Showing posts from June, 2013

Plants do math - so say the scientists

Excerpts below. Full story at

Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths, which helps them regulate food reserves at night, research suggests.
UK scientists say they were "amazed" to find an example of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation in biology.

Mathematical models show that the amount of starch consumed overnight is calculated by division in a process involving leaf chemicals, a John Innes Centre team reports in e-Life journal.

Birds may use similar methods to preserve fat levels during migration.

The scientists studied the plant Arabidopsis, which is regarded as a model plant for experiments.

Overnight, when the plant cannot use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and starch, it must regulate its starch reserves to ensure they last until dawn.

Experiments by scientists at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, show that to adjust its starch consumption so precisely, the plant must be perform…

July 8 FREE "An Evening with Patricia Lanza"

The Tulsa Herb Society is hosting
Patricia Lanza - the queen of lasagne gardening
July 8th
Tulsa Garden Center
2435 S. Peoria Ave

The Tulsa Herb Society is thrilled to host An Evening with Patricia Lanza, July 8th from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm at the Tulsa Garden Center.Your invitation to this free event includes an evening of garden exploration; where enjoyment meets functionality.Join THS as they welcome this knowledgeable gardener to Tulsa.

Originally from Crossville, Tennessee Patricia remembers what it was like to keep a garden from watching her grandparents’ garden in rocky, clay soil. She remembers how they rented a mule to plow in the spring then raked out the rows by hand. How they planted, watered and hoed weeds all summer. She also remembers the taste of fresh vegetables right from the garden: red, juicy tomatoes, tender green beans and corn, indeed lots of corn picked by the apron full every day.

Patricia began gardening just like her Tennessee grandparents, howeve…

Missouri Wildflowers Nursery grows seed and plants for your gardens

Gardeners love plants and appreciate being outdoors.Whether you prefer cottage gardens, a themed garden or plants in tidy rows, we all enjoy being in nature to watch wildlife and to relax.
To the extent that we enjoy having wildlife around, we also realize the importance of including native wildflowers in our plantings.
 Merv Wallace who has owned Missouri Wildflowers Nursery since 1984 has developed a passion and a purpose in his work. Wallace said he wished people understood the important connection between native plants and all wildlife.
“Doug Tallamy’s book “Bringing Nature Home” changed my way of thinking,” Wallace said. “Native plants allow so many things we enjoy to have a place; they depend on them.”
In the introduction to that book, Tallamy said that gardeners can (and should) create small slices of native ecosystem in their gardens to help prevent more animal species from falling behind and eventually moving into extinction. “… for our own good and certainly for the good of othe…

Vinca or Periwinkle is invasive whatever you call it

Vinca minor and Periwinkle now have to exit our garden as we eliminate invasive plants in favor of native plants. 

They are invasive but for a change not from Asian countries, but this time from southern Switzerland southward around much of the Mediterranean basin, from Portugal to Turkey, and across much of north Africa according to .

They were introduced as a medicinal herb and as an ornamental ground cover.

Planting alternatives, will depend on where you live. At the IN. gov site they recommend
Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata)
Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis)Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
But! As you and I both know, those desirables are much more difficult to become established and provide ground cover and weed prevention.

Succulents Simplified by Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin, the acknowledged leader in the popularity of succulents, has a new book out -

"Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties"  published by Timber Press.

Like her other books, this one is filled with gorgeous photographs of succulents.

Baldwin gardens on half an acre in southern CA foothills so her ability to grow succulents and cacti is part and parcel of the perfect weather they have there for them (temps range from 32 to 110). The chapter on replacing a lawn with succulents makes complete sense in warm climates.

From the beginning of the book, Baldwin explains why she loves succulents: Low maintenance, easy to propagate, and non-invasive. She recommends growing them in containers so they can easily be moved with changes in the weather. "Low Water Plants for Lazy Gardeners" is a chapter I can relate to and the resilient Jade Plant is one of the examples of these.

