Showing posts from February, 2012

Size Matters according to Chris McLaughlin author of Small-Space Gardening

Chris McLaughlin is the author of three books for idiots: "Heirloom Vegetables", "Composting" and the newest addition, "Small-Space Gardening". 
According to her website, A Suburban Farmer, McLaughlin lives in  northern California on 5- acres. This newest book covers all the topics you need to know/understand to succeed in small space gardening.
Some of the reasons size matters: The space fills up quickly, small gardens can be re-invented in a weekend, vegetables are grown in containers or raised beds, and it is easy to do the work required to keep it up. New gardeners will appreciate McLaughlin’s approach. Defined for them: What is shade/sun in your garden and how to measure it so you can select the correct plants; microclimates and how they effect your garden; cold frames and hoops to extend the seasons; greenhouses; and, other basics. The author suggests that we think of a small space garden as being like a room to decorate. The floor consists of paths, g…

Geranium Pratense Striatum is Meadow Cranesbill, Mourning Widow, Crowfoot Cranesbill, Bassinets, Loving Andrews, Grace of God, etc.

In searching seed listings for something blue for the part-shade flower beds, I ran across Geranium pratense and ordered seeds of splish splash. They are native from Ireland to Japan and may or may not appreciate our zone 7 summer.

This blue beauty has so many names! Crowfoot Cranesbill, Bassinets, Loving Andrews, Grace of God, Mourning Widow and more. The seed fruit that forms after the flowers fade is shaped like a beak, leading to the common name Cranesbill.

According to the geranium website, Geranium Care, The Grace of God name comes from that clear blue flower color often associated with the Virgin Mary's veil. And, ‘Swearing a blue streak’, means to take God’s name in vain and is a common way of ‘policing up’, a curse word phrase."

In addition to being a pretty, 1.5 foot tall garden plant, the flowers are used as blue dye.

In our garden I hope they live up to their promise of providing nectar for bees.

First Nature in Wales has lovely photos of Meadow Cranesbill in the wil…

New beauties from Blooms of Bressingham

It's time for garden and plant lovers to become restless. In our part of the world, the grass/weeds/lawn are becoming green, the daffodils are blooming and some of the trees have buds.

So, we are impatient for real spring, when the threat of frost, freeze, ice and cold wind have passed.

Entertain yourself for a few minutes with these new selections from Blooms of Bressingham - they should show up in garden centers this spring.

Verbena 'Seabrook's Lavender' sprouts large flowers. A low-growing, spreading plant, its blooms put on a show from June until late September. Height is 3 inches, spread is 22 inches. A tender perennial discovered by UK gardening journalist and broadcaster Peter Seabrook in his garden.USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to10; AHS Heat Zones 12 to 1.

Coreopsis 'Sweet Marmalade' - I've written about this beauty before. The flowers open deep orange, then soften to apricot yellow. Flowers bloom June through September in full sun. A sport of Coreopsis &…

Garden writer and humorist Felder Rushing Speaking in Tulsa and Oklahoma City this weekend

Felder Rushing’s gardening talks are always delightful. Despite being in the U.S. Navy, and having a horticulturist position with U.S.D.A., in his talks he tells the audience to ignore the rules.

Now Rushing lives in England half the year and travels the U.S. doing speaking engagements the other half of the year. He has written 16 successful gardening books filled with his opinions about gardens, plants, bird feeding, water gardening and garden art. 
“Gestalt Gardener”, his call-in radio show, has been on air for 30-years. You can listen to several shows at and podcasts are available for download.
“Garden writers, experts, and books make gardening sound complicated,” said Rushing in a telephone interview. “OK has had some horrible weather – heat, blizzard, ice – and yet there are tough plants doing perfectly well at cemeteries and old home sites. Ride around. You’ll see 150 to 200 plants doing fine. Plant those in your yard.”
This weekend, Rushing’s t…


Most years we plant enough Castor Beans around our property to keep the moles away. They can smell the roots of the plants and move on to the neighbors' property. Last summer's drought kept the Castor Beans from maturing and oh, my, do we have tunnels. When walking from the house to the back of the property to the burn pile, it's like walking on a big sponge, with feet sinking a few inches every step of the way.

Moles make tunnels underground where they live in order to seek and eat insects, including earthworms and grubs. They have long noses, webbed front feet, no ears, and are are gray to brown and 6-inches long.

You can tell you have moles because you'll have mini mountain ranges and soil volcanoes in the yard.

You can kill them with traps or baits. To use traps, tamp down the tunnel and watch to see where they return and put the traps in those spots.  Or, you can use Havahart cage/traps and relocate the moles to your neighbor's yard.

