30 March 2013

Muscari - Grape Hyacinths bloom Mar-Apr

Grape Hyacinth
Muscari or Grape Hyacinths are blooming with abandon in our garden this spring. We added them to a planting of this cold-hardy succulent that surrounds a few trees in the front yard.

Native to Eurasia, their blue flowers resemble bunches of grapes - hence their name. Actually, they are not Hyacinths but Lilies!

Be sure to order and plant some this fall if your garden doesn't have any yet.

I have planted other colors and other color combination varieties from mail-order catalogs over the years,  but these are the ones that persist and multiply into the lawn.

Grape Hyacinths are hardy in zones 3 to 9.

Here they are under trees where the shade is very dense in the summer.
Still they do their wonderful spring-thing!
Plant them and just wait for them to naturalize and spread
all over the garden, greeting spring year after year.



28 March 2013

Bundleflower is Desmanthus illinoensis, Wood Rose, Prickleweed, False Sensitive Plant, etc.

Wildflowers are important to add a light touch to a cottage garden or for building a wildscape area that can help birds thrive. Native trees, flowers and grasses are more adaptive; harsh winter or summer weather cannot keep them down. They provide nectar for insects, attracting pollinators to our vegetable gardens and home grown fruit.

Most wildflowers take lots of sun but are not very particular about soil quality. Planting native grasses in your garden or shrub row will attract songbirds as well as quail, doves, cardinals, sparrows, and other seed-eaters.

Native grasses to consider include: Bluegrass, Bluestem, Bristlegrass, Buffalograss, Bundleflower, Dropseed, Gamagrass, Grama, Lovegrass, and Wintergrass.

Desmanthus native range -
Illinois Bundleflower or Desmanthus illinoensis is native in USDA zones 5 through 8, most of the central and southern U.S. mainland states. Its range skips the east and west coasts as well as Montana and Nevada.

The butterfly attracting, one-half-inch wide spring flowers resemble those found on Buttonbush. The flowers bloom from May to September. They are white but have yellow stamens that extend beyond the flower making it resemble a bottlebrush flower. The leaves resemble those of a Mimosa tree but the seed pod is completely unique to Bundleflowers. 

The unique seed pod is where Bundleflowers acquired another name: Wood Rose. The dark brown curved pods twist into a cluster, remaining on the plant well into the winter when wildlife find them. The seeds are a favorite of Northern Bobwhite Quail.

A member of the legume or pea family, Bundleflower seeds are highly valued by birds and wildlife as a winter protein source. Easy to grow from seed, Bundleflowers can take soil that is dry to wet but not coarse sand or dense clay. At the Missouri Botanical Garden, it is grown in the Rock Garden and in our yard it grows well with afternoon protection under the shade of larger plants.

Bundleflower is popular with honey bees so if the young plants are left alone by foraging rabbits, it can become plentiful in prairies and along country roads through re-seeding. Since it is a legume, it is helpful in building soil fertility and improving soil quality.

Desmanthus seedpod in August
This is a plant that requires persistence in research because it is referred to by so many different names in books and catalogs, including Prairie mimosa, Prairie Bundleflower, False Sensitive Plant, Sabine Illinois bundleflower, Prickle-weed, Wood Rose, Mimosa illinoensis, Reno Germplasm Illinois bundleflower and its Latin name Desmanthus. 

The False Sensitive Plant name comes from the leaves’ sensitivity. The leaves close inward at night, when they are struck by direct sunlight and when they are touched.

In a single growing season, Bundleflower plants’ soft stems can grow to 4-feet tall and flop over. Some gardeners consider them weedy or informal in appearance and tuck them out of sight.

Because of their soil building qualities, Bundleflowers are planted to restore mined land. Native Americans used them for many medicinal purposes. For example, the Pawnees used a tea made from the leaves to relieve itching and the Hopi placed seeds on the eyes for conjunctivitis (pink eye or trachoma).

