29 November 2011

Moldy Tulip Bulbs

Moldy tulip bulbs are a big disappointment when you are hoping to fill a bed or some pots.

It is not that unusual for their skins to have a bit of penicillin mold but these are beyond that tad bit stage.

Mold penetrating tulip bulb

Mold on emerging tulip bulb growth

So, what to do? The plant references say to throw them out and buy new ones but I already spent $22 for 50 of these white tulip beauties.

First, they got a soak in 1% bleach solution in the kitchen sink in the hope that the bleach would stop the mold from continuing to grow without killing the life force in the bulb itself.
After a good slosh around, I wiped them off to see how much damage was beneath the blue and black.

 This tulip bulb is soft to the touch and there is little chance it will thrive in the soil.
This basal root on these have been ruined by mold.
The final step I took to try to salvage part of them  was to spray them thoroughly with fungicide.

 They are all planted in the garden now though some of them will probably not do well. In particular, the ones that the mold turned black and softened.

I hope you don't accidentally get moldy bulbs but if you do, try these methods and go ahead and plant them.

27 November 2011

Propagate Begonia Stem Cuttings in water - Cane-like Angel Wing Begonia

Propagating by stem cuttings is just about the easiest way to make more begonias for next summer's garden. During the fall, I regularly trim off 3-node long cuttings and put them into the growing pots where they take root.

Now that cold weather has arrived, I root the stem cuttings in a vase of water. It's a great way to produce more pots of Begonias for next summer's garden.

Water the plant well the day before.

Take a cutting about 4-inches long, with 3 nodes, from a healthy stem.

Use a perfectly clean container. Rinse the container with a drop of bleach if you are uncertain about its spotlessness.

Remove all but the top leaf or two. There should be no leaves in the water.

The cutting should  have a healthy leaf node at the bottom. Don't leave a stub below the node. Place the cutting into the water, and place the container out of the sun. In a couple of weeks, you will see new roots beginning to form.
Check the water periodically to make sure it is still fresh. If it begins to smell, pour it out, clean the container, gently run water over the cuttings and put them in fresh water.

Angel Wing Begonia rooted cutting
When the cuttings root, keep an eye on them. If they are left in water too long, the stem will rot.

Notice the long roots on the cutting on the right. Those little leaves grew under water!

Prepare planting pots by filling with potting soil. Make a hole with a pencil. I sprinkled some moisture retention crystals in the hole.

Water well and let the water drain out. The soil will settle when you water. You may have to remake the hole and add more soil.

Remove all but the top leaf or two from each cutting. Large leaves can be cut in half.

A few of these stem cuttings could or should be shorter, but they'll be OK. When they get settled in their pots and new growth emerges, I'll pinch it off to encourage branching and leafing out.

Even though their flowers are very pretty, Cane-like Begonias are grown mostly for their beautiful leaves. I keep pots on the kichen windowsill in the winter and in a shady seating area in the summer.

To keep your plants full and attractive, pinch off the top growth. Fertilize with half-strength houseplant fertilizer.

The photo on the right is the pan with two-types of Cane-like Begonia cuttings potted and ready to grow in the shed

There is a lot more to learn about Begonias at the American Begonia Society webpage - here.

23 November 2011

Carols and Crumpets Craft Fair - Dec 3 - at Tulsa Garden Center

Tulsa Herb Society Carols and Crumpets: An Herbal Craft Fair Dec 3 from 8 to 3pmSnowflake Café open from 11 to 2
Tulsa Garden Center,2435 South Peoria AV, Tulsa
Information – Patsy Wynn 918-496-8019 or patsywynn@cox.net
The annual Tulsa Herb Society holiday craft fair, Carols and Crumpets, will be held on Saturday, December 3 from 8 am to 3pm at the Tulsa Garden Center.

Their annual raffle is always popular. This year’s winner will take home table top white wool, feather tree with felt beaded cupcake, petite four and ribbon candy ornaments with a coordinating beaded tree skirt. 
Many of the outside vendors will be familiar to attendees but there will be plenty of new crafters and the artists’ creations will make great gifts for yourself and anyone on your gift list.

Herb Society members contribute a room full of fresh greenery from their gardens that you can take home to use for decorating. In addition, Utopia Gardens will have live wreaths and Lori Wilbins Designs will have greenery wreaths.

