30 August 2011

Phytolacca americana L. – American Pokeweed

OK First, click on this link and listen to the ode written about a native weed.
The birds plant it and I pull it up when I see it. If it isn't destroyed it will put down a root that grows to the center of the earth. Some gardeners love poke weed, grow it or at least leave it in place where the birds planted it. It's just too prolific for my taste.

Poke weed has many names: pokebush, polk salad (as in the song above), inkberry, etc. Benjamin Franklin used the juice of mature berries as ink for a quill pen and he called it Inkweed. Early American colonists used the crushed berries as a purple dye. Plus, they fermented the juice and used it to spike cheap wine. (See Wildflowers of the Escambia - fabulous site - http://wildflowers.jdcc.edu)

Locals like to harvest the young leaves in the spring, then boil them in two or three changes of water to remove the poisonous phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin. The boiled leaves are called poke salad.

The birds, who love to eat the seeds and replant them, are not affected by the poison. In their digestive process, the seeds' hard covering is not broken down to release the toxin. So, the birds deposit the seeds all over the place, fertilized and ready to grow.



USDA Plants Profile

If you decide to have poke plants around for the birds, be sure to keep children away from the plants.

They are attracted to the gorgeous, mature berries.




29 August 2011

Old favorites - Perennial Phlox and Obedient Plant

Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead, Physostegia virginiana is the flowering spikes on the right in the photo and
Phlox paniculata Garden phlox, Perennial phlox is on the left.
O’Fallon Perennial Walk at the Denver Botanic Gardens
If you have grown Obedient Plant, you'll call it disobedient plant in great-weather years. In summers that are bad for gardening and gardeners (like this one) it comes up and blooms a bit but not as wonderfully as it will next year. Because if there is anything that keeps gardeners going, it is hope and trust about next year's gardening seasons.

Perennial Phlox, of course is a backbone of any large garden. It is reliable, spreads and blooms its head off, bringing butterflies and other pollinators by the dozens.

While we were gone on vacation, ours turned brown to the ground but I know that pruning them this winter will ensure their success again next year.

By the way, researchers say that the least disease prone Phlox varieties are: David, Windsor, Alpha, Blue Boy, Prime Minister, Orange Perfection, Starfire, H.B. May, Fairest One, Bright Eyes, Dorffrendl, Dodo Hanbury Forbes, Eva Cullum, Franz Schubert and Fairy's Petticoat.


And, the most disease prone are: Sternhimmel, Adonis, Mt. Fuji, White Admiral, Mrs. R. P. Struthers, Pinafore, New Bird, Dresden China and Anja.

Most of us have perennials that look dead or close to it. Resist the temptation to prune right now though.

25 August 2011

Reconsider Buxus, Box, Boxwood

The string of 117-degree days and drought took its toll on gardeners and gardens alike.

Driving around, you notice dead and dying shrubs that could not withstand the heat even if they were watered.

Whether you lost young plants with shallow roots or older shrubs that were vulnerable, removing them will provide an opportunity to choose something new.

Full shrubs make beautiful hedges and privacy barriers as well as provide a background for fountains, pots and statuary. Fall is the ideal time to plant new shrubs since they grow their roots in the cold months.

Hedges emphasize and decorate entrances, can be used to prevent people from cutting across the lawn, will hide an air conditioner and can outline a driveway. Choosing a slow-growing, low maintenance shrub such as boxwood means minimal maintenance.



In the family of boxwood, box or Buxus there are 110 sizes, shapes, leaf forms and colors to choose from. Plus the alkaloids in Buxus keep deer away. The varieties can be mixed to form green walls, garden rooms, and borders.

Although Queen Anne thought boxwood was awful, the romantics often wrote about boxwood hedges – their bitter fragrance and their ability to bring back memories (http://tinyurl.com/3dh77yt). Pliny even featured them in his gardens in Tuscany.

The online Greenleaf Nursery Catalog is a good resource for considering which might work for the spaces you have. The catalog is available to the public at http://greenleafcatalog.us.

And, the American Boxwood Society (www.boxwoodsociety.org) has information about propagation, watering and fertilizing. Boxwoods have shallow roots. Avoid cultivating around them and mulch them in the winter for best results.

American Boxwoods are called Buxus sempervirens and English Boxwoods are called Buxus sempervirens Suffruticosa.