Bundleweed has no insect or disease problems. The seeds are available from catalogs that are interesting to browse: Native American Seed at www.seedsource.com in the wildflower section, from Native Seed Network at www.nativeseednetwork.org and Roundstone Native Seed at www.roundstoneseed.com.

Seed germination can take 2-weeks in 65-degree weather but that time can be shortened by soaking the seeds in hot water overnight. A legume inoculum that is commonly added when planting garden peas can also be used. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep directly in the garden and keep the soil moist.

For more information: The Great Plains Nature Center at www.gpnc.org.

27 March 2013

Poodle Moth is too cute not to share

Venezuelan Poodle Moth was discovered by zoologist Dr Arthur Anker from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and most likely belongs to the lepidopteran family Artace.

Read more on ScienceBlogs dog org at

Ankar's other lepidopteran photos are on his Flikr site at

24 March 2013

Periodical Cicada are expected this year

The seven year itch is nothing compared to the emergence of Periodical Cicada (Magicicada septendecim) and 2013 is expected to be their year.

From Smithsonian Magazine's blog (http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/03/after-17-years-the-northeast-is-about-to-be-blanketed-by-a-swarm-of-cicadas/)

"A mass of winged creatures, red eyes glowing, the cicadas “are expected to emerge and overwhelm a large swath of land from Virginia to Connecticut — climbing up trees, flying in swarms and blanketing grassy areas so they crunch underfoot,” says http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2013/mar/11/cicadas-are-coming/.
Great Plains Nature Center
ONE TO FIVE MILLION cicadas PER ACRE is what's expected according to Magicada at http://www.magicicada.org/magicicada_ii.php (Those shouting capital letters are my editorial comment. I could have said euu or yuk or duck! . . . ). 

They live in the ground and eat tree roots, emerge when the soil 8-inches below the surface is 64 degrees. Then they molt, mate and lay eggs. The nymphs crawl underground and emerge in 17 year cycles. They are noisy but to not bite or sting.

Want to know more? Here's the OK State University Fact Sheet on them

The PA State Fact Sheet is at http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/periodical-cicada

Thanks to the PA Master Gardeners' blog for the tip - http://franklincountymgs.blogspot.com/.

22 March 2013

Daffodil Day in Muskogee OK March 23, 2013

Bright yellow and white daffodils are popping up all around the historic Thomas-Foreman Home in Muskogee. They line the front and sides of the home with miniature daffodils blooming in the space between the sidewalk and the fence.

The flowers are accents to the other pink, yellow and white flowering bushes and other plants in the yard. Guests can see them all and have a spot of tea with sandwiches and cookies at Daffodil Day, courtesy of Muskogee Garden Club.

Members planted 1,000 bulbs in November preparing for Daffodil Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Guests arrive at Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin St., for a tour and then take a trolley ride to the Thomas-Foreman Home, 1419 W. Okmulgee Ave., where there will be a home and garden tour, and tea. Cost is $10. You also may go directly to the home for the tour for $5.

The house was built in 1898 as a farmhouse by John R. Thomas Sr., a federal judge over Indian Territory, according to a brochure at the home. Thomas’ daughter, Carolyn, and his son, John R. Thomas Jr., came to live there. Thomas Jr. became a celebrated hero of the Spanish-American War with the Rough Riders.

Carolyn married Grant Foreman, who came to Muskogee in 1899 to serve on the Dawes Commission. The couple wrote articles and more than 20 books on Oklahoma history. They were inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1934. Carolyn enjoyed gardening and had daffodils in the gardens.

Sue Tolbert, director of the museum, which owns the home, has been looking forward to the big event for several months since she and Muskogee Garden Club member Martha Stoodley started talking about it.

“This is a great opportunity for the community, especially with the garden club getting involved,” Tolbert said.