Herb Society crafts include: Button Christmas wreath pillows, beaded trees, felt wool penny rugs, button mini wreaths, wool fern felt pillows, muslin snowmen, crocus crackers, cinnamon reindeer, felt beaded star ornaments, lavender water, lavender sachets, chutneys, herb  vinegars, felt stockings, metal ribbons, Iris folded paper cards, hypertufa planters, large snowflake ornaments, green bags, and forced narcissus bulbs in vintage china cups.

Judy Bailey of Artistry & Old Lace will sell handmade greeting cards, ornaments and vests.

Kirk and Loretta Bowers, owners of Clear Creek Farm & Garden are offering birdfeeders, photo cards, seeds and potpourri, in addition to garden wisdom.

Dan and Jennifer Brandt with Dutchess Chocolates are bringing from their shop: Handmade chocolates, fudge, truffles, mini breads, cookies and confections.

Sandy Chapman of Silver Spoon is selling salsas, fruit butter, fruit jam, mixes and teas.

Taking a cue from the environmental spirit, From the Farm will offer repurposed items made of architectural salvage, Steampunk Jewelry will sell earrings and bracelets made of recycled clock parts, and, Chrissie Gray has fashioned garden art out of old glass.

The Spice Market will have a booth with their spices, herbs, and spice blends for gifts and holiday cooking.

Ann Humbert of Raintree Farm is bringing handmade pottery including hypertufa puddlers.

Chateau Debris’s Nancy Parke made bags, sweaters, shawls, mittens, booties, slippers, children’s hats, baby caps, and felted hair ornaments for the sale.
 In another booth you will find Randy Pennington’s handcrafted wooden stools, pens, cooking utensils, boxes, and cutting boards.

Garden Deva Sculpture Company will have a booth filled with their whimsical and functional steel art for home and garden.

Tulsa Herb Society members have booths at the event.  Ann Sittler Designs will have whimsical clay art at her booth. Lois Galpin owner of The Open Leaf made garden art and decorated concrete leaves; Lou Ann Gray crafts Christmas tree skirts, needle keepers, and feed sack stockings; and, Maureen Hemmert owner of the Butter Churn creates primitive art pieces.
New this year is the 2011 cookbook.  “It's About Thyme: Tulsa Herb Society Celebrates Herbs” with 449 recipes submitted by members; $20.00. THS member Sharon Ferguson penned all the illustrations.

Tulsa Herb Society members get together all year to work on crafts and culinary items the second Tuesday of each month at 9 am. The members also hold hands-on crafting and culinary workshops and programs throughout the year.  Their meeting schedule is online at www.tulsaherb.com.

In addition to their other activities, members of the Tulsa Herb Society maintain the Anne Hathaway Herb Garden at Woodward Park. William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, was said to be an avid gardener.

The Anne Hathaway Herb Garden was started by Jewel Huffman in 1939. Herbs in the garden include: scented geraniums, sages, mints, basil, summer and winter savory, lemon thyme, burnet, rosemary, marjoram, oregano and tarragon. The herbs bloom from May until frost and are labeled for identification. 

22 November 2011

Winter's approach

No longer frost warnings, the freeze warnings are coming on the local weather forecasts. Seems too soon but everything has been pulled into the shed despite my current state of denial.

The local big box store had these hostas on sale for two bucks so I bought a few. On the right side of the photo is one of the plants as purchased and on the left is another plant that I divided into two pots to double my bounty for spring planting.

 Each  fall for the past three years, I've taken cuttings from our trailing petunias and potted them. They root easily in potting soil, without growth hormones. A few died so the empty planting cells were re-planted with fresh cuttings. They grow like crazy and will bloom in the shed this winter.
 The succulent in the clay pot made a dozen babies, or pups, as they are called by growers. When bringing them in for the winter, each pup was carefully pulled away from the parent plant and potted. They will probably be given away.

The plant on the far right is a begonia I'm growing from cuttings.
 Purple Heart, Tradescantia pallida, is native to LA and FL in the US. It is a zone 10 plant that is often grown as a houseplant. I like to put it in the front of a flower bed especially because it thrives in sun and doesn't faint if we are not watering that week.
MOBOT says it is native to Mexico and can be grown in part shade. I removed it from the front bed and even though it returns every year (we are in zone 7), I am growing plants from cuttings for next summer - by which time I'll know where to put it.

Thank heaven for Daddy Long Legs! They eat aphids, caterpillars, beetles, flies, mites, small slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders and their fellow harvestmen.
They are welcome in the shed as long as they want to stay.