 


Here are a few of the more than 100 boxwood choices:
• Small Leaf Boxwood, Buxus microphylla Compacta grows 8 inches tall and wide in 15 years. Use as an edging or accent for small gardens or bonsai.
• Dwarf English Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa, is a good choice for a pathway. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Since it needs weekly water, the lawn sprinklers will keep it healthy. Resist clipping and it will grow into little clouds. Leaf miner resistant.
• Vardar Valley, Buxus sempervirens grows into a flat-topped mound 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide with blue-green leaves.

 Japanese Box, Buxus microphylla var. japonica, grows 3 to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, making it an ideal privacy hedge. The leaves are one-half to one inch long. Drought and nematode resistant.
• Justin Brouwers Boxwood, Buxus Sinica var. Insularis, grows 2.5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide in a loose form. It is supposed to be a hardy substitute for English-Suffruiticosa. This Korean variety forms a cone shape but can get frost damage.
Green Mountain, Buxus microphylla var. koreana X Buxus sempervirens, Green Mountain grows to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, making it a good choice for hedges. Fragrant flowers in the spring.

• Buxus sempervirens Elegantissima, grows 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The green-white variegated leaves have white margins.

• Narrow Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens Graham Blandy, is known for growing 9 feet tall and 18 inches wide. Not successful in heavy clay.
• Weeping Golden Boxwood, Buxus Sempervirens Aurea Pendula, grows 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide with variegated gold and green leaves.
• Michael Dirr recommends Buxus harlandii, Harland Boxwood. The dark green leaves are 2 inches long. Leaves emerge early enough that late spring frost can nip the leaves, so a southern wall would be a good location. Grows up to 6 feet tall and wide. Harlandii is called Winter Gem by some nurseries.

Boxwoods are tough but can be stressed by shearing, over-watering and over-fertilizing. Give them compost, a little fertilizer and weekly water while until they become established.

23 August 2011

Denver Botanic Gardens in late August

The daytime highs are in the upper 90s in the Denver area. At night, of course they get a sweet cool down but walking anywhere when it's above 80 degrees is less comfortable for us and then add the 6,000 feet change in altitude and you have the formula for a 1.5 hour tour instead of an all day experience.

Here are a few shots from that beautiful place, the Denver Botanic Gardens.

 The entrance is across from the free-parking garage.
 The 23 acres are dotted with theme gardens to wander.

Many of the plants in flower were the same as we grow in zone 7 Oklahoma but about a third are species that can't take the amount of moisture and humidity we have.


While some flowers were fading from the heat and the late-August season, the beauty of the gardens is remarkable.

We noticed how large the plants were and the number of flowers they had in a summer like this one. Other gardeners we met wondered what they use to fertilize!



Several basil varieties were in bloom in the herb garden along with the oregano and mints.

The sunflowers are gigantic at this time of year and they were interplanted with squash that was going to town, protecting the ground with vines.

The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory is quite a sight even from across the park. It is filled with tropical and subtropical plants.

The internationally renowned Rock Alpine Garden has 2300 plant species plus a glass house.


This was our first visit but we've already started planning our next one in spring when cooler temps allow a longer walk.

20 August 2011

High Impact Low Carbon Gardening by Alice Bowe

Timber Press published this book for new gardeners who have the desire
 to bring their green consciousness into their gardening practices.
The author, garden designer Alice Bowe, writes a garden column for The Times in the UK, writes for magazines and appears on British tv's Gardener's World. Her website has a bunch of intriguing links that I'll want to read - Check it out here

Chapter titles from the book reveal how complete and thorough it is
Improving your garden's ecological credentials
Managing essential resources: Water and compost
Picking materials for paths and paving
Covering ground with decks and lawns
Choosing materials for boundaries and structures
Basic principles of sustainable plant design
Preparing soil and planting
Selecting plants for challenging conditions
Substituting new alternatives for classic favorites
Gardening with wildlife in mind
Growing your own food and cut flowers
Maintaining the greener garden
Incorporating advanced features and ideas

Topics include:
Attract beneficial insects and pest predators

Choosing plants for windy sites
Make a green roof
Control slugs, weeds, with eco-friendly gardening with deer and other animals
Earth friendly soil amendments
Propagation - more plants from seeds, divisions, and cuttings
Eco lawn care
What your weeds are telling you about your ground
Sustainable mulching
Rain barrels
Composting
Water features

There are lots and lots of illustrations, sketches and photos to illustrate projects and ideas. 264 page paperback

Complaints - The book is England centric and some of the advice is geared to Bowe's climate. And, what is that climate? If I had one wish about all gardening books, even excellent ones, it would be that the author or publisher should be required to provide the planting zone about which it is written.