Stoodley, who is also a Master Gardener, said she likes daffodils so much because they are durable and will multiply. The 1,000 bulbs were ordered from Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, Mich., she said. Funding for the project came from donations of $500 from Muskogee Garden Club, $1,000 from Kirschner Foundation, $500 from A More Beautiful Muskogee and $400 from individual donors. Landscape cleanup was done by Tim Doerner, landscaper. Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department donated the pick up and disposal of 8-foot tall piles of debris from tree, shrub and vine removal, Stoodley said.

“It took the landscapers three days to clear it out,” she said.

Volunteers like Ray Sprinkles, who is a member of Three Rivers Museum, also raked leaves this week to get the yard ready for the tour. He does it because he is interested in local and Oklahoma history.

Garden club members are making things like cucumber or watercress sandwiches on thin sliced bread with butter or cream cheese. The tea will be served by garden club members either hot or cold. Stoodley will be using recipes and ideas she received while attending a class in Tulsa on how to put on an English tea, which is fitting for the Foremans because they were world travelers.

“It should be a fun thing for the community,” Stoodley said of Daffodil Day. “There’s no trick to planting a bulb — plant it twice the height of the bulb. Don’t fertilize until they bloom.”

Also a Master Gardener and president of Muskogee Garden Club, Oyana Wilson said the club plans to continue improving the gardens at the home.

“We want to bring back some things that were originally there,” Wilson said.

They also plan to plant more daffodils next year. Wilson is making a display board that will be in the home giving information on the daffodils. There are more than 25,000 registered named hybrids and 40 to 200 different daffodil species, depending on which book you look at, she said.

“Eventually, it will be a showstopper,” she said.

If you go

WHAT: Daffodil Day hosted by Muskogee Garden Club.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin St., and Thomas Foreman Home, 1419 W. Okmulgee Ave. Guests may tour the museum and then take a trolley ride to the Thomas-Foreman Home for Daffodil Day, home tour and tea or go to the home only.

COST: $10 if starting at the museum and taking the trolley to the home or $5 if going only on the home tour.

INFORMATION: (918) 686-6624 and (918) 683-5380.

21 March 2013

Pachysandra for Shade Under Trees - new and old varieties

P. terminalis
Wherever there are trees or a shrub row in your garden you can plant pachysandra to hold the soil in place and to prevent weeds from sprouting.

Pachysandra has gone in and out of fashion over the years because so many gardeners jumped on the Japanese pachysandra bandwagon and overplanted it to the point that garden designers said, “No more.”
P. procumbens
Monrovia's new Windcliff Fragrant Pachysandra axillaris

But, pachysandra is back in the news with varieties that do not take over by spreading everywhere and a 2013 introduction that has more sweetly scented flowers.

All pachysandras are related to boxwoods and offer the same durability throughout the seasons. They are all rabbit and deer resistant because the leaves are thick and tough. Unlike boxwoods, pachysandras want shade. In fact, the leaves bleach and turn yellow in sun.

Another feature they have in common with boxwood is that they are relatively inexpensive. For example, at Classy Groundcovers (www.classyground covers.com) bare root Japanese spurge, Pachysandra terminalis, plants are under $1 apiece.

Pachysandras all grow very slowly. Until new plants are well-rooted, they will need to be watered every 10 days if there has been no rainfall. They will thrive in the acidic soil under oak and pine trees since their ideal pH is 5.5 to 6.5.

Whether you buy bare root or potted plants, place them 6 inches to 2 feet apart so they have room to spread. To prevent weeds in a new planting, cover the area with compost.

On most varieties, the flowers are small but have a sweet scent that wafts through the air. Each flower spike holds both male and female flowers. If pollination occurs, a small berry-like drupe will form.

Before you buy plants take time to consider the virtues and vices of the various varieties available. Some grow 6 inches tall and others grow almost a foot tall. Most are hardy in zones 3 or 4 to 8 or 9. (Northeast Oklahoma is zone 7.)

Japanese spurge is the one that has been complained about the most. Like many plants imported from Japan (think Japanese wisteria), pachysandra terminalis can spread beyond the garden to take over a lawn or nearby flower beds.