You can expect to learn about many many n…

Invasive Species New website of interest

Bugwood Blog announced that
"The North American Invasive Species Network (NAISN) has launched a new informational website (, which provides a wide variety of invasive species management and research resources, links to a multitude of potential partner organizations, and access to streamlined data-sharing platforms for users throughout the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
 NAISN website development and design was undertaken by three of the eight NAISN member hubs: the Center for Invasive Species Management, Montana State University; the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia; and the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida. Because invasive species cross governmental jurisdictional boundaries, NAISN aims to unify and connect existing regional invasive species management and prevention efforts into a single network to improve communication, collaboration, and overall coordination in North America. Its overall goal is to e…

Marilyn Stewart of Wild Things Nursery and her Native Plant and Butterflies

If you have been contemplating helping nature by putting more native plants in your garden, you are not alone. Planting natives is one part of a cultural shift toward living a greener lifestyle with a smaller carbon footprint. Gardeners hope to leave the world a better place and are teaching the next generation that planet earth is precious.
By the purest and purist’s definition, native plants grew here before the European settlers arrived. In contrast, plants brought into the area from other places and hybrid plants are non-natives. Naturalized plants are those that were brought into the region as non-natives but they escaped the cultivated area and thrive as weeds.
Wherever they originated, natives are often low-maintenance plants that grow well without much assistance after they become established.
Wild Things Nursery ( in Seminole grows and sells OK native plants. Owners Marilyn and Ken Stewart converted their acreage to a butterfly, moth and pollinator san…

Is it a grasshopper or a katydid?

Do you know the difference between a katydid and a grasshopper? I didn't until I read Bug Squad..
Also called a long-horned grasshopper, Katydids have long, threadlike antennae while grasshopper antennae are rarely much longer than the head. Bug Squad says grasshopper antennae are not longer than their heads so that's an easy way to ID them.

They are both from the family Tettigoniidae which has 6400 species.

When katydids rub their wings together it sounds like they are saying Katy did or Katy didn't.

Katydid's hearing mechanism is on their front feet.Who knew?

I had no idea how to tell them apart. Thanks Bug Squad and Kathy Keatley Garvey at UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Sedum Frosty Morn is cold hardy Sedum erythrostictum

 Sedum Frosty Morn was discovered in Japan. Plantsman Barry Yinger gave some to Tony Advent of Plant Delights Nursery in the 1990's. They max out at 2-feet tall and the photo is ours blooming at the rock border of the hot and sunny herb bed. It's been in bloom for a month so far. MO Botanical Gardens says the flowers turn pink in the fall - way cool. Here's their link to more info

Cold hardy zones 3 to 9, full sun, don't keep the roots wet and don't over fertilize.

OK Invasive Plants Conference July 9 near OKC

Priscilla Crawford, Conservation Specialist with the Oklahoma Biological Survey said that their conference is coming up in July - here's the scoop for pre-registration.
In case you aren't aware of what OK Dirty Dozen is, I put it at the end of Crawford's post.

The Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council's Annual meeting will be held
Tuesday, July 9, 2013,
Arcadia Conservation Education Area
From OKC - North on 1-35, exit 138D,
2 mi E on Memorial Rd, 3/4 mi N on Midwest Blvd.

Pre-registration and abstracts for oral and poster presentations are due July 1st. Please note: Pre-registration will allow us to more accurately estimate for catered lunches!

Topics to be presented are:

Feral hogs and their relationship with invasive plants
Tinker Air Force Base: Invasive Plants
The Horticulture Industry: Issues with invasive plants
Oklahoma's Dirty Dozen
Prescribed Burn Associations in Oklahoma: Update
Voucher Specimens Needed for Accurate Records of Invasive Plants
Plus More!!!!

Read the ann…

Vanderbilt's online Tree ID

If your yard is anything like ours, trees pop up willy nilly and about half the time we aren't sure

whether to pull them up, move them or leave them where the birds planted them.