With that said, if you are looking for ways to become more green in your approach to gardening, this is a good place to start.

The Power of Blue

Back in the 1980s a study was published saying something about why blue walls in home kitchens help people lose weight. So we painted our kitchen with a tint of blue. It was certainly a pretty color for a space where we spent so much time but it did not seem to help us with our weight.

Fast food restaurants love orange and yellow because it makes people eat faster. Blue is supposed to help diners calm down, eat more slowly, and feel full with smaller portions. A good tip for those restaurants that serve quarter-cup size servings of perfectly prepared dishes.

In college we studied color theory - the impact of color on mental health, etc. Sir Charles Lemieiux and Dr. Max Luscher were two names we knew back in the day. Now, there is information about how to make people buy from your website using specific colors.

How is this related to horticulture?
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) labs in Peoria, Ill., scientists are looking into using the healthy chemicals that turn flowers and food blue to reduce the number of caterpillars that eat food crops in the field.

The chemicals are anthocyanins, "plant pigments that give blueberries, plums, grapes and flowers such as petunias their blue and purple color".  Bascially, the earworm caterpillars were fed the blue part of the petunia flowrs and gained less weight. Cabbage looper caterpillars died from eating those petunia bits.


Here's a link to the entire article about Seeking Saponins and Other Compounds To Fortify Crops on the USDA site.
Blue flower projects How-To at Design Sponge












Blue flowers are more common in England's weather than in the tropics if you think about it.

Hydrangeas, pansies, hostas, vinca - blue, cool, restful, shade. Orange and reds - hot colors, energizing, can take the rays of the sun for hours.

So it makes a person think. Honestly, I think I'll keep my wall colors the lovely off-white they are now and rely on the views out the windows to reflect my love for all the colors in my garden. Perhaps plant more blue to be seen from the kitchen views?

17 August 2011

Lycoris squamigera, Amaryllis belladona, Naked Ladies, Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily, Hardy or Summer Amaryllis

The appearance of Naked Ladies is a bright spot in the garden at this time of year.


Two separate plants are sold as Naked Ladies: Lycoris squamigera and Amaryllis belladonna.

They are both great pass-along plants though most gardeners and plant retailers do not know the difference between them.

You will soon be able to discover which one of these plant cousins you have in the garden because Lycoris squamigera has leaves only in the spring and Amaryllis belladonna makes leaves immediately after flowering.

To further confuse the bulb buying public, these two plants share common names including: Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily, and Hardy or Summer Amaryllis.


Though they are cousins, Amaryllis Belladonna is from Africa and Lycoris squamigera is from China. Amaryllis Belladonna will only survive in southern climates, USDA zones 7-9. Lycoris will do well in USDA zones 6 to 8 and in zones 4-5 with mulch. Amaryllis Belladonna is toxic to deer and rodents; Lycoris is not.

The plant genus Lycoris, which includes Red Spider Lilies (Lycoris Radiata), was named for the Roman actress and her slave lover who were involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar. So the name Naked Lady could refer to more than the bare stems emerging leafless from the ground and producing scented pink to lavender flowers.

Lycoris bulbs make offsets or small new bulbs around the base of the mother bulb, forming clumps that should be divided and transplanted when they are crowded.

After Amaryllis Belladonna flowers die, the leaves appear and die again in the winter. Then, in the spring they reappear to grow a significant number of lily-like leaves to store food for the next summer’s flowers. This type of growth is called hysteranthy.

Naked Ladies are blooming in Rome, Italy now, too. Henry Shejbal posted Amaryllis Belladonna photos online at http://tinyurl.com/3e79wrh.

Dr. Shejbal, who works with Floriana Bulbose, said the “name comes from the Italian bella donna which means beautiful woman. The name was the object of a lot of controversy between botanists because of an error made by Linnaeus in 1753, who mixed up the Amaryllis from South Africa, known in Italy and Europe for centuries, with the amaryllids from the New World, that were classified as Hippeastrum in the early 19th century. But they are still known to many in the florist and nursery trades as Amaryllis.”

