Showing posts from December, 2012

Black Soldier Flies are Hermetia illucens

Black Soldier Flies are popular with home-composters and organic gardeners in USDA zones 6 and above. If you don't have the larvae in your compost yet, it might be worth finding out about them, how to attract them and how to feed them so they stay around.

The Black Soldier Fly blog at provides plenty of information  that is easy to read. It's the larvae that eat compost and any harmful insects in your bin. If you aren't squeamish, check out this YouTube video of the larvae mowing through cucumbers.

They seem to prefer coffee grounds and those are readily available from your local coffee house. They are tan and ridged as in the photo below.

The site called Black Soldier Fly Farming: The Next Generation of Composting calls them nature's own ultimate food recyclers. The larvae is also called phoenix worm, a high protein(40%)  food used to feed pets, chickens and livestock.
More photos at

Walking down the primrose path

The English Primroses made famous by Shakespeare grew wild in shady meadows. Since then, primroses have faded from cottage gardens but new hybrids are helping them make a come-back.
There are over 400 Primula species that bloom in early spring on stalks above rosettes of crinkly leaves.Common primrose, Primula vulgaris has single flowers on 6-inch stems. They are related to cowslips (Primula veris) and oxlips (Primula elatior).
Primula sieboldii goes dormant in the summer though if they are mulched and watered the rhizomes will spread to send up even more the following spring. The flowers are pink, white, purple or mauve on 12-inch stems.
Polyanthus primroses are easy to grow hybrids. They need to be divided every few years as they spread. They have large clusters of red, purple, yellow, white, pink or blue flowers on stems that can grow to a foot tall. Plant them with spring flowering bulbs and cut them back by half after they finish blooming.
Drumstick primrose (Primula denticulata) w…

Oklahoma Prairie Country - online resource

A wonderful find! Oklahoma Prairie Country is a website dedicated to the author's photos of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma history, and conservation.
Here's a link to his site -
Here's a link to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve site (the largest preserved tract of tallgrass prairie).
The Kansas portion is introduced at

The author's bio "I am 83 years old and a retired research chemist. The mystery and beauty of nature have always been high among my interests. After retirement I decided to devote part of my time working as a docent (volunteer) at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It is owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy, a wonderful organization dedicated to the scientific preservation of plants, animals, and natural communities by reestablishing and protecting the ecosystems t…

Santa Tracker from NORAD

Click to see where Santa is

2013 Garden Trends - the Zen of weeding

2013 Garden Trends have been announced and I've cut the article down by half. To read the entire report, click over to

Here's my abbreviated version -

In its 12th annual Garden Trends Report, Garden Media Group spots a positive trend revealing people are re-evaluating values, re-defining happiness and re-considering how gardening and caring for Mother Nature bring joy and satisfaction.

Global trends expert Li Edelkoort explains the ‘Year of Bliss’ takes its cue from nature, finding expression in bright colors, nature inspired products and tactile experiences. She notes as a society we’re slowing down, seeking authenticity and well-being, and tuning into now.

1. Lifestyle Forces New home pioneers are influencing urban planning with easy access to services, and sustainable lifestyles. We want to know where our food comes from.

2. Wellness Forces Health and wellness are the …

Soil from each state make a U.S. map

A Canadian created a US map by requesting soil samples from each and every state and attaching it to a single page.

Kansas declined but retired PR art professional Les Gregor's friend sent a bit for the artist's work.

Here's a link to the whole dirty story -

Stacked books as art in nature

Thanks to ASLA for passing this on -

As part of the International Festival des Jardins de Metis, which is held annually in Quebec, Berlin-based landscape architect Thilo Folkerts, 100 Landschaftsarchitektur, and Canadian artist Rodney LaTourelle created a fascinating 250-square-meter garden using about 40,000 books to show how “culture fades back into nature.”
The Jardin de la connaissance, which was actually installed in 2010, was designed to change and decay. According to Dezeen, old books were piled up to create walls, rooms, and seats. Books laid on the forest floor created platforms.

Then, eight varieties of mushrooms were introduced and “cultivated on select books” in order to spur the decay of the book landscape.

Recently, to update the piece, the designers amplified the sense of decay by applying “sampled moss from the forest” to the walls of the garden as a “paint mixture.” They call this “moss graffiti.” Folker…

Muskogee Master Gardeners get a new community garden

With Oklahoma State University master gardener classes starting in late January, Mandy Blocker met with the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, Mark Wilkerson, to discuss how they can work together.

