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Showing posts from May, 2013

Goji Berry, Lycium Sweet Lifeberry

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Grow a healthy snack in your yard or garden - Goji berries are easy!  Goji berries, Lycium barbarum, are all the rage among healthy eaters and gardeners alike. Their new popular name is based on the original Chinese name, Gou Qi Zi. Previous popularized names include Chinese Wolfberry, Matrimony Vine, Chinese Boxthorn, Red Medlar and The Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree. The plants were introduced into England’s gardening culture in the 1600s and the shrubs have become naturalized around the country in hedgerows. Spring Meadow Nursery (springmeadownursery.com/plant/55060) and Proven Winners (provenwinners.com/vitaminberries) are teaming up to make Goji berries equally popular with home gardeners in the US. While Goji berries are said to have many nutritional benefits their commercial value to US agriculture is somewhat limited because they have to be harvested by hand and spoil quickly. As a result, Goji berries available to US consumers are primarily grown in China and sold as dried fru…

Southern Plant Conference, Aug 5 in Atlanta

The Southern Nursery Association is holding a Southern Plant Conference on
August 5 (8 am to 5pm)  in Atlanta at the Georgia International Conference Center across from Hartsfield Airport.

Here's the registration form with details. There's an early registration discount.

Tony Avent of Plant Delight's Nursery posted
"The new SNA Southern Plant Conference, sandwiched between the trade show and other educational sessions, will be held on August 5 at the Georgia International Conference Center across from Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. The incredible speaker list includes: Allen Armitage, Paul Capiello, Steve Castorani, Rick Crowder, Mike Dirr, John Elsley, Joseph Hillenmeyer, John Hoffman, Richard Olsen, Tom Ranney, James Owen Reich, Ted Stephens, Brian Upchurch, Takay Uki Kobayashi of Japan, and yours truly."

Sounds incredible!





Dragon Arum blooming today!

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Years ago when the end-of-season-sale-box from Brent and Becky's bulbs arrived, Dragon Arums made it into the box instead of the Arum Italicum I thought I bought.

Actually, what I must have wanted was these outrageous Dragon Arums. Of the original 6 bulbs, two are thriving but this one blooms reliably year after year and gives us a reason to go out to the shade bed every day, twice a day, to watch its progress.

Here's the column I wrote about Arums last year when we were enthralled with the flowering event-
http://allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com/2012/05/dragon-arum-green-dragon-arum-italicum.html

These photos are this morning's views.


Ants vs swarming termites

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It's time for termite swarms to seek out new places to make homes. If you see them in the house, or think you see them in the house, catch a few to look at closely, take to a local extension service or a local exterminator. They can look like flying ants. 

Called swarmers, the winged kings and queens fly away from an underground nest during the day to find places to form new colonies.

The North Carolina extension service has a good explanation of what to look for and what to do.

Iowa State University extension explains how to select a termite control company here.

Evidently their wings break off and the king and queen dig a chamber into a woodwork crevice or some soft soil, then they crawl in, seal the opening and mate. They live underground or inside the woodwork laying eggs and raising their 500 per year offspring.

I aw a bunch of the swarmers last week so keep an eye out for them; spring is their time to come around to make new problems.

Online Reference for Invasive Plants

The weather has been perfect for the thriving of invasive plants this spring.
If you are looking for a way to quickly identify a new visitor, click over to the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States at http://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/.

"Invasive alien plants threaten native species and habitats by competing for critical and often limited resources like sunlight, water, nutrients, soil and space. They succeed through vigorous growth, prolific reproductive capabilities and by causing changes that favor their growth and spread. Invasive plant species displace and alter native plant communities, impede forest regeneration and natural succession, change soil chemistry, alter hydrologic conditions, alter fire regimes, cause genetic changes in native plant relatives through hybridization and some serve as agents for the transmission of harmful plant pathogens.

The Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States is a collaborative project between the National Park Service, the University…

Staghorn Sumac as a Specimen Tree

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Rhus typhina, Staghorn Sumac is a wild thing in our area though we encourage it because of its benefits to wildlife.

Its practical uses include growing stands as windbreaks but I recently saw it used as a specimen tree on each side of a home near St. Louis, MO.

