27 April 2013

Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, loved by Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies

The flowers of Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, are downward facing so you have to keep an eye out for them or you will miss their sweet beauty in the spring. Ours is blooming now and has been for the past 2 weeks.
In order to get fruit, you have to have 2 cultivars. We don't care about fruit since we planted the tree solely for the zebra swallowtail butterfly's visits. For our purpose a seed started tree was just fine. For fruit, look for grafted cultivars.
Some protection from the worst of summer's sun and excellent drainage are critical to their success. Since it is a small tree, ours is in the herb bed with a bird bath and a few native plants.
KY State University Pawpaw Planting Guide is at this link
"The pawpaw is a tree of temperate humid growing zones, requiring warm to hot summers, mild to cold winters, and a minimum of 32 inches (81 cm) of rainfall spread rather evenly throughout the year, with the majority falling in spring and summer. It can be grown successfully in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 (-15o F/-26o C) through 8 (15o F/-9o C). Pawpaws grow wild over a wide range of latitude, from the Gulf Coastal plain to southern Michigan. However, the trees may not receive adequate chilling hours if planted too close to the Gulf Coast. Most named cultivars originated in the Midwest, which is the northern portion of the pawpaw's range."
"Another pest is Eurytides marcellus, the zebra swallowtail butterfly, whose larvae feed exclusively on young pawpaw foliage, but never in great numbers. The adult butterfly is of such great beauty that this should be thought more a blessing than a curse. pawpaw is sometimes reported to be plagued by pests, but this may be because of poor tree health resulting from the stress of improper soils and an unsuitable climate."
Blue Ridge Discovery Project
 I dream of having caterpillar eggs and larvae eating my tree!
" Deer will not eat the leaves or twigs, but they will eat fruit that has dropped on the ground. Male deer occasionally damage trees by rubbing their antlers on them in winter."

25 April 2013

Erica Glasener at Flower Garden Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas

Atlanta GA is the home of HGTV personality and author Erica Glasener (ericaglasner.com) who gave two talks at the Flower Garden and Nature Society last Saturday. Program chair for FGNS, Gail Pianalto, introduced Glasener as “a rock star of the gardening world”.

In her recent past Glasener hosted “A Gardener’s Diary” on HGTV for 14-years, interviewing gardeners across the U.S. Her list of writing credentials include a garden column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Southern Lady Magazine, Fine Gardening, and many others.

Her books include “Proven Plants: Southern Gardens” and her planting tips are part of the Southern Living Plant Collection website at southernlivingplants.com/expert_advice.

Glasener opened her first talk by saying that she thinks the soul of any garden is the gardener who works there. She is also a plant-lover who thinks native plants are perfect but that imported plants and hybrids are also quite important in a garden.

The morning talk included dozens of photos from the gardens that were featured on “Gardener’s Diary” over the years plus her own garden.

C. integrifolia Arabella at www.clematis.com.pl
Clematis Arabella is a favorite in her own garden and Glasener recommends letting it grow as a groundcover and through perennials. It blooms from May to Aug in zones 4 to 9. No pruning is necessary with Arabella.

Another of Glasener’s favorite plants is Amsonia hubrichtii or Arkansas Bluestar. The Perennial Plant Association chose Amsonia as plant of the year in 2011. Its grass-like leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, producing clumps 2 feet tall. Pale blue flowers bloom in April and May and the fall leaf color is gold to yellow.

In the afternoon talk, Glasener focused on a topic that she said is close to her heart: “Why do people garden”. She commented that landscapers can install a landscape for your home but that there is no such thing as low-maintenance gardening.

“Low-maintenance gardening misses the whole purpose of gardening,” said Glasener. “Why garden? If you want a low-maintenance garden, take up golf instead.”

She said to consider the plants that will surround structures and paving. In one garden, blue chairs and a blue trellis set off hydrangeas and a collection of blue flowers. In another, Black Mondo Grass lined and set off a path made of gravel and pavers.

In her talk titled, “Designing a Garden for Year Around Pleasure”, Glasener said to pay attention to plant groupings to include something of interest for all four seasons so you can enjoy the view all year.

For example, include an evergreen plant with a group of deciduous ones. In the summer the evergreen will fade into the background but will take center stage after the first freeze. She also used collards as a background planting for wallflowers and other spring flowers.