Castor oil or Mole-Med …

Seedlings and Transplants


Meadow Rue or Lavendar Mist is Thalictrum rochebrunianum/rochebruneanum - Ranunculaceae family

Lavender Mist or Meadow Rue is a cold hardy (USDA zones 4 to 7) perennial that blooms in late spring. The reason they thrive only up to zone 7 is that they need a cold period to do well.

About the rochebrunianum/rochebruneanum dichotomy in the title - The seed company I purchased them from as well as the new 2012 Sunset Western Garden Book uses rochebrunianum. Rob's Plants say that GRIN, the federal plant taxonomy site, uses rochebruneanum. The only reason to care is that when ordering seeds you might need to know.

GRIN also says that this plant was discovered in Japan in 1878 and was named for a plant explorer, Alphonse Trémeau de Rochebrune (1834-1912).

They are called Meadow Rue because they do best at the edge of a woody area in dappled light. Since they are not fond of wind, heat and humidity, their ability to be glorious in northeast Oklahoma remains to be seen. Our wind, heat and humidity are legendary.

The reason I chose Thalictrum rochebrunianum/rochebruneanum seeds to …

Plant Pathologist Phil Pratt provides tips for gardeners

When a plant starts to look diseased, gardeners head to the store in search of a diagnosis and cure.The labels on the bottles explain what the bottle’s contents can treat, including black spots on leaves, shriveled stems, insect infestations and other problems that a sharp eye can diagnose.
Two years ago, Muskogee resident Phil Pratt retired, ending a 35-year career as an Oklahoma State University plant pathologist and County Extension Director. He agreed to provide a few basics that gardeners need to know before they buy anything to spray on their gardens.
According to Pratt, there are two kinds of plant problems: 1) Those caused by pathogenic organisms and 2) those not caused by pathogenic factors.
The pathogenic organisms that cause diseases include viruses, fungi, bacteria and nematodes. The plant problems not caused by non-pathogenic organisms, sometimes called abiotic, are caused by giving plants the incorrect fertilizer, water, light or temperature, poor planting site, and incorr…

The New Sunset Western Garden Book - 2012 edition

The latest edition of Sunset Western Garden Book will replace my old one that I've thumbed so often that the bottom right page corner is curled upward. Do you have a garden book that you have so thoroughly used?

The last time this 80-year old, most-valuable resource was revised was in 2007 so it was definitely time for an update.  The thumb-able firm (not hardback) cover book is now 760+ pages covering 9,000 plant varieties.

In theory the Western Garden Book is a resource for North American gardeners from British Columbia and Alaska to Colorado and New Mexico and the specific microclimate zone maps are great for those areas. But, the information in the rest of the book is current and valuable to all gardeners. You just have to figure out your own microclimate.

It is easy to read and has all the data we are looking for when researching which seeds and plants to buy for this year's garden.

You'll find a plant description, hardiness zones, light and moisture requirements and …

Pretty blue Borage, The Herb of Gladness (Borago officinalis), is in the Boraginaceae or Forget-Me-Not plant family

Borage is one of those rare plants that has it all. Although it has a history of being used in herbal remedies, today the pink and blue flowers are used to decorate everything from truffles to creamed soups and the leaves are widely used as a salad ingredient.
Its medicinal properties extend to the garden as well. Planting Borage with strawberries is supposed to improve the crop and planting Borage in any bed is said to strengthen the disease resistance of all the plants nearby.
Reference books about garden flowers do not usually include Borage, Borago officinalis, because it is considered an herb. It is one of 2,000 plants in the Boraginaceae or Forget-Me-Not plant family. Its relatives include Bugloss, Fiddleneck, Comfrey, Heliotrope and Lungwort.
Butterflies and bees are drawn to the flowers and Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars eat the leaves and nest in them before making a chrysalis. Painted Lady caterpillars also eat the leaves of thistles, mallows, peas, plantains, hollyhocks…

In the garden shed Feb 2012

Last fall before the first freeze I dug up a few little plants to bloom in the garden shed. This one blooming Mignonette fills the entire shed with its romance era sweet perfume.
 Another plant dug up for winter bloom is this Calendula that would bring a smile to any gardener's face in the middle of a string of 25 to 45 degree days. Calendulas are the happiest flowers.

When we remade a front sidewalk flower bed the Purple Heart had to go to make room for new Boxwood shrubs. So they are in pots, under lights, in the shed awaiting spring weather and their new homes.

The Shrimp Plant thrives and blooms in the garden shed every winter and goes outside to show its stuff every summer. It will be pruned and re-potted in a couple of months to get it ready for spring.

The Rosemary was a 4-inch pot last spring and it did so well that it earned a spot by the window.
The marjoram hangs out in the corner of 2 windows where it scents the air, gets snipped for recipes, blooms and sets seed.

