Showing posts from September, 2012

Garlic - varieties we are planting 2012

This year our garlic bed will have a variety of garlics including Rocambole and Porcelain hardneck, softneck, artichoke type.

Our shipment from Keene Organics included Russian, Romanian, Italian and Asian varieties.

Artichoke garlics are productive and problem free so they are the most commonly grown commercial varieties.They are also adaptive to a variety of soils and growing conditions.
These are the supermarket garlics. Mature early and are ready to sell before the others.
Plants are shorter than other varieties. Not tolerant of extreme cold but are fine in southern heat.

Porcelain garlics can grow up to 7 feet tall with thick, broad leaves. The bulbs are large and white, with the most therapeutic allicin of any variety. Porcelains are considered expensive to grow since each bulb makes only a few large cloves.  They produce bulbils in their flower head/scape.

Rocambole garlics are hardnecks (make scapes). They are among the most widely known and grown hardnecks. Thought to be the fi…

Encouraging and Protecting butterflies moths and skippers in our garden

We plant natives, nectar flowers and larva food,
put out over ripe fruit and Gatorade,
create mud spots for adult males, leave weedy places and leaf litter in place, avoid pesticides and herbicides where possible.

But, we cannot protect every butterfly from every predator. We dig and overwinter tropical milkweed so it is in place as soon as the weather warms enough for Monarch migration in the spring. 

Landscape Architect's guide to D.C. is a terrific resource

Here's an incredible new resource for exploring D.C. from the American Society of Landscape Architects -

Click on a neighborhood to see some scenes and click on map to get the lay of the land.

Expert Tree and Shrub selection advice

Now that summer is waning and fall planting season is here, Oklahoma State University Extension Specialist, Mike Schnelle, has advice for homeownersabout which trees and shrubs could be good choices for our area.

“Wait through this winter before you decide to remove a leafless tree in your yard and replace it,” Schnelle said. “The drought has put many trees into early dormancy. They may still be alive and could leaf out next spring.”
The unusual weather of the past two summers has taken its toll on some of the most rugged native plants and Schnelle acknowledged that native shrubs and trees had to be watered this year to keep them looking their best.
“The best trees under the worst stress can be vulnerable to insects and diseases,” said Schnelle. “But, with that said, there are several plants to recommend that require no chemical insecticides or pesticides.”
One superior small tree is the Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis canadensis), a grafted tree with lavender spring flowers. Another small tree,…

Hurricane Miriam rainfall and Butterfly Festival in Cole OK

Yay!! Rain is coming. Rain is coming.

The OK butterfly migration festival is still on This Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM
Monarch Migration and Butterfly Festival, Jerusalem Historical Community Park
Fernwood & State Hwy 74B (270th)
Washington, OK 73093
Phone: 405-485-2962 405-830-8188

Marilyn Stewart will be there with her famous larval and nectar food plants for sale and it's always a kick to watch the kids releasing tagged Monarchs.

Here's more scoop with a map

Flame Bush, Burning Bush, Euonymous Alata

Old fashioned Flame or Burning Bush is a reliable Euonymous that is easy to grow into a hedge. The leaves fall off in the winter, so it is not an effective privacy screen. Ours, in the photo is not a hybrid. It's the regular, inexpensive, one that originated in China and Japan.
We bought ours ten years ago at a nursery sale in a one gallon container. It has been pruned to the ground twice and we attempted to dig it out completely once. But here it is showing off its fall colors! Now, that's reliable.
Adaptable to most soils, even the hybrids are hardy. They must be watered in drought years or the leaves will crumble and fall off.
It is a good idea to prune Euonymous Alata and control the growth. If they get too thick to allow air circulation they can get powdery mildew damage or aphids can set up residence.
In some areas, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, they are considered invasive. The berries the shrub makes are ea…

Gardening Projects for Kids by Cohen and Fisher

Authors Whitney Cohen and John Fisher both work at Santa Cruz, California's Life Lab (
Their new book, Gardening Projects for Kids, is a guide to their best 100 activities with children that help bring families together, teach children the wonders of being in nature, and inspire the next generation of growers.

Of course the basic point is to involve children in the entire process from planning, to making it fun, magical and safe for them. Don't think you need a place like Life Lab to do these projects: Small spaces work as well as a big yard and small projects work better than complicated ones.

Family garden features can include a fairy garden, bird baths, a flower cutting bed, swing, tables, wind sock, or easy to grow vegetables.

The book has plenty of accessible ideas such as visit an existing garden to explore possible features for yours. Or, how about making a collage and planting calendar by cutting pictures out of seed catalogs and talking abou…

New re-blooming Kniphofias, Tritoma, Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily

When we lived in CA, Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) was widely available and planted everywhere. Since moving here to zone 7 NE Oklahoma, everything changed of course.