“When the master gardener classes are completed in the spring, the members of the class need meaningful projects where they can earn the 40 volunteer hours required for certification,” Blocker said. “We are going to have a horticulture hotline at the Extension Office where they can volunteer, but some of them will want outdoor hours, too.”

Blocker and Wilkerson met last week at the new “Papilion, a place for butterflies” in Honor Heights Park to discuss ways their two organizations could collaborate. They decided that the perfect solution would be to create a new community garden in Chandler Road Park. (The park is near York Street and Chandler Road, where Okmulgee Avenue jogs a bit and becomes Chandler.)

“When that park was built, it was intended for adults in wheelchairs and …

Charles Darwin - the complete works online

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin have been collected on a single website.

Here are some excerpts from the front page introductory comments -

"Darwin's "On the Origin Of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races on the Struggle of Life", was published on November 24, 1859, and sold out immediately. It was followed by five more editions in his lifetime. The expression "survival of the fittest" did not originate from Darwin's work. Herbert Spencer had already used it in his books about evolutionary philosophy. Though he later described our common ancestor as "a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears," Darwin did not do so in the famous On the Origin of Species.      . . . .
Darwin's mother died when he was eight years old, and he was brought up by his sister. In 1827 he started theology studies at Christ's College, Cambridge. His love to collect…

World's Largest Collection of Opuntia (Cactaceae), prickly pear cacti

Flowering Opuntia fragilis, or prickly pear cactus, in the collection of WIU Department of Biological Sciences Professor Eric Ribbens. The world's largest  collection of Optunia fragisis is in Illinois, USA!
I'm re-posting excerpts and you can read the entire fascinating article at  Outcome Magazine

 " Last June, as Eric Ribbens and I perused his collection of his Opuntia fragilis — probably the largest collection of its kind on the planet — located near the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture’s Farm in Macomb, the Department of Biological Sciences Professor and Fulbright Scholar told me about the unusual sex life of this rare and endangered prickly pear cactus.

“If you’re going to go through the work of having sex, the goal is to maximize the genetic recombination. Yet, in plants, it’s possible for pollen to move to the same plant. But for the Opuntia fragilis, these plants have some sort of a chemical recognition cue, and if they sense the pollen is from t…

Holiday Plants that Pose Dangers to Children and Pets

Decorating for the holiday season often includes both live and artificial plants such as evergreen boughs, wreaths, Christmas trees, and holly.
Fresh greenery adds cheer and beauty but it is important to keep most live plants out of the mouths of children and pets.
Chewing leaves and berries can cause stomach upset or worse. Keep your family and friends safe throughout the season by knowing the name of each plant you bring into the house and whether it is toxic. For example, Christmas cactus and African violets are completely safe.

Most plants with berries pose a danger, whether they are fresh or artificial. Berries from live greens are mostly toxic to children and small pets and plastic berries pose a choking hazard. Both live and plastic berries tend to fall onto the floor so they should be picked up at least once a day.
If you have to call poison control, you will need to know the name of the plant the child ate so keep the information handy as plants are brought in.
Everything on A…

Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs 30% off

This isn't the type of post I usually put up, but this is one fantastic book at a better than ever price. So, please forgive my passing on this commercial.

Normally $80 now $56 at the Timber press link below.

The Layered Garden by David Culp

David Culp's website
explains that "The Layered Garden: Design Lessons fo Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage" is about his 2-acre PA garden called Brandywine Cottage.

A layered garden is one in which interplanting many species of plants in the same bed makes for continuous beauty. At least that's the plan.

The chapters are: The Layered Garden, The Garden at Brandywine Cottage, Signature Plants Through the Seasons and What is Beauty?

It is a book to sit down and read as well as to enjoy the pages and pages of professional photography.

His gardens are full, lush, and abundant. Culp is the Vice President of of Sales and Marketing at Sunny Border Nurseries in CT and trials as many new plants as his beds can hold. (You can read a few of his plant recommendations at

Every bed has an artistic touch and it is obvious that a lot of design, hard work and hours of labor have gone into the gardens over the 22 years he has l…

Grasslands Breathe CO2 Reducing Greenhouse Gasses by 5%

Environmental News Network
reports that plants help humans breathe and the earth heal from human actions.

"Plants "breathe in" CO2 and create biological mass. This is a form of sequestration.

 Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior recent report.

Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. In temperate latitudes, such as northwestern Europe and the Great Plains and California in North America, native grasslands are dominated by perennial bunch grass species, whereas in warmer climates annual species form a greater component of the vegetation.