Also for winter interest, plant Arum Italicum Pictum. The leaves come up in the fall, remain over the winter and die back in the summer. Cold hardy in zones 5 to 9, Lords and Ladies prefer moist shade.

Glasener’s new book, “Proven Plants: Southern Gardens” is divided into 20-categories including, Perennials for Shade, Trees with Colorful Bark, Flowering Bulbs for Summer and Fall, etc. In each category ten proven plants are described with facts and photos. All the basics such as drought, soil and sun are covered, too.

The Flower Garden and Nature Society meets in Springdale Arkansas, monthly, on Saturday mornings.

Upcoming meetings:
May 18 The Herbal Adventurers, Sheila Deal and Meghan Hassler, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Herbs”, June 1 “Through the Garden Gate” garden tour, and,
July 20 Lynn Rogers, Washington County Master Gardener, “Irises: Rainbows in the Garden”

Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA or contact Gail Pianalto 479-361-2198. Also visit Lynn Rogers’ garden blog at http://fromlynnsgarden.wordpress.com/

22 April 2013

Perky-Pet birdfeeder

Perky-Pet birdfeeder is hanging in our back yard now on the squirrelliest tree we have.
This oak produces hundreds of acorns, making it the biggest challenge for any bird feeder that claims to prevent squirrels from eating everything in it.

The birds have visited but I have not seen one single squirrel on it and it's been hanging for several days. This item I can enthusiastically recommend. The plastic food holder is thick enough to not fall apart in one season. The perches please the birds, the seed that came packed with it attracts plenty of visitors and the scoop is built to fit the opening.

Oh, and the assembly instructions enclosed in the box are easy to understand. In English rather than English translated from Chinese, Japanese or Mandarin. Illustrations complete the instructions ease.

It looks like the same company has hummingbird feeders and wind-art. Check them out at http://www.birdfeeders.com - 40% off hummingbird feeders right now.

21 April 2013

Landscape Paintings by Prince Charles

Called "Life in Pictures" the link on Prince Charles website showing 130 of his landscape paintings is at http://www.princeofwales dot gov dot uk/life-in-pictures 
Many famous people paint for recreation and some try to sell them - not just for charity like Prince Charles has done but for profit. The Daily Mail has a collection of them at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2260183/David-Bowie-Prince-Charles-Ronnie-Wood-Can-match-art-celebrity.html

20 April 2013

Southern native Maidenhair Fern is adiantum capillus veneris

Missouri Plants
Would you like to add a fern to your shade garden that will survive? How about a native Maidenhair Fern, also called Five-Fingered Fern?

Part-shade to full-shade will keep it happy and coming back and it will tolerate but not thrive in deep, dense shade. Leaves scorch in direct sun.

Maximum height is about one-foot and unlike many ferns, it's water needs are rated as medium - needs consistently moist soil. Not drought tolerant.

Native in most of the southern half of the U.S., Missouri Botanical Garden says it is cold hardy from zones 5 through 8.

There are 200 Adiantum, Adiantaceae family, ferns in the genus. They all have the same fronds, usually with black, glossy petioles (leaf stems) and fan-shaped leaflets. Their Rhizomes (their crawling underground stem that holds the roots and lives from season to season) are scaly.

Check out the Hardy Fern Foundation for more selections at http://www.hardyferns.org.

Under favorable conditions, both of these ferns will naturalize. See their native ranges at
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ADPE (A. pendatum) and
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ADCA (Adiantum capillus-veneris or Venus Hair Fern)

Limestone rock walls near waterfalls are one of their favored environments so try to duplicate that with lots of humus rich soil. There's another reason to plant these beauties - they are becoming endangered.  
Adiatum pendatum
is another native fern choice
for the woodland, shade or Zen garden.

18 April 2013

Glasshouses - history, residences and growing houses

Glass-houses have been used for growing plants in a controlled environment since ancient Roman times but, the most famous glass house was designed by architect Philip Johnson in 1949 to use as his residence. Today it is a national landmark, open to the public.

Another glass residence, the Farnsworth house in Chicago, was built by architect Lugwig Mies van der Rohe in the 1940s for Dr. Edith Farnsworth. It is also a national landmark and open for tours.

