Showing posts from October, 2011

Recommended trees

Yesterday at the annual Oklahoma Urban Forestry Conference, several trees were recommended that we commonly forget about or do not know about.

Here is a selection of recommendations with links to more information. Every one of these has beautiful features whether it is catkins, flowers, fall color, or bark. If you are considering planting something unique, check these out!

Acer saccharum, Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple  Information

Acer truncatum, Purple Blow Maple, Shantung Maple Information

Aesculus, Buckeye. Look for A. Glaba, Bottlebrush Buckeye  Information

Asimina triloba, Pawpaw hybrids   Information on several hybrids

Castanea mollissima, Chinese Chestnut Information

Carpinus betalus, Hornbean Information

Chionanthus retusus, Chinese Fringe tree, American Fringe tree. Information here

Corylus avellana, European Filbert, Harry Lauder's walking stick Information

Cotinus obovatus, Smoke Tree Information

Magnolia, yellow lantern  or butterfliesInformation

Prunus mexicana, Mexican pl…

Plant Trees in the Fall

Ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials planted in the fall have the entire winter to grow roots and settle in before their spring growth above ground. And shopping for trees now will give homeowners an opportunity to see the plant’s autumn leaf color. Maple trees are hard to resist in the fall.

Many trees are on sale at a discount right now, and it is important to check their roots before bringing them home. A simple inspection will reveal if they became dry too many times over the years they grew in the can or if they have been in the container for too long.

Slip the root ball out of the container. The roots should be visible. But if the roots are growing in a circle around the outside of the root ball, you will have to do a little extra work to untangle them before planting. If the roots are larger than your finger, they should be pruned before planting.

Tree selection begins before the trip to the nursery. Consider the reason you want extra trees and where you want to place them. …

In our garden October 26, 2011

A little basil plant growing in between some rocks in a path.
All the larger plants were harvested today, pulled up by their roots.

We are washing all the succulents to take them either into the house or the lighted shed for the winter. At the beginning of the summer I stuck a cutting into a pot and put it outside between 2 larger pots and forgot about it. And it grew into a decent size plant. Then, today as I was relocating it, I noticed that a single leaf fell onto the soil, took root and made a tiny new plant. Notice the 3 little leaves emerging on the left side.

 A beautiful fungus (polyvore) is growing at the base of this well-chomped Rue and African Daisy. Above these plants is a large planter filled with water for birds and butterflies.
When we refill the container, it waters the soil below, keeping it fairly moist. Hence the fungus.

Be sure to browse the entire CalPhotos library!

Visitor’s Guide to American Gardens by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Do you visit gardens when you travel in the U.S. and Canada? Do you take destination garden trips?

We do! And, I know many other people who do.

Whenever we plan a trip we go online and look for nearby gardens, butterfly houses arboretums and notable parks. This much needed, up to date, book from Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp will become well-worn in our house.

Not only is the basic information provided on a state-by-state basis but a smart phone icon is available on some pages to provide more on-site tips.
(We don't have smart phones so the Internet will have to continue to be our guide for the additional info.)

So to use the guide, go to the state you'll be visiting, then to the city and its gardens. You'll find the address, phone, website, hours and whether or not there is an entry fee.

A line of icons tell you whether or not there is food, a children's garden, historic identification, annual events, hiking trails, gift shop wheelchair access, etc.

The garden description te…

Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs Now

Spring almost requires that gardeners have a few blooming bulbs in front door flower beds, in outdoor pots and on windowsills.
Now that cooler weather and soil are settling in, it is a perfect time to get started on bulb projects. In our area we can plant garlic, allium, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, fritillaria, crocus, squill, snowdrops and others, as late as December and January, as long as the ground is not frozen by then. The prettiest displays are planted in groups rather than in rows. To plant an entire bed, the bulbs can be tossed and planted where they land so there will be clusters of flowers with spaces in between.

Plant bulbs twice their length. For example a 1.5-inch tall bulb is planted in a 3-inch deep hole. Plant Oriental and Asiatic lilies 3-times their depth because they root along the stems. Madonna lily is planted with the top of the bulb at the top of the hole. Be sure that the fat end of the bulb is actually sitting on soil. A planting hole dug with a trowel or shove…

Spiny Oak Slug, Euclea delphinii, is the Saddleback caterpillar of a limacodid moth, the Spiny Oak Slug Moth

This flat, green spiky caterpillar was on the Laurel shrub that I was watering today. Strange orange spikes, eh?

Spiny Oak Slugs come in many other colors, including pink.

Their bodies are usually green but may also be yellow, orange, or red.

They have spines with black-tipped bristles that I had to use a bright light and a magnifying glass to see them.

It eats sycamore, willow, ash, oak, hackberry, chestnut, as well as many other trees and smaller woody plants.

Saturniid moths include royal or regal moths and the giant silk moths.  The caterpillar can't be missed! They move around  move like slugs, gliding on their prolegs and suckers.
Read more at this link for the University of KY College of Agriculture.

The adult moth that it grows into is pretty gnarly looking.

Beautiful but strange and furry.

Bugs In the News has another interesting piece about them.

Frost Protek Frost Cover for container plants

Frost Protek (link here) sent me a cool new product to look at.