20 November 2011

Clematis - 3 types and 3 pruning guidelines

Regular pruning is much better than letting plants grow and grow without shaping. But, I've never pruned our 3 clematis vines. It's a little confusing since you are supposed to know what you have in order to prune at the correct time to make the plant healthier and bloom more.

Did you know that the color we enjoy is not clematis's flowers? Their flowers have no petals. The color is sepals and stamens. The pretty fluffy plumes that show up after flowers fade is the stamens expanding and curling.

In "Armitage's Vines and Climbers" Allan Armitage confesses that his favorite Clematis varieties are the Clematis texensis, Texas clematis, because they are not rampant growers, are idiot proof,  slow growing, take full sun and have little trouble with our humidity.

Scarlet Leatherflower is another name for the Texas native Clematis.

Our 3 vines came from assorted plant sales so their lineage is questionable. They bloomed less this year than ever before so one can assume it is time to prune.

The first step is fairly easy - Does your vine bloom in the spring or summer? Or, is it a newer variety that is a repeat blooming type?

Prune after bloom since they set bloom next year on this year's woody growth. Don't just cut old wood because it's there. Just prune to shape.

The flowers bloom on current season growth so prune before the plant breaks dormancy or when it first begins to grow in late winter/early spring.  Sweet Autumn clematis (C. terniflora) can be cut to one-foot tall.

Always look for and prune to a healthy leaf bud. 

If your Clematis blooms both spring and fall, basically just deadhead it, removing the spent flowers. If you want to prune and shape it, just do it regularly to preserve flowering.
The California based Clematis Society is disbanding as of December, 2011. http://clematis.org/

Their clematis tips link reminds us to fertilize which I really need to make a note of on a calendar to remind me in the spring.

"Clematis are heavy feeders. In spring, once the clematis buds are about 2 inches long, start feeding them with Gro-Power Flower 'n' Bloom. Alternate feedings every 4 to 6 weeks with Gro-Power All Purpose Plus. Use approximately 2 tablespoons per plant. Continue this alternate feeding until the end of September."

Oh, and the answer to what you really want to know? "The correct pronunciation is CLEM-uh-tis."
The international society is going strong at http://clematisinternational.com/
Here's the link to their pruning guidelines.

If you know my/our Clematis varieties just by looking at the photos, please let us know!

17 November 2011

Gardening in Dry Shade - Graham Rice has recommendations

If there is a tree, shrub row or a building on your property, you have dry shade.  Shade by a fence, overhanging roof or wall often has enough light several hours a day to make many plants grow. The shade under a tree can last all day and the tree’s roots can steal all the water, making it even more difficult for flowerbeds to thrive.

Fall and winter are a good time to take on these areas. The drought seems to be behind us for the time being and it is easier to work outside in cooler temperatures. Perennial plants (those that live more than one year) can successfully be planted until the ground is frozen.

If you are adding trees to an existing landscape, choose the ones that allow sun to filter down to the ground. Trees that produce dense shade include maple, beech and magnolia. Trees that allow sun to penetrate to the soil include paperbark maple, dogwood, birch, white beam and ginkgo.

Some of the best shade trees to plant if you want lawn and plants to grow below are: Paperbark maple, paper mulberry, Kentucky coffee tree, Gondenrain tree, black locust, Japanese pagoda and Himalayan whitebeam.

It is relatively easy to increase the sunlight to plants under trees by removing the lowest limbs and pruning out some branches. Thin out scrawny trees that add nothing to the appearance of your yard.

To increase the amount of moisture for plants under trees, you can replenish and improve the soil, put in drip irrigation or mulch the entire area to hold the moisture longer.

Once the soil and the growing conditions are improved it is time to select suitable plants for those shady spots.

Graham Rice, author of “Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden” says that these plants should be ones that:

1)      Lose less moisture through their leaves than most

2)      Have roots, rhizomes, tubers, or stems that store water.

Plants that can thrive in low light

1)      Are evergreen and can take advantage of light in any season

2)      Come out early in the season so they collect light before the leaves emerge on the trees

3)      Naturally thrive in low light

At this time of year, tucking bulbs under trees is a natural. Early blooming bulbs will flower before the trees have leaves. The ones to plant include: Snowdrops, winter aconites, glory-of-the-snow, miniature daffodils, wood anemones and squills. We put 300 little grape hyacinth and crocus bulbs under four trees this fall.

