30 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 finest tasting with complex flavor. Ideal for eating fresh, raw, especialy since they do not store well.

Turban garlics are named for the flat shape of their umbel or seedhead on the scape. Turbans are ready for harvest before any other varieties so they have the shortest shelf life. Because of their mild flavor Turban garlics have been called summer apples. Great to chop and serve raw on vegetables. The plants are not very tall but still produce large bulbs. Harvest as soon as the leaves begin to brown.

Whether you call garlic Allium ophioscorodon, Ail bulbifère, Ail d'automne, Ail d'Espagne (French), Schlangenknoblauch (German),  Aglio d'India, Aglio romano (Italian), Ajo pardo (Spanish) or Hime ninniku (Japanese), it is an essential for a cook's kitchen.

Here are the 5 cultivars we're planting this year -

Chesnok Red Purple Stripe Rocambole Hardneck
medium flavor that becomes sweet when roasted
later maturing
stores moderately well
Origin: Shvelisi, Republic of Georgia

Chesnok Red Garlic Ice Cream: Soften a half gallon vanilla ice cream and mash in an entire bulb of roasted, cleaned and chopped Red Chesnok. Refreeze.

Chamiskuri Softnect Artichoke type garlic
Most supermarket garlic is one of the softnecks because it is easier to grow and stores longer and braids easily.
mild-medium pungent flavor
early harvest - dig it before it bolts
Origin: Republic of Georgia
stores well

Italian Late Artichoke Softneck
good flavor and storage
versatile for all-round kitchen uses
braids easily

Romanian Red Porcelain Hardneck
flavor is strong-hot and long lasting
one of the first Porcelains introduced to N America
very high in medicinal Allicin
robust grower
disease resistant
late harvest
need good soil and constant moisture

Tzan Purple Stripe Turban artichoke softneck variety
sold as Mexican Red Garlic
Origin: Shandong Province, China
large, purple striped cloves
stores well
early harvest
hot pungent flavor

We Grow Garlic http://www.wegrowgarlic.com/7422.html
has all their varieties on a single sumary page.

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.

Swallowtail with chewed wing
But, we cannot protect every butterfly from every predator. 
Butterfly egg on milkweed
We dig and overwinter tropical milkweed so it is in place as soon as the weather warms enough for Monarch migration in the spring
Swallowtail caterpillar on Rue

Each year we increase the number of Rue plants.
They are biennial so you'll lose some each year.
Seed starting is an annual event now.
Onion bag netting on Rue with caterpillar underneath

When caterpillars become visible, I top the plant with netting saved from bulb shipments, onion bags, etc.
Orb spider with Swallowtail caterpillar

Sadly we cannot prevent all predation.
Even spiders gotta eat.


Butterfly caterpillar on milkweed

The old garden adage that the
best tool in the garden is
the gardener's feet holds true
for protecting butterflies, moths and skippers, too.
Even if a daily check is not reasonable (it is not for my schedule),
going out regularly with protective measures in mind
can help protect our flying flowers.

Oh, and stop spraying stuff!


29 September 2012

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.

27 September 2012

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, Prairie Fire Crabapple (Malus x Prairie Fire), is drought tolerant, though should be watered during extreme summers.

Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia) is an Oklahoma native that can grow into a 90-foot tall shade tree with yellow fall leaves.

Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) is a 15-25 foot tall selection from Asia that has proven itself in OK. The orange, red and purple fall colors make it worth watering in the summer.

Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioica) is another native that has yellow fall color.

“Kentucky Coffee Tree can be slow to mature” said Schnelle. “It can look the same for 5 years and then in year 6 begin its growth into a 30 foot tall tree.”

Native Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) grows to 50-feet tall and wide.  Even well-rooted specimens had to be watered this year.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is native to Southeast Oklahoma. Although it does not have to be located at water’s edge to be healthy, it will need water in drought years.


Schnelle said that it is time to stop fertilizing trees and shrubs for the year.

“It is important to be sure that trees and shrubs go into the winter well watered and mulched,” Schnelle said. “The choice of organic mulch or inorganic mulch does not matter. Just be sure that the mulch is well away from the tree trunk and is no more than 3-inches deep.”