They were both large specimens that were sort of Zen-art looking things with fat trunks. They were the only plants on each side of the building.

There are cultivated varieties such as Shredleaf (Rhus tphina Dissecta), Laceleaf and Cutleaf (Rhus typhina Laciniata) but these both looked like they had been allowed to grow in place for 50-years.


What do  you think? Do you grow it for the birds like
we do or think it is a splendid landscape tree/shrub?




The Importance of Organic Practices - Jeff Lowenfels Explains

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On the day Jeff Lowenfels and I spoke about his two books, the weather service had predicted 4-inches of snow and a 24-degree night. That day was last Friday, May 17 and his home town is Anchorage Alaska, USDA zone 5.
Lowenfels is a practicing natural resources (oil and gas, environmental law) lawyer who has developed a career explaining soil science to judges and juries. Lowenfels worked to develop Alaska's natural gas, as president and CEO of Yukon Pacific Corp., which sought to build a gas pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez (http://bit.ly/10KAkVZ).
Because of his professional and personal interest in plants and soil science, Lowenfels has dug deep into his topic during a 30-year stint as a garden columnist and gardener. His respect for plants and no-till, organic, chemical-free gardening has only increased over the years.
“I used to say the last frost is over when the birch tree leaves reach the size of a squirrel’s ear and today those leaves are still closed because we are…

Comfort in the Storm

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We were not in the tornado path but definitely in the thunderstorms-that-rumble-all-night path.

When you are dog tired from lack of sleep and can't be outside because rain is dumping and lightening is popping and you need comfort, transplanting tiny seedlings in the garden shed can help calm the mind.

Agastache, Survivor parsley, and Asiatic lily seedlings were untangled from their starter cells and moved into individual pots.
Garden-writer booty (free trial plants) and recent native plant purchases were un-potted, roots untangled and re-potted into fresh soil to wait out the soggy soil draining. Black skies outside while full-spectrum florescent lights blaze inside.

Harperella endangered in OK

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The Spring 2013 issue of Biosurvey news from the Oklahoma Biological Survey announced that federally endangered Harperella is now also endangered in OK.
 "Harperella is an aquatic, primarily annual herb. The inflorescence is an umbel of small white flowers quite similar to other members of the carrot family. The most distinguishing character of the plant is its unusual leaf form. Leaves are reduced to a hollow, septate central stalk, or "rachis leaf"—an adaptation to a semi-aquatic habitat. Harperella blooms from May through October. Population sizes may vary dramatically from year to year in response to water levels. The Oklahoma population was found along a river in the southeastern part of the state and included two stands of approximately 500 plants."

The link in the first line above will take you to the original article.


Garden Tour today - Tulsa Audubon Society

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It was a warm and windy day for a garden tour in Tulsa. My volunteer work consisted of sitting chatting with a lovely woman, Diane Fell, chatting with garden visitors and shopping for native plants.
Mary Ann King, owner of Pine Ridge Gardens was the vendor at the garden where I spent the day. She brought dozens and dozens of native plants from her Arkansas nursery for us to choose from.

Tulsa Audubon Society's annual tour is a great opportunity to visit gardens and learn from other people who love plants and nature in general.

It's hard to imagine a better way to spend a beautiful day or $5 than to traipse through gardens seeing what creative ways plants, hardscape and garden ornaments can be combined for the pleasure of everyone lucky enough to visit.



Here's a link to Pine Ridge Gardens catalog - Mary Ann is one of the most knowledgeable native plant growers in the area.

Jack in the Pulpit is Arisaema triphyllum for your shade garden

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Jack in the Pulpit looks way too exotic to be cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9 but it is!

Give it dappled shade, moist, peat-moss enhanced soil and a place it can grow undisturbed.

Native to the Midwest and East regions of North America they grow to 1-3 feet tall and 1 foot wide, with 2-large, green leaves comprised of 2 leaflets each.

A member of the Araceae, Arum, plant family, my little guy is planted in the same area with other Arums though Jack is one-of-a-kind in our garden so far. From what I've read, we would have to plant several to get male/female sex-change, pollination, seedheads, etc.