It's a plant cover with a draw string to keep it in place.

from their site, "Frost Protek™ Plant Cover protects plants against damage due to light frost. The cover protects 4°F to 6°F below freezing (to about 26°F or -3.0° C)."

Light and UV can penetrate the fabric so they say it can be left on plants for 3 or 4 weeks. What a great season extender for fall and spring.

Prices vary based on size and range from $11 to $21 at their site. The shopping link is here. Sizes include shrubs, trees, flat sheets, hanging baskets, etc.

It's a cool idea to have a drawstring since when the weather is changing the wind always brings it in and takes it out.

I've used clothes line clips and rocks to hold sheets in place plenty of times - this will be quite a bit more efficient. It doesn't always work when the wind is strong and certainly isn't light and UV porous.

Perennial Mexican Bush Sage is Salvia leucantha

If we lived in Eastern Mexico or Central America where there is no frost, Mexican bush sage, salvia leucantha, would stay green all year and grow into a woody shrub.

In our zone seven climate, its summertime 2- to 4-foot tall growth and long flower clusters make it well worth growing anyway.

A member of the mint family, Mexican sage has the characteristic square stems and scented leaves, though this one has leaves shaped like a willow. Sometimes it is called Velvet Sage for the white, wooly texture on the stems and the bottom of the leaves.

The white flowers extend from purple or lavender calyces in 6 to 10 inch long clusters. In fact, mostly what you see as rays of abundant flowers are actually calyces.

Some hybrids, including midnight, all purple and purple velvet have purple flowers and calyces. The pink variety, Santa Barbara grows only 2 feet tall and could be placed in front of the taller varieties to create an effortless fall flower bed.

The rays of calyces and flowers can be u…

Win a concrete garden project - Timber Press

Timber Press is holding a drawing. You give them your email address for promotions and you are entered in a contest to win a complete project. The winner receives
- $25 gift certificate to Home Depot
-  a set of foam rubber molds
- a copy of the book, "Concrete Garden Projects"

Here's the link to sign up

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies

This afternoon an adult giant swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) was all over the lantana flowers. They are so shy it is difficult to snap photos of them. Then it flitted rapidly which is usually a sign of eggs.

 I checked the Rue and Moon Carrot plants carefully and counted 22 newly hatched caterpillars/larvae.

Here's the life cycle in photos - some taken last year and some this year

Single eggs are deposited on a leaf

Indiviual eggs on leaves

Newly hatched larvae

A few days later, they have the same appearance but are larger

Then, they take on their characteristic bird droppings appearance.

The chrysalis photo is from the

This butterfly is the largest one. Its other common name is Orange Dog because they decimate citrus trees - not killing the trees but damaging crops. Northeast OK used to be just barely in their range but their range has grown significantly.

Why grow heirloom beans?

Heirloom vegetables are more popular with chefs and gardeners every year. Heirlooms are touted by seed sellers, produce vendors and chefs as being superior to the new hybrid varieties.

Hybridized plants are crosses of two varieties. The seeds they produce will not grow into plants that are identical to the parents you had in your garden. By definition, heirloom varieties are open-pollinated.

One reason to grow heirloom varieties is that they taste better. Saving the seed from the best heirlooms in this year’s garden, and replanting them year after year is one way gardeners stay connected to their heritage. Plus, you can save the seed of the most disease and insect resistant plants.

There are thousands of bean varieties that can easily be grown in our zone 7 climate. The beauty of beans is that they need less supplemental nitrogen and water than most vegetables. The plants take nitrogen from the air and collect it in the roots, improving the soil in which they are grown.

Bean vines ar…

Autumn is for Asters

Perennial asters (Asteraceae) are the star of the autumn garden. In fact aster is the Latin word for star. There are 180 to 250 species of aster annuals, biennials, perennials, and sub-shrubs.   These members of the Sunflower and Chrysanthemum plant family are also called Michaelmas daisy, starwort, and frost flower.

New England asters are easy to grow. You may notice that their flowers close at night.

This one is our native Smooth Aster Symphyotrichum leave var. laeve.
This Aster tataricus grows 6 feet tall and multiplies every year.
If you like to see Monarch butterflies in the fall as they migrate, plant tataricus!
Most asters used for cut flowers are hybrids of two North American natives: Aster novi-belgii (New York aster) and Aster novae-angliae (New England aster). Good Scents Garden
The shorter, shrubby aster varieties barely spread and make a tidy front of the border display.

Because there are so many varieties, their names are used interchangeably. Check catalogs, online sellers and…

Blooming in our garden on Oct 2 2011

I just returned from a 10 day trip to New Mexico where the drought and fires are as bad as they were in OK.
Residents complained about a summer during which they could not be outside.
They said the summer was unpleasant and hot, their gardens failed, the fruit didn't make and the flowers were dwarf compared to other years.The newspapers said that one apple orchard had not one apple; another was burned out. Plus, the smoke from fires was around for months.
So, when I arrived home today and saw the result of cooler temperatures and rain after our record breaking heat and drought, I felt so much better.
Late this afternoon I went out and took a few photos of what is flowering in our yard, ate a few figs right off the plant, and filled the bird baths. This isn't everything that is blooming but hopefully it will raise your spirits, too, to see that some lovely things survived to provide pollen for moths, butterflies and skippers, in spite of the worst Mother Nature has ever handed out …