Vanderbilt University's tree ID site couldn't be any easier to use for trees common to TN and similar climates.

Check it out at

For Native & Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia and similar climates, go to this link
at Name that Plant.

In or near Minnesota? Check out Key Plants appearing in the Field Guides to Native Plant Communities of Minnesota: Forests and Woodlands.

Northeastern Shrub and Short Tree Identification online book is at

Trees of Texas: Tree Identification 101 is at

The Huachuca Audubon Society has a tree key for AZ and NM at

You get…

St. Joseph's Lily is Hippeastrum johnsonii

St. Joseph’s Lilies have been blooming around town since late May. They are one of the few Amaryllis that are cold hardy enough to be grown outside in our area. Other names include Hardy Amaryllis and Johnson’s Amaryllis
Hippeastrum Johnsonii is named for the plant breeder, watchmaker Arthur Johnson of Lancashire, UK, who created the first St. Joseph’s Lily in 1799. The parent plants were Hippeastrum reginae (from Peru) and Hippeastrum vittatum (from Brazil). Many other Lilies have been introduced but this one remains a favorite for gardeners who enjoy heritage plants with.
Johnson shared his new lily with the Liverpool Botanic Garden shortly before his greenhouses were destroyed and his original bulbs lost.
Its cold hardy zones are from 6 to 12 (we are zone 7) so it is often grown as a potted plant by gardeners farther north. Outside it wants sun to part-shade and like all bulbs, needs well-drained soil.
The flowers are red, bell-shaped with a white stripe. The throat of each flower is …

Oklahoma - beautiful natural tour from Vogt's The Deep Middle

Tour Oklahoma through the eyes of Benjamin Vogt, a U. Nebraska English lecturer with a deep respect for nature, a find hand with a sentence, an extraordinary camera eye, and, well everything he touches. Click over to his blog to see the photos and description of our Oklahoma landscape at You can't miss his love for our state.

from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln
For the last five years, Benjamin Vogt has been writing the garden blog "The Deep Middle."

The project started as a way for the English lecturer to simply record the evolution of his garden. However, the blog — an infusion of gardening tips and selections from Vogt's published work — has bloomed into a medium that allows the writer and naturalist to connect with gardeners and writers around the world.

The blog,, has helped establish friendships with garden aficionados from Vietnam, South Africa, France, England, Greece and Mexico. In addition to his tr…

Conservation, sustainability, National Wildlife Federation, Scotts

Donna at Garden Walk Garden Talk gave me food for thought and you'll be thinking after you read her smart post at

Donna's perspective is from a professional viewpoint. The topic is the flap between NWF and Scotts
potential, though failed partnering for conservation.

A Year in the Garden - time lapse video

A must see video.
An LA CA family produced a time-lapse video of one year in their garden.

Click over to

Brad Hiebert said in the comments, "I want to encourage people to try. We didn't know how to do it when we started, but it is experince that is so rewarding!"

and  "The first year we could have bought the food cheaper because of the cost spent building. But, there is more to the equation
We ate a lot more vegetables than we would have because we grew way more than we would have bought.
No salmonella here
We got to spend family time outside
I get to teach my child where food comes from and see here snow peas and tomatoes off the vine
Home grown tomatoes taste better than anything bought
Never underestimate the therapeutic value of digging in the dirt."

For the love of wildlife - Carole Sevilla Brown

There is no doubt that Carole Sevilla Brown is a voice for wildlife on her blog and in her life.
If her name is new to you, do not hesitate, click over to her blog now

This is Brown's entry "The Ultimate Guide to Butterfly Gardening" which is a thorough report (136 entries/resources) of how to accomplish all of your butterfly dreams

 Post after post, Brown impresses us with her love of nature and her smarts.

Her free, occasional, newsletter is Wren Song. You can sign up on her blog to receive it by email.