In order to create a nice appearance, you can plant perennial ground covers in dry shade.

Epimedium rubrum Rainy Side Gardens
Epimedium is a popular, flowering; perennial that grows well under shrubs and trees. It grows about one-foot tall and has no trouble competing for moisture.   The dry-shade tolerant varieties are: Epimedium perralchicum, Epimedium pinnatum colchicum, Epimedium perralderianum, Epimedium versicolor, and Epimedium warleyense.

Digging Dog Nursery
Hardy Geranium is another good choice. They grow about one-foot tall and form thick, woody-stemmed clumps that flower. The varieties that will work best include: Geranium cantabrigiense, Geranium endressii, Geranium macrorrhizum, Geranium nodosum, Geranium oxonianum, Geranium phaeum and Geranium versicolor.

Another option is evergreen Sweetbox. The low growing varieties for under shade trees are: Sarcococca hookeriana humilis (18-inches) and Sarcococca ruscifolia Dragon’s Gate (2-feet tall).
Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae
Universally recommended Mrs. Robb’s Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae) is an evergreen perennial with chartreuse flowers.

“Planting the Dry Shade Garden” by Graham Rice, published 2011 by Timber Press, www.timberpress.com and 800-327-5680. $25 list price and $17 online.

The photographs in this 190-page soft-cover are worth the purchase price. They will inspire you to use the cool of fall and winter to rehabilitate your shady garden spots.

15 November 2011

Plant paperwhites inside now for Christmas bloom

Paperwhites are daffodils or narcissus that are commonly used for winter indoor forcing because they need no chilling period to successfully bloom.

They are perennials in zone 8 but annuals in colder climates such as our zone 7. I confess that when I take them out of the forcing bowls each winter, I do plant them in the garden. If the winter is not too harsh, they bloom at least one more year.

Ziva has become popular because this variety has less scent than the others and many people think the scent is too strong.

They bloom 6-weeks after planting so if you want them for Christmas, it's time to start.
These came from a big box store and are already sprouting which is not necessarily desirable.
Do not remove the outer skins but if they fall off while you are working with the bulbs it's OK. 
You'll need bowls, vases or pots without holes. Add 2-inches of sand, soil or stones. I've always used gravel and stones.
If you google containers of forced daffodilsyou will see coffee cups, boots and all manner of containers being used.
Arrange the bulbs on top of the gravel. To get them to stand up, you'll have to tuck individual stones under each bulb. The top of the bulb should stick out of the stones.

After the bulbs are settled in you can top the bowl with decorative stones, marbles, or other cute stuff.

Add water. This is important: Do not let the water go above the bottom of the bulbs.

Next, put the container into a 50 to 60 degree location where the light is low to give the bulbs a couple of weeks to establish roots.
If you put them into the light immediatly they will be weak and the stems will fall over. Maintain the water level at the base of the bulb.
When the roots are established, move the container into 70 degrees and bright light.

It is popular to add a teaspoon vodka to the water after the roots emerge though the daffodil society says that is the worst gardening advice ever given.

Your bulbs will not bloom if they are too cold or too dry so add bottom heat if your house is below 70-degrees F.

13 November 2011

Three Rivers and Three Forks Trail

Today I went on a trek with Scott Robinson, Muskogee Port Authority Director, to see places along the Three Rivers where the extension of the current Three Forks Trail would be extended.

By the way, if you are interested in walking/hiking trails, here's a website to check out -
ArklahomaHiker.org "Arkansas and Oklahoma Hiking Trails"

Here are a few photos from places that will eventually be opened up to walkers, hikers and mountain bikes. The larger, long-term plan is to connect the Three Forks Trail with the Jean-pierre Choteau trail that goes from Ft. Gibson's Clinkenbeard Park to Lock 17 on the waterway.

This snapshot of a map of the area shows the three rivers area with the Port of Muskogee on the left.

Here's one of the beautiful places along the rivers. Right now it is accessible - notice the fishermen on the other side. Usually it can be walked over but the recent rains have filled the "road" so it's too deep to go across.

 There are several places along the way that will need walkways put into place because there are so many creeks and rivers.
Even where there is private ownership of the land,
the Corps of Engineers owns land adjacent
to the waterway.

This is another spot that will be visible from the trail eventually.

This is an island that the convergence of the rivers created. Gorgeous.

This is the bridge behind the Ft. Gibson historic fort that you cross to get to Clinkenbeard Park to the Jean-pierre Choteau trailhead. We only walked an hour on that trail but I'll definitely be back to that one!