Schnelle also recommended some landscape shrubs that require little care other than water.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana) is a native with spring flowers and rose-pink berries that attract songbirds in the fall. 5 feet tall and wide

Oak Leaf Hydrangea is a native understory, part-shade shrub with spring flowers, fall leaf color, and no known pests.

Native possomhaw (Ilex decidua or deciduous holly) is an 8 ft. tall and wide native shrub. Female plants have red, orange, or yellow fruit in the fall and winter if there is a male plant nearby for pollination.

Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) has white spring flowers and, depending on the variety, can have red, purple or black late summer fruit. Aronia shrubs mature at 6 feet tall and wide.

Japanese Kerria (Kerria Japonica) is an Oklahoma Proven plant that has yellow flowers all summer.

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) starts blooming in Dec. It can be pruned or left to grow 7-feet tall.

Try these additional resources for more information -

·         Fact Sheet NREM-5036 Deciduous Trees for Oklahoma http://tinyurl.com/8nz9hgu

·         HLA 6439 Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape http://tinyurl.com/8q2kzuh

·         Low Water Use Plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals) http://tinyurl.com/8e2vb8f

·         Under-Utilized OK Native Plants http://www.okplanttrees.org/nativeplants.pdf

·         Oklahoma Proven Plants brochure http://oklahomaproven.okstate.edu/book.pdf


Fall is still the best time to plant trees and shrubs.



26 September 2012

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

24 September 2012

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 eaten by birds in the winter and shrubs can grow everywhere the fertilized seeds are bird-planted. Regular pruning helps reduce the number of seeds.
Park Seed (www.parkseed.com) has a hybrid called Unforgettable Fire, Hayman variety, that they say turns fuscia in the fall. They recommend a hard late winter pruning to keep the color bright. Zones 5-9, 5 feet tall and wide.

Fire Ball, variety Select, is a Proven Winners selection available from Garden Crossings (www.gardencrossings.com). They say it is hardy to zone 3 and matures at 5 feet wide and 3 feet tall.

Patented plants should not be propagated, of course, but this native variety can be easily grown from cuttings taken now. Cut 6 to 8 inch lengths of healthy stem and remove the bottom leaves. Cut the leaves on the top of the stem in half and put the cuttings into water.

Combine and moisten enough sand and soil to fill the planting pot. Make a planting hole for each cutting, dip the end of the cuttings into rooting hormone and plant. Firm the soil around the cutting and sprinkle with enough water to settle the soil. 

Cover the container with clear plastic and keep it out of direct sun.  Check the cuttings every day for mold. Water as needed but keep the container well drained. If any cutting turns black, toss it out. In a month the cuttings should have formed roots along the leaf nodes where you removed the bottom leaves. Then they are ready for planting pots. In a few days they can be moved into direct light.

If you want to shop Euonymous choices, check out Plant Lust where they have 49 varieties to consider

22 September 2012

Gardening Projects for Kids by Cohen and Fisher

Authors Whitney Cohen and John Fisher both work at Santa Cruz, California's Life Lab (http://www.lifelab.org/).
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 about what you might grow.

Older children might enjoy doing a soil test, measuring out the beds and rows, and starting seeds.

For little ones, use large seeds to do crafts such as a mosaic and then plant a few so they see what seeds do when planted.

For the whole family, making a scarecrow or a compost bin and hand picking bugs off plants can make a nice morning outdoors.

Teaching about butterflies and moths, their lifecycle and how to help them thrive is for everyone, whether you focus on nectar plants or caterpillar food.

With 250 pages of illustrated text, Gardening Projects for Kids will provide plenty of fertilizer for the idea that your family can hang out together, away from electronic distractions, and enjoy the pleasures of nature.

Recommended - Lots of engaging ideas for all ages and skill levels. Not every project requires tools or talents that many of us do not possess.

If you'd like to see the chickens at Life Lab, check out their Garden Classroom Webcam at http://www.lifelab.org/classroom/webcam/.

Their website is also resource rich with lots of help with school gardens, K-5 curriculum, lessons, etc.

