Showing posts from May, 2012

Grow your own eggs!

Now that more people are enjoying the pleasure of growing a few vegetables, herbs and maybe a berry bush or two, there is renewed interest in having a few backyard chickens.

Eggs from backyard poultry are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, have more vitamin A, E, beta carotene and omega 3 fatty acids.

The Walton Family of Muskogee has had chickens for 7-years. Charley Walton, age 15, is primarily responsible for taking care of them.

“We buy pullets (chickens that are 20 weeks old) from someone who sells at the Farmer’s Market,” said Charley. “Chickens that age are already ready to lay and you don’t have to raise them from chicks.”

The first step in deciding to raise chickens is making sure they are legal in your area. The Waltons live in the County but many families who live in towns and cities keep a few chickens as pets.

Horticulturist Russell Studebaker has raised chickens all his life and has 5 Bantam chickens in his Tulsa backyard garden.

“Select the breed that you want, …

Golden Marguerite or Oxeye Chamomile is Anthemis tinctoria

Oxeye Chamomile came to live in our garden several years ago when I saw a packet of seeds called something like pollinators favorites.

Being a big fan of pollinators, I ordered.
  This lovely flower (weed?) is the only plant from that collection that re-seeds and returns every year. 

The MissouriPlants website has not been updated since 2007 but still remains a great resource since each year I go back to it to find the name of something or another. The site is conveniently organized by flower color and leaf form, making it invaluable to those of us who have too many plant names in our heads to pull out just one at a time.

It tells me that my yellow flower with lacy leaves is Anthemis tinctoria and more than I'll enter here -
Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To +1m tall, erect, herbaceous, multiple from base, branching above, sub-tomentose, producing stolons. Vascular tissue of stem appearing as parallel vertical lines on stem. Stems fragrant if crushed.
Leaves - Alternate, mostl…

Rose Campion and her Lychnis genus

In our area, Rose Campion (also called Blood Red, Abbotswood Rose) can become too enthusiastic about spreading her offspring. In a couple of years, a cluster of 6 plants will have little seedlings spread over a 5 foot by 3 foot area of the ground surrounding the bed.

The generic Campion name comes from the Greek word lychnos or lamp, describing the bright flowers atop the soft colored leaves and stems. According to "Armitage's Manual of Annulas, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials", they used to be called Champions referring to their use in garlands given to victors in public contests.

There are many Lychnis species and a few Lychnis have been moved into the Silene family so you may see references calling some of them one or the other.

One of the other common ones is Lychnis chalcedonica or Maltese Cross. Wikipedia says it is from Europe, China and Russia. The one we grow so easily is a European variety, Lychnis coronaria or Rose Campion

It is cold hardy from zones 4…

Hypericum is St. Johnswort and now there are well-behaved hybrids

The most familiar Hypericum is St. Johnswort, which has become a popular herbal remedy for stomach ailments, nerves and sleeplessness.
It is a European native, used by ancient Greeks and Romans to keep evil spirits away. The name comes from St. John the Baptist whose birthday is June 24, about the same time St. Johnswort is showing off its bright yellow flowers.
Last year, Green Leaf Plants ( released four new Hypericums in a group they call Hypearls:Hypericum Jacqueline, Hypericum Jessica, Hypericum Olivia and Hypericum Renu.
Since they enjoy part-shade, ours were planted in a dappled shade area two years ago and this year they are growing quickly and blooming. As with most perennial shrubs, these took their sweet time becoming established but now look like they are going to fill in all the allotted space.
St. Johnswort loves heat and shrugs off our humidity, prefers well-drained soil, and is cold hardy to zone 6.
The new varieties: Jacqueline is 2-feet tall and has yel…

Hollyhocks, Althea Rosea, have come a long way

Hollyhocks, originally from China, were found in a 50,000 year old grave of a Neanderthal man and today they are the official flower of Taos, New Mexico.

This humble mallow flower was known for decades as the flower that showed visitors where the outhouse was. It grows 6 to 9 feet tall, helping to show the way.
  Related to okra, cotton and hibiscus (Rose of Sharon), hollyhocks are easily started from seed. Just remember that they are biennial and take two years to bloom.