If you want to know precisely which you have, Jason Delaney, North Gardens Supervisor and Bulb Collections Specialist, at the Missouri Botanical Garden described the difference in an email.

“Amaryllis belladonna is not hardy north of the deep south and the west coast areas, so bulbs grown in the north would be Lycoris. Well grown Lycoris bulbs are often the size of a large apple, somewhat ovoid in shape with long, finger-like necks. They have flaky, papery tunics of deep coffee-to-greyish-brown. If you cut into a bulb, they are very succulent and milky white inside, and they almost always have a set of greenish leaves tucked in the middle, for the following growing season.

Amaryllis belladonna bulbs are mango-sized, with very short and reduced or blunt necks with tunics of kraft-paper brown or paler with darker brown corduroy-like lines; if you try to pull the tunics apart, the natural latex in the tunic walls create hundreds of hair-like, stringy fibers  or web-like material. It is very distinct and a terrific natural protection mechanism for the bulb when it grows in the wild.”

When shopping for Naked Lady bulbs, pay attention to hardiness zones and look at the plant photo. You will not necessarily get the correct plant by name. The flowering tropical house plants we know as Amaryllis are actually Hipeastrums.

Psoralea is Scurf Pea, Wild Alfalfa, Slimleaf Scurfpea, Prairie Turnip

In the course of reading "Where the Sky Began" I'm looking up dozens of tallgrass prairie plants on Google Advanced Image Search to see what they look like and whether or not they grow in NE OK.

Also called Wild Alfalfa, Scurf Pea, Slimleaf Scurfpea and Prairie Turnip,they are legumes that grow woodland and woodland edges. They are probably an imported pea family member with summertime alfalfa-like blooms on spikes.

Silverleaf Psoralea

Late summer the stems break and the plant blows - it is related to tumbleweed. We know that tumbleweed is not native to the U.S. either.

 Plains Indians made tea from the roots and burned the plant as a mosquito repellent. And, evidently Psoralea is medicinally important in many cultures.

World Wide Science dot org has a gateway to Oklahoma tallgrass prairie articles and information (here) but nothing on this specific plant.

Oklahoma Panhandle State University has a cool site with wildflower photos - full plant, leaves, flowers, etc. Here's their link to Psoralea.

Psoralea mature fruit - photo from OK Panhandle State University
Take a look at these maps - one variety grows all over Italy, too.

Annie's Annuals calls Psoralea pinnata  Kool Aid Bush - this one is a zone 9 plant.
And, Prairie Moon has a map of the native range of many of its seeds/plants.
Prairie Moon - native range for Psoralea esculenta
Internet research reveals that quite a bit of university research is being done on the genus around the world.

Have you ever seen this growing? Have you tried to grow it in a wildlife patch? I'm thinking of buying some seeds to try in the back 40 - well I call it the back 40 - it's really just an acre.

16 August 2011

Mediterranean Garden Society

Whether or not you live in a Mediterranean gardening zone, chances are that you already grow or are interested in growing typical plants of the area.

Oregon State University (here)
"You don't need to be Spanish, Italian or Greek to enjoy the beauty of Mediterranean gardening. Other parts of the world that also have mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers can take lessons from the many lovely gardens in this Old World region and its centuries, even millennia, of experience with these conditions. These gardens use plants that are able to store the moisture they need in the winter and survive – even thrive – through the summer without irrigation."

"Mediterranean gardening is different from xeriscaping, although they are both waterwise approaches. Xeriscaping is best suited for desert climates with only a few inches of total precipitation for the year. By contrast, Mediterranean gardens require wet winters when plants can store up moisture to see them through the summer. What Mediterranean gardening and xeriscaping have in common is to reduce or eliminate artificial watering once plants are established."


There is a brand new online conversation for those interested
Mediterranean Garden Society Forum Check it out here.

The topics under perennials include: Salvia, Oenethera, Dianthus
Salvia Elegans or Pineapple Sage from Plant of the Week


And, if you are in the mood to look at suppliers for these plants, here's a link to that conversation.
Plant suppliers. includes U.S., U.K., France, Italy, etc.

