipe can be put into a central bottom hole to help water enter the plant container from the reservoir.

The planting container is filled with moistened soil and plants. Then water can be poured into the pipe to fill the reservoir.

Simple, do-it-yourself, self-watering planter plans are available at www.urbanorganicgardener.com and www.motherearthnews.com or you can purchase them from vendors such as Lechuza at www.lechuza.com or EarthBox at www.earthbox.com.

The Lechuza products include designer ceramic and metal finish planters made for home and office use as well as outside. They also have a built in water level indicator that takes the guess work out of watering.

The planting container has to have everything for the plants inside and it is up to the gardener to provide the correct amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizer. Large pots may be more difficult to move around but they provide a larger amount of soil and moisture for the plants as they grow.

Adding polymer moisture-holding crystals to the planting soil is an effective way to prevent drying out in the hot summer months. After your plants take all the available water from the soil, the water stored in the crystals is released into the soil. Each time you water, the crystals absorb and store more water for future use.

The Muskogee County Conservation District sells the polymer crystals. They purchase them in bulk and package them in plastic bottles that sell for $5. The Conservation District office is at 3001 Azalea Park DR at the corner of Hwy 69 and Shawnee Bypass. Phone 918-682-8831.

Plants in planters can be monopot or combopot. Monopots hold a single type of plant and combopots are made up of two or more kinds. Combopots usually have a tall plant in the middle, a trailing plant around the outer edge and something mid-sized to fill in.

Choose plants that suit your life style. Slow growing succulents for the sun or ferns for the shade can make a dramatic impact without much work. Quickly growing annuals such as zinnias and marigolds will require removing spent flowers to keep them looking fresh. Vines and climbers can be combined and trained to follow the line of a trellis or form.

A collection of varying sizes of monopots can be made into an arrangement, with each pot containing different plant heights and leaf shapes. With a single plant or plant type in each container, they can be watered and fertilized according to their specific needs.

“The Encyclopedia of Container Plants” by Ray Rogers with photos by Rob Cardillo, will inspire beginning and experienced gardeners who are looking for great container gardening ideas. The 500 container plant examples are illustrated and each one is described in detail.

Rogers writes from experience with the plants. For example, when discussing Alocasias or Elephant Ears he writes, “Don’t be surprised if some of the elephant ears dominating your patio in summer turn out to resemble horse or dog ears or something much less imposing.”

The book was published by Timber Press (www.timberpress.com) and is $21 online or $35 from the publisher.

Make sure that the plants you choose for combopots have compatible needs such as sun/shade or dry/wet.

08 June 2011

Lechuza self-watering planter

My 3 bin Lechuza planter arrived and I put it together myself without a problem. If you are the mechanically minded type, this will not seem like much of an achievement. My talents lean more toward taking things out of the oven than assembling objects, following a set of instructions. But! the instructions were easy to follow.
All the pieces.

The water level indicator so you don't have to guess.

The water opening/base for the pot is held up out of the reservoir.

The water level indicator goes into the corner of each section.

Then, a cap is put into place to hold the indicator where it belongs. Solid.

The indicator itself sits on the top of the assembly.

After assembly the water filtering material (included) is added in all 3 openings before planting.
This is a gorgeous planter. Easy to assemble and plant. Lechuza has a wide assortment of indoor and outdoor planters to choose from. If you are interested, here's the link.

06 June 2011

Begonias for shady spots

In our garden, by the umbrella topped table, under two shade trees, pots of begonias bloom and bloom and bloom all summer, requiring nothing but regular watering.
Polka dotted Begonia Billy Jean in the center.
Angel Wing Begonias have long, cane-like stems and leaves shaped like the wings of an angel. 

My plants spend the summer outside in pots and then come in for the winter where they grace the plant shelf in the dining area. As the stems elongate, I cut them back and put the cuttings into soil for next summer's pots.

Since I'm always concerned that I'll have enough pots under the trees, I always grow too many starts and friends and family get the extra plants.