Its many other names includ Indian Turnip, Indian Almond, Pepper Turnip, Marsh Pepper, Bog Onion, Priest's Pentle, Wood Pulpit, Little Pulpit, Cuckoo Flower, Starchwort, Memory Root, Devil's Ear, Dragonroot, and Brown Dragon according to Phagat's Garden.

Wildwood Web says that the cylindar that we think of as the flower is not the flower
"Jack-in the-pulpits are surely …

Wildflowers of the United States

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Wildflowers are blooming everywhere even though the earliest ones are long gone.

Here's a handy site to bookmark -
Wildflowers of the United States and the link is http://uswildflowers.com/

Don't miss browsing around the site in general, by state and/or the additional links provided.

Perenials for our zone 7 gardens from Anne Pinc

After a lifetime of growing plants for her customers, Anne Pinc knows what succeeds in our area. There will be only two more chances to buy from Pinc at the Cherry Street Farmer’s Market in Tulsa (http://www.cherrystreetfarmersmarket.com) since she stops selling at the end of May.
The Cherry St. Farmer’s Market is open Saturdays from 7 to 11 a.m. on 15th St. near Peoria St., and it is so popular that many people plan to arrive well before the opening hour.
Here are some of the many plants to look for that she grows and recommends for area gardens –
Pinc grows several varieties of the ever-popular Clematis vine. Clematis is generally reliable in our area, climbing fences, trellises and shrubs and blooming with white, purple, red or pink single flowers. They thrive with 5-hours of daily sun, neutral soil that has plenty of compost added and weekly watering.
Shade loving Hostas range in size from miniature to quite large and have colors from deep green to bright yellow-green. They are herba…

Turquoise Tails sedum is Sedum sediforme

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What a thrill to see Turquoise Tails sedum named as the first sedum in the Plant Select® program. This hard-working plant plays a huge part in our garden!

Turquoise Tails sedum was pioneered by Kelly Grummons, and Scott and Lauren Ogden, though I have zero memory as to how it first came to live in our yard.

It is an heirloom, native to the Mediterranean.  It has spiky, turquoise-blue succulent leaves and in May-June it has small yellow flowers.

The compact mounds create an accent for water-smart gardens. I use it as an edging plant for yards and yards of flower beds.

This wonderful, work-horse of a succulent is winter hardy to zone 5a (-15 to -20° F).  It survives with very little care once established, is drought tolerant as well as deer/bunny resistant.

"New Plants and Flowers" says, "The first sedum in the US Plant Select program, Turquoise Tails is featured in the latest newsletter of this cooperative initiative administered by Denver Botanic Gardens and Colora…

Veronica is for every garden no matter which varieties appeal to you

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There are 250 Veronica varieties including annuals, perennials, shrubs and sub-shrubs. Some grow in water and others grow on rocky hills but most grow in gardens with a minimum of care.
The rock garden Veronicas do well in poor, well-drained soil in full sun and border Veronicas grow best in moderately fertile sunny locations.
The primary problem gardeners have with Veronicas is that soggy soil makes them vulnerable to root rot, leaf scale and mildew.Take care that they receive plenty of sun and are not over or under watered.
Veronica peduncularis is a mat-forming, low-growing, group of ground covers, ideal for stepping stones and growing over the edge of rock or brick planters. A 4-inch nursery pot will spread by rhizomes into a 1-foot square area in the first year. It is one of the plants recently called “step-able” because it can take some foot traffic.
Two water-wise walkable groundcovers are 2-inch tall Veronica liwanensis, Turkish Speedwell, that makes a purple-flowering lawn and …

Perky-Pet Hummingbird Feeder

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What else can you say about a hummingbird feeder? Within 20-minutes of hanging it, they were there eating.

Perky-Pet hummingbird feeder does not come with a hangar so I just fed some kitchen string through the hole on the top. The model in the photo is a little over $20.

I did not purchase commercial food but found an easy method online.
NECTAR RECIPE FROM ONLINE
In a pot combine 1 part sugar to 4 parts water (1 cups water + 4/2 cup sugar) and boil it for 2 minutes to get out the chlorine. Let it cool and fill.