Block Building at Nelson-Adkins Museum
 Steven Holl’s addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (www.nelson-atkins.org) in Kansas City, MO, consists of five interconnected frosted glass boxes in the sculpture park. At night the Block Building resembles paper lanterns in the grass.

The glasshouses used to grow plants rather than to house people and art, date back to ancient Egypt where they were used to grow grapes as early as 4,000 B.C.

By 300 B.C. glasshouses were heated by manure pits and by 92 B.C. in Italy, Sergius Orata invented a heating system, with heat passing through flues in the floor.

One of the first structures for growing plants was built for the Roman emperor Nero. At the time, the specularium, glazed with mica, was made for the cultivation of cucumbers during winter months.

By 380, Italians were using hot water filled trenches to grow roses indoors. In the 1600s Europeans were using southern facing glass, stoves and manure to grow winter crops of citrus fruits. The growing sheds were called orangeries and later were heated with carts filled with burning coal.

One of the earliest greenhouses was built in Holland, by French botanist Jules Charles de Lecluse in 1599 for the cultivation of tropical and medicinal plants. By 1720 the first U.S. all-glasshouses were built in Boston and Chicago.

In European glasshouses, the favorite crops were pineapples, peaches, and grapes. They were built against masonry walls and heat came through flues built into the walls.

The first American greenhouse with glass on all sides was erected by Boston merchant, Andrew Faneuil before 1737. There is a complete history of greenhouse development at http://bit.ly/10ZNBfw,  http://bit.ly/e3iIuX and http://www.prairie.org/book/export/html/11529.

Today, glasshouses are rarely used to grow vegetables though growing tropical fruit is fairly common. Now glasshouses are filled with tropical ornamental plants and flowers.

Many exotic plant filled glasshouses are open to the public.

At the Tulsa Garden Center (www.tulsagardencenter.com) there is a 1923 Victorian-style Lord and Burnham conservatory that houses many plants in the winter.

Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Garden, Oklahoma City (www.myriadgardens.org) is made of 3,028 acrylic panels and boasts 13,000 square feet of plant display area.

 Missouri Botanical Garden (www.missouribotanicalgarden.org) has the Climatron, a geodesic dome glasshouse with thousands of tropical plants.

The Jewel House in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO (www.forestparkforever.org), was designed by architect William C. E. Becker and built in 1936.  

Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

The Palm House at Franklin Park Conservatory (www.fpconservatory.org) in Columbus, Ohio, holds Chihuly glass art in addition to tropical plants.

Boettcher Memorial Conservatory Denver
The Corbin Conservatory in Akron, OH, is made up of 4,322 panes of laminated glass. The Conservatory, originally used by the Seiberling family to grow produce has been replicated and is open for tours (http://www.stanhywet.org).

Seattle’s Volunteer Park Conservatory (www.volunteerparkconservatory.org) has over 3,000 glass panes. It was designed by J. C. Olmsted and built in 1910.

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL, (www.ftg.org) has Windows to the Tropics Conservatory.

The Melbourne Australia tropical glasshouse (rbg.vic.gov.au) was built in the early 1900s and portions of the original tile floor are still in place.

Royal Horticulture glasshouse in Wisley, Surrey, England (www.rhs.org.uk) is the size of 10 tennis courts.

Traveling to glasshouses around the U.S. and around the world would make a fascinating tour.


16 April 2013

Going Wild in the kitchen with foraged greens

When we were kids growing up in rural Ohio, our grandmother sent us out for wild salad greens in the spring and summer. That was (ahem) years ago and foraging is back in style in a big way.

The Oregonian reports that Portland urban forager Becky Lerner's 'Dandelion Hunter' explores city's edible weeds, teaches classes and writes a blog about it. Oh, and did I mention a book?

Lerner loves plants, but her relationship with the botanical world is far different from that of the avid gardener or arborist. The Portland-based urban forager's interest is in the wild plants that choke out neglected lawns and creep up chain link fences in vacant lots.
Where most people see signs of neglect and decay, Lerner sees a meal.

In her new book, "Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness," Lerner aims to extend her enthusiasm for untamed nature to a broader audience.

"It was really important for me to get some of those ideas out there," she says. "I really wanted to make it fun and entertaining and engaging at the same time."