Want to explore a little more? Here's a blog from the U.K. called My Climate Change Garden in which the author talks about the hot weather zone plants doing well in England.

15 August 2011

Amaryllis belladonna, Lycoris squamigera, Surprise Lilies, Naked Ladies, Resurrection Lilies, in the late summer garden

In August in USDA zone 7, the African native, Amaryllis belladonna is indeed a surprise.
An equally beautiful surprise lily for the north is the Resurrection Lily, Lycoris squamigera from Japan or China
It is cold hardy to zone 5.

We are especially grateful for their lovely pink blossoms of Surprise Lilies this year and would have understood if they skipped blooming with the unbelievable heat and drought. But, here they are reliable and beautiful.

There is a 1943 article by Elizabeth Lawrence online here. She discusses the bulbs she and her mother were experimenting with in their N.C. gardens.

So if you decide you want pink beauties in your late summer garden, be sure to get the right one: Lycoris for north of zone 7 and Amaryllis for zone 7 and above.

14 August 2011

Digger Wasps are not dangerous to humans and how to get rid of them

Image from Tom Murray's database online. Go to his site to see photos of wasps that may be apperaing in your garden.
Before you buy boxes, bags and bottles of insect spray, learn more about digger wasps making nests in your yard.


"In most situations it is best not to eliminate ground-nesting bees and wasps since they are valuable in agricultural production by either pollinating many different plants or serving as useful predators in controlling harmful pests. However, when nests are located in areas such as yards, gardens, flower beds or playgrounds, control may be justified to prevent the chance of being stung."

Great Golden Digger Wasp from Bug Guide dot net - another great identification site.


Digger or Threadwaisted Wasps
A digger wasp.
A digger wasp.
Both the blue digger and golden digger wasp are beneficial, appearing in the morning and flying over the lawn all day, then leaving in early evening. Digger wasps are solitary wasps with each female working alone to produce her offspring instead of having the help of several workers as in social chambers or cells. These chambers are provisioned with food for the offspring. After the eggs are laid in or on the "provision," the offspring are on their own to live and grow to adults that emerge the following summer.

The blue digger about 3/4-inch long is shiny metallic blue on both the wings and body. This slender wasp provisions its nests with grasshoppers and crickets. Also, the inch-long golden digger wasp with shiny gold markings on the face and abdomen uses grasshoppers and crickets as stored food for their offspring. Often, wasps can be seen flying about a foot or less above the ground. Others may be perched on shrubs and trees.

Due to their large size, they are assumed to be extremely dangerous. Actually, they are not aggressive but curious and investigate persons and pets near their burrows. Stings are quite rare. One can walk safely through them as they hover over the lawn.

Control

If ground-nesting bees and wasps can be ignored and their tunnels tolerated, do so since they are valuable in agricultural production and helpful by controlling pests in nature. If nests are in locations undesirable and stinging is a great possibility, control is justified. During the day, carefully watch where the nest entrances are located. After dark, tunnels and the surrounding area can be treated with dusts of carbaryl (Sevin), bendiocarb (Ficam D) or diazinon when the nest is in the ground. Use pyrethrins, permethrin, resmethrin or propoxur (Baygon) when the nest is in the side of a building. Other lawn and garden insecticide sprays can also be used, but dusts have the advantage of not soaking into the soil. Those who are allergic to bee stings, should contact a licensed, professional pest control operator to perform the control job. Always read the label and follow directions and safety precautions.
Cicada Killer Wasp from Iowa State Univsersity Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic
From Iowa State Univ.
"At least 3 different species of wasps construct nests in the ground in Iowa. These "digger wasps" include the cicada killer wasp, the largest wasp found in Iowa. Cicada killer wasps may be up to 2 inches long. They are black with yellow markings on the thorax and abdomen and they have rusty colored wings. The great golden digger wasp is slightly smaller. The abdomen is reddish-orange except at the tip which is black. A third species is 1 inch long and completely black with iridescent blue wings."

and

"Wasps are generally beneficial and a nest in an out of the way location where it is not likely to be disturbed should be left alone. If, however, a nest is located where problems could arise, such as under a deck or near an often used door, removal is justified. Ground nests of cicada killers and other digger wasps can be destroyed by placing an outdoor use insecticide dust containing carbaryl in and around the nest entrance during the night. The dust particles will adhere to the wasps as they come and go from the nest. Cover the nest opening with a shovelful of soil after all activity has stopped."