If that is not an issue for your garden, there are several Japanese hybrids to consider. Green sheen and silver edge are popular and easy to find. They both mature at 6 to 8 inches tall.

Pachysandra terminalis green carpet compact forms mounds and does not trail. Pachysandra terminalis variegata has cream and green leaves and grows 6 to 8 inches tall.

The American native Allegheny spurge is a semi-evergreen variety that creates a patchwork cover that grows more slowly. Pachysandra procumbens grows 6 to 12 inches tall and wide with 4-inch long flower clusters in the spring. It is native from Eastern Kentucky to Louisians. Allegheny spurge can be killed by being walked on too much, so it is considered endangered in parts of its native range. Boyd Nursery offers 50 bare root plants for $50 including shipping at www.pachysandra.net.

Pachysandra procumbens pixie is a clump forming variety that matures at 4 inches tall and would be a good selection for a Zen, shade or woodland garden. (Available at quackingrassnursery.com)

The new sweetly-scented Windcliff Fragrant Pachysandra axillaris is a recent discovery from China that will be available this spring. It matures at 4 to 6 inches tall and blooms spring and fall. Dan Hinkley discovered the plant in 2006 and Monrovia Growers (Monrovia.com) is making it widely available at garden centers this spring.

Each Windcliff pachysandra will form underground stolons or rhizomes and spread 2-feet wide with glossy, thick, serrated leaves.

A shade and moisture-loving plant, pachysandra is ideal for beds with a northern exposure, too. Plant them this spring to cover bare areas with thick beautiful leaves.

19 March 2013

Bees - Don't Know Much About

Learning about bees on Quora.com

The question was "How do bees choose their queen?" 

The answers came from knowledgeable bee people and you'll learn something!

Matan Shelomi, Entomologist 

They don't: the queen chooses the bees.

Here's how it works: a bee hive / ant colony starts with a winged queen, who digs a nest, sheds her wings (if she's an ant), and begins to lay eggs. They start as workers (all female), whom are kept from becoming reproductive by chemicals the queen produces that stunt the development of other workers.
At her will and once the colony is large enough, she will produce eggs destined to become reproductives: princesses and princes. These are often fed different food and develop for longer.
Royal jelly, for example, is fed to the bee larvae destined to become reproductives. I should also point out that bees and ants can choose the gender of their offspring: unfertilized eggs become male, and queens, which store sperm in special organs in their body, selectively fertilize or not fertilize each egg.

During mating season, the reproductives fly out of the nest and mate in the air. Males die, and the mated females go off to become new queens and start brand new nests.

What happens if an extant queen dies? Sometimes the colony dies with her. At other times, a worker or several workers actually start to lay eggs and one eventually takes over as queen, usually by killing other egg-laying workers. Sometimes rebel workers lay eggs while the old queen is alive, but the latter will eat them before they hatch.

EDIT: Please see Tal Reichert's answer for awesome honeybee specific information.
(The Bee Guardian Foundation has a FB page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/beeguardianfoundation)

What you are describing is indeed how ant queens establish new colonies, as well as many species of bees. To the best of my knowledge, it is not how honey bee colonies are created though. I am not an entomologist, just a beekeeper, but I don't think a honeybee queen can raise brood on its own - it would need workers for that, which is why a new honeybee colony is not founded by a solitary mated queen but rather by a swarm. 
Tal Reichert, Hobbyist beekeeper and incurably curious.

To supplement Matan's answer, which is more generic to non-honeybee-species, I wanted to describe the process regarding honeybees.

Normally, a honeybee colony has a single, mature queen in it. That queen actively lays eggs, worker bees tend to the larvae hatching out of the eggs until they seal the cell these larva are in and let them transform into an adult bee.

There are three types of honeybees - drones (males) that hatch out of unfertilized eggs, and workers+queens, both of which are females and come out of fertilized eggs. What separates the workers from the queens is the way they are raised - and here's the explanation.
There are three situations in which bees "decide" to raise a new queen.