Lerner, a former newspaper journalist, channels her interest into a popular blog called First Ways and plant identification walks during which she shepherds paying customers through the Concordia neighborhood to learn about the practical uses for weeds growing between the sidewalk cracks.

What do you think? Beyond dandelion greens are you eating wild?

15 April 2013

Carolina Jasmine is Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens, Carolina Jasmine is a plant of many names including Carolina jessamine, evening trumpetflower and woodbine.
Carolina Jasmine

We have never used it medicinally but its history includes to treat measles, tonsilitis, rheumatism, headaches, etc.

It is the state flower of North Carolina and is a popular garden plant even though it contains strychnine alkaloids and should not be consumed. Sensitive individuals can get a rash from the sap though I have not.

South Carolina says, "Here we refer to it as jessamine since that is how it is spelled in Joint Resolution No. 534, which established the flower as an emblem of South Carolina nearly a century ago.)"

The nectar is toxic to honey bees and can cause brood death.

Prune after bloom is the usual advice for keeping its size under control. You can see that it thrives in the half day shade provided by the carport. We rarely water or fertilize it and it keeps on going and growing.

If you have a vine and want to share it or want a vine and know someone who has one, layering is an easy way to make more plants.

Janet Carson at the University of Arkansas says to lay a lower branch on the ground and weigh it down with a rock. I usually remove the leaves from the stem portion that I want to root.

"Carolina jasmine roots fairly readily. An easy method is to layer one of the long runners while it is attached to the mother plant. You can actually almost weave it in and out of the soil, so that one long sprout could give you 3-5 new plants. Place a rock or brick over the part under the soil to keep it from bouncing up, and you should have rooted plants within a month or two. Once rooted, cut them apart and transplant. If you want to take cuttings, wait until mid to late summer to allow the cuttings to be semi-hardwood. "


13 April 2013

Hanging planters - 30 ideas from Design Sponge

Design Sponge did a post today about hanging planters - lots of new, fresh, modern possibilities
at http://www.designsponge.com/2013/04/25-must-have-hanging-planters.html

Plant Sale by horticulture students at CSC Warner OK

Great prices for local gardeners -
Connors State College Greenhouse, Warner Campus
Thursday, April 18, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Friday, April 19, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Great prices for local gardeners -
2013 CSC Annual Plant Sale April 18th, 8-6; April 19 8-6
Annual Full Sun (AF) Price
Allysum $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Antigua Marigold $3.00 6PK OR .$50 plant
 Celosia (cockscomb) $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Coleus $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Dianthus $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
 Dusty Miller $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
 Gazania $2.00 4pk or $24.00 flat
Gerbera Daisy $2.50 per 3'' pot
Lantana $2.75 per 3.5'' pot
Little Hero Marigold $1.20 4pk or 14.40 flat
 New Guinea SunPatiens $2.75 per 3'' pot
Pansy $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Petunia $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
 Portulaca (Rose Moss)  $2.00 4pk or $24.00 flat
Portulaca (Rose Moss)  $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Salvia $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Snapdragons $2.25 per 6 pk/ $13.5 tray
Sweet Potato Vines $2.50 per 3.5'' pot
Vinca (Periwinkle) $2.00 4pk or $24.00 tray 48
Zinnia  $4.50 6pk or $.75 plant
Zonal Geraniums $2.75 per 4'' pot
Annual Partial Sun (AP)
APA-Ageratum Blue $2.00 4pk or $24.00 flat
APB- Begonia $.75 or $13.50 flat 18
APC- Asparagus fern in sm. Pots  $2.25 per 4" pot
APD- Scaevola (blue or white  $ 4.00 /4.5 "pot
APF- Peace Lily $3.00 per pot
Annual Shade (AS)
ASA- Impatiens          $2.00 4pk or $24.00 flat
ASB-New Guinea Impatiens $3.00 per 3'' pot
ASC- Torenia (Wishbone Flower) $2.50 per 3'' pot
ASD-Caladium (Red,Pink,White  $4.00 per quart pot
Perennial Full Sun (PF)
PFA- Althea (Rose of Sharon) $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFB-Artemesia Silver Mound  $3.75 per Quart pot
PFC- Boxwood $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFD-Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) $3.75 per Quart pot
PFE- Clematis  $8.00 per Gallon Pot
PFF-Crape Myrtle $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFG-Creeping Phlox $5.00 per Gallon Pot
PFH- Day Lillies $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFI Digitalis Yellow, Merton $3.75 per Quart pot
PFJ-Echinacea $3.75 per Quart pot
PFK-Forsythia $4.00 per Gallon pot
PFK - Gaillardia Arizona Red  $3.75 per Quart pot
PFL-Lambs Ear $3.75 per Quart pot
PFM- Lirope (Monkey Grass)  $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFN-Peony Red or Pink  $15.00 per 2 Gallon Pot
PFO- Rudbeckia $3.75 per Quart pot
PFP-Salvia $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PFQ- Salvia mystic spires, rasp $3.75 per Quart pot
PFR-Sedum Blue Spruce  $3.75 per Quart pot
PFU-Joseph's coat $2.50 per pot
PFV-Hen & Chicks $3.75 per pot
PFX-Wisteria $4.00 per pot
Perennial Shade (PS)
PSA-Ajuga $2.00 per plant
PSB- Astilbe $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PSC - Aquilegia Origami Blue, Red  $3.50 per Quart pot
PSD- Hosta $4.00 per Gallon Pot
PSE- Japanese Painted Fern $as marked
PSF - Autumn Blaze Perennial Fern  $4.00 per pot
Perennial Partial Sun (PP)
Azalea $4.00 per Gallon Pot
Tropicals as marked
TA- Tropical pots  As Marked
TB-Assorted Tropical Pots As Marked
Hanging Baskets
Ferns (Boston, Fluffy Ruffles) $8.00 per basket
Ferns (Asparagus)  $8.00 per basket
Purslane $8.00 per basket
Calibrachoa Baskets $8.00 per basket
Ivy Geranium Basket $12.00 per basket
Double Impatiens basket $12.00 per basket
Verbena Baskets $12.00 per basket
Streptocarpella Dolphin Violet  $12.00 per basket
Fuchsia  $12.00 per basket
Begonia Dragon Wing Red  $12.00 per basket
Petunia Basket Dbl Wave  $12.00 per basket
Petunia Blue A Fuse  $18.00 per basket
Confetti- Spring  $18.00 per basket
Assorted tropical Baskets As Marked