Spiderwort, Tradescantia, for moist shade

Each flower lasts but a single day but we love Spiderworts anyway. They bloom for several weeks with each plant producing waves of new triangle-shaped flowers.
Tuck them near the trunks of trees and shrubs or between perennials in a flower bed where they can get a little sun and they will multiply from one year to the next. Being near the roots of larger plants not only gives them cover from too much sun, but the larger plants absorb extra moisture so the Spiderworts have moist but well-drained soil to grow in.
Spiderworts can grow in full sunlight to full shade and will move to suit themselves. As nearby shrubs increase in size, Spiderwort plants will pop up in other places.
Some gardeners plant Spiderworts in containers to prevent the plants from spreading too much throughout their gardens. It is also very easy to pull up and thin out the tiny plants during early spring garden cleanup in order to control their inclination to naturalize.
If you want to try them in full sun, be sure to …

Eradicate Invasive Plants by Teri Dunn Chace

We only have a few acres but it's enough to have dozens of plants show up each spring that make us ask ourselves whether they are friend or foe.

The birds plant some things we want to keep but many others are unknown or unwelcome. Here's an incredible online resource with lists and 20 links to sites that will help identify uninvited guests

Some known plants are just plain pests to us because they are too much of a wild thing. Millions of elm trees and several square miles of wild daisies, henbit, thistle, Wandering Jew, wild garlic - oh, the list goes on.

"How to Eradicate Invasive Plants" by Teri Chace should be on the shelf of libraries, master gardener offices and in gardeners homes - it will go a long way toward speeding up the decision making process every spring.

Online booksellers offer it for $14. From the publisher, Timber Press, it is $25.

The author's bio from the Timber Press website -"Teri Dunn Chace is …

Mason Jar Bird Feeder

Perky Pet sent me a Mason Jar bird feeder to try in our back yard. I keep trying to photograph birds on it and seed in it, but every time I look it is empty again. They must love it. And the weather is perfect for gardening so my head is down most of the day.

So, here's a photo of a male cardinal snacking on the last of the seed in the bottom of the seed tray.
It may be the best I can do!

Lovage, Levisticum officinalis, Black Lovage, Smyrnium Olusatrum

Lovage, Levisticum officinalis is blooming this week in the veg garden. I wrote about it in April, 2011 and here's a link to that article.

It's supposed to be hardy in zones 4 to 8 though I suspect that ours are coming up from seed rather than last year's root.

When the J. L. Hudson Seedsman supplement arrived last week, I noticed a Black Lovage offering that made me curious. Also called Horse Parsley, Tanya at Lovely Greens says Black Lovage, Smyrnium Olusatrum, was brought to the UK by the Romans and now is considered a weed by many. She steamed them and ate the stems with butter and salt. Pronounced them delicious.

Arthur Lee Jacobson posted about Black Lovage, Smyrnium Olussatrum, in April 2006, giving it mixed reviews.

Two recipe sources for using Lovage - Cooks and The Guardian.

Since Lovage officinalis does well here, I'm considering adding the Black variety. Anyone growing either or both of them?

Succeed with Wildflowers

Every year we purchase and grow from seed more and more native plants for our gardens. They require so much less care and live so much longer than many hybrid plants.

Why does anyone plant wildflowers anyway? We love their carefree appearance, their low need for fertilizer, water and bug/disease sprays. That's not to say they are completely without effort since we want our garden to please our eyes as well as the critters who live out there.

The MO Wildflowers Nursery ( has a page of tips for success with wildflowers. Here are their tips with my brief commentary following each.

Start with plants not seeds
- quicker fill
Think about design
- even wildflower beds need a border to look pleasing
- use a variety of plants for continuous bloom, texture and color complementarity
Mulch beds soon after planting
- control weeds with mulch or ground cover
Amend the soil in shady flower beds
- forest dwelling plants have a few inches of natural organic ma…