Summer Carnival, a lovely, double, pink hollyhock, has been around a long time. Gardens Ablaze has a nice article about them here.

Swallowtail Gardens has a large selection of colors and varieties. They could be started now in garden beds or in pots and allowed to grow their leaf clusters this summer. Next year they will shoot up and flower.

These easy-to-grow lovelies get rust, mold, caterpillar damage, and a few other diseases and bugs, but, we grow them every year anyway. The problems can be minimized by pla…

Native Plants blooming May 20 2012

In the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, in northwest Arkansas, Devil's Den State Park offers great hiking trails and native plant viewing. Here's a bit of what we enjoyed -


Land, Sea and Air - the ties that bind

Yale, Environment 360 has an excellent article by Carl Zimmer today.

Zimmer writes about science for a number of magazines. A 2007 winner of the National Academies of Science Communication Award, he is the author of six books, including Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life.

Article summary:
A new study from a Pacific atoll reveals the links between native trees, bird guano, and the giant manta rays that live off the coast. In unraveling this intricate web, the researchers point to the often little-understood interconnectedness between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

This article will stimulate your thinking about how we as mere gardeners, stewards of the soil and rainfall under our control, can positively or negatively impact the entire cycle of life.

Click on the link above, read the piece and let me know what comes to mind: What can we as individual gardeners contribute to the health of the earth?

New books = fresh ideas

Expand your gardening; use one of these books to try something new. “Bulb Forcing for beginners and the seriously smitten” by Art Wolk, $24.95, AAB Book Publishing, Forcing bulbs is the method used to grow flowers in pots all year.There are ways to successfully duplicate the conditions bulbs needs to grow and flower out of season. This hardback book is written by an accomplished home gardener who has year-round flowers using products and conditions that can be duplicated in any home by anyone with the desire. Want to have flowers all year? Start with the right planting material, some bulbs, corms, tuberous roots, rhizomes or tubers, a well-lighted growing space, and this book. Wolk’s writing is humorous, easy to read and understand, the instructions are illustrated with Wolk’s award-winning photographs, and he gives practical tips and advice for gardeners at all levels based on his own experience. “Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs: More than 1700 outstanding garden pl…

HAVAHART Deer, Rabbit, Squirrel Repellent

We love our bunnies and turtles.

With that said, we do have to deter them from eating everything in sight. The vegetable garden had to be fenced to keep them away. Before the fence, each and every low hanging cucumber would have a bite out of it, lettuce and edamame plants would be decimated up to the height a baby bunny could reach.

In yesterday's blog you could see that we allow some beds to get pretty woolly = very little structure and stuffed with plants. Bunnies, turtles and other creatures live in there. Last night a baby cardinal was receiving its flying lessons from two very noisy and protective parents.

However. We do want things to have a chance to grow into maturity.

The poppy mallow I planted from seed has the purpose of caring for butterflies later in the season. It is apparent that baby bunnies enjoy the leaves.

Purple Poppy Mallow, Callirhoe involucrata, is a perennial wildflower that grows up to about a foot tall and sprawls across the ground, with vine-like stems…

Terra Stone Plant Caddy - all recycled material Made in USA

TerraCycle,,  uses recycled plastics to make this attractive plant caddy.

I asked the company to send me one so I could take a look at it and try it out.

I love the concrete look. And, I especially love the fact that it is as light as a feather and as strong as steel!

It measures 1-foot-square (12" by 12"), and holds as much 200-pounds of wet dirt and flower pot.

And the wheels work easily and well.

School volunteers collect those plastic drink pouches and TerraCycle makes them into their products.

The nonprofit that collects the pouches receives a donation of 2-cents for each pouch.

Available for $15 at Dwell Mart online.