1. When they feel their existing queen is getting old/failing, and they want to supersede her with a new queen.
2. When the queen has gone missing - died, wandered off the hive, whatever - but she's not in the hive.
3. The bees "decide" to swarm, i.e. take one hive and split it into two.

In all of these situations the bees need a new queen. They choose female eggs (apparently at random) and relocate them into bigger cells ("queen cells"). These female larvae are fed richer food than the worker larvae (to be specific - in the first three days of their lives, worker larvae and queen larvae are both fed the rich royal jelly, but only queen larvae are kept on it, allowing them to mature faster and become queens). The cells are then capped, the larvae create pupae and transforms into queens.

The first virgin queen to emerge communicates with the other ones through piping - they create vibrations in the comb. The roaming virgin queen creates a sound called "tooting", its sisters answer it with "quacking". The free-roaming queen then goes cell-by-cell and kills them all.

What's next for the newbee queen is a bit of maturing in the hive for a few days, some practice flights to learn the hive's location, and then a flight to the nearest drone congregation area for the queen's only romantic adventure of her life, in which she'll mate with multiple drones from other hives - these drones will die on the spot.

Upon returning to the hive, what happens next varies by the reason the queen was created in the first place.

If it was for swarming purposes, its mother will leave with half the workforce. They will find a new spot for a hive, the workers will create the new comb there and the queen-mother will start laying, while in the old hive her daughter will start laying eggs within a few days.

If the old queen went missing or dead, then now the bees have a new queen and a reason to celebrate - the hive was saved (no queen - the colony's days are numbered. As mentioned in one of the comments, when a virgin queen is around or when no queen is around, worker bees might start laying eggs, but as they have not mated, these will all be drone eggs. Male bees, much like human males, aren't good for much).

If the old queen was just getting too old for all of this, the new queen and/or the workers may decide to kill her. Alternatively, the new queen and the old queen may live in harmony for some time, both actively laying eggs, until the old queen expires (naturally or with some help from her formerly loyal subjects).

I guess the bottom line for your question - how do they choose a queen - the answer is "rather randomly".
Honeybees raise new queen in 3 situations:
1. swarming
2. supersedure
3. emergence
In every case they start multiple queen cells. That increases chances of survival of a queen in case something happens to another one for example during mating flight. At the end if hive has two queens, they will fight and strongest one wins.

So I belive bees do not choose there queen, they let the nature pick the best one.


16 March 2013

Crinum Lilies for Oklahoma, Kansas and points north

Crinum lilies are not lilies at all. Just as rain lilies, crinums are amaryllis.
Called graveyard lilies, country lilies, criniums, and by their variety name Milk and Wine. These gigantic Crinum bulbs from the southern hemisphere have migrated to the U.S. over many generations making their way into southerners' hearts and gardens.
Crinum bulbs from Dutch Touch in Olathe Kansas
Wilfred Wiering of Dutch Touch said, "The ones we sold at the Tulsa Home and Garden Show are Crinum powelii. They grow in the field in Kansas City where I live. I do not fertilize them but you'd have a better plant if you did."
Crinum bulbispermum is said to be the most cold-hardy and the parents of C. Powelii are C. bulbispermum and C. mooreii according to http://www.crinum.us/pow.htm so I'm optimistic.
Crinums at an old home site from  A. L. Sisk at  http://www.crinum.us/
  Their legend is large: Roundup won't kill them, they bloom under fallen-down houses, survive burn piles, and the bulbs grow to the size of basketballs and have to be removed with front-end loaders.
They will take full sun and part shade, wet or dry places, all the while blooming. Best planted in the spring or fall, the bulbs are planted above the round part, with 6-inches sticking out above ground.
Crimun Liberty Bells - Marcelle's Crinums East TX
Keep them blooming by removing faded flowers. Their best range in the U.S. is no farther north than the mid-south though many gardeners much farther north say theirs do beautifully in a microclimate with winter-mulch.
Crinum Walter Flory - Southern Bulb Company
Fertilize in the spring with composted manure or 13-13-13.
Bradley (24"; deep wine/pink)
Creole (30"; white with red stripes)
Elizabeth Traub (48"; dark rose pink)
Ellen Bosanquet (24"; reddish purple)
Walter Flory (40"; pink with burgundy stripes)
C. americanum (white/red stamens)
C. scabrum (white/crimson stripes)
C. macowanii (white/rose lines on back; 5')
C. moorei var. schmidtii (white)
C. bulbispermum (more frost tolerant; white, pink, wine)
C. powellii
C. moorei (solid rose, pink, white)
C. x powellii 'Album' (white)
C. scabrum (white/ red stripes)
On the topic of hardiness zones for these beauties, Plant Answers from Milberger's in San Antonio has an amusing and thorough discussion of all things Crinum - plus an article about bulbs in general. If you have time to be amused, click over to http://www.plantanswers.com/crinum.htm.
In the meantime, I just hope those big boys thrive in our zone 7, sunny location and live up to their reputation. So exciting!