Native to Africa, they are cold hardy to zone 6 and suffer when temperatures go below 14°F (-10°C).

Several years ago I planted Red Hot Poker from seed and it did really well here but did not stick around more than a couple of years. Since they enjoy well-drained soil, they might have drowned (root crown rot).

Thompson and Morgan has seeds for Traffic Lights. Oooo, and Harris Seeds has Flamenco which blooms early with orange and yellow flowers  (500 seeds, $14). Seeds are planted uncovered at 68 degrees and take 2 weeks to emerge.
Torch Lily flower spikes are so dramatic, emerging out of a mound of long, grassy leaves. They fit in everyplace. Here they benefit from afternoon protection from the intense sun and heat. Part sun is best for them.

Itsaul Plants ( in Georgia has a new innovation in Kniphofias …

Muskogee Garden Club 2012-13 Programs

Today begins a new year for Muskogee Garden Club Most garden club meetings are held on Thursday mornings  at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Blvd, which is one block off East Okmulgee.  Coffee and refreshments are served at 9:30 and the speaker presentations begin at 10. Members usually bring seeds and plant starts to share. Visitors and guests are encouraged to come to any meeting that sounds interesting. The program this morning will be presented by Janie Cagle, Owner of Cagle’s Flowers. Cagle’s presentation will be on designing and creating “Miniature Fairy Gardens”. Janie is bringing fairy garden items that she will offer for sale and will give away the demonstration garden as a door prize. Hostesses Billy Tower, Rosie Reese and Clara Sheffield will provide coffee and snacks. At the October 18 meeting, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator Mandy Blocker will talk about her upcoming Master Gardener certification classes. Bring your questions and your calendar so you can regis…

Historic (Jamestown era) Native Plants Database

Albermarle County Virginia has posted a native plants database, listing the species that were on the site pre-Jamestown!

Here's what they say, "Based on available science, the plants recommended here were found in this region prior to the arrival of the colonists at Jamestown, thus making them native plants.

Native plants are historic to the region, help give us a sense of place, and are an important part of our local ecosystem.

A panel of local experts chose these plants based on their current or potential availability, their overall aesthetic interest, and their likelihood to grow well without major care.

This database allows everyone from the development community to the backyard enthusiast to search for native plants by uses and growing conditions."

You can search based on "Recommended Uses" such as stormwater, butterflies, landscaping, etc.

Or how about by plant needs, soil type and water needs?
Then, add plant characteristics such as spreading, hei…

Bat Flower - Tacca integrifolia from Southeast Asia

Reminiscent of my beloved Cat's Whiskers, Bat Flower has whisker bracts that can grow as much as a foot long. Batflower prefers a humid environment of 70-80% shade, high temperatures, and moisture. A planting mix of something like 50% pine bark, 40% peat and 10% sand supports growth.

"In the wild, T. integrifolia occurs in the understory of rain forests in deep shade, but in a diversity of soil types. The species is most often found growing in accumulations of decayed organic matter. White batflower is remarkably free of pest and disease problems. Snails and slugs are the only pest problems we have encountered."

Sow seeds in peat:perlite or vermiculite:perlite and cover 1/8." Place in warm, moist conditions in bright light but no direct sun. They should germinate in 8-12 weeks. Plant the seedlings out in 2.5-3" pots when the first leaf develops. Give them diluted soluble fertilizer.

In 2007, Bot…

Lantana Luscious Berry Blend from Proven Winners

Garden writers receive a few free samples of plants in small pots to trial in gardens around the country.

In our garden, they are never pampered any more than our other plants, so they either thrive or move on to plant heaven on their own. Because of the extreme heat and drought, we fertilized nothing this year.

This plant!! Lantana Luscious Berry Blend that Proven Winners shipped out in a small pot, took to our garden, and grew into a veritable shrub covered with flowers. Of course any Lantana is an automatic butterfly and skipper attractant so we double love it.

There are more photos you can view at the Proven Winners link.

Moonflowers and Morning Glories

Moonflower vines are to the evening as Morning Glories are to the early hours after sunrise. We love the charm of watching these cottage garden favorites open before our eyes.The buds are gently twisted at first, opening to show funnel shaped flowers with plenty of pollen for moths at night from Moonflowers and, for bees during the day from Morning Glories.
Whether they are climbing over an archway, a trellis, through shrubs or over a country mailbox, Moonflowers and Morning Glories never fail to make us smile about their exuberance.
All 500 trees, shrubs and vine in the plant genus, Ipomoea prefer warm climates. In fact all the plants in their family, Convolvulaceae have funnel shaped flowers and triangle shaped leaves.
Moonflowers, Ipomoea alba,need sun, water and a little fertilizer to bloom their best. The flowers unfold in 2-3 minutes and you can watch them go from bud to 6-inch flower.Some catalogs list Moonflowers as Calonyction album or C. aculeatum.
The seeds have a thick coati…

Wildflowers blooming early September

Salvias, daisies, mints, peas, asters and thistles greet the wildflower hunter at this time of year. Click on the images to see them larger and tell us what they are.
The Oklahoma Native Plant Society has a new webpage at where upcoming meetings and events are published. The annual meeting next weekend includes bat watching. More information is at the website.
 I've found that joining several native plant societies on Facebook is a great way to learn about wildflowers and upcoming events for native plant seekers.