Tomatoes and Peppers in Packs  $1.00 per 4pk/ $.25 plant
Tomato Variety Size
Beef Master Large
Better Boy Large
Big B-Big Boy Large
CELEB-Celebrity medium
JS-Jet Star  Medium
Julie-Juliet grape like
Patio small cherry
Roma egg shaped
WHOP-Whopper Large
Peppers $1.00 per 4pk/ $.25 plant
Bell Boy Bell
Big Bertha Bell
Jala-Jalepeno hot
BANA-Sweet Banana Sweet
C Bell-Colossal Bell
Tomatos and Peppers in Pots  $1.50 per pot
Traveler 76 Tomato
Cherokee Purple  Purple Heirloom
Mortgage Lifter  Tomato
Tiburon poblano  Pepper
NEW Grafted Tomatos  $7.00 per 6" pot
Bumper Black Krim  $7.00 per 6" pot
Bumper Brandywine Pink $7.00 per 6" pot
Strawberry - Berri Basket Variety  $2.50 per 4"pot
Herbs (HA) $2.25 per 4'' round
Chamomile $2.25 per 4'' round
Curly Parsley $2.25 per 4'' round
Mint-Chocolate $2.25 per 4'' round
Mint - Orange cologne $2.25 per 4'' round
Mint- Peppermint $2.25 per 4'' round
Mint- Spearmint $2.25 per 4'' round
Thyme-Orange $2.25 per 4'' round
All Squash and Cucumbers $1.00 per 4'' pot
CUK- Cucumbers Tasty Green- Burpless $1.00 per 4'' pot
SQSH- Enterprise Squash $1.00 per 4'' pot
ZUCC- Spineless Beauty Zuccini $1.00 per 4'' pot
CAN - Cantelope  $1.00 per 4'' pot
Stepables $3.00 per 4'' pot
Sedum-Baby Tears $3.00 per 4'' pot
Sedum-goldmoss $3.00 per 4'' pot
Sedum-Mossy $3.00 per 4'' pot
Total Sale 

11 April 2013

Azaleas - growing, planting, pruning, fertilizing, propagating

Rhododendronsand azaleas belong to the plant genus Rhododendron which is part of the heath family (Ericaceae). All members of this family including heaths, heathers, blueberries, mountain laurels and several others require acid soil, consistent moisture, and good drainage.