TerraCycle's blog is at

TerraCycle is also giving refurbished laptop computers as an award for a contest -
Tech Titans Collection ContestTerraCycle is gifting 10 refurbished laptops to reward each of the highest collecting Cell Phone, Laptop and Inkjet Brig…

Our garden this morning


Herb of the year is Monarda, Oswego Tea, Horse Mint, Wild Oregano, Bergamot, Bee Balm

The Herb Society of America's Notable Native Herb of 2013 is a plant of many names including its Latin name Monarda fistulosa, Oswego Tea, Bergamot, Wild Oregano, Horse Mint and Bee Balm.

The plant I started from a pack of seeds a dozen years ago is still going strong. The reason I planted it originally is because the seed pack said Bergamot. I love Earl Grey tea which is flavored with Bergamot so I knew I would enjoy the scent of the leaves in the garden.

Of course, the pollinator feeding aspect of Bee Balm is a double bonus. The flowers are covered with bees and butterflies in the summer.

This is one herb that is native to practically the entire continental U.S. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Now, in the kitchen, it is used as an oregano substitute.

But, did you know that the roots are also beneficial? The Grower's Exchange said, "A very helpful companion plant, the Thymol contained in the plant's roots keep subterranean pests at bay, while th…

Dragon Arum, Green Dragon, Arum Italicum for zone 7

Arums are commonly planted in shade gardens and under deciduous trees where they can be protected from hot summer sun. Fleshy spikes emerge in the spring and their flowers are funnel-shaped.
A few years ago, during a long, gardening-free December, a combination of touched-up photos, spring fever and sale prices, led to a bulb order that included a bag of Arum Italicum. They were planted in the dappled shade under the Osage Orange trees
Flower gardeners know Arum Italicum, or Lords and Ladies, by their beautiful arrow-shaped leaves, white flowers, and the cluster of orange-red seeds that follow the fading flowers. Another well-loved member of the same plant family is Calla Lily which has similar leaves and growing preferences.  

Other shade-loving relatives include Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, and Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium which are native to our area. For years, those sale bulbs’ fleshy, grey-green blotched stems emerged and sprouted interesting fans of leaves where …

Harmful and Helpful bugs in the veg garden

These little black and orange bugs have been trying to devastate my Red Russian Kale, broccoli and other cole or brassica plants.
"Both the adult and nymph suck sap from the collard/cabbage plant, causing it to wilt, turn brown and die." Clemson U.

I hand pick them off the plants though I've heard sprinkling flour on the plants help as much as poison. As you can see the broccoli heads are right there and I don't want to poison my food.

The Red Russian Kale is still in the garden because I want it to flower and go to seed - want the seeds for the fall garden, you know.
Also in the veg garden there are Lady Beetles, the most welcome of predators!
When I was growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, I would have made the Lightening Bug the state insect,
but now I find out that The Convergent Lady Beetle is the state's insect. Sigh.
"Lady beetles, or Ladybugs or coccinellids, are the most commonly known of all beneficial insects. In Europe these beetles are called "…

On the road to Crystal Bridges - miles of bouquets by Holland Wildflower Farm

Holland Wildflower Farm created the seed mix for the gorgeous wildflowers along the road to the museum. It was impossible for me to just enjoy them from the car. I had to get out and breathe them in!
Holland Wildflower Farm posted on their Facebook page today that the seed mix that created the view along the road to Crystal Bridges is called "Little Bit Shady".
If you would like to plant a wildflower garden, check out Holland Wildflower Farm. They sell individual plant seeds and mixes such as Floodplain Wildlife Mix, Eastern Native Habitat, Continuous Color, Butterfly, Shortgrass Prairie Flower, etc.

Email: P.O. Box 328, Elkins, Arkansas USA 72727 Orders: (800) 684-3734 Customer Service: (479) 643-2622 Questions/Problems

Crystal Bridges Museum - the landscape

The building you see in this photo is art galleries at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville AR.

The body of water is fed by four springs on the 120-acre property.

Stella the Pig is one of the many works of art along the Art Trail. Miriam Freedman couldn't resist stopping to pet Stella - no doubt many visitors feel the same.
This beautiful flowering American Yellowwood is on trail - so many beautiful plants to enjoy!