The book is available from the publisher, Timber Press (www.timberpress.com) for $20 and at online booksellers for $9.

21 September 2012

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 (Istaulplants.com) in Georgia has a new innovation in Kniphofias - re blooming plants.
Their Kniphofia Echo Rojo has a flower that is close to Red Hot Poker's traditional reddish orange.

Kniphofia Echo Duo flowers are the red orange on the top and a beige-yellow on the bottom.
Kniphofia Echo Mango has flowers that are yellow orange.

The plants are 18 to 24" tall and when the flower spikes show their stuff, they are even taller - up to 3 feet. Plan 1.5 feet width per plant.

These beautiful new varieties are definitely not seed started - they are propagated by cloning.

Several plant sellers have the new ones, including: Skagit Gardens, Jackson and Perkins, Wayside Gardens.

Digging Dog Nursery offers Alcazar, Bee's Sunset, Bleached Sunset, Border Ballet, Bressingham Sunbeam, well, the list goes on and on. Go to http://www.diggingdog.com/pages2/kniphofia.php to see them all.

Consider adding them to your seed list this winter or to your plant list next spring.

20 September 2012

Muskogee Garden Club 2012-13 Programs

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 register to begin the OSU certification program.
The program title is “Would You Like to Become a Master Gardner?” Blocker can be reached at 918-686-7200 and mandy.blocker@okstate.edu. The hostesses will be Helen Pierceall, Marilyn Gilder and Nola Mason.
Rosarian, Dr. Troy Garrett will present “Why I Love Roses and Other Musings” on November 15. Garrett is the past president of the Oklahoma and Tulsa Rose Societies. Hostesses Helen Moorer, Jan Wilkerson, Bo Mullins and Jan Ward will greet members and guests at 9:30.
On Dec 15, the club holds an annual holiday brunch at the Kiwanis Senior Center. Quiche is provided by the club’s officers, with side dishes and desserts brought by club members. Contact Donna Ausmus sumusdj@gmail.com and 918-682-3962 for additional information.
If the meeting is not cancelled due to inclement weather the Jan 17 meeting is a Round Table Discussion called “Soil, Plants and Butterflies”. Club members answer each other’s gardening questions and give advice. The hostesses will be Windex, Nellie Rodenberger, Martha and Jon Stoodley.
At the Feb 21 meeting Master Gardener Skip West from Cohlmias in Tulsa will bring an assortment of tropical plants (available for purchase) and show attendees everything that is new in his presentation, “I Want One of Those Tropicals”. The hostesses will be Zareta Thompson, Donna Ausmus, and Gloria Nicholson.
Matthew Weatherbee & Laura Durkee, Owners of Blossoms will present “What’s New for the Home Gardener” at 6 pm on Mar 21 at Blossom’s Garden Center. matthew.weatherbee@sbcglobal.net and 918-441-9276. The hostesses are Cindy Kane, Connie Stout, Donna Garrison and Marilyn Hinshaw
Club president and Master Gardener Oyana Wilson will present“Growing Flowers & Vegetables Together: Friends & Foes” on Apr 18. Coffee time is at 9:30 and will be provided by Linda Faircloth, Ursula Shoats and Bonnie Baker.
The last meeting of the garden club year will be the Annual Picnic at 6:00 on May 15 at the Honor Heights Park Pavilion. The club provides fried chicken, beverages and paper goods. Members bring guests, side dishes and desserts. There is always a plant exchange.
Garden Club dues are $20 per year. The money is used to provide an annual horticulture student scholarship of $500, purchase memorial trees for deceased members, purchase tulips for the Broadway ST planters, contribute to beautification projects, and supplies for events.
The officers are: Oyana Wilson, president, Susan Asquith, first vice president Programs; Anita Whitaker second vice president Membership; Carole Edmonds, secretary; and Glenda Broome, treasurer.
The 2013 Muskogee Garden Tour committee is seeking area gardens to feature on the tour next summer. If you would like to open your garden to admirers, please contact Oyana Wilson 918-683-5380 or oyanaw@gmail dot com.
Follow Muskogee Garden Club on Facebook. 

19 September 2012

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.