14 March 2013

March and April - Events outoors, wildflowers, nature and for gardeners

March and April promise to be busy months for everyone who enjoys gardening or being outside. There are how-to workshops; the Muskogee trails clean-up, tea at the Thomas-Foreman Home Daffodil Day, an Audubon Club meeting, Azalea Festival activities, art shows, a wildflower weekend and a rattlesnake roundup to keep you going.

MARCH 16 8 am to 5
Tulsa Rose Society workshop $20

Tulsa Community College, 3727 E Apache
Information Don or Brenda Johnson 918-277-1954

MARCH 16 8 to 12
Muskogee Trail clean-up

DougW@health.ok.gov, 918-683-0321


MARCH 16 10:30 am
Tulsa Community Garden Association

Welcome Table Garden Park and Orchard, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. Turley
http://www.tulsacga.org and Bonnie Ashing 918-346-3475


MARCH 20 4:30 to 7 pm
Spring Celebration

Lake McMurtry, Stillwater, OK
Bicycle maintenance class, Easter egg hunt & Audubon Society bird walk
information:  RSVP
Rachel@lakemcmurtry.com or 405.747.8085

Indian Nations Audubon Club

Muskogee Public Library George Foreman Room
Speaker Andy Qualls, Natural Resource Conservation Service
Information Martha Evans marthadavehome@gmail.com

March 21 6 pm
Muskogee Garden Club
“What’s New for Home Gardeners?”
Blossom’s Garden Center
3012 East Hancock
Information: 918-683-5380

MARCH 23 10 am – 2 pm
Daffodil Day at Thomas-Foreman Home, 1419 W Okmulgee St.
Tour the home and enjoy Tea served by Muskogee Garden Club $5

For $10 Tour Three Rivers Museum  220 Elgin St, take the trolley to Thomas Foreman Home, have tea and  tour the Thomas-Foreman Home
http://www.3riversmuseum.com, 918-683-5380, 918.683.2373


MARCH 23 2pm
Insect Nesting Box Class $20
Groggs Green Barn

10105 East 62 St, Tulsa
http://groggsgreenbarn.com, 918-994-4222


MARCH 24 2 to 3
Spring Pruning Class
Southwood Landscape & Garden Center

9025 S Lewis, Tulsa

MARCH 25 9 to 5
FREE DAY Crystal Bridge Myriad Gardens

301 W Reno, Oklahoma City


MARCH 28 speakers 9 to 3
AND MARCH 30 Festival 9 to 3
EcoFest – Conserving Oklahoma
Tulsa Community College Seminar Center, 3727 E Apache at Harvard
www.TULSACC.EDU/ECOFEST, MLimas@tulsacc.edu