More information about the J-p Choteau trail is at

10 November 2011

Three Forks Harbor Trail

The new primitive trail at Muskogee’s Three Forks Harbor has a lot to offer nature lovers. The winding dirt and sand paths take hikers through Oklahoma native trees and wild flowers that are alive with butterflies and skippers. Plus, there are phenomenal bird watching opportunities.

A primitive trail is one that is unpaved and maintained only enough to keep it open. There are holes, rocks, and a few tree trunks in the path to walk around, so sturdy shoes or a mountain bike are required.

Sometimes called the Port-to-Fort Trail, it is opened up 2-miles so far, and will be 4.5 miles long by next summer. When complete, it will end at the historic Ft. Gibson landing where steamboats loaded and unloaded until the railroads replaced them.

Lewis McLemore, Port of Muskogee operations manager, said that the idea for the trail came out of 1999 planning sessions. Then, in 2003 the trail’s GPS coordinates were established and a 50-year Corps of Engineers lease was signed. A rough trail was cleared in 2006. 

This year, Joel Everett, special events coordinator for Muskogee Parks and Recreation Dept., and members of the Muskogee Running Club volunteered to re-clear and widen the overgrown trail. Mark Ging, Steve Mashburn, Zach Hill, Darin Parks and Everett worked with McLemore and his staff to clean up the trail from the harbor to the Grand and Arkansas Rivers.

McLemore said, “The Port has spent thousands, fishing groups have pitched in, parks department employees and running club members have all contributed. Together, we have removed many truckloads of trash and debris off the trail.”

Recently Sadler students held a Halloween running event and other events are planned.

“Next spring there will be a modified iron man race,” said McLemore. “The three parts include swimming the harbor, running the trail and canoeing back to the harbor.”

The trail is open for walking, running, hiking, fishing and mountain biking. Motorized vehicles such as 4-wheelers and jeeps are not permitted.

Individuals and groups of volunteers are needed to continue the trail’s development.

“You can’t get trucks in there but if I had volunteers, it could be cleaned out more,” McLemore said. “We would get a dumpster for the trash and take some dirt in to do fill work.”

Besides hiking and fishing, the entire area is ideal for bird watching.

Avid birder, Jeri McMahon said, “At this time of year you could see eight Sparrow species, plus Dark-eyed Juncos. They all arrived in OK the last couple of weeks. Also look for Bald Eagles, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Flickers, and Woodpeckers. The river itself might produce Ring-billed Gulls or Double-crested Cormorants.”

In places, the sand and gravel that have been dredged out of the rivers make up part the trail. The untamed nature of the area means that wildlife such as lizards, deer and raccoons live in the surrounding woods.

McLemore said, “During the Civil War there were no trees at all in that area so the trees are less than a hundred years old. Now hikers will see oak, elm, cottonwood, willows and massive sycamores that three men could not reach around.”

The Tulsa Running Club, Muskogee Running Club and Cherokee Nation’s Wings use the trail and work on it.

“The activities at Three Forks Harbor are quality of life improvements for Muskogee area residents,” McLemore said

If you would like to hold an event, organize or participate in volunteering, or talk about the potential of the Three Forks Harbor Trail, call Lewis McLemore at 918-869-8347 or Joel Everett at 918-684-6302 Ext 28.

Three Forks Harbor - link to Directions and more information

07 November 2011

More scenes from Lauritzen Gardens - Omaha NE

It took my breath away to be strolling along and suddenly see the Japanese Garden.
Sunpu Castle Gate with the Mt. Fuji replica in the distance.

The Song of the Lark Meadow is a gift to the hundreds of insects and birds that visit.

Song of the Lark Meadow

There are many restful places to stop and soak in the beauty.

05 November 2011

Scenes from Omaha

A portion of Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha is named for the Union Pacific Chairman and CEO John c. Kenefick. The area is beautifully landscaped.. There is no charge to visit this incredible display.

Kenefick Park is home to Centennial No. 6900 and Big Boy No. 4023. Largest, most powerful diesel-electric and steam engines ever built.

The Lauritzen Gardens landscape is dotted with significant art pieces.
Everywhere you walk you will wonder if you are in an outdoor art museum.

 This bronze is in the Founder's Garden, a shade garden filled with 50 varieties of hostas and ferns.
Doe-icelli's Birth of Venus by artist Jaqueline Eihausen