U.S. Wildflowers.com
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, height, flower color, bloom time and animal resistance, and you get suggestions for your specific interest.

What a great service. Tip of the Trowel to Albermarle County, VA.

Here's the link for your native plant browsing pleasure

You can also go directly to the Entire List link to see what was growing in VA at the time of Jamestown. Check that one out, too.

The photo of Black Bugbane or Cohosh is from U.S. Wildflowers, another terrific resource at the link http://uswildflowers.com/. You can search by state, name, list, family, etc.

17 September 2012

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.

"The resemblance of Tacca to decaying organic matter is cited as evidence that it is attempting to attract flies (sapromyiophily) to facilitate cross-pollination. Some traits associated with sapromyiophily include dark flowers and bracts, filiform appendages, trapping mechanisms and the absence of nectar – all traits that are possessed by Tacca species (Tacca integrifolia is also reported to have a musty smell). However, one study has found that Tacca species are primarily self-fertilizing and have no great need for pollinators. The as-yet unanswered question surrounding the elaborate flowers is discussed at the end of the linked article."

I found seeds for Tacca integrifolia on EBay, at summerhillseeds.com and several other vendors.

I took the photos in Washington D.C. Exceptional plant isn't it?

Just now the Myriad Botanical Garden in Oklahoma City posted a photo of a Bat Flower blooming there! Here's the link -


15 September 2012

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.

13 September 2012

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 coating so it is recommended that they are nicked with sandpaper and/or soaked in warm water overnight. The seedlings will not come up when temperatures are under 55-degrees so they have to be started indoors or after the soil warms.

Seeds from this year’s plants can be planted in pots in the late fall, and left outside where the cold temperatures of winter will crack open the outer shell.

Morning Glories prefer unfertilized soil and will climb and twine clockwise around almost anything in their path. Their seeds are pressed into the ground mid-April or planted an inch deep in pots in March, after an overnight soak in warm water. 

Morning Glories come in a dozen colors. Tricolor Heavenly Blue is the classic blue; Blue Ensign is a Mediterranean miniature with 1-2 inch flowers that are indigo blue with a band of white between the blue outer edge and the yellow throat.

The striped colors usually come packaged together with pinks, reds and blues mixed together. British seed catalogues list them as Convolvulus major Trumpet Mix.

Unique Morning Glories include the double flowered ones such as Sunrise Serenade, Double Kikyo Pink and Split Second.

If your garden could use a splash of red, choose Scarlet O’Hara, Scarlet, Scarlet Star, Morning Star, Crimson Rambler, Mt. Fuji or Grandpa Ott. Pearly Gates is pure white and could be planted with Moonflowers in a white garden to extend flowering time.

There are plenty of garden favorites in the Ipomoea family. For example, Ipomeas batatas is our edible sweet potato and Ipomoea aquatics is edible water spinach whose flowers look like Morning Glories.

Field Bindweed is one of the weedy members of the Convolvulus family. Another agricultural invasive is Purple Moonflower, Ipomoea turbinate, that has stickers and pretty lavender flowers.
Convolvulus is from the Latin, convolve, to entwine. Cardinal Climber vines, Ipomoea x multified, have feathery vines and leaves with tiny red flowers. Once established they can become a beautiful pest that reseeds and climbs everything.
Plant growers sell Convolvulus mauritanicus, Ground Morning Glory as a low-growing, perennial evergreen groundcover (www.monrovia.com) with lavender-blue flowers. They call it a water-wise and fire-scaping plant. Convolvulus sabatius mauritanicus, Blue Rock Bindweed, is a Royal Horticultural Society Garden Merit winner with purple-blue flowers.
Silverbush or Bush Morning Glory, Convolvulus cneorum, is also called a drought tolerant, deer resistant, fire retardant evergreen whose white or pink flowers attract hummingbirds. Perennial in South Texas, they are cold hardy to zone 8, so in a warm microclimate such as a southwest facing corner of the house, Silverbush might overwinter in zone 7.
With all these plants, each flower lasts a single day, fading to be replaced by dozens more.

11 September 2012

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 http://www.oknativeplants.org/ 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.