Click on this link to see one really close up at North American Insects and Spiders - another great site to know about.

So, try to keep your cool and let these harmless but scary looking neighbors live in your garden.

13 August 2011

Topricin works for me

I'm sure the Topricin people think I've forgotten them but really, I'm slow to recommend products.

The rep, Renee Hewitt, generously sent me a box of samples of their products in May. I distributed them to all my fellow yoga students, everyone in Muskogee Garden Club and others I thought could benefit from the creams.

Of course I don't have any feedback from them but went on to try the products myself.

Like most of you, I do a lot every day and much of it is physical and other than yoga, my body gets little slow down time.

I've used the Foot Therapy Cream and the Pain Relief and Healing Cream several times. Last week I put it to the test when I hurt like crazy. All I did was apply it before bed. I took no pain relieving pills. In the morning the pain was gone. Completely.

Your results may/will vary. But if you have gardener pain in hands and feet, I can tell you that it works for me.

The literature recommends Topricin for these conditions: Arthritis, carpal tunnel, joint pain, fibromyalgia, inflamation, muscle pain, headache, neuropathy, repetitive motion aches, etc.

The creams are non-chemical homeopathic formulations. Here's a summary from a review online

Topricin does not contain petroleum, mineral oil, lanolin, menthol, capsaicin, fragrances, or irritating chemicals. The cream is odorless, non-greasy, and will not stain your clothing. Topricin's hypoallergenic base is formulated for maximum absorption of its eleven medicines:


Arnica Montana For injuries and bruising to the muscles and joints. Arnica is considered especially useful for arthritis, joint injuries, and bruising (6X)
Rhus Tox For sprains, arthritic pain, and backaches (6X)
Ruta Graveolens For relief from injuries to the bone or bone covering; often used to relieve trauma to the knee, shin, elbow and cheekbone (6X)
Lachesis Muta For relief from sciatica, arthritis, lower back pain and carpal tunnel (8X)
Belladonna Relief of pain, spasm & inflammation to muscle tissue (6X)
Echinacea Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (6X)
Crotalus For improving localized circulation, and considered effective for bruises and contusions, and for accelerating repair to damaged nerves, joints, and muscles (8X)
Aesculus For chronic pain, especially in the legs & varicose veins. (6X)
Heloderma For relief from burning sensation in the hands or feet. (8X)
Naja Relieves inflammation and pain in nerve tissue in the treatment of Carpal Tunnel and neuropathy (8X)
Graphites For relieving symptoms of skin conditions (6X)

I've used Arnica for years and have recommended it to others for bruising, injuries, aches and pains. Now I'll also look for Topricin products to keep in my toolkit for pain relief.

11 August 2011

Boltonia is Doll's Daisy, False Aster, False Chamomile, Clasping Doll's Daisy, Decurrent False Aster, Winged False Aster, Dwarf Bolton's Aster, Thousand Flowers, Snowbank, Nana, Jim Crocket, Pink Beauty, Starflower

Boltonia is a delightful flowering plant for casual garden settings. It can take some shade, needs minimal water, and blooms late summer to fall, shaking off humid nights like the native it is.

There are 8 species of this cold hardy perennial that can be started from seed. The seeds come up best if planted when temperatures are above 60, so they can be started indoors any time between fall and mid-February. The seedlings, raised over the winter, are planted out in the garden after frosts end.

All the varieties are easy to grow since they are from North America. The leaves and flowers are small on erect branches.  The plants will form clumps that have to be divided every 2 or 3 years to keep them growing. If they are not divided, they can die out.

Boltonias make good cut flowers and attract butterflies to the garden. Many Boltonia species are endangered and need to be planted by more gardeners.
Boltonia asteroides var. latisquama Nana
 
Boltonia asteroids, sometimes called False Aster or White Doll’s Daisy, is native to most of the U.S. White Doll’s Daisy thrives in average to moist ground in sun or light shade. However, its stems can become floppy if it is planted in a spot that is too shady. Has masses of white single daisy-like flowers.
Claspingleaf Doll’s Daisy, Boltonia asteroides var. decurrens is also called Decurrent False Aster and Winged False Aster. This one grows 5 to 7 feet tall, and blooms with abundant 1-inch wide, white to purplish, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. The plants have prominent decurrent foliage. This species blooms best in soil that holds moisture, and can even thrive along river banks.