Did you know? There are over 1,000 species, mostly in the genus Begonia and 10,000 cultivated begonias.  The major groups include the fibrous-rooted, rhizomatous and tuberous-rooted begonias. 

The American Begonia Society (ABS) was born in 1932 during the economic depression.

Begonia semperflorens or wax begonias are the ones I used to grow as hanging house plants in CA. It's so windy here in OK that I don't try to grow the waxy ones outside at all.

Beef steak and Rex begonias spread by rhizomes.

Tuberous-rooted begonias are those gorgeous plants with rose-like blooms that thrive in cool climates. 

A tutorial on Begonias from Clemson University is here.Can you grow begonias outside where you are? Which ones and how much sun/shade do they take?

02 June 2011

Garden Tour in Muskogee June 18

Muskogee Garden Club Garden Tour of 5 gardens
June 18, 10 to 5

About Hair 603 S York,
Blossoms 3012 E Hancock BL
Stay Home Services 103 N 37 ST.
And at participating homes on the day of the tour

Information 918-683-2373 and 918-687-6124

In the Founders Place district of historic Muskogee, master gardener Anita Whitaker has been gradually improving and changing her environment to suit the growth of a large family. Her garden is one of 5 on the upcoming garden tour.

The front yard by the driveway features a rose bed with over 100 varieties and a children’s garden with stepping stones made for each grand and great grandchild. Behind the children’s bed is a playhouse that was put in place in 1980.

Behind the fence that contains the roses, there is a swimming pool with gardens on two sides. Those beds contain assorted shrubs and flowers such as azaleas, ferns, holly and milkweed for Monarch butterflies. A pergola with a false waterfall is tucked into a back corner.

In the white-fence surrounded back yard, Anita removed the grass and replaced it with a formal garden that is visible from large windows in her kitchen. Brick paths and four uniquely shaped garden beds cover the area. The beds are surrounded by dwarf boxwoods and hold white blooming and silver plants such as Licorice plant (Helichrysum), lamb’s ears, white petunias, white verbena and Artemisia.

Large beds to the side of the bricked area hold hydrangeas, hostas, monkey grass and ferns. Behind the garden house is a raised bed vegetable garden with everything from cabbage to eggplant.

Wrap up your tour at the fountain garden in front of the house. It is set off with pea gravel paths and a small greenhouse. In this area, look for lilies, perilla, Kerria Japonica, roses, penstemon, and Gaillardia.

At the corner of Honor Heights DR and Robb AV, Jim and Melinda Murphy have created a peaceful retreat of gardens, fountains and seating areas. Jim loves to garden, Melinda excels at design, and their combined efforts throughout the garden will delight anyone who enjoys entertaining outside.

In addition to the overall comfort of their grounds, look for these special features: In the back yard, high in a tree is a birdhouse that Jim and Melinda created, complete with pebble studded stucco and a copper roof.

On the back patio, an outdoor table that Jim hand planed out of a single red oak tree. The Murphys said that the back patios were installed, blending new brick with old.

Jim and Melinda made a fountain out of an antique pump given to them by their son-in-law.

The shade garden was a rain-water filled bog until a year ago. Now it is a shade bed filled with hostas, Hellebores, ginger, ferns and Coral Bells or Alum root (Heuchera).

At the front door gardens, notice the front window boxes crafted by Angel Ornamental Iron Works. They are filled with pots of deep-red Pelargonium geraniums and surrounded by white roses.

The front yard specimen tree is a Japanese Snowbell, Styrax japonicas, which they chose for its structure and spring flowers.

The front corner seating area was designed and landscaped by Jim Eby. It includes a rock wall, pea gravel path, Columbines (Aquilegia), yarrow (Achillea), and Antoinette Harrison’s memorial split-leaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum variant dissectum).

One driveway is lined with purple-flowering Catawba Crape Myrtle, ivy, and Black and Blue Salvia guaranitica. The other driveway stays wet much of the year and it is lined with Swamp Iris (Tough-leaf Iris tenax). At the end of the driveway is a gazebo with seating and a central fire pit.

If you love gardens you won’t want to miss this tour.