Then, th…

Plants talk to others nearby, warning each other of danger

Here's a 2-minute BBC clip demonstrating how plants warn each other of nearby danger.

Sorry about the advert that preceeds the good stuff but what a great way to wake up our
plant-loving minds!

Links to news and useful information for gardeners

Do you subscribe to several blogs and newsletters? Do you actually read them all? I keep trying to cut back but for each one I send the dreaded unsubscribe message, there is another (or two) to which I subscribe.

Here are a few of the links I've loved this week in no particular order -

1) State by State Gardening (full disclosure - I write for them a couple of times a year)
Marilyn Stewart of Wild Things Nursery wrote about Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum.

Here's a link to the article about this plant. Stewart says,
"One amazing standout in my yard has been blackfoot daisy, which has thrived in heat and limited moisture and looked, well, as fresh as a daisy the entire summer. One attribute of this plant I appreciate is how white the abundant blooms always look; there is no fading to brown. Native to several western states, I have seen it growing on clay outcrops in fierce winds and sun. It doesn’t need much in the way of care, just not too much moisture."

2) …

Plant these seeds now -New vegetable varieties for 2012

It's time to start spring and summer veggie seeds indoors. In case you're in need of inspiration, check out some of the new offerings available this year. Links below will take you to the company's site where you'll find more information.

A vegetable that qualifies as being pretty enough for a flower bed comes from Seed Savers Exchange. Five Color Silverbeet's foliage can be tucked into any cottage garden, herb bed or container. Not only are the leaves good in salads, the plants will shade young seedlings planted under and around them.

Thompson and Morgan seeds is introducing 2 new eggplant varieties for containers. Start eggplant seeds inside now so you'll have flowering plants ready to go when it's time.

They recommend planting the seed on moist, sterile seed starting mixture and topping the seeds with vermiculite.

Keep the seed starting at 60-degrees F or 20 C until the plants are established in the seed starting containers. Then move them to 6-pack size c…

Unique new nature books: Birds a spiritual field guide and Birds a spiritual journal

Montreal writer, Arin Murphy-Hiscock is the author of "Power Spellcraft for Life", "Wicca for Life", "The Way of the Green Witch", "The Way of the Hedge Witch", "Pagan Pregnancy", and now two new books, "Birds: a spiritual field guide 'Explore the Symbology and Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers'" and "Birds a spiritual journal 'Record the Symbology and Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers'".

The spiritual meaning of which birds you observe during your day probably never occurs to most of us to wonder about. Murphy-Hiscock has compiled 240-pages of thoughts, suggestions, fact and folklore about 75 North American bird species to use as a reference.

Here's an example - The book has sentences, I'm just jotting notes from the text to give a sense of it.

- Pelican, Species: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
- Lives in central Canada, central and western U.S. and Mexico.
- Live by inl…

New plant introductions for 2012


There will be lots of exciting plant varieties on the market this spring as breeders and growers have designed new improved plants in more colors with better disease resistance. Here are a few to look for and ask your favorite nursery about. Coreopsis verticillata Sweet Marmalade is a new color of an old favorite garden flower. This one grows a foot tall and has apricot-orange flowers. Shorter than the ones we usually grow, Sweet Marmalade would be good for containers or the front of a border. Cut off the first flush of summer flowers and the plants will bloom again later in the season. Coreopsis verticillata is a drought resistant, thread-leafed variety that will spread slowly by underground rhizomes. Petunia Suncatcher Pink Lemonade is one of a series of new Petunias that will be featured for hanging baskets and containers. Suncatcher petunias are mounding plants, make lots of flowers, love the sun and need less water. Available from High Country Gardens

ONPS - OK Native Plant Society

The newsletter of the Oklahoma Native Plant Society,, is called "Gaillardia" and the Winter 2011 issue has some tidbits of interest.

Feb 4th is the annual Indoor Outing at Oklahoma City University -
On site registration at 8:30 and the day ends at 3. Cost $5
Speakers include: Bruce Hoagland, Al Sutherland, Karen Hickman and Pat Folley.
Information: Joe Roberts at 405-820-6851

Pat Folley, author of  "The Guide to Oklahoma Wildflowers", wrote an entertaining piece for Gaillardia about an adventure she had with a few friends. They traveled to Box, Oklahoma in search of wildflowers and the road sign that says "Edge of the Earth" and found it all. Here's my review of Folley's book.

Sheila Strawn, Managing Editor of the OK Native Plant Record has been working on that project for 10-years. You can access that publication, plus links to info on Color OK, OK Biological Survey, OK Invasive Plant Council, and OK Academy of Scien…