09 September 2012

Weekend in the Ozarks - NW Arkansas

Our cabin at Devil's Den State Park

Morning Glories on a back road

Lee Creek runs through the park

The view from Mt. Magazine - the highest peak in Arkansas - 2,753 ft (839 m)

The collapsed 1930 bridge and the new bridge across Lee Creek

Devil's Den State Park was originally a CCC project and its remnants give the park it character.
Great trails, mellow atmosphere, native plants and butterflies - all for the viewing.
Fayetteville is where we go every day for a restaurant meal, used bookstore browsing and the farmer's market.
Lovely way to spend a weekend.

05 September 2012

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 sylvestris is the wild form that also has purple stems and white or pale pink flowers. It came to the US from Europe and Asia. Angelica archangelica or officinalis is the one most commonly grown in herb gardens since it is medicinal and is thought to bring luck, and protection. Archangel has yellow-green flowers.

Liquors such as Chartreuse and Benedictine contain Angelica because its medicinal properties include muscle relaxation. It is also believed to be an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

The Iriquois used angelica as medicine and made a wash to remove ghosts from a house. Eskimos burned the stems to purify both the inside and the outside of a home. In Blackfoot medicine it was thought to increase power and the Pomo hung it in their homes for protection. Several groups have carried it as a gambling charm, for fishing luck, to win horse races and to help win a bride. In other cultures, girls wore angelica root in a decorative bag around their necks to protect them.

Angelica seeds are often made into tea that is believed to have health benefits. In Korea, it is used to treat anemia and in China the dried root is used as a medicine. 

Monocarpic plants such as Angelica are biennials, producing leaves the first year, flowers the second year and then dying after setting seed for the next year.

Start the seeds this fall or winter for plants next spring and flowers the following summer.  My plants were started in January and bloomed in July, a year and a half later. Seed packets usually have a lot of seed because only half of them will come up. They do not need special soil but the seeds do need to be kept moist so trays or pots should be lightly covered, kept away from direct sunlight, and checked regularly. Seedlings take a month or two to emerge.

The usual recommendation is that Angelica seeds need a cold period, followed by a warm month, then chilled again to coax them into sprouting. 

Mountain Rose Herbs (www.mountainroseherbs.com) and Horizon Herbs (www.horizonherb.com)have Angelica archangelica seeds for $3.

Angelica gigas seeds are difficult to find since they have only recently been offered for sale outside Asia. Chiltern Seeds (www.chilternseeds.co.uk) has several Angelicas to choose from including: A. arguta native to North American forests, A atropurpurea a red stemmed Midwest US native, A. officinalis native to England, A. sylvestris, and A. ursine, a Japanese native.

Plant World Seeds (www.plant-world-seeds.com has Angelica gigas and a few other species such as a dwarf variety A. Hispanica plus A. Taiwaniana that they say has football-size scented flowers.

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 (www.gardenology.org), 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.

04 September 2012

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 across the front of the property and there are dead branches in the middle.

    These will be ideal for reaching into the
shrubs and pulling out the dead bits.  Need to get them out of the husband's hands first though.


03 September 2012

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  "daffnet@daffodilusa.org". Normally, members use this password to    access the email archive files.  Now, all contents within the archive can be found on Daffnet.org. 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://daffnet.org/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword. You will receive an email with a URL link to click which will enable you to enter a password."

The Tulsa Master Gardeners' email newsletter has tips on getting the fall veg garden going by the end of September, lawn and landscape care. TMG newsletters are at http://www.tulsamastergardeners.org/.

Brent and Becky's tulip sale is at https://store.brentandbeckysbulbs.com/spring/specials.php

Northern California's Master Gardener's monthly gardening advice is at

Territorial Seed is having a fall planting flower sale at

Memphis TN Master Gardener's newsletter is at

Mountain Valley Growers is having a fall sale at
Look for perennial herbals such as lavender, catnip, agastache, oregano, salvia, thyme as well as broccoli, rhubarb and lettuce.

Missouri Environment and Garden newsletter is at

Botanical Interests has lots of seeds on sale 40% off at

And as a bonus for anyone who read to the end, plant people will love this youtube video from Botanicus Interactis

02 September 2012

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.