APR 1 -30 , 10 to 5

Five Civilized Tribes Museum
1101 Honor Heights DR
Information: 918-683.1701

APRIL 1 30

Honor Heights Park
Information: 918-684-6302


April 2 at 6 pm
Wildflower Walk at Cedar Crest/
MacLennan Park
Kansas Native Plant Society
Information Jeff Hansen, 785 806 6917


Waynoka Rattlesnake Round-Up

Information 580-541-4169


APRIL 9 at 6 pm

“Native Plants in the Garden”
111 N McCracken


APRIL 12 7pm to APR 14

Sugar Creek State Park near Pineville MO
Details at
Information: Larry Wegmann lwegmann@sbcglobal.net,

APRIL 12 to 14

California Botanical Society
Botanical Symposium

Berkeley, CA
Information: http://www.calbotsoc.org/centennial_symposium.html


APRIL 13 9 TO 5

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Information and Plant list:

APRIL 13 at noon
downtown Muskogee
Information: 918-684-6302

APRIL 13-14, 9 to 4

Tulsa Garden Center
2435 Peoria AV
Information 918.746.5125


APRIL 13 10 am
“Perennials for Your Landscape”

Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden, Tulsa
Information: 918-289-0330, www.ocbg.org


April 18 at 9:30 am
Muskogee Garden Club
119 Spaulding BL
Growing Flowers & Vegetables Together
Information: Oyana Wilson 918-683-5380


APRIL 20 8 to 12
Muskogee Farmer’s Market
Opening & Earth Day Celebration
Market Square, 5th & Okmulgee ST


APRIL 20 9:30 am and 2 pm
Flower Garden and Nature Society
709 S Old Missouri RD, Springdale AR
Erica Glasner
10 “Joy of Gardening” & 2 pm “Designing a Garden” $20
Information: 479-466-8100 or


April 20 9 to 4

Sand Springs downtown
500 N Adams Rd


APRIL 27 8 to 4
Information: 918-298-5112 or 918-446-2488


It is always a good idea to call ahead and ask about cost and parking.

11 March 2013

March Seedlings Grown Indoors

Seedlings in strawberry boxes
Starting seeds to grow your own transplants is fun. Sterile, well-drained planting mix, the correct temperature and light will help you be successful, but things come up, our attention gets diverted, and our efforts have mixed results. 

For example, I found these Raab seeds left over from a previous year and thought the germination rate would be so low that I could put a lot of them in the container. 
spindly seedlings
The light was insufficient, they were too wet and crowded.


Then, it was too cold to go outside much and we were super busy and then the seeds popped roots and leaves and well, the photo tells you everything.

Many experienced gardeners say to pitch them out and start again but I put them under lights to see if they would like to keep growing.  After all, at this time of year, we're mostly puttering while waiting for better weather.
seedlings under lights

09 March 2013

Begonia houseplant from a single leaf

A couple of years ago I was visiting an office where I was asked to wait ... and wait ... and wait. There was a begonia on a stand that was bursting with flowers and about to break out of its pot.

 I took a single leaf and tucked it into my purse. When I came home I put that leaf on moist vermiculite in a strawberry container and kept it out of direct light.

That leaf took root and sent up another tiny leaf so I put it into a tiny clay pot filled with dampened, sterile potting soil.

As it grew, I re-potted it a couple of times and this week it is showing off its sweet pink flowers.

Do you know what kind of begonia it is? More searching for this plant's name (Dec.2013) and still nothing. Plenty of hints from similar looking ones but nothing exactly like it.

Dec. 2013
It's time to propagate this beauty, as her stems have become so long she can barely support leaves. We pruned it back to the crown and will keep the cuttings in damp paper for a few days, then move them to damp soil for re-growing. Here's a link to a great begonia propagation page by Brad's Begonia World -
As with all begonias, it is pretty easy but you do have to keep an eye on the process so nothing rots or dries out too much to survive.  Brad says that rhizome cuttings are stem cuttings with nodes and with or without leaves. They can be any length and rooted in potting mix, planted with part of the rhizome showing. Tip cuttings are rooted upright, one-inch into the potting mix. His illustration couldn't be any clearer. Great job!
Brad's Begonia World


07 March 2013

Cold Hardy Camellias

Camellias have historically been a warm-climate flowering shrub.  However, many new varieties are cold-hardy to USDA zone 7 and a few are cold-hardy to zone 6.