Purple Spectacular ReBLOOM
Most Rhododendrons and Azaleas were originally from the Himalayan Mountains, western China and northern India. Only few are native to Japan, Europe and the U.S.

Each year during the month of April, Ray Wright of Green Country Landscaping sells Muskogee-grown Azaleas at Honor Heights Park.

 “My primary business is commercial and residential landscaping and irrigation but we grow thousands of Azaleas every year,” said Wright. “We grow shrubs and bedding plants for our jobs and then we sell some at Honor Heights Park and at the spring festivals.”

Green Country’s Azaleas are all grown from cuttings at their Muskogee greenhouses. Wright said he sells 50-varieties but most of them are hardy Karume, Girard and Poukhanense.

Karume hybrids from Japanese stock grow 4-to-6-feet tall and wide, and have 1-inch leaves. Girard hybrids are an improved cold-hardy variety. They have lustrous leaves, large flowers and hardiness to -15F (zone 5). The flower colors range from white to pink, red and deep orange. 

Poukhanense is a Korean Azalea that slowly matures to 10-feet tall and wide with magenta flowers.

Though he offers a variety of plant sizes, Wright recommended the 3-gallon size as ideal.

The new ReBLOOM™ Azaleas from Greenleaf Nursery’s Garden Debut® collection are bred to be more compact than their standard re-blooming varieties such as Encore and Bloom-A-Thon. ReBLOOM colors include Red Magnificence™, White Nobility™ and Coral Amazement™ this year. Next year will be the official release of additional colors. They are all cold hardy to -10 F (zone 6).

One of Wright's greenhouses
 Wright provided advice for success with Azaleas and has a brochure of tips that is available at their sales area in Honor Heights Park this month.

* Select a planting area with afternoon shade but too much shade will prevent blooming.  Azaleas will succeed near lawn sprinklers where they can receive rain-like watering, 20-minutes at a time, since they thrive in moist well-drained soil.

* You need a $5 hole for a $3 Azalea according to Wright. Local soil is usually sweet clay and has to be amended to be acidic (low pH of 5.0 to 5.5).

* Dig a hole 4-feet wide and 18-inches deep. Mix that soil with baled Canadian peat moss. Plant the Azaleas high so water drains off or sinks down.

* Top the planting area with an acidic mulch of ground pine bark, pecan shells, pine needles or cedar mulch.

* Fertilize Azaleas half-strength now in the spring and at full-strength after the flowers fade. Never fertilize them in the fall.

* Azaleas should be pruned before July 1 by removing branches at the base rather than by shearing them into hedges.

If you have an old plant in your landscape and would like to make a young one in order to continue the lifeline, they are fairly easy to propagate by layering. Peg a low branch to the ground in a trench and cover with good soil. Before pegging, remove all the leaves from the portion of the branch to be buried, leaving one end attached to the mother plant and the other end sticking out of the soil with a few leaves still attached.  In a year, roots will emerge from the leaf nodes where leaves were removed and the branch was buried. Cut it off and plant as recommended.

You can visit Wright at Honor Heights Park or contact him at 918-261-0854.

The Rhododendron Society (www.rhododendron.org) has a database of 400 Azalea hybrids with photos, cold hardiness, mature height, leaf and flower color and size

07 April 2013

New Geranium Azure Rush from Blooms of Bressingham

As terrific as Rozanne, Azure Rush is said to be heat-loving and long-flowering perennial for half shade.

Blooms of Bressingham says, "The blooms are a lighter blue and habit is more mounding than 'Rozanne's'. Grows to 24 inches tall by 28 inches wide in sun to part shade. USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8."

Blooms of Bressingham
You may recall that Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ was the 2008 Perennial Plant Association (www.perennialplant.org/) Plant of the Year. The Missouri Botanical Garden grows Geranium Gerwat Rozanne, or Cranesbill, in several of their gardens. it blooms for them in St. Louis from May through July.

 ‘Azure Rush’ is lighter blue than ‘Rozanne,’ and it ambles meaning it is more compact with shorter internodes, so you'll have low-growing, mounded plants - 18-inches tall and 24-inches wide per plant.