     We saw all of these and more on a 2 mile walk.

1915 "Gardening for Amateurs" just click and read

Gardening for Amateurs is yours for the reading. Just click on the link below and you will be taken to the entire scanned book with color illustrations.

 It is amazing how little has changed in a hundred years other than banned pesticides.

Weekend in the Ozarks - NW Arkansas


Angelica - gorgeous plants and flowers for moist half shade

There are 50 species of Angelica that grow in moist woodlands, meadows and in any garden location where Hostas would thrive. All Angelicas have large leaves, mostly diamond shaped. The plants are large, growing a few feet tall and then up to 6-feet tall when they are in bloom so they would go in the back of a bed to provide an architectural look.
Angelica is from the Latin angelus, meaning angel, and refers to its healing properties. Gigas means gigantic.
Anglicas are short-lived perennials that are hardy in zones 4 to 9. They like deep, moist soil and part-shade and can re-seed in ideal conditions. In their native areas they grow alongside streams, in forests and grasslands. Bees love the flowers, deer avoid them, and some gardeners are sensitive to the sap. The cut flowers will last for weeks in a vase. 
The flower in the photos is Angelica gigas, a Korean native with purple-red stems and onion-sized flowering buds that open to dark, reddish-purple flowers.
Angelica Montana or sylvest…

Wiki for plants and garden - Gardenology dot com

While researching the Internet for a column, I ran across a website that may interest you:
 A Wiki Encyclopedia of plants called Gardenology (, where they say twenty-two thousand plants have been written about by contributing gardeners.

Go to the Plant Lists to research specific plants of interest

You can contribute your knowledge by adding a new plant or by editing an existing entry.

Add or edit a plant at

Their Facebook page was set up in 2009 but there is no evidence of any activity.

Fiskars Cuts and Grabs - if you have a shrub or a tree you need one

Fiskars Cut and Grab 30-inch lopper is a new favorite tool around our house. We have so many shrubs and trees that this tool is ideal for.

We have a couple dozen Osage Orange trees - they came with the land we bought behind the house. As they grow taller, their spiky dead branches can hang for years waiting for an unsuspecting person on the riding mower to pass by and scratch.
Cutting thorny branches with regular loppers means having them drop on my head which is equally unpopular with me.
I've done it too often to want any more of that experience. I even tried it while standing on the riding mower and dodging the thorns. Someone could have filmed it for YouTube.

The by-pass blade is coated steel and the 30-inch long handles are those Fiskars' steel with gel tip grippers that make it easy on the hands. (By-pass blades cut rather than smash green stems.)

They will handle a 2-inch thick branch and hang onto it for you.

We have 5-foot tall Dwarf Burford Holly shrubs as a hedge acro…

Around the Internet - Daffnet update, Master Gardener newsletters, plant and seed sales, and a wow video

My inbox is always stuffed with garden blogs, garden book information, newsletters and how-tos. Here are a few that may be of interest to you.

If you are a fan of Daffodils and a member of the online daffodil conversation called Daffnet, your inbox has an email requiring you to give yourself a new password. All previous passwords are being eliminated.  Here's the link scoop from our fab administrators "This morning you received your last monthly password reminder for  "". Normally, members use this password to    access the email archive files.  Now, all contents within the archive can be found on There are a variety of methods you can use to search through the archives including using the "Search box", clicking on a category, or using the calendar. Many of you have already requested a password for new Daffnet.  If you have not yet, click on this link "Get new Password" and enter your email address: http://daffn…

Beautiful - Echeveria or Cotyledon or Kalanchoe

Succulents are a challenge in our humidity, even in pots. Hens and chicks dissolve here. I prefer Echeverias to spiny cacti since they never poke me!
Drought Smart Plants helped me identify the plants in these pots. But then again, it might not be Echeveria pallida. A plant that looks identical is named Cotyledon at Plantz Africa. Another site, Succulent Gardening,  makes me think it is Kalanchoe thrysifolia.
The original plant was a gift but over the years it became leggy and unattractive. So, I cut off its top and planted it, laying the leaves in a pan out of carelessness more than anything.
The next time I went out into the shed, the leaf stems had sprouted roots so they went into pots according to size. The happy result is the row of pots that have graced the back garden all summer.