Camellias are in the Tea (Theaceae) plant family. Camellia sinesis leaves and buds are used to make the green and black teas we drink. Linnaeus named Camellias after a Jesuit missionary, George Kamel. Tea camellias are native to Southeast Asia where they have grown for centuries.

U.S. gardeners began making improvements on the Camellia japonicas in the 1700s and by 1960 cold-hardy camellias became available. Two American breeders, Dr. William Ackerman and Dr. Clifford Parks developed the best hybrids.
Camellia kanjaro - Greenleaf Nursery
Fall-blooming Ackerman hybrids succeed in our region and include: Winter Star, Winter Rose, Winter Snow, Winter Interlude, Pink Icicle, Snow Man, winter’s Charm, Snow Flurry, Ashton’s Snow, etc.  (See http://alturl.com/2x9dn for an Ackerman article on growing camellias in cold climates.)

Inexpensive camellia plants can be purchased but it is best to select fall-blooming hybrids that will survive heat, humidity, cold, drought and downpours. Cold-hardy camellias to look for are hybrids of japonica, oleifera Plain Jane, oleifera Lu Shan Snow, saluenesis and especially sasanqua.

Barry Fugatt, the horticulture director of the Tulsa Garden Center and the Linnaeus Teaching Garden said, “The spring blooming camellias are vulnerable to late frost and bud burn that can ruin their flowers.”

 fall blooming Camellia sasanqua Han Jiman
photo courtesy of Greenleaf Nursery
With regular, deep watering, Camellia sasanqua varieties can take our summer drought and still bloom in the fall. Fall-blooming Yae Arare has pink edged single flowers and Showa No Sakae has rose-like pink flowers. 

Fugatt said that the camellias he has at home are not on a watering system. Instead he gives them a deep soak once a week.

Placement for camellias is the same as we think of for azaleas according to Fugatt:  Acidic soil, dappled sun, afternoon shade and consistent moisture.

“I am impressed with the performance of cold hardy camellias,” Fugatt said. “After the first 2 or 3 years, they grow into your soil and prove to be durable.”

The other growing advice Fugatt provided is to minimize fertilizer.

“Too much tender spring growth is hard on the plants and looks unattractive,” Fugatt said. “Use either a manure product or Osmocote slow-release fertilizer in the fall instead of spring.”

There are exceptions but most camellias grow very slowly, maturing at 4 to 9 feet tall and wide. A Camellia sasanqua might grow to only 3-feet tall over a period of 5-years.

Greenleaf Nursery (www.greenleafnursery.com) is the grower of Espalier Winter’s Snowman Camellia. It is ideal for a tight space since it grows up to 12-feet tall and stays skinny at only 5-feet wide at maturity.  It is cold hardy to zone 6 which is 0 to -10 F. The flowers are large, white, anemone-form. Espalier Autumn Pink Icicle, has soft pink flowers and is cold hardy to zone 7.

Greenleaf also grows October Magic Snow camellia which has frilled, magenta-edged, double white flowers. Their camellia Hana Jiman has pink-edged semi-double white flowers. Hana Jiman is a southern heritage plant that grows 10 feet tall and 5 to 12 feet wide.

Unlike azaleas, camellias grow a tap root, helping them withstand dry spells and cold winters. Like azaleas, they prefer 5.5 to 6.5 soil pH, shelter from wind and a location at the northeast side of a heated building that leaks warmth all winter.

Plant camellias high with the trunk base above the soil line. Protect them in summer with thick mulch and in winter surround the roots with paving stones that will hold warmth.  Clean up leaves as they drop to prevent disease.

Gardeners who lost azaleas during the past two years might want to replace them with camellias in April.