Best with average, medium-moist, well-drained organic soil with afternoon shade. Best grown in full sun with some afternoon protection. Organic soil just means add compost to whatever you have in your garden so the drainage is good and the roots don't rot.

After the first blush of flowers, you can sheer them back for a second bloom. Feel free to remove scraggly side shoots to tidy up the plantings. Plants may be cut or sheared back to rejuvenate, shape and/or encourage additional bloom.

And the 2-inch wide flowers bring butterflies. No doubt where the name Jolly Bee came into play for Rozanne. No serious disease or insect problems.

Nice for containers and window boxes,  rock gardens, or the front of cottage gardens.

If you love blues, lavenders and purples in your garden, here's the locator for the producer

04 April 2013

Cold-hardy Gardenias for zone 7

Gardenias, also called Cape Jasmine, are best known for their sweetly scented waxy flowers and thick, shiny leaves. Most of us associate them with warm climates because out of the 200-species only a few are cold hardy enough to grow in our area.
Gardenia Frostproof from Logee's.com
The flowers vary but tend to be 2-to-4 inches across with six or seven wedge-shaped petals. The fruit that follows is an inch long and matures into a deep orange color in late fall or early winter. If the seeds are harvested they can be planted to grow more shrubs.

Their native growing areas are the open woodlands and savannahs of Africa and tropical Asia where they retain their leaves all year and grow into 6-foot tall woody plants. The first American imports from Asia arrived in 1761. They were cultivated by John Ellis on his South Carolina plantation where he named them for his friend Dr. Alexander Garden.

New varieties are cold hardy in our zone 7 and gardeners as far north as Canada have been successful with garden planted specimens. If you plant a Gardenia in a pot, you can move it around until you find its ideal location and then put it in the ground.

Gardenias like similar growing conditions to Camellias and Azaleas: Slightly acidic soil, protection from strong wind, spring and summer feeding with Azalea-Camellia food, protection from strong afternoon sun, acidic mulch and consistent moisture but never soaking wet roots. Sandy soil and clay soil will have to be amended with compost to provide enough nutrients and good drainage.

Planting idea: Place Gardenias in the same bed with other tropical looking plants like Hibiscus, Elephant Ears and Lantana.

The scent of Gardenia’s flowers will make you want to put them close to an entrance or window where they can be enjoyed. A large container could be planted with a combination of scented plants such as Lavender, Sage and Jasmine on a trellis.

Gardenias are considered deer and rabbit proof due to their thick leaves.

Michael Dirr, author of “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs” has been breeding cold-hardy Gardenias at the University of Georgia. He recommends the varieties that he worked on:  ‘Heaven Scent’, ‘Madga 1’ and ‘Pinwheel’, for their cold-hardiness, orange fruit, compactness and re-blooming qualities.

Walter Reeves (walterreeves.com) recommends Gardenia jasminoides ‘Grif’s Select’ that grows only 3-4 feet tall and has lots of red seed capsules in the fall.

Shopping tip: Gardenia jaminoides, Gardenia Augusta and Cape Jasmine are the same thing.

 ‘Kleim’s Hardy’, developed by J. C. Raulston in North Carolina is now available from Ball Ornamentals; it can take temperatures plunging to zero.  One online catalog lists them as cold hardy to USDA zone 5 though most say only to zone 7 or 8.

Frostproof Gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides ‘Frostproof’, slowly grows 4-feet tall and has heavily-scented, double white flowers.  It is cold-hardy to zone 6.

 Logee’s offers ‘Frostproof’ and Gardenia species plants by mail at www.logees.com .

Gardenia ‘Chuck Hayes’, from Monrovia is cold-hardy to zone 7, grows  4-feet tall and wide, and has semi-double ivory-white flowers.

To plant Gardenias, dig the planting hole twice the width of the root ball. Planting Gardenias too deep will cause them to die so do not dig any deeper than the depth of the soil in the container. Planting high will help prevent the roots from remaining too wet.

The visible root flare at the top of the root ball is planted just above the surface of the ground. If any soil is on top of that flare, take it off when planting.

Mulch the area to prevent weed growth. Regular watering is crucial the first season to have a healthy Gardenia shrub.