Carbon that is absorbed through natural processes reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The 100 million tons sequestered in western ecosystems is an amount equivalent to — and counterbalances the emissions of — more than 8…

From the least of us ... Protect Monarch butterflies

Benjamin Vogt at The Deep Middle ( wrote about Molly Ginty's piece called "The Fall of the Monarchs".

Ginty writes, " Scientists say that the downfall has been caused in small part by environmental factors, but mostly by two types of human meddling: the use of herbicides that are killing off milkweed plants in the United States, and the illegal logging of the pine and fir trees on which the monarchs make their homes for five months of the winter in central Mexico."

(By the way, not all scientists agree about Mexican logging being a contributing factor.)

But this is interesting, "Monarch butterflies warn of what might lie ahead for other wild creatures affected by overfarming and deforestation,” says Chip Taylor, professor of insect ecology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, who founded Monarch Watch in 1992.
“It’s clear that this year’s tot…

Videos of Landscape Giants Darrel Morrison and Fletcher Steele

The Library of American Landscape History made two videos available online at

"Fletcher Steele and Naumkeag: A Playground of the Imagination"

Between 1926 and 1955, landscape architect Fletcher Steele and his client Mabel Choate created many new gardens for Naumkeag, the Choate family summer estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The new designs respected the layout of earlier gardens created c. 1885 by Nathan Barrett for the original Stanford White “cottage.”

A vibrant relationship developed between Steele and Choate, whose work began with Naumkeag’s Afternoon Garden and soon progressed to other features in the landscape: the South Lawn, Chinese Temple Garden, Blue Steps, and Rose Garden. Each of these designs reflected the tempo of its time and also connected visitors to the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains, visible from any part of the landscape. It is a magical site, truly a playground of …

Azaleas have an Encore

Growing Azaleas is a tradition in the deep-south but can be challenging for gardeners farther north.
Many azaleas available are descended from Asian shrubs originally cultivated by Buddhist monks. Their plant family includes heath, rhododendrons, blueberries and pieris.
Introduced in Holland in 1680 as Indian azaleas, the original hybrids were greenhouse plants in Europe, and were first planted in Charleston SC in 1848. In addition, there are twenty-six Azalea species that are native to North America.
Azaleas are divided into two categories: Evergreen and deciduous (the ones that lose their leaves in the winter).
Deciduous Azaleas are North American natives and their hybrids. Their leaves can be as large as 6-inches and the flowers range from white to purple, pink, red, orange and yellow.
Evergreen Azaleas are from Asia. Their leaves are as small as ¼ inch and the flower colors include white, purple, pink, red, and red-orange but not yellow. The flowers can be single colors and bi-colors,…

Plan to Plant Your Live Christmas Tree

Here are some sensible ideas for planning ahead for planting your live Christmas tree -

"If you plan to have a live Christmas tree, dig the planting hole before the ground freezes.

Mulch and cover the backfill soil and the planting hole to keep them dry and unfrozen.

When you get the tree, store it outdoors in a cool, shady, windless area until the last minute and mulch the roots to prevent cold injury.
Don't allow the tree's roots to become dry and spray the needles with an anti-transpirant to reduce moisture loss. 

Set the tree up in your coolest room.

Don't keep the tree indoors for more than one week and plant outdoors promptly."

Gardening Calendar supplied by the staff of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. (

Printed in the MU IPM Newsletter today at

Dec 2nd - Daffodils blooming

When you read instructions for "forcing" daffodils in the house for end-of-the-year bloom indoors, writers always say to throw the bulbs out after they bloom.

I can't throw out bulbs. They are planted in the vast outdoors where they either come back the next spring or they do not - but I have to at least give them a fighting chance.

This year, on Dec 2nd, it is 80 degrees and sunny here in NE Oklahoma, zone 7 and last year's Paperwhites are up and blooming their little hearts out.

Other places in the back yard, the birds have been working over the seeds and berries.
A few weeks ago the Hawthorn trees were loaded with ripe red berries and now there are very few left. I know I'm supposed to cook with them but we put them in for the songbirds and they are free to eat their fill.

The lavender shrubs suffer in mid-summer but thrive at this time of year. They crawl and sprawl over a 4 by 4 foot area at the end of a planting bed where they enjoy being on a dry slope and…

Beauty of Artificial Flowers

These are art museum quality artificial flowers we saw at botanical houses last year. In both situations, they were used to highlight water features.

The faux poppy and
faux water lily were both used
to good effect.