Boltonia latisquama, or False Aster, is a great plant for a meadow garden. It is an Oklahoma native that can grow up to 6-feet tall. The white flowers make a show in Aug and Sept. False Aster, Boltonia asteroides recognita, is another native. The nectar and pollen attract pollinators including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, moths and beetles.

Boltonia asteroides var. latisquama Nana, grows to only 2-feet tall. You will find it listed as Dwarf Bolton’s Aster, Thousand Flowers, and False Chamomile.
A Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit, Boltonia asteroides var. latisquama Snowbank, is an easy-to grow white flowering species that tolerates dry soil and full sun. Snowbank spreads by rhizomes and is divided to make more clumps. Harvested seeds will not necessarily grow identically.

Boltonia Jim Crockett is a compact form that does not need to be staked if it is grown in full sun and is not over-fertilized. It has lavender flowers with yellow centers on 2-foot tall plants.
Boltonia asteriodes var. latisquama Pink Beauty, also called Starflower, has pink flowers with yellow centers. The 4-foot tall stems may have to be staked. Also called Bolton’s Aster, this variety has a long blooming season.

You Tube has several videos in which people show the insect's ability to entertain and amuse.
 I'm not amused by their buzzing presence in our gardens.

How to grow Boltonia asteroids – Sow seeds on the surface of soil. Seeds germinate in less than 2-weeks if kept at 68-degrees.

How to grow Boltonia latisquamia – Surface sow at 68-degrees. If they do not come up in 3-weeks, move them to the refrigerator for a few weeks and bring into a warm room.
Boltonia plants are hardy from zones 4 to 8. They prefer average soil that is not over-fertilized. They grow from 2 to 4 feet wide clumps so plant them about 2 feet apart. Deer resistant.
Sources
Bowood Farms www.bowoodfarms.com has Pink Beauty plants.
Easy Wildflowers.com www.easywildflowers.com sells seeds.
Hardy Plants www.hardyplants.com has Claspingleaf Doll’s Daisy seeds.
Prairie Moon www.prairiemoon.com has False Aster seeds.
Spence Restoration Nursery has Boltonia seeds and plants www.spencenursery.com

The Boltonia asteroides var. latisquama Nana in my garden came from my generous friend Russell Studebaker, world famous horticulturist and garden writer for the Tulsa World.

 


08 August 2011

Mountain Mint is Agastache cana

Steve Owens at Bustani Plant Farm offered some trial plants to our friend Russell Studebaker.

Russell shared a few of the doubles with us. One of them was this gorgeous Mountain Mint that Steve identified for me as Agastache cana Bolero.

 Agastache varieties are native all over the U.S. and this one is not native to Oklahoma, of course.

Oklahoma's native Agastache is Agastache nepetoides yellow giant hyssop - a far cry from this beauty.

Swallowtail Gardens has the seeds of this Agastache and several others. If you go to their page, also look at the Apache Sunset. I saw that one at the Xeriscape Garden in Colorado Springs last year and it was stunning.

Despite the near total destruction of our gardens because of the drought and heat I'm planning for next year's garden. How about you?

07 August 2011

Drought and Record Breaking Heat 2011

The fact that our average daily temperature for the year has risen 7 degrees to 89 does not reflect the reality of the 117 F daily record breaking heat with the record breaking night time lows of 85 F.
In addition we are are at least 10-inches below normal rainfall for the year.

Friends who live in the country report baby birds, rabbits and other animals who are succumbing to the heat and lack of food and water.

This sad view of one flower bed usually filled with nectar for butterflies is but one example of the consequences.
The Crocosmia tried to bloom but the tiny buds dried up in the scorching sun.
This Germander was watered last night and this morning it already in heat stress.
This Japanese Maple is in a flower bed that not only is watered regularly but has the air conditioning drip pipe nearby. Plants simply cannot keep up.
Here's another example. The Paw Paw tree is in the herb garden which is deep watered twice a week.

Even the Perilla can't plump up with the sprinklers showering its leaves.

We love our spicebush butterflies and deep water the Spicebush for their sake. Most butterflies are avoiding our part of the world this year but we have had a few babies born.

Climate Central dot org has the grim prediction that this will continue for months and will happen quite a bit more often in the future.