The amount you see in the feeder is about the entire amount so it holds quite a bit. The tag on it says it holds 16 ounces.

The glass is thick and the plastic feeder stands are sturdy. It has what the company calls a built-in funnel that did make it foolproof to fill, though I used a plastic kitchen funnel to be sure I didn't pour it all over the place.

The company sent it to me to try out and review and I give it a thumbs up.



Our Yarden Today 10 photos zero comments

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Pericallis - formerly Senecio or Cineraria from Senetti/Costa Farms

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Here's a really cute plant for containers in part shade! It is one of the Pericallis hybrids that I saw at a garden show in Tulsa. Its description makes if seem like it is a miracle plant.

The original group of Senetti® is the most popular group. The varieties in this category all have  large blooms, 2.5 inch to 3 inch flower size on 2ft tall and wide plants. Senetti’s are very tolerant to changing weather conditions and hence they make ideal patio plants.

Each Senetti plant can have as many as 200 blooms in a 10 – 12 inch pot at its maturity and are safe to place outside once night frosts have passed. Once blooming is nearly over you can cut the plant to remove all the dead flowers. Re-blooming will occur in 3 – 4 weeks. For best results replant into fresh pot and media.

I was blown away when I saw it - have you grown it?
Violet Bicolor


Iocharoma cyaneum

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Iochromas are related to Angel's Trumpets (Brugmansia) but have smaller leaves and clusters of lovely tubular flowers. 

Iochroma Countess is a new hybrid with pink flowers, Royal Blue has medium-blue flower clusters, Sky King has pale blue flowers, Frosty Plum, Plum Beauty and Purple Bells have purple flowers.

They are cold hardy to zone 7 (mid-20s F) but most people in zone 7 grow these little semi-tropical (Ecuador & Argentina) shrubs in a container that can be moved to a protected place in the depth of winter. They mature at 6 to 10 feet tall.
Remove the spent flowers to keep it blooming for a longer period of time and to maintaine its appearance.

The USDA says tomato hornworms can be a problem and their detailed study of the plant is available online at http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/3207/PDF

One plant source is Katurz Greenhouses(http://www.kartuz.com)

There is a YouTube video on how to propagate them from cuttings at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TynE8zuLb4

Trade Win…

Arborvitae fern is Selaginella braunii

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Arborvitae ferns are ideal part-shade or full-shade plants in USDA zones 6 to 9. They are dependable perennials with positively gorgeous evergreen-tree-like foliage.

Plant Delights Nursery says, "Sold under a number of incorrect names, Selaginella braunii (fern cousin) is one of the easiest spikemosses to grow in the woodland garden. The dark green, lacy, semi-evergreen fronds of arborvitae fern rise to 18" tall from a slowly creeping rhizome. In 3 years you could expect a 2' wide mass. A grouping of Selaginella braunii in a woodland setting is indeed a textural garden highlight!"

Native to China, these beauties are called ferns but are Lycopods.

Plant of the Week said, "-- a descendant of spore-producing plants that date back unchanged into the Permian (~320 mya or so). Tree-like relatives of this plant group produced the great coal forests of the Carboniferous. (This plant is sometimes known as a spike moss, but it is not a moss, either.) Selaginella …

Bottlebrush Buckeye, Aesculus parviflora for shade, woods

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Bottlebrush Buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, is a shrub that gardeners remember once they see it in bloom. It has large leaves on a 6-foot tall and wide woody plant. The 1-foot long white flower panicles stand up straight like huge candles. The tiny, individual flowers on the panicles are tubular with red anthers and pink filaments.

And, best of all it is a native that thrives in part to full shade. In fact, the leaves scorch in full southern sun, making it perfect for under trees.
Typical of chestnuts, the leaves are large, dark green, and palmate with 5 to 7 leaflets.
The plants are difficult to find in stores and even more difficult to start from seed. We found ours at the Fayetteville farmer’s market. The seller said he grows them by layering lower branches until they make roots. The suckers can also be removed from a friend’s plant, potted for a year, and then planted into the garden.
Bottlebrush Buckeye resists most bugs and diseases, tolerates soil with pH from 5.5